Newaygo Public Schools
Making a difference, one person at a time
Seek First to Understand
Recently I was in the midst of a conversation with a family member. The person was very heated and upset about a situation that took place at a sporting event. I decided to put on my investigator hat and ask questions. My very first question was, were you there? Did you see it happen?
I came to discover the person was not there. They heard what happened second-hand. I followed up with more questions. I asked, did you get the other individuals side of the story?
Again, the answer was no.
All I could do was excuse myself from the conversation. Yet internally I thought, when did we as human beings rush to judge and believe the first story we hear?
Which brings me to the first article by my friend, Mike Sturm.
Not long ago, I caved and read the classic of the personal development genre The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I admit, it’s a really good book — it lives up to the hype. You can read the 7 habits for yourself here, but I want to focus on one in particular because it has helped me immensely in both my personal and professional life:
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
To me, this habit is the most important of the 7, without question.
The essence of this habit is a temperament that favors curiosity, open-mindedness, empathy, and patience — all rolled into one. In order to really seek to understand, you cannot have already judged a person or situation. You need to develop a desire to understand — meaning a desire to see things from others’ point of view, to see their reasons, and feel what they feel.
The great thing about this habit is that it not only makes you a better friend, co-worker, and partner to those around you, it provides tremendous benefits to you as well. Here are but a few that I have found, as I try to employ the strategy of seeking first to understand:
1. You learn better
Being a lifelong learner is important. If you’re reading this, you have probably read a few of the thousand pieces on the internet that talk about just how important it is to be continuously learning. Well, there is little that you can do to more effectively cultivate the mindset of a lifelong learner than to seek to understand.
When you seek to understand, you admit that you don’t currently understand. Which means you admit that you are not in possession of all the relevant information. Which means you’re effectively ready to learn it. Boom! Life Learning!
2. You prevent yourself from saying things you’ll regret
Few things can get you into more trouble than being too quick to talk. You can end up committing to things that you shouldn’t, saying things you don’t even mean, and generally killing your credibility. In many cases, we speak first and speak often because we’re looking for people to understand us.
If we seek to understand others first, we’re more likely to listen before we speak. When we do that, we can avoid saying things that on reflection we shouldn’t have. We also tend to ask more questions, rather than making statements, which keeps us from over-committing and contradicting ourselves.
3. Your emotional intelligence skyrockets
Emotional intelligence is all the rage these days. Everyone from leaders to up-and-comers are being told just how important it is to be able to read people’s emotions (as well as their own) and react to them appropriately. Doing that effectively will require a disposition to desire to understand how others feel. You will have to seek to understand the feelings of others, just as much as you seek to understand your own.
4. Your ability to influence improves dramatically
When you seek to understand others, and begin to act accordingly, two things will likely happen.
First, you’ll gain a rapport with them. They will be more likely to talk to you about various things, and you will be more likely to be privy to information that can be helpful to you. When you’re trying to achieve ambitious goals, build a team, and get buy-in, rapport is everything.
Second, your words will tend to hold more weight with people. For those that you have made a point to understand better, when you tell them something, it will tend to carry more weight. After all, you’ve proven that you care about understanding their point of view, so it becomes easier for them to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Newaygo Public Schools Severe Weather Information
In an effort to provide clarity here is the district stance on severe weather.
When the threat of severe weather forces us to close school we relay that information in a number of ways. If school should have to close, the following forms of communication will be used to keep everyone informed:
Social Media: All closings will be posted on the Newaygo Public Schools FaceBook page.
Webpage: www.newaygo.net will be updated with an alert to the school closing.
Voice Call: If you have a current number in the Skyward system you will receive a phone call alerting you of the closing.
Local News: Wood TV8, WWMT Channel 3, WZZM 13, Fox 17 and local radio stations.
App Notification: Newaygo Public Schools is very close to having a working App. This will also offer up to the minute updates on school closings. (You can download the App it is titled, Newaygo Lions.)
Our job and priority is to keep your student(s) safe. I'm sure there will be times I will miss on the weather, but we always keep the safety of students at the forefront of what we do. Our hope is that the multiple layers of communication can help get the word to everyone in a quick and consistent manner. If you believe the weather is not safe for your student to travel, please keep them home. Weather related absences will be considered "parent contact". (Please notify the office. This will not change exam expectations of no more than 4 missed days.) Thank you for your continued support of our programs, students, and staff.
