Meeting Expectations

     I just walked past a permanent display at my church on which were the signatures of members who had committed to making themselves “third” in order of importance. My husband’s name jumped out at me, and where was mine? Written in my heart in a private covenant between God and me. Difference in execution… but still a commitment. Is my commitment less effective because I didn’t make it public as expected?

     In everything in which we participate, we are asked to meet expectations. I wonder how many of us want everyone to meet our expectations while not really trying to meet others’.  I expect parents of students at my school to read the weekly announcement sheet, but I rarely read our church’s newsletter.  If we blow off expectations as adults, why are we so surprised when our kids do it?

     The key is in the consequences. If parents don’t read the school announcement sheet, they don’t send money with their little darling by the “last day to purchase.” Then their little darling lets them hear about it… sometimes publicly!

      I have very high expectations for myself and for my students in school-related activities and lessons. Outside of school events, my expectations for my students are more akin to acceptances. I accept that teens will be interested in a relationship with a significant other. I accept that depression can occur in failure to find that person. I accept that, once found, the two will become inseparable.  I don’t expect them to behave differently than I did when their age. The consequence for demonstrating this need to be close (PDA) is a half -a-day suspension. It’s amazing how that shuts down the PDA (public display of affection) in my middle and high schools!  I don’t expect the desire to demonstrate PDA, though, to disappear. Instead, I expect the families of the couple to give them time together outside of school… even if it’s supervised… to experience “dating” (within reason, of course!).  Another example, if you would:  I accept that teens experiment with curse words, but I expect them not to be used while “on the job” (aka: at school and school-related events). 

     It is not wrong to have high expectations for our kids… especially gifted kids.  In fact, I have found that my students thrive because of the high expectations at our school.  Too high of expectations, though, and one runs the risk that his children will never feel “good enough.”  Too low, and he creates a future “burden on society.”  Wow!  Parenting is hard!  Fortunately, you are not the first parent ever to deal with this.  Seek the advice of those who have been through it.  You will make mistakes, but with some alternations and adaptations, you will create a thoughtful young person with high expectations himself.

-        Michelle

Are you happy with your life? Do you feel like you are making enough money? Are you at the point of your career that you thought you would be by your age? How about your love life, is that perfect?


Expectations are incredibly dangerous when they are unrealistic. There are so many expectations and ideals to live up to nowadays. In years past, the American dream was generally a white picket fence, two children, and a dog. That’s manageable. It’s hard to buy a house, but not impossible. Meeting someone is a big ordeal but still within the realm of possibilities.


In the 2010’s, this ideal has changed. While some people very much still strive for the traditional American dream, society pushes people to reach an entirely different expectation. Rather than expecting our young people to strive for houses and families, they push people to strive for fame and money. I realize that Hollywood has always glamorized the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but parents, you have no idea what your kids are being exposed to on YouTube, Tik Tok, and Instagram.


Your children and teens are spending their time watching influencers on social media content creation platforms spending exorbitant amounts of money on mansions, cars, designer clothes, gadget, etc. If you think I’m just talking about the Kardashians, you are sorely mistaken. Ask your kids about Jake and Logan Paul. You’ve probably heard of these Disney channel stars turned YouTube pranksters, mainly when Logan, the older of the two made national news filming a real dead body in the suicide forest in Japan.


Beyond all the very problematic content on this channel (which you should definitely be concerned about, but that’s a different conversation), these boys and their group of friends portray incredibly irresponsible financial decisions and total abundance of wealth and fame. There are many of these type of influencers across channels and interests (beauty gurus, sports channels, comedy channels, diy, video games, etc) that likely cover one or more of your child’s interests. I think the Paul brothers are especially dangerous because of the ages of their viewers.


The primary audience of Jake and Logan Paul is kids aged 7-19. That’s a very young audience, and it likely includes your child. Jake Paul alone has 17,599,368 subscribers on just his main channel. A significant portion of that immense subscriber count is young children that don’t have the discretion and judgement to understand that the Paul brothers don’t have a normal life. This results in unrealistic expectations. The more your child takes in content from these beautiful, rich, irresponsible people, the more they desire to be like them.


Earlier this year, 1,000 kids ages 6-17 were surveyed about what they want to be when they grow up. The top five answers were: Youtuber, Blogger/Vlogger, Musician, Actor/Actress, and then Doctor/Nurse. While this was a somewhat small data pool, several similar research studies and surveys have found similar results. To me, that is both terrifying (thinking long term about jobs in our country) and sad to think that our children have those expectations for themselves.


-        Bria


    Meeting expectations has always been a driving force in my life.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t try to meet the expectations of those older and wiser than I.  Perhaps it was because I felt sorry for my mother who was constantly left alone with three children while my father traveled over the country driving his truck.  If my mother couldn’t count upon me to help or to fix things, who could she turn to for such assistance?  All her relatives were two hundred miles away.  So, I did what I could!

    When I was selected for the Gifted Program in St. Louis, I was going to be “so out of my element” that I worked doubly hard to meet expectations.  After all, how could I face old school mates if I failed at the new school?  One thing I didn’t understand as a youngster was that I was truly out of my element in that program.  Those new classmates grew up with college-educated parents who had the typical expectations for their children to excel in professions of note after a college education.  I had no idea of what a college even offered.  I had no expectations for life after high school graduation.

    My saving grace for college entrance was that I was not prepared to enter the clerical world of work…I had been given music lessons since I was ten years of age…and a music degree was a possibility.

