Recovery in Education

Update for Sept 8-12

This week’s update is a guest post from Mr. Thom Wendt.  Please let me know if you are interested in being a guest blogger.  We are a community of learners and I would love to share your story of learning.



If you walk the planet for very long, you will be recovering from something.  We recover, or are in recovery, from hardships like ailing parents, the loss of a mother, a sick child, the loss of a pet, a rejection from a date, a lost game, a financial setback, a disappointment in a friendship, unspeakable hurts, and countless others.  We are creative beings and can learn a great deal from how nature creates, recreates and recovers itself in some of the most fascinating ways.  Life’s blessings and hardships allow us to experience our ultimate creation; ourselves.

As I approach 35 years of experience in education, I reflect on how my career has been created over time.  How in the beginning I was not aware of what I did not know, and as a result, I had less stress about the work I was doing.  I did not know that I did not know what needed to be done to leave my mark, or make a difference in the life of a student or colleague.  As I reach departure from a career that has encompassed a great deal of my identity, I realize that by the time I became efficient in knowing how to do my job, the time has come to check out of my profession according to the rules.  Now in my final year, every day a comment or observation is made about my retirement.  It is bittersweet, as I recreate how I will continue to teach, lead, serve, or survive.

I may joke about my age or experience, but seldom see myself as old.  My friends and family shake their heads that I single-handedly moved six ton of of gravel one day this summer with a wheelbarrow and shovel, and wanted to go for a quick slalom water ski afterwards.  It is my goal to leave knowing I owned every second that this world could give.  I know hard work (bullheadedness) is in my DNA from watching my father as a farmer and laborer in gainful employment for 72 years.  My father is like the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree.

 I recently discovered the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree and realized the lessons it can provide us, as we are mere infants in comparison.  The Bristlecone Pine is the oldest single living organism in the world.  They live in California and one has been dated to nearly 5,000 years old.  It has been alive since before the Pyramids and 3,000 years prior to the time that Jesus Christ walked the Earth.  They only live in the harshest of conditions.  Freezing nights, hot days, little rain, barren soil, pelting sandstorms: all are a requirement of their success.  They attain a great age not in spite of their harsh environment, but becauseof it.  A harsh environment is what turns a regular Bristlecone Pine Tree into an Ancient one.  The dense and resinous wood created by the harsh conditions make it resistant to disease and fire, the two great killers of all trees.  The only way to become an Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree is to go through harsh conditions.

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine – The California Environmental Legacy Project



On a much smaller scale, I have witnessed how as educators, we have at times endured great challenges and hardships.  And as I look over my career and the school experience my sons have endured, I see some scars and gnarled practices.  Like personal recovery, the audacity of hope is what sometimes sustains us to face the next day.  As I observe where we are headed, I would rename “educational reform” to “educational recovery.”  Moving toward innovation, student interest, the whole child, teacher autonomy, shared leadership, collaboration, relationship building, the arts, recreation, and the joy in life long learning, allow us to recreate and recover what lead us to our passion in teaching.  

All those initiatives have been present, in our DNA, and in some cases, laying dormant.  They will emerge in a new form like fresh flowers in spring.  Like Death Valley, even a little rain will allow dormant seeds to recover and survive for awhile in the harsh environment.  So we must bloom where we are planted and embrace the beauty in recovering what lies within and ahead.  I will move on to a new season.  You will carry the torches of those who have left before you, and leave your mark.  We may be a million miles from a million dollars, but no one can spend the wealth we have co-created in touching the lives of children.

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk captures so much of what I have witnessed and value in our profession.  It will reaffirm what you already know to be true about what is gnarled and what constitutes a recovery or rebirth!

Sir Ken Robinson, How to Escape Education’s Death Valley


Thom Wendt is an Intervention Teacher at Alton Darby Elementary.

Up-coming Dates

Mon Sep 8, 2014
Mumkin Sale Ends
Team Time with Herb – During your team’s planning time. 
This is voluntary, so please let me know if you would like to meet at this time.

6:30pm – 7pm PTO Executive Mtg
7pm – 8pm PTO General Mtg

Tues Sep 9, 2014
9:00am – 10:00am Mrs. Shively’s students’ Community Outing
Data Team / IAT Process Overview Meetings for 5th, 4th and 2nd Grade Teams during your planning time.

Wed Sep 10, 2014
Data Team / IAT Process Overview Meetings for 1st and 3rd Grade Teams during your planning time.


Fri Sep 12, 2014
Mumkin Orders due

Mon Sep 15, 2014
International Dot Day!
Teachers help me out put the color shirt for your grade level in your newsletters next week. We can wear our new staff shirt. We will start calling grade levels at 9:15. 
Fifth will lead followed by fourth, third, second, and first and then Kindergarten.

Wed Sep 17, 2014
10:15am-11:30am District Building Visit

Fri Sep 19, 2014
Mumkin Order Money due

Wed Sep 24, 2014
3:35-4:20 ADE/DCR Staff Meeting at ADE

Thu Sep 25, 2014
Picture Day


Thu Oct 2, 2014

Mumkin Delivery

5:30pm – 6:30pm Market Day


Fri Oct 3, 2014

K-5 Interims Due

Newsletter Home

8am – 9am Building Advisory Committee Meeting

Mon Oct 6, 2014
Global Read Aloud begins! — Click here for more information.

Tue Oct 7, 2014
8am – 9am Building Improvement Team mtg

Fri Oct 10. 2014
9:30-11:15am Kids’ EdCamp

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