Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let the Games Begin...

This is by far my favorite time of year for sports.  I love the beginning of the NCAA basketball tourney because it is a time for teams to start anew for a three-week fight to the finish.  It's a time to cheer for the underdog and find yourself on the edge of your seat while watching your new favorite team try to keep your bracket from falling apart. 
The weeks leading up the championship game is what basketball fans love to call March Madness.  In recent years my family has gotten into the tournament hype.  We each filled out our NCAA brackets and have a friendly $50 pot waiting for the winner.  I like to think I have the edge since I follow basketball more closely than anyone else in the house.  However, it never fails, my over-analyzing always gets the best of me.  My wife and son generally both outscore me - but not this year. 
The predictions have been made, so it is time to let the games begin. 

A New Experience...

My wife and I have always challenged our children to try new things.  This year they went above and beyond to push us to new limits.
My oldest son has always enjoyed playing basketball, baseball, and football.  Those were the three sports I enjoyed the most and have really learned to love over the years.  This year he decided to add wrestling into the mix.  My wife and I didn't know a lot about the sport but have really enjoyed watching him and his friends enjoy some success throughout the year.  My wife really made a 180 degree turn from Day 1 when she tried to convince him he really didn't want to wrestle.  She now is one of the biggest fans, and strangely enough, will be sad when the season ends.
My youngest son has said for years he wants to show pigs at the fair.  We do not know the first thing about raising pigs, but we are about to become a pig farming family.  The location took care of itself as a friend offered us a place to keep them which is nearby.  We began attending Swine Club meetings and sat through a 2 1/2 hour training session today.  I must say the learning curve will be very large for us as we absorb as much information as possible.  When we return from spring break we will soon be in the pig business as we attend auctions looking to buy three pigs.  We were told we should probably have an extra pig for the boys in case something happens to one.  I'm sure, like wrestling, we will soon learn to appreciate what this is all about.  In fact, I'm afraid my wife will really fall in love with the little guys and will hate to see them go. 
I guess it's true when they say you're never too old to learn new things.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I was reminded today of just how important it is to recognize those students who work so hard despite the toughest challenges in their lives.  We have so many students who would love nothing more than to have the ability to                                  (You name it... jump higher, master their math facts, read books at the next level, spell the tougher words, etc.).  These students push themselves day in and day out to reach those goals.  Some hit their mark while others come up just a bit short.  Regardless of the destination, their journey has one common link... perserverance.
Too often, I meet with students who have the potential yet they don't want to perservere because the road is blocked by too many hurdles.  Although we would love to take that potential and place it in the body of those who work so hard, that's unfortunately not the way it works.  I may never understand why some students struggle, but I know we are all better because of their efforts.  Take a minute to recognize one of your strugglers in the next day or two and remind them the perserverance will pay off in a big way.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What a Weekend...

We're approaching bedtime on this beautiful Sunday, and I'm really wishing we could have that extra hour back.  Our family had a hectic weekend, but it was a lot of fun.  After spending Saturday morning and afternoon at Upward for my younger son, the two of us made a mad dash for Fort Wayne to see my wife and other son (we made it just in time for his 4:30 game).  We had a little time to relax while we enjoyed dinner in Fort Wayne (and of course some shopping to complete my wife's agenda).  We made it home around 10:00 (or should I say 11:00 - either way we were about to lose an hour before morning).  The alarm was set for 5:30 so we could get ready for an early morning tip-off in Fort Wayne.  We made it back to Fort Wayne and were prepared for an exciting semi-final.   Unfortunately we came up on the short end of an overtime game which had many lead changes along the way.  We enjoyed some time with team members and families for a late breakfast followed by a quick shopping stop. 
We were able to make it home for an enjoyable afternoon in the sun.  I finally was able to complete some items on my spring checklist (get the grill ready, bring the patio furniture up to the house, put the snow items away, etc.).  Of course a beautiful spring day would not be complete without some baseball in the backyard and a nice long run (I missed yesterday's run so I had to combine the two distances for a nice 10-mile adventure... much more enjoyable in 60 degree temps.). 
I think our schedule was really thrown off with the tournament.  I can't remember the last time we did not attend church.  My youngest son will really be bummed when he's reminded we have school tomorrow.  It's much more enjoyable facing the weeks when you know spring temperatures are in the forecast. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sting Operation...

