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

Digital Diversity is a MUST

Last month I had a major failure.  I published a blog of “10 Great Stars to Follow in the Twitterverse.”  Within one hour, I was flooded with angry questions and comments of “Where are the Women?”

After all, the blog consisted of 10 white males (all amazing leaders though).  And after processing and reflecting, I couldn’t believe myself.   As a Principal and Educator that preaches Culturally Responsive Practices of perhaps the most diverse high school in the State of Ohio, my Twitter list failed to have Digital Diversity.

So, I began reflecting on the cultural shift to Social Media.  DIGITAL DIVERSITY is a MUST.

A series of reflective questions immediately flooded my conscience:

  • Do I follow enough women, men, people of color and those from different classes in our society?
  • Do I follow people on Twitter that ONLY validate and support my ideas? Or, do I intentionally follow people that challenge, contradict and bring alternative perspectives to my digital feed?
  • Do I follow the ‘little guy’ from the small business or tiny school district, or only seek out digital leaders with thousands?
  • Do I fear following people with opposing or different viewpoints and ideas?

Lesson Learned:

While many of us cannot change or control the diversity that surrounds us on a daily basis, we can use the internet to circumvent the obstacles of geography, class, color, religion and more.

No longer can we as educators claim we “did not know,” — as it is our responsibility to explore and embrace a digital world that is more diverse than we could ever imagine and wish for.

Whether your digital network, or the people you surround yourself with daily, you must have diversity in your life. Challenge yourself to learn and grow from others not in your regular social circle.  Hear their perspectives and try to see what they see.

Be Reflective and Seek out Digital Diversity – IT is a MUST.

William T. Sprankles III

District Principal, 6-12

Princeton City Schools

10 Great Stars to Follow in the Twitterverse…

For those of you new to Twitter – or if you are wishing to get more Value and Diversity from the Leaders you follow – begin by seeking out these 10 Stars in the Twitterverse.

In no particular order, the below 1o educators are great leaders to follow on Twitter for the following reasons:

  • They are always active, but never overwhelming on your twitter feed.
  • They will challenge you to Think and Reflect – and push you to grow professionally
  • They will provide resources and guidance
  • They focus on Technology and Best Educational Practices
  • They are all Unique, Practical and provide Authentic Leadership

For your convenience – all 10 profiles below are hyper-linked directly to their Twitter Accounts.


Written by:

William T. Sprankles III – @PHSViking

Princeton City Schools, 6-12 Principal



Bonus Star in the Twitterverse: John C Maxwell – Leader of Leaders…


By William T. Sprankles III

Princeton, 6-12 Principal

Redefining What Educators Must BE…

Every industry or culture has a critical time when the organization, the people, the process or the product must be redefined in order to be successful.  And now is the time for Educators to Redefine What We Must BE…

Be A Chemist and Synthesize:  The educational paradigm is evolving more broadly and rapidly than ever before – with new legislation, reform measures, contract negotiations, budget cuts, changes to No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, linkage, value added, common core and new assessments – the list goes on and on.  Educators must have the ability and professional commitment to research and keep ourselves informed. More importantly, we must have the skills to “sift” through so much information and combine the right elements into a single entity in our classrooms – understanding how our kids are directly impacted!  Essentially, we all have to be Chemists in such a day and age of change and evolution.


Be a War Strategist and Embrace Technology:  If most schools and classrooms don’t change, there is going to be an educational revolution led by students.  It is going to be over technology, weapons are going to be social media platforms and the battlefield is going to be in classrooms; choose carefully which side you will be on. If the only thing you do with technology is check your email and present some basic concepts on a Smartboard or PowerPoint – not only are you behind the ball, you are harming your students.  If you continue to struggle with classroom management because students are Texting, Instagraming and Tweeting – then begin rethinking your degree of engagement and pedagogy. One goal of the 21st Century is to prepare students as digital citizens – and if the only place they are getting exposure and guidance is outside of the classroom by external forces – then we have failed our mission.  If you don’t know about popular social media sites – then be a learning facilitator and ask your students for their input and creativity. Create a Twitter account for your classes, Use Instagram to celebrate top performing assignments, Develop a Pinterest Board for Project Based Learning – and push yourself to Get Connected!


