I was just sitting here thinking about how this Covid-19 has affected us all in such a short amount of time.  It came in like a rushing mighty wind that none of us could properly prepare for.  I compare it to the Mad Cow disease.

I experienced that when I was still in the military and stationed in Germany.  We got quarantined to our base for a period of time.   But as soldiers, we just follow orders and do what we are instructed to do.  Of course we got over it.  I was a young Sergeant then and I was learning the importance of good leadership and effective communication with the people who I was responsible for.

I remember how during that time, parents back in the states were worried and we got a lot of phone calls about their loved ones while trying to figure out if they would be safe and what were we doing to ensure their safety.  That was an experience that I surely will never forget, but I had no idea that I would again, one day be facing something more serious this time around.  That was in 1985-1986, seems so long, but in my mind, it was like yesterday.

I think about this a lot as I have time now to sit in the house.  I think about all the danger that surrounds us and the implications as we navigate and address this virus that consumes so many people.  There is so much to think about.  How can a society as rich as ours get caught by something like this?  How can we adjust our lives to help those more in need at this terrible time.  There are so many unanswered questions that we address in order to get our society back on track.

My main thought though for this writing is to talk about the kids, the students, the little adults, whatever you want to call  them, and the struggles  they are having to face.  I’ve taken online classes before and so has many of my friends.  I have found that if you are not familiar with it or have the maturity and stamina for this type learning, you will struggle for sure.

Students are doing the best they can at this, along with getting use to the norm of being forced to stay in the house 24/7 and all the other variables they are facing in their every day lives.  Yea, it is tough.  I just want them to hold on, better days are coming.

I’ve been reading over and over again how this has affected teachers from my school and other teachers from all over the country.  It amazes me how much of an outpouring of love and gratitude there is from teachers to their students.  It feels like family at every corner. Teachers do miss their students and I am sure that students, overall, miss their schools and their teachers.

I find that no matter how the day goes at school for a student, the relationships that are built, are ones that are nurtured.  Many times it is not noticed because of the every day grind by both people.  Much like a parent for their children.  Teachers are the next level of parenting, they are the village that I frequently speak of.

On the other hand, we as administrators, miss our students as well. Seeing them in the hallway every day and looking into their eyes, tell me how their morning has started and many times tells us if we’ll will see them in our offices at some point in the day.

Yes, it is tough going through this challenge we have been handed, but it gives us a chance to reflect, to appreciate, and to remember those we miss in our everydayness called life.  Our norms have been affected for sure, and our hopes of getting them back, drives us to hang in there because just as sure as the dark clouds have come our way, soon  the clouds will blow over and the sun will start shining again.

Be Smart and Be Safe

 

Well, we are finally finishing up the second week of this thing called School From Home.  I must say that everyone has done a terrific job in making school available for the students to continue to learn.  It sort of puts me in the mind of when I was taking online courses and the challenges I had with all of the other distractions I had to endure.

Now that we are settling into new norms for the time being, I just wanted to reach out to the parents and students to reflect on things that we sometimes take for granted in life.  This virus makes me think of how many times I have touched a door knob or picked up a phone or grabbed my steering wheel or shook someones hand out of a greeting or stood next to someone when they sneezed hard or shook someones hand who just came out of the bathroom or even just touched a counter at the checkout line at the grocery store.

I could go on and on about how easily it is to transfer germs from one person to another and how it has been a part of our day to day way for as long as I can remember.

It is my hope and prayer that you and your family continue to practice our new norms so that when I see you again, I can say, hey “I am glad to see you and I am glad you are well.”

God is in Control!  That is what I believe.

I don’t know about you but I tend to sit and think a lot, probably because I finally realize that I am getting old for real.  For example, I went for a run last week, the first time since January, and for a minute there, I was so tired I thought I was getting ready to go see Jesus.  Probably not a good joke, but that is what I was thinking in a weird kind of way.  But in the end, I found out that I was not in the best condition that I could of been in.  I had gotten into bad shape over the winter and it sucks.  I almost saw a Goodyear tire around my waist, then I looked down and could not see my belt-buckle (I seemed to be suffering from the old Dunlap decease).

