Monthly Archives: June 2011

Having a clear vision can support you and inspire others . . .

Truly creative people use the gap between vision and current reality to generate energy for change. – Peter Senge

I like Senge’s quote. I like it because it validates the need for ‘vision’.  Vision, to me is the key to the kind of change we need.  Here in Michigan, we need change.  If Michigan’s quest for change is focused on just ending our economic downslide or ending the outward flow of population or ending the steady ‘whittling’ way at the current structure for funding public schools, then Michigan will be focused on moving away from something. 

My bias is that the future of Michigan is more wisely focused by clarifying our shared vision of the future of this state.

The question is: What is our vision?  What dreams do we have for our economy?  What hopes do we have for why people would ‘want to be’ in Michigan?  What are our desires and wishes for the structure of funding of services and especially for education?

Once we (and ‘we’ is best if it is a strong ‘we’ and made up of a solid majority) have a clear vision then we can focus on the gap between our “vision and current reality” as the place to act.

Being willing to focus on our: shared dreams, shared hopes, shared wishes and shared desires can lead us to our vision.  A clear vision helps us to have direction.  To be positive and focused because we are ‘moving toward’ our vision rather than, ‘moving from’ an undesired state.  


Photo by Redvers via Flickr


Being willing to grow and learn

In the Peter Senge quote below, he is commenting on organizations.  I like to think about the quote and interchange ‘families’, ‘groups’, ‘communities’, ‘states’, for the word ‘organizations’. 

Organizations learn only through individuals who learn.  Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning.  But without it no organizational learning occurs.  – Peter Senge

When you read the Senge’s thinking with the additional words it stills leads us to be thinking about how individuals must: grow, change, learn and/or evolve if a family, group, community, state andor organization is going to change, learn and/or grow.    

Each of us can stand by and wait for others to change.  Or, we can embrace growth, change, development, and learning.  The futures of our children and grandchildren (and our neighbor’s children and grand children) beckon us to be willing to grow and learn.


Young people learning in India

Contagious learning! Attitudes of: I can! You can! and We can! That is contagious learning!

This 10 minute TED Talk will take you to India.  It will also take you to a place of optimism and empowerment. Enjoy!

In about eight months I’ll be traveling to India.  So, I am learning prior to the trip.


The Value of Appreciative Inquiry

Here are two quotes from Albert Einstein ~

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.”

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 

So, when we think about wanting things to be better we often fall into a ‘problem solving’ mode.  It seems so logical, productive and functional to go into that mode.  

Yet, in doing so we limit our ‘consciousness’ in part by what created the ‘problem’. We tend to follow the steps of: problem identification, uncovering root causes, brainstorm solutions and develop an action plan to solve the problem.  That all sounds good and efficient. Yet, this process does not push us to seeing the big picture anew because we are focused on the problem that needs to be solved.

Appreciative Inquiry is another way to look at things that are in-front of us. Rather than jumping right into the problem solving behaviors we have alternatives. Alternatives that will likely increase our consciousness and our sense of appreciation of the wonder around us – as we move trough change to better outcomes.

So to approach a ‘problem’ or situation from an Appreciative Inquiry perspective.  First, appreciate the “Best of what is about the situation.” Second, imagine “What might be related to the situation.”  Next, design “What should be.  And finally, create “What will be.”  Appreciative Inquiry is strength-based change.  It involves: appreciating, envisioning, co-constructing and sustaining.  It is action oriented after dreaming about possibilities.  So, these dreams guide and inspire action.

I really value Appreciative Inquiry.  I see is as the kind of ‘frame’ I want to work from.  I find it empowering and positive.

You can learn more by reading any books in this bibliography. And by checking out this website – it is one many, websites.  Enjoy your journey.

Reading advice from Al Rokerj

Here a short interview with Al Roker. Go to this link for lots more information about parents helping their kids become readers.    

Q: As a father of three, what’s your best reading advice for parents?

A: Just do it. Read anything to your kids. Find books that you enjoyed as a kid. Chances are they will enjoy them too.

Q: Describe your family’s reading ritual.

A: We read an ongoing chapter book to Leila and a simpler book to Nicky. Since their bedtimes are about an hour and a half apart, we take turns reading the stories.

Q: Besides stories before bed, how do you encourage your own children to make reading a habit?

A: We try reading street signs, cereal boxes and anything we can get our hands on.

