Tag Archives: school

Five for Friday – Lunch Bag Art

When you were a kid, did you have to carry your lunch in a brown bag while all the other kids carried cool lunch boxes?  I was the nerdy kid that liked the school’s hot lunches, so I didn’t carry anything; but if I did, I would have preferred these lunch bags over a lunch box any day.  This dad creates a new lunch bag for his kids each day (Dana and Dylan are lucky kids):

My personal favorite:

Who doesn’t love the Beatles?:

Josie and The Pussycats (long tails and ears that match – or something like that):

Hello Kitty:

Pterodactyl for lunch – mmm good!:

and a (new) bonus for Sanity Found:


School for the Gifted

One of my favorite Far Side cartoons (an oldie, but goodie):


A Principal – Life in a Shark Tank

I haven’t written about my bucket list lately.

One series of goals that I set at 30 was to earn a teaching credential, a master’s degree and a doctorate.  So, at 33, I went back to school to begin work on my teaching credential.  I then reentered the workforce as a novice – again (this was my third career).

As a classroom teacher, one of my goals every day was to be the bright spot in each student’s day.  I thought if I could help 30 kids enjoy school, maybe they would enjoy learning.  The problem was that when I was busy earning my teaching credential, I thought I would be a fourth grade teacher.  Instead I spent my entire teaching career at middle schools.  So, my influence on 30 students extended to 180.

After several years of teaching, I began to think that maybe I could extend a positive influence to an entire school of students (or from 180 to 1,000).  So, I earned my administrative credential and M.A. and was promptly asked to begin working as a principal at an elementary school.  As I spent the summer preparing to take the helm of a school of about 500 students, I decided that I was going to learn each student’s name by October (I did) – it really wasn’t that hard.  We had a great time together and I believe we made great strides – in fact I just ran into one of those students and his parents this past week who still remembered me (he was a kindergartner my last year at the elementary school and is now in eighth grade) and they made some positive comments about my knowing all the kids at the school.

I had a wonderful time with elementary students, but eventually moved back to working with middle school students and again learned every student’s name (about 1,500 this time).

Middle school is a nice euphemism for shark tank.  Kids are going through so much as middle schoolers and we (adults) tend to marginalize the emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and moral changes they are experiencing (and ages 11-14 tend to be at their lowest point of self-esteem).  As a result, many (most) kids tend to pick on others in order to feel better about themselves (I’m generalizing due to time constraints).  I tried to make each day bearable for them and did whatever I could to make them feel that they had at least one advocate.  However, if they needed to be disciplined, they were (we expelled about 20 kids each year).

My favorite story to hate about middle school happened one year on the first day of school.  I watched a new sixth grader walk onto campus with his father.  The kid was wearing a sweater vest, tie, dress slacks, and dress shoes (he looked pretty sharp) and was holding hands with his father as he entered campus.  My first thought was “well, you don’t see that anymore, how nice.”  My second thought was, “he’s dead” (socially).  Sure enough, he only lasted two more days before checking out and going to a private school.

There were many great stories as well.  Like the students who earned a place in space camp in Huntsville, Alabama, or the students who created a welcome program to help assimilate new students into the school, or the students who went on to earn scholarships to universities or military institutions, or just the great kids who would come back to volunteer on their days off after moving on to high school. 

But the one student who couldn’t be himself – couldn’t just be a kid – still haunts me.

Anyway, I eventually moved on to become a principal of a high school (with some of my middle school kids) and now a university (educating teachers, counselors, and principals), always with the goal of making school more enjoyable for students, with the hope that they will enjoy learning.  Only now, instead of a goal to be the bright spot in the lives of 100 or 1,000 students, my goal is to create many bright spots who will enter classrooms and school all across Southern California, becoming a positive influence on (literally) millions.

Welcome to middle school!

Welcome to middle school!

Teachers Packing Heat – Guns in School

It’s Monday.  Kids are heading back to school.  And I watched this headline scroll across my screen, “Texas Students Pack Bookbags; Teachers Pack Heat,” I remembered hearing something about this a few weeks ago, yet for some reason I was still surprised.

The first student quote was interesting, “It was kind of awkward knowing that some teachers were carrying guns” (something I guess I didn’t expect to hear in the USA during my lifetime).  The student went on to say, “I don’t feel like they should be, ’cause we already have locked doors and cameras.  But I didn’t feel threatened by it.”

This isn’t particularly new (the decision by the Harrold, Texas school board was made last fall) it just hadn’t been publicized until now.

I’m a teacher and a parent.  While I certainly understand both sides of an argument regarding guns in school (could Columbine have been diverted by a teacher?, will an unstable teacher carry a weapon on campus, could a student access a teacher’s weapon, etc.), I don’t think this is the greatest idea.

What do you think?

I’m Flying!

The title of this post reminds me of Bill Murray’s character in What About Bob, when he is tied to the mast of a sailboat, yet yells, “I’m sailing!”

One of my goals was to fly an airplane – not take off or land, mind you – just fly.  I’m kind of cheap, so it wasn’t likely that I was actually going to give money to someone with a plane to take me up just so I could take over the controls, so this goal seemed a bit unreachable.  I was fortunate, however, to be principal of a middle school when we were selected to be a NASA Explorer School.  This was a huge honor and proved to be a great partnership between our school and NASA. 

One summer, our faculty went to a NASA facility to attend a science summer camp for teachers.  While there, we were able to tour through most of their aircraft, including the one that travels through storms to gather data and the one that shuttles the Space Shuttle between California and Florida (I sat in the cockpit of both).  We were also able to have our photo taken in the cockpit of a jet – quite a trip.  We were also taken to the flight simulators and allowed to fly all kinds of aircraft – even taking off and landing.  I was somehow able to land a jet in a vertical position on it’s tail – not easy, practical, necessary, repeatable (according to the flight instructors), or anything but humiliating.  Anyway, the next day we were driven to a local airport and were taken up in a smaller prop plane and given the controls so that we could experience and understand flight.  We had a flight instructor in the seat right next to us (who took care of take off and landing duties), but were in control for most of the actual flight.  The instructor gave us directions and kept us on our toes.  It was one of the most fun, yet slightly terrifying, experiences in which I have been engaged.

It was the best of all worlds… I was able to fly an airplane, meet a life goal, engage in an enjoyable experience, do something memorable, and not pay a cent to do so.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.