The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Thoughts from a Middle School Principal

Last week, I wrote about my one word focus for 2015 - INSPIRE. Now that I have identified my word, I have a much more difficult task in front of me - living my word. Selecting a word was a challenge, but living the word for the next year will require focus. I have been giving a great deal of thought to how I will inspire in 2015. I have also spent time this week talking to the members of my leadership team about their words and their focus for the upcoming year. One of these conversations reminded me of a scene in the movie Evan Almighty.

In the movie, Evan (Steve Carell), an up and coming Congressman, is asked by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an Ark in modern time, much like Noah was asked in biblical times. Evan has faith and takes on the task even though it causes much distress to his family. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Evan’s wife runs into God in a restaurant, and he provides some amazing insight.

Pray For The Opportunity

Here is the movie quote:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

What a powerful idea. So how does this equate to me? As I focus on my one word mission, do I need to plan, strategize, or come up with ideas to inspire certain people? Or, instead, do I need to simply focus on looking for the opportunities to inspire? I have come to the conclusion that I need to be open to all opportunities, and view every interaction as an opportunity to inspire. I am sure there will be obvious opportunities in things that are going well, when I can give someone the right push at the right time. Those will be the easy ones. But, I believe to truly live up to my one word challenge, I need to focus on trying to inspire when times are tough or relationships are difficult. I have to be strong enough to work diligently to inspire those that do not want to be inspired. Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert, in their book Burn Your Goals describe true mental toughness as:

  • Having a great attitude

  • Giving your very, very best

  • Treating people really, really well

  • Having unconditional gratitude regardless of your circumstances

To inspire I have to appreciate and believe that every situation, regardless of the circumstances, can provide me with an opportunity to live my word. I need to remember that if my goal is about inspiring myself through inspiring others; others must come first. I must have a great attitude, treat people well, and look for inspiration in all situations. I must deal with both the good and the bad times with the same resolve.

As I look back on my life up to this point, I realize I am as grateful for the trials and tribulations, as I am for the the successes and victories because the bad things helped prepare me for the good ones. The tough times taught me lessons that later opened the door for great opportunities. And, without my struggles, I would not have been prepared when opportunity came knocking. I believe it is through dealing with difficult situations, that we can build the strongest relationships, learn the most about ourselves and others, and find our greatest opportunities. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 5:3-5. This verse, I believe, can be helpful this year as I look for opportunities to inspire others. The verse reads: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…”

As I go throughout this year, if I only look for opportunities during the "good" times, will I inspire people? Probably. But, if I find ways to show unconditional gratitude regardless of my circumstance, have a great attitude, treat people well, and rejoice in my sufferings will I find opportunities to inspire and change lives? That is my hope...and hope should never disappoint us!

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Thank you to Georgina Mayorga and Amy Gaisser for all the hard work they have already put into organizing the WIDA test for our EL students.
  • Danielle Bentley, Angie Johnson, Kristen Jordan, Jenny Moore, Jessica Pilarski attended the next portion of the Reading Apprenticeship Training this week hosed at SMS. Ask them about their new learning, I am sure they would be excited to share!
  • Thank you to Dennis McAllen and Michael Tygrett who attended a Textbook Caravan this week to assist their department in adopting a new textbook for next school year.


Week 3 Grateful Friday Challenge

Write a thank you note or note of appreciation to another staff member before heading home today. There is nothing like getting a hand written note of appreciation!


Clint Smith: The danger of silence


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.

Alison Hans

Students in Ms. Hans class are working on organizing information for a biography. Students spent the first part of the period in the computer lab researching a person of their choice using Students then went back to class and focused on the planning portions of their writing.

Kelly Harmon

Students in Mrs. Harmon's 7th grade REAL class are learning how to better use their 1:1 devices. Today, students were learning about Google Apps For Education. Students identified different apps or extensions that could help make their learning at SMS more efficient. The students added these apps and extension to their devices for use throughout the remainder of the school year.

Chris Robinson

It's day 100 of the school year! Today, students in Mrs. Robinson's 7th grade social studies class began reading "A Long Walk to Water," at true story about to two kids growing up in Southern Sudan. While reading the book students were gathering important information from the text and from classmates by using a graphic organizer. Mrs. Robinson has recorded herself reading the entire book so the students can read along as a class as the book is being read aloud.

Denise McClanahan

8th Grade PE in Ms. McClanahan's class are working on fitness. Students rotated through various fitness stations today such as; jumping rope, hula-hooping, sit-ups, and squats. At the end of each one minutes station, students measured and recorded their heart rate. They then identified the activities that were best for helping them reach their target heart rate.

Elizabeth Levin

As always, Southport Middle's orchestra classes are hard at work. Miss Levin, orchestra director at Southport High School, comes to SMS for one period each day to work with our 8th grade students. Currently, students are preparing for upcoming solo and ensemble competitions.


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