Mudlark Flash No. 65 (2012)


It is an honor to address you.
We are pleased that these programs,
so richly deserved, have been funded
in a year of so much adjustment and change.
When you talk about your vision
and your commitment, you must remodel.
It’s like your home: you are the last
to know when the color needs attention.
Think about your area and ask yourself,
“Is it like a museum down there?”
We must move beyond being afraid,
for the future is not where we are going;
rather, it is a place we are creating.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us begin.


Collaboration is really about getting along.
It’s about putting aside things
that need to be put aside and embracing
things that need to be embraced.
What we need to do is find some people
who are doing something outside of charted waters
and look at how they are engaged.
This year the focus is on helping you
help that person who needs your help.
By accident this morning I found a list—
a list of effective methods effective people use.
Included were rigor and commitment,
things we want to embrace, things we know
must happen and will recognize when they do.


There is absolutely no pressure;
this is your choice, nobody else’s.
Do what you wish, fearlessly.
We have a good procedure in place
that we will follow appropriately.
Evaluation is necessary—how we do
is essential for each of us to measure.
We are going to become aware
of ourselves, starting with this inventory.
A good many will find themselves
wanting to know what is being said
about them and their compensation.
We have forms to show this,
and we have plans to use them.


We talked and talked
and came up with
the following goals:
You will know somebody.
You will understand somebody.
You will motivate somebody.
You will support somebody.
At this point you may wonder
why we are doing this
and how you will measure
your achievement.
Do not worry—you are an adult.
You will figure it out
and you will excel.


You know what?
We’re all in this together
and it’s going to get uncomfortable
for some of us, very uncomfortable.
We have got to get to know
who we are working with
and who we are working for.
But we have a long journey
ahead of us and we must make
eye contact at all times.
Where we are headed is a place
we need to visualize before we leave.
It is vital to restructure our minds.


I’d like to personally encourage you
to go through all the rooms
so that you will have the correct information.
Of course I will be located at my desk,
hopefully not killing any more trees
with this information—and let me apologize
for the initial, incorrect letter;
rest assured that a second went out
very soon after we discovered the mistake.
Please be sure to see me at the end
of this meeting if you are new to our system.
We have particular methods to incorporate,
and sometimes you will need help
with the rapid pace we feel is necessary.


We’re going to do a survey,
which you will fill out
(if you haven’t already)—
and, hey, please build
on that so we can get this
plugged in; we will look
to have entry forms
for early blocking, allowing
you to assume we know
the set-up for that agenda.
We very much appreciate
this responsibility and thank you
for coming forward (in advance)
with your concerns.


We are still not where we want to be.
They are calling on us to make it better.
You will see improvement very soon.
All that we received is available.
We’d like for you to talk, to celebrate.
Each and every week we will grow.
We’ve been getting a lot of overview.
You have recognized our shortcomings.
(These are tending in a certain direction.)
If you are unsure, we will update you.
Data is the future you must embrace.
Something about this opportunity inspires.
Outcomes are highly predictable.
Our vision cannot be understated.


We don’t know enough
to create a flawless template,
so do please be aware
of how wrong some of this is.
We are going to assume
that you would be very naïve
to think our models
cannot be flexible, initially.
For instance: an obvious concern
is the idea of discussion time
being eliminated, not levelized.
In one model, ‘Priority’ means
three different things and fails
to address the overflow of theories.


The State wants all students to graduate
under Smart Core, and students are asked
to fill out the form indicating their compliance.
However, if a student cannot fulfill the requirements,
the Smart Core waiver form must be filled out,
indicating that they will be graduating just Core.
Our district has created Honors Graduation
to further strengthen the choices students have.
If students want to graduate with Honors,
they simply need to fill out that credit check sheet.
If they meet all the requirements, they can graduate
from our school with an Honors Graduation—
in which case they will have a gold sticker on their diploma.
Central Administration hopes this clarifies the situation.

Thomas Cochran was raised in Haynesville, Louisiana. His work includes the novels Roughnecks (Harcourt) and Running the Dogs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Non-fiction and poetry have appeared under his name in Oxford American, Rattle, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and other publications. A schoolteacher by trade, he currently lives with his wife in rural northwest Arkansas. 

Copyright © Mudlark 2012
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