Category Archives: Life

A Thankful Blog

Thanksgiving. A time for family, football, food and fun.  Yes, I did that on purpose.

Instead of using this blog post to pontificate about whether or not turkey actually makes you sleepy (only if you eat about a dozen whole turkeys) and whether or not cranberry sauce should be made in a pot or slid out of a can (of which I won’t eat either) I wanted to use this venue to send out thanks to those who have made a positive impact on my life.  To those people who I have not thanked enough over the years.  Like most of my blogs I am typing “from the hip” so if anyone feels slighted please don’t.  Just know that you are not as important as you think you are….ha ha.  Just kidding.

First I should start off with family.  I have a fantastic wife who embraces me for who I am.  She puts up with my nonsense and gives it right back.  I am thankful for those times when we can put aside the variety of stressful situations we are working through, money, medical, mommyhood (yes I did it again, get over it) and just laugh at one another.  Be it watching a movie or playing with Ainsley, just being able to let is all go in front of you is a blessing.

Speaking of blessings, if my wife is #1, then Ainsley is 1A.  My daughter.  She just turned three two days ago and she is the best thing that I can ever been a part of.  No matter what type of day I am having.  No matter how much pain I am in.  She can always turn it around.  Her laughter is priceless and knowing that she sees me as someone she can depend on pushes me to do better.  To get up off of my but and try and get healthy.  To take advantage of opportunity.  To see the value in what I already have.  I love nothing more than her.  I never will.

My sister Jen, brother-in-law TJ, niece Kylie, and nephew Preston.  I appreciate all you do, especially for Ainsley. You are the best godparents and are just so much fun to hang out with.  I remember my baby sister when she was real little being carried around by our mother.  The rosy little cheeks and the endless energy.  To see you now with a wonderful husband and family makes me so proud of you.  Having a positive attitude no matter the headache.  You all are the best, especially because you let me wear cut off muscle shirts at Clearwater Beach.  Now if we can just stop falling in parking lots and get that compound started we will be in good shape.

My little brother Jeff and his extended family.  All I can say about you is that you are a fighter.  You keep trying to do what you can.  You have been knocked down so many times, some by me (recognize older brother authority), and you keep getting back up.  You continue to meet hurdles and figure out a way to get it done.  Once you wrap up school and start a career I can see everything coming together.  And at the very least you can always be counted on to have an exotic animal or two floating around the house somewhere.

Dad.  I know we have not always seen eye to eye.  I remember quite a bit about my childhood and the different ways you were a part of it.  I remember dressing up like you for Halloween, in my best postal worker costume, and playing football with you being as assistant coach.  Marching in parades and driving me to college.  We have had some incredible times.  I am thankful that we are still in contact and trying to maintain some connection.  I know life has gotten in the way and situations are what they are, but we are trying.

To my in-laws Phil and Kelley, and my sister-in-law Alissa. You have welcomed me into your home when you did not have to. You have accepted me as part of your family and I am forever grateful.  You have accepted me when times were good, and when I was a crabby bastard frustrated with life.  You have always been there for us and that does not go unnoticed.  All I can continue to say is thank you and that one day you will have to let em pay for dinner.  And oh yeah, Eastern Promises 2 is possibly in production.  Get ready.

Nana, Aunt Debbie, Aunt Ellen, and Uncle Ricky.  You are my connection to extended family.  You are the ones who I can remember being there for us when we were kids, when we got married, and when Mom and Papa passed.  From good times  to bad, you have always supported us.  I cannot count the number of vivid memories I have of you all.  Playing canasta with you and Papa, running around and cracking my head open on a dresser, hiding under a table while Ellen and her girlfriends came over because I thought they were cute, barbequing, and family reunions.  You all have wonderful families and are inspirations to me.

Dave, Justin, and Jarva.  You are that guys that got me thru college.  The number of stories that we have to share wouldn’t fit within this post.  Things like Vegas, bachelor parties, Libby, Tuck in a sock, expo-in at the round, plugs stuck to headboards and windshields, haircuts in the bathrooms, bonfires, and shots of Rumple Minze immediately come to mind.  You are great friends and no matter the distance or time between calls, we can get together at any time and it will be like we just saw each other yesterday.  I love you guys. You are all brothers and I will be there for you.  Anytime.  Anywhere.

Aaron.  Oh Aaron.  You are one of the most sincere and honorable people I know.  You are an excellent father, a fantastic professional, and an even better friend.  My life is better because you are in it.  You always bring the best out of me and I know that I can count on you for anything.  We have so many stories together and always have each others back.  You are one of the few people that I can reach out to on all fronts.  You understand my life and how to help me move forward in it.  Sure, we have stories like the “laundry room” and others of the sort, but I am most thankful for your generosity, joyfulness, and positive attitude while always keeping it real.  You always back my play and you are family.  Always will be.

