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As I was researching for today's blog, I came across the blog below that provides both perspective and strategies to take more responsibility for your life and essentially your future.
https://thriveglobal.com/stories/9-ways-to-take-responsibility-for-your-life/

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  at 3:57 PM
  
Take a moment with your teenager this week to share and discuss the following quote by John C. Maxwell, leadership coach and author of over 70 books on leadership.

"The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up."

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Jan 12, 2020 at 4:59 PM
  

The year was 1912 and all the talk in the world, especially in Europe, was about the Titanic, a luxury ship designed to ferry people back and forth across the Atlantic. However, on its maiden voyage, the unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912 and would subsequently sink to the bottom of the Atlantic at 2:20 a.m. on April 15. There were 2,224 passengers on board with over 900 crew. However, there were only enough lifeboats to carry about 1100 people. The decision-makers for Titanic irresponsibly decided that because the ship was considered unsinkable, they didn’t need as many. They opted for more deck space rather than keeping the safety of all passengers and crew in mind. That decision cost lives as over 1500 people perished that night.


Of the 900 crew members, 25 of them were engineers responsible for maintaining the inner-workings of the ship including the pumps designed to control any possible flooding. 

As the Titanic was sinking, passengers were being loaded onto the lifeboats by the deck crew. During this time, the engineering crew remained at their posts to work the pumps, controlling the flooding as much as possible. Their actions ensured the power stayed on during the evacuation and allowed the wireless radio system to keep sending distress signals.These men bravely kept at their work as it was their responsibility. They helped save more than 700 people even though it would cost them their own lives.


This story shows how irresponsible decisions can negatively impact not only your own life, but the lives of others. The story also demonstrates how following through on your responsibilities can make a major impact, especially when you are putting the welfare of others above yourself. As we begin a new decade, take time to talk with you teens about their roles and responsibilities within your family structure. Talk to them about how their responsibilities may evolve over time and the importance of following through. Happy New Year and New Decade!

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Jan 02, 2020 at 1:43 PM
  
I saw a news segment this morning on NBC12 about a father from Louisa County who had been deployed with the U.S. Army for over a year. Mr. Torbush, an Army Sergeant, was able to surprise his kids who were at Louisa County High School yesterday (Dec. 14, 2019) for a wrestling tournament. His two boys were on the wrestling team and were quite surprised when the coach announced their special visitor. His two daughters also ran out on the mat to greet their dad. It was quite a moving story.

The story made me think of the word honor. In this instance, it's the way we show respect and admiration for someone. The kids honored their mother and father by the way they embraced their dad. In a blog on Honor Lessons by Scott Turansky on imom.com, he states that children learn honor from their parents. The way Mom and Dad treat each other, even in disagreements, is an example to children of how they should treat others. 

Mrs. Torbush stated in the news segment how difficult life had become without her husband around, but based on their reunion one could only conclude how diligently she "kept the home fires burning" during his deployment. 

It's in the daily routines and actions where our kids will learn honor. What we instill in our kids every day is what they will eventually instill in theirs.

"It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind." - Branch Rickey.
Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Dec 15, 2019 at 9:00 PM
  

The year was 1854. Jacob Hamblin was a Mormon pioneer sent from Illinois to help settle southern Utah. Hamblin quickly developed a friendship with the Native Americans who lived there. He did business with them regularly and they knew they could trust him to treat them honestly and fairly. He was known as a man of integrity by his new friends because of his consistent actions.


One day he sent his son to obtain blankets from a Native American man, in exchange for a pony. The man offered a pile of blankets after examining the pony, but the son, wanting to prove what a good business man he could be, refused the offer, saying he wanted more. 


The man continued to add blankets to the pile until the son agreed to the trade. However, when the boy returned home, he found his father was not proud of his business skills. The boy had taken more than the pony was worth, and he promptly sent the son to return half the blankets.


The Native American man, when the boy explained sheepishly what he was there to do, laughed. He had known Hamblin would make his son return the extra blankets. 


You see integrity is actionable. It’s not just based on your words, but also your actions. If you want to become trustworthy, you must do things that build trust with others consistently over time. And that is the essence of integrity.


Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Dec 08, 2019 at 2:30 PM
  
For the past six years that I have served as principal, the last Friday just before school starts I share an inspirational quote to set the theme for the year. This year our theme centers around PERSPECTIVE and the following quote was given to each staff member.

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." - Henry David Thoreau

As I was doing some research on stories of gratitude, I came across the following article that I believe speaks to a perspective of gratitude.

A short lesson on gratitude.
Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Nov 17, 2019 at 10:00 AM
  
I have been married to my wife Sally for over 28 years and our sons are now 26 and 23. It's a blessing to still be in their lives every day, but I have to admit one of the pleasures we enjoyed from birth through their high school years was the time we got to spend together especially at family dinners. That was our designated time to catch up. As they got more into high school sports and activities and travel sports, our family dinners were not as frequent, but we still made time each week. It was important to my wife and I to have that time because we knew that time was precious and would not last forever. We still squeeze in a family dinner or two here and there, but it's definitely not the same.

As the pace of life seems to have increased with more activities, parents/guardians working on different schedules, online access 24/7, family are challenged more now than ever. I encourage you to carve out time as much as you can each week to stay connected with your teenagers. These years are just as critical if not more than their younger years. They are discovering more of who they are and what they want to be. They are associating with more people. They are dealing with issues that you may not be aware of.

Keep in mind, what we model for them now is what they will model for their kids.

The following excerpt is from a book entitled, To A Child LOVE Is Spelled T-I-M-E.
No amount of love is too much for any child, and you cannot separate love from time spent together. The fact that you feel love for your child does not guarantee they feel loved. They need to constantly hear you tell them "I love you" and see your love demonstrated in the small details of life. Give your child the best gift of all - yourself. That's what they really want and need.

