Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Using Those iPods to Grow Leadership Skills: School District Leaders Share Expertise In New Podcast For Administrators

A new web site sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education’s Urban Advisory Resource offers advice on improving schools from superintendents and other education leaders across the country in an easily accessible format. The District Leader’s Podcast features interviews each week with various experts from the front lines of education. School leaders can download these Podcasts to a portable media player for listening on the go. Examples of the topics covered include:

• Making the Tough Decisions,
• Improving Student Performance,
• Urban Education, and
• Trends in Education and Leadership.

The site is robust in content and diversified in leadership ideas. It will give you a reason to use your iPod to explore new thinking and learn from administrators in the field. The site will walk you through “How it works” and “How to get started.”
"We know from firsthand experience that one of the best ways to improve education is to share ideas about what works best—and what doesn’t. We are excited about the possibilities ahead, thanks to this resource," said Arthur Griffin, vice president of the Urban Advisory Resource.

Ask Yourself:

Could I benefit from powerful district leaders who are willing to share proven strategies and ideas?

Am I ready to venture into learning through Podcasts?

Monday, July 07, 2008

“A New Kind of University: iTunes U Grows as Content Rich Resource for K-12 Community”

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) announced July 2nd the availability of a wealth of free content for K-12 educators on Apple's iTunes U. Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Utah, are now sharing resources not only for K-12 educators in their own states, but for teachers around the world.

SETDA, is the principal association for state and district directors of technology, and provides professional development and leadership for effective use of technology in education.

"This comprehensive collection of quality digital content offers teachers and students a single location to access resources on topics from Florida history to the Navajo language to nano technologies." said Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, SETDA's Executive Director. "Teachers can now access these resources in real-time to support teaching and learning. The new K-12 resources on iTunes U address the critical need to engage students through technology-based resources in the core curriculum areas."

Being a Michigan educator for over 30 years, of course I went directly to the Michigan resources. Two areas that caught my eye were the Saturday Morning Physics podcast from the University of Michigan (I have always been fascinated with Physics) and the Free is Good link with terrific resources for the classroom teacher. The moderator took me to websites and demonstrated how to design an original rubric on the Rubric Maker, and how to use the Graphic Organizer Maker. Both have editable content for subject matter from primary to secondary levels. It was as if I was taking an individual lesson on developing classroom resources. I think the writing rubric I created would be very effective as a teacher evaluation and an aide for sixth grade students to evaluate their own work as they moves through the process. I had fun.

Give it a try.
iTunes U is located in an area of the iTunes Store dedicated to providing free education content. iTunes, a free software download for Mac or PC, is required. The collection is designed for use in elementary, middle- and high-school.

Other new instructional resources for you to check out on the web:

1.) NBC News launched free online learning community
for teenagers.

It is a collaborative learning Community for students ages 13 and up that incorporates gaming, discussion, and video resources in a safe, online environment. Created by NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News.

2.) Computer simulation may help young children learn conflict-resolution skills.

The computer game, called Cool School: Where Peace Rules, features animated school characters in situations that ask children ages 5-7 to select an action for resolving a potential conflict.

3.) Free online games to reinforce math and language skills.

Arcademic Skill Builders is a nonprofit web site that features
online educational games offering a new approach
to learning basic math, language arts, vocabulary, and
thinking skills… Inspired by arcade games

Ask Yourself:
• Can I add more pizzazz to my lessons with innovative websites?
• Could I pass this on to colleagues who love this sort of stuff?
• Who could I team with to design a few lessons for the fall?

Friday, June 27, 2008

“Giving Virtual and On-Line Schools The Respect They Deserve”

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of being the opening speaker for a two-day conference for the Buckeye On-Line School for Success in Ohio. This public school, serving students from 77 of the 88 counties in Ohio, could be a “poster child”, so to speak, for effective distance learning. Opening in the fall of 2005, the school started with several hundred students in grades K-12, and in 2008 expects to educate nearly two thousand students. Randy Calhoun School Director, and remarkable Instructional Leader, is the “dynamo” that told me his staff … “will be the best group of employees you will ever meet”. And, this proud, confident and knowledgeable group proved him right.

