• Came across this quote today

    Posted by David Jeck on 6/8/2021 1:05:00 AM

    “I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a s**t. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said s**t than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

    ― Tony Campolo

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  • Quick story about my dad....

    Posted by David Jeck on 5/25/2021 1:05:00 AM

    When I refer to "my dad," I'm really talking about my stepfather, Dr. Leonard Jones. He is the man who raised me, supported me, supported my siblings, took care of my mom, etc. My biological father was not much of a father at all, but that's not the point of this blog post.

    Growing up with a house full of kids (I have six brothers and sisters and four step-brothers and sisters) with a physician father meant plenty of in-home medical care. Dr. Jones did not enjoy providing care at home, because home was home, not the office...but my mother often did not give him a choice.  

    Here is the thing I learned early on, and continued to recognize deep into adulthood: that guy was always right. When it came to treating ailments, he was always spot on...even with the weird stuff like: his remedy for removing a ring I had forced on to my finger, or how he relieved the excruciating pain my brother was experiencing after slamming a car door on his thumbnail (spoiler: it involved a paper clip and a cigarette lighter), or how he made sure that the little kids in our family did not develop a gap between their front teeth (this trait runs in my family). Lets just say it was a pretty gruesome procedure. And I'll never forget going to see him to have a cast removed. He entered the examination room but did not utter a word. He took out an electric saw used to remove casts. I thought for sure that he was going to cut off my arm. He didn't, of course, and simply removed the cast with the reverberating saw, then left the room without saying a word. That was my dad in a nutshell.  

    Dr. Jones had a really lousy bedside manner and was a man of very few words...but he knew his stuff. That whole medical school thing, residency experience, forty years of practicing medicine really paid off for "Doc Jones."  My siblings and I trusted him completely. He was the expert. We need to trust the experts. 




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  • Finding Your Talent

    Posted by David Jeck on 4/26/2021

    Some find it very early in life, and some find it closer to the end. For some it's obvious, for others it's found only after spending years engaged in something, some occupation or career path that is completely unrewarding, although monumentally time consuming.

    Some never find it, which is the greatest tragedy of all.

    Some know exactly what it is but have it wrung out of them by a culture that prefers punishing errors, and expects allegiance to a familiar path with conventional (and typically low) expectations.   

    ...but we all have them. We all have at least one exceptional talent. Helping kids find and enhance theirs is one of our most critically important challenges. I fear that the traditional educational model, one which is based on the factory system developed during the American Industrial Revolution, has made the task more dificult. Add high-stakes standardized, multiple choice testing to the mix, and we end up with an instructional system and/or model that actually works against kids finding and sculpting their talent(s). 

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  • Some Good Advice

    Posted by David Jeck on 3/26/2021 7:00:00 AM

    Shared with my staff today (weekly newsletter):


    I have a great memory when it comes to advice given to me, especially from people for whom I have great respect. Here are a few notable examples:

    Dr. Bill Thomas, my first Virginia superintendent, in reference to the last few week of school: “Try to keep the circus under the tent”

    Dr. David Melton, my second Virginia superintendent: “Don’t pick fights with people who buy their ink by the barrel.”

    My mother: “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

    Dr. AL Butler, great friend, colleague, and mentor (regarding the high school principalship): “If someone every approaches you after a ball game with a bag of money from ticket sales or concessions, don’t touch it.”

    Dr. Major Warner: “If you consistently invest in people, it is okay to make a withdrawal every once in a while.”

    Wendy Moss: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

    I am typically reluctant to give advice unless asked for it, but I want to give some to you: After school today, forget about Fauquier County Public Schools for a few days. Stop worrying. Flip the switch in your mind that controls thoughts/worries/frustrations regarding your job. You have earned the right to disconnect and unwind. Take comfort in the FACT that you have, over the last several months, survived and thrived during the most difficult time in the history of public education…and that is no exaggeration. You are all heroes and, in spite of the fact that some people will never understand what you have endured, you have earned great respect from all corners of our community. Truly, we are all in awe of you and are forever indebted to you.



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  • How could I do such a thing?

    Posted by David Jeck on 3/11/2021 7:00:00 AM

    I learned recently that I cancelled all things Dr. Seuss and, specifically, Green Eggs and Ham. For a moment I was quite upset with myself, especially considering that GEAH was one of the first books I remember reading. I was ultimately corrected: I had not cancelled GEAH the book, I had cancelled GEAH the food. At that point, I was twice as upset with myself. How could I do such a thing?

    I am joking of course but, in all seriousness, I did stop for a moment and wonder to myself if, maybe, I had made these decisions and then forgotten that I had. The people who were emailing me and sending Tweets were so certain that I had…maybe they were right?

    Social media, for me anyway, is the ultimate good/bad scenario. It can be a tremendous tool for the sharing of information, spreading positivity, recognizing accomplishments, etc. But, of course, it can also be used as a tool to tear down, share false information, bully, rage, etc. It feels like the train left the station a long time ago in terms of the misuse of social media. We’ve all seen some really awful things occur as a result of irresponsible use…but we’ve also seen social media used for plenty of good.

    Pretty solid rule of thumb when using social media: don’t write or share anything that you wouldn’t say or share in person, face-to-face. A second good guidepost: verify, verify,  verify. The amount of misinformation flowing from SM is staggering and disturbing…and often impossible to reign in.”

