By Jano Tantongco
Best-selling author John Gordon promoted the mindset and tools needed to promote positivity among individuals and teams during the Half Hollow Hills School District’s “Superintendent’s Conference Day” last Thursday.
Half Hollow Hills Superintendent Kelly Fallon said every single employee of the district, from custodians to teachers, were invited to share in Gordon’s wisdom – and indulge in the burgers, Italian ices and live music that followed.
“We really appreciate one another, we always work in the best interest of students, and that was the perfect message to be delivered,” Fallon said. “We were able to do a barbeque, and do the entire day through donations from the community, everyone who supports Half Hollow Hills.”
Fallon said Half Hollow Hills High School West’s head varsity football coach, Kyle Madden, has taught professional development courses based on Gordon’s work.
Madden said that, when he was looking for motivation material, he stumbled upon Gordon’s book, “The Energy Bus.”
“I listened to it, and I said, ‘Whoa, this is it.”
Together with David Pitman, Madden’s assistant coach, the two created a professional development class based on the book that they taught to teachers in the district.
“It went so well,” Madden said. “There was such positive feedback from it, that these teachers went to the superintendent.”
“Sometimes, you just need a simple reminder… you want to remember how you were when you first started teaching, that passion, that feeling,” Madden, a teacher in the district for 20 years, said. “Sometimes you might forget about it. It’s not you have to go to work. We get to go to work. We get to make an impact.”
At last year’s conference, Fallon called upon Madden to be the keynote speaker.
“I give her a lot of credit, the superintendent of one of the largest districts on Long Island, to put this much effort into promoting positive energy and making our staff feel connection,” Madden said.
This year, Madden connected with Gordon via Twitter, asking him to stop by the district. It just so happened that Gordon was scheduled to be in town to speak for the Sachem School District, and would be available.
“I had no idea it would be like this, an incredible response, incredible people, amazing energy and a great staff,” Gordon said, calling the audience among his top five.
Gordon’s original intention was not to speak at schools. Though he was a teacher at one point for one year, he left the profession because he felt he was surrounded by negativity.
His publisher put a school bus on the cover. He questioned this, saying it should be a regular bus, but the publisher replied saying that school buses are “iconic.”
“They did that, and the next thing you know, schools started using the book,” he said. “I started getting calls from schools that were reading it and wanted me to come speak.
He described the concept of the energy bus as building positive momentum, using “the four C’s:” communication, connection, commitment and care.
“It’s about staying positive yourself, building a positive team, and then overcoming the negativity that exists in the world to do great work,” Gordon said.