Why Not? My favorite quotes are ones about possibility- the ability to control our own destiny. Friday I spent some class time with Mr. Biggs and his students and was inspired to write this blog. The class was studying Emily Dickinson and one poem they discussed was I Dwell in Possibility. Coincidence? Is life a series of events beyond our control? Or do we take the chances offered to us, do we “actively pursue possibility” as was adeptly suggested on Friday?
Life is a series of events but we write the script by the choices we make. Even a non-decision is a choice. We choose to do things the same way day after day or we select something different, something more challenging, sometimes even a bit frightening. Change can be scary. We know the result of doing the same thing day after day. There is a script inside all of our minds and it plays over and over. Sometimes it is the loudest when we are faced with life’s greatest challenges.
Take the chance and rewrite your script. The choice is yours. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and move forward. Instead of asking yourself how, try this one…why not? email@example.com Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
The Top Ten Reasons Winter Must End
10. Baseball spring training is here and I know the Yankees are going to make a comeback.
9. The staple colors of my wardrobe- black and grey- have me bored and feeling blah.
8. My Twitter feed is filled with snow closing inquiries.
7. My counter is filled with gardening catalogues but I can no longer see the earth beneath piles of dirty snow and ice.
6. I have exhausted the potential Netflix binge watching possibilities.
5. The gym is way too crowded.
4. Everyone around me is sneezing and coughing and it is too cold to open any windows and get any fresh air.
3. I need to see the beach again.
2. The topic of weather has become way too much of a priority in our daily conversations- overshadowing other social interactions.
And most of all- the number one reason that winter must end is that warm weather is just so much better. The kids are going stir crazy and we all need to get outside. Winter is so limiting and exacerbates our stress levels. Winter zaps our energy. I am so ready for some sunshine. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
Eating My Words
Things have changed quite a bit in terms of social networking since my high school days. I realize that now I sound 80 years old. But it has to be said. When I was in high school the biggest risk posed by social media was that our teacher would intercept a note as we passed it to a friend. We would devise ways to fold that note in a thousand intricate ways, like an Origami masterpiece. When faced with potential demise you could eat the piece of paper- literally eating your words.
Times have changed. Notes now include lots of visuals. Teenagers are no more impulsive than we were- the means of sharing information has just changed dramatically. How different would our lives have been if we had iPhones and Snapchat? Seriously, can you remember waiting for a call from someone you really wanted to talk to? You would fight with others in your house to get off the phone. The one phone that everyone in the house shared-incredible! At least if you didn’t get the call you could blame your sister for talking on the line too much that night. Not anymore. Everything happens faster.
So there is no judgment in this blog. Just a bit of reflection. It’s healthy to reflect back on our years as teenagers and remember those feelings, the thoughts, and the actions. Did we make mistakes? Would we do things differently? Perhaps. That is the beauty of reflection. email@example.com Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
What Are Your Goals For the Coming Year?
So here we go another year! What will you make of it? This is your chance to have a fresh start and to greet the year with enthusiasm and renewed optimism. Now that we are several days into 2014, what are you doing to make this year a better one for you, your family, your friends, and those in your community?
Many people make resolutions and these are often difficult to keep. I prefer to re-think some of my life choices. Recently I read an article in Education Week that I sent out on my Twitter. The author stressed the importance of allowing students to experience failure and providing them an opportunity to realize success with test corrections and editing. He stated that often students see failure as an all or nothing scenario and then give-up without learning perseverance. Reading this reinforced the premise that all goals must have interim steps- not just a huge goal but also a series of small goals that comprise the end result. This can definitely apply to all facets of life. Failure can be a learning experience and we can grow and be more resilient.
Having the opportunity for a “re-do” is a gift. A recent story on NPR described a technique called “story editing”, where you re-write your script. Simple yet powerful. Pen to paper and life altering.
Finding more balance in my life. I am making this a goal for 2014 and I am open to suggestion. I have set up my interim goals and shared these with those people that I believe can help me achieve my goals. What are your goals for the coming year? firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
How Do We Define Pride in the R?
How do we define Pride in the R? Hmm, let me count the ways…We define pride in the way we fill the field house for our Staff v. Student Volleyball Showdown. (Ouch, I am still feeling that one!) We define RBR Pride in how our students demonstrate their sportsmanship and enthusiasm at PowderPuff. (fingers thawing as I type this blog) We define Pride as we prepare our Honor Roll lists and our Academic Varsity Letters winners. And we define Pride as we watch our students perform beautifully in a dramatic production with fantastic sets and direction. RBR student accolades fill our website, but some activities need to be shared as we rapidly approach the holiday season.
Our Buccaneers are seldom idle. They are busy volunteering and giving in many ways. While the general population is focused on Black Friday circulars, our kids are focused on helping others- a big part of what inspires BUC Pride in my heart. When you leave home to attend our annual Thanksgiving Game, don’t forget your canned food. Our students are collecting for the Salvation Army food pantry and now more than ever there are so many families in need.
At RBR we take special pride in helping our own families. We do this through a new tradition we started, a Giving Tree that can be found in our Media Center. Students, families and clubs can donate. For several years our National Honor Society students and their advisor have worked with other clubs and our staff to provide holiday gifts for local families at Linkages; helping to brighten the holidays for children. This year we are sending cards to children at St. Judes, again focusing on others.
Our students gather hats and scarves for the homeless and blankets for the MCSPCA. Several clubs donate to Toys for Tots. Our Key Club students make calls to families upon request, assisting Santa, who we know is so busy this time of year.
Students help globally. Clubs raised money for the Red Cross Philippines Disaster Relief Fund. Our International Baccalaureate students are all involved with community service projects. These range from working with organization in Uganda to helping Ronald McDonald House.
The students in our Future Educator’s Program hone their skills by working with our pre-schoolers after school. Our VPA students perform locally at Monmouth Mall and raise money with their holiday CD sale.
