Thursday, May 16, 2019

Happiness and Fun

 Happiness and Fun

     As I perused some climate and culture-related articles the other day, I came across a selection that discussed the over-importance people put on happiness. That is absolutely crazy. Happiness is not the only component to life but it certainly needs to be a resounding factor.
     I never woke up one day and said, “I am not going to be happy.” Granted, there are times to be sad, but one of my goals is to be happy. I want my wife and daughters to be happy. I want you to wake up with gratitude and be happy, too. So yes, I am putting an emphasis on happiness.
     In my book, 50 Great things Leaders do, Let’s Get Fired up!, number ten is Have Fun. A college professor approached me one day and said that leadership is not just about fun. I had a lot of “fun” with that conversation. Yes, it is not the only component of leadership, but if you are not having fun then you are not creating more leaders. You become stagnant, and it’s only one of 50 Great Things in the book.
     As I proceed in life and leadership. I am committed to happiness and fun among so many other components of Body. Mind. Heart and Spirit. You should be, too! Cura Personalis 

Be Grateful, Have a Grateful Day!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Pay Education Majors

Pay Education Majors
     Education is one of the few college majors that requires unpaid internships. Education is also one of the first areas of study that required placements as undergrad students. A valid question would be, “Why don’t education majors at college get paid for internships?” Those of us connected to education, call our residencies fieldwork and student teaching. Education students are required to go out in the field their very first semester.
     Internships are important in every area of study and even essential. Just like any range of expertise, teaching takes time, commitment, hard work, and practice. Schools are already underfunded. It would be a difficult task to convince the general public to point in the direction of paid placements. We need to find a better way. Why is it fair?
     There are many prestigious colleges and universities that do not even offer education as a major until the graduate level. Harvard and Penn both have graduate programs in education but not undergrad opportunities. What message is that sending? I prefer to have my children taught and influenced by the most qualified. We need to recruit and attract the top candidates for teaching. Unfortunately, teachers have a high rate of burnout and a low rate of recruitment.
     I admit I don’t have a “golden ticket” or an alternate magic, funding formula. Maybe, when colleges/universities get huge donations, they can allocate that money strictly for allowing their education students to have stipends to assist in their expenses like all the other departments. For instance, I know that the education department of my daughter’s university received a large endowment. Where did it go? There was still a tuition increase the following year. Crazy? We need to think differently to disrupt the status quo and change perception.
     When my oldest daughter was an education major, she watched as most of her friends received stipends and paid internships while she absorbed her experiences for free. When she came back home for a visit, two of her high school teachers said to her, “Why would you want to be a teacher? You’re really smart.” Wow! I guess they should have chosen one of those paid internships in another field of study.

     When we treat teachers like professionals, there will not be a teacher shortage or nearly as much burnout. Let us attract the best and allow them to follow their passion instead of society stealing their identities. New teachers should be encouraged to take calculated, creative risks, and our students will reap the benefits. As our students excel, so will our world. I sure am glad that I continue to follow my passions even if I didn’t get paid internships, and so should you. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Creating Hope

Creating Hope
      As a former middle school principal, I have devoted my life to education and leadership. I always encourage my students to follow their passion through love & leadership. This year, I have an opportunity to teach a leadership course at Stockton University. Our class contains a service-learning component.
      Just a few blocks from the casinos and boardwalk in Atlantic City, is Adelaide’s Place, a drop-in shelter for women. It provides a safe & secure environment for homeless women. They are treated with dignity & respect. These ladies participate in a variety of programs which include life skills.
When I entered, a group was seated at a table. Clothing donations were stacked up in corners. Sr. Patty and other women were preparing food. Sr. Patty explained their daily routine.
Two clients asked if I wanted to meet the mud girls. MudGirls Studios is remarkable. The director, Dorrie, was excited to show me what the women did. MudGirls is a nonprofit that empowers at-risk and homeless women through job training, pottery making &
selling ceramic ware. They are committed to helping women earn income & transition into a pathway of self-sufficiency while inspiring change.
While looking for service opportunities, my heart filled with what we all need: HOPE. These empowering stories need to be told.

With more resources, Sr. Patty & Dorrie can make an exponential difference by continuing their visions of empowering women.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I Keep Running Into These People

I Keep Running Into These People
     I keep running into these people, and these people keep running into me. There are some people that make you feel good about yourself every time you see them. These are the people I like to hang out with. Likewise, I hope I bring those same possibilities to the room when they see me.
     If you don’t keep company with these people then keep different company. I’m not talking about fake fluff. I’m referring to those humans that allow you and encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone. When you do, it may not turn out perfectly but these people will laugh and cry with you then take you places you never thought possible.
     One of the highest compliments you can receive as a leader will come as an affirmation that you empowered the confidence in others that broke their mold. They never plateaued. They are still embarking on possibilities. By breaking down parameters and soaring past the sky, you inspired others. It becomes an exponential journey. I choose to keep running into these people and so should you!
     Never sell yourself short by saying the sky is the limit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Identity Theft

