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WHAT HAPPENED: LT I CENTRAL NH 2007-2008--Reporter At Large: Whitney Reitz

OCTOBER 30, 2007

Overview…at least…the things I can remember!

Arrival ~ Educators began to arrive from all over NH and Vermont (I noticed a VT license plate). We checked in, were given name tags and cool black file folders from Staples, an LT program sponsor, to hold all of our papers, then helped ourselves to a seat with pastries and began to make some new friends.

Welcome and Overview of the Day ~ Elizabeth Foy began by introducing herself and the philosophy and educational need for the founding of Leadership Teacher. She talked about a disconnect between schools and businesses and her efforts to make a better connection. She then introduced Merryn Rutledge, a facilitator, who gave us the opportunity to move around while introducing parts of who we are to the whole group. For example, take one step to the middle if you are a Veteran, if you teach high school, if you were the oldest child in your house growing up… We were then split into two groups to complete the rest of the day’s work with the people we would be teamed with throughout this opportunity.

Ropes Course ~ Let me just start by saying…LOVED IT!!! We started out not knowing one another and ended with a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and that we were the “fun” group. We began in the basement of the center throwing a ball to one another to learn some names (at least those who threw to you and that you threw to). We then began a challenge that required teamwork and good communication skills to deliver a poisonous tennis ball to a PVC pipe port. I believe we were commended several times on our skill and speed!!! We then headed to the great outdoors where we were split into two smaller groups and were challenged to conquer some elements.

Lunch ~ Yummy 

Team Time ~ This time was led by Merryn. She began by introducing us to the new method of problem solving called Appreciative Inquiry. The idea behind this is to approach problems from a point of a success and build from there. It begins the process in a more positive light and allows for a better flow of ideas. She talked about Real World Teaching and had us share our thoughts. We were paired up and had to share a moment or time when we thought of ourselves as successful leaders….just as an aside…once again…our group is amazing. I was astounded by the examples of leadership that were shared! We wrapped up our time by creating a drawing, reporting out our drawing to the whole group and then writing about our ideas. This became our vision!

Overview of LT Program ~ Elizabeth shared the nitty-gritty about LT. We were able to get the year’s guide for our group and an idea of what an LT field trip day looks like. She handed out paperwork for those thinking of getting credits from PSU along with handouts about LT on the web. We signed up for days to share an article and a best practice.

Closing ~ We ended back outside in a whole group and were asked to do one last team building “game.” The metaphor (I think) was that we all have a place in this whole group and we are important in creating a successful experience.

Respectfully submitted,

Whitney Reitz

NOVEMBER 13, 2007

Leadership Teacher ~ Notes from November 13, 2007

Michael Chaney, President & CEO, NH Political Library ~ Michael got right into talking about his passion, NH politics. It was exciting to hear about the history of the political process in NH and our first in the nation primary. Here are some of the notes I took while listening:
• The library was founded in 1997 to collect manuscripts, websites, documents and signs.
• The library is used by journalists to provide them background and context for their stories.
• The library at the State Library and at the Pierce mansion is open to school groups for tours.
• NH Primary grew out of a strong and unique political “feel” in NH
• We have the highest voting percentages in the nation. (60%-70%).
• Candidates feel that they can hear from the people in a small setting.
• Kid’s Voting ~ a national program/curriculum piloted in Manchester this month.
• Educators need to inspire kids to become involved in political scene/culture.
• Library Board ~ bipartisan group ~ created a booklet/case statement to answer the question, “Why New Hampshire?” This booklet contains quotes from other.
• NH Law states that NH will host their primary 7 or more days before any other state.
• Michael took some time to tell us a bit about his background and then take questions. He’s one bright guy!!!

Dr. Dante Scala ~ UNH professor/author of Stormy Weather; about the changing demographics in New Hampshire, came to talk to us about the academics of politics.
• Talked about polling.
• This primary sets up a 9 month presidential campaign.
• Called this cycle the “Money Campaign”.
• The bunching of primaries can eventually backfire and make states even less “important.”
• Talked about the “media glare” and the fact that campaigns can live or die by what they do in NH 12 months before the election!

Rob Werner, National Field Director, Americans for Campaign Reform.
• Passionate about campaign reform and electing those who support that issue.
• Wants public funds for national campaigns.
• Looking to legislate campaign finance reforms.

Tour of NH Political Library Exhibit ~ We took a walk to view the exhibit and enjoyed the NH flair on the political scene.

Lunch ~ We talked about some businesses we’d like to visit in March.

Tour of the State House with Karen Wadsworth, Clerk of the NH House of Representatives, was a real behind the scene look at NH politics. We even got to see the underground tunnel!

Lori Fisher, Director of Programs and Collections
• Lori showed us the PowerPoint she developed to use when working with high school children about political cartoons. What a blast to see how cartoonists portray New Hampshire folk.
• We had the opportunity to critically examine political posters.

Teacher’s Toolbox and articles
• Three of us shared articles about education.
• Jeff, Lisa and Emily shared a lesson and provided us with the plans to use them with our own classrooms. They did a great job AND they went first!!!

During the whole group time we were asked to reflect upon and talk about what we’ve gained through the two sessions.

Respectfully submitted,

Whitney Reitz

DECEMBER 11, 2007

Opening remarks were given by Dean Bacon of PSNH and Barbara Bancroft, Professor at NHTC.

Our speaker was VP of Customer Services who showed us rather than tell us about his job by turning on the lights and saying, “That’s what we do!” He talked about the number of costumers served by PSNH and the number of calls that come into their building each year. Then, he shared the wedding story. Remember that one where the panicked guy called to say he had a wedding and 5 women that needed to shower and get ready, including the bride!!! That story had a fairy tale ending…hope the wedding did too!!!

