Monday, November 19, 2012


Did you think I fell off the face of the earth? I have been on "blogger hiatus" for a few weeks!

Today, I want to share a thought as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. I want to talk a bit about gratitude and to use it in your life. In August 2010, I was a superintendent, the economy, property values and the lack of state of Illinois payments to school districts, caused the district to make HUGE cuts in educational programs and staff. It was an extremely stressful time for me; I was a year away from retirement and this was by far the hardest time of my educational career. Administrators, teachers and support staff losing their jobs, cutting programs for students, as well as families in our community were struggling with their own loss of jobs and maybe even their homes.

On opening day for teachers, a young second year teacher sent out an email to all of his colleagues.

"Budgets will no doubt be getting tighter, we will have to do more with less, more personal sacrifices will be made for the benefit of students and colleagues, and the list could go on and on. That being said, amongst the bleak forecasts I cannot help but be grateful and thus hopeful. I am so thankful to have a job I love. Even more so, I am grateful to get to work with a terrific bunch of professionals like yourselves who care deeply about our students - their lives and learnings. I am beyond appreciative for the fantastic group of students we get to work with, even those we have to drag by their toes to the end......The point is, no matter what goes down this year, from the mountain tops experiences of ecstasy to the deepest of valleys of despair, we need to be thankful and stick together--Faculty, Staff, Administration, and All. Being grateful changes everything, it brings hope and puts everything in a new perspective. Let's be intentional about being thankful in a tangible manner. Shoot an email, write a note, buy a little gift to show each other just how grateful we are - even for the little things."

This teacher e-mail impacted me greatly! With all the decisions to be made, the tough conversations with people, the worry and stress, I felt like a robot just making it through the day. HOWEVER, that changed when I read this email. That day, I started a gratitude journal, writing every day, the things that I was grateful for: my great secretary and office staff who worked long hours, my teachers who were doing more with less and were still dedicated to students, my principals, my Board of Education, the great students we had, my husband, my kids, my family, my just flowed each day I wrote in my journal (IPhone app-gratitude journal). Not only was I appreciating everything that I had, but I felt stress relief, happier and more hopeful. Research says that people who embrace gratitude either through journaling, thanking others, etc. are 25% happier after 10 weeks of focusing on being thankful.

Just this week, I saw two 24 years olds on TV whose lives were changed forever. Amiee Copeland who was ziplining and got a flesh eating bacteria and lost her hands, feet and right leg and Lauren Scruggs, who walked into a helicopter propeller which sliced off her left hand and had her left eye removed-- both of these young women expressed their gratitude for life.

So as we prepare for Thanksgiving this Thursday, reflect on your gratitude. Yes, we all worry about finding a job, losing a job, our performance at our job, paying our bills, paying the college bill each month, insurance, house repairs, car repairs, and the list goes on. So try a Gratitude Journal for 30 days, either an app on your phone, or a spiral notebook, and see how you feel. I know that you will feel different, I did!!! Thank you Jonathan!! Happy Thanksgiving!