…on a chalkboard

On my final day on Diegueño’s campus I cut through a narrow storage room to deliver an apple fritter to my head custodian. More a hallway than a real room, it’s a place to store PE clothes and old files that aren’t confidential. A couple of TVs gather dust beneath the last remaining chalkboard on campus.

I’d been through here a hundred times, but on this morning, tinged with the emotions of leaving a school I care deeply about, I saw something that hadn’t been there before: a pirate.

photo 2 (2)For a couple of days, since finding out I’d be principal at San Dieguito High School Academy, I’d been wondering what, if any, my legacy might be at Diegueño.

I know that I am proudest of the people I helped to hire. The true positive difference I’ve contributed to at the school is the amazing teachers working with kids who came to the school on my watch.

But these educators’ legacies are their own, and my thoughts turned to what contributions I’d made in my year on campus. Certainly I’d done my best to nurture a sense of family within my staff and school, encouraging connections, valuing relationships, and celebrating kindness. The roots of community are deep, and I believe the tree will continue to grow, but as with so many things, I was just one gardener. The legacy of the Diegueño Family is its own.

I worked hard to have fun, and to bring an attitude of whistling at work to Diegueño. This meant playing badminton on the lawn with teachers and parents, bringing ice cream sandwiches to teachers in rooms without air conditioning, and teaching students how to draw a pirate. With a rumbling “Arrr!” that sketch on the chalkboard suggested some of it had stuck.

At least for a little while.

photo 1 (2)Ultimately Diegueño continues without me just as well as it had before me. My time as steward to the school changed me more than I changed it. For a few people: students, teachers, and parents, I hope I made a difference, an act of kindness or support, something that helped make their lives a little better. In the end it’s often those small and true acts that matter most.

Legacies are funny things. I don’t look to have my name on a plaque; I simply hope that I’m thought of, when I’m thought of, as a person who made a positive difference in someone’s life. I move through the world with the goal of helping, and if I’m remembered (with fondness or frustration) I’m at peace with the fact that many of those memories will disappear with time as surely as a pirate drawn in chalk.

They’ll never put my name on a bench…

photo 1I have lunch from time to time with Marilyn Pugh, a former principal, who has always been generous in her time, giving me her ear when I need it, and advice when I ask. She was the principal of Diegueño for a decade, and is so loved and respected that she has her name on a plaque on a bench in front of campus.

I’ll repeat that: They named a bench in her honor and she’s alive.

In my first year at Diegueño, I loved my meetings with Marilyn, and seeing the faces of my staff light up when she entered the room. “MARILYN!” they’d shout, arms above their heads, zeroing in for a hug. She had the reputation of a tough administrator, and one who cared immensely about her teachers, her staff, and her kids. Her legacy is more than that plaque; she is seen as the high water mark for administration at Diegueño, something principals like me strive to emulate.

And I did keep Marilyn’s work in the back of my mind as I went about becoming part of the Diegueño family. I knew I’d be different; it’s right that I’m me, but I always had it in my head that I’d work hard and be true, and that after a few years there might even be a couple of teachers who would at least remember my name when a future principal brought me to visit campus sometime around 2040.

Last week I realized that they’ll never put my name on a bench.

Last week the opportunity to become the principal at San Dieguito High School Academy galloped into my life, snorting and stamping its hoof, and waiting for me to saddle up. It was an invitation to adventure that I could not pass up, not at least without a heaviness of regret that would haunt my work at Diegueño.

The pain of leaving, real and heart-rending, stood in contrast to the joy of expectation, of knowing that this was the right decision.

Like Rick at the end of Casablanca, I knew knew that I needed to put Diegueño on the plane bound in one direction, while I began a beautiful friendship with unknown promise in another. If not, I’d regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of my life.

Okay, that last paragraph was too melodramatic, but truth be told, I feel a touch melodramatic right now. I’m really excited to be going to SDA, and have also been in the business long enough to know just how much I’ll miss the people of Diegueño every day.

I’ll lean on Jorge Luis Borges, who captured this twin feeling of hope and loss in his poem “We Learn.”

…you learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every goodbye you learn.”

I’m learning from this most recent goodbye, as I’ve learned from difficult farewells from years past. Time, I’ve found doesn’t always dull the loss, but good work helps, and new opportunities are the foundation of a meaningful life.