BOSS, as most stakeholders refer to it, offers a variety of learning choices from self-paced curriculum options, to a more ‘hands on’ approach through Virtual Classrooms. Using state of the art technology, students are immersed in a real-time classroom setting with both teachers and their peers. BOSS believes this safe and structured learning environment provides students with many opportunities for assistance in weak areas while, at the same time, gives them opportunities for in-depth study and enrichment in areas of strength.

Here are two examples of unique opportunities this public school gives:

Special Education students are never identified to their peers. As special education students participate in their live virtual classes, a certified special education teacher (head set on) is in class with them, but never seen by classmates. They are able to get instant help with issues or content at the moment they need it or, as often the case, they stay connected for review after class. I think this is a brilliant and caring idea.

My second example is a nineteen-year-old Cleveland girl of who dreamed of earning her High School Diploma. As always, staff from the school drove to interview and enroll the eager pregnant girl, this time to Cleveland. And after seeing her, hoped she would stick it out. Once enrolled, she began her classes but the baby came very early and she had to take time off from her dream.
Teachers were thrilled when she returned very quickly to her studies after the birth of the baby, knowing how hard it must be. But her hardships were just beginning. Several weeks after her return, her father died suddenly, which set her back once again. And, unbelievably only weeks later her fiancé (father of her child) was shot and killed.

I believe her dream would have ended here if it weren’t for the caring staff that continued to encourage her, and the technology that allowed her the freedom to work when her baby slept. Unbelievably, she returned to her studies once again, but could not make the timeline for the three-day state tests. Here is where the remarkable staff at BOSS stepped up to make it happen. They received permission from the State of Ohio to administrate the tests to her two weeks later. They drove to Cleveland once again and proctored the tests, then sat back to wait for the results. This strong, and hardworking student passed every test well above minimum competency.

But the story does not end here. The brave student did not have the money to attend her graduation ceremony so the staff chipped in for the hotel room, for her and her mother. And with an extra ordinary act of giving, members drove, for the third time, to Cleveland and brought her to “live her dream”. Through tears, everyone experienced the absolute thrill of her crossing the stage and receiving her diploma.

Visit Buckeye On-Line School for Success at:
Check out their summer reading program with live virtual readers.

Ask Yourself:

• Could our school have made this possible?
• Do I believe students’ will overcome anything to succeed?
• How can I make sure every student who has this dream lives it?
• Could technology help us achieve these goals?
• Do I believe virtual and on-line classes can be as successful, or more successful then my own?

Friday, May 09, 2008

“Which Came First, the Writer or the Blogger?”

In an article entitled “Blogging helps encourage teen writing”, eSchool News reported on an April 24, 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project with support from the College Board and its National Commission on Writing. The report explores the links between the formal writing that teens do for school and the informal, electronic communication they exchange through email and text messaging. It revealed that student bloggers are more prolific and appreciate the value of writing more that their peers.

But which came first? Do natural writers blog more or do teen bloggers become natural writers? But then again… who cares? As educators we know the ability to write well is an important skill.

The survey results showed, teens that communicate frequently with their friends, and those who own more technology tools such as computers or cell phones, do not write more often for school or for themselves than less communicative and less gadget-rich teens. Teen bloggers, however, write more frequently both online and offline, the study reports
”Forty-seven percent of teen bloggers write outside of school for personal reasons several times a week or more, compared with 33 percent of teens without blogs. Sixty-five percent of teen bloggers believe that writing is essential to later success in life; 53 percent of non-bloggers say the same thing”. 

According to the article: “Teens say they're more motivated to write when they can choose topics that are relevant to their lives and interests, and they report greater enjoyment of school writing when they have the chance to write creatively. Teens also report that writing for an audience motivates them to write well and more frequently--and blogs are one way of providing this type of audience.”

Bradley A. Hammer, who teaches in Duke University's writing program, says the kind of writing students do on blogs and other digital formats actually can be better than the writing style they learn in school, because it is better suited to true intellectual pursuit than SAT-style writing.” 

"In real ways, blogging and other forms of virtual debate actually foster the very types of intellectual exchange, analysis, and argumentative writing that universities value, he wrote in an op-ed piece last August”.

