Mindset

I’d heard about mindsets, read articles, attended workshops. Friends who are educators had talked with me about Carol Dweck’s work, and I’d bobbed my head. My wife, her masters degree in psychology, had discussed the importance of the ideas Dweck put forth in her book “Mindset” (especially when I’d experienced setbacks and was glooming my way around the house). I thought I’d heard; I know I’d nodded, and I believed I had a pretty good idea about the importance of bringing a “Growth Mindset” to my life and work. Then this summer, on the doorstep of a new principal job, I made it a project to add “Mindset” to my summer reading list. Finally I started to listen.

This notion of “Fixed” and “Growth” mindsets, that had been buzzing in the air around me for almost a decade finally landed on my nose and began a conversation. In Dweck’s short book (perfect for July, the educator’s month for reading) I saw both a clear explanation of these two ways of engaging in the world and great examples that brought the importance of acting mindfully (as an educator and as a parent) home.

In the “Growth Mindset” I recognized some of the people I admire: a student who delivered his graduation speech on his journey to the US from a small village in Columbia, learning English as a third language, after Spanish and his own native dialect; a football player I coached who lacked the initial physical ability he needed to start on the team, but worked hard and learned from his struggles, ending up a very good player; and a student who took the Beginning Drawing class I taught, doubting her abilities until she saw progress, then progressing beyond the rest of the class as she realized how much she loved putting pencil to paper. These students had inspired me, and as I saw a way to look at the common denominator of “Growth Mindset” (with a focus on learning from mistakes and embracing adversity as a way to get better), I realized how important it is to cultivate this way of engaging with the world both in myself and in my school.

These students were not deterred by failing. They were not demoralized by not getting things right. Instead, all three, like so many whose lives are made richer because of their perseverance and positive attitude, stuck to the belief that they could improve, they would make progress, and they would not be defined by setback. We sometimes say that “all children can learn,” but these students lived it. Dweck’s examples are fantastic, but these students brought “Growth Mindset” to life for me.

I also clearly saw the “Fixed Mindset” (viewing challenges as threatening and failures as catastrophic) and recognized more of this in me than I’d like to admit. As a student, an athlete, and a young teacher, I worked hard, but felt like things either came easy or were tragic failures. I believed that I was able to succeed not because of the work I put in, but because I was somehow simply a good student, a good athlete, a good teacher, and that when I wasn’t successful the cost was more than a low grade, a strikeout, or a lousy lesson plan; I felt like the failures were me.

This, coupled with an upbringing filled with more love than responsibility, helped to foster in me a way of looking at the world that made challenges tough. And challenges always come.

In the face of those challenges, I’m fortunate to have great support, a wise wife, and enough brains to realize that the best way to succeed was to stick to it, whatever it is, and not lose hope. As a person who strives for optimism and wants to continue to learn, “Mindset” reminded me to stay focused on engagement, not the fear of failure, and learning, not the measurement of success. I think I’ve gotten better about this as I’ve gotten older, and know I want to continue to grow as I move forward as a parent and a professional. A “Growth Mindset” is something I can choose.

Reading Dweck’s book was also a nice reminder of how important it can be to go back to the source of things. The discussion of mindsets had been going on all around me, but it wasn’t until I made the time to pick up what she’d written that I really got it. I know many folks reading this will have already read her book, but for any like me who thought the summary was enough, I encourage you to spend the time to read “Mindset” and see if you feel the same inspiration I do.

I am inspired, and now feel compelled to take the student-supporting work back to my school.

The challenge, as I relate it to the work I do, is to collaborate with the teachers, parents, students, and staff at my school to create a culture that goes beyond talking about “Growth Mindset” and rolls up its sleeves and actually gets to work. As we learn together we foster this way of thinking. As we prepare for life (not just tests) and view the education process as more than a series of exercises and exams, we grow. And as we recognize that we all can get better when we’re held to high standards and supported to reach those rigorous goals, we bring out the best in education.

