Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MHS Always a Pleasure

MIDDLEBURG HIGH SCHOOL HOME OF THE BRONCOS!!! Every time I walk into Middleburg High School I feel like I have come home. The sense of a common culture and pride at MHS is addictive. The students get it, the teachers get it, the faculty gets it, and the administration gets it!
I spoke today about symbols of success at Middleburg to receptive young people who wanted to continue a strong tradition, and I am happy to say that the tradition is alive and well.

Middleburg High School is in a rural environment right on the outskirts of Jacksonville. A school that a few years ago (when the gas prices were through the roof!!) had an article written about how some of the students rode their horses to right! When you drive into Middleburg High School you pass the portables which is normal for a large high school in NE Florida, but what is unique is that you also drive past a donkey and a goat as well.... cool right! The donkey and his buddy the goat are part of the FFA club's group of animals. It is not a new school, but is very well kept by the faculty and pride is visible everywhere. The tale tale sign of a great high school is not the horse riding students, (or the donkey and the goat) it is the reaction of the students, teachers, and administrators when they talk about their school.

I talked to two administrators today about my observations and the next words out of their mouths were, "I would never work anywhere else..." I talked to students and they were all excited about the new school year, and they would stop me in the halls and talk to me about how excited they were to order their class rings. Young people stopping ME in the halls to talk about a symbol of pride... cool right!!

Pride in ones work and ones school is infectious and it is spreading like wildfire at Middleburg High School. "Pride is a personal commitment. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity." When you have an attitude of culture like you do at MHS the rest falls into place. Having a great leadership class lead by Dawn Powers makes MHS great, ambitious connected administration makes MHS great, teachers that relate to students makes MHS a great place and students that take pride in their school makes MHS great. I work with a lot of schools that are doing things well in NE Florida and I am excited to keep everyone up to date on the great things that I see. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alex Nelson's Luau

Today at 2:00 funeral services for Alex Nelson. Mr Nelson was the principal at Union County High School and he passed away Thursday night at the age of 46. I was in attendance for his funeral, dressed in a very what I thought was funeral appropriate black suit. I was very surprised that when I pulled into my parking space I noticed people dressed in Hawaiian shirts.....I thought wow that is odd.... then when I saw a young lady sporting a flower lay I knew that something was going to be a little different about this funeral.

In Alex Nelson's will he had actually decreed that he wanted everyone to wear Hawaiian shirts and have his funeral be a celebration of his life and not a time of grieving. Truly it was a celebration of a man of God, a great educator, and a very passionate fisherman. Alex's friends and family got up and told fishing story after fishing story about Mr. Nelson's determination. Many times during the service the analogy between being a Fisherman and a fisherman of men came up.

I did not know Alex Nelson very well, but today's events moved and motivated me enough to start this blog running again. Its funny how life is full of surprises, I went to a funeral today to pay my respects to a man who dedicated his life to God and education, and he taught one last lesson to me.

Lately I have struggled with keeping my vision and my focus on helping others. Hearing about Mr. Nelson's life, and his dedications today, helped me re find that focus. I pull inspiration from many things, and surprisingly on a rainy Sunday in the sunshine state, I found inspiration at a funeral for a fisherman, disguised as a luau.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bronco Pride and Turning Thirty

Wednesday night at about 7:30 I turned thirty. I thought back to how much my life had changed over the past few birthdays and how thankful I am for everything that has happened recently, but I just could not believe that I had reached the 30 year mark. I guess every person reflects on things that have happened in their lives when they reach big mile stones like winning an award, accomplishing a long term goal, and birthdays that end in a zero. When I reflected on my life I thought about my friends.

Thursday morning I was given the great pleasure of speaking to a group of about 350 freshman at Middleburg High School in Clay County Florida. I talked about making the commitment to graduate from High School, and taking advantage of the opportunity that they were about to be given. Every time I talk to high schoolers I cant help but reflect on my own opportunity that I was given to graduate from high school, and how big of a part my friends played in that opportunity. I could see freshman meeting complete strangers that had come from different school, and those strangers will after a few short years undoubtedly become life long friends. Funny thing about high school is, out of all the people that you meet and the strong friendships that come from growing up together and experiencing the roller coaster that is high school these people that are currently your world will not always be there, but the special ones always will be.

It is not a bad thing, but life changes and the way you are in your teens is not how you will be in your twenties, and even though I have yet to experience it I am sure my thirties will be different from my twenties. I constantly hear people talk about high school being their glory days. When I tell people that I work with high schools, I almost always hear a story about their own personal high school experience. I love to hear people reminisce about their high school experience. I love stories of life changing events that happened in high school, peoples first girl friend, how they rolled a house with their friends, or the game that won them a state championship. When I remember high school I always think about my two friends David and Will and all the great memories that we made.

