Wednesday, November 23, 2011


As the district breaks for two days to celebrate Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for.

Our schools are populated with wonderful children, eager to learn, be challenged and prepared for the next phases of their lives. Our classrooms are filled with a cadre of talented and passionate teachers and para-educators who work with our children on a daily basis, in many cases forming life-long bonds with their students. Our schools are led by a team of extremely competent and caring administrators who work tirelessly to make sure the children and teachers can work in a safe and secure environment that is conducive to learning. Our parents eagerly partner with our teachers and administrators to provide support for their sons and daughters. Finally, the remainder of our staff - coaches, class and club sponsors, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, the technology staff, the community education staff, the business office, secretaries, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, and the central office team all work collaboratively to facilitate the educational process.  

On behalf of the Human Resources Department please have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Swing at Strikes!

Baseball is often referred to as, "America's Favorite Pastime." It is a game played with 9 players per side in stadiums both majestic and cozy, by grown men and by young children.

Regardless of the age of the participants or the venue the game is played in, the strike zone is defined as an area 17 inches wide, (the width of home plate) that extends from roughly the batters knees to the letters. A pitch thrown inside that area is referred to as a "strike" and a pitch thrown outside that area is a "ball."

Despite the relatively small strike zone, the very best hitters in the game fail 70% of the time! To achieve even this level of success, great hitters know the strike zone well and rarely swing at balls. However, pitchers are crafty... throwing curveballs, sliders & even knuckleballs - pitches that start inside the strike zone but ultimately end up outside the strike zone as balls. Because of the movement of the pitches or even the optical illusion they create, batters often swing helplessly at these pitches outside the strike zone because they initially looked like strikes. As you might suspect, a batter who regularly swings at balls dramatically lowers his or her batting average.

Organizations that clearly define their "strike zone" - areas where they can focus their time, talent and resources, achieve the highest level of success possible. Conversely, those organizations that consistently swing at "curves, sliders & knuckleballs" - find their time, talent and resources drained without much, if any chance of achieving success.

Swing at strikes!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Be or Not To Be More Like Business...

As school districts struggle to balance their budgets, the concept of running schools like a business continues to be a frequent topic of discussion. For those of you who are Jim Collins devotees this dialog is meaningless, for the distinction should not be between business and social sectors, but rather between good and great organizations. 

The business world is full of companies we would be foolish to emulate - Enron, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, General Motors and Chrysler to name a few. All were profitable at one time or another and some even set the standard within their respective industries. However, each has either failed outright or required millions of federal bailout dollars to survive. For us in schools, like the astronauts on Apollo 13, "failure is not an option!" 

Therefore, our goal should not be to be more businesslike, as this is clearly no precursor for success. Rather our goal should be to get better. To be an organization that makes the very best use of our available resources, (people, time & money to name a few) so that we educate our students better than we ever have. As Collins says, "this is not a business concept, this is a great organization concept!" 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

As we observe Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect upon a quote from President John F. Kennedy - "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Are the Decisive Element!

Dr. Haim Ginott once said, "I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized." 

All educators wield the same power. Our actions, demeanor and approach create the climate and weather, make others lives miserable or joyous, torture or inspire, humor, hurt or heal and escalate or de-escalate issues. We are the decisive element in the lives of others!