The quick bio on me:
First (please don’t hold this against me….), I’m not a native Kentuckian. I’m a transplant. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC and Baltimore. I come from a pretty strong athletic lineage and that had a strong bearing on me winding up in Kentucky. Both of my grandfathers were student-athletes at the collegiate level. One played football for Virginia Tech and the other played tennis for Cal-Berkley. My oldest brother swam for Towson University (near Baltimore). I ended up following in my brother’s path and swam competitively all through my youth. I was eventually recruited and accepted a scholarship from the University of Kentucky (Go C-A-T-S) in 1987. I graduated in 1991 with a degree in Industrial Education. My masters and Rank I were received from EKU in school administration.
My wife and I consider ourselves blessed with a blended family. We have a daughter, Alicia (30), and sons Travis (28), Jake (20), and Davis (17). Along with our children, we now have a grandson Hayden (1) and our first granddaughter is on the way (Marlee). Kentucky has essentially been my home since UK and Harrison County is where I’ve been for the last 10 years. We have a farm outside of Kelat in the northern part of the county. Our farm is truly my “Fortress of Solitude” and where I unabashedly unwind. Several of my “passions” revolve around my time spent there.
I proudly consider myself a “struggling” and imperfect Christian man, husband, father, and mentor. With that mindset I attack each day knowing that I can always get better at every single thing I do. I’m passionate about leading this school with this particular age group of students. Paramount to all of this, in relation to my work, is that I’ve finally matured enough to realize that this job IS MY CALLING.
What you’re going to get from me as your child’s principal:
Frankness: When you talk to me you’re going to get a clear picture of my thoughts. I don’t apologize for that. With that said, I’ve had to look internally when it comes to two critical areas: Truth and grace. In my earlier years I was entirely too strong in one (truth) and woefully weak in the other (grace). That has certainly improved over time and my own personal humility/failures have helped me in leveling those two traits. With that said, one always seems to be stronger than the other and it requires constant conscious thought on my part to stay in balance.
Confidence with humility: This is my 16th year here as principal and I’ve been in this business for 25. The world has changed dramatically but young people in this age range still have the same wants, needs, and insecurities just like their predecessors of yesteryear. I EMBRACE that.
While I am confident in my abilities to lead, I am humble enough to admit that I will make mistakes and there’s always room for improving. Along with that, I’m certainly malleable (in this case, my mind changed) to influence (from student and adult alike) should it be warranted.
An “eye” for this job: I know good teaching. I know marginal teaching. I know good leadership. I know poor leadership. While remaining humble, I feel that I do see the “education landscape” fairly well and can make solid decisions based off of informed decisions. While your child’s education is critically important to me, their safety is paramount.
Tempered discipline: All too often the term “discipline”, when referring to young people, derives a negative connotation or image. To me, it’s quite the contrary. Discipline is infinitely important with one caveat….. that it’s tempered with love. Young people at this age are naturally starting to arc away from adult influencers as they move towards eventual adult independence. Many of the decisions I make with young people may not actually be appreciated in the immediate moment. However, my goal is to be comfortable in (perhaps) initial unpopularity but eventual/long term respect and appreciation. The funny thing about this business is that I’ve been on both sides. I’ve actually been a teenager and a middle school kid. I heartily realize that kids aren’t always going to like the decisions I make. I’m 100% okay with that because I too was a kid and I TOO didn’t like some of the decisions made by the adults in school (or my parents for that matter).
Honest with myself: I’ve made notable progress in my personal, professional, and spiritual growth over my 15 year tenure here at HCMS. I’m certainly not done yet. I have much more to do and the work is always in front of me. One of the most important facets (IMHO) of a leader is to be honest in accomplishment but even more so in defeat or failure. Regardless of personal or professional growth, my past record has shown that my own greatest growth has occurred despite early and sometimes often mistakes.
I want to instill that in your children. I want them to fail. Yes, I want them to experience some failure so they learn to eventually conquer. That pathway builds one of the most critical and powerful traits of all- PERSEVERANCE. Too many young people are not taking risks by taking the mentality of, “If I don’t try, at least that protects me from ever failing.” I ardently disagree with that mindset.
HCMS may stand alone and different from other schools for that very reason.
Potentially fail multiple times.
Build genuine self-worth.
The “Story” Behind the Pants:
I haven’t always worn some of the more “loud” or colorful pant options some may be aware of. While I generally considered myself a relatively conservative dresser, a momentary decision to purchase a pair of “crazy” pants partially changed the course of my school leadership. The day I got the nerve to actually don the “crazy” pants I noticed that I had significantly more direct/verbal engagement with students than I had ever had before. It was THE “icebreaker” for students to approach and engage with me. I went home that day thinking, “If this is what I need to do to help build relationships with kids, then by gosh I’ll get more and wear more.” The rest is relative history. 18 or so pairs of “crazy” pants later and we have my weekly “Wacky Wednesday” pants.
What Can 6th Grade Parents Expect? Some helpful tools or ideas:
Apprehension on parent and student alike.
This is NOT elementary school and some struggle to adjust.
Get them involved. Involvement above and beyond simply showing up to the normal school day. (band, clubs, sports, etc)
Monitor, monitor, monitor….. EARLY. Watch grades closely.
Sign up for the e-newsletter. It’s not “overly” wordy. But I have yet to find an early adolescent that fully communicates all things school-wise to their parents. That’s where this weekly email calendar helps.
If I was asked what’s the number ONE “issue/concern” I see in incoming 6th graders it would be a lack of organizational skills. Help your child by teaching them to organize. It addresses so many other things that could cause problems.
Kids in this age range can be very mean. I don’t like it and we actively address it.
I will always try and meet with you, a vital school “customer”, and you never have to make an appointment. However, this IS middle school and things can and do happen at a moment’s notice. If a significant issue comes up and I can’t meet with you right then, please, I ask your patience. Also know that I’m in with 6th graders during their lunch for lunch duty. That window of 10:35am until 11:20 is not a good time for meeting if it can be avoided.
Get your password information for Parent Portal. It is vital that you monitor your child’s performance (Thank goodness my parents didn’t have that when I was in school!).
Understanding Teams- we use “Maroon” team and “Gold” team at all 3 grades. What does that mean? A foundational middle school concept is to shrink the school a bit for children feeding in from multiple schools. In this case, a student automatically has cut the 6th grade in half by being on one of two teams. When it comes to what determines which team your child will be on in the 6th grade, is if they’re in BAND. If they’re in WOODWINDS, they’re on the Maroon team. If they play a brass instrument, they’re on the Gold team. 6th grade is the only grade that splits the band that way. In 7th or 8th grade, only one of the two teams (Maroon or Gold) has band members on it.
Please note that just because your child was on the “Maroon” team one year, doesn’t mean they’ll automatically be on the “Maroon” team next year. It is completely random and it is often shuffled from year to year as we see certain “chemistry” issues that we may need to change from year to year.
Daily Announcements- EVERY day we have morning announcements. This includes the Pledge of Allegiance, Song of the Day, sport results, calendar club/activity events, other highlights and we close with these important statements we live by:
(Showing kindness when it’s not deserved)
(Kindness and compassion towards others)
*Believe in Yourself (added this year)