I’ve got a lot to learn about what this looks like every day, but I’m fortunate to work with some pretty great people (some of whom will be getting a copy of “Mindset” as a gift in the very near future), and I’m ready to learn from both successes and failures along the way. Dweck describes the culture created by a “Growth Mindset” as “an inclusive, learning-filled, rollicking journey.” There’s a freedom in that, and one that I look forward to bringing from my beach reading in July to my work in the fall.

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“MAVS 4 LIFE”

photo (2)It’s just a key chain. Given to me years ago by someone in our LCC Parent Foundation, bronze and black, the size of a half dollar, with the familiar cow head logo surrounded by the phrase “MAVS 4 LIFE,” it hangs on the bulletin board above my computer and reminds me that wherever I go the experiences I’ve had at La Costa Canyon High School travel with me.

I’ve been looking at the key chain this morning with a bit more emotion, because this June I’ll end my half decade as an administrator at LCC and start a new adventure as principal of Diegueño Middle School. I’m excited about the opportunity, but even as I plan, get to know new people, and prepare for the transition, I find the perspective I bring to the enterprise is that of a maverick.

Being at LCC has taught me much, almost all of it the result of honest and real connections to the students, teachers, parents, and staff that make up our Maverick Family. I’ve been blessed to work shoulder to shoulder with teachers I admire, parents who care, and students whose youthful exuberance knows no bounds.

I’ve been inspired by the power of kindness I’ve seen, most recently with students volunteering to help when LCC was made a Red Cross Shelter for those displaced by wildfires, and throughout my time at LCC in both big ways and small. I’ve been proud to work at a school with a strong Best Buddies program, a vibrant GSA, and a stable of clubs that do work that makes a difference. I’ve found joy in watching our ASB students create events simply to inspire fun and connections between people at the school, and seen teachers echo that sentiment as they build activities to help build community at LCC.

LCC has been my home, a place that has challenged and renewed me. Education can be a rough and tumble world sometimes; we’re in the business of being human after all. And more than once I’ve been presented situations whose solutions were beyond what I could manage alone. The student in crisis, the emergency on campus, the challenge of a miscommunication in need of sorting out. Over and over again in these times the team of professionals around me stepped in to find a way to make things right. I’m convinced that LCC is as strong as its people working together. And that’s strong.

I’m faced now with the emotional challenge of saying goodbye to this school family I’ve grown so close to, and as much as I look forward to starting at Diegueño, I know that before I step onto that new campus I’m first going face to face with one last challenge: Goodbye.

I’m like a senior on the brink of graduation, but with the knowledge of what it is to be an alumnus, and the understanding of how precious the time is I have left at LCC. This is my last LCC prom, my last band concert, my last MAV Awards. I know myself well enough to know that I’ll get emotional on the Senior Boat Dance. And even more, I know that the memories of all of this, the memories of the people I work with, the Maverick Family I’ve been a part of, are quite simply a defining part of who I am both professionally and personally.

Truth be told, MAVS 4 LIFE is more than a key chain; LCC is a state of mind.

Tomorrow

Hundreds of car keys jingling on their rings filled the auditorium with the noise of impatient teenagers. Graduation rehearsal had gone long, longer than we thought it should anyway, and the North Salem High School class of 1987 had had enough.

In a few minutes I’ll walk down to our practice for tomorrow’s commencement ceremony and be on the other end of those rattling keys. Truth be told, the students at La Costa Canyon aren’t key jinglers.  Sure many are ready to move on, at 17 that’s a healthy state of mind, but more than most are kinder than the world at large would expect. These are the kids who say “thank you” to administrators as they leave dances, who reach out to each other to offer support, and who are much more likely to start taking selfies during lulls in graduation rehearsal than try to make some kind of subversive key related statement. These are students who provide hope.

Then again, graduation rehearsal looks different than it did a lifetime ago when I was in the audience. Committed to brevity and frighteningly well organized, the commencement ceremony moves almost five hundred students from the baseball field’s outfield grass to the stadium, provides several students speeches, student bands, and diplomas all in about an hour. This morning’s practice will simply ensure that students know how to make the trek into the stadium and up to the stage without incident. It’ll go well.