This year’s Freshman Honor’s program includes a community service project and reflective journal. Student’s efforts ranged from work with global organizations such as freerice.org to clothing and food drives. This helped them to further develop altruism and empathy toward others.
Many of our teams work in the community. Our Volleyball team volunteers at rec on Saturday mornings preparing Future BUCS. Some students volunteer helping students with special needs with therapeutic riding lessons. And others do beach sweeps with Clean Ocean Action. And we have already begun work on Relay for Life- a monumental effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
This blog is not a comprehensive list- these are some examples I had a press time. As we enter the busy holiday season I wanted to take the time to share some of this with each of you and to show you why I am proud to be a BUC and so proud of our Buccaneers. I also wanted to share my belief that this is a difficult time for so many. If you can, please reach out and help any way that you are able. Send your canned goods, your hats and scarves or participate in any small way. And thank you for helping to make RBR a caring community. Go BUCS! email@example.com
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Supporting Our Students
How do we support students on their journeys? The first step begins as they enter high school. We love to meet our students in the summer during our Summer Slam program. It is here that students begin to learn about RBR- our faculty, our programs and our curriculum. They meet students from other schools and the transition begins. Freshman year is so critical, success or failure here often dramatically impacts a student’s high school career.
Summer is also the time that athletics begin- never to be minimized, involvement in sports and co-curricular activities are true indicators of student success. Students who are involved equate with students who are well integrated into the fabric of a high school; studies prove that involved students are successful and happier.
Our freshmen start their high school journey in the Ninth Grade Academy, a team approach where they work in houses with a team of teachers. This academy approach continues throughout high school with all students in an academy by the end of their sophomore year. The academy approach helps student make connections with our faculty and with each other. It also increases their knowledge of potential career applications and makes curriculum more relevant.
Recently all 10th and 11th grade students took the PSATs during the school day, free of charge. This test is a huge undertaking with important results. The PSAT is an indicator of AP potential and assists us in identifying students who may not “self identify for higher level courses.” It also lets us know if students are working to their potential.
As students explore they find myriad challenging opportunities available to them. In recent years we have worked hard to remove many of the barriers to higher-level coursework. We added the IB program and several dual credit courses. Students who complete AP, IB and dual credit courses study at the college level while in high school- this participation increases their chances of college success. Students develop critical thinking and writing skills as well as learn to collaborate with one another before they leave high school.
We augmented this open access with additional student supports such as peer tutoring, homework help and AVID. For some, the struggle is time management and organizational skills. For others, there is a gap that needs to be adjusted- and it is our job, as educators, to help students to close that gap and reach the top tier.
Teen years can be tough years. We are lucky to have skilled school counselors and child study team members who work closely with our kids. We also have a school-based clinic whose clinicians meet with students and families. Students who are distracted, depressed or struggling will not succeed.
Education is an ever-changing field. The standards change and the requirements shift. What does not change is our commitment to both preparing students who are ready to face the world when they leave RBR and to helping them to face the world during the years they spend with us. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
This month there is so much going on at RBR. Last month marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. In celebration, the Multicultural Club will be hosting our first annual Hispanic Heritage Assembly. The program features a keynote inspirational speaker, Dr. Hector Morales, as well as musical and cultural highlights.
Monday begins our annual Week of Respect. There will be a variety of activities during lunch. In our Commons students will be able to browse tables with materials from our many clubs. Informational tables from outside organizations will be available offering suggestions and support. Our Multicultural Club will teach us how to greet each other in multiple languages and our talented creative writers will perform. All week our morning announcements will include music and messages promoting tolerance and respect.
During the third week of October we will have a guest motivational speaker, Levar Fisher, former NFL player. He brings a special message to our students, promoting tolerance and respect, while sharing his personal experiences.
It is my personal hope and overall goal that these messages are daily ones- that one assembly, one week or one month is never enough. All of us must continue to work together to have those conversations that must be had- so that we may provide a safe and supportive culture for all our students. email@example.com
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History is about to be made. Tomorrow night we will be playing our first game at Red Bank Regional under our own lights. This is truly a first in RBR history. From day one, we returned with a renewed sense of BUC pride as we walked down the newly tiled hallways. Our school mascot proudly marks the way to our field house.
It really feels like fall. We are ready to cheer our teams, come together as a community and have fun! Be sure to join us.
Next week is Back to School Night. It is so important to attend this evening and meet your child’s teachers. We love the opportunity to see each and every parent and family member and show off our amazing faculty.
I know I have said this before in letters, blogs and tweets- there are so many ways to be involved in our school. Work with us and join our RBR community. If you are interested please contact me and I can put you in touch with one of the many organizations that support our school. Without the strong support of our parents, so many accomplishments would never be a reality. Tomorrow night would never be a possibility. Thanks to all those who dream big and have the courage to see it through, GO BUCS! firstname.lastname@example.org
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Here's to a Fresh Start!
Here's to a fresh start! The new school year is just around the corner. We are looking forward to a new beginning. There are so many ways we can work together here are just a few…
1. Partner with your child’s teachers. Parent Portal and email offer excellent opportunities to gain insight and communicate frequently.
2. Discuss school with your child at the dinner table and every chance you get. Even casual moments such as car-pooling offer these moments. Take time to learn about your child’s classes and the books they are reading. Get to know their friends.
3. Build bridges with our school counselors, our Source counselors and our coaches. They can offer insight and support.
4. Connect with our school through social media. Our website is filled with information and you can gain knowledge from teacher’s websites as well. I use my Twitter to broadcast school information, student accolades, and daily events.
5. Become involved. There are many opportunities for families to become active supporters of RBR. Our high school community benefits from your support and the high school years will be that much richer if you are involved. Check our website for the Buccaneer athletic schedule. Attend our fantastic VPA events.
