Lead Learners

As a school we each hold great responsibility within our system as the lead learners. We have the job that teaches all others and that is no easy task for any of us and we know it. What we do is hard, it is trying, it is frustrating, BUT ultimately it is the MOST REWARDING job I’ve ever had in my 25 years since my first job as a 15 year-old bag boy.

There is no other job or career that has brought me such joy and happiness. To see our students in our classrooms, halls, cafeteria, and outside the building engaged in learning, collaboration, and extra-curricular events is the highlight of each and every day! We are so blessed to be here at Cherokee – we have students and families that value education. They appreciate what we do and entrust us to prepare our children for their future. They entrust we are preparing them with the tools necessary to be productive citizens and contributors to our community and society. The power and influence we hold is amazing and one that much of society will never comprehend.

This morning while reading on Twitter I came across this article on Education Week written by Eric Jensen (@EricJensenBrain) in a tweet from Peter Dewitt (@PeterMDeWitt)  Five Things Most People Don’t Know Poverty & Student Achievement.  I emailed it to you and hope you have had a chance to read Eric’s research and the power we have, not only on our students, but our community and society as a whole. Powerful research shared in his article when you see how very important our role as educators really is in today’s world.

With that being said we are role models for our students and ultimately we are the LEAD LEARNERS.

How we communicate, collaborate, critically think/problem solve, and what we model is being viewed by our students each and every day. Our words matter, our Positivity and our Pledge to be positive are equally important to the success of one another and our students. It isn’t easy – I know this, but we must hold one another accountable. We must build one another up and see the positive in each and every student we work with daily. EACH AND EVERY STUDENT!

Each student we come in contact with has a story just as we do. Each of them comes to us with “baggage” just as we do. We are each fighting “battles” even though we may not show it – we are and that includes our students.

“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” – Plato. This is great advice as we face our students and lead them each and every day. Many of them are fighting hard battles. Remember that when the student makes a mistake. They are learning, growing, and trying to find their way in this crazy world. We as adults are here to help guide them and help them find their way. There will be bumps along the way and the path to success will NOT be a straight line.

So, remember each day WE model our problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and technology skills crucial to being successful in today’s society. Our students are looking to us as the Lead Learners to guide them. What we say, do, and how we react will stick with them much longer than the curriculum we teach them.

We make a difference each and every day. . .whether it is a positive or negative difference depends on the individual.

Be the POSITIVE CHANGE in the lives of our students. Let your light shine brightly on them ALL.

What’s happening this week at CMS?

This week’s #CMSchat link to articles you may find of interest and here is a link to all #CMSchat links and others I’ve curated.

Morning Duty: Doyle – Cafeteria; Thomas – Library; Larson – Hall; Mooney – Bus; Dunn – Gym.

Tuesday, Oct. 15 -  Faculty meeting 3 p.m. in Library.

Girls Basketball Tournament Round One at Cherokee. 7th grade at 3 p.m. and 8th grade to follow.

Boys Football at Kickapoo vs. Pershing – 7th grade at 5:30 for an undefeated All-City championship. 8th grade to follow.

Wednesday, Oct. 16 - No students. See email from Oct. 9th with detailed schedule. PL/W schedule – 3.5 hours of work and 3.5 hours of learning = 2 hours on SPS CCSS Wiki & 1.5 hours for Pre-learning Lit Strategy. We will meet in the library at 9 a.m.

Make-up faculty meeting at 8 a.m. in conference room.

Thursday, Oct. 17 - Earthquake Drill at approximately 10:17 in conjunction with The Great Central U.S. Shakeout. More details here.

Grades posted by 3 p.m.

Girls Basketball Tournament Round Two at Cherokee TBD – should be the same as Tuesday.

Saturday, Oct. 19 - Girls Championship games at Glendale High School. I’ll email the updated brackets after each round.


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Take the Positive Teacher Pledge

We could all use a little reminder on occasion.

Please take 5 minutes to read, print, and post PositiveTeacherPledge.

Have a great day!

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Positivity Lives Here

It is tough to be on your game 100% of the time, but. . .

I have a choice each day I wake up – 1. I face the day and make the best of it by being what I expect to see from those around me, or 2. I can complain, moan, groan, and find everything wrong under the sun, or 3. I can get sucked in to the negativity trap by listening to the negativity around me – media, friends, family, so on and so forth. It is very easy to do.

It truly is a choice and I have the power to decide which of the above I live each and every day. It is my choice to make it a great day or not.

“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.” – Anon

Yes, life is tough. Yes, life happens and it isn’t always fair. Yes, things don’t always go my way despite my best efforts. Ultimately my life is what I make of it. . . WHAT I MAKE OF IT. No one else. Me. I control my attitude.

