Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is your "WHY"?

Spent my morning with the University of Penn - Penn Leadership Studies Group discussing the importance of Simon Sinek's work. https://www.startwithwhy.com/

Interesting to hear and learn what drives others. My "why" is to help others develop a love of learning as well as learning how they learn best.

What is your why?

Friday, October 24, 2014

People Don't Like Change, Right?

Wrong! If people disliked change as a general rule... the clothing styles we would still be wearing would never change... imagine using pay-phones to communicate instead of your newest iPhone 6 plus...

It isn't that people dislike change, they dislike change they don't understand or see the need for. If they are negatively impacted by the change, people are more resistant. Leaders who adopt the belief that all people dislike change are putting themselves at a major disadvantage. Adopting this mindset puts the leader on the defensive with everyone from the start. Greg Shea, author of Leading Successful Change, says leaders who believe people don't like change build bunkers. They hunker down and brace in preparation for the resistance. This mentality causes the leader to miss out on opportunities. Opportunities to convey the vision of the change, the reasons why the change will not only move the organization forward but actually be good for the individual employee. Being on the defensive causes the leader to miss out on inspiring others to join in and help with the change initiative.

Being on the defensive also makes it easy for the leader to ignore feedback that could actually enhance the change initiative. They dismiss any resistance as simply, "people don't like change, what do you expect". If instead, the leader recognizes that people will tolerate change, some will embrace it, it changes their mindset to be open to any resistance as simply information to inform the process.

So, the next time you are leading a change initiative...monitor your mindset - avoid the bunker mentality.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Community Outreach Committee

Community Committee Videos

In case you were unable to attend our recent community meeting, the video snapshots are available for your review at your convenience.

Next meeting TBD

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Commencement 2014 - 10 tips by Mike Myatt

Great weather, great people, great support for our graduates...what more could a Supt ask for?

Below is my speech as written (delivered fairly close to what was written). The tips are a collection from my online research...like all good teachers, there is a bit stolen from others mixed in with my own take. 

10 tips by Mike Myatt
I want to give full credit to the author of the ten tips to graduates in my recent commencement speech. Mike Myatt is a world class author and person! His tips were featured in Forbes magazine. At the time of my address I found the tips on a site where the author was listed as unknown. I should have done more work to find the original author and give them credit. Lesson learned - better late than never. 

Good evening parents, distinguished guests, faculty, and students.

Ok, students, the good news is I am the last person standing between you and your diploma; the bad news is I am going to give a [long] speech. Here we go…

