Wednesday, October 31, 2018

To the parents of Bus #5

November 6th is Election Day.

Please vote.

November 6th is also the day that I board a bus bound for Washington DC.

I might add that also with me on this bus - Bus #5 - will be 3 teachers and 47 8th grade students. 

Please send good thoughts our way.

We are part of the Novi Middle School 8th grade trip.
  • 8 buses
  • 27 teachers
  • 1 Assistant Principal
  • 1 school police liaison officer
  • 1 Board of Education member
  • 1 school nurse
  • And me - the Novi Community School District Superintendent. 
We board buses at 5:00 AM Tuesday, November 6th, and return home by midnight on Friday, November 10th. Over 350 8th graders and their chaperones on a four-day journey to Washington DC and back.

I have been on this trip five previous times. On my first trip in 2012, a norovirus swept through our merry band of travelers. Let me just say it was not pretty.

I am sure it will not happen again.

Why do we do this?

To learn history, of course. To see the US Constitution displayed in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building. To see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. To think and reflect on Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Vietnam War Memorial.

Your sons and daughters can at times be very reflective, understand the enormity of a moment, see with clarity how what they are studying about history in Novi, Michigan, connects with the larger world they live in.

But, at times, we are reminded that they are 8th graders. 

On one trip, as we sat in Ford's Theater, a student listened to the guide and asked earnestly, "Wasn't President Lincoln shot in a theater?" The answer, of course, was "Yes. Yes President Lincoln was shot in a theater. In fact, he was shot in this very theater."

So, at times, the lessons of history are not as clear as we think them to be.

And that is when I am reminded that there are other purposes for this trip.

The Washington DC trip is educational.

But it is also about other things.

It is about 8th grade students learning to navigate social situations on a bus for ten to twelve hours. It is about 8th grade students keeping track of their own suitcase. It is about 8th grade students listening to adults who are not their parents. It is about 8th grade students problem solving how to charge a phone. It is about 8th grade students being with friends.

I am glad that our students - your sons and daughters - have this chance, can experience this trip in this way.

It will provide lasting memories.

And, if we are lucky, it will reinforce that we are fortunate to have each other.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Wishes can come true

Every year . . .

People come from all over town to adorn me with
scraps of paper, tags, bits of fabric, snippets of yarn,
and the occasional gym sock.
Each offering represents a dream, a desire, a longing. . .

They're all hopes for something better.
Katherine Applegate

In the Novi Community School District, we have wishes. For our students. for our colleagues. For ourselves. 

In August, at the beginning of our school year, we started our school year thinking about what our wishes for the school year would be. I asked our staff to write down their wishes. 

But now, eight weeks into the school year it is sometimes hard to remember what we wished for in August. Early mornings, late nights, grading papers, walking the dog, dropping off and picking up children, remembering to do the laundry, trying to remember everyone's name.

Life takes a toll.

So today, October 23rd, was our first Novi WishTree Day of the year. It was a day for the Novi Community School District staff to remember and reflect on our wishes for the school year and to recommit to working to make them come true.

Bob Marley (yes that Bob Marley) is reported to have once said, "The people who are trying to make this world worse off aren't taking a day off. How can I?"

In that spirit, our Novi WishTree Day was a chance for our Novi staff to wish again on this school year.