New Titles Published on Puns, Sins, and the Jesus Movement

This past week has been extremely busy with two new titles being published from my imprint, Yowza Publishing. Both are available today on Amazon.com in both print and ebook formats. I’m trying something different with these books, so both have also been released on Kindle Unlimited as well.

The first book released was another fun project, Punny or Not Book of Puns. If you follow me on Facebook, then you know I went through a period where I regularly posted puns memes on my Facebook. Additionally, I meet with a group of friends on a regular basis. One of their daughters regularly is tossing out puns to the group. All of this inspired me to see what it would take to pull together a book of puns. The result is not available on Amazon!

The second release this week is the book Small Sins. This book is very different. This book does not contain a lot of text. Rather, its primary focus is to present a list of sins along with a Bible related to each sin. The list is sure to spark controversy because of what is listed as a sin and possibly because of the verse used as justification.

This is a good thing. The reason to buy this book is to use it as a discussion piece. It’s perfect for Bible studies, Sunday School discussions, Church discussions, and even discussion among Christian friends. It’s a chance to build awareness of actions and determine to ponder the actions that could be (or are) not right to be doing as a Christian.

This book came about a long, long time ago, but is finally in print. I suggest you buy a copy and give it to your pastor to see what they think. See if they want to preach on some of the topics included.

It’s worth noting that I also published a book the middle of last month for my Mom called My Journey Through the Charismatic Renewal. This book is her story of life during the Jesus Movement. It’s an interesting read and will give you a little background about the world I grew up within.

All of these books are available today.

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HSE School Start Times – Letter from the Superintendent

Dr. Bourff, the superintendent of HSE Schools, sent out a message to parents about his impending proposal of two options for changing school start times. As his letter states, these changes could happen as soon as next year. The HSE School Board will be discussing this topic once again at the February 12th, 2020 board meeting and could take action at that time.

I’ve included the content of the superintendent’s message below. I’ve included a few other items of reference as well. These include:

Note that the first two videos were captured after the meeting had started using a cell phone. The three videos from the working session don’t have the best sound due to the heating system in the board room being so loud. These are provided, however, as reference so you can hear some of the discussion and feedback that has been happening.

Note: Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel: Fishers: The Other Side of the Tracks.  You can also follow my school related page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HSEParents/

The Message from the Superintendent


Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff: 

I want to share an update with you regarding the discussions around a proposed change to school start times.  

For the past several months, at the direction of the school board, our administrative team has been researching and identifying outcomes of other neighboring school districts that moved to an earlier start for elementary students and a later start for secondary students.

In addition to our research, since November 2019, we have also solicited feedback from the school community in the following ways:

  • Community Forum (Nov. 19, 2019)
  • Online Survey (Nov.-Dec. 2019)
  • School Board Meetings (Jan. 15, 2020 and Jan. 29, 2020)
  • Board Work Session (Jan. 27, 2020)

I want you to know that a decision still has not been made by our school board. However, the issue is slated for discussion and possible action at the February 12 meeting. Its implementation could begin as soon as the 2020-2021 school year.

At the Board’s request, I will be presenting the following two different options. Each come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, which I will discuss further during our meeting.

OPTION 1

Start times of high school and elementary students will be flipped, and we will utilize a three-tier transportation schedule. 

Elementary:                               7:50 AM – 2:20 PM

Intermediate/Junior High:        8:20 AM – 3:20 PM

High School:                              8:55 AM – 3:55 PM

Advantages of Option 1 include:

  • Supports adolescent sleep pattern research.
  • Provides consistent student day with no need for early release.
  • Provides Professional Development time for teachers and staff.
  • Three-tier transportation schedule relieves demands of the drivers required to transport students and allows for direct bussing for Student Choice at the high schools.

Disadvantages:

  • Will require some families to rethink childcare for younger students and may impact parent and high school student work schedules.

OPTION 2

We will implement a three-tier transportation schedule with the following start times listed below for 2020-21. Then, we would transition to Option 1 start times for 2021-22. This would give families an additional year to make arrangements in their schedules to accommodate “flipped” start times.

High School:                              7:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Intermediate/Junior High:        8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Elementary:                               9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Advantages of Option 2 are as follows:

  • Provides consistent student day with no need for early release.
  • Provides Professional Development time for teachers and staff.
  • Three-tier transportation schedule relieves demands of the drivers required to transport students and allows for direct bussing for Student Choice at the high schools.

Disadvantages:

  • Not supported by adolescent sleep pattern research.
  • Families may still need childcare for their intermediate and junior high-level students.
  • Stair-step approach would cause families to deal with changing start times two consecutive years.

I have given you a lot of information to consider here. I wanted to share this update to be fully transparent about the process and the possible path ahead.

