Monday, December 21, 2009

21 Things that became Obsolete this Decade

I love lists, they keep you better organized or provoke thought, this is the latter of the two.

21 Things that became Obsolete this Decade:
1. Palm Pilots
2. Email you pay for
3. Dial-up
4. Getting film developed
5. Movie rental stores
6. Maps
7. Newspaper classified
8. Landlines
9. Long Distance Charges
10. Public Pay Phones
11. VCR's
12. Fax machines
13. Phone books, dictionaries, encyclopedias
14. Calling 411
15. CD's
16. Backing up data on a CD or Floppy disk
17. Getting bills in the mail
18. Buttons
19. Losing touch with people
20. Boundaries
21. Record stores

Great Planning

When great lesson planning gets translated into great lessons, a strong teacher is essential. They make the difference between the student never quite getting it and the lesson being a success. But when lousy lesson planning gets translated into lousy lessons, even the greatest teacher can't help. The lesson is the product, and a great product needs a great sales person, in this case a teacher, to make it a success. It's a partnership of well crafted lessons and instructional sequences, and the teacher that makes it all go.

In most instances student do not just accept they need to learn what the teacher is teaching. They learn because of the benefits to them. A great lesson is more than the sum of its parts. It needs to connect to the student's life. These benefits are not usually obvious to the naked eye, but it is up to the teacher to demonstrate these benefits.

Students still need to know why they should want to learn what you're teaching. They need to be told, explained, and demonstrated what it will do for them. At our desks we make standards based data driven lessons. In front of the students, we sell hope, that is education innovation. The more I learn HOW kids learn, not what they learn, the less I have in common with teachers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


As we all heard last week President Obama committed another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $1 million per year for every soldier, according to Robert Gibbs.

We spend $47,780 per year to keep 1 Kansas senator in the state legislature in Topeka, according to

We spend $35,632 per year to keep 1 inmate in Kansas prisons, according to PBS.

But our legislative leadership thinks that $4100 is too much money to spend per year to keep 1 Kansas school child educated. They are quick to point out the money crunch in the state, however, it was known we were heading in this direction in 2005 and nothing was done, plus there was no recession going on at that time. The legislature has put schools exactly where they wanted them, thanks for your help. I'm not sure we can stand much more of their priority spending.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fun Facts About Technology

In 1810, the population of the United States was just over 7 million. That is 4.3 per square mile
In 1910, the population of the United States was just shy of 100 million. That is 26 per square mile.
In 2010, the population of the United States will be greater than 300 million. It will be at least 80 per square mile.

There are over 270 million cellphones in use in the United States. That is almost double the number of landlines.

Now if the average cellphone is 4 inches long, then if we set all 270 million in a straight line, they'd measure out at 1,080,000,000 inches, or 90,000,000 feet, or 17,045 miles. That is more than half of the circumference of the earth at the equator.

And that's just the cellphones in the US. There's another 634 million in China. And 427 million in India. And Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, and Russia sport numbers well above the 100 million each.

As for the Internet, there are 231 million users in the US (on a good day).

In other words, there are more than double as many folks online in the US today as there were people in the US a hundred years ago.

Now I know that these sorts of stats get cited and bandied about all the time; yet no matter how often I look at them they nonetheless give me shivers.

Because 2110 is going to make 2010 look like 1910. And we've already produced children who will live to see that day. What are we preparing them for?

Fun Facts to Know and Tell.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Are We Thankful For?

Now that Thanksgiving is over with and all of got to spend time with family and friends it gives us a chance to reflect on what we are truly thankful for. We all celebrate the usual things, children, health, and our families. We should be thankful for them year round not just on one day.

I thought of writing what I am thankful for in the profession I work in. In a leadership position I realize most we hear about schools revolve around funding but I am choosing not to be negative because there is so much more to this profession.

1. Working with people that enjoy their jobs and have positive attitudes.

2. Connecting with kids. I would rather be around kids than work with adults all day every day.

3. Parents who are supportive and don't leave us alone in the village to raise their child.

4. Creative and collaborative thinking that solves problems.

5. People that make me laugh, and I mean really laugh. I couldn't be at a job where humor was prohibited.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The governor recently made his budget cuts to balance the budget for Fiscal Year 2010, which will conclude on June 30. With public education making up 52% of the state budget we all knew we would get cut, but as an educational leader it still upsets me when we are at the funding level of 2006 and there is no relief in sight.

