Mark's Weekly Words to SIS Families
Created by jaycb 6 years ago
When we got word a couple of years ago of a transition in SIS leadership, as a parent of an SIS student, I was concerned about the district finding someone who would be able to reach kids in a very tough stage of development.
When I first heard Mr. Harris speak, I knew that we had nothing to worry about. A guy with that sense of humor and life experience knew exactly what he was getting into and was a great fit for the job.
Mark reinforced this regularly, as he faithfully wrote a few personal words to parents in most SIS Weekly Bulletins. Although I barely knew him beyond his role as a leader at SIS, I loved the way we learned about his life and devotion to his family through those insightful glimpses. Through his words he made it easier for me as a parent to make that transition from elementary to middle school.
Thank you to Mark's entire family for supporting him as he gave so many of his waking hours supporting our kids. I am so glad that I had a chance to meet & speak with him and read his answers to the question, "Who is this guy?"
My apologies for the length of this, but I wanted others to be able to see for themselves some highlights from what Mark chose to write to us each week, besides "just the facts" about tardiness, morning drop-offs, and of course many deserved accolades to his staff and our kids.
Principal’s messages in SIS Weekly Bulletin e-mailed to parents
September 12, 2013
Message From Mark Harris:
If you have not met me yet, I will be the guy chasing three little curly-headed kids around the campus. I will be sure to say “hi” when they let me rest.
September 19, 2013
I "interrupted" a lesson ... regarding the history of rap and the African influences that are intrinsic to the music. In throwing in my two cents, we started a conversation with a couple students that continued into lunch time. I should also mention that I remain undefeated in pickleball and am willing to take on all comers!
October 9, 2013
... I was able to spend a couple of hours with each group out at camp. … I was anxious to get home and see my family after a long day, but then I started to think about [teachers staying overnight]. I was going home to see my kiddos and wife, but they were giving up the better part of four straight days with their families to give our seventh graders such a valuable experience.
December 19, 2013
First and foremost, I would like to wish our school community a safe and relaxing holiday season! I’m looking forward to spending time with my wife and little whippersnappers. I have a simple little Persian quote that I used quite a bit at SHS: “The fish cannot see the water.” It means that we often overlook or take for granted things we experience continuously and people in our lives we see all the time. I encourage you to “see the water” during this time you have with your family.
As most of you know, we had our first SIS dance last week Friday. I have to be honest; dances are up there on the short list of why you don't want to be a principal. In retrospect, I was pleasantly surprised and had a great time. Here are my observations:
The DJ had our kids dancing all night...although my ears are still ringing and I'm upset that my Charlie Pride and Guy Lombardo requests were not honored.
My attempt at teaching your kids how to do a Soul Train line proved to be futile.
I DO NOT MISS HIGH SCHOOL DANCES!
January 9, 2014
I hope that you all survived the cold! Unfortunately, my furnace and car battery did not.
January 16, 2014
I will be on jury duty next week Tuesday through Thursday. There will be coverage for the principal’s office each day. If my jury duty history holds true, I should be back by Wednesday. (I have just jinxed myself; I’ll probably be sequestered.)
January 30, 2014
I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seats wondering how jury duty went for me last week. Let me start by saying that if you are a people watcher, jury duty is the place to be. It was interesting to see people from so many different walks of life. On both days, we sat outside the courtroom for 45 minutes waiting to be called in for cases that were eventually settled. I have been released from jury duty for at least four years. Although anticlimactic, it was still a valuable experience in civic duty.
February 6, 2014
Lastly, my wife is going to Denver for the weekend and leaving the kids with me. Pray for me and be ready for local grocers to run out of Hamburger Helper and Chef Boyardee.
February 13, 2014
I’m sure some of you have been waiting for my weekend update of wife out of town leaving kids with Daddy. I had a blast! I should have told you all to invest in local fast food restaurant stock. The time with my kids reinforced for me how fast they are growing up. I thought about you (SIS parents) many times over the weekend, as I’m sure you have felt that you had this little baby in your arms, blinked, and now they are almost heading to high school. Step back and enjoy their presence and their essence, appreciate their perfect imperfections, and celebrate even their littlest accomplishments.
Finally, I had a chance to go to Winter Experience on Tuesday and will be going back today. If you heard any stories about me flying butt-over-teakettle off of the broom-ball rink, please chalk it up as hyperbole. Oh, how kids like to embellish!
February 20, 2014
Finally, I gave a tour last week to a family considering a move to the North Shore and visiting all the area schools. The family is very interested in the performing arts, and a school outside of Shorewood told the family that Shorewood is THE place to be. I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment after seeing many performances over the last few years, including last night’s Band-o-Rama. I was concerned that my little ones (especially 19-month-old Cecilia) would be disinterested to the point we would have to leave early. My kids were in awe of the talent of our kids under the guidance of Mr. Olson and Mr. Terrasi. I owe them a bit of thanks because Cecilia fell asleep by the time we reached Oakland and Kensington, which was music to my ears (pun intended).
