Monday, November 30, 2015
#Lovingkindness: @TiaTorres_ Wears her #SocialResponsibility & Creates #Awareness via #PositiveDisruption #pitbulls
My children, my personal goals, the community projects I strive to bring up to speed and the students I work with fill my mind and heart. Unless I am writing or driving, sitting on my derriere is something I am not a big fan of. It is hard for me to sit still and watch meaningless 'entertainment' on television. I don’t own a TV on purpose. Yet, every once in a while there IS something good on TV. i don't know how the Lords of Television manage, but they actually got something worthwhile on the airwaves. Recently, I managed to get the gist of what appears to be a show with a great purpose, Pitbulls and Parolees on Animal Planet’s network.
‘Short story long,’ it is about a woman who has taken it upon herself to rehabilitate pit bulls with pit bulls. That is to say, actual dogs who have been maltreated, neglected or abused with ex-convicts looking for a second opportunity to empower themselves. Tia Torres leads the pack as a master dog trainer with a ‘heartset’ and mindset of social responsibility for man and beast. Her show flies an idea of ‘positive disruption’ in the world of criminal justice far beyond the clink and clank of a jail house.
Mrs. Torres may not seem saintly or daintly to the eye, in fact, she appears tough as a diamond in the rough. As a dog trainer to angry dogs and post-off convicts she has to walk a special line of being both hard and soft internally and externally in order to consistently recreate the successful outcomes she is known for. Call her a misfit as do the many in the community where she operates out of, but she is single-handedly on the front line of a silent, invisible battle to repair torn fabric. It is messy on the front lines sometimes. The mightiest warriors come to the battle early and leave late. This changes a person. Some say it changes one for the worse. Too many ‘tours’ back to the battle scrambles their perception is one line commonly released. That it makes you ‘too tough’ to keep going back out there.
"Not many are willing to give a second chance to these parolees," says Torres, "But I have. And now the 'bad boys' of society meet the so-called 'bad boys' of the canine community, and boom! Just like that -- they create magic together. They bring out a side of each other that's sweet, warm and unbelievably touching.”
These are the one’s with the mightiest hearts.
Seeking no credit.
The job is credit itself.
The smiles and resting heart of those served
Not just ‘holding the line’
but pushing the line
forward onward and upward
Mountain peak past higher mountain peak
I take my black hat off to Mrs. Tia Torres and the valiant men and dogs under her governorship of lovingkindess. She is an example of lovingkindness, holding its stance, fearing not, better than gold and silver. Mrs. Torres has Epic Commitment to empowering her community and is #HotterThanFireForOthers.
For more, go to https://www.CoachBill.US
Friday, November 27, 2015
This is How We Move Forward at Scalzi Skatepark / #socialresponsibility #awareness #positivedisruption
(Updated 11/27/15 2:40 pm)
Did you know that Scalzi Skatepark in Stamford is actually called a ‘flow’ park?
That’s a skatepark that has both a a street course and a skating bowl in the same location and having both skating ‘style of segments’ easy flow from one on to the other. At Scalzi, we have two tremendously awesome skate bowls and yet, the ‘street course’ venue is truncated and demure …off to the side sort of.
Currently, I am working on landing an ‘ollie?’ I grew up surfing long-boards and not trick skating so I am nowhere near as great on the board as most others at the park, but I have come a long way in just the three months I have been practicing at their. Others do ollies AND kick the board flipping it once or twice in the air as they seemingly hover above it placidly before they land back confidently on it again.
Creating independent operating systems tied to a common goal
Chris and Brian, are two operating systems within the context of our common goal of enhancing the park and its value to the community. Rather than have just one’s individual vision, each system fully leads its project 100% from the get-go. Chris and Brian are in charge of the Skate 101 class setup with my supervision. It is a growing hope a local father who coaches his son at the park lead in facilitating ithe creation of the youth tournament league.
Another key piece developing is a skateboard sports camp. I am listening to and being advised by locals on the ground as well as reps of established skateboarding camps. It is a work in collaborative process aimed at not just straight-on skateboard instruction, but making a very physical, executive function skills curriculum that would include mentoring and all the bells and whistles a well-run camp should have. The park outside the confines of the skating area is large enough and with enough other facilities to create a curriculum of active life skills development. I leave my thoughts open-ended here because I am interested in being approached by businesses that want to work together with me in this project. Though not an exhaustive list, I feel that a skateboarding executive FUNction skills camp could also offer basic yoga and meditation, soccer, chess and even perhaps basic martial arts. One of my ideas, as far-fetched as it may currently sound, is that a writing program be attached to the curriculum. They could keep notebooks for writing observations and instruction as well as give reflective feedback in written format. I look forward to listening to new ideas, different ideas and different ways on how to bring this about also. It is more fun when we do it together rather than alone also. Add your voice or your organizations voice.Putting the shoulder to the plow gets much easier when we are working on projects we are already passionate about.