I generally look forward to Saturdays as a time to sleep in just a little after the normal 4:30 alarms throughout the work week.  I start each workday with a run or other workout, but on the weekends I can usually enjoy a later run outside.  Today started out much different than most Saturdays.  You see, lately I have had to report a problem with my newspaper delivery.  In fact, many days in the past 2+ months, the paper has either been missing from my paper box or has only consisted of a partial delivery (Business section only).   I am not a big newspaper guy, but I do enjoy looking at the day's headlines and taking some extra time to read the daily sports report.  I could probably do without a weekday paper, but I was surprised to see the cost was actually less for a daily delivery than it was for weekends only, so I have gone ahead with the daily paper for the past 2 or 3 years. 
I first thought the missing paper (or section) was a delivery error and began calling each time the paper was missing.  The calls became more frequent and my suspicion began to grow.  I decided today would be Day1 of my private sting operation.  Having already passed my usual wake-up time, I was tossing and turning when I heard a truck passing the house at 5:00 a.m.  I looked outside and realized the paper was delivered and decided to come downstairs to set up my lookout post.  That's where I am right now. 
I already checked the box and noticed a perfect delivery.  All (3) sections were seurely tucked away - well done, paper delivery man (or woman).  I decided if this was a case of a stolen paper, to make it easier for my thief, I needed to make it more accessible.  So... I positioned my paper in a way that would be easy to grab while making just a brief stop along the way.  Game on....
I hate to suspect a neighborhood thief, but this problem has continued to worsen.  Surely my delivery person would get tired of the constant complaints from this address and pay more attention to the delivery at this location.  In fact, I would really feel bad if it was a thief because my delivery person is probably reprimanded when he or she is actually doing the job correctly each day.  
I have been at my post for nearly 75 minutes and have not had a single car go by the house.  What if I don't catch the thief today?  What if there really isn't a thief?  What will I do if I do catch a neighborly thief?   I'm not sure what my next step will be.
I really don't like the idea of all this down time.  In fact, the 75 minutes I have taken so far could have been used to run the (7) miles I need to log at some point today.  I really need to start my day.  But for now I'll wait... and wait some more...

To be continued..... 

Friday, March 9, 2012

They Grow So Quickly....

Tonight we celebrated the end of another Upward Basketball season.  Hundreds of students ages K - 6th grade gathered at the church to take part in various games as a celebration to wrap up the 2012 basketball season.  The players and cheerleaders were able to choose from inflatable games, face painting, dunk tanks, jousting, concessions, and so many other options.  The kids had a great time. I was excited to be working alongside my older son as we supervised one of the inflatable bouncy tents.  It didn't take long to realize he was much more interested in the text messages he received than supervising the tent.  He did give it a good effort for awhile but found an out when my wife was ready to leave.  It was worth a shot to think we could make it a good night, and to be honest, we did share some laughs and joke around with a number of children before he decided to call it a night.  I guess the older our children get, the more the memories change.  I have to learn to speak his language and accept the changes in his life as he grows.  I'm learning to accept the changes and make the most of the time we do spend together.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


There are so many unsung heroes who help support local schools.  Today we held our annual chicken BBQ for our school and raised a significant amount of money to support student activities and help provide money for classroom teachers to buy supplies.  Our PTO has done a tremendous job in recent years volunteering their time to generate enough money to support our budget.  You might say I'm forced to say that if you only knew that my wife is a co-president.  I will honestly say that has helped me better understand the responsibilities and the time involved, but I have always known it has not been a glamorous job.  Despite the challenges, we have found many wonderful individuals who have teamed together to make it work each and every year.  For that I am truly grateful. Job well done, PTO!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Too Busy? Enjoy the Ride....

