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Have you ever heard the story about the butterfly effect?  I am not going to explain it perfectly, but ultimately the story describes how a light flap of a beautiful butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can make weather patterns shift and change enough to cause a catastrophic weather event on the other side of the world.  One small action can lead to a great world changing event.   

I thought about this a lot this week as I watched several events unfold on both a personal and professional level.  Ultimately what I came to realize is that as a parent, a teacher, a coach, or as a mentor, every action we take and every word we say can change a child’s or student’s course on their path of life.

As an education major I was asked to write my philosophy of education, edit it, and perfect it until it became the foreword to the book of my teaching career.   I can tell you clearly that I always started my educational philosophy by telling the story of my middle school years.  In elementary school, I was a below average learner.  I received extra support in reading and was always in the low reading group.  I knew this to be a fact-  I wasn’t smart.  That is until my 8th grade year.  I remember clearly sitting in the school desk, you know, the one where the table is connected to the chair.  Yep, that one.  The one with the basket under the chair.  The teacher was handing back papers to the students and there it was a big red D- right on the top of my paper.   I knew the teacher hadn't really expected me to do any better.  Remember, I wasn't smart.  Or was I?   I vividly recall the self-talk I did right at the moment, “Nicole, you know, you are just as smart as all of your friends.  You know that you could perform exactly how they do in school.  You could earn A’s.  It's about time you prove to these teachers that you are smart!” 

And, on that day, I changed.  On that day, I made the decision to change my course.  See, up to that point I was living by what some people call the self-fulfilling prophecy.  In education, it is when a student performs to the expectations of their teacher.  If a teacher believes a student is a high performer, they are likely to teach them as such and therefore, the student excels at high levels.  The opposite is true on the other end of the spectrum.  If a teacher knows a student to be a low-level learner they teach them as such, and hence the results are not great.  I decided at the moment in 8th grade I WAS NOT going to be a product of the self-fulfilling prophecy.  Of course, at that time I didn’t know there was a name for it. I just knew I wanted to prove the teachers wrong.  (Proving the teachers wrong was kind of a middle school brain thing.)

But, you see, not very many students understand this about themselves, can think this deeply about their abilities, even care enough to prove their teachers wrong, and definitely don’t know how to use self-talk.  Most young people just come to be what their parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors expect them to be.

So, join the self-fulfilling prophecy with the butterfly effect and hence EVERYTHING we do-  our words and our actions, impact the path that our children and our students are on.  A smile and a good morning to the shy girl in the back the room could let her feel noticed for the first time this week.  She then smiles in the hallway and is noticed by another teacher who calls her out by name to say “That smile looks good on you!”  Imagine how those simple actions (flaps of the wing) change the course for that young lady for the rest of the day and perhaps the rest of the week.  Unfortunately, I did say that sometimes a butterfly flapping its wings can cause catastrophic events, so when a coach calls out a player in front of the rest of the team with a sarcastic comment such as “You’re too dense to ever get what I am saying, just forget it” the path could take a devastating turn for that young player.  I like the positive effect better so let's go there again.  Picture this: a young person not overly socially accepted, gets a visit by one of the favorite teachers in the building at lunch time.  The teacher sits and converses with the student for a few minutes while lots of other students look on curiously.  As the teacher leaves the lunchroom, those around the table hear the teacher say, “I am looking forward to seeing you in class this afternoon.”  Today’s path is looking quite clear and sunny for that young person.      

This puts a lot of pressure on us as parents, educators, coaches, and mentors.  We are not always going to get it right.   We aren’t always going to notice the quiet girl in the back of the classroom and we are going to call kids out unprofessionally at times by mistake but, most importantly, we must ALWAYS remember that what we believe about our kiddos they will manifest and every small action we make or word we say impacts their course of life.  This makes the jobs we do matter and matter every single day, in every single way.  Every belief we have, every word we say, and every action we take muddies or clears the life path for the young people in our life.  I believe you’ve got this, sweet butterfly!  

"In a world where you can be anything, be kind."
Mrs. H 

Posted by nherdrich  On Sep 10, 2018 at 9:53 AM

Hello.  Good evening and welcome again to Central Lee High School and the Annual FFA banquet.  After speaking with Mr. Boeck this morning, we believe this to be the 32nd annual FFA Banquet.  Actually, Mr. Boeck does remember that first annual banquet.  It was held in Donnellson at the FFA building and he also mentioned that Lee Fraise, the father of Luke Fraise, a current member of FFA, was the president at the time, and a very good one at that. 

This is exactly a piece of evidence to support what I have been thinking about sharing with you.

