Archive for the ‘career’ Category

This is one of those posts that begins … “I don’t really know where to start!”   There are so many emotions that have been running through me the last few days; however, I am not going to talk about these emotions in this post.

For the last 10 years, I have been principal of Ore City High School, which has an excellent faculty and staff.  They have truly made my job easy.  We had a good system going and I would hope that it continues after my departure.  We all have grown in our roles as teachers and administrators (in the last few years especially).  We moved from a district-led staff development model to a campus-based, teacher-led model which has allowed for the emergence of new teacher leaders and also has allowed for a greater connection and cohesiveness among the teachers and staff.  I truly believe that OCHS is the best campus in the district.   We were the trendsetters, the risk takers, the trailblazers for OCISD.  The teachers are always open to new ideas and challenges and I encouraged them to take risks, use social media, connect and collaborate with each other as well as with other educators across the state of Texas, the United States and Canada, as well as across the entire globe.  I encouraged them to always look for ways to grow professionally.  They accepted this challenge!!  I am so proud to have been associated with the faculty and staff of Ore City High and I truly wish them much success in the future.

Now as I move into my new position as principal of Paul Pewitt High School, I am looking forward to new challenges, new teachers, new students, and a new community.  I am very excited about this opportunity and the feedback I have gotten so far has been very positive.  Together we will make a big impact on our students as well as on each other.  We will connect, learn, share, and grow.  It is going to be fun, and I can’t wait to get going.


This post is taken from Jon Gordon’s weekly newsletter, Positive Strategies to Fuel Your Life and Career.


Jon Gordon's Weekly Newsletter


While watching the Oscars I noticed that almost every award winner said they couldn’t have done it without their team, family, and the support of others. The fact is no one achieves success alone. We all need a great team to accomplish great things. We are at our best when we are surrounded by those who want the best for us and when we are bringing out the best in others. In this spirit I want to share 9 ways to be a great team member.

1. Set the Example – Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others you simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Focus on being your best every day. When you do this you’ll raise the standards and performance of everyone around you.

2. Use Your Strengths to Help the Team – The most powerful way you can contribute to your team is to use your gifts and talents to contribute to the team’s vision and goals. Without your effort, focus, talent and growth the team won’t accomplish its mission. This means you have an obligation to improve so you can improve your team. You are meant to develop your strengths to make a stronger team. Be selfish by developing you and unselfish by making sure your strengths serve the team.

3. Share Positive Contagious Energy – Research shows emotions are contagious and each day you are infecting your team with either positive energy or negative energy. You can be a germ or a big dose a Vitamin C. When you share positive energy you infectiously enhance the mood, morale and performance of your team. Remember, negativity is toxic. Energy Vampires sabotage teams and complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

4. Know and Live the Magic Ratio – High performing teams have more positive interactions than negative interactions. 3:1 is the ratio to remember. Teams that experience interactions at a ratio equal or greater than 3:1 are more productive and higher performing than those with a ratio of less than 3:1. Teams that have a ratio of 2:1, 1:1 or more negative interactions than positive interactions become stagnant and unproductive. This means you can be a great team member by being a 3 to 1’er. Create more positive interactions. Praise more. Encourage more. Appreciate more. Smile more. High-five more. Recognize more. Energize more. Read more about this

5. Put the Team First – Great team players always put the team first. They work hard for the team. They develop themselves for the team. They serve the team. Their motto iswhatever it takes to make the team better. They don’t take credit. They give credit to the team. To be a great team member your ego must be subservient to the mission and purpose of the team. It’s a challenge to keep our ego in check. It’s something most of us struggle with because we have our own goals and desires. But if we monitor our ego and put the team first we’ll make the team better and our servant approach will make us better.

6. Build Relationships – Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams are built and great team members take the time to connect, communicate and care to build strong bonds and relationships with all their team members. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t connect with others you will fail as a team member.(Tweet This) It’s important to take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to them. Eat with them. Learn about them. Know what inspires them and show them you care about them.

7. Trust and Be Trusted – You can’t have a strong team without strong relationships. And you can’t have strong relationships without trust. Great team members trust their teammates and most of all their team members trust them. Trust is earned through integrity, consistency, honesty, transparency, vulnerability and dependability. If you can’t be trusted you can’t be a great team member. Trust is everything.

8. Hold Them Accountable – Sometimes our team members fall short of the team’s expectations. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they need a little tough love. Great team members hold each other accountable. They push, challenge and stretch each other to be their best. Don’t be afraid to hold your team members accountable. But remember to be effective you must built trust and a relationship with your team members. If they know you care about them, they will allow you to challenge them and hold them accountable. Tough love works when love comes first. Love tough.

