Nov. 20, 2021

Episode 98: Building Community

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Ryan Scott hails from beautiful Western Ky! Most importantly, Ryan is a husband and dad. Professionally, he has been in education for 15 years within the elementary/high school levels. He’s been a classroom teacher, RTI specialist, elementary principal and currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Webster County High School in Dixon,Kentucky.

Ryan is a staunch proponent of connectionsB4content, maslowsB4blooms, and that skills, NOT memorization, will propel our kids to success! Each day Ryan goes out of his way to make students/adults feel valued, seen, and heard!

EVERY day Ryan looks for the #godwinks that let him know he’s in a particular place, at a particular time, for a particular reason!


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Building Community with Ryan Scott

[00:00:00] Fonz: Good morning everybody. And thank you so much for joining us this morning here on My EdTech Life I am so excited that you are joining us here today, wherever it is that you may be, whether you're here in the US or overseas. Thank you so much for making us part of your day. And today I'm really excited to have an amazing guest.

[00:00:54] And again, as I mentioned, two shows in one week. I know we do that all the time, but you know, sometimes everything lines up and we're able to get just guests that I've been looking forward to get on or people that I'm hearing are doing great things. I'm listening to their podcast and it's always a pleasure and an honor to have these education leaders, you know, hopping, visit us on our show just so we can have some great deep enriching conversations, not only for you but for everybody else to listen to.

[00:01:23] And today is no exception. We have Mr. Ryan Scott here, who is joining us today. He is straight out of Western Kentucky. Ryan, how are you doing

[00:01:34] Ryan: today, man? Glorious. It is a, uh, it's an awesome fall Saturday morning here in Western Kentucky. Um, as you probably see. 24 hours. Um, I am ready to go. I'm locked away in the bedroom.

[00:01:50] So the kids and the wife can not bug me. Um, I'm super stoked to be on the Maya tech life. I'm ready to just, you know, interact, get my stuff out there. Talk to any, talk to you. Um, you know, maybe make a new friend a couple of times.

[00:02:07] Fonz: Exactly. And that's what it's all about. You know, my tech life, it's all about connecting educators and creators one show at a time.

[00:02:14] And I just want to welcome Mel to the show. Mel is just a great supporter of the show. She's a great friend. She is definitely a connected educator and a great connector herself. So Mel, thank you so much for joining us here out of Cali, Colombia via Australia. So that's awesome. And of course we got Mr.

[00:02:34] Judge Tovar. That's right. And Hef is joining us this morning. So I'll have, is here. And like I said, you know, one of the, one of the ways that I got to know a little bit more about who you were Ryan is because I kept seeing Josh it's like Ryan, Scott, Ryan, Scott, Ryan, Scott. It's like, who is Ryan Scott? And so of course through the power of Google and social media, I figured out I was like, man, This Ryan Scott is legit.

[00:03:01] I really enjoy your work. I love your social media content that you put out so much positivity, so much affirmation, but also, you know, you, you just, you're such a positive person and the guests that you've had on your podcast have been amazing. And we'll talk about that a little later on here in the show, but first for our first time, viewers, listeners, people that may still not be familiar with your work.

[00:03:28] Uh, Ryan, give us a little introduction about who you are and if you can also let us know your context in education, and if you don't mind adding one interesting thing about you that people may not know.

[00:03:40] Ryan: Absolutely. So, uh, yeah, so I am Ryan Scott. Um, I do hail from Western Kentucky and the lovely Henderson Kentucky, uh, which if anybody is ever in the area, um, towards the beginning of.

[00:03:54] June, we have this amazing blues festival. Um, it is, it's awesome. We're right here on the Ohio river. Um, it's the WC handy music festival, wonderful blues, um, music and, uh, yeah, just a great time all around great place. Um, but I don't know if you can hear, but, uh, I am a dad of four. Um, so three of my girls are here in the other room, screaming, running around, um, it's Saturday morning.

[00:04:22] So here at the house, that means. So mom was trying to get the girls to work. Um, anybody out there with kids knows sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't. Um, I'm also, this is really weird to say I'm also a dad of a college student, um, which, you know, makes me feel extremely old, but, uh, yeah, my daughter is a freshmen at Murray state university.

[00:04:44] I tell you she's I think she's going to take after me and go into the servant business. She's looking at social work. So I'm super excited about that. Um, I am a assistant principal at a high school, about 30 minutes south of. Um, I'll tell you, one of the things I'm really passionate about is rural education and, um, it's really awesome to be in a rural district.

[00:05:07] Um, but I've spent, let's see, this is year number 15. Um, I spent 10 years in the elementary classroom, everything from kindergarten, which was awesome to, um, RTI specialists, that kind of stuff. Um, and then I was an elementary principal for two years, and this is going on year number three at the high school level.

[00:05:29] Um, and let's say one thing people may not know about me. Well, okay. So I have been a camp counselor at the same camp ground, um, that I went to. When I was a kid, um, for 25 years, uh, pretty much every single summer, the same group of people come back and it's kinda like, uh, like it's our camp family. Um, it is in Santa Claus, Indiana, which yes, there is a place.

[00:05:58] And if you Google it, there is an amazing amusement park there, um, called holiday world amazing place where I grew up. Um, but yeah, that's something about me. I've been a camp counselor, um, camper at this United Methodist, uh, camp Graham for I'm guessing 25 years.

[00:06:17] Fonz: Wow. That is amazing. That is amazing. And right.

[00:06:20] I mean, You find time to do all of this, and we're going to get into that. And you know, you've got your four girls there, you've got your college student, you've got your job. And then of course, you know, you've got your podcast. So I don't know. Sometimes it's like, we wonder, it's like, how do we do what we do with just 24 hours in a day, but we'll get to that.

[00:06:38] But you know, one of the things that I love about doing this show Ryan is when I get to meet people like you, that are doing some great things out there in education and getting to share just all that amazing things. I always want to know, how did this all start? Like the origin story. Were you always interested in going into education?

[00:06:58] And if so, you know, what was it that inspired you? Or could it have been something, you know, that fork in the road moment where it's either this or that? And let me just jump into education, just because let us know a little bit about how this started.

[00:07:13] Ryan: Uh, yeah. So if, uh, so if I was to have a DeLorean in my garage, um, and you guys that are listening were to hop on hop inside that DeLorean with me.

