2008 Year in Review

December 29, 2008

151M “2008 Year in Review” hits on Google.  After 4 years, still only one Haulin’ Net . . .

February:  Preparing Students to Handle the News

The one common denominator you will find in the reshaping of the news industry is RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or web feeds. Mozilla Firefox, IE7, and a host of feed aggregators give flexible RSS advantages to future-ready news consumers…So, that’s the news in 2008. How well are we preparing students to handle it?

March:   Out on a Limb with CSI

It’s not really too far out on a limb to see computers eventually replacing a few teachers in bricks and mortar schools…Already we have students in labs, media centers, and home environments taking NCVPS and Learn and Earn On-line classes…NCVPS and Learn and Earn are working hard to revamp the on-line learning environment. The worthy goal is to evolve beyond Blackboard and make the learning experience richer and more compelling.

April:  Corporate or Revisionist History

This time last year, I was beginning side conversations with county government to correct the course of our school system’s technology funding. I supplied sufficient data to show how erratic local funding over nearly a decade had created an aging computer inventory in schools…The data allowed Mr. Langdon to arrive at an alternative solution—stabilize funding and buy less expensive computers…So, it was with great intrigue, but little surprise as a new budget year approaches, that I read the print editorial from Mr. D. L. Darden in today’s News-Times (4/18/08).

May:  Perspective

In this month’s School Administrator, I am honored to have published a story about three of West Carteret’s finest students:   Sign Man, Cone Man and Gate Man.

June:  NCVPS Celebrates First Year of  Service

North Carolina’s online virtual public school has just completed its first full year of operation with plenty to celebrate. After its launch in June 2007 by Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, the State Board of Education and the NC Department of Public Instruction, the North Carolina Virtual Public School has grown from an initial student base of 4,100 to one that is serving more than 17,000 students enrolled in more than 72 courses.

July:  Balancing That Universe

Thank you, West Carteret Patriots, for allowing me to work as part of your administrative team in ‘07-’08. West is a “sequoia-sized” school with a vibrant and diverse set of stakeholders. It enjoys a rich legacy in Carteret County and North Carolina.  It has a soul!

Godspeed, mighty and good Patriots. Until we meet again.

August:  Newport Nation


The Hawk soars Monday.

September:  Monument to Self (published at LeaderTalk)

What is the dream job office? What does it look like?

Usually it is a corner office with a window or two.  Ample room.  Shelves of books that mark eras of educational trends.  Family pictures, triumphant memories.  Nice office furniture.  Perhaps a plant and some objects of art.  A focal wall adorned with degrees, recognitions and other monuments to self.

October:  Loyalty in Absence

We must rejoice that we knew–if even for a moment–
such a relentless visionary, ultra-effective leader,
and ambassador of goodwill.

May Brad Sneeden rest in peace.

December:  Not  My First Rodeo (published at LeaderTalk)

After about a decade of being an instructional technology advocate from central office/state dept/university levels, I’m a year-and-a-half into my new career twist:  school-based leadership.

One thing I bring to the new job focus is the old job skillset.  So, when it was time for our school to write our new school improvement plan…what better way then to leverage some of the tools I’ve learned  along the way?


Circle of Relationship

December 23, 2008

haulin netOne of the  pure pleasures of a two-week vacation is the opportunity to read books.  I just finished the popular fiction  Shack (Young, 2007).

From it, I have three takeaways concerning deity:  a focus on doing things that are often considered routine and household, a proximity to nature, and expectancy–rather than expectations– of relationships.

But far be it from my posts to meander in metaphysics…

Instead–especially in this day of educational rigor, relevance, and relationships–I will comment on the explanation of  relationships to the protagonist, Mack.  First the passage from pages 122-123:

“We don’t need power over the  other because we are always looking  out for the best.  Hierarchy would make no sense among us.  Actually, this is your problem, not ours.”

“Really? How so?”

“Humans are so lost  and  damaged that to you it is almost  incomprehensible that people could work or  live together without someone being in charge.”

“But every human institution that  I can think of, from political to business, even down to marriage, is governed by this kind of  thinking; it is the  web of our social fabric,” Mack asserted.

“Such a waste!” said Papa, picking  up the empty dish and  heading  for the kitchen.

“It’s one reason why experiencing true relationship is difficult for you,” Jesus added.  “Once you have a hierarchy, you need rules to protect and  administer it, and then you  need law and the enforcement of the  rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of  command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it.  You rarely see or experience  relationship apart from power.  Hierarchy imposes laws and  rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you.”

This is an ideal example of how relationships should and could work.  But the ideal often stands in stark opposition to the rules-based, hierarchical governance structures especially found in public institutions.

As we strive to affect Professional Learning Communities in our schools, the ideal is certainly worthy of consideration and conversation.  It is predicated upon shared vision, common cause, and a culture of trust.

The twist is how to infuse the much vaunted term of  our era–accountability–into that structure without dampening relationships.

The accountability has to shift from an external imposition to an internal habit.   In other words, accountability in relationships has to become personal.

Therefore, true Professional Learning Communities–relationships–will be most effective with the characteristics of shared vision, common cause, a culture of trust, and personal accountability.

I would venture  to say that the best schools already have these characteristics in play.

*          *          *

The North Carolina Teachers Working Conditions Survey is done every two years.  The most recent one was completed in June ’08.  The results give an inside look as to how schools are running.

One of our schools, Croatan High School, is noted as being the number four high school in the state as far as academics go.  Recently, Croatan was recognized by U. S. News and World Report as being among the best high schools in the nation.

It is little wonder that Croatan’s results from the Teacher Working Conditions Survey 2008 are off the charts.

NES Teacher Working Conditions Survey, Dec. ’08

December 2, 2008

The North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey is done every two years. Here are results from June ’08 for Newport Elementary.

SY08-09 has been a year of significant change at Newport Elementary. Thus, here is an update on the survey from the Newport El staff. On average 52 staff members responded to each part, and we will use the results in our SIP.

School Leadership, Part I (View Results.)

School Leadership, Part II (View Results.)

School Leadership, Part III ( View Results and see two more mission statement options.)

Professional Beliefs (Pick Top 5)

December 2, 2008

Belief about our School Community (Pick Top 5)

December 2, 2008

Beliefs about Students (Pick Top 4)

December 2, 2008