Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Mindset Resolution

(Excerpt from my monthly article in The Today Paper)

The Mindset Resolution

Happy New Year!  With a new year usually comes resolutions. Many of these resolutions have to do with exercise, diet, finances and more. However, how often, when it comes to resolutions, do we think about mindset? Recently, I came across this infographic while participating in an educational Twitter chat.


This made me reflect on the difficulty in making resolutions about mindset. Too often, I hear students (and adults) say things like: this is too hard or I did enough. Many times it’s not that they don’t want to advance themselves, but it’s too difficult to leave their comfort zone. Let’s be honest, who likes change? Change can create fear. It creates the fear of failure, which causes us to retreat back into our comfort zone. Too often, we allow this fear to prevent us from reaching our greatness and allows us to reach our mediocrity. Worse, sometimes we will never know the greatness that lies in each of us because we won’t step outside the comfort zone.

However, nothing great in history has happened from people staying inside their comfort zone. What if Dr. Martin Luther King decided to stay in his comfort zone? What if Marie Curie followed the easy path? Or Rosa Parks? Abraham Lincoln?

These are just a few examples. As we turn the page to 2017, I present this challenge to our students: Step out of your comfort zone to:
  • Spend an extra day preparing for an assessment
  • Stay for extra help even though your friends are asking you to go to D&D
  • Push your off-season training as an athlete
  • Consider moving to honors or AP next year
  • Stand up for someone who may struggle to stand up for themselves

Regardless of what you choose; and it may not be on this list, realize that stepping out of your comfort zone even once makes it easier to do it again. You will be less and less afraid of failure because you will appreciate the attempt, not the result. So, as you consider your resolutions, don’t be afraid to adjust your mindset. You never know, by stepping out of your comfort zone you just may make history!

Happy New Year and all the best to everyone in 2017!

Cory Radisch 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Open Letter to Our Candidates




Dear Candidates,

Hi, my name is Cory Radisch and I am the principal of what I think is the best high school in NJ - Monmouth Regional High School.  I write this open letter to you both because I and other educators need your help. I have watched your campaigns and debates very closely. Therefore, I am sure that I speak for many educators (and parents) by asking you both:
  • How do you expect us to instill respect in young people, when the both of you can't demonstrate it on a regular basis?
  • How can we hold students accountable for actions, when you both are not held accountable for yours?
  • How we can tell students to follow the example of our leaders, when our leaders are not setting a good example?
  • How do we tell students to engage in respectful debate and discourse, when the two of you can't?
  • How can we get young people to value each other, when our presidential candidates don't value each other?
  • How would you want us to handle a young person saying derogatory things to their classmates, should we dismiss it as locker room banter?
  • How would you want us to handle it when a young person lies to their teacher or administrator?
We need to be able to look to our leaders for guidance, mentorship, and most of all to set the right example. Thankfully, at MRHS we don’t have to rely on the both of you because we have passionate adults who model positive leadership with our students. Our teachers and staff demonstrate the expected behaviors we want from our students. They do this not because they want votes, but because they understand that investing in our students yields better results. We do this not only to impact learning, but to foster unity. Focusing solely on results causes you to lose sight of your “why”.  At MRHS, we focus on our “why” (our students) first, believing it will yield great results. So, whomever is fortunate to win this election, I hope you can take a page from #1FalconNation’s playbook and be sure to focus on the “why”, so that we the people can come together to form a more perfect union.

Regards,

Cory Radisch

Principal

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

FALCON NATION: An Example to America


This is my monthly article for our local Today Paper: 

As it seems with all of my entries for the Today Paper, I have an idea and then an experience strikes me and I have to start over. The deadline for this article was Friday, September 23, 2016. That was the day of our pep rally and another indication that MRHS and its diverse student population are a shining example that the rest of society should mimic.  Every once in awhile, there is a video on Facebook, that reminds us of the humanity in people. However, once we turn on the news, we are reminded that we are currently living in a country where adults would rather throw insults, versus inspire; condemn, versus comfort; isolate, versus collaborate; politicize, versus prioritize; diminish our country, versus lift it; and disunite, versus unify.

I ask you this: What would schools look like if these were the actions of our students? What would the adult reaction be? This brings me back to our pep rally – an ultimate snapshot of America, right in the bleachers of MRHS.  A student body consisting of all different races, religions, native languages, sexual orientation, and body types unifying to support each other. A population of over 1,000 students, each doing the right thing, getting along, and naturally uniting as #1FalconNation. The pep rally is just a large-scale example of what happens daily at our school. Please don’t mistake this article to opine that we are perfect. Then again, what family is?
    
