Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leadership and management . . .
Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership in July shared 10 simple truths about leadership vs. management.  Two of them come from the a book by John Kotter that I have read and used called What Leaders Really Do.  I have referred to the list a few times, especially this past week with two teacher leadership sessions and an opportunity to be with superintendents and central office staff in one of the participating cohort districts.

In both the leadership sessions and visiting classrooms in another district it reinforced for me the complexity of the work.  Something that sounds simple such as posting and using a learning goal to guide instruction is in fact far from simple.  We and other systems are creating documents and developing support structures that capture the essence of the work, but transferring the learning to all classrooms is proving more elusive.

My sense is that the keys to finding the structures to accomplish this transition are to be found in this mix of leadership and management.  It is not an issue of versus because we know that both are necessary.  Somewhere in that adult learning cycle of learn, observe, practice, receive feedback, reflect, evaluate is the leverage for large gains in a short period.  We need managers to support those that are still struggling with the question of how to do it and we need leaders to create experiences for those that do not see the need for the change.

Those of us in position to support others in this work need to keep in mind the need for both.  Those that are working to make the instructional changes can support this by providing feedback, sharing stories, and engaging in this complex work.  I like the quotes from Kotter that McCarthy places in his list of 10.  We need both to be successful with our Classroom 10 goal.  They reinforce the importance of collaboration and shared responsibility as we search for new structures to influence and support our colleagues.

*Managers plan and budget, organize and staff, control and solve problems, and produce predictability and order.

*Leaders establish direction, align people, motivate, inspire, and mentor, and produce change.

*Source: from John Kotter’s What Leaders Really Do, Harvard Business Review.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Girls and robots . . .

Robot in action
This morning I had the privilege of welcoming people to our high school gym for an all girls robotics competition.  There were over twenty teams competing on a field brought in by Washington FIRST Robotics that is like the competitive field the teams compete on at regional and national competitions.  There was energy and enthusiasm in the air as these young women were given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skill at making baskets with their robot.

We were given the opportunity to host this event because of Bear Metal, our Robotics Club.  They have made a name for themselves in the state even though they are a fairly new team in this exciting competition.  The students and adult volunteers do a wonderful job.  Their dedication, knowledge, and skills are evident in the quality of our robot and skill at controlling it.  It took a lot of work to put the field together today as it literally looked like there were miles of wires needed to make the field live. Great job, Bear Metal, advisers Darren Collins and Adrienne Rime, and Club President McKenzie Dowell.

Making a basket
A controller
A small portion of the wiring 
And finally, yes our Drum Line was present, doing their usual stellar job!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Big votes ahead . . .

In November, we have important choices to make at the national, state, and local levels.  Though we have these opportunities, I believe what the State Supreme Court decides in the two-thirds majority to raise taxes lawsuit will have as much impact on our work as any single ballot initiative.  In this Tacoma News Tribune article we get a sense of how difficult this issue is for the justices.  A retiring justice labeled it the elephant in the room.  He went further when he asked the following question of Solicitor General Maureen Hart who was defending the case for the state.

" Assume for a moment, the people, through a simple majority, pass an initiative that prohibits the Legislature from passing any tax unless it passes by a 90 percent majority and is signed by the governor and the speakers of both houses and Santa Claus," said Fairhurst, who then paused and inserted "this is Justice Chambers' question" as though to make sure he got all the credit.

Would such an initiative conflict with the constitutional requirement that a majority is needed, Chambers asked Hart via Fairhurst.

How the justices rule will have a significant impact on public school funding in both the short and long term as I have shared in previous posts.  I'm hoping that the majority will take the elephant in the room head on and make a decision that will allow us to move forward understanding what can and can't drive the ability of our legislators to raise revenue.

In a related story in Education Week we learn that the Washington Education Association has prioritized getting Inslee into the governorship over defeating I-1240, the charter initiative.

Helping Democrat Jay Inslee defeat Republican Rob McKenna in the gubernatorial race is a higher priority for the statewide teachers' union this year than whether voters approve public charter schools.

"I think it's pretty clear that we have a real priority in making sure that we get someone elected as governor who will put kids first," said Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association.

