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Superintendent’s Coffee Talk for May, 2017

Superintendent’s Coffee Talk for May, 2017
Upcoming dates, events: May 10th Honors Convocation, final HS concerts 5-15, 5-16, commencement is Sunday, May 21st, last student day Mon. May 22nd. (Teachers are on contract for two days following the end of the student year). Seniors are finishing up May 10-11; seniors traditionally finish early.

Thursday, August 17th is the first day of school for the 2017-18 school year. The full calendar is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzNNwJp2xvrKUTFaZ0RDQVNGY28/view

Commendations: Spring activities success has been tremendous - top-ranked baseball team, quiz bowl state champs, Skills USA and FFA national qualifiers, the list goes on!

Thanks: We are grateful for the tremendous parent volunteerism that made post-prom a huge success and is spearheading another great PTO Fun Run event scheduled for Friday, May 5th.

Foundation: The Norris Foundation will award more than 30K in scholarships to graduating seniors at the May 10th Honors Convocatio…
Recent posts

Difficult discussions are opportunities for growth: let's grow together!

Here's some advice for helping ourselves through crucial conversations which we must have, every day, with many others. . . . sometimes planned, often unplanned - and deep in the fourth quarter of a school year, staff tensions, parental conflict or dissatisfaction from a stakeholder may be the impetus for these school-based conversations. They offer great opportunities for personal growth and organizational improvement, so embrace them as such! Here are some reminders to educators for positive and productive outcomes from difficult discussions:
Remember that if someone is talking to you - that is good! They value you, they believe you can help, they believe you have the power to positively assist them. Listen first, then talkRehearse empathy statements (sometimes that's only a "thank you for sharing that" but often it can be more meaningful than that)If you are mad or defensive because you feel accused, count down before responding or wait it out until you realize you…

Reflection for Teachers, Sept. 2015

Isn’t it interesting to wonder about what drives a kid to lead, to achieve, and to excel? How about Logan Stewart and the fundraising effort for a Hickman city skatepark? Impressive. Loses his dad but in the process decides to perpetuate a legacy. Positive! Or how about this guy- the awesome Austin Schultz (Bridget's kid) battling his way to a coveted spot on the USA baseball national team 16U roster. Think there were more than a few minutes of wondering in the weeks it took this arduous process to play out to become one of only 59 nationally? Perseverance! I was further inspired watching Norris runners at the Pius XC invite yesterday. Those who cruised and those who battled just to finish. Not sure the last time you've hammered out 3.1 miles on the forbidding terrain of that Pioneers Park course, but it's a tough one- and with the sort of sadistic finish climbing uphill that makes people wonder just why anyone would subject themselves to it. And man, that Kelly Helmberger…

Human Resources: The Role of the Superintendent: Talking Points for Doane Cadre

Talking Points for Doane Cadre Panel: June, 2015
What is the role of superintendent in the overall design, policies, culture and practices of HR?
Policies need to delineate roles and responsibilities clearly. Practices need to be professional: have a process that gathers multiple inputs & allows district to weight most important candidate characteristics. Practice the practice. Train up on it. Review it, recite it, so you abide by it or you will end up with slippage and quality control problems. Practices need to be both consistent and have an inherent degree of flexibility to capitalize on unique circumstances. Culture of HR should equate to culture of organization- hard to credibly say you are collaborative culture if selection decisions are made unilaterally.
What is your role in working with the Board and staff (such as principals) in implementing HR?
With board members, the most important thing is understanding protocol and for all of us to know and abide by our roles. Staff (pri…

Responding to a crisis event in schools: Panelist comments for Nebraska School Public Relations Conference

It's my pleasure today to address the Nebraska School Public Relations conference and share some thoughts as one voice on a panel for Responding to Crisis Events in schools. Whether it is recovering from the decimation of an F-4 tornado, responding a to a bus accident that resulted in dozens of students being transported to local trauma centers, or reacting to situations where volunteers or staff members committed egregious or embarrassing acts, it's essential districts have effective communication protocols for tough situations. Here's my simple advice, earned through experience:
·“Guano happens.” Saw that on a bumper sticker the other day, and it’s a relevant point in crisis response: Respond to what the situation gives you; each scenario you encounter is a bit different. ·Have (and consistently review during mundane and routine times) clear internal communication protocols. ·Professional development in disaster preparedness is highly beneficial: FEMA – NIMS, ICS, etc. Clar…

Last day of school reflection: 10 things that went amazingly right at Norris this year

Norris District stakeholders, admin, and School Board developed and BOE adopted a strategic plan to guide governance and major program initiatives in coming years.Norris won Nebraska Coaches’ Association Sportsmanship awards every season, including the volleyball, girls basketball and boys soccer state tournaments.Norris parents and patrons contributed quarter of a million dollars ($250K) to achieve donor target for starting turf field and track resurfacing project.Norris MS squad team won the Cornhusker National JR High School Trap championship.Norris volleyball team won historic back-to-back repeat state championship.Then-Nebraska First Lady Sally Ganem joined the Norris Intermediate students in October in celebration of Farm To School month for an apple-taste-test fest!Norris MS recognized in March by USDA regional administrator for dedication to health of Nebraska’s children with school visit by federal officials during National School Breakfast Week.Norris District was featured i…

Why be a connected admin?

I'm at #NETA15, on Twitter at @yourNETA. Or as the morning keynote said, "We are with our fellow nerds."

I am excited today to have the opportunity later this morning  to speak with @Mandery, @dougkittle, @bmowinkel, @mrbadura, @catlett11 and @chlor13 on being a connected administrator. (For the uninitiated, these are their Twitter handles.)

Why connect, anyway?
1. It is where are our kids live.
2. It is where our parents have gone.
3. It is important for administrators to model tech use, not merely give lip service to it. We must project what we expect.
4. When we model tech use, we demonstrate the fundamentally important learner behavior of risk taking and we ensure our teachers know they are in a supportive tech environment that encourages pedagogical risk-taking to enhance learner engagement.
5. The less you use digital communication tools and the more you continue an over reliance on traditional communication platforms like hard copy mailings to parents, the more ma…