Faith is the Answer

“When fear knocks, faith answers” – Robin Roberts 

Webster defines faith as a, “strong belief or trust in something or someone.” For many, including me, faith has a strong religious connotation. Faith is a system of religious beliefs; beliefs that are not based on proof.


Regardless of your definition, overcoming fear often requires strong faith. From our youngest memories of our parents comforting us after a nightmare . . . we had faith that our parents would protect us . . . to adult fears about health, raising children, and global security . . . our faith provides comfort.


We must press pause when we are afraid; there are some fears that are real. There are some fears that are warning signs or flags about our behavior. Once we take a moment to assess the situation we must turn to our faith. We must turn to our faith, that in the right mind, living our purpose, we are continuing to grow.  


What is your purpose? Do you have faith in the life you are living? I have a strong belief – faith – in our work together in service to children. I have trust – faith – in our team, our partnerships, and our community.  

Using Information

“The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you do with what you know.” – Tony Wagner 

For students there is a huge difference between testing and assessment. As educators we must continually fight the urge to be testers of young people. We must dedicate ourselves to assessing the progress of the students we serve.  


Testing is a measurement of pure knowledge. Assessments evaluate application of the knowledge. Assessments require more than a universally applied instrument; it requires the skill and talent of the educators working with the student. Assessments lead to growth…assessments promote learning. Tests are final; they are stagnant.  


Leave the academic world of education . . . it isn’t about a test score. In a flat, evolving world with a global workforce it can’t be about simply knowing . . . it has to be about results. This isn’t simple – this is complex. Our young people not only need to know the information . . . they must know how to use it.

Dream Big, Focus Small

“Dream Big, Focus Small” – Robin Roberts 

Dreams . . . the thoughts we have when our eyes are closed and we picture the future. Dreams are our aspirations. Dreams encompass our goals, our hopes, and our ambitions. Dreams are fuel for work and dedication.  


We all have dreams, but not everyone makes their dreams come true. Making dreams come true . . . living our dreams . . . isn’t as simple as closing our eyes. Making our dreams come true requires focus, attention to detail, and extreme dedication. Making dreams come true comes from focus on the small things.


Dreams are our vision . . . our focus is the plan. We must plan to be successful in the future, we must take responsibility for our dreams, and we continue to embrace a growth mindset in our lives. As we live with purpose, as we live our lives, our dreams grow too. Never stop dreaming . . . never lose that focus on the small things.

Staying Above the Line

As a school leader I am often in a position to respond during situations involving high emotion and stress. The Hilliard City Schools serve over 16,000 young people; we serve over 16,000 children, their parents, and their families. While our goal is for each student, every day to have a positive learning experience, we know that the events of daily life bring challenges and obstacles that we must overcome.

It is our duty as educational leaders to rise above the emotions, to be skillful in our response, and to provide reasonable solutions. It is imperative that our character, our foundation, remains discipline and that we stay above the line, during times of high emotion. I have strong faith in my purpose; I have great passion for our work. This foundation – the desire to serve others and provide for students – gives me strength during challenging events.
When others become verbally abusive, use bullying tactics, take to social media, and act on impulse, as school leaders we must remain above the line. We must act with the best interest of students; we must in some cases consider a myriad of factors in our response. We deal with parents at the height of emotion. We deal with family situations we may not fully understand, we deal with alcoholism, and we deal with mental health issues. It is our job, as the public servant, to synthesize the entire picture at act in the best interest of students.
When you are confronted by a parent, be discipline. Press pause for just a moment and work to understand why the events are unfolding right in front of you. Then, as you strive to get your mind around the situations, act with character, skill, and consistency. What is the best possible outcome at that moment? It is up to us – in any situation – to remain above the line. We make tough decisions; we sometimes must choose what is necessary over what is pleasant. We know, deep down we know, having the tough conversation now is better that avoiding what is needed.

The Abundance Mentality 

Steven Covey spoke about abundance mentality; the philosophy that a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others.  
This is an essential cornerstone of our educational foundation. Learning isn’t limited; we don’t compete for educational knowledge.  
This is true for students . . . one student’s success must not be predicated on another students failure. Each student is an individual; each student has individual skills, attributes, and gifts. We must fight the urge to create lists or comparisons. As parents and as educators, we want each child to reach his or her highest potential.
This is true for teachers and principals . . . we aren’t competing for success but rather collaborating for support. Each student’s success is a victory at the classroom, building, and district level. We work together, share resources and expertise, and build upon collective learning. We believe in the Power of the Team.
Finally, this is true for our public education establishment. For too long we’ve let others define us; we’ve abdicated the fight for what is best in our education system. We are our own ecosystem; we are interdependent as the unifying system that builds our nation’s future. We, as public educators, will shape the next generations of American leaders. We must live, embrace, and model our abundance mentality in our pursuit of excellence together.

