Find Ways to Use Your Strengths

Have you ever questioned why you do what you do? Have you questioned your excitement or passion for what you do? I hesitate to use the word “passion” because it’s overused and misunderstood. It’s at a point where some may believe that they have to find something else to do if they are not passionate about their work. One can be passionate about something apart from one’s career. Many are and are living successful, fulfilled lives.

Instead of questioning your passion, I encourage you to examine if you are using your strengths. Are you operating in your character strengths regularly, or are you stifled by your title or job description?

Several years ago, I began speaking and coaching while I was also a building principal. I loved the work. I made connections with others who do the same who I am blessed to call my friends. I enjoyed helping other leaders and educators work through challenges or inspire them to try new things. After a presentation or coaching session, I’d return to my building on fire and ready to take on the day. I noticed it, and others saw it as well. Soon after, I would become bogged down with the minutiae that are just a part of the job. Over time, I became discouraged and somewhat disheartened. It was a struggle. I decided to change districts, thinking that I would find my joy in the job with a fresh start.

While I enjoyed working in another district, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the district. My issue was internal. I still got a charge from many parts of being a building principal, especially creating the conditions for students to succeed and staff to teach and grow professionally. There were also parts that I just couldn’t stomach any more. After many months of reflection, talk therapy, and soul searching, I learned that the one thing I enjoy most is teaching. I continued to coach and speak, and I decided to leave the principalship to coach, present, and consult full-time.

Teaching can occur in many forms: coaching, using staff meetings as learning opportunities, speaking, and presenting. I love the entire learning process and found myself unable to do it as much as a building principal because the principalship is multi-faceted and layered.

A few years ago, I worked with a leadership coach named Jack Slavinski (@jackslav) to identify my strengths. Through the process, I learned why I succeeded in some principalship areas and struggled in other areas. Regardless of your position, you can still learn to use your strengths to help yourself, others, and your school or district. After a year as a full-time leadership and effective coach and presenter, I returned to building leadership as an assistant director at a career and technical school. My transition back to the building was not easy, but I learned to lean into my strengths and find ways to use them to have a positive impact on my team, staff, and students. I have a better work/life balance, my mind is clearer, and I can support our director because of my experience in the position. Here are three things I did to find more fulfillment in my career:

1. Use a research-based assessment to learn more about your character strengths and reflect on what you enjoy most about your job. I highly recommend the VIA Character Strength Assessment. I’ve taken it twice in the last two years, and my top five character strengths have remained pretty consistent, which is consistent with the research. Putting words and descriptions to my strengths has allowed me to be more intentional about my daily work.

2. Share your strengths with others and let them know how you use them to serve others. Take it a step further and share your plan on how you will better operate within your strengths to add value to others and your school. For example, I am now in my second year as an Assistant Director at Eastland Career Center. I am relatively new to CTE and have found many ways to use my strengths to help my district. I help facilitate staff meetings, collaborate with district staff to plan our professional development, and find ways to lead up, meaning helping our leaders lead better. The John Maxwell Company shares nine ways to lead up:
Lead yourself exceptionally well. The key to leading yourself well is to learn self-management. In order to be successful, we must make the right decisions early and manage those decisions daily. Then, we are prepared to follow through on them with consistency.

Lighten your leader’s load. When the boss succeeds, the organization succeeds. Conversely, it is almost impossible for you to win if your boss fails. Be a team player and lift the load on your boss’ plate. By helping your boss in a great way, you are a part of something bigger and will have the chance to celebrate success in the end.

Be willing to do what others won’t. Few things gain the appreciation of a top leader more quickly than an employee with a whatever-it-takes attitude.

Do more than manage – lead! Managers work with processes – leaders work with people. Think within a broad context about how your decisions will impact the entire organization. You’ll prove you can move past management to leadership.

Invest in relationship chemistry. People won’t go along with you if they can’t get along with you. As a leader, our job is to connect with people. We must connect with those we lead, our peers, and those who lead us. In order to lead up, be a champion of what your leader desires.

Be prepared every time you take your leader’s time. Time is the one commodity that cannot be increased, no matter what a leader does. Take steps and research to prepare yourself and your leader for your time together. Preparation paves the way for both leaders to add value to each other.