February 27, 2014
If you’re a fan of early David Letterman, you should enjoy the following...
From our home office in Omaha, NE, Top Ten (unedited!) quotes overheard at Winter Experience:
10. I learned that there were relatable and friendly all around me.
1. Mr. Harris is the greatest broom ball player in the history of the modern world. I still have flashbacks of the grace with which he would glide across the ice while smashing shots past goalies that moved across the sky with vapor trails.
Okay, maybe I embellished that last one, but I hope these comments help you understand the impact Winter Experience may have had on your child. Thanks again to the staff and parents that gave their time to make it happen.
March 13, 2014
I hope you all got the chance to see Mulan this past weekend. I went with my 4-year-old, Lucia, and we absolutely loved it. Congratulations on a job well done to all involved! It takes the collective effort of the actors onstage, the crew backstage, the faculty directors, and a boatload of supportive parents to put on such a well-done production. The only bad part was that my son Cooper couldn’t go with us because he was sick. He made it through Lucy’s first three reenactments, but lost it when she started to shake her backside like a certain little dragon.
March 20, 2014
As I write this, we are beginning our second day of Courage Retreats. Our eighth graders spent all day yesterday together in the gym. They experienced a gambit of emotions from smiles to tears. I have to admit that I experienced those emotions yesterday myself, and it felt…GREAT! If your kids come home and tell you I was crying, tell them I’m having problems with my contact lenses…I have allergies…and I am sensitive to light ;-) Your children were amazing. They participated. They opened up to the experience and left themselves vulnerable in a good way. One lesson learned: I didn’t order enough pizza to quite fill up the kids, but I will make note of that for future retreats.
In 4th grade I took up the viola. Man, was I excited! I was going to be the next…er…I don’t know any famous viola players. I still remember the first song we learned: “The B.A.G. Hustle.” Or rather, the first song the other viola players learned; I had no commitment and was terrible. I would go to concerts and sit in the far back where only my bow could be seen amongst the rest of the players. I would set the viola in my lap and move my bow in the direction I saw the other kids move theirs. Needless to say, my music career stalled in 4th grade.
I mention this because I dropped in on the District Solo and Ensemble Festival last weekend. ... To echo the words of the judges, they were amazing! I was blown away by the talent, commitment, and dedication of our students. I was incognito in jeans, a sweatshirt and a funky (but astonishingly stylish) knit cap to allow me to eavesdrop a bit on conversations amongst parents and participants. There was a common theme: they couldn’t get over how talented our students are. I give kudos to all the students who performed and to the parents who have supported their commitment. ...
March 27, 2014
To end on a positive note, spring break is upon us! I hope you all enjoy the time with your families, and hopefully (unlike me) you get a chance to do some traveling. My wife (who is a teacher) and my children have a different spring break -- so no traveling for us. Don’t feel too badly for me, as I get to spend the week with Cecilia, my eighteen-month-old. She’s a cutie and I am looking forward to some daddy time with her! Enjoy your break and be safe!
April 17, 2014
I just completed my second stint of “Dad at home with the kids” while my wife visits her new baby nephew in Colorado. Time alone with my little ones taught me three important parenting lessons:
Buy action figure toothpaste and kids will volunteer to brush their teeth.
Buy action figure bubble bath and kids will volunteer to take a bath.
If you avoid using the stove, the last-minute “we didn’t make a mess” clean up dash will be much more manageable.
Thanks so much to the SIS PTO for their work in planning Parent Activity Night. If you were unable to make it, you missed a genuinely good time. Dancing and dodgeball dominated the evening. Apparently Shorewood is the home of undercover soul. The only thing that stopped a Soul Train line that would have made Don Cornelius proud was the playing of “Let’s Go Crazy” instead of “September.” Still, the parents tore up the dance floor, the DJ did an amazing job, and those of us with two left feet had great conversations.
Then (actually, first) came dodgeball. A group of six parents led the charge to play, and the group swelled to a gym full of fireballers that would have brought tears to the eyes of Patches O'Houlihan. I’ve been both praised and ridiculed for my overly aggressive performance. In my own defense, who in their right mind would ask the principal to play dodgeball against parents in April after an unforgiving winter with a week of Daddy Daycare on the horizon?
May 1, 2014
Lastly, we are getting ready for the end of the school year. It seems like only yesterday I stood in front of my closet staring at a pair of yellow pants with the TJ Maxx tags still intact contemplating whether or not I could pull them off (figuratively).