Last year’s only hitch, and perhaps my favorite part of the entire rehearsal, was a phone call from a neighbor asking us to turn the music down. At graduation practice we don’t actually play music; Mr. Van Over sings “Pomp and Circumstance” over the PA system. I’m hoping he sings again this morning!

And as Mr. Van Over belts out his song, I get to see a sliver of campus life that too few have the privilege to enjoy. Everyone packs into the stands to cheer graduates at commencement, but rehearsal is different. It’s at rehearsal that LCC grads, relaxed and unencumbered by mortarboards that fall off fancy hairdos or dress shoes that would rather be flip flops, sit together for a final time in the familiar comfort of each other’s company. No one has to perform. No one has to speak. No one has to do anything except enjoy each other’s company …and practice standing and sitting in unison, which (if we’re honest) shouldn’t be all that tough for a group who have done this well in school.

So provided no student reads this blog in the few minutes it’s up before we all head to the stadium this morning and gets a wild idea about jingling keys, I look forward to another kind of magical morning, my last with the class of 2014. I anticipate smiles and the hallmark kindness I’ve grown to expect from La Costa Canyon High students. I’m confident in the preparation that has been done, and I’m looking forward to a song. And when we finish graduation practice, I know I’ll have complete confidence that all will be well tomorrow.

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Boat Dance

To be honest, the notion of a high school dance on a Tuesday night seems like a bad idea. Dancing until eleven on a school night, and then driving home from San Diego doesn’t exactly sound like common sense. The kids, flushed with the energy of youth and fueled by the novelty of dinner and dancing afloat on Mission Bay, know that they’ll get to sleep in the next morning, and then come to campus to be fed pancakes and sausages by parent volunteers before filing in to watch the Senior Slide Show. The handful of chaperons – our ASB Director, and our three site administrators- wake up to a usual Wednesday morning. And yet…

The Senior Boat Dance has become, in my five years at LCC, one of my very favorite student events.

It may be that the event is only for seniors, and occurs when all find themselves in the emotional limbo of having finished finals but not yet participated in commencement. It may be because any senior can attend; tickets cost less than a half-tank of gas, and no one has to rent a tux. As likely is that the boat dance seems to perfectly capture the unexpected and slightly goofy nature of high school, a few hundred kids in semi-formal attire dancing on a sternwheeler.

Each June I feel a little like James Garner’s Maverick as I walk onto the boat and look up at the stained glass ceiling of the dining room. And each year I reflect that with the distractedness present at graduation rehearsal and the formality that comes when seniors all don caps and gowns, the night of the Boat Dance is the last time I’ll really get to see the students in the senior class in their natural environment.

Well, not quite natural.

While formal attire isn’t required, everyone cleans up a bit, and it’s in these button down shirts and casual dresses that I see a flicker of the young adults these students are becoming. Hair in place, but not sculpted, smiles present but not forced, these students (dressed as if ready for a job interview) stand on the cusp of great things …and dancing!

Actually there’s only one deck reserved for the DJ and dance floor. Above that is dinner and desserts amid a flotilla of tables where students linger to talk about the days gone by. Above that is the roof deck, where students lean on railings, look out over the bay, and reflect. I spend most of my night on this deck.

To see these thoughtful seventeen and eighteen year olds begin to understand the finality of the last week of high school is profound. I think they see that the era of wearing a Maverick sweatshirt or LCC shorts every day are almost over. High school will be supplanted by life, and even as the memories of LCC will travel with them,  the end of their high school voyage is as close as the riverboat returning to the dock.

Still, before it does we all enjoy an evening on the water under the stars. We see each other through the heart-softened eyes of the last week of school, we think about the memories built in four years together, and we can all almost forget that it’s really a Tuesday night.

