Saturday, April 21, 2018

Running is My Run

Recently, @trevorabryan wrote a blog titled, Find Your Run.

Running is my run! Previously, I've written blog posts about how running benefits me as well as some of the connections that I make between running and education. I'm thankful to be involved in tribes such as #FitLeaders and #RunLAP. These groups of people are encouraging and inspiring; they push me in regards to my own personal fitness, as well as my educational thinking and doing.

That being said, for the past three + weeks, I have been out of commission. I hurt my back. I mean I hurt my back. For two weeks I was forced to hobble around, moving slower than normal, with a noticeable limp.

Getting up and down the hallways, in and out of classrooms, participating with students at recess...these are all things that I love about being a principal (#PrincipalsInAction), but all things that became extremely difficult (and painful) for me to do.

Furthermore, I wasn't able to run. I wasn't able to jump start my day. I  wasn't able to clear my head. I wasn't able to get lost in my own thoughts and reflections. I wasn't as energized and/or upbeat as I normally am. Instead, I was pretty down.

I consider myself to be a fairly connected educator, which has many benefits. However, when you have to sit back and watch your #PLN engage in a virtual conversation that you aren't able to take part in...that's an additional punch to the stomach.

I wanted to be fixed. I wanted to run. And I wanted this to happen now.

What does this have to do with education? This has everything to do with education!
Think about the student that can't read, or can't behave, or can't demonstrate whatever skill it is that we want, expect, demand them to do. They need the exact same things that I needed. They need the exact same things that I was wiling to do.

I went out multiple times thinking that I could push through the pain. I couldn't. On three separate occasions I left the house with the plan of a leisurely three-mile run. On three separate occasions I didn't get past 50 yards. It was too painful. I had to convince myself (this was not easy) that I needed more time to allow myself to fully heal in-order to avoid this same situation in the future.

For these three weeks while I've been hurt, I've spent A LOT of time stretching and icing my back (with a steady diet of anti-inflammatory medications). A LOT of time. And even though the progress was minimal at first, I didn't stop.

Do Something Different
If you want different results? Then you have to be willing to do something different! Time a wasn't enough. There was minimal progress from stretching and icing. I was impatient; I wanted things to change. So to get a different result, I had to be willing to do something different. I did. For the first time ever, I decided to seek treatment from a chiropractor (for those who know me well, know that I've always been very anti-chiropractic care). Shout-out to Mike Humpal (my chiropractor) and the work that he did to aid my recovery.

This injury has knocked me out of being able to run my first half-marathon in 2018, the inaugural Run CRANDIC. That was a hard pill to swallow as it is going to be a great new race that benefits our local school systems. Silver linings:
  1. I'm gearing back up to run; in fact, I'll be running the a 5K portion of the CRANDIC with my son (it will be his first ever 5K; I'm pretty excited for that opportunity and the memories we'll have from that...#DadsAsPrincipals).
  2. While being unable to run, I went to a hot yoga class with my wife. This is a silver lining for several reasons: 1) it was great to increase my flexibility, core strength, and balance; 2) I enjoyed it, and hope to incorporate it into my fitness routine on a regular basis; and 3) my wife loves yoga. Solid #DadsAsPrincipals move to do things that your significant other enjoys doing.
P.S. I'm not back quite back to 100%, but I am back to running. It's progress. And it's amazing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#LoveMySchoolDay at #VanAllenPride

#LoveMySchoolDay is a thing. It's a great thing. John Wink created it, and you can read more about its origin and purpose in this blog (linked) that he wrote.

Last week, I participated in #LoveMySchoolDay. This post is a collection of the Tweets that I shared.

  1. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 1) Our Students. I'd put our student population up against any. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  2. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 2) Our Staff. Too many great ppl to begin to name names. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  3. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 3) Our Parents. They are an extremely positive and supportive group. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  4. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 4) Our bldg leadership team. Always impressed w/ our conversations. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  5. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 5) Our Facilities. Our school building is beautiful; second-to-none. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  6. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 6) Our Community. Not many places better than @northliberty/@Coralville_IA! #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  7. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 7) My Commute, 2.5 miles. Plus, it's great to work and live in the same community! #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  8. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 8) Our proximity to so many other great schools to learn from and push us to get better. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  9. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 9) Our "extra-curriculars" that we offer our students. Things like #WorkoutWednesday, The Rocket Times, and Code Club to name a few. #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride
  10. Counting down 10 reasons I Love My School: 10) Our Opportunities. We were fortunate to work w/ @zkruger7 of @TierneyBrothers AND just found-out about a new opportunity w/ a @Seesaw trial! #LoveMySchoolDay #JoyfulLeaders #VanAllenPride

And thanks to all of these Van Allen teachers who contributed to the hashtag, #LoveMySchoolDay!

"We need to make the positives so loud that the negatives are almost impossible to hear."  - George Couros

Thursday, April 12, 2018


This post is co-written by Eric Ewald from @dadsasprincipal and Lindsy Stumpenhorst from @momsasprincipal. It’s a collaboration where #DadsAsPrincipals meet #MomsAsPrincipals to share #ParentsAsPrincipals.

