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Showing posts from November, 2016

Day 9 (21 Days of Gratitude)

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I have been off the grid for three days with the Thanksgiving holiday, but that is no excuse.  I will be back to blogging my gratitude each evening.

In my writing and discussions in the past, I have talked about my educational heroes, and how they have shaped my educational beliefs.  These people are incredibly important to me, but they do not even come close to my true hero.  Many of you who have known me for a number of years have heard me talk about the influence that he has had on me; the guy is tremendous.  Simply stated, my dad is the hardest working and most knowledgeable person I have ever seen.

He has fixed my vehicles, catcher’s mitts, kitchen sinks, garage doors, and heaters more than I would like to admit.  A couple of years ago, I was having issues with my garage door, and to no surprise, I had to call him to save the day.  Afterwards, we spent about an hour talking in my driveway about the challenges of leadership.  My father worked at John Deere for more than 35 years,…

Day 8 (21 Days of Gratitude)

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A little more than three years ago, I was asked to serve on a grant writing committee that would put together what I was told would be something pretty special.  I am going to be completely honest when I say that I was a little skeptical about this entire process.  I have been told more times than I can count that a new committee, action team, or curricular implementation is destined to be the next big thing.  I accepted the offer to participate in this research gathering and grant writing group that would embark upon something truly historic in the state of Iowa.  Our school district decided to take the leap and apply for the first year of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation grant that would provide the opportunity to create a number of teacher leadership positions within our district that never existed in the past.

We were fortunate to receive this grant in the first year that it was offered within the state which allowed us to create nine instructional coaching positions withi…

Day 7 (21 Days of Gratitude)

We have lived in our home for exactly five years and I couldn't be more grateful to be where we are. Our home and community provide a comfortable place for our children and an environment that is safe, fun, and full of energy.  I am so incredibly grateful to be living in a community and school district that see the value in education.  We are surrounded by fantastic schools full of adults who are passionate, technically skilled, and ready to make differences in the lives of kids.  I have never seen a community so supportive and willing to help those in need at the drop of a hat. We are living in a special place and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Day 6 (21 Days of Gratitude)

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I have spent the better part of my educational career coaching student athletes in various sports. These opportunities were so enjoyable and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  As football and baseball season approach each year, I am often asked by people within our community what I miss most about coaching.  My response is the same every single time.  Yes, I miss the competition, game planning, and bonding with fellow coaches.  However, what I miss the most is the relationships with kids.  It was truly amazing to hear their stories, see their passion, and watch them achieve at levels that they never thought were possible.  Athletic fields are some of the best classrooms that we have within our school system, as kids are able to learn about perseverance, resilience, grit, teamwork, integrity, responsibility, and many other critical life skills. I will never forget the great times that I had coaching; it is something for which I will be forever grateful.

The Gap

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Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to attend a number of professional development sessions and learning opportunities within my district, state, and across the country. These sessions have focused on visible learning, growth mindset, instructional coaching, literacy, mathematics, technology integration, and the list goes on and on.  I love attending conferences and professional development sessions while learning from experts within the field and having the opportunity to connect with many members of my personal learning network (PLN).  I always leave these sessions inspired and armed with a number of ideas to bring back to my building and school district.
The problem that I have following learning sessions is certainly not inspiration, motivation to be better, or innovative ideas to get me there.  There is a gap from what I want to do between what actually happens within my school or district.  I honestly do not think that I am alone in this struggle. Someone very…

Day 5 (21 Days of Gratitude)

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Day 5
I am not going to go too deep on my gratitude today; quite simply, I am grateful for college football. There is not much that I enjoy more than sitting in my living room and watching games on Saturdays throughout the fall.  There is something about the atmosphere of a college campus during football Saturdays that I love including tailgaiting activities, crisp fall weather, and an unbelievable amount of excitement and pride.  I have been very fortunate to attend a couple of games this season, as I traveled to State College, Pennsylvania and Iowa City in consecutive weeks.  Whether I am watching a game with 107,000 people in Beaver Stadium or taking in USC vs. UCLA in the cozy confines of my living room, I love everything about the game of college football.



Day 4 (21 Days of Gratitude)

Day 4
I am grateful for the opportunity to grow professionally each day.  There have been a number of opportunities that have been provided to me whether it is attending conferences at the local, state, or national levels, reading books, following an individual or hashtag on Twitter, or having a conversation with one of my colleagues.  I love to learn and have been blessed with the ability to purchase a number of books that pique my interest, attend conferences to help me grow, and connect with a large number of people within my professional learning network (PLN).  I would like to think that I have learned more about education and leadership within the past four years than I have in the previous 9 combined.  I attribute this to my PLN and the unbelievable wisdom, resources, and philosophies that they have shared through a variety of tools.  There has never been an easier time to learn with the tools that we have at our disposal.  It makes me smile knowing that I have the opportunity …

Day 3 (21 Days of Gratitude)

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Day 3:
I am a day late with my note of gratitude, but it is better late than never, as I am really trying to make this a habit.  I am grateful for airline travel.  Some people reading this may think that I am absolutely crazy with this comment, particularly when they have experienced frustrations, delays, cancellations, and poor customer service on a regular basis.  Another thing that may seem crazy is that I was just informed that our flight from Chicago to Cedar Rapids has been delayed 3 and a half hours.


I have spent the past four days in Alexandria, Virginia learning about positive psychology and how to incorporate this framework within our school district and my personal life.  It was an impactful conference full of thought provoking discussion about The Happiness Advantage, intentional acts of gratitude, and challenging conventional social norms.  I loved learning about these things the past three days while having the opportunity to visit a few monuments in Washington, DC.  A …

Day 2 (21 Days of Gratitude)

Day 2:
Today is a simple, but important gratitude.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work in the Western Dubuque School District as a principal at Epworth Elementary School.  This has been the most fulfilling job in my career in education.  I feel blessed to work with such a dynamic group of teachers and staff members who make excellent decisions to benefit students on a daily basis. The students and families that we serve at Epworth Elementary School are second to none. They are invested, engaged, and willing to partner through this important work.  I can honestly say that I am excited each morning when I get to go to work.  It is my ultimate hope that our students and staff members feel the same way.

I have been part of the Western Dubuque School District for fourteen years and honestly cannot imagine a better place to work.  Our people are friendly, welcoming, incredibly skilled, and willing to do whatever it takes to help our schools and greater community.  There is truly som…

Day 1 (21 Days of Gratitude)

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Over the next three days, I am participating in the Orange Frog Workshop in Alexandria, Virginia. This work is based on the research on Shawn Achor, author of the The Happiness Advantage and focuses on positive psychology and the benefits that the Orange Frog framework can bring to your organization.  Shawn has a TED Talk that has been viewed millions of times which outlines the basis of his research and provides context into what I am learning about within these three days.


One of the practices that Shawn recommends within this professional learning opportunity is to create positive habits, targeting specific behaviors to improve.  I have accepted this challenge and for the next 21 days, I will post a blog each evening about things for which I am grateful in my life.

Day 1:
There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for my immediate family.  I am so incredibly fortunate to be married to my best friend who keeps me focused, makes me laugh, and loves me unconditionally.  Joh…