In the three previous votes on charter schools, WEA had a larger footprint in the no campaign.  If the initiative is successful, we may look back on their choice of priority as a contributing factor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An unusual board meeting . . .

This is what we saw at last night’s board meeting held at Tahoma High School.  Please understand that this is far from a typical attendance at our meetings.  Usually when we look out we see some staff and a few people with the occasional student needing to fulfill some requirement to attend a public meeting.

Why the big difference and why at the high school?  The simple answer is that we outgrew the board room for the annual meeting to honor AP scholars.  We needed a larger room to honor those that have achieved this honor.  The program has grown to the point where last year our students took almost 1000 AP exams.  Brooke Dillon, under whose leadership the program has been nurtured and supported, just missed her goal of 1000. 

An added benefit was the opportunity for the Board and those in attendance to hear about and thank two members from the high school Green Team for receiving a grant from State farm Insurance in excess of $80,000.  The money will go towards promoting their ground water work on our school campuses and in the community.

 Finally the Board chose the cord that will become a new honor for Tahoma High School graduates beginning with this year’s graduating class.  Here is a link to information about qualifications and the application process.  After this presentation and decision the students stayed for a reception hosted by the PTA and we adjourned to the library to continue our meeting with three people in the audience.  That looked more normal, but didn’t bring with it the same energy and enthusiasm.

Supreme Court hearing . . .

I drafted this post on Monday and then did not hit publish.  A little late, but the content is still interesting.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the day when the State Supreme Court will hold a hearing on whether the two-thirds vote necessary to raise taxes is constitutional.  In this Seattle Times article State Representative Jaime Pederson suggests that the court’s decision holds the key to whether or not the legislature can meet the funding requirements imposed on them in the McCleary case.

The other possible solution, Pedersen says, is to "cut the heck out of everything else" the state spends money on: health care for the needy, disability payments, the state Ecology Department, state parks, state colleges and universities, student scholarships and the arts.
"I can't imagine how you could get 50 votes to do those things," let alone two-thirds of both chambers of the Legislature, he said.
He predicted the eventual outcome, if the Supreme Court does not give the Legislature back the power to raise taxes and close loopholes, would be a failure to answer the McCleary challenge.

From the League of Education Voters I followed a link to this article by three Seattle attorneys who filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the League of Women Voters.  I enjoyed reading the article. It was brief and helped me understand, from their view, the main issue facing the court.

One phrase in particular is central to the Court’s decision and to the validity of the Two-Thirds Rule: the provision in Article II, Section 22 of the State Constitution that “[n]o bill shall become a law unless . . . a majority” votes in its favor. A plain reading of that provision, written in 1899, clearly indicates that any bill that receives a simple majority vote shall become law. And in fact, that’s exactly what the plaintiffs argued—and again, the trial court agreed.

The proponents of the two-thirds rule argue that the phrase creates only a minimum, but not a maximum threshold.  In the article the attorneys share why they believe that the framers clearly intended for it to be a maximum necessary to enact a law.  Whatever the court rules I am sure we have not heard the last from Tim Eyeman and others and others on this issue.  In the Times article State Senator Janea Holmquist Newbry has promised in the next session to propose a constitutional amendment to make the two-thirds vote permanent.  This makes for a great civics lesson.  It will also determine how the legislature and new governor will respond to the court’s funding mandate and the education reforms currently in place and planned. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A college focus . . .

College attendance was the focus in today's Seattle Times.  The article focuses on the declining percentage of students going to college after high school graduation in our state.  Though we have one of the highest percentages of people with a BA degree in the area it is because of the large number of people moving in that have a degree.  Why are they moving here; because this is where the jobs are.  Unfortunately, they are not all being filled by graduates from Washington high schools and colleges.

As University of Washington computer-science professor Ed Lazowska says: "We are creating great jobs, and they're going to other people's children."

This article, also in today's Times, focuses on the paradox of college graduates in the area being high even with declining numbers of Washington high school graduates choosing to go to college after graduation.  The chart from the paper shows this paradox.

These articles mirror the focus we have created to ensure that all students are college and career ready.  In June and September 2012 I shared in this post and this post the work of the ad-hoc committee the Board established to identify a vision for ALL students.  We want ALL of our students to have viable options for success in post high school learning and work.  Viable does not mean that all will attend a four year college, but all must continue learning after graduation if they want to be positioned for a living wage job.