So as I say goodbye to a school family who I care deeply about and who treated me so well, and put my foot in the stirrups and swing into the saddle of something new, I know that Diegueño is a part of who I am, and that the excitement I feel about the road ahead in no way diminishes the beauty of the memories I keep in my heart.

borges campus

Leaning Toward The Finish

photo 1 (3)As a teacher I was always proud that my students worked all the way through the end of the year. We read, wrote, and thought whether it was September or June. I gave finals. We had fun, September or June, and we also knew that school meant school, which was more than a search for that elusive clownfish, Nemo.

Walking around Diegueño this final week of the school year, I’ve been blown away by the academic activities I’ve seen. Hands on, active, and rigorous, these are lessons that would have been rich enough for any time in the school year, and yet here they were, piled up against the promise of summer, filling the students’ days with learning, even on the proverbial eve of vacation.

I saw this from where I stood, atop the dumpster in the back of campus, where I’d climbed up to get a tweetable photo of the larger than life sized grid an intrepid math teacher had his students plotting lines on in a friendly (but hard fought) mathematics competition. Were the kids invested? Some teams had coordinated uniforms. Laughing, learning, and building community, this was the kind of lesson that they’ll remember forever.

photo 2 (3)And, I would find as I walked campus, this was not out of the ordinary.

The next day I went to a science classroom at the invitation of a student who wanted me to see how his bridge held up against the stress that would test his application of engineering principles. Truth be told, it snapped beneath the weight, joining a pile of others in a graveyard of bridges on a nearby lab table, but the effort he put into the structure impressed me. The pride these 8th grade scientists and builders brought to their work couldn’t help but inspire.

photo 3 (2)And then I smelled something burning.

It turned out to be a boat.

Actually, it was a boat lab in the adjoining science room. When I stepped outside I found a cluster of students igniting the candles that powered their paper and metal boats. These creations shot down the watery course, a testament to combustion and motion. Only a few caught fire.

photo 4 (1)From Renaissance presentations to student blogs about the extended metaphors for 7th grade, teachers and students are learning. Sure a few more of the kids are a little distracted, but more than most are engaged: in book clubs, in performance tasks, in building and doing.

I’m proud to work where teachers lean in to the finish. Summer looms, and the smell just around the corner will be a barbecue …in a week.

Until then the smoke is coming from a paper boat.

Different

cougar headAt Diegueño we have a history teacher who has taught in the same room since the school opened in 1985. One year he moved his desk. He’ll be back in 2015-2016, an island of constancy in a sea of change.

Truth be told, that “sea of change” business is hyperbolic; we have many folks on campus who have been here for more than a decade, and almost every one of the dozen new teachers we hired last year are coming back. Still, Diegueño is similar campuses to across the state and nation in the sense that change in the adults on campus is a common occurrence.

Some years the changes are big.

Last year we added new teachers in every department, a new counselor, and a new principal. Midway through spring, our principal’s secretary, a fixture at Diegueño for more than ten years and our classified employee of the year, embarked on a late career adventure as she left to open a new middle school in our district. At the award ceremony to give her the EOY certificate she was flanked by her new principal and me. If she lacked the grace and humor she has, it might have been awkward.

More changes loom for the next school year. My attendance secretary will join her longtime office companion at the new middle school, my rock star assistant principal is excited to have earned a promotion to a high school in our district, and my 2014-2015 teacher of the year will take a full year leave to be with her new baby. Someone joked that I needed to stop giving out staff of the year awards.

They’ll all be missed, daily and deeply. And…

As we bid them goodbye, we prepare to welcome new teachers, office staff, a new counselor, and AP. A year from now these folks will be as dear as those who are moving on , but as change fills the air of May, it’s easy to feel, well… a little off balance.

“Lots of changes,” noticed my campus supervisor while we were out on lunch supervision. I could tell his thoughts were on the great people who won’t be here next year. There’s a legitimate tinge of concern whenever strong folks leave; a math teacher waved to me as I walked with my AP this morning saying “congratulations” to him and a smiling “my condolences” to me. But even as I recognized that his thoughts were about those going, I realized that mine were of those people who will be coming to Diegueño in a couple short months.

“Lots of changes,” he repeated, and I answered: “Yeah. It’s exciting. We’ll be okay.”