Invariably, starting all these endeavors will require resources of monetary value. We would need skateboards for the classes and camps, if a youth league happens… uniforms would have to be purchased and the tournament banners I am foreseeing in my minds eye will not come free of charge. There are hidden costs that need to be assessed and addressed to set up for a good takeoff. The creation of the non-profit, Just Life Skills would allow for a portion of proceeds be channeled to be further invested in such desired goals for the team as night lights.
In the mean time, Cello and I will be establishing a new additional relationship for the team with the city before mid-December. To be discussed:
- permission and support for a bi-yearly revitalization kick off event for Scalzi Skatepark
- hosting of graffiti art gallery events
Current priorities include:
- establishing date with the city to sand blast skatepark paint and graffiti
- to usher in mural art work commencement
- launching crowd funding campaign to purchase 5-8 thin wood panels/ placards from Home Depot to create art space for local graffitiests.
- set up skateboard 101 classes with Brian and Chris
- complete and file non-profit, Just Life Skills
As a last note, the public servants who serve our communities day and night also are working in tandem with our efforts and most definitely putting their own shoulders to the plow. They are integral to the success of our on-going mission.Their work and protection is greatly valued.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
The Wounded Warrior Project: The Holistic #Empowerment of Bands of Soldiers / #positivedisruption @wwp
As a performance-based Special Educator and Executive Function Skills Coach it is imperative to have a healthy understanding of the best instructional practices, methods and strategies in relation to the students one coaches. Consequently, identifying and implementing practical, novel approaches that can be easily incorporated by students and their support system is a must. Not only that, being able to convey these in an understandable effective and efficient manner so that they are carried out successfully in the coaches absence is a priority.
In light of these points of frame, the search, experimentation, practice and polishing off of contextual activities buttressing the development of cranial connectivity between right and left hemispheres and the prefrontal cortex where our executive function skill abilities fire off is paramount to my work. To this end, the use of the below activities create a ‘back-door approach’ to distill the strenuous development of our cognitive skills.
- dancing (in most of its modalities)
- soccer (especially air dribbling)
- metacognitive conversation (thinking about our thinking)
- Creating and playing music (different from just listening to music)
There is a catch though: consistency is king. The brain is like a muscle that stays strong by smart toning. The list put together is not an exhaustive list either. There is a platitude of indirect, natural activities which serve the mind and body in a holistic fashion, such as walking or being in nature, fishing and simply going for a walk and talk with a father, a mother, a teacher or a friend.
It is by no great leap of the imagination that though I have primarily coached students with mild executive function skill deficits, those on the autism spectrum, with ADHD or emotional disorders, the same value of these contextual activities will serve typical folk, like for example, wounded combat veterans returning from the theater of war. There is a national project called the Wounded Warrior Project which does just that and has gained wide-spread international attention as a very viable pathway to revitalize combat veterans who have experienced the horrors of war by losing limbs, functional brain capacity or the more elusive, yet prevalent, post traumatic stress disorder.
In a recent television news segment I became very aware of the incredible positive impact that the Wounded Warrior Project is facilitating via the use of music and prosthetics! I witnessed veterans banding together to make music. There was more than hope in their face. What was seen was completely empowered individuals who were simply rocking out music, becoming entrepreneurs and being physically aided by the use of state-of-the-art prosthetics. They are making an incredible imprint on the social fabric of America and the world simply by standing out of the shadows, being economically empowered, grabbing guitars, trumpets and microphones and bringing their voices into harmony with each other. AS i watched the segment what came to my mind and heart was the thread of resilience, tenacity and indomitable will that makes America ‘America.’
It is mesmerizing to see these men and women veterans stand up rather than fade into the shadows. They ARE #HotterThanFireFor EachOther as they look forward not backward. I saw no victims, only heroes.
We have the Wounded Warrior Project to thank for this. An organization founded by the very soldiers it serves. All of these non-tangible life skills are the same skills taught and used to develop and empower each new generation of Americans, representing the strenuous empowerment of such cornerstone life skills as resilience, perseverance, compassion, empathy, humility, teamwork, leadership, mentoring and the growth mindset (focusing on bettering the process, rather than the end result). Just the right set of skills anyone needs to #FireOutOnAllPistons!
