No. 264



A while back I received something in the mail from an educator that was really the voice of experience. It also reminded me once again of just how important education really is and the debt of gratitude we owe to those who spend their lives educating our children. What I received was an article titled,"Everything I know I learned as a high school principal" that was written by Dr. Ivan Kershner, principal of the Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, Colorado.

When I requested his permission to use it, he wrote me back and had this to say: "Yes, you certainly have my permission to use it in one of your columns. Yes, kids are our greatest resource. I've been in this unique business of public education for 31 years, and I've seen the pendulum swing many times, but I get energized each school year when I see the faces of my students. Funny, though, I have a gray beard and hair, but the kids are always the same age."

And then he says something that we would all do well to ponder or even pray about. "Finally, I agree with you that the more people we can help the better our world will be. It really isn't about money, power, position, or prestige. It is about what positive legacy we leave with our children..."

Now get your thinking cap on because you are going to be surprised at what Dr. Kershner has learned as a high school principal. He begins, "Plugged toilets will overflow if you keep flushing* Truly great teachers are also great human beings* Kids need second chances* Parents make the worst sports fans* Some kids succeed in spite of all we do for them* Some kids fail for the same reason* No matter what decision you make, it upsets somebody. Make it any way* You never get all the spray paint off brick* The buck really does stop at your desk*

Everyday at least one person will do something dumb and you will have to deal with it* Frequently, groups of people do dumb things* Every school has successes* Every school has failures* Sleep on a problem. Tomorrow usually brings a better decision* Horizontal: It's a pile. Vertical: It's filed* Write it down. Otherwise, you'll forget* Sometimes if you ignore a problem it will go away* Sometimes it won't* Nobody really expects you to have all the answers* Call the parents before the kid gets home* Having the police on speed dial is a good thing* Be nice to secretaries* "Building security" is an oxymoron*

Experience, though boring, is often valuable* The pendulum always swings back* Deep breathing* A good janitor is worth their weight in gold* Make the coffee* Talk to the media. With or without you the story gets written* Parking lots have trash. Get over it* Don't try to establish a student dress code unless you have a lot of time on your hands* Windows get left open at night* Anything can happen. Anywhere. Any time* Having good intentions is no excuse* Leave your office door open most of the time* When somebody asks if you are busy, say, "Yes but I have time for you."* Do it now!* Find a mentor* Roofs leak* Being a high school principal is a very important job."

It is an honor for me to hear from fine people like Dr. Kershner, along with other readers all across our country. Working together, those of us who care about our country, our children and our future can make a positive difference. There is nothing more important than your children and the people that you entrust to educate them. If they are doing a good job, tell them so. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)