Teaching children to be resilient is a hot topic in education and parenting talk and texts. However, those lessons are difficult to evaluate unless the children we are teaching/mentoring/parenting experience a disappointment or loss. Compounding that difficulty is the relative importance of the disappointment or loss to the child in question - we may never know the depth of resilience we have instilled.
If you have never been in the Crisp Gym on the day when the students and SCA volunteers deliver and organize the gifts for the Holiday Gift Drive, you have missed a moment of beauty. The generosity is palpable and impressive. The photos do not do justice to the generosity and impact the community has when we are ‘all-in.’
I am confident in noting that our state champions are appreciative of the coaches, family members, and fans who have supported them over the years. One does not become a champion overnight. In all likelihood, someone drove our champions to hundreds of practices, meets and games. Someone was there to encourage them through, injuries, losses and other disappointments.
I am going to borrow a page from columnist Ernest Hooper’s playbook. Every Monday morning as he highlights people and events in Tampa Bay in the "Tampa Bay Times" he always notes a bumper sticker that has caught his eye. I saw one the other day and regardless of one’s political leanings, the message triggered a thought as we head into Thanksgiving season. Seen on the bumper sticker were the words, “Make America Grateful Again.”
The dictionary I looked at while thinking about this article had two definitions for the word “winning.” Definition 2:” attractive; endearing,” provides some food for thought. When the attractive and endearing definition is applied to the word winning, we acknowledge that winning can happen in athletics, arts, academics, service and personal behavior. I like to be around winners. Who doesn’t? Being around attractive and endearing people makes us better people.
Recently, some of the seniors taking AP Psychology, informed by their research on the importance of sleep, sent letters to the administration with ideas to provide peers with greater opportunities to get increased REM time. Although they used many of the same sources for their research, their recommendations varied widely to include ideas for later start times, earlier start times, nap times, non-instructional days and non-test days. There is nothing new or unusual about a group of people researching the same topic and coming up with opposing conclusions. Educators, economists, physicians, judges and people from every imaginable walk of life use the same data to come up with different conclusions daily. So, how does one know if a decision or plan is a good one?
I like talks, articles, movies and videos that focus on positive thinking. It is better for the spirit to be positive. It is healthier to be focused on the positive. Children and adults at school respond better when we are in a positive setting. Positive feedback inspires creativity.
Researchers like Alison Ledgerwood, whose TED Talk has had more that 2 million views, affirms how hard it is to get people to move from the negative to the positive, and how easy it is to move a positive point a view to a negative one. She makes a point that most of us need to consciously engage in actions that call us to focus on the positive or we will slip into the death spiral of negative thinking.
The unthinkable happened. The senior class did not win Homecoming Class Competition day.
With the grace of champions, the seniors applauded the victors - the juniors. Unless one understands the importance of winning Homecoming at Shorecrest, this might seem to be a minor event. There are alumni and experienced members of the faculty who realize the loss followed by the response of the senior class is very, very unique and a great demonstration of class.
There was once a time when a seemingly big decision like choosing a favorite flavor at the local ice cream shop was relatively easy. Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry? Simpler times. Ben and Jerry themselves used to personally scoop my cones as a boy growing up in Vermont, and I remember the day when Chunky-Monkey and Cherry Garcia changed even the way I approached the counter.
Homecoming, Fall Festival, Poetry in the Park, Book Fair, Oldie Goldie, Holiday Gift Drive, Awards Day, Spring Musical, Senior Parking Lot Painting, Open Campus for Seniors, Volunteer Celebration, Turkey Bowl, Varsity Athletes walking younger students to the Pep Rally, Annual Fund, Parent Gatherings, The Big Event, Volunteering at our children’s events, Baccalaureate Dinner, Commencement. These are events generations of Shorecrest Chargers and their families remember.
I park in the street and am quite deliberate about locking my car. The other day I was moving groceries, dry cleaning and some home repair supplies into the house and must have forgotten to lock up. When I got in the car the next morning and the console and glove box were open, I realized my omission. The bag where I keep loose change was taken. Thankfully, the garage door opener was left behind. Unless the world stops rotating, there are some predictable, simple mistakes that will probably occur this week to more than one member of our community.
One of the good friends of Shorecrest, Craig Sher, regularly sends me articles about the lack of financial education young people have before going to college or before starting their first jobs. We are in the planning stages of developing a financial education program for Upper School students that we intend to launch this June.
“The ancient Greeks suggested that we should think of our lives like chariots. We are charioteers trying to hold two horses: the white horse of reason and the black horse of passion. Each horse pulls off center in opposite directions. Your job is to keep control of both horses, navigating down the middle of the road.”
If you like watching winners, this is the fall to come out and see our volleyball, football and swim and dive teams! I know that Upper School students plan to support their peers. Our hope is that Middle School, Lower School and Experiential School students and families will take the opportunity to encourage our Shorecrest Chargers to build school spirit and a stronger community.
I recently had a member of the senior class ask me to describe the perfect student. I reflected for a moment and thought back of the qualities modeled by students who earned the universal respect and admiration of students, teachers and community members.
Many people are familiar with Stephen Covey’s advice to start all projects and actions with the end in mind. A simple, short-term way to think about summer is to imagine what our children will write if given the opportunity to complete the traditional “My Summer Vacation” essay in August.
At 3pm on Sunday, May 20, the students in the Shorecrest Class of 2018 will begin their Commencement exercises and will be launched into a new phase of their lives. A few days later our other students will complete their school year, head into summer activities and be ready for the next step in their educational experiences. While we rightfully have special ceremonies for our seniors as they head off to college, the fact is, all children make a significant leap forward each year. We can celebrate the advancement of all our students.
I am convinced our Shorecrest school community is united in wanting high quality, academic, value focused, safe, college preparatory educational programs. From a broader community point of view we want facilities, teachers, administrators and staff that allow our school to stand out regionally and nationally. We want the local community, the state and universities to view our students and the education they receive to be second to none. We want to ensure that our students have great opportunities while they are at Shorecrest and once they move on to the next stage of their lives.
I join with our students, faculty and staff in wishing all the Shorecrest Moms a wonderful day. Thank you for the love, encouragement and lessons you give to your children and share with the community every day.
Anyone who has ever spent time in a school that had a comprehensive food service program knows that the Dining Room can become a significant source for physical renewal, social/emotional development and community building. Not unlike the benefits of eating with our families, a full-service dining room at a school can create a feeling of community hard to replicate in the casual dining and “lunch box” experience currently practiced at Shorecrest.
We want Shorecrest to be the place where children are inspired to learn, are with teachers who will stretch their imaginations, and are with peers who will be trusted and interesting friends. We expect school to prepare children for the future. We want school to expand upon the virtues and core values that parents teach their young children and adolescents.
A great education teaches us enough about the past and present so we can look the future in the eye and say, “I want to help shape that and whatever comes next.” A great education teaches us to ask questions and to learn to think about opportunities that most people find unimaginable: Artificial Intelligence, driverless cars, reusable spaceships, rockets that reduce the time of travel, cures for cancer, peace…
Reach. Rise. Grow. These are the three phases of the Transform Campaign to build our new Community and Innovation Center with our first-ever Dining Hall and a new Experiential School for the youngest in our community... and much more.
If you missed the Luminaria Ceremony at 2018 Shorecrest Relay For Life and the gathering of students and friends on Haskell Field as the Pentatonix version of Hallelujah was softly playing over the PA system, you missed one of the most spiritual moments many of us have ever witnessed at a school event.
A hallmark of strong leadership is when the initiatives and successes of an organization (or school) continue after the leader moves on. While the personal strengths of an individual teacher, coach, or administrator may have a life-changing impact on students, programs, and the school, the great school continues to deliver great experiences even after those rock stars retire or move on. The same goes for our superstar students.
Service and Learning are important practices. When combined into a Service Learning program there is the potential for our students and other community members to view citizenship through a lens not often learned in schools. We realize that we are doing much more than acts of charity. We learn that we are engaged in solving problems and challenges that touch our lives and the lives of all who share the community in which we live. Service Learning has the potential to take a single act and turn it into a habit of mind that results in a full-blown movement.