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Red Cross

What I didn’t expect was that at almost midnight we’d be unloading cots from a storage container. It had started as such an ordinary Wednesday (visits to classrooms, work on next year’s master schedule). Sure it was hot, even in the morning, but this year spring seems to have forgotten that “grey” and “gloom” rhyme with the last two months of the school year. As I was having a conversation with one of my counselors, we were interrupted by the news that a plume of smoke was rising from somewhere north of campus. It looked close. We hurried outside. The world had caught fire.

My story of the fires isn’t as dramatic as many. While friends had to evacuate homes, and while brave people I know fought the fires and kept the peace, I played a much quieter part. But from my place in that next ring of helping, the fires gave me a catbird seat to the great work dedicated people brought to helping others. LCC had the privilege of being a Red Cross Shelter site.

The call came just as our school day ended. I was back in my office after seeing that smoke, and within half an hour I found myself shaking hands with a friendly, preternaturally calm woman in a reflective red vest. One eye on the smoke, we toured our gym and facilities and made arrangements to open our doors to those evacuated from their homes.

Volunteers arrived first. Of all ages and backgrounds (the nurse, the student, the retired policeman), they set up our center with efficiency and a confidence earned through experience. AP Mark Van Over, Admin Designee Christina Holland, and I helped hang signs, open doors, and find solutions to the little problems (refrigeration for medication, where to park the canteen truck, AEDs, tables and chairs). Our custodial team jumped in, laying tarps on the gym floor, organizing supply runs to our Red Cross storage container on campus. With poise and purpose the Red Cross prepared for folks to come.

They did. With skies darkening, displaced people began to arrive. They were families first, calming parents with stress behind their eyes, a trio of little girls in Easter dresses clutching stuffed bears. Couples walked up, their cars piled with the things that mattered. The elderly. The young. The people who had nowhere else to go.

Some stayed only long enough to eat and make phone calls. Some found comfort in our air conditioned dance room. Some talked with a grief counselor, collecting themselves enough to contemplate their next options.

Throughout the evening volunteers welcomed guests as they might old friends. We found water bowls for tired dogs and extra slices of pizza for tired kids. We located tea bags and hot water when that might provide comfort, and handed out Italian Ices when a truck arrived to deliver a donation from Rita’s.

LCC students came to campus, asking how they could help. Wearing Maverick gear and offering to do anything they could to be of service, these students are an exemplar of what is right with today’s youth.

The number of guests rose and fell as people were able to make arrangements to stay with family or friends. A man arrived to say that he had booked a hotel room that he now didn’t need and he wanted to donate it to a family who might. The three little girls in spring dresses followed their parents to a homier place to spend the night, even if their stuffed bears smelled a little smoky.

And as I walked around, really peripheral to the amazing work around me, in awe of the scope of tragedy and the scope of kindness, I overheard something that will stick with me for life. A man on his cell phone was convincing someone on the other end of the line that things would be okay. He said: “You should come over to LCC. There’s food, and safety, and it’s good.”

I had never been prouder of our work at LCC.

We set up cots that night. We got everyone settled and lowered the lights. When I got home I hugged my wife and kids a little tighter than normal, gave thanks for the happenstance of living a few miles south of the evacuation zone, and got ready for bed. The phone rang.

The Red Cross supervisor was on the phone explaining that 125 senior citizens were being evacuated and would be at LCC in less than an hour. I’ll blame tiredness, but it was a moment that robbed me of any buoyancy I’d been given by the pride of helping out. But the fires were unconcerned with my feelings, or any of our emotions for that matter.

Fifteen minutes later we had gates open, a plan to move people in, and were loading emergency cots into a truck for transport to the gym.

And then I heard a second phrase that has been echoing in my head for a week or so. The Red Cross supervisor called me on my cell to say that plans had changed: the seniors wouldn’t be coming after all.

I think she read frustration in my silence; I’d gotten out of bed and hurried to campus for what? And then she said, with the patience of a good teacher helping a struggling student, something that put it, and so much in perspective for me. “Bjorn,” she said, “they’re not coming, but in this business that’s good news. They don’t need to come, because they’re safe.”

