Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Incredible First Day

Douglas Unified School District welcomed all of our staff back on August 3.  All faculty and staff came together at the newly named James A. Brenden Auditorium.  We started a new tradition by having a slide show of all 25 year employees.  Because this was a first, we had to catch up and honor all of those 25 years and more.  We will be honoring all of these long time, loyal employees at a Board Meeting in the near future.

Last year when everyone was back, I had only been on the job for  a very short time.  What a difference a  year makes!!!  

This year I gave a short speech because we had a wonderful speaker following my address.  Last December, I attended the Arizona School Board Association conference on servant leadership.   We had two excellent speakers.  I have written about one in an earlier entry, the author of the Paradoxical Commandments.  He was excellent!

However, the second day's speaker was probably the most incredible motivational speaker that I have ever heard, and I have heard many over the years.  Her name is Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch.  In all of the years that I have ever attended conferences and have heard great speakers, I have never been so moved by someone that I actually stayed to try to talk to her.  And I was able to talk to her and she was amazing!!

Consuelo grew up on the border in Texas.  So much of what she said had true meaning for me even though I am not Hispanic.  What she said truly touched my heart.  When I talked to her, I told her I was from Douglas.  I told her that I would love to have her come to Douglas and talk to our staff.  She promised me that she would.

When I got back to Douglas, I contacted her company.  Consuelo is one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S.  She is a retired officer in the U.S. Army and was on track to becoming a general.  She promised her mother that she would give back to the Hispanic community and so she retired from the Army to start her company.  Needless to say, she is able to command "big bucks" for her services.  DUSD doesn't have big bucks so I didn't pursue her coming after I found out the cost.  In about March, her assistant called me and asked if we still wanted her to come to Douglas.  I told her of course but that we couldn't afford her.  Well, Consuelo was true to her word about wanting to come to Douglas.  We negotiated  the price and I can tell you that she truly gave us a deal!!

I was so excited about this that I immediately sent a message to our Governing Board.  One of our Board Members is the County Manager.  He made arrangements for Consuelo to talk to his supervisors and the City of Douglas and the Chamber of Commerce asked her to speak to parents and members of the community.  

She was AMAZING!!  We had an excellent turn out for the community night.  The next morning, Consuelo spoke to our staff.  It was UNBELIEVABLE.  Her message is so powerful.  What touched me the most was that she dedicated her talk to me!!!

I feel honored and privileged that this incredible woman came to Douglas with her message of hope.  She said that public education is the purest form of democracy.  She also said we have to save our children because they are the future.  

I had so many staff members tell me how much her talk meant to them.  They could truly relate to her and where she came from.  I am hoping she will come back to talk to our high school kiddos. 

Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch is my hero!!  I cannot begin to express my gratitude that she chose to come to Douglas!!  WOW!!!

I am putting a video of her on this post.  Please take a few minutes to listen to what she has to say.  Her message is one of hope and inspiration. (You can turn off the music on the playlist by hitting =)

Monday, August 1, 2011

"ONEderful" First Year"

It is hard for me to believe, but tomorrow I will welcome back all of the teachers in Douglas for the start of the 2011/12 school year!  It was one year ago July 26 (exactly one year  and one week) that I started this new journey in my life.  After 39 years in the Gilbert District, I returned home to Douglas and 858 14th as the superintendent of Douglas Unified.  

And what a first year it has been!!  Last year when I addressed everyone, I had only been on the job a few days and literally knew almost nothing about the job and what I was going to be doing.  What a difference a year makes!!!

I have learned so much  over the last 12 months and many, many ways.  There have been ups and downs, just like any other job anywhere.  I have reconnected with old friends and made new ones.  And I absolutely love the people I work with on a daily basis.  

It has been great being here with Teresa.  Since my mom died in 2002, it has sometimes been hard to come down here for a visit.  However, that has changed now that I am living in this wonderful, old home.  

The pace of life is so much slower here and that is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of a big metropolitan area.  The weather in this part of the state is, in my opinion, the best in the world.  We have the four seasons.  The summer monsoons are awesome.  It rains almost every day--with lightning and thunder.  Most nights I sleep upstairs with the window open and the fan on--no cooler at all.

I had forgotten some of the truly funny things that happen in the news in a small town.  I remember doing a post awhile back about some things that were written in the Bisbee paper that would NEVER make it into the Arizona Republic or the Tucson newspapers.   A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out the 14,000+ emails in my school computer.  As I was doing this, I was listening to the local radio station.  Every morning, there is a program called "The Trading Post."  People can call in and sell items, try to find items, or make community announcements.  A lady called in who lives in the valley (farming community).  She asked if the person who owned the cows that were walking around her yard, to please come and get them.   She said that the cows were thirsty and were drinking out of the kiddie pool in the yard.  And on top of that, the dogs were chasing the calves!!!  Needless to say, I had a little chuckle over this.  I was curious to hear the next day's broadcast to see if this same lady might be selling beef!

One of my favorite things is the number of inflatable swimming pools (not kiddie ones) that are in the front yards of people's houses.  There are two right across the street from the house.  It is great to watch the kids having such a good time in the front yard.

And a week ago Friday I knew I finally had arrived and was accepted back in Douglas.  During the day, I had two visits from different people.  This is unique to a small town (I think). The comfort level is different here and it is okay just to drop in for a visit or to ask a question.  That was how it was when I was growing up here, but it hadn't happened until recently!!

What an adventure this has been!! It is one that I would never have predicted would have happened.  I know that it is great for me to be here with Teresa so that she is able to stay down here, but I have to say that it has been just as much a blessing for me!!!

We will see what tomorrow will bring!!!