Which brings me to several points:
1. When the legislature knew this would occur back in 2005 why was nothing done to curtail spending or a roll back on some of the tax exemptions that were made for big business. Of course no one wants higher taxes but have you seen a tax cut from the state on your check lately? NO, none of their cuts effected the individual but just businesses.

2. Who forecasts what revenue the state will bring in? I realize it is done in November for the following year but good lord could we get a little closer so budgets of state agencies don't have to get cut at mid-year. Whoever predicts this makes the weather man look like a genius.

3. This one hurts to say, I feel the legislature is getting exactly what they want, a cut to education while hiding behind lost revenue. The recession had nothing to do with our current economic situation, there was no recession in 2005 when they knew in 2009 we would be close to $450 million short of the budget. When they signed the three year education funding act they knew good and well they couldn't fund it, and in my opinion this was how they could get out of the Supreme Court ruling.

This is a shame for the school children of Kansas, they (legislature) will be $855 million short in Fiscal Year 2012, and what is being done? Nothing, they only want to pay education back for winning the law suit against them. I hope they are happy and realize that the cost of an education far out weighs the cost of ignorance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Due to the increase in enrollment across the state of Kansas, and when adding the various factors that give our "weighted" funding our state is another $100 million over budget on education funding for this fiscal year. The governor has expressed that a cut will be made at the end of November in the amount (we have been told) of $150 per pupil on our "weighted" funding. For USD 344 this means a cut of approximately $100,000 from our budget. The news just keeps getting better, we have been warned that another cut will be coming in April and will probably be even bigger than the November cut, but that is speculation.

Here is the problem with these type of cuts. All schools set their budgets in July like we are supposed to and then to cut the budget six months or nine months into it when obligations have been made is not a good way to conduct business. I realize that if the money is not there then we have absorb cuts from state aid like other agencies, however, one could ask the legislature where they get their figures and why are they so grossly wrong. To be blunt, I'm not sure the legislature wants to do a thing to correct the fiscal woes our state is in, and I think that is unfortunate for the kids of Kansas because they are the ones that will ultimately suffer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Two Hand Set Shot

When we first learned to shoot a basketball, we all used the two hand set shot because we were to weak to get the ball up to the goal any other way. Then as we got older our shot changed, because we got stronger, and could get the ball to the goal with one hand. The only problem was our accuracy suffered because it was a different way of shooting. Our coaches pointed out, though, that the two hand set shot was to easy to block and we had to change. The ones that changed to shoot the way we were coached lasted, the ones that couldn't give up the two hand set shot dropped out of the sport.

Most of us are self taught, we use what we know and what talents we have to succeed. But once we encounter a situation or challenge that is on a different level than we have experienced before how many of us revert back to the two hand set shot? It can be very uncomfortable to change old behaviors, and usually the first few tries at something we fail, just like the one handed shot. We must stay the course because we know that is what is best in the long run and all that is necessary is to practice the new behaviors. As life and changes get more competitive we are constantly taking our game to different levels, and as painful as it sometimes is we must learn new ways to handle the new problems we are faced with.

Board Summary

The Board of Education met on Monday, November 9, in the annex. The meeting was by far the best attended board meeting since I have been here. The hot topic was the senior panel, most of the seniors, several parents, and underclassmen were in attendance. The students made their presentation their views, and their parents views were taken into consideration. The board decided to table the issue until the December board meeting, with the Pleasanton Student Council and the administration coming up with a policy.

The auditing report by Terry Sercer was approved, Connie Krull, board clerk, and Karen Snow, board treasurer, were both sited by Mr. Sercer as doing good work in getting the information ready and the accuracy of their figures.

The Board also voted not to become a member of the Schools for Fair Funding group.

The policy book will be reviewed in the December board meeting and the appropriate policies will be discussed and changes made if necessary. The policies will then need to be reviewed by KASB and then get final approval.

The Christmas Dinner for employees will be December 14, at 6:00 p.m. The monthly board meeting will then follow at 7:30.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November BOE Meeting

The November Board of Education for USD 344 will be, Monday, November 9, in the Annex. The agenda is as follows:

Call to Order
Additions to Agenda
Approval of Agenda
Approval of Minutes
Approval of Monthly Bills
Visitors Forum
Thank You Card

Principal and Superintendent Report

Business, Discussion, and Action Items

Senior Class Panel
Report by Auditor (Will probably occur at the start of the meeting)
Schools for Fair Funding
KASB State Convention
Policy Book
Christmas Dinner
Executive Session

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The reason I blogged about football yesterday is that it was fresh on my mind, but I have a few things to say about our volleyball season as well. I will also admit as far as expertise goes, I can speak at ease about football, and I have none in volleyball.

