Tuesday, November 30, 2010


One of my favorite aspects of being a principal is the wonderful interactions I get to have with children. They say the neatest things, & I think we need to listen to kids more than we do!
I want to share with you some questions that are fun to use with students taken from the book entitled Funtastic Conversation Starters for Parents and Kids by Robert Crosby.

Great questions to ask your Preschooler: What is your favorite cartoon? When you're happy, what do you like to do? Why do we go to work? What kinds of things make you laugh? What is your favorite color? What new things did you learn today?

Great questions to ask your Grade-schooler: Other than recess & lunch, what hour do you enjoy the most at school? What is a conscience? What's your favorite joke? How do you decide who your friends will be? Why do kids like computer games? What is one thing you're looking forward to right now? What is the nicest thing a teacher ever said or did for you? What are five questions that most kids your age would love to be asked? If you were the head of our household, what would be your top five rules? What do you think we need to do more as a family? How do you think computers will change in the future? How will getting good grades now help you when you're twenty-five years old? What is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to you? What is one thing of yours you would never be willing to sell at any price?

Great Questions to ask your Teenager: Describe the kind of person you would like to marry one day. What is "Generation X?" What are your five favorite books? What are some of the best things happening in our world today? What is the most significant thing you have done this year? What do you like the most about growing older? Who is your favorite teacher? How do you show respect for your teachers? What does "cool" mean to you? Are you happy? What is the best time you have ever had with me? What are your top three strengths? Is happiness a decision or a result of circumstances? When you're choosing music, what is most important to you - the sound, the lyrics, or the lifestyle it promotes? What would you most like to do for the rest of your life? What is one thing you've never done that you would really like to do? What are the three nicest things anyone has ever said about you? What do you like most about being a teenager?

I hope you will find some of these questions useful with the important people in your life! I have used many of them with my own daughter & it's a great way to learn more about our precious children.

-Mr. McLain

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Denton Creek has earned Braggin' Rights - AGAIN!!!

Mrs. Evans, our current Teacher of the Year, Ms. Shelton, & I traveled to Austin this past Monday to attend a TBEC recognition ceremony where Denton Creek was honored for making the prestigious TBEC Honor Roll for the second year in a row!

Too often, recognizing our public schools for academic achievement takes a back seat to winning championships on the athletic field. Also, too often, the media seems to headline any event that has a negative slant, while rarely showcasing our many outstanding schools & their accomplishments.

The Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) Honor Roll recognizes schools for academic performance & honors those students, teachers, principals, & superintendents who have won championships in the classroom.

Being named a TBEC Honor Roll school is the MOST prestigious academic award given in Texas. “Schools get on our honor roll the old fashioned way – they earn it,” says TBEC’s former business chair, Jack Lowe.

TBEC identifies Honor Roll schools by analyzing three years of performance data for every public school in Texas. A TBEC Honor Roll school must have a high percentage of students meeting state standards on every TAKS test for three consecutive years. That’s the easy part. TBEC Honor Roll schools must also perform at the state’s most rigorous standard – commended – in ALL subjects.

Each school is evaluated based on its commended performance over the past three years with the most recent year’s score being double weighted. Campus level TAKS data provided by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) are used in calculating the TBEC score.

Last year 206 Elementary schools across the state were recognized; this year the number was down to 191 schools. It is a real honor for Denton Creek to have made the TBEC Honor Roll two years in a row!

In addition to our TBEC Honor roll award, Denton Creek has also recently received Gold Performance Acknowledgements from the state in the following areas: Attendance, Commended Reading, Commended Writing, Commended Math, Commended Science. (Out of seven possible acknowledgements, Denton Creek received five!) This speaks well to the high caliber of our students & staff.

I couldn’t be prouder of the many accomplishments that Denton Creek has achieved & I know our school wouldn’t be as successful without your involvement & support. I hope you are as proud of our school as I am!

The Denton Creek staff wishes you & your family a very Happy Thanksgiving & best wishes for a joyous holiday season!

-Mr. McLain

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fierce Conversations

October 20th

Denton Creek teachers were fortunate to have Deli Bock from Seattle present to us last week on the art of having FIERCE CONVERSATIONS with one another.

I thought the training was so powerful that I wanted to share a few of the highlights with you.

You may think of her strategies as just "common sense" or "good communication strategies", & they certainly are, but for me, they resonated deeply & made me re-examine my own conversations & communication style.

