A message to the Class of 2009

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The outgoing superintendent offers some final words to the senior class.

By The Staff

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."   "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause/who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919  

The words of President Theodore Roosevelt have inspired many Americans over the years. These two quotes have certainly been inspirational to me through most of my professional life. As you know from your study of American history, President Roosevelt overcame many challenges and obstacles in his life to become one of our greatest American Presidents.

What was President Roosevelt's message? Here is what his words have meant to me...   • Have high expectations in all areas of your life.

• Embrace challenges as opportunities, not weaknesses or obstacles.

• Know that the only folks who do not experience failures are those who do very little with their lives.

• Find a worthy cause or causes to devote your time, energy and passion.

• Persistence... never quit, never ever quit!

• The reward is not the final accomplishment, but rather the journey. Enjoy the journey and live the precious present, not the past or future.

• Don't be among those negative people who are always spectators criticizing others, but be among those who are actually striving to achieve greatness. There will be many who will criticize and second guess you as you strive to accomplish great things.

• Don't let others (including some family members and friends) influence you to have low expectations/goals.

• Listen to those who encourage you and tell you all things are possible with hard work, determination, persistence and patience!

• When you set high goals/expectations and don't quite meet them... you will still experience a great sense of accomplishment and know that you gave your very best effort.


"Good is the enemy of great! And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life."

- Jim Collins from the bestselling book, Good To Great  

After 34 years as a Kentucky public school educator and the last 10 years as MCPS superintendent, I know from personal experience that the words of President Roosevelt and Jim Collins are more than just words. In the spring of 1970, 39 years ago, I graduated from a small rural Kentucky high school. My parents had only an eighth grade education. I became the first college graduate from my family... breaking a cycle of poverty and low expectations.

The MCHS senior class was beginning the third grade when I became MCPS superintendent. Now you will soon enter the world of adults and real life. For each of you, I wish a rich, full life as you pursue your dreams and aspirations. The sky is the limit... have high expectations... dream big... don't settle for good... strive for greatness!. May each of you help to make the world a better place!