Monday, May 28, 2007

Awesome Sports Sunday

Yeah, I know my teams haven't truly won anything yet, but between the Cavalier's big win last night against those pesky Pistons and the Tribe's weekend sweep of Motown's other professional team- the Tigers- what more could a Cleveland fan want this morning?...uh, an NBA championship or a World Series trophy comes to mind.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Where did the year go?
Today is the last "school day" for the kids. Beginning next Tuesday, they'll be taking their final exams, which comes with an early dismissal of 1:00.
This past week- with the unseasonably warm weather- has been pretty rough on everyone here. The school was built back in the 50's, and I don't see any plans in the foreseeable future to install central air. Teaching on the 3rd floor can be extremely taxing because the kids and the teachers not only have to contend with the heat, but by having all the windows open, the traffic noise from I-76 can be a major distraction as well.
I've pretty much got my entire office cleaned out. I'll start down in Admissions the week of June 11th. (I will not miss making/ grading any more finals- that's a certainty!) Our first big project of the summer will be to design and compose the 2007-2008 Admissions booklet. Just this past week I received a crash course on I-Movies. I hadn't worked with a Mac in years, so it was definitely a learning curve. I'm hoping to produce a promo video (showcasing the school) that we can give out at the Open Houses, placement tests, and shadow days.
Oh, and if anybody is interested in helping me chaperone 125 9th graders on the annual Cedar Point trip next week...let me know!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bring on the Pistons

Well, my Cavs are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals for only the 3rd time in franchise history, and the first since 1992. And yes, LeBron has done all this in just his 4th year in the league...pretty amazing.
Game #1 this Monday in Detroit...can't wait!

Friday, May 18, 2007

One Flew East, One Flew West...
He stands looking at us, rocking back in his boots, and he laughs and laughs. He laces his fingers over his belly without taking his thumbs out of his pockets. I see how big and beat up his hands are. Everybody on the ward, patients, staff and all, is stunned dumb by him and his laughing. There's no move to stop him, no move to say anything. He laughs till he's finished for a time, and he walks on into the day room. Even when he isn't laughin, that laughing sound hovers around him, the way the sound hovers around a big bell just quit ringing- it's in his eyes, in the way he smiles and swaggers, in the way he talks. "My name is McMurphy, buddies, R.P. McMurphy, and I'm a gambling fool.".

Our guide to the world of the Cuckoo’s Nest is the towering Chief Bromden, son of a Columbia Indian Chief and a white woman.
The Chief may seem at first an impossible narrator to know. A man who has for years pretended to be a deaf-mute, his mind is a jumble of seemingly random, terrifying sights and sounds. In moments of greatest stress, the Chief’s mind becomes entirely clouded by a dense fog. Only when he recalls his Indian boyhood are his thoughts at all clear, and even these happy memories tend to be shattered by his fear of the present.
The Chief has been damaged by an organization he calls the Combine. The Combine is the Chief’s vision of a huge machine like organization that runs the hospital and seeks to ruin the entire world. The Combine represents people and groups in the modern world who value efficiency over individualism and control over freedom.
Nurse Ratched is part of the Combine as well as the government agencies that destroyed the Chief’s tribal village. As an Indian, the Chief was particularly vulnerable. His white mother felt that she married beneath her by marrying an Indian, so she forced her husband and son to take her name. She also helped arrange the sale of their Indian village for a government hydroelectric dam project.
After these childhood defeats, come many others. Though intelligent and schooled, he can only find menial jobs. His experience in World War II are so frightening they form the basis for his hallucinations of the fog machine that operates on the ward. He sees his father shrink in his mind, from a proud Indian Chief to a man stripped of his name, able to live only off charity from the government that ruined his life. By the time we meet him in the novel, the Chief believes himself to be small, though his actual height is six feet, seven inches.
The Chief has endured years in the hospital, years of self-imposed silence, years of abuse. He’s undergone over 200 shock treatments. Needless to say, McMurphy arrives at a crucial point in the patient's life.
I've taught this novel at least 7-8 times now over the years, and I truly believe that it should be a staple in high school. Although the language is a bit rough, the religious imagery scattered throughout- most noticeably with McMurphy serving as a type of Christ figure to the patients in this abusive ward- is astounding. These religious references increase in intensity and number as McMurphy's martyrdom becomes imminent. Looking for a good book to read this summer? Check this one out. Don't just watch the movie!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Enjoying the Sunshine...

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Pre-K Tea Party

Josh's teacher hosted a Mother's Day Tea Party for the kids and their moms this morning. Amusingly, Josh's teacher mentioned to me about a week ago- as the kids were rehearsing their program- that the little guy was stressed out because his mom doesn't care for tea- but her preference of drink is a nice hot cappuccino instead. Seriously, I don't make this stuff up!

Following a school mass, the kids performed a litany of songs for their moms and then enjoyed a "social" with the ones who mean the most to them in their young lives...their mommies. Josh's special gift to Cindy was this little Q & A that he completed with the help of his teacher...I never realized that Cindy had a "rock star" quality to her or that Josh was so utterly impressed by her ability to convert our living room futon to a impressive talent, huh?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation"
Thanks a lot, Mr Tom Verducci. These words grace the current issue of S.I., and the curse has already begun...the Tribe lost last night. Call me a cynic, but I won't be surprised if Grady pulls a hamstring in tonight's game.
Seriously, everytime the magazine spotlights a Cleveland player, no good ever comes from it. (LeBron being the rare exception) Not to mention the fact that this recent publicity will simply inflate his salary demands in a few years, and our poor Tribe will lose yet another elite player to those rotten Yankees or Red Sox.
Cleveland fans had better enjoy this phenomenal talent now while we still have him...let's hope he'll be leading the way for us come this October!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Three Ring Circus

Death defying high wire balance acts, super-human strength performances, thrill stopping fire ring stunts, ferocious lions and tigers (albeit stuffed ones), and simply awesome singing...who needs Ringling Brothers? Josh's teacher planned a thoroughly entertaining afternoon circus party for the parents of the St. Matthew's Pre-K class. And of course, the stars of the show were the kids.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Advancement Counsel
Boston, MA

Well, I just completed my first transitory step towards my new position next year in Hoban's Admission's Department by participating in the Advancement Counsel's conference on Catholic school marketing and head is still spinning from all the different presentations throughout the conference...everything from general marketing, target marketing, recruitment, enrollment, and retention. It's truly fascinating to see how schools tackle these issues in a way to custom their own markets. The contacts that I made should prove to be invaluable, but most importantly- the whole weekend really provided a springboard for me to jump into this new position with a ton of enthusiasm and fresh ideas. I can't wait to start the work for my first recruitment class of 2008-2009.

As I said, I had the opportunity to engage in great conversations with not only other Admission Directors, but principals, presidents, and Alumni Directors- all of whom were in attendance and all of whom had "their story" to share with the group. Some of the schools appeared to have an unlimited marketing budget- mostly the New England prep schools, while others struggled to promote their schools on a much smaller budget. My favorite "marketing tactic" came from one of our presenters when she suggested sending $10.00 to all your local churches w/ a request to have a mass said in honor of your school's students and faculty...with your school's name prominently read from the pulpit prior to communion time to a captivated audience of 500 or so...very shrewd!

It was painfully obvious that every school conducts traditional open houses, shadow programs, neighborhood coffee socials, and other events to promote their institutions. But, the message was that each school needs to promote their mission (branding was the key word thrown out to us) in absolutely every component of the marketing strategy...from published materials, formal programming, web sites, and personal contacts. Hoban has a fairly lengthy (and wordy) mission statement, but I'm going to advocate to our administration that we use as our "brand" a condensed version of our mission statement. Hoban: an education of mind and heart. Hey, it's short enough to fit on a t-shirts and baby bibs- which evidently is the #1 way to market your school. Yes, the counsel's contention is that it's a wasted effort to try to target the 7th and 8th graders...that's too late. Go for the younger grade school kids, the pre-school, and even the toddler crowd. Unbelievable! I wonder how much it would cost to slap an add on the back of Enfimil formula cans and Pamper diapers packages?

Each evening, the participants of the conference were treated with an excursion in Boston. Night #1 included a yacht tour of Boston (pronounced Baah...ston) harbor and the 2nd night we were truly entertained by a trolley tour of the downtown area. The story here was that our guide- Rodney- had just gotten this gig about a week ago and we were his first trolley audience. The poor guy was trying to drive this vehicle through the streets of downtown Boston (no easy task, mind you) while at the same time read his script from his lap. Unfortunately he struggled a bit. He almost hit a bicyclist! He'd be describing the U.S. Constitution battleship to us all the while we were staring at the old North Church. (we had passed the ship three blocks ago) Towards the end of our excursion, he profusely apologized to all of us and pronounced that he actually suffered from ADD...and that was the primary reason for his ineptness. At that point, we simply encouraged him to just put the script aside and solely concentrate on the driving aspect so that we could all make it safely to the Quincy Market area....lots of laughs that evening.