“Leadership is not about being the best. Leadership is about making everyone around you better.”

 Dear SKS Parents,

The dust has settled some and as a school we are settling into a good routine. This blog is what I promised you after the three Back to School Nights we had.  As George Costanzo’s father in Seinfeld once said, “I got a lot of things to say….” I have a lot to say in this “super blog.” It has many of the important points that equate into the success of a great school. There’s a lot to that success, and someday, perhaps I’ll put it in book form. Leadership, as the quote above talks about, is not about being in first place. It’s about making our families, school, and  communities better.

For the rest of the school year, as recommended by my critics/advisors – Anne Condello (you know her) and Elise Parisi (parish communications coordinator), I will try to economize my words. The rest of my blogs for the year will be much shorter and used to communicate in words and pictures the vitality of our SKS community.  For example, did you see last week’s blog about our One Book; One School Day from last Friday?   I appreciate your taking time to stay connected and reading what I have to say.

Thanks so much for joining Msgr. Brouwers, the teachers, Home & School, and me at the Back to School Nights.  They are important nights to communicate to you. The BTSN’s are a start to forming a partnership with your teacher(s) and the school. Great schools are a place where teachers and parents form a team. They work together for the good of each child.

Just in case you couldn’t make it or want a review of things, here’s a recap of was discussed and a few things I didn’t cover because of time constraints:

It’s a Faith Journey First

Everything we do here starts with our faith. Parents and teachers model that faith through their words and actions, which is one of the best ways for children to learn. Christ is our lead teacher.  Your child’s faith journey is the main reason for this school. We want to educate the whole child and that starts spiritually in teaching them about a personal relationship with Christ.

Each Year is a New Beginning

Every year is a new beginning, a fresh start for every school and every student. To those that are here for the first time, if your child (and you) feel nervous and anxious about the start of school and in a new situation, those feelings are all very normal. We are here to help you through that transition phase. Your child is in very good hands with our teachers.

Volunteerism Welcomed!

We count on volunteerism here at SKS. Some schools won’t let you through the front door. We are not one of those schools. Please remember you need your clearances to volunteer. Please refer to the Safe Environment information under the Parent tab on sksschool.org .

Stay Connected

Stay in the loop with our communication to you by way of: School website, school calendar, emails from Anne C., emails/blogs from teachers and me, and Option C (for grades and lunch ordering).

Routines: Plan the work; work the plan

The more you plan and stay ahead of things the better for you and your child. Establish routines and make your child contribute to those routines. Example: Have your child get their uniform ready the night before.


Communication between parent and teacher is vital for our partnership. For daily details (homework question, dismissal changes or absence) feel free to use email. For a recurring issue, tough situation, or if you need help or advice for a particular situation, avoid lengthy emails. These situations are best discussed by a phone call or with a face to face meeting.  When there is a conflict or concern, please speak to the teacher first, not me.  Bypassing the teacher breaks down the trusting relationship we need to have. We ask that before you react to any situation, make sure you hear all sides of a story first.  Kids can be “street smart” and “play” us against each other. When students know parents and teachers are on the same page, the same team, there is usually a good resolution to any problem. We are a community of problem solvers, not finger pointers.

Advocating vs. Enabling

Parenting, like teaching, is a complete balancing act.  It’s about nurturing and supporting, but not doing everything for them. Their lives need not be perfect. They shouldn’t be – ours aren’t, right? They should experience their fair share of success and also experience some failure. If they do not experience failure how will they know how to handle it when it eventually comes and you are not there to pick them up? When to get involved and when not to get involved is a tough call. There’s no foolproof answer for this.  Promote responsibility, foster independence, have your child take ownership for their education.  Advocate as needed but try to let them be their own problem solvers. A parent who tries to fix every issue that comes down the road is enabling, and not helping their child.

Remember: “Sometimes the best thing you can do, is not do for your child.”  Also avoid screaming and shouting matches with your child. They are counterproductive. Which leads to the next point, which is……

Natural Consequences

Teach natural consequences: If A, then B.

