Showing posts from October, 2018

Helping Your School to Go Green

Last month for this Education Week blog, Fulbright Distinguished Award in teaching program participant Michael Cruse, a special educator from Arlington, VA, talked about his travels to Israel to study different models for green schools. The highlights of his visit included these four stops: The Bat Yam Farm for Agriculture and Environmental Education in urban Tel Aviv, a working farm run by students, teachers, volunteers, and young adults. The Afek School—a school that teaches elementary students to become citizen scientists by recording and tracking climate data for professional scientists. The Ecological Greenhouse in Kibbutz Ein-Shemer, a research center with a focus on addressing Israel’s needs as a result of population growth. The Environmental High School, a residential school located on the Negev desert plateau with a mission of providing students direct contact with nature, and the resources to learn to care for it. Cruse’s biggest takeaway from his middle east experience that…

The Learning Power of Breakfast

Many mornings as a school principal, I feel like I am fighting a losing battle with my students with regards to breakfast. They say it is the “most important meal of the day,” yet it is obvious to me that many of my students don’t see it that way. Last Spring I survey the 700 students in my New Hampshire High School and found that 25% of my students report rarely or never eating breakfast before school. Another 30% report that they skip breakfast 2-3 days per week. Sadly, only 33% of my students report eating breakfast every day. This statistic is at the higher end of the national trend. According to experts at, 8 to 12 percent of all students in grade school (Kindergarten through 8th grade) in the United States do not eat breakfast. By the time students are in high school (grades 9 – 12), this number rises to 20 to 30 percent.
In an effort to turn the tide on this problem, our school cafeteria stepped up their breakfast offerings. Students surveyed reported that th…

Lessons Learned From a Decade of Competency-Based Learning Implementation

This blog post was written originally for the NASSP School of Thought Blog and published in October, 2018.
Any principal who has engaged in the process of change will tell you that the ultimate goal is when the change becomes ingrained in school culture and is no longer considered “new” but rather just thought of as “what we do.”

Over the last couple of years, I have started to notice that our work to implement a competency-based learning (CBL) system in our New Hampshire school district has started to reach that point in the change process. The last decade has been quite the journey, filled with many ups and downs. The transition to CBL has questioned my thinking about instructional practices and overall philosophy about education. It has tested my resolve as a school leader as I have been questioned about – and in some cases asked to defend – parts of the model to various stakeholders. Most importantly, the work has given me a great sense of satisfaction as a principal that I am posi…