The vision that the Board accepted from the committee is below.  We have been sharing it in building and public meetings throughout the district and community.

In the presentation we share data for our school system similar to that shared in the Times articles.  Though our percentage is higher than the state average we believe that it could and should be higher.  The chart below shows the percentage of students attending a two and four school immediately following high school graduation.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The growing marching band . . .

The Trojans from Auburn High School had it their way on Friday with the Bears at Maxwell Stadium.  It was a tough game to watch, but the halftime entertainment was great.  It featured our growing marching band and flag team.  They looked good and turned in a great performance as they shared their original program.  They also received the loudest applause of the evening from the students and adults in attendance.

Here they are warming up before the game.

Check out the flags, a new addition to the program this year.  As always, the drum line was loud and entertaining.  Does the coach ever wear shoes?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A teacher's lament . . .

I don't know how I found this viewpoint on SchoolBook by Arthur Goldstein, a New York City Public school teacher, but I'm glad that I did.  I believe that his words will resonate with many teachers across the country and probably in our own school system.  His reality and the mental models that come through his description of the Thing describe why some teachers respond to change with a negative mental model.

I would like to think that the learning experiences we create for teachers are different and that our focus over time on Classroom 10 would demonstrate commitment and opportunity for personal growth.  My conversations with administrators and teachers, however, would suggest that there are those that share Goldstein's mental models.  So, if you want to read about the Thing you can find it here.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My classroom . . .

This morning we had our first Teaching and Learning Leadership class of the year.  This is where the administrators come together to focus on our instructional program and how we as system leaders are supporting teachers on our Classroom 10 learning goal.  In an earlier post this month, I shared how I allowed my frustration in planning for today’s meeting to influence my behavior resulting in going to flight.  I ended that post with the following sentence.

The post is getting long so I'll close and perhaps share some of the frustration's source in a later post.

What was driving my frustration in our planning meeting was a lack of focus on accountability and a reluctance to include activities and checks for understanding from each participant.  We were planning without sufficient data on where each of our learners was in their ability to identify well-constructed learning goals and to then provide feedback to individuals and to groups.  It brought me to the realization that we were playing the role of a consultant instead of a teacher.

Those that attended the meeting this morning are my students.  In my classroom I have the luxury of guest teachers from our Teaching and Learning Department and Connie to assist me in lesson design and delivery.  But, they are my students and it is my responsibility to ensure that they have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to support all teachers in reaching standard on our goal. 

With this revised mental model we did a much better job of providing all in attendance with multiple opportunities to judge the quality of learning goals and to self-reflect on their answers compared to their colleagues.  There was disagreement so we have more teaching and learning in front us, but now we have better data for differentiating and supporting individual needs.

There was some tension in the room, something that is necessary for learning to take place.  It is that gap between current reality and a preferred vision that we use for generating creative tension to reduce the gap.  After today our students have a better idea of their current reality and we are getting closer to a common understanding of what it looks and sounds like on our learning goal.  My sense is that we would be further on our journey had I not forgotten that no matter where I am on the organizational chart, my primary responsibility is to ensure that administrators have the knowledge and skills to support teachers in meeting the high demands we have placed upon them.  To do that I must be a teacher and use the same instructional practices being asked of those in our buildings.

 It will be interesting to see the difference in the buildings and how much our administrators might share with you about their experience.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another perspective on I-1240 . . .

I just came across this article on the Everett Herald Net that ran on September 6th.  In it, State Superintendent Dorn shares his thinking on the charter school initiative being unconstitutional.  He questions the constitutionality of the initiative because it would establish the Washington State Charter School Commission to approve establishment of the schools and it would also be run out of the Governor's office and not OSPI.

Such a bypass runs counter to Washington's constitution which says the superintendent of public instruction "shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools."

"I believe the initiative is flawed because it goes around the constitution," he said. "I do not believe the superintendent of public instruction would have a role in the constituting of a charter school or decommissioning of a charter school."

 Attorney General McKenna sees it differently.

