The Value of Networking

Sinek 10-21-13

The value of networking is not measured by the number of people we meet but by the number of people we introduce to others. — Simon Sinek

On the eve of the final day of the 2013 ESHA Annual Conference, as I thought about meaningful words to close the event, I came across this comment in Simon Sinek’s Tweeter stream. It strikes me as hitting just the right chord on the nature of generative relationships, stewardship, and colleague connections.

I had the privilege of hearing Sinek speak at a U.S. Bank event in St. Louis earlier this year. His TEDTalk at TEDxPuget Sound, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” is worth watching. This puts his book, Start With Why (Penguin, 2011), on my reading list!


Anticipating Change

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves. — Anatole France

I have been given a wonderful new professional opportunity: to serve as the President of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States beginning in July 2014. I look forward with enthusiasm to the increased breadth this will bring for me, as I dig into issues of independent school accreditation and supporting the needs of all members of independent school communities along with facilitating the work of school leaders. I look forward to working with a new Board of Trustees to chart the direction of one of the largest regional independent school associations in the country and with the ISACS administrative team to realize the association’s goals.

ESHA_logoBut first, this means leaving an organization that I have known and served for 15 years — first as member, then as Board member and volunteer conference planner, and, from 2008-2014, as Executive Director. I made the first of my good-byes to members of the Elementary School Heads Association (ESHA) yesterday as my transition was announced to members present at the ESHA Annual Conference.  This was a room of my colleagues, the folks now doing the work that I did from 1995-2006 — heading independent elementary/middle schools. My friends, you will be missed!

Legos for Girls

You may have heard that Lego is working to increase its market among girls. This caught the periphery of my attention back in 2012 when there was a bit of a flap about Lego’s tactic of producing pink and purple blocks for the female market.

Then, the Twitter stream went abuzz last month when Lego added a female scientist to its mini-figure collection. This wonderful editorial by Maia Weinstock in Scientific American moved Lego’s recent marketing efforts from the background to front-and-center of my awareness: “Breaking Brick Stereotypes: Lego Unveils a Female Scientist” (9/02/13).

As I read, with interest, about “Professor C. Bodin,” our new woman-in-STEM mini-figure, my eyes drifted to Weinstock’s photo mashup of Lego female torsos*:


Image: Maia Weinstock

Mattel introduced the highly successful venture of Barbie, with her 36″ bust and 18″ waist, in 1959 (see “Pretty Plastic Barbie: Forever What We Make Her.” NPR, 3/09/08). Fifty-four years later, we have Legos with décolletage. I guess Lego would tell us that, like Barbie, this sells.

What is Lego thinking!? That to sell toys to girls, it is necessary to portray their gender in a sexualized motif? And we’re buying this stuff? Yikes.

For more enlightening data and opinion on this topic, see:

*Just for the record: In correspondence, Weinstock told me that, after creating the image above, she learned that one of the torsos is actually a male pirate. You probably can guess which one.

Ode to a Middle School Teacher

Gordon Clem died last week. According to his obituary

“He started a long and successful career at St. Thomas Choir School in New York City following college; first, as athletic coach, a math and science instructor, and eventually serving as Headmaster for many years. While at St. Thomas he organized an annual Training Workshop for math and science teachers from the U.S. and abroad, which has been held at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA for the last 50 years. He also helped to organize similar workshops throughout the US and abroad.”

Gordon was a model and mentor to many. Our paths crossed in the late 1990’s when he consulted with Friends Academy (MA) about elementary and middle school mathematics curriculum and pedagogy. My conversations with Gordon sent home for me the critical importance of a high level of mathematics comfort and proficiency in our middle school math teachers. He shook his head at the archaic generalist model (in which I was credentialed in the 1970’s) of certifying teachers to address all subjects, K-8. And, I had the definite impression that he identified as a middle school math teacher himself.

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Gordon Clem and Nikki Li Hartliep on the occasion of his 80th birthday

Middle school teachers need subject-area expertise, love for the quirkiness of emerging adolescence, flexibility, patience, and sense of humor — not a small bill to fill. In honor of Gordon, I offer applause for middle school teachers everywhere and this article by Launa Schweizer, who captures beautifully the nature of their work: 

          “My Amygdala Ate My Homework!” Rewire Me, 9/06/13.

Thanks to Dane Peters for calling the article to my attention and to Murray Lopdell-Lawrence for the photo – both fellows also touched by Gordon’s quiet wisdom.