Communication is critical. I promise to continue to work hard to keep you informed about what is happening at RBR. Please contact me with any questions, suggestions or concerns. Looking forward to a great year. GO BUCS! email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @ PrincipalClay
Summertime. We wait so long for the warm weather and the long days and then they fly by at a rapid clip. The building is filled with students and faculty, programs and classes. Students are busy at work. Our summer programs keep students engaged and help them to meet peers from neighboring towns.
The big news is that our RBR BUC pride will really shine as our athletic field is finally lit. Thanks to the efforts of parents and community members we will have lights and night games. The building has been undergoing some updates with the installation of tiling and our Buccaneer logo.
The summer is a time for planning and preparation. We build the foundation for the school year with scheduling, hiring and training. Summer is also the time to take a breath, to pause and to reflect. It allows us to slow the speed a bit from the frenetic pace of the school year and to recover. It is a time to regenerate and be mindful. Summer allows us the time to pause at the supermarket for a conversation, to work in the garden or to take a long walk. It also is a time to appreciate each other and to store energy for the days to come.
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The Finish Line
It is officially here- the month of June, the last official month of the school year. Fifteen days remain until the class of 2013 graduates and each class advances to the next grade. Just one short summer separates eighth graders from high school and juniors from that big senior year.
Although few days remain each day sprawls before us, long and lazy. The days somehow seem affected by the same senioritis that has hit our students. The nights are filled with frenetic activities -concerts, award ceremonies and traditions such as prom. We hold our breath wanting all to be successful and each to be safe.
The end of the year is bittersweet, this one especially so. While there is no doubt that this year challenged each of us in unimaginable ways, we are ready for closure. And with the end of this year, as always, comes the promise of a new beginning. For our seniors these beginnings are filled with the excitement of the unknown and opportunities waiting to be discovered. For our faculty, the chance to recharge and rejuvenate and prepare to guide, nurture, empower and educate the next group.
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Lunch Duty Anyone?
Being a high school Principal is really a great job. Of course you have to love being around kids, which is definitely a prerequisite. Every day is different, that is what makes it exciting. It is rewarding and exhausting at the same time. Schedules can be crazy but my goal is always to make it to as many classrooms as possible. Besides formal observations classroom “walk throughs” are a part of my day.
Today I had the privilege of witnessing great teaching and great students. In one day I saw engineering students crafting their designs into reality. From there I walked into a business class where students explained different types of bonds. In our sports medicine class I learned the proper way to tape injuries and in another class within that academy students were learning the risks of placing too much trust in your financial manager. IB psych students were exploring theories of abnormal psych and prepping for their exam.
The exciting part of my job is that on any given day my class list is different, so much to choose from, so much to see. Our building is buzzing all day long with classes, projects and activity. The highlight of the day is often lunch duty. Dreaded by some, it really is a relaxed time to socialize with the students.
In the past two weeks we had students winning state championships and state competitions, inducted into honor societies and preforming in senior recitals. Today, despite the brisk weather, it was a thrill to witness our track team compete.
As my (gulp) 20th year at RBR draws to a close I still believe I have much to learn. Each day I try to learn something new and hope to improve. There is no better place to do that than at school. Often it is our teachers and our students that lead me on that journey.
You Really Can Change The World...
You really can change the world if you care enough ~Marian Wright Edelman
We are at the midpoint of the school year. All of us know how difficult this year has been. The year continues to be a challenging one for us, for many reasons. I feel compelled to comment on some very positive events that I have been a part of in the last few weeks.
Last night I attended The Source Fundraiser. Great event which raised much-needed funds allowing the Source to continue the excellent work they do for all of our students and families. This year and every year our kids need these services. We are fortunate to have a mental health clinic on site. While we read about tragedies such as Newtown and listen to Senators testify about the critical shortage of mental health services for children we are so fortunate that we have services adjacent to our school cafeteria. In the wake of our own tragedies the program has been there for counseling and financial support for families. Thank you to the Source Board members, community and staff who worked to make this event a success.
Just a few weeks ago our VPA students joined with Tim McLoone and the Shirley’s to raise money for our Education Foundation. After many tireless months of planning, this concert culminated in a fantastic showcase of talent. The Ed Foundation continues to provide technology contributions and monetary support for projects for our faculty. This year they also contributed $10,000 to replace lost tech for our students impacted by Sandy.
Our PTO is a guiding light within our school. Providing end of year scholarships, blankets for grads and our teacher appreciation luncheon, the PTO comes through on so many counts. This year our PTO members assisted with our many relief efforts in the face of personal losses at RBR.
The Booster Club is a powerful support for our athletic teams. Comprised of passionate and dedicated parents they “always get the job done.”
The newest community group, “the lights committee” is well on the way to realizing the dream to light up the field. They have moved at an amazing pace raising money and removing obstacles in their path.
Our faculty were the first responders in the wake of the hurricane. They continue to work with and mentor students and families whose lives have been forever altered. This is not new for RBR, whenever we have experienced hardship our staff has come together to support our students and our families.
A school is a community. It is not an island. At Red Bank Regional we are so fortunate that our faculty, parents and families respond to our needs and come forward to assist us in the face of tragedy, to help us move forward and to grow. Today, on a cold March day, I just want to say thank you to the faculty, parents and families who have helped us in the healing process. This has been an exceedingly difficult year, despite that we remain resilient and hopeful for all that we are and remain BUC strong. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
Last week I went on Amazon and purchased a book from many years ago, Cannonball Simp. When I found it on there I was thrilled. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. The simple plot- a misfit dog runs away, joins the circus, still doesn't fit in until he discovers he has a special talent. He is the master of flying through the air after being fired from a cannon. The act becomes famous and Simp travels the world with the circus. Re-reading the story made me feel like I was a kid again.