Q: Learning to read is a process and children often pass through phases of resistance to reading (“You read it; it’s too hard!”). How do (or would) you handle this reluctance?

A: Try and make it a game. And say, “Just one more word, and then I’ll do a word.”

Q: A friend tells you that their child has said, “Reading is stupid! I hate it!” What advice would you offer your friend?

A: Tell the child, “Mommy and Daddy like reading and we don’t think it’s stupid. Let’s try reading together.”

Q: As adults, we understand that reading is important. As if you were speaking to a six-year-old, explain the importance of reading.

A: Reading helps us meet cool people and go to neat places. Without reading we can’t figure out where we are or how to put things together. We need to be able to read to have fun and to do our best in school.

Q: What are your top three favorite children’s books?

A: “Green Eggs and Ham” (Dr. Seuss); “Raising Dragons” (Jerdine Nolen); and “Please, Baby, Please” (Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee)

Q: Your son is likely still in the age group that still demands repetition. How do you handle the “read it again!” dilemma that so many parents dread?

A: We read it twice, maybe three times and then Daddy says, “That’s enough for now, let’s try another book.”

Q: Describe some of the media “tricks of the trade” that you use to make reading more interesting for your children.

A: Making sound effects, using different voices, and asking them to say the words if it’s a story they know.

When Michigan kids don’t learn to read it hurts them and everyone else

Here in Michigan we have challenges related to all kids learning to read. According to last year’s KIDS Count report, “Michigan is moving in the wrong direction.”  We need to focus on making sure more of our children can read proficiently by the end of third grade, and we need to make sure our kids have what they need to get there.

Among findings in the report:

• 70 percent of Michigan’s public school fourth-graders weren’t proficient in reading,

compared with 68 percent nationally.

• 91 percent of Michigan’s African American fourth-graders weren‘t proficient, compared

with 64 percent of white fourth-graders.

• Only 15 percent of the state’s fourth-graders in low-income families were proficient,

compared with 40 percent in higher-income families, a gap of 25 percentage points.

From the KIDS COUNT report: Young students need help – Michigan ranks below average for reading skills

May 18, 2010 KIDS COUNTin Michigan –  Michigan League for Human Services 

Kids Count in Michigan is a collaboration of the Michigan League for Human Services, a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide advocacy group for low-income families, and Michigan’s Children, a nonprofit voice for children and families in Michigan. It is part of a national effort to measure the well-being of children at state and local levels. The state project is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, The Skillman Foundation of Detroit, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, and the Michigan Association of United Ways.

From my point of view, what we are doing needs to be changed with a clear commitment to achieve results for all students.  If we keep doing things as we have done them, we can’t honestly to get better results. 



They looked at their students and saw possibility and potential!

The Goal of 100% of Students Graduating Is A Goal All Districts Should Strive To Accomplish.  

Brandywine Community Schools did it!  This Michigan district didn’t accept that “some kids” (that may be 1%, 6% or 15%) are just not going to graduate because of their lack of motivation or ability.  100% of the class of 2011 graduated on June 5th!

Superintendent John Jarpe, Principal Pat Weckel, Counselor Angie Roeder and the staff of Brandywine High School truly were committed to meeting this goal.  They found ways to help students recover lost credits.  They found ways to encourage students to put forth the effort necessary to earn the credits.  They helped young people to see their potential and then to work to fulfill it.  They looked at their students and saw possibility!  Educators across the state need to commit to connecting and supporting all students through graduation!  

In a challenge issued on June 30, 2009, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan announced a statewide Superintendent’s Dropout Challenge to Michigan’s 4,000 public schools that could impact nearly 60,000 students at-risk of dropping out of school.  “Today, one out of every four Michigan children fails to graduate with their class,” said Flanagan. “This challenge is the first step in helping thousands of Michigan students stay in school.”   Read more by downloading the pdf at:…/Dropout_Challenge_284523_7.pdf 


The challenge to graduate all students is not new, yet schools are not meeting the challenge.  That is why Brandywine is in the news.  Each of us, in our own towns, might want to bring up the topic and raise the awareness around this issue.  In America, we pride ourselves on providing a free education to all. 


Without a diploma, the the picture is bleak!

Fact: High school dropouts are three times more likely to be jobless than college graduates.

 Fact: People with some college make 50% more than high school dropouts.

Fact: A college graduate earns almost twice as much as a high school graduate.


The three facts stated above and the graphic can be found at: