Do you believe in magic?

When people talk about childhood idols & heroes, I always say David Copperfield.  No, not the character from Dickens.  The other character:


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If you don’t know of the man above, David Copperfield is an international illusionist who has performed all over the world.  He did a series of specials in the 80’s and 90’s on television and currently performs daily in Las Vegas.

David Copperfield wasn’t just simple magic. There was spectacle; there were music and lights; there was a story; there was the attractive girl; there was the impossible becoming possible in a few minutes.  Illusions were almost performed like MTV music videos.  I was obsessed.

My love for illusions and magic was instantaneous. There was a magic shop in town that I was stopping in every day after school to either learn a trick or save up lunch money (sorry Mom) and buy a new trick each week.  At one point, I had a duffle bag full of all sorts of tricks.

AsI got older, I tried to break out into the entertainment scene.  I had  a clown costume and a mime outfit.  I tried rocking out some tricks and entertainment at street fairs and local township events.  I thought I had something really special in 6th-grade until I bombed two magic tricks on stage. I didn’t really generate much business in 7th and 8th grade, but I did manage to start a clown ministry program at my church. It was cool, but high school came along, and my bag of tricks retired to the attic.

Fast forward about 14 years to my first administrative position as an Assistant Principal in a middle school.  Truly a job where you will never know what will happen, I came across a special 6th-grade student named Max. Max had school phobia to the worst degree.  On many days in the beginning of the year, Max refused to leave the car. On the days he did, he was so reluctant to come in, he would be crying and sometimes even screaming. I was determined to find a way to get Max into school in a safe and quiet manner.

And then it happened. Like magic.

I went home that day and searched all over for my bag of magic tricks. I found it. Like riding a bike, the magic tricks came back after a few tries. I practiced on my wife and my dog.  I was determined to get the patter (a magic term for story) down and if there were any movements as well.  The next day that Max was refusing to get out of the car, I had my magic bag. While some Child Study Team members looked at me oddly for performing the vanishing coloring book trick to a 6th-grader who was kicking the door so I couldn;t open it, he was hooked.  Eventually, he asked how I did it.  That’s when I broke the magician’s code. I told Max I would show him how the trick works IF he came in. Just like that…magic.

Once a week, I would teach Max a new trick that he could try on his classmates and family members at home, but only if he could come in without fuss and go right to class. WE did this for about 2 months, and then he didn’t want the magic anymore; he just wanted to come into class.

I got to use the bag of tricks with a few more students in LAC, and even where I am now. The same deal is reached; if you {come to school} or {behave} or {get all of your homework done}, you can learn a new trick. Believe in the power of magic; it works wonders in lives of all ages.


How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day


This dude is my hero. Yet I made this list… I am big on returning texts and emails back quickly. But hey, everyone needs improvement, right?

Everyone has priorities. For ineffective managers, it’s the next email, text, phone call, or person who walks through the door. Meaningful work requires a closed door. The person who always respond…

Source: How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day

Fly Me To The Moon

I always go into a school looking to see what our future is creating. Seeing students show their progress and intellect is, by far, one of the best parts of my job. Much student work I get to see is the result of class projects. I was introduced to a class project that was a bit different last year; out of the box is an understatement. I was approached by a science teacher who said we can send a science project to space. For real; we can send a science project to SPACE!

It took me a good three days to process that statement. Upon doing some research, we found out it would cost quite a bit. $23,000.00. That’s quite a bit.

After further reviewing the project, there is an opportunity within the program that partners us with a national foundation who does a great deal of soliciting on a national level. Out of $23,000.00, national companies have allocated $11,000.00. National companies, who don’t me, my schools, or my district, have allocated thousands to a project that has nothing to do with them. I find that to be amazing in itself. However, we still have $11,000.00 to raise.

The teacher and I began collaborating immediately. This was going to be more than a bake sale and selling some magazines. While we have been fortunate enough to have a dedicated Home & School Association and a community that is constantly being solicited, they keep responding. We are going to do some unique fundraisers, including collecting lightly worn shoes, selling poinsettias and fruitcakes, and some tricks up our sleeve. All in the name of science. All I’m the name of space!

We  are also seeking crowd funding. Over the years, crowdfunding has contributed to some wonderful projects. While there are many websites, we went with GoFundMe. Feel free to donate to our cause by clicking this link.

Any and all donations would be appreciated!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping us get to space!

How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day

Bullseye. Are you looking to be a leader? Read this…


Everyone has priorities. For ineffective managers, it’s the next email, text, phone call, or person who walks through the door. Meaningful work requires a closed door. The person who always respond…

Source: How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day

Been there, still doin’ that

With the school year going into full swing, so are many of the weekend September festivities:  festivals, football, and fall TV.  For educators, it is also a time for weekend conferences, workshops, and EdCamps.

Ever since becoming a superintendent, I have been faced with the same questions at least once a week.  Below is a simple Q & A for you.

“Why do you still participate in EdCamps, conferences, and  weekend workshops?” 

The simple answer is because I enjoy them.  I enjoy learning at these workshops. I enjoy learning from others and with others.  I enjoy networking.  Mostly, I enjoy seeing how other students are learning and how I can harness their triumphs for my own students and teachers.

