Your Personal Average


“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn

I think about this quote often.  I think about how true it has been for me in my life.

In high school, I had a group of friends that I was fortunate to have in my life.  It was like I had 6 or seven more brothers to rely upon.  They truly had a positive influence over me. 

There was a point near then end of my junior year when I was set on not going to college.  I kept making excuses for myself because the process of getting in — the applying, the essay writing, the financial burden — were all so overwhelming to me that I just wanted to avoid the whole thing.

So here were my friends all going through the same process I would need to go through to get into college.  They all seemed to have a plan and were excited about this next stage in life.  I will never forget being over at one of my friends house one summer afternoon.  He had a pool and we were hanging out and shooting basketball into one of those poolside basketball hoops that I would one day completely destroy trying to be Shaq during a dunk.

My friend’s mom came out of the back door of the house and called for him to come in to take a phone call. “It’s OSU; they want to talk to you!”

Wait?  Colleges call people to convince them into going to their school?

A few minutes later, my friend jumped back into the pool with a big smile on his face.  “Ohio State wanted to make sure I was going to apply.  I told them ‘Of course!’”

I faked my enthusiasm because I was crushed.  I knew that with my attitude wasn’t going to get me into college, which deep down is what I truly wanted to do next in my life.  I wanted to be sought after.  I had dreams and aspirations too and I needed to do something about it.

It was that moment and all of the other positive effects of my other friends going through the process of getting into college that created a huge turning point in my life – One that I am thankful for each day.

I was fortunate then to have people around me who pushed me and made my “average” better. I continue to put this philosophy into practice today.  I learn from amazing people everyday and I am fortunate to be able to do so.  Each day I am pushed to grow better as a person because of who I surround myself with…And there are way more than 5 people who have this effect on me!

So, I ask you — Who are you surrounded by?  Are they pushing you to grow?  Are they inspiring you to get out of your comfort zone?  Are they helping you to improve your average?

Keep growing and have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading —

Elementary Coding for Hour of Code: Number Sense and Numeration with Racing Cars!

How To Bring New Students Into Your Peaceful Classroom | Smart Classroom Management

Being a Void that is Felt

Upcoming Dates —

Dec 6 — K-2 IMPACT Training; BIT meeting, 8am: Focus on R-Factor Program

Dec 12 – Herb out at meeting until noon; PTO Meeting, 7pm

Dec 14 — ADE Staff Meeting, 3:45 – Mental Health and Wellness Team to present

Dec 15 – 4th Grade Musical Performances: 10:50am, 1:20pm; Herb out at meeting until noon

Dec 16 – BAC meeting, 8am

Dec 20 – Classroom Parties, 2:30pm

Dec 21-Jan 3 – Winter Break

Jan 4 – Students return

Jan 9 – PTO Meeting, 7pm

Jan 11 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am

Jan 20 – Family Game Night, 6:30-8pm


The Kind of Community We Build


Most early childhood and elementary school teachers speak passionately about building community in the beginning of the year, but what kind of community we build is the bigger question.

-Mraz & Hertz, A Mindset For Learning (2015)

I continue to find A Mindset for Learning a thought-provoking and informative read.  The authors connect research-based information and ask their readers to think deeply by what it truly means to build a classroom community of resilient, joyful learners.

It’s no secret that the teacher is the number one driving force in the development of the classroom community.  Teachers set the tone through what they celebrate, what they ignore, their body language, and the words they choose when working with their learners.

So how are things going in your classroom community?  Before you answer, take a look at another quote from A Mindset for Learning and ask yourself if the statement a) reflects your belief about building a classroom community and b) reflects what is currently happening in your classroom community.

[A] child’s self-control, tenacity, and persistence are influenced first by their environment and the reliability and consistency of their caregivers. If we want to build a community of persistence, joy resilience, flexibility, and empathy, we must first be all of those things, and be reliable in those things.

As you reflect, also consider the fact that kids are extremely intuitive and tuned-in to their teachers.  They pick up on when we are energized and when we are flat.