For more, go to https://www.CoachBill.US
For more, go to https://www.CoachBill.US
Monday, November 23, 2015
Cello on the Rise: Scoring a Silent Victory at #Scalzi #Skatepark / #EpicCommitment #allheart #community
Just yesterday I arrived at the skatepark to see that some kids had spray painted a wide swath of the 'street course' within the gates of the Scalzi skatepark. One of our top officers was there to witness it. He did not intervene. I am glad he did not. Later, when I arrived at the park right before a beautiful sunset, another one of our top officers told me that he'd love to use his give the amateur artists a good measure of his time, perhaps let them feel his skateboard.
Immediately, I realized that things could get out of hand and derail our stride. I vocalized that we should not make ourselves targets of animosity. One of the officers, Cello, piped in that we we could hoist wood panels on the gates to create 'canvases' to channel the need of aspiring artists to still create, yet directing their 'art' to these panels. Brilliant I thought. Just brilliant!! That's Cello for you!
"Lovingkindness fears not
It holds its stance"
You just don't know, we might sway these artists to join the team, rather than vilify them! That is how we roll OUR social responsibility! It's not just a park we are polishing, but each other!
Way to go team! We scored a silent victory yesterday.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
#EpicCommitment to the Community: #Scalzi Skatepark / #positivedisruption #allpistonsfiring #community #pushharder
If you’ve been to Scalzi Skatepark over the last few weeks and checked on the progress the local skaters are having in our revival campaign, you’d think that progress is slow, to nonexistent . Yet it if you would stay a while, meet the locals and chat with some of of them, you’d know different. We are moving forward at lightning speed! Faster than CERN can split particles actually and at no monetary cost to anyone!
As I get word of new skate parks being planned in Fairfield County, the crew and I double our epic commitment to becoming the gems of the country as far as social responsibility goes from the bottom up!
- Cello, a top officer and born leader and I are going to our second meeting with another city officer in Stamford to discuss and receive guidance on various new initiatives all aimed at the revitalization and establishment of Scalzi as THE flagship skatepark in the county.
- In our multi-fasceted, multi-pronged campaign to reach various milestones, such as constructing and funding night lights so that skaters can enjoy the park in the waning hours as day turns into night, Cello put forward that we have the skatepark fences host special artist walls of wood hoisted up onto the bars itself so that graffiti artist have an outlet to create within the confines of the skating atmosphere, rather than on OUR skate bowls and concrete floors. We would have an open-air art gallery!
- Chris, another top officer, is in charge of organizing the Skateboarding 101 classes and he is in sixth gear with having already identified teachers. This is his dog. These classes would charge a modest fee with a percentage going to the city’s park upkeep as well as the funding of our own goals, like night lights.
- I am completing the establishment of the non-profit organization, Just Life Skills, to serve as a vehicle and bridge to fund such things as the night lights initiative
- Just today, I met ‘TK’ a local rapper who came by the park. Dude had no skateboard on him… something in me told me to stop him before he walked out. I asked him what he did. He hesitated. I asked him if he was an artist. Told him some of OUR ideas in the revival of the skatepark. He said he rapped. I told him that we are doing a kickoff revival party event at the skatepark and are looking for singers and musicians to volunteer showcase and headline. He jumped on-board and will bring other rappers to the kickoff party.
- The skateboard youth league which will be a framework for tournaments and competitions is in the works too. Proceeds from this and with oversight by the city would be funneled via OUR non-profit and fund our ideas, including, yes, the night lights initiative. I am approaching a super Dad with whom I have an established relationship with already to possibly take the lead in this. They guy is all heart and his son, who is sponsored locally is a gentleman’s gentleman. We’ll see what he says:)
- The city will undoubtedly gives us fresh ideas also, as well as help steer us with their experience. In my first meeting, they mentioned sandblasting the walls to bring them back to their original selves. This would take away new distatesful graffiti that some kids who don’t know any better put on this morning (it’s okay) as well as the hideous white paint I put on all the walls to cover the obscene graffiti.
- We have one mural artist on-board, Chris is fanning out to bring in others with me. (If you have skills, email me via CoachBill.US or come by the park and talk with one of the officers and start a conversation.
- Lastly, I am approaching various schools to start a conversation on how skateboarding can be part of their curriculum and therapeutic counseling services. This was a city idea!
That is it for now folks. We are on the march for each other, for the youth and for the community with ‘Epic Commitment!’
