Feeding My Reading Addiction

July 31, 2010

haulin netMedia coordinators–or as we used to call them back in the day:  librarians–are perfect suppliers for an admitted bibliophile.  I have had the good fortune of working with media coordinators in our school system since 2000.

This relationship has done nothing but increase my exposure to and appreciation of the written word.

Three years ago, while I was at WCHS, media coordinator Tiffany Mayo was my main supplier.   She conjured up for me some outstanding, avant garde Young Adult Fiction titles such as Octavian Nothing (Anderson), Sunrise Over Fallujah (Myers), Prep (Coburn), and Rash (Hautman).

Last year, while I was at ECHS, media coordinator Jane Burbella was my go-to.  Including the “take-home bag” she sent with me for the summer, Jane led me to the following 15 books in her media center:

  • Octavian Nothing:  The Kingdom of the Waves (Anderson)
  • Code Talkers (Bruchac)
  • The Glass Castle (Walls)
  • Cape Fear Rising (Gerard)
  • Nickel and Dimed in America (Ehrenreich)
  • Carriers (Lynch)
  • Shooting at Loons (Maron)
  • The Greatest Generation (Brokaw)
  • The Book Thief (Zusak)
  • Simple Genius (Baldacci)
  • The Fifth Horseman (Patterson)
  • The Prince of Tides (Conroy)
  • Train Man (Deutermann)
  • Raney (Edgerton)
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Albom)
  • You can tell a lot about books by their covers; you can also tell much about individuals by their reading pursuits.   In the above list, you will notice North Carolina, coastal, mystery, spiritual, YA, and real-world themes.  Check out My Reads for the comprehensive reading list I’ve been keeping since about 2005.

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    I especially enjoy what I call situational reading.  That is, being in the geographical area while reading the book.  The setting of Shooting at Loons is Harkers Island and Beaufort, for instance.  So, it was a no-brainer to read that while at East.  I finished Cape Fear Rising–about the Wilmington Race Insurrection of 1898–while in scenic Southport.  And I just finished The Great Wide Sea while looking out at the same.

    The Great Wide Sea is a great pick for the Croatan summer read.  Of course, the nautical setting is a perfect match for our location.  And though I’ve only been sailing once, I could appreciate the experience vicariously through the author’s technical lexicon and vivid descriptions/details of the sailing process.

    Of greater application, though, is the sense of independence and accomplishment of the three young brothers at sea after their father’s mysterious disappearance.  Without divulging the plot, I can assure you that successful people in life are self-reliant, savvy and connected to others–just like the brothers.

    The only difference is they had to get to that point sooner than many.  Through unfortunate circumstances, their parents just were not there to orchestrate and manage (sometimes to a fault) their daily comings and goings. If they were not only to survive but also to thrive in this world, it would be on their own.

    If anybody wants to borrow my copy of The Great Wide Sea, give a shout.  There is still plenty of time left to join the OneRead.

    In fact, as an unreformed reading addict, I confess that I am now lurching headlong into last year’s OneRead:  Hunger Games.  In the main character, a teenage girl who is an expert hunter/forager, I  already notice a similar thread:   relentless teenage independence, self-sufficiency, competency, and connection to others.

    As a Croatan OneRead, this book–with a main character similar in ways to the main character in Great Wide Sea–is not coincidental.

    Clearly, these winning attributes coupled with the wherewithal to persevere through difficult challenges are hallmarks of accomplished sailors, hunters and Cougars.


    Some Mighty Big Shoes

    July 27, 2010

    No, these are not the kicks with which Mr. Bottoms graced the Croatan corridors for 12 years.  Instead, they are a worthy pair of Skechers that I don occasionally to alleviate knee joint pain related to athletic wear and tear compounded by primitive surgical methods of days gone by.

    And, oh yes, if the “portable power plants” in these  shoes shape up my musculature and skeletal structure as I walk (as advertised)–then that is just a convenient added benefit.   To date, I’m uncertain that I’ve  noticed this result.

    One thing about these shoes is that they are mighty big.    But, folks told me when I got to Croatan that I would have some mighty big shoes to fill…so I wear them often and wear them well.

    I’m no stranger to filling big shoes.  Back in 2000, I followed Mary Forrest as Carteret County’s director of media and technology.  As director, Mary was an iconic visionary who built the momentum and pulled the strings to get Carteret County Schools squarely into the digital age for the long haul.  I was blessed to have her as a mentor.

    Further, I’m no stranger to following Mat Bottoms.  Back in ’94 when we were both at West Carteret, Mat was selected Teacher of the Year out of 102 teachers.  I was runner up.

    Four years ago, when I left central services to venture into school-based administration, Millie Temple was tapped as my replacement.  She had just completed 8 years as the tech facilitator for Mr. Bottoms at Croatan.

    And as she rolled into Central Services, I rolled into Croatan to begin my first school-based admin internship under the tutelage of Professor Bottoms…once again following the path to successful schools that he was blazing.