I was very honored when Remy Wellman the current FFA president asked if I would like to do a welcome because one of the things I am most proud of here at Central Lee High School is our strong, successful agriculture and FFA program.  Whenever someone unfamiliar with our building comes to tour or visit, I am always sure to walk them through our ag classrooms, introduce them to our outstanding ag teachers, and boast on the projects being completed in the ag shop.

My first or second year as the high school principal, I was able to attend the state FFA convention in Ames.  I was invited as the principal for a student receiving a special honor related to their Iowa Degree.  As I sat in the audience and walked on the stage with the family, the student, and the teachers, it dawned on me the impact of FFA and wideness of the scope taught and mastered through the curriculum.  I was amazed at the sure grandness of the program, the professionalism of the program leaders, which was led by students, and presentation skills being demonstrated by these young people.  It emulated leadership.  I saw students living the FFA motto "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve” and hence, the results of a program that has an overall purpose to grow great people.

And this is exactly what I see on so many levels here at Central Lee-   learning by doing and leading.  This is how my teacher brain sees it:  Through the content of agriculture, a topic that impacts all of us indirectly or directly, on a daily basis, our students learn and practice skills that put them on a path of personal growth and future career success if they allow it.

Yes, the content is agriculture… and some would say, “what does that have to do with me, I don’t live on a farm?”  True, but agriculture from early times has played a significant role in forming and contributing largely to society, and continues to rank as one of our nation’s most important core values.  National Ag Day was celebrated on March 18th and the foundation reminded people

“that every American should:

Understand how food, fiber and renewable products are produced.

Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.

Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries."


This is the content our students are learning in our ag programs-  all students, both those who live on a farm and those who don’t.  And, while they are learning this foundational knowledge they are also gaining valuable processes, skills, and tools for personal and professional success-  teamwork, commitment, integrity, work ethic, speaking, writing, listening, presenting, not to mention how to arch and mig welding, run a combine to harvest the test plot, plan, organize and serve breakfast to nearly 300 community members, and lead the most efficient student organization meetings I have ever observed.   And, these are only a few of the many skills our students are learning to do, and doing to learn.

I firmly believe that Central Lee’s agriculture program and FFA organization is an exemplary program for all programs to look to-  one that could be used as model for both academic or career ed classes alike.  It reaches and teaches our young people exactly what we need to meet our goal of growing great adults.

But, I have often said, a program isn’t the end all be all.  It takes dedicated and skilled teachers to implement it, and I believe this is yet another piece of Central Lee’s success.  Mr. Boeck and Mr. Koller, have the perfect amount of passion for both their content area and young people, combined with outstanding skills in agriculture and teaching, that produce the amount of FFA members you see here tonight.  Both being FFA members of their high school chapter-  you are seeing the results first hand of FFA in the leadership demonstrated by both Mr. Boeck and Mr. Koller.  In fact, I bet there are many results of the FFA program out there in in our community-  those like, Lee Fraise, the first president to run an annual banquet.

And, back to where we began, the annual FFA banquet.  Thank you to the members and sponsors-  Mr. Boeck and Mr. Koller for this evening and for all of the work you do across the school year.  The community of Central Lee is better because of the good people you are, and the good people you are growing. 
Posted by nherdrich  On May 15, 2018 at 9:41 AM

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I became a principal, I made a commitment to recognizing the hard work and efforts of teachers because even for the short nine years I was in the classroom, I knew all too well that in education, complaints are many and compliments were few.   Teacher Appreciation Week is one of those perfect times for me to make sure I recognize the professionals that work every day to educate our young people.  I do use the word professional because I have never met a teacher who doesn't want to be the best educator he or she can be, or one who comes to school lacking the desire to do their best.  Just like with all humans, best doesn’t mean perfect.  Perfect is especially difficult when you are working with people who belong to people.  That makes for a lot of perspective, doesn’t it?   Doubled by the fact that teaching today doesn’t just mean teaching.  It means-  providing safety, ensuring nutrition, tracking physical activity, role playing social skills, developing soft skills, counseling and consoling, peer mediating, not to mention the main goal of educating and academics!  Yeah… all that!?!  All that sounds a lot like the job of being a parent, huh?  Yep, being a teacher is a lot like being a mom or a dad.   We even accidently get called Mom or Dad on occasion by our students.  And, the funny thing, Teacher Appreciation Week ended with Mother’s Day.  Another special day that recognizes a very, most important job-  being a mom.  In fact, (another important Pinterest fact!) according to Jim Trelease, a child spends 7800 hours at home and only 900 hours at school during the school year.  This speaks loudly to me.  Being a mom is the most important job I have!  My passion, like many of the teachers I teach with, is education and helping to grow young people.  What I can’t forget though is that I must also fully commit to another most important job I have, being a mom.  So take a minute today to thank a few people who may not be perfect, but work to their best every day to grow good people-  teachers and moms!   