The books I loved had a common theme, stories of fantasy and escape. Titles like The Phantom Tollbooth, Mary Poppins, and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I was always trying to jump through the sidewalk or find that secret passageway. Good mysteries were always interesting, like the set of musty Nancy Drew books that we found in a friend’s basement.
Now I definitely still love to read. And I am totally into my Nook and even more attached to my IPad. But I have made a recent return to the old fashioned world of real printed books. There is just something about the experience of holding a book that brings me back to the escape of the days of childhood. It is also nice not to read a page and receive a push notification from CNN (I know I can turn them off) or a text message. And sometimes when I discover that great read, for just a brief moment, I catch a glimpse of Cannonball Simp flying through the air and I can hear the roar of the crowd. email@example.com Follow me on Twitter@PrincipalClay
With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching I polled some people to ask, “How do you choose your team?” Of course if you are lucky enough to have your team make it to the big game you cheer for them. But that does not always happen.
This morning during our Academy Entrance Exam I spent some time talking to folks and collecting responses. Several people replied that they root for the underdog. They enjoy seeing the victory go to the team who people least expect to be the victor. Others choose the frontrunner, preferring the safe bet. Yet others cheer for their favorite quarterback or player; personalities and personal stories swaying the vote. This extends to college affiliations as well as hometown loyalties.
For some it is about family traditions, or opposing those traditions. In some houses, everyone is cheering for one team and there is a lone dissident who supports the opposition. In our house it’s Pro-Jets and anyone who defeats the Patriots. And finally, there is always an element of superficiality such as liking a team with the best uniforms or coolest gear.
For an extra edge, this year we have two brothers as opposing head coaches, a moment in NFL history. I think about how difficult that must be for their parents and as a mom, how hard that game would be to watch. Which side of the stadium do you choose? When do you cheer?
So make a decision and choose your team. Sit back and enjoy the game---and don’t forget the wings! firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on Twitter @PrincipalClay
Lessons Learned from the Wizard of Oz
Over the break I caught the Wizard of Oz, one of my favorite movies. Although I remember being terrified by the Witch as a kid, now I think there are so many hidden lessons in the movie.
Of course, there is Dorothy, seeking to find her way home, with her famous ruby slippers. She begins her journey to Oz with her new friends, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow.
While her three friends are all seeking something they believe they are lacking, they too have something special within. Although the Lion thinks he lacks courage, he is the first to face danger. The Tin Man, lamenting his missing heart, is always sympathetic and supportive of Dorothy and the gang. And the Scarecrow, without a brain, is full of great ideas. And Dorothy holds the power, on her feet.
The group perseveres on their journey through various perils that by today’s movie standards may not measure up. Personally, the flying monkeys still frighten me.
As they approach the Emerald City you watch them grow closer as a team and prepare to face the great Oz. Only they find that he doesn’t hold the answers. At the end of the long journey they discover they have everything they need within themselves, they just did not know it. Great life lesson.
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Thoughts of Hope and Healing
Our hearts are bursting with sadness as we view the images of the tragedy that occurred Friday in Newtown Connecticut. For many of us, we just cannot fathom more sad news. Many of us feel already depleted from the sadness that we have experienced this year. Then we think to ourselves, and now this? We feel at a loss from yet another event we cannot explain.
So how do we move forward despite the sadness, the grief in our own lives and in the nation? How do we feel safe and fight feelings of vulnerability and loss of control?
We will continue to have important conversations with our children, with each other and with those closest to us. We must share our worries, our concerns and our fears but we must also hold on to our hopes and our dreams. We cannot lose our hopefulness within the tragedy that has surrounded us this year.
As we look at the hardships we have faced I can say with great certainty that these have brought us closer together. That through these terrible and very sad times we have reached out to each other, reassured each other, held each other and helped each other in ways never before imagined.
Although once again something unthinkable has occurred we must be strong, and refrain from thinking dark thoughts. It is through the strength of community that we pull together and help one another. There were many brave teachers in Newtown. I am privileged to walk the halls with teachers like that each and every day. Teachers who put their children first, and whose thoughts are focused on their students, the families and the communities they serve.
During this difficult holiday season, let’s continue to hold each other close, support each other and our kids and try to rise above the sadness. There are many answers that we do not have. The one answer that I can state with confidence is that we do have each other, and that we care for each other with great strength, great pride and great determination.
Please join us Monday, December 17th as we honor the memory of Albert Martin by retiring his jersey prior to our first home game.
Wishing each of you hope and healing this holiday season. firstname.lastname@example.org
We Are RBR
We are RBR. In the face of adversity, despite challenges and even with great obstacles, we are RBR. We come together in numbers and care for each other.
In the days following the storm we saw entire communities destroyed. We drove down streets with toys and baby pictures floating in front yards. We witnessed first- hand families devastated by grief and loss so complete that there were no words of comfort. But the RBR community came together and came out in numbers to help each other. Our faculty, kids and families came to do all that they could to help, and brought with them supplies and donations for friends and for strangers in an unbelievable outpouring of generosity that filled a gym.
We can never replace all that was lost in one horrific storm. But perhaps the strength of human kindness can fill some of the void left behind. We are RBR and we will always have each other.
What Matters Most is Not That We Have Differences But How We Choose to Resolve Them
Last week we celebrated Week of Respect. To me it seems a bit odd to formally announce a week for this; I believe every week should share this title. During this time we featured activities and special events for our faculty and students.
Student groups led some programs while others were led by outside presenters. Both brought strong messages that resonated with our school population on a number of levels. It is much different being a kid in 2012 then it was when I was in high school. Many times people comment that times have changed so much, or “folks are too sensitive.” Having met with kids who have been hurt by comments and actions, I am glad times have changed and I welcome the change.
