Tuesday, 23 April 2013
with Cindy Marshall
Cindy Marshall is a retired educator who served 26 years in the Baldwin County School system. She received a Master of Education in School Counseling from the University of South Alabama and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Auburn University. She began her career as a special education teacher at the elementary and middle school levels. Next she served as a School Counselor at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. During the final six years of her career she served at the central office level coordinating both state and federally mandated testing along with other state programs.
Since her retirement, Mrs. Marshall has worked as a consultant with a local testing software company and in the Care Ministry department at her local church. She and her husband have most recently been helping organize a new ministry for troubled girls where they will serve as house parents.
Q: Why did you accept the invitation to join the Education Alliance Advisory Board?
A: It was both an honor and surprise to be asked to serve on the Education Alliance Advisory Board. I consider it an honor to be able to serve educators for whom I have deep respect. In the four years since my retirement, one of the biggest changes for me was leaving the sense of community found in the educational arena. There is nothing quite like the close-knit feeling found in a school setting. Working in a school or school system is like living in a world within a world. Upon retirement I found there was another world outside the doors of the schoolhouse! Serving in education is a unique experience and one of which I'm proud to have been a part.
Q: How would you like to serve others through the Education Alliance?
Since my retirement I have been able to pursue other ministry opportunities. An area that holds great interest for me is the idea of cultural transformation. Cultural transformation is known by several names. John Maxwell refers to "seven streams of influence." The late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade or Cru, was given a vision from the Lord and he used the terms, "seven mountains." Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) received a similar vision and used the terminology "mind-molders, or spheres." Terminology aside, God was revealing a plan to reach the nations. Education is one of those seven mountains, spheres, or streams of influence.
The past four years has been a season of prayer, process, and preparation for me. When I received the call to serve on the Education Alliance Advisory Board, I realized God was pointing me back to the sphere of influence that has been such a large part of my life. I'm excited for the opportunity to serve and encourage educators who, in turn, are molding the lives of future leaders.
A: I would like to remind educators of the enormous influence they have on culture. Sometimes when you are on the front lines of the battle, on a daily basis, you can't see the progress being made. You are in the middle of many daily skirmishes and can't see that you are pushing back the battle lines. As I prayed about my participation on the Advisory Board, the Lord reminded me that the educational system is like the rudder of a big ship. If we want to transform our culture, we need to grab hold of that rudder and point it in the direction given by the Captain of the Lord of Hosts! Be strong and courageous in the battle, for the Lord goes before you.
Friday, 05 April 2013
by Dr. Lonnie Burnett
Let’s first review the three rules of living an abundant life:
(1) Never stop learning;
(2) Never stop laughing;
(3) Never stop leaning.
We now come to the fourth, and most important rule, never stop loving.
There are three parts to this final rule which, if we can master, will go a long way towards allowing us to enjoy life to its fullest.
First, never stop loving what we do.
Could there be anything worse than waking up each morning dreading the day ahead? I had a student in my office this week who told me her friends and parents were questioning her career choice. This young lady has a passion for History and teaching but is being told that she will never make a great living if she indeed pursues this career choice. I told her that no amount of money is worth hating what you do. I have a colleague who is in his early 70s. He has been in education for 51 years. When I drive up to my office at 6:00 am, his light is always on. He once told me that, every summer, around July, he starts to get itchy because he can’t wait for the new school year to begin. Students pick up very quickly if a professor is just going through the motions--as do customers at your business.
My wife and I were recently in a pizza place in Houston. The man behind the counter was perhaps the most enthusiastic worker I have ever seen. After a cheery greeting, he bragged about his product, gave us a sample, engaged in conversation and wished us a good day in more than just the obligatory fashion. This man could not have made much above the minimum wage yet he could not have appeared happier. By the way, we returned to that same place the next night. All three of these examples have the same general moral: being happy is a choice as is being miserable.
Second, never stop loving those around us.
There was a great line years ago in the Peanuts comic strip. Lucy had made a typically crabby remark about someone and Charlie Brown criticized her regarding her attitude towards mankind. Lucy replied, “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.”
My father loved people. He worked at the Post Office for forty years selling stamps and never got tired of talking to his customers. I once went to his house and he was on the phone talking and laughing. I waited for about thirty minutes for him to finish the conversation. When he finally hung up I asked him who he was talking to. He replied; “It was a wrong number.” If we don’t love people, we will not love life in general. You would be amazed at how many teachers I have worked with over the years that do not like children. I always wonder what they thought all of those small desks in their classrooms were for.