Know when to push and when to back off. Successful leaders make the right move at the right moment with the right motive. Knowing the right time to push and when to back off will determine if you get pushed right out the door. As leaders, we must read the atmosphere of the workplace to determine appropriate next steps.

Become a go-to player. All leaders are looking for people who can step up and make a difference when it matters. When they find such people, they come to rely on them and are inevitably influenced by them. To be a go-to player, we must always produce excellence. Leaders will trust us and count on us in moments that count.

Be better tomorrow than you are today. The key to personal development is being more growth-oriented than goal-oriented. Goals are valuable, but growth helps you achieve those goals. Focus on growth every day, and your leadership journey will be life-long and fulfilling. Ultimately, you’ll benefit your entire organization when you aim for personal growth.

3. Work on your strengths as you plan, prepare, and practice while doing your daily work.

If you are frustrated, disenchanted, discouraged, and questioning your effectiveness as a leader, teacher, coach, or whatever, take some time to identify your areas of strength. Reflect on the moments you experience joy in your work and consider why. Then do something about it. Take the VIA Character Assessment and examine your profile to identify ways to find more purpose in your career. Your colleagues, staff, and team will experience the difference, and thank you for it. Feel free to share your results and reflections in the comment section or email me at mrdwightcarter@gmail.com.

Be Great,

Dwight

A Promise to Myself, For Myself

https://becauseisaidiwould.org/about/
Three hundred sixty-five days ago, I made a promise to myself to workout every day. Today, January 18th, 2021, I fulfilled that promise! I grew up an athlete, competed in high school and college, and continued to work out when I was a football and track coach. However, that was over 20 years ago, after a while, and I got pretty relaxed about my health.

I got used to making excuses about why I stopped and eventually succumbed to the notion that I was just getting older. About four years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression after struggling internally with several things. I dreaded retaking medication to feel normal, but I knew it was a necessary step towards getting healthy. I joined a gym and started working out 3-4 days a week. I started journaling again and seeing a therapist for cognitive and talk therapy. Over time, I began to feel like myself and made some other changes in my life to regain some balance, peace of mind, and clarity.

I’m an avid learner. I enjoy reading blogs by respected leaders and educators, listening to podcasts, and reading various books. I listened to a TEDx Talk called Winning the Mental Battle of Physical Fitness and Obesity by Dr. Ogie Shaw, and it changed my perspective on working out. One statement he made that resonated with me is, “It’s easier to work out every day than it is three days a week. Three days a week gives you too many decisions… If you are negotiating about which days to work out, it’s over.” That made sense to me. So, it was at the point that I promised myself that I was going to work out every day.

To fulfill my promise, I took the following steps:
1. No Snooze Allowed– I put my phone across the room, so when my alarm went off at 4:15 am, I had to get out of bed to turn it off. Once I was up, there was no reason to get back into bed.
2. Nightly Prep– I laid out my work out clothes to eliminate having to make another decision in the morning.
3. I Scheduled It– I made an appointment for myself, 5:00 am weekdays, 8:00 am on Saturdays, and 9:00 am on Sundays. I don’t skip out on important meetings with others, so why skip out on myself?
4. Made a Plan– I partnered with a trainer to develop a workout plan that met my time constraints. I am thankful for David Key of Key Body and Fitness (@davidrussellkey_4xpro)! David quickly pivoted when the pandemic hit and started hosting Zoom classes that are easily accessible. Between his classes, running, and using an elliptical machine, I have no reason, not to workout.
5. Charted my Progress-After each workout, I marked it off on a calendar that I keep on my nightstand. The visual chart is motivation!

Since I eliminated having to decide if and when I would work out, it’s a part of my daily routine. I don’t even think about it anymore. More importantly:
* I kept my promise.
* I am more disciplined in other areas of my life.
* I feel better physically.
* I am mentally stronger.
* I am more confident.
* I have influenced others to do the same.

