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Silent Gratitude Isn't Good For Anyone

Uncategorized Nov 23, 2020

Remember, silent gratitude isn’t good to anyone.--

I remember my first few weeks as an Exceptional Children's teacher. I was helping in the car pick up line when this third grade student came to me and said, "I think there is something wrong with our teacher. I think she is sleeping." 

I grabbed a colleague and went to the classroom. It was filled with after-school students and a woman who I had never met slumped in a chair. 

"We have to clear this room," I directed. 

I checked the pulse of the woman. There was no vitals. 

"Call 911!" I told my colleague and slowly eased her off the chair and onto the floor to begin CPR. 

She did not make it. 

As I was watching her get taken away in an ambulance my boss came over to me to thank me for my leadership. He had just gotten off the phone with the woman's husband. 

He told me, "He just kept repeating, I think I told her I loved her this morning. I know I thanked her. I think I told her."

If you are...

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Seven Strategies to Raise Morale and Employee Engagement

organizational health Nov 19, 2020


As a school leader you might be “Feeling Powerless” against the issues and challenges dealing with Covid-19.  

Remember, the organization will look to the top leaders to protect them and to be their voice.   

Without this feeling of safety there will always be an impact on culture and morale. 

Here are seven strategies I have learned and am implementing during these times to raise engagement and morale.   

Get Clear!: Leaders need to be on the same page (mission, vision, purpose) with their team. Be sure to communicate daily why the school exists, what we do, how we will be successful and what the future holds!  

Accentuate the positive: Research shows—not surprisingly—that building employees’ strengths is measurably more effective than fixating on weaknesses. Developing a culture that is strengths-based creates the environment in which employees quickly learn their roles, produce...

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Your Real Title As a Leader

communication Oct 22, 2020
This reminder might be more for me, but if it helps you in your daily work, please let me know.
I have learned that may appear as resistance by the people you serve, might be a simple lack of clarity and communication, not incompetence or insubordination.
Here is what I mean.
Communication needs to be internalized. This means that individuals need to hear something between seven and sixteen times to begin to understand.
Here is one glaring example. Just this weekend a RunDMC (iconic rap group of the 80’s) song lyric popped in my head.
I embarrassedly sang it out loud as I made lunch for the kids. I told my daughter, “This song was on the first cassette tape I ever bought.”
“What’s a cassette tape?” she responded.
“Alexa, play You be illin’ by RunDMC,” I requested.
I was amazed at how I nailed the lyrics and I haven’t heard that...
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To Win in Business, You Need Great Partners like Acadia NorthStar!

#leadership partnership Oct 08, 2020

Acadia NorthStar has been assisting public charter schools with accounting, budget management and compliance since 2001. For over a decade, Acadia's experienced staff has been exceeding their clients' expectations.

Most of you have heard of Acadia.

Many of you have a contract with Acadia. 

But what you might not know is that 365 days a year, the team at Acadia works with their clients to ensure long term, fiscal vitality. 

Here is how I know: Five years ago I was the Executive Director to a charter school board overseeing two charter schools. One of the schools was in financial hardship. It's expenditures far exceeded it's revenue (over one million a year). The school could not pay rent. The school was losing enrollment.

One day I just happened to find a folder that was labeled "unpaid invoices"on the desk of the former principal. In the folder was over $500,000 in unpaid invoices tracking back to the previous fiscal year. 

This was not a problem I, or any...

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The Sweetest and Most Important Sound

#leadership connecting Oct 04, 2020

Unfortunately, this week when I sent out a message highlighting two of our teacher leaders who were special guests on our Empowered Educators webinar; I incorrectly typed the name of one of our teacher leaders, Sarah Douglas. 

Sarah is one of the most valued teacher leaders at East Wake Academy.

My deepest apologies Sarah.

When Sarah let me know about my mistake I remembered what Dale Carnegie most famously wrote in his best selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. 

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”

When I first heard this phrase, I felt it was one of the most valuable pieces of advice I was given. Being an educator for over 20 years and currently a consultant, I have been fortunate enough to meet tens of thousands of people. It is critical that I work to make people feel safe and appreciated. 