December Home Extracurricular Events:
Monday, Dec. 4th: Middle School Basketball home vs Kent City
Tuesday, Dec. 5th: Girls JV Basketball home vs Montague
Wednesday, Dec. 6th: Boys Middle School Basketball home vs Lakeview
Friday, Dec. 8th: Boys Basketball home vs Central Montcalm
Friday, Dec. 8th: Girls Varsity home vs Central Montcalm
Tuesday, Dec. 12th: Boys Basketball home vs Orchard View
Wednesday, Dec. 13th: Boys Middle School home vs White Cloud
Thursday, Dec. 14th: Boys JV home vs Kent City
Tuesday, Dec. 19th: Girls Basketball home vs Grant
Tuesday, Dec. 19th: Boys Basketball home vs Grant
Special Note: High School National Honor Society Induction on Wednesday, December 6th
St. Nick Kick
The St. Nick Kick is back! This small town tradition attracts some of the best competitive athletes from the West Michigan area. It's also a great way to give back to the community with proceeds benefiting the Newaygo High School Cross Country Team. Sign up for the 10K, 5K or 1 Mile Walk and bring your friends!
Advanced online registration is preferred. Early Bird Discounts given on or before 11/6/23. Discounts applied at checkout. Prices increased by $10 on 11/7/23. All racers registered before 11/17/23 are guaranteed a shirt that is included in the registration fee. Same day registration is from 9:00am-9:45am. Race begins at 10:00am at Newaygo High School.
Please help in sharing this out and getting people and/or your teams to sign up!
News from the Middle School on 8th Period
If your student is struggling or failing math, science, social studies and/or english language arts. Students have the opportunity to stay after school for extra support. Students failing a class may be assigned to attend after school academic support. There is transportation home from after school academic support, however, students would be dropped off at certain drop off points in the district.
Please refer to the following link for the drop of points. LINK:After School Transportation. Below is the academic class schedule that will be followed.
Mondays - English Language Arts 3:25 PM - 5:00 PM
Tuesdays - Science 3:25 PM - 5:00 PM
Wednesdays - Math 3:25 PM - 5:00 PM
Thursdays - Social Studies 3:25 PM - 5:00 PM
What's Happening At Newaygo?
1. Have you had the opportunity to check out the overhauled Newaygo website? The address is: www.newaygo.net.
Shout out to Christina Wetherell and Walter Aslakson for all the behind the scenes work getting this up and running. The goal is to bolster communication throughout the district.
2. New process for reserving athletic facilities. Did you know that if you or a group is interested in reserving athletic spaces we now have a form and procedure for that? If you have not seen the new form check it out at: www.newaygo.net. Next go to the - District page. Finally click on - Facility Use Request.
3. Newaygo Public Schools officially joined 63 other school districts in Michigan and joined the Future of Learning Council. The first meeting was November 15th and completely energized us on the potential for student engagement and learning opportunities. Curious? Check out the link above.
4. Countywide there has been a debate between Student Management Systems. All schools in Newaygo County currently have Skyward, however, this platform will be significantly changed in the next year or so. The county has been looking at a branch of Skyward called Qmlativ or Powerschool. For the 2023-2024 school year there is no change. But we could be looking at changes next summer.
5. If you have not heard our very own Jill Young is leading a Peer to Peer program in the middle school. This program inspiring kindness, collaboration, support, and inclusion is a beautiful thing! As a district, conversations have started to expand Peer-To-Peer to K-12.
6. Did you hear? Newaygo Public Schools will have a bond mileage on the May 2024 ballot. The target of the bond is "Taking Care of What We Have."
One MAJOR caveat is, this bond will NOT raise taxes. This would keep our district flat at a zero increase.
Throughout the district we have been good stewards of materials and facilities. However, many things in the high school are more than 40 years old. Which include HVAC units, boilers, vents, mechanical wirings, and plumbing in bathroom areas. As a district we have tried hard to get everything and more out of our facilities. Yet alas, some areas are end of life. That is why the focus of the bond will be, Taking Care of What We Have. More information will come out in early 2024.
7. The month of December typically moves at a rapid pace. This year December 19th is a 1/2 day of school and then begins our Winter Break. Winter break officially is: December 20th through January 2nd. We then welcome students back on Wednesday, January 3rd.