Graduation is often said to be the end of a chapter and the start of a new. When preparing for tonight, I sat down at the keyboard knowing that I had a tough task ahead considering the (3) amazing students speaking before me. I knew they would set the standard fairly high [and you did not disappoint]. Ms. DeVol, great advice – great speech – individuality is very important & I too learned a lot from the great Dr. Seuss – for instance this bow tie, Dr. Seuss wore bow ties. To Ms. Davis, again, great message about embracing our fears and going forward despite them. Go out there and take chances… great stuff. And Ozzie, wow, that was a textbook perfect speech; the right amount of quotes- amazing… when I first met Ozzie his passion for curing childhood hunger across the globe was impressive. Knowing that I had to follow these three amazing young adults coupled with the fact that you really do not want to hear another speech, left me feeling a bit defeated. But just when I was feeling overwhelmed and ready to quit, my son who was watching me stare at the empty screen asked “what are you doing dad”, I said trying to inspire a group of graduating high school students. He looked carefully at the blank screen, and said “that’s not going to do it”.
So a couple of hours later (with the help of Twitter #commencementspeeches) I changed that blank page into something I hope inspires our graduates. And yes, I realize that they are likely not listening but I will give the advice anyway. So here we go, 10 tips:
1. A Little Perspective Goes A Long Way Regardless of anyone’s outward appearance, everyone endures tragedies, hardships, and ridicule. The truth is, life is messy and people get hurt. The difference between those who overcome challenges and those who succumb to them is largely one of attitude and perspective. Embrace challenges and setbacks as not just refining moments, but as defining moments. Don’t fall prey to challenges; learn from them. Remember, the perception of failure through one lens can often be a springboard to success when viewed through a different filter. When in doubt, just sing the theme song from the Lego Movie, “Everything is awesome…”
2. Keep The Faith Don’t fear life. Don’t allow life’s numerous and inevitable obstacles to impede your progress. Don’t let someone else define possible or impossible for you. Here’s the truth; the plausibility of impossibility only becomes a probability with the disappearance of faith. The world can take many things from you, but your faith is not one of them. Only you can surrender your faith. Never lose hope. As Kristin said, it is ok to be afraid, just don’t let that fear paralyze you from action. Have faith in yourself.
3. Life Is All About The People – Relationships are the biggest asset you can have. Your world will be greatly impacted by those whom you choose to include and exclude from your life. Be kind to others. While some short-term success can be built at the expense of others, or on the backs of others, all sustainable achievements are built on the success they have created for others. Think selfless as opposed to selfish. Family and friends are worth more than job titles. Life is about people not things.
4. Stand Out From The Crowd - The world despises a cheap imitation and loves an original. Conformity to the norm will merely sentence you to mediocrity, uselessness, and irrelevance. Everyone has unique gifts and talents and the earlier you discover and develop yours the better off you’ll be. Build your personal brand, become an expert in something, or again from the Lego Movie – become A Master Builder… someone who sees a cool spaceship in what others see as just a big pile of dissembled lego parts. Guard your reputation carefully. Everyone has a personal brand the question is will it be built by you, by design, or will you let it just happen or let others design your brand for you. Everything you do should enhance and reinforce your story. This includes social-media, guard your social media footprint carefully. When in doubt, don’t tweet it out!
5. Any Job Is A Good Job No job is beneath you. Every day you don’t put money in the bank, you’re unnecessarily lowering your water line. It may not be much fun selling cheeseburgers with your freshly minted high school diploma in hand, but it’s a start and it’s a step in the right direction. The most important life skill you can develop is leadership ability. You don’t have to be in charge to lead and you can lead in any capacity regardless of the position you hold. Be the best at whatever you do…be the best cheeseburger cook until you become the best manager, until you own the restaurant.
6. Be Serious About What You Do, But Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously - Humor can provide needed relief when times get tough. What many fail to understand is sometimes in order to find the humor you actually have to look for it. If you want others to take you seriously, the first thing you need to do is to get over yourself. The most important barrier to overcome is the barrier of being self-conscious. Don’t waste time worrying about what others will think of you.
7. Success vs. Significance  It’s important to realize there is not just one definition of success. Success means different things to different people, and that’s okay. It’s not others definitions you should be concerned with, but your own. The funny thing is, your own definition of success will likely change more than a few times as you experience more of life, and that’s the key. As you continue your journey of personal and professional growth, it’s my hope your sights will shift from the modest pursuit of success to the passionate pursuit of significance. My advice is to find something bigger than you, and become a passionate, committed servant of whatever that cause or endeavor may be.
8. Learning Doesn’t Stop When You Graduate Sorry everyone, Learning is a life long endeavor. The minute you stop learning is the minute you concede opportunities to others. Always look to challenge and refine your thinking. View everything through the lens of learning. Life is about learning and unlearning, and developing and growing. Don’t waste any of your experiences - view them as learning opportunities.
9. The Difference Between Happiness and Joy – As I watch my own kids grow up, early on I naively prayed for their happiness. Sure, I still pray for their happiness, but I know happiness is really the wrong goal. Happiness and joy are not one in the same as happiness comes and goes - it’s fleeting at best, and at worst the pursuit of happiness above all else can lead to ruin. Joy however is something that can be found in any circumstance or setting. It’s the joyful people who stand out to me. They are the lemonade makers and the ones who see the best in people, not the worst. Regardless of the hand they’re dealt, they don’t complain or become bitter. They remain joyful and continue pushing forward in pursuit of their dream. Find joy over happiness.
10. Live Below Your Means Debt is not your friend and it’s a plague, and I’d suggest you avoid it as such. If you want to become indentured to creditors then by all means, live the high life. Accept the credit card offers that are sure to come now that your “adults”. Purchase things you can’t afford and be happy for the moment, but it won’t seem like such a great idea as you watch that new “bit of happiness” get repossessed. My advice, get a job or two (yes even if you are going to college) and spend only a small portion on your wants while saving the majority. Embrace this habit now, and you will reap the benefit forever.
(Big Finish)
Remember, a rewarding life is the gratifying consequence of living for your passions. It happens while you are doing the things you love just because you love them. Despite whether you are graduating at the top or the bottom of the class, whether you received awards Monday night or not, regardless of the journey you have taken so far, take comfort that you can decide today – RIGHT NOW - to be whatever you want!

