Coming Back From Maternity Leave

@mrsbensonsbunch Tweet This!

Any mom’s out there? Remember coming back from maternity leave? Each time it gets harder, right? Anyone have 3 and then come back to a completely different type of environment? @mrsbensonsbunch did!


She was on maternity leave since September and just returned on January 30th. When she returned, she found a SMART board in her room, and a principal who talked about blogging and tweeting. So what did she do?


After working with her very helpful (and thankfully still employed at our school) maternity leave replacement @Mrs_DeVita she learned how the SMART board worked, signed up for twitter and is developing a class blog. She hasn’t missed a beat.


One of the cool things that I noticed in her room was her Tweet Wall (above). When students want to share something, they get up, get a post-it and write their tweet. In fact, I tweeted the class after my recent observation.

Listening Center

I really enjoyed watching the students work with the listening center. Look at the rubric! They have to grade themselves on whether they are reading like a robot, like a news caster or a rock star. I asked one student and he knew that being a rock star was the best. 3rd grade!


So, to all of the moms who are coming back, going out, or simply “remember those days” here is to one who did it with panache!

Where is the LOVE?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I reflect on the meaning of Valentine’s Day, I figured I should do a little research. I googled the “Meaning of Valentine’s Day.” There were about 2,540,000 potential connections to this search. The story goes something like this: St. Valentine did a lot of work in the area of marriage, February has long been associated with love, and the card companies wanted to sell more cards. I tend to believe a little of all the major theories. Regardless, I wanted to take this time and share my appreciation of the things I love:

-My Wife – She is the one who has stood by me and believed in me. We always say to each other, “You’re my number one supporter!”

– My Kids – I have two exceptional children: Henry and Catherine. They have grounded me, and made me believe in the future, their future.

– My family – My mom, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, in-laws- I have learned so much from everyone!

– RM Bacon – Since being selected the Principal last April I have fallen head over heels for the BEARS. I have had such an awesome experience thus far and it is because of the students, parents, staff, and teachers.

– Coffee – Anyone who knows me (So that is why I received so many Starbucks cards over the holidays) knows that I love coffee. That first cup in the morning is precious. And it always has to be HOT!

– Exercise – Whether I am running, biking, golfing, playing basketball, kickball, hockey, Karate, or Insanity I love to exercise.

– Watching Movies – I tend to like documentaries or sports oriented movies, and most of all I love cuddling on the couch with my wife and kids while I am watching. Well, I have to be more honest, if I want to watch something to do with sports, the room clears out.

– Indian Food – Indian food is by far my favorite food. I am not sure saying that I love it gives it justice.

So where is your LOVE?


Dr. Cook



Where does the road of excess lead? Emotional Intelligence? Resonant Leadership?

"The Long, and Winding Road" source:istock

I truly live by William Blake’s famous quote, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” The problem is that road goes in two directions, with many turns, stops and hills. The road of excess can make you tired, stressed and dissonant. On the other hand, it can make you energized, healthy, and focused. As for the middle path, I don’t know much about that path. I do know that learning about Emotional Intelligence and Resonant Leadership has helped me tremendously.





We all have personal energy source:personal-energy jpeg

Emotional intelligence has been defined as the ability to recognize how leaders understand themselves and others (Goleman, et al., 2002). Leaders, including myself, are prime candidates for stress, weight issues, and health issues (Boyatzis & McKee, 2006). Using the concept of emotional intelligence, Boyatzis and McKee (2006) proposed that leaders utilize a process of renewal to deal with the sacrifices that have been inherent in today’s work world. When leaders do not renew themselves, they run the risk of becoming dissonant, and therefore, ineffective or burnt out.