Friday, November 20, 2015
The role of the father in the life of their children cannot be underestimated. It’s absence or presence directly impacts the rise and fall of a community. That said, the role of the mother is as equally pivotal as well. Many a times, it is the mother who is the safety net and ‘fall-back’ position for children when crisis, emergencies or divorce break up the family unit. In my line of work as a Special Educator of 13 years across multiple states ranging from Massachusetts to Hawai’i, I have seen and experienced first hand the ins and outs of families that go through the gauntlet of divorce, drug use, violence…and apathy. As a male and a father of three, I am sad to say that a lot of the times, the father is the one who is no longer in the picture. This is a hard truth, more so as we go down the socio-economic ladder.
In Hawai’i for example, the prevalent use of hard drugs, such as crystal meth, has delivered a super-blow to many families. Dad’s in these situations end up in jail, washed up… time is lost, kids grow up, the community is silently hit hard… it is a sad, sad story. The children lose out big time. Everybody does.
Again, the presence or absence of the lead male role model cannot be ignored. It makes just about all the difference in the life of his children. For better or for worse, and withholding judgement, for each case is different, the breakdown of a parent system, its movement through time as a dysfunctional operating unit, being what it is in all its reality and truth statistically falls on the shoulders of… the mother.
The mom begins to wear different hats. This is a tough situation and one that is not done well at first. The effect of a single-parent home begins to show itself in the emotional and mental health of the children. Pain is felt and misdirected between parent and child. Yet the resilient, determined woman does pull ahead and in the cases where the father goes completely out of the picture forever, the children also pull ahead due to the mothers determination. We can attribute this to the indomitable will of humans who just love their kids and do all they can to ensure they move forward in life. It is not simply a female thing. Single Dads do this too! (This post is about moms though:)
In the case of families with children with special needs, everything gets ramped up. The tension and constant pressure experienced by parents with children who have special needs, such as those on the autism spectrum or intellectual disabilities simply gets ratcheted up to levels unknown by typical folk. To illustrate this, have you ever heard of PTSD? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It use to be called ‘shell shock’ in the military and is a term derived from the experience of battle-worn soldiers whom never seem to shake off the horrors of war, or are at least haunted by their experiences in one way or another constantly.
Well, depending on the degree of the disability of the child, the tension on the family unit and on the parents marriage overflows its banks and if left unchecked and unregulated, engulfs the normal day to day life of parents and siblings. You see, a child with severe special needs requires a great deal of care. Parents go into a very pro-active mode that MAY leave them exhausted by days end, only to replay the next day. It can become or feel unending.
Statistically, it is the mother who bears the brunt of the management of the child with special needs. This creates a lopsided expenditure of energy which sets the stage for further breakdown and disrepair down the road. As a Daddy and coach who has worked with hundreds of children and their parents, I take my black hat off to each of the mothers, be they of kids with special needs or typical parents simply raising their children in the absence of the Dad’s who are not around. You rock. Keep on rocking for your kids, wipe away those tears, put that chin up and be all that you can be for the kids. They are looking at how you manage in crisis mode as well as in the times when you are flourishing. Every moment counts, mom. Continue to be strong and of good courage for yourself and for them. Dance everyday and let it go.
You got this.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Let it Be, Let it get STEAMiE! / #science, #tech, #engineering #math #entrepreneurism #leadwithgiants
Developing one’s executive function skills, those prefrontal cortex abilities which include the ability to modulate behavior, control our emotions…our impulses… with focus and sustained attention, these are best put to use when the mind is engaged with the heart. Aligning these two is no easy accomplishment. It takes experience, soul-searching, time, knowing who you are, what makes you tick and a penchant for wanting to be understanding of one self and others.
Many of us simply are not trained in school to think along these patterns. Curriculums move quickly on their own time tables and agendas. Tests have to be studied for, homework has to be completed, common core milestones have to be reached. This leaves little to know time for the rise of the entrepreneurial spirit. This spirit is a set of mindsets… perspectives which drive one like a framework of outlooks by which adventures are dreamt, charted and strived for.
The traditional school movement uses such cornerstone subjects as science, english, mathematics, technology and to a lesser extent, art by which to engineer the employee mindset. There is no entrepreneurial spirit, or at least it is under serious arrest when the angle is to create just scientist, just technology-savvy folks, just mathematicians, just engineers, just artists. On the other hand, when we introduce entrepreneurship, we allow ourselves as children to go off those rails. Thats were things start getting steamie. STEMiE. The last ‘E’ is for entrepreneurism!
Be it that this American nation of immigrants (E. Pluribus Unum) wants to ascertain its dominant position as a social, political and economic powerhouse the likes of which the world has never seen, turning up the heat is what is needed to make it climate-acceptable for the human heart.
