Category Archives for Swimming

We have, “Stop. Drop and Roll!” We have, “Look both ways before you cross the street.” #NDPA2018

Sadly, the awareness for water safety is not taught and ingrained into our educational missions

Hey! Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death to children ages 1 to 4. Drowning is the second leading cause for all adolescents under the age of 14.

May 14 is spot an otter day.

Gentleman on the left is a parent who had a son, Josh, who died due to drowning. His efforts now are with a foundation and its mascot is an otter. Interview was on Facebook. See NDPA.org.

Public statement, not delivered, to the PPS Board & Administration, except with email and this posting

Housekeeping update:

Sadly, my name was not on the list to speak at public comment of 2/19/2018. I had called, but I didn’t answer that follow-up / return call, as that is part of the normal process. Oh well. Here is what I wanted to share.

Citizens give public comment to board and administrators at Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Dear Superintendent, Administrators and PPS Board Members

I’m Mark Rauterkus, I reside on the South Side. My children are PPS graduates. My father is a PPS retired teacher, and we remember the long teachers strike in the 70s. Presently, I am the longest-serving varsity swim coach for PPS.

Earlier this month I loved seeing a social media mention from Superintendent Hamlet about a swimmer, Noah Jamison. He is a junior on the boys team at Obama where I am the coach. He swam to the #1 ranking in the Class AA in all of the WPIAL in the 500 free. That in-season ranking slipped to second two weeks later. But more alarming was disappearance of the social media mention. Humm. I don’t want to disappear. I don’t wish to go away. You’re stuck with me, one way or another.

New business cards

At the first of the year I entered a new role, I’m the first executive director for a national nonprofit, SKWIM USA dot org. This opportunity can bring our city kids new resources.

Recent meeting

The other day, (9/16/18), I had a wonderful meeting with David May Stein and LouAnn Ross concerning my hopes of expanding AQUATICS within PPS Community Schools.

Concept Maps

I’d love it if the board and administrators would check out a few concept maps of sports and my vision of aquatics. I presented these as an invited speaker at a Rotary Club meeting (2/19/18) and to the Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic in Napa, California, (1/5/19). (See end of this post.)

Teachers’ Contract Negotiations

I was excited to read an update that COACHING is part of the bargaining discussions among the PFT and the district. I’m an outsider and do not have a clear understanding as to what was discussed and pitched, nor agreed to. Things might be fluid and pending. Plus, I couldn’t ascertain any details in the released blurb. But, I do know a few things about coaching in PPS.

Perhaps there is a 12% raise?

What about playoff pay?

Really needs are for nimble staffing adjustments. When new sports emerge and students show interest, such as with water polo, and we’re told, “we can’t do that because it is not in the teachers contract.” Ugh. That’s not such a “great thing.”

Flashback

When Dr. John Thompson was the PPS superintendent, he told concerned citizens that in the next PFT contract, PPS sports coaches would be removed from the scope of the PFT contract. That was about 16 years ago. It didn’t happened. Serious discussions about PPS sports and its coaching are not new.

Splashing ahead

As we look to use the pools for inspiring programs, it is nearly impossible to be a PPS teacher while coaching and operating high-quality programs in:

  • Afternoons,
  • Evenings,
  • Nights,
  • Weekends,
  • Holidays,
  • In-service days,
  • Vacation days,
  • Before school for 6 AM practices, and
  • Throughout the summers.

Of course, swim coaches leading school teams have plenty of influence with student-athletes. The school-team coaches should sustain their coaching with year-long roles within aquatics for the sake of the developing athletes.

As we “expect great things” with aquatics, school-based programs need to be part of a network and coordinated with community opportunities. With our population base, we need more planning and more integration to become highly competitive.

Consider the upcoming swim championship schedule. The WPIAL meet occurs on two days, a Thursday and Friday. The trip to the Pennsylvania State Swim Meet (PIAA) absorbs three days with a midnight return from Lewisburg. This year I hope to go to these meets for the 9th consecutive year. Often, I am the only one representing PPS at these high-level meets.

Since I am not a PPS teacher, when I coach at these meets, substitutes are not needed for my replacement. I am a coach, not a teacher. I am free to support our swimmers at the various times, without conflicts of other teaching duties. Meanwhile, others who are PPS teachers (and PPS aids) need to be removed from their day-time students to coach a small number of elite swimmers.

Contract governs third-party interests

The PFT contract dictates swim coaching roles, and I am not a PFT member. Outside coaches don’t have a seat at the table. Often the outside coaches are not even considered PPS EMPLOYEES. Go figure.

Advice

Remove all swim coaches from the scope of the PFT contract. Better to remove all athletic coaching positions from the PFT contract – as that has been done in many other districts. Then we can get to the serious work of expecting great things with AQUATICS.

Next tweet soon!

Board members, thanks for listening. The next steps await. Doctor Hamlet, I hope to forward you tweets from the podium again so you can continue to showcase our PPS swimmers and coaches.

Concept Maps

Tip: Click images for a larger view.

Sports

Aquatics

Sweet spot.

Expect Great Things, the slogan of Dr. Anthony Hamlet, superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Hamlet at podium

Dr. Hamlet, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, opens the Maker Space at Obama Academy in December 2017. Dr. Hamlet has branded the expression, Expect Great Things, into the mission of the district since his arrival.

The psychology and deeper meaning of the new vision for Pittsburgh Public Schools has merit, if it is put into practice. The slogan is being put everywhere, such as on the web site, on stationary and on posters throughout the district. The slogan is getting plenty of practice, as it is repeated often. But is its message being implemented?

The motivational message makes sense. Furthermore, the actions need to speak volumes too. Words and deeds are both required.

Headline: Expectations leads to manifestation. 

You get what you expect. Your expectations are the source code of your creative possibilities.

We are all swimming in a soup of sensory inputs. So focus is needed. Easy to understand that the leaders of Pittsburgh Public Schools are confronted with a seemingly endless set of challenges. The leaders are putting out fires on multiple fronts any given week, day and hour. But, what are they really hoping to accomplish and what is expected?

What the leaders pay attention to is what they see and hear. Sadly, it seems to me, the leaders do not pay much attention to the support of those who are expecting greatness.

Understanding the power of expectations comes with both opportunity and warning.

My mission and what I’m looking for with PPS builds upon the concept of “summer dreamers” and goes to “year-round achievers.” I expect great things and have always lead the struggle to bring brushes of greatness to the students, through sports and swimming programs. Our holistic approach offers championship competitive swimming, but it goes to personal improvements and building upon our shared community capacity of playing well with others.

Part 2 goes to leadership.

Our swimmers are intellectual bloomers. We have the magic sauce for the self-fulfilling prophecy that has proven itself every year, to a certain extent, with most of our student-athletes on the varsity swimming team. 

Agents and management have to understand the power of expectation and also keep grounded in the real world. When we have coaches and principals with ordinary track records and below satisfaction results, be done and find others who want to reach and want to aspire to the performance high bar.

Message from Dr. Hamlet at the opening of the maker space at PPS Obama Academy in December 2017

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