As I was looking ahead to the end of the week, I started wondering how my wife and I would juggle our schedule for the weekend.  It's amazing how we can allow ourselves to be so busy but yet find time to get it all done.  It seems when things slow down we begin to feel guilty because we think we should be doing something. 
This weekend I have the opportunity to coach my youngest son in his final Upward basketball game.  As a member of the leadership team for Upward, I will plan to attend each of the games as well as the award ceremonies that follow.  During that time my wife will be attending basketball games for my older son as his team competes in a tourney in Fort Wayne Saturday and Sunday.  Games will likely continue into the evening hours before picking up again on Sunday. 
We'll get it all accomplished and lose an hour in the process as we spring forward this weekend.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  I've had far too many people tell me to enjoy these years because they grow up way too fast.  That's just what we'll do.  Although it's hectic, I would imagine there will be a memory or two we'll take away from the weekend.  Let's enjoy it while it lasts...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

How easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day grind when suddenly you find there are just 10 weeks remaining in the school year.  We have approximately 50 days to prepare our students for next school year.  In those 50 days the checklist seems to get longer and longer.  Depending on the grade level we begin to think about all the various standards we still need to cover.  I have the privilege each day to see dedicated teachers pour their hearts into their children and come away asking, "How can I do more?"  I'm thankful for a school that gets it... teachers who understand what makes a difference... families who appreciate the work of their teachers... students who show up with a smile, ready to learn.  Let's make the most of those days!

Monday, March 5, 2012

ISTEP Preparations...

Tomorrow is the BIG day for our school.  Students in grades 3, 4, and 5 will get to showcase their skills as they begin ISTEP testing.  It's amazing how this test has evolved into such a winner-takes-all mentality.  I worry about the students in the southern part of our state who were impacted in one way or another by the recent storms.  I sure hope the state places an asterisk beside their data to indicate exemption for those who needed more nurturing this week instead of high pressure testing since their lives have already been turned upside-down.  I'm all for accountability, but I'm also willing to put common sense ahead of deadlines.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


As I prepared to write today's message, I took time to read through some of the other entries.  It becomes very difficult to understand why education becomes such a quick and easy target for those outside school walls.  Our profession is filled with some of the most dedicated and inspirational people.  We are fortunate to be able to put our children in the hands of these teachers each and every day. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I think I have finally figured this out...

It has taken all three days for me to finally figure out the world of posting blogs.  I have added entries each day, but this is likely the first one ending up in the correct comment box.  I have always considered myself a quick learner in the technical world, so I never thought I would see the day when my son would surpass my technical skills.  I think I have a lot to learn if I want to keep up with him in the years ahead.

Friday, March 2, 2012

ISTEP - Ready or Not

I took time the past three days to conference with every 4th and 5th grade student.  We reviewed previous ISTEP scores, looked at their growth report, and made goals for this year's test.  I wish I had more days like the three I just spent meeting 1-on-1 with our students.  I hoped they enjoyed the short visit as much as I did. 
Ready or Not?  Well, I can honestly say I believe our students are ready.  I believe our staff as a whole has done an outstanding job preparing the students for next week.  Let the fun begin!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Challenge Begins...

My day started, like most, with a 4:30 wake-up to get in an early morning workout.  Part of my stress relief is to stay in shape by running.  My next race will be the Indy Mini Marathon in May.  I try to do most of my running early in the morning to avoid taking away from time with my family in the after-school hours.  I generally get my morning routine completed so that I can start my school day sometime between 6:30 - 7:00. 

My day has the making of a very busy day, but it should be a rewarding day as well as I take time to meet with each of the 5th grade students as a pre-ISTEP session.  I will take time to go over previous ISTEP scores and help the students set a goal for the upcoming tests.  The fifth graders will meet for an unrelated convocation this afternoon in which I will help supervise the group.  The school day ends with a PTO meeting. 

This evening our family time will be split between 2 or 3 locations.  My oldest son has a wrestling meet at the middle school.  My wife will play chauffeur as she goes between wrestling and my younger son's basketball practice.  I coach the basketball team but will not be able to attend this evening because I will be attending the regional spelling bee at Bethel College.  A 5th grader from NES will be participating in the event.

Our family will have a chance to wrap up the evening as we each meet at home around 8:00. 

Have a great day....