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Cubs Corner

Creating a Culture of Greatness
Jon Gordon is a leading authority on developing positive, engaged people, leaders, businesses, schools and teams and is the author of several books including an international best seller. Jon’s research has been put to use by thousands of executives and organizations including the PGA Tour and he has been featured in hundreds of television shows, magazines and newspapers around the world.  His article about creating a culture of greatness is applicable across all organizations:
After speaking to the diverse audiences of the University of Texas football team, Northwestern Mutual and a conference of school principals, the message he shared was the same:
"To build a winning a team and a successful organization you must create a culture of greatness."It’s one of the most important things a leader can do because culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits and habits create results. In the words of leaders at Apple, “Culture beats strategy all day long."When you create a culture of greatness you create a collective mindset in your organization that expects great things to happen—even during challenging times. You expect your people to be their best, you make it a priority to coach them to be their best and most of all you create a work environment that allows them to be their best.
A culture of greatness creates an expectation that everyone in the organization be committed to excellence. It requires leaders and managers to put the right people in the right positions where they are humble and hungry and willing to work harder than everyone else. A culture of greatness dictates that each person uses their gifts and strengths to serve the purpose and mission of the organization.
A culture of greatness requires that you find the right people that fit your culture. Then you coach them, develop them, mentor them, train them and empower them to do what they do best. As part of this process you develop positive leaders who share positive energy throughout the organization because positive energy flows from the top down. You also don’t allow negativity to sabotage the morale, performance and success of your organization. You deal with negativity at the cultural level so your people can spend their time focusing on their work instead of fighting Energy Vampires.
Jon Gordon states that Energy Vampires are real. They are everywhere. And they will suck the life out of our goals, dreams and plans for success if we let them.
If you're like most people, it has happened to you. You were talking to someone and before you knew it, they drained the life right out of you. You looked for fang marks on your neck but they were nowhere to be found. Then you realized Energy Vampires don't have fangs. They have other means to suck your energy. Here are a few:
Negative comments -"Did I tell you how much I hate my life and work? Did I tell you how exhausted I am? Did I tell you about my latest bout with the flu? Did I tell you what so and so did to me?"
Dream snatching - "You can't do that. You’ll never succeed at that. This is a special group of kids and you can never do what they did."
Shrinking devices - "What is wrong with you? Can you do anything right?”
Team Destruction – “We’ll never make it. It’s the parent’s fault. Everyone at TEA is clueless.”
According to Gordon, once an Energy Vampire starts sucking the air out of your tires it’s difficult to move. Don't let this happen. Realize that life is like an energy bus and the people you surround yourself with on your ride through life have a huge impact on how far you will go. Create a positive and successful ride by following these simple rules for the road:
•Post a sign that says, NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED- Pete Carroll, football coach of USC says he doesn’t allow negative energy in his locker room and you shouldn’t allow negative people on your bus.
•Realize that some people are going to get on your bus and some people won't. That's ok. The people that get on were supposed to get on. The people that don't were probably meant to get on another bus or perhaps they would have ruined your ride. Don't take it personal. Just keep on driving with your vision focused on the road ahead. If you waste your energy thinking about the people who didn't get on your bus that means you'll have less fuel to pick up the people who want to get on.
•As you drive just keep picking up people along the way who want to get on your bus. Eventually you'll have a filled -standing room only- bus with great energy.
•Drive at your own speed and don't compare your success to other buses.
•During your ride, you will have many people get on and many get off. Don't take it personal. The people who get off may have to get on another bus. Or perhaps they will make room for someone special who is supposed to get on.
•Have fun and enjoy the Ride. You only have one ride through life so you might as well enjoy it. The goal in life is to live young, have fun and arrive at your final destination as late as possible with a smile on your face. 