He talked to us about what he is looking for in an employee: diversity, a sense of caring, a curiosity factor, polite skills, computer skills, understanding of safety, and he stressed the desire for employees who can make presentations. (This sentiment was echoed throughout the day.) He also seemed to plead with us about writing. He said, “Employees who can write are worth their weight in gold!”

Some struggles management is facing with the new “kids” being hired: they are a struggle to manage, they think differently, multi-task, sharp. He also shared that these “kids” test very well on PSNH’s standardized test, are bright and curious, have a social conscious, love to have many things to do at once and have a demand for the newest technologies.

He then took a lot of time to answer some of our questions about the employees they are looking for as well as environmental issues we were curious about.

John Cartmill (who just so happened to look almost exactly like my dad) gave us a Power Point presentation called Teacher on Tour, Overview and Philosophy of the building. Once again, he stressed the need to have people who can do presentations….because he didn’t want to???  John also gave us a tour of the building and hinted at certain places we might want to take note of for use in a game we’d play later in the day.

Teacher’s Toolbox:

• Thanks to Tricia, John and Wendy!

We had another presentation about real world problem solving on how PSNH is working on their parking issue. Dave Still handed out a packet and plans and talked to us about a porous pavement. Our group asked some great questions!!!

Educational Article Sharing:

• Well done, Brewster, Cheryl and Bill!
Lunch 

Dean came back and introduced his creation and soon to be mass marketed; Energy Park Clue! Teams of four had to disperse throughout the building, interviewing employees in order to find out WHODUNIT???

Thomas Mitchell came in to give us a real world look at “failure.” Thomas is an electrical engineer whose team was given the task to provide internet over/through power lines. Almost from the start, this model ran into problems, geographically, technically and the people were not interested in trying it. Soon they decided that the model was not going to work and the team had to report back. PSNH saw it as a business failure because the success vs. the cost was no good. PSNH did not see Thomas’ task force as a failure because he showed them the model and they avoided that cost. A neat way for teachers to think about problem-solving!

Respectfully submitted,

Whitney Reitz

JANUARY 22, 2008

Welcoming Remarks ~ Howard Kingsford, VP Management, welcomed us to the Innovation and Technology Center of Velcro, USA.

Company History ~ Steve Murphy, who has been with the company for about 18 years, showed us a Power Point on the history of the company. The company began when George de Mestral took a walk in the woods with his dog. He noticed certain seeds sticking to the dog’s fur and to his wool clothing. George was no ordinary man, achieving his first patent at the age of 12 for a toy airplane! His idea has become an integral part of daily living now with its application in diapers, the military and many other innovative products.

The company has plants in Somersworth, NH, Michigan and many countries all over the world. They continue to expand these plants to satisfy all their customer needs.

Secrets to Success ~ For Velcro, USA, it’s Innovation, Adaptability, Customers and Quality. Harold talked about the oft asked “Why should I study X because I’m going to be Y.” From a business standpoint, his answer is:
• Careers will change
• Communication is vital ~ writing and speaking
• Careers will be complex
• Need an understanding of other cultures

The best engineering school is no longer in the US, it’s in India!

The VP of Technology wants innovative people! Howard’s definition is: Innovation is looking in one direction and seeing something else. He recommended the following books to read, books which force people to look at things from a different prospective:
• Flatland
• The Hunt for Zero Point
• Philadelphia Experiment
• Thomas Townsend Brown
• The Gods Themselves

Howard assigned Flatland to his employees and set up teams of people to solve problems and create technical solutions. He mentioned how much more information he and his teams gather from failures as opposed to successes. He did the following for his teams:
• Protected them
• Rewarded failure
• Celebrated success
• Kept to the process

He created an interesting chart he called Key Elements of Innovative Groups. It had six parts:
1. alignment
2. self-initiative activity
3. unofficial activity
4. serendipity
5. diverse stimuli
6. within company communication

Something interesting he shared was Peter Drucker’s contention that the growth and prosperity in the US in the last half century of the 1900’s was due to the GI Bill. Government investing in education!!!

“How to think and embrace change will become the most important skills to have in future careers.”

Jim Grady has been with Velcro as an engineer and works with manufacturing and marketing. He talked to us about the Six Sigma Methodologies. These are a practical approach to problem-solving and understanding needs. It helps insure that quality is engineered in the product. With a Six Sigma, there will be only 3.4 defective parts per million! Application to education ~ Makes it easy to see trends and capture and organize it.

Catherine Cavanaugh ~ ITC, led us on a lab tour. We talked about/ saw testing applications.

We gathered back and worked in small groups to complete a DI Challenge. Our groups were commended on their ability to work cooperatively though we didn’t come close to the success children had at this challenge.

We were then joined by a team who talked to us all about their jobs/duties/challenges within the company. Their team task is working on BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniforms). One challenge in espionage is getting the Velcro to attach and detach without the noise!

Each of them had a “skill set” that proved quite interesting. Catherine Cavanaugh said she would try and get those and email them to me. When that happens, I will forward it along! Some skills that I noted were the ability to research, math skills, public speaking, technology, writing skills and foreign languages. Verbal and written communication skills were mentioned by all members of the team; time and time again! One person said something like: “Teamwork is essential. If you can’t work with a team, you’re not going to survive.”

The graphic designer mentioned that in the world of freelancing, he is often competing with 15 year olds in their bedrooms!

Interesting to note: Velcro is metrics based!
We went on an extensive tour of the facility.

At day’s end, we shared articles, asked questions, got a goody bag and some of us struggled to find the exit. 

Respectfully submitted,

Whitney Reitz


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