Chris, Greg.  You two are the folks that I connected with most here at Binghamton.  Greg, although relationships and processing those relationships was not always comfortable, we found a connection discussing the value of relationships and I thank you for that.  You always remembered the person and no matter how business like I try to make it you brought it down to the person.  That and you ate food off the bottom of the over to be polite.  The fruitcake lady and I will never forget that.  Chris, you are the person that I can just chat with all day long.  We are in very similar places in our life and appreciate similar things.  Although my vocabulary is not on par with yours, I can usually keep up.  Talking about Real Genius, automobiles (and how we can’t afford a new one), and family is always enjoyable.  I am thankful for your “drop ins” and as you know if you don’t come see me I will come and bug you.

And now most sincerely,

Mom.  I specifically wanted to end this with you.  Even with you not being with us anymore, I feel that you are still one of the most important people in my life.  I constantly think about you and what you would say to me when I am struggling with life.  I remember all that you did and put up with for us kids.  Being there now (on a lesser scale) living with illness and not letting that interfere with our happiness.  We were always your priority and you never made excuses.  I love you and I always will.

Scott’s Holiday Movie Breakdown

Tis the season.

Well not really unless you are in retail, but since we are getting closer and there are those signs of the Holiday season all around us I felt that the Blog-iverse could benefit from my love of all things cinematic.  Basically, I am a movie nerd.  I have seen, and unfortunately own, more movies than most would guess.  Some people smoke, some drink, some hike (which I have an appreciation for, but don’t necessarily understand), but I watch movies.  I know that new movies come out each Tuesday, although there are some special release dates that I follow.  The people in the movie section at Target recognize me.

Yes….I am THAT guy.

In reviewing my list of holiday favorites, I understand that there are classics out there that may not make my list.  There are movies that may not have come out during the holiday season but have scenes that make me reminisce.  Feel free to judge.  Feel free to post comments and add to the list.  If I haven’t seen it and you suggest it I will watch it.

Honorable Mentions

A Christmas Story (1983) 

A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Eastern Promises (2007)

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

The Top 20 Countdown

#20: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

#19: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

#18: Bad Santa (2003)

#17: Mixed Nuts (1994)

#16: Scrooged (1988)

#15: Ghostbusters (1984)

#14: The Ref (1994)

#13: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

#12: Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

#11: Home Alone (1990)

#10: Elf (2003)

#9: White Christmas (1954)

#8: The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

#7: Die Hard (1988)

#6: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

#5: The Polar Express (2004)

#4: The Santa Clause (1994)

#3: Love Actually (2003)

#2: Lethal Weapon (1987)

#1: You’ve Got Mail (1998)

I hope y’all enjoy the show.  Happy Holidays

It’s Elementary

In honor of Halloween and seeing so many students dressed up in costumes I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and reflect upon my time as an elementary school teacher. As a teacher I developed certain skills that I use daily in my current role as a university administrator within residential life.  Ya know…”Transferable Skills”

I wanted to take today’s post and share some of what I have seen and done in the classroom and let you create the connections for yourself.  Some may be obvious, some subtle, but all true.  I will say that as a disclaimer, I have not taught in a traditional elementary school classroom since 2000-01.  I am sure things have changed, even if just this “new math” that drives me to drink alone at night.

Being kind actually does lead to long lasting friendships.  Seeing one student help another pick up belongings that could have dropped from a backpack or lunchbox has always created a sense of hope in me.  It makes me think of the people who return lost wallets or help the elderly get something off a shelf.  It just makes me smile.

The simple “I’m Sorry.”  When disagreements occur oftentimes youth will get frustrated and have some sort of outburst.  That is human.  They are developing.  They are learning how to manage emotions and work through stressful situations.  And don’t get me wrong, we may think that because Timmy or Alice is using a crayon that belongs to someone else is not that big a deal, but to Johnny who had his crayon “stolen” this is the worst possible thing that could have happened to them today.  They feel betrayed, frustrated, and lost as to why someone (their teacher) would assume that theft is OK.  Sometimes the only thing that can be done is to say “I’m Sorry.”  And you know what…it works.  Instead of rationalizing and trying to weasel their way out of it, a simple apology can resolve the issue.  It is not always a full solution, but it is most often a meaningful first step.  Being able to stand up and admit a mistake is humbling.  It takes a level of maturity to do that.

Encouraging children to play with others.  Having students mingle.  Ignore the socioeconomic statuses, the racial or cultural differences, and just let students play.  Have them learn that the people they want to hang out with, the people that are like them, aren’t always like them (if you know what I mean).

Children have a variety of learning styles.  From visual to tactile, olfactory to auditory, students need to experience their learning in different ways.  I have had to do everything from read books out loud, draw pictures, create models, and relate facts to information already retained by the students in hopes of creating connections that make sense to the students.  I have had students march in step back and forth to P.E., music, lunch, etc while singing songs about the lesson for the day.  I still to this day remember a student who was having difficulty remembering the different classes of people that lived in the middle ages.  I had to create a specific song to sing which included the fact that the Serfs, peasant class, were the pooper-scoopers of the community.  He really got into that part.  If everything was given to him in writing, he would not have been successful.  He needed more.