Be a Comedian and Use Humor: Whether you are the one making others laugh, or doing the laughing – you must be able to find humor in your mission as an educator.  One, it is healthy for the organizational culture of your school and individual classroom.  Two, it is healthy for your personal soul.  Being an educator is not a job or a career – it is a lifestyle, and very easy to get overwhelmed, stressed and burned out.  Often, the best remedy is maintaining a certain degree of humor.  Three – and most importantly, remember that kids have the most innate abilities to pick up on “vibes” from adults – and they immediately sense and know when we are angry and stressed, or focused and encouraged. Learn to Laugh.

Be an Architect and Understand Space and Design: Collaboration is such a key focus of the 21st Century, that if you are still teaching by standing in the front of the classroom with your students sitting in straight rows as the primary structure for delivering methodology – you are far behind the ball as a modern educator.  Sure, not everyone has flexible tables on wheels that breakdown and reshape like transformers – but how easy is it to assemble desks in clusters of three or four, perhaps a semi-circle or even a horseshoe. You can even take a field trip within your building or campus and use the shape of any physical space as a learning environment. Ultimately, collaboration should not be a special activity in your classroom culture that students get to do once every two weeks – it should be the norm. Challenge yourself to rethink how you are using furniture and space to strategically engage your students.

Be a Philosopher and Live In The Question:  Is it primarily due to mandates in testing that the craft of teaching has evolved into a culture of only asking questions where there is one specific answer?  As educators, have we lost the creativity and art of our profession? Are we are prohibiting innovation and limiting critical thinking in our schools and classrooms by not pushing students to live in the question?  Are we really empowering our students to challenge WHAT and WHY they are learning? During the first week of school we set the tone – and most educators present students with a syllabi, we tell them about our classes and our curriculum, and have students share something about themselves. If we changed this basic approach, would it send a different message and establish a redefined culture? What if we pushed each student to ask questions about themselves? What if students were encouraged to challenge the curriculum? What if during the first week of classes – we didn’t tell students anything?

By William T. Sprankles III

Princeton, 6-12 Principal

Special Shout-outs to the key leaders in my life that have pushed me to have a Breakthrough – and have challenged, encouraged and provided leadership – and ultimately, pushed the pendulum.

What Do You Expect?

Everyone who ever took a teaching methods course in college knows the movie.  It’s about a teacher who sets up her class based on brown eyes and blue eyes.  It’s supposed to teach the children about race and discrimination without needing any particular ethnic minority.  The theory is, you can discriminate on any visible characteristic.   The discrimination takes place because you transfer your prejudice (read pre-judging) by expecting certain behaviors based on what you see.  You may have learned it as the Pygmalion effect (from the great Greek story about a sculptor who fell in love with a female statue and by his wishes alone caused the statue to come to life).  At any rate, we see it every day in our class.  Because a student dresses a certain way, looks a certain way, acts a certain way, we “pre-judge” how they will behave; frequently thinking we can’t control what they do.

Now apply this to the Jeremy Lin story this week.  If you haven’t been following, it’s a great story of a man who overcame an entire professional sports leagues prejudice to become a phenomenon.  In the space of six games, he has broken records that were not touched by Jordan, Shaq, or Kobe.  He’s lit up the Twitterverse with his performance, and his grace under pressure.  Each game he seems to score more points, or do something totally unexpected.

So why is scoring over 20 points per game so unexpected?  Well, there’s the story.  You see, Jeremy is Asian.  He went to Harvard.  He was an Economics major and he graduated.  Do you know how many NBA stars have been Asian-American?  None.  Do you know how many NBA players come from Harvard?  Four.  So it’s not surprising that he almost didn’t make it to the NBA, based on what you would “expect”.  It’s not surprising to hear that he was cut from two teams and almost from the Knicks.  If he had been cut last week, it would have been “expectancy confirmed”.  Everyone “knows” Asian Americans are not NBA stars (especially when they graduate from Harvard!).  Everyone knew that except, perhaps, Jeremy Lin.  He just kept playing, waiting for his chance for someone to see his ability, his grace under pressure (How about that 3 point shot in Toronto with .5 seconds to go?).  And when given a chance, he exploded.

So my question to you as a classroom teacher is, What do you Expect in your class?  Who can you call today, off your bench, and turn into a phenomenon?  Research (and real life) tells us the number 1 variable in student achievement is you, the classroom teacher.  Look around your class today.  Create your own Lin-sanity!

By Tim Dugan

Princeton City Schools

School Improvement & Tech Director, Educator, Innovator