Some Kids Have Harleys, Others Have Scooters. The Destination Is the Same

ImageAs if there were any doubt, I am officially uncool. I bought a scooter.

It’s a tiny little 50cc Honda Metropolitan. If you’re like me, you have no idea what 50cc means. What it means is this: if the wind is at my back and I’m going downhill, I can go 40 mph. If I’m going uphill, just hope you’re not in a hurry if you’re behind me.

I’m not “Motorcycle Guy.” Motorcycles scare me to death. I will never own a motorcycle.

But I love my new scooter. I ride it to the park, where I like to take hikes. And I ride it to the grocery store, as long as I am buying only something smaller than a watermelon, which is about all the “trunk” under the seat can hold.

My scooter is fun. And it gets 110 miles per gallon. And I love it!

So the other day I was at the gas station–where I filled the tank for $3.25—when a guy on a Harley pulled up. His bike was big. And loud. And powerful. And he gave me a look that told me he knew his bike was big, and loud, and powerful, and my scooter was small and weak.

He didn’t need to give me that look. I know my scooter is small and weak. But here’s the thing: he drove his big, loud, powerful Harley to the gas station, and I drove my small, weak scooter to the gas station. And there we were, both at the exact same place at the exact same time.

That is school, my friends. Some kids ride to school on a Harley. Their “Harley” is a library of books at home, food on the table, a stable family situation, experiences at museums and concerts, and myriad other advantages we pray all kids can have.

Other kids ride to school on a scooter.

And still other kids walk to school in bare feet.

Our job is to get all the kids to the gas station, no matter what kind of bike they are riding. The “gas station” is college and career ready.

There is no doubt that it is hard work. But we can’t give up on any kids. We need to do whatever we can to get them there. For some kids the trip will take more time. Some kids will need more road signs than others. Some kids we may have to push or tow. And some will use their Harley to go much further than the gas station. But until we get every student to be ready to go to college or start a career, we must not rest.

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Leadership and Chewing Gum: 4 out of 5 Dentists Recommend Reading This Blog

ImageWhen I was a high school assistant principal years ago, I would describe my job like this: I come to work every day, I wait for somebody to mess up, and then I wait to get yelled at about it.

If a student was sent to the office for being disruptive in class, for example, I could count on three people being mad: the student would be mad for getting kicked out of class; the parent would be mad for the student getting disciplined; and the teacher would be mad for the discipline not being stiff enough. It didn’t matter that I had no control over the interaction between the student and the teacher that caused the problem in the first place. As judge and jury, I was the one who would invariably take the heat.

If a parent called to complain about a teacher, the teacher would be mad for feeling unsupported, the parent would be mad for not firing the teacher and my boss would be mad that there was a disgruntled parent and teacher in our building.

I have grown professionally over the years, I believe, in my ability to mediate conflicts. A hugely helpful resource is the all-time classic book by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

And what I have come to find is, that analogy is true for every leadership position. As leaders, our job descriptions necessarily give us the responsibility to make difficult decisions. And as we all know, every decision has people on both sides who will disagree.  

Do you remember the old Trident gum commercials? Even dentists couldn’t agree on what kind of gum their patients should chew!

Ultimately the most stressful part of my job—making difficult decisions—is the most liberating. As a leader, I have the ultimate authority to make decisions that I believe are fair and just. It’s not fun getting heated emails or phone calls or reading about yourself in the letters to the editor. But when I put my head on the pillow at night, I sleep well knowing I did the right thing.

Ultimately, a leader must have a set of core values and make decisions based on those core values. Your conscience, not your critics, should determine your course of action. So my message to anybody in a leadership position now or aspiring to be a leader is this: you will never escape criticism, so just do what’s right.

 

Knights Caring for Knights Feeds Nordonia’s Kids

ImageVolunteers support the Nordonia Schools in many ways. An awesome program that helps Nordonia’s neediest families was created more than a year ago by three incredibly generous volunteers. Nordonia High School PTSA President Anne Bruno and her daughters Catherine and Michaela are the founders of Knights Caring for Knights.

Knights Caring for Knights provides weekend food to our neediest families. The Brunos have placed a collection bin at each school for the community to donate food. The Brunos collect the food, organize it into care packages, and deliver the packages to the schools. School principals and counselors have identified some of the neediest families in their buildings, and the care packages are given to those families confidentially each Friday.

On an average week, Knights Caring for Knights sends home food packages to more than 20 Nordonia families. The packages generally contain bread, peanut butter, fruit, breakfast supplies, boxed and canned goods, and some snacks.

As the community becomes aware of the program, it is continuing to grow. A Rushwood student told her grandfather about the program. He donated money that the student and her mother used at WalMart. The cashier was curious about all the food they were buying, so the Rushwood student told her about the program.  The cashier proceeded to donate $30 to the program.

While Anne was shopping at Aldi’s for the bags and bread for the program, the cashier asked about her purchase. Anne told the cashier about the program, and she immediately reached into her pocket and donated $5 while stating, “It’s not much, but it will help someone!”

For so many kids, education is truly a life or death proposition, perhaps their only ticket out of poverty. I can’t thank Anne, Catherine and Michaela Bruno enough for creating Knights Caring for Knights and helping to feed Nordonia’s neediest students.

If you would like to donate for Knights Caring for Knights, please drop your donations at any of our school offices.

 

Items most in need:

 

Peanut Butter

Grape or Strawberry Jelly

Macaroni and Cheese

Easy Mac

Individual Pudding Cups

Individual Fruit Cups

Individual Jello Cups

Individual Applesauce Cups

Spaghettios

Canned Ravioli

Ramen Noodles

Juice Boxes

Instant Oatmeal Individual Packages

Granola Bars

Cereal Bars

Pop Tarts

Individual bags of chips

Microwave popcorn

Questions?  Email: annebruno@windstream.net or call 330-467-0116.