But through it all, I feel like reflecting on what is going on in our world at this very moment.  Yes, we have a serious virus spreading itself around the world and doing so much damage across the land.  It does not pick and choose who it wants to invade, it has the guts to choose whomever it wants and whenever it wants.  It is amazing at how it is forcing the world of people to do things we started taking for granted.

Like parents seeing how difficult is to teach a room full of teens on a daily basis and having to find ways to deal with their attitude and disrespect everyday.  Now, wanting to send them back to the same school where they seem to be having problems,

Like teachers wanting to get back to school because they miss seeing the students every day (I miss them too)

Like washing our hands whenever we touch something that is not clean.  Wash your hands about 20 seconds.

Like cleaning off the counter tops in your home because of all the germs that settle there.

Like spraying your door knobs to kill the germs that are growing there.

Like coughing into your sleeve and not into the air so the particles don’t have room to travel.

Like helping those who are less fortunate than you

Like calling your neighbor to see if they are okay

Like not going out to restaurants all the time, cooking at home and eating with your family

Like taking family walks together and spending quality time

Like praying as a family for your family, friends and neighbors.

Like coming together as a society and singing a song of love, hope and faith

Yea, we all recognize that we really need each other.  This virus has done one thing for sure, cause us to realize that we are all in this together and we can band together in dire times to fight a battle. But isn’t that what we suppose to do anyway?

Lean on me

When you’re not strong

And I’ll be your friend

I’ll help you carry on

Oh, it won’t be long,

Till I’m gonna need

Somebody to lean on,

Lean on me

Wow, how school conversations have changed over the years.  When I was in school, that was when Jesus wore pampers, talk was so much simpler than it is now.  As I recall, we used to talk about sports, talk about the coolest girl in  the school, talk about what we were going to do when we grew up.  Of course like all young students back then, we would tell jokes about each other, we called that “cracking” on someone until they gave up and stopped talking.  Those were the days.

Now the battle lines have been drawn by this generation of kids.  Their conversations are totally different than then.  Now they talk about vaping, what they can get away with, what gang they are a member of, of course this is just for them to attempt to grow their status in the school and now th

ey are starting more increasingly talk about shooting somebody they don’t like or have a disagreement with.  Oh, they also talk about putting that person’s house on fire or putting a bomb in it.

This is disturbing to me because in this current society you never know what is serious or not.  We must fight to change the conversations that are out there and teach the students what the importance of what they say.

At the school, we take any and all of this type of talk serious.  Every conversation that is reported to us initiates an investigation and a report to the parents and in most cases, the local law enforcement officer (SRO) of the school.

We are spreading the word around school that this is called “communicating a threat” and no matter if they are serious or not, we look into it for accuracy and the student will be disciplined for his/her actions.

We intend to continue to demonstrate that East Hall Middle School is one of the safest schools in Hall County.  Each parent, student, teacher and other school personnel are a part of that.

Kudo’s to the students that continue to report these types of incidents.  It shows that they want to be an intricate part of this safety team.

Have a great weekend.

I was inspired this week by a lot of good things that went on in the school.  If you didn’t know, we have been preparing for our every three year inspection.  That inspection was this past Tuesday.  There were about 23 outsiders showing up to go through our school with a fine tooth comb to see how we conducted business every day.  They interviewed me, the APs, the Counselors, all  the teachers and some parents.  They even watched the students as they walked through the hallways, as they do.  Sometimes, you don’t know what to expect in the hallway, you just don’t know.

But during one class change, one inspector told me “you have some great students, they are so nice and mannerable and quiet!” He asked “are they always like that?”  I thought it was a trick question.

The day before, I had mentioned to the students during our announcement, I said “do you remember when your parents would tell you to clean your room up and remember to be on your best behavior for tomorrow, because your Grandparents were coming?”  Well, pretend your Grandparents are coming tomorrow.  I think it worked because the students were fantastic!  They made me proud.

The inspectors were all smiles at the end of the day and said that we did a great job hosting them.  The said “thanks, for your hospitality.”

