The Cardinal Way

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IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - One Word for 2016

I have discussed in the past my dislike for New Year's resolutions and goals. Too many times goals are used as crutches in our lives; we either set them so high we ultimately cannot control the outcome, or we set them so low (and safe) that we can’t really refer to them as goals. In one scenario we sometimes have to give up control and rely on others to help us accomplish things that are beyond our current means, or we play it safe and never push ourselves as much, or as far, as we could. Joshua Medcalf, author of Burn Your Goals, describes this idea in a blog post on Changing the Game Project. He states: “I know that for many of you removing goals is like taking away your training wheels or your ‘blanky’, but it’s long overdue. At some point your training wheels are more of a hindrance than a help. You can’t make sharp turns around the bend, you can’t hit the brakes and power-slide, and you cannot fly off of jumps! No one has ever competed in the X-Games with training wheels. Though training wheels may give you balance and security, they strip you of the opportunity to experience the full potential of riding a bike.”

Over the past year I have found that these ideas hold a great deal of truth. Josh Medcalf goes on to state in his new book, Chop Wood, Carry Water: “Goals actually allow you to shrink responsibility. But a mission? Only the person in the mirror can stop you from living that out.” For me, focusing on a mission based life, rather than a goal based life, has changed my approach to almost everything. Ultimately, it has changed the way I perceive and value different aspects of my life. Therefore, I am choosing to take the One Word challenge again this year.

One Word That Will Change Your Life (by: John Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page) is book that challenges you to simplify your life by focusing on ONE WORD for the entire year. I appreciated the concept of clarity and focus that refining things to just one word provided. One Word tells us, “Clutter and complexity lead to procrastination and paralysis, while simplicity and focus lead to success and clarity.” Last year, my word was INSPIRE. I feel I found a great deal of success by keeping my focus on a one word mission last year. It helped me push myself to “inspire” myself by inspiring others.

As I searched for my One Word for 2016, I knew fairly quickly the idea behind what I wanted to focus on, but struggled with putting a word to it. I wanted a word this year that was more focused on personal improvement in multiple aspects of my life where I feel I am lacking. As I took time to reflect on my successes and struggles, evaluated where I needed to grow personally and professionally, and examined new ideas from recent books, I came to the word SIGNIFICANCE. I looked up definitions from multiple sources as I was making my final decision about this word for 2016. All definitions contained the concept I was looking to improve upon in 2016. Google defines SIGNIFICANCE as: the quality of being worthy of attention, importance.

I want to make sure in 2016, I am putting SIGNIFICANCE on the right aspects of my life. I want to make sure I put first things first and let much of the rest go. Too many times I feel I sacrifice certain aspects of my life to: doubt, regret, worry, or meaningless tasks. I add significance to problems or situations that should have no SIGNIFICANCE in my life. I take small issues or frustrations with others and turn them into more than they should be. I stress or worry about insignificant problems and therefore carry their weight. They are not truly problems until I make them issues in my own head. These unimportant aspects of my life then begin to impact things that are very important to me. They steal my precious time. So, in 2016, my mission will be to place my focus on what should have SIGNIFICANCE and let the rest of it go.

It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer I have heard so many times. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So this year I am going to strive to:

  • Live one day at a time with the mission of finding SIGNIFICANCE in the things that are important to me,
  • Not make unimportant things more important than they are, and
  • Look at everything as an opportunity to learn and grow

Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Great first week back! Thank you to everyone for your patience and hard work as we get kids back in the grove after a two week break.
  • Thank you to Amy Gaisser, Georgina Mayorga, and Melinda Wiess for all the hard work they put into planning and organizing for the upcoming WIDA test.
  • Congratulations to Sharon Ancelet. She recently found out that she received a Lily Grant to retrace her father's foot steps while he was in World War II.

Teacher of the Month

Mrs. Manning is the December Teacher of the Month. Mrs. Manning was chosen because of her unwavering passion for her students, her excellent daily classroom instruction, and for having perfect attendance in the month of December. Thank you Mrs. Manning for your hard and dedication to the students at Southport Middle


Week 19 Grateful Friday Challenge:

If you had thirty seconds left to live, what would you tell my children/spouse/best friend are the three most important things you learned about how to live a happy life?

Now, find a way to incorporate these three things into your life every day for the next week.


Students react to being called important


Each day we share a story of learning taking place at Southport Middle on our 180 Days of Learning Blog. Below are this week's stories of learning.

Terry Burkhardt

Today Mr. Burkhardt’s had new students in his 7th grade art class! The 7th graders were taught and modeled what procedures look like in Mr. Burkhardt’s class. Students saw what supplies they will be using and had a chance to ask questions about art class. Students then began to practice the art of looking and then drawing. Mr. Burkhardt said, "I will not be teaching you how to draw, anyone can draw and be given a marker. I am going to teach you how to look at things, and then draw what you see.” Students then started their first draft of drawing shapes in 3-D.

Jake Fleenor

Mr. Fleenor's students are working to improve their writing skills. Today, students were focusing on planning before they write. Students discussed their favorite restaurant. Mr. Fleenor asked students to expand upon details. When students offered suggestions like: "I like it because it's good," the class went into more depth about what makes a restaurant good and used those ideas to structure the planning for a essay about why they like their favorite restaurant.

Tammy Tellas

Students in Mrs. Tellas's 7th grade pre-algebra class are learning about scatter plots. After some quick ISTEP and homework review, students got to work. They began by learning how to create a scatter plot from a table. Then drew a best fit line, made correlations, wrote equations for the best fit line, and made predictions about that line.

Brian Kight

The 8th Grade Girls basketball team has been working hard to prepare for the season. They opened on Thursday evening with a 25-23 against Columbus North. This game was part of the annual Southport Shootout. Mr. Kight, SMS Athletic Director puts in a great deal of time and effort to make this event a success. Every year, we welcome 8 teams from all over central Indiana, and each year, the players, coaches, and parents leave impressed with the overall experience of the Shootout. Thank you to Mr. Kight for planning and organizing such a wonderful event. This event represents Southport Middle School well as a school of excellence!

Anne Manning and Chris Stevenson

Mrs. Manning and Mr. Stevenson are co-teaching in their Advanced Language Arts class. Over the course of the next week students will be reading The Lemming Dilemma and discussing what it means to achieve greatness. Today, students worked to define job descriptions for teachers and students. Each group generated multiple ideas and then refined these lists to come up with what they thought was the most important responsibility of teachers and students. Mr. Stevenson ended class by explaining, while all the students answers were good, they did not identify the most important thing. He went on to say, "A teachers number one responsibility is to love their students and students most important responsibility is to love each other." This idea will be a great connection to the upcoming reading and classroom discussions!

Paula Swengel

Students in Mrs. Swengel's 7th grade Language Arts class have been working with non-fiction informational articles and identifying text features of those selections. The students watched some video clips of magic tricks and psychological experiments to show how people are not aware of everything around us--inattentional blindness and misdirection to enhance understanding of the selection "Magic and the Brain". To practice and reinforce identifying the elements of informational sources, students utilized an on-line tutorial followed by discussion and journaling to reflect.


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