I had a teacher in high school who I, and seemingly everybody else, greatly admired. He was fun and made lessons exciting, and it seemed like he loved being an educator. He was a geography teacher, so that is really saying something. We became Facebook friends after I graduated, and little did I know (or really care at the time) that he was wildly active in politics. I am connected with him on Facebook, and I have found that he is so far left, he makes Bernie Sanders look like a moderate. Again, not a problem. He is a good person, and he likely always will be. But there was one day during the George Floyd fiasco that he went on a social media rampage about all the hot topics – Black Lives Matter, abortion, immigration, the coronavirus pandemic, LGBTQ issues, and so on.

So, the definitive workings of our school district will be guided now by a recently chosen superintendent.  More than overseeing the district’s budget of public money, choosing and maintaining programs that affect the future lives of thousands of students, hiring and keeping on board excellent teachers, and the responsibility of hiring someone who will make major decisions which are at the core of the age-old question, “What did you learn in school today?” measures the risk taken by board members when a new leader is chosen. Traveling into adulthood in a K-12 system of learning doesn’t mean that no setbacks will arrive in one’s future, but it surely eases some of the hurdles spaced here and there along the way. 

P21 standards

As we continue to examine the standards to which we should teach, there are also standards for the use and integration of technology into our learning skills. These are commonly known as the Partnership for 21st Century Learning Standards, or P21 Standards. These standards consist of four broad areas known as the 4 Cs of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Utilizing technological resources should allow all of us, and in particular students, to take thinking to deeper levels. Gone are the days when we spend an inordinate amount of time looking through the appropriate book to find a certain set of foundational facts that will provide basic information about a topic. A quick internet search will likely provide this information to us.  Having this information will allow opportunities to better understand a topic based on verifiable, basic information and will also allow us the ability to think more critically about a topic. We need the will and interest to continue to critically think and continue to learn about a topic.

I have long laid the lion’s share of the blame on politicians and the media for creating a political environment that breeds division and outrage in return for profit and reelection. And although I have also pointed to consumers playing a larger role than is often cited for the profitability of clickbait articles and dishonest media, recent events make it seem like politicians and the media are simply playing the game the public wants them to play. And that is, of course, evil in and of itself – to knowingly forward or share a disingenuous position or article in the quest for a positive public image and/or profit.

Mining on my mind

When we were young admirers of Gene, Roy and/or Hopalong, the movie script often included strangers who rode into town asking the whereabouts of the lawmen and cowboys, our brave heroes. The answer was usually, “Out on the range.” They were probably hunting down bank robbers, cattle rustlers or someone who abandoned his family and left town with a pretty little barmaid. In Foley, we heard of people who were “up on the range,” the area where the iron mines provided jobs for a far reach of people, including men and boys from our locale, from outer Minnesota and from other states and thousands of incoming residents from Europe. 

Having core values

In his book, “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins examined companies that, according to a series of evaluative metrics, would be considered great companies and compared them against companies that, according to the same metrics, would be considered good companies. Among the elements possessed by great companies is they have a set of core values and adhere to those values with great discipline. Central to this concept is not what the core values are but that they have these values. Having core values during times of progress and relative ease will help keep the focus of the organization in the proper direction. 

As the editor of a community weekly newspaper, and having worked for another newspaper of similar size as a staff writer, I have covered the state, cities and townships, ranging from big to small. I have learned a lot about life in rural Minnesota – a demographic near and dear to my heart. Below are a few things I have observed throughout my time in the industry, from a generalized and area-specific perspective. Here is a non-comprehensive list:

A world of new days

After a while, giving space to what is real, we shy away from comments which are prefaced with “in the old days” or “in a more perfect world” or “in easier times.”  However, we exist in a world of new days; the world has been wrapped in centuries of imperfection and a general uneasiness lying at the core of human nature. 

During a lifetime, there are moments in time that shape and impact our lives. These moments can be a short-term occurrence or a long-term period of time. Regardless the length and intensity of the events, they can impact us in ways we might immediately recognize. Subsequently, there is a need to understand history and its impact on the individual as well as the collective who lived through the event. At the time, I didn’t understand why she did it, but over 30 years ago, I noticed my grandma Olga (my mother’s mother) taking paper plates out of the garbage, cleaning them off, and storing them in a plastic bag. She didn’t know I had seen her do this, and she seemed to wait until others were not present when she did it. Grandma Olga didn’t talk about it, didn’t make a deal out of it and seemed to be a secretive task. I didn’t understand why she would do such a thing, was wondering why she didn’t understand the purpose of paper plates and was cynical about why a person would do such a thing.

On identity

A poll released in February found that 7.2% of U.S. adults identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual in 2022, a new record high according to Statista, a company that synthesizes poll results.  Generation Z was included in the poll, and results showed that 19.7% of Gen Z (those born between 1997-2004) – nearly 1 in 5 – identify as LGBT. 

The wheels go 'round

In 1924, the Ford Motor Company boasted it had manufactured nearly 70% of the automobiles produced in the U.S.; two years later, General Motors Corporation’s Chevrolet had become a competitor. When the looming Great Depression became a reality, a few years later, both manufacturers of “horsepower minus the horse” were seriously harmed by the sudden poverty which spread rapidly throughout the world. 

Authentic leadership

Authentic leadership means the leader is being true to their own values as well as the values of the organization. In being true to themselves and the organization, there must be a strong alignment between what the leader values and what the organization values. In order to make this alignment a possibility, there must be a clear identification of the values of each and a clear communication of those values.

Minnesota snow masochists

Fellow Minnesotan: What are we thinking?  It is cold here, and it snows like this in April. And also, it sometimes snows in May – just ask everybody who I engaged in small talk with Sunday. They seem to remember a year when they were kids when it snowed 8 feet on a Sunday in mid-May, and they had to walk barefoot for 2 miles uphill to and from school.

That cold-hearted, discouraging, unfair attitude of grownups can often be summed up in four little words – “Laugh today; cry tomorrow” – a philosophy so easy to say and yet so hard to understand. 

Hindsight is 20/20

When making decisions where the end results are less predictable, there is a bit of uncertainty through the process that is taken into account and provides the opportunity to evaluate the results of the decision and to be able to move forward after review. 

Hard work

I agree with Foley Public Schools Superintendent Paul Neubauer’s column last week, in which he contended that difficult things are often avoided in today’s society. In my mind, that …

Through snow, mud and uncertainty, we crept into April, wondering if spring is just a myth, a promise not kept or maybe, especially this year, a new kind of winter: an offshoot with slightly longer …

Multitasking is a myth

In the past 20 years or so, the term multitasking has become a popular way to describe doing several tasks simultaneously. This has become somewhat of a legend as people take pride in their …

BEP intern spotlight: Ngango

Benton Economic Partnership Inc. is pleased to announce the onboarding of Johanna Isaro Ngango as an intern for the remainder of 2023. Isaro Ngango is an international student at St. Cloud State …

Traffic stop safety

There they are. The red and blue flashing lights illuminating your rear-view mirror confirm the vehicle behind you is a police car. Worse yet, when you pull over, the police car pulls over with you. Your stress level climbs as you reflect on your recent driving conduct, wondering what it was that caught the officer’s attention. 

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