What I didn’t know at the time was that God had a plan for me and my future.  Now that I have walked the path, I can clearly see the people and events placed strategically in my life to lead me to service in education.  His expectations, as written in the Bible I studied daily, led me to set work standards and ethics which contributed to the successes I’ve enjoyed in my life.

    When I founded Lawton Academy, I explained to parents that children will “rise to the level of our expectations.”  Therefore, my expectations for our students were set to a high standard.  As I have watched educational standards change over my fifty+ year career, I did not budge an inch.  I refused to use dumbed-down textbooks or to lower standards because some children just couldn’t be expected to achieve them.  (Perfect example: “Don’t require memorization of math facts…give them a pocket chart or later on a calculator.)  I am proud to say that our kids do learn these important facts!

    Many teachers teach a lesson only to find quite a few students didn’t learn the concept.  The error then is the failure on the part of the teacher to do everything possible to discover different ways to help those children achieve the goal.  Yes, it takes hard work!  Parents have expectations that a child’s teacher will help their child to learn.  That should be our expectation, too.   The variable may be the amount of time involved, but I believe all children can learn anything if we can teach it in terms they understand.

    One of my parents gave me a plaque with a poem on it that sits in our school foyer.  It talks about the teacher’s expectations for her students.  At one point the teacher leads them to the edge of the cliff and tells the children to leap.  “It is too hard,” they said.  But with the teacher’s leading, they leapt off the edge and “they began to fly!”   That meant a lot to me because their oldest child stopped talking after experiencing the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado which destroyed everything around them.  I had great success with this little boy.  His father wrote me and thanked me for “giving his son back to him.”  

    Since it takes so little to be above average, set your aims high!  I promise you a life of rewards!

-        Kay



It’s that time a year again: everyone is headed off to malls and department stores to find great deals on gifts. There is a lot of pressure that comes with this time of year, specifically around the idea of gifting. Everyone wants to be the perfect gift-giver, but with so many people in our lives, it’s hard to find the perfect gift for every loved one.


I struggle with knowing which people I should be gifting. Beyond my immediate family, friends, and significant other, I also feel a need to gift to the next tier of people in my life. For instance, I brought gifts for everyone I worked with last year and in return received one gift from my close office friend. I’m not saying that I’m upset that I didn’t receive more gifts, but it seems as though it was unnecessary for me to spend money and time gifting all of my colleagues.


This scenario highlights a fundamental difference in how people think about gifting. For example, last year I discovered a difference between my significant other and myself. We spent tons of time going to malls looking for gifts for family members and friends and he said, “Do we need to get each other gifts this year since we are spending all this money? I’m fine without a gift, what do you think?” I said, “Absolutely not! Of course we’re getting each other gifts.” To him, the idea of not receiving a gift from me seemed practical.  But I couldn’t stand the idea of not getting him a gift and vice versa. He didn’t mean this to hurt my feelings, he was just raised with a very different idea of gifting than myself.


For me, gifting is such a special experience for both parties. A good gift giver shows that they really know and understand what the gift receiver likes and appreciates. This is meaningful beyond just the gift because it validates the person’s connection to you. I think it’s important to gift throughout the year. I don’t mean that we need to get expensive, lavish gifts year-round, I just think it’s nice to give little things to remind our loved ones that we are thinking about them and that we care.


One thing I appreciated about my mother growing up was the little gifts she would bring us back from running errands. These things weren’t always huge gifts, but it showed that she was thinking about us and our needs in her day-to-day life. This is something I’ve tried to carry on into my adult life with those I’m close to. I will always be the person to memorize someone’s coffee order and pick up a cup of coffee for them on a particularly rough day. What is $2.00-$4.00 to me, means a lot to the receiver because it shows that I was thinking about him and acknowledging that he is having a tough time.


I think shifting our focus of gifting would help make this season a little less stressful. Rather than waiting all year and putting a ton of pressure on the holiday gifts, integrate small gifts throughout the year. This will challenge you to really get to know your loved ones and find out what they like and need. Not only will you build their appreciation of you, but you will also come to know them better and feel the sense of goodwill that comes with gifting this time of year. After the holidays pass and the decorations come down, remember that gifting doesn’t only exist within the confines of November-January. Carry that cheer throughout the year and see how it strengthens your interpersonal relationships.

-        Bria

Gifts are certainly at front and center in our minds this week.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been playing very large in all the advertisements on TV and in the newspapers.  It seems that our economy is doing quite well at this moment, and people are trying to buy gifts at record savings.  As for me, I will do the usual…put off buying these gifts until the last possible moment.  I can’t explain why I do this each year…I just do.

            Perhaps my passive gift buying stems from my childhood poverty.  Gifts were not easy to come by for my family.  It was nothing like we see today.  I can’t remember having the “gift everyone must have” such as the Elmo craze one year.  Each year we hear of the new “must have” sensation.  I guess I just never developed such a craving.  Yet, I see children stressing their parents out over the possibility that they will be the only ones at school who didn’t receive that “must have” toy.

            My thinking about gifts tend to center around those small unexpected cards of thanks, or small items left on my desk which mark a special relationship with one of my students or families.  Usually, these little gifts come after a major breakthrough we’ve had in learning.  It is kind of my Olympic moment!  I know these come from the heart and are not just given because it is a set calendar day upon which everyone feels the pressure to give.