In a 1993 study, researchers showed students, who did not know the teachers, 30-second silent video clips of 13 graduate teaching fellows while they were teaching and had the students rate the teachers on 13 variables like “accepting”, “active”, and “confident”.  The researchers then compared the ratings by the same students with the end of the semester course evaluations from the same students and found a 0.76 correlation (0.60 is considered “very strong”).  Amazing — Students can “slice” their perception of us in 30 seconds and just off of our body language.

This study underscores the importance of modeling the thinking, the behaviors, and the values we must reliably model if we are to instill the same within our students.

We are reaching the midway point of the first six weeks of school.  Take time now to reflect on the progress you have made with your students.  Reflect on how much of the community reflects your students interests and values vs. your own.  Where is the balance tipping? Towards you or towards your students?

Take into account the profound value and impact a sense of hope, belongingness, and engagement have our each of our students.

Have a GREAT week!


Tweets Worth Reading




Upcoming Dates


12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

14 – RTI Team Meeting, 3:40PM

21 – Safety Drill (Lockdown), 10:45; Spec Ed Team Meeting, 12:00

22 — School Picture Day!

24 – EdCamp Columbus at Gahanna-Lincoln HS

26 – MakerSpace Grand Opening!

29 – Pasteries with Parents, 8:15AM

30 – BAC meeting, 8AM


1 – Community Cardboard Challenge

7 – Building Tour by Board of Education

17-20 — Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

How To View a Day

How do you view the day that lies before you?  Do you see the celebrations, the growth and the joy of what’s to come? Have you already determined the challenges are almost impossible to overcome?

The self-talk we have before the day begins will manifest itself into the day we talk about later.  If we assume and expect “bad things” will happen, chances are we’ll be talking about our “bad day”.

I don’t believe for a minute that we can eliminate tough days from our lives; that’s just not a realistic expectation.  However, I do believe we have more control than we think over the way our days play out.

Like other staff members, I am currently reading “A Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth” by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz (2015), and this is one of the many points they make in the book.

I think this book is the perfect read for this year because it combines so many elements of our current work and focus are discussed by the authors in the context of teaching practices.  The authors are on a mission to connect growth mindset practices to learning practices but in a meaningful and transforming way.  Take a look at this from the authors:

We cannot let fear of benchmarks stand in the way of helping children find their value and their voice.  What does it matter if that same child does not believe she has power and agency? A child in passive receipt of learning will be in passive receipt of life. (p. xvi)

And their message is that it starts with us.  We set the tone that drives the behaviors that gets us the results we desire.  We have to see the possibilities of each day.  The change has to happen within us before it happens through us.

So as you start each day, imagine what you will celebrate.  Imagine the joy you will help create with kids.  Imagine the hope you will instill.  We can make a difference but it’s up to us to see it in our mind before we can see it with our eyes.

Have a GREAT week!



Tweets Worth Reading





Upcoming Dates


6 – BIT Meeting, 8AM

7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

8 – House Leader Meeting, 8AM at DCR

9 – Campus Project Q&A with Herb, 7:45 Media Center *Voluntary* – I will have coffee 🙂

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

22 — School Picture Day!

24 – EdCamp Columbus at Gahanna-Lincoln HS



1 – Community Cardboard Challenge

7 – Building Tour by Board of Education

17-20 — Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM


Click here for the Elementary Assessment Calendar for 2016-2017.