9. Be Humble – Great team members are humble. They are willing to learn, improve and get better. They are open to their team member’s feedback and suggestions and don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth or the team’s growth. I learned the power of being humble in my marriage. My wife had some criticism for me one day and instead of being defensive and prideful, I simply said, “Make me better. I’m open. Tell me how I can improve.” Saying this diffused the tension and the conversation was a game changer. If we’re not humble we won’t allow ourselves to be held accountable. We won’t grow. We won’t build strong relationships and we won’t put the team first. There’s tremendous power in humility that makes us and our team better.

book 2

The first book I have read from My Summer Reading List is The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11).  This book follows George, who is forced to ride the bus to work because of a flat tire on his car.  George meets a unique bus driver and an interesting cast of fellow bus riders who, over the course of two weeks share the 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.  In the process, they help George turn around his life, his team at work, and his marriage.

It all begins with positive energy.  No one goes through life untested and positive energy is what is needed to overcome these obstacles we all face in life.  Positive People and Positive Teams produce Positive Results — and the essential ingredient is POSITIVE ENERGY.

As he begins his journey of transformation from riding the Energy Bus, George meets the driver, Joy, who is instrumental in changing his life.  She, along with the other passengers, give George (and us) 10 rules that will change his life (and ours) forever.  It’s all about the positive energy we get from these ten rules.

Rule #1 — You’re the Driver of Your Bus

People feel like they don’t have a choice so they give up.  But you do have a choice!  Take the wheel and choose to create the life you want … one thought, one belief, one action, one choice at a time.  It starts with a decision — decide what you want.  Then YOU start creating it.  Create your world.

  1. My vision for my life is (including my health) is …
  2. My vision for my work, career, job, and team is …
  3. My vision for my relationship and family is …

It all starts with these three statements and the ENERGY to think about it and to identify what you want.

Rule # 2 — Desire, Vision, and Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction

Joy, the bus driver, shares this important piece of wisdom.  The more you focus on something, the more you think about it, the more it shows up in our lives.  Again, there is energy in thought.  Spend your time thinking about what you want rather than what you don’t want.  Don’t complain.  Complaining is focusing on the negative.

Be a Winner, Not a Whiner!

Rule # 3 — Fuel Your Ride With Positive Energy

There is power in positive energy!  It is important.  Positive energy will keep your bus moving forward with momentum.  As you know, there is a lot of negativity in the world, so choosing positive energy is important to help deal with the negative people and negative situations that can knock you off course.

One passenger on The Energy Bus named Danny shares this formula:  E + P = O

“E” stands for “events” in your life.  “P” stands for “perception” (and it also could stand for “positive” energy).  “O” stands for “outcome”.

You can’t control all the events in your life, but you can control how you perceive them.  Your perception can control the outcome.

Remember this, positive energy and positive people create positive results.

Rule # 4 — Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead

You cannot always do things by yourself.  You need a good team.  You need to get like-minded people on your bus, and the more positive people you get, the more positive energy will be created.  Share your vision and make it clear what you expect.

Rule #5 — Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get on Your Bus

The enemy is negativity and it’s everywhere.  How do you deal with it?  Simple.  Don’t worry about it.  Don’t waste your energy on it.  The more you worry about it, the less positive energy you will have.

Rule #6 — Post a Sign That Says: NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED

Surround yourself with a positive support team.  These people will have a big influence on your life and whether it’s successful or not.  You want people around you who will INCREASE your energy not DRAIN your energy (energy vampires).  You have to be strong enough to let people know that negativity is not allowed.

Rule #7 — Enthusiasm Attracts More Passengers and Energizes Them During The Ride

Positive energy works.  It spreads one person at a time.  You need to be the CEO – Chief Energy Officer.  The CEOs are excited, positive, and optimistic.  They don’t let fear stop them.  When you are enthusiastic, people will want to get on your bus.  People notice it.  People feel it — energy and enthusiasm.  This is like a beacon of energy coming from your heart.  It’s real.  And when you are energized, others will be energized.  A positive culture will out perform a negative culture every time.

Rule #8 — Love Your Passengers

To tap into the power of your heart and lead with a positive, contagious energy, you must love your passengers.  You have to love your employees, your customers, and your family.  And, you have to share that love.  You have to let people know that you care about them…really care about them.  When you do this, you’ll get love back.

