August 11, 2013
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A colleague sent me an article to read a couple of weeks ago, and six of the writer’s words shocked me at first, and I thought, “Yes, this is important, but so are a bunch of other things.” I really pondered the article and the words that it spoke about how our children perceive their performances. I mean, we obviously love sports and all those extracurricular activities, or we wouldn’t talk about them all the time and get our kids joined up as soon as they are old enough.
It’s a classic story and one that warms my heart each time I hear it, or read it in a book. A life separated by the deep chasm of loneliness and despair. A life that is lost because of the painful reality of not knowing who is genuine and who is not. It begins simply enough with hopes and dreams and a willingness to believe that almost anything is possible — but it isn’t.
What makes sports and activities so meaningful is how they allow kids to express their unique, individual talents, to contribute to a team and to have fun. But sometimes it isn’t so fun for parents, and I think I know why.
I donate blood every year because for all practical reasons — it’s easy and I get to eat some free food when I’m all done. What is interesting though, is how differently people react to giving.
GRIT is the willingness to stick to a plan (stay in school, stay on the team), practice delayed gratification (practice skills now for winning later), make decisions in the present that will help in the future (listen the people who are trying to help you), and see present problems as challenges to be overcome (losing and low grades don’t automatically mean you are a loser or stupid and vice versa).
Just how do we see our community? One of the many period pieces we read in American Literature is, “A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” Douglass was a slave who eventually freed himself and went on to become influential in the abolitionist cause. The narrative contains a powerful quote that we explore as a class: “…I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.”
The study of Realism is one of my favorite literary periods in American Literature. Students have an opportunity to understand the consequences of seismic events that took place in the late 1800s and the early 20th century.
Many people, myself included, spent the weekend (and last night) huddled around the television watching NFL playoff and College Bowl games. I’m not as concerned about the outcome as I am the response of those involved. January can be a difficult month as our favorite teams are eliminated, the holidays have passed, bills are due, the days are short and Spring seems far away. When teams are eliminated from playoffs, the response is generally one of disappointment coupled with the rationalization that next year will be better. In reality, this is the only approach that favors the future.
In 2014, we can all dare to dream! As 2013 was winding down, I was thinking about this past year and the many hurdles we faced as a school and as a community.
Public schools are failing our kids! Teachers are being told that students can’t read, write or do their arithmetic. Parents are complaining about substandard test scores and students are complaining about classes that aren’t interesting, inspiring or worth their time.
Students have spent the last two weeks making certain that children and families in our community are taken care of in the form of various food drives or adopt-a-family efforts that speak boldly of the spirit of the season.
Students at Moffat County High School decided on a major shift this year and voted in a new schoolwide saying: “Dare to Dream.” The banner hanging in the commons area during the past three or four years read, “Every Student Will Graduate” — and more than a few students have, which is something we are very proud of as teachers.
I always ask students how the Thanksgiving break was (and it is truly a break for the kids) and some of their answers reveal how truly different we view the five day respite from school. Most answers fall along the lines of eating way too much and doing way too little. Sandwiched between those responses are the rather revealing (sometimes too much) accounts of domestic debauchery and kindred kindness. Most students are proud to give voice to their traditions of thankfulness and generosity and a few students confess heartily their compliance in the less traditional acts of Thanksgiving.
We enter the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas after having celebrated the sacrifice of our military and the protection of our liberty. Students in my class learn that liberty, as we define the principle, is the right to self-determine.
Ben was 17, fighting with his brother, getting into trouble with his parents and essentially out of work. Growing up in Boston was tough and his disagreements with his family led him to make a life-altering decision: He would leave his hometown to discover if he could make it on his own.
I wish every sports season finished with players hoisting the championship trophy, knowing the very last contest proved they were the very best team for that brief but lasting moment in history. I was part of a National Championship football team over 30 years ago, and I still remember the feeling when the clock counted down to zero and we cheered knowing that for this time, in this place, for this moment, we would be recognized as the very best.
When asked to vote on an amendment that involves a tax increase, I go to our future voters to get their opinion. When I engage students in a discussion about taxation (investment, as it now is described), the views almost always are in support of helping others — a worthy responsibility of our government.
We’ve been beaten over the head enough with test scores and how our sports teams are struggling. We hear enough about how public schools are failing our children and how teachers don’t care about kids. But the return of “full-on” homecoming activities supported by our local Booster Club and administration is a testament to the care and spirit we can achieve as a community when given the opportunity.
I will celebrate my 16th Homecoming as a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School this week, and the excitement for events, the anticipation of wins and the Bulldog spirit continue to be on display in our school and in the community.
Confrontation is generally described using particularly strong adjectives that imply physical harm or destruction. But the confrontation of ideas can be the most powerful and serious encounter we have with each other.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there was a most imaginative woman of enduring beauty and intellectual prowess. She held court with the famous and waited patiently for prince charming all the while impressing those around her with her powers of intuition and discernment.
Our American story is one that necessarily involves struggle, hope and perseverance. William Bradford set sail on the Mayflower, settled upon a compact and founded Plymouth Rock but in the ensuing struggle lost his wife (literally) and half of those who put their trust in him for a better life.
Many of our modern heroes are perfectly human in their imperfections but cast a large shadow over the society they feel compelled to protect. The hero in a teen's life isn’t always from stories of Zeus or Apollo or even knights in shining armor. Today, a hero can be someone as humble as a firefighter or a teacher.
I was really frustrated this summer when my kid’s vernacular was reduced to: “bring it” when compelling another sibling to a challenge of some order or type. So, I used my coaching voice (it’s how I describe raising my voice for emphasis) and told them to stop. I told them that it served no purpose to use such a trite expression for every single situation that might spark a disagreement or provoke some kind of competitive contest
The school year has officially begun and students are now in the thick of some pretty cool changes at the high school. Most students will find the new schedule a bit different than the rapid pace of a seven period day.
The game of life isn’t really that complicated when we do one thing — practice the Golden Rule.