Identity Theft
     I wish every teacher took the time to let me know I was important. Those that told me I was important, also convinced me that I was a smart, kind, and powerful leader. I committed to acting accordingly. Then there were those educators that stole my identity by telling me I could not achieve. When anyone tells a student he/she cannot accomplish something, it’s the biggest form of identity theft.
     Because of my modest upbringing and the high work ethic of my parents, the identity thieves prompted me to become intrinsically motivated until I figured it out. Some students never had that ability. We need to work harder and together for those students to look differently in the mirror.
     You already know what I’m about to tell you but I’ll tell you anyway. Relationship building is one of the keys to a positive climate and culture. Making those connections will allow our students to not only look in the mirror to see who they are but to look in the mirror to see who they can become.
      There are hundreds of ways to connect but they all must be sincere and build trust. Trust leads to trustworthiness. With a long break coming up, I hope everyone is excited to spend time with friends and family. I also hope your students are excited to come back to school and see you!  
     Start building: High fives, stopping a kid in the hall for positive reinforcement, show up at events, positive calls home, thank you card, smiles, participation in spirit days, let the students facilitate, let them tell their stories through differentiation, give them jobs in class, talk to them, let them talk to each other, start and maintain traditions,
More ideas from 50 Great Things Leaders Do: Let’s Get Fired Up! (Appendix B)
Appendix B
Inspirational & Fun Ideas for Building Relationships
1.       Have a Yearly Theme 
2.     Welcome Forward (Happy New Year) 
3.       Halfway Celebration 
4.       Roll out the red carpet (many ways)
5.       Start traditions
6.       Declare a service learning platform
7.       Yearly Staffulty Picture on the first day
8.       Photoshop your head on the shoulders of your favorite superhero
9.       Staffulty field trip
10.    Tip of the Week
11.    Question of the Week
12.    Power Clap
13.    Secret Handshakes
14.    Design, create, trade pins from each yearly theme
15.    Create temporary tattoos promoting your theme and organization
16.    Renaissance Someone: Student, Staffulty, Parent, Community Member
17.    Core Boards - give one, keep one- What’s your core word?
18.    Pass around a beach ball and marker. Have each person write a power word on the ball.
19.    The Starfish Story & other stories of character
20.    Paint your walls with murals and quotes
21.    Paint your bathrooms with quotes and murals
22.    Paint your parking spaces
23.    Let your students draw with chalk all around the outside of your school
24.    Build A Legacy
25.    Leave A Legacy
26.    Leave A Legacy and memorialize it on a tile wall
27.    Name your hallways
28.    Take A Number (Deli Counter Character) with inspirational quotes and actions
29.    Put a candy machine in the Staffulty Lounge then give everyone a quarter to use it
30.    Put fruit on the counter (5-star check-in)
31.    Make your staffulty meeting an event
32.    Have an exercise and/or yoga class
33.    Spirit Days
34.    Have A Leadership Summit
35.    Send a thank you note
36.    Welcome people on your campus – Greeter/Tours
37.    Brag Board- (hard copy and digital) Brag about your school or organization
38.    Make your own inspirational posters with pictures of people you know (students and staffulty)
39.    Hold up signs: You Are Awesome! Honk If You’re Happy!, Smile, etc.
40.    Invite a former student to be a keynote speaker on the first day for staffulty
41.    Have Popcorn Paydays
42.    Make breakfast for the first ten people at work
43.    Buy lunch for someone you rarely see
44.    Staffulty of the Month
45.    Create the abundance mentality
46.    Have a Leadership Exchange (visit another school and have them reciprocate with ideas)
47.    Retire a T-Shirt
48.    Have a secret pal week
49.    Organize a pre-pep rally picnic
50.    Have an academic pep rally to celebrate academic excellence, leadership, great character, and participation
51.    Create a Great News File
52.    Make Positive Contact
53.    Have an Ice Cream Social
54.    Have A Girls Only Day
55.    Have A Guys Night Out
56.    People’s Choice Awards
57.    Leadership Camp for Incoming students (or highest grade) or any stakeholder group
58.    Daddy/Daughter Dance
59.    Mommy/Son Dance
60.    Character Commercials
61.    Renaissance Television (RTV)
62.    Play music in the cafeteria (have people make different playlists)
63.    Play music when people enter your building
64.    Dance in the cafeteria during lunch
65.    “Dancing with the Staffulty” contest
66.    Renaissance Stamps 
67.    Pass the Lightsaber
68.    Lip Sync Contest
69.    Classroom makeover – for staffulty winners or surprises
70.    Door decorating contest
71.    Blue/Gold Basketball Game – students and staffulty on both teams
72.    Dress Down Paydays- for staffulty rewards
73.    Penny Wars- for service
74.    Make your yearbook an event – no one should be sitting at a desk for their picture, use your yearly theme
75.    Almost Anything Goes (AAG) – silly and fun relays for students, parents, and staffulty
76.    Pie a teacher, supervisor, or co-worker with shaving cream
77.    Staffulty Leadership Relay Olympics
78.    Celebrate everyone’s birthday on their door and hallway bulletin board
79.    Outline the perimeter of your building with American flags to celebrate patriotism
80.    Diversity Day -use your imagination
81.   Dear You, You Are Awesome- inspirations that can be torn off a poster (smile, you rock, you are talented, you are beautiful, etc.)
82.    Create a Year in Pictures and post to social media
83.    Define your organization with ten pictures
84.    Stand up on top of your chair or desk and yell: “I am alive!”
85.    Collect Smiles
86.    Pass Out Smiles (like the free compliments)
87.    Make envelopes and write on them, “open when you want to smile.” Put things inside that make people smile.
88.    Designate a “Friendship Bench”
89.    Create a “come sit with me” table
90.    Create a “5 Star” restaurant table in the cafeteria
91.    Have a guest waiter and waitress dinner
92.    Fitness Community Night – fun and diversified
93.    Community University
94.    Barbeque hot dogs and hand them out at dismissal and to people in cars picking up people
95.    Meet and Greet Bingo
96.    Affirmation Bingo
97.    Diversity Bingo
98.    TGIM- Thank Goodness It’s Monday
99.    High Five Friday- with a big spongy hand
          100.  Icebreakers and team building activities should be a regular part of your repertoire.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