So here you sit, all wearing the same gown and are about to receive a high school diploma – which aside from your name is exactly the same as the person sitting next to you. For those award winners (last) night - Well done! But do not rest on the feeling of self-satisfaction as your journey continues! For those who did not finish this part of the journey where you would have liked to, its ok, this is a long marathon – decide now is your time…begin your kick and work hard! This is a new starting point and this wonderful celebration a breather along your pursuit of finding a joyful life.

Congratulations – make your own good luck, and live the life you were destined to live!

Now it is my pleasure to certify that each and every student assembled here this evening has fulfilled the requirements for graduation that were instituted by the Millville Board of Education and the State of New Jersey.

Therefore, I am honored to recommend this Class of 2014 for the awarding of diplomas!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Olympic Bound; 37 Years of Tradition

Today marks 37 years of tradition as MPS celebrated Olympic Day! In our town, everything stops for the Olympic Day Parade. Beginning at City Hall, members from the County and City join together with the school district representatives and proudly parade down High Street making their way to the Arena. Students from each of the six elementary schools all participate in the parade. Marching proudly with their school's Olympic Day shirts, the students parade along with police and fire vehicles, and the local pageant winners. Along the parade route, the students in grades kindergarten through 3rd line the streets to wave their makeshift signs and banners. Each yelling out for their favorite Olympian.

Once the students arrive at the Arena, (Our Football Stadium) they all parade once around the track before entering the bleachers in their assigned areas. To start the games, the High School Band (made up of former Olympians) perform the National Anthem. Today, I was moved to hear all six elementary schools singing along with the Anthem. Following the Anthem, our Athletic Director, Mr. Dave LaGamba welcomes all of our distinguished guests. Once all of the dignitaries are introduced, the ceremonial "torch" (a wood carving of the Olympic Torch- with NO flame) is carried in by two lucky Olympians.

Once the Torch is carried, the first set of events begin. Every student, and I do mean every student eligible (must be in good standing to be an Olympian) participates in the various events throughout the morning long competition. The theme of the event has and always will be focused on participation rather than winning or losing. Score is not officially kept by the school personnel - although I am quite certain some of the more competitive students could tell you which school has the most first place ribbons. Everyone receives a participation ribbon and memories to last them a lifetime.

I can remember my own march through town as a Bacon Bear! Running the 400 relay as well as participating in the student favorite - tug of war. It is events like today that make me proud to be the superintendent for the Millville Community.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

PrincipalCast "Interview Tips"

I was recently asked to participate on the PrincipalCast Podcast program along with Joe SanFelippo a Wisconsin Superintendent. If you know of any aspiring administrators please feel free to pass this video along.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Don't Peep My Tweets"

A recent exchange via Twitter with one of my high school students should serve as Best Practice for us grown ups when dealing with social media! The mission should be education - we should add value to our students' lives as well as the world around us. We should model good behavior as well. Some of you are guilty of questionable statements and comments on social media too. Why would it surprise us when our children follow suit?

The scenario: I announce snow closing and/or delays first on Twitter - as an unintended result, I have more high school kids following me than I ever did before. I see an upside, at least one voice they will have no choice but to "hear" is my own. I take that as a responsibility to teach and learn with them. I do not see it as my job to police their Tweets. The student asked a great question about what the delay would mean for HSPA Testing to which I responded. What happened next was very interesting...the student wrote back (half joking I suspect) and essentially showed concern that I would look at his Tweets... I am fascinated that any of our students would send out messages via social media that they would later be worried about. Simply, they should know better. My response says it all. We need to make sure our students understand that you can't get back what is Tweeted, Blogged, Facebooked, Pintrested, etc... once it is out there, it is out there. In many ways, social media has made the administrator's job of discipline easier - there is evidence that can't be refuted in most cases of bullying or harassment. 

My vision is to help the students build a social media resume that they can be proud of instead of worrying about what will be seen by their supt. 

