Before I get started. This blog is going to be about ALE education and poverty, and occasionally about other things I want to discuss. Recent statistics show that 20% of children are born into poverty in the US, 33% of all children live in poverty. We have to find a way to end poverty, and the only common ground for that is educating our children. With that in mind, I have spent the period from 2004 through 2015 teaching in an Alternative Learning Environment. This year I took Family Medical Leave to recover from some heart disease issues. I plan, God willing, to return to the classroom in August 2016.
I come from a background of educators, farmers, ranchers and 20 years military experience. My mother and father had a total 82 years experience public education. My grandparents were farmers and ranchers. I grew up in Arizona and Nebraska. From the time I was 12 until I entered the US Army in 1969 I worked summers either my grandparents farm and ranch or the farms and ranches that surrounded the community we moved to. From the age 12 my brother Tom and I would fly from Phoenix, Arizona or be driven to my grandparents, where we worked on his farm and ranch. After my freshman year of high school, we returned to Nebraska, and I worked on the farms and ranches around Burwell. When I graduated High School, I enlisted in the US Army to attend USMA Preparatory School, then at Fort Belvoir, and graduated from USMA, West Point, in 1974. I had a very undistinguished military career until 1989, when I took a medical retirement.
From 1989 to 1992, I worked as the International and Military Sales and Logistical Manager for MacGregor Golf. From 1992 to 2000, I played entrepreneur and started three businesses. One was successful, and I sold that after my first of four heart attacks. But one of the experiences I had there really got me interested in what was going on in our high schools. So after I recovered I started substitute teaching, then got my teaching certificate using Arkansas’s Alternative License protocol.
Since then I have earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and 34 additional hours from the University of Arkansas, when I thought I was going to try to earn an EdD (Doctorate in Education). After my 3d or 4th heart attack, I decided that I would just remain a simple teacher in ALE.
In 2013, I was the high school teacher of the year for the Rogers School District, Rogers, Arkansas, the first and only ALE teacher to receive that award. But, in my humble opinion, I should not have been either the first, or only. I am extremely proud of what we accomplish and what we learn from our failures.
As you read this blog, you will see some of the influences I have had in my life. First, my father who taught me at a young age, what poverty is and how to overcome it. Remembering he and my mother were raised during the Great Depression and members of the Greatest Generation. Next, and equally, my mother who taught me how to be a teacher, mentor and “friend” to ALE students. My military experience as a Platoon Leader and 42 months as a Company Commander, that taught me that everyone wants to be successful, but they have to taught how to be successful. Next, I have been fortunate to work in a school district where ALE is taken seriously, and the administrators, counselors, social workers and probation officers I have worked with are professional and share the knowledge and experience openly. Finally, you see me refer to many books I have read on education and poverty. Primary among them you will see me refer to Ruby K. Payne’s book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, a Cognitive Approach.
Since we are so political about everything right now. And, because education, on many facets is misunderstood, requires political approaches to funding, and gets hammered by both sides as a failure that needs fixing, you will see me upset Liberals, Conservatives, other teachers and administrators. But I will especially take on politicians who have not spent a day in K-12 classroom since they graduated.