I understand the challenges of change and the adjustments that families and staff members face. I encourage you to learn more about this possible upcoming school board decision by reviewing the video recordings of the previous board meetings and by checking the School Start Time Information webpage.

I have also attached a list of FAQs that may help answer some of your questions.

Thank you for your continued support of our students, staff and schools.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Allen B. Bourff

Superintendent

Hamilton Southeastern Schools

School Start Times FAQ 

HSE School Board Candidate Interviews: Fall Creek Position (with video) – June 18, 2019

The existing school board members narrowed down 24 applicants for the Fall Creek Township position that opened as a result of the resignation of Mr. Bottorff. The candidates were narrowed down to four finalists that were then interviewed as a panel in an open meeting on June 18th, 2019 at the Hamilton Southeastern Administration building. I attended the interview session and brought my camera!

There were not a lot of questions asked. Each question was addressed to all of the finalists, with the order of answering changed each time so that the person going first varied. I’ve included the video of the answers on my “The Other Side of the Tracks” YouTube channel, my “It’s all about the kids” Facebook page, and within this article. I tried hard to not comment within the videos; however, there were a few times where I did end up adding a bit of textual commentary. Generally this was when candidates made comments about what the school district should be doing on topics that the district has already been doing something.

I have a disconnect with people who apply for a position or job without taking the time to understand what that job or position is. As such, when a comment is made that indicates a person has not been engaged with the district and doesn’t know what the district is doing or has done, it is hard to not call them out. In a similar manner, it is mind-blowing to know that two of the four finalists applying for a school board seat didn’t show up at the last school board meeting.

But alas, your reading this to get to the videos. The meeting for the interviews actually started with the board members introducing themselves. If you have been attending board meetings, or if you were planning to run to be a part of the group, I would have expected you’d know this information already. As such, I’m not sure why the introductions were necessary beyond the fact that most of the candidates had not regularly attended any board meetings. These introductions were followed by a presentation on the updated 10-year plan for the district. I don’t include either the board introductions or the 10-year plan discussion in the videos here, but rather will consider a different article for that in the near future.

The first video I posted jumps into the first question asked of the candidates. This question was actually posed in three parts:

What is your motivating factor for applying for this board position. Is there something you would like to accomplish during your tenure? How do you see your role in that goal?

The second question posed to the candidates was:

Please give us an example of a time when you worked collaboratively with others, and what – if anything – did you learn, and what was your role?

The third question asked was:

What attribute do you have that can help our board work together and be more effective? We’d like your answer through some examples of how you’ve worked with different groups of people that have come from different backgrounds with different opinions.

The fourth question is one I considered important. I was hoping to hear answers that would relate to what a school board does and not general answers. I was a bit disappointed in that regard. The question was:

What do you believe the greatest challenge to public education is today?

Rather than break out the remaining questions – there are only a couple more – I’ve put them all in this last posted video. It contains the final questions as well as wrap-up comments from all of the candidates.

  • What characteristics, skills, and knowledge will set our students on the path for future success?
  • What is something that you are most proud of that this school district is doing, and is there something you believe our schools could do better? (7:20)
  • Final comments from candidates. (17:00)

My thoughts….

The board will vote at the June 26th School Board meeting for the person that will fill the vacant position. The board is not allowed to collaborate in advance on who they will vote for, so it should be an interesting vote.

Who I would vote for is irrelevant because I don’t get a vote. I will say that I heard a number of good comments by the candidates, but that I saw issues with each of the candidates.

After I ran for school board in 2016, I asked many people why the voted for the person that won my district (Amanda Shera). The answers were generally “I liked her school bus signs” and “because she was a woman.” I mention this because it is important to look at actions a candidate has done within our district and schools over personal characteristics or credentials. If a candidate has not to engaged with the district or within our schools enough to know many of the big things happening, then are they really the right candidate to represent each and every one of our ~21,500 kids?

EDIT: Fixed first video link

Last Minute Gift Ideas (Good for Any Time of Year)

Christmas is almost here, so you’ve likely completed your shopping. If you haven’t and aren’t in an a hurry to get the gifts, then this article contains a couple of items I recommend considering for yourself or those you know. My reasoning for selecting the items in this list is simple. These are products or services that are by small businesses I know.

Product One: Create a Castle

The first item is for kids of every age. While this product was originally developed for building sand castles, it quickly became obvious that the real value of the product for most people is in using it with snow to build snow castles. This product was developed by a person I worked with for a few years. His “out of the box” thinking resulted in a mold for building castles that doesn’t leave you with sand stuck in the bottom of your bucket. Rather, the mold clamps and opens to make it easier to create masterpieces.