5 Things To Do Over The Holidays (updated version)

 5 Things To Do Over The Holidays (updated version)
This list is in no particular order, and it’s not too late to start. With all the hustle and bustle, I am impressed that you are even reading this blog post. My first goal is that you are inspired to follow through on these suggestions. My second goal is that my family and I are inspired to follow through on this list. Love, kindness, character, and leadership are not one-time events. Nothing on this list should be a one-time event, either. However, if you need a reason, I’m giving you one. Life is short even if you live to be 100. Even though there is always next year to succeed or fail, time is nonrenewable. Don’t let the ghosts of “I wish I would have” get in the way.

1)      Do Something with Your Family You Would Not Normally Do
When was the last time you all sat down to play a board game? When was the last time you all went to a movie in a theater? These are two things I aim to do with my family. We already went to a movie (Bohemian Rhapsody). So now, put down the phones and play a game! Who gets to pick? You all do!
2)      Start Another Tradition
Our family has traditions that span over the lives of our children. Some hit road bumps as everyone gets older. It’s important that our busy lives still encompass the love we share for our families. We get at least one new ornament a year. We decorate our tree while listening to holiday music. We sing out loud. We still put out reindeer food on Christmas eve. We still read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I hope those never stop as we keep adding!
3)      Serve
Look around. We can always do more, and there will always be people with less opportunity than you. Let’s help them this holiday season. During the holidays, food banks get replenished but they are in dire need after that. Make a commitment to sacrifice one thing to give. It always helps. Giving your time always benefits especially to the elderly. I always understood that concept with the aging population but not as much until it affected me with my dad. When I visit his assisted living, people just want conversation and acknowledgment.
4)      Do Something Silly
Many Christmas Eves for us, that silliness has been karaoke. We always know the song my wife is going to pick (Thunder Road). I think this year it will be Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a blast, and we step out of our comfort zones.  Sing loud and proud!
5)      Do Something Special For Yourself
Sleep late one day. Buy yourself a gift. Watch a television show. Do something you’ve wanted to do but the proverbial busyness of your life has prevented it.
I hope this is your best holiday season ever. I hope it’s mine, too!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


            Chances are, no matter what time you are reading this post, you have already made dozens or even hundreds of choices. Some choices about today you even made before you went to bed or in the middle of the night. Some choices were made weeks, months, or years ago. Some choices did not start until this morning when your feet hit the floor.
          Because you have the power of choice, some very remarkable things can happen. Because you have the power of choice, some extremely unremarkable things will happen, too. Every time you choose, you have an opportunity cost. This occurs when you relinquish an alternative to your choice. What did you give up? What can you gain?
          Sometimes we wait too long to choose. We may be reluctant, or we may be underinformed. Some decisions can be calculated, like where you go to college, or what you are wearing to a party. Some choices may be instantaneous like an emergency. Either way, we can be prepared to lead ourselves and the people around us.
          Leadership is not popularity, position, or a one-time event. Leadership is a choice. Every day, we need to make that conscious choice that we are going to be that person we want around us. Be that person, be that leader. Calculate the opportunity cost of not making the choice to be a leader. Someone else will make that choice, and you may not like the outcome.
          Together, our leadership abilities increase exponentially by the number of leaders we create. In a leadership organization, you can see and feel hundreds of leaders walking down the hall. It is not a question of how many leaders but the question will be, “How many positive leaders?”
What leadership choice are you making today?