Archive for November, 2012


Although there are many versions of the first Thanksgiving in North America, the one that is most closely related to our modern celebration of Thanksgiving took place in August of 1621.  After arriving in Plymouth in 1620, the Pilgrims endured many hardships but managed to survive, due to the help of Squanto, an Indian who taught the Pilgrims how to fish, grow corn, and farm the land.

At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a “harvest feast” to celebrate the fruits of their farming efforts.  The feast also honored Squanto and their friends, the Wanpanoag Indians.  The feast was followed by three days of “thanksgiving” celebrating their good fortune.

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress established the first annual National Day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November.  It was always on the last Thursday in November until President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with pressure from business leaders who wanted more shopping days for Christmas, issued a proclamation that moved Thanksgiving up one week to the second to last Thursday in November.  Finally, on December 26, 1941, Congress passed a law for Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, families and friends come together to give thanks, celebrate with a big meal, and watch football.


As we get ready to dismiss school for the Thanksgiving holiday (some schools are already out), I got to thinking … as a principal, I am thankful for many things.

I am thankful for:

  1. My teachers, who take pride in good teaching.  It takes good teachers to meet the needs of students today.  I am lucky to have teachers who go the extra mile for their students.
  2. My teachers, who value professional development.  My teachers value good professional development and are good at sharing ideas with each other because they know that when they learn, it benefits the students. It is a shame when teachers don’t want to get better and think they “don’t need anymore knowledge”.  (This is what one elementary teacher actually said)
  3. My teachers, who value building positive relationships with our students.  It’s all about relationships.  When it’s positive, learning happens.  When it’s not positive, it’s detrimental to the success of the students.
  4. My teachers, who value technology as a tool that enhances their good instruction.  Technology is not the magic pill.  It is, however, a great weapon in the teacher’s arsenal.  It is still all about good instruction, though.
  5. My teachers, who are not afraid to take risks and step out of their comfort zone. It really easy to continue to do what you’ve always done because you are comfortable with it.  It takes a good teacher to realize that the students today learn differently and that a good teacher adapts with the changing times.
  6. My students, who, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.  We have great students at my school!  Enough said!



This weekend my family and I visited Texas A&M. We went to Yell Practice at midnight on Friday. We walked all around the campus on Saturday morning before going to the football game on Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience.

I had always heard about the many traditions at Texas A&M, but I have never been to their campus to see it for myself. What I saw was great. From the viewpoint of a public school educator, I saw school spirit at its finest. I saw grandparents, parents, and kids all decked out in school colors. I saw EVERBODY participating in the yells (I had no idea what they were saying and doing, but I acted like I did because I didn’t want to stick out). I saw the band perform the most amazing drill at halftime. It is indescribable the complexity of their routine! It was awesome, but what makes it even more awesome, they learn a different routine each week!!!! I saw a 102 year old alumnus attend the game and give the 87,101 fans the “Gig ’em” thumbs up sign on the jumbo tron.

I got to thinking….how do you instill school spirit, pride, and tradition like this? Or even just a fraction?!?

I welcome your ideas and comments !!!


Veterans Day Tribute

Posted: November 12, 2012 in Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2012

Posted: November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday I read an article in a newspaper about a soldier who had just returned from Afghanistan. The soldier’s father is a teacher/coach at an area high school and was involved in a skit at a pep rally that concluded with a surprise entry from his son during the skit. Wow! Can you imagine the emotion!

Here is a link to the article:

There are many men and women who are serving our country and protecting our freedom right now. To them, I say THANK YOU! To those who have served this country in the past, I say THANK YOU!

Each year our school tries to honor our veterans with a program and reception that gives them the recognition and respect they deserve. This year we had the program at our elementary school, then the veterans had a police escort from the elementary to our middle school/high school campus. The middle school and high school students and teachers lined the street holding signs and waving flags as the veterans drove by waving proudly at the students. It was awesome seeing huge smiles on the faces of these veterans.

I know that throughout this great country there are many events like these that I just described. We just want recognize the hard work, the sacrifice, and the dedication of our veterans and on this Veterans Day say … THANK YOU!


This post is adapted from another blog written by Jessica Johnson, an Elementary Principal from rural Wisconsin. Her blog is titled Reflections from an Elementary School Principal ( And, if you don’t already, you should follow her on Twitter @principalj.

I’ve been challenging my teachers to take risks and to grow as teachers. I want them to set examples for their students and show them that learning is not always easy but with hard work and the right mindset, learning can happen. We need to all become passionate about learning, develop a growth mindset, and learn from mistakes.

Here are some great quotes/posters by Krissy Venosdale (@ktvee) on this topic: