Butterfly Effect

Port-to-Port supports the Information System at the Charles A Tindley Accelerated School, which is where I coached the Cross Country teams for the past three years. At the end of the season last fall, I told the Athletic Director that I would not be returning as their coach this fall. I didn’t feel that the students were committed to running. I wasn’t receiving any parental support, and the staff was working too hard at educating these kids to give much time to supporting their athletic endeavors. In the end, that meant I was working far harder than I had anticipated and receiving little reward so I decided that I’d be better off assisting a coach where some of those support mechanisms had been in place for a while.

Last Friday I was at the school discussing future technology plans with Marcus Robinson, the Principal. As we walked around the school, I had three students on separate occasions come up to me and ask when we’re going to start Cross Country practice. To the first one I said I wasn’t going to be coaching next Fall. To the second one I said I don’t think I’ll be coaching next Fall. To the third one I said I will only be coaching if there are 10 students committed to starting practice in June. I was overwhelmed by the interest of these three would-be runners. They made me realize that even though it didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere, I was really having an impact on the way these students looked at running.

I will go back as the Cross Country coach if there are runners committed to coming to practice. I’ve learned to be a better coach since the season ended last Fall. These young men and women have started thinking of themselves as runners since then too.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Yesterday we had a Case Conference with my youngest son’s school. For those of you who’ve not had the experience, a Case Conference, in Indiana, is a meeting that is mandated by the law to be held within 10 days of the start of the school year for public school students who have special needs. The result of the conference is an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for the student. The attendees include a teacher of record, a representative of the school system, a special education expert, and a parent.

My son has had an IEP for most of his time in school. This conference that was nearly 6 months late was the best one we’ve ever had. Everyone really focused on the things that each of us must do to help my son be successful at school. No other conference has had this focus. All the rest focused on filling in the blanks on the form that documents the meeting. At this meeting, we talked about the kinds of things that we can all do differently for my son that will help him be more successful in school and increase his chances of graduating from high school.

You can imagine that after waiting 6 months to have this meeting I didn’t expect much. Every time I reach the point that I’m ready to completely give up and let things go; just when I think there is no hope for a successful outcome; along comes something that keeps me from abandoning hope. This meeting reinvigorated my motivation to help my son succeed.