Are you running on empty? source:energy_crisis jpeg

Ironically, being a principal causes a lot of stress and anxiety.  It also has an energizing effect, but these two forces do not always balance each other. Through much reflection, I have found that I am a potential candidate for Sacrifice Syndrome (Boyatzis & McKee, 2006). I tend to volunteer for activities even when my plate is full. I have a tough time declining opportunities because I feel that everything I do has the potential to benefit my professional growth and school community. In my world, there is always another mountain to climb. In the process, there are occasions when I become stressed out and continue to take on those potentially advantageous opportunities that end up becoming more detrimental to my well-being and supersede the intended beneficial outcomes.





When I am feeling well, I tend to be more charismatic and full of energy. I realize this because others point it out to me. “Hey Spike, you seem full of energy!” or “Wow, I wish I had your energy!” On the other hand, when I am stressed out, I have people tell me, “You look tired,” or “Is everything OK?” I am the kind of person who wears my emotions on my sleeve. In the fall, sometime after Thanksgiving, I knew I was deep in the cycle of sacrifice. I was tired all of the time. Although it took me a few weeks to get out, I was able to recognize, reflect and make the necessary changes to break that cycle. As a leader, I know that I must be awake, aware, and attentive. In order to achieve this, I need to adhere to a Cycle of Renewal (Boyatzis & McKee, 2006).

Henry and Daddy went for a snow run today. His idea!

Maintaining a Cycle of Renewal has become more difficult as I grow older and add more responsibilities to my plate. I used to run marathons, triathlons, and hike mountains. Since that time, I have fathered two children and earned both a masters and doctoral degree.  Plus, I became a principal. It has only been in the last year that I have truly committed myself to a new cycle of renewal. It has helped that the kids are more independent and out of diapers. I go to karate three days a week, eat as healthy as possible, meditate, and spend time with my family. I try to laugh, a lot. I like watching funny things on TV. I dance with my wife and children. We have competitions of all sorts. I listen to music and enjoy reading.


So now, I maintain two blogs, participate on twitter, and am a building principal (January 30, 2012 posts:  What is it like being a principal? Are you in meetings all day?). I know my colleagues wonder, “How does he do it?” As I stated earlier, I travel on the road of excess. On that road, I balance the cycle of sacrifice and the cycle of renewal. Want to learn more about the cycle of sacrifice, renewal or Emotional Intelligence? Here are some resources:













How fast is fast?

How fast is fast?

Before you start reading this post, please write down the time. Now you can start reading.

According to a recently somewhat outdated article, @twitter has approximately 200 million tweets per day ( Yesterday marked my first month on @twitter. During that time I sent out about 325 tweets, followed 140 people, read thousands of tweets, numerous articles, websites, blog posts, and was followed by 130 people.  Not to mention, my @youtube channel ( has had 130 visitors, my personal blog 120 visitors and the school blog has had 130 visitors.  8 of those were from out of the United States! I was also able to share my new found discovery with many educators at work, and they ended up starting their journey. Things move pretty fast on or because of @twitter!

What I found

Are you ready?

Through @twitter I have connected with like-minded individuals throughout the world.  At first, I concentrated on fellow principals. I wanted to know what they were doing. It was during this point of discovery that I was inspired. I read their blogs, tweets, and anything they suggested. For a brief moment, I thought to myself, “There is no way I can do this. I cannot keep up with them.” As I read and explored further, I found that these principals valued professional development and the Professional Learning Network (PLN). It was same direction I felt myself getting pulled into, but I thought to myself, “I have no idea how to make a blog; I don’t have a laptop, iPhone, or an Android.  Not to mention, I have no idea how all this technology works. It still blows my mind that it is all zeros and ones (that is for another blog).”

Digging deeper into the nuances of “twitterverse”, I have found that I had everything I need. I am fortunate to have a Blackberry through work and access to the internet at home and work (well, when my 7 and 4 year olds are not on it). So, I did what any other connector (thanks Malcom Gladwell, @Gladwell) would do.  I started asking everyone in the ‘know.’ I met with teachers who were considered technology savvy (@RyanHudson9, @carrie2226), emailed friends, talked with my Karate Sensei (@Sensei_Nick) , and our technology specialist (@AliciaDiscepola).  I emailed my superintendent (@drgentile_mps) and asked him if I could do this. After stating my case for a PLN by providing him with links to other principal blogs, twitter posts, and school based information, he gave me the green light.