Here are a few of the highlights & key points from Deli's presentation that I thought were especially powerful:

What is talked about & how it is talked about determines what happens or doesn't happen. In other words, conversation is essential to what we want to achieve. Conversations are the way through.

While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, - any single conversation CAN.

Deli defined a FIERCE conversation as a conversation in which we come out from behind ourselves & make it real. There is no hidden agenda & complete vulnerability.

She posed the question, "How can I tell the truth in a way that gets me invited back?" (I love that!)

She stated that the most expensive conversations are the unreal conversations. It's the missing conversations that matter the most, because they never happen.

Deli used the analogy of a person going bankrupt & asked, "How did you get bankrupt?"

She believes our lives are one long chain conversation - & that many of us are not conscious during the gradually. She challenged us to ask ourselves how close we are to suddenly.

She contends that we succeed or fail one conversation at a time & stressed the importance of gradually saying, "Our careers, our personal relationships, our schools, & our very lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time."

She encouraged us to be conscious during the gradually so we won't wake up to the pain of suddenly! Great point!

We were reminded that the greatest leverage we have is the conversation we're in RIGHT NOW & again asked us "How can we be REAL in a way that gets me invited back? (She joked, "If you don't get invited back to the table, find another table!!"

She emphasized that the conversation IS the relationship & that the most valuable currency we have is relationships.

I like the point she made when she said that if we don't connect with students' hearts as well as their heads, we will lose their hands. The CONNECTIVITY is what's important.

Another interesting point she made is that "All conversations are with MYSELF & sometimes they involve other people!"

She shared the Seven Principles of Fierce Conversations which are:

1. Master the Courage to Interrogate Reality. (Dig deeper with any given issue to find out what is really going on.)

2. Come out from behind yourself into the conversation & make it real. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Put down the mask & facade & reveal what you really think & feel. Don't withhold. Deliver the message with clarity, courage, & compassion.

3. Be here & be prepared to be nowhere else. Really listen.

4. Be conscious of the messages you're sending. We're not used to people paying attention at that level. Hold people as ABLE to handle your message.

5. Tackle your toughest challenges today.

6. Obey your instincts.

7. Take responsibility for your emotional wake. (Our words are powerful, but it's the DELIVERY of our words that people will remember. If people don't feel respected, they will not listen.)

There were many personal take-aways I gained from hearing Deli. Perhaps the most important one for me is "How can I help move Denton Creek forward from here given this new understanding?"

I was also challenged to examine my own conversations with others. I want to be a better listener & to better understand dissenting perspectives.

I know it doesn't do Deli justice to list just a few bullet points from her presentation, but again, their impact on me personally warranted their sharing with you.

We are truly blessed & grateful to have such a wonderful school, & I am convinced training like this can help enrich & strengthen what we're doing for kids.

I really believe that with every person we meet, we either build a bridge or a wall.

I'm out to build bridges. What about you?

-Mr. McLain

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sky Ranch Here We Come!

Heading to Sky Ranch this morning to get to spend some wonderful time with our fifth graders who will be camping for three days! This is always a highlight of the year for me - & the weather is BEAUTIFUL! Here's hoping our fifth graders will have the time of their lives!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thanks for My Birthday Surprises!

I want to thank everyone who surprised me for my birthday today!
(I had quite a few nice surprises from students & teachers, so thank you very much!)

The students in 5C had a little party for me with waffles & strawberries & they had all prepared home-made birthday cards which were very neat. Other grade levels made me a cake, one brought me lunch, one played a trick on me, one gave me flowers & a really BIG card, so I had a really fun day filled with all kinds of goodies. Thank you, thank you for your thoughtfulness!
You reminded me how much fun birthdays are supposed to be!

We had a great turn-out at our school social last week & it was good to see all of the visiting going on among our families.

This week all the principals in CISD came to Denton Creek for a meeting & several of our sagacious students had an opportunity to show off their vocabulary skills which was very impressive. KUDOS to Max, Almira, Michael, Paige, Mihir, Maddy, Shane, Dylan, Seth, & Nathan for being such great ambassadors & sesquipedalians! You guys rock & truly impressed our visitors. You always make me very proud...thanks!

Next week is our annual Grandparent's Tea on Friday, October 1st, & we are looking forward to having your grandparents & special friends join us for our big event.

