Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Ceramic Cup

I am reading Simon Sinek's latest book, Leaders Eat Last. It has been an excellent read on the topic of leadership. Sinek shared the following story that reminds us that it is not the position that gives leaders power, the people give leaders power. 
A former Under Secretary of Defense was to give a speech at a large conference. He took his place on the stage and began talking, sharing his prepared remarks with the audience. He paused to take a sip of coffee from the styrofoam cup he’d brought on stage with him. He took another sip, looked down at the cup and smiled. 
“You know,” he said, interrupting his own speech, “I spoke here last year. I presented at this same conference on this same stage. But last year, I was still an Under Secretary,” he said. 
“I flew here in business class and when I landed, there was someone waiting for me at the airport to take me to my hotel. Upon arriving at my hotel,” he continued, “there was someone else waiting for me. They had already checked me into the hotel, so they handed me my key and escorted me up to my room. The next morning, when I came down, again there was someone waiting for me in the lobby to drive me to this same venue that we are in today. I was taken through a back entrance, shown to the green-room and handed a cup of coffee in a beautiful ceramic cup.” 
“But this year, as I stand here to speak to you, I am no longer the Under Secretary,” he continued. “I flew here coach class and when I arrived at the airport yesterday there was no one there to meet me. I took a taxi to the hotel, and when I got there, I checked myself in and went by myself to my room. This morning, I came down to the lobby and caught another taxi to come here. I came in the front door and found my way backstage. Once there, I asked one of the techs if there was any coffee. He pointed to a coffee machine on a table against the wall. So I walked over and poured myself a cup of coffee into this here styrofoam cup,” he said as he raised the cup to show the audience. 
“It occurs to me,” he continued, “the ceramic cup they gave me last year . . . it was never meant for me at all. It was meant for the position I held. I deserve a styrofoam cup. 
“This is the most important lesson I can impart to all of you,” he offered. 
“All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a styrofoam cup.”
The rank of office is not what makes someone a leader. Leadership is the choice to serve others with or without any formal rank.

Friday, September 16, 2016

PLC Norms

We recently developed a set of shared norms for how our PLCs operate within our schools. We are now in year three of weekly late starts for teacher collaboration and we felt that it was important to revisit our norms. I think our teachers developed a nice list of common expectations. I don't think we could have come to an agreement three years ago. It was only through experience that we were able to develop a common set of beliefs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Measure 2 and its potential impact on schools.

On November 8th we will vote on those that will represent us in political office and also make some decisions on the five constitutional measures found on the 2016 ballot. There is one constitutional measure in particular that may impact your local schools. Measure 2 allows additional access to the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund for education related purposes. The fund was established in 1994 by the citizens of North Dakota and is maintained by the state’s oil extraction tax. The only time the fund can be accessed is if the Governor calls for state wide cuts to funding. It is a safety net for K-12 public education in the event of a revenue shortfall. The fund has been used two times since its inception, once in 2002 ($5 million), and most recently this year ($120 million). Currently the amount in the fund is approximately $600 million.

Key Facts:

  • The foundation aid stabilization fund is a locked asset and has only been used two times in 22 years. (2002 & 2016)
  • The measure allows for 15% of the state aid to K-12 Public Education to remain protected for the historical use of the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund (only to be used to make state aid whole in the event of a statewide budget shortfall). 
  • The principal balance above the protected 15% may be used for education related purposes. 
  • At 2016 levels, 15% equates to $300 million. This dollar amount will be protected for the sole purpose of K-12 public education in the event of a statewide revenue shortfall. 
  • 10% of the oil extraction tax revenue will be placed into the fund annually. This year (2016) that amount is approximately $150 million. 
  • Based on data from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, it will take approximately $164 million more than the past biennium just to maintain the current level of funding.

2016 has been a challenging economic year within the state of North Dakota. Many state agencies received cuts due to the revenue shortfall. Thanks to the foresight of state leaders, public education was protected from cuts due mechanisms like the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund. The 65th legislative session may be a challenging one for our state legislators. If the state is unable to continue to provide current levels of financial support, this may result in local districts providing additional support. Based on projections, it seems that maintaining 15% within the fund should meet the needs if there are future revenue shortfalls. If Measure 2 passes it will be important to further define education related purposes for the excess dollars within the fund.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Individualizing PD through PLCs

We continue to revamp our Professional Learning Plan (PLP) for teachers. Each Professional Learning Community (PLC) completes the PLP at the beginning of the school year. The PLC guides their own learning through the format below. For the past two years, our Professional Development Committee has continued to tweak the PLP. The latest addition allows all PLCs to choose a peer observation option to fulfill the Observation and Integration of Learning component. I am proud of our work and the focus on making professional development more meaningful for teachers in our school district.

You can find the editable document within the Dropbox link above.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Second Annual STEM Camp this summer at Rugby Public Schools

We are excited to announce a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Camp this summer at the Rugby High School for students heading into grades 3-5 next school year.  The STEM camp will take place from 8:00AM – 12:00PM Monday – Friday beginning July 25th.  Highlights include: Biomes of the World, Buzzing a Hive, Bubble Festival, and Engineering Challenges. This will be a fun filled week to get kids excited about science. Registration forms can be found at Ely Elementary and the Rugby High School.  These forms are due by June 24th. The cost for a student is $40.00. Spots will be limited so sign up soon.  For questions contact or Mike McNeff at 776-5201.

Monday, July 25
8:00 AM - Noon
Biomes of the World
Tuesday, July 26
8:00 AM - Noon
Buzzing A Hive
Wednesday, July 27
8:00 AM - Noon
Bubble Festival
Thursday, July 28
8:00 AM - Noon
Engineering Challenge
Friday, July 29
8:00 AM - Noon
Engineering Challenge & Awards

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Week

Today is the start of Teacher Appreciation Week at Rugby Schools and across the nation. I think we can all remember that teacher that helped us at a certain time in our lives. In my own life I can remember several from elementary and high school. Teachers spend the majority of the day with our children and play a significant role in developing them into productive human beings. I am thankful for the teachers and support staff within our district. We have arranged small tokens of appreciation over the course of this week in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week at Rugby Public Schools. 

Thank a teacher today!