Let your people use their gifts, their strengths.  Allow them to do what they do best.  Bring out the best in others, and by doing this, it brings out the best in you.

Rule #9 — Drive with Purpose

Purpose is the ultimate fuel for your journey through life.  When you drive with purpose, you don’t get tired, bored, or burned out.  Find excitement in the mundane, the passion in the everyday, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Find your purpose and share it.  This is positive energy.

Rule #10 — Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride

Don’t focus on what stresses you.  That’s no fun.  Know that you are too blessed to be stressed.  Remember all of the things you are thankful for because this feeling of gratitude will fuel your performance everyday.  It is uplifting.  Live and work like you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Be optimistic.  Be positive.  Find Joy!



Everything happens for a reason and we don’t necessarily know why.  Life is a test.  Adversity helps us grow.  Negative events and negative people teach us what we don’t want so we can focus our energy on what we do want.  There will always be challenges and problems and we must face each challenge and problem with a positive outlook.  Learn from the past and don’t focus on the future — focus on the path.  Experience Joy in everything you do and everywhere you go.

Educators all across Texas have been anxiously awaiting news of changes to graduation plans, testing, and the accountability system in Texas. While it started off strong, there was a period of roughly one month this spring where there was not a word, no news at all, nothing. We were all hoping something would be done before the End-of-Course tests were to be given this year, but no news came, so schools all across Texas went about business as usual (unfortunately) and administered up to 15 EOC tests. Students loved it. Counselors loved it. Teachers loved it. (YEA, RIGHT!!!). Maybe the only ones who loved it were from Pearson, who had a massive contract for testing in Texas.

This week, as schools began receiving their results on these tests, and as counselors and principals began frantically thinking and planning on just how we would schedule all of the tests again in July for students who had to retest, we get some news. The House and Senate have been meeting in a Conference Committee to work out the details of new graduation plans with different pathways to graduation, new assessment plans that cut the number of End-of-Course tests from 15 to 5, and new details of the accountability system which will be used to rate and measure schools. They plan on voting today, May 26th, on this bill that, I believe, will be great for high school students in Texas.

Texas capitol building

Below is a summary of the bill that will be voted on today. After it is adopted, it will then be sent to Governor Rick Perry to sign into law.

Graduation Plans
House Bill 5 Conference Committee Report

  •   Creates a foundation plan of 22 credits which includes: 4 ELA, 3 Math, 3 Science, 3 Social Studies, 2 Foreign Language, 1 Fine Art, 1 PE and 5 electives.
  • Maintains House language allowing students to earn an additional endorsement in one of five areas: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies. Each endorsement requires students to earn a total of 26 credits which includes an additional flexible math credit, flexible science credit and two additional electives.
  • All students must select an endorsement but may opt for only completing the foundation plan after grade 10 with parental consent.
  • Maintains the House language requiring all students to have a personal graduation plan developed with their parents and local educators that promotes college and workforce readiness.
  • Maintains the House language allowing districts to partner with community colleges and industry to develop rigorous courses that address workforce needs, provide technical training and count towards graduation.
  • Maintains the House language directing districts to partner with higher education to provide developmental education courses the senior year in math and English for college bound students not demonstrating college readiness at the end of grade 11.
  • Maintains a distinguished level of performance for students. To earn the distinguished level, students have to complete the requirements of the foundation program, an endorsement and earn an Algebra II credit. Allows students completing the distinguished level to be eligible for college admission under the Top 10% automatic admissions provision. (Similar to current law)
  • Maintains House language allowing all high school graduates to be eligible to apply for admission to Texas public four-year universities.
  • Maintains House language allowing all high school graduates to be eligible to receive a TEXAS Grant
  • Maintains House language allowing current ninth and tenth grade students the benefits of the new structure.


  • Reduces the number of required end-of-course assessments from fifteen to five.
  • Allows students to meet their graduation assessment requirement by passing ELA I, ELA II, Algebra I, biology and US History. English Language Arts tests are combined into one assessment instead of separate reading and writing tests.
  • Eliminates the requirement that the end-of-course assessments determine fifteen percent of a student’s course grade and establishes clear graduation requirements for students and parents by eliminating the cumulative score requirement.
  • Provides for transparency by requiring the STAAR exams to be released to the public.
  • Maintains House language allowing satisfactory performance on Advanced Placement exams, SAT exams and the ACT to satisfy graduation requirements.
  • Allows districts at their discretion to administer English III and Algebra II assessments for diagnostic purposes only.
  • Maintains House language allowing current ninth and tenth grade students the benefits of the new assessment program.


