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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 model...no right...

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Tips To Increase Employee Engagement

employee retention Jul 06, 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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Focus Your Energy for What Matters

leadership priorities Jun 26, 2020

My family and I recently had the opportunity to embark on a Gulf Stream fishing trip. We caught over 300 lbs of Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Barracuda, Bonito and a few other species.

It is certainly a day I will never forget that was filled with many leadership lessons. 

Our fishing spot was three hours one way, sixty miles offshore. We left the dock at 5:00 am, fished for seven hours in 90 degree heat and returned home with over 300 lbs of fish.

On the way back to shore, I climbed to the bridge of the 50 foot boat and I happened to notice both the captain and the first mate were sleeping.

After I had a small tantrum regarding our safety I realized great leaders understand when they need to be at their best - expending the most energy in order to meet their mission. 

Our captain put the boat on autopilot, allowing the captain to conserve his energy and be at his best for the key tasks of the day: 

  1. Analyzing the weather conditions 
  2. Plotting the correct coordinates
  3. ...
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How to Ensure 100% Enrollment on Day One at Your Charter School

enrollment Jun 19, 2020

In my home state of North Carolina, the home school population is over 150,000 students! This figure is 50,000 more than public charter schools and over twice the number of private school students.

Why does this home school enrollment matter?

The last ninety days of the 2019-2020 school year every family across the nation experience home and virtual schooling.

And as you might expect, this past week so many families worked to enroll their child(ren) into a home school situation the web site crashed!

As charter school principal in North Carolina, the first 20 days of school are critical to your funding for the year.

As a leader, not only do you need to ensure your teachers are fully prepared and equipped to teach, your teachers also need to understand that they are the main communicators and the sales force of your school. 

As a charter principal, I spent a full day every year going through our enrollment systems with our team and all staff to ensure no student chair would...

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Hold People Accountable Through Explicit Communication

communication Jun 15, 2020

Her name is Devyn, and on the 4th of July, not too long ago, my daughter and I ventured outside to watch the fireworks at a friends barbecue. We both hate loud noises (sparklers are more my speed), but did not want to miss the “people watching” opportunity. 

We sat in the back of my truck as this mix of adults and teens lit bottle rockets in the middle of the street. The adults modeled and taught the teens how to properly light the fuse at the bottom of the rocket and get out of the way. 

The crowd started to grow as a pick-up basketball game was started by the adults. Leaving the fireworks to a couple of teens. 

I happened to notice one teenager was attempting to light a Roman Candle. A Roman Candle, if you do not know, is a rocket that you hold in your hand as it shoots fireballs into the air. 

This teen, who learned how to light the bottle rocket safely from the bottom, was not aware that a Roman Candle lights at the top. But he had the rocket...

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To Be First, You Have to Swing the Bat!!!

leadership risk Jun 07, 2020

Thirty-two years ago today, June 7, 1988, I was the first!

The first player in Newtown’s Little League’s history to hit a home run and the newly built Chandler Field off Trevor Tuminsky. I was twelve years old. It landed way out in the trees over the left field fence. I am grateful to my coach, Tom Davis, for tracking it down and giving it to me in this case. I am not sure if it is the actual ball, but it is mine.

Many other players hit multiple home runs that season after mine. Some probably much further. Many I am sure hundreds of players have since put one over the fence in thirty two years. But to me, the only one that matters, was the first one. The one that paved the way for the rest. 

Being first is a leadership model I have utilized my entire career, especially after I heard Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. In it, Pausch describes an award he gave, “The First Penguin”, to his graduate students for stepping out of their comfort zone and trying...

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Civil Rights Leader Clarence Henderson Speaks to Our School Leadership Community

leadership relationships Jun 05, 2020

Mr. Clarence Henderson, civil rights leader who was a member of the Greensboro Four who were arrested at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro joined our Charter School Leader Community to discuss the current racial unrest, peaceful protest, and how school choice and charter schools, and educators in general can contribute to a better society. 

Mr. Henderson's bio

Here were some of Mr. Henderson's teaching point quotes:

“The new protest is the ballot box.”

“It’s not what’s behind you or in front of you that matters. It’s what’s IN you that matters.”

'We the people, not they the government."

"And so no matter what way a person other person sees me, that doesn't bother me, because I don't allow anybody to occupy the space in my mind because they have not paid in rent to be there."

"It doesn't matter your political party you can advocate for equality."

“Silence is consent.”

And so many more. 

We will be...

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