This is Eric. My son does not attend my school. My son has never attended my school.

He wanted (wants?) to attend my school. I wanted (want!) him to attend my school. But we don’t live in my school’s boundaries. We could attempt to complete the paperwork so that he could transfer into my school (I know a guy…), but we don’t.

Prior to the possibility of my son attending my school, I was a strong advocate for neighborhood schools. My wife reminds me of this, regularly. As a result, my son attends his neighborhood school (Garner Elementary - it’s a great school that is full of great people, led by my friend and fellow @dadsasprincipal, Nick Proud).
“Mrs. Stumpenhorst, your son is sick, I need you to come pick him up.”

“Okay, but it’s going to be a while, I’m 40 minutes away”

I was a first year assistant principal at a middle school and was doing a pretty good job at managing my professional live. Problem was, my personal life was spiraling out of control! Keep two school calendars and being a mom was hard. One time I even sent my son to his school in because after getting out two school calendar’s mixed up. The good thing? He was only in 2nd grade and didn’t mind going to school in his PJ’s, imagine if I would’ve gone to school during HIS pajama day?! Phew! Close call. This is one example of what happened my first year in administration.
During my second year in this district I was given the opportunity to transfer to a 3rd-5th grade school as a principal. I knew that my husband and I had a big decision to make...our son was going to be in 3rd grade and our daughter was going to be in kindergarten, should we pick them up from the local comfort of their friends and open enroll to my district? There were many pros and cons.

Currently my son is quickly approaching his last few weeks in my school, soon he’ll be graduating 5th grade. My daughter will then take his place as a student in my school, she’s comin in hot as a 3rd grader.

As a result of the kids being open enrolled and attending my school a few things have resulted…
  1. I’m probably harder on my son and daughter, because I know and see everything!
  2. Teachers at my school have the unique challenge of approaching me as a parent, not  as the building principal.
  3. I’ve attended 4/6 of my son’s field trips, both as the principal & parent
  4. When I’m having a hard day, I know where to find the best hug
  5. My kids have seen me work...and work hard...and they are so proud of me
  6. We have around 75 minutes of uninterrupted time in the car every day
Some of our days have been long, sometimes they are irritated with the drive, on the rare occasion one of them will even wonder aloud what it would be like to attend their local school. My husband and I do not regret our decision and our kids love their school. It’s not easy being a working parent, this is a small adjustment we’ve made in attempt to help me juggle these two very full time jobs.

Contrary to Lindsey’s situation, when I leave my house in the morning, it takes me approximately 10-minutes to get to school. And within that 10-minutes, I’m able to drop-off my son at his school. You see, once you get out of my neighborhood my son’s school is one and a half miles straight down the road. And if you keep going, one mile further, you end-up at my school. It’s a nice little set-up.

In fact, it’s so nice that I’ve even been able to sneak away from time-to-time to attend different functions at his school including sometimes being able to eat lunch with him! This was NOT a luxury that I had, previously, when he attended pre-school in one district and I was a principal in a different district 30 miles north of him

I won’t lie. The possibilities of being a principal at the school where my son (and someday my children (my daughter will start pre-school, next year) attends would trump any argument that I could make regarding why your children shouldn’t be at your school. I’ll admit it; when principal friends like Lindsy, Nick Proud, and Andy Jacks (just to name a few) share stories of encounters with their children while working, it makes me a little envious. I can’t think of much better than 1) being able to check-in with my child throughout the day, and 2) providing opportunities for my child to see me thriving while doing work that I love.

Regardless, there are silver linings that we (my son, wife, and I) benefit from as a result of the decisions that we’ve made and the set-up that we have...
  1. ‘Tis the season of creating class lists for next year! And full disclosure, I’m A-OK not having to place my child on a class list for next year.
  2. There are many things that I don’t know about my child’s teacher. Let’s keep it that way. I’m all for transparency, but parents don’t need to know EVERYTHING about the person that their child spends so much of their time with.
  3. I consider my wife and I to be easy-going people. Nonetheless, I imagine that it can be intimidating to sit-down for parent-teacher conferences with us (me as a principal within the same school district as my child’s teacher and my wife who’s a teacher in a neighboring district). I can only imagine how this could be amplified if my son and I were at the same school.
  4. As a principal, I sometimes have to have difficult conversations with parents. Fortunately, I don’t have to have those difficult conversations with the parents of my child’s friends. I am able to keep those relationships strictly personal.
  5. Like I said, I love the school where my son attends. I get to benefit from a lot of great ideas that I hear and see, firsthand, as a parent.
  6. Hamish Brewer likes to use the word, Legacy. Previously, I wrote about what that means to me: #DadsAsPrincipals - Legacy. So while I know that I may not benefit from seeing my son throughout the day, at school; I also know that down the road, he’ll benefit from the work that I do each and every day.

We never know how the decisions that we make will effect our future and, increasingly relevant, is how these same decisions will impact our family. In the end all we strive to do is the best we can in the moment and try not to worry about the what ifs.