My take on this:

If we were looking to design ways to encourage written intellectual debate among learners (and we are all learners), maybe personal blogging is the place to look for that design. It may be an opportunity to create excited, inquisitive and confident writers, eager to participate in even greater debates for their future and ours.

Ask Yourself:

Would my students benefit from dialogue or debate on the content I teach?

Would I be happy to see my students writing with thoughtful reflection of ideas or information?

Could a personal blog of my own add to my professional growth? (Side Note: I know it has added to mine.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

“Keep the Faith”: Some Compensation is Delayed for Decades

Choosing education as a career takes an enormous “act of faith”. Faith in our ability to affect students in a positive way. Faith that we will make a difference. Faith we will be compensated, not only with money, but also with a knowing we contributed to our students’ lives. But as educators, some of our compensation can be delayed for decades.

While being introduced by the superintendent, to speak to a large group of building level leadership teams, I noticed an envelope labeled “My Hero” had been placed on my computer keyboard. Curious, I opened it, while knowing I had only a few minutes before I was to begin speaking.

Here is what I read as tears streamed down my face and the audience and the superintendent wondered what they had gotten into when hiring this speaker.

Dear Mrs. Roekle,
Look around the room. Can you find me? It’s been 30 years since I was in your 1st grade class at Patterson Elementary. You have been such an inspiration in my life. I knew when I left first grade that I wanted to be a teacher, just like you. I’m glad to see that you are still inspiring people today. I credit you for teaching me how to care for children and love them. What an impression you made on me, because you made me feel special. Thanks for the education that will last a lifetime.

Your admiring former student,

Lori Bowling Burack

Along with Lori’s note was the original graduation card I had sent her 11 years after having her in my first grade classroom, and there I was, holding this card 20 years after I mailed it. (I had a practice of sending a graduation card to every student whom I taught or to whom I was principal, no matter what grade.) The cards always consisted of their school picture from our time together, and a note telling them how proud I was of them. Well… Lori Burack had kept the card throughout her life, and as she explained later: through two husbands, four children, and five household moves. She explicitly told me I was not to keep it… she wanted it back.

As you might imagine, I had no problem spotting Lori in the auditorium, she had not changed in my eyes in 30 years. Same beautiful brown eyes, same dark hair, same energy, and oh yes, the same extraordinary smile I remember beaming from her desk in the second row.

I tell this story to remind you to “keep the faith”. Because each of us have, or will have, students who treasure and appreciate the gifts we give. YOU have a Lori Burack out there who would love to thank you personally for the “education that will last a lifetime”, as she wrote in her note. I was just lucky enough to bump into one of mine. It was worth the wait!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

“Moving From an ‘Either/Or World’ to a ‘Both/And World”

In February I gave a keynote address in the “Windy City” to an audience of 2,000 at the Illinois NCLB Conference. I titled my speech "Schools That Thrive", which fit well with the conference focus on rethinking, reviewing, reshaping and renewing efforts to improve No Child Left Behind and to “lift the bar” on all student learning.

I spoke about thinking in new ways and the importance of moving from an “Either/Or World” to a “Both/And” World”. “Do you believe your world will ever be entirely paperless?” I asked the audience. Very few hands went up. It may be easy to see that our world will consist of both paper and digital images.

Often you may find yourself taking sides on issues or ideas, which limits other thinking. As educators our goal is to expand our thinking and our students thinking. There are several examples of “Both/And” thinking that are alive and well in the field. The debate about Whole Language raged for years, but creative, successful, and evolved thinkers know it is not either Whole Language or Phonics, it requires both strategies to produce successful readers. Differentiated instruction is another perfect example of a successful “Both/And” strategy that accelerates learning for most students.

The “Either/Or” debate is often heated when it comes to educational technology. It seems as if people believe it is either the greatest educational tool since sliced bread or they believe it is wasting taxpayer’s money. Here is where the creative thinkers, who live by the “Both/And” philosophy for powerful instructional strategy (and search all ways to improve learning), will serve themselves and their students well.

I believe this philosophy has come of age. And, just by coincidence Andrew A Zucker, wrote an article “Smart Thinking About Educational Technology” in the April 2, 2008 issue of Education Week, addressing simplistic thinking as it applies to technology in schools. He believes that advocates often rely on weak arguments such as “ students are digital natives, so we should use more technology” yet critics may warn against excessive hype about the value of computers.

Zucker writes: “It is time to move away from simplistic “either-or” thinking about computers in schools. Instead, we need to focus on key educational goals and how computers and other digital tools can help us achieve them.” Within the article he describes his key goals and gives clear examples of them. You may find his thoughts and ideas helpful in your own technology integration.

I believe there are compelling reasons not to take sides in a debate about educational technology. But our organizations may have set us up for it. Zucker tells of an MIT professor who studies business investments in technology. He found that for every dollar large successful companies spent on hardware, $3 was spent on software, and $16 on organizational capital such as retraining workers and redesigning practices in the workplace. Here may be the place to start.

Many of the folks in Chicago came to believe that new knowledge of technology and its uses in our classrooms could move many teachers, administrators, and board members from an “Either/Or World” to a “Both/And World”.

Ask Yourself:
Do you believe your world will be paperless?

Have you noticed how quickly on-line schools, computer-based testing, and other powerful innovations are spreading, and how significant they are?

Do you need training in bridging time and distance for your students?

Do you need training to leverage the exponential increases in computer power?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The “eBook” is Launched!

I may or may not have mentioned that I have been co-authoring an ebook for the past three years. Wow, yes it has been that long. The title is Designing Thriving Schools, Using Proven Strategies and Technologies to Accelerate Learning. The book, written with Daniel Burrus one of the worlds leading business strategists and technology forecasters, was launched in November. The purpose of the ebook is to bring a powerful and empowering method of thinking, learning and planning to a broad audience in hopes that the Designing Thriving Schools Process will become an invaluable resource, as each of us continues in our quest to make every school a thriving school.

The forty-five strategies for highly effective educators contained in the book, along with forty-one enabling technologies to support them, will be the topic of many of my blog entries in the future. I am proud to share these best practice and research based strategies and tools with you.

Although they are not arranged in any particular order, in general they can be categorized into one of two groups:
Organizational Strategies, which address various facets of the organizational system, its culture, and how it can effectively support learning.
Teaching and Learning Strategies, which directly address improving student achievement and professional performance or practice.

I will begin with a strategy that is painted with a broad brush to stimulate ideas for personal or professional planning.

Visualize your ideal future.

Do you believe that you have the power to shape your future and the future of your school?

How you view the future shapes how you act in the present, and how you act in the present shapes your future. Or, as we like to paraphrase it:

“Your Futureview® determines the future you.”

The power of this simple maxim is illustrated in the following account of a conversation with two middle school students in Washington D.C:

I met Joshua and Ryan a few years ago on a visit to their school in a burned-out, boarded-up zone of abandoned shops and squalid apartment buildings. The school building was a wreck with a rusty chain link fence around it, tripled locked security doors, metal detectors and guards at every entrance.

My questions to them were typical of the kind of things most adults ask kids at that age. “What do you want to do when you grow up? How do you view your future?”

I was shocked by their answers. Both boys told me that they didn’t expect to live long enough to see their sixteenth birthday. They told me what their life was like outside of school – about their friends and relatives who had died in shootings, from drug overdoses, and of HIV/AIDS. As you would expect, the two boys had a long history of truancy, discipline problems, and academic failure.

Ryan and Joshua saw their future as a continuation of the present – more shootings, more drugs, more of what they had – and made decisions based on these assumptions that actually helped create the grim and awful scenario. Math? Who cares? Reading? What’s the point? Safe sex? Why bother?

Do you think their future will be less than it could have been had they had a different view of it? The answer is as obvious as it is tragic.

Could your view of your future be more than it is?

As administrators, teachers, staff members, students, parents and community stakeholders, our Futureview is the single most powerful driving force in our arsenal for effecting educational change. Take time to look to the visible future® and free your imagination to go beyond what seems possible for you and your school at this moment in time.

  • Look outside the field of education for global trends, patterns, and new technologies that have changed or will change education as we know it.

  • Think about what you want for your future and the future of your students.