Looking back on that conversation, I realize that I didn’t quite capture the truth. We’ll be more than okay. We’ll be different, certainly, but in those differences come surprises, new friends, and perspectives we’ve never thought of before. Welcoming new staff to campus is part of what keeps our school vibrant. Articulating who we are and why we do the best things that we do helps us stay thoughtful about our practices and slow down long enough to prevent the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. Listening to new points of view helps us question what we’re doing and improve.

A certain amount of change is built in to the structure of a middle school. Students are here for two years, which means every June we lose literally half of our student body, and every August we add 500 new students to our Diegueño family.

739580_proof_proportional_redraw (1)Schools do best when there is enough continuity to provide a sense of security, and enough change to prompt open mindedness and growth.

I would have done better in responding to my campus supervisor’s mild concern if I’d had the presence of mind to remember that line from Aristotle: “Change in all things is sweet.”  Sometimes it takes some time for us to recognize that sweetness, but as we allow ourselves, we do.

What remains constant isn’t the individual faces at a school, but the culture that is an accumulation of all those individuals, of what each has brought to the school community, and how the interactions between them has seasoned the salmagundi of the site.

Those who are leaving Diegueño this spring, students and adults, will be missed, even as they leave to make the places they’re going better because of who they are, formed in part by their own Diegueño experiences.

The people coming to Diegueño bring with them energy and excitement, questions and perspectives, passion and purpose. We’ll be different in ways, though some students will walk into that history classroom on campus and see the same teacher in the same room that their parents saw in 1985. The world that is Diegueño certainly isn’t spinning off its axis.

No, the changes that are coming will be as sweet as our attitude toward them. I look forward to the 2015-2016 edition of Diegueño and the surprises the year has in store for us. “Lots of changes,” you might say. I’d answer: “Yes! Let’s go!”

Books, Badminton, and Beautiful Conversation

You know it’s a good meeting when a majority of the parents and teachers are barefoot.

It was our final gathering of the year for the Diegueño Book Club, and laughter filled the grassy area in the center of campus. We threw foam horseshoes without much success, if success is measured in ringers or leaners. If, however, the yardstick for accomplishment is having a good time, we were wildly successful.

The laughter continued as we batted a birdie to one another, our badminton skills inversely proportional to the amount of fun we were having.

There in the quad, beneath the flagpole, parents, teachers, and I were playing. Our smiles and talk of what we’d been like as kids brought us closer together, and the heart pumping lunges to reach that birdie made me feel happy to be at Diegueño, surrounded by great people, and having fun.

photo (7)After our most successful volley of the night, seven continuous bounces of shuttlecock against badminton rackets (it was windy; volleys were tough), we sat down in the shade of one of Diegueño’s trees and shared a jug of water one of our teachers brought from her classroom and a plastic container of chocolate chip cookies. Circled on the grass, we brought out our copies of Stuart Brown’s book Play and started to talk.

We talked about the importance of play, both structured and unstructured, and how different school was today than when we were students. Discussion led to play as it happens on our campus, both in big events like Spirit Day and in classes every week, as students enjoy time and space to be creative, collaborative, and come up with their own approaches to the challenges they face.

Two parents mentioned the “POM” or “problem of the module” that has entered the lexicon of the Diegueño Math Department. Not open ended so much as “open middled,” a math teacher explained, the POM encourages students to notice and wonder, to bring critical thinking to a purposeful challenge, and to work together to find an answer. The result is different than run of the mill “homework,” though the POMs are done outside of the classroom.

I’ll save the homework discussion for another post, but suffice it to say that we all could speak to the difference between daily assignments and more complex opportunities for students to apply the skills they are learning and have learned in class.

The kind folks in our book group listened as I yarned a bit about some of the things I did as a teacher, including Pirate Week and Space Week. Beyond the fun of talking about times when I got to play in the classroom (and beyond), this discussion blossomed into talk of a more academic success we’d seen just a couple of months ago at Diegueño: Pi Day.

Pi Day is really a misnomer; here at Diegueño we celebrated math for a full week in March. Beyond the thoughtful and student driven activities, for me the anticipation, the brainstorming, the excitement to create something fun (and Pi related) were as important as the flashier successes of the event. In the fortnight before the celebration I saw kids engaged, inspired, and showing the sparks of creativity that brought to life unexpected accomplishments.