You see… the heart unleashed runs free. It is boundless as it seeks to enlarge itself. It is imaginative, it is bold, it is resilient and it is confident. The heart is fragile and it is tougher than 100 feet of pure stone. Who can understand the human heart in all its complexity? Couple it with the mind and you have a high-performance vehicle ready to take action, ready to lead and to take charge.
As a school administrator, an educator, a parent, a regular John Doe, what are YOU doing to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in your child? In yourself? Do you truly want to raise your kid to simply be an employee? Wouldn’t you want yourself to know how to dream big and follow through on dreams USING the science, the technology, the engineering, the arts and the math as the chassis for the hot rod? I think it is in our best interest to lay aside all pushes to simply bang the pot and pans for calling for just STEM OR STEAM in scholastic education. That is so boring and shortsighted. Let it be and let it get STEAMiE!
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Blueprint for Revival: #Scalzi #Skatepark / #socialresponsibility #community #skateboarding #youth #positivedisruption #awareness
As we look ahead at the collaborative work to be headed up in the revival of the flagship skatepark at #Scalzi park in Stamford, Connecticut I see the roll-out of the vision. ..I see the action steps and how it will play out easily.
The creation of a non-profit, Just Life Skills, will house a framework to push a slew of repeated yearly initiatives aimed at fomenting and sustaining community action that goes beyond the personal efforts of any one player (or coach). These community-actions will set precedent in the next phases by not only integrating new players into the foray, but create the opportunity for new leadership roles that will not just inspire more action, but create tangible, on-the-ground forward movement to reclaim, polish and bring out the diamond this skatepark is.
In a maneuver to catapult the rapid advance of creating awareness a leader understands that he/ she will not have all the answers and comes to terms with the fact that any worthwhile endeavor or championship is not fought and won by one, but is a cumulative exercise by a team of aware individuals each rowing and playing their part expertly. The consummate general knows when to delegate, when to listen, when to let others lead, and when to retake the helm.
This brand of social responsibility via positive disruption surpasses my own ideas and lays itself humbly before an army of smart players, each unique and valuable in their own right. Of personal interest to me as a Special Educator and Executive Function Skills Coach (two of my many hats) is creating time and space to bring in children with various special needs (like autism), as well as their teachers and their families to use the skatepark as a grounds for the natural development of executive functions skills, gross motor and social skills. To that end, here are some of the action steps identified and put forth from my initial meeting with the gentleman officer at the city of Stamford, Connecticut's Parks and Rec office. These take off after filing the inception of the non-profit organization and would be in shoulder to shoulder collaboration with the city and community-at-large:
- City sand blasts concrete walls (they do this on a routine basis already)
- Volunteer Mural Painting
- Summer Skate Camp
- Skateboarding Youth League
- Skateboarding 101 Classes/ Curriculum
- Yearly Volunteer Kickoff Scalzi Park Day
- Reach out to Schools to network integrating skateboarding into curriculum.
a. Writing & Social Studies
b. Physical Education
c. Guidance Counselors
- Use non-profit, Just Life Skills to apportion a percentage of monetary funds collected from the summer skate camp, the skateboarding youth league and seasonal skateboarding 101 classes towards:
- erecting night lights & offsetting cost of such things as its electrical usage over time.
- Re-establishing presence of a guard to neutralize unwanted activity that has nothing to do with skateboarding.
- Expanding/ enhancing ‘street course’ within the skatepark area and adjoining grounds.
These are just a few ideas brought forth from one meeting. They are great ideas. We have our work cut out for us. Again, this is bigger than any one person. Collaboration and listening to each other will be key. Are you ready to rock out together in this revival? It is for us. It will be fun and a yearly constant process, not an overnight thing.
Specatators are welcome, doers are coveted! Each voice counts and there are ideas not even identified here which YOU may have. Bring it forth to the non-profit organization. Transparency and a disregard for who gets credit will rule the day. This way we all shine for the youth and for the community. So what do you say? Want to sign up to the crew? We're ready to rock!
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
"Love Recognizes No Barriers" #socialresponsibility #positivedisruption #community #earth #awareness #allpistonsfiring
edited 11/18/15 ;)
My graduate degree is in Special Education, my bachelor’s degree is in Political Science. As an entrepreneur educator, delivering practical, natural solutions that empowers a student or group of students is in my best interest as a performance-based teacher. Amongst other things, this means creating or putting forth natural, rapid and practical interventions that not only address topical, surface concerns, but reach the crux of the matter. This strategy is the lifeblood of my coaching work.
