Friday, December 25, 2015

A Little Vacation Time

Standing by the fire after the sleigh ride.
Being the Headmaster of a small international school is a difficult task. There is a load of work to do -- discipline cases, organizing meetings, observing teachers, organizing events, writing recommendation letters for seniors, uploading transcripts for seniors, processing student visas, WASC accreditation work, and the list goes on and on. It is very easy to overwhelm yourself by not getting rest, but it is important to recharge your batteries because being completely exhausted doesn't help anybody (including yourself). This winter we decided to visit my family for the first time during the winter holiday. It is the first time in 14 years together. Aysem has never been with my family during the holidays before, so not only was this a chance to rest, it was also a chance for her to experience something new. It was also an opportunity for her to see a "normal" Christmas in Montana.

We stopped at the railroad tracks for a photo.
The highlight so far from the trip has definitely been our sleigh ride in Trego. The Cripple Creek Horse Ranch offers a sleigh ride plus dinner and the experience is simply amazing. We were lucky because my mother read about the sleigh ride in the Mountain Trader and booked the event for us while we were still on Saipan. The whole affair feels like something out of a movie or a novel. The stillness of the forest after a snowfall was beyond explanation. Two different herds of deer watched us as we rode along through the silence. Everything was covered in a blanket of white with only the sound of the bells on the horses as they trotted along following the trial in some areas and breaking trial in others.

The Cripple Creek Horse Ranch offers four sleigh rides a day. You can arrange a simple sleigh ride or a sleigh ride with dinner. The
The mountains looked blue in the snowy sunset.
owners of the ranch are incredibly nice people and helped to make the experience even more memorable for us. If you visit western Montana in the winter, this is one event you simple must experience. You will not regret the time and money you spend!

Spending time doing these type of activities and enjoying our family and friends in Montana is definitely recharging my batteries. By the time January 5 rolls around, I will be ready to start the second semester with all of its events -- NHS/NJHS Induction, WASC accreditation work, the Spring Musical, SAT10 testing, Graduation, and 8th Grade Promotion. This was the vacation I needed to get me through until June 2016.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hey Admin, Make a Real Connection!

International Thanksgiving Feast
Hey admin, if you want to really make a difference in the lives of your students and teachers, make a real connection with them. Students and teachers both need to know that you actually do care about them. It is difficult to get out from behind the desk sometimes, but walking around campus during lunch and having simple real discussions with students and teachers can work miracles. Especially for students or teachers who are struggling, knowing that you are seriously committed to them and what is important to them means the world. I was reminded of this fact once more during our Saipan International School International Thanksgiving Feast. The parents, students, and teachers enjoyed sharing their cultures with others the whole day. Every booth from each cultural group displayed their love for their culture, but also their openness to everyone else through sharing. It was a day filled with conversations and each one of them was important, even if they were simple. Each discussion demonstrated concern and care for someone. Those moments define administrators, because they allow people to see you as a real, genuine person. I have announced my departure from SIS at the end of the year, but it didn't change my willingness to engage in conversations with people about the school, the island, their children, their jobs, their lives. It was care they witnessed, and care they felt. It is genuine care that makes a difference in someones life, because they see that you are invested in their future. When someone else invests in your future, you feel compelled to invest in your own future as well. Real connections, real conversations, real care -- them make a difference.