In other news, we held our 2nd student recognition breakfast this week.  We recognized about 18 students who were selected by their teachers for representing some of the Viking Values and being an example for others in the school. Each student was called to the cafeteria for donuts and fellowship.  Then each was given an award by me.  That was special.

Sadly, we have had a rash of students using inappropriate language resulting in them communicating a threat.  Though sometimes they may think they are only joking with someone, they need to understand that these types of threats cannot and will not be tolerated at East Hall.  Once I finish an investigation, the student may face serious consequences and that is not good.  Please be sure to talk with your son or daughter about the seriousness of threats in the school.  Each threat will be taken seriously and the student will be dealt with severely.

We completed our first round of ACCESS testing.  Mrs Pritchett and her team did a great job in organizing and administering the test.  It took about 1 1/2 weeks to test almost 340 students.

We are a good school, with good people, who care!  That is all I could ever ask for.

Until the next time.

As I look around the school every day, I stop and wonder how many people really know what is going on behind the doors of our school, any school for that matter.  When you  turn the TV on and watch  the news, more often than not, what you see are all the negative things that this generation of humans, our future are doing.  Very rarely do you see any of the good things they are doing, the efforts they are making, nor some of the conversations they are having.

Maybe that is part of the problem.  They continually get the wrong end of the stick.  They continually get beatdown and not built up in a society that has molded them to be who and what they are today.

I see, first hand, the good things they are doing at East Hall.  Students are getting training in TV productions, students are learning to read and singing their music, students are learning instruments to play and playing them very well, I might add.  I see students putting forth efforts to get good grades, not because of the pressure they get from their parents, but because they have a vision for a future they desire to chase.

These are some of the stories that you will never see on the news.  I am one who still believes that these good news stories still outweigh the bad we see on TV.

I see students learning technology, students learning the art of sports and teamwork, students learning great social and communication skills. Students are learning the best way they know how and how it is available to them.  Students are doing so much more than most people see.

The disconnect is the method in which it is taught versus the way it is received and learned.  Educators do a great job in teaching and pushing students to be great but it is lost sometimes in the way students see the necessity of  the subject being presented.  Students want to know the who, what, when, where, and why the subject is important.  That’s the jist of this generation, if we can explain the “W’s” to them, then they are willing to learn it their way.  I don’t care how they learn, I just care that they learn.  We, as educators, are the vessels for their knowledge and a step on their ladder.

Through us, the news media will one day get it right and show the good things that are going on in the world of education.  Here at East Hall, if you haven’t seen something good, click on the link below and be Blessed:

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/gainesville/east-hall-middle-special-needs-student-scores-in-basketball-game/85-28fd6f7d-3d94-44bd-97e7-cc6b9e73107a

 

According to Ubuntu philosophy, which has its origins in ancient Africa, people are born without ‘ena’, or selfhood, and instead must acquire it through interactions and experiences over time.  So the ‘self’/‘other’ distinction that’s axiomatic in Western philosophy is much blurrier in Ubuntu thought.  As the Kenyan-born philosopher John Mbiti put it in African Religions and Philosophy (1975): ‘I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am.’

We know from everyday experience that a person is partly forged in the crucible of community. Relationships inform self-understanding. Who I am depends on many ‘others’: my family, my friends, my culture, my work colleagues. The self I take grocery shopping, say, differs in self actions and behaviors from the self that talks to my supervisor.  Even my most private and personal reflections are entangled with the perspectives and voices of different people, be it those who agree with me, those who criticize, or those who praise me.

The point is, we have gotten away from “it takes a village to raise a child.” Much like it was when I was growing up.  I remember when I did something in the community or around the corner from where I lived, when I got home, my parents already knew about it and I got dealt with, without question.  I didn’t have anything to say and I’d better not say anything negative to my parents or I might have lost a few teeth.  I dared not behave in a manner such as many kids do today.  I may have not made it to the age I am today, or at least I would think that.

I see the students every day in school and I think, “what happened?”  Has our world evolved so much that we have forgotten about the children.  Where is the village?  Where is respect and responsibility?  Where is the idea of caring for others?