             I do know that each day our school is made up of outstanding adults and students who demonstrate the character and resolve to appreciate the differences in each other because at the end of the day we are all Falcons. Having never been one to set small goals, I declare we are the example for our country’s adults, exhibiting that we can be different and have differences, but still be #1FalconNation. Imagine if the people in the news and in the public’s eye set that same example. It is said that children will follow your (adults’) example. No thanks! I would much rather the adults follow the children of MRHS’ example.

Proud Principal
Cory Radisch


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One Year Later: Perception is Reality


                It has been almost one year since I was granted the privilege to lead #1FalconNation. As I have stated many times, I am very humbled to serve the faculty, staff, and especially the students of Monmouth Regional. One of the priorities I shared throughout the interview process was to work diligently to brand Monmouth Regional so that those of us on the inside would control the perception of our outstanding high school. Business Writer James Heaton describes branding:

Branding is not push, but a pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.

Back in the November edition of the Today Paper, a local paper where I write a monthly article, I wrote: “For too long, the perception of our school has been controlled from the outside in, instead of from the inside out. For too long, those people who don’t embrace our diversity have been in control of creating the perception. For too long, those who don’t send their children to our school are the loudest voices.”

What a difference a year makes. The staff, faculty, and especially our students conveyed the vision of openly sharing the characteristics, values, and attributes that reveal the true perception of Monmouth Regional. Our use of social media has eliminated the walls of our high school and has pulled the community inside sometimes without even stepping foot into our halls.  The conversation no longer revolves around conjecture based on the outside perspective. I’m not approached with statements of misinformed speculation, such as hopefully, you can turn that place around. Instead, people can see for themselves and read about the prominence of MRHS. Today when I see people around town, we talk about the great things that they are able to see on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook or read in The Today Paper.

So, what are they seeing and reading? They see that we are a learning community that cares about their students, provides rigorous instruction and extra-curricular opportunities, prepares our students for life after high school, but more importantly, exudes a palpable spirit of unity and kindness. The character of our young people is often on display with their charitable endeavors or their willingness to embrace the diversity that makes Monmouth so special. This couldn’t have been more conspicuous than at our commencement ceremony on June 17, 2016. One of our inspirational students, Vizmay Gadgil, whose motor difficulties make it necessary for him to walk with a cane, decided he would walk across stage to receive his diploma versus the diploma being delivered to his front row seat. Upon seeing their classmate make the very proud walk, the graduates all spontaneously rose to provide Vizmay with a decibel-shattering standing ovation. This prompted the adults in the audience to do the same. This one act is just a sample of the greatness that permeates throughout the grounds of MRHS. Greatness not measured by a test score or college acceptance!

                        Just like any organization, there is still work to do and improvements to be made. We are proud of who we are, but you have my word that we will continue to work hard and challenge ourselves to continuously get better. However, based upon the conversations that we are having one year later, the perception of Monmouth is reality. And that reality is that we are a comprehensive high school that values each other, promotes greatness, prepares students for college or the workforce, but most importantly, demonstrates kindness. 

                      Lastly, the reality is that we are unified as #1FalconNation.

                                                                            

Cory Radisch

Proud Lead Learner of MRHS

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tragedy Shouldn’t Be Our Reminder



The following is an open letter to our students prompted by the unbelievable tragedy to the Robbinsville Superintendent, Dr. Steven Mayer as well as the 17 year old young lady driving the car last Tuesday, April 19th. I had the good fortune of working with Dr. Mayer as he was my Superintendent during my last year in Robbinsville.

Dear Students,

I hope that you realize that no matter what troubles you endure, every day is a gift. One of my former mentors once told me, “When you think you have it bad just know that somewhere in the world, somebody has it worse.”  It shouldn’t be tragedy that reminds us of how lucky we truly are. It shouldn’t be tragedy that makes us appreciate the little things. Too often, it is a tragedy that prompts us to change our thinking. However, as time moves on we tend to revert back to our old way of thinking.

Too often (myself included) we get caught up in being so busy that we forget to love life. We tend to focus on our hardships, schedules, and inconveniences all the while forgetting to be grateful for all we truly have. We tend to focus on the things we don’t have, instead of loving and appreciating the things we do. In addition and more importantly, we forget to appreciate the relationships of those people who are so important to us. We think there will always be time to say thank you or I love you.