  • Visualize what you want to do or create. CAN YOU SEE IT?

Take action:
Much of the future is there for use to see if we take the time to look. Once a week, take a half-hour out of your schedule to “unplug” – from the computer, the phone, and the people in your life – and look to your visible future. Because the more you look the more you see!

Suggested Reading:
Burrus, D., (1993). Technotrends: How to use technology to go beyond your competition. New York: Harper Business.
Enriquez, J. (2001). As the future catches you. New York: Crown Business.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

“We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For”

Earlier this month I gave a keynote address at the NCLB Illinois State Conference in Chicago. I honored the work of teachers, administrators and parents who are excited and passionate about finding new ways to do the important work of preparing our kids for their future.

I asked the audience if they believed education would change over the next ten years. The response was an overwhelming YES. Then I asked if they believed it would change if we did anything about it or not… once again a resounding YES. Then I told them, “It is imperative change comes from the inside of education, where knowledge of the learner drives the decision-making process, not a political agenda or election platform”. I believe each of us can participate in reforming the No Child Left Behind legislation in our own way. Change comes one student at a time, one lesson at a time, and one decision at a time. I challenged them to find ways to influence the reauthorization of NCLB as a powerful group and as individuals. This is our time, and we can make a difference. We, as educators, have the knowledge, experience and wisdom to improve our educational system. “We are the one we have been waiting for”.

I proposed several Effective Design Strategies:

Look to the Visible Future and ask, What are we missing? Think back and look forward. Think back on what you know but always look forward to possibilities for positive change.

Act on Changes that are Affecting your Future by identifying trends that are affecting you today and will effect you tomorrow. “It is easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.”

Learn to Fail Fast but Don’t Fail to Learn because no one knows all the answers. Innovation requires risk to produce success. The key is to “fail forward” by learning from our mistakes.

Adopt the Philosophy of Organized Abandonment because refusing to accept what is not working can consume time and energy from other successful endeavors. “If the horse is dead, get off”.

I challenge all of us to take this unique opportunity to help with the reauthorization of NCLB anyway we can.

Ask Yourself:

  • How can I as an individual affect change in NCLB legislation?

  • How can we as a school influence writers of this legislation?

  • Do I belong to any education or citizen groups whom I could influence to add their voice to produce change?

  • Do I believe education will change wither I do anything about or not?

Websites you may want to visit:

No Child Left Behind -
Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind · See the administration's proposals for reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. Find fact sheets, videos of NCLB ...

No Child Left Behind Reauthorization
Secretary Spellings said that legislation proposed by Senator Lamar ... President Bush spoke about the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind …

An Unlikely Partnership Left Behind -
Nov 5, 2007 ... Ten months later, the optimism has vanished and the campaign to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind education law has bogged down. ... content/article/2007/11/04/AR2007110401450.html

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“Make Politics Personal for Students”

Do your students recognize the government’s role in decisions about the standardized tests they take, their recruitment to the military, and the future of Social Security for themselves and their parents?

Helping students understand the power that election outcomes have on their present or future lives, and the lives of their family, can help engage them in the election process. When students recognized the impact of laws and lawmakers on their personal lives, I believe they would pay more attention to all elections. And, once they “get it” the political process could serve them throughout their lives.

In her article, “Schools urging students to learn about major issues and participate in elections: Primary election is setting the stage for civics lessons”, Akilah Johnson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinal, relates how “Thousands of South Florida teens and 'tweens are getting their first taste of the electoral process not through cyber campaigns or virtual debates, but in actual classrooms and real-world polling places”. Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

She describes how students from West Palm Beach to Pembroke Pines have studied the roles of race and gender in politics, voter registration in their state, caucuses, primaries and political parties in civics lessons in the advent of Tuesday's primary election and tax referendum in Florida. 

"You've got to find your voice. You've got to make people hear you," said Jay Lowe, an American history teacher at Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. "That's my thing. Whoever has the biggest microphone in this country gets the attention."

Lowe said his eighth-grade students have honed in on three issues that could affect their lives: the war in Iraq, education and Social Security. 
"Their first thing was: 'Well, I'm 13 years old. I don't care,'" he said. But after a couple of lessons about the Army's recruitment struggles, the draft and the politics behind the state's dreaded, high-stakes FCAT, his students started paying attention to the candidates and their issues in preparation for a mock election which coincides with the Florida primary. 

