I Can’t Believe I’m Quoting HILLARY CLINTON…

I NEED THIRD GRADERS! Not many… 3 or 4 would be good… then I might get to add a teacher. How cool would that be to have small classes? Anybody know of any third graders who live in my attendance zone who haven’t enrolled yet? 

I made home visits today. Trying to find my kids who haven’t shown up for school yet. I don’t want them to miss several weeks and then show up saying they didn’t know when school started. Not the kids, the parents. I didn’t know when school started… I didn’t have a bill to prove that I live in the house I live in. Some just waiting a few more days because school starts too soon.

Hillary Clinton once said (I think it was Hillary anyway), that it takes a village to raise a child. How true this is. I know that I pontificate at great length on the importance of education. Problem is it’s usually my wife who is listening (or in the same room watching TV and not listening). I agree with Hillary… no…. you can’t quote me on that… it does take a village. But the point of me bringing up Hillary is that is does should take a village. We should all worry about the education that is provided in our schools. We should all worry that the kids next door haven’t gone to school yet. IT’S OUR VILLAGE!

I remember starting elementary school. We started with first grade because kindergarten was not in public schools. You had to pay. I have five siblings. I’m the youngest. Keep him at home or send him to kindergarten? Keep him at home and we can eat or send him to kindergarten and we eat potatoes for every meal. My parents kept me at home. I started 1st grade when I was 6 turning 7 in October. How smart were my parents. I couldn’t read. I think I knew all my letters… but that was over 35 years ago…The point I’m making is my parents didn’t know anymore than anyone else about school. They just knew it was a good thing. School was not about childcare… school was about making life better. Making my life and my siblings lives better… and guess what… IT WORKED!I think we take that for granted today. Schools really do a good job of educating, and everyone is required to go to school. But, I don’t think people really look at school making life better.

I saw tears on many faces this morning, both kids and parents, in the kindergarten area when parents where dropping off the kids. I don’t think I saw any teachers crying… at least not in front of me.  I saw fear on parents’ faces. I saw apprehension. I saw joy. I saw many confronting the unknown. Not knowing this person they were turning their kids over to. When school was out today I saw relief. I saw hope. I saw smiles and happiness.

And tomorrow… I hope to see 3 or 4 more third graders!

Paperless Libraries?

I am intrigued by my colleague Greg Farr’s attempt at going to a paperless office. When I was thinking about this on my way to lunch today, I had a thought. What about paperless libraries? I used to kid with my librarians about books being over rated. Why would you need a book when you could just as easily look at the computer screen?

Let that sink in for a moment… no ink smudges… no paper cuts… no waiting for a book…

I know my library friends at this moment are boiling over. WHAT! NO BOOKS! ARE YOU CRAZY!?!?

Actually, I am a little bit crazy, but that is not the point. I worked for a principal once that wanted to make sure every teacher had a staff handbook. Another staff member had produced the handbook on a computer; in fact, every page was on the computer. It was so good it was made into a portion of our website. No paper cuts! No killing trees! I loved it. I’m sure that many staff members felt the same way. All the information was just a click away. You knew where to find it! Probably just as many of the staff members wanted the paper. They wanted something in their hand. They wanted to know they had it if they needed it.

Back to the paperless libraries.

I cannot imagine a world without books. I love the feel of a book in my hands. I love the smell of the pages of old books. (Don’t tell me there are bad chemicals that are killing my brain cells in that smell.) I love the texture of the pages under my fingers. I love the feeling I get when I pick the book back up. I tell my wife that the people in the book need me. They need me to finish the story. A friend of mine went on to say that you can’t take a computer and sit in the bath tub. I’m not one for bookmarks. I dog ear the pages. Margaret Coleman just yelled at me. I know she did. Damaging the books that way. I don’t dog ear books that don’t belong to me. Bookmarks fall out. Dog ears are forever.

Paperless libraries? Not a chance! You can’t dog ear computer screens.

Flying… or Some Such!

I was sitting in my office this past summer looking out the window watching a few high school students do stunts in the parking lot on skateboards. I was drawn to them because of the racket they were making. Not just the crashing of the boards into the parking stops, but the joyous laughter that would spring forth when one of them would pull off what seemed to me to be an exceedingly difficult stunt. My eighteen your old ego wanted to go out and show them how to do it. My sensible forty-something body reminded me the ground was too far away for me to try that foolishness. (That noise you hear is my wife laughing at me being sensible.) I had several choices: I cold learn from them, I could join them, I could watch them, I could stop them. I decided to watch them and learn from them. They had no constraints on their creativity other than gravity. Their minds were dreaming up increasingly difficult stunts to try. When they would struggle through a stunt, they would repeat it until they could do it without failing. It seemed at times that they could make the skateboard levitate from the ground and stick to the bottom of their feet. They could literally fly.

One of my kindergarten teachers awakened me from my daydream. She brought me a young man who was in the summer Jump Start program. He had completed kindergarten and was selected for the program because he was a struggling reader. After two intensive weeks of much one on one work with this teacher, he was ready to read to me, excited to read to me.

He came to the side of my desk and asked if he could read me a story. I smiled and told him I would like that very much. His enthusiasm as he read reminded me of those skate boarders. He was flying! He could read! He read the entire book to me and finished with a huge smile on his face. I looked over at the teacher and could see how proud she was.

One of the great things about what we get to do is help kids explore their worlds. Whether it is from the top of a skateboard or behind a book, on the battlefield of athletic competition or in the salon cutting hair. We get to experience with them the sorrows of failure and the jubilation of success. We get to see the kids fly!