Sometimes parents are overly involved, and others are not.  I always felt like those whose parents were involved, either thru the PTA, being a classroom reader, being available to help with homework, etc, got a leg up on the rest.  This is not to take anything away from those engaged parents.  They were great…once they learned that the classroom was not focused on their student with another 20-25 students acting as “also-heres.”  My favorites were always the one who did not have significant parent involvement.  That could be because their parents had to work a lot, there were multiple siblings to oversee, or simply because they were deadbeats.  I hate saying that but it is the truth.  It is never appropriate to assume that all students have a significant level of parent involvement.  Doing that puts those without at a disadvantage.  Just because they don’t have others advocating on their behalf does not mean that their voices should not be heard.

Speaking of favorites, some say it is never right to pick favorites.  Really?  I definitely had my favorites.  And that is OK.  That’s real life.  Just don’t let is be known to the class who that is.  They should feel that everyone is equal, or at least on a level playing field.

Recess is important.  REALLY IMPORTANT.  It cannot be expected that students go from lesson to lesson to lesson without a break of some sort.  We all know about the multiple studies that have been done stating that attention spans fade at the 50 minute mark, and I have recently read that that is getting shorter.  Providing breaks and outlets for students to release pent up energy in important.  It keeps them engaged, allowing them to take in more information.  Just remember to have a rainy day plan.

And then there is the importance of individual conversations.  I felt like I did the most meaningful teaching when I could kneel down next to a student and work thru their questions with them.  Sure, I may have just explained this lesson to the entire class, but to that student they just didn’t get it.  That doesn’t make them bad, or annoying.  They just need more help.  That is why I am there.  To help.  To educate.  No matter if it is the 20th time I had gotten that question, I need to come at it with the same level of energy as I did with the first student.  Just because I have heard this question before does not mean that it is any less important to the next student.  And really, if there are a number of people who are not understanding my lesson, perhaps it is time for me to change how I deliver the message.

Lastly, if you are asking the question, “How did Scott get from seeing college students in costume to remembering his time working in an elementary school?” just take a took outside tonight.  The number of students who look like they are wearing costumes that are sized for 5th graders is astounding.  I mean really…..are you kidding…..I am getting too old.  Anyway, I hope you, your family, and friends all have a happy, healthy, and SAFE Halloween tonight.  Stay away from strangers, unless you see a bearded guy in a kilt walking around with a toddler dressed up like Sully from Monsters Inc. in upstate NY.  Say hi to that guy, because it just might be me.

The Nudge. Who Am I?

So here I am.  Actually writing a blog entry.  This comes off the heels of a fruitful #SAChat that took place yesterday.  The encouragement was outstanding and terrifying.  Those who know me know that I am not a wordsmith.  I am a math guy.  I can ramble at times (I’m being generous here) and have a strong sense of self preservation which at times limits the extent that I feel comfortable sharing about myself.  After some reflection last night I decided “The Hell With It” and decided to put myself out there.

Now where to start?  What to write about?  Am I really that interesting?  Nice people will say yes.  Honest people will say….ummmm

Currently I am an Associate Director for Residential Life at Binghamton University.  I oversee all things urgent.  From facilities emergencies to personal crises to students of concern and threat assessment, I am your guy when it hits the fan.  I currently am the departmental rep for all confirmed and suspected Title IX cases.  I have worked with some amazing university staff to develop a comprehensive response to responding to those affected by gender based violence.  I also serve as a vice chair for ACPAs Commission on Housing and Residence Life.  That commission is a great way to get involved on a national level (shameless plug).

In addition to traditional responsibilities, I am that guy that seems to have bad duty voodoo.  I must have drank while on duty in another life and now the duty gods are getting their revenge.  The curse is strong with me.

Prior to my life as a university administrator I was a police officer and elementary school teacher.

***Insert Kindergarten Cop Joke Here***

Although I only acted in these roles for a few years, they significantly influence my professional persona.  Think about it, sometimes we work with students who act like 2nd graders and sometimes we work with students who need a firm “Come to Jesus” talk.  I use strategies I learned in both professions all the time.  One unforeseen benefit of this is that I get a lot of love from our university police department. They see me as someone who understands both sides of the job and those relationships have paid out 10-fold.

And now the future.  What am I looking for?  Ideally I want to be in a position like Terry Webb, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.  He gave me one of the best compliments I have ever been given.  He compared me to himself, saying that we are “fixers.”  People can feel comfortable handing us a mess and trusting that we can right the ship.  What helps is the understanding that if students and families don’t know what I am doing, then I am doing my job well.  Working behind the scenes is how we are most effective.  I have always believed that.  Seeing Terry have a full career in that role drives me.  We both want to give those around us credit.  To see them shine is our success.  People within the Division know what folks like us do.  That is what matters to me.  Now how to get there.  I am patiently looking for a great opportunity to move ahead in the field.  Trying to find the right balance between fit, balance, community, and opportunity is a job in itself.

Well that is where I will wrap this up for today.  The struggle will be what topic to tackle next time.  If anyone has any ideas, shoot them my way.

Take care and be safe.