* Example: If you do not do your homework and study for the test, then you probably should expect a poor grade.”

* Example: If you do not get up in time for school, you can expect a penalty if you are late for school.”

* Example: If you do not clean up your room by 4 pm today, going to the dance tonight is off the table.”

* Example: If your phone (or any technology device) is misused in any way, then you can expect a loss of privileges.

Look at problems as challenges and opportunities waiting to be solved

 Teach Being an Upstander; not a Bystander

Teach students to be Upstanders, not BystandersTo stand up for themselves and others too.  “See something; say something” is the Upstander’s Pledge. Teach them to assert themselves by using “I statements…”  Example: “I am really hurt and upset about how you embarrassed me at the lunch table today, and I don’t want that to ever happen again. Do you understand?” If the situation doesn’t improve then the student needs to inform a trusted adult.

Praise Effort, not Intelligence

Praise a child’s effort, not their ability.

Example: Don’t say: “You are so smart.”

Do say:  “You worked really hard on that project, I see the time you put into it. I am proud of you for your hard work.” Failure with our best effort is absolutely acceptable. Failure without trying or being prepared is not. Either way they have to learn to pick up the pieces and move forward. As they get older, do not keep bailing them out. You are enabling and they won’t learn.

Safe Place

Students need to feel they are “safe” before they can learn. They need to feel safe, physically, emotionally and socially. If your child is not feeling safe in any way please contact your child’s teacher.

Play by the Rules

It helps us to run a good, tight ship when we have families play fair and follow the rules. Two prime examples would be: Following the rules in car line and the don’t pick up your child at the front desk after 2:30 pm rule.

Acceptance, Inclusion, Empathy

Please support inclusion outside of school in social activities. Be sensitive to inclusion. Teach and model acceptance not tolerance (I am not a big fan of the word tolerate). Acceptance and inclusion is everything to a child, whether they are in KG or 8th grade. If you are planning a birthday party for your child and you invite a handful of children, that’s absolutely fine.  However, if you plan a birthday party or social event and invite a majority of the class and a few students are left out, it is very hurtful to those children and families. I cringe when I hear stories of families who are not sensitive to the feelings of others. Common sense, empathy, and compassion go a long way in those situations. Adults modeling inclusion is essential and your children will follow your lead.

We’ll All Make Mistakes

There will be bumps along the way.  Principals, teachers, and parents are human. Students making mistakes is how they learn. How we handle the bumps, any adversity we meet, says everything about who we are.  When discussing a problem with a teacher, express your concerns honestly to find a solution. Bad schools cultures blame and point fingers. Good school cultures promote communication, identify the problem and then problem solve. So when a mistake is made we preach the following:

* Own it –take responsibility for your actions

* Accept the consequences for any wrong doing

* Make the situation better, is an apology /restitution needed?

* Learn from it.

* Move forward

 Students Advocating for Themselves in the Classroom

Teach your child to be an advocate for him/herself in school.  Get them to understand they are responsible for their education. You are there to support, not do for them. The sooner they learn this, the better. Help foster their responsibility, accountability and independence. When they don’t understand a concept, do poorly on a test, don’t get the instructions on a homework assignment rubric or project, teach them that asking for help is a sign of strength.

The Millennial World of Technology

Get a handle on their technological world NOW before it’s out of control. Take it away at night always and check it always. You are in control, not them.  Be aware of our restrictive cell phone policy and the penalties. Its two strikes and they are out! See the parent/student handbook. Remember every parent should collect every child’s cell phone at night before they go to bed. If you don’t, you are kidding yourself.  As well at any social gathering at a house I strongly suggest you collect their cell phones and return them to each child upon pick up. These two proactive steps will prevent a lot of issues.  If every parent is on board here you have a culture of consistency so kids cannot point fingers and say: “Well Mr. and Mrs. Milktoast always let us keep our phones …..”

I hope you have found this helpful. You can lean on the teachers and me for support during this journey. Thanks for entrusting your child to us.

Know that we will count on your support.  It is an honor and a pleasure to work with you for the betterment of each child that graces these hallways.

Take care,