When creating a culture of greatness, you find countless ways to enhance communication, build trust and relationships that are the foundation upon which winning teams are built.
If creating a culture of greatness sounds like a lot of work, it is, but not as much work as dealing with the crises, problems and challenges associated with negative, dysfunctional and sub-par cultures. While most organizations waste a lot of time putting out fires you can spend your time building a great organization that rises above the competition.
Brownfield ISD has been in this process of transforming from a culture of failure/low academic performance to a culture of success. This successful transformation has never been more evident than when our Varsity Boys’ basketball ball team won the UIL 3A State Championship in San Antonio for the first time in school history. Although this win was certainly one of the most high profile, Brownfield ISD schools and students are steadily gaining in transforming into a culture of success on a daily basis. Every other boy’s and girl’s sport has been successful including football, volleyball, cross country, girls’ basketball, tennis, track, and golf.  Additional success has been garnered in theater, band/music, ag, Cosmetology, FBL, and FCCLA to name a few. Academic progress is improving and accountability goals are being met. Kudos to our staff, students, and community for the impressive cumulative effort it has taken to accomplish these feats of greatness. Our Quest for Excellence: Making a Difference, One Cub at a Time is at an all-time high! IT’S GREAT TO BE A CUB! 

Tanya Monroe, Ed.D.
Brownfield Independent School District

This has become a mantra lately, and rightfully so.  Our Cubs, from the four year olds at Bright Beginnings Academic Center to the seniors at Brownfield High School, and all the staff at every campus, have given us countless things to be proud of.

I don’t think you could find a single staff member or student at BISD that hasn’t proven to be persistent this year.  We have students who have conquered daily classwork, benchmarks, and end-of-course testing.  We have student athletes who have conquered opponents on fields and courts in every sport BISD participates in.  Our athletes are persistent in their practices and our students, from Pre-K to Seniors, are persistent in their work every day in their classrooms.  Our staff at every campus is persistent in their pursuit to ensure our students get the education they deserve.  They are constantly looking for that special way to reach our students and guide them to success.

The relationships formed at BISD are of utmost importance.  Whether it be in the classroom or during practice, our teachers, staff and coaches have developed relationships of mutual respect with our students.  The relationships formed lead to high achievement.  The successes of our students in every area of academics and athletics are a direct reflection of the relationships formed by dedicated teachers and coaches.

In all honesty, ‘involved’ is an understatement.  The support the community of Brownfield gives BISD and its students might be better described as incredible.  Every family night event that is held by the individual campuses is well attended and enjoyed.  We have ACE Family Night events, Suessabrations, and Watch DOGS – all of which are strongly supported by our community.  We couldn’t have the parent nights, academic success, or athletic success without the support of Brownfield, an incredibly involved community.

Our teachers and staff are some of the most dedicated I’ve ever known.  It’s hard work to be a teacher  in today’s academic world.  There are seemingly unreachable standards to meet, but our teachers work hard every single day to meet those standards.  They come early to provide extra-curricular support and they stay late to give students the extra academic support they need.  Our teachers work long after the last bell rings to make sure they do all they can to teach our students.  And even when we have  setbacks, we get up and work to find a way to reach our students and do whatever it takes to help them succeed.  Dedication is what it takes to be a teacher in today’s academic world, and BISD has the most dedicated teachers around.

And finally, excellence.  To me, excellence is the culmination of persistence, relationships, involved community, and dedication of all of those involved in BISD.  You can’t go a single day without hearing of the success of the students at BISD.  There are elementary students competing in UIL and earning the highest number of points ever earned by Oak Grove students.  We have middle school students who will be competing in UIL events on the state level.  We have state ranked tennis teams and a state champion basketball team.  If that’s not what you consider excellent, I don’t know what is.   Our students, teachers, and staff strive for excellence every single day.  We find excellence everywhere from the 2nd grader who meets their goal for Accelerated Reader points to the senior who finishes his basketball career with a state championship win.  No doubt about it – we strive for excellence every single day.

