A Light Hitting Hero

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The Cubs are the World Champions! That is a statement that has not been made for 108 years. Last night’s game was one of the best ever (IMHO). Hats off to a Cleveland team that deserved to win as well. But, as we know in baseball, there can be only one winner.

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A tough battle back and forth, combined with intriguing managerial decisions and timely hitting made for great baseball drama. What stood out to me though, as the dust settled after the Cubs on-field celebration, were comments made by Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo. Both Rizzo and Zobrist, undeniably heroes of the game, spoke of the players only meeting led by Jason Heyward during the rain delay and how it impacted the psyche of the team.

As the rain delay began around 11:58pm, the Cubs had seemingly lost their “mojo.” The Indians had gained momentum and tied the game off the Cubs flame throwing closer. Chapman was crying in the dugout as the rain delay was called. The tide had turned for the Indians for sure. The baseball gods sent in some rain and the tarps covered the field as the light hitting hero, Heyward, called the players only meeting in the tunnels under the stadium.

Heyward was only hitting .104 for the entire playoffs and was even benched at one point in the series. Guys like Zobrist, Rizzo, Swrarbreck, and Bryant were hot at the plate and one might have expected them to take the lead at such a crucial time for the team. No, it was the lowest producing offensive players that had the biggest impact. While I have not heard what he said yet, it was clear that Heyward’s impact was profound and positioned the mindset for the team to come out of the tunnels together, with fire and purpose.

We all know how the game ended now. The Cubs got hot at the plate and scored the runs they needed after that rain delay. Heyward struck out at the plate with runners in scoring position in the 10th when he had a chance to contribute, but he had already contributed all he needed at that point. He set the compass right for the team and led them to victory.

The message here is powerful. Everyone can contribute, even when you are not getting hits. Heyward could have let his offensive struggles get in the way of contributing, but he didn’t. Despite his flawed performance, Heyward inspired those around him to play together and believe in the team. I mean, he only had the pressure of the curse of a goat and the 108-year gap of “flying the W” on the last day of the baseball season. Well done Mr. Heyward, well done! I hope Steve Bartman is celebrating somewhere.

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“Places filled with yet….”

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“To live in places filled with yet.” These are the final words of Carol Dweck’s 2014 TEDx talk in Sweden. Almost everything we do in school is measured and quantified. The end of the year means outputs like final grades and standardized test score assessments. Performance is measured everywhere, from school to sports (baseball has a metric for EVERYTHING). I will admit, I have become somewhat of a numbers “geek” and enjoy the analysis. It helps tell the story and is extremely useful for planning purposes, however, numbers can’t tell the whole story.

The end of the school year always brings some good quality reflection time. There is a great deal of qualitative data that comes from this reflection. Stories from the year are remembered and reflected upon. Some very personal. Some include failures. Some celebrate triumphs. All remind me that nothing is ever finished when you are working in schools. A report card and a standardized test are just a snapshot of where you are now, as opposed to being seen as documentation of a finished product. Yes, the end of a school year brings with it closure, but it must equally be seen as a window to “yet.” Yet may just be my favorite word in the English language. Yet implies that there is more to come. Yet means there is more work to be done. Yet is essential for growth. Schools are in the business of growing human capital, and we must operate with the belief that nothing is fixed in the mind or body of a child (or an adult for that matter). I am working on many things, including my golf game and a consistent drive of 240 yards straight down the fairway. I am not there, yet.

I just re-listened to Carol Dweck’s Tedx talk, linked above, as I begin the process of reflecting back on the year. Take a listen if you have a chance. Dweck is one of my favorites, and she helps me get focused on what is important. I can also now say that she and I have something in common. We have both given Ted Talks.  I am no Dweck, but I can at least say we have both shared “ideas worth spreading.” Check it out on the “videos” tab on this site. May your summer be filled with popsicles, pools, family, fun, dreaming, growth, a 240-yard drive down the fairway, and more “Yet” to come.

Failure is an Option

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I am not a big Domino’s pizza fan. I was spoiled as a kid with really good NY pizza. I do like this ad I came across where they use the slogan, “Failure is an option.” Domino’s refers to the cookie pizza as a failure. I am not going to lie, I had it once and it was not bad. I also liked the commercial so much, I tried the new chicken pieces at work one day. Pretty tasty. Back to the message of the commercial. Failure is in fact an option. It is actually a very good option.