            Gifts are something we receive from someone else.  I like to remind my gifted students that their IQ is a gift God and their parents have given to them.  Yet, how they use that gift is very important.  Some people squander such a glorious mind, while others take that mind and create solutions to life’s problems.  I challenge each of them to be like the latter person and use their minds to “gift” us all with new cures for diseases, or with beautiful new melodies or art pieces, or with discoveries of nature and the universe which we have yet to find.

            Over the years, I have seen gifted students I went to school with establish cancer research centers, help with the invention of the electron microscope, and unravel new ideas in quantum physics.  I have seen others establish mission outposts for the poorest individuals on our planet.  What wondrous gifts they have given to us!

            As I consider all these gifts, I cannot put aside the greatest gift of all.  How I am amazed and thankful that God loved us so much that He gave us Jesus to teach us how to love Him and to know how to have eternal life.  That one special gift which gave me salvation has changed my entire life.  So, amid all the commotion of this holiday season, I will treasure this one gift and spend time reflecting upon it and seeking ways I can pass this special gift on to others.       

-        Kay

    ‘‘Tis the season to give, right? From the bell ringers outside the stores to the clerk asking you to give a dollar more to (insert charity’s name) to Secret Santa drawings at work, the pressure to give is put in hyperdrive during December. “Gifting” does not come as naturally as we might think, though. It is our job to teach our children how to be philanthropist, even if they aren’t rich.

     Tithing used to be standard in many homes. The 10% amount is a good standard for all homes, not just Christians. If we taught our kids to give a tenth of what they receive to those less fortunate, there might not be such a rabid search for funding in December. There are a wealth of good causes out there. Allowing your children to help decide and support a cause will do nothing but good for them.  Gifting our time works just as well as money often. There are so many programs that would benefit from a family donating some monthly volunteering time.

      We had a rule when my kids were young: for every toy or item they got at Christmas or their birthday, they had to donate a gently-used toy or item to Goodwill. The idea was that they were to help a less-fortunate kid have a chance to have a cool gift as well.

       Don’t just require that your kids gift, though. Model giving. I’m not at all saying that every cause should get a bit of your money. You’d be broke after one trip to the mall! Don’t accept false guilt; you were not meant to save the entire world! Just find the sliver you’re supposed to help.

       Gifting is a “love language.” There are those to which this comes naturally, and nothing makes them happier than to give. Very few children are in touch with that love language, though. It’s up to us to cultivate the desire to give.

-        Michelle


              Chores can help children develop responsibility if they are used correctly.  Once a child understands that everyone has chores just because they are a part of the household, respect for each other and what it takes to keep harmony in the house becomes natural.  A problem many people face with chores is the mistake of rewarding doing chores with an allowance. When reward is attached to it, the chores become a bargaining tool. That often leads to arguments.

              We require children to have chores in the school because we all live here and want our surroundings to be in order.  When things are put away where they belong, tasks and lessons can take place easily without interruption. When things or pieces are missing or lost, everyone suffers by not being able to use that particular resource.

              Assigning chores also allows us to more easily identify those children who go above and beyond.  They are more aware of things awry, take the time to fix the situation, and alert us to possible serious situations.  That is the responsible citizen we are trying to rear in our school.

              From time to time I ask help with a more rigorous task.  Those who help may receive a piece of candy because I appreciated their willingness to help me.  Immediately, three or four students will try to repeat the task (ex.: picking up extra trash blown onto the playground by the winter winds) after it has been done.  They bring me a piece of paper they found and ask for a piece of candy. I explain that no candy is given when the purpose of the act was to get candy.

              Chores also allow the child to develop time management skills.  Getting a task done on time is a skill that many of our friends in the retail business tell us is disappearing.  Another part of that is children learn how to divide large tasks into manageable parts to achieve the whole in a timely manner.

              Chores also allow a child to grow in self-esteem.  Every time a job is well done, people usually take note.  It makes a child proud to have adults or others brag about the job they do.  Believe me, they also get an attitude adjustment when they don’t do their chore up to standards.  Negative comments help bring about a correction in their work ethic pretty quickly. (That is if they do care about what others think.)

              Chores can sometimes help the child develop a skill not typical of children their age.  For instance, the students working on our school robotics build teams have learned to properly use and take care of very sophisticated equipment which includes drill press, grinders, and table saws.  These are skills which may help them later in life as households need repairs.

              I love the School of the Ozarks.  It is called Hard Work University.  Students can pay for their education by working in the many labor areas of the school.  They run a dairy, make food products for distribution, run a highly rated restaurant and hotel, plant and grow their own foods, etc.  My own nephew graduated from the school and is a successful teacher and coach. That education would not have been possible for him if he had not gotten the opportunity to work for his tuition.

              As I have mentioned before, The Little Red Hen is my favorite book.  When the homemade bread was finally cut and eaten by the hen and her chicks after their hard work, it was especially delicious!    Kay

    When I was a kid, my parents gave me chores and an allowance. The two were not tied together; we had chores because we were part of the family, and we got an allowance because we were part of the family. I continued that with my kids.

     At our school, the students have chores as well.  We teach our kids that leadership requires responsibility, and we require a group effort for five minutes at the end of the day to take out trash, put chairs up, and return everything in the room to its original place. I never cease to be shocked when a student tells me, “I don’t do chores at home.”  If the student is in middle school or older, my response is usually, “ Oh, your mother wants you to live with her forever.” Usually the kid gives a confused look, so I add, “She’s crippling you so that you’ll always need her and never leave.”

       Obviously, I feel pretty strongly about chores. I cannot stand it when kids just get up and leave a mess for someone else to clean up. I’m not just mad at the kid when that happens; I’m mad at the parent for always doing it for him!