  • Maintains House language evaluating schools on more measures than state standardized assessment by requiring at least three additional indicators of academic performance including but not limited to percentage of students graduating with endorsements or distinguished level of performance, number of students earning college credit and number of students earning workforce certificates.
  • Establishes a three category rating system that evaluates schools on academic performance, financial performance and community and student engagement.
  • Maintains House language directing the agency and districts to release all three ratings at the same time to provide a clearer understanding of overall school performance.
  • Allows local communities to engage in the accountability process by requiring districts to set goals and evaluate performance locally in addition to state ratings.

From Rep. Aycock’s Office

I would like to hear your thoughts about these changes for graduation, assessments, and accountability.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think and how you feel.

Simply Lead

Today was an AWESOME day!

I was fortunate enough to attend Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2013, a one day event that is held LIVE in Atlanta, Georgia and broadcast to hundreds (over 750, I think) of locations around the world.

I can’t say enough about how great of an event this was.  Not only were the speakers and the information they shared great, you could also download the Chick-fil-A Leadercast app.  This was an amazing app that had additional leadership resources, You could take notes directly on the app, and, at one point the emcee, Tripp Crosby, Facetimed with everyone who had downloaded the app.  It was just plain cool!

The theme of this year’s Leadercast 2013 was SIMPLY LEAD.  So in keeping with the theme, I will share a little bit of what I got from each of the speakers.

1.  ANDY STANLEY — Best-selling leadership author & communicator and founder of North Point Ministries

  • Take complicated things and make them simple.
  • What is your core responsibility?
  • Create a one-sentence job description that describes your critical role, your unique contribution to your organization.

2.  JOHN C. MAXWELL — Internationally-renowned leadership expert, coach, and author who has sold over 20 million books

  • Take something complicated and make it simple.
  • How to Simply Lead — It’s basic math!
  • ADD value to people everyday.
  • SUBTRACT your leadership landmines.
  • MULTIPLY your strengths by developing them.
  • DIVIDE  your weaknesses by delegating them.  (let somebody do it who does it well)

3.  SONYA RICHARDS-ROSS — 2012 London Olympic GOLD Medalist in Track & Field

  • Make a vision board.  Focus on your goals.  Look at it everyday.
  • Focus on one thing.  Don’t multi-task.
  • Focus on victory … not what can go wrong.

4.  DR. HENRY CLOUD — Leadership consultant and coach.  Clinical psychologist.

  • Bring necessary endings.  Prune it.  Quit doing stuff that’s not necessary.  Keep doing stuff that’s vital for growth.
  • Don’t be a HOARDER.  Don’t hang on to the past.  Yesterday has gone — let it go.  This includes people too.
  • Focus your attention on the relevant.  Keep current.

5.  DAVID ALLEN — Best-selling author.  Personal and organizational productivity expert.

  • Crisis evokes serenity.  Why?  Because you’re focused.
  • Everybody has the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day.
  • Have a mind like water.  Don’t over react or under react.
  • Don’t multi-task.  Only do one thing at a time.

6.  MIKE KRZYZEWSKI — Head Men’s Basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA

  • You can’t hold back.  Don’t get side-tracked from your mission.
  • In order to learn and grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
  • RULES are externally applied.
  • STANDARDS are internally applied.
  • You must have standards.  Have your team “own” the standards.

7.  CONDOLEEZZA RICE — Former Secretary of State (2005 – 2009). Professor at Stanford University.

  • Recognize the simple things that you can do better.
  • The key to complexity is to see simplicity.
  • Even under the most dire situations, try to be an optimist.

8.  JACK WELCH — Former CEO of General Electric

  • Be straight with people.
  • Generosity Gene — Good bosses have it.  They love to give and not take.
  • When you say something is important, back it up.
  • Get rid of the high performer with low values.  This person will destroy your organization.
  • Make your organization a place where people love to be there.

9.  LCDR RORKE DENVER  — Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie,  Act of Valor

  • Calm is contagious.  Stupid is also contagious.
  • How can you constantly improve?  Keep reaching!
  • Lead from the front.

This was the kind of event that everyone in any leadership capacity should attend every year. As a mater of fact, you should go ahead and put next year’s date on your calendar — May 9, 2014.


It doesn’t matter what type of leader you are, you want to be successful, and your success as a leader depends on the success of your team.  We all struggle at times, and when one struggles, the entire team can be affected.  So it is best to create a team that has consistently high performance.  How do you do this?  There are three factors that can boost the performance level of your team.

