KASB Executive Director Blog - Dr. John Heim

KASB Executive Director Blog - Dr. John Heim

A look back: 1969 is déjà vu all over again

When your editor is Scott Rothschild and you miss a deadline, you had better have a good excuse. So, when I received a gentle reminder over the weekend that my column was due, followed almost immediately by President Kimball’s completed assignment, the pressure was on. Fortunately, I was stuck in an airport, flight canceled, with nothing to do. Unfortunately, this particular weekend, the news was filled with reports of the death of Peter Fonda, and the 50th anniversary of a concert at Yasgur’s farm. These two distractions created an unquenchable desire to re-watch “Easy Rider,” the iconic motorcycle movie from...

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Judge Bullock: A central figure in Kansas education who was fair, strong, kind, thoughtful and epitomized Kansans Can outcomes

Kansas lost a great man recently. Reading the obituary of Judge Terry Bullock was enlightening to me, because I only knew him as a strong, fair minded, kind and thoughtful advocate for the constitution of Kansas. His obituary reveals more depth. Seeing him in his courtroom trappings one wouldn’t know he had a family, loved music, and cared about his community. I intended this remembrance to be about how Judge Bullock’s decisions affected the direction of Kansas education. How he was able to sort through the chaff with a brilliant legal mind, and express those decisions with statements like, “Money...

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First day brings anxiety for some kids

In my 10 years as executive director of KASB, I have written many times about back to school. It is such an exciting time. Even those of us who had to buy our jeans in the Sears Husky Department looked forward to new school clothes, notebooks, and a full box of unbroken crayons. I wonder if those crayons still smell like they did 50 years ago? The first day of school is exciting, but it can be scary too. Our family moved a lot when we were growing up. For a 10-year-old pudgy kid a new school is an intimidating...

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Now is not the time to get over-cautious

As education leaders, we have recently become more aware of how trauma affects children, their learning, and well-being. This is one of the great new knowledge sets of my lifetime in education. We should also consider that trauma affects school leaders as well. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, educators have lived through some trauma in the past 10-12 years. Who can forget the trauma of the years following 2008 when state aid payments were questionable, and school leaders were faced with laying off staff and cutting programs they knew were good for kids? One reaction to living through hard times...

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Ordinary work of board can be extraordinary

The deadline for throwing your hat in the ring for fall school board elections is fast approaching. The pay is terrible, the hours can be long, and the challenges great. But the intrinsic rewards are beyond compare. As you contemplate the possibilities, consider some advice from history. Over 30 years ago, I accepted the job of principal at Ell-Saline Junior-Senior High School in Brookville. Having taken all the appropriate coursework, I was theoretically prepared for anything but practically ready for nothing. This is not a knock on the fine institutions or professors responsible for my training, it is simply because you...

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A word to the wise: Listen to the owl

My grandmother had a stuffed owl in her house. When we were kids, we were convinced that owl’s eyes moved and watched you walk around the room. I made it a point to stay out of the living room unless someone else was in there, just in case that big old owl came to life and decided to make pellets out of me. The owl had a little sign that hung below it with a nursery rhyme: A wise old owl sat in an oak, the more he heard the less he spoke, the less he spoke, the more he heard,...

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Must acknowledge ignorance about race

Several times over the years I have attempted to write a blog about race. Each time it ends up dumped in the trash -- a series of observations with no coherent point, espoused by a privileged old white guy. This year may be the same, but at least at this early point in the blog, my intention is to share it. I’m emboldened by some new observations and the desire to give some credit where credit is due. Let’s start with a reunion of sorts. Three high school friends got together last fall, one of whom had drifted away on...

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Don’t fumble this close to the goal line

“Keep matriculating the ball down the field, boys!” Forty-nine years ago, I was a sixth-grader at Ridgeview School in Olathe. This is easy to remember because the year was 1970 and the Kansas City Chiefs were going to the Super Bowl! In my then short life, I had only known the Chiefs were great. They had been to half of the four Super Bowls. This was bound to last a lifetime. Little did I know, it might be the chance of a lifetime. Since that time, Chiefs fans have experienced the Christmas Day game, aka the Longest Game, the Montana Injury...

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Here’s the scoop: Kansas politics is a swirl

There is an old adage that one shouldn’t talk about politics or religion in polite company. The saying always made little sense to me because to the best of my recollection that is all we ever discussed at family gatherings. In these tribal times, maybe it is best to talk about one thing upon which we can all agree: Ice cream is pretty much a gift from heaven. (Whoops, allow me a little religion.) My mom’s homemade ice cream is the best in the world, and when the recipe is handed off to my older sister there is nothing quite...

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Dirty fingernails deserve respect

How we assign value to jobs and the people who do them is a theme of Sarah Smarsh’s book “Heartland.” I often talk about my experiences of summers on a Kansas farm in Bunker Hill, Kansas in romanticized fashion. Smarsh’s experiences as a farm kid were similar to ours, until the farm crisis of the 1980s took that life from her and thousands of other family farmers. My mother’s parents also lived in Bunker Hill. My grandfather worked in the oil fields and my grandmother was a telephone operator in Russell. Though they lived in “town” they kept a garden,...

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