Why so? Well, delivering stellar results in breathtaking speed is what good business is all about. As I go about in completing my business plan to start my first non-profit organization called ‘Just Life Skills,’ I have outlined my mission statement in such way that it transcends my work as a clinical educator and allows for a plentitude of projects which I have in mind to be fomented and funded. These include my work with children and adults on the autism spectrum, those with executive function skill deficits, behavioral issues, and the whole potpourri of recognized disabilities, including learning and developmental disabilities. Empowering people to lead is fun for me. I mostly do it for free. Yes, this makes it hard for my bottom line many a times (my Mom knows this well.) Yet I just love to empower others.
What the team and I do at Scalzi skatepark in Stamford with a growing cadre of others, is totally a labor of love. We do it freely. It’s enjoyable for us. Great pleasure is derived in positively transforming individuals and the local community. It is fun to be a source of positive disruption and empowerment in the lives of others. It is worthwhile to add value to others.
The creation of awareness to foster social responsibility via positive disruption is a mathematical equation in my heart and mind which I look to repeat with consistency then. Looking ahead, I want to continuing leading from within in the effort of minting leaders left and right. I do this almost tirelessly. Reaching the crux of matters is something I have become adept at through experience and passion.
With the onset of the non-profit, Just Life Skills, I see no impediments in starting up simultaneous projects. After all, there are 7 days in a week and a great deal can be done when the heart is in the right place of an organization that does not seek credit for itself. These projects go beyond my 1:1 work with individuals and their families, and would take me into school gymnasiums conveying various established aspects of my rapid coaching techniques, strategies and tools freely to others.
Let it be rapid! I want to give it away. Beyond educational centers, I see myself going into jails to coach and mentor on how to think, rather than what to think. Stopping the revolving door of youth and adults entering and re-entering the prison houses will be pleasurable and easy to me. There are other projects I have in mind as I collaborate and take into account the guidance of others. Bridgeport, Connecticut is a great place to start!
A major impetus, a driving force in my heart… is to ‘flip the script’ on the efficacy of social responsibility by using the concept of positive disruption in a proactive, bottoms-up, servant-like manner that bypasses normal ‘red-tape’ and roadblocks that many other entities and outfits get slowed down on or altogether stopped. Dealing with the heart of matters is the right way to take care of business and I believe the only right way to carry out.
Monday, November 16, 2015
When I was a young boy, my Uncle Guillo, a consummate sailor’s sailor took me under his wing. Off we would go on sailing adventures, sometimes through storm, sometimes by night, but always to paradise. It was clear that he was the ‘Capitan’ of the ship, I was one of his mates, happy as a fly on apple pie.
Out at sea, everything is restricted and unleashed at the same time. The constant motion of the bobbing sailboat, the tacking and the jiving, the occasional command by Guillo..Hour after hour, wave after wave, making slight course directions here and there, Guillo brought the boat safely to its destination expertly every time. Confident and spilling grit by the way side, ‘Tio’ mastered the depths of the sea like a seasoned poet with vision and purpose drops words on a page. My heart and his heart are intertwined. A part of him lives in me a part of me lives in him. He knows this…Young at heart and always with a quick reassuring phrase to make you smile. That is my Uncle Guillo.
Sheparding a boat and its crew is no easy feat, yet consistent sailing experience rides over hesitancy and self-doubt in a way that calms the jitters of those on board. An effective captain does not just lead the ship from point a to point b efficiently, but takes care of the very hearts of the crew also. It is not so much what he sais, as much as how he continues to make everyone feel. More than anything, this very truth keeps the crew’s attitude and heart set on an even keel, be it through gail force wind, stormy sea or mishap on the watery banks.
As I venture forth to garner the heart of a local skateboarding community, I remind myself that it is by serving them that I lead best. By putting their well-being ahead of mine I lead them from within. Uncle Guillo taught me that on a sailboat we may venture forth to paradise and have our fun and relaxation together, but it is a serious matter to take care of the crew on the way there, even if they are a young child just sitting by your side, it is the ability to balance being strong and being soft in a timely manner that makes all the difference. This is what gets the crew’s heart because they get that they matter deeply to the ‘Capitan,’ they get that their presence is valued greatly, that their being on-board is what makes all the difference.
Friday, November 13, 2015
…and Ty gave me the word
..and it helped sustain my heart.
There was little sleep. Constant discomfort and uncertainty I had.
Yet, I read this word and it gave me some rest.
…and my sisters.. and my mother..troubled and not knowing
My pain was great and I hid it.