"
Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Nov 11, 2019 at 1:20 PM
  

November is National Gratitude Month and also our character focus this month. Having gratitude means we express humility and thankfulness for the people, opportunities, gifts, and talents afforded us.


The following story I believe speaks volumes about having a mindset of gratitude.


The year was 1933. The Great Depression had reached its lowest point as nearly 15 million Americans, 20 percent of the population, were unemployed and over half of the nation’s banks had failed. Others who remained employed had their wages reduced which also decreased their buying power. Soup kitchens, breadlines, and a growing population of homeless people were common across many cities and towns in the US.


Despite all of these challenges, many Americans learned how to make do with what they had. They developed an attitude of gratitude and learned how to be grateful for what they did have and not what they were going without.


We have learned throughout our history that it’s not what you don’t have, but what you do with what you have that counts the most. That type of perspective only happens when you have gratitude. Folks during the Great Depression may have eaten the same type of meal for days on end, but they learned to be grateful that they had food. 


Marty Bryan, age 84, from Columbus, Ohio shared, “I lived through The Great Depression and can remember eating beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I was four years old but at least we had something to eat. Others didn’t.” 

Another resident from Columbus, Ohio, Maxine Bartelt, age 87, recalls. “Eating was different in those days, too. We didn’t come to a table and complain because the food wasn’t what we liked. There were not many choices. We ate or went without. Some days bread and gravy tasted very good.”


The point here is this. We all have challenges and struggles we have to deal with from time to time. And it can be easy to get down because of those challenges. But it’s during those challenging times where a focus on being truly grateful for what we have will get us through. Because no matter what issues we may have, there is always someone out there in the world who has even greater challenges. 


Take a moment right now and think about who or what you are grateful for in your life. Have you shown appreciation for what you’re grateful for? Have you told others that you are grateful for them? For me personally, I am truly grateful, thankful, and joyful that I have the opportunity to serve as principal of Lee-Davis High School every day. I am grateful and appreciative that I have a supportive and loving family at home and a loving, supportive staff I get to work with every day. 


So for the entire month of November, I encourage you to take the gratitude challenge and post on Twitter and Instagram about someone or something you are grateful for everyday this month. Use #gratefulLD.


Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Nov 02, 2019 at 4:10 PM
  
Nelson Mandela said, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

This week spend some time with your teens reflecting on this quote. As adults, we know that life will be challenging at times and there were fears we to face and conquer. Share your story of overcoming with them so they too can learn how to be brave and conquer their fears.

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Oct 27, 2019 at 5:04 PM
  

The year was 1862. To be more exact, it was May 12, 1862 when a 22-year-old slave by the name of Robert Smalls would courageously pull off one of the greatest escapes to freedom in history.


At that time, Union Naval forces had created a blockade around Charleston, South Carolina and Confederate forces had dug in to defend its coastal waters. Robert Smalls was a mulatto slave that had been sailing those waters since his early teens. He was a “wheelman” aboard the gunboat CSS Planter, a cotton steamer that had been heavily armed to go out into battle the next morning. The Planter was commanded by three white officers and had a crew of eight slaves including Smalls. Smalls was intelligent, resourceful, and a skillful navigator yearning to free himself and his family. On May 12, 1862 he saw an opportunity to do just that. Against regulations the three white officers disembarked the ship for the night, leaving Smalls and crew behind which shows how much they trusted Smalls and the crew.


After the officers were gone, Smalls shared his plan with the crew and went into action. At 2 a.m. on May 13, Smalls put on the captain’s uniform and straw hat to look the part . Then he and his skeleton crew hoisted the South Carolina and Confederate flags as decoys and begin easing the Planter out of the dock right past General Ripley’s headquarters. He first stops at West Atlantic Wharf to pick up his wife and children, four other women, three men, and a child.

There were five Confederate harbor points Smalls had to guide ship through. Over time he had studied every signal given by his Captain so he was well prepared for this moment. At approximately 4:30 a.m. Smalls had sailed past the last point at Fort Sumter when the alarms sounded, but by that time the Planter was out of gun range.


He had one more obstacle to overcome, the US Naval forces. After sailing past Fort Sumter, they pulled down the two flags and hoisted a white bed sheet brought on board by his wife as a sign of surrender. However, it was still before sunrise and John Frederick Nickels, the acting captain of the USS Onward, could not see the white flag, so he ordered for the “ports to open” meaning prepare to fire. Just before the order to fire, the sun came up and one lookout spotted the white “flag” preserving the Planter and her crew. Smalls’ turned the ship over to the US Navy. His escape plan had succeeded. 


Smalls would share with Naval intelligence the captain’s code book containing Confederate signals and a map of the mines and torpedoes laid in Charleston’s harbor. His shared his extensive knowledge of the Charleston waterways and military configurations. His valuable information allowed for Union forces to take over Coles Island and its string of batteries without a fight. 


Smalls would not only gain freedom for his family, but would go to serve in the U.S. Navy until 1968 when he began a career in politics. His first stint was in the South Carolina House of Representatives, then the state senate. In 1875, he would be elected to the U.S House of Representatives for South Carolina’s 5th district and then the 7th district until 1887.


While Smalls exhibited great courage that night of the escape, he had been preparing for that night long before. He had the courage and the foresight to prepare for that moment. He took courageous steps every day knowing the uncertainty and the dangers he would face. Yet he planned for it anyway. 


A lesson from his story can be summed up in a quote from an unknown source. 

“Sometimes life can be challenging and you can feel as though you are not getting anywhere. However, you have to remember that every courageous step counts and if you take small steps every day, one day you will get there.”


Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Oct 20, 2019 at 12:09 PM
  
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