As I have gotten older and had children of my own, I have become more emotional. Kids do that to you. I came across a video that brought tears to my eyes. (I should admit that Jimmy Chitwood’s final shot in Hoosiers and Danny Noonan’s putt in Caddyshack bring me to tears, so take that with a grain of salt.) This clip made me think about how often we judge a book by its cover. It speaks of how we often underestimate people. Mostly it speaks of how we all have gifts. It’s six minutes long, and I hope you can find some time to watch it.
May 8, 2014
After a brutal winter, this somewhat pleasant (if you like 50s and rain) weather is making our kids squirrely. I ask that you keep having conversations with your children to finish the year as focused as possible. Seventeen years ago today, I took my last college final and got a “D,” the only one I ever received on a report card. It was disappointing that a “D” was the cherry I chose to garnish my education sundae with (even though it was in math, my worst subject). The problem was, I had checked out weeks before the exam and was lucky to get even a “D.” Let’s work together to help our kids finish this year strong and keep an upward trajectory as they transition to 8th grade and high school.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! My son’s sixth birthday party is tomorrow and my wife’s birthday is on Mother’s Day. I must leave you now to wrap my son Cooper’s Larry Bird jersey and purchase items for my wife that I estimate will be returned to a store in no less than 72 hours.
May 15, 2014
I hope this bulletin finds you afloat, considering the amount of rain we’ve been getting lately. On a personal note, I’m fresh off of celebrating my son Cooper’s sixth birthday yesterday. I got him that gift that all six-year-old boys want: a Larry Bird Celtics jersey. Maybe it is the gift that all 39-year-old dads want their six-year-old sons to have, but if its power of osmosis gives him a lights-out jump shot, it will have been worth it.
May 22, 2014
As I approach Memorial Day weekends, I usually ruminate on the fact that I wasn’t close to my father who passed away 14 years ago at the age of 84. In fact, because of my stubbornness, I didn’t talk to him for the last 10 years of his life. I plan to use my time off to reflect upon him as a person and the struggles he went through as a black man growing up in the South during segregation and the civil rights movement. Doing so will help me to remember the sacrifices those who came before me made to open the doors of opportunity for me and my family.
Be good, be safe, and don’t underestimate the flavor explosion commonly known as the cheddarwurst!
May 29, 2014
Tomorrow is our outing to the Brewers game. I am hoping to be there with my brood. My daughter is having a procedure at Children’s Hospital tomorrow morning, but she is a tough cookie. I assume we will be in attendance watching the Crew take it to the…the...(I can’t even bring myself to say the team’s name).
Have a great weekend. You will find me at the Lake Bluff baseball diamond cheering on two of my three children, trying hard not to end up in the Facebook post of “10 parents that should never attend a youth sporting event because they think their child is heading to the pros by next Tuesday.”
June 5, 2014
As we are approaching the end of the school year, I cannot help but conjure up images of Leon Lett. Who is he, you might ask? Let’s hop in the way-back machine and travel back to Superbowl XXVII. Leon Lett recovered a fumble on the 35-yard line and headed toward the end zone for an easy score. When he got to the 10-yard line, he began to slow down and lost focus on the goal. He made it all about himself and forgot about his teammates. Leon stretched out the ball to show off. Don Bebe chased him down, knocked the ball out of his hands, and cost him a touchdown.
August 29, 2014
I’m sure you feel the same as I do: summer was a blur. It seemed like just yesterday students were finishing their hotdogs and signing yearbooks, and teachers were burning rubber out of the parking lot listening to Alice Cooper.
When I first came to Shorewood, there were plans in place that included closing SIS. Oh, how things have changed. SIS alone registered seventeen new resident students this summer. …
Lastly, please find time to thank our secretaries and custodians when you see them. Because of the summer school and recreation department programming that goes on at SIS over the summer, our staff gets a much later start in preparing for the coming school year. The outro to Benny Hill doesn’t have people moving faster than our secretaries and custodians!
September 11, 2014
I am excited to spend time with SIS families tomorrow at our PTO-sponsored family picnic. My wife Erin, daughters Lucy and Cecilia, and my son Cooper will be joining me at the picnic. Last year’s event was interesting, as most faces there were new to us, but SIS families were very welcoming and friendly. What would really make this event more complete is if more families residing outside of Shorewood join us for an evening of camaraderie.
September 18, 2014
Anyone who knows me knows that I am the worst at buying gifts. Actually, it’s the giving of gifts that I struggle with because I have no patience waiting to give the gifts. I’m pretty sure my kids think Christmas is in November.
October 16, 2014
MESSAGE FROM MARK HARRIS
It’s been a whirlwind week for me, so I apologize that I don’t have much to tell you this week.