[00:07:25] And if we were to go back, let's see, 20 years. So 20 years ago, approximately I was a senior in high school and I was probably as far away from the path of education as most people could probably be. Um, I was not in a good Headspace, severe depression. Um, Lots of drugs to cope with that severe depression.

[00:07:49] Um, very lost. Um, you know, did not see my place in this world. And you know, when you don't have a purpose, it's really, really, really hard, um, to put up with the hardness that throws it at, you know, that is life. You know, I tell my students all the time, life is the hardest thing you ever have to do. And, um, anybody that tells you different on drugs or an idiot?

[00:08:12] Well, that time I was on drugs. So, um, yeah, I, at the, actually at that time I was wanting to go like, so I came from a family where my father was blue collar. My mother was educated. Mom had her master's, she was in the school system. Um, and so I had really two choices, two did I want to go to college or did I want to do the union thing that all of my other family did?

[00:08:37] Um, And I just thought I needed to, I just, you know, I just had to do the college thing. That's just what you do. So I went to college, um, and initially it was, it was, um, Marine biology. Um, I wanted to go into Marine biology, but I decided I didn't want to go to Florida state. So I went to Murray state where they had an aquatic biology program.

[00:08:58] Um, that freshman year, I basically, it was just my way to get out of the house and do whatever I wanted. Um, so I did, um, and went further into, you know, depression, drugs, all of that stuff. And, and so after my freshman year, I kind of dropped out. And moved to Louisville, Kentucky with some friends of mine and just lived the life, doing whatever.

[00:09:23] Um, and somehow through all of that made my way back home and was living, was going to a university of Southern Indiana. And I was 21, 22. When I found out I was going to be a dad very unexpectedly. Um, definitely not something I wanted at that time. Definitely not something I needed at that time. Um, but I refer, I used to refer to my oldest as a, the best mistake that ever happened to me.

[00:09:56] Um, but after telling the story to one of my high school students, they said, Mr. Scott, you can't call her an accident. She, or a mistake. She is your happy accident. And so, because I found out I was going to be a dad, I was like, you know, I need to get. Sorry for language. I need to get my shit together. Um, and at that time I was, uh, bartending at a place here in Henderson, and I knew that education was a great job for parents because my mom was in it.

[00:10:29] Um, and so I say this Lafley, but not really. I chose education for the summers off, um, because I knew education was a good family focused career. Um, and it just so happened. The community college here in town had a, um, education program where they partnered up with Murray state and here's, here's how God works.

[00:10:50] One of my regulars at the bar where I was bartending, um, was able to get me a grant and was able to get me a grant to pay for my first two years of the community college. Um, And so like looking back, like I don't, I, I firmly believe God, God puts you in particular places at particular times, for particular reasons.

[00:11:12] And, um, I don't know if it hadn't, if it hadn't been for that relationship, if I hadn't, if I wouldn't have jumped into education where I did. Um, but I jumped into the program initially it was elementary ed, um, you know, but, but when I went into my first classroom, I was hooked. I was like, yeah, this is exactly what I needed to do.

[00:11:33] Um, I've always had that, my wife and I call it the John Lennon syndrome. Um, you might say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one some day. I hope you'll join us in the world. We'll live as one. So I always wanted to make my mark or change the world somehow. And when I fell into education like this is it.

[00:11:52] Like, this is how I changed the world. And it has been a struggle. I'll say that I didn't. Have it all together. My first several years, I tried to quit several times. Um, after my, I think it was my second year, I applied for the police force here in town and got through the first round. And then I got full custody of my oldest daughter.

[00:12:15] And I took that as a sign that, um, I needed to focus on her. And so I pulled out of that. And then on down the line, a couple of years, I met my wife and got married with her. And then again, I tried to leave and I applied for the state police force. And again, I was going through the process and she became pregnant and she essentially said, Ryan, we are not moving to the other side of the state if you were to get this.

[00:12:44] Um, and so I came back in and, um, ever since I've just, I don't know, you know, you, you, sometimes you just know you're in the right spot and it has been. Uh, 20 year process. Um, people ask me all the time, how can you be so optimistic? And I'm like, that is not by chance. Like it, I did not become optimistic till I was 30 years old.

[00:13:09] Um, when I was in counseling and therapy, I remember as a 16, 17, 18 year old, my therapist at the time tried to get me to read a book called learned optimism, and I'd never read it. Maybe if I had, who knows, but point is it took me 30 years to learn optimism. Um, to me, it's a choice, um, to me, um, every day you wake up.

[00:13:36] For me, it's called God winks. So every day I go into the world looking for God winks, and I promise you every single day, there are signs that you are, where you are supposed to be. Um, you just gotta pay attention to them and. So, yeah, I hope that I hope that answered your question and wasn't too. No,

[00:13:58] Fonz: not at all Ryan.

[00:13:59] And, you know, actually I really appreciate, you know, just how transparent and open you are, you know, it's, it's sometimes, you know, it's hard for people to be vulnerable and really share stories just like you did, but you know, along the grain. Exactly. But why, but it's something that has made you who you are today and the heart that you have and the passion that you have for what you're doing, because you're making a difference, you know, each and every day, sometimes it may be difficult to see that, but like you said, you know, those God wings are those reminders that yes, you are where you need to be.

[00:14:34] Cause oftentimes. As educators, or actually as people we can fight and continue to just argue and just shake our fists and over things that if we just say, you know what, let me adapt to the situation to the here and now, and then you can easily overcome it and continue. Sometimes we spend too much energy on trying to get things to the way they used to be or the way that you want them.

[00:15:01] But you're, you are where you need to be for that specific reason, that specific season of that specific season in your life. And, you know, there's going to be great, good fruit, you know, coming out of that. And this is something that I see. From you and following you on social media and just hearing your, your, your story.

[00:15:20] I'm like, man, this is deep. This is great. And this is wonderful. So I really appreciate that from you. And I'm pretty sure our audience members too, do appreciate that. I mean, I see malware posting up, you know, so many ups and downs, so much growth, but on such a challenging path, uh, you know, and sometimes that's the path.

[00:15:38] That's the way that the past works. So thank you so much right now. Let's talk a little bit now about. Falling into education and some of the struggles, once you're getting into that classroom, you know, you are fighting this, you know, where I'm like, okay, I'm here, but I want to do the police force here.