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  • Instant Smile

    Posted by David Jeck on 2/20/2021 1:00:00 AM

    My wife and I are avid Wheel of Fortune watchers. We were watching recently and wondered aloud if anyone has ever won the million dollar prize. It turns out that three contestant have! Michelle Lowenstein won in 2008, Autumn Erhard won in 2013, and Sarah Manchester won in 2014.

    Stop for a moment. Watch the first winner. Its 100% joy! It will put a smile on your face. 


    Let's all spread a little joy around!

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  • My Friend Todd

    Posted by David Jeck on 2/11/2021 4:00:00 AM

    I have this great friend...a friend of over 35 years who has been a gigantic influence in my life. Every time I talk to him, I learn something new. I was fortunate enough to have him as a guest on my most recent podcast and, again, I learned and I grew.

    Todd Komarnicki is, well, kind of famous, but you would never, ever know it. He is so humble and so comfortable in his own skin.  We met in 1986 at Wheaton College as members of the baseball team. We became fast friends and I still look up to Todd in so many ways. 

    During the recent interview on my podcast, I asked him what advice he might give to students aspiring to become writers. Here is what he said:

     "writing is work. its eight to ten hours every day, just writing. but here's the thing. i never want to write. i never wake up and think, I can't wait to write today! it's hard work. but the payoff and satisfaction that can come from having written...that is worth the all the effort. and in the end, it is vital to remember, that writing isn't about desire, it is about discipline. and discipline just means to be a disciple. to follow. to follow your calling. so if you feel it burning inside of you that you need to write, but don't want to. that's okay. just follow the calling, and the blank page will get filled up with beauty word...by word."  

    Such a valuable lesson for our kids. Hard work is hard, but the rewards of our efforts include feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. We live in a society that wants immediate success and reward, but life doesn't work that, and finding that "thing" that we are willing to dedicate our blood, sweat, and tears to is very tricky and very elusive.



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  • It Beats the Alternative

    Posted by David Jeck on 1/24/2021 2:00:00 AM

    I included this quote in our most recent newsletter because, well, it makes so much sense. It was written by former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, a man who has endured great hardship and personal loss. This is a tough time, perhaps the toughest we've dealt with as related to K-12 public education. More than ever, I think, we need to pick each other up, encourage one another, and reflect a spirit of positivity. In the words of coach Dungy:

    “What you believe and what you expect have a tendency to come true. This is why it is important to be careful how you speak to yourself, conduct yourself, and develop yourself. The landscape of your future is in large part determined by what you think it will be and how you see yourself in it. Those who have positive expectations experience positive results more often than those who have negative expectations. So it is vital to make sure that your perceptions are positive.”

    We are going to come through this and we are going to be even better as a result of facing these challenges head-on and with a spirit of positivity and hope.



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  • Vaccines

    Posted by David Jeck on 1/14/2021 12:00:00 PM

    Fingers crossed, but perhaps with the sooner-than-expected rollout of the COVID vaccine things may get back to “normal” sooner than expected. Our staff's flexibility and responsiveness regarding the vaccine administration has made a HUGE difference and FCPS1 is leading the way! Maybe this is the light at the end of a very long tunnel?  Maybe yes and maybe no but, in either case, the vaccines will make our students and staff safer and will hopefully instill confidence. We desperately needed a “shot in the arm” (pun intended…sorry) and, speaking only for myself, I am greatly encouraged.

     I can’t say enough about our local VDH folks. Daniel Ferrell and April Achter have been amazing! They have been instrumental in terms of keeping us informed and in regard to expediting the vaccination process. Many well deserved “thank yous” to them and the other professionals at VDH.

    To the FCPS staff: I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the day when we can all look back on these awful times and congratulate ourselves for a job well done! I appreciate you all so very much, and I have deep respect for each of you. Individual differences are normal and healthy, so our occasional disagreements and frustration are to be expected. We need to remind ourselves daily that we are all trying to accomplish the same thing: helping students and families. This is why we do what we do. How we accomplish this is often the debate, but we need to take comfort in the fact that we have a passionate, child-centered school division that is rising to perhaps the greatest educational challenge in our history. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

     Here is to a great 2021!

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  • The Zero Dilemma

    Posted by David Jeck on 1/5/2021 1:10:00 AM


    I can remember, quite vividly, the first time I was challenged regarding my attitude toward the "awarding" of zeroes to student who failed to submit assignments. Rick DuFour was the man who challenged my thinking and ultimately caused me to change my attitude. Two of his illustrations remain burned into my memory:

    1) If you choose not to file your taxes, does the Federal Government simply assign you a zero and hope that you file the following year? No, of course not. They REQUIRE you, under penalty of law, to file. We, as educators, should establish frameworks wherein students MUST complete assignments, period. The non-submission of assignments should be unacceptable. 

    2) If a particular student's grades were based on five assignments only, all weighted equally, what would this student's grade be?

    Assignment one: zero

    Assignment two: 70

    Assignment three: 80

    Assignment four: 90

    Assignment five: 100

    Final Grade: 68 (D) 

    Zeroes are devastating to a student’s grade and, perhaps as importantly, do not reflect what a student has actually learned. This is a controversial issue for many, but it is worth considering. 



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