My heart grieves every time I have to send a student home because of his or her actions in school.  My heart grieves not only for the student, but for the parents, and for the community because as a village, we must do better.  We can’t leave it up to someone else to correct a behavior that has been in the making for many years before the student gets to us.  I firmly believe that the village is stronger than any individual, but we must step forward and show our worth in the village.

I believe that students will only do what they are allowed to do.  Some because they don’t really understand, and some, well, because no one has ever explained it to them or told them that magical word “NO!”

I tell our students all the time, that they are the ones who will make our school a great school, not me and the staff.  The school belongs to the students, we just teach them, enforce the policies, and give them all the love we can.

We have had a great start to the new year, but we can do even better.  Our students deserve it.  The community deserves it.  We deserve it!

It is this time of year, as I get older and older, I think of how far we have come as a society.  I think of things that we usually take for granted or just take as a part of life.  Often, I find myself thinking of all the ladies that have had children, even thinking of when my girls were born.

Just the process is somewhat overwhelming, to say the least.  Especially the days leading up to the birth of the baby.  We now have the opportunities to summons medical assistance to get the new mom to the hospital and to be in the comforts of medical attention who can assist in the birth of the child.

I think of the contractions that mothers endure as the time comes closer for the birth of the child and all the things that are offered in the hospital during and after birth.

The happiness and joy that’s felt at the delivery and the excitement of taking the little one home for the very first time.

Then I think about this lady named Mary.  How difficult it must have been to be traveling on a donkey to try to get to a place for help.  I think about the labor pains she endured, not being able to rest and wondering what was happening to her.  Then to get to the Inn and find out there was no room for her and her husband there.  Somehow they find a barn to rest for the night, no other materials available for her at that time.  No bed to lay her head and no one there to assist her in the birth of her child.

Imagine a baby born, a child is born!

That is the story I know.

Merry Christmas

 

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the East Hall family!  I am truly Blessed and encouraged, for this is my destiny that God has placed upon me.

This past week was a good one for all.  It seemed that everyone was in a celebratory mode.  Each day was something different, but the students all stayed their course in the classroom.  I am really proud of the way they conducted themselves overall and I have no doubt they will continue their success these last four days before the break.

I read the daily post that is passed to us every day and I thought it fit the season we are in:

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”

I always remember this “I may not have much to give, but when I give, I give my all.”

Just a Thought!

I am reflecting back on watching the Georgia vs LSU football game yesterday.  Yeah, as a Bulldog fan, I was disappointed at the outcome.  Like many of the others who watched the game, some on TV and others at the stadium, there is so much expected of the members on the team in every aspect.  Perfection is expected, mistakes are frowned upon, and losing, well, is unacceptable.

I wonder how many people even stop to think that these boys are only 19-22 years old.  They are still trying to get their lives together.  But under the umbrella of competition, they are expected to do more, to be more, to display more.  Wow, that is a lot to undertake for an adult, less alone for a young man who is just starting to get his life together.

Which brings me to the point of this conversation.  Students!  Isn’t it interesting how much we expect of them on a daily basis.  No wonder they are under so much pressure.  I believe that we, as parents, have somehow now started to expect so much from our little ones that sometimes we forget that they are children.  The pressure of society and home adds to the difficult struggles that students have.  Society has made it so fast paced that children are now missing the important times of what it is like to be a child.

Students are being asked to perform task that beyond their years and brain development.  Technology has played a major part in this “child crisis” and there is no relief in sight unless there is a genuine concern to address it.

Do we not remember what it was like to be a young one in middle school.  I think of it often and realize, I was just like the students at East Hall.  I was no different.

I realize that children haven’t changed but it the aggressive society that has made us change in how we deal with children and how we must address them.  Teachers are challenged in teaching students because students are also learning from technology, TV, radio and “the streets.”

We have to be “social savvy” in the classroom in an affect to stay current with students and what they are learning.

The bottom line is “Children are still children!”  They’ve got to go through the phases of life to learn.