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Ax

There is a big ax in my office, red handled, heavy, the kind a firefighter might swing. It lies next to a duffle bag of emergency supplies (bandages, rope, flashlights) and reminds me that part of being a site administrator is being ready for anything. I try to imagine myself swinging that ax.

With the exception of our school resource officer, the adults I work with got into teaching, counseling, and working with kids for reasons other than safety. We saw our purpose as changing lives, giving back, and making a difference. Certainly we knew that safety was important; we participated in the twice yearly evacuation and earthquake drills. We learned about how to lock down our classrooms to protect students. We remembered where defibrillators were located on campus. But ultimately ours was the business of igniting learning, not wielding a fire extinguisher.

In my twenty years in education, however, necessity has caused campus safety to become more and more a priority. While school campuses are still some of the safest places on earth, we keep them so through great attention to how we can prevent incident and respond to emergencies. We rehearse scenarios: lock downs, earthquakes, evacuations. Our comprehensive school safety plan, given to every teacher at the start of the year, covers every sort of emergency. Our school safety committee meets monthly. We prepare and prepare and prepare.

Part of that preparation is coordination with our district. They’re the folks who delivered my duffle bag and ax. Our district leadership is quick to provide us with updated information about trends and updated technology to help us make a safer school. This emphasis on safety helps to support a climate where we all know that preparation allows us the peace of mind to focus our day to day attention on teaching and learning.

Another partner in school safety is law enforcement, and at LCC we’re fortunate to have a school resource officer who not only cares about police work, but also really cares about kids. As a site administrator I’ve seen him counsel and comfort, advise and arrest. His work with kids is defined by a kindness and strength seen in great teachers. Should he ever hang up his badge, he’d do well in a classroom.

And the most important part of student safety, beyond barrels of blankets, first aid kits, or maps of gas shut-off valves, is something we have at LCC and continue to cultivate: community.

Secure gates and locking doors are important parts of school safety, but the greatest way for a school to be safe is for it to have a strong school community where students and adults value each other and look out for each other’s well-being. As we connect to one other and to our school, we provide the environment where potential problems don’t have space to arise. We notice anyone who shouldn’t be on campus and tell someone. We see the person who is crying and reach out to help. We connect the person who is struggling to someone who will listen, maybe even us.

Certainly the unexpected happens, and the mindful preparations we make help us be ready for emergencies, but a caring and connected school family does more than anything to create a healthy and safe school.

As we move through our day on campus, I encourage everyone to make a connection, and look for a way to help. How might you support the person, student or adult, who is having a tough day? What might you do to inspire a smile or a feeling of acceptance? How might you erase someone’s insecurity, or provide them with a moment of joy?

Safety begins with caring. As an institution we have a plan; as a school we have community. And if you’re ever trapped behind a door, I have an ax.

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A Healthy Rivalry

“Never.”
LCC_TP_shirtICON
“Beat TP”

“Never Again.”

It doesn’t really matter how it started. We hear stories on both sides about what escalated the tension, and while the truth is probably out there, it matters less than the reality on the ground, or in the stands.  Today’s rivalry between LCC and TP is passionate and pervasive, and something to be celebrated, managed, and used as an opportunity to teach sportsmanship, school pride, and perspective.

To make this time in the rivalry a teachable moment, we (at both LCC and Torrey Pines) do well to focus on what the rivalry is, where we have had problems with the behavior the rivalry has inspired, and what we want the rivalry to look like moving forward.

Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon were rivals before there was a La Costa Canyon High School. Veterans of the SDUHSD can tell you that for more than three decades TP and a school to the north have challenged each other as “cross district” rivals. With the usual incidents of juvenile jostling, San Dieguito High and Torrey Pines High played each other yearly and saw a gradual growth of the traditions that define a rivalry. When LCC opened, the LCC/TP rivalry sprang, fully formed, to life.

Looking at the state of the LCC/TP rivalry right now, we see that for some student fans, behavior has turned from competitive to unhealthy. In years past, students in both LCC and TP cheering sections have exhibited behavior that was vulgar, insulting, and included personal verbal attacks on opposing players and coaches. While behavior on the field of play has been sportsmanlike, fan behavior has lacked the level of civility both sides expect.