"I don't see any constitutional problem at all," he said this week. "It clearly is (constitutional) because the schools are public charter schools. They're organized a little differently and operate under a charter instead of a school district but they are public schools."

I expect that we will soon begin seeing this battle play out in the media.  It will be interesting to watch and considering Superintendent Dorn's position will a law suit be the natural conclusion to passage of the initiative?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No endorsement for governor . . .

The League of Education Voters recently made the decision to not endorse either candidate for governor.  In this press release they share their reasons for this decision.

“While both candidates offer promising ideas for improving education in Washington, neither rises to the standard necessary to receive our endorsement,“ said Bob Roseth, chair of the Board of Directors of LEV. “In particular, neither candidate offers a credible plan for ample, sustainable funding of a world-class public education system.”

This is an organization that does not shy away from endorsing candidates or taking a position on educational issues and initiatives making this an interesting decision.  My sense is that both candidates wanted that endorsement.  In previous posts I have shared my concerns with the candidates common position to significantly increase education revenue without a realistic plan for identifying where that revenue will come from.  The League is looking for a governor who will implement reforms aligned with their belief system with an ample funding source behind the reforms, not candidates who say they will increase educational funding by $1 billion with faulty plans for generating the revenue.

“To LEV, revenue and reform are irrevocably linked. One without the other is not a truly serious education agenda,” said Roseth. “Neither candidate presented a plan that delivered on both halves of this equation.”

I believe that this was a well thought out decision.  Whether you agree with their positions or not this decision may force both candidates to give more thought on just how they are going to find the

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Success will take WORK and COMMITMENT from many . . .

I think that there are many of us that feel similar to Scott in his response to my last post about enrollment and overcrowding in our schools.  To those that are upset with class size and the overcrowded conditions he shared what goes through his mind when a parent raises a concern.  He also shares that he wouldn’t respond with these words, but the thoughts do go through his mind. 
  • ·         I understand the frustration,  . . .
  • ·         What did you do to help pass the last bond measure?
  • ·         What are we going to do to fix it?

 Scott is also concerned with what his kindergarten daughter’s experience at Glacier Park Elementary will look and sound like if we are unable to pass a bond measure.  It will be different.  There is a limit to the number of students we can house in our current buildings and at some time in the near future we will reach that number.  What year and in what grade level band will depend on enrollment trends. 

I agree with Scott that the school buildings are a part of basic education and should be supported at the state level.  We do get support from the state in a match program, but must first pass a bond measure with the local community in our case responsible for about 80% of the total cost, far from what one would call ample funding.  We have our work cut out for us considering the need, potential dollar amount of a bond measure, and our poor record of passing bonds. 

Over time we have not been successful at getting parents to register and then vote.  With the majority of voters having no children in schools, the parent vote is critical to successful bond passage.  As Scott says, it will take all of us and it will also take a new solution and strategies.  We are working on the solution and look forward to the opportunity for conversations on strategy to ensure that voters have the factual and descriptive information necessary to make an educated decision.  The WORK will then follow.  Will there be hundreds behind Scott or will we repeat the same patterns that did not work in the past with a small number doing a great deal?  We need more or I fear we will see the same results.  What role are you willing to play?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good news and . . .

In this post from last week I shared my annual anxiety with the first student enrollment count.  Unlike the last two years when the first count was under budget, this year's is about 120 students over budget.  This definitely relieves the anxiety over the budget number, but now it increases the anxiety over being able to house students.  We were over crowded before this increase and if the trend we experienced the last two years of growing over the course of the year continues, we will push the limit of being able to house students in the current alignments and delivery model.

Driving around the city and seeing the housing starts would suggest that growth will continue in the short term.  This current reality will influence the pace of our explorations with the county on the "donut hole" property as we continue conversations on how to move forward in solving our student housing issues.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A reluctant topic . . .

This is not a post I'm proud of, but it may help others that find themselves in leadership positions that result in frustration and personal behavior that is not productive or supportive of the group.  On Thursday I was part of the team planning for our first administrator and teacher leadership classes of the year.  There are five of us that have been doing this since we started this work many years ago.  Normally, I work through the morning as we make decisions on focus for the day and balance between our Classroom 10 goal and process skills.  The others then spend the afternoon aligning activities with goals and the lesson plan.

