Friday, February 8, 2019

Exeter-Milligan Update: View From the Front Office

Maybe it’s just me, but I have the tendency to get a little behind in reading the newspapers.  We currently subscribe to the York News-Times, the Sentinel, the NE Signal and the Springview Herald, so the pile tends to get rather large. There are times that when I finally get them read, the news is well over two weeks old. It doesn’t take very long for the recycling bin to get filled after one of these reading sessions.  One article that caught my eye was Jessica Votipka’s (Exeter class of 1999) opinion piece “All it Takes” in the January 4th edition of the York News-Times. 
In her commentary, Jessica explains about a situation she had with the editor of college’s newspaper. Having had positive experiences writing for the Exeter yearbook, and a state journalism gold medalist, she thought it would be a great idea to be on staff for the college newspaper.  This enthusiasm was “squashed” by the editor, not because of her writing ability, but because “Only upperclassman can be on the newspaper staff.”  Thus, her college writing career was over before it even started.  To quote Jessica, “That was all it took. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if that young man had welcomed me…with open arms, or pushed me harder.”  In other words, what could have happened if he had created a more positive atmosphere or responded in a more positive way.
          As one looks back over time, history has demonstrated that the optimists, the
believers, and the positive leaders are the ones who have changed the world.  Research has also shown that optimistic people work harder and in turn get paid more. Sports has demonstrated those teams who work together and support each other (are positive) perform at a higher level and win more championships.  Being positive doesn’t just make ourselves better, it makes EVERYONE better.  So, the million dollar question here is why don’t people in all walks of life respond to situations in a more positive manner? History and research proves that having a positive outlook and positive reaction creates better results.
The education field is no different.  Students who learn in a positive environment, knowing that their teachers and administrators truly care about them, perform better in and out of the classroom.  The most effective teachers are not the ones who know the most, but are those who care the most.  Thank back to when you were in school - who was your favorite teacher?  Was it the one who knew the most or the one who took an interest in you as a person?  For me, that is an easy question to answer - it was the teacher who asked me how my day was going, the one who displayed a genuine interest in me as a person, the one who showed they cared.  Throughout my career as a teacher, administrator and coach, I have strived to provide that positive learning environment. Taking the time to get to know the students and teachers has helped create lasting relationships.  These relationships set the foundation for all other items to build on.  Without this solid foundation, leaning cannot begin.
As you go through the next few months, as the winter doldrums start to settle in, make that extra effort to be positive.  Take that extra time to extend a helping hand - make a conscious effort to work on building those relationships. As Jessica stated, all it takes is a little positivity to make a world of difference. Some of us have discovered, it may be too late before we make the effort.  Jimmy Casas, in his book Culturize, puts it this way,
“We are blessed every day with the opportunity to help change the course of someone’s life with our words, our actions, and our believes in their abilities.  By changing our perspectives, we can change lives.”

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