What matters most is education and intervention. All the new laws and rules are meaningless if we do not provide tools and guidance for our kids. Teens make mistakes and our job is to continue to work together with students and their families to help them along the way. RBR is a microcosm of the real world. We are a community. In all communities there are arguments and there are conflicts. Just like a family, we are not perfect. What is important is not that we have differences, but how we choose to resolve them and that we resolve them. Mindfully and graciously.
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There Are Life Lessons In Gardening
A single act can destroy everything you worked hard to build. The beauty of any given day can take your breath away. Some days the magnificence of a flower or the abundance of vegetables leaves me awestruck, an unexpected gift.
Waiting is part of the joy of gardening. There is a sense of accomplishment when the pay-off is not immediate, a reminder that good things require patience.
I love perennials. Flowers that return year after year add a sense of permanence to my life. It is a positive investment that continues to grow, a sense of future that can be predicted.
Gardens teach us about relationships. These can be so complex, the relationship of the seeds to the soil, the water to the earth and even that of the insect to the plants.
Life often appears random and out of your control. You may fight, and struggle and many times there is no resolution. With a new day there are new blooms. In the face of loss, the sun still shines the next day. The garden is still there, a place to cultivate, to grow and to just be.
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Welcome to a New Year!
This is going to be the best year ever! Let this be the year that we learn together.
Have fun together.
Take risks and face challenges together.
Make mistakes—together. We will make mistakes, but that is okay. All of us make them, we learn from our mistakes; they are opportunities for us to grow.
Let this be the year that you try something new, not just for the grade, but also for the experience.
Let’s use technology, not just to communicate, but also to innovate.
Let’s work to think critically.
In high school you will not be the same person that you were when you first entered. That is okay. Be yourself and accept others for who they are. Embrace diversity. Respect each other.
Welcome to the new year, it is a new beginning. email@example.com Follow me on Twitter @PrincipalClay
Follow Me on Twitter
For it to really work, I need your help. Share your news with me and follow me on Twitter. If you have a Twitter account, search for my name and follow me. This will give you access to my tweets about RBR happenings in and out of the classrooms. Feel free to share ideas about events that impact our students and the RBR community. firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @PrincipalClay
Trick or Treat
This caused me to stop dead in my tracks. Just this morning I was in my garden sweating profusely and picking tomatoes. It seemed impossible; did I somehow confuse the date? A quick look at my phone confirmed my worst suspicion, it was only August 18th and here they were, Halloween decorations and supplies. This means that within the first month of school retailers will be featuring Christmas decorations. I don’t know how you feel, but I find this very disconcerting. A month in advance is acceptable, but Halloween in August just throws me for a loop. Perhaps I should go back to the store and pack some Halloween goodies in those college boxes? For now, I prefer to stay focused on the present. The last days of summer need not be rushed. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @PrincipalClay
Finally, it is here! Summertime. How are you spending your long awaited summer vacation? Are you a beach person? Do you long for the sound of the waves and the sand between your toes? Or are you like me, totally into the garden--relishing in the miracle of the next perfect tomato or dreaming of ways to defeat caterpillars? Or perhaps for you the perfect part of summer is the idea of doing nothing and letting the days unfold.
Here at RBR there is plenty going on. We have a building filled with incoming freshmen who are attending Summer Slam, our transition program. With the help of our staff they are getting ready for the challenge of grade nine and will begin that year with an edge. Our AP, IB and ESL students are also busy working on their summer curriculum. For younger students, we have our VPA academy, where creativity blossoms. And of course, we have traditional summer school an opportunity to recoup lost credits.
Summer is also a time when teachers and administrators do the necessary work of recharging and replenishing. There is much to do to prepare for another year. And teachers are lifelong learners. So there is professional development, reading and time for us to learn as well.
I would love to hear what you are doing this summer. Take a moment and tell me what you love about the summer. But whatever it is, enjoy the long days and the extra time with family and friends! email@example.com
Is There a Weatherman in the House?
It began last week. The daily, okay, three times a day, glance at the weather forecast. Every time I look at my phone the weather forecast seems to change. What is with that crazy looking “thunder thing,” can anyone elaborate? Does that mean chance of rain, chance of thunderstorms or we just don’t know…
The weather obsession happens every year around this time. We only really need a little over an hour of sunshine to save the day. But what a stressful few hours it is. First we have our own glorious robes and gowns, made of velvet, they are certainly constructed for 90-degree weather. Then we march across the grass, sinking in and trying not to trip. Nervously glancing at our seniors, hoping each finds their seats.
Then, of course, there is the behavior. Will it be too hot for the kids to be too rambunctious? Will they enjoy the ceremony, but not too much? The big bet this year rides on how many tissues I will go through before the end of the ceremony. Thankfully I do not have to call the graduates. But it is time. The seniors are ready. And by Friday, we will be ready too! firstname.lastname@example.org
“How many days do we have left? We are almost done. I have senioritis.” Everyone is saying it, even the underclassmen. All over the building kids are counting down the days until school is out. But for some, it is the final countdown until graduation. While many kids are taking AP and IB exams this month, others are struggling to stay engaged in meaningful work… drawn to thoughts of the beach, the sun and other activities. Thankfully the weather has not offered too much competition.
It is important for students to stay engaged until the very end. As challenging as it may sometimes be the days move quickly and summer vacation will be here before we know it. All of us look forward to the warm summer days when there is time for rejuvenation.
Many of us are sending seniors off to college. The end of the year for us is bittersweet. I would venture to say that for most the last four years flew by at an unbelievable rate. Somehow it seems that the older we get, the faster time passes.
Race to Nowhere
What is the typical schedule in your home? Do you feel like you are overscheduled? Do you talk about take out menus and wonder about your quality of life? Are you bound to your calendar? In the quest to do more, or to do as much as possible for your family or with your friends, do you ever wonder if you could be doing things differently? The film, Race to Nowhere, explores these ideas and others, looking at pressures faced by students, families and teachers. Have we put so much focus on the end result that we have forgotten to enjoy the moment?