So, what do we want, and how do we get there? Athletics in general and healthy rivalries in particular offer opportunities to build school spirit, teach respect for our opponents, and promote sportsmanlike behavior on the field and in the stands.

To build school spirit we look to our ASB, our teams, and specific student groups (e.g. LCC’s “Noise Boyz”) to provide examples of positive behavior, positive spirit wear (selling “LCC PR1DE” shirts rather than anti-TP shirts), and positive school attitude.

To teach respect for our athletic opponents we would do well to expand on the collaboration between our two schools, begun in the Sportsmanship Summit this fall. We might expand the shared activities (working with both schools’ ASB and other student groups) and engage in experiences together to help combat the demonizing of students from the other school. While not universally successful this fall, the shared TP/LCC T-shirt, designed by student artists from both schools is a visible example of how students might work together on a common task and come away from that experience with a better understanding of the other school.

Sportsmanship, both on the field (or court, or pool, or mat) as well as in the stands, needs to be a focus for our school communities. While we run a risk of violating first amendment rights if we begin to limit what students can wear to games (with the exception of shirts that violate SDUHSD dress code), we do our students and our schools a service when we focus on promoting and expecting positive behavior from our students at games. We can do this with explicit and well publicized behavior expectations, including specific consequences, proactive work with student groups before athletic events, and involving student (and faculty) voices in the greater discussion of how to make our very real LCC/TP rivalry a healthy one.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s playoff lacrosse game. With two talented teams and two passionate fan bases, I want everyone who comes to the contest to cheer hard and celebrate their own team’s successes. I also want to be able to bring my five year old son, Henry, and not have him embarrassed by anything he sees.  I love good rivalries, and see LCC/TP as one that echoes Army/Navy in spirit. As a proud Maverick, I’ll root for the home team, but I’ll shake hands with my counterparts in cardinal at the end of the night.

Graduation Season

They paced and looked down at their folded papers, laughed a little awkwardly, feeling just a touch like freshmen again. Some would mention that feeling of anxiety, some would focus on the excitement of starting something new, some would revel in the almost magical experience of being seventeen in May. Tryouts for the student graduation speech bring a level of nervousness comparable with the first day of 9th grade. I know. First hand.

Two and a half decades ago I had the privilege (read: terror invoking roller-coaster ride of adolescent fear and adrenaline) of giving the student graduation speech at North Salem High School (Go Vikings!) This week, as I saw students gathering their thoughts and preparing for speech tryouts, I remembered my own pacing and paper clutching, and felt both empathy and the unmistakable feeling that graduation season has begun.

Everyone has their own opinion on the timing of the start of the end of the year. Some see AP testing as the harbinger of graduation season, others prom, and some (half) jokingly, homecoming. But for me it’s seeing those bold and brave seniors lining up to share their three minute perspective on high school as sandwiched between a quote from Gandhi and Dr. Seuss.

More than presenting the actual speech at commencement, standing up in front of a panel of judges shows a strength that doesn’t cease to impress me. These are thoughtful students who took the time, in this busy time, to reflect, find meaning, and put pen to paper.

The speeches themselves talk of four years of high school in ways that are moving and funny, and the sentiment that finds its way onto those much folded papers mirrors a shift I see year after year in the emotional lives of senior classes. It’s right about this time in May that seniors begin to feel closer to one another. Other events will cement this connection: prom, the yearbook distribution, a senior assembly. And by the time we reach the final week of the year, a great many seniors will allow their guard to drop and will let themselves open their eyes to the connections to be made in the last fleeting days of high school.

Between now and graduation, in the five or so weeks before mortarboards take flight, students have much to do and lots to enjoy. School rules still exist, and being denied a ticket to the Senior Boat Dance (perhaps the coolest LCC senior event ever) because of excessive tardies could be a foolish reality. Academics still matter, even after college acceptances are announced. But memories, good ones, are still waiting to be made.