What I did


One weekend in early January I took the plunge. I told my wife my plan. “Honey, I am going to start a blog, join twitter and other social networks.” She looked at me quizzically and said, “You don’t even like Facebook.  How are you going to do this?” I showed her the examples, and she gave me that look she always does when I have ideas. She then took the kids to a birthday party. I signed up for a blog, twitter, linkedin, google+, and a youtube channel. The rest of the weekend I learned, explored, and finally sent out my first tweet, “A thousand mile journey begins with one step.” I went through all of my contacts on my cell phone and told them about my new twitter account. I went through all of my email contacts and did the same. Then I waited, and waited. Not much action. Uh oh, was I a social media dud? Slowly, I started to get followers. My brother and sister climbed on board, but I had to wait for my good friend @cfzimmerman because he was ‘locked’.  It took a few days to get confirmed. Slowly, I started to see trends, like inserting “hash-tags”. I crept around the internet looking for any educational news that I could get my paws on, so that I too could send something out into the “twitterverse”. Similar to a snowball, and I am not sure how or when this really happened, but things started to roll and roll.

One day my superintendent, @drgentile_mps called and asked me to go to lunch. Surely, I figured, I had done something wrong and he was going to tell me to find another job. He picked me up and asked how things were going. I told him about the school and general life happenings. He then asked me this question, “So I looked at all your links and your ideas, and I have to ask how you are planning on doing all of this?”  “Oh, that?” I replied, “Well…” Turns out, he was very excited, intended to help me think through the process, and told me that he would support me.  I made sure to tell him that it was not just me, and that I was getting a lot of help behind the scenes from @AliciaDiscepola.

I had several meetings with @AliciaDiscepola. She helped deepen my understanding of twitter and blogging. She supported me with almost 24 hour tech support. She helped me turn ideas into reality. I would show her a blog and say, “I want that!” I would show her video blogs, and say, “I am going to do this.” I am not sure what I would have done without @AliciaDiscepola. Funny thing, many of the people who joined twitter in my district began calling her too. During this time, I talked incessantly about @twitter to anyone that would listen. Well, not everyone, of course.  I did not bore the kids with my new found discovery.

Alicia and I set out a plan for my school #rmbacon. She saw what I was trying to do with the school blog (courtesy of @WiscPrincipal) and helped me develop the RM Bacon Weekly ( She navigated me through the technical aspects of embedding videos, links, etc., to that website. I found that this medium was not too different from my Monday Memos that were inspired from a great mentor, Dr. Piera Gravenor. I had information to convey to the staff, but a lot of it also applied to the school community, parents, and the other elementary schools in the district. Once @AliciaDiscepola helped me with the framework, I felt that I could accomplish this in addition to my personal blog.

We began partnering up on posts, tweets, and most importantly, ideas. She had to put up with all of my jokes and technology hang ups. She was very patient with me as I constantly asked, “How does this work again?” We went through my “old” blog, and she encouraged me to update the posts on my new blog, ( After that meeting, when everyone had cleared out of the school, I sequestered myself in my office and copied, pasted, re-wrote, and downloaded pictures.  A few hours later, I called my wife and told her I would be home soon (I think I got home at 9:00 PM that night).

We scheduled a social media presentation for Thursday, February 2. I invited all of the administration, other principals, and of course, #rmbacon faculty. When @AliciaDiscepola sent me the final copy of the prezi on Wednesday evening, I asked if it would be OK to tweet. I thought it would be neat for anyone who was following me to see the prezi before it was actually presented. Not too long after I tweeted the prezi, I received a mention that the prezi was highlighted on the PCM Tech Tribune for Wednesday, February 1st.  When we were setting up that morning for the presentation, 50 people had already viewed it. We spent about 25 minutes on the prezi. After we were finished, I had to go right into another presentation on our #pbis data. Honestly, I didn’t think people connected to the @twitter presentation until that evening, and the next and the next. In 3 days we had a total of 15 staff (teachers, custodians, aides, and secretaries) associated with #rmbacon on @twitter!