Tomorrow, I will continue my journey. In fact, I added another challenge to my routine, the 10,000 push up challenge. I have promised myself that I will do 28 push-ups every day for the year. I’m actually doing 30-50 a day, but that’s not the point. The point is to make changes in your life, eliminate excuses, make a plan, and implement the plan. Besides, “It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.”-Clayton M. Christiansen

Be Great,

Dwight

Accessible

https://aitpdf.ca/blog/the-importance-of-an-accessible-pdf-document-strategy/
I had an impromptu meeting yesterday morning that was just what I needed. Around 7:50 am, I received a call from our receptionist to let me know a young man needed to see me. I quickly responded and asked her to send him to my office.

When he entered my office, we greeted each other in our standard and affirming manner, and then he sat down. His reason for coming in was hidden behind a logistical request, which I could discern by his body language and the way he slumped down in the chair in front of me. Through a masked mouth, he asked, “How’s your mental health?” I was shocked by his question but took it as a hook. He wanted to talk about how HE was feeling, so I gladly accepted the bait. I responded to his request by sharing a little bit about my weekend and how I felt at the moment and pivoted to asking about him: “How are you doing? What’s going on?”

He shook and dropped his head while rubbing his forehead with his right hand. He said, “Man, Mr. Carter. I’m struggling…” I turned my chair to make sure I was directly facing him and leaned in to let him know that he has my undivided attention.

He opened up about his life, the real obstacles he’s trying to overcome, and how overwhelmed he’s feeling. The more he talked, the straighter he sat in his chair, and the more animated he became.

He talked about his future goals, and I assured him that we would do whatever it takes to help him get there. We shared a few stories, and I gave him the information he came for. After about 20 minutes, I sent him a class pass, and he went about his day. We were both fulfilled. I took away three reminders from our chance meeting:

Be Accessible– I had a few things I felt that I needed to get done before the first-period bell rang, but it was more important to meet with my student than to tackle my to-do list.

Be Available– I was open to listening to his story and available to provide emotional support and tangible help, at least at the moment. I also let him know I am available to help anytime.

Be Accountable– Earlier in the school year, I noticed this young man seemed to be carrying a heavy burden, so I stopped him in the hall to check on him. He wasn’t in the mood to talk much but assured me he was okay. I let him know that I’d be checking on him from time to time and that he could stop by the office anytime he needed to talk. Well, yesterday he did just that. To be accountable is to deliver on one’s commitment. I made sure I was accessible and available, thus responsible.

We must never lose sight of why we became educators, and for me, it is to positively change lives and impact futures. Be accessible today.

Be Great,

Dwight

5 Cs of School Culture

It’s hard to argue that the culture of our country impacts that culture of our schools. As we quickly approach a new school year, leaders must be intentional at creating the conditions to have a positive school culture; a culture that is inviting, energetic, engaging, and empowering:

Inviting– all are welcome, and all means all; all-inclusive.
Energetic– full of positive emotions and actions that are contagious.
Engaging– encourages conversation, critical thinking, involvement, and activity.
Empowering– all have a voice, choice, and the freedom to be authentic.

http://inservice.ascd.org/four-ways-to-create-a-positive-school-culture/

To create such a school culture takes some intentionality by every adult in the schoolhouse, starting with building leadership. Following are what I call the 5 Cs of School Culture that I derived from the work of Jostens Renaissance (@J_Renaissance), Dr. Brene Brown, Focus 3 (@Focus3_Team), and Leadership Coach Jack Slavinski (@JackSlav). When each component is incorporated into the mission, vision, beliefs, and behaviors of adults and students, the impact on school culture will be dynamic!
https://www.flickr.com/photos/65359853@N00/10659804656

Courage– “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” -Dr. Brene Brown
Compassion– “To suffer with.” -Dr. Brene Brown
Connection– “The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” -Dr. Brene Brown

This connection can begin the moment students take their first step into school. In fact, “when teachers started class by welcoming students at the door, academic engagement increased by 20 percentage points, and disruptive behavior decreased by 9 percentage points (Edutopia, 2018).

