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Personal victory is really the mastering of self. It doesn't happen by chance. According to Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People there are three basic habits that can lead you to personal victory1)Be proactive; 2)Begin with the end in mind; 3)Put the first thing first.

Being proactive means mentally setting yourself up for victory. It's a decision. It could be as simple as deciding you're going to clean your room or making the decision that you're going to do your homework instead of watching Netflix or playing Fortnite. 

Begin with the end in mind is about what you want to accomplish: your room will be clean or your homework will be done. You feel that sense of accomplishment no matter how big or small it may seem.

Put the first thing first is about what you value and make a priority. When it's a priority, it will get your attention and focus. What gets your attention and focus gets done.

Once you get the concept of personal victory, the next step is learning how to celebrate the small victories. Next week's blog will focus on those victories.
Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  at 10:17 AM
  
"Words are the singular most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble." - Yehuda Berg (International best selling author and speaker)

Considering the "powerful force" of our words, how can we discipline ourselves to consistently speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility? One way is to take time to THINK.
T - Is it TRUE?
H - Is it HELPFUL?
I - Is it INSPIRING?
N - Is it NECESSARY?
K - Is it KIND?


Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Sep 16, 2018 at 8:05 PM
  
Corporate America has long seen the benefits of having wellness programs for employees where they work. According to fitness expert Dr. Steven Aldana, CEO of WellSteps, there are five benefits to having a wellness programs in the workplace.
  1. Improve Employee Health Behaviors
  2. Reduce Elevated Health Risks
  3. Reduce Health Care Costs
  4. Improve Productivity
  5. Can Decrease Absenteeism

See the full article here.

At Lee-Davis, we have also put more emphasis on wellness. Our staff spent some time during the planning week generating ideas for wellness opportunities for themselves and also for our kids. The school year can be stressful at times and we need to ensure we have strategies in place to take care of ourselves and our kids. You may find staff members taking a walk  or working out during a planning period. You may see a class outside doing yoga before a major test. Just know that these wellness strategies are designed to enhance the educational experiences of all learners for the long haul.

Our county has also expanded its reach on wellness by providing more resources to all of its employees. They too realize the benefit of having these programs and opportunities in place. 

If you do not currently have a wellness plan, I encourage you to find one that fits your lifestyle. When it fits your lifestyle, you are more likely to maintain a program that benefits you now and for the long term. (And think about the example you are setting for our kids).

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Sep 09, 2018 at 8:26 PM
  
Most dictionaries define success as an attainment of wealth, fame, respect, or favor. When I asked students on our Student Advisory Council how they believed society defines success, the overwhelming common answers were money and status. 

John Wooden, the hall of fame basketball coach, defined success as "peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."

It is this definition that I believe relates more to our mission: To empower all learners to be successful.

It is our own mindset that determines whether or not we are successful. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to the "Jones" of the world, we may never achieve that "peace of mind." However, if we focus our efforts on just being the best we can be, success is a lot more attainable. 

Our kids have grown up in a world where there are instant "status" updates. They have been exposed greatly to what society may deem as success. Our mission to help them define success for themselves and to discover that their successes will come as a direct result of their best efforts. As the adults in their world, we too are learners and our kids will learn from what we model.

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Sep 02, 2018 at 5:22 PM
  
This school year, we are having a different type of focus. One that places emphasis on our mindset. Our focus for this year will be on Value, Success, and Wellness.

The next three series of this blog will focus on these three areas. We will start with Value.

People of value, value other people. I heard John Maxwell, a leadership coach, repeat this over and over in an audio book I listened to this summer. This comment got me to thinking about our staff and our kids. We are people of value who value other people. The big question is, how do we ADD value to other people?

Adding value to others is an intentional act. We cannot rely on our subconscious to make this happen. It is a conscious decision we make to enhance the lives of others. We have to learn more about one another in order to know how we can add value to others. I tell people all the time, the better I know you, the better I can serve you. Encourage your kids to be open to conversations with our staff so that we can get to know them better.

If we are persistent and consistent in this pursuit of adding value, it will have a positive compound effect and our kids will be better for it.
Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Aug 26, 2018 at 5:36 PM
  
I think it is safe to say we live in an Information Age. We have so much access to information and other people throughout the world via the devices we carry every day. Through the technology we have at our disposal, we share our lives, we get the news, we run businesses, we earn degrees, and the list goes on and on.

For our kids, it is nearly impossible to "monitor" what they have access to 24/7. So how do we help them navigate a world in which they probably have more knowledge about the technology than we do? Empowerment.

During my graduation speech on June 16, I stated that our kids have the potential to be the next greatest generation because they have the means necessary to spread compassion throughout the world. Our challenge as parents/guardians and educators is to help them develop and refine their life skills in this information age so they can maximize their potential. To do that, we must also continue to learn and grow right along with them.