The highs and lows of the first month on @twitter


–          Meeting the Wisconsin principal connection through twitter and reading their blogs (@howeprincipal, @WiscPrincipal, @PrincipalJ)

–          Following Eric Sheringer (@NMHS_Principal) and all that he is doing to further education

–          Sending out my 100th tweet

–          Having @bhsprincipal help me with the widget for Connected Principals (@conprin)

–          Reading the excellent posts on Connected Principals (@conprin)

–          Getting my 100th follower (@katpam3  from Alabama)

–          Getting followed by @MarzanoResearch

–          Watching teachers in my building #rmbacon join and immediately share with each other on @twitter

–          Getting selected to the The PCM Tech Tribune DrSpikeCook Prezi for staff meeting \ on social media/blogs.thanks @AliciaDiscepola #cpchat #edchat #millvilleboe #edtech

–          Tweeting pictures of the walkthroughs and school activities

–          Reading the tweets from  other administrators in Millville Public Schools

–          Filming the first 2 installments of the RM Bacon Weekly Video update with my co-host Marissa

–          Viewing the @clustrmaps on my personal blog and showing my own kids where people were from who read my blog

–          Understanding that countless learners will benefit from the PLN @twitter through greater access to technology, ideas, and resources



–          Getting a cryptic message from @howeprincipal that people were saying bad things about me

–          Frantically calling my superintendent @drgentile_mps to tell him that there is a web site that is saying bad things about me

–          Learning that @howeprincipal was hacked and that no one was saying bad things….yet


The future

Being a principal in a systematic driven district #millvilleboe, I am sure that this will be just the start of great things for the community, schools, students, parents, teachers, and other staff. I feel more invested in the 21st century. I hope to one day share my knowledge with others who are ready to join the PLN. I will continue to post on my own blog and the school blog. I hope to get a more updated technology set up.  Until then, happy tweeting! Make sure to write down the time.

One last thing

How many tweets do you think were sent out during the time you read this blog? Here is a simple calculation that can give you an estimate:

____(amount of minutes you took to read this post)

X 306,000

= _____ the estimated number of tweets sent during the time it took to read this.

How fast is fast?

More information on@twitter:

What does it mean to be a Servant Leader? How can I help?

Martin Luther King, Jr. a true Servant Leader

I love when someone asks, “How can I help you?” I think people who pose this question have an understanding of the power of service. For me, leadership has been about service to others. Robert Greenleaf identified the “servant as leader” in 1970’s as a way to explain the leadership paradigm that has been used for thousands of years. The book Servant Leadership, (Greenleaf, 2002) provided a framework for ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary goals through serving others.


Since then, various authors and researchers have used the tenets of servant leadership to assist leaders in answering the call. Servant leaders create a vision, and once the vision is clear, the leader becomes a servant in order to implement the vision (Blanchard, 2007). Servant leaders want to make a difference in the lives of those they lead and create a motivating environment (Greenleaf, 2002).


Helping others completes the puzzle

Servant leadership has been the building block for my leadership platform. I operate as a servant leader because I feel a responsibility to those I lead. Servant leaders assist those they lead by ultimately making them leaders. This can be accomplished by building trusting relationships, providing an opportunity for personal and professional growth, and a promoting a collaborative environment in which everyone becomes a stakeholder (Greenleaf, 2002).


Another way that I integrate my servant leadership as a principal is to “roll up my sleeves” and help out to get things accomplished. Throughout my brief tenure as a principal I have made sure to help clean up the cafeteria, vacuum the steps in the gym, pail water out of a flooded area, and assist people with carrying things up and down the stairs. Kouses and Posner (2006) would refer to this as ‘modeling the way’. When you want others to follow your lead, you need to be the model. If I want everyone to pitch in and help, then I need to lead by that example. And guess what? I just received an email from a colleague who said, “Many of your students also reflect your service leadership in their daily actions by holding the door for the little ones or teachers bogged down with bags. Every day I am in your building, at least one student will ask if there is anything they can help me with.”

