The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!


A few months ago, I read InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann and the recently finished Season of Life by Jeffery Marx. (Thank you to Chris Stevenson, @_BringTheHammer, for recommending both of these books to me.) Both books are stories about former NFL player Joe Ehrmann and his mission to teach youth about what it really means to be a man in today’s society. Joe, who is currently a high school football coach, lives a mission filled life to help turn boys into men. In both books, Joe shares what he believes it takes to be a man. He states:

I think that the boys you are coaching - all boys - are given in our culture a threefold criteria for what it means to be a man. I think those are a lie and I think lead to tremendous dysfunction both in marriages and relationships, and in the social problems of America.

He goes on to describe these three false masculinity ideals as: athletic ability, sexual conquest, and economic success. If you don’t agree with Joe on this, simply turn on the TV and see what we are exposed to during popular programing and commercials. Athletes are held above all others, sex sells in commercials, and we all want that fancy, expensive, car we see during TV timeouts of the NCAA tournament.

Joe believes masculinity should, first and foremost, be defined through the relationships we build and develop with our wives, children, friends, and others who cross our paths. Life is about loving and being loved. Joe eloquently points out that when we are on our deathbed, we don’t look back and wish for more things acquired or achieved. We look back and wish we had loved more and given more to those we loved. We look back at the purpose of our lives and why we lived, not just at what we accomplished.

These two books have really made me think about my values, the values I am instilling in my three boys, and the values we need to teach our young men at school.

Personally, these books have brought to light some of the important lessons my parents taught me. I wrote a blog over a year ago titled: Lessons from my Parents. In this post, I describe the three most important rules that I feel summarize all the things my parents tried to teach me growing up. They are: always do the right thing, show people you care, and do the best you can every day and in every way. No where in these lessons instilled by my parents, do you see anything about the masculinity falsehoods described by Joe and for that I am very grateful. My parents understood what it took to bring up both their boys to serve the world, not to see how the world can serve them.

For my boys, I am sad to say that I have probably pushed too hard at times and placed too much value on the wrong things. I was a three sport high school athlete and was very successful in all three sports. Before writing this post, I took some time to look back and reflect on my athletic career. I considered what was really important and what I remember from these years. To be honest, I cannot tell you a single record from any of nine varsity seasons I participated in. I remember winning some big games and sectional titles, but what I remember most are the people. The relationships, my teammates, and the lessons I learned about dedication and hard work, are what stand out. In the long run, victories and recognitions fade away. So why I have a placed value on this definition of success with my own children? Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer to that question, because there is not one. I need to work to teach and model empathy and hard work for my boys. Teach them that true toughness comes through unconditional gratitude and love regardless of your circumstances. I must make sure these are my priorities if I hope to make them priorities for my sons.

Lastly, our schools need to become a place where these lessons can be taught to young men. Schools are a microcosm society. Daily, I can see the falsehoods of masculinity Joe describes displayed in our young men. I believe there is not enough attention given to address how difficult it is to be a middle school boy in today’s society. Girls tend to wear their emotions outwardly, and therefore these emotions are acknowledged and attended to more often. Many of our boys believe, to be a man, they need to bury their emotions. Our boys believe they must be tough; they must be athletic; they need to get the girl. All in efforts to be cool and gain a false respect from peers. They are bombarded with these same values through TV, music, and advertisements. Our boys need role models. They need men in their lives to help them understand that athleticism, sex, and money only provide temporary joy. They do not bring happiness. To chase true happiness, we need to love and be loved. I am very proud of a few of my colleagues who have started boys’ lunch groups, meeting weekly to discuss these ideas. I hope as we move into next school year we can extend these opportunities to work with more boys and help them become men of purpose.

I agree with Joe, if we want to change society, it must start with raising boys who will become men of purpose. Boys that will become men who can love and be loved. Boys that will become men for others. Life is about relationships. Think about it - on your deathbed do you want to look back and only see positions? Or, do you want to look back and see a legacy of love and empathy that will continue on long after you are gone?

Keep learning, keep growing, and keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • A big thank you to everyone for working with the adjusted schedule.
  • I especially want to thank our Special Education and EL teachers and our Aides for adjusting schedules and creating a positive testing environment for our students.


Week 15 Grateful Friday Challenge

Positive Phone Contact: Make at least one positive parent phone call or write a positive postcard today before you leave the building. Follow that up by make at least one positive parent contact each day next week. If we all participate, we will could reach about a third of our student population with a positive message in the span of a week - powerful way to start May!

Acts 20:35 - In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'


Sue Enquist - "33% Rule" - (Part 2 of 5)


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.

Michael Tygrett

After a long stint with a student teacher, Mr. Tygrett is excited to be back in front of the class. He steps back in as his 7th grade Social Studies classes are studying Chinese culture. Today, students continued the discussion on Chinese inventions. To show their understanding of the inventions, students wrote a letter of recommendation, including specific facts, to Google explaining why Chinese inventions should be included in the Google Cultural Institute.

Kelley Huddleston

The second round of ISTEP begins Wednesday! Mrs. Huddleston's 7th grade math students are ready! Students spent the day working on some final review items. In groups of two, students answered ISTEP type review questions. The students reasoned their way through the problem, justifying the solution and process used to their partner.

Christy McKinnon

Language Arts teachers are working during weekly professional development sessions to add new types of problem solving to their lessons. Christy McKinnon, Master Teacher, is leading the charge in the cluster. Teachers are learning about new types of problem solving strategies and then finding practical ways to add these new ideas to make great lessons even better. This week teachers focused on adding Abstraction and Categorization activities to their lessons.

Mike Greathouse

Mr. Greathouse's 8th grade art students are beginning 3D paper sculptures. Students, over the past week, been learned paper folding and construction techniques of the four basic forms (cones, cubes, spheres, and cylinders). Students are then applying these basic forms to build a 3D paper sculpture of their own design.

Georgina Mayorga

Ms. Mayorga's 8th grade advanced Language Arts students are doing research on Civil War abolitionist. This matches curriculum the students are also discussing in their Social Studies classes. Students have selected two different individuals to research. Each student selected a famous Civil War abolitionist and then could select any other person through time that has fought for human or civil rights. Students are working in the classroom and with Ms. Collins in the media center during this project.


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