The Spirit of Giving by Christopher Heideman
Snow softly drifted to the ground as shoppers rushed from store to store, buying up anything that was left to give to their loved ones.
Cheryl looked around at all the chaos. Over the years she had slowly lost what had made Christmas special to her. Christmas today seemed overwhelming. People bought gifts to give to each other, expecting a gift in return. They got together for Christmas dinners, but left right after they finished eating. No one seemed to even send cards anymore. She walked down the sidewalk to the next shop, doing it more as routine than anything. She was doing what she did every year – she bought gifts, wrapped gifts, sent out cards, and hosted a holiday dinner at her home. Though her holidays looked and seemed perfect, the feeling wasn’t there anymore - something was missing, but what?
After waiting in line for 30 minutes with her items, she walked outside with her bags. She sighed with relief as this was her last stop. Cheryl made her way through the crowded sidewalk to her car. It was dark out now. The streetlamps illuminated the falling snow creating sparkling cones below them. Cheryl grasped her car key and turned it, but nothing happened. She tried a few more times, but her car just wouldn’t start. So, she left her car and made her way down the sidewalk toward the car repair shop. Though it was only a few blocks away, with all the people flooding the sidewalks, it was going to take her a while to get there.
As she slowly made her way down the sidewalk, Cheryl lost herself in her thoughts, thinking about the holidays. She thought about all the gifts she gave people, and how underwhelmed they seemed with them even though she worked hard to get them the perfect gifts. She frowned as she thought about the two Christmas cards she had received, even though she had sent out 44. Christmas had lost its meaning. Suddenly, her feet slid out from under her and she came crashing down onto the icy pavement. People continued walking past her. Some looked and giggled, but for the most part, it seemed like she didn’t even exist. Her hand hurt, so she sat there and took off her glove to make sure it was ok.
“Are you ok miss?”
Cheryl turned around to see an old man wearing old torn clothing standing next to her. With a warm smile, he held his hand out to her, offering to help her up. His gloves were torn, showing his rough skin through them. She grasped his hand and he helped her stand up. “Thank you so much,” she said. “I’m ok. My car won’t start, so I was just headed over there to see if they can get it running again.”
“Oh, ok. That’s too bad about your car – I hope they fix it for you.”
“Me too,” said Cheryl. She smiled at the man and turned to walk away.
“Merry Christmas, miss!” He said with cheer.
Cheryl couldn’t help but smile even wider. “A very Merry Christmas to you too!” she said. She watched the old man smile and walk away toward a shopping cart full of plastic bags, blankets, and other items. Her smile faded as she watched him sit down in the snow next to the cart. People walked passed him like he wasn’t even there. Every now and then a kid would point at the man. The parents would rush their kids past.
She looked at her watch – the car place would close soon, so she rushed there to get her car the attention it needed. They towed her car to the shop. Cheryl waited in the warm waiting room, thinking about the cold old man outside. She thought about his kindness and his cheery attitude. He didn’t seem to have a thing in the world, but somehow, he seemed happy. All of a sudden, she got an idea. She rushed out into the shop and grabbed the shopping bags out of her car. She went down the street and returned “gift” after “gift” to each store, and then rushed over to where the old man sat.
The sidewalks had fewer people now. The snow sparkled on the ground around him as he looked up at her with a smile.
“Can I help you miss?”
Cheryl looked down at him and held out her hand. “Can I treat you to dinner at the café?” she asked.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” he said.
“I want to.” She replied.
The man’s smile widened, and he grasped her hand. He stood up and dusted the snow off of his tattered jacket. "I just need to grab something in this store," said Cheryl. The old man waited outside as she ran in. Cheryl purchased a new jacket, gloves, and other winter apparel for the man. She also purchased a few gift cards to local restaurants. Cheryl bounced out of the shop smiling and handed the items to the man.
"Here, these are for you," she said.
The man looked at her in awe. "You really didn't have to do that," he said.
Cheryl looked at the man and smiled. "You were kind enough to lend me a hand when I needed it, so I wanted to return the favor."
The old man smiled merrily and the two of them walked through the glistening wonderland together. As they walked toward the little café, she looked over at the old man and felt something she hadn’t in years. The spirit of Christmas, and the spirit of giving were set ablaze in her heart once again. She felt a warmth in her soul that was indescribable. This was it, she thought. This was why the old man was so happy.
Though he had little to give, he gave what he could – his kindness.