About Me and...
The Watermelons and Team Spirit Story

I have to say that again. About me and ..."Watermelons and Team Spirit"

The decision to publish schoolthemes.org and continue sharing Education and Teaching information is based on … watermelons and Team Spirit.

That may not seem to make sense so let’s start at the beginning…

All good stories start someplace and mine starts with the United States Navy. First it’s important to realize there are many good Navy stories I can’t tell… (at least not here). I spent just shy of 27 years in the Navy… Yep that’s me in the early days.

I hid a picture of the later days down at the bottom of the page.

Anyway, I traveled the world, spent time in many foreign countries (Japan, South Korea, China, Viet Nam, Philippines, Thailand, United kingdom, Spain, Kenya, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Australia, Persian Gulf, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Panama, Somalia, Singapore, and on and on), met some of the greatest people who remain lifelong friends, and generally loved every minute (even boot camp) of my Navy career (well almost).

I served with others from every state in the nation and even non U.S. citizens who are permitted to serve in the military. Some, but not all, eventually become U.S citizens. Anyway, I rose through the enlisted ranks, (E1 – E7), applied for commissioning through the Limited Duty Officer program (LDO) and retired as a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR).

I realize these names and ranks may be unfamiliar to some, as the Navy and Coast Guard have rank titles different from other services. Lieutenant Commander is equivalent to Major in the Army, Marines and Air Force.

So what does all this military stuff have to do with education, teaching and School Themes ?

Glad you asked! Remember, It’s all about watermelon and team spirit… read on !

As I progressed through the ranks and benefited from military schooling, it became apparent to me that many enlistees didn’t have the skill sets necessary to succeed in the military. That’s a crime. And most but not all, were high school graduates.

And I’m talking about the basic skill sets – The 3 R’s, reading, writing and rithmetic. I know these are seen as dated and obsolete in an age of standards based education, but I’ll also share that the three R’s remain critical and compulsory ingredients in safety of life ventures that our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters find themselves facing in the military – every day!

So, I eventually adopted a self imposed program to interview every new sailor reporting to my department and asked them to set some goals.

“What would you like to accomplish in the next 36 or 48 months?” I’d ask.

This question was a startling revelation to many as most were still shell shocked from just completing boot camp followed by basic Information Technology training (Radioman training in my time).

Speaking of startled… a few months after initiating this program I was more than startled to hear from one young sailor that he hoped to obtain a drivers license during his 4 year military obligation.

I smiled knowing there must be more to the story with bigger and better goals. Perhaps he wanted to become a long haul truck driver or heavy duty construction machine operator, I thought. These professions require a driver’s license so maybe he’s just starting at the beginning.

As my inquiry continued I learned this young man (18 years young) was from Florida. His family lived in their car and survived by driving from field to field where the latest fruit crops were being harvested.

They would pick their time and steal fruit to eat as long as they could get away with it. Eventually they would be chased away or decide to search for another location based upon seasonal crop rotation, weather or just plain boredom.

His favorite fruit was… yep, you guessed it… watermelon.

This young sailor signed a contract and obligated himself for 4 years in the United States Navy. His primary goal was to obtain a driver’s license so that upon return home he’d be able to drive their car from field to field and help ensure his family could find something to eat.

His greatest fear was that he couldn’t pass the driving test and he’d be unable to assist his family.

To make a long story short, this young sailor’s story was atypical but always stuck with me. All of us are teachers, educators and leaders in some sense. Whether it’s as parents, employers, employees or just plain friends, we all have the capability to help, coach, teach, assist and lead others in specific environments.

This is especially true in the military. We’re in close quarters most of the time and learn a great deal about each other pretty quickly. Strengths and weaknesses become obvious as friendships develop and chain of command relationships are enforced.

Over the course of my career I assumed collateral duties (some voluntary) such as financial newsletter publisher, tax preparation, teaching economics to high school seniors at University City High School in San Diego, California, etc.

These kinds of adjunct activities were instrumental in preparing me for the determination to publish School Themes.

Although training in the three R’s may have been lacking initially, we found it rewarding to teach those in need. Once a supporting environment was achieved, new sailors were taken under the wing by fellow military members who obligated themselves to ensure the success of new enlistees.

There is no pass or fail criteria. There is however, constant and willing support to help others achieve professional performance, promotion, reward and recognition.

These character building qualities inscribe loyalty, integrity, professionalism, confidence, responsibility and a whole host of related descriptions all of us would like our youth to model.

Wrap all these items in one blanket and they showcase a prominent feature of military character – and that’s called Team Spirit !

So, I’ve tried to capture that concept, and turn the important feelings of Team Spirit that are so common in the military environment - into School Themes for education and teaching related objectives.

I realize that’s a mouthful but School Themes are just “Ideas in Motion.” And, the promotion of all School Spirit really begins with the right idea supported by the right participants and your school theme team leaders.

With the assistance and guidance of a middle school principal I’ve developed school theme ideas (10 at last count) but I invite, in fact encourage teachers, administrators and all others to submit useful content (contact us) ideas that contribute to education and student achievement.

I’ve learned that education is a tollbooth on the road to many places.

Please help make them successful places.

You submit helpful content (or forward to others who will), I’ll publish it (giving full credit of course) and all schools and students will benefit.

Let’s promote School Spirit

After All… its all about the kids.

P.S. Successful education is a personal commitment to me. The topics I've presented such as school spirit, online education opportunities, student loans, graduation, homecoming, prom, fundraising, student motivation, school themes, represent topics all educators encounter but they are not the complete picture. I recognize there are additional important concepts and subject matter individual schools and staff members face so don't hesitate to submit content on new material.

P.P.S. Speaking of personal commitment I've also added a new section on Autism and special education. My grand daughter has recently been diagnosed with Autism. I will endeavor to provide helpful information and resources for parents and teachers facing the remarkable challenges an increasing number of us may encounter.

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