Our mission, To empower all learners to be successful, is our guiding principle. We can empower our kids by giving them a voice, engaging them in real world learning experiences, and by providing an inclusive environment in which they not only learn from others, but learn to appreciate others.

By working together, we can empower the next greatest generation.

Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Aug 19, 2018 at 5:23 PM
  
We've already looked at two ways to build loyalty: 1) being honest and trustworthy; 2) being supportive and generous.

This week we look at the third way to build loyalty:

Week 3: Maintaining Healthy Boundaries
  • Choose to give your loyalty to others. Loyalty should be something you freely give to others because you want to, not because you feel you have to. Don't feel obligated because it is demanded or expected. Choose to be loyal to those you trust and believe in because of their actions and character.
  • Do not let others take advantage of your loyalty. The relationships you have in life should feel equitable where you feel you are getting as much as you are giving. If you feel you are being taken advantage of by a friend or family member, sit them down for a conversation about your feelings which goes back to being honest and trustworthy.
  • Maintain your independence. Be sure to have to time for yourself to do your own thing. Avoid being too dependent on others. If you have a significant other, perhaps you take one day a week to socialize with other friends or family members.
  • Allow time for self-care. Take the time to focus on your needs. Establish a routine where you do something you enjoy such as working out, reading, or even mindfulness activities. This will help prevent burn out or the sense of dependence on others. 

"Peace means loyalty to self...And loyalty to one's self means never a gap between thought, speech, act." - Ruth Beebe Hill, author.


Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Jun 10, 2018 at 11:02 AM
  
Last week we focused on being honest and trustworthy as one way to build loyalty. This week we look at a second way to build loyalty.

Week 2: Being Supportive and Generous.
  • Support the goals, ambitions, and dreams of others. Try to show genuine interest in the goals and dreams of your family and friends. If your friend dreams of being a musician, show your support by going to his/her show and promoting him/her on social media. Support a family member's career goal by offering to help them study for a test or exam.
  • Be a good listener. Take the time to listen to what they have to say. Maintain eye contact and nod when you listen to a family member or a friend. Be sure to put your phone away to give them your undivided attention. Avoid interrupting them when they are speaking. 
  • Offer positive solutions and ideas. Come up with ideas and solutions that make them feel optimistic and productive. You can support a friend going through a break up by reminding them of all the positive things they have going on in their life.
  • Resist judging others for their choices and actions. Practice empathy for others versus judging them. Don't let a family member's lifestyle choices blind you to all the reasons why you care about them. Be open to the ideas and lifestyles of others that may be different than yours. 

"Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice." - Woodrow Wilson




Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On Jun 03, 2018 at 4:38 PM
  
Loyalty is one of the character traits we emphasize under The Lee-Davis Way umbrella. For our purposes, we define loyalty as demonstrating pride and allegiance to our country, community, school, family, and peers. But how does one become loyal?

For the next three weeks, I will touch on three ways to build loyalty. 

Week 1: Be honest and trustworthy.
  • Always be open and straightforward with your friends and family. Avoid being judgmental in your approach. Try putting yourself in their shoes, "it's your decision, but if it were me..."
  • Avoid gossip and encourage others around you that engage in that type of behavior to stop. Let them know you prefer to speak directly with your friend or family member.
  • Follow through on your commitments. Show up to meet your friends or family if you tell them that you be there. If you tell a friend that you're always there for them, then make sure you are there when they need you.
  • Stand up for others when needed. Be your family member's or friend's biggest cheerleader. When someone else attempts to speak poorly of them or bring them down, respectfully stand up for them.

"Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned." - unknown


Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On May 27, 2018 at 6:02 PM
  
Each month I meet with the same group of students for lunch and conversation. These past two months we've been reading a book, The Positive Dog, by Jon Gordon. There was a short chapter in the book we discussed this past Wednesday about the differences between "Get to and Have to."
When we develop a habit of saying "we get to" instead of "we have to," we begin seeing more of the positives in our lives. A student example might be to say "I get to go to school today" versus "I have to go to school today."
This simple change in wording helps our minds to focus more on what we're grateful for in our lives. As I mentioned to my students during our conversation, there are kids in other parts of the world that are not able to go to school and would love the opportunity to go and learn. 
I encourage you this week, as I did my students, to start saying "I get to..." and see if that changes your perspective on your life. 
When you make this type of thinking a habit, you begin to live a life of gratitude.
Share this except from Gordon's book.
A man goes to the village to visit the wise man and he says to the wise man, "I feel like there are two dogs inside of me. One dog is this positive, loving, kind, and gentle dog and then I have this angry, mean-spirited, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don't know which is going to win." The wise man thinks for a moment and he says, "I know which dog is going to win. The one you feed the most, so feed the positive dog."
Posted by cestevens@hcps.us  On May 20, 2018 at 4:04 PM
  
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