Wednesday, November 23, 2016


For the past couple of months, I've been telling people that, professionally, I've never been happier. Now, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, this seems like an appropriate time and place to elaborate on the why that has led to my happiness.

I am thankful for the six years that I spent as an educator in the Davenport CSD. After growing-up in West Branch, the diversity that I was able to experience for the first time was life changing. It was during this time that I realized the value of relationships. I am also thankful for being allowed the opportunity to work with Marianne Corbin while I was in Davenport. Her positive attitude and willingness to try new things had a huge impact on me. Thank you.

I am thankful for the opportunity that Chris Armstrong and the Highland CSD gave me as a 29 year old that had never worked in an elementary school to become an elementary school principal. I am also thankful for the opportunity that I had to serve as principal in the Marion ISD, last year. I was fortunate to work with some really great people in both of these districts. Furthermore, these two experiences were vital in shaping me into the educator that I've become. Thank you.

And I am especially thankful for the opportunity that Steve Murley, Amy Kortemeyer, Matt Degner, Jim Pedersen, and the rest of the Iowa City CSD gave me to join their team. I'll never forget that phone call from when I was offered this job; it felt, it still feels too good to be true. Iowa City is where I've always wanted to be, and working in this District has not disappointed. Working in this District has been a GREAT! Thank you.

I am thankful for the staff, students, and school community at Van Allen Elementary. Transitioning into a new job is difficult; there is always a learning curve. This has been less overwhelming because Van Allen is such a great place to work, to learn, and just overall a great place to be. Thank you.

I am thankful for all of the positive feedback that I've received from staff, students, and school community members during my first five months on the job. This is never why we do the things that we do, but it is always nice to have our work acknowledged. Thank you.

I am thankful to work and live in the same community. I know that my family is thrilled with my reduced commute to and from work each day (and I am happy about that, too). I believe that the school community probably appreciates me being "one of their own" in regards to where I reside. North Liberty, Coralville, Iowa City - this area just feels like home. It's a feeling that is hard to describe. Nonetheless, it feels great. Thank you.

I am thankful for having such an amazing Professional Learning Network of people for support. Through platforms such as Twitter and Voxer, I've been able to connect with wonderful educators from coast to coast. These connections have inspired me with not only ideas for things to try, but also inspired me with an attitude and a mindset that is always in a positive place. Thank you.

I am thankful because I love what I do. Working as an educator, there isn't a lack of purpose for our work. I can't imagine doing anything else that (I could/would be qualified to do) was as rewarding and enjoyable as being an elementary school principal. In fact, it doesn't feel like work most of the time due to the enjoyment and the passion that I have for what I do. Thank you.

I am thankful that my family circumstances are not a burden to me while I am at work. For that I am lucky. I realize that not everyone is as blessed and fortunate regarding what you leave at home when you come to work and what you come home to when you leave work. Thank you.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows. I've got issues that I have to deal with and work through. I have days that aren't as good as others. But I know that perspective is a key; my bad days aren't as bad as some people's bad days. And I also firmly believe that the more positives that we look for, the more positives we will find.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

One Pitch, One Inning at a Time

My son and I with our new hats!
Sports are my first love. I am a passionate fan. Among the teams that I follow, loyally, are the Chicago Cubs. Some of my earliest memories include going to Wrigley Field with my family as a young boy. As a result, I've been totally engulfed in the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series run. I've cherished being able to enjoy their historical run with my son as I make my contribution to raising the next generation of Cubs fans.

I was in Chicago when they lost game four of the World Series to go down three games to one. That night, as their lead evaporated and then their deficit grew, the life was sucked out of Harry Caray's Seventh Inning Stretch (where we were watching the game).

But the story that has been told of what happened in the locker room after that game is one of the reasons that makes sports great.

The atmosphere within the locker room was gloomy. Players heads were down and the mood was of despair. Nonetheless, a back-up catcher, David Ross, took the responsibility to change that. Based off of stats alone, he's not your prototypical leader. But leadership is hard to quantify. So regardless, he picked the team-up.

Ross reminded the team that they'd won three games in a row before, lots of times, throughout the season. He assured them that they were going to do it again to finish the season. They were going to do it one pitch and one inning at a time. And then they did it again; they won three games in a row in the most historic of fashions. The Chicago Cubs became World Champions! (I love saying that.)

Photo from Chris Doyle's Twitter account: @coach_Doyle
One pitch, one inning at a time. This is something that we aren't always very good at in education. We look at the big picture, the macro, and it is enough to overwhelm ourselves. It makes us crazy. It keeps us up too late, it causes us stress, it makes us irritable, and it is simply unhealthy. We think about the end-of-the-year (or even beyond) too often. We need to think about one class, one day at a time. Trust that we are making a difference - like the story of the stonecutter. Keep moving forward, and enjoy the moment.