The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!


I am a big college football fan. I love the atmosphere brought by the game, the schools, and the die-hard fans, every Saturday. It usually doesn’t matter the team or the game; I love watching college rivalries compete on the the football field. As much as I love this sport, in the past couple of weeks, I watched a story played out that, to me, symbolizes everything that is wrong with college sports. It has also reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how we define success and where we place our value.

After 15 years as head coach, Mark Richt, was fired by the University of Georgia. I know, football coaches get fired. It happens. But, Mark Richt is everything that is right about coaching. During his 15 years at Georgia, Richt has a 145-51 overall record (74% winning percentage), he has won two SEC Championships, and has claimed the SEC East title six times. Unfortunately, this was not enough. He has not won an SEC title since 2005 and has not won the East Division for three years. Even though Coach Richt’s record this year was 9-3. Georgia decided to part ways in hopes of bringing someone in that can win more championships.

So, why does this matter? Why am I so concerned about the firing of a football coach that I probably wouldn’t even know if not for this story? I am bothered by this because of the type of person Coach Richt is for his players. He gets it. He understands it is not always about winning the game, but it is always about winning in life. Here are a few examples of what I mean. After being let go, Coach Richt was asked about his proudest accomplishment. Here is what he said: “Proudest accomplishment? I think just watching guys leave here ready to be a man, and when I say that, I mean guys leave here ready to be a good husband and a good father and a good citizen of our country and hopefully a leader.” When you consider that only 1.6% of college football players get drafted by the NFL, that seems like what coaching should always be about. A large majority of former college players are now part of the general society, not suiting up on Sundays. And Coach Richt gets that, he wants them to be productive and caring members of society. Arthur Lynch, a Georgia Tight End under Richt from 2009-2013 said, “You realized no matter how good every player was at football, if they ended up being the first overall pick in the draft, or they just wanted to be part of the team, coach Richt had unconditional love for his players that can never be matched by anything else.”

Sounding more and more like someone you would want your son to play for? It not yet, then watch this short video and see how Coach Richt responds to a reporter in a post game interview, when a player was not able to get the job finished when the game was on the line.

Transformational Leadership in ACTION (Mark Richt UGA)

More and more, we place our focus on the immediate gratification of short term wins. But, much like I discussed in my blog post on success, our definition of winning is skewed. We define winning by: championships in sports, grades in schools, making money, etc. -- when ultimately, none of these things are what it takes to be a winner. Being a winner takes, as Coach Richt put it, being “a good husband and a good father and a good citizen of our country, and hopefully a leader.” That is winning.

Still not convinced that what I am saying is what is really important? Then answer the two sets of questions below created by Charles Schulz (the cartoonist who created Charlie Brown):

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

It is easy to see that being on any of the lists above would be an amazing feat. You would unequivocally be considered a winner if you achieved anything in those six questions. So, why can’t you answer the questions?

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.


You make an impact in this world by caring for people and making a difference in the lives of others. I think this is an important mantra for us remember in education today. With high stakes tests and school grades, it is easy to lose our focus of what is really important -- the students ability to become positive members of society. It is not school grades, not high stakes test scores, not a lot of the things that we think so highly of to boast how great we are as a school. Those will all fade with time and be forgotten. It is the long term effects of caring, compassionate relationships, that inspire and change lives for the better.

Years ago, after winning a championship, a reporter asked Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, “What do you think of your team?” He replied, “I’ll tell you in 20 years.” This is the challenge for educators, coaches, and parents. We need, or probably just want, to see immediate results for our work. We are measured by it. When in reality, the success of our work cannot and will not be measured for years. I challenge you to think about how you define winning. What does it mean to you and how do you measure it?

It is my goal not to lead like the University of Georgia -- not to get so caught up in the immediacy of results and performance that I lose track of what is really important. I try to place my focus on getting better each day and helping those around me do the same. How do I feel about my leadership ability - ask me in 20 years and I will let you know if I was any good at what I am doing. That is when it will matter!

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Congratulations to Amy Vaught and the Drama Club on qualifying for the state competition!
  • Thank you to those you contributed gifts to and/or came out to support Damar.
  • Thank you to those who donated to our can food drive.


Week 17 Grateful Friday Challenge:

What are some of the things that cause you to feel stress or pressure? Write them out and answer the question: Will this even matter in five years?

When we are honest with ourselves with this question, we can have more focus on the present by doing the very best we can, where we are, with what we have in front of us. That is ALL we can do. Do our best regardless of the outcome -- this is all that we have control over.

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

-Victor Frankl (Holocaust Sruvivor and Author of, Man's Search For Meaning)




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.

Jeanne Fitzgerald

Today in Ms. Fitzgerald’s class students were preparing for their choir concert this Wednesday. Students were putting the final touches on their performance pieces. Not only did they rehearse the pieces of music, but they even practiced getting on and off of stage. These students will be ready to go on Wednesday starting at 6:30 pm! Students should arrive no later than 6:15 pm.

Jason Lackey and Meghan Sefton

7th grade students are roller skating in Mr. Lackey and Mrs. Sefton's PE class. Students of all levels find ways to participate in this fitness activity. Students have been focusing on skating safely and have determined whether the T-stop or toe drag is the most efficient way for them to stop.

Teri Reed

Mrs. Reed's 7th grade math students are working on problems dealing with tax, tip, fee, commission, mark up and mark down. Students read through real world story problems, determined the type of calculation needed, and then completed the steps to find a correct answer. Students shared our answers by completing problems on the board and working individually with Mrs. Reed. These problems are great examples of the math needed in our daily lives.

Courtney Tucker

Ms. Tucker's 8th grade Language Arts students focus on improving their reading ability everyday. Each quarter students set goals for the number of points they will earn from reading books and completing reading counts quizzes. Today, students took some extra time from class to have double reading time and double quiz time. Students are working hard to meet their goals by the end of next week and used the time very productively today to move toward these goals!

Warren Hultman

Mr. Hultman's 8th grade Social Studies students had a guest speaker today to help them review the different Acts that led up to the Revolutionary War. Master Hultini presented the students with various skits, jingles, or poem he created. The students had the task of identifying the correct Act that corresponded to the information. Students then took descriptions of each Act and placed them in chronological order. This activity was a great way to review each Act in a fun and engaging way.
Visitor in Mr. Hultman's class


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