So, how can I help you?

More information on Servant Leadership and Modeling the Way?

Blanchard, K. (2007). The heart of a leader: Insights on the art of influence. Colorado Springs, CO. David C Cook

Greenleaf, R. (2002). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Paulist Press.

Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2006). A leader’s legacy. San Franscico: Jossey Bass.

An excellent resource for leadership

Another great resource for leadership

Reflective Practice: Looking into the mirror

Every Principal needs to look into the Reflective Mirror

The concept of Reflective Practice (Osterman & Kottkamp, 2004) has helped me balance my leadership as a new principal. The use of reflective practice provides me with the basis of how to become an effective principal by constantly asking questions and spending time reflecting. My natural tendency is to jump from one project to another without much thought. I used to ask myself, “What is the next thing for me to get involved with?” Now I ask myself, “What am I doing now?” and more importantly, “Why?”

One aspect of the reflective practice process has been the ability to value the input of others in decision making. I used to ask myself why I always need to seek input from others. Perhaps there have been decisions that could have been made on my own, but if I truly wanted to create a reflective environment for my school, I must have the trust that, even if I reveal myself as vulnerable, my staff would provide feedback. If someone betrays my trust, I have to believe it reflects more about them, not me.

One of the most influential books in my library

As a principal I have a vision of what my school should be. Whether I am at PTA function, Back to School Night, Faculty Meeting, or just casual conversation I see the school as the top performing elementary school in the county within five years. As a new principal, I have been forced to remain steadfast in this vision. Every day I am faced with a thousand reasons why we will not be the top performing school. Along the way, however, I have had to ask myself tough, reflective questions such as how does this problem reveal an opportunity? Knowing I cannot do this myself, who can I enlist to help? It is through these questions that I reflect and gain perspective.

I take a reflective approach when analyzing my leadership practices and it has made such a difference in my work products. In fact this blog serves as my reflective diary about my insights into learning. By taking the time to write about my experiences, I am implementing the reflective process technique. I know how I want to be viewed as a principal, but I also need to be able to articulate this to students, teachers, parents and other key stakeholders. Using reflective practice and asking myself tough questions forces me to confront my leadership as a mirror that reflects who I am and who I want to be. That is why the theme “Your Image is Our Image” is so fitting.

Want more information on Reflective Practice? Check out these links:

Osterman, K., & Kottkamp, R. (2004). Reflective practice for educators: Professional development to improve student learning (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

What is it like being a principal? Are you in meetings all day?

RM Bacon a long, long time ago

One of my best friends, Dan, recently asked me those questions via text. I have known Dan since high school. I have always admired him because he is a risk taker. When most of our friends went off to colleges and universities, Dan went to Africa to plant trees. Then he moved to Montana and got into a bagel business which required him to go to work very, very early. After his stint in Montana, he moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana to work on a boat in the gambling world which required him to work nights. When he was finished with that, he and I went on a cross country camping excursion and were able to see much of this beautiful country.


What do I really do at work?

I think it was on that trip that Dan decided he was going to devote himself to becoming a chef and one day opening his own business. He moved back to Philly and enrolled in restaurant school and started his journey into the business. About 12 or 13 years ago he moved up to NYC. He has remained there working in all different capacities, and types of places. He often tells me how tough the business is, and he works when everyone else is off and vice versa.

So when I texted him back this is what I wrote: “It depends on the day. My main goal is to be out in the classrooms with the teachers and students. There is also a lot of management stuff I have to take care of. I do have a lot of meetings, and I try to have fun.” I let him know I had this blog, and he checked it out and said he was going to follow it.

I thought more about his questions and reflected on my position as a 21st century elementary principal. Well, if he is reading this, I would like to add a few things to my text.

