10 Powerful Tweets from Week of 10/6 #Education #Innovation #Leadership

What Education can learn from The Harlem Shake

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 8.48.55 AMOver the past month, the video craze of “The Harlem Shake” by Bauuer has essentially done just that, shaken-up cyberspace via thousands of youtube videos being filmed in schools, offices, firetrucks, shopping malls, dentist offices and more.  If you can think of something crazy it pretty much happened –  from The University of Georgia Men’s Swim Team filming an underwater version, to Lebron James and The Miami Heat filming a locker room scene.

Students from all over the world participated; from middle school classrooms, to high school students in recreation centers, to multiple college-aged students in various settings – the participation level is at an all-time high.

Some powerful themes jumped out to me based on such a strong sweeping trend of this Harlem Shake craze:

1. Students love MUSIC.  The song “Harlem Shake” by Bauuer is energetic and brings people together for a comedic purpose.  Get your playlist together. Use music in your lesson plans, classroom culture, school settings and recreation centers as much as possible. Music is one of few universal languages and should be an integral part of the educational experience.

2. Students enjoy SURPRISES. Thirty-seconds into the song when the beat drops, everyone begins to dance crazily with a surprise prop or off-the-wall costume. This should be a reminder that students enjoy when principals, coaches, counselors and teachers switch things up, change the pace, and ultimately – deliver the unexpected.

3. All students want to PARTICIPATE – The sheer volume of students around the globe that wanted to make these videos and participate is ridiculous.  Use this to your advantage; let students work in teams to film, edit, produce and showcase their creativity for a different purpose – they will not let you down! Some students enjoy being the center of the video, while others are comfortable being in the back doing their own dance – but they all want to be included.

4. You Must Use SOCIAL MEDIA. Many students had already watched hundreds of these videos and recorded their own versions before many adults even realized what the video was.  We need to understand and respect the speed at which trends take life in the culture of our youth. In addition, we need to embrace the power of social media in our classrooms and schools to properly teach students how to share, research and interact globally.

5. Students simply want to have FUN. It’s easy for us as educators to get lost on the whirlwind of legislation reform, policies, standardized testing and new evaluation systems. I will be the first to admit that all of these changes often impact my attitude and interactions with others. We must remember that students are still kids and they deserve to have fun. And as adults, we need to make sure we never lose our own youthful spirits.

Here’s 5  simple ways to apply this article to your own setting:

  • Ask a student walking by in the hallway what’s playing in their ipod  and watch the expression on their face.  See where the conversation takes you…
  • Film a Harlem Shake video with your colleagues….perhaps at a staff meeting.
  • Think of a surprise for an individual, group or classroom of students that you can deliver to change things up. It can be small-scale or something huge.
  • Take 2 minutes to ask a few students how much fun they have recently been having at school or in classrooms and listen to their responses.
  • Finally, find a student that you know is not involved with anything at school – and simply invite them to participate in an activity, club or group.   The simple fact that you personally took the time to ask a student to get involved will change your relationship with that child.

Onward and Upward,

William T. Sprankles III

Princeton City School, 6-12 Principal


An Open Letter to All in Viking Nation

An Open Letter to All in Viking Nation:

I was reflecting on my drive home today about my school day, which ended with a staff meeting concerning the passing of a PHS student, and then our athletic signing.  I have to admit, learning the previous evening of another loss had me thinking from the standpoint of “not again.”  That was my thought as a couple of graduates texted me asking what were the details.  I could not provide any, but after seeing some postings on facebook, I had the sinking feeling of “here we go again.”  Then I caught myself and realized that each situation is different, for each family and each time we go through this.  I am not sure if there is a manual or an exact science to address grieving students, but I feel like each time is a first for me because it is always different.  But I feel I learn from each situation.

I did not know Keondre, but I do have his sister in class.  I did not get to see her today, so I will hope she attends class tomorrow but will understand if she prefers other areas/people for comfort.  Watching our 10th graders in my classes today just shows the resiliency of their class and all students in the Princeton district. Yes, my class kind of conducted “class as usual”,  but it was not usual. Young men and women were quiet, small tears running down their cheeks, heads down just staring into space involved in their own thoughts somewhere, but not one………and I mean not one, stopped doing their classwork.  It was amazing to watch and see this go on.  Answering questions, quietly working on their notes or problems.  It was totally humbling to me to watch this.  Today, despite the circumstances, the students pushed through.  Completely amazing.

At times I am asked why I teach, and I reply that it started early in my life for wanting “to teach and coach”.  I am also asked about how can I do it day after day after day?  I just say, “I dunno.  I just do my thing.”  I know throughout our high school and in every building of our district, all of the teachers “just do their thing.”  We may never know how deeply we really touch our student’s lives, but on a day when………young men and women were quiet, small tears running down their cheeks, heads down just staring into space involved in their own thoughts somewhere, but they did not stop working……..each one of us may see a small glimpse of the difference we make on them.  Or the difference they make on us.