I’ve been reading Jon Gordon’s (@jongordon11) book The No Complaining Rule and he shares the following: “It’s easy to be positive when everything in life is going great. The hard part is staying positive when you get knocked down and kicked around. The fact is, no one goes through life untested. If you study history, sports, and business, you will find that every great leader and team had to overcome adversity and challenges to define themselves and their success. With so many people telling us we can’t do it, we have to be positive and believe we can. We have to have faith and trust in a bigger plan for us and our team. The concept of the “overnight success” is a myth. Life is a test, and a deciding factor of whether we pass or fail is the answer to the following question: ‘Are you going to stay positive in the face of your doubts, fears, and challenges?’ Staying positive is not about putting on a fake smile or believing you can do it all yourself. Rather it’s about being optimistic and living with hope and having faith. The measure of our success will not be determined by how we act during the great times in our life but rather by how we think and respond to the challenges of our most difficult moments.”

So I have challenged myself to face my adversities head on with a smile. I have faced many in my life and I know many more lie ahead of me. I am thankful to have been giving the opportunity to face those in the past and I know what lies ahead will not be easy, but I look forward to the opportunity.

With this challenge I am adding the following to my repertoire from The No Complaining Rule:

1. The But –> _____ Positive Technique. When you realize you are complaining you simply add the word but and then add a positive thought or action. For example: I don’t like that I’m out of shape but I love feeling great so I’m going to focus on exercising and eating right.

2. Focus on “Get To” instead of “Have To.” Instead of always saying “I have to go to work” or “I have to drive here” restate it as “I get to go to work when so many are unemployed” and “I get to drive when many don’t have a car or are too sick to travel.” We should focus on feeling blessed instead of stressed and focus on gratitude.

3. Turn Complaints into Solutions. Instead of focusing on mindless complaining (only focusing on problems) try justified complaining (identify a problem and move forward to a solution). Every complaint represents an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

Will you take the challenge with me?

It won’t be easy and I’m sure I’ll need to remind myself when I go down the negative road, but I know I have a support system in place and I am thankful for you all each and every day.

It is my choice to be positive and I accept the challenge because Positivity Lives Here!

Here are more posts I’ve shared with you this week via #CMSchat

This week:

Morning Duty: Ballenger, Cafe; Chillers, Library; Plate, Hall; Michel, Bus; Bruner, Gym.

Monday, Oct. 7 - Basketball vs. Reed 8th Home, 7th away

Tuesday, Oct. 8 - Picture Day – CHEESE! :-) /Staff remember to get your pictures taken before school please. Morning duty folks please have someone cover you for a couple of minutes. I am unable as I’ll be at principal meeting.

Department meetings (email me with time/date/location) update shared agenda with meeting minutes.

Football vs. Jarrett at Kickapoo 7th grade at 5:30 and 8th grade to follow

Wednesday, Oct. 9 - Booktalk: 6th grade 8:15 – 8:45; 8th grade 2:15 – 2:45

Thursday, Oct. 10 - 8:30 Flu Shot Clinic (turn in student permission forms to Cynthia daily and please remind students to return them)

Friday, Oct. 11 - 6th grade to Literature Fest at Missouri State University


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What motivates you?

What motivates you? What motivates our students? Doing what we enjoy, what we love, what we are curious about knowing more of or just digging a little deeper into the subject.

“People only do their best at things they truly enjoy,” Jack Nicklaus – Hall of Fame golfer.

I’m sure we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. For me personally it didn’t happen until my senior year in high school when I was given the opportunity to choose my research paper topic by Mrs. Jennings. So, being a sports geek and the Olympic Games coming within a 2 hour drive of my home I chose the 1996 Olympic Games coming to Atlanta as my topic. Now it was 6 years prior to the Olympics so I researched the process behind Atlanta preparing and planning for the Games and how they went about winning the bid. This was the first time I enjoyed writing! How sad for me and how sad for any student to have to wait almost 18 years to enjoy writing. Needless to say this was the beginning of my journalism career. I went on to become an award-winning writer, editor, and photographer in college and at two of my professional stops in Tennessee and Florida.

My point behind sharing this story with you is this: continue to provide our students with opportunities to explore their interests. There is more than ‘one way to skin a cat’ as my papaw used to tell me all the time. We can accomplish and obtain the Common Core Standards or Grade Level Expectations in a variety of ways. Every student does NOT have to do the same project in the same format as one another.

We know this. You have permission. Take the next step and let our students find their passion. Be your students’ Mrs. Jennings. Help a student find his/her passion and let them shine through the talents they currently have, but are sometimes stifled because they have to ‘shut down’ when they come to school.

