American author, poet, cowboy, music producer, country music star and inspiration behind our school district theme of Riding for the Brand, Red Steagall explains that, “My idol was my mother.” She was a single parent raising him in the rugged Texas Panhandle and obviously did an amazing job.
I was also raised in the Panhandle of West Texas, and I consider my parents, teachers, pastors and principals as the guiding force in my life too. These amazing examples of a character-driven life were a blessing to me and essential to the values of how I live my life now.
A foundational principle of Riding for the Brand includes sharing the values of the ranch, or in my case Wylie ISD. When I interviewed for this job many years ago, trustees were passionate about the values of our community and I completely shared those values. I knew I could Ride for this Brand.
The Wylie Way is our brand for the values you shared with me so many years ago. They remain relevant today. We use these values as standards to prepare the foundation of a strong school district, community, and future adult. Our kids need us, and someday we will need them to take care of us. Strong values such as caring, giving, kindness, responsibility, respect and grit are essential building blocks.
Values are most effective when we begin by living by the character we expect in others. Our actions teach our kids what we value. When we allow them to practice good character by using the values they learn as students, it increases the likelihood they will make them their own and live by those values as adults.
During a visit with Bill Howard, a student came into his office and grabbed a snack from a basket. It was apparent that this was common practice. I learned that coach works with local organizations to provide snacks because his kids are hungry. Coach Howard lives his values with these actions.This act of caring and giving is one example of what educators do everyday. THIS is Riding for the Brand.
Coach Howard, along with all Wylie ISD athletics and fine arts organizations, provides community service as a part of participating on the team or with the group. For athletics alone, that is 2,656 students giving back to the community. WEHS National Honor Society sponsor, Amy May, touted that her Raiders have provided more than 35,000 hours of community service during their ten year existence. This is simply outstanding.
Modeling caring and giving provides the essential foundation that shows our kids that we care about them, and it allows us to focus on essential “life standards” like being responsible and having a good work ethic. It helps our kids to want to be their best selves.
This summer I visited Red Steagall's ranch and captured his vision for Riding for the Brand and his life experiences that shaped his character. I encourage you to watch this clip and learn how he adopted his work ethic standard of “It makes a difference to me” from a visit to his uncle’s farm.
My favorite takeaway is the saying he learned from the great John Deere.
If John Deere visited Wylie ISD, I believe he would say that our kids and community live by the values that drive our brand. We do our best and together we find "the best in me" from ourselves and our children. Thanks for Riding for Our Brand.Thanks for living the Wylie Way!