Sunday, April 27, 2014


On Friday, our community raised almost $100,000 for non-fiction books to be distributed throughout our school system.

On May 6, our community will decide, through their votes, if they'd like to see new construction and major renovations to our district as well as technology and athletic upgrades. They've shown before that they are supporters of the right bond; I certainly hope that's the case again.

That's incredible money. It takes thousands (in terms of the voting) to make major change for a school district. For The Shindig, the name given to the casual fundraiser, over seven hundred individuals showed up to eat, drink, and be merry--all in the name of new books for our kids.

And, me, I get to live in this community. I feel proud to pay these taxes and raise my kids in a place where they are embraced and supported by the individuals and companies in them.

It's not easy being a child. So many changes--in emotions, in appearances, in relationships, in academics--that a child goes goes through during his/her course via the school system. To be supported by the entire community is such a major help while traveling down an often rocky, always adventurous, road. When we put our kids in the center of a community-wide embrace, we are giving them a far-reaching foundation, one we hope can last a lifetime--or at least until they are ready to embrace their own community's children.

But not every community does this. Why?

Because it doesn't have the visionaries focused on helping others, the few at the center of an event who can rally the masses. Sometimes, visionaries just look out for themselves--doing anything they can to make money or elevate themselves within the community. The few at the center of both of these events--The Shindig and the 2014 Bond Proposal--wouldn't want to call themselves visionaries. They would quickly deflect the title and share it with the masses (and, don't get me wrong, the masses are essential; they have to show up), but it is the few with the motivation and know-how who start the process of greater change in our schools.

Visionaries see things differently than they are and then put in the work, including connecting with a community of people who will help spread the vision, to make it come true.

Here in Spring Lake, we're lucky; our visionaries are looking out for our kids, embracing them every chance they get.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Calling All Conferences

Over the last year--starting with MACUL 2013--I've been bitten by a bug: a presenting bug. I LOVE it! I suppose it really connects my two passions: education and performance. Before I was a teacher, I was an aspiring actor. Really, I only left theatre because I taught it to children once and learned that I liked that more than actually doing it myself.

For ten years, I didn't realize that I could do both. I'm not sure why, but I just hadn't considered it. I just didn't know about the opportunities.

And that's still how I feel. Though I'm speaking quite a bit more around the state--getting ready to head to Jackson, MI next Saturday for #ConnectEdu--I still don't know of all the opportunities.

So, I need your help. Hook me up with links! Connect them as comments to this blog or email the opportunities to or contact me on Twitter using @DavidTheune.

Over the last year, I've learned more than ever. That's because I've been in the presence of more motivated educators than ever through these conferences. Also, through preparing my own talks, I've become more aware and excited and reflective of my own practices. Together, with the daily education I get from my colleagues and from my students, it has made the last year the best one of my career.

Calling All Conferences!
Bring 'em on!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life Lessons, Part 2

In last week's blog (the first weekend of spring break), I wrote about the life lessons my girls were teaching me while my wife was visiting a friend in Boston. (Read it here: Life Lessons from My Girls). But the lessons continued when my other girl--my wife--got home.

People will pay $70+ a ticket to hear Jim Gaffigan for 90 minutes. Others will pay more for silliness. Why? Because silliness carries value in our lives. It allows us a break to be more productive on the other side.

As for me, I'm fortunate. I don't have to pay a thing for this all-important characteristic.

Truth is: I often take myself too seriously. I find myself working too many hours and thinking of my job as a sprint (and, yes, I'm glad I do see it as that sometimes. I am certainly NOT belittling the importance of my job as an educator). During my normal hours, my everyday life, silly is not my thing. I smile a lot--and even laugh. But that's not silly. I need reminders to be silly--to laugh and chuckle. To roll on the floor laughing--kicking and screaming because the tickle torture I'm receiving has gone on too long. To be startled and scream like my five-year-old self when my girls--yes, including the 37-year-old one--jump out from around the corner. I need that from them because I don't produce it enough in myself.

The value? I get to be a kid. And smile more broadly. And laugh more loudly. And--eventually--embrace more passionately. And breathe more freely.

It's silliness that allows me to work harder and make a bigger difference in the world.

It's because of the silliness I received over spring break from all of my girls that I am now ready for the final push of the school year.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Life Lessons From My Girls

This week is spring break for our school system and I'm so glad that my wife both had the opportunity to visit a friend who has a newborn AND that she took it. My wife is so selfless that she too often passes up these kind of moments for the betterment of the family's budget or time or whatever. She and I both agreed that she needed to see our friend--to continue creating ties that will bind them for life.

It turns out, though, she's not the only one creating ties that bind for life. I am, too--at home, with my three daughters. In just the past few hours, they reminded me of what it is to the best human. Three simple lessons all taught within a three hour span, all taught in our backyard.
  1. Be creative. Now that the snow is gone, I was able to put up our Slackers Slackline (imagine a nylon tight rope, if you will). When I put it up, I saw it as just that--a training tool for future circus performers. Within minutes, however, the girls made lassos for imaginary cows; they created suspended swings out of the leftover nylon rope; they even had a moment of imagining they were Rapunzel when one climbed the tree and let the rope hang from her shoulders.
  2. Invite others. Once the Slackline was up for about twenty minutes, it was a magnet to the rest of the neighborhood. The girls all welcomed the other children, gave them turns, and encouraged others to get inventive. They played. They connected. It was simple. 
  3. Keep trying. My youngest (she's six) left the Slackline before any of the others because she decided it was time for batting practice. So, we grabbed the bucket of balls and the tiny bat and started swinging. And whiffing. And more swinging. And more whiffing. Her contact average was about .150--that of a minor league catcher--but she just kept on swinging. Then, after about the 70th pitch, she crushed one past the neighbor's trampoline and it made all the whiffs worth it.
I'm glad my wife is in Boston. She is holding one of her best friend's newborns. There is absolutely NO doubt she is creating memories that will last a lifetime. But so am I. 

And all I had to do was play with my children to learn them.