Dear Dan, here is what I do:

Meetings help us solve problems


  • Meet with other administrators
  • My mentor
  • Literacy coach (who is my new life coach)
  • Consultants
  • Parents
  • Guidance counselors
  • Teachers
  • Custodians
  • Cafeteria workers
  • Bus drivers
  • Secretaries
  • Security guards
  • Students
  • Parent Teacher Association
  • DYFS workers
  • Community organizations
  • New initiatives

Management stuff:

  • Monitor hallways
  • Manage budget
  • Make sure lunches are running smooth
  • Supervise Arrival
  • Read, write and respond to about 50 emails a day
  • Supervise dismissal
  • Complete cleanliness evaluations on rooms, offices, etc.
  • Ride school buses
  • Drive the streets after dismissal making sure kids are behaving
  • Visit houses
  • Visit other schools
  • Phone calls/conferences
  • Write

    Always watching Classroom Instruction at Work!

  • Read articles
  • Collect data
  • Analyze data
  • Organize paper work
  • Sign for various trips, professional development days, approvals, etc.

Leadership stuff:

  • Present information at faculty meetings
  • Train staff on best practices
  • Make suggestions on improving classroom instruction
  • Listen to suggestions on improving the school
  • Follow through on requests
  • Analyze problems, seek solutions, implement programs
  • Hopefully inspire staff
  • Speak at events, assemblies

There are other things as well that I will call “Other category”:

  • Announcements, ‘Goooooood Morning Bacon Elementary School”
  • Play kickball
  • Get lots of cupcakes for birthdays
  • Play floor hockey
  • Clean up syrup at breakfast
  • Play basketball
  • Run
  • Jump rope

    Lots of cupcakes

  • Attempt to get in on Double Dutch
  • Read with kids
  • Solve math problems that kids give me
  • Mentor
  • Counsel
  • Mediate
  • Make my secretaries laugh (that is starting to wear off, just like it has with everyone who knows me long enough)
  • Dance with the most awesome Postal Worker, Jenna
  • Rap with Jenna, the most awesome Postal Worker
  • Show people Karate moves
  • Sit down at breakfast/lunch with kids
  • Ask teachers for help
  • Eat at Moe’s (Please don’t share that with my wife)
  • Get tons of hugs from great kids
  • Give out lots of high fives
  • Listen to kids who cry or are upset
  • Make kids cry and be upset (well, usually that is because of their behavior)
  • Call the superintendent, assistant superintendent, other principals,supervisors, and friends in other districts and ask “How do I…”
  • Philosophize over educational problems, solutions
  • Listen to music
  • Check twitter
  • Jam a minute everyday at 2:30 PM
  • Blog
  • Take pictures
  • Capture cool things on video
  • Entertain visitors
  • Read the local newspaper
  • Cut out articles from the paper and post

OK, Dan, I think I got it all. As you can see, a lot has changed since the last time you were in school.  I encourage you to check back on the comments. Some people may either make additions, or tell you I flat out don’t do what was listed above. I think you know me well enough.

My first grade teachers dressed up as Dr. + Spike + Cook

As I Walkthrough RM Bacon

Panda teacing a lesson on movie making through

One of the important initiatives administrators have in Millville is the McRel Walkthroughs. Using the McRel technology and armed with the ipod touch, we collect data, analyze classroom practices, and ensure the systemic practices of Classroom Instruction That Works are being implemented.


Non Linguistic Representation of the phases of the moon - Yummy Oreos

As of today (January 24, 2012) I have 381 walkthroughs. In reflecting on those walkthroughs it means that I have watched 381 lessons (about 1,143 minutes), talked to 381 students, and probably walked 3,810 steps (just a guess).



Venn Diagram - Boys vs. Girls

This practice keeps me engaged in the classroom and active in the learning process at my school. Here are a few images I have collected along the way. Thanks teachers!