I wonder what each senior would write if she or he was asked to prepare a graduation speech. What would stand out from four years at La Costa Canyon High? Games? Plays? ASB events? Maybe quieter memories of walking across campus with a friend, laughing over birthday balloons in the library, or helping someone who showed thanks.

As we enter in to the last few weeks of school, I welcome this subtle shift we see in our seniors. A little goofier, a little more emotional, and a bit more prone to sentiment. Graduation season has begun.

For those about to rock…

Passion. The best educators bring it to their work with students every day. It shows itself in poetry and pottery and proofs. I see it when a teacher crouches down next to a desk and helps a student struggling with a math problem, or when an instructor ricochets around the classroom inspiring excitement about conjugating verbs. Don’t doubt; I’ve seen that happen! And once a year our entire school community has an opportunity to see teachers express this passion in a different way: through rock and roll.

Not every school has teachers who form a rock band, but then again LCC has always been a school of mavericks.

“The Credentialed,” fronted by a history teacher who is as comfortable discussing The Constitution as covering The Clash, began more than a dozen years ago when a collection of LCC teachers (art on guitar and bass, Spanish on keyboards, AVID on vocals) joined together with some other educator friends to put on a show to raise money for student scholarships.

Raise money; raise the roof.

And rock they do. Rough and tumble rock and roll, last night’s performance peppered with stories and solos, heart and soul. The concert showed Maverick spirit at its best. From the opening mixes of Beatles, beats, and samples from the principal’s recorded “rule talk” through great covers from five decades of hits, a rollicking drum solo that had mouths agape and students on their feet, and student performers so talented that adults teared up, last night showed the unifying power of music and the magnifying power of love.

As I watched the concert I was struck by a few things: how talented of musicians these teachers are, how much they care about the cause of helping kids, how excited they were to showcase the student performers, and how powerful this annual event is in bringing together our Maverick family.

And a family we were on Friday, both literally (in the few quiet seconds between one early tune and another I heard a young voice from the crowd yell up to the stage: “Hi, Dad!”) and as a school. Kids cheered teachers, as fans not students, and in its own powerful way that too is great teaching and learning.

Not every school has a teacher rock and roll band, but think how cool the world would be if they did.

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Of Mavericks and Dap-Kings

SharonJonesListening to “We Get Along” by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings this morning, an infinitely swinging tune worth finding online and listening to now, as you read this blog…

…really, now…

…I felt a sense of pride in being a part of this place called LCC. We are, as a school community, people who embrace what Sharon Jones sings about: “We got to get along / We got to get up / And come together…”

We get along when we tutor each other in the library after school and when we offer to help a friend ask someone to prom in a creative way. We get along when we turn in a cell phone to lost and found, and when a tearful and relieved student picks that phone up later in the day. We get along when we listen to each other in class, when we share smiles at lunch, and when we pick up someone who has fallen down.

We get ourselves up when faced with challenges, whether it’s tight budgets, unexpected changes of plans, the hassles of construction, or the kooky things that sometimes happen on a high school campus: a fender bender in the parking lot, a tough exam, or an egg drop that lands too close and spatters your pants. (Was that last example too confessional?)

We come together when we’re in the audience at a Comedy Sportz game, laughing, cheering, and being profoundly present as we’re packed shoulder to shoulder with other Mavericks. We come together when we fill the stands at a field hockey game, or a concert, or a dance show. We come together when teachers share their rooms for a long weekend to allow the Speech and Debate Team to host the huge Winter Classic tournament, and when we open our doors to show off our great school at School Information Night in the spring.

And while we’re far from perfect, no one is, our Maverick Family knows that through challenges and triumphs, we’re together. As a soul-funk diva might say…

There’s somthin’ a brewin’ up in the sky
We’re stuck inside with the candle light
But the sun is comin’ with all of its might
I know, I know it’ll be alright

I keep expecting that one of these days I’ll hear a little Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings over the PA as our lacrosse or basketball teams warm up. Until then, I know what I’m humming as I cross campus.