[00:15:56] I'm going to go police force, but now, okay. I am back I'm 100% committed to what I'm doing, but you know, along the line in your learning process, as you move up to administrator, what were some of the biggest challenges that you can recall and let us know a little bit about how you overcame those challenges?

[00:16:12] Okay.

[00:16:13] Ryan: So, um, I think pretty much everybody knows that our or everybody, anybody that's listening out there would probably agree with me that ed prep programs do not prepare us for the classroom. Um, anybody that's out there in ed prep world. Um, look, I love you guys. I love what you're trying to do. I'll be honest.

[00:16:33] Most of us that have went from college straight into the classroom were woefully unprepared for what the classroom actually is. Um, we spend too much time trying to figure out how to write that perfect lesson plan, um, way too many way too much, trying to figure out how to align your standards with, you know, the curriculum, how to align the pacing guide, all of that.

[00:16:57] Look, I'll be the first to say I'm not a content guy. Um, I don't give two squats about the content. I don't really care about the curriculum. Um, yeah, that's important. Um, but for me, the content is just a vehicle to teach life. Um, so like when I jumped into this whole thing, um, I was a fourth grade teacher.

[00:17:19] Um, and with a class of, I want to say 30 and they don't prepare you for classroom. I had zero classes on classroom management. No one ever told me what to do. Um, yeah. You know, they can, they, they might give you a couple strategies. Um, and so like, I just, I was super frustrated. I didn't know how to get my kids to listen, to do what I was wanting them to do.

[00:17:50] I was trying to focus too much on the content. Um, and I remember stumbling into this, um, it's called the responsive classroom approach and it essentially talks about building community and it essentially talks about building the social and emotional before you can build the, before you can build the academic.

[00:18:12] And so I remember very vividly, probably my, I guess it was my third year. Third or fourth year, um, I started doing, um, classroom circles with my fourth graders every single day. And I taught my kids how to give compliments, how to give appreciations. Um, we started coming up with, if kids had problems, they brought them to the circle and we started coming up with solutions.

[00:18:42] Um, I remember very, very vividly. Also we had this boy, he was, uh, he was autistic. He was pretty non-verbal. Um, he would, he started out the year. Wouldn't sit in circle with us, but by the end of the year, he was sitting down with us. He was actually interacting with us in his own way. Um, and so I really started to see that it was less about the strategies that they, that people try to teach you less about, you know, like people say.

[00:19:14] Yes, there are strategies that work. I'm not saying there aren't, I've used tons of strategies, um, but really what it comes down to it, it's building that community. It's building that trust with your students. It's building that trust with their parents. It's building it's like any relationship, you know, and the more I got into it, the more I started seeing it was more about those pieces.

[00:19:36] Um, so I'll be honest. Like there were some days, some weeks I went in and didn't have a lesson plan prepared, but I knew what we were supposed to be getting done. And because those kids loved me and I loved them. They were willing to listen, pay attention, which increases engagement, which then increases, increases learning.

[00:19:57] Um, so, you know, slowly I learned that it was the connections before the content, as Josh loves to point out. Um, but you know, part in and partly. I just started to build yeah, yeah. A community. I started to build a community in my classroom. And once I started to do that, I started to see that everything else started falling in line.

[00:20:20] Fonz: You know, Ryan, what you're saying really resonates with me because it reminds me of my classroom, the way things were in. And I don't know. I mean, th there's there's things that I'm seeing, where I have seen teachers that go through the college of education they go in and it's all just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

[00:20:40] Like just go straight through the curriculum. Do all of this. There is none of that other, you know, social, emotional, making those connections, building that community. I came from a business background where everything was about customer service and it's a marketing degree. So I had, I had to sell. And in order to sell, you had to make those connections and build those friendships.

[00:21:02] You know, it was, uh, Matt woods, who was a guest here and he actually made the comment saying, you know, oftentimes people that come out of, you know, in industry or come out of not the college of education have more, or are able to get or engage students a lot more. Because we see things differently. It's relationships first before anything.

[00:21:26] And this is a battle that I have seen, you know, a lot of people go back and forth on, but, um, I've always been a big proponent that the return on investment is so much greater. If you invest that time in the beginning before you even get to lessons, and I'm just not talking about one week of this, no, no, this is something that is continuous, you know, throughout your classroom, you're modeling it and everything that you're doing that you shared.

[00:21:51] I was like, you know, this, this has worked and it it's worked for me because I've done it. And you, you know, it's worked for you and I love the way you said, you know, it's the connections you're building that community. Students feel safe that they can be vulnerable, but somebody is going to be there to help them to lift them up.

[00:22:10] You yourself, as a teacher, let's say you get. Mess up on a lesson or, you know, something goes wrong. It students are like, Hey it's okay. Mr. Scott, Hey it's okay. Mr. Mendez said, don't worry, look, check it out. I figured it out over here and they just roll with it. They care everybody's there. Everybody there is carrying each other.

[00:22:29] And that's one thing that I loved about being there in the classroom. And you know, I I'm with you, you know, it's always connections before content 100%. Now let's talk a little bit here about building community too, because this is really the title of the show and you taught us. So you've already talked to us a bit about that building community aspect within your classroom.

[00:22:48] You did mention parents. And for me, that is a huge component that I feel that many districts fall short on when they, that when they say or use the term learning community. They are like, well, that just includes our kids, our principals, and no, no, no, no, no. That includes our parents. So talk to us a little bit about that, Ryan, how have you been able to build community, uh, you know, either as a teacher, maybe giving us some, some tips on how that worked for you and now as an assistant principal, how do you continue that work?

[00:23:22] Yeah.

[00:23:23] Ryan: So, uh, first I want to say, you know, the single one of the single biggest, in my opinion, things that started to derail education is when we went away from the notion of community schools. Um, in my opinion, every single community needs to have their own school. Um, You know, all the way from the smallest towns to the biggest cities, you know, in the big cities, there are neighborhoods.

[00:23:49] So why not have the neighborhood school? We have went away from that. We have lost our identity. Um, it used to be, you know, and I say this all the time, the two, let me say it most respected people in a community at one time where the priests and the teachers and the community revolved around those two people, you know, there was a house of worship and there was a schoolhouse and every single community, and it was valued and because of funding debacles, and I don't know what it's like here, what it's like in Texas, but here in Kentucky, it's property taxes.

[00:24:25] So because of property taxes, we have started, you know, closing down community schools, um, merging schools. And when you do that, you lose, in my opinion, you lose that identity. They, you know, there was a time when everybody believed rightfully so that in order to have a strong community, you had to have a strong education system.

