It Is NOT About The Pretzels

Back in simpler times, when people could come in and out of a school, and teachers who are parents and grandparents often brought their children or grandchildren into the building, many would stop by my office to say hello.  I would often give those children a lollypop or a pretzel rod.  Sometimes two.  Or three.  Sometimes a whole handful (of lollypops, at least).   

In regard to the pretzel rods, there were two little children who visited me who thought these were the most delicious snacks they ever had.  They loved those pretzel rods.   

Continue reading “It Is NOT About The Pretzels”

A Selected List of The Best Books I Read in 2020

(A copy of this post can also be found at Start Spreading the News.)


I love to read. My goal each year is to read at least 30 books. This year I read 36 books. I am pleased.

When I read, I read. I don’t do audio books. I also don’t read off a kindle or any device. I’m old school. When I read a book, I actually read the actual book.

My reading tastes are somewhat eclectic. The subjects I tend to focus to most on are baseball, history, leadership/motivation, and spirituality. I also usually read a few novels along the way.

What follows are the books that I most enjoyed in 2020. (Not all are about baseball.) These are presented in the order in which I read them.

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Hearts, Not Hands

The other day I was making a congratulatory video for a great young man about to graduate from medical school.  This soon-to-be doctor is going to be amazing.  He is one of the best young people ever.  I have known him for a long time as I was his principal when he was in middle school.  

Time and life pass too quickly.  I cannot believe he is now almost a doctor.  

One of the special joys and delights of being an educator is seeing the great people your students grow up to be.  I knew this child was going to be very successful.  Even when he was ten-years-old, he was something special.  

As I recorded the short video message, I shared what I hope is the most important advice he receives as he heads off to a successful practice. 

Continue reading “Hearts, Not Hands”

Teachers Affect Eternity…

I have told this story before, but it is one I love to tell.  It needs telling, as well. 

Especially in these times.

One of the most wonderful ministers of all-time, a pastor who preached from the heart, made church interesting, and even made God accessible, had moved on from our church.

There was an emptiness.  I felt it deeply.  The minister who had left was a man I admired greatly.  I was thrilled that he had been the man who married my wife and I.  We all missed him greatly…

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The Humans of Teaching Podcast!

The newest episode of the Humans of Teaching podcast has been released!

This episode, #013 A Principal’s Principles, features Dr. Paul Semendinger who shares his great insights, philosophies, and more!

You can listen to this podcast through any of the following links:

 

Hey, It’s About YOU!

The Beatles song Hey Jude was in my head as I prepared to write my Weekly Memo to the teachers at the school where I serve as the principal. 

As I started humming the melody and quietly singing that song to myself, I quickly realized that there is a great deal within the lyrics that delivers an important message.  I quickly scrapped the original idea I had for the memo and began writing about this epic Beatles tune…

Let’s take a quick look at the messages that I took from one of the Beatles’ most famous songs:

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better…

If that’s not one of the biggest lessons in life, I don’t know what is. 

The message here is simple – Don’t make it bad.  Just don’t.  The world, life itself, is often filled with bad things, hurtful things, sad things…  Each day (and sometimes it really is each day) we’re faced with things that upset us, things that hurt us, things that frustrate and annoy us.  That’s life.  It is what it is. Continue reading “Hey, It’s About YOU!”

Kintsugi

This essay can be found in the book Impossible is an Illusion published by Wipf and Stock and available here.

***

My son came home from college, and in a discussion with me brought up a Japanese word, Kintsugi, that immediately opened up my mind to many thoughts.

It’s wonderful to find new words, new ideas, and new ways of thinking.

And, just for the record, kintsugi is now my new favorite word.

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“Graduation” Speech – 2019

Often times after I give my fifth grade “graduation” speech at the end of the school year, some parents and others ask for a copy of my words.  In addition to sharing me speech with them, I figured that I would also share them here.

***

Moving Up Ceremony 2019

And so we come to the end…  I don’t like this moment, because I don’t like to say goodbye. 

A number of parents, moms mostly, but a few dads as well, have asked that I don’t make them cry today.  I can’t promise that because I might cry myself. 

So, let’s not make it goodbye. 

***

This is a great class of students – dear to my heart.  I have spent a lot of time with these students, especially this year, talking with them about so much. 

I want you know something very important at the start.  This is a special, a super special, group of students.  This class has been complimented time and again for their kindness, respect, calmness, understanding and more.  They’ve been praised more than most – maybe more than any other class. 

These are really good kids. 

I am very proud of them. 

I know you are as well.

As parents, you did well.  Very well.  (Apples, most often, don’t fall far from trees.)

And, I’d like to think that as educators, we also did well.

I’d like to share some big ideas that we all talked about over the years, one last time, with the hopes that the students will remember these ideas always – to find success in life.

First – Success isn’t what we get or end up with.  Success is something deeper, something that comes from hard work, perseverance, and kindness.

We become successful when we focus first on being good people – supportive, loving, and understanding. 

When we know how to appreciate and empathize and care, we find success.

Continue reading ““Graduation” Speech – 2019″