“Only be strong and of a good courage”
..and I held back my tears in the daytime.
Lovingkindness fears not
It holds its stance
sending ripples of energy
hitting and disarming hearts long since drugged numb
and my body was drained constantly
and it was hard for me to breathe
and i felt my energy leave me
I found it hard to replenish it
The fountain was being tapped by 244 souls
..and Pastor Pat, now my friend and who is no Pastor,
but a father of ten and a crack head
said, ‘I need your soul!’
and they all gravitated to me eventually
…and then I recalled my time in church when I was a boy
how the energy was drained from me
I had to sit outside the congregation
across the street in the park under the trees,
recouping breath and energy again.
My father instinctively would support my state by placing his hands on my shoulders
He knew deep inside
I know fully now
and so do you also now
…and this is why I write to you this way
..and why a poor man as myself
am at the same time very rich indeed
#SocialGood? just a term
this is love on display, love in action
pistons firing, flower that does not fade
Price Thomas saw it and began to transform
He will be part of the construction at Scalzi skatepark
By my last day I had an army
I wish you could have witnessed it
Their hearts coming on-line
It is not what we do, but who we are
Holding our stance
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Going #Airborne for my new friend, Price / #socialresponsibility #aNewDay #MovingFast #BigFish #renegades
Today is Friday, November 12, 2015
..and what happened that made you change your mind?
and how far did you go to change your heart? and what moved you to let go?
and how is it that you go to sleep?
how do you rise?
and what is it at mid-day that makes you tick?
and how do we tell each other how we feel when we walk by each other?
and what makes you turn away? and what makes you not care? and what makes you check out? and what makes us check in?
It was slow at first, but I held my stance and gravitation took hold.
Soft and hard
a clear purpose
a settled heart and a bed that is made make it easy to make new friendships when the time and space is there.
All my new friends were either sons and fathers.
Soon enough I will go up to bat for my new friends.
Let the chips fall where they may and may God have our back as we move cautiously forward in the eye of a peculiar hurricane.
Calm it is in the center of the storm, round me eyes and ears and wariness.
Trust in me and have my back. All the facade goes off. This will take guts and lots of grit.
Doing the right thing is more important than appearances.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Giants #LeadFromWithin & Create More #Leaders! / #community #leadership #leadwithgiants #strategy #consensus
Today is Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Yesterday at 7 pm est, I joined a weekly special #tweetchat on Twitter for the first time, #LeadWithGiants. It was a lot of fun. Felt like I was back in school! Being the newbie I thought I would just be a listener and occasionally chime in…well, at least that was my intention:) I found it hard to keep quiet, especially after Dan Forbes (as in Mr. #LeadWithGiants), reached out to me in such a welcoming fashion, as he does to all. His humble, outgoing attitude is replicated by the other leaders in the chat and this adds to an open, dare I say, nurturing atmosphere (teacher speak, bear with me).
The topic at hand was ‘consensus,’ and everything that goes with it: finding common ground, the traits of effective leaders, the size of teams being led, orchestrating through differing politics, titles, departments, challenges, participation by all, solution-focused mindsets and last but not least, sustaining an environment where individual thought is still valuable and impacting in the face of consensus amongst team members.
Giving much food for thought I think and feel back to my use of ‘storytelling’ on Twitter. We take on and give away parts of ourselves to each other, much like trying on clothes. Like kid’s role-playing at a young age. I remember that I always wanted to be a firefighter, for example. Aside from liking the color red a lot, the leadership qualities of a life of service flesh out best when all members of a team feel valued. This means that each unique voice is treated with deep respect and a stick-to-itiveness to being caring of hearts over a particular point or challenge.
As an Educator I know too well that we live to fight another day in the classroom when we hold on to the penchant that we take care of our relationships more so than looking for momentary victory in a matter. After the moment is past, people’s hearts, even as young as infants, recall how they felt in your presence. Yes, you know it is coming…’people may not remember all that you said… but they remember how they FELT in your presence.’ The heart does not forget. So in essence, we create bridges that keep us connected when we acknowledge that beyond consensus is the importance of ensuring lovingkindness rules the day.
This is true even in the grittiest of circumstances. For example, my late-father was the right-hand man of an army general back in his day. 101st Airborne Rangers are built to be tough as nails, to be lethal weapons in their own right and to have a super-initiative mindset whereby all in the team are leaders. True, there was a clearly designated leader in the battalion, yet those who train armies understand all too well that you only lead yourself into the pit if you don’t have the heart following of the soldiers.
