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Showing posts from 2012

2012 Memorable Moments & Momentous Occasions for Norris District

As a final hurrah to 2012, I invite you to reflect with me on some of the most substantial accomplishments of your Norris School District that occurred from January through December, 2012.  These are things that may have escaped your attention but are clearly worthy of notice and the acclamation of our team members and constituents. I believe that these are the sort of things that help to foster an environment where teachers can continue to teach masterfully and students' opportunities to learn are maximized.  Norris has an excellent achievement profile and a faculty recognized for its excellence. In the annotated list below, I am focusing on district-level operational and infrastructure or policy and organizational-level changes I believe help to sustain such a culture.

Some Top 2012 Norris District Accomplishments - Gratitude to others for a job well done! 

It all starts with an incredible Board of Education that steers and guides all policy matters and provides careful oversight…

What a Chef knows about School Change

...he also happens to be the Obamas' Assistant Chef, and a very eloquent one! 

Check out these inspiring session notes and quotes from Sam Kass, a Policy Advisor at The White House.  And, oh yeah, Asistant Chef for The Obamas! He made these comments at the GenYouth summit yesterday, talking about the importance of, anong other things, school-based initiatives to promote student health,  and I was fortunate enough to hear him in person.  I found him articulate, passionate, and inspiring: 
The right information is actionable; it can be translated into real life. 
We change course or we prepare to live with devastating numbers that indicate poor quality lives: 1/3 of our kids today could become diabetics. 
We must change now because over 20% of health costs already are preventable obesity-related ones.
We change now because every General tells us that it's already our biggest national security risk because poor health due to obesity is the number one reason why we have to turn peop…

Norris FFA Learning Lab Field Day 2012

To me, more than anything, this day symbolizes the power of partnership and the importance of providing a relevant and engaging learning experience for our students.We could not achieve this without the support of the reps who are here tonight and without the vision of our Board of Education and the FFA Alumni group and Farm Committee to make all this happen.

The Norris FFA Learning Lab is one of a kind.  It is unique.  It puts property that belongs to our growing district for future development into good use as an active farm operation from which our students learn practical lessons in agronomy and the real life economics of farm management.  So, our students are the immediate beneficiaries of this project.  But more than that, the partnership serves a higher purpose.  The FFA Alum, the parents who volunteer time and resources to make this project happen, exemplify servant leadership.  The revenue goes from the FFA Farm Committee overseeing this operation back to Norris graduates who …

The eternally elusive mission: Thoughts for the new crew of Norris teachers

Welcome, teachers! Norris is a special place, and today marks the formal start of your employment with our school district.The Jedi-mind trick you have to master, though, is the realization that this district will only remain special if you endeavor to make it so.  You have to perpetuate a legacy of great instruction because we have brought you in to replace people who established and sustained that over many years – or we brought you in to meet the growth needs of a burgeoning student population.We need you at your best. We don't want you to settle in and settle for average outcomes from yourself or mere proficiency from your students.  Strive for more.It is the commitment of classroom teachers and the combination of compassionate care for every learner coupled with rigorous academic expectations you uphold that helps us realize our mission.
You should realize – you must realize - that the process starts with selection and you are not here by accident.  We do not make arbitrary hi…

My running companions Doubt, Fear and Worry

I have been rolling up miles at a substantial rate of 40+ a week for over four years now.  I have run a dozen marathons and battled through some truly treacherous training conditions and some fairly adverse race day scenarios. In the process, I've conquered Heartbreak Hill, Hospital Hill, the ultra-distance Bohemian Alps outside of Brainard, and battled a gritty wind in the starkly sublime Sandhills.  But it occurred  to me when the alarm went off this morning signaling me to get up for another early morning workout that it never changes.  What never changes is the fear, the doubt, and the nagging voice of negativity I hear in the back of my mind.  And if you run, every day you hear that and you choose to refute it. You renounce fear and uncertainty to embrace commitment and the courage to keep after it.

I think runners are a superstitious lot and, let's face it, mustering the will to go 26.2 is not an entirely rational endeavor. It is only in voicing these fears and articulati…

My Marathon Training Nutrition Commitment

I have been training for the Lincoln marathon, which goes off  a week from now. A month ago, I decided I would get aggressive with my nutrition because I figure an old runner like me (43) needs every possible advantage if I want to crawl across the finish line in under four hours much less 3 1/2. So I set out to eliminate empty cards and refined sugars from my diet about five weeks ago.  I thought that this would be a good means of enhancing my nutrition while also improving my chances of turning in a good performance on race day.  I said goodbye to the chips and candy, and mourned the loss of my fries and popcorn...
There definitely is a connection between intake and output.  How you eat, how you sleep, and whether you're drinking enough water- all those things contribute to outcomes on race day, not just miles and pace. I have thought a lot about what fellow runner and Norris emeritus faculty member John Votta said when he described himself in the past as having been a 'jun…

Ski School lessons for Educators

We drove out to Colorado with the four boys over break and spent a couple days in Keystone.  It occurred to me again that skiing holds many life lessons and in particular many metaphors that are applicable to educators. I wanted to share these with you in the foolishly optimistic hope that some good can yet come from my Colorado travails.  

I am not a great skier.  I’m the kind of guy who considers it a monumental feat to simply avoid the urgent care clinic. I had the ignominious distinction of probably being the only guy on the mountain to be approached not once, twice, or even three times - but on four separate occasions on day one by Keystone ski patrol with the prompt, “Dude!  Are you alright? That was a colossal wipeout, bro.”  (Actually, the first two referred to me as “bro” and “dude.” The latter two who approached me to help gather my ski apparatus that was scattered over the debris field of my latest wreck referred to me as “Sir” - as in, “Are you okay to get up, sir?” which I…