What Factors Make Consistently High Performance?

  1. Expectations — expect your team to excel.
  2. Responsibility — give your team members more responsibility.
  3. Feedback — give your team members more supportive feedback.

As the leader you have to believe in people, hold them accountable, and give them a supportive environment.   It is your job to create an atmosphere of high performance by improving your communication with your team members, paying attention to details, and improving cooperation between your team members.   It’s about using these three factors all together, and by doing so, your team will respond positively.


Positive expectations have to be communicated to others.  Everything you do and say must communicate your positive expectations and these expectations must begin with the current reality of your of your team and organization.  Recognize the facts and accept the reality.  Acknowledge things as the are or it will be impossible to move forward.  Your expectations will have a significant impact on others so remember to communicate clearly and consistently through words, tone of voice, and body language.  When you expect the best, people will respond.


There has to be accountability both as a leader and as a team.  Lack of accountability paves the way for mediocrity, and without accountability, nothing gets done.  You must have clear-cut goals and make sure everyone understands what these goals are.  When the team is engaged in setting the goals, developing the plan, and measuring the progress, the more accountable they become.  The goals need to be proactive, not reactive.  This will create the focus for the team.


Feedback tells us how well we are doing, helps us stay on track, and make progress toward our goals.  Feedback is essential to helping everyone on the team grow.

Positive feedback should be motivational, energizing, and validating.  It makes you want to accomplish even greater things.  It serves as reinforcement. Negative feedback can also be motivational; however, it can be less energizing and validating.  Sometime it may seem as punishment so you have to be careful with what you say or how you say it.  Bringing out the best in your team means recognizing good work and reinforcing the desired behavior.  It’s about giving them positive feedback that makes the team want to keep doing the good things they are doing.  Not everyone will be great, but everyone can be better.  It is our job to help people improve.


Creating a team that consistently functions at a high performance is the job of a leader and the leader is only as good as his/her team.  In order for the team to be a high-performing team the leader must do these three things well …

  1. Expectations — expect your team to excel.
  2. Responsibility — give your team members more responsibility and hold them accountable.
  3. Feedback — give your team members more supportive feedback

And when done effectively, the team and team members will will thrive.


Today I attended a meeting today in regards to Career Tech courses and different certifications students can get to make them more marketable to employers.  One speaker was talking about Baby Boomers, those who were born between 1946 and 1964, and the fact that many are retiring or will be retiring soon and the jobs they had will need to be filled.  However, companies are having a hard time filling these positions because applicants in the workforce are not adequately prepared.

I think many schools have really messed this up!  Have we REALLY prepared our graduates for the “Real World” with actual skills that can help them be successful in a career?

The fact is that many, students today are not auto programmed to think that once they graduate from high school they will go to college, declare their major, graduate from college, and then get a good, high paying job.

Many of our students do not plan on going to college.  That is something that lawmakers in Texas seem to be beginning to understand and accept the fact that a one-size-fits-all curriculum in high schools today is not what is needed.  I am glad that these legislators are finally beginning to realize this.   We have to do whatever we can to help our students be prepared for life after high school.  This includes preparing students with higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and collaboration skills.  Students don’t have to be in Calculus or Physics to get these.  This can be accomplished in Career Tech classes while the students, in addition to the fore-mentioned skills, also earn certifications that will help them be more marketable when they apply for a job.

We have the Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964), Generation X (born between 1965-1980), Generation Y (born between 1980-2000, and now Generation Z (born between 2000 – present).  Society today is different and ever changing, but what has not changed much is our schools.  Many of our mission statements say something about “preparing students to be productive members of society, or productive citizens, etc.”  What are we really “preparing” our students for?  Does passing 15 End-of-Course tests prepare them for real life?

I can take tests

Career Tech classes are vital for everybody.  These are the students who we will call on one day to fix our air conditioners in August or our heaters in January.  These are the students who we will need to program a certain software application that will help our business run more efficiently.  These are the students who will one day take care of you when you are sick and in the hospital.  These are the students who we will call on one day when our vehicle messes up and we need it fixed correctly so we can get back and forth to work.  These are the students who one day will be working on a pipeline running from Canada to Texas.  These are the students who will one day build you a new house. These are the students who will be working on jobs that we haven’t actually thought of yet.

Our schools can’t stay where we are right now.  We must continue to look at our courses and look for ways to meet the needs of ALL of our students — those who go to college and those who go into the workforce.  Our students deserve our best efforts.