Acknowledging that not every day can be Pi Day, we talked about everything from PE classes to History, and the value of engagement, hands on activities, and opportunities for the kids to have a voice in how they demonstrate what they are learning. As Brown suggests, “play isn’t the enemy of learning, it’s learning’s partner.” Our group agreed.

Conversation ranged from how we as parents play with kids to the importance of family and community. I won’t tip my hand on all the ideas flying around that tupperware container of diminishing cookies, but as we talked about balance, building community, and helping everyone feel at home, I was inspired by the specific suggestions about how we could do even more to bring parents, students, and all of our school community closer together.

This balance, especially in a world increasingly competitive, and a society that puts extreme pressure on students (as well as moms and dads) around grades, high school classes, and college acceptance, is important, and part of the answer to the question “How can we help families?” comes in the word: play.

I know that as the principal I might raise an eyebrow or two with this next line from Brown’s book, but it resonated with me, and I think with the other folks who were with me on the grass. “Play, by its very nature,” Brown writes, “is a little anarchic. It’s about stepping outside of normal life and breaking normal patterns. It’s about bending rules of thought, action, and behavior.” Within in the safety of school, and under the guidance of adults who care about them, a little unstructured play might just be the balm some kids need to ease the stress they face every day.

This isn’t to say that school should only be games, or that structure is anathema to learning. As our Diegueño Book Club talked, however, we recognized that how we frame what we do on campus (and in the work we assign beyond the schoolhouse walls) matters a lot.

A teacher in our group remembered aloud a quotation from Tom Sawyer: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” I thought about what that meant to me as someone who has chosen to be an educator. It’s a topic I’ll continue to discuss with my staff and school community.

Reading a book and talking about it at school… I guess I could see how someone might consider that work, but for me, that evening on the lawn, it was most certainly engaging, enlightening, and enjoyable play.

A bad day for high fives…

There’s a moment of hesitation, a pause, hand outstretched, nose prematurely wrinkled, as each student reaches for the handle. The fear, I suppose, is inaccuracy on the part of the green and red radial dial that tells the world that the port-a-potty is occupied. So far those dials have done the trick, and we’ve had no problems with either the portable toilets or the hand washing stations, though the latter needed the explanation: “It’s just like at a petting zoo at the fair.”

photo 1 (5)Truth be told, today’s broken water pipe, in the cement below our Cougar Cafe, gave us all an opportunity to show off or collective resiliency and positive attitude.

It struck me, as I was standing guard over a bank of student port-a-potties (something all school site administrators recognize as falling squarely under the heading: “other duties as assigned”) that while we’d had the water off for a while, I hadn’t heard one complaint. Sure I’d seen some folks who wished Teacher Appreciation Week had begun with doughnuts instead of this, but overwhelmingly the attitude modeled by our staff was one of smiles and shrugged shoulders. “We’ll be cool,” one teacher said. She was right.

photo (2)The kids got it too. Sure they were curious about why the water was off, but they took the challenge in stride, and laughed as much as they looked at each other with trepidation before approaching those red and green dials.

In keeping the parents in the loop, we posted information on Twitter and our school Facebook page. As we knew more, we sent an email home to let moms and dads know what questions to ask when their kids got home.

Schools, like life, contain surprises, both good and bad, and it’s not the problems that define us, but our response to them. Today I’m both pleased and proud that the teachers, staff, and students at Diegueño handled what could have been a stressful situation with grace, patience, and a customary smile.

photo 2 (3)They’re cutting into the cement now, and I’m hopeful the water will be back tomorrow, but whether we start the day with port-a-potties or not, I know that our school community will meet the day with optimism and an attitude that all will be well. Diegueño is like that, unhesitatingly ready for the unexpected world ahead.

As soon as we have running water back, I’m giving high fives!

When men and mountains meet…

There’s a line by William Blake, written long before gender equity in poetic verbiage, that comes to mind sometimes as I watch the middle school kids bumping into each other at lunch: “Great things are done when men and mountains meet/This is not done by jostling in the street.”

It’s a truth that 7th and 8th graders jostle. A lot.

Sometimes it’s good natured: boys, backpacks, and wide open spaces is a recipe for goofing around. Sometimes it’s mean: twelve and thirteen year olds say things adults hold back, and sometimes they put those remarks in text messages or online so the world can see. More often than not the physical or verbal bumping into each other presents administrators like me and my assistant principal with opportunities to help kids learn.