It is happening in our building and I am amazed at the work all of our students are producing when given these choices.

Be the the ONE! You are the ONE! I thank you ALL for being the ONE!

Have a great week!

Here is a link to the #CMSchat Storify of articles I read this week that I believe you will find of use. Here is a link to all previous #CMSchat Storify

Here is the link to the Links For Cherokee Staff.  This link has pretty much all you need regarding Cherokee in one location. If you have suggestions for additional links to add please let us know.

Drill schedule update/change – we are switching our drills in October to align with the Great Central U.S. Shake Out on Oct. 17th. You can learn more about the Great Central U.S. Shake Out here.

See schedule below for this week’s upcoming events.

Monday, Sept. 30 - Girls basketball vs. Jarrett – 8th Home and 7th @ Jarrett

Wednesday, Oct. 2 - Character Ed 8 to 8:30

Wednesday, Oct. 2 - Girls basketball vs. Pershing – 7th Home and 8th @ Pershing

Thursday, Oct. 3 – Fire Drill 1:40

Friday, Oct. 4 - 6th grade Fire Prevention Assembly in small gym 8 to 8:50

Morning Duty: Ross – Cafeteria; Hammarlund – Library; M. Kjorvestad – Hall; Mooney – Bus; Gray – Gym.

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Collaborative Community

Have you noticed? Are you a part of it yet?

Collaboration has been going on here for years and people were learning and sharing with one another, but that is as far as it went. This week alone collaboration was happening and it was public! I can’t tell you how many conversations I have heard, and overheard, with staff explaining how much they have enjoyed getting in other classrooms and the tidbits they are learning from one another. POWERFUL!

The difference between now and then? Making it public and sharing it with others. Collaboration between two people is good. Collaboration among a department and team is good. Collaboration across multiple subjects, teams, grade-levels, and schools  is GREAT!


Thank you so much to everyone that has gotten out there to learn, share, and grow together.

Another way to collaborate is shared in this article. This takes it to the next level and further proves the “smartest person in the room is the room.” – Unknown

Here are a few more posts you may find of interest from this past week #CMSchat

Here are the links to the last two weeks of #CMSchat 9/13 & #CMSchat 9/6

If you haven’t taken the time to browse through the #CMSchat storify as of yet I would recommend setting aside a few minutes to skim some of the titles. I have included a variety of topics and several on Google Apps/Drive as well. One note – when you get to the bottom of the page please notice there is a blue bar stating “Read next page” if there are more articles.

Upcoming events:

Monday, Sept. 23 – Basketball vs. Carver. 8th away/7th home 3 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 24 – Lockdown 2 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Grades posted by 8 a.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Book Talk – Ravens 1:15 – 1:45 and Panthers/Endeavor 2 – 2:45

Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Basketball vs. PV 8th away/7th home 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 25 - Football vs. PV at Hillcrest HS. 7th at 5:30 and 8th to follow.

Thursday, Sept. 26 – Team Meetings

Friday, Sept. 27 – Dr. Ridder Fall visit. He will be visiting classrooms.

Friday, Sept. 27 – Progress Reports go home 7th period

Morning Supervision: Cafe – Mertens-Price; Library – Larson; Hall – Spence; Bus – Butterworth; Gym – Zinecker

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Our Words Matter

So many times we hear and talk about our words truly make a difference. What we say and sometimes don’t say can speak volumes. We even watched this video at a staff meeting on Aug. 30 to show the power of our words.

Well today Teresa Breese shared the following email with me:

“Ms Breese -

When we headed to open house tonight, my husband and I did not have expectations for anything extraordinary to occur. However we were pleasantly surprised!

You created an extraordinary moment for us. We often wonder and worry about how our daughter will find a meaningful role for work as an adult. We worry about whether she will be able to be independent. This evening without knowing you were even impacting our lives, you made the comment that she would make a great preschool teacher someday.

We had never thought about her having that potential, but it immediately made perfect sense to us both. She could truly shine in such a job! You brought such a bright spot to us both. Thank you!

Thank you for all you do for our Cherokee students!”

How wonderful and what a difference a few positive words can make in the lives of so many.

So, as we work with our students and families each and every day please continue to remember WHAT WE SAY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Continue to make those positive phone calls home, mail home the positive postcards (they are in a box in my office), continue to submit positive referrals to Mr. Schreiner, send an email letting families know of something special a student did today. Make it a priority to spread positive cheer and continue to be A Positive Influence each and every day!

Thank you to Teresa for giving this family hope and changing the outlook they have for their daughter.

Here is a collection of some articles related to Google and other education topics you may find interesting: #CMSchat 9/13/13

This week’s events:

Sept. 16 - Basketball vs. PV 3 p.m. 7th grade home

Sept. 16 - MAP scores/parent letter sent home.