I can say this from watching our girls play, we were not the same team at the end of the season that we were at the start. The improvement shown by our team was astounding, and you could see their confidence soar as the season wore on. I got the genuine belief that our girls felt they had a chance to win no matter the opponent. Only having one senior on the squad I think the future is bright for our volleyball program.

As stated earlier I am not a volleyball expert, nor do I know how to coach volleyball, but I feel I do recognize coaching. The gains made could not have been achieved without good coaching and patience to work with such a young team and keeping sight that it is how you finish not how you start.

I just want to say kudos to all involved in our volleyball program.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Pittsburg Colgan is a better football team than the Pleasanton Blu-Jays.

I do not want to discuss the difference between private and public schools. I believe in public education and its benefits.

This past Friday night, October 23, our football team played at St. Marys-Colgan. We had three members gone to Indianapolis to the FFA National Convention, which left us with only 14 in uniform. Colgan is down this year in their numbers they only have sightly over 50 playing football. The clock ran the second half, Colgan won the game 39-0. None of this matters.

What matters was the extraordinary effort put out by our players, knowing they were outmanned I couldn't have been more proud of our kids for the valiant effort that was put out. As the game wore on I became more and more proud watching our kids battle, I am very happy to be a Pleasanton Blu-Jay.

It didn't stop at our players either, our coaches coached the entire game as if it were a 0-0 game and never stopped demanded the very best from our kids. The cheerleaders performed throughout the entire night and kept our crowd involved until the end, kudos to you, and your leadership, our fans stayed until end on a cold and wet night the simple thing would have been to get in your car and head home, however, not one person did. I did watch the Colgan fans stream out at halftime as if a fire alarm had been sounded.

Sports are not intended to teach character, but more often than not sports reveal character, and judging from last Friday night that is one trait we are not short on. My hats off to everyone involved.

3 Beliefs of a Professional Learning Community

Planting and nurturing a healthy professional learning community requires that every teacher and employee in a building arrive at three conclusions:
1. I am a professional. My mission is to ensure learning at high levels for every student, measurable by objective evidence.
2. I learn and I help others learn. My students learn more when I collaborate and lean with other teachers, sharing strategies and comparing evidence.
3. My school is a community, greater than the sum of its parts. It is built out of collaborative teams and disciplined professionals that share and learn from their failures and successes.

It's not enough to adopt two out of the three conclusions. It's all or nothing.

Because these conclusions aren't just benign, buzzword statements, adoption can be pretty arduous. Teachers need time and patience to hash through the implications of these terms with other teachers.

Teachers need time to air their concerns, fears, and insecurities before they really assimilate these beliefs. Teachers need time to struggle and even fight through the process of letting go of longer-standing beliefs that conflict with these conclusions, without feeling like they're forfeiting their souls and their individuality.

For leaders, the whole process is less like building a tract house, and more like planting and growing a forest. It takes strategy and experience, nurturing and pruning, and time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No School

This just a reminder that we will not be in school on Friday, October 23, or on Friday, October 30. I hope you all enjoy your two consecutive three day weekends.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October BOE Meeting

The board was reminded of the KASB Regional meeting in Lenexa and if any members wish to attend to get the registration from Connie or Mr. Gorman. The KASB annual convention is in Overland Park this year, the first weekend of December, members are encouraged to attend, once again, registration can be obtained from Connie or Mr. Gorman.

The BOE discussed paperless meetings but the consensus was to keep the meetings the way they are. We don't use that much paper and both sides could be utilized when copying to save paper, plus the cost of buying laptops for the board would pay for a lot of paper.

The annual USD 344 Employee Appreciation Night is set for October 16. The cooks will be preparing chili and cinnamon rolls. Serving will begin at 5:30 and conclude at 6:30 followed by the final home football game of the regular season.

The board accepted resignations of Mr. Charley Brock, JH/HS Counselor and Ms. Debbie Nall, cook. Mr. Brock will finish our the school year and Ms. Nall will work until October 14, 2009, we wish both of them the best. Jamie Rogers was appointed as JH assistant Girls basketball coach, Carolyn Epps was employed to replace Ms. Nall.

