My weekend homework

Some Weekend Homework

Today I was invited by two leaders I respect to do a little “weekend homework.”  I have gotten to know Matt Wachel (@mattwachel) and John Wink (@JohnWink90) through our interactions on Twitter and our affinity for all things PLC (#atplc).  Most of the writing I do on my blog is more serious in nature, so I thought it would be nice to get back to blogging with something a little lighter.  

I am grateful for both Matt and John and the example they share in their school communities and with their PLN’s.  In talking with one of my colleagues who has been recently introduced to Twitter, she spoke excitedly about how her interactions have raised the bar for her and opened up a world of possibilities that she hadn’t previously known were possible.  Matt and John have done the same for me. Administrators like them have helped redefine what a great “lead learner” is and what I aspire to be.  They have raised the bar of what I believe to be possible as a leader.  For that, and their help and encouragement, I am grateful.

My First Task – 11 Random Facts about Me 

1. I definitely “married up.”  My wife continually inspires me with her example of selflessness and generosity.  She puts the needs of our family consistently above her own.  She is also hilarious (as she’s fond of telling me and the kids) and a lot of fun.

2. I have four kids ages 9, 7, 4, & 2.  They simultaneously bring me incredible joy and drive me incredibly crazy and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I will often tell people that if I didn’t like kids, I’ve really messed up my personal and professional life.

3. Like Matt, I have several years experience in Kindergarten and lived to tell the tale.  I also spent a handful of years teaching middle school and loved it as well.  I’ve now settled in the middle as the principal of a 4th/5th grade building.

4. I now live in Illinois, but grew up in Colorado.  I am from a little town called Ft. Morgan in the part of Colorado that looks just like Nebraska (I don’t even ski).  I love Illinois, (where we settled to be close to my wife’s family) but definitely miss my family and friends in Colorado (even though no mountains are visible from my hometown).  

5. My first job after college was as a Catholic Campus Missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship Of Catholic University Students).  I spent my first year before I started teaching leading Bible studies, mentoring college kids, and having an awesome time.

6. I love my Catholic faith.  It defines who I try to be as a person and as an educator.

7. I considered being a music major at one time and love to sing and play the guitar.  I am also a very rusty trumpet player.

8. I have no direction sense.  No. Really.  It is really embarrassing.  I could get lost in a shoebox.  If we go anywhere as a family, my wife does the driving.  This lack of spatial ability also corresponds to my ability to put shelving or toys together or do basic household repairs.  
9. I love baseball.  When I was in college, a good friend and I took off from Northern Colorado and drove straight through the night to get to Tucson, Arizona for Cubs, Rockies, and White Sox spring training.  We ate fast food and watched baseball for a few days and a few dollars.  It was phenomenal and I would love to do it again someday. 
10. After I was married, my wife and I traveled to Rome and were able to have our marriage blessed by John Paul II.  He is going to be canonized a saint this spring and is one of my heroes.
11. I really like to eat and will try just about anything.  Once, our secretary at my old school saved me some cookies because she said she knew I had a sweet tooth.  I smiled and said, “I don’t have a sweet tooth.  I just like to eat.” 🙂  My wife is a really incredible cook on top of all her other virtues.  Maybe a dangerous combination for me remaining a reasonably healthy man. 

My second Task – answer matt’s questions

1.  What book have your recently read?
I finally read “Drive” by Daniel Pink, which so many have recommended in my PLN.  Definitely has my wheels turning as a leader.  I am also trying to keep reading what my 4th and 5th grade students are reading.  I just finished a nice story called, “The Man Who Loved Clowns” recommended to me by one of our 5th grade classes.
2.  If you could sit down with any two people from history, who would you choose and why?
My two favorite saints, Maximilian Kolbe and Therese of Lisieux.  Awesome examples of faith and love for those around them.  They are two great friends who are always with me.
3.  Hamburgers or Hotdogs?
Both.  Throw in a side of pistachio salad while you’re at it.
4.  What is your favorite season of the year and why?
Fall.  I love the newness and excitement of a new school year, the beauty all around us, and the beautiful weather with so many fun activities connected with the season.  People who’ve grown up in the Midwest don’t realize how awesome fall is there and how it isn’t like that in other parts of the country.  In Colorado, we had summer, extended summer, and then freak snowstorm. 
5.  Which person in your PLN do you find most interesting and why?
I know I am one of many of her fans, but I find myself going consistently to the thoughts of Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp  Her blog is honest, passionate, authentic, and gives me a lot to think about.
6.  What song/album have you recently listened to?
Laurie Berkner Christmas.  Mostly kids music around here, but I enjoy that one as an adult as well.
7.  Who influenced you to be an educator?
It’s in my blood.  I love it and never seriously considered being anything else.    My mom was a teacher’s assistant in a classroom for students with severe and multiple disabilities for 25 years.  She loved her job and brought great passion to it.  Many of my thoughts about special education come from her and I still run kids we are struggling with by her and she brings a lot of wisdom and common sense to the situation.  If schools were smart, they’d hire her as a behavioral consultant, degree or no. 
8.  What are you most proud of this past year?
Staying positive, staying the course, and connecting with others.  There have been big challenges, but many have stayed focused on the things that matter most.
9.  If you did not go into education, what profession would you have chosen and why?
I once considered whether God was calling me to be a priest.  When we are where God wants us to be and stop trying to control a “five year” or “ten year plan”, we find true joy and happiness in life.
10. If you could switch shoes with one person, who would it be and why?
I’d be a member of the papal household.  I wouldn’t mind eating at Tres Pupazzi a few times a week… 
11.  What is your New Year’s Resolution for 2014?
 To be more present at home and in tune with my family.  We all need to make sure that although we are passionate about our jobs as educators, we never leave our families doubting who is truly most important. 
 Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading a few random thoughts from me.  I enjoyed finding out a bit more about both John and Matt.  Sorry to break the chain, but it looks like we’re running in some similar PLN circles.  Am looking forward to more responses though!

2 thoughts on “My weekend homework

  1. John Wink

    Really enjoyed your thoughts. 4 Kids, Wow!!! I feel your challenge with my 4. It was cool to see your faith permeate throughout your post. I can tell it guides your leadership. Keep up the great work and keep writing. We all benefit from your thoughts.



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