Over the past year, Kevin’s product has gone from idea to reality. More so, it has gotten national attention on shows like Kelly and Ryan:

Recently Kevin mentioned that they will be on QVC as well. You can find them in a number of stores around the country as well as online. You can order the castle kids online from their site at www.createacastle.com or from retailers such as Barnes and Nobles online. I personally recommend the Deluxe or Pro Tower Kits!  If you are heading to the beach or expecting a couple of inches of snow, then this is the product to take your castle building to the next level!

Product Two: Funky Munchkin Candles

Yankee Candles are so last year. Today’s candle lovers want something a little more funky, which leads to the second product I’m recommending – Funky Munchkin Candles!

Funky Munchkin candles are being created and sold by my friends, John and Terra. They started the candle business as a way to earn extra money to help fund their adoption process. The business has continued as they’ve expanded their candle line to a number of scents.

Being a stickler for details, they have focused on building candles using high-quality materials. Specifically, their candles are made from palm wax, which burns more cleanly than traditional candles. It isn’t, however, this high-quality approach that causes me to recommend their candles. Rather, it is the fun, unique scents that they’ve brought to the mx! There are some expected scents such as apple cinnamon, blueberry muffin, Hot cocoa, lilac, and Jasmine. There are also unique scents such as Goji (a super-fruit blended with a classic flower), fireball (intense cinnamon), granny’s pumpkin roll, pirate (as in those bad guys that sail the seven seas), shire (like where hobbits live), vanapplemon (I have no idea…), and many others. For the holidays they have we three kings, Christmas spirit, candy cane, and humbug.  I’ve named a lot of scents, but also left out a number f them too. You can find all of their current smells at https://funkymunchkincandles.com/#!/Products/AllCandles

So as to keep up with the times, in addition to the candles, they’ve also started selling melts. You can find more information on their site at https://funkymunchkincandles.com. At the time I wrote this, they were offering free two-day USPS priority shipping on orders.

Product Three: Apex Taekwondo

Most people think of gifts as items that can be wrapped and placed under a tree or given at a party. Sometimes, a great gift is one that not only provides enjoyment, but also improves the physical well-being of the recipient. Based on that, my next product to recommend is a membership to Apex Taekwondo in Fishers, Indiana.

Apex is a newer business in Fishers, Indiana, so unlike many of the more established Taekwondo centers, you aren’t just the next subscription. Rather, the owner and his team are going to be able to give anyone that attends the attention they need to learn the art and skill of Taekwondo. Whether this is a gift for a child or for yourself, the end results are sure to be rewarding as you work to learn new skills.

The owner of Apex is Master Stephen McEwan, who is a fifth degree black belt. Not only is Stephen experienced in training (he has trained over 500 students), he is simply a great guy! Like John and Terra at Funky Munckin, Stephen is someone I’ve had the chance to get to know. In addition to knowing Stephen, several of my friends have been taking his classes. As such, it is easy to recommend Apex and Stephen to anyone consider a unique type of gift!

Product Four: Child Safety Playing Cards

Sometimes a simple gift is needed. Not only is the Child Safety deck of playing cards a fun bit of entertainment, it is also a learning and teaching tool! This is a unique set of cards that can be used in the same manner as any other deck of playing cards. It can also be used as a dice alternative. Each playing card includes the picture of a six-sided dice with a number of dots showing form one to six. This is great for those times when you want to play a dice game, but don’t have a surface for rolling!

The most important aspect, however, of this deck of cards are the safety messages that are included. Each card includes a safety message that is good for kids to know and understand. For example, the Queen of Hearts includes the message that lets you kwno that water temperatures less than 120 degrees won’t scald. The card also includes a kid-drawn picture to illustrate the safety tip.

The Child Safety Playing Cards are available for order at http://kin2kid.com/product/child-safety-deck/. At the time of this writing the price had been lowered from $8.95 a deck to just $5.95!

Products Five and Six: Discipleship Training Guides

The final products I’ll recommend are books that I’ve mentioned before that are available on Amazon. These books were written by my parents, so clearly I know the authors. These books are Discipleship Training for Followers of Christ and Discipleship Training for Christian Outreach. Both paperback books present a study guide approach to learning about discipleship. Each chapter of these books presents a relevant topic along with questions and Bible versus to guide in learning. The answers to all of the questions (along with versus) are included in the books.

At only $9.99 each, these are a great stocking stuffer or a gift for yourself!




So Much More….

These are just four products that are easy for me to talk about. All are worth checking out! If you are still looking for that extra gift, then all of these work. While it might be too late for getting these in time for Christmas, all make great things to have any time of year! If you choose to purchase any of these, feel free to tell them Brad sent you!

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