On this particular day, however, I didn't make it through the morning work.  I became frustrated with the  conversations and mismatch with what I believe that we need to do to support these leaders in their work.  After reflection and conversations with three of the others it is clear that I did a poor job of sharing my thinking and what was causing my frustration.  I didn't stay in my rational mind, instead choosing to go to flight by leaving the meeting.  When one of the others said that wasn't what I wanted to do I even used the positional power thing to justify my behavior, at least to me.

If I had observed this behavior from one of them or a principal there would have been immediate feedback, but after my behavior I will now consider how best to support their reflection before giving the feedback.  I teach this stuff so there is no excuse for my behavior, but it also shows how difficult the work is when we respond from our emotions and not our rational mind.  One tool that could have helped surfaced in one of the post meeting conversations is  the Experience Cube from the book Clear Leadership.  Had I shared using the four components I would have been a productive member of the group instead of flying away to unproductive conversations with myself.  Why didn't I think of it or someone else in the group?  I let my ladders of influence come to the surface and drive my behavior and I have positional power that made it difficult for others.

Next time I'll bring my Experience Cube table tent to the meeting and place it right in front of me.  If you are facilitating meetings this is a tool you may want to consider using.  The post is getting long so I'll close and perhaps share some of the frustration's source in a later post.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In an earlier post I shared the January State Supreme Court decision that required the legislature to report back this month on what they will do to amply fund education.  This article posted on tells us that little progress has been made as the date rapidly approaches.  It seems that there are issues related to whether the meetings to discuss the response should be open to the public or attorney-client privilege.

All summer, various legislative committees focused on education have been meeting, but the one committee assigned by lawmakers to report back to the Supreme Court has yet to convene.

The Senate members of that committee wanted to meet at the end of August to talk about the report, but House members had legal concerns and declined to meet, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, told The Associated Press.

She said the debate came down to one issue: Was the assignment by the Supreme Court something the Legislature should deal with in a public committee? Or was it an issue of attorney-client privilege -- and therefore the lawyers representing the Legislature should handle all communications with the court?
Committee members have been working on a solution, say Rolfes and Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia. Staff has been in touch with every committee member individually to discuss the report and will have a draft ready for discussion at a meeting next week, probably on Wednesday in the Seattle area, said Rep. Jaime Pedersen, D-Seattle.

I don't see how the legislators are going to show  the court progress without new revenue of some sort, something neither of the governor candidates is suggesting is necessary.  Well, they have until September 17th to respond.  It will be interesting and informative to see the response.  It should give us insights into our short term future funding.  The response, however, could also be short lived depending on the make-up of the new legislature following the November elections.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A different education funding context . . .

After reviewing the table on Russo’s This Week In Education, compared to some states we should feel good.  The table shows per student spending changes, adjusted for inflation, for each state from 2008 to 2013.  Our state shows a -2.8% change, well below that of our neighboring states.  I wonder what is going on in those states showing an increase in per student spending over this time period.  I believe in North Dakota it may be due to oil revenue, but have no idea in the other twelve. 

How does our place on this chart make you feel?  I also wonder if this data aligns with the constitution’s paramount duty to fund education requirement.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Switching positions . . .

In this series of posts from the Washington Policy Center by Live Finne, Director, Center for Education we get a glimpse of the politics surrounding the charter school initiative.  In this first post we learn that the state PTA Board voted 11 to 6 in August to not support I 1240, thus undoing two general membership votes in support of the November ballot measure.

With this sudden reversal, Executive Director Bill Williams, President Novella Fraser and the rest of the PTA board summarily cancelled two carefully considered votes by the representatives of PTA members. These delegates in good faith had traveled from across Washington to come together and discuss, deliberate and vote on the pressing issue of public school reform. Two years in a row PTA delegates have endorsed allowing charter schools in Washington state.

In this post she shares at the national level how the PTA reaffirmed its commitment to charter schools and how the Washington decision may place the state affiliate in a difficult position with the education reform community. 