So, instead of spending our time policing and banning these tools, we should teach "Tech Tool 101". To my students out there... I am not looking for your inappropriate Tweets, but someone is and it tells of your character - it also has implications for your future. I promise this, your future employer or University admissions office will search to see what your footprint looks like. Don't wait until then to try to put the toothpaste back. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

KANO Project Continued; Part 2 Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Part 2 

Here is the latest update to our application of the KANO Model to improve community outreach, engagement and overall communication with our stakeholders. As mentioned in previous post, I am going to share information as it rolls in...in many cases I will be sharing raw data or information just to share the experience.

Included in this post:
Results from the survey of "Best Practices" are listed below in no particular order (Raw survey entries)
We asked school leaders, "What are the successful strategies and/or practices you use to engage your school community and stakeholders?"

Educational Programs at PTO Meetings
small group meeting on important topics (school uniforms, etc.)
Superintendent round tables
news letters/ publications
news letters/ publications
Nothing overly special
Hard copy newsletter to whole community w/ board president 2X per year
set goals associated with the six types of family engagement
I make videos, often with stduents, to communicate and celebrate.
Parent meetings offered during the school day & evening with babysitting
Survey Parents/Community
School Website-posting of messages
Meet and Greets
Strategic Planning
Weekly email blast that contains needed info
School Newsletter
Breakast/Community open meetings
Appreciation and Feedback Sessions with Volunteers
Structure: Parent/Child events
Mobile App
Regular Communication via email, twitter, and the web
Matching events-Back to School Night and Anti-bullying parent events
Email blast
email communication
email communication
website - try to keep updated at all times
Share services re: one call system (not realized yet)
sponsor monthly hands on, minds on family activities
I use creative writing as opposed to form letters where possible to communicate.
Translator at meetings
Community events supported by the school
Parent portal in PowerSchool
I attend PTA meetings
Social Media Outlets
School Based Events - concerts, plays, etc...
strategic planning process- over 100 people involved
School/Community End of Year BBQ
Partnering with parent organizations for events
Notification: Phone message system, text, Facebook
Community Meetings
Invite parents in for classroom events
Superintendent corner newsletter in local newspaper
press releases
press releases
Instant alerts (phone, email, text)
Attend town council meetings
publish a weekly newsletter
Social media presence.
Invite parents to be part of committees
Family Events
Semester Open House
Key Communicator meetings
Evening Presentations/Concerts
Parent Portal/Facebook/Websites
using what i like to call my inner circle of power players in the town- personal invites from me to all heads of important town groups
Back To School Bonanza (August)
Monthly Newsletters (Building based)
Student Voice Sessions
Informal "Coffee with Supt" meetings
Encouragement: Rewards (w/educ value)
school activities
Foster volunteerism (parent and community)
Alumni association
school meetings
school meetings
Frequent use of school reach text service
require in person progress report and report card conferences
E blasts, phone blasts, and text blasts.
Survey parents/communities on how they perceive we are doing in meeting goals
Parent presentations
Open Agenda Meetings
Various shared stakeholder meetings
Local Cable TV Programming from the Schools
community surveys
Open House/ Fun Nights
Student performances
Parent Organization meetings
Parent Organization meetings
School wide events open to community
Utilize blogs, websites, videos, podcasts global connect to inform parents/community about things related to school
Key Communicator Meetings/Communications
curriculum demonstration nights

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The KANO Model; Community Engagement Project

One of my focus points this year is to improve community outreach and engagement with my school community. For many boards and superintendents, this is an area that can challenge and frustrate all involved. When shareholders feel they aren't informed or that their voice isn't being heard, they express frustration and can eventually develop a negative impression of the district or school. Often, the school district feels they have provided information in multiple ways so they become frustrated to hear that their message wasn't communicated.

Ultimately, it boils down to one question: "How do you even begin to define communication?" You have probably heard the old saying, "Communication is a two-way street" said after communication breaks down. Can you actually quantify and measure "good communication and community engagement"?

I began trying to answer that question earlier this year. In an effort to demonstrate our Systems Approach here, I am going to share the notes, flowcharts, and other project artifacts as they exist (and unfold) - unedited in many cases.