Community Information Meeting – September 6, 7:30pm at Scioto Darby Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 8, 7:30pm at Beacon Elementary

Community R Factor Training – September 11, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – September 13, 7pm at Ridgewood Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 15, 7:30pm at Britton Elementary

Board of Education Meeting – September 12, 7pm at Memorial Middle School

Community R Factor Training – September 18, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – September 20, 7:30pm at Norwich Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 22, 7:30pm at Brown Elementary

Community R Factor Training – September 25, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – September 26, 7pm at Davidson High School

Community Information Meeting – September 27, 7:30pm at JW Reason Elementary

Community Information Meeting – September 29, 7:30pm at Darby Creek Elementary

Community R Factor Training – October 2, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 4, 7:30 pm at Hoffman Trails Elementary

Community Information Meeting – 6, 7:30pm at Horizon Elementary

Community R Factor Training – October 9, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – October 10, 7pm at Bradley High School

Community Information Meeting – October 11, 7:30pm at Crossing Elementary

Community Information Meeting – 13, 7:30pm at Bradley High School

Community R Factor Training – October 16, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 18, 7:30pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – 20, 7:30pm at Davidson High School

Community R Factor Training – October 23, 7pm at Darby High School

Board of Education Meeting – October 24, 7pm at Darby High School

Community Information Meeting – October 27, 7:30pm at Tharp

Community Information Meeting – November 7, 7:30pm at Station


5 Ways Running Has Made Me A Better Teacher


Screenshot 2016-08-27 at 9.22.15 AM

I’ve been running for a few years now and this summer I’ve been training to run my first half marathon which takes place in October.  My training has been easy at times and grueling most others.

One of the best things that has happened to me besides my improved health and fitness has been the growth I feel I have made as a teacher.  During my run this morning, I thought about all the ways training this summer has helped me be a better teacher:

1. The journey is more important than pace. — The heat of the summer made my runs more challenging.  It was hot, humid, and sticky even before sunrise.  Research has shown hot conditions like this to be effective for runners training for high-altitude races, a fact that is a real bummer for me since Ohio is as flat as a pool table.  What really bummed me out was that the heat was affecting my pace, adding almost a minute to my average pace.  I had to shift my focus from pace to logging miles.  I needed to forget worrying about my pace and remind myself that these conditions would pay off in the long run.

Teaching connection:  As teachers, we know the amount of material we are faced with helping students learn over the course of a year.  It’s nearly impossible to get to it all and yet we go for it anyway.  We feel like we need to get to that next step in the curriculum because we are running out of time.  However, training has helped me truly see that it’s more important to focus on the journey than to dwell solely on that next milestone.  The challenge we face is in resisting curricular demands and replacing them with our students’ learning needs.

2.  Staying fueled with a growth mindset helped me overcome challenges. — When you hit mile 7 on a swampy summer morning, or at minute 20 of a tempo pace workout, it’s easy to justify fixed mindset thinking such as, “You don’t really need to do this,” or “It’s too hot to be able to do this”.  I had to force myself to think, “You got this” — It has become my mantra and something I will say to myself when I cross the finish line.

Teaching connection: Helping our students see how important it is to use positive self talk can go a long way to helping them develop a growth mindset.  It’s an uphill battle and one that each person struggles to win, but talking students through this struggle can help them understand that it’s a normal part of the learning process.

3. Using benchmarks to keep on pace is helping me build the skills necessary for the race. — The good people at Columbus Running Company created a chart of pace times that were all connected to a race time goal.  My goal finish time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I am determined to reach that goal and I know that each time my foot hits the pavement, I’m getting one step closer.  The chart has been my guidepost, a way of holding myself accountable on my runs and knowing these goals motivates me to work harder.

Teaching connection:  Helping students know the “why” or what the end goal for each learning experience can be highly motivating, especially if they have had a say in what that goal can be.

4. Metrics are important, but so is listening to your instincts. — Sometime the pace chart needed to go out the window.  There one day a few weeks ago when I was supposed to do a speed workout on the track but I knew that my body probably couldn’t handle it so I just ran the miles at a comfortable pace instead.  I was still tired from the workout, but I was able to be present with my family instead of a spiritless zombie.

Teaching connection:  We believe in teaching the whole child, so with that comes knowing when a student is tired, grumpy or hungry because these are the factors that can’t be written into a lesson plan; we just need to adjust and adapt.

