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August 5 and I’m headed to Brad Gilbert’s tennis shop in San Rafael. This is my process, think a thought, make a plan, execute, sometimes fail, sometimes succeed, and learn from the journey. Repeat.

Brad taught me to play ping-pong. 41 short years ago, I was 10 and dad had just brought home a new ping-pong table. Brad was 16, a tennis superstar, playing in the Modesto Racket Club Open Tennis Tournament. Since his parents knew my parents, Brad was staying with us for the duration of the tournament and since he is a nice guy he taught me how to play ping-pong.

Fast forward to this summer and I’m planning my school year. My friend Tom is ready to step down from coaching the SVHS boy’s tennis team and has recruited me to take over. Love it, and hey, what about getting a ping pong club together to prepare for the season? Why not, and why not ask Brad if he will come up for a little demo with the students. Entice him with wine and an overnight stay in lovely Sonoma. Good plan. Get on it.

And that’s really all it takes, planning and execution, the more outside the box the better. I have my EduRap album to work on with Maclemore, my reality show alternative high school to pitch to Robert Kamen, the wine tour bus driving comedy series to pitch to whoever will listen (Like Taxi in the wine country).

Then there are the 10 themes for the school year, one for each grading period at Creekside, the art projects for the Sonoma International Film Festival, the Biology, Algebra, Creative Writing, Social Responsibility, and Art curricula, the fieldtrips, the cookbook, oh, and the blog yes, don’t forget the blog. Whew, I suddenly need a nap.

Luckily my superpower helps me juggle all the balls and an amazing community and school district support and assist like no other. Most of the time.

I look forward to this time of year because, I know the more time I spend planning, the better my year will go. I am able to help shape the minds of the future and I take that responsibility very seriously. I think about failures from last year, what worked, what didn’t, big problems (screens, motivation, weed) and how to get the help I need when I need it.

I think about staying out of the excrement pool, about not worrying too much, about affording my season pass to Squaw Valley, about how to get the administration to better support me (just like I work for the students, admin works for the teachers-remember that).

Then I smile, publish another blog and head off to talk with Brad.