Here at Diegueño we have a few approaches when it comes to helping students make good decisions about how they treat one another. Some are punitive, some reactions to behavior that needs to be reacted to, and some (the best) are proactive.

Aware that suspensions and detentions are great as “time outs” from school, but don’t do much to really educate kids about how to make better decisions, our district has developed some alternatives that put learning above punishment. My favorite is something we affectionately refer to as a “cyber-suspension” and call more officially a “corrective action unit.” Using Blackboard to deliver content online, a team of administrators developed a series of short videos and texts that students watch and read, followed by questions that ask the students to reflect on what they learn. At the end of five of these texts, students write a reflective essay on the behavior that earned them the cyber-suspension, and how they might make a different decision moving forward. They discuss that essay with the assistant principal, and have to confront what they’ve done in an honest and real way.

This facing the results of a decision underpins our move toward restorative practices. This idea of engaging students and focusing on changing behavior is both sensible and has the potential to make a real difference when conflict arises.

Even better than reacting to student conflict is putting the focused effort into preventing it. This community building doesn’t happen by accident, or through one time events, but stands the best chance of success when it is systematic and ongoing.

At Diegueño that means creating celebrations of character that include our Cougar Pride program, ASB sponsored Link/Friendship Weeks, Diegueño Spirit Day, and our Kindness Challenge. It means teachers, administrators, and staff building positive relationships with kids and each other, modeling kindness, valuing community, and praising the many positive decisions kids make every day.

Seeing the kids look out for one another both in and outside of class, seeing them participate in fun community building events, and expressing gratitude when others treat them well gives me hope that our school is a place where good behavior is the rule, not the exception.

And still, as in every middle school, there is going to be some jostling in the street. In those cases we do our best to educate, provide perspective, and change both attitudes and behaviors. It’s no small task, meeting mountains never is, but when it works… great things are done…

 

“My cape is in my classroom.”

It’s superhero day today at Diegueño, part of our “Kindness Challenge” inspired spirit week. I’ve already seen lots of the usual suspects on campus: Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Teachers are getting into the act as well, though less flamboyantly than they did on “Peace, Love, and Kindness Day,” when campus looked like something out of 1967.

My favorite remark of the day came as one of my teachers was walking in with another staff member this morning. They were comparing costumes (Supergirl and “Kindness Woman”) and the teacher said: “My cape is in my classroom. A girl made it for me for Pi Day, and even did it in Superman colors. She asked me if I was going to wear it today, and I went out and bought this t-shirt to match.”

photo 3 (1)Sitting quietly at my desk (wearing a Batman t-shirt) I thought: “What true superheroes.”

Teachers like this inspire students, and students respond with enthusiasm, curiosity, and engagement. It didn’t surprise me that a student would go out of her way to create a math themed costume for her teacher on the Pi Day celebration put on by our math department, nor did it surprise me that her teacher would treasure that cape and go out of her way to incorporate it in her costume for Kindness Week. Diegueño is a place where the relationships between students and staff are deep, caring, and real.

And in their way, teachers really are superheroes. Sometimes they fly around shooting lasers out of their eyes, sometimes they swing a magic lasso, and sometimes they bounce around the room like human spiders. Beneath the masks, they’re dedicated to learning, students, …and truth, justice, and the American way.

Next week, when we all return to our lives as Peter Parker, Diana Prince and Clark Kent, I know that phrase will whisper again in my memory. Schools are as exciting as Gotham City or Metropolis, and the heroes who teach our students could all (at least metaphorically) say: “My cape is in my classroom.”

 

Blue and Gold

1489More games than I expected required teamwork; the beach ball and parachute volleyball game was all about working together to see how many times they could get the ball over the net and not get the other team to miss. The spelling out of Diegueño related words (Cougars, Blue, Spirit) in student bodies was a mass of collaboration, and the water carrying challenge looked like something out of a Next Generation Science Standards lesson.

Spirit Day at Diegueño means nearly a thousand students and all but a skeleton crew of staff dressed in blue or gold shirts (designed by our art classes) down on our field playing together.