With my personality type, according to DISC...

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Build a Strong Culture Through Stories, Ceremonies and Rituals

culture live2lead Oct 02, 2020

Hello my friend, 

My grandmother recently turned 90 years old.

She was and still is such an integral part of my life. She practically raised me when my single Mom would work long hours when I was a child. 

In fact, I was telling my son Matthew that every summer, from five to eleven years old, I would fly down to Florida on my own and spend a month with my grandparents. I told them a story about this giant banana tree that every year I would get my picture taken in front of. I shared stories about swimming and fishing in the lake outback. And how my Grandfather loved to sit on the swing every night and watch the sunset. 

We would finish our summers by driving across the country with their pop-up camper. I got to see the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore and the Baseball Hall of Fame all before I was ten years old. 

Maybe this is why "Living like a tourist" is one of my five goals in life. 

I had not seen her for over a year due to...

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Do It, Delegate It, Dump It

focus time management Aug 25, 2020

I had just left the hospital after my second EKG in two years as a middle school director. It wasn't a heart attack according to the doctor, just a bad combination of high stress, no sleep and dehydration. 

I reached out to my mentor, who too was a former principal, to let him know I was ok and just needed to take a few days off.

 I’ll never forget his response. 

“Tom, what is it do you do all day?”  

I had great answers, “Well I answer emails to teachers and parents, I do walk throughs, I handle discipline, I put out fires. You know, my job!”

Please Note: The worse excuse is a good excuse. 

He replied, “And which of those activities actually improving your school?” 

“Well none,” I said. “But you don’t understand, I have to do them! Otherwise…”

He answered, “The only thing you have to do as the leader of this organization is master three things.”

Do It! ...

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How to Write Goals For Your Charter School

Does the school you lead, teach at or govern have goals?

I mean written down goals that are measured and evaluated each quarter, six months or a year to demonstrate the school’s progress towards its ultimate vision?

No one at the end of the school year says, wow, we crushed that financial audit or performance framework. 

Don’t get me wrong, they are important aspects of your school - but they don’t inspire and do not result in significance. 

If you don’t have written down, inspiring and celebrated goals, it is alright. You are not alone. 

However, I think baseball great Yogi Berra was trying to tell us something when he said, "You've got to be careful when you don't know where you are going, you might not get there."

Now, one of the main problems in setting goals for schools is the principal or team writes a goal that does not lead to inspiration for all involved.

They set a goal that they know is attainable and it does not take any new...

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Push Off the Ground, Not Off of Eachother

Uncategorized Aug 01, 2020

“Push off the ground, not off of each other.”

I heard this thousands of times from football refs during my playing days. Those who played football would know the feeling of holding up the pile with tons of body weight crushing down on you. Knees on their chest or other delicate places. Guys pinching your thighs and sides. Linebackers jumping in the top of the pile as the whistle blew.

The refs try and get us to just push each other deeper into the pile by finding some solid ground to push from.

I haven’t thought of that quote since I last played 25 years ago.

Today I am asking the same thing of parents and non educators.

I know principals and teachers are working diligently to open schools for the betterment and safety of our children and the community. You all have enough pressure on their chest and knees in their most delicate of places in a normal school environment.

Opening a school under the most unprecedented times...where there is no right...

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Tips To Increase Employee Engagement

employee retention Jul 07, 2020

Since the only way to improve your charter school is to either recruit new teachers or improve the teachers in your staff, high quality teacher engagement and retention can the lifeblood of charter schools.

It is vital that the most effective teachers are supported and nurtured so that they stay in the profession. A recent survey from the National Center for Educational Statistics indicates that about 25% of teachers who left the profession did so indicating that administration was extremely unsupportive.

These data align to recent a 2018 Gallup Poll of the US workplace noted that almost two-thirds of United States managers said they “don’t like talking with employees” mirrors the 67% of US workers who say they’re not engaged at work.

The reasons given were; 37% of managers found it difficult to give negative feedback to workers about their performance; 20% said they struggle to share their own vulnerability and another 20% disliked being the messenger for...

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