Blazing Trails

I must admit that I copied most of this post from Raye Light’s commentary in the UTTIA Longview parent newsletter, but it is worth repeating: What’s happening at the Innovation Academy is, as far as I can tell, the right direction for our children’s future.

It has been frustrating to hear of, and experience, the ongoing communication challenges between the school and parents, and between the parents themselves. But I too feel defensive for this school which has changed, and is changing, my youngest child’s life. He loves school now, at least as much as any 11 year old boy can.

Anytime something is changed or something is done differently, there are going to be obstacles to overcome in the process. OUR school is different from any other school out there and we are bound to have challenges as WE break new ground together. For all the problems, I can still say that the communication I get from and with OUR teachers and staff is far greater than that which I get from my other children’s school. No other school we’ve been involved with has ever been as open and communicative as UTTIA.

Encountering rocks and branches on a new trail is part of the adventure of hiking. If I wanted a wide flat paved road, I would not have my son at this school. After all, life does not seem to be a wide flat paved road. Preparing my children for life is my responsibility as a parent. I appreciate the partnership and support of this school in that preparation (education).

This is exactly what our students need to learn. Our students are excited and engaged by the opportunity to learn something new and solve problems. Why aren’t we? Are we too busy? Is it possible we are too old? Have we grown complacent and satisfied with what we already know? Is patience no longer a virtue? Or do we not take into consideration that we as parents, students, teachers, staff, community are venturing into the unknown together? We are PIONEERS! Instead of getting aggravated, groaning, or complaining, I challenge you to learn something new, problem solve, encourage, and support our school, students, and other parents through the “pains” of blazing a new trail to the future of our children and the future of education everywhere!


Mark my Words

Today’s young adults need a skill set that is different from that needed when public schools in America were being founded.  Our next generation will, for the most part, not work on the farm or in the factory.  The traditional hierarchy of organizations has shifted to a flatter structure.  Less supervision, more autonomy, more collaboration, and less predictability mean that today’s students (tomorrow’s workers) will need to be independent problem-solvers in order to succeed at their jobs.

These changes mean that the traditional concept of “job” is changing.  Flexible work assignments and less dependence on formal job descriptions mean that the tasks you perform one day may be very different from the tasks you perform the next.  I have certainly experienced this in my career.  Employees are also  increasingly responsible for developing their own skills, because many companies provide less workplace training.  Today, they will often hire or sub-contract for the talent and skills needed for a particular project or task.

Isn’t the role of a parent to prepare their children to be a self-sufficient productive citizen and to take on a valuable role in society?  Project Based Learning (PBL) is a great way of providing these skills early in life.  UTTIA’s focus on this model of education is unique and exciting.  These students will be well prepared for their future.  I’m convinced that when the first class finishes their high school education, employers are going to be competing with universities to recruit them.  2019 is going to be a very interesting year.  You can “mark my words” on that.


I’ve come to realize in the last decade or so that everyone has trouble in their life.

Some people wear their trouble on their sleeve for all to see.  You probably don’t have too many people like this in your life.  Unless they are a close blood relation, you have probably protectively distanced yourself from them.  Who want’s trouble?  You have enough of your own. Continue reading


Knowledge is one thing, but being able to apply what you know to everyday life challenges is a better definition of being literate in a subject.  This is why standardized testing is such a poor indicator of how well our educational system is working.  More than knowing how to read a book or complete a math worksheet, being literate in reading and math could mean being able to understand a technical manual, or adjust a recipe to feed the whole scout troop. Continue reading

I’m pretty new to this whole blogging thing, but I just found this article from a kindred spirit whom I’ve never even met. It says a lot of things I agree with, like the importance of being prepared to take care of your family for a few days on your own, and the joy of getting out on the trail to enjoy nature and refocus your priorities.

Enjoy the read.

It's Not My Emergency

“Ditch The Kit”.  For years, disaster prepper companies have hawked kits designed to help you “prepare” to survive for three days or more after a disaster.  For the past twenty years, I’ve looked on in amusement at the ads selling peace of mind in a bag.  The recent fallout from Superstorm Sandy, along with the announced demise of the Twinkies,  got my bloggin’ juices flowing, especially as it relates to disaster preparation and response efforts. The notion of disaster prep “in a bag” needs to go the route of the old civil defense preparedness mantra “Duck and Cover”.

Up here in the Pacific Northwest, we have our share of weather events; floods, high winds and winter storms on an annual basis…and oh yeah, the rare earthquake or volcanic eruption.  Now, I’ve lived up here for over 40 years, and as an emergency response professional was responsible for trying to…

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Guys don’t take hints.

If you want something, use your words.


Did your mother tell you?  I’m sure she did.  “Always wear clean underwear when you go out, in case you’re in an accident and have to go to the hospital.”  She may have been right sometimes, but not about this.  Not that there is anything wrong with clean underwear, don’t get me wrong.  But if you’re hurt badly enough in an accident that your pants are coming off, your underwear will fall to the shears as well, and you’ll have other things to worry about.

Here’s my update on the whole issue:   “Always go to bed in clean dry socks and underwear.”

  1. You’ll sleep much better,
  2. You won’t have to worry as much about slipping into your cold boots for that middle of the night sprint to the kybo,
  3. You won’t have to put on cold underwear in the morning.