I am going to start posing some questions on my blog that I hope will generate some dialogue so that this is more interactive & not just me writing to myself!

I would like to know what your favorite things are about Denton Creek.

What are the best things about our school? Please write & let me know.

Also, I hope you will remember to check out our bookfair next week.

Thanks again for making my birthday such a special one! I am one lucky principal!

-Mr. Mac

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September is Flying By!

I can hardly believe we are half way through September already!

Time just flies by at Denton Creek because we are having fun! (And staying busy!)

I want to thank our students & teachers for a very smooth beginning to the year. It's great to see our students so excited about learning & so engaged in learning!

I hope our parents will check out the cool blogs, websites, & animoto videos that our teachers have created. They are quite impressive. I can see very positive implications for teachers to use instructionally.

Blogging is new to me and I will soon be posting some questions for our Trailblazers to ponder and answer, so please check back with me! I am anxious to see the dialogue from this!

If you will take the time to respond to my blogs, that will reinforce me to continue!

We are looking forward to seeing our families Friday night, September 17th for our Back-to-School Social from 6-8PM.

See you soon!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tim Tyson's Teachings

I hope you've enjoyed Tim Tyson today!

What are you willing/committed to put into practice?

Mr. Mac's Memo #1

It’s great to welcome you back today to what promises to be a memorable year! Sheri & I are blessed to work with the most outstanding staff in the district, & we are excited about the work that lies ahead. You are such an integral part of what we do at Denton Creek & I hope you are ready for an exciting year. Although our summer break is never long enough, we hope you are returning revitalized & energized about the celebrations & the challenges that await us.

We want to welcome once again our new staff members. They are in a great place & will add so much to our faculty. We are fortunate to have them, so welcome aboard to Miguel Rivas, Debbie Lukert, Lindsey McCartney, Lisa Stokes, Tessa Knickerbocker, Jennifer Coates, & Allison Pryor. You will love Denton Creek & I know we will enjoy having YOU!

Here’s a reminder of our schedule for this week:

I’m excited to welcome Tim Tyson back to Denton Creek to kick off our year! Tim has a lot of great information to share with us. Here’s what today will look like:

7:30 – 8:00 – Coffee & Connection Time – PTO is providing breakfast for us!
8:15 – 9:30 – Teachers as 21st Century Instructional Leaders (Overview)
9:45 – 10:45 – Teachers as 21st Century Instructional Leaders (Demo)
11:00 – 11:30 – Hands on with Animoto (Lab workshop for teachers who want to put together a video intro of themselves for their blogs.) Space will be limited on this one.

12:30 – 1:15 – Blogging 101 in the Lab for teachers with no blogging experience
1:15 – 2:00 – Intermediate Blogging for teachers with some blogging experience
2:00 – 2:45 – K-2 teachers – Personal Learning networks & other resources
2:45 – 3:30 – 3-5 teachers – Personal Learning networks & other resources

Please choose a blogging session to attend in the afternoon in the computer lab.Barbara’s specials team will attend with K-2 teachers at 2PM & Glenda’s team will attend with 3-5 teachers at 2:45.

Tuesday – District Convocation – Irving Bible Church – 8:00 – Coffee & our Celebration begins at 9:00. Michelle King has worked hard to put together a great event for us!
Please be there by 8:30 so Denton Creek can sit together – you may dress up for the NASCAR theme or wear your DC t-shirts which you will receive today. Please pay Sheri $13.00 for your t-shirt.

Lunch on your own immediately following convocation. Please be back & ready to start by 1:15 to hear Steve Knagg whose humorous talk will center on balance in our lives…don’t we all need more of that?! His talk is titled, “Sane Living in an Insane World” & I’m confident you will enjoy him – a lot!

Wednesday – District Day – We will have schedules printed so you will know where to go.
As you may have heard we are not posting class lists this year, so Wednesday is student registration/teacher assignment pick up from 8:00 AM – 7PM in the cafeteria. We will see how the new system goes!

Thursday – District Day – Meet the Teacher Night – 5:30 – 6:30 PM

Friday – Happy New Year Party!!/Faculty meeting, Cafeteria – Light breakfast 8:00 – 8:15

Team-building, Nuts & Bolts –We’ll do our best to have you out by 11:15 – possibly sooner!

We are planning on having your class lists to you late Tuesday afternoon – but not before!
Please don’t ask Donna to see them ahead of time.