To that end, far from sitting down and reading pretty poetry to each other, the Screaming Eagles, as these elite soldiers are called, intrinsically get that you lead people best when you put yourself in service to them.. down on the ground and with the perspective that the battalion consensus operates best when the atmosphere is one where all are expected to lead. This takes a certain degree of gentleness, toughness, lowliness and lovingkindness!
Go out and lead in service with your heart on your sleeve for all to see!
Monday, November 2, 2015
Call Us Servant Teachers of Steel / #AllIn for Your Heart / #Brooklyn #SuccessAcademy #NewYorkTimes #dignity
Today is Monday, November 2, 2015.
Am I concerned like others about the health of the charter school education culture at ‘Failure Academy’ in Fort Greene, Brooklyn?… I mean ‘Success Academy’ as they call themselves?
Let me begin by venturing forward that the onus is on the educators, on the education culture and the system that stems from it to adapt and morph to the students, rather than the students to it. It is the mark of a true clinical educator to humble themselves to the ground, if it must be, in order to support the complete growth of the student. Not the students to the education system. This is how the best of us do it. This is empathy with all pistons firing. This is what it means to be ….#HotterThanFireforOthers. Yet, it appears that high-mindedness and apathy rule the day in the overly-principled halls of madness existent in the minds of the administration of these Brooklyn charter schools.
This foundational truth is lost on people such as:
- CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, James D. Merriman (an apologist that propagates dead-end educational thinking).
- School Principal, Candido Brown (who is much to candid with his mediocre statements on his teaching mindset.. to his own hurt).
- School Principal of Harlem 2 Upper, Lavinia Mackall (who needs to get taken back to school, or stripped of her ability to interact with students until she changes her mindset).
- The so-called ‘network lawyers’ who make hands-on decisions for the charter schools, (go hide… be nameless).
- Success Academy’s spokeswoman, Ann Powell (are you a Yes-woman? where is your social responsibility?, or are you beholden to your paycheck?).
- Former New York City councilwoman, Eva S. Moskowitz (Mrs. Half-Apology “Give Them Candy”).
- School Education Manager, Rebecca Fleishman (apathy on two feet, told a parent that the son had emotional and behavioral problems and the school could not handle it).
- Associate Special Education Manager, Julie Freese (“Why don’t you just put him in another school, because he’s suffering”).
I am beyond livid that this culture is allowed to flourish at the expense of children. When I began my teaching career in the Boston Public Schools in my early 20’s, I was put into the toughest 2nd grade glass at a wonderful school in Jamaica Plains. The children were from foster homes, had all sorts of disabilities and/ or had just arrived from a native country. English was a second language to some of them. They were all post off. Angry. Sad. I felt it and they let me know. This was a Special Education classroom and I was the a permanent substitute teacher. My salary had been doubled from just being per-diem. I was in hog heaven. Loved it! The task was epic;) There was school work to be done, yet there was therapy, there was love that needed to be doled out. I thanked God for the opportunity and literally rolled up my sleeves. It was an honor for me to be placed before such a formidable challenge. I will never, ever forget Deleon Fuller. A sprite, little whippersnapper who was angrier… than… yes… ten mountain lions. Both his parents were crack addicts and he lived with a nice woman in a foster home due to that….
You should have seen him. This kid would do back flips off his desk and torment the aide to no end. Not much progress was made given the emotional soup existent in that classroom.
Enter the Man of Steel
I did not have my ‘black hat’ in those days. I wore a tie and my heart on my rolled-up sleeves. Getting straight to work, I spoke without words to their hearts, like a consummate Field General speaks to his troops, harnessing their hearts and their minds with respect, with dignity, with unconditional love. It was me who adapted to them, not them to me. The chaos that surrounded me eschewed out of their broken hearts. Their actual teacher had gotten cancer and was not able to continue. For me, I counted it all joy. Deleon became my right-hand man. He was my top officer by the end of the semester. Those children looked forward to coming to class with me because i was someone who just transcended my job and was real. This is life… not some rehearsal for life.
Grabbing issues by the horns and wrangling them to the ground with lovingkindness is how I educate. My work is evident in the hearts of my students. I don’t need to explain it. it shows itself. I electrify hearts. That is the mark of a clinical educator.
The creation of a ‘Got to Go’ list as outlined by a major New York newspaper publication that prints all the news that is fit leaves the passionate teacher flabbergasted. How is it that this education culture is not quashed? How is it that ‘network lawyers’ have a say in micro-managing the day to day affairs of which students stay in a school and which go? How is it that Eva S. Moskowitz is allowed to enter her office?
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