[00:24:47] You had to have a strong school house and people understood that. Um, so having said that, um, yes, community is what's inside, but it's also what's outside. And so things that I have done, um, well, so I'll say this at the elementary level, we do a really good job of inviting parents in I'll say most of us.

[00:25:13] Um, I say we also, for the most part, do a really good job teachers making those positive phone calls. Um, having those conversations, but for whatever reason, the older a child gets the less and less that happens, um, to where and I'm guilty. Look, I'm guilty when my 18 year old was in high school, I'll be honest.

[00:25:32] I didn't even know what classes she was taking because she was a good student. I just trusted that she was doing what she was supposed to. I kind of waited for somebody at school to call me that never happened. So I just figured she was doing well. Um, but that's not how it needs to be. Um, I'll say there are a lot of parents also that, um, and maybe we have done this to ourselves, but they look negatively sometimes at our school houses.

[00:26:00] Um, and what I mean by that is sometimes as educators, we come off as snooty and sometimes we come off, as you know, we know more about your child and you know about your child. And so we make the decisions about your child instead of inviting the parent in to make the decision with the child. Um, so some things that I do or have done, um, when I was a principal, um, we started off every year with a big block party and we would do, I would have barbers there to cut hair.

[00:26:31] Uh, I would have food trucks there to serve food. We had a barbecue, um, contest, and we, I don't know what it's like in Texas, but we, uh, smoked baloney. So we would smoke baloney and pass it out to all the kids, all the families, because anybody in education knows if you feed them, the people will come. Um, so we had food forum, we had live bands that were playing.

[00:26:54] I had community resources. So like I said, the barber, but I also had dental screenings, dental cleanings. Uh, we had local churches that were passing out backpacks full of school supplies. Um, It was just a way to let people, let our parents and our community know before the school year even started. We are all here for you and we want you here.

[00:27:18] It's going to be a fun year. So that was one thing we did. Um, also once a month, I always did, um, mornings for moms and dads. And so I would have our, um, cooks make breakfast and I would invite the parents in before school started and I would serve them breakfast. Um, they would sit down, I would hand it out to them.

[00:27:38] We would just talk. The only role was that it could not be a negative conversation. If you wanted to have a negative conversation, we would do it in my office at a later time. Um, I did that, um, now at my present role at the high school level, um, I do, I send out a Google. Pretty much whenever I can get done with the last Google form.

[00:28:00] Um, and I have built a random name generator where I pick two kids from every grade level. Um, and then I send out this Google form to all the teachers support staff and I ask for positive comments. Then I call the kid into my office. I put them on speaker phone and I call the parent. Um, and I always lead off.

[00:28:20] And this is funny, but high school people will understand this. I always lead off with no one's hurt and no one's in trouble. Um, because when you get to the high school level, that's the only reason anybody calls. Um, and so I will read these comments to mama. Normally it's mama, but sometimes it's daddy more often than not it's grandma and grandpa too, um, that are raising the kids here.

[00:28:42] So I will read that comment and then just see what happens. And I'm going to tell you what I've seen kids grow. High school kids, high school boys. I've had parents that are just like falling over themselves, say, and this has never happened before. And it's, it's in my opinion, it's not like revolutionary.

[00:29:01] It's just like, let's focus on the positive of our kids. Um, that's something I do. Um, I'll tell you something else. I do. I love car rider duty. Love it. I love doing it in the morning. I love doing it in the afternoon. I do it when it's raining, when it's snowing. Um, and I make it make a point to wave to everybody.

[00:29:22] Um, if parents windows down, I'll talk to them. Um, maybe it's the, maybe it's the bartender in me from my past life that just likes to talk to people. Um, but I just find, if you just hit up your parents and conversation, you don't talk to them like your educator, sorry, educators. You talk to them like you're a real person.

[00:29:44] Um, I just find they trust you. And if you put in. That work there have been multiple, um, examples of this multiple examples where I have talked to a parent, I have bragged on a kid and then two weeks later I had to suspend them. And you know what? The parents were not that they were fine, but they were way better than they probably would have been if that hadn't happened.

[00:30:10] Um, and then I'll tell you one story and then I'll throw it back to you. Cause I know I'm talking too much. No, this is great.

[00:30:16] Fonz: This is gold. This is gold Ryan. Like we're really getting like a lesson. Maybe there should be a course seriously in the ed program. Uh, you know, ed prep programs, for sure.

[00:30:27] Ryan: I appreciate that.

[00:30:28] Um, so one story when I was at an elementary teacher, um, I had done something that, uh, uh, one of the mamas. My student's mom was, did not agree with. So essentially this little girl, um, was making a lot of ruckus in my class and I'm a firm believer in tough love. I'm going to love you. I'm going to love you.

[00:30:49] Love you, loving you. You're going to know, I love you, but I'm also going to hold you accountable because accountability is the truest form of love. So this little girl is just causing scene after scene, after scene, trying to get out of my class and I'm turned around teaching and she goes, ah, and she says, I just stabbed myself in the eye with a pencil.

[00:31:07] And so I ask all these kids around her and they're like, no, she didn't do that. So I was like, you are not going to the nurse. I'll tell you what, when class is over, you can walk down there and then the nurse can check you out. Well, you know how kids do that? I went home and completely twisted the story to make it sound like Mr.

[00:31:24] Scott with this, you know, I stabbed her in the eye and I wouldn't know, whatever. Anyway, mama comes to the school house, uh, Long story short. I have to sit in a room with the principal assistant principal guidance, counselor, the mama, and the mama across from me, cussing me up and down. Like literally cussing me out, screaming, yelling, but I'll tell you what, by the end of that conversation, she was crying and we were hugging because I let her get it out because sometimes that's just what we need to let our people do that.

[00:31:58] She got it out on me. And I just came back with her by saying, you know what? I would rather, you be here. Be the upset. Then the parent that I can't ever get ahold of. And, uh, you know, I've really taken that to heart that even, even those parents, that call and they are the thorn in your side, um, at least they are invested in their child's education.

[00:32:22] Um, I know people out there know this, like at my school, we have infinite campus as our students support our student information system and you'll have like eight contact numbers. And by the time I have gotten down to the eighth number and still can not get ahold of anybody and no one ever calls me back on this poor child.

[00:32:43] Um, so I would much rather have the parent that calls in is upset. And the parent that is apathy.