For this project I am using the KANO Model to embark on defining what good communication and community engagement means.  KANO Explained

Essentially, we are seeking to define the Customer Voice and Define the current performance - or process of communication and engagement so that we can begin to improve upon it. Using a flowchart to capture the 'as is' process from the organization of a school event (or simply any contact our parents/community has with the district) through the customer's opinion being formed will help us look to improve it. We will seek to clearly define the customer voice - quantify exactly what it is that our shareholders expect from us - in the KANO Model, they are categorized in three groups: Must Be's, Satisfier's, and Delighter's. The Must Be's are, well, Musts. If they are not there total dissatisfaction- the customer will go elsewhere! The Satisfier's are the things that deliver a satisfied customer - more is better - while they improve satisfaction if they are missing the customer will likely stay, and a Delighter are the things that the customer did not even know they wanted but delight them. As in all continuous improvement efforts, today's Delighter becomes tomorrow's Satisfier and then a Must Be. Example, there was a time when a radio in a car was delighter, then it became standard, (with a CD changer) - now, you would likely never buy a car without a radio (most demand Bluetooth, GPS, Heated seats etc...) Cars today are being designed to actually stop before you hit something (just in case you aren't paying attention)...someday, that will be a standard feature.

Currently, we have developed a survey that is being administered to superintendents, administrators, and districts to capture what others use as "best practices" to engage and communicate with their constituents. I will share the results once finished. If you want to participate in the survey please go to Community Engagement & Communication We will then survey the community in order to define their voice - what are their expectations?

Here is the draft Flowchart that captures the "as is" current performance. It is critically important at this phase of any improvement effort that you do not get caught up in what it should be, but rather, simply capture to the best of your ability what is. So often, we begin trying to fix a lose problem without clearly defining it...

I am excited about the potential this improvement project has to improve the way we serve our customers and engage our community. I look forward to sharing the results as we move forward.

Monday, January 6, 2014

PLN Blogging Challenge

Dr. Cook set the challenge to me to participate in the PLN Blogging Challenge. I always like a good challenge. I listed 11 of the people I would like to see participate - 

This is what a PLN Blogging Challenge is...“If you’re on Twitter then I’m sure you’ve seen people tweeting out the PLN Blogging Challenge, Sunshine Award, Homework Meme, or whatever other names they are giving it.  It’s basically like a chain letter for blogging, which I have enjoyed reading others’ posts, but have been avoided joining in myself.”

This PLN blogging challenges gives us bloggers a chance to get to know each other better through this post (and reading each others’).

Here are the rules of the challenge:

Acknowledge the nominating blogger. - Dr. Spike Cook (check)
Share 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

Here are my 11 random facts
1. I am addicted to playing Dark Souls (Xbox live) and often play on weekend nights until the early morning.
2. I worked as a bartender to help pay for college.
3. My initial attempt to get my wife's phone number (back in college) failed.
4. I have more than one tattoo.
5. I love MMA.
6. My first concert was Motley Crue (and Whitesnake opened) in 6th grade with Millville coaching legend "Rocky M".
7. I play the guitar (sort of).
8. My family is fun (and a lot crazy)
9. I was a beach lifeguard (Cape May Point)
10. I once rowed in a 6 mile bay race in Strathmere NJ.
11. Mike Trout's dad was my high school baseball coach.

Now to answer the other 11 questions from the challenge (I just used Spike's)

1. What is your favorite tv show? Game of Thrones; Dexter was; Homeland

2. What is one app or resource you’ve learned about on Twitter that has been a game changer for you at work? Google Docs

3. What is your typical bedtime? Not applicable - I often have insomnia.

4. Best book you’ve read in 2013? Game of Thrones (all 5) and The Blade Itself (Reign of Error and lots of other leadership or Education books)

5. Favorite Twitter Chat: #suptchat

6. Best place you’ve vacationed? Montigo Bay Jamaica

7. How has your PLN impacted you? I have met and exchanged ideas with people I would have never met otherwise.

8. What motivates you each day to be an educator (what motivates you period)?  A belief that despite all the complexities of being a chief education officer, I add value !

9. What was the most amazing lesson you ever facilitated or observed? too many to name, but, anytime learning is the focal point is an amazing lesson.  - I am not looking for a "dog and pony" show or fireworks just opportunities for students to be engaged in meaningful work.

10. If you had a whole day to do just what you wanted, what would it be? be with my family - (or maybe just play Xbox)

11. Favorite tv show when you were growing up? The A-team, Magnum PI, Growing Pains

11 People I would like to see take the challenge (if they haven't already) - I went big!!!

Alan November ‏ @globalearner
EUFSDSuper ‏ @DrJosephRicca

Joe Sanfelippo ‏ @Joesanfelippofc

Jennie Snyder, Ed.D. ‏ @POUSDSupt