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Posted by on in Leadership

HOw did we get


God Bless America, Land of Difference

Bigotry, hate, violence, is it possible to find common ground for real dialogue when the country feels like it has gone mad at the moment?

Violence did indeed break out at today’s White Nationalist Protest. Not surprising after the disgusting images I saw on Twitter last evening, late into the night, ahead of news media. It was inevitable. I followed Twitter threads until 2 a.m., in disbelief.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning


Last week, I wrote a piece about some looks that my students received on a field trip . It was an eye-opening experience for me that demanded immediate attention and reflection. I  shared the piece with my learning network and over all of my social media sites, but how could it end there? How could I create change in the lives of my students if they didn't know about this experience? This is what happened when I shared with them.

We had some time at the end of my classes on Thursday, so I decided to read the piece to my kids. While reading, I gauged the reactions and stopped where it seemed necessary. Each class wanted to talk about different things, but the overall response was the same. They were angry and upset with the reactions that they received, but they were also happy. They were appreciative that I spoke up on their behalf and that I spent the time to write about them. One class broke out into applause when I finished reading to them.

The next day it was time to talk about the piece and dig deep into some tough conversations with my students. They knew it was coming and they were ready. I did not expect my students to come as hard and as real as they did.

I started the conversation by declaring the classroom a safe place. I reminded my students that this conversation would not be easy for some to talk about. I told them that we needed to support each other, show love and appreciation, and not judge the actions or thoughts of anyone. I informed them that what we said in the room, stayed in the room. Everyone in the class agreed to these basic rules and we moved forward.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning


I love going on field trips with my students.  There is something special about taking a group of students to a place that they have never been to see things that are completely new to them. You notice a true sense of wonder, engagement, and curiosity emerge when you take a child to explore a new part of our world.

I always make it a point to watch student expressions and actions because I like to fully engage with students during these experiences. I am also careful to keep an eye on the interactions that my students have with people they come into contact with. As an educator who places a high emphasis on social-emotional learning, this allows me to gauge where my students are and involve them in real-time teachable moments.

Last week I had the privilege to go on a field trip with my 8th grade students to Longwood Gardens (if you have never been, you need to get there!). Our students were participating in a guided tour and a lesson about recycling and renewable energy. My family frequents the gardens multiple times a year so I really hyped the trip up to my students and they were ready.

When we arrived at the gardens, my students were excited and very eager to enter. The looks on their faces displayed genuine interest and we could not get in soon enough for them. We met our tour guide and embarked on our journey.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Screen Shot 2016 07 06 at 10.26.03 AM

So there we were. It was Friday morning and the kick-off to 4th of July weekend. I just finished up an 8-mile run on the bridge, boardwalk, and beach and returned to the beach house. I figured I would eat something, take a quick shower, and head out for a nice beach day with my wife, son, his mom-mom, and his grandmom (great grandma). Instead, I walked into a conversation about taking our 2.5 year old son to the nearest Urgent Care. He had a fever a few days earlier, but it seemed like he recovered. Now he started developing a rash on his hands and feet. It was hurting him to walk and he was very fussy. We discussed, decided, and off to the doctor we went.

Let me start by saying that our little guy was an absolute champ waiting for over an hour in the waiting room. We finally got into a room and saw the nurse who gave us a diagnosis within 2 minutes of talking to us. Hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is a virus that includes a rash and painful blisters. The nurse told us it would clear up on its own and that we just had to wait things out. She was awesome with Landon and interacted with him in a way that was genuine and caring. She asked if he liked stickers and of course he said yes! What kid doesn't like stickers? She left us to wait for the doctor and frantically Google everything about the virus while she retrieved the goodies for Landon.

A few minutes had passed and the nurse re-entered the room with the promised treat. Landon had a choice between Mickey Mouse and Toy Story stickers. Not surprisingly, he went right for the Toy Story set. The nurse informed him that he could pick any two that he liked. His first pick was Buzz Lightyear because he's a pretty awesome spaceman. His next choice was Bo Peep, or at least that was what he wanted. He pointed at the picture with a cute doll wearing a pink dress in a bright purple background and asked for that sticker. Without flinching, the nurse immediately countered his request and asked him if he wanted Rex, the dinosaur. Landon was in a very compromising mood (blame it on not feeling well) and he took the different sticker with no issue. Mommy and Daddy, however, felt differently.

Landon's favorite color is purple with pink coming in a close second. When we went mini-golfing with him the night before, he chose a purple ball for himself. Items that are purple and pink always get top priority with him. Ask him what his favorite color is and he will tell you it is purple with a big smile on his face. If he wants something purple (or pink or any color for that matter), he can have it. It doesn't matter to us what colors he likes. He knows what he likes. So why would the nurse deny him the sticker that he really wanted?

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Hand-in-glove with our faith in democracy, Americans have long believed that in order to fully participate in their government, citizens need to be educated. Our nation’s unflagging commitment to public education has transformed a nation of (mostly) poor immigrants into the world’s largest economy and greatest superpower.The continuing efforts of today’s educators will ensure that Americans continue to prosper for many years to come. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/american-public-education-an-origin-story/#sthash.11j41lrf.dpuf

April 18, 2013 from American Public Education: An Origin Story

Much is written about public schools, private schools, charter schools, accountability, rankings, ratings, etc. Much is written about the huge success of American education as well as the huge needs of American education. To say we are at a crossroads today is an understatement.Now we face the transformational society expectations, economic shifts, geopolitical confusion, and economic realities that cause us to rethink and reimagine schooling. The reformers of new and the reformers of old share common traits - they want to re-form, or re-shape that which they know into something that looks new but really is the same in a new form.

Like many leaders today, I stand for school transformation - reimagine education - re think education - make it somethingUNLIKEthat which I experienced because my past is not going to become our student's future!Transforming how students receive learning facilitation - digital transformation - instructional transformation - assessment transformation - complete focus on excellence is what I stand for! I follow educational heroes like John Hattie and Sir Ken Robinson, and of course Horace Mann and John Dewey.

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