The Dean.

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Having a Mentor Who Has Jumped Before You is Important.Coming up with blog topics can be tricky. At least that is what I’m told.

People who believe this must put some thought into their blogs. Luckily, I don’t have that problem (lucky for me… unlucky for readers who actually want to learn something or be amused).

My strategy for writing a blog is quite complicated.

I stumble through life and ideas pop into my head. And since I don’t blog for a specific audience (just me… again, bad for readers), it makes it that much easier.

One of the benefits of working in education is that it is never the same. Each day brings a new (although sometimes complicated and occasionally horrific) situation.

In my part of the educational world, things go relatively smoothly. That’s not to say that I don’t get frustrated from time to time. Because it is (and by time to time, I mean every 7 ½ minutes… on a slow day).

I’ve been able to survive (barely… and it should be noted that could change at any moment) in my administrative career primarily because I have had good mentors.

This could be the secret to being successful at any job.

There is nothing better than finding someone who can serve as a guide as you traverse the slippery slope of (fill in your career choice here).

In my case I have had several mentors.

The great thing is that I have never had to look for them. They always pop into my life when I need them the most.

Usually, I don’t even realize they are there or that I even needed them at the time. But as I look back it is easy to recognize their importance.

I may be the luckiest person you don’t know.

One of my first mentors was a high school administrator.

He had all the answers to questions that I wasn’t smart enough to ask.

When I first met him, he was getting close to retirement and I was at the end of my teaching career.

One of the things that I didn’t know was I was about to conclude my time in the classroom and head off into the complicated world of administration.

If I had known this, I would have paid more attention to the stories he told.

And told.

And told.

Besides being an administrator, he also was a public speaker. He spoke a lot. I guess those two things go hand in hand (administrator and speaking… we do seem to like the sound of our own

He spoke at his school, at church, at workshops, at conferences, at other schools, at colleges, on the phone, at the movies, at the grocery store, on the street to total strangers, and wherever 1
to a 1000 people gathered.

I heard him speak in public maybe 3 times. He was good. I think.

For the most part I zoned out.

Mainly because I had heard all of the stories before. For free.

He had mastered the art of getting paid to speak. What most people didn’t know is he would tell you the same stories for nothing.

All you had to do was not ask. Just be in the vicinity.

While I didn’t listen as closely as I should have, some of his advice soaked in. I am sure of this because I repeat it.

A lot.

One of the things he told me (and anyone else who would stand still for him) was his thoughts on people going back to college for more education.

It drove him crazy when people said they didn’t want to return to college because they were too old.

We have all heard someone say, “I don’t want to go back and get my Bachelor’s or Master’s because I will be 46 years old when I finish.”

His thought.

They will be 46 anyway. Might as well have that degree.

Simple, but good advice.

And I use it all the time. And 20 other things he told me when I wasn’t listening.

Like if you take a job as a principal, remember the kids are more like adults than you think, and the adults are more like kids than you think.

Over the last 6 years, I have found he couldn’t have been more right.

I often wonder how many other bits of good advice he shared and I didn’t hear? I have a feeling that I should have paid better attention.

Like all good mentors, he never forced his beliefs on me.

I sometimes wish he had.

As I look back, there is one thing that he didn’t tell me.

That I should listen closely because he might not be around forever.

**Note from wife… In addition to being a mentor to many individuals in the field of education, the man described in the above blog is my dad. Super Bowl Sunday three years ago was the last time that I had the opportunity to talk with my dad. The next morning he slipped into a coma after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 60 years young and I wish that he was still around to tell those stories and give us his unsolicited, but very wise advice.

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7 Responses to “The Dean.”

  1. Carey Pohanka
    on Jan 31st, 2009
    @ 10:35 pm

    What a wonderful post. I, too, get loads of great advice from my dad and would really miss having him to go to if her were gone. I’m sure he is proud of you and is amazed at what you are accomplishing at your school and in your life.


  2. Tim
    on Jan 31st, 2009
    @ 11:11 pm

    Sometimes I’m glad I stayed up a little longer to read just one more thing… Tonight is one of those nights. Thanks for the post.

  3. Pat
    on Feb 1st, 2009
    @ 3:42 am

    What a great post! I did a presentation yesterday at our CEC conference on Survival Tips for student teachers and first year teachers. I looked around the room at their faces, still innocent and planning to change the world and felt inspired all over again. As I told them that as a teacher, no day is the same, I wondered if they were really hearing what I was saying. I also told them that they can not save everyone and they looked at me like I was lying. Ahh, to be young and hopeful again. Sorry you lost your mentor but I’m glad you had the time with him that you did (and you were so lucky he was your father in law!)

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    on Mar 27th, 2009
    @ 12:25 pm

    [...] I have had about 6. But it is early in my career, so there is plenty of time to collect more (not that I will do [...]

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    on Mar 27th, 2009
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    [...] Keep things simple. [...]

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    on Jun 17th, 2009
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    [...] question always comes from principals or superintendents (or from the best job in education… “the assistant superintendent”… [...]

  7. Sherry
    on Aug 25th, 2014
    @ 11:40 am

    I know that I said thank you at the time you wrote this special blog. As I read it again, I again so thankful to you for writing it. Dean would be so pleased that you appreciate the knowledge he shared with others about students and school. He was very dedicated to his job and his spiritual walk,


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