Here are some posts from my previous blog (Jan 2012)

Following that twitter bird

January 17 – 20

We had a four day week because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on Monday. I love MLK day because this holiday always requires me to reflect on the type of human being I am. My son had his buddy over that day, and I feel that MLK would have been proud of both of them because they are from different cultures and have different tones of skin color, but ultimately they are just 7 year old boys.

 The highlight for me this week was joining Mrs. Sutton’s class on Thursday afternoon. I was called to the class because of typical 5th grade drama, but we all walked away ready for a change. The students took time to deeply reflect on how they treated each other, their teacher, and their families. On Friday, they all said that for the first time, they really understood the no bullying pledge. I rewarded them with a friendly floor hockey game on Friday afternoon. We may have lost that game, but we won in so many other ways. Then, Now, Always Family!

January 9 -13

Twitter has opened up my professional world! I am hoping to get teachers, other administrators and parents involved in this vital piece of social media. Get started at – its free!

I spent almost 2 full days away from the school this week (and another pretty much in my office with meetings) so today was my day for walkthroughs and reconnecting with everybody. I saw some awesome things today, but I have to say I got “stuck” in 3rd grade. Mrs. Woodman had a legendary lesson for martin Luther King Jr. Day. She taught the students sign language (she herself learned it the day before on her ipad) and they read the book One Love by Cedella Marley (Bob’s daughter). As they read the story they learned sign language. At the conclusion of the lesson, she played Bob’s One Love and they danced and signed to the song. Then I went next door and Mrs. DiGiogio’s class organized and performed an anti-bullying play. I was so impressed with the team effort (not to mention acting abilities of these 3rd graders). Mrs. DiGiorgio plans to help them expand the play and maybe share with a larger audience. Way to go 3rd grade! We ARE World Class!

January 3 – 6

The students seemed very relaxed this week. Not sure if it was because they had so many days off from us or they are just ready to start the New Year! We had our first snow of the year. As I was talking to someone in the office, a safety came in to tell me that there were kids throwing snowballs at each other on the playground. I knew we only got a dusting, so I doubted that actual snowballs. I went out and yelled for them to line up. Within 20 seconds I had a straight line with kids waiting for me to speak. I told them that I was young once and I also loved to play in the snow, but we do not throw snow or run around on the playground because someone could get hurt. The snow melted by the end of the day.

 I had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Gandy’s class on multiplication. As they were working on the slate boards, I asked them what they were learning. Working in pairs, the students were giving each other two and three digit problems to solve. Eventually, I sat down and the students were giving me problems to solve. My hardest was when one student wrote 5555 X 5. I showed them a trick to solving the problem. They got the calculator out and sure enough I was correct: 27, 775!

Martial Arts and Leadership

When I was interviewing for the Principal position at RM Bacon I was asked this question, “Do you have any hobbies?” I thought for a minute and said, “Yes, I am pursuing my black belt in Kenpo Karate at Champions Martial Arts in Turnersville.” I was then asked a follow up question about how it helps me in my daily life. I told the committee that it has taught me a lot about goal setting, being involved in something bigger than yourself, and most of all discipline.

I remember my first martial arts class. I was the only adult in the class, and most of the teenagers had black belts. We started off with basic warm up drill, and I thought I was going to pass out. I just kept  thinking to myself that I needed to stay focused and that one day I too would have a black belt (and be in better shape).

Eventually more adults showed up at the classes I was attending and I began to talk with them about the process. My mentor, Matt, has been very patient with my development. He too joined when he was much older and in a few years has risen to a brown belt.  He has taught me about the true “art” of martial arts and how it is a scientific process.

One of my goals in joining  karate was to lose weight. So three days a week (at least) I am sparring, doing push ups/sit ups, kicks, punches, etc. and burning a lot of calories. More importantly, I have begun to make better decisions about what I eat. I believe this is a result of the martial arts discipline that teaches students to be patient .

I have only been studying about 10 months and have already earned my purple belt. I know I have a few more years to attain a black belt, and I am enjoying the learning process. This experience allows me to be the student instead of the principal.