       The chores a child does should, of course, be tailored to the age. Even toddlers can pick up after play or help set or clean up the table. Taking out the trash, loading and unloading the dishwasher, helping with laundry, and keeping one’s room clean (to include making the bed) are perfect for elementary-aged kids. Teens can add lawn-mowing, food prep, vacuuming, and the such.

        The goal of chores is to help our kids transition from living with us to living on their own. It is not to get the house clean. Using the kids as cheap labor is never a secret; your kids know the parent is just being lazy (or too cheap to hire help). Our goal is the same at school: helping them to see that it’s the leadership that keep things tidied up and moving.  And we’re in the business of training leaders.

        Moms, please don’t do everything for your sons. Your relationship with your future daughter-in-law depends upon how much she has to do for your son! I’ve often told my boys that they can have a “hot” wife or a “mom” wife. But we wives cannot be “hot” and their “mothers”!

        As long as we explain why the chores are part of helping our kids to become adults, kids are usually pretty open to chores. The key is to start light and add. Just remember: at the same time you are adding a chore, add a privilege. Your child will feel he is actually becoming an adult!

  • Michelle


Chores are something that will be with us our entire life. We start as children learning how to become independent and increasingly taking on more chores. Depending on parenting style, you might have had a lot of chores growing up, or your might not have had any. Either way, once you leave the nest, you are responsible for your life and for maintaining your chores. This can come as a hard reality check for those that never did chores, or it can be an easier transition for children that were made to be responsible for themselves.

I believe that those of up that grew up doing chores developed a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility at a young age. Giving your children chores allows them to understand the importance of hard work. It also gives them the skills to do these chores in their adult lives. All of this will eventually spill over into how they maintain themselves as adults and their work ethic in their careers. If you never made your child do their own laundry, they are going to lack skills to make themselves presentable for work. They might not know how to get stains out of their clothes, or the importance of ironing their dress shirts. This will set them up for a series of hard lessons that were completely avoidable.

Empower your children to be in control of their own future and success. Train them to do chores and maintain their homes, clothes, kitchens, and bodies. Figuring this stuff out early gives them more capacity to figure out the things that really matter in their life. They could spend an entire day doing laundry because they haven’t figured out how to effectively and efficiently wash their clothes. Or, they could spend an entire day looking for a job or learning a new skill. There are many other practical applications for knowing how to clean and care things that will position them well in their life. Take the time to teach your children how to do their chores and hold them accountable for completing these chores. Beyond learning how to do these tasks, it establishes a hard work ethic and teaches responsibility.



Pull up a church pew; I’m preaching today. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to...getting this country back on track, training our children to be high-functioning members of our society, and fixing the culture of hatred that is thriving under the current administration.

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of half the readers scrolling past my entry this week. For those of you that made it this far, I want to address some issues we have in this country in regards to respect. We have completely lost the concept of basic human respect in this country. No, I’m not just talking about our current government leaders, or even a specific party. Both sides take any chance they have to criticize the other party without considering its opinion or analyzing what its members actually believe. We are alarmists and we are harmful right now.

Somehow it has become acceptable to disrespect another human being based upon his values. This behavior starts in the home. Parents, please be mindful of how you talk around your children. While it is completely legitimate to be frustrated with the political climate, you should not be overexposing young children to the aggressive rhetoric and arguing on either side. When children are overexposed to fighting and personal attacks, they might believe that this behavior is acceptable.

We are steadily approaching Thanksgiving, a holiday in which families gather with extended family members. In many cases, you will be sharing a meal with some people that have very different opinions. This is a great opportunity to expose your children to respectful conversations rather than heated, emotional arguments.

The more we do to expose our children and youth to respectful conversations and arguments, the better off our society will be. Right now, everyone is approaching each other with fear and anger. This doesn’t have to be the way in which we as a country interact. It’s time to re-learn respect. We have to teach our children to respect each other for their similarities and their differences. Respect is all about acknowledging what makes us different from our fellow man and accepting each other’s ways of life (barring threats to our personal safety and well-being).

The holiday season is a time for peace; let’s also use it as a time for healing. Lead by example and make a difference by respecting others. Teach this behavior to your children and reinforce it in your partners, coworkers, friends, community members, etc. Bringing respect back to the forefront of our communication is the first step to uniting as a country. Change begins with you; do your part to promote respect.

-          Bria


                Respect seems to be missing a lot in our everyday lives.  I am amazed at the constant lack of respect that I see among children and adults as well as the lack of respect for authority figures.  Perhaps all this disrespect had its start with the song of the sixties, “We don’t need no education….”  I just know that I’ve lived long enough to see what that kind of attitude has brought about in our country.  I, for one, do not like the apparent results! (Ha! Even this computer is doing all it can to remind me that the song title is not proper grammar!)

                Each day I watch interactions between parents and children as they deliver and pick up from school.  Many times I see deflated looks upon the parents’ faces as they are strongly reprimanded by their child for letting the child forget “this or that” thing.  These manipulative children seem to have no sense of personal responsibility for remembering their own belongings.  However, there are also the “helicopter” parents who have brought this upon themselves by taking charge of every facet of the child’s life except his/her rate of breathing!

                Yes, I grew up in the school of hard knocks.  For this, I am truly happy and thankful.  It has made me responsible and creative at the same time.  I refuse to “give in” on most problems in life.  My mother expected much from me since my father was always on the road in another state, and she worked in a factory much of her life.  I was the oldest child and she depended upon me for help.  I am not warped or handicapped because of that.  Instead, I learned to respect parents who have to go the extra mile to provide for their families.  I certainly respect the hardship that single parent homes have.

