A Flight, a Free Trip, Discovery Education, and Food Posioning. It Was a Very Busy Day.


The superintendent’s life can be a busy one.Discovery and Shark Week.

But I know it’s the same for principals, teachers, secretaries, custodians, parents, students, and Buddy the Dog.

Well, not Buddy.  He’s not that busy.  Unless you count 17 hour naps  as busy (I’m so sick of holding a mirror under his snout to see if he’s still breathing).

Everyone is busy, so I’m not complaining.

But lately, I have been unusually busy.

School.  The Evil Spawn’s athletic career (I use athletic… and career… loosely).

This week I added to my troubles by throwing in a one-day trip to Discovery Education in Washington, D.C.

One-day and trip should never be used in the same sentence (and I just did it twice… idiot!!).

I really didn’t have time, but I knew I needed to make the time.  After all, it’s Washington D.C. (you can never turn down a free trip to your nation’s capital… unless you are a communist… and if you are… I’m not judging).

The trip was good.  Not great.

Blog sarcasm karma reached up and slapped me in the face.  Again.

When will I ever learn?

Note to self:  Don’t write a blog about what type of person you don’t want to sit next to on a flight because karma will mock you by sitting someone worse next to you the very next day.

I get on the plane.  Take my window seat (which is an opportunity to be the first one to notice an engine is on fire).

And then it happens.  Nope, not a lady with a baby (that’s a different blog),

Worse.

A young strong woman (freakishly strong) sits down and announces "I’m the worst flyer you’ve ever met.  I apologize in advance for screaming and I’ll probably grab you at some point".

Well, thanks for the warning.  And for cranking up my stress level because people with brand new vasectomies always hope to be grabbed by perfect strangers on a plane.

Here’s a sentence you almost never hear people say… "I wish I had MORE swelling!"

The worst part?  She screamed so loud on take off there was no way anyone was going to hear me crying like a little girl when she grabbed my man parts like a grocery bag.

Let’s just say, it was a long flight.

But it got worse.

The airline "misplaced" my luggage.  Which I’m told (by them) is better than "losing" it.

I should have known there was going to be trouble.  It’s never a good sign when you get off the plane on the middle of the tarmac.

The good news is they "found" my luggage.

Since I arrived at the hotel late, I got to eat dinner by myself in their ridiculously high-priced restaurant.

Who pays $14 for a hamburger?

After dinner, I retired to my hotel room to get a good night’s rest before going over to Discovery Corporate Headquarters.

I was excited.

And cramping.

You see, the $14 hamburger turned on me.

It’s 1:00 am.  I’m in Washington by myself.  And I’m face down in the bathroom eating tile.

I thought I was dying.  At one point I was hoping I was dying.

I just knew I was leaving this world like Elvis.

How sad.  A small school superintendent found alone in a hotel in a compromising position.

People were bound to talk.

I didn’t care.

Just stop the cramping.

Luckily, I eventually fell asleep.  In bed, as far as you know.

I got up and felt like a million bucks.  Food poisoning evidently doesn’t last long on the East Coast.

Maybe it’s the time change.

I made my way to Discovey and had a wonderful time.

But that’s another blog.

I’ll get to the Techbook Discovery people.  I promise.

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Parents and Coaches See Things From Different Perspectives.


coachhatEveryone has a tendency to see the world from their own unique perspective.

Democrats see it one way.

Republicans see it another.

It doesn’t make them wrong.

Actually, it makes both sides wrong and absolutely clueless, but that’s another blog (is a Moderate 3rd Party too much to ask for?)

Students see the world differently than teachers.

Young adults have different ideas and views than older ones.

It’s good to have diversity of opinions.

You see it in music.  Every generation is drawn towards a new (and usually louder) style.

Every prom since 1900, parents have been convinced the world is about to end because of the inappropriate way teenagers dance (personally, I blame Glenn Miller, Elvis, Axl Rose, and Lady GaGa).

Of course, they’ve all forgotten how disturbed their parents were when they danced (little heathens).

But these differences are good.

They’re what makes the world go round (actually it’s love).

I see the same thing with parents and coaches.

They couldn’t be more opposite in how they view things.

And by things, I mean playing time.

Coaches aren’t perfect (trust me, I was one…  in a life far far away).

But all coaches are generally trying to accomplish the same goal.  They want to win (and of course, help produce upstanding citizens who pay taxes, obey laws, and mow their lawns).

They may not play the same players we would, but they believe they’re being as fair as possible.

Seldom are they not giving someone a chance because it’s part of a sinister master plan.

Parents see things from a different angle.

Usually the same angle they first viewed during childbirth (which by the way… wasn’t the most pleasant sight for me…).

They are locked in on their own kid, sort of oblivious to everything else (and all the other people’s children).

I came up with this theory (and thousands of other ones) over the course of talking to hundreds of parents.

I’ve yet to meet the mom or dad who is upset because the coach plays their child TOO much.

After all of these conversations about how a coach is ruining everything (i.e. college scholarship), I’ve yet to hear the following even once.

My child shouldn’t be starting.  My child shouldn’t get so many__________ (shots, serves, at-bats, carries, receptions, goals, hits, spikes, chances, opportunities, etc.).

I’m still waiting for the parent who requests a coach who yells more, practices less, and pays little or no attention to their kid.

I keep thinking after all of these years, I will eventually run into someone who sees what the coach sees.

But it’s never happened and probably never will, but I guess that’s okay.

The coach shouldn’t see things the same way parents do.

