Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kind words from a visitor

We received this nice note from someone who recently visited Santa Rita.  I thought it was worth sharing their perspective on our schools.  Well done, Santa Rita!


Dear Mr. Land,

    My husband, daughter, son-in-law, and I visited your school on February 5th. Thank you for your time, thoroughness, and tour.  We were quite impressed with all aspects of the school.  My husband was Director of Elementary Schools, supervising 33 elementary principals in Lexington, Kentucky and is currently an educational consultant with Safe and Civil Schools.  Although I taught middle grades math, I was a NSF math coach for our state working with teachers and schools at all levels.  I mention this only to let you know that we have been in hundreds of schools and we know what a welcoming, quality school feels like.  We appreciated your warm welcome and contagious enthusiasm for Santa Rita School.  The Office Staff greeted us as welcome guests, rather than distractions.  The teachers we observed and with whom we spoke briefly were knowledgeable,  friendly, and took obvious pride in their jobs and their kids.  And the most important part of a school; the kids!  When we gathered in the courtyard with you, one of the upper classes was in transition.  As they left their classroom door and spotted guests in their midst, they gave each other signals to be quiet as they moved past us.  Yes, they were well-behaved, but even better, they were so happy! We witnessed that across the tour; children engaged and smiling.  The kindergarten boy, who explained the 100 day necklace to us, could barely contain his enthusiasm as he said, "And we get to eat it when we get home!!!"  Santa Rita has a beautiful campus and it was so good to see the outdoors used as part of the educational space.  Your school has many innovative programs and offerings with involvement potential for parents as well as school staff and students.

   During the tour, my daughter asked you about entrance skills for incoming kindergartners. Your response, for the family to encourage reading and the joy of learning rather than being overly concerned with checking off skills from a checklist, was exactly what we needed to hear.  You assured us that you will work with students as individuals, teaching each at his/her level.  Shortly after our visit, I came across the the article with the attached link. I thought you would enjoy reading it. 

   I'm sorry that I didn't get names, but I want to thank the first grade teacher who took time from her busy planning period to explain the first grade literacy program.  Please thank the kindergarten teachers for letting us interrupt their day. I want to end with one of the most impressive interactions we experienced.  My husband returned to Santa Rita on February 7 (without an appointment or prior phone call) to pick up an enrollment packet, and the staff member at the front desk greeted him by saying, "You're Henry's grandfather!"  Quite amazing! We wish we knew her name to reciprocate!

    Again, please thank the entire staff at Santa Rita School for allowing us to tour the school and experience and enjoy the unique environment.


Bob and Kathy (Henry's grandparents)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Being Civil Online

I don't often quote others on my blog, but this post from David Pogue is one worth sharing.  A good point for us all to keep in mind as we email and post online.

Here's the intro...

When’s the last time a total stranger walked up to you at a party and just started berating you?
“You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be fired for being such a spineless shill. Maybe they’ll replace you with someone who has a clue.”
I’m guessing that no stranger has ever spoken to you like that. Nobody except the tragically unstable would open a conversation with you, in person, with that kind of intensity.
But online, this happens all the time. 
I'd strongly encourage everyone to read the full blog post, here and to think about this as we interact online.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wisdom from Blach: Pick Yourself

I get the weekly newsletters from each of our schools,  I often admire Sandra McGonagle's take on things.  She either has wonderful original stories, or occasionally finds someone else's inspirational writing to share with the families.  It's a great reflection on where she is as an educator and a leader.  Here's a winner from this week:

Dear Blach Families,
Even at this age we have students suffering from “Bat Boy Syndrome”. Seth Godin’s latest blog post on the topic really had me thinking. It’s worthwhile enough to quote the entire short post.
Here's a common fantasy: Your team wins the pennant. It goes on to the World Series. It wins! And you're there for it, all along, the bat boy, helping out the sluggers, doing your job, proximity to greatness.
The line to get a job at Disney and Google and Pixar is long indeed. Countless people eager to get picked to join a winning team. Not as the person who is going to have to step up and cause success, no, the opportunity sought is to be on the team, to bask without being asked for heroics (which of course, carry risk).
The industrial culture, the resume-building mindset—it's no wonder so many have bat boy syndrome. The alternative, the alternative of picking yourself, is frightening because we've been hoodwinked and brainwashed into believing that it's not up to us. But it is.”
Here at Blach we have long lines to get into Leadership, Student Cabinet, sports teams...the list goes on. However, it appears that having the title is enough for many. They don’t want to take the risk, do the work, or put themselves on the line. Only a very few understand that THEY ARE THE GREATNESS.
The big question is how to we get more to see that BEING THE GREATNESS is so much better than being the bat boy and that we all have the potential to be GREAT if we believe?
Here's to “picking yourself”.
Well said, Sandra.  And I love how you're putting that into action at Blach.