A disclaimer: of all the suggestions in this series, loving others may the most difficult to fulfill. People can give us a myriad of reasons not to love them. As Christians, we can usually forgive someone who has wronged us, but forgetting an offense is another matter altogether.
I think we sometimes enjoy not loving certain people. Therein lies the problem: this is not a choice. Jesus commanded us to love one another. As a matter of fact, he noted that loving people would be a clear sign that we were his disciples (John 13: 34-35).
Finally, never stop loving God.
A leader of the Pharisees once asked Jesus to tell him which was the greatest commandment in the law. Without hesitation, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-37). None of the (unsolicited) advice I have written in this series matters if we fail on this point.
Loving God leads to the abundant life in several ways:
First, we will automatically love others (see above). In his response to the Pharisee, Jesus went on to note that the second commandment was also crucial: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two” (Matthew 22:39-40).
Secondly, in loving God, our focus is taken off of ourselves and redirected to a higher calling. Finally, loving God makes us realize what he has done for us and allows us to realize that we love because he first loved us (I John 4:19).
: A person who never stops learning, laughing, leaning, and loving is well on the way to taking back the window seat. When we get back, we will discover once again what a great ride this journey called life can be.
About The Contributor
Dr. Lonnie Burnett is Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of History at the University of Mobile. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi. A seven time Teacher of the Year, he has taught U.S. History for 34 years. He is the author of The Pen Makes a Good Sword: John Forsyth of the Mobile Register (University of Alabama Press, 2006) and Henry Hotze, Confederate Propagandist (University of Alabama Press, 2008). He and his wife Lynne have a daughter, Lauren Burnett Wetzel.
Thursday, 04 April 2013
by Dennis Coe
As a leader in any profession, there are certain traits that are critical for your success. Jesus Christ exemplified these traits during his brief ministry on earth. Walking on the face of the earth, Christ gave us a flawless example of leadership. He listened, he taught, he spoke in a manner that the people could understand and empathize. He demonstrated authority and command of the message he was presenting. At times, he even got angry and frustrated with his followers.
If we study the works in Jesus’ ministry, one theme is repeated numerously and is overwhelmingly eminent: servanthood
. Consider these passages:
“Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48).
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
“And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45).
These verses establish a mindset necessary for any leader: in order to rise to the top, you must sink to your knees!
This trait of servanthood is excellently summarized by Paul in Philippians 2:1-11:
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Modeling the traits set forth in these scriptures may at times seem difficult, but consider the rewards. I pray that each of you will find the strength and courage to emulate Christ’s example of servant hood. I pray that as you lead, you will take ownership of a philosophy of doing everything you can to help those under you be successful. Finally, I pray that you will reach the top by starting from the bottom: as a servant of God and of people!
About the Contributor
Dennis Coe is Director of Supporting Programs at the Alabama State Department of Education. He has more than 20 years' experience as an educator.
Thursday, 04 April 2013
Q: Tell us about yourself and your background.
My name is Sandy Stimpson, born in 1952 at the Mobile Infirmary. I’m one of 4 siblings – two brothers, Fred (older) and Richard (younger), and one sister, Pam (older). My father, Billy, is 92 years old and my mom, Margaret, passed away November 2012.
In 1975, I married Jean Miller of Brewton, Alabama. We have 4 adult children, all of who are married. We have 8 grandchildren under the age of 8, with number 9 on the way. Billy and his wife Beth live in New Canaan, Connecticut and he works in New York City. Virginia and her husband Garner have 5 children, and they live in Mobile. Our son Sands, his wife Christina, and their son also live in Mobile. Our youngest, Nancy and her husband, Will live in Birmingham.
I graduated from University Military School in 1970 and from the University of Alabama in 1975 with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering.
When I was 13, I started working during the summers. My first job was sweeping the floors in the mechanics shop at Gulf Lumber Company. Each summer, I worked either at the sawmill or in the woods doing jobs to learn the business from the ground up. While in college, I worked two summers for Ben M. Radcliff Contracting.
After graduating from college, I started working at Gulf Lumber and worked my way through the various manufacturing departments – log yard, sawmill, boiler/dry kilns, planer mill - learning all the jobs. My first responsibilities were for the safety and quality control programs. From there I became a foreman over the night shift and eventually worked my up to become the Production Superintendent, the Plant Manager, then CFO (12 years), and now Executive VP.
The only job I didn’t like was being the night shift foreman over the log line. Because of chronic absenteeism at the time, it was very tough. All the other jobs, I’ve really enjoyed. I can honestly say, that with the exception of only a few days, I’ve loved coming to work every day. I’m grateful for the opportunities that were afforded me.
