I serve educators as the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.

I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Gold Medal winner Jim Craig, goalie from the 1980 USA Hockey Team. His message is one business, education and political leaders should hear. Here were my personal takeaways:

  1. Have a shared dream.
  2. Recruit a great team. You don’t win with talent, you win with people.
  3. Manage through ego and conflict.
  4. Always work hard.
  5. You must make personal sacrifices. Make your weakness your strength.
  6. Don’t be afraid to compete with others.
  7. Be willing to be held accountable.
  8. Stay young in outlook & spirit. Embrace necessary change.
  9. Great teams accomplish more than individuals.

JC Bowman

Jim Craig, like his teammates on the 1980 Olympic Team, continue to motivate people. As he reminded me: Don’t ever let your memories become bigger than your dreams.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.

Tennessee has long been home to many great educators.  In fact many people do not know this, but the movie Dead Poets Society is based on the lives of two teachers at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dead Poets Society makes extensive use of literature.  Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and even Vachel Lindsay gets a mention.

There are 5 ideas in the movie we can all learn from:

  1. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
  2. You must strive to find your own voice.  Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.
  3. This is a battle, a war, and the causalities could be your hearts and souls.
  4. Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.
  5. Carpe diem. Seize the Day.  Make your lives extraordinary.

The teacher John Keating, played by the incredibly talented actor and comedian Robin Williams,  was the inspiration for his students. His pursuit of excellence in the classroom made his student’s lives extraordinary.  He taught them to break out of their shells, to pursue their dreams and seize the day.

Critics argue that the teacher really did not allow the opportunity for original thought. Kevin Dettmar for example says, “It’s a freedom that’s often preached but never realized.”  To which I would reply with another quote from Mr. Keating:  “When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.”

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.  Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.  Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.

As Shelbyville and Bedford County, as well as Murfreesboro and Rutherford County brace for white supremacist rallies, we anticipate needless conflicts.  We see the “us versus them” attitude that prevents us from collectively working to improve our communities, our state and our nation.  Racism, bigotry and vitriol hate have no place in a modern culture.   All children are created in the image of God.

For centuries, our country has attracted people in search of a share of “the American dream” from all corners of the world. E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) remains the national motto, yet it appears that there is no longer a consensus about what that should mean. If you step into our public schools today, the many different cultures are on full display.

We reject the creed of bigotry, which is rooted in hate, that any race is superior to another.  We hope protesters, who are likely not even from the state of Tennessee, will choose to stay home and leave our residents and communities free from incurring unnecessary taxpayer expense of an event that the majority of our citizens reject.  More importantly, we hope that racist attitudes and behavior are rejected here in Tennessee, and across the nation.

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