The next meeting of the USD 344 Board of Education is on November 9, 2009, the public is welcome to attend.

12 Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Overscheduled

There may not be a "right" number of activities for every child,but ask yourself these questions to check if your child's getting enough downtime.

1. Does he/she act grouchy, mopey or irritable?
2. Can he/she fall asleep at bedtime?
3. Are his/her grades slipping? Does he/she finish his/her homework?
4. Has he/she started overeating?
5. Does he/she zone out in front of the TV?
6. Is he/she complaining of stomachaches, headaches, or mysterious illnesses?
7. Does he/she get bored easily?
8. Is he/she overanxious about getting approval from authority figures?
9. When heading out the door, does he/throw a tantrum or "lose" equipment?
10. Does he/she pick fights with her siblings or complain you don't love her as much?
11. Can he/she keep track of where he/she is supposed to be?
12. Is his/her schedule draining you or your family members?
If your child exhibits a few of these behaviors on an ongoing basis you may want to re-examine his after-school schedule.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Classroom Etiquette

Knowing that your student behave properly is a common concern for most parents, and is essential for a student's success in school. Children need to know what is expected from them in the classroom and in society as well. Here are a few simple guidelines for your student, and never take for granted that he/she is practicing these.

Make Eye Contact-When someone is speaking keep your eyes on them.

If You Win or Do Well at Something, Do Not Brag-Be humble in your success, and do not show anger in defeat, that merely shows weakness.

Ask Questions in Return-If you are asked a question in a conversation, you should ask a question in return. Show others that you are just as interested in them as they are in you.

Say Excuse Me-After a cough or sneeze, of which you should always have your mouth covered, say "Excuse Me"

Do Not Disrespectful Gestures-Do not smack your lips when eating, or roll your eyes when someone is talking to you.

Thank You-Always say "Thank You" when someone gives you something. There is never an excuse for not showing appreciation.

Never Make Negative Comments About a Gift--Never insult a person by making negative comments about a gift or by insinuating it isn't appreciated.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Board Summary

The School Board of USD 344 at the meeting on Monday September 14 took the following the following actions. We heard a report from the Linn County Crimestoppers about putting a banner in the school cafeteria, this banner has the text number so students are able to report crimes to the proper authority.

The Board also approved for the Linn County Sheriff Office to bring the drug dog on our campus to make sure we have no illicit drugs on campus. They will be putting on an assembly at a later date for the students.

The updated version of the KASB Policy Book was approved as our policy book until we can finish our policy review with the KASB.

All of the out of district students were approved by the board

We regrettably accepted the the resignation of Frances Marshall at the end of the current school year. Becky Anderson was approved as a new special education paraprofessional. Larry Streeter was named Head Custodian/Maintenance effective November 1, 2009. The Board also had the opportunity to meet the new teachers to the district. The next meeting of the USD 344 Board of Education is October 12, 2009.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Board of Education Meeting

The September Board of Education meeting for USD 344 will be Monday September 14, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in the annex. The agenda is as follows:

Call to Order
Additions to Agenda
Approval of Agenda
Approval of Minutes
Approval of Minutes-Special meeting
Approval of Monthly Bills
Visitor forum

Principals Report
Superintendent Report

Action Items
1. Drug Dog
2. Adoption of KASB Policy Book
3. Out of District Students
4. Executive Session
5. Adjournment

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

President's Speech

I am not a political person and don't like the politics that are being played in Washington and/or Topeka with our school children. It doesn't matter if you are liberal, conservative, independent, or not involved I think schools should be left out of the political arena, but unfortunately they have been thrown into the middle of the fray.

The speech Mr. Obama is delivering today to our children is trying to help us in public education, by encouraging kids to reach their potential and to stay in school. I get agitated when pundits try to read into a situation things that I have no intelligent reason for believing. I do not believe Mr. Obama will try to convert our kids to Islam, create socialists, or have them become health care reformists. He is trying to do the same thing we in public education are trying to do, motivate kids to be the best they can be, and how important their education is. Can you imagine your reaction if a student came to a counselor, teacher, or administrator and said they wanted to drop out of school and our reaction was the same as many people across our country and we sat idly by and watched this student withdraw from our school. Shame on us.