[00:32:51] Fonz: Okay, here you go, man. You know, Brian, everything that you've said, and you talked about it, it's so simple. It really is, you know, and, and it's practical and there really isn't a formula that is out there. You know, it just seems like it's really like common sense, you know, things to do.

[00:33:08] And, you know, just focusing on those positives. But oftentimes I find myself, you know, I, you know, we're surrounded with people that oftentimes just focus on the negative instead, you know? Oh, test scores. Oh, this negative test. Okay. Well, let's see which kids are doing great. Which kids improved like a Josh Tovar says, you know, those gut kids who's watching out for those gut kids or those kids they're in the middle.

[00:33:30] Are any of them moving up? You know, that's a, when those that are at the bottom, you know, that's a win, but then it's all like, oh no, you know, we're not doing good, but you're. Generalizing and just saying, okay, everybody did bad, but in reality, you know, the, the story is different. And, but it just seems that way where, you know, and I get it, you know, teachers are frustrated right now.

[00:33:51] A lot of them, you know, are having some hard times, you know, we talked a little bit. You know this in the pre pre chat, you know, where teachers are coming back saying, you know, I have sixth graders that have high school mentalities, but fourth grade skills, you know, and attitudes and so on. So I know that that's something that's tough, but in the end, I think, you know, it's also just making part, making those connections, making those phone calls home, but on those positive notes too, like you say, you know, the parents are going to be receptive finding those little things.

[00:34:20] They're building that community. So I know it's tough out there, but I think what you've shared has been something that's been great and is definitely very useful and a great model just to sprinkle onto what some, you know, teachers are already doing great and maybe even ideas for administrators to as well that they can go ahead and do and build up that culture and build up that community within a school and their campus.

[00:34:43] So that, that is great. That is awesome.

[00:34:45] Ryan: I've got one more idea that I. Get out there. Yes, of course. Kind of speaks to that. So, um, yeah, you're right. We definitely focus on the negatives way too much. And um, I think everyone would agree that we should be focusing on growth rather than, um, how do I say this?

[00:35:04] Not that we don't focus on mastery, but we spend too much time looking at mastery instead of looking at the growth that all of our kids are making. Um, and so something I did at my last elementary school and something I will bring back when I have my own school again, is we had this, um, we had the growth wall and I was trying to build a mindset, a culture of celebrating the growth, whatever that is.

[00:35:30] And so the, the idea was anytime a kid does better for anything, they were to run down. Literally they were to run down the halls and sign the. And it was, so I had a kid that was suspended. So the next day he comes back and he's not suspended. Guess what? He made growth. He ran down there, signed the wall. I had a good day.

[00:35:55] He goes back that that could also be the kids that, you know, um, never turned his homework in. And then one day he turned it in, oh, go down to the growth wall, let's celebrate the growth. Um, I tried to get teachers to do that as well. Um, that way we are focusing more on the growth, which is a positive, um, because let's be honest, growth occurs every day, every single day.

[00:36:19] And, um, when we try to compare student to student class, to class school, to school, that's when this negative mindset starts to creep in. Um, that's when this, you know, education is not a competitive sport and somehow we've made it a competitive sport. Um, we talk about differentiation all the stink time, but we don't really do it.

[00:36:43] Um, So just something else I thought I wanted to get

[00:36:48] Fonz: out. No, and that's great. I love that because like you said, you know, we hyper-focusing on, you know, the data and just focusing over, just say, oh, we were not showing any mastery here. We're not showing this or that. But like you said, it's the overall growth.

[00:37:03] I'm one of those that I would much rather prepare students for the real world than to take an assessment. You want to personalize learning. You want to do all of this, but yet you give a uniform test to everybody and it's all ABC or D and you really don't can't measure growth from that worse. Sometimes it's like, I'm not an ABC guy.

[00:37:25] I'm give me a project. I'll do a project. I will show you my learning and I'll show you my understanding through a project, but, you know, that's, that's the way that it is right now. But I love that idea of the growth wall. It excites the students. I can imagine, you know, parents coming in and seeing this one, like what, what is this?

[00:37:43] You know, all these signatures and so on. And then them seeing like, oh, this means growth. They see their child's name, their there, you see the teacher's name there. They kind of start seeing like, wow, you know, this is something that is celebrated. And I think that's such a wonderful, wonderful idea. So Ryan has, we're kind of winding down here towards the latter part of their show.

[00:38:02] I wanted to ask you, you know, what would you say is the best advice that you can give to someone maybe? Okay. Best advice. First year teacher, you know, that you can give and also best advice for maybe first year admin. Now that you have those both perspectives.

[00:38:21] Ryan: Okay. So first year teacher, um, point blank, find out who the kids liked, the best find out which teacher they liked the best.

[00:38:32] Um, and I don't mean because teaching is a popularity contest. I mean, kids are what I mean by that is kids are a very good judge of character. Um, you cannot fool a child. And so if a child really likes an adult, there's a reason that they really like that adult. And so I would hang out with it at that adult.

[00:38:51] Um, I would eat lunch with that adult. I would pick that brains adult. I would find out what is that adult doing? And maybe the adult doesn't even know what they're doing, but find out what the adult is doing to gain the heart of their, you know, of the, of the students. And, but I would also say this, sometimes those adults, other people can be jealous of those adults.

[00:39:16] Um, 'cause you're ever, you're always going to have your negative Nancies in your school. The ones that are of the, what I like to say, the old school mindset, where it's all about compliance and the ones that say don't smile until Christmas, which is a lie. Um, the ones that want to hammer the content into their kids.

[00:39:39] Look, we're not in that era of education anymore. Um, so hang out with the teacher that the kids love the most. Um, and I'll tell you as an administrator, a couple things slow down, slow down, slow down. Um, and I, and I can say this cause I did not. My first principal job, um, I came into a school that had. Ha had some, a lot of opportunities for growth.

[00:40:09] And, um, I'm a man, so inherently I'm a fixer. So, um, I jumped in and tried to fix everything at once and that did nothing but overwhelmed my folks. And I learned that very, very quickly. Um, so slow down, focus on, you know, one thing at a time. Um, and quite often that's probably not, in my opinion, that's not the academics.

[00:40:33] Um, and I would also say trust your people. Um, if you can't okay. So this is my opinion. And in much to the chagrin, sometimes the folks I work with, but if you have to check your, your people's lesson plans every single week, then you don't trust them. And if you don't trust them, they don't need to be in your building.

