Wednesday, June 14, 2017


People often talk about the legacy left behind by someone after they leave an organization or institution. It got me thinking about what I would leave behind at Rosedale, so I looked up the definition. The first definition of legacy is "a gift by will especially of money or other personal property". Unfortunately for Rosedale, I don't have any money or property to give to the staff:). Another definition was "something transmitted by or received from a predecessor or from the past - He left his children a legacy of love and respect". This sounded more like the kind of legacy I wanted to leave with Rosedale.

When I first came to Rosedale, the staff had been through many transitions in a short amount of time and morale was pretty low. My goal for the first year was simply to develop trust with and among the staff and to help create a unified team. As time progressed, we were able to set up some systems to help struggling learners with regular data dives and incorporate systems of intervention for those students. After the building renovation, staff really started embracing technology in the classrooms and also experimenting and trying new techniques with instruction as well as parent communication methods (Class Dojo). Many of the staff members have taken leadership roles with district initiatives and have led staff meetings. Every classroom has truly embraced the district Character Elements and most recently I have seen a real shift from teacher focused classrooms to student focused classrooms. The willingness of this staff to learn and grow has truly inspired me.

As I reflected on the past five years at Rosedale, I tried to figure out what my legacy at the building would be. The more I reflected, the more I realized I had it all backwards. It's not about the legacy I have left, but about the legacy the Rosedale staff and community have left with me. I leave Rosedale a little wiser,  more inspired, and with many happy memories. The friendships and relationships I have developed here will stay with me always and become a part of who I am. Thank you Rosedale team for taking me in as one of your own and for leaving me with a legacy of inspiration and friendship that has made me a better principal and a better man. 

Rosedale Rocks!! 


"That is your legacy when you leave this Earth: How many hearts you touched." - Patti Davis 

"No legacy is so rich as honesty." - William Shakespeare

"I'm not interested in my legacy. I'm more interested in living." - John Glenn

Video from our final Celebrate Monday assembly



Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Quiet Worker

This may come as a shock to you, but I never do anything quietly. From morning announcements in the voice of Robin Williams in "Good Morning, Vietnam" to calling students up for awards in our Celebrate Monday assembly like a sports announcer, I like to have fun at school. It's the same with service projects. From the Polar Plunge to St. Baldrick's Shave-a-Thon, the events are publicized on social media with plenty of photos. My average speed is a hundred miles an hour and everything is larger than life. My comfort level is high when there is a lot of activity and I'm in the middle of the action.

My wife is very different. She loves service projects like I do, but she does them quietly. When we do Meals on Wheels deliveries, the pictures end up on my social media, but rarely on hers. She volunteers regularly at the church thrift store and does countless hours of work as a deacon, none of which ever makes it to social media.  In fact, she rarely talks about her duties.  She just looks at them as something she does and not worthy of mentioning. In many ways, I wish I was more like her...a quiet worker. That's one of the things I most admire about her, she does thing just because they need to be done with no fanfare. 

As a building principal, I'm often in the spotlight for our school events. Introducing assemblies, handing out awards, leading community events. I love every minute of it. However, I realize that the real magic happens from the quiet workers. The classroom teacher who spends her evenings writing lesson plans. The school secretary who helps a child that has a stomach ache. The interventionist who doesn't give up on a child who is struggling academically. The custodian who works late into the evening to be sure the school is ready for students in the morning. The volunteer who's only payment is the smile of the child that they work with each week. 

Although I admire quiet workers, I will probably never be one. I can't help but let my passion out and tell the world about what we do at school and publicly tell our story. That doesn't mean I don't recognize the work that goes on behind the scenes. In many ways, the quiet workers are the foundation of everything we do in education. As a principal, I would like to thank all the quiet workers who helped me as a student and all the quiet workers who help me do my job everyday at school. All the work that you do in the shadows helps our students to shine! 


"Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man." - Iain Duncan Smith

"It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones who win in the lifelong race." - Robert W. Service

"There is a time to be quiet and a time to talk." - Aung San Suu Kyi



Monday, June 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 am
                            Jon to Kennedy for teacher interviews 12:30-4:30 pm 
Tuesday, June 13: Farewell Assembly 2:45 pm 
Wednesday, June 14: 4th Grade Picnic
Thursday, June 15: Students dismissed at 12:10 pm
                             Staff gathering at The Box 4:00 pm 
Friday, June 16: Citizenship Award Assembly with music by Pato 10:00 am
                          4th Grade Clap Out 11:35 am
                         Students dismissed at 12:10 pm for Summer Vacation!