Character– “Ethical trust; being a person of your word, following through on your commitment and intentions, and being responsive to others.” -Jack Slavinski
Competence– “Technical trust, which is established by the experience we create for others in our care. It’s built by solving problems with and for others.” -Jack Slavinski

To navigate and balance the 5 Cs, we have to imagine the type of learning environment we want to create and implement processes to make it happen. While it’s true we have to have a compelling vision and effectively communicate it, we must also consistently model the behaviors we want to see. This is the challenge. Here are some ways to shape the 5 Cs:

Courage– Spend a few minutes each day talking with your staff or students about life; share stories of trials and triumphs; be honest about you feel about your school successes and shortcomings.
Compassion– Begin each staff meeting with a centering activity that gives people time to reflect on their week, their day, or their year and to share a meaningful experience. Then use a process called “Around the Room and Back Again” to create multiple opportunities for dialogue.
Connection– In addition to what is stated above, greet students and staff by using a process called “Four at the Door,” which was created by Tom Cody (@TjdsbTom)
Name to Name- Learn and use your students and staff names when talking with
them.
Eye to Eye- Look students in the eye.
Hand to Hand- Offer a handshake, high five, hug, or fist pump (or whatever
physical touch is appropriate and comfortable).
Heart to Heart- Say something that connects to others hearts, such as
compliment them, ask about an activity they were a part of, or ask about their
family. The possibilities are endless!

Character– Under promise and over-deliver. When asked a question and you don’t have the answer, research it to find the answer and get back to the person who asked you. It makes a huge difference and builds credibility!
Competence– Learn something every day by listening to a podcast, reading, journaling, and sharing what you learn with others. I choose to listen to a podcast every day when doing daily chores, and I make it a goal to read something related to my work or leadership daily. Also, make a note of what problems have been solved so you can update staff and students, and celebrate success! This can be shared in a weekly staff newsletter, blog post, or leader update.

The key is just to be human. Be real. Be present. Care. Creating a positive school culture is simple, but not easy. Take care of yourself and take care of the people whom you serve, and the learning environment will be what you envision it to be!

Be Great,

Dwight

Three Ways Administrators Can Support Staff Learning

When I began teaching in the mid-90s, professional development was something I

https://www.edx.org/course/applied-deep-learning-capstone-project
expected should come from my district, and it did. I worked with some outstanding building and district administrators who planned evidence-based and relevant professional learning opportunities for us. I can’t say with certainty that I took advantage of every opportunity offered, but I got my fair share.

When I was trained as a Critical Friends Group facilitator in 1998, I had a shift in thinking: I started to take ownership of my professional growth. I recognized that not all teachers I worked with were given the same opportunities as I. was asked to facilitate meetings, lead a session during an in-service day, or participate on a building level committee. I was able to take input from my CFG and create meeting agendas based on our needs rather than some prescribed, one-size fits all, professional development. I appreciated the autonomy my group was given to engage in learning that was relevant to us.

Five years into my principalship, I had another shift in thinking as I became a connected educator. I expanded my PLN to include others outside my district, I started blogging, I participated in and facilitated Twitter chats and book studies on Voxer, I listened to webinars, and I asked more reflective questions. I shared what I learned with my staff in a variety of different ways.

I strived to create a professional learning culture and adopted three strategies to support staff learning that I gleaned from some outstanding principals like Cheri Dunlap and Mark White (@MarkWhite55):

1. Empower teachers to attend and present at local, state, and national conferences. When I observed an innovative idea or outstanding teaching and learning, I invited the teachers to share their experience with others at a local, state, or national conference. I encouraged them to submit a proposal because I was proud of their work and wanted to reward them with a trip to a conference where they could share their expertise and connect with other like-minded professionals.

2. Identify those who are modeling best/next practices and create space for them to share with the staff. What better way to build capacity around instructional practices than to create the conditions for staff to hear from their peers? Use a process to allow for reflection, feedback, and for discussions about next steps.

3. Identify and pay relevant speakers to help ignite or support professional learning. Sometimes it’s a good thing for teachers to hear another voice; another expert in the field who has successfully modeled or thoroughly researched different ways to accomplish a task. Making this investment shows your level of commitment, support for your staff, and reinforces expectations.

As you bring this school year to a close, start thinking about how you will support learning in the fall. Consider trying one of the strategies mentioned above and be sure to explain to your staff what you hope to accomplish. I guarantee you’ll have a great deal of support!

Be Great,

Dwight

The Worst Mistake I Made As Principal

Being a school principal is equally challenging and rewarding. It’s challenging because of the number of leadership and management decisions that must be made daily, shifting expectations and demands, and the relentless amount of information that is taken in and requested at such a rapid pace. These are just signs of hyper-change and the new normal.

