I got my 2012-2013 school year off to a wonderful start yesterday with a standing ovation after my staff development workshop for a great school district in Antigo, Wisconsin; so I guess they liked my presentation!
If you do not know where Antigo is, it is a nice little community of about 8,000 people in central Wisconsin located about a half hour north and east of Wausau. Everyone knows where Wausau is, right?
Geographically, they are a pretty large district where middle and high school students could live in homes as far as fifty miles apart! So, busing is a major issue for a district with about twenty-three hundred K-12 students. I spoke with their entire staff of about four hundred people. And there was only one Green Bay Packer uniform in the bunch!
I had fun teasing teachers about things like the physical education teachers not having a real job because all they do is play to getting a kindergarten teacher to stop giggling. I communicated several times before my visit with their Human Resources Director, Sarah Zelazoski about their specific objectives for my workshop and put together a fouteen-page handout together to meet those objectives. She told me afterwards my presentation was just what they needed. In fact, she said one teacher told her it was exactly what he needed to get him excited about the upcoming year!
Sarah also told me several teachers were already commenting on arranging to have me come back and spend a day with their secondary students! I love hearing stories like that.
My attendant, Kelly, and I got to eat a great lunch at Dixie's, a cool, little cafe which are my favorite eating places when I visit small towns. While we were there, a woman I met back in the middle nineties at the Wisconsin Teen Leadership Program (WTLP) came down for a quick visit before she went to pick up her seven-year-old son to bring him to my afternoon session for their athletes, coaches and several members of the community.
Please do not get me wrong, I loved my day with the staff in the morning, and teasing several football players in my afternoon session. We did a lot of laughing and hope they learned some things. I was in my element and feeding off the energy of my audience, like I always do; but the highlight of my trip was seeing my friend and getting to catch up a bit, Mary Meister, and meeting her son, Jacob! He was all excited because immediately after my presentation they were headed for his very first Packer game! Mary said he told her he would start to read his new, autographed book to his uncles and mom on their way to the game. That was cool!
Let me tell you why Mary made my day. The year after she attended WTLP as a participant, she came back as a counselor and did so for several years. At the same time, another Antigo student, Tara Wagner, was also attending our leadership program. We had great conversations at each camp and became great friends with these two wonderful young leaders.
We became such good friends, they both invited me to their weddings! An interesting note on that is, I was the only adult from those programs they invited. We formed a connection.
I love making or having longtime friends, not seeing them for a while and then when given the opportunity, reconnecting and picking up where we left off. That happened with Mary yesterday. We could have talked all afternoon.
After a two hundred forty mile drive home, I had a confirmation email for another school in Edgerton, Minnesota, where we lived from 1963 to 1966. I am going to visit the school, and the local paper is writing about my Edgerton history, memories and specifics about our time there. It will be published September fifth and have been given permission to put it in the Articles page on my website. I have read a draft and it promises to be a good article.
Yesterday was a Red Letter Day!
I look forward to your comments.