Although I am a Brownfield transplant, growing up a few hours north, I consider myself lucky to have found my way here. My children are proud Cubs, eager to be a part of the schools and community their Daddy was brought up in.  I am proud and fortunate to be a part of this community and proud to be a part of BISD schools.


Brownfield Education Center “Another Way to Learn” –Chris Edwards

The mission of Brownfield Education Center is to provide students in an at-risk situation with a non-traditional education program that will provide them the guidance to become responsible citizens who exhibit appropriate social and academic skills. 
The Brownfield Education Center or BEC; is a young campus that has been in existence for just eight years.  As of today, BEC has graduated one hundred thirty eight students that otherwise may have been drop outs for the district and the community.  Our students have to complete all graduation requirements and state testing as would any other student in the state of Texas.  As stated by H.G.Wells, “Our challenge is not to educate the children we used to have or want to have, but to educate the children who come to the schoolhouse door”.  This quote highlights the challenges faced by our schools and communities daily.

We are a campus that is 90% computer based and 10% instruction based, with a staff that works hard every day in all core areas.  In a typical school day, our students will start the day with journal writing on various topics, then progress into the instructional day with our staff. This type of day was added this year to help our students be successful on their end of course exams and to help them achieve success in their adult lives.

A huge misconception about our campus is that our students are all “discipline problems” or “at-risk” students.  While many of our students are labeled “at-risk”, most students are just uncomfortable with a traditional school setting or struggle in a typical High School environment.  We offer a small-school atmosphere where students can catch up or accelerate their studies. Our setting is small and very personal so we are able to improve on how we serve our students, as well as our economically disadvantaged students.  With a “one room classroom feel” we are able to build relationships with each student and help them achieve their academic goals which is sometimes less challenging in a smaller setting.  We are not just a computer and classroom school, along with prepping students for state testing; and earning credits, our students have also been able to listen to speakers from South Plains College to help them decide on what they want to do beyond high school graduation. Our students are also exposed to “real-life skills” that they can use in their daily lives.  This year our BEC students planned, prepared and served a meal for our spring parent academic night.

I firmly believe that the alternative education program works with our district to develop another “choice” to help all students to become successful.  Our goal is to be the best and to give the best so our students can go on to be successful in life.  While the short-term goal of alternative education is to meet the needs of all of our students, the long term goal must be to identify successful alternative education strategies and use those strategies as a basis for improving learning opportunities for all students.  All the while reaching for our “Quest for Excellence” as we Make a Difference, One Cub at a time!

Mr. Waldrip shared an article with me this week about Hall of Fame baseball coach, John Scolinos.  In the article, Stay at 17, written by Chris Sperry, he shares a story that Coach Scolinos shared at the American Baseball Coaches Association in Nashville in 1996.  In the story, Coach Scolinos is giving a lecture to 4000 baseball coaches.  He poses a question to his audience about how wide the plate is in little league baseball.  A coach responds, “17 inches.”  He goes on to ask how wide home plate is in Babe Ruth.   Another coach responds, “17 inches.”  He asks the same question about the high school home plate and more coaches begin to answer in unison, “17 inches.”  As coaches begin to notice the pattern they begin to answer confidently and in unison, when he asks the same of the college plate and major league plate, “17 inches.”  Coach Scolino goes on to ask what is done with pitchers when they can’t throw the baseball over the plate.  The crowd of seasoned coaches goes quiet as he goes on and describes what they don’t do:
“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

“Do we hold players accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit them? Do we widen home plate?”

This brings me to Brownfield ISD and in particular Brownfield Middle School.  Are we widening the plate for our students?  Are we holding our students to high standards?  Or do we widen the plate for our students by not holding them accountable when they don’t meet the standard?