The principalship is rewarding because of the countless opportunities to impact the lives of so many people on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. I’ve been reminded of this quite a bit the last couple of months in the form of seeing former students who share a memorable story or a kind word I may have spoken to them in passing. Or, from invitations to their graduation parties and other life moments such as weddings (Yes, I am at the stage in my life where I attend weddings of former students).

When I was a principal, I immersed myself in the work. I looked forward to attending sporting events, concerts, plays, awards ceremonies, and the like. However, when I became a father, I struggled internally with wanting to be at the multiple school events and being home with my daughter. I never really found the proper balance… What an ugly feeling.

I enjoyed preparing for parent and community events, staff meetings, and professional learning opportunities. I enjoyed discussing the work with my administrative team during our weekly team meetings, or during informal conversations throughout the day (and night). I especially enjoyed visiting classrooms and still regret not creating opportunities to get into classrooms more. It’s a demanding job and one that requires a great deal of emotional, mental, and physical stamina.

Being a principal is also a public position, and in today’s world of total transparency and desire for immediate information, nearly every decision is scrutinized, discussed, debated, and analyzed.

Professionally, my wife is also somewhat of a public figure. Over the years, she’s had several clients and coworkers who had children in the schools where I was the principal. Often times, she would be approached by a client or a coworker and asked about something that may have occurred at school or why I made a particular decision. I was always aware of this possibility and didn’t want to put her in a tough position where she had to respond to such questions. To protect her from such scrutiny, I decided that I would not talk to her about most things that happened at school. I’d either talk to a principal friend in another state, talk to my team about it, or simply not talk about it at all. My philosophy was ignorance is bliss.

For the most part, this strategy seemed to work. However, after being away from the principalship for a year and learning more about myself, I realize that the worst mistake I made as a principal is that I DIDN’T share my work with her; the good, the bad, the beautiful, or the ugly. I simply just didn’t talk about it, and I thought I was doing it to guard her against others who clambered for “insider” information, but it prevented us from connecting about an essential part of my life: my role as a principal. Since then, I’ve learned three key lessons about the importance of talking about the principalship with your spouse or significant other:

1. It creates opportunities connection. Studies show that, on average, we spend about a third of our lives at work. That’s A LOT of time creating shared experiences, celebrations, going through trials and disappointments, and making an impact. This world should be shared with your spouse or significant other.

2. It creates opportunities for compassion. The feeling of walking through a situation with someone creates closeness, understanding, and empathy.

3. It improves communication. The opportunity to share a significant part of your life without judgement, ridicule, and complaint can be comforting and is much needed. It reminds me of the video, It’s Not About the Nail. While funny, there is so much truth in the message.

I encourage you to share your work with your spouse or significant other. Be transparent about the exciting ideas or projects you’re working on, challenges you may be facing, or opportunities for growth that are on the horizon. You’ll be a better leader and spouse because of it. You need that, and they need it as well.

Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and celebrations in the comment section. Thanks!

Be Great,

Dwight

Cope, Adjust, and Transform (#CopeAdjustTransform)

I had the pleasure of co-authoring a book with Mark White (@MarkWhite55) titled, Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-change. In it, Mark White and I introduce a problem-solving framework we call, CAT: Cope, Adjust, and Transform. CAT helps school leaders successfully deal with change, especially the sudden disruptive events that often are sprung on schools without warning. In the CAT framework, school leaders do the following:

1. Recognize the disruptive event and cope with it immediately. When a crisis occurs, the goal is to resolve it as quickly as possible, usually within hours or days of its inception.

2. Adjust school practices and operating procedures in the days and weeks after the incident to prevent its reoccurrence or to handle it and other disruptions more efficiently.

3. Continue to transform lead staff through a process to adopt new philosophies and change school culture through study and reflection in the months after the incident. The ultimate goal is to transform thought processes, and adaptive strategies will be deepened in the future.

https://supplychainbeyond.com/disruption-or-digital-transformation/
You would be hard pressed to talk to a teacher, secretary, or school administrator who would say we are not experiencing some disruptive times in education. Since 2008, public perception of educators, in general, has been less than favorable. One might say we face one disruption after another, yet we continue to find ways to meet the needs of our students, engage parents, respond to community desires, and do what is best for all stakeholders.

