Every year, I have the most amazing journeys between mid-February and early April. I travel I-80 weekly and witness the wild migrating cranes, flocking to Nebraska. An estimated 90% of the world’s Sandhill cranes visit the Midwest along the Nebraska Platte River. They arrive during the heart of the winter months and huddle like a team to stay warm.
In mid-February, the skies are seasoned with gliding cranes, necks outstretched as they visualize the next habitual destination. Every year I watch them glide with alignment, flying in a V or J formation, using extended legs and wings for a gentle landing in the fields. Cranes rest, beef up, and gain energy while visiting Nebraska.
In the fields, cranes communicate with a chorus of many purposeful cries; moans, hissing, snoring and goose-like honks. They leap, run, and dance as they probe for food in the fields and river beds: rodents, snakes, snails, frogs, fish, insects, berries and plants. Twenty-nine days along the Platte adds about a pound of fat to help with the remaining migrations and initiate nesting.
In early April, the cranes leap up like small jets taking off in a cornfield runway. They continue their journey to find warmer weather. The crane leaders and the followers team together whether they are in the fields or skies.
While they are beautiful, I think they also demonstrate important lessons for leaders.
Flock as leaders and followers.
Be instinctive and visionary for basic and futuristic needs
Communicate with purpose
Be habitually goal oriented
Choose resiliency and know how to survive the toughest of time
Foster an environment for future generations flourish
There is always something we can learn from observing nature and its interesting inhabitants.
Take the time to slow down and discover what is out in the world beyond your screen—you may be surprised by the things you can learn.
St. Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration on March 17. What began as a commemoration of the patron saint of Ireland has become a fun-filled celebration of all things Irish.
Not Irish? It does not matter!
At celebrations throughout the world, you will be informed that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! You will see green clothing, green hair and green shamrocks. The city of Chicago even dyes the river green. You will hear St. Patrick’s Day expressions such as “Erin Go Bragh,” “Kiss the Blarney Stone” and my personal favorite “Luck of the Irish to You!”
“Luck of the Irish!” I love this expression because for years I misunderstood it. I believed it meant something like extreme good fortune. But an Irish-American friend explained that it really encompasses the sense of luck that you make yourself through your own positive outlook and determination. I liked that meaning so much better!
While I enjoy the idea of luck—wishes on a falling star, crossing my fingers—I believe in being positive and being prepared. Whether facing an exam, hoping for an opportunity or approaching a challenge in your life, it’s fun to make a wish, but you are more likely to find the luck you need when you put forth effort and have a positive attitude.
So when I wish you the “Luck of the Irish,” I really wish you the happiness and good fortune that comes from knowing that you have prepared yourself for the good things you want to come your way.
Fundamentals are the basic skills, techniques, etc. that serve as the foundation of any system. Being fundamentally sound is an essential if you want to be successful at something.
Throughout my years of coaching football, the team that was the most successful was usually the team that did the best in the basic fundamentals of blocking and tackling. Most football coaches plan to spend a significant part of their practice time developing or enhancing these essential skills with their players. If you are not fundamentally sound at blocking and tackling in football, you are going to struggle.
How are you in the basic fundamentals of being a good student?
Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are three standard fundamentals that can help lead you to academic success:
A regular study schedule or routine
A study environment that has minimal distractions
Completing all required homework and assigned readings
Just as there are many additional skills in football besides blocking and tackling (i.e. passing the ball, catching the ball, rushing the passer, causing turnovers, etc.) there are also many other important skills in your development as a student: writing, reading and test taking to name a few.
After you set the foundation with the basic fundamentals, you can start working on these additional skills.
What academic fundamentals do you need to work on to help you be the best student you can be?
Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar—all for UNHS, stand up and holler!
This was a cheer my pep club pals and I exuberantly shouted before every sporting event in high school. We were excited and loud for the upcoming competition, and the cheerleaders led us in motivating the sporting teams.
Today, I treasure the cheerful leadership for the UNHS team. As years have seasoned me, I have come to truly value what I call a “cheerful” leader. These leaders have great qualities.
They have a spirit of kindness, providing joyful moments straight from the heart. It may catch you by surprise!
They find goodness in all aspects of living using the heart, head and hands to share cheerfulness.
They spread joy individually and within groups.
They have purpose, love learning and live every day to the fullest.
They network through kindness, helpfulness, happiness and positive vibes.
They allow fellow learners, workers, family and friends the freedom to perform to the best of their abilities and value individual strengths.
The University of Nebraska High School is lucky to have a cheerful leader in Barbara Shousha. Barbara encourages everyone to perform their best and values the challenge that each week brings. She overflows with all the characteristics of cheerful leadership.
What does being a cheerful leader mean to you?
What can you do this week to become a cheerful leader?
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, allow me to suggest the most wonderful gift for your loved one—the gift of a book.
Throughout my journey in education and life, some of the best things I’ve given or received are books. I recently gave my wife a book about the kings and queens of England and Scotland. She holds strongly to her Scottish ancestry with a last name of “Stuart.”
I’m fortunate to have received several books over the years from dear friends, family and fellow teachers and administrators. The books and topics ranged from famous American leaders and their writings, to teacher help books that focus on teaching strategies, discipline, professional development and the latest trends in education.
There is a certain excitement in sharing with others what you have discovered.
One of the most powerful and influential books I have ever read is “Bullying Prevention & Intervention” by Susan Swearer, Dorothy Espelage, and Scott Napolitano, 2009. This book helped me better understand current research, and I was able to work with teaching staff, parents and students to apply strategies to deal with student bullying and the victims of this hurtful behavior.
A good book can become a very personal experience, whereby you get to dig deep down within its presented thoughts, weigh your own experiences against those presented thoughts and arrive at a whole new level of meaning about specific concepts. This can lead you to a new and different point. It is truly magic without the smoke and mirrors.
So—hurry! There is still time to find a book for someone special in your life. Sharing the journey of a great book is a wonderful feeling!
Please share your book suggestions in the comments!