Rest In Peace Keondre Patterson,

Hail to a Fallen Viking – 24/7 Princeton Pride.

Bob Fritz

PHS Math Teacher

CC Coach

Cast the First Stone

When you hear the phrase “Casting the First Stone,” what comes to mind? Perhaps a pastor, or minister, preaching to not be the first person to cast a stone. Or, maybe a parent lecturing to their child? No matter where you hear it from, it’s usually has a negative connotation, but why?

“Casting the First Stone” can be redefined into something that is not only positive, but also has the capacity to change the world. Casting the first stone is what separates the men from the boys, the strong from the weak, and the people that are referred to as the chosen few.

Casting the first stone is a mentality and attitude that develops leaders.  Leadership is a common term; perhaps an overly used word. But what does it really mean?  Leading is defined as taking the directing or principal part. On the other hand, anyone has the capacity to call them-self a leader and arrogantly step forward and demand control. However, that’s not truly being a leader. A leader goes beyond the vague definitions given from a dictionary.

A Leader is someone who:

  • Steps up to a task with humility
  • Chooses to defy adversity and not allow it to define them
  • Embraces diversity instead of letting prejudice cloud their judgment and actions
  • Choses the high road in life versus the road that seems most popular at the time
  • Takes on the burden of the weak and down trotted, not someone who defends the strong and ruthless

Within the culture of schools and education, a Leader:

  • Doesn’t have to be a person in a position of authority
  • Stands up for the kid getting bullied
  • Is the student that works harder than anyone else in school because they realize education is the only thing that will save them from the imperfect circumstances they were given in life
  • Is a teacher that demands excellence from all of their students because they see the potential in each of them and will invest the same amount of energy into everyone not based on race, gender, or ability level
  • Chooses to say yes to the life less popular and not to a life of partying, drugs, and alcohol
  • Could be a security guard that takes three seconds to pull a student aside and stop them from making a reckless and careless mistake

Those details and character traits are what separates leaders from the pack – as many are called but few are chosen. We all have the ability to be leaders and we cannot make the decision to be less than that.

We must cast the first stone and be better than we are now. Whether it is one person standing up to their group of friends or a teacher that comes to school an hour earlier to help a student who is struggling – cast the first stone.

Don’t be afraid to cast the first stone. Even the smallest stone thrown in a river still creates a ripple effect that will reach every inch of the water. The changes we start here could spark a revolution and shape this world into the change we wish to see. It all starts with you pushing yourself to be the leader you know you were meant to be.

Make the change and Cast the First Stone.

By Imani Roberson

Princeton High School – c/o 2014

Student Leader, Advocate and Viking – 24/7

What it Means to be a Vuck (Viking-Duck)

What it Means to be a Vuck (Viking-Duck)



Today, during senior college seminars, one of our sessions included a reference to a new school motto: “Be like a duck. Calm on the outside but paddling like the dickens underneath.” Dr. Crouse, the session leader, passed out rubber ducks to a few of us that were dressed in Viking gear; hence the Vuck.

As we learned, and as the saying tells us, being a duck consists of working ridiculously hard at something (or multiple things) and making it look easy. But what does it mean to be a Vuck? Sure we’re ducks who go to Princeton, and we have pride in our school, but even though all of us are Vikings, not all of us are (or can be) Vucks. Mr. Everett Lamar told us very simply today to “stop making excuses!” He reminded us that we must have a “by any means necessary” mentality, and throughout the day, we were told repeatedly that we had to be willing to do whatever it took to get to where we wanted to be. We watched the popular motivational video with the saying, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” A Vuck, I have determined, is a special sort of Viking who is the epitome of a person who is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals.

Princeton’s job, as a school, is to give us, as students, the tools it takes to be successful, and in four years, we are generally given that opportunity. Like Dora the Explorer, all the tools we need are in our backpack. The Vucks are the Princeton students who take advantage of said tools and through hard work and dedication achieve the success we heard about all day at school. They are the leaders of the school, and the people the rest of us Vikings want to follow after. People like 2012 alumnus Claudia Saunders are Vucks. Claudia was third in her class, won state championships in two different sports and is now running at Stanford University. She never let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something, and she is the Vuck I want to be like.

My message to students: Always strive to be a Vuck. My question to them: What is it going to take for you to become a Vuck? Start paddling. It’s worth it.


By Emily Roper

Princeton High School, c/o 2013

Scholar, Athlete, Mentor, Visionary, Ambassador, Friend, Daughter. Leader……Viking Duck