March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24, was hopefully the beginning of increased youth involvement in citizenship. I was pleased to join the Shorecrest students who attended the event in Tampa. The chant led by marchers, “Tell me what democracy looks like,” followed by the response, “This is what democracy looks like,” was a great start. Regardless of where one stands on the gun law debate that the March for Our Lives participants have brought forward, it is great to see our nation’s teens organizing behind a cause that matters to them.
I hope all members of the community enjoy a change of pace as we break for the coming week. Many members of our community will remain focused on their jobs, and that certainly includes our maintenance team at Shorecrest. When the students and teachers return on Monday after break, the following campus changes will be in place or underway...
This coming week Shorecrest Upper School students will spread out across St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Florida, other states, and other nations to engage in a week-long service learning experience. Shorecrest is one of few schools in the country that takes four consecutive days for all of our Upper School teachers and students to engage in depth with service and service learning activities. We are particularly proud that our Service Week program was originated by students 8 years ago.
Now is the time. After many months, our plans to add the missing pieces and complete the Shorecrest campus are available to all members of the community. The Board, the Transform Leadership Committee, and staff members have worked in a silent phase to raise significant capital, garnering the Board’s support to break ground in May. Now is the time for the full community to join in the transformation of our campus and the development of new programs that will support our efforts in being one of the premier schools in Florida. We have heard some wonderful ideas during the planning and silent phases of the campaign, but none rings more true than the words Cory Gaffney, Class of ‘95, parent, and Board member shared a few months ago: “Shorecrest cannot do this project, but the Shorecrest Community can.”
What kind of community and culture do you imagine for your children and your family?
Shorecrest has a culture that is guided by our college preparatory mission, our vision that focuses on developing inclusive, innovative, and transformational education experiences and our five Core Values: Responsibility, Respect, Integrity, Knowledge, and Compassion. Our culture encourages high levels of involvement and participation in all aspects of school life.
Recently, while in a discussion about how African Americans are portrayed in US history, one of our students commented that during the Third Grade Class Play, African-Americans were recognized for their efforts to oppose slavery but not for their contributions to providing freedom and liberty. Those of us who watched the production this year enjoyed the show. The students loved performing and the audience enjoyed the music and historical tidbits. Yet, when put under the lens of equity and racial justice, the production clearly leaves out the contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups who make up the fabric of our American society.
Yesterday's devastating attack on a Florida high school strikes fear into the hearts of families everywhere. It is particularly jarring to those of us who spend so much of our lives at schools and feel safe and at home there. While I cannot, in good conscience, promise that violence will never happen at our school, the systems we have in place strive for maximum safety and security without making the school feel like a prison in lockdown.
Jennifer Garner has made the phrase, “What’s in your wallet?” one of the most memorable expressions for an ad since “Can you hear me now?” While the advertising world has found memorable questions and witty characters like the Geico Gecko to remind us to buy a certain product, people concerned with human motivation have found that affirmations can set the tone for achievement.
The silver lining around much of the sadness experienced by the Shorecrest community in recent months has been the extraordinary levels of compassion, support, and generosity that students, teachers, alumni, and families have demonstrated. Denny Stypinski said that he thinks if he told Kristin Leary and the Shorecrest Cares group that he needed a car, they would want to know what make and model he wanted. He and many others are overwhelmed by the support the community offers in a time of need.
How can you have more than one priority? The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word priority as “something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things.” The word “priority” took on a plural attribute in the 20th century. We got so busy trying to do two things at once and juggling three, four, or five balls at a time or spinning 5, 6, or 7 plates at once, we changed the meaning of the word and concept of a priority. We now have priorities.
2017 ended with the tragic plane crash in Costa Rica that took the lives of Shorecrest family members, Mitch, Leslie, Hannah, and Ari Weiss. The memorial ceremonies, funerals, symbols of support like moments of silence and arm bands will be some of the ways we move through the grieving process for the loss of a family of very special individuals.