"In a world where you can be anything, be kind."
Mrs. Herdrich

Posted by nherdrich  On May 15, 2018 at 9:27 AM

You may not know this yet, but I am a Pinterest junkie, especially when it comes to quotes, sayings, and of course education related stuff.  I could reference a couple of quotes today actually, like-  “Educators don’t need the weather forecast because they can gauge the weather based on the actions of students” or “Don’t judge me until you have walked in my shoes.”  Why these two, you ask?  Well, for starters, spring is in full bloom both outside and inside the high school. 

Yesterday, a few of our seniors decided a funny was completely needed.  It might have been funny but I am the Principal so I am expected not to laugh.  I was frustrated though.  It’s too early… it is May 1st for goodness sakes!  We still have three weeks of learning time, and learn we must!  I get that they are seniors and they want to have fun, but I also know that when you give a teenager an inch they push a mile.  Welcome Tuesday’s conundrum…  laugh it off or throw the book at them? 

What do I want to do?  I really don’t know.  Okay, so, how do I feel?  FRUSTRATED.  I love these seniors.  They are funny, smart, sweet, charming, and really pretty darn good young people.  But, and I say but, are these things enough to let them walk away from a fairly significant senior prank that 300 other students saw mind you, scot-free?  If I do nothing, I will surely have staff upset, as well as people of the community, who will say this is just another piece of evidence that I am too soft. 

   So, what to do?  Time to walk on the balance beam of principalship (or life) and in the end probably make everyone a little unhappy.  First, and always first, consider what is best for the students.  In this case, they do need to learn that their actions impact others, not everything they do is funny, and that causing disruptions in the learning day can’t be allowed, all the while not letting this seem like the end of the world, because it’s not.  Second, call the parents and ask for help.  Getting parent input on what I should do communicates to the parents that I am on their child’s side and that ultimately, I like their student, just not their behavior choice.  And, third, make the consequence something meaningful that makes up for their bad choice.  With this case, they could do something nice for the school to compensate for their smelly disruption.

Hence, comes the second quote, “Don’t judge me until you have walked in my shoes.”  I wish every time I make a decision I had an opportunity to explain my thinking and my process but unfortunately, I don’t, so I need the audience to trust me and know that I ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a reason for my decisions.  And, lastly, more than anything, I know I am far from perfect.  I am learning and growing just like everyone else.  If I make a bad decision and recognize it quickly, I am not beyond apologizing and I will store it away for reference the next time a similar issue arises because after all the “best learning comes from making a mistake.”  You can find the quote on Pinterest, too!          

Posted by nherdrich  On May 02, 2018 at 2:33 PM

It’s Friday morning, the morning of the eve of Prom 2018.  I just took a stroll through the high school gym that will be by Saturday evening, turned into a glitzy, sparkly, elegant dance hall where miles of lights and glitter balls cast the perfect glow for a night most of us still remember when we were teenagers.  Oh, to be young again!  I don’t have a great memory but I do remember prom and postprom.  It’s one of those rights of passage from teenager to young adult.  You can just feel the excitement in the air, and even as an adult I can’t help but get excited.  But, I do get nervous also of course.  My students become like my kids.  (See, I even use the word my to describe them.)  And, just like with my own kids, I want them to make smart choices, good choices, the right choices. The season of prom and graduation does bring excitement and with excitement, young people often forget about consequences of taking risks.  To young people, taking risks makes it all the more exciting.  As the adults in these young people’s lives, we have to be sure to continue to draw the line and hold them to making responsible choices.  I even have to catch myself when I say, kids will be kids.  Yes, they will be, but they also need to understand there are expectations, and it’s my job as their role model to make those expectations clear and to enforce them.  The last thing I want is for my lack of expectations to lead to a teenager taking a risk that harms himself/herself or others.  Something such as this, would quickly turn excitement into sadness and disbelief.  With that, we are going to have ourselves some real fun at prom and post prom 2018, safe fun that is, and make our way safely into the graduation season.  Thank you parents for your love, your support, and for holding your wonderful children to clear expectations.     