[00:40:54] Um, I work under the assumption of, I trust you until you give me a reason not to. So I'm not the guy that checks lesson plans. Um, every Monday, every Tuesday, I might go weeks without checking the lesson plan. But if I see after looking at the data that students are not learning in that classroom, that's when I start, you know, um, and I would also say you need to take the work under the premise that everybody's doing the very best that they can.

[00:41:30] Um, when you do that, it changes everything. So you have a teacher that is really struggling with classroom management or, um, kids are not learning in their classroom, come at it as they are doing the very best that they can. And so then it's your job as an administrator to find those supports to help them out.

[00:41:51] Um, it's not your, it's not your job to cause I've seen it. You know, I've heard, heard the administrators that talk. Smack about teachers that aren't performing in the classroom and really, you know, degrade them. Um, if we take the assumption that everybody's doing the very best that they can, it completely changes your perspective.

[00:42:13] Um, and then, uh, the second thing, third thing for administrators, find out what you can do to make school fun. I always told kids in my classroom, if you're not having fun, you're not learning. And so what can you do at all levels? K through 20, what can you do to make learning.

[00:42:35] Fonz: There you go. Well, I mean, those are some great and solid pieces of advice that you can, uh, give to any first year and admins, you know, and I love the fact that, you know, you have those different perspectives there.

[00:42:45] You've got the classroom experience, you've got the admin experience and you know, we've got Josh Tovar also joining in here also as well. Just kind of, uh, reiterating some of the stuff that you said, you know, being in the classroom, you know, I love what he always says here. You can't fake the funk with kids.

[00:43:00] You can't fake the funk with your teachers either. You can do that. And then, you know, also, you know, quoting some Todd Whitaker here, assume people are doing the best, you know, that they can. So there you go. So thank you, Josh, for participating. I want to give a shout out to Tim KV also as well, who joined us or is joining us also and viewing the show.

[00:43:18] So Tim, thank you so much. I know he's getting ready for his show that he does live right now in a couple of minutes as well. Ryan, let's talk about your podcast. All right. So let us know how, what was the idea behind it or how. When did it start? Was this a pandemic podcast? Much like mine. Tell us a little bit about,

[00:43:37] Ryan: yeah.

[00:43:38] So, um, I don't sit still very well and, um, you know, I'll be honest. Um, I'll be very honest when the pandemic hit. So as an administrator, you know, essentially our job is around kids. And so when there are, there were no kids in the building, I felt completely lost. Like what do I do? Um, I am the assistant principal that learns every single kid's name and my.

[00:44:05] Um, we have about 700 kids and it's my job, in my opinion, to know every single kid know where they come from, where they live, know what's, um, in their backpack that they bring to school every day, you know, know what their ACE score is, so to speak. Um, and so when there were no kids in the building, I felt lost.

[00:44:24] Um, and I, and I'll be honest. I started to go into that funk, like I had 20 years ago. Um, cause I just didn't feel my purpose. Like my purpose is not to sit in my office every day and make sure that my teachers, uh, Google meet links are correct. Um, that was not my purpose. I did not B you know, I didn't go into the, well, I tried to be a copy salesman.

[00:44:47] That was the only job I ever got fired from. Um, so I did not go into that to be in the business world. Like I need people. And so. About that time, a good friend of mine, anybody out there, you may know him, how Bowman, who is also from Texas. Um, he puts on the teach like a rockstar PDs, and he started this Facebook group called men and ed.

[00:45:12] Um, and it was a Facebook group meant to unite all of the men that are in education. Um, because men are kind of like a unicorn in education. There's not a lot of us. And, and we were trying to form a mentor group. And so through that group, at the very beginning of the pandemic, we made some really great relationships and then jump forward, maybe six, eight months, something like that.

[00:45:39] He, uh, put on this little clinic one night of, for anybody that might be interested in starting a podcast. And, you know, again, I was, I didn't know what to do. I was bored. I, I didn't know what to do. So I was like, yeah, this sounds fun. And so. Um, my 40th birthday was approaching and I was like, I'm a goal-setter.

[00:45:58] I was like, you know, for my 40th birthday, what do I want to? Okay. So for my 40th birthday, I want to do a 40 mile hike, which I did three weeks ago. And then I also thought, um, I also want to let's, let's start a podcast. And so January 7th night, uh, January 7th of this year. Yup. Um, my first episode dropped, um, and now here I am today, my 53rd episode dropped with mark Horner, um, who is an amazing educator out of Ohio.

[00:46:31] Um, look, podcasts are awesome. Like I call my podcasts like my fifth child now. Um, it has introduced me to some amazing people at, in the Twitter sphere. Um, it has helped me to stay grounded. It has helped me. I'll be quite honest. Um, It has helped me to understand that I'm not that abnormal. Like there are lots of people out there that think just like me, and sometimes it's very easy, especially if you, if you are working in a district that, you know, may not sometimes align with everything that you think, um, some, you know, that imposter syndrome.

[00:47:15] And so it's helped with that. Um, it's helped me to create a huge PLN. Um, I've got to be on some amazing podcasts like yours, meet some amazing people, um, you know, and it, and it's changed my mindset on stuff. Um, I was, uh, I was pretty staunch opposed to charter schools and staunchly opposed to non-traditional education non-traditional teachers and my views have changed a little bit.

[00:47:43] Um, so I mean, it has been wonderfully pers wonderful personally, um, And I'll say this, my podcast just got picked up. The announcement hasn't been made yet, but I'm going to be a part of the teach, better team podcast network. Um, so waiting, waiting for that kind of, um, announcement to come out. I turned in all the paperwork and stuff last week.

[00:48:07] Um, and then, um, also somebody reached out to me a couple of weeks ago about, about possible. So, you know, I don't know, I don't know what's on the horizon for Ryan Scott, but, um, it has been a long, strange trip as Jerry Garcia likes to say, but, um, it has. Freaking awesome.

[00:48:29] Fonz: Hey, you know what, and that's amazing.

[00:48:30] Like I said, you know, the opportunities I, and I agree with you, Ryan. I mean, this, this podcast also started due to pandemic on April 10th, 2020. And, you know, I never thought that, you know, w I'd be going this long. You know, usually they say it's like seven episodes. You know, now I'm 98 episodes in, you know, with you.