We explore seven disruptions educators face today and describe how to apply the CAT framework to each one. The disruptions are as follows:

1. The emphasis on student safety, including the fear of school shootings, the laser-like focus on social/emotional development, and efforts to combat high-stress levels in today’s students and families.

2. Accelerating technology advances that change how students learn and how schools operate, including the influx of smartphones, wearable technology, and the impact of social media.

3. A system of reform efforts such as A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Common Core State Standards, and the Every Student Succeeds Act that has resulted in complex school accountability ratings that drive instruction, learning, hiring practices and budgeting.

4. The generational challenges that occur when baby boomers, Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and millennials work together in the teaching force, and Gen Z’s demands and Gen Alpha that are leading to new types of teaching methods and spaces.

5. The explosion of knowledge and getting students global-ready, including the challenge of teaching global skills in a rigid, test-driven curriculum and attempting to answer the question, “What does it mean to be educated in the 21st century?”

6. Dealing with increasingly complex diversity issues, including racial tension, ethnic differences, political polarization, and LGBTQ issues.

7. The growing demand for transparency by parents who want access to school information, including 24-hour access to student grades; their need for prompt responses from educators to their questions and demands; and their constant examination of the school’s curriculum, clubs, and overall grades.

In the book, we share stories from 21st school leaders and educators who have faced one or more of these disruptions,

https://feedingmissouri.org/seeing-hope/
we highlight what they learned, and emphasize what they would do differently in the future. Through their stories, the reader can reflect on their daily work using the guided questions and CAT Framework activities at the end of each chapter.
I encourage you to use the CAT framework as a guide to handling disruptions at your school and to share how you are embracing these disruptions on social media by using the hashtag, #CopeAdjustTransform. We need each other, and one of the best ways to learn from shared experiences is to connect with your PLN through #CopeAdjustTransform. I look forward to celebrating with you as guide your students and staff through these disruptive times!

Be Great,

Dwight

Parting Words of Wisdom to New Albany and the Class of 2018

Mr. Sawyers, the Board of Education, parents, staff, and faculty, THANK YOU for embracing my vision to create a school where every student has a sense of belonging, a belief in their abilities, and a desire to grow. Thank you for standing by us as we navigated the waves of change and overcame unforeseen obstacles. Thank you for welcoming and embracing me into this school community!

Graduates, THANK YOU for allowing me to play a small role in the most important years of your lives thus far. Thank you for your perseverance, for using your voice to promote change, and your determination to take advantage of everything New Albany High School has to offer. You will forever be a part of my life!

I have asked a great deal of you the last four years and I cannot let you go without making one more request.

For the next two minutes, pretend you are sitting in your first period class and the 8:00 am bell rings to signal the start of the school day. Imagine hearing the “chime” of the public announcement system and your ears perk up as you await the all-too-familiar greeting you heard for nearly 725 days:

Good morning, New Albany High School Class of 2018. This is Mr. Carter with a few parting Words of Wisdom.

As you embark on a new chapter in life, ask yourself the following questions:
Am I giving or taking?
Sustaining or draining?
Contributing or withholding?
Connecting or conniving?
Uniting or dividing?
Whatever you decide, it’s up to you!
– Jon Gordon

With so much information coming at you each day, “take time to put silence between your conversations. You may even start remembering what you said and discovering what you can learn from others. “ -Melody Beattie

“When things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting.” -Anonymous

If you want to change your life, change your daily habits.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” So, don’t wish away what is NOW by focusing so much on what’s NEXT. -John Rohn

“You’re less of who you could be when you’re trying to be someone you’re not. Therefore, get to know, accept, and embrace the real you.” -Melody Beattie

In your pursuit of happiness, “be happy not because everything is good, but because you can see the good side of everything.” -David Roads

“Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent.”
-Simple and Inspired

In a society that is so contentious, remember that “It’s impossible to argue when one person refuses to fight and instead responds only with peace. Be the person that responds with peace.” -Melody Beattie

“Be the person who smiles politely when people look at you. Be the person that says the positive thing when everyone else is complaining. Be the person that gives advice from the heart. Be the person that tips generously. Be that person.” -Anonymous

“Life and the people sent to us– the people we love– are gifts. Love people for who they are. Let yourself be you. Feel whatever you feel. Do the work for the sake of work instead of for the results you hope to get.” -Melody Beattie

“A good boundary to establish for yourself is to talk about a person the same way you talk to a person.” -Melody Beattie

“Let your words be like wind chimes. Communication is more than what we say; it’s how we say it and how we sound.” -Melody Beattie

Be careful with technology. What is supposed to liberate us can actually enslave us. Every aspect of your life doesn’t have to be shared on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat or any other form of social media. Please Pause Before You Post.