It is always great to reflect on the past, but high school is not the best years of your is just the best years of your life so gets a lot better if you make it better. If I have learned anything it is that LIFE is what you make of it, and true friends are the ones that will be there for you when you make a mess of IT. For those young students at Middleburg High School it will hopefully be the best years of their life so far, and I hope that it is filled with the same great memories that I have from my high school. I want to thank my friends for always being there for me, and give a little advice to the class of 2013. Choose friends that will challange you to be a better person, those are the ones that you will still be freinds with when you reach thirty......

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Today was a very good day. I was given the opportunity to sit in on a Freshman Orientation today at Orange Park High School in Orange Park Florida and it was ROCK N ROLL... some might even use the term "wicked awesome" It was really great to see a group of freshman start out so000 quiet.....maybe a little shy.......maybe trying to take in the enormity of a 725 student freshman class.. Then transform into RAIDERS and scream at the top of their lungs when their group was called out to see who would be the first to get lunch. Tyler's tip of the day: FOOD is a motivator(even if it is just a hotdog)!

I could literally see 8th graders from every DIFFERENT middle school in Clay county morph in front of my eyes into the UNIFIED freshman class of Orange Park High School. Treasure Pickett recently reminded me that, "young people don't care how much you know... until they know how much you care" You could see that people at OPHS care a lot!! I saw it in the young student leaders who spread RAIDER pride, you could see it in the teachers that lead break out groups, and you could also see it in the administrators who lead even rapped!! I even saw how much people care by watching the guys, the girls, and even one determined principals secretary prepare 1200 hot dogs for the students. Every were you looked young people were getting it!!

The "it" is understanding that you are about to embark on a journey that will take you through the 4 best years of your life, so far...... The "it" was seeing that Orange Park High School was a school that wants you to be involved, because once you are involved that is when young people start making memories that will last a life time!!
How are you making sure your students know how much you care? Is it something that you show daily, or just at the beginning of the year? I hope that everyone in Florida will continue to get their students involved and keep letting them know that taking pride in your school and your education is an investment that will keep paying out the REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fixing Dryers....

Yesterday I came home to find that my dryer was broken and of course I had a pile of laundry to do. So like any red blooded American male I went to the appliance store and bought a new belt for my dryer because I was going to fix it myself. I knew what the problem was and I figured it cant be that hard to do, I am going to fix it.

After a few choice words for my dryer and of course a little help from my wife Jackie, I had replaced the belt that turns the barrel of the dryer and was ready to put it back together and then get to drying my clothes. As I was putting the dryer back together I noticed that a small switch had come loose so I tried to put it back on the dryer, well sure enough I thought that I had put it all back together perfectly, but I had not. A small piece that makes the connection to tell the dryer that you have closed the door and all is well for your dryer to continue his job had fallen off of the switch. Needless to say because that small piece had fallen off the entire dryer would not work, and thus I had a few more choice words for my dryer....

I reflected on what had just happened, and how I was defeated by a small piece of copper DRYER-1 Tyler-0. I thought about how even though I had fixed the original big problem of replacing the belt that does the job of moving the barrel around, because I did not put the small little switch on properly it would not work.

I learned that I needed to be aware of every part of what I was doing, and that by not fully completing EVERYTHING that needed to be done I would not be able to accomplish my goal of having dry clothes. Because even neglecting the smallest part of something can lead to you not accomplishing your task at hand. For me it was a piece of copper no bigger than a paper clip, what small thing might you be neglecting that is keeping you from accomplishing your goals?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


So this will be the first BLOG!! I am excited about the coming year and what new challenges and experiences this year will bring. I woke up this morning with a enormous feeling of excitement, because I knew that this would be the best year of my life so far. I have just gotten married 16 days ago to a beautiful woman who is truly my partner in life and love. I have an amazing job that I am proud to say has become my calling, and I cant wait to see what this year has to bring.

I know another group of people who are starting to get excited.... High School students! I always tell students (especially seniors) that if you get involved and meet challenges and accomplishing your goals with excitement, that is when every year of your life becomes the best year of your life so far.

People meet the new year with excitement, because they have the opportunity to do things differently from last year. Everyone is undefeated before a season begins!! Educators take this time to charge up your batteries for the coming school year. How will you accomplish your goals as an educator, your schools goals, and your counties goals? Maybe your goal as an educator is to connect with your students more, maybe your goal as a school is to get grad rates up, and maybe your goal as a county is to help balance the budget.

Students, how will you meet your goals? Are your goals in line with permanent professional success or are they grounded in a short term, small impact, immediate satisfaction? Whatever your goals are write them down and make a plan to accomplish them. I guy a lot smarter than me once said,"Plan your work, and then work your plan"

This will be the greatest year of my life so far, and I hope that this blog can help inspire you, give you ideas, and keep you always working your plan. Thanks for everything you do daily to help accomplish, what should be every ones goal for life and that is to make this world a better place. Thanks for all you do and I will see you soon.