Monday, June 19: Teacher Work Day (Optional Report if checked out on Friday:)
Tuesday June 20: Building open from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm
Wednesday, June 21: Building open from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Larger World

One of my favorite moments from the Star Wars movies is when Luke is introduced to the concept of The Force and Obi-Wan Kenobi tells him, "You've taken your first step into a larger world." I love that moment, because as educators, those are the moments we live for! The "aha" moment when a child realizes that there are things they have never dreamed about or thought about or known about. Those are the moments that can change lives and even the world. Who knows what journeys those moments will lead to and how many others will be changed by that person? It's the "spark of learning" that educators have the noble task of spreading to as many students as possible!

During teacher appreciation week, I posted about some of my favorite teachers. One of my former schoolmates made a comment that one of the teachers was the first person to make him realize that there were places in the world outside of our small northern Michigan town. I hadn't realized until he said that how much that teacher had impacted our entire class. He was an outsider, a nonconformist, and in many ways a rebel. He didn't stay long in our sleepy little town, but his impact is still being felt.  That's the kind of educator that I want to be and the kind of educator that I want to celebrate! One who challenges the status quo and not only thinks outside the box, but throws the box right out the window. As Dave Burgess would say, a Pirate of Education!

This month, many students are moving on to another grade level or building or maybe even graduating from high school or college. Those students are truly taking a step into a larger world. I hope they take with them a love of learning and excitement for challenges that will stay with them for a lifetime. As educators, one of the most important roles we have is to show our students there is always something more on the horizon to learn and experience. If we've done our job well, they will travel to those horizons and continue to search for new ones in a larger world.

Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker (10 seconds)


"The biggest adventure you can take is to the live the life of your dreams." - Oprah Winfrey 

"Life is either a great adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller 

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." - Amelia Earhart 



Monday, June 5: Student of the Month Assembly (GRIT) 9:05 am
Tuesday, June 6: LEA Negotiations 2:00 pm 
Wednesday, June 7: Jon to Buchanan for Class Groupings
Thursday, June 8: Field Day
                            Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 pm 

Monday, June 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 am
Tuesday, June 13: Farewell Assembly 2:45 pm 
Thursday, June 15: Students dismissed at 12:10 pm
                              Staff gathering at The Box 4:00 pm 
Friday, June 16: 10:00 Assembly with PATO (2 Citizenship Awards per classroom)
                          11:35 4th Grade Clap Out (parents in the gym)
                          12:10 pm Students dismissed for summer vacation

Monday, June 19: Teacher Work Day (Optional Report) 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who Loves Ya Baby?

If you're old enough to remember that line, then you remember Telly Savalas rocking a bald head in Kojak. From Yul Brynner to Patrick Stewart to Vin Desel, stars of the screen have shown us that bald can be beautiful. Recently, I decided to part with my hair, not for a fashion statement, but for a good cause. Each year the St. Baldrick's organization raises money for childhood cancer research by holding Shave-a-thons. Participants get pledges and donations from people in return for shaving their heads. The head shaving is an act of solidarity with the fighters and survivors of cancer who have lost their hair and in memory of lost loved ones. When I was first approached about participating, I was willing to donate, but wasn't sure about shaving my head...especially during a school year. However, when I found out that one of the children being honored this year was the child of one of my teachers, I knew this was the time to do all I could to help. So, I signed up to "Brave the Shave"!

One of the first things I learned when I signed up was that only 4% of research money goes to pediatric cancer. The next thing I learned was how generous my friends were. In 24 hours, I had reached my goal of $500 due in large part to one my former wrestlers. Within the next month, over $2000 was raised from donations from friends, colleagues, and members of the Livonia Rotary Club. The final thing I learned was the true meaning of grit. Being a part of the event, I was able to hear many of the stories of these remarkable young children and their families. These children (and their families) endure incredible hardships and heartaches and yet they keep moving forward and continue to support one another through it all. I learned that no day should ever be taken for granted.

The day of the shaving was an emotional day. Not for losing my hair, but for seeing all the generosity and love and support from people at the event. They all had some connection with childhood cancer and were all willing to help any way they could. The child of my teacher, Kellen, who is one of the bravest people I know, came up on stage and got to do the honors of shaving my head. It was so wonderful to see the excitement in his face and know that this day was for him and all those fighting the same fight. It also meant a lot to me to have my daughters with me and for all of us to realize how lucky we are and how much we have to be thankful for.

