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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 [email protected]  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 [email protected]  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 [email protected]  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 [email protected]  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 [email protected]  On Oct 20, 2019 at 12:09 PM
Henry Ford, found of Ford Motor Company, said, "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right."

Belief is self-fulfilling. In the mid-1990s, I studied and earned a master's degree in sport psychology from the University of Virginia. I was intrigued to learn that what separated the good athletes from the great athletes was their mindset and their belief, not their physical abilities and skills. But this doesn't just apply to athletes, it applies to everyone in the game of life. 

Alexander Lockhart writes in his book The Portable Pep Talk, the single most important attitude affecting human performance is belief in oneself. Anything you believe with feeling becomes your reality, turning the mental into the physical. The more intense belief, the more likely it will be true for you. 

When you believe without a shadow of a doubt that you can achieve great success, you develop an attitude that nothing can stop you. You develop habits consistent with what you desire to achieve and lose the habits that are inconsistent with what you want. Your success in life is in direct proportion to your daily habits which feed into your beliefs.

Gary Newell, founder and president of Outreach America, said, "people will doubt their beliefs, but believe their doubts." To turn that around, overcome your doubts by developing positive daily habits that will feed your belief and then have the stick-to-itiveness to never relinquish that belief.
Posted by [email protected]  On Oct 13, 2019 at 6:43 PM

The year was 1874 when the United States Lifesaving Service, a forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard came to the Outer Banks. That year they built the first seven of 29 Lifesaving Stations in North Carolina.

Political appointees first ran the stations for the Service, but they were soon replaced with more competent personnel regardless of race. Richard Etheridge, a black Civil War veteran living on the north end of Roanoke Island joined the Service at Oregon Inlet in 1875. 

Just five years later, Etheridge was appointed keeper of the Pea Island Station on what is now the north end of Hatteras Island. First LIeutenant Charles Shoemaker, who recommended Etheridge, stated that he was “one of the best surfmen on this part of the coast of North Carolina.”

When white subordinates quit, Etheridge recruited fellow black watermen from Roanoke Island. Pea Island became the only all-black lifesaving station in the country, a distinction it kept until it was decommissioned in 1947. 

Soon after Etheridge's appointment, the station burned down. Determined to execute his duties with expert commitment, Etheridge supervised the construction of a new station on the original site. He also developed rigorous lifesaving drills that enabled his crew to tackle all lifesaving tasks. His station earned the reputation of "one of the tautest on the Carolina Coast," with its keeper well-known as one of the most courageous and ingenious lifesavers in the Service.

The courage of this man come to the forefront in 1896.

On October 11, 1896, Etheridge's rigorous training drills proved to be invaluable. The three-masted schooner, the E.S. Newman, was caught in a terrifying storm. En route from Stonningham, Connecticut to Norfolk, Virginia, the vessel was blown 100 miles south off course and came ashore on the beach, two miles south of the Pea Island station. The storm was so severe that Etheridge had suspended normal beach patrols that day. But the alert eyes of one of his surfman, Theodore Meekins, saw the first distress flare and he immediately notified Etheridge. Etheridge gathered his crew and launched the surfboat. Battling the strong tide and sweeping currents, the dedicated lifesavers struggled to make their way to a point opposite the schooner, only to find there was no dry land. The daring, quick-witted Etheridge tied two of his strongest surfmen together and connected them to shore by a long line. They fought their way through the roaring waves and finally reached the schooner. The seemingly inexhaustible Pea Island crew members journeyed through the perilous waters ten times and rescued the entire crew of the E.S. Newman

The courage of Etheridge and his crew that day was immeasurable. They stepped up when others that they never knew before needed their help. Etheridge was also courageous by stepping up to take command of the Lifesaving Station during an era dominated by white men. When all of his subordinates quit, he could have given up and moved on, but that was not in his DNA. He had the courage to keep moving forward because he knew the value of his work.

What is the moral of this story? Courage is about stepping up. Stepping up to help others. Stepping up to add value to other people you may not even know. When you have the courage to put the needs of others first, you not only add value to their life, but you also add value to your own. 

Posted by [email protected]  On Oct 06, 2019 at 8:27 AM
John Maxwell, a noted author and leadership coach, said," People who add value to others do so intentionally. I say that because to add value, leaders must give of themselves, and rarely that occurs by accident."

One simple way to add value to others is by lifting people up with your words. Your words have the power to raise people up or tear them down. Most people to some extent struggle with self-esteem. Use kind, encouraging, and uplifting words when speaking with others. You never know in what moment those words will be just what they need. 
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 29, 2019 at 5:56 PM
I completed a book in early August entitled The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. One comment that stuck out to me was, "Simple daily disciplines - little productive actions, repeated consistently over time - add up to the difference between failure and success."

We are all creatures of habit. Some habits are good for us. Some are not so good for us. For instance, I had gotten into the habit of not getting physical activity every day. So I made a commitment to walk at least one intentional mile every day. Since Aug. 2 when I made the decision to do this, I have walked at least 1.5 miles daily and as much as 5 on some occasions. For real change to happen for me, I had to make it one of my daily disciplines or habits. 

Now this is not earth-shattering as there are people out there who exercise way more than I do. However, over the course of time this one action will greatly benefit my physical and mental health. 

I encourage you to take an inventory of what your daily habits are and determine which ones you should keep and which ones need to change. 
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 22, 2019 at 9:12 AM
Being kind is an intentional act that adds value to the life of other people.

The following is an excerpt from The Portable Pep Talk by Alexander Lockhart that "speaks" to the heart of kindness.

Wouldn't it be a different world if we could learn to become more caring and more unselfish. If someone were to pay you ten cents for every kind word or act that you said or did and collect five cents for every kind word or act, would you be rich or poor? Sharing kindness with others is the most rewarding and fulfilling act you can do. 

Kindness is always returned to the one who sends it out. You reap just what you sow. What you do to and for others tends to come back to you. It has been said that kindness is a hard thing to give away because it keeps coming back to the giver. By helping other people and by doing kind things for them, you will experience an inward satisfaction and joy that is immeasurable. 

There is nothing more comforting, more gratifying than knowing that through a kind word or act you made someone else's day a little brighter or someone else's life a little easier. A kind and generous act will go further, last longer, and be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.

Check out this one minute video, We Rise by Lifting Others.
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 15, 2019 at 1:20 PM
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