After all, the parents were at the hospital the day their child was born and the coach was probably at practice.

And those are two way different jobs.

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If You Think Your Kid is Gifted. Think Again.


This blog post came to me as I stood in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. (I felt a little bit like Nicolas Cage in the movie National Treasure).

It was an epiphany.

It was almost like someone was screaming it in my year.

“Write this blog, write this blog, write this blog… and stop calling them blogs…”

Oh wait. Someone was.The Rotunda at the National Archives.

No, it wasn’t Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin (the voices in my head have stopped… for the most part).

The idea came to me from my mother-in-law. She came up with this observation as my Evil Spawn (her Evil GrandSpawn) was getting reading to look at the great American Historical Documents.

Included were the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Louisiana Purchase.

And I almost forgot. Elvis’s Letter to President Nixon (the one where Elvis wanted to lead the war on drugs… although we didn’t actually see this letter, I would have liked to…).

Actually we didn’t really “see” any of the documents clearly. Walking into the National Archives is live walking into a cave. It’s 42 degrees and dark. Really dark.

It’s like being locked in the trunk of a car (this is a whole different blog).

When we walked into the archives, I felt like a spelunker (Google it if you don’t know).

The good people at the government keep the National Archives like this to preserve “the original documents.” (Yeah, like the ones they let you see are the “originals”.)

They couldn’t fool Nicolas Cage and they can’t fool me (Copies I say! … and yes, I do expect to be audited at any moment).

During my time as a school administrator (6 years… or 42 years in getting treated like a dog years…), I have learned many things.

One of those things is that the majority of parents who are proud owners of a smart student believe their child is gifted.

To parents… Straight A’s = Gifted.

No it doesn’t.

Have you seen the Honor Roll lately? Every kid in school is on it.

C’s used to mean average. Now they mean possible IEP (but this is a rant for another blog…).

Truly gifted isn’t being in the top 20% of the class. It’s more like 1/20th of the top 1% of the class.

I have met a ton of really smart, bright, successful students and I can count on one hand the number of students who have really been truly gifted.

In my opinion public schools need to spend more time and money on the top 20% of students (or “gifted students” as mom and dad call them).

Realistically, this probably isn’t going to happen.

But the good news is gifted education is everywhere.

And this is what my mother-in-law was pointing out. The best gifted education comes from parents.

Through travel, the library, extra work on the internet, camps, and other experiences that families can provide.

Gifted education in schools is needed, but if it’s not, it can still be provided by those proud parents.

And if you think those parents are a little delusional on their child’s abilities… you should meet Grandma.

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Writing Checks in a Debit Card World Means You’re in My Way.


Checks are Cool.  20 years ago.Some of my blogs are educationally oriented. Some are simply idiotic theories that pass through my mind. Some are rants that allow me to release my anger before I do something foolish.

This one’s a rant.

Today I spent 7 hours at a store waiting in line to pay for liquid soap and paper towels.

Actually I am being dramatic; it wasn’t 7 hours, more like 6 hours and 57 minutes and 14 seconds.

The reason for my lengthy wait for cleaning/drying products?

The lady (and I use that term loosely) in the front of the line had to write 3 checks. I am not sure why she traveled forward in time to bother me on this particular morning, but she did.

She came straight from 1974 to jump right in front of me. “Her Slowness” decided to split her purchases into; business products, personal products for her, and personal products for her equally as slow sidekick (husband).

These two were obviously going out of their way to bring the progress of the checkout line to a complete halt. And I must admit they were quite successful.

“Her Slowness” accomplished this by taking her sweet time in writing 3 checks. I guess she didn’t notice me staring at her, or my new 14 friends (nothing brings people together like a common enemy) in line behind us doing the same.

As I stood in line, annoyed, I realized three things:

1.) This couple must be unbelievably organized to separate their purchases into 3 groups.
2.) Her penmanship must be extraordinary because of the time she puts into every letter.
3.) My attention span/patience is getting shorter by the day.

On my way home, I thought maybe I could turn a bad situation into something positive.

So, I have decided to share my first financial tip of the New Year; it is 2008 people, lose the checkbook and get a debit card.

Times are changing, so get on board or move out of the way. Especially if you are in line in front of me.

I think the world is at a place in time where tough decisions have to be made.

The question we must face; will we embrace advances in technology, or are we going to hang back with the past and get left behind?

It is a question as old as time: arrows vs. bullets, horses vs. cars, old people vs. Elvis, communism vs. democracy, typewriters vs. computers, and now checks vs. debit cards.

Checks are going to be hard to find in ten years, so join me in using those debit cards. Mainly because I don’t like to wait in line behind you (you know who you are).

They say the older you get the harder it becomes to embrace change.

I think this is true and it seems to happen all too often in education.

Just last week, I had a teacher (not one of mine) tell me that she was too old to change and learn about technology. Besides she would be retiring in only 9 short years.

I wonder if a student came to her class and said, “I am too old to learn subtraction. I am 7 years old and will be retiring in 58 years. Why should I go to the trouble of learning something new?”

Why don’t people like new things? Invariably, technology makes our lives easier and as we gain perspective and look back on the old ways; who wants to use arrows, drive a horse, listen to big band music, live in a communistic country, use that white corrective tape when you make a mistake using a typewriter, and most importantly waste my time writing checks.

So for the good of society and my mental health (and maybe your safety), get a debit card.

People have to realize that you can’t get stuck in the past. Life moves too fast.

I think I will go watch the Andy Griffith marathon. Barney always cheers me up.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.