I previously tweeted with @BarbaraCorcoran of the show Shark Tank. I was asking her for advice for the young entrepreneurs enrolled in our summer online course. She was gracious to respond and share her wisdom. He advice was perfect. “Don’t be afraid to fail! How quickly you can bounce back is everything.” I wonder if she is working for Domino’s? Great advice from Barbara and a great message from Domino’s.

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One of the best ways to learn is to try something new. Sometimes that ends in a cookie pizza failure, or sometimes it ends up being the next best invention. Check out this story on 10 accidental inventions. To quote the great John Wooden, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you are not doing anything. I am positive a doer makes mistakes.” There are countless quotes that can go along with this. Wooden, Domino’s and Barbara Corcoran have it right. Failure is an option. Better yet, learning from failure is the best option. Get out there and be a doer!

A Pain Free Day for Head of School Pane

Today, I was able to work as the Head of School at The Woods Academy. The first words, or phrases, that come mind to describe the day are: fun, interesting, faster than a normal school day, sometimes annoying, but overall, it was a good day.

I learned several lessons today as well. One is that you need to be calm as the Head of School. Second is that you need to learn to say no to people sometimes. Lastly, I learned that I need to be careful sharing my plans because not all can participate sometimes. These were good lessons learned on the job as the Head of School.

There were many highlights from the day. Shaking hands as students entered the back door in the morning was great, even though it was so cold. Teaching PE class was fun. I was also allowed to have a cup of tea while I handed out the birthday stickers. We even learned that we had a student’s birthday listed wrong. So we made the correction. Skipping my classes was fun and having lunch with my friends was great as well.

The biggest challenge I faced was that everyone asked me questions. I think I had received over 100 questions by 11am. The hardest questions were the ones where people asked for certain privileges. I think this is why I learned that it is important to learn to say “no” at times.

Overall, it was a great day. I would recommend that other students should try to be the Head of School for the day. Just remember to smile a lot in this job.

– Garrick P.

Dig a Well to Increase Enrollment

A few years back, The Woods Academy established a partnership with Hotcourses Primary School in Kenya and we began an academic and cultural exchange between our 3rd-5th grade students. It has been a wonderful partnership that has evolved to now include service work and social understanding throughout the region with Nyumbani Village and the Maasai Village. The partnership is so powerful because our two schools, along with the village and orphanage, manage the relationship in a manner that brings tremendous value to all, especially this week.

Justus Mwaka Musia, our main point of contact in Kenya, was just in the states for a visit and came to spend the day at The Woods Academy, meeting with students, staff and me. Justus is an amazing man who serves his people so well and shares with us the impact of the relationship when he visits. It is always great to have Justus on campus. This particular visit hit me hard.

Last spring, our school and student led service club committed to a water project for the people of the Maasai Village and the Maasai Pastoral Community Development Alliance (PCDA). We raised funds so that a well could be dug and clean water could be accessed by the community and the school on site. In our conversation the other day, Justus reported the water project was a success and that enrollment at the school in the village increased due to the access to water. Justus was greatful for our support and almost mater-of-factly reported on the increased enrollment in school due to water. Did he say that enrollment went up simply because of water?

Independent schools are spending hours upon hours on complex marketing plans and committing a tremendous amount of money and resources to find ways to increase or stabilize enrollment numbers. PCDA just needed water to get there. Perspective was not something lost on me here. Water, the most basic life necessity, is the reason for the enrollment increase at the school in the village. Of course it is. Water leads to growth. It was a pretty powerful moment when Justus shared this and I immediately began thinking of “what else can we do” to help get more kids to school at PCDA. We must do more.

By providing good and clean access to water it is allowing for more to be educated in this village. Our work with Justus and the village is showing us the power of simple necessities. Water opened my eyes to the work we are doing in Kenya and the ways in which we can truly make a difference with our efforts to provide a simple necessity like water. In a world where schools are competing with technology and state of the art facilities to grow enrollment, PCDA is accomplishing it with water. Simple, powerful and so refreshing.