                I learned at a young age that we were to respect the belongings and property of our neighbors in the city where I lived.  My schools taught me to respect the flag and the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.  I was taught to respect and help senior citizens and those who suffered with physical handicaps.  None of this etiquette training hurt me a bit.  In fact, I have enjoyed the millions of interactions I’ve had with people over the years…regardless of race, creed, economic status, educational levels, etc.

                I remind my students that I was told by people who live in other nations that overseas we citizens of the U.S. are often referred to as the “ugly Americans.”  That is such a shame!  It is usually us who goes to the aid of people world-wide when tragedy happens.  Yet, people prefer to look upon our lack of respect for others as our defining moments.  I believe the book of Proverbs notes people always remember the bad things about a person after he dies.

                Just watch the interactions of any two-year-old, and you will see that we are not inborn with a sense of respect.  No, defiance is more our nature.  Therefore, I contend that respect must be taught if it is to be caught by this and future generations.  Since the brain loves patterns, I teach very catchy songs to my first graders about manners and respect for others.  I hope these songs remind them over and over what the right thing to do is…and that their young hearts will follow the message.

                 I once had a parent who served in the military who told me, “My child will not be made to say yes, mam or no sir, etc. I have to do it, but she sure doesn’t have to.”  However, his case was the exception.  Over my career, the children of military families usually always show good manners.  The respect they show for traditions, patriotism, and veterans is inspiring.  Hats off to all parents who do continue to teach today’s children those qualities that made America great in the first place!  

-          Kay

   The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield always used to adjust his tie and say, “I don’t get no respect,” to which I would always say, “Respect is earned, not given.” As I ponder on the concept of respect, I think I didn’t fully understand my reply until today.

     People gripe about how disrespectful the youth of today are. They climb on landmarks and don’t hold open doors and rush to be first and rarely thank people. I do see that, but I also know that the students in our school receive compliments from everyone about how respectful they are. I even had a pediatric dentist come check out our school because, when he asked to which school each of his patients went, the best behaved ones always came from our school.

      Our kids aren’t perfect; they have their days when they behave disrespectfully. The key is that we do not tolerate it. Within the punishment is a chance to make a better plan for next time.

       My secondary students would tell you that they’re respectful because they fear me. They know that I recommend whether they get to stay at our school or not. That fear keeps them in line. But the way in which they “level up” in every situation, the way they shine in everything they attempt, has nothing to do with being afraid of me if they don’t. No, that comes from respect. They go the extra mile because I go the extra mile.

        Here’s my point: if you are the parent or teacher of a gifted child, do not “phone it in.” Gifted children can smell a phony a mile away. They know when people are investing in them, and they know when people are not.

        My mother used to warn me of impending doom in my fifth-grade class. Every morning, my teacher would have us find smaller words from a giant word on the board, and he required that we use the first thirty in sentences. I would write things like: read: Mr. ______ does not read these sentences. I always brought home 100%s. My mother just knew I was going to get caught, but, at eleven-years-old, I knew that he was just having us do this so he could have thirty more minutes to get ready for the day.

         My kids respect me because I expect no more from them than I expect from myself. I work hard to distinguish myself from all others, and I try my hardest to do my best work at all times. I don’t demand from them what I don’t demand from myself, and I apologize when I’ve wronged them… because that’s what I’d want.

         Congratulations! You have a smart child! Be worthy of his respect. Show him how to give his best effort. Teach him to respect the efforts of others, even if they don’t measure up to his. Help him to see that he has a larger capacity for activity than a person of average intelligence, and with that blessing comes great responsibility. Teach him to value others and their property and to value our Earth and everything that makes it great. You may not realize that you weren’t doing all you should be doing as his parent, but I guarantee that he has. Earn his respect. He will follow your modeling and become an asset to society, not yet another burden.  



      Relevance was one of the most important factors in me deciding to become a teacher.  You see, I didn’t really like school.  Oh, I liked seeing my friends and talking (a lot!), and playing basketball, and the such.  I just didn’t like the education part that kept interrupting my social life!  I felt that nothing taught was relevant to my life.  I memorized, regurgitated, and forgot. 

     On the other hand, I have always enjoyed learning.  Learning is fun and necessary and relevant.  I became a teacher to prove that learning could be fun in a school setting.  Granted, our school does not look like the typical school.  My classroom goes against every professional meeting I sat through, telling me that children cannot learn in a “busy” room.  Children learn all day in my “busy” room!

      I think the point is that we take the time to show our students the relevance of what we’re teaching to their lives.  I can tell when a student actually understands why he is at school.  When he switches from being a kid who “comes to school” to a kid who utilizes school to get him where he wants to go, I know success is around the corner.

      More than ever in history, kids are looking for relevance.  They are finding it in social media.  Videos on how to apply makeup correctly and beat the next level of their games are much more relevant to their lives than Spark notes over a classic book.  They do not see where that book can teach them anything about their lives.  But, oh, it can! 

      I quit reading for pleasure in 8th grade.  My teachers had assigned me books to read, and I rebelled by refusing to read anymore on my own for pleasure.  Now as a literature teacher, I ask my kids why I make them read.  Am I pushing them to rebel just like I did?  I point out who I actually hurt by discontinuing to read, and then I tell them why my decision was damaging.  I follow up with the reason I want them to read:  if we study the rhetoric of great writers, we can use the same techniques to write the words that will change our world.  I have found my students much more likely to read after that conversation, and I enjoy hearing what they have gleaned from the books I assign. 