The next day we had a special #CelebrateMonday assembly. Our theme for the month is Grit, so it was the perfect chance to show what true grit is. We talked about our youth service projects and how students can participate to make a difference. The St. Baldrick's event was a chance for me to give back a little just as our students had been all year long. But we also talked about Kellen and how he shows grit each time he goes for a treatment or has a stay in the hospital or just simply keeps going on days he doesn't feel well. And how his family does the same.  One of my students correctly stated that "Grit is the stubborn refusal to quit". That's exactly what Kellen and so many others do every day. I may not rock the bald look like a movie star, but hopefully my shiny head will tell Kellen and all the children fighting cancer the answer to the question, "Who loves ya baby?".


"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." - Mahatma Gandhi

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." - Winston Churchill

St. Baldrick's Event 2016 (3 minutes) 



Monday, May 29: No School for Memorial Day
Tuesday, May 30: All School Assembly with Jerry Jacoby (singer/character education) 2:00-3:00 pm
Wednesday, May 31: Jon to Buchanan for Kindergarten Round Up
Thursday, June 1: Class Grouping Time 8:05 am
                           Paula to Rosedale for Kindergarten Round Up
Friday, June 2: Final Lunch with the Principal 12:10 pm 
                       Spring Fling/Basket Raffle 6:00-8:00 pm 

Monday, June 5: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 am 
Tuesday, June 6: Grouping Cards due to Angie
Wednesday, June 7: Jon to Buchanan for class groupings
Thursday, June 8: Field Day
                            Elementary Principals Meeting 1:30-4:30 pm

Thursday, June 15: Students dismissed at 12:10 pm
                             Gathering at The Box 4:00 pm 
Friday, June 16: All School Assembly with Pato 10:00 am
                         4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 am
                         Students Dismissed at 12:10 pm 

Monday, June 19: Teacher Work Day (Optional Report Day)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Too Many Warning Lights

In the very near future, my faithful Dodge Avenger will hit 200,000 miles. From the metro Detroit area, it has seen many trips to my former homes in northern Michigan, western Michigan, and Chicago. It's also seen a few road trips to Tennessee. It's been a reliable and mostly trouble free vehicle for the past ten years. However, with age it has developed it's idiosyncrasies. The most notable is the frequent lighting up of warning lights on my dash board. Random systems will light up and every time I've taken it in to be looked at the indicated system is fine, but the light has malfunctioned. You can probably guess the end result of having warning lights go off frequently. I've begun to ignore them. Now don't get me wrong, I still give proper maintenance to my vehicle, but I've learned to rely on my knowledge of my car and how it runs as opposed to responding to every light that may go on or off.

I think a similar experience is familiar to educators. We are constantly barraged with "warning lights" about our educational system and student achievement. We have warnings from world rankings that pit nation against nation. We get warnings from national rankings that pit state against state. We receive warnings from the state that compare district to district. It sometimes feels like a constant barrage of warnings of everything that is wrong with education. After a while, it can become easy to do what I've done with my car...ignore the warning lights. When everything is a crisis, nothing is an emergency.

As educators, we do need to be vigilant about how our students are performing and we need to be open to feedback and ways that we can improve. However, there also needs to be some balance with the information we receive. We need to hear when we are doing things well. We need to celebrate the successes of our students. We need to have some signs of our accomplishments with students. If you are a teacher, make sure you encourage your students as often as you correct them. If you are a principal, make sure you are doing the same with your staff. Too many warning lights won't do anything, but encourage us to tune everything out. Find the balance of tuning out the negatives, but still listening to constructive ways to improve. With a little TLC, my car has reliably taken me everywhere I've needed or wanted to go. With the same TLC, educators will take students to where they need and want to go!


"History is a vast early warning system." - Norman Cousins

"One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning." - James Russel Lowell

"Remember that life's big changes rarely give advanced warning." - H. Jackson Brown Jr.


Ryan Harwood

Anne Caulfield


Monday, May 22: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 am
Tuesday, May 23: Building Visit from Theresa O'Brien (Chief Academic Officer)
Wednesday, May 24: REED 8:20 am (Benson)
                                  PBS Committee Members subbed out for morning
                                  Volunteer Tea in the LMC 2:45-3:45 pm
Thursday, May 25: Staff Meeting 8:05 am (led by PBS team)
                              LEA Negotiations 8:30 - ???
Friday, May 26: Super Be Party hosted by Jon and Denise 2:45-3:15 pm

Monday, May 29: No School for Memorial Day
Tuesday, May 30: All School Assembly with singer/character education leader Jerry Jacoby 2:00-3:00 pm
Wednesday, May 31: Jon to Buchanan for Kindergarten Round Up all day
Thursday, June 1: Staff Meeting 8:05 (Dedicated for class grouping time)
                            Paula to Rosedale for Kindergarten Round Up in the morning
Friday, June 2: Spring Fling/Basket Raffle 6:00-8:00 pm