Monday, June 29, 2009

Now What?

It's quite possible that my current position in education is sucking the life out of me and contributing to a growing lack of enthusiasm for school administration. As secondary principal of a 6-12 building, I faced challenges everyday but those challenges typically had faces, usually students. I could depend on a smile or the need to console a saddened child as a motivating factor that caused me to jump out of bed at 4 am every morning, ready to take on the world. Now, I see paper and read pertinent news items out of Lansing that are nothing short of depressing.

I took this position at the request of the board and urging of teachers and administrators during a time of trouble for our district. While I feel good about what we've been able to accomplish as a team this first year, I am growing less confident that I want to continue as superintendent. Perhaps its just the summer doledrums. This fall, we'll open a new 6th grade campus that will lead in the direction of 1:1 technology, something I am passionate about. I'll hang in there for another year or two and see where I can take this.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Two Dads

Another father's day roles around and I find myself missing "my two dads" more than ever. My real dad - biological father - passed away in 1984 at the young age of 57. It was ruled accidental but in reality, he had left us some time before that with Huntington's Chorea, a debilitating brain disease. In the twenty-five years since, I often regret that I had little time to really get to know him beyond the typical relationship a child has with his father. He remains to this day somewhat of a mystery to me and I miss him.

My "other dad" was actually my father-in-law. For a number of years, he was my best friend and mentor. A teacher by trade but he was much more than that and loved life to the fullest. He died nine years ago this summer.

Happy father's day, dads!

Friday, June 5, 2009

School Year Hangover

It's Friday and the kids and teachers have left for the summer, leaving me with my usual feeling that I can't quite describe. It's something similar to a hangover but may be more like jet lag. Better yet, I feel like I've been running a 200-day ultra marathon since reporting back to work last August. When I did show up to get the year going, I was principal of a 6-12 school struggling to figure out how to get us over the student achievement hurdle. Since then:

  • An unexpected resignation put me in the driver seat as superintendent two months into the school year.
  • I weathered the resignation of the school-board president and a local media frenzy looking to kick an injured dog while it's down.
  • Made a number of administrative leadership changes designed to get us out of a rut and move the district forward.
  • Passed a small bond issue and accomplished a number of major "repairs" on a weak plan to add classroom space.
  • Took steps to help with the transformation of the district to a 21st century, technology-based learning culture.
  • Brought staff together and opened up the communication process to a point of near-total transparency.
And, we did all of this while cutting more than a million dollars out of our budget with few negative impacts on our programs and staff.

It was a good year, but please pass the aspirin.