     I think, more than understanding how their studies are relevant, our kids want to be relevant.  Gifted kids especially like activities to be “real.”  As parents and teachers of gifted kids, it is imperative that we point out the impact our kids are making on their world.  Teach them what their small donation added to every other small donation is doing for someone.  Tell them how a decision they made has led you to trust them with greater responsibilities.  Take the time to let your gifted teen know he matters… even more, he is a valid contributor.  You will find him contributing more and more!

-        Michelle

           Relevance, or the pertinence of the subject at hand, is not a permanent situation.  In fact, a person would do well to take a moment to consider all the facts before acting upon a situation or giving a firm answer.  Relevance can change quite a lot without our perception.  For instance, what is relevant to a fifteen-year-old today probably isn’t relevant to this seventy-four-year-old grandmother.  I am made aware every day in my first-grade classroom that things I consider a passing fad or an excessive waste of time or money are indeed quite relevant to the lives and hearts of these six-year-olds!

            My husband reminded me that I would do well to remember what was important to me at that age…and then look upon today’s children and their concepts of “needs” and “wants.”  I can remember really wanting a bicycle to make the constant errands to the grocery store for my mother.  The store was three blocks away…so a six-block round trip.  I could see how important it was to save me time and sore legs from carrying groceries that far.  Because we were poor, I didn’t get my bike, but then I did get a scooter which would allow me to at least rest one leg while pushing with the other.

            But today’s children wouldn’t even think about such a need for a bike.  People drive to the store and get groceries.  You now see today’s families have more than one car per family.  Times change the relevancy of things to our needs. It’s amazing to see how really irrelevant cars are for today’s young people who live in major cities.  Perhaps cars were our mark of finally getting freedom from our families.  Today, youth gain freedom through the internet and their ability to control the world in which they browse.

            A hard task for educators is keeping the learning of the classroom relevant to the lives of their students and their families and to the world in which we now live.  I never cared for the teacher who always had a set bulletin board display for each and every week of the year…and who repeated them in a set order year after year.  I love the fresh and new ideas!

            I do realize that keeping the lessons relevant can be a tricky task.  My civics students are preparing to run a political campaign in order to understand the election processes of the United States.  As we discuss and relate to decision making and the writing of laws, it becomes hard to keep students from vocalizing their parents’ rants and raves about the current political atmosphere.  I must constantly check my teaching for any point which could spark a controversy that would hurt feelings and values of families in our school.  It becomes a tricky tightrope upon which to walk.

            As I write this blog, I find myself asking why our political candidates can’t keep their ads relevant to the needs of our community.  I am very tired of the name-calling and finger-pointing being the focus.  I will do my part to teach my students about this very useful term: relevance.  If I am successful, future elections will see an improvement in the process of campaigning.  

-         Kay

Relevance is a big discussion in our country right now. With the midterms on the horizon (go vote on Tuesday!), candidates are fighting to focus voters on issues relevant to their campaigns. We see some candidates blowing issues out of proportion and creating urgency around non-issues because scare tactics support their campaigns.


The challenging thing about reaching an audience is that relevance is relative (profound statement, I know). You might have the best platform about immigration, but if a voter doesn’t have an opinion on immigration, your message is lost on him. This is why we see candidates identifying the hot button issue about which their audience cares and driving that point into the ground.


In Chicago we have J.B. Pritzker. Being an incredibly liberal city, Pritzker has run on a platform of equality, female empowerment, advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, women and children, and marginalized communities. While this sounds great, those of us who have done our research know his shady past and can see through the targeted relevance. The things we care about can be used against us to get us to the polls, and once the candidate is elected, he might run a completely different platform than what was presented during his campaign. We have seen this instance time and time again.


For this election and others, please do you research. Candidates will prey on issues that are relevant to you and your family. Take the time and effort to look into these peoples’ pasts. Have their previous actions supported their value statements? Where have they donated money? What do they align with historically? All of these questions are incredibly important before making a decision. Do your research, find a candidate that runs an honest campaign that is relevant to your concerns, and get out there and vote on Tuesday. Your voice and your vote matter.

-        Bria


Overqualified is the excuse often heard by a person who is seeking employment in a job that does not match his credentials.  I have never quite understood the reasoning, but my husband explained that many employers feel such a person will only stay with the job until something better comes along.  Well, that statement is probably true of most people… they may leave a job when a better opportunity comes along!  It just seems a shame that a good worker who is willing to work doesn’t get the opportunity.

                In this modern world, I see many workers who act as if they are being subjected to torture if they are asked for help.  One worker told me the reason she was so grumpy while she was ringing up my groceries was that her father made her get a job.  She wanted to play her video games now that she was out of school, but he insisted she go to work.  I really had a hard time trying to find a reason to feel sorry for her.

                Just two evenings ago, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised when the drive-through girl asked for our order in one of the happiest voices I’ve heard outside of a charming Disney movie!  When we commented upon her enthusiasm, she related that she was just usually always happy. She said another customer had remarked that she was “the happy clerk” whom she enjoyed seeing each trip to this store.  When we told her she was such a pleasant surprise in a world of unhappy people, she said: “Why shouldn’t I be happy?  I have this job, I meet people, I get to be inside and out-side on fine days, and it sure beats sitting at home doing nothing.  Besides, I get to meet some pretty dogs like yours in the back seat!”  Our dog wagged his tail in response to her smile and acknowledgement of his presence.