    Now, as principal of Croatan, my goal is to tread the path that has been so dutifully set.  That is, to continue the gold standard of high academic success for all…and to fortify the support systems that make success happen.

    As with the long and winding career path behind me, I intend to wear out a sole or two in the process of leadership at Croatan.   But we can always get some new shoes…even some with purported futuristic technical advantages… as we walk this leg of the journey together.  Can’t we?

    Shall we walk?


    The Orchestration Begins

    July 22, 2010

    It’s music to our ears:  our new band director is moving to the Crystal Coast this weekend and is energized and capable of leading the Marching Cougars beginning with band camp on Aug 2.   More details soon.

    The band hire pretty much fills out the Croatan dance card for the 2010-2011 school year.  The only remaining slot is for a softball coach.

    Aug 2 is a big day.  It marks the official beginning of the fall sports season.  So, if you wish to participate in football, volleyball, soccer, girl’s golf, girl’s tennis, or cross country, you will need a current physical.  You also would want to intensify your off-season training.

    Our scheduling process is coming along.  It is complicated and difficult work that requires much input and tweaking before we even go public.   Bear with us as we work through the process.  We look to mail schedules and welcome letters sometime before the end of July.

    Our enrollment right now stands at an all-time high, with close to 875.  That number will temper a bit naturally before school begins.  Regardless, the halls that are quiet–save for the busy summer time workers–will soon be teeming with a legion of Cougars vaulting for excellence in deed, academics, and extra-curriculars.

    It is the annual return of unlimited potential and boundless energy.

    Official test results from 2009-2010 will soon be made public.  Early indications are that Croatan will once again post very positive results.  Undoubtedly, this will be cause for celebration accompanied with the challenge to push the bar even higher.

    The website continues to go through some iterations.  Mr. Banks and I are currently experimenting with some different looks for the top banner.  Have a look around the site and feel free to weigh in.

    Have you read this summer’s OneRead The Great, Wide Sea (Herlong) yet?  I just started it last night.  It is relevant and exciting, yet poignant.   I picked up my copy at the Book Shop next to Food Lion in MHC.

    The summer days are ticking down.  The anticipation for another successful school year is ticking up.

    Still a little time left to chill.   Slather on another layer of sun block.  Turn a few more chapters of the OneRead.

    …but start sharpening those Cougar Claws.   Aug 25 is just around the bend.


    Full Speed Ahead

    July 14, 2010

    Just a quick note to CHS stakeholders that–while Lance’s Tour hopes are fading and Spain’s soccer star is rising–we here in Cougar Country are clicking on all cylinders to get our high school up and running.  Teachers and students return in just over a month.

    The OneRead for the school community is underway.

    And our TLA faculty members have met and are discussing via a wiki what elements from the workshop they wish to include in opening day and ongoing staff development for the year.  The two big items facing us are the New Teacher Eval Instrument and using data to pinpoint expectations and interventions.  The emerging data trend is the growth model vs. the proficiency model.

    We have hired a new social studies teacher, a new science teacher, and new cheerleading coaches.  We are wrapping up the interviews for a new band director, and we anticipate that our outstanding band camp will occur as scheduled.

    Mr. Hound Dog and Mr. Josh are doing a great job of getting the physical plant in order…and Plain Jane’s is due in very soon to do the floors and carpets.

    Still a few kinks in the year-end turnaround of NCWise, the student data management system.  But Ms. Yager, Mrs. Zimarino, Mrs. Krohn, and several teachers have been busy milling around the master schedule…just chomping on the bit to start tweaking student schedules.   Soon, we will Tweet when we are ready for students to come in for schedule adjustments.

    We’re in the process of streamlining our website.  It will always be a work in progress, and your suggestions for improvement are welcome.

    Our master painter is busy slinging her brush over door jambs and trouble spots like the gym wall.

    Football guys are showing up with Coach Perry for fitness work, and volleyball girls are participating with Coach Grice in open gym.

    Senior portraits were completed by LifeTouch on July 13.  And many seniors ordered this year’s senior t-shirt:  “This is what a senior looks like.”  Contact Dominic Linares if you want to order one.  Cheerleaders are meeting at their gym to begin their work as well.

    Ironic thing is I remember it like yesterday when some of these seniors were much younger players on a club soccer team which with I am affiliated.  Now, hardly recognizable, they are on the verge of launching to adulthood.

    Just shows how rapidly things move when folks are constantly engaged in success, continuous improvement and fun.  It’s a lifestyle called full steam ahead.   Enjoy the rest of your much-needed downtime to make sure your engines are ready to roar on the ride of school year 2010-2011.

    And, oh yes, don’t blink.


    A Cougar Now

    July 11, 2010

    Monday, July 12, 2010…

    I’ll punch the clock at 6:30 am to begin my first full week as principal of Croatan High School.

    I am rested and ready. . . anxious and energized . . . for this new chapter in my professional career and this new chapter in Croatan history.

    Zero hour has come.  Blast off!