“As long as you are fighting for what is right instead of who is right, you can never lose!” – Rory Vaden

“Enthusiasm is free and it is contagious-but so is negativity! Choose wisely!” -Amber Teamann

At times our emotions run high. Never make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings.

“Don’t worry about what people say behind your back. They are the people who are finding faults in your life instead of fixing their own.” -Anonymous

Finally, in the words of AP Psychology and Humanities teacher Mr. Daryl Sycher, “Be brave, be bold, and care for each other.”

With something to think about, this is Mr. Carter. Make it a great life… or not. The choice is yours. Thank you!

Be Great,

Dwight Carter, Principal
New Albany High School

“Why am I smart?”

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been invited to talk with our freshman Humanities classes about perspective. They are reading The Other Wes Moore for their unit on perspective and as part of the experience, the teachers invite several guest speakers to spend some time with their students.

I’ve enjoyed my conversations with our bright-eyed and eager scholars because it’s given me a chance to reflect on my life, the experiences that have shaped my perspective, and examine why I am where I am today. After sharing my perspective with two classes, which included stories about my childhood and people who have impacted my life, I thought about my mom. I sent her the following text message, “Why am I smart?”

After about 10 minutes, she responded, “Because you work hard.” I appreciate her answer, but she was wrong…

I replied, “No. I am smart because you told me I was smart. I work hard because you showed me how to work hard. I am successful because you believed I would be successful.”

My life, which includes my perspective and success, is a self-fulfilled prophecy that began when I was but a small child. My mom’s words shaped my thinking and my perspective on life. For that, I am forever grateful. Thank you, Charmel M Carter!

Be Great,

Dwight

“What is the Meaning of the Renaissance Cheer, Mr. Carter?”

I introduced a new cheer to our students during our fall State of the Eagles Address and then again at our Homecoming Pep Rally. The students really got into it, which was demonstrated by members of our student body who led the cheer at some of our sporting events! When I included it our Homecoming Pep Rally class competition, many left wondering, “What is the meaning of the Renaissance cheer?”

Jostens Renaissance is a research-based school climate and culture framework that focuses on recognizing, respecting, rewarding, and reinforcing positive behaviors, such as academics, attendance, character, and student and staff engagement. It is proven that when positive behaviors are respected, recognized, rewarded, and reinforced, positives results continue.

Through Renaissance, pep rallies focus on public recognition of what I call the 7 A’s of successful schools: academics, attendance, attitude (behavior), the arts, athletics, acts of service, and activities. Traditional pep rallies primarily recognize athletes.

Based on the results of the PRIDE Factor survey we conducted last spring, there is a need to provide more opportunities to privately and publicly recognize individuals and groups for positive behavior and performance. Instead of stating, “We are now going to have a Jostens Renaissance program”, I decided to ease it into what we do as a school so that it’s not viewed as “one more thing we have to do.”

We are slowly creating our Renaissance recognition criteria that will be based on students’ progress and achievement, behavior, and attendance. The cheer is something that a number of Renaissance schools do as a unifying cheer. I thought it would be good for NAHS to use the Renaissance cheer to proudly come together and celebrate what we have always been and will continue to be about: student achievement, student growth, and student well-being.

By definition, renaissance means rebirth, and with the cheer, there is a rebirth in our school spirit and pride that comes from celebrating our successes, recognizing our continuous improvement, and creating a sense of belong for all students and staff. At the same time, it’s important to understand that school spirit doesn’t primarily come from wearing school colors or loud cheers. According to Mark White (@MarkWhite55), school spirit comes from a sense of belonging. I couldn’t agree more.

Be Great,

Dwight