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April 16, 2018


Shenandoah is a classic movie and one of our family favorites. In the movie Jimmy Stewart stars as Charlie Anderson, a Virginia farmer who is trying to keep his family out of the Civil War. His oldest son Jacob wants to join the war, but Charlie repeatedly tells his family that they won’t join the war until it concerns them. Eventually, the boys respect their father’s wish and remain on the farm.

Through the course of the movie, we see just how hard it was for this one family to avoid the war. One tragedy after another strikes the Anderson clan. The youngest son is mistaken for a Confederate soldier and taken as a prisoner-of-war. Another son and his wife are murdered by marauders as they try to protect the family farm and their possessions. A third son is shot by an overzealous sentry as he and Charlie return home from searching for the youngest member of the family.

As the surviving family members gather the next morning for breakfast, Charlie is overcome by the empty places at the table. He leaves the table and goes out to the family graveyard. As he stares at the grave of his wife who died years before, he is overwhelmed by the three new, freshly dug graves beside her. As he starts to leave, he hears the church bells ringing in the distance.

When he gets back to the house, Charlie wants to know why no one told him it was Sunday. The family arrives at church after the singing has begun which is pretty common for the family. After the first song is finished, and as the pastor is announcing the next song, Charlie’s youngest son who had been taken as a prisoner stumbles into the church. The whole congregation turns to see what is causing the commotion, and Charlie Anderson’s face lights up as he sees his boy. He helps his son to the family pew, and everyone in the church is singing in unison as the movie ends.

It really is a good movie, and this quick synopsis of it does not do the film justice. However, my favorite part of the movie is the dinner scene. Charlie prays: “Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. We wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eatin’, if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-boned hard for every crumb and morsel…but we thank you just the same, Lord, for the food we are about to eat. Amen.”

Old Charlie considers himself a “God-fearing man”, but he doesn’t give God credit for much of anything. In the prayer, he takes most of the credit for himself. In other words, Charlie is weak in the ten characteristics that build a collaborative culture. How about you? Are you a Charlie? Here are the ten characteristics:

Team focused – “we” rather than “I”
Generous – willing to “pitch in”, even if it is not in the spotlight
Curious – good at asking the right questions
Appreciative – not shy in expressing appreciation for all the team members have contributed
Listens to understand – How do you do it?

Egg people on to give more detail
Urge clarification
Don’t moralize
Separate disagreement from criticism

Seeks to find answers to bigger questions – keep the team focused on goals
Connects the dots or creates the dots – have either deep knowledge of the subject or know how different pieces work together
Gives and expects trust
Builds relationships; breaks down walls

By the end of the movie most of the audience is unsure of their feelings about Charlie Anderson. Some feel admiration for the job he did raising his family alone after the death of his wife. Some feel sympathy for the way he lost his children one at a time. Others are concerned about his attitude toward God. But most who see the movie will agree that Charlie would be a better person if he had been more collaborative and less of a “lone wolf”.


It’s that time of year. Most of you are looking for teachers and administrators, and there are areas where the applicants (if you have one) don’t seem to be a “fit”. Before you give up, contact your ESC. Many of them have alternative certification programs for teachers and administrators. TEA data verifies that our ESCs produce the very best teacher candidates from all of the alternative certification providers in the state. If your ESC doesn’t have a program, they can recommend one near you that does.

You might just be one phone call away from finding the “right” person to fill your position!


The TACS State Conference held each year at the Palacio del Rio Hilton Hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio will be held this year on September 9th-11th. As always, it will be a fun-packed, power-packed three days. After a morning of golf, the event kicks off on Sunday evening with the Siesta Tea Time reception and buffet at the Casa Rio. Those who have attended in the past know that lots of food is packed into each day of the conference!

The program is still being built, but confirmed speakers are Evan Smith, Mike Collier, candidate for Texas Lt. Governor, Theresa Trevino, president of TAMSA, and Crystal Dockery, TACS 
new Deputy Executive Director. Theresa and Crystal will be discussing the state’s assessment program and accountability system. The program will grow, and it promises to be one that will appeal to everyone!

It is not too early to reserve you a spot at this conference. Seats are limited, and we are filling them earlier and earlier each year! You can guarantee your attendance by clicking here to register.




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Contact Information

Texas Association of Community Schools
1011 San Jacinto Blvd., Ste. 204
Austin, Texas 78701-2431
Phone: (512) 440-8227
Fax: (512) 442-6705