“The Next Play”

Ray
Ray Henning, Academic Adviser

In sports competition, what is the most important play?

You are likely to get many different answers depending on who you ask. However, to most coaches, the correct response they want from their athletes is, “the next play”.

This is a vital message coaches need to communicate to his/her team and individual players. Participants cannot be focused on what previously took place on the field, court, etc. All of their attention needs to be on what is going on in present time. If an athlete is still thinking about what just happened—either positive or negative—it takes away from their concentration on the next action.

Similarly, as you work on your academics, it is important to keep your focus on what you are currently doing. If you just had a grade you really like or one that was not so fantastic, you need to refocus and get your attention on what you are doing now. This enables you to do the best you can on the current project, assignment, test, or evaluation.

Learn from your past and prepare for your future, but focus on what you are learning today!

What is the “next play” for you?

Resilience

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

As a former English teacher, there are some words I just love—like “resilience.” I love its meaning and what it stands for, and it’s very easy for me to conjure a mental picture of resilience.

One of the definitions Webster provides for resilience is, “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

As a principal I have witnessed many students demonstrate resilience. Students who struggled to pass their courses, their resilience showed strongly. These students knew they were struggling in their classes—some had been struggling academically for years!

Sometimes as a teacher, counselor or principal, we would learn and discover more about these students outside of school. It was then we better understood the word resilience! Many times these students came from very difficult personal situations—a broken family, abuse situations or low income. Even though they were dealing with these problems, many did not have an attendance problem. They liked being at school, and once we figured out together how they could be successful, there was nothing stopping them from overcoming anything.

I think resilience springs eternal and internal within each of us. Everyone exudes some resilience, but how one nurtures it makes us all different. Many students who struggle on a daily basis with life around them have resilience but at times it must seem almost like it is extinguished. Others guard and protect what resilience they have because they feel it is all they have. No matter the situation, your resilience will pay off if you work hard enough.

As educators, we carry a responsibility of inspiring hope within all our students. Students have their hopes and dreams, whatever they are, and it is our job to encourage them, support them and motivate them into believing anything is possible.

What examples of resilience have you witnessed or what have you overcome?

Comparison- A Good or Bad Thing?

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

Something that is done a lot in our society is comparison.

People compare themselves with others in many aspects of life. Some of the common areas of comparison are appearance, athletics, education, occupations, possessions, finances, etc. We can feel good or bad about ourselves depending to who or what we are being compared.

Former U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt, once said, “Comparison is a thief of joy.”

Personally, I have mixed feelings about comparisons. My competitive side sometimes likes to see where I rank to others, but I also realize many comparisons are not fair.

For example, having worked in education for almost 40 years, I have witnessed schools being compared by test scores and designated good or bad based solely on these scores. Obviously, the student clientele at all schools is not the same. To say a school is better because their test scores are higher than another school, may have just a lot to do with who is at the school, rather than what or how the students are being taught.

Using an athletic illustration, imagine two athletes, one with a talent level of ten and the other with a talent level of five. The first athlete is performing at a six and the second athlete is performing at a four. Although a six is higher than a four, the first athlete is using only 60% of his/her ability and the second athlete is performing at 80% of ability—so who is the better athlete?

Thus, perhaps a better way to use comparison is in the area of self-analysis. Are you getting better in whatever areas you are striving to improve?

  1. A good first step is to identify a baseline, a starting point.
  2. The next step is to work to get better and you need to check periodically if you are showing growth.

I particularly like this quote from the famous UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden:

“Success is the peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Things to consider: Would you describe yourself as a success? How about reducing the amount of time you spend comparing yourself to others, but taking a good look at the person in the mirror?

Leadership Lessons from Sandhill Cranes

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

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.

“Luck of the Irish” To You!

Barbara
Barbara Wolf Shousha, UNHS Director

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.