I am a firm believer that we don’t widen the plate here at BMS.  We hold our students to high expectations.  Those expectations include being respectful, not only to teachers, but all adults.  Those expectations also include working hard, being attentive and most importantly learning.  Our teachers remind students of those expectations on a daily basis and on the increasingly rare occasion that a student will come to the office, we also remind students of our high expectations.  This has led to a significant drop in discipline referrals.  From the 2013-2014 to the 2014-2015 school year, our referrals dropped 11%, and this year we are on pace to be down 22% from the 2014-2015 school year.  In two years we are talking about a difference of almost 300 referrals.  That means instructional days gained and increased learning throughout the school.  Of course none of this could be done without parental support.  Our goal is to increase parental involvement and as many of you have noticed we recently rolled out our new notification system, the ICU Database.  This new system allows teachers to send parents a text and email notification anytime a student is missing an assignment.  In the short few weeks that the system has been in place students have completed 80% of missing assignments, we have seen an increase in parental involvement, and more importantly students are turning in their work on time and complete.   In addition, over the next few weeks and months we will be holding STAAR After Dark, Math Facts in a Flash, and STAAR Saturdays, to continue to fill in gaps in learning, for preparation for the upcoming STAAR tests.

This leads me to how parents and the community can help.  Are you holding our students at 17?  Do you enable our kids or do you hold them accountable?  Here are just a few ways to hold students accountable.  Engage our youth.  Strike up a conversation.  Have a sit down meal.  Ask them how their day was at school.  The best way to show kids you care is by talking to them and developing a relationship with them.  Secondly, let your kids fail at something.  Have a growth mindset.  Value effort over avoiding failure.  One of the most important lessons you can teach a child is that despite their best efforts they might still fail.  We must teach them how to handle failures and learn from them.  Lastly, encourage your kids to read.  Teach your kids math, by having them make a grocery list and help with the shopping and the budget.  Become a part of the educational process.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 6.1 million Americans abuse or misuse prescription drugs. Individuals who fall into this statistic typically use prescription medication towards some unintended purpose or manner; drugs are usually prescribed to another individual, given by family, or purchased on the street. Due to a common lack of drug knowledge and intentional over-dosage of medication, negative health consequences and possible death are common from abuse. Deaths from prescription drug and painkiller overdoses now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine COMBINED according to Topics in Brief: Prescription Drug Abuse, 2013.  Unfortunately, among adolescents and adults alike, the growth of prescription drug abuse has become an issue of prevalence in our communities.

We are all familiar with the abuse of pain medications such as Hydrocodone, Methadone, Morphine, Meperidine, and Oxycodone, to name a few. Other popular drugs of abuse include sleep aids intended to treat insomnia, such as Zolpidem, Alprazolam, Trazodone, and Temazepam. However, an alarming new development in the adolescent and school community includes the abuse of stimulant grouped drugs typically prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), formerly known as ADD. While diagnosis of ADD and now ADHD has long-been familiar in the general public realm, its vast array of drug choices, treatment options, and abuse has not.

Although more popular in the collegiate and performance testing realm, abuse of ADHD medication has trickled down to the public school ranks. Students pressured by a society of test performance standards and college-entrance examinations have turned to these drugs in attempts to boost focus, efficiency, and scores. Although still not as popular as most recreational drugs, such as marijuana or alcohol, these stimulants provide much physical, pharmacological, and psychological damage. Teens and parents in particular seem to have little understanding of how addicting prescription drugs are. Roughly 1 in 5 teens believe that pain relievers are not addictive at all, and 22% falsely argue that ADHD medication abuse poses little risk. The irony is that many teens attain these potent drugs from their own parents’ cupboards, other family members or friends.

Despite awareness and public knowledge on the subject matter, the reality is that our youth has little to no barriers in obtaining prescription drugs of abuse. We as parents, community members, friends, and role models bear the responsibility of educating and monitoring student drug abuse with or without a prescription.  Community awareness and public institutions provide great resources and support to help change the rate of substance abuse. We as responsible adults and productive members of society can curb the trends of teen prescription drug use to create a more knowledgeable, cognizant community… One Cub at a Time.

Hector Limon Jr., CPhT
Assistant Principal
Brownfield High School

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