Mr. Obama is our President, like it or not, and I for one respect the office no matter who sits in the chair. If you don't like his policies we have the opportunity in four years to replace him. I just hate to see kids used as political pawns and having to worry about who gets offended if we are not politically correct. If you wish to read the speech, it is on the school website.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Special Meeting

The Board of Education held a special meeting on Friday, August 28, at 5:00. We met with Paul Getto of the Kansas Association of School Boards, in regard to board policy. The meeting lasted until a little after eight o'clock. Policy review is a never ending process and your board was very engaged in this process. We will have probably a couple more meetings with Mr. Getto as well as meeting amongst ourselves to decide what policies need to be added, deleted, and/or updated.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Philosophy of Education

This Monday our teachers will report to work and before they are turned over to their respective Principals I will have a short address and most of it will involve my philosophy of education. Sometimes I think we look for complicated answers when simplicity is best, and this goes for education also, but anyway here are the highlights.

Student Learning is our business.
What we teach matters but what they learn matters more.
What Works-Works--What doesn't Work-Doesn't Work
Working hard at things that don't work won't make them work.
If they don't learn the way you teach-Then teach the way they learn.
Three Critical Questions to ask Yourself about Teaching
1. What do I want them to learn?
2. How do I know if they have learned it?
3. What do we do if they haven't learned it?
RETEACH-But use different methodology
Einstein said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results.
We need to prepare students for their future-Not our past.
Classroom Management is the most important thing in your room.
Classroom rules: Respect
Students can remember these and almost all problems fall into these categories.
How do students learn:
10% What they read
20% What they hear
30% What they see
50% What they see and hear
70% What is discussed with others
80% What is experienced personally
90% What they teach someone else
How do you teach?
If knowledge creates problems-It is not through ignorance that we can solve them.

That is it in a nutshell if you agree or disagree with what is said above feel free to comment on it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

5 Key Academic Skills

As we get ready for a new school year, the greatest predictor of success is to get off to a good start. As usual communication is a key component for success, parents talking to students, students talking to teachers, parents talking to teachers, teachers talking to administrators, parents talking to administrators, students talking to administrators may not be an indicator of success. So here is the list of 5 things that will help your student:
1. Organization
2. Time Management
3. Prioritization
4. Concentration
5. Motivation
We wish each and every student at Pleasanton to have a GREAT YEAR.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summary of the August Board Meeting

The meeting started off with the approval of the budget for the fiscal year of 2009-2010. Like most schools our budget is less than it has been, but it is workable. We did raise the local option budget by 2.6 mills which means that if your home is worth $100,000 your taxes will raise $28 next year. A home valued at $65,000 will see an increase of $18 for the year.

The board then approved EMC to be our insurance carrier for the next school year. We are fortunate to have an agent in town that carries this insurance, since the recent school disasters more and more companies are choosing not to insure schools. We also accepted Hiland's bid to provide milk for the district for the 2009-10 school year. We also will join the KASB Legal Fund this was one of our original cutbacks but as the start of school gets closer my feet got cold in regard to not having their advice available to us. We will be doing a policy review with KASB on August 28, 2009. Hazel Wood was hired as our Pre-School teacher.

If you have any questions or want to leave a comment please feel free to do so.

Monday, August 3, 2009

August Board of Education Meeting

The August Board of Education Meeting for USD 344 will be Monday, August 10, 2009, at the Board of Education meeting room in the annex. The itinerary will be as follows:

Budget Hearing for 2009-2010 School year

Regular Meeting
Call to Order
Additions to Agenda
Approval of Agenda
Approval of Minutes
Visitor forum

Principal Report
Superintendent Report

Business, Discussion, and Action Items
1. EMC Insurance
2. Dairy Bid
3. KASB Legal Fund
4. KASB Policy Review
5. Executive Session
6. Adjournment

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Late Start to School This Year

It will be interesting to see how our late start this year works, we will also use the same schedule next year. We wanted to conserve on utilities, especially air conditioning, and here we've had the coolest July any of us can remember. We will also start school an hour later the Wednesday following board meetings this year, our principals will use this time for staff development activities. We have two new Board of Education members in Malissa Streeter and Bill Hein and I know they will do a good job. Feel free to add to this post at any time.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Let's take the first step

How about this if we use a blogspot for all our faculty meetings, admin meetings, etc. that way if people have thoughts later they can post them and will save paper. It could be used for our late starts inservice also, just thoughts to help move our staff along technology wise, especially if they know we will take the lead on how to become more paperless.