So Falcons, I implore you not to let tragedy be your reminder to love life. I challenge you each day to:
·         Tell your parents/guardians you love them
·         Tell someone who has made impact on your life: Thank you!
·         Believe you have what it takes to make a difference in the world
·         Be kind to people outside your circle
·         Embrace the things you have and work hard for the things you don’t
·         Appreciate every day; even the bad ones
·         Motivate and inspire others
·         Live with love and love life

Lastly, when someone asks me, How are you doing? My answer from now on will be, “Loving life.” I am married to an incredible woman, have four beautiful daughters and every day get to work with a great staff and incredible students. So, why would I answer any other way?

Your Proud Principal

Mr. Radisch

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Raise Expectations, Raise Hope

RAISE EXPECTATIONS, RAISE HOPE


Raise your hand if you believe the featured quote to be true. I bet everyone who is reading this has agreed with the words that make up the quote. However, how many of us truly live it? Raising expectations for our kids is hard. It means that our children may go through struggles, frustrations, and even sometimes failure. As parents, this is very difficult, as we always want what is best for our kids. However, how is lowering expectations to make things easier the best thing for our children or students? Too often, we tend to alleviate the struggle as a form of protection, when in fact the only thing we are doing is creating a false sense of confidence and hope. We create a child who turns into an adult without knowing how to handle challenge and adversity.  We need to allow our children to fall and even perhaps get knocked down. By protecting them, children never learn how to get up. They never learn what it means to be resilient.


                So how does this relate to education? In my experience as an educator, I have found that students will meet expectations. I left that as a general statement, because depending on whether the expectations are set low or high, students usually wind up meeting expectations where we set them. This is true in many schools across the country in relation to how their courses are established. At Monmouth Regional, to date, we are no different.  Monmouth has employed the practice of creating classes below the college prep level. They are called “c” level courses. Beginning in September and as students get ready to pick their courses, we will no longer offer “c” level courses. Instead, students not taking honors or AP will be enrolled in CCR (College and Career Ready) courses. In education we often hear phrases like raise the bar.  However, does that mean we raise the bar for only certain kids? The answer is simply NO! We raise the bar for all children. Mike Mattos, an educational consultant, defines all as, “any student expected to be a financially independent, productive member of our society.”  All students means all students, including those who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners, considered minorities, receive special services, and any other student who might be regarded as fitting into a different classification.  After all, the beauty of our Falcon Family is that we’re all different and we all can be classified in one way or another, but we’re also all one. And our unique population in its entirety shall be held to equal expectations. We need our students to believe that they are college and/or career ready, hence the name CCR. While all students may not end up going to college, we shouldn’t declare their path upon entry to high school. All students deserve access to our best curriculum. Now, there may be some struggles initially as students and staff adjust to this concept. However, by allowing them to struggle and possibly even fall down, we will be instilling in our students the necessary skills to persevere and get up all by themselves!   

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Path To A Winning Culture



            Culture change is not easy. This is true no matter what the profession. As I watch the carousel of coaches get hired in the NFL, there is a constant theme in each of their introductory press conferences: CULTURE!  As I attend Falcon sporting events, there is nobody who wants our kids to win more than I do. However, before anyone starts questioning Xs and Os of our coaches, are you aware of what they are doing to change the culture here at Monmouth Regional High School? Are you at practices? Are you in the film room? Are you there for pre-game speeches and post-game reflection? Are you there for the heart to heart chats? It’s easy to second guess sitting in the bleachers. Heck, I am guilty of it, too! However, I fortunately have the luxury of being on the inside and viewing things for myself.  Consider this historic quote from legendary coach Bill Walsh:

          
      Our current coaches, veteran and new, are working hard to change the culture and have our student-athletes understand that the “grind” is more important than anything else. I am not na├»ve, we are in a results driven society and too often we tend to focus on only the results. However, the will to prepare has to exceed everything else, even winning. For too long, we have wished for the results to change without changing the culture.
I am in constant communication with our coaches, and I can assure you that our coaches are working as hard as they can to instill in our student athletes several key components to creating a winning culture. This may not always be apparent in the win column, but our student-athletes are learning that a commitment to the program supersedes individual success. They are learning accountability, as their actions have a direct effect on their teammates. However and most importantly, I hope they are learning how to be coached and handle the criticism when they don’t meet expectations. I can tell you that our coaches need your help. While you may not agree with the game plan, player positions, or starting line-up, I would hope that we can count on you to support the culture of commitment to team, understanding your role, and accepting criticism as the tenets to building a winning culture. A winning culture that doesn’t guarantee championships, but will produce champions! Champions in the game of life!