We are excited to be getting new library furniture sometime this week. We will not be able to meet as a group in the library any this week until all of the furniture has been delivered, so our meetings today, tomorrow afternoon, & Friday morning will be held in the cafeteria.

Early dismissal for students in K-2 is scheduled for week after next (Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday) for assessment as we’ve done in the past. Sheri is working on a schedule that you will receive soon.

We will continue our school-wide D.E.A.R. program & ask that you have it in place no later than the second week of school. Please respect the integrity of the program by ensuring that you are reading/modeling with your kids the entire time. (8:10 – 8:30.)
I think you know how important this is to me!

Courtney Jennings will be our RTI specialist this year. Congratulations to her on her new position!

Your PTO teacher reps this year are Martha Brown, Kathy Flatt, & Barbara Larsen.

The following teachers will serve as content specialists this year:
Janet Dickerson – Social Studies
Kerry Webb – Math
Cynthia Alaniz – ELAR
Kathy Flatt – Science

We will provide you with 6 hours of flex hours opportunities this year & you will be responsible for getting 6 hours, & we’re asking that you obtain at least six hours of technology training this year. Please remember that approval for flex hours must be given ahead of time! See me if you’re not sure about this so there won’t be any confusion as to what’s allowed for flex hours, etc.
Your team leaders have lots of information to share with you regarding things you need to know for the new school year. If they haven’t already met with you, they will!

One of the neat new things this year is our access to AWARE – a new assessment data system that will put student data in your hands much sooner. Aware is an online computer adaptive assessment system (for grades 2-9) that identifies individual students’ instructional level. It will provide data instantaneously, give us diagnostic information, information on sub groups of students, etc. so it will be a valuable tool for us. Sheri will be our trainer!

Our Most Important School Goals For This Year Include:

· Delving deeper into 21st Century learning – both as educators & learners.
· Improving our Commended scores & continuing to focus on rigorous instruction with special emphasis given to Math & Science & a greater focus on our subgroups.
· We will embrace our Dual Language program wholeheartedly & make sure we do everything we can to support the program & ensure its’ success.
· We will strive to create a sense of belonging for ALL students & will work to reduce & prevent bullying – our new R-time program will help us with this initiative.

Although next Monday will be my 23rd “Opening Day”, I never lose the nervous edge I felt on my very first day of school when I began my career as a fifth grade teacher in Amarillo.
As we begin a new school year, I hope you share my sense of excitement, rejuvenation, & anticipation of what will be a tremendous year of growth for our students & staff.

Although our success as professional educators will depend to a great extent on our specific skills & the breadth of our knowledge base, I firmly believe that our character & our human relations skills are even more vital to the ultimate success we experience with our students & our entire school community.

We will follow the same NORMS/EXPECTATIONS that we had last year which are:

· We will treat all students with dignity & respect.
· We will ensure success for all students.
· We will grow professionally both individually & collectively as a staff.
· We will communicate consistently, positively, & professionally with parents.
· We will work together to promote a team-oriented environment conducive to learning.
· We will listen to & respect the opinions of others & be willing to compromise.
· We will base decisions on fact rather than supposition & support decisions that are made.
· We will tell the truth; admit mistakes; take responsibility; keep confidentiality.
· We will be perceptive to the needs of others & be willing to help; remember, we are part of a team.
· We will have FUN!

If we can all adhere to these norms we will be in great shape!

Upcoming Important Dates:

Meet the Teacher Night – Thursday, August 19th from 5:30 – 6:30
Curriculum Night – September 7th – K, 1, & 2 – 5-6PM & 3, 4, & 5 from 6:15 – 7:15PM
Grandparent’s Tea – October 1st

We know this is one of the busiest times of the year as there are many last minute things to do to prepare for your students, & we truly appreciate the effort you have already put into your classroom preparation, lesson plans, etc. so that you are ready for kids on Monday!


Coming together is a beginning;
Keeping together is progress;
Working together is success!
-Henry Ford

Today we decide how tomorrow will look.


· Coppell ISD being an EXEMPLARY school district for the first time in 10 years!

· Denton Creek’s EXEMPLARY status as well! We will strive to take our school to even greater heights this year!

· Our new staff members – Miguel, Debbie, Lindsey, Lisa, Tessa, Jennifer, & Alli!

· The beginning of a new year with new students, new colleagues, new learning, & new excitement!