The director interviewed students across the nation, who presented their views of academic life. Many were very high achievers, their message was fairly consistent. They spoke of self -inflicted pressure and fear of failure. During interviews students discussed stress, and the lack of balance in their lives. They described hours and hours of homework and commitments which still left them fearful and anxious about whether they would be "good enough for a top college."
Perhaps these questions are about expectations. Perhaps the real issue is balance and emotional health. Maybe we all need to slow down a bit. Maybe students who are racing need to stop and take a deep breath. Maybe those that are walking so very slowly, would benefit from a little more adrenalin. In the end, perhaps it is also about what we, as parents, communicate to our children; how much is enough, and how much is good enough.
My take-away from the film was how important it is to remember that these years, the teen years are no picnic. These are some of the toughest years to go through for all students. The most important thing we can do is continue to have these conversations, as teachers, as parents and as a community. I'd love to hear what you think! email@example.com
Right Brain, Left Brain
Which side of your brain do you use more? Are you a super creative, ultra talented writer like the students who performed Friday night at Voices? Do you write poetry and prose like no other? Can you produce award winning art work like the winners of last week’s Teen Art’s Festival? Take this quiz to see how you rate and let me know what you think....
A special shout out to Evie Athanasiou of our VPA Vocal Program. Evie was named the highest scoring singer in the state of NJ at the All State Opera auditions. She also earned the Governor’s Award for Opera and the C. Schripps Scholarship. If you have ever had the pleasure of hearing Evie sing you know why she won these coveted awards. firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring is definitely in the air today. It seems like the change in the clocks brought the warm weather. Suddenly daffodils are everywhere! Today we celebrated our CyberPatriot team’s success. .. The team has grown to 37 students. Just a few years ago cyberforensics was not a term that would be familiar to us, now our students are winning competitions and gathering accolades. Today the Lt. Gov. and the Chief Information Officer for the state were here to talk to the students about their accomplishments. They recognized our teachers, Mandy Galante and Jeremy Milonas. The students and the teachers spent hundreds of hours working toward their goals. As they came forward to collect their certificates, Lt. Gov. Guadagno asked them to pause and have their family members come forward for a photo, and the pride in their parent’s faces was fantastic. There were even some hugs and kisses…
Congratulations to our Teacher of the Year Mandy Galante for her perseverance and her success with the team and the program. Be sure to not to miss the Battle of the Classes, this week on Thursday night. Email me with the grade you think will be the winner. If you are right, I will treat you to cookies on Friday at lunch! email@example.com
And How Are the Children
They had a traditional greeting that they passed between each other. The greeting translated to, “and how are the children?” The traditional answer was, “all the children are well.” The point being the purpose of life and life’s struggles and existence is to provide for our kids, meet their needs and ensure that all of our children are well. Adults working together, with a common goal, to care for the children in their society.
If the children are well, society prospers. If the children in our school are well, we can move forward. If only some of our children are well, our school cannot succeed. If the focus of speeches and politics became the health and well being of our children, how might things change? It is easy to focus on our child or the children in our town but expanding our view to a bigger global picture truly benefits all the children and our society.
Take this as a challenge to join with us to make RBR a stronger community for our children. Join a parent group, mentor a student through the college application process, become part of the diversity committee, join a Foundation... there are many opportunities to become part of the solution. firstname.lastname@example.org
Together We Can
Today we had our Black History Month assembly. Our students worked together to present an amazing tribute to the music and dance of African Americans. King Rice, Monmouth University Men’s Basketball coach delivered an inspiring message, reminding our students to learn about each other. Our talented performing arts teachers coached our kids and they were up on stage today showing our school why we are a model school of the arts. Our teachers brought the house down with their skills. But most of all, today we saw our kids working together for a common good, to do something that they believed in and that they wanted to share with other students. We see this often at RBR but sometimes we forget to celebrate it. Tonight I want to recognize our students and staff that made this happen; that believed in something and saw it through.
At the assembly today I asked for student and faculty volunteers for a diversity committee that we are in the process of forming. RBR is a diverse community, but like any community, we still have work to do. I challenged our students, and I challenge my readers to be a part of the solution. Stand up and be counted and be a part of the plan to promote justice and equality at RBR. Together we can create change. And in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” email@example.com
What Does It Mean to be the Underdog?
What does it mean to be the underdog? Does it make you work harder? Play harder? The definition of underdog references “one who is expected to lose a contest or a struggle.” Giant Justin Tuck has been quoted saying that the team is enjoying their position as the underdogs, and that although people haven’t been giving the Giants a shot, “they like it that way.” So I have been giving this some thought in honor of Super Bowl Sunday. When people doubt you, or doubt your convictions, does that make you give up? Or do you dig in and dig deeper? Perhaps like Tuck and Manning, the underdogs possess raw talent and strength that spectators have underestimated.
As the team gathers Sunday for the last pre-game talk, what thoughts will they have? Will they be filled with self-doubt or will they have visions of the final win? The difference between the win and the dream of the win is the vision. Of course there is hard work that happens 365 days a year, but when you lose the dream you lose any chance of the win. So maybe when Tuck talks of being the underdog, what he really means is the underdog who has persevered and risen to the top, but remembers the path he traveled. firstname.lastname@example.org
New technology I Do Love It
But it is not without it's challenges. There is the iPad, iPhone and iPod. My Mac with the big screen so I can have six windows up at once including Pandora streaming in the background. Not too loud though, otherwise I can't hear the delightful noise of a new email as it arrives in my inbox.
My iPad and I now have this very special connection. Where else can I find every student's schedule, a great new book and yoga tips all within three minutes? And if I want to, I can have anything I need translated into the language of my choice.