5. Enjoy every step. — I’ve learned to love sweat.  I’ve learned to run with a water bottle.  I’ve learned to appreciate Body Glide. I’ve learned not to fear the bats I see that fly around the trail in the predawn hours.  I’ve learned almost all the lyrics to every Black Keys album.  But the best lesson I’ve learned is to appreciate that I get to experience all of this. I’m lucky that I have the time and ability to do this.

Teaching connection:  It’s a cliche, but one that I don’t take for granted: We change the world one student at a time.  Every interaction we have with kids leaves an impression on them and it can either be positive or negative.  We can’t take this for granted and we need to remember how intentional we need to be with our interactions.

Tweets Worth Reading






Upcoming Dates



31 – School Community Meeting, 10:45am



5 – No School, Labor Day

6 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

30 – Building Advisory Meeting, 8am Conference Room



1 – Community Cardboard Challenge

4 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

7 – Building Tours by Board of Education

17-20 — Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

28 – Building Advisory Meeting, 8am Conference Room



1 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

8 – Election Day/Hilliard U Professional Dev. Day, No Students

23-25 – No School (Holiday)



6 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

21-Jan 3 – No School (Winter Break)

Looking for an answer


The few weeks just before the new school year is my favorite time of year and for a host of reasons.

Summer is still in full swing but football is getting started.  Vegetables taste better because they were grown in season rather than in a hydroponic hothouse.

But the biggest reason why this is my favorite time of year is because it’s when things start to come together for me on a professional level.

Like most educators, I spend my time off reflecting on the work we have done in the service of others and think about what we can do to improve.  But as a principal entering year 3, this feeling of everything coming together has been different in a way.

The past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about my message – What am I going to share with staff during the first part of the new school year that will hopefully energize and inspire us to continue to make a difference.  This year, it just wasn’t coming to me like it had in the past.  Usually, what I hope to focus on just comes to me through a variety of sources – Reading articles or books, conversations with my wife, or while I’m out on a run.

But this time, the well of ideas seemed dry.  It feels like I’ve had writer’s block for several weeks.

This had me panicking.  What was wrong? Had I lost my passion? No – I still feel the same way I had, perhaps even more emboldened by my convictions and my beliefs about the possibilities we can create for kids.

So what was it with me?

This week, I found the answer.

Tuesday night, I had the privilege to attend the inaugural TEDxHilliard event and heard several amazing stories related to one’s drive to achieve goals and dreams — Amazing stories of overcoming adversity, empowering others, and finding purpose that filled the evening.  Then, the next morning, I had the opportunity to attend the Ohio Innovative Learning Environments Conference in Hilliard and heard Jon Gordon speak about leading through love, kindness, and service to others.

The answer was that I had been focusing on the wrong thing.

I was looking for the wrong answer to the right purpose.

The “right purpose” in my opinion is being a servant leader to those within my “tribe” – My staff, my students, and the families that make up our community.  I want to empower others to make a difference and to remove the roadblocks on the path of progress.

Deep down the answers to what my message should be were always there.

The answer is “love” (Isn’t it always?).

The answer is “hope“.

The answer is “yes“.

The answer is “care“.

They may seem simple, but these are the words that can inspire, the ones that empower, and the ones that build relationships. 

I am so thankful for the folks who had the bravery and desire to share their story.  I am re-energized and ready to take on the best school year yet!


Articles Worth Reading —

Upcoming Dates — 


8 – KG Assessment/Screening Day

12 – New Teacher Work Day

15 – Convocation (AM) / District PD (PM)

15 – Meet the Teacher Night – 5-6PM; Ice Cream Social 5-6:30PM

16 – Building PD (AM) / Work Afternoon (PM)

17 – First Day of 2016-17 School Year

25 – Community-Wide Meeting at ADE (Finances/Levy), 7PM



7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

30 – Building Advisory

“Words": The First Ingredient of a Culture Recipe

Update for Mar 14-17

This is not a political statement – It’s a hypothesis about the effect our words have on others.