1423This year saw some new activities join the old standards, and along with the collaborative games, it was fun to see kids prompted to ponder (Giant Jenga), hold hands (on the hula hoop passing challenge), and throw their heads back and laugh.

Making it even more delicious was that they were joined by teachers and parent volunteers, who limboed, tossed horseshoes, and ate Otter Pops alongside the kids.

It was, hyperbolically speaking, a perfect day at school.

What I mean is that this week’s Spirit Day, with a focus on community, connections, and healthy challenges, had in it all the elements of education at its best.

1462Students were given a variety of opportunities to try to come up with answers: “How can I hang wet Diegueño t-shirts so the clothesline doesn’t dip to the ground?” “How can we work together to get as much water from one bucket to another in a tube with more holes than a flute?” …and they worked together and cheered each other as they brought a hands on approach to figuring things out.

They did all this while laughing with their teachers who, dressed in the same blue and gold Spirit Day shirts, encouraged, inspired, and occasionally guided them, sometimes even jumping in to join the activity.

And when things didn’t go perfectly (I’ll admit that try as I might, I was on the losing end of a tug of war …twice), the feelings weren’t hard, as the focus stayed on the experience even more than the outcome.

1507This isn’t to say that competition wasn’t real. We love our three legged races at Diegueño, and in our double three legged race determination led students to tumble, creative carrying, and smiles of victory.

That parents were on hand to see the fun only made things better. Armed with scoring clipboards and given specific tasks, parent volunteers felt as much a part of our school family as anyone else. They even got to sneak hellos to their kids, though I heard one 7th grader whisper to his mom from where the human spelling event was going on: “Mom, I can’t talk. I’m an ‘E’.”

1524I’m not saying that every day of middle school should or could look like our celebration this Monday; my ASB Director would punch me in the mouth if I did, but I do believe that the spirit of the day is something that should, like the blue and gold shirts the kids and staff get to keep, always be visible on campus. I know that when I see folks wearing shirts from Spirit Weeks gone by I feel that sense of belonging and fun.

The memories of Spirit Day will last long beyond the sunburns, and if we’re doing things right (and I believe that we are), the spirit will continue to breathe passion into all that we do.

Authors of Imagination

LuCoyWith a book fresh off the New York Times bestseller list, young adult author Marie Lu stood in front of more than a hundred 7th and 8th graders in our library and talked about imagination. Her stories took the students back to her time interning at Disney, to her work designing video games, and to the moment she told her parents that she would not be going into the high money profession they’d hoped she might, this delightful author provided Diegueño students with pure inspiration. She had many, many fans on our campus, and stayed late into the afternoon signing copies of Legend for the kids, but the best part of it all was to hear her talk about the power of imagination and following your dreams, and to see the kids really listen.

I met my first real live author when I was in college. A literature major, I drove to Powell’s Books to hear John Barth read from his latest novel and carried home an autographed copy of The Sot-Weed Factor that still sits on my bookshelf. Over the next few years I managed to take a creative writing class from a novelist named Craig Lesley, and hear a couple of big names speak in person. By the time I heard them, I was well past my most formative years, and took away less inspiration than admiration, more appreciation for the books they’d written than belief that I could write one of my own. Not so with our middle schoolers.

From stories about dragons to teens in apocalyptic landscapes, Diegueño students have been treated to talks by more than half a dozen authors, all organized by the magician, Ms. Coy, who runs our library. The impact has been powerful.

To see students experience a discussion of the creative process, and to see them engage in the discussion of ideas with women and men who have made writing their life’s work, is astounding. The kids offer enthusiastic questions on imagination, creativity, and the hard work that is making art. The authors have responded with smiles, encouragement, and inspiring stories about what it was like for them as they grew up and grew into the lives they now live.

Our most recent author visit saw four female science fiction authors come to campus together and interact with the kids as a quartet of “Girls Gone Sci-Fi.” In an education world turning its face toward STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), I could think of no greater compliment to the great work our science, art, and math teachers do than this.

photo 5 (13)Do I think the next Stephen King or Toni Morrison is sitting in the Diegueño library? Maybe. I do know without a doubt that the opportunities our kids have, and at the age they have them, provide fuel for lives of greatness. Learning is being inspired, and inspiration comes from many places. I’m proud that one of them is the family room of Diegueño, where books don’t stay on shelves, and authors don’t stay on book jackets.