Discipline is the Bridge

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. -Jim Rohn


We all have goals.  As individuals, as families, and as organizations we have goals.  Some goals are written as part of larger plans and some goals are simply understood.  There are times our goals are formal and there are times our goals are unwritten and informal.


Reaching our goals . . . actually doing the work, overcoming the obstacles, building on failures, and achieving success is built on a discipline.  If a goal can be reached without discipline, it isn’t a worthy goal.  If a goal can be reached without effort, it is merely a checkmark on a list.


Take the time to review your goals today.  Be purposeful and intentional as you go about your day.  What is required of you to reach your goal?  Commit to be disciplined and dedicated to achieve this goal.  Your discipline actions are the bridge to achievement.

Foundation of Love and Loyalty

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.    –Zig Ziglar


Individual behavior creates experiences for those around you.  How do people experience you?  When you think about those individuals who inspire you, how do you experience them?


As Zig Ziglar shares, the foundation stones of balancing success are simple.  Balanced success . . . balancing personal and professional . . . balancing individual and organizational . . . balancing family and work . . . it all requires discipline, dedication, and purpose.


Be honest.  It’s simple . . . speak and act in truth.  Don’t act to deceive or trick those with whom you interact.  Have impeccable character – know who you are and be true to yourself.  To be of the highest character you must first know who you want to be – then be discipline in living that life.  Live a life of integrity; be consistent and humble.


Have faith – and be willing, when asked, to share your faith.  Faith is essential to purpose; live a life of faith.  Love one another – and never be ashamed to love those whom you serve.  Be loyal . . . your character and integrity are at stake.


Look at this list . . . identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Look in the mirror and ask “who do I want to be?”  How do you want others to experience you? Now, lay the stones of your foundation.

The danger of success

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.  -Bill Gates


One of our values is a passion for growth – the relentless pursuit of excellence.  This value is predicated on a foundation that good is never good enough.  Yes, we want to celebrate our successes – we want to share in our victories and growth.  We also want even better for the future.


We work with children.  Our children require personal attention, nurturing, and inspiration.  Success with a child today is merely a starting point.  Today’s success is the foundation for tomorrow’s growth – just as today’s failures are the foundation for tomorrow’s improvement.  We can never become complacent with success because we continue on our journey together.  We continue to persevere and strive for greater successes.


Just as failure isn’t the end, success isn’t the finish line.  Successes are merely victories along the way.  Each individual success or failure is a learning opportunity . . . each day is another opportunity to continue on our journey together.  Being discipline-driven, living our lives with purpose and meaning requires the focus and dedication to fight the seductive power of short term success and to commit to the journey.

Success is built together

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.   –Henry Ford


Each school year is a process; it is a journey we begin together at convocation in August.  It is easy to come together.  Our school year is a marathon – we all start together in the shoot, waiting for the first day, eager for the students to arrive.  We are together; we are on the same page at the beginning of each year.


Keeping it together during the grind of a school year is progress.  The warm end to summer, the autumnal breeze, beautiful foliage, Ohio State football . . . we are able to progress together during the first part of the school year.  When the holiday season arrives it becomes more of a challenge; we sometime struggle to keep it together.


It is when we work together, when we learn from our failures and celebrate our triumphs, that we really accomplish success.  Joy and fulfillment aren’t individual emotions; it is the service and collaboration is true success.  Life is a team sport; let’s be exceptional together instead of being ordinary apart.

Fleeting Attention

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.   – Henry David Thoreau


Our attention is fleeting.  Our world is cluttered with information, sights, sounds, and alerts.  We are easily distracted – from the ping, beep, and vibration of an iPhone to the ultra HD television monitor with Dolby surround sound.  Life is happening around us . . . what are we actually seeing.


Living a discipline-driven life is taking the time to focus on what is most important.  We look at everything; we are distracted by thousands of inputs throughout our day.  We must focus on what we want to see.  We must listen to what we need to hear.  We must feel the emotions we need to control and manage.  Create the time in your day – Press Pause – and get focused.


Building relationships is an investment; it is an investment of attention, care, and character in someone else.  You must see the individual you are talking to, hear their words, and understand their emotions to build the requisite foundation for trust.  Keep your eyes and ears open . . . truly hear and see the people in your life.