Through its “Kids Voting Broward” program more than 5,000 students have cast votes for presidential candidates, mayors and the property tax amendment.

Related Articles:

“Thompson Sets Social Security View”, Wall Street Journal

“Without Medicare fixes, Social Security is sunk”, The Seattle Times

Ask Yourself:

  • Would our students be more interested in the political process if we connected it to their personal lives?

  • What issues or candidates would spark our student interest?

  • How could we use upcoming elections to increase learning?

  • How could we encourage students to have a voice in their community?

Monday, January 14, 2008

History is a Perfect Fit and the Primary Resource for Curriculum at U.S. History Schools

Joelle Chevrier, a student at Spanish River High School, found a spark to ignite her passion for learning. “I’m learning a lot more stuff about [historical events] than I ever knew existed”, she said during a break from a recent Saturday-morning economics lecture on the role of cotton in the economy of the antebellum South.

Yes, I did say Saturday-morning lecture.

I don’t know about you, but the weaving of content with the social context of a students life just seems a GREAT way to pump them up for learning that makes a difference in their lives and the lives of others… and a “bonus”… they will remember what they learned for a long time, if not forever.

“At a time when many social studies educators are bemoaning the dwindling focus on the social sciences as schools focus on reading/language arts and mathematics—the subjects tested annually under the federal No Child Left Behind Act—as well as science and technology, a small but expanding network of schools is putting U.S. history at the centerpiece of the curriculum”, says Education Week writer Kathleen Kennedy Manzo in her January 8th article, Let History Reign.

Manzo was reporting on U.S. History Schools, a network of 40 schools and 21 affiliate schools presents a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with expanded offerings in American history. Its sponsor, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American Studies in New York City, provides financial support, historical documents and resources, and academic support from history scholars and experts.

Creative teachers make it happen:

Teachers are enjoying their participation, according to Brett Burkey, an economics teacher and the chairman of the Spanish River history department. “I incorporate so much more American history into my economics classes now,” he said. “It’s added a significant dimension to what I do.”

Bettina Hoffman, an English teacher committed to the process, designed an advanced-rhetoric course in which English students pick apart famous speeches in history and analyze the purpose and effectiveness of each. When the class watched news footage of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a Mormon, discussing his own religious beliefs recently, “the students were jumping out of their seats to talk about it and the similarities with President Kennedy,” Ms. Hoffman said.

Other impressive integration came from a dance teacher who infused the subject into her classes, a music teacher who enhances the jazz-studies program with important events from our History, and a theater department who invited professional actors to the school to act out scenes from state history.

Ask Yourself:

  • Is History the natural “fit” for engaging students in thinking about how our society evolved?

  • Would connecting historical content to the every day lives of our students increase learning?

  • Would comparing old History texts with newer ones help students see change over time?

(When I was Assistant Superintendent, I asked my Social Studies teachers to try this exercise when we adopted new texts after nine years, and they said students “got it”. Many teachers continued to use the exercise every year.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year To All Educators Effecting Lives of Learners of Any Age

I thought you would enjoy the “Quotes Educators Shared Most” in the 2007 School Year
(from ASCD Smart Brief )

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile."

--Herm Albright, writer

“When you step into a turnaround situation, you can safely assume four things: morale is low; fear is high; the good people are halfway out the door; and the slackers are hiding."

--Nina Disesa, as chairwoman of McCann-Erickson Worldwide

“If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?"

--Steven Wright, comedian, actor

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense."

--Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman

“One of the hardest tasks of leadership is understanding that you are not what you are, but what you're perceived to be by others."

--Edward L. Flom, CEO of Florida Steel

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."

--Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady and American political leader

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're OK, then it's you."

--Rita Mae Brown, writer and activist

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone."

--Audrey Hepburn, Academy Award-winning actress, humanitarian

“Rule No. 1: Use your own good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules."

--Bruce, Jim and John Nordstrom, co-presidents of Nordstrom department store, in the employee handbook