Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lucky Number Seven

With a birth date of July 7, I've always considered seven to be my lucky number. So when I heard that MEMSPA (Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association) was looking at starting Cohort 7 for their "Leadership Matters" series, I thought now is the time! I had heard all the buzz about the program from the state conference and had talked with many leaders who had taken previous cohorts. The program is facilitated by two people I highly respect. Debbie McFalone is an educational consultant who has worked with administrators from my district and has really helped me develop my leadership skills. I knew from the time she spent with us that she not only knew the information she presented, but that she lived it. Derek Wheaton was the 2011 Outstanding Principal of the Year and though he may not remember it, he gave me support and encouragement during my first presentation at a MEMSPA conference. While pacing the floor before my session, Derek approached me and asked what I was going to present. He may not have know who I was, but I certainly remembered him and his moving speech as principal of the year. I told him about my presentation and he said it sounded interesting and then attended my session! It meant a lot that he wasn't just saying it, he really wanted to hear it and was very supportive. It's amazing how a few words and a genuine interest in what you are doing can motivate people. So with the lucky cohort number and two inspiring leaders, it was time to dive into this 10 month program!

I'm writing this post from the perspective of having just finished the first of eight weekends with this group. I was expecting to be the "old man" in the group, but I quickly realized this was a blend of new administrators and those who had been at it for a while. We were truly a blended group with varied experiences and varied school districts. I also soon found that we all had very different backgrounds that brought us to where we are today.  I mentioned in one of our sharing sessions that I think "normal is a myth" and that our unique experiences and even failures and tribulations have made us the principals we are today. While our backgrounds were varied, our reason for being there was the same: To become better leaders and to grow and learn. There is an excitement and energy in a room that has all its members united for a common goal and ready to support one another. While talking with principals from one district they said this about a colleague in our cohort, "He does a great job of lifting up his staff and school without ever making any of our schools feeling torn down." What a great testimonial of the power of positive branding and collaboration over competition. I knew I was going to learn a lot from this group!

I've mentioned before that I recently finished my 20th year in education. The past two years have been some of the most exciting and invigorating of my career with becoming a connected educator on Twitter and reflecting on my learning through my blog. It also helps that I have an awesome school and inspiring team of educators that I get to work with every day! Diving into technology and learning from others has shown me that it's not what I have learned through the years, but all that I have yet to learn and discover that makes this time more exiting than ever. I'm staring the second half of my educational career with a fresh excitement and this cohort of learning and leadership is just the way to launch that journey. The first 20 years have been great in education, I can't wait to see what the next 20 years will bring! What new people and new ideas are you surrounding yourself with to learn and grow as an educator? 

The Lucky Number 7


"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Mahatma Gandhi

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Dr. Seuss

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." - Ben Franklin

Tips for Beating the Winter Blues (Get Outside & Be Active)


Monday, February 8: GSRP picture day in the Art Room
Tuesday, February 9: PBS Committee in Denise's room 8:05 am
                                   Kindergarten Team meeting with Jon & Denise
Wednesday, February 10: Administrative PD 8:00-11:30 am
                                          REED (Shannon/Rachel) 2:30 pm
Thursday, February 11: Staff Meeting 8:00 am (Interim Self-Assessment)
                                       Jon to Focus Group Meeting 9:00-11:00
                                       REED (Shannon/Sherry Lynn) 9:45 am
                                       Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 pm

Monday, February 15: No School
Tuesday, February 16: No Students / District PD at St. Mary's Cultural Center 8-11/ Building PD (iReady data results) 12:30-3:30 pm. (More information to come)
Wednesday, February 17: Pizza Kit Order forms go home
Thursday, February 18: Staff Meeting 8:00 am (Finish Self-Assessment)


  1. What a wonderful tribute to the Derek Wheaton who, with only a few words and a genuine interest, made a lasting impression on you! It's a terrific reminder that every word we say adds value - whether it's negative or positive. It sounds like you are in for a terrific journey with your group. I look forward to learning from you as you go through the process!

    1. Thanks Jennifer! Just like Compelled Tribe, I'm sure I will learn a lot from this group:)

  2. Jon,
    Good for you! Putting in the time to complete the Cohort is commendable. But what I truly admire is that you openly admit that the last two years have been some of your best moments. You share with everyone that you've taken risks, stepped out of your comfort zone and continued to learn. This is what I love! You model for others as an experienced educator that people can evolve. At no point were you bad or doing it wrong, but you saw tremendous value in moving forward and adjusting to a new paradigm in education.
    Happy to call you my friend.


  3. Thank you Ben! You have been a big part in jump starting my learning these past two years!