Ms. Landers [president of the National PTA] noted that almost 50 percent of public charter schools in operation today are authorized by “alternate bodies” [state and other authorizing entities] and that many local PTAs are already working with those entities. She urged state chapters to become familiar with the policy and make sure their state advocacy efforts complied with it, a step she said was critical to ensuring that the organization’s position on charters remains relevant.

And, in this post she shares how the decision to undo support may result in the PTA being excluded from participation in the state charter school authorizing process.

By overturning the recommendation of PTA convention delegates and coming out against charter schools, the PTA board would not meet the standard of “demonstrating an understanding of and commitment to charter schooling.” Since it would be officially against the charter school initiative as an education reform strategy, the PTA might be making itself ineligible for appointment to the state commission.

Finally, in this post she shares why she thinks I 1240 will give Washington the best charter school law in the country.

Here is link to the state PTA web page giving a rationale for the vote against supporting I 1240.  The spokesperson made it clear the vote was not against charter schools, but instead was a vote driven by the lack of alignment with existing PTA criteria for local control and parent engagement.

In the initiative, charter schools could be authorized by either a local school board or a new state charter school commission made up of nine appointees. Authorizers are in charge of reviewing the charter schools and ensuring they are meeting performance expectations. The potential of bypassing local oversight conflicted with a long-held position of the association: local tax dollars should be managed by locally elected school boards. Also troublesome for the association is that there are no requirements for parents to serve on charter school boards. Advocating for strong partnerships with shared decision making at every level – classroom, building, district, state and national – is a cornerstone of the association.

What are your thoughts related to the PTA Board decision to undo the membership vote to support charter schools?  Why would they do it?  I expect that things will soon heat up as the supporters use their deep pockets to support a yes vote.  What will the anti-campaign look and sound like as they have far fewer dollars to work with?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Start of school anxiety . . .

Tomorrow marks the start of another school year as the young people join the adults.  The maintenance and custodial staff have done a wonderful job preparing the buildings and grounds that will once again become a focus for learning.  For me it also brings back the start of school anxiety related to one of the most important numbers of the year; first week enrollment count.  The big unknown is whether we will meet the budget enrollment projections.

Since the majority of our budget is driven by student enrollment this is an important number.  We are conservative in our estimates because over estimating can cause short and long term budget problems.  In the budget snip below you can see that we are estimating about one hundred more students than we did in the previous year budget.

While I am anxious about reaching this number, I am also very concerned that we may be on the front end of an increase in enrollment growth over what we have experienced in the last few years.  We saw different enrollment patterns last year and with the increase in housing starts things may change, causing us even greater difficulties with housing students in quality learning environments.  We are full and increased growth is not something we need at this time.  Class size increases, closing enrollment in elementary schools, and over crowding will be a part of our short term future.

 I am especially interested in seeing what the kindergarten enrollment will be as preliminary numbers are high.  I'll share more when the counts are in.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A reminder deserving thanks . . .

Some of you are aware of our focus on feedback related to our Classroom 10 goal including changing mental models that I shared in this post from last year.  If you follow my blog, you also know that I had the opportunity last week to participate in conversations at three buildings.  I enjoyed each and believe that I was able to add something of value to the conversations.  The focus at the High School and Junior High was on Career and College ready and at Cedar River it was giving and receiving feedback.

I want to thank Andy and Robert at Cedar River for modeling vulnerability by allowing me to ask questions and provide feedback following a presentation on mental models.  It was not a planned  conversation and asking Robert to participate was made at that moment in time.  We had an opportunity to model how feedback can support reflection and influence future thinking and planning.

I want to also thank Terry and Rob for allowing me to share the system focus on Career and College Ready and update staff on progress on the donut hole.  They share the need and are using system tools to support staff in identifying and implementing adaptive changes to ensure that ALL students have options for success in post high school learning and work.

One more thank you and the one that capped off a great learning month for me.  This one goes to Brooke Dillon teacher at the high school.  Brooke thanked me for the information I shared at the high school meeting.      I like to think that I don't need positive feedback, but when I read her e-mail it reminded me how wrong that thinking is and how important it is for me to find a better balance in the feedback I provide.  Reading that e-mail reinforced for me the importance of the work and the small role that I play.  Brooke, it made my month. THANKS!