"In a world where you can be anything, be kind."
Mrs. Herdrich

Posted by nherdrich  On Apr 27, 2018 at 9:55 AM 34 Comments

Reminder everyone:  Tomorrow, April 24, 2018 is a very important day-  it’s Administrator Assistant's Day, or more simply put, a very special day to say "THANK YOU" aloud to those secretaries who help your work life run a little smoother.

I am one of the fortunate ones to have three wonderful ladies who help me keep the high school and the 350 plus students and staff all moving in the same direction.  I could talk about teamwork and how important secretaries are to an efficient and effective team or I could write about the fact that good secretaries, like mine, know my strengths, but better yet my weaknesses and know what I am going to need before I even need it!  But, I think I am actually going to speak to the importance of positive recognition, heartfelt gratitude, or even the importance of a genuine thank you.

You know how you learn something from every person who comes into your life?  Well, I waitressed for years and every Friday night after I would count my box and get ready to clock out, my manager would always, always say, “Thank you!” as I made my way out the door at the end of my shift.  That has stuck with some 15 years later, especially now as a manager.  He didn’t have to say thank you to me, after all, I was being paid for my work and I needed my work as much as he needed me.  That’s it though, he didn’t need to say “Thank you!” but he did because he genuinely appreciated the work I did as member of his team.  It is kind of amazing how two simple words made me feel important and like I mattered.

And, ultimately, that’s what everyone wants, to be important or to matter.  I say it all the time to students that I counsel, everyone from the most “popular” students to even the crankiest of teachers, each and every one of us, just wants to matter, know that we are appreciated, and important to the world.  That is why days like Secretary’s Day are crucial.  They make us take a minute to pause, reflect, and genuinely recognize some of the people that are very important to us.  Maybe we should make every day a Secretary’s Day of sorts….  After all, it sure feels nice to matter!

Thank you Kelsey, Mandi, and Tina for your time and talents.  I am so glad we are on the same team at Central Lee High School.     

Posted by nherdrich  On Apr 24, 2018 at 11:47 AM

Happy Friday!

I will probably say this more than one time… in fact, I might say it every week!  Where in the world does time go?  This week has flown by, only to leave me pretty much everything I had on my to do list at the beginning of the week, still there to complete next week.  That just seems to be how it goes. 

As I reflect back over the week, communication seemed to be a big topic this week.  I spent a portion of one morning trying to work through an issue between a student and a teacher.   (Long gone are the days when I can simply say, “Because the teacher said so” as a fix to the problem.) 

The student asked me, “Okay then, what’s the difference between discussing and arguing?”  I had to think fast, as I often do, to come up with the right answer.  (In my head, I am thinking, ahhh… no one ever taught me this!)  But, thank goodness, I thought fast and answered, “Well, there are three things that determine the difference between discussing and arguing-  1)  the topic, 2)  the tone, and 3)  the relationship between the people.   The student was hoping that because he had worked hard to control his voice tone and his body language, that it was a discussion and not arguing.  But, the fact of the matter is, his continual “buts…”  to a person who is in a leadership position over him does turn it into an argument.  I was pleased that he had heard me in previous conversations say that body language, tone, and word choice are a huge part of communication but, as we made clear in this conversation, there is so much more to it.  This is why communication can be so complicated, and more times than not, the real problem when an issue arises. 

True communication takes a listener and a speaker.  In fact, I always say there are three sides to every story-  person 1, person 2 and the truth.  That's because in communication we can’t forget about perspective.  Everyone has one and brings it to the conversation.  To be a good listener, we have to understand the speaker’s perspective.  No, I didn’t say, agree with, I said understand their point of view.  And, these things won’t matter if we don’t do our best deliver our communication with the right tone, the right body language, and the right word choice because the first thing the listener will notice is our delivery, even before our message.

Improved communication-  something that is ALWAYS on my personal and professional to do list because it matters to relationships!

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Mrs. Herdrich  

Posted by nherdrich  On Apr 20, 2018 at 10:32 AM

Hello Central Lee Community!

I am so excited to get started discussing and sharing about education and what's happening at Central Lee High School with you on a regular basis.  This is something I have wanted to do for a long time but just hadn't made it a priority until now.  What I have learned in my short 41 years of life is that communication is essential to great relationships and that is what I want for you and Central Lee, a great relationship that equals success for our students!

Speaking of success, I recently read an article parents of high schoolers or soon to be high schoolers need to read.  In the article, Tim Elmore summarizes research about the five most important predictors of school and post school success.  Knowing what young adults need to develop can help us work together- school, parents, and community, towards graduating success.

The Five Greatest Predictors of Student Success - Tim Elmore

Happy reading!   


Posted by nherdrich  On Apr 13, 2018 at 9:58 AM
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