Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Unlikely Connection

A few months ago, I received a phone call while in my office at school. A gentleman introduced himself as Soichi (So-eech) Hayashi, and proceeded, in very energetic and deliberate English, to tell me that he was a Japanese journalist, living in Reno. A principal at one of Washoe County's elementary schools had recommended that he make an appointment to interview me. He said that he was interested in seeing my Elementary Opportunity School because he was interested in writing about individuals who were trying to solve the problems in our educational system.
I must admit, I am extremely hard of hearing, especially if it is a calm, quiet voice (yell and stomp, in a deep voice, I'll hear you loud and clear!), so I was trying very hard to HEAR what Soichi was telling me. After embarrassingly asking him to repeat himself several times, I began to understand what he was asking of me: He sees that the Japanese educational system is beginning to make many of the same mistakes that were made here; he is proactively investigating how we are fixing our mistakes in order to improve the quality of education HERE, in order to help his own country before things get too bad and he wanted to meet with me. OKAY! So, we set a time to meet.  He came to my school, asked me lots of questions about the kids, my assistant, my counselor, my boss, and most importantly, my philosophy on how to reach these kids. All the while, he wrote furiously in his little notebook.  We had some wonderful discussions on the importance of connecting with students and families, concentrating on the whole child, not just test scores.
The best thing about this first meeting was that I did a little interviewing myself.  I wanted to know all about this new person.  He's published several books and articles in Japan, that range from Japanese sports to looking at homeless problems here in the U.S. to covering Americans that have been given second chances to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others, one being George Foreman. He attended our very own University of Nevada, Reno and majored in journalism prior to all of this writing in Japan.  He is married and lives here in Reno with his wife, daughter and son. He was a professional boxer in Japan, and has worked with some of our communities most at-risk youth.
During our second meeting, Soichi told me that he would like to follow my career. He said he felt that I have the right passion and belief to make positive changes happen in our school systems and he wants to write about me to inspire educators in Japan. He completely humbled me.   We have met several times since then. Last week, he had just gotten back from spending six weeks in Japan; during his time there, he met with his editors and they have begun a new contract with him, giving him the go-ahead to follow ME! Ha!  Who'd have ever thought?  I am interested to see how this new and interesting connection continues to unfold . . . . .and I have also told Soichi that whatever he writes about me, I want translated, I'd hate to find out that he's writing me in as a goofy American teacher in a Japanese newspaper comic strip. lol    :0)  I'll keep you all posted.
Be well, Friends,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Don't Forget To Nurture Those Friendships . . . . .

So, while I'm BIG on connecting with others, I woke up yesterday morning feeling terrible that I have not connected with one of my dearest friends in MONTHS. Yes, we'll chat on Facebook once in a while, and it allows us to check each other's pulses here and there, BUT, she lives 15 minutes away, and even though I've been extremely busy with "work stuff" . . .I'm technically "off" for the summer, there is no excuse!  I was determined to make her a priority yesterday and I am SO glad that I did.  We had a wonderful lunch, and spent some time walking by the river with her beautiful baby boy. We even talked a little about this blog, and how it made her really reflect on her own human connections. It was time well spent, AND, I still got my "work stuff" done, too. 
I share this with you because I want to remind you not to forget to nurture those special friendships. We all get busy, and caught up in the daily grind . . . . . . I challenge each of you to take some time this week to nurture a connection that you may have neglected lately . . . .may it brighten your day and someone else's, too!  


Friday, July 24, 2009

Making Real Connections

“In Everyone’s life at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

                            -Albert Schweitzer

Making connections with others has always been important to me , but with each year of my life, I realize, more and more, how truly important these connections are. I consider myself blessed to be able to work in the field of education. Every day, I am able to touch the lives of children and their families in a positive way; I am fortunate enough to see how my belief in them leads to them believing in themselves, so that they can live a fulfilling life and enjoy their own connections with others. I started my career as a teacher and have since been moving "onward and upward" into the realm of administration. What a journey so far! It is so important to me to be able to feel like I'm making a difference, no matter what position I happen to hold at the time. I want to help people succeed!

 I look to the many successful leaders in education, many whom have been MY mentors, for guidance on a regular basis, and one thing is always consistent: they NEVER fail to connect with others. This is at the forefront of everything they do.

I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, an administrator, an employee, a boss, a shopper at the grocery store, another face at the gym in the morning, a patient in the waiting room, a neighbor. When I look at this life of mine and at the sphere of influence I have created around myself, I feel a massive sense of responsibility to make sure that I do not take all of these human connections for granted.

Take a look around you!  How many people do YOU have some sort of connection with? Are you making those connections positive? Inspirational? What impression do we leave with people we've just met? What are we doing to help others live their best life? 

This blog is just one way of holding myself accountable, as I journey forward, for "keeping it real". I will not lose sight of the incredible influence that I have on the lives around me. Let this be my chance to connect with YOU, share your thoughts as I share mine; lets make a point of living each day making REAL connections with others, and hopefully, leaving them with a smile and a memory that will enrich their lives . . . . .