Sunday, November 25, 2018

It’s not even December!

With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, it is now time to turn our attention to the more important things in life. What’s more important than than taking time to reflect on our blessings and give thanks?

Nothing really. Being grateful, for things large and small, can be a wonderfully, powerfully positive part of life.

Unless you’re a student. Then the most important thing in the world is wondering when the first snow day will come. And that all depends on whether or not your Superintendent has a heart.

For Superintendents snow days are “no win” days. Whatever you do, someone will criticize the decision.

As a Superintendent, we obviously believe that being in school is important. Learning. Building relationships. Stoking curiosity. Laying strong foundations. Providing opportunities. All those things happen at school. And it’s all important.

But Superintendents also recognize that student and staff safety are important as well. Getting safely to and from school is not something on which to take chances.

Well, as fate would have, tonight I am worried about the weather. And it’s only November 25th.

So tonight I will talk with other Superintendents and a weatherman about what will happen in the next few hours. Then I will arise at 4:00 AM to see what has happened and wonder about what will happen.

And then I will make a decision.

But really . . . it’s not even December!

Friday, November 9, 2018

How much is time worth?

We can invest our time in many ways.

For the last several days, thirty-one Novi Community School District staff members and I have invested about 90 hours in, with, and for 367 Novi Middle School students on their trip to Washington DC. We left at 5:00 AM on a rainy Tuesday morning and will return home around midnight Friday night.

We’ve seen a lot.

Art galleries.

But was the time worth it?

The thirty-one Novi staff members think so. As do I.

But why exactly?

The answer is complicated.

If the goal was to ensure that our students learned history and civics and the importance of informed citizens participating in their democracy, we probably failed.

That’s not to say that what we did had no impact on their knowledge of our country or our government. But those of us who are much older are still trying to figure out how democracy and debate and civic participation work.

And they are in 8th grade.

If the goal was to inspire our students by exposing them to the American spirit as seen in the Museum of American History or the Air and Space Museum or the Museum of African American History and Culture, we probably failed. These students saw a lot on their visit but measuring the impact of seeing the Spirit of St. Louis airplane or the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner is difficult.

And they are in 8th grade.

Still, at times one could sense that these students were trying to figure things out.

When we saw the name of a former Novi resident on the Vietnam War Memorial or the names of fallen police officers at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, these students were amazingly reflective.

When we stood inside the US Capitol Rotunda, these students were filled with awe.

When our guide shared the story of September 11, 2001, at the Pentagon Memorial and we stood over the youngest victim’s marker, I had a sense they were really trying to sort out the world in which we live.

This trip is about those things. But it is about other things as well.

One of the most important parts of this trip is for these 367 students to see that there are adults who care deeply for them. Not because of their grades or their looks or their families.

No. These adults care for these 367 students because each one is unique and challenging and funny and young. And these adults want them to have a chance in this world.

And that is why these adults invest almost 90 hours of their lives. So that these young adults can have a foundation on which to build their lives. These adults invest so that these young students can have memories that they may use to continue to build our world.

Time well invested.