                Just that warm encounter made our evening more memorable.  We don’t meet a lot of people who openly express happiness over having to go to work.  We have many stores in our city which are openly advertising for employees.  Yet, I know a man who was told he couldn’t have a job because he was overqualified.  All he wanted to do was work at something rather than sit at home waiting for an opening like his former job which ended when his company had to downsize.

                I see clerks at our local stores who have obviously retired and then reentered the work world.  They are happy to work and interact with customers as they show great aptitude in their job duties.  It seems to again point out how different the “work ethic” was in past generations.

                Now I must admit that I see a new trend in dedicated young workers.  My grandchildren are certainly demonstrating excellent work ethics in their chosen professions.  I also see them willing to take risks which my generation was usually afraid to try.  So, I have renewed hope in the future.  However, I am very aware that we have a generation of lost youth who are failing to launch out into the working world.

                So, how do I educate our students today to be better workers tomorrow?  First of all, I teach them to “want to be better than the average bear.”  Ask any of these students in my school what desire I have for them, and they will tell you just that!  I then show them how easy it is to be better than average.  Children rise to the level of our expectations.  Educators and parents need to be telling our youth we expect them to rise above what is accepted as standard.  At the same time, we need to teach them that no job is beneath our ability.  Any job that needs to be done should be done for the good of everyone.

                It is a privilege to have staff in my school who are “overqualified” by most teaching standards.  My faculty has diverse degrees, talents, interests, and abilities which give us countless opportunities to offer our students an education which is excellent.  Their “over qualifications” have been a gold mine for our students!  My hat’s off to all of them!     

- Kay

Being overqualified is a descriptive adjective that applies to everyone’s life at one point or another. Some experience this day to day in their jobs, while others have occasionally experienced this feeling when asked to do a task out of their normal routines. While there are varying degrees of seriousness in situations of being overqualified, the biggest difference is how people react to the feeling.

Overqualification is very subjective because, in many cases, these feelings depend on one’s perspective of the necessary qualifications of the task at hand. There are also a lot of instances of skills not transferring equally across sectors and industries. For instance, you might have been a CFO of a Fortune 500 company. If you decided to make a change and pursue ballet dancing, you will still start in the junior class, likely with children, because your previous high position gave you no transferable skills for your new activity.

There are other times in your life when you will be objectively overqualified for your job. This is a trickier situation. If you really love your work, then you are more easily able to get past the bad feelings associated with overqualification. If you don’t love your job or feel stuck in a job in which you are overqualified, it is really easy to become bitter and angry about your work.

One way to avoid the second scenario above is to learn how to market yourself. When you are on the hunt for a new job, school, etc, it is really important to market yourself in a way that shows your abilities and qualifications. Your resume/website/CV or whatever document or platform you use on applications is the best way to communicate your level of qualification to future employers. If you don’t thoroughly describe your skills and abilities, you might end up in a position for which you are overqualified. Take the time to really put effort into your documents, have someone review your resume, and conduct practice interviews to prepare yourself to put your best foot forward when you get an interview. These precautionary steps can help you avoid situations in which you are overqualified.

-          Bria

     Okay, I don’t actually know anything about the Alabama “Roll Tide” football team, and the only connection I have to the Golden State Warriors was when he who shall not be named defected to them from our Thunder team, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don’t like either team.   It’s totally irrational, but it’s real.  I know exactly why, too.  It’s because they’re too good.  Nobody stands a chance!  Isn’t that a ridiculous reason to dislike a team?  Because they are “overqualified”?  I know many people feel the same way as I do.  When you think about it, it really is a stupid reason not to like a team, and I’ll probably re-evaluate after writing this. 

     I spend much of my year pushing gifted kids to try multiple talents.  I tell them that, as gifted, they are likely to be “jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none.”  Because of this, I get to see a lot of success at the hands of these kids.  This last weekend, my secondary students participated in the BEST Robotics competition.  This is not a kit-building exercise.  This contest gives the kids plywood, PVC, Plexiglass, and metal with which to build the robot.  They get two large motors, two small motors, four servos, and a Vex brain and controller to program.  It’s truly a difficult feat for kids to build a robot from scratch!  We compete for the BEST Award, which means we also prepare an eight-foot cubic display about how we promoted STEM, a marketing presentation to “sell” our robot to the judges, and an Engineering Process Notebook detailing how we built the robot.  Add being judged for our spirit on game day, and one has six weeks of intense work and late hours. 

     My students made a beautiful display, did a fantastic job on their marketing presentation, cheered like crazy, and even sang the National Anthem in three-part harmony.  At the end of the day, we’d won 3rd place in the BEST Award, the pumpkin decorating contest (added because it’s so close to Halloween), and most photogenic robot.  All this with a robot who did not function as we intended at all!  As a coach, I hurt for my build team because I was there all those nights they worked till 10:30.  I know how humiliating it is to not have a great robot.  In the end, it is ultimately my fault because I don’t know enough about engineering to tell them what they are doing wrong.  Luckily, they get the chance to try again, now that we are moving on to the next level of competition. 

    It got me to thinking about our topic, though.  There are teams at our level and at the regional level who always win.  I’m not implying that nobody likes them.  They’re kids, after all.  But if something goes wrong for them, no one else is very sympathetic.  I find myself being almost thankful that we have an Achilles heel. 

