By Madelynn Coldiron
Former educator Dale Henry brought his Southern-fried brand of humor to open KSBA’s 77th annual conference on a positive note, preaching his message of a “hootie-hoo” attitude.
Cracking jokes in a style somewhere between Jeff Foxworthy and Andy Griffith, and at times addressing individual audience members directly, Henry had attendees in stitches with his true-life stories in settings that ranged from airports to classrooms, from his childhood to his career as a teacher. But they all had a serious underlying theme: the right attitude can change both people and situations.
“How we respond and react to any situation really makes that situation what it is. … What we’ve got to do is take that next step and that next step says this: How do we go from a great attitude to a hootie-hoo attitude?” he asked the 1,000-plus school board members, superintendents and others gathered for the Feb. 22-24 event in Louisville.
There are criteria for achieving that attitude, he said: Be optimistic, be happy and be a problem solver.
“But are we? No! We’re whiners.”
We need to accept that things aren’t always going to go our way, he said, and choose to respond positively and to communicate well.
Henry used a heating/ventilation system as an analogy. The ductwork brings the best air available to where it’s needed– “I’ve never heard a better definition for what we do – you and I – bring the best of what’s available to where it’s needed the most. Unfortunately, we have taken on the job of the vent,” he said. “You’ve got to be the ductus.”
We all have different ways of responding to situations in life, but, Henry said, “The successes that we make, the choices that we have, the things that we do guide us, but the one thing that always sets the wheels in motion is that magic attitude that we all have to have – we should be able to see it on our face.”
Henry said the lessons he has learned in life come from children:
“Life is all about the generation that’s following us and the generation that follows them. A new opportunity, a new chance to take the next step,” he said.