Head(s) for the Day

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It was not a regular day for Amadi B. and Chima B. Usually it would start with homeroom and a day full of classes. Today, they were in charge. They served as Head of School.

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They changed the rules, allowed everyone to wear red for a tag day, added more recess time, had a working lunch with friends and allowed for sunglasses to be worn inside for the day. Chima said it was “fun” and Amadi gave the day a thumbs up. All in all, it was a good day but there were some good takeaways according to the boys.

Chima had an opportunity to postpone a math test today. He chose to take it instead and received an excellent grade. When asked if there was a leadership lesson there, Chima replied by saying, “If given the chance not to do something you might as well do it because you know you will have to do it later.” Some really good advice for those in leadership roles. Plus, he crushed the test.

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Amadi had a great deal of fun throughout the day.  Between the hot chocolate and lunch with buddies, extra recess time and Chic-fil-a, Amadi was able to reflect on the day. He believes the hardest part of the job was “being responsible all day long.” Amen my friend. His advice for the Head of school would be to wear sunglasses all day because you can, have more tag days and make sure you get all your paperwork done. These points have been made and left for Mr. Powers to read through on Tuesday morning.

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Until then, Amadi and Chima wish the entire Woods community a great Easter break.

The Best Year Ever

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Welcome back to the hustle and bustle of a new school year. This year, it feels like we need the strength of a community more than ever. The 24-hour news cycle with the never-ending headlines that seem to be “one-upping” the next are a force we must combat. The kryptonite for such a force is to come together as a community and to be open to learning. Hey, that sounds just like being in a school.

As I have had the chance to meet with our teachers and students as well as gather as a community at our opening Mass, I have shared two “asks” that I have for everyone this year. They are simple, yet powerful, ways we will make this the best year ever. Build relationships and focus on learning. It is now time to loop in our parents. By building relationships, we are creating community. We are supporting one another, embracing what makes us unique, and celebrating together. When we focus on learning, we all grow. Nothing is fixed, we can always learn.

These are my asks of this great community of students, teachers, parents, and friends. Building relationships and focusing on learning are the responsibilities of all of us here at The Woods. In a world where political shenanigans (Thanks Jim Power for this word.) continue to pull us apart, a church is in turmoil, and we are bombarded by news every hour of every day, nothing is more important than providing a safe space where we can come together and learn. Building relationships and focusing on learning are good medicine for us all. It is how we will live our mission. It is how we will support each other. It is how we will make this the best year ever.

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!

My Day as Head of School, by Morgan C.

Before my day as Head of School started I thought it would be a fun and tiring day. I was right about it being fun, but not about it being tiresome. I think it was so much fun that I did not get tired.

My day started at the back door greeting students as they walked into school. I thought that nobody would want to shake my hand or take me seriously, but I was way off. Everybody shook my hand, no matter how awkward it was. I noticed that the younger kids did not have the firmest handshake, but the firmness of the handshake seemed to increase grade by grade.

There were many great parts of the day, but I want to focus on two highlights. One of the highlights was teaching PE and Business class. In Business, the kids really listened to me (more than Mr. Powers I think) and in PE I realized how hard it is to get the attention of hyped-up kids, but the whistle really helped. I also did not realize how intense it is to speak in front of students. The second highlight was performing an observation of Ms. Dosh. While observing Ms. Dosh I felt very professional and loved seeing my old classroom again. Observing a teacher, instead of being taught by one, felt very different.

In the end, it was a very good but different day today. Some teachers asked for a raise, most people called me Madame, President or Principal Morgan, and it was weird staring into classrooms where I was supposed to be. It was really cool seeing school from an adult view. This whole day felt like a different perspective for me. From watching teachers to teaching classes, in general, this has to be the best day EVER!!!!!

-By Morgan C.