Not sure how many of you have an iPhone. I waited for my contract to expire so that I could get the new 4s with my new friend, Siri. Well, she was my friend until some people in my house began to talk to her rudely. She is fairly forgiving. If you ask her a personal question, she always reminds you that she is a computer and doesn't have feelings... It does have an element of science fiction to it and takes some getting used to.
Sometimes though I do miss the old days. The days when you were able to turn everything off. No text, no email, just plain old conversation. I actually remember begging for phone time growing up. We had to share time on a house phone, one with a cord. Wow. Now I am dating myself. :)
Back by popular demand, blog contest! First five students to email me that they read this post with reference to something in it will be winners. email@example.com
Do You Make One, or Two?
New Year’s Resolutions, I just don’t really believe in them. I think they are a big set -up. People make them, and they break them. How many people decide on December 31st that they are going to quit something or start something?
By January 30th so many people have forgotten what they pledged the month before. The gyms are filled with new members who keep on paying long after their attendance dwindles. I think resolutions should be a daily occurrence. This way you never have to regret the things you didn’t get to do today. So you can go to sleep at night and resolve that you are going to do something differently tomorrow. Then the next day, just get up and do it. No regrets, no broken resolutions. Give it a shot and let me know what you think…. firstname.lastname@example.org
How Do Others See You? How Do You See Yourself?
Last week I attended Kaleidoscope, a great fundraiser that our National Art Honor Society students and Ms. O’Connor put together. With my ticket I received five activity tickets and I decided to use mine for a caricature.
Now all of us know that these are exaggerated views of how we appear to others, but after I looked at mine I started to think---how different, or similar is the way I appear to others to my true self? Now of course we all have “those days,” but really, we strive for congruence between our inner and outer selves as much as possible. Not total transparency, but a fairly close balance. So why is this worth a blog spot? (Besides the fact that I am hoping I don’t look like my portrait? ) Truth be told, a lot of time and energy is spent convincing kids that impressions are important and the person that you appear to be on the outside to others is also important. It doesn’t matter if that is not who you “really are,” impressions are made quickly. So making a good impression really does matter. And if someone has the wrong impression of you it really is important to work that through, and to find a common ground. As for my caricature, I prefer to chalk it up to artistic impression…. email@example.com
Juniors vs. Seniors
What a great weekend. Where else can you enjoy culture and school spirit all in one weekend? Our fall show opened yesterday and you must get out there and see it. I went last night and it was a perfect presentation of drama and laughs. The set was great and the music upbeat! And if you haven't had the chance to see our new auditorium you are in for a treat. This is a wonderful production. This morning we had a juniors vs. seniors Powder Puff Game. Now, I would be lying if I did not mention that we had some anxieties about bringing this tradition back to RBR. But I need to say that our students behaved in an exemplary manner! The number of kids that came out to play was amazing and the stands were filled. Loved our announcer too. Not only did this benefit the senior class but money was also raised for Make a Wish Foundation. And the cheerleaders were just out of this world. :) Tied score. First marking period grades are posted. Please be sure to log on to the Parent Portal as soon as possible to see grades and teacher comments. Parent / Teacher conferences are scheduled for the evening of December 1st from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. Call early to make an appointment. Wishing you a relaxing Thanksgiving Holiday. Hope to see you at the Varsity Football Game vs. Long Branch and the traditional breakfast before the game, a Culinary Club fundraiser. The first two students who mention this blog to me will win free tickets to the game!
Future Bucs and their families came out in huge numbers tonight as we hosted Eighth Grade Night. Thanks to great staff and terrific student reps who talked about clubs, sports and programs to our future students. It is so important for students to be able to talk to their peers about their high school experiences. Our kids always shine in these situations:)
One of the highlights of my day today was seeing our strings ensemble performing for our pre-school children. What a great way to start the day!
Tomorrow join the Better Bucs as they build their terrariums for the media center display. All are welcome to pitch in. Better Bucs have been keeping a bulletin board updated daily in the commons area with activities and events.
Glamour Gals continue their community service project at Chelsea Assisted Living working with seniors. The group has been visiting the seniors and helping them revitalize and reenergize while spending time with them in an intergenerational effort.
Be sure to come out Tuesday and cheer for our Boys Soccer team and our Girls Volleyball team; both teams have made states!
Monday is Halloween. Please check your local towns for curfews. We do allow students to dress up. Our handbook contains guidelines. Masks are not allowed. Please use good judgement when choosing a costume.
And a special thanks to our PTO for the fall planting project which made our campus look so festive.
This and So Much More
Monday the students in the Applications of Math and Science course began building wind turbines. This is a fantastic course for students interested in pursuing a future in any of the math, science or engineering fields. It is the keystone for the math and science academy with lots of hands-on projects.
Tomorrow students will be participating in a teleconference using our Polycom System, part of the technology purchased through a grant to enhance our International and Cultural Studies Program. This gives kids a chance to "visit" with other students and discuss relevant topics.
Girls volleyball had a fantastic win last night. Plus it was senior night. I really love the senior games. There is something very special about seeing kids, coaches and families on the field recognizing those final games in a player's high school career.
Our Glamour Gals group visited the Seniors at the Chelsea Assisted Living to bring some sunshine into their day.
Tonight our dancers treated us to a dinner and Cabaret performance. They did a fantastic job.
This week we continue with activities aimed at providing increased education for violence prevention. Our Peer Mediation (Buc Team) will be participating in a training with two other high schools and bringing back new information and skills to RBR to continue their important work. STS leaders will be meeting with the freshman.
Friday night is the Homecoming Dance. Please see the main page of the website for details. It is always well attended and lots of fun. Saturday be sure to come out and support the football team at our Homecoming game.
Finally, next week is our EIghth Grade information session on Thursday, 10/27. Please share this information with parents and families of eighth graders. We will have an information session, activity and athletic fair and lots of great info.