    Constantly winning can lead to a “big head.”  I don’t want our team to be known for always winning.  I want our kids to be known as multi-talented, nice kids.  We lose the support of those around us when we become unbeatable.  We knew going in that our robot had not worked successfully for more than five seconds.  We had already come to peace with it.  The kids and I talked about the journey being the important part, and we have had quite a journey!  We’ve become so much more environmentally conscience due to the theme of the game.  We have learned so much about programming.  We will begin again on our robot, and we’ll try to build one that can complete the tasks required.  But we are not looking for building the winning robot in less time than we originally had.  We just want a robot that works consistently.

     Because gifted kids are so good at so many things, it is important that we, as parents and teachers, keep them humble.       I will not cease to push my kids to experience their true potentials; I’ll just make sure they recognize the need for humility as well.



   My husband and I just returned from taking four teenage boys to Chicago to look at universities. We’ve been taking students along on Fall Break for almost ten years now, and I love the vision the students have after spending a week in a place with so many choices. While many have gone on to choose Chicago colleges, most just see that there are choices beyond their home state.

    Giving students this opportunity means accepting the risks that inherently come with choices. Many parents today would be happiest if they could eliminate all risks around their children. They do not seem to understand how incredibly unhappy that makes their kids. It is the children of those parents who run and never look back when they finally experience “choosing.”

      Making choices is always risky. No one is guaranteed a risk-free life. Every time we eat out, we risk sickness from food preparation or an infected cook. Strapping ourselves into a steel vehicle and traveling at high velocities is a risk every time. We accept these risks, though, because we’re too tired to cook or walk the miles to Wal-Mart.

     Gifted kids want the freedom to choose more than the average kid. They feel smarter and more mature (even when they are not!), and they are anxious to prove how wise they are. I have found over the years that sometimes the best teachable moment comes in the humble minutes right after a wrong choice. That’s a time when the gifted kid is vulnerable and just wants to make sure he never feels this way again. A forgiving reprimand about better choices can make a big impact.

     We as teachers and parents cannot be afraid of the pain of choices. We must let our children understand why a choice is good or bad. Sometimes this requires that we let our kid do risky things… like travel out of state with his principal and his PE teacher to look at colleges in a big city. There are so many things we do daily that public schools would deem too risky. The “risk” of which they speak is the risk of a lawsuit. Who knows? We might get sued in the long run, but for now, the risks we’re asking our kids and their parents to choose to take have been nothing but beneficial. After all, isn’t that the point of private school: choice?


            Choices are something Americans seem to take for granted.  We grow up believing that by being a citizen of these United States, we have freedom of choice guaranteed by our Constitution.  In some ways, that belief is correct.  However, we do not have freedom of choice when it comes to harming others to satisfy our own desires.  I really had this thought driven home to me this past week as I spent our fall break from school in Branson, Missouri.

            People are still talking about the tragedy that occurred on Tablerock Lake, when a hurricane force wind came up suddenly and caused the sinking of an amphibious vehicle called a duck, thus taking the lives of many of the forty passengers aboard. One family lost eleven members in that accident.  The news coverage notes that the company chose to do the lake tour first in spite of the weather warnings and postpone the land tour until afterwards.  There is a lawsuit now because the tickets were refundable if the water tour wasn’t completed.  So, it seems the change in tours was to protect the profit of the company.  Since the driver of the vehicle also drowned, no one can ask him if he had a choice in the matter.

            I’ve always taken choices as a very serious matter.  Perhaps that is because my father, a long distance truck driver for over seventy years, constantly made me aware of the dangers that lurked in the everyday world of driving: avoiding road hazards; passing trucks quickly to avoid possible rupture of truck tire retreads hitting my vehicle; keeping speed up after passing a truck so the trucker didn’t have to shift down as his truck gained speed going downhill; and avoiding drunk drivers.  With all these things drilled into my mind, I try to stay alert and to make safe choices when I drive.

            Yet, daily choices don’t seem nearly so startling as the two paragraphs above have shown.  Most of our choices seem insignificant in comparison.  I saw a billboard while traveling that said simply one sentence: “Two days absence per month = failure in reading.”  I get the point the sign is trying to make; however, I would have to do a lot of investigation to verify the fact.

            We certainly want to make correct and wise choices.  That is one of the primary lessons I try to teach my students.  Each day begins with us making a choice as to what kind of day we will have: good or bad.  We can’t prevent bad things happening to good people, but we can choose how we handle all things that come our way.  My husband always taught his clients to “reframe” situations in a positive manner.  I have learned to do this…although I am not successful one hundred percent of the time.  But I have improved with age!

            My daughter Michelle has helped me over the years by having extraordinary faith in God to provide in times of need.  She’d always say, “I wonder how God will help me in this matter.”  God has always provided for and rewarded her faith in Him.  I still have a small tendency to try to help God solve the problem…but I’m getting better at waiting upon the Lord.

            The statistics of assaults upon teachers by students in the U.S. is astounding!  Walter Williams has once again provided some of the statistics in his editorial last week.  Many teachers have quit their jobs rather than put up with the abuse.  I wonder what will happen when good teachers are no longer available to teach.  Our own state is suffering from acute teacher shortages.  We see teachers making a choice to leave their chosen profession…will students make a choice to change classroom behaviors?  I fear the crisis will become even greater in the coming years.

            The families in our school have made choices to send their children to our private school.  Many have made great sacrifices.  My staff and I made the choice of working for salaries below the state mandated salaries of public school teachers because we prefer to work in a positive and safe environment.  We do all this so that kids can have more choices in their futures.

-        Kay