I’ve always been a believer in the power of words.

Lincoln, King, Lennon and McCartney continue to inspire me: Lincoln for his prose like style speeches seen in the Gettysburg address and second inaugural address; King for his oratory style that evokes emotion and hopefulness; and Lennon and McCartney for their ability to rapidly evolve their music and lyrics.

Last Friday, I was mesmerized by the live images of a rally in Chicago for presidential candidate Donald Trump because of how quickly it was getting out of control and becoming uncivilized. However, I wasn’t surprised and here’s why: I believe that leaders set the tone.

I believe that Tim Kight is right when he talks about how Leaders establish the Culture that influences Behaviors that get certain Results.  I also believe that the words we use and the messages we send directly influences the culture we are trying to build. When I think about some of the themes and rhetoric of the Trump campaign, I would say that much of it has been focused on exclusion, blame, and fear.  Those themes created the culture that influenced the behaviors that resulted in the violence we saw in Chicago on Friday.

Last Sunday evening, I got to take my kids to see the new Disney movie Zootopia

First, it’s worth the price of admission.  It has all of the elements a good Disney movie: great characters, funny scenes, and an engaging story line. Second, it and has a wonderful message about perseverance, acceptance and being aware of our biases and stereotypes. The writers did a great job of developing those themes without slowing the movie down for kids. 

I went into that movie not really knowing much about it, but I did know that I could expect there to be a positive universal message — That’s the result of a culture that has been built by Disney.

I come away from this weekend with two reflections.  One reflection is actually just another reminder that our words and the messages they send matter. They drive the culture we are trying to build.  

The other reflection is that we need to surround ourselves with words, messages and people that support and affirm Above the Line behaviors.  We need to work to find away to push out negativity or find t’s source so that it can be addressed.  

The next time you find yourself reacting out of anger, frustration or suspicion, press pause; think about what’s really going on.  Slow down and get your mind right because how you react and what you say next contributes to the culture we are trying to build and get the results we seek.  

Be a builder! 


Articles Worth Reading

Validating the Learner and Nurturing their Passion for Learning

The biggest regret from a 41-year career in education reporting (and a lot more)
Why Every Student Needs a Teacher Champion  — THIS IS A VIDEO I WATCH AND RE-WATCH TIME AND TIME AGAIN!!!
Middle School Maker Journey: The Making of a Mantra by :

Upcoming Events

Mar 15 — Hilliard U Day — No SCHOOL (Students)
Mar 16 — ADDC Staff Meeting, DCR Media Center 3:45
Mar 17 — Elementary Student Transfer Request Forms Due
Mar 18-24 — Spring Break — NO SCHOOL
Mar 25 — Holiday — NO SCHOOL

"Grow beyond our walls"

Update for April 27 – May 1

We had an amazing celebration this week that highlighted a project that has brought the school community together over the past 10 years.  Take a look at some of the pictures from the event:

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Becky reaffirmed for me that we can’t let our job description limit what is possible.  Growing beyond our walls and connecting our passion to the school’s mission is what innovative educators, including Becky, do.  And in turn it helps to create a truly innovative learning space.

Having what George Couros calls an “innovator’s mindset” will help us continue to learn and grow as professionals and will also help us continue to provide kids with authentic learning experiences that will better position them for success in the future.

Have a GREAT week!


Videos worth seeing

Technology is not the problem…

Example of timely feedback.  How important is recognizing the learner’s feelings when providing them with feedback? (Check out the 5 min mark)

Articles Worth Reading

Upcoming Dates

The calendar can also be accessed by visiting

Data Team Meeting Dates:
May 12 — KG during assessment day lunch
May 20 — 1st Grade AM; 2nd Grade PM
May 21 — 3rd Grade AM (*Herb will attend by 10:15); 4th Grade PM
**Joanne will secure subs – They will be shared between classrooms.
**5th Grade — I’d like to meet with you during planning time on Friday, May 23 to share trends from 4th grade and reflect on the year.