Literacy Leader observations start this week (see Mrs. Wilson’s email). Here is the link to Important Cherokee Links/Documents where I have added the Peer Observation Form for Lit Leader and/or other observations.

Sept. 17 - Faculty meeting 3 p.m. Library Classroom.

Sept. 17 - PTSA meeting 9 a.m.

Sept. 18 - Basketball vs. Westport. 8th grade home.

Sept. 19 - 8th grade Explore Test (See Mrs. Roffers email with schedule)

Sept. 19 - Leadership Meeting 3 p.m. Conference Room

Sept. 19 - Football at KHS vs. Carver. 7th at 5:30 and 8th to follow.

Sept. 20 - No School. SPS NOW @ KHS 8:30 to 11:30 and site. 1 – 1:45 p.m. Vertical Collaboration w/ departments (please use the same Google Doc as last time to continue the conversation)., 1:50 – 3 p.m. Google Followup (we will start in the Library classroom and then break into groups and go to the labs), 3 – 4 p.m. Professional Work.

Duty this week: Greaves – Cafe, Arens – library, Still – Hall, Harris – Bus, Gray – Gym.


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Be EXTRAordinary

“We learned that, for the most part, extraordinary people, teams, and organizations are simply ordinary people doing extraordinary things that matter to them.”

- Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery & Mark Thompson, Success Built to Last

We all have the ability to be EXTRAordinary and so do our students. As the quote above states extraordinary is when ordinary people do things that matter to them. This is a great reminder when giving students CHOICE and VOICE in the work they do each day in our classrooms. When we, adults, are given a choice on how to show what we know or are able to choose what we want to learn we tend to excel.

There are many ways to show an objective has been met and there is no need to provide a “blanket” one-size-fits-all project. I know I am preaching to the choir as I am seeing it in several classrooms, but I want to reiterate we can meet the needs of ALL students through choice and voice.

What an amazing week we have had. So much positive energy and feedback within the building and from our community! I’ve shared a few emails this week with staff as we continue to receive kudos from families regarding our communication, our programs (Book Talk/Character Ed), and our students and staff. Thank you to EVERYONE for continuing to be transparent by communicating via websites, Remind101, Twitter, telephone, and email. Thank you for being great hosts to our volunteers and Thank you for being great people, teachers, and role models for our students!

A special shout out to Mrs. Roffers and the staff who gave an extra hand (haha :-) ) in creating the character ed video for this month’s lesson. Great lesson on expectations developed via the feedback from you all. I look forward to seeing the expectations our students have for us.

Thank you to Mr. Youngblood for taking the time to create the one-stop Google document with the important links. I know I have refereed it every day this week and have noticed several of you also logged in and using as well. Thanks Keven!

Here is the link again for your convenience – Cherokee Links

Congrats again to Mrs. Mertens-Price on the Foundation Grant she was awarded yesterday. The sustainable garden project is going to be amazing! Our students have already started the process in her classroom, but when it is up and going full-scale it will be a great experience for everyone involved.

Here is a link to #CMSchat – 9/6/13 – These are several posts on education topics, including Google Docs, I have come across recently on Twitter. You can access them here – Blogs, articles, infographs you may find of interest

Upcoming events:

Morning Duty this week - Cafeteria: Brown, Library: Peck, Hall Duty: Kenneally, Bus: Randolph, Gym: Breese

All Week - Book Fair in the Library. Please promote to students/parents via websites.

Monday, Sept. 9 - Basketball vs. Pershing 7th Home – 8th at Pershing

Tuesday, Sept. 10 - Domino’s Day – 15% of total order comes back to CMS when code SPS21 is used.

Tuesday, Sept. 10 - Dept. Meetings. Check with Dept. Chair for time/location. Email me with both as well.

Wednesday, Sept. 11 - Football vs. Westport @ JFK Stadium. 7th grade at 5:30 and 8th grade to follow.

Thursday, Sept. 12 - Storm Drill at 9 a.m.

Thursday, Sept. 12 - Open House 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13 - Fall Sports Pep Assembly 2 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13 - Future Chief Night at KHS Football game

Saturday, Sept. 14 - Basketball vs. Pipkin 9 a.m. 7th @ Pipkin, 8th @ Home

Week of Sept. 16 – 20thFOOD FIGHT. Cherokee will be defending our title, and helping families in the Ozarks, by donating food to Ozarks Food Harvest. This is in conjunction with Hunger Action Month. Please start encouraging students to donate non-perishable items from the 16th – 20th so we can keep our Giant Fork trophy. We will have boxes to distribute to you all next week.

Have a great weekend.


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