This and so much more! firstname.lastname@example.org
The passing of Steve Jobs can be a teachable moment. He leaves behind a legacy of ideas and a vision. There is an opportunity for conversation. The message, not to be afraid, to be creative, to "think outside of the box," is one that so often gets left behind as we struggle to complete the finished product.
Continue to live life to it's fullest and pursue your dreams, do not let others tell you that you do not have what it takes. And if you believe in something, see it through. Innovators and visionaries were those that others often said were crazy. The Apple video Think Different says it best, jump to You Tube and take a minute to view this classic clip of 20th century icons.
"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do". - Apple Inc.
Pay It Forward All Year Long
Still recovering from a fantastic football win yesterday as RBR football stomped the Holmdel Hornets 41-0. Go Bucs! Catch the Bucs as they vs. Raritan (away) Thursday night. This is a big week in sports as Volleyball and Field Hockey face RFH tomorrow and Girls soccer meets the Bulldogs on Tuesday all on Buc turf. Our Boys Soccer team will also meet the Dawgs at RFH, but you can catch them at home on Thursday. Our tennis team is home this week on Tuesday and Wednesday against RBC and Henry Hudson. Go fall sports!
Last night I had the pleasure to hear two of our former graduates speak at a Latino Chamber of Commerce Dinner. They told the crowd at Branches about their lives as students growing up in Red Bank, the odds they overcame and the challenges they faced. One student, a recent graduate of the International Baccalaureate program, amazed the people in the room as she described how quickly she learned the language, her drive to succeed and her academic triumphs.
Last week our STS (Student to Student) Peer Leaders met with freshmen to begin the first of several sessions. Leaders go through hours of training and each session is devoted to a specific topic. Freshmen have the chance to work with the same leaders throughout the year, parents, ask your freshman about it!
Thursday night our guidance department is sponsoring a special workshop for those stressed out parents of seniors (like me) who are working on helping their student complete their college applications. Don’t miss it. See the guidance website for more information. Seniors, you should be scheduling visits with college reps, getting your recommendations in and finishing those applications, let’s go! Be sure to use Naviance.
This week kicks off the start of RBR’s “Week of Respect.” Schools around NJ are recognizing the first week of October as a week to promote respect and anti-bullying awareness. We have several activities planned. We certainly have implemented some new procedures, but overall, our response to bullying is fast and comprehensive. Discipline alone is not enough, education and intervention are vitally important. So please join us in sending a positive message. And of course, one week does not do this topic justice. So at RBR, this week is just the start of what we believe to be a yearlong theme... acceptance, education and respect.
Finally, next week we have a special schedule on October 12th for all students. Our freshmen have the Renaissance Faire. Grades 10 and 11, PSATs!! And for our seniors, a great opportunity to work on those college apps, you have a delayed opening, with school starting at 10:30. Please see the website for more details.
A World Outside Our Own
This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to a small town in Vermont for a wedding of a very close family friend. We go through our daily lives very task oriented seldom stopping to realize just how lucky we are. When hurricane Irene hit our area many of our families were hit hard by the rains and floods. The devastation we witnessed in Vermont was unbelievable. Despite the total elimination of roads, bridges and many homes, schools opened in Vermont and students walked miles down a mountain to attend their first day of classes. After we saw the damage I emailed the principal of the school featured in a recent NY Times article to see if our RBR students could help. We have some of the most motivated, community minded kids and staff, who are always willing to offer a helping hand. Fortunately the principal assured me they had received so much assistance they were back on their feet. It is so important, however, to step back and be thankful, for all that we have.
This weekend there is a SOURCE BBQ before the RBR vs. Holmdel game. In keeping with my new tradition, I have FIVE FREE tickets for the first FIVE students who stop me in the hallway or at lunchtime who have read my blog. Or email me at email@example.com
Who ARE the Maroon Men?
What an awesome win for Red Bank this weekend as the Bucs defeated Matawan! I hope that you have been out to see our fall sports. After a very invigorating Pep Rally during the first week of school fall sports began. Parents, if you have not heard, ask your kids about the maroon men!
This week is Back to School Night. Please take the time to come out and meet our teachers. Even though it is high school, it is still very important to make an early, personal, face to face connection. Our teachers will have lots of valuable information for you and it is a fact filled evening. Please be sure to log on to the Parent Portal before you arrive to access your student's schedule.
Students, this blog is for you too! I would love some suggestions if there are topics you would like to hear about:)
My last entry was a blog contest and I am happy to share that I do have the winners of that contest who will be treated to a fantastic breakfast! Don't worry though, there will be another chance to win!
Try NOT To Read This
This "blog" has been active for more than a year and I am not sure how many folks actually read it. So I am going to try something new. The first five studnets that stop me and tell me that they read an entry will win a prize and the same goes for the first faculty member. Contest begins right now! UPDATE...we actually have three winners, but it is not too late. Stop me in the halls, on lunch duty, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to WIN!
The Big Day
It is finally here. The day you have all been waiting for… tomorrow, the first day of school! All over town parents have been saying the same thing, “ I can’t wait until you are back in school.” In some houses they are saying, “did you finish your summer work yet?”
I am very happy to have your children back in school. Although summer school was busy, fall signals new beginnings. Fall brings a fresh start. Not unlike that new notebook, opened for the first time. Or the unknown of a teacher you have yet to meet, or a new friend.
September is about the promise of a new year. For freshman, everything is new. Yes, it can be a little scary, but we are there all along the way. For sophomores, they are no longer the new kids, the youngest ones. Our juniors suddenly look older. And our seniors, well we know what is right around the corner for them.
Come out and get caught up in the fall spirit. On Friday night join us for football under the lights at Count Basie Field in Red Bank. Check our schedule and catch all of our great teams in action. And there is still a chance for grown-ups to meet new friends at the annual Buc Backer Bash happening this Saturday night!