[00:48:51] And then I've got my hundredth episode coming up on December 8th with an amazing special guests. And, but what I love about it, Ryan is just like you said, you know, it's helped me. Continue to learn. It's helped me see that there are other people like my friend, Louis Bertos always says there are other like-minded wackos like myself that have a different view of education.

[00:49:14] And we want to make our mark. We want to help change. We want to make sure that, you know, things there's better practices that are out there and that we can collectively get together, share ideas and really push education to the next level. And so it's been great. And the opportunities, like you said, I, you call it PLN.

[00:49:34] I always call it PLF, my personal learning family, that you are a part of, you know, and I love that, that I get to interview you and see your perspectives, your experiences, and a lot of the leadership, you know, right now a lot of the people that have been on the show have been, you know, we're talking about leadership a lot is that is something that, you know, potentially.

[00:49:56] Next move for me within the next coming year. And you know, I want to learn and, and I just love going straight to the source. So if I see somebody that's doing something great, such as you are, and many of the guests that have been here, I'm going to say, Hey, do you want to have a conversation? Do you want to be on the show?

[00:50:14] I know that I'm not the only one that's going to get the PD out of it, but everybody is they're going to be able to amplify their voice, their ideas and their thoughts. And it's just about bringing educators creators together. One show at a time. So I love it. Ryan keep doing what you're doing. My friend, you're doing some amazing things.

[00:50:31] And I was about to say, I was like, I'm waiting for that Ryan Scott book to come out because pretty much it's like this whole conversation. I was like, I could see this as a book. Right? Well,

[00:50:43] Ryan: you know, there was a time, uh, what through my, what I call my wandering years when I was a creative writing major, um, I wrote poetry and read it at a coffee.

[00:50:53] Um, back in my, when my, when my hair was long and I drove a 77 Volkswagen van back in the day. Um, so you know, who knows, you know, God knows. Yeah,

[00:51:03] Fonz: there you go. All right, Ryan. Well, let's go ahead. And we're going to go on to the, yeah. The winding down the show and everything. And I love just to kind of end things just on a cool little call me an old positive note and things of that sort.

[00:51:16] So let me get through a couple of questions at you right now at this point in time, what would you say would be your edge? You kryptonite. Okay,

[00:51:27] Ryan: so you, okay. I have been stewing on this cause you gave me, you kind of forewarned me last night that this question was going to be coming. Um, and I'll tell you, like, I don't say like, as an ed disruptor, because I want to disrupt the system.

[00:51:43] There are, you know, there are, I'll be honest. There's a lot of, a lot of things in the current. Um, you know, we're still based on the factory model, you know, that's something. Um, but something I hear all the time that, that I cringe that goes under my skin is when we say we are pro, especially at the high school level, we're preparing them for the real world.

[00:52:06] Oh. And I, and I, and I want to bark back and say, okay, if we're preparing them for the real world than what we're doing right now is not the real world, um, in the real world, I'm sorry, but you don't use algebra two, um, in the real world, I'm sorry, but you don't even use chemistry. Um, in the real world, there are a lot of courses that are required by our states that really have zero application to the real world.

[00:52:33] Um, and I'll be, you know, in my district, 30 to 40% of our high school kids go to college, but still we push AP as kind of like the, you know, The thing, you know, well, if only 30% of our kids are actually looking to go to college, why are we spending such an exorbitant amount of time teaching those type of courses?

[00:52:59] Um, actually I just looked up this fact while we were talking 72% of kids that graduate from college, stay close to home. Um, so it's not like people are getting these degrees and going way far away. And so if we are preparing our kids for the real world, then we look at, we need to look at what the real world is around.

[00:53:20] So if we live in a very rural community, why would we send kids to college for these big degrees when guessing what? They can't use it in our, in our hometown. And if we, if they can use it, they're going to move away, which is a brain. Um, so in my opinion, the schools have to do away better job of tailoring their focus to what the community needs, um, where I'm at.

[00:53:47] Uh, we were once a very big coal mining community that is no more, no more at all. So there was a time when kids literally could not, could get straight DS in high school and then graduate and make a $120,000 their first year. That's not the case. Um, I'm also a firm proponent that, um, if we're preparing them for the real world, guess what the real world is about skills.

[00:54:13] It's not about memorization. So, and, and this is going to fly in the face of some of my folks. Why are we spending so much time in social studies, classes and science classes on dates and facts and stuff that literally all kids need to do. Um, if you can Google it, you don't spend, you don't need to spend time on it.

[00:54:36] I'm sorry. You just don't. Um, I see at the secondary level, going away from English and social studies courses and combining them doing like an integrated, uh, English social studies, because literally, you can teach social studies through like through literature and, you know, while you're studying the gilded age at the same time at the high school level, let's read a book on the gilded age, you know?

[00:55:03] So I think, you know, possibly at the, at the high school level, you could cut out some of that stuff. Um, and then my last thing about that comment is that if we are preparing kids for the future, then we need to be preparing them for a future that focuses on relationships because we are living in a time where people are more connected but less connected than ever.

[00:55:25] But. Kids cannot have conversations with anybody. Hale adults can't have conversations with anybody. Um, critical thinking is at an all time low, um, which is crazy to me because we have more knowledge in the Palm of our hand than has ever been on this earth. But we can't think of our way outside of a box because we're spending so much time on rope memory on ABCD questions.

[00:55:52] We're spending so much time writing essays. Um, I'm sorry, but there's no reason for a high school kid to be learning how to write a 3.8 paragraph, especially if they're not even going into college, but what that high school kids should be learning is. Okay. So we're reading this book about slavery. How does.

[00:56:15] How does that apply to the today? You know, how can we make a more, just a more equitable, a more, um, compassionate society to me, that's what education needs to start focusing more on and less on the content.

[00:56:32] Fonz: No, I agree with you 100%, you know, like you said, the skills that we have now, you know, the. I have there's teachers that are using note cards still to do citations and teaching their kids citations.

[00:56:45] So I was like, you know, there's websites where you can put in the information and it'll spit out. Yeah. It'll pull out the citation for you. I mean, APA, APA, sixth edition, seventh edition, eighth edition, MLA, all sorts of things, but yet they still write them down, have them write on note cards, the parts. And I'm thinking to myself, you know, we, like you say, we need to prepare them for the way they are for the industries that are out there blogging, you know, instead of writing a composition, you know, turn it into a blog, put it on a website, do all those things that are relevant because those skills that's the future of work, you know, currently.