Yes, some conferences are the same ol‘ same ol.”   I don’t go to those.

Yes, I often run into many of the same people.  So?  Chances are those people are a part of my PLN (personal learning network), and I learn more from them than from anyone else.

Are those folks that do all of these conferences or tweets in some cult or clique? Eh, some of them.  Just because we are on Twitter or the 18,000,000 other avenues of social media does not mean we all get along  – or should for that matter. Difference is good.  Everyone doing the same thing…. bad.  The movers and the shakers always find each other, not for popularity, but so they can grow together. Anyone who is too cool to say, “Hi,” to you or spends their time spewing slander? Drop ’em like French class.  (Remember that movie?)

Do you feel bad is you miss one?  LOL – no.  There have been many conferences/EdcCamps I have experienced.  Some were great; some were not.  In some cases, I served on the organizing committee.  You do your time, and you move on.  If it truly speaks to you, you stick around.  It is not mandated by any means. There are scads of conferences and EdCamps that I’ve partaken in and don’t partake in now.  It’s not a game changer if I don’t go or help out, and it never should be.  If any EdCamp or conference is built around one person, there’s a big problem.

How do you get the time?  That’s the tricky issue these days.  I have an amazing family at home, and my 18-month-old twins require much time and talent.  Not only that, but  I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  Family first, always.

What if you go alone?  ho cares?  You are going for you.  I work the same way.  I’m here to learn something.  If I don’t learn, it’s a waste of my time.

Seriously, you really enjoy this stuff THAT much?  Hell, yeah!  Education is my passion; it’s what drives me.  I am a fearless workhorse who wants nothing more than to have every available option for my students and staff, so that they can learn as well.  I want our students to be productive members of society.  Those students will be taking care of me down the road.  Why would I not want the best for them?

Until the next conference, EdCamp, or whatever the next big thing will be…







Mic Dropping (again) at The White House – #CSforAll 


Never did I ever think there would be a “part deux” to  blogging about speaking in the White House, until it happened again. Most people don’t get invited to the White House even once, let alone twice.  It’s humbling; it’s surreal.  It’s one of those experiences that you get to share with your kids and their kids.

About a month ago, I received an invitation from the Office of Science & Technology to attend both the #CSforAll forum and a PD session on what other districts from around the US and its territories are doing.  These meetings are the results of numerous initiatives from the President with the goal of getting computer science classes, programs, clubs, activities, or all of these into all schools.  If it sounds like a very broad and ambitious goal, it is.  To give every student the skills needed in order to succeed in today’s society has always been prized as a local initiative.  However, when the President of the United States sets an initiative, you want to follow through on it and use every resource you can.

The morning workshop was fantastic!  It contained leaders, teachers, government officials, and students from around the country, US territories, and Native American tribes.  I was able to hear about how uber wealthy, dirt poor, gigantic, and minuscule districts all had students writing code from grades K to 12.  I heard how a southern California high school rolled out a series of CS classes and how a school district in Florida started an hour of code and turned it into a massive community outpouring.  I was floored with how a tribe in Oklahoma has kindergarten students coding on the reservation. Meeting students where they are is an understatement.

The afternoon was a summit with national partners that highlighted how students, companies, colleges, public & private schools, and the government have come together to promote computer science for all.   From the Girl Scouts to Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, it was a fascinating afternoon.

The event was live on; you can watch the summit here:


We finished the day with a student exhibit in the Old Executive Office Building.  Besides seeing our future working on computer science projects that would take me days to figure out, we were also treated to some White House cupcakes.  Hey, cupcakes are cupcakes, but they are much cooler when the seal of the President is on them.

Three takeaways from another fantastic day in the world of education…

1. Computer Science is real, and it is easy for all ages.  Like all things new, it takes a bit of time to adjust.  CS classes are no longer “dehumanizing” (as one teacher from the forum put it) and can be injected into kindergarten classes.

2. Socioeconomic factors are finally starting to “not count” when it comes to trends in education.  The fact that Native American tribal schools are achieving success with kids from 5-15 should be a giant wake-up call to all blue-collar & white-collar school districts that say, “They can’t do that,” or “We don’t have the resources.”  Newsflash: They can, and the last time I checked, free resources don’t cost anything.

3. Regardless of who becomes President next, this project will continue to move forward.  It was adamantly clear that regardless of what happens in November, the star power and drive of so many Americans is obvious.  Computer science is a skill set for all learners and will only become more important as we move on in the future. 


With Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States

A teacher doing what she does best… educating others.

There are bloggers, and there are those who speak from the heart.  Kelly Grotrian (pronounced Grow-tree-an, not Grow-train) is one of those advocates.  I had the privilege to work with Kelly for a few years teaching 8th-grade history; she’s passionate, she pushes her kids to work, and she is fearless.  Read about her struggles below, but more importantly, read about what she’s doing about it.

I’ve gone back and forth about whether I wanted to write this post and I decided that I will share what I’m comfortable sharing and hope that my story may help someone else “out there.” I am living with a variety of mental disorders for which I seek treatment and I wanted to tell “everyone” […]

via A Post Not About Teaching… But About a Teacher — Kelly Grotrian