Q: What do you understand to be your purpose in life?
I believe my purpose in life can be defined by Ecclesiastes 12:13: “To revere God and keep his commandments.” Another defining verse would be Micah 6:8, which says, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Q: How does your faith affect your career, your relationships, and your future?
My faith has a huge impact on who I am and what I do. Years ago, while I was in college, I would read Proverbs and try to live more righteously through my own accord. That’s a tough thing to do because I was relying on my willpower. Somewhere along the way, I discovered there was another way. That way was revealed to me when I surrendered to God and truly accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Surrendering didn’t come easy because I was blinded by pride.
If one surrenders and truly seeks God’s will for their life, then they will obey God’s will. Or, at least they should.
Q: What lessons have you learned throughout your career?
My career path is very abnormal if you look at job expectations for today’s students. I’ve worked 37 plus years for one company. That’s almost unheard of for someone entering today’s job market.
Relationships are crucial to success. Somewhere along the way, you will meet people who will give you either opportunities or breaks that lead to promotions or job changes. Don’t expect anyone to care about how you feel. They are interested in what you do and how you act. Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. Pray a lot, and expect bumps and bruises along the way.
About the Contributor
Sandy Stimpson serves as Executive Vice President of Scotch Gulf Lumber in Mobile, Ala. He offers leadership and support to organizations concerned with quality of life in Mobile and the state, from economic development and policy to education and the outdoors.
The University of Mobile does not endorse any political candidate or political organization, and distribution of this content does not constitute an endorsement of this or any other political candidate or organization by the university.
Friday, 22 March 2013
by Dr. Lonnie Burnett
Rule 3: Never Stop Leaning
By any standard, Isaac Newton was a brilliant man. Recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time, he greatly influenced the principles of modern physics. Once when responding to praise of his intellectual prowess, Newton freely admitted that his success was predicated on the work of others in the field. The great intellectual wrote, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Sir Isaac Newton realized a valuable truth -- we are never at a stage in life where we can’t benefit from leaning on others.
First, a disclaimer is in order. When I speak of leaning as a part of the abundant life, I am certainly not referring to an over-dependence on others. One of the biggest challenges facing parents and educators today is teaching our children to think and act independently. The greatest pleasure a parent can experience is seeing their child leave the “nest” and survive and prosper in the real world. Likewise the teacher always hopes the student will excel as a lifelong learner.
The type of leaning to which I refer is when we, like Isaac Newton, understand that no man is an island. We can always benefit from the accomplishment, wisdom, and counsel of others. For example, one of the big annual events at the University of Mobile has been our Patriots Day program. For the past several years, we have brought in World War II veterans to speak to our students. These are men and women who have an abundance of wisdom and experiences from which we can all draw. Who could not benefit from hearing what they have to say?
Having a spirit of leaning reveals several things about our character. First, we admit we don’t have all of the answers. I once had a student teacher who had great potential, but when asked a question by the students, would just make up something rather than admit she did not know the answer.
Second, leaning on others shows that we can trust. We go to doctors for opinions and usually trust what they have to say, but will not do so when faced with school, business, or ethical dilemmas.
Third, leaning on people will reveal our willingness to include others. My wife (unjustifiably) says I am a control freak. We have to fight the Lone Ranger tendency. Finally, a person who is not afraid to lean is secure enough to share credit with others by acknowledging their contributions.
I believe God sends people into our lives as friends, mentors, advisors, etc. on whom we can and, sometimes should, lean. I can think of many people who have influenced my career choices and from whom I still seek advice today. If we fail to do so for whatever the reason, we miss an opportunity.
Scripture is replete with illustrations of leaning. One of my favorite accounts involves the Israelites in battle with the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). As long as Moses held up the staff of God, the battle went well, when his hands were lowered, the momentum shifted. When Moses grew tired, he literally leaned on Aaron and Hur, who were there to hold his arms steady. Obviously Jesus himself gave the best example of the need for leaning when he said “Come to me, all you who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
In 1887, a music teacher named A.J. Showalter learned that two of his former students had both recently, and ironically, on the same day, lost their wives. While writing letters of condolences, Showalter was reminded of the Old Testament words, “the eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33: 27). Showalter then wrote another letter to his friend Elisha Hoffman and the two men collaborated on the hymn Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. Notice how, in the process of writing the now-standard song on leaning, Showalter leaned on a friend.
The second verse of that classic song contains this line: “O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.”
Now there is a good description of the abundant life.
Next Week: Rule 4 - Never Stop Loving