[00:57:19] Even then it's going to get even to the next level, but at least they're getting that experience now. So

[00:57:25] Ryan: yeah, I'll say, I'll say this in closing this, if out. And so I'm going to talk about, so if our school experience, so if our student's school experience mimics what our school experience was, we're doing it wrong.

[00:57:42] I I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna say, I'm going to say it. Um, the world that you and I lived in, look, I'm 40 years old. So the world that I grew up in is not the same that these kids are growing up in and we are doing them a disservice by teaching them the way that we were taught. We have to look outside of the box.

[00:58:02] We have to change the shape of education. We have to change the goalpost. We have to change. Look, the field of education needs to be, I don't know how better to say it, but it up. And thrown away and rebuilt

[00:58:20] Fonz: 100% with you on that. I, I subscribed to that. All right, Ryan, how about one, a couple of other questions here real quick.

[00:58:29] If you can turn any of your hobbies that you may have into a profession, which would it be and why?

[00:58:36] Ryan: Okay. Any of my hobbies. So at first I started talking about podcasting, but I don't really know if podcasting is a hobby anymore. Like I said, I feel like I'm a father of a podcast now. So, um, but you know, I'll be honest.

[00:58:51] I work out five days a week. I love working out. I love getting to the gym. It's my place of Zen. Um, so, you know, I could turn that into a side business. Not like, I don't know. I think I could turn that into.

[00:59:08] Fonz: There you go. That's good. All right. So definitely health and that's wonderful that, you know, people need that, you know, that the endorphins and obviously, you know, the healthier you are, the clearer your mind and for educators, that's definitely something that's very important.

[00:59:23] That self-care piece. All right, Ryan, and one last question for you, Ryan. If we were to switch roles right now, and this was your podcast and I'm your guest, what would be one question you'd like to ask me? Okay.

[00:59:36] Ryan: So one that it really, that I really like to ask people is what was your first.

[00:59:41] Fonz: Oh, my first re well, okay.

[00:59:44] I graduated in 2003 from university, but I still ended up working at the university as the university call center, or even looking for a job. So this was the voice that was, so if you would call the university, it goes straight

[01:00:00] Ryan: to the main, and

[01:00:02] Fonz: then it'd be like the university of Texas Pan-American this is Alfonso.

[01:00:06] How may I direct your call? So that was me back in 2003. That was my first job, but it wasn't my first true job with my degree and everything was a enterprise Rent-A-Car oh yeah. Enterprise Rent-A-Car when I went in there and that really is where I honed in my skin. For customer service, dealing with customers of all types and dealing with those adults really helped prepare me.

[01:00:34] When I made that transition from business into the classroom said, if I can handle adults out here, I can definitely handle students and out. And I don't mean like, handle, like, oh, you know, I mean, make those relationships. And, and that's what it's always been, you know, that has been the magic for my success in 6, 11, 11 years in the classroom.

[01:00:59] I always take it back to customer service, knowing my students, but not only knowing my students, knowing the parents of my students and making those connections and that building community. So that's why a lot of what you said today, really just like, you know, yes, there are other people out there that think the same way that things differently.

[01:01:19] And you know, we're not the only ones out there, so I excellent. I honestly, it has been a pleasure. It has been an honor. And I do want to tell you keep doing what you're doing and you know, your stuff that you put on social media, your presence on social media is definitely great. It is very helpful. It is very inspiring.

[01:01:39] Your podcast to your guests have been tremendous champions, you know, education leaders, people that are out there also that have similar thinking and that we get to learn from. So I really do appreciate you taking the time out of your busy Saturday. You know, I know you've got your family, uh, it's the weekend, but thank you.

[01:01:58] I really appreciate you carving this bit of time because it's been helpful, not only to me, but to our, our viewers that are watching currently live those that are going to be rewatching or listening to the podcast later on. You definitely brought it today, my friend. And thank you so

[01:02:12] Ryan: much. Thank you so much for valuing.

[01:02:16] Um, my voice, um, you know, I know there are. Thousands of other folks out there that have some amazing ideas for education and, um, to just to give a little shameless plug, um, if any of those folks out there do have a big ed idea w regardless of how big or small it is, reach out to me, let's talk.

[01:02:38] Fonz: Excellent.

[01:02:38] Yeah. And I have been putting out your Twitter link and then also for the podcast, this will also be on the show notes as well, guys. So once the episode is up and ready to go, just go click, visit our website, my ed, my ed catch this episode in about 45 minutes. It will be posted up, or you can also just check out all our previous guests, check out those episodes as well.

[01:03:01] And, you know, just hear these voices of amazing educators that are out there that are all striving to make change and to bring amazing ideas into our edgy sphere. And so, again, Thank you guys for joining us this Saturday. I appreciate every single one of you, Ryan. Again, thank you so much. Thank you to your wife and your daughters for letting you come and play with me for a little bit on my podcast.

[01:03:27] Appreciate you and my friends. We will have a special bonus episode this coming week on Thanksgiving week, and we'll definitely put the announcement on for that, but we will have shown number 99 on December the fourth with Katie Novak. And then December the eighth, we will have our special 100th episode celebration.

[01:03:49] And I have an amazing guest that I won't reveal yet. But I'm just excited and thrilled and as always, thank you. Every single one of you that is out there for listening to our show for listening to our amazing guests, for making my ed tech life, what it is today. And as always, we're always looking to bring you the best and bring you the best of me.

[01:04:10] So drop us a line, give us some feedback. What are we doing? Great. What are we not doing? Great. Let us know. I'm always willing to learn, but guys until next time, don't forget. Stay techie. .

Ryan ScottProfile Photo

Ryan Scott

Hubs/Dad/Assistant Principal/Podcast Host

Ryan Scott hails from beautiful Western Ky! Most importantly, Ryan is a husband and dad. Professionally, he has been in education for 15 years within the elementary/high school levels. He’s been a classroom teacher, RTI specialist, elementary principal and currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Webster County High School in Dixon,Kentucky.

Ryan is a staunch proponent of connectionsB4content, maslowsB4blooms, and that skills, NOT memorization, will propel our kids to success! Each day Ryan goes out of his way to make students/adults feel valued, seen, and heard!

EVERY day Ryan looks for the #godwinks that let him know he’s in a particular place, at a particular time, for a particular reason!