Sunshine Award – A Little About Me

Ben Gilpin, fellow elementary principal (@benjamingilpin), listed my blog as one of eleven to receive the Sunshine Award. Thank you Ben! This award is actually a way for bloggers to recognize other bloggers, as well as to encourage them to share a little bit more about themselves. Here is a description:

The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know!

Here are the rules Ben lists in his post:

Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
Share 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

Eleven random facts:
1. I have never traveled beyond North America. Cozumel (Mexico) and Victoria (Canada) are the farthest I have traveled from my home state of Wisconsin.
2. This year will be my eighth as an administrator. Before my current position as an elementary principal, I was an assistant principal and athletic director at a secondary school. I have spent the same amount of time as a classroom teacher at the 3rd through 6th grade levels.
3. Each role has their rewards and drawbacks, and I enjoy(ed) serving in both.
4. I have two kids – a son (7) and a daughter (5). They keep me moving.
5. I am married to Jodi. She currently teaches 2nd grade in the same district as me, but in different buildings. We literally met on the playground, when we were both teaching summer school.
6. During my athletic director days, I was also a WIAA certified official in baseball, softball, and basketball. There was always the possibility that a ref might cancel. I also coached junior high basketball for two years.
7. If I wasn’t in education, I could have seen myself as a landscape architect. I enjoy designing and installing gardens on my own property. Maybe that is why we bought a home with over an acre of land – I needed a large canvas.
8. I’m originally from Illinois. Most of my family still lives there. I would probably visit more often if it wasn’t for all those annoying tolls 😉
9. I own at least four different Moleskine notebooks. They all have different purposes, such as reading notes, books I have read, and writing ideas.
10. I also own lots of tech. I have an iPad, an iPhone, and I am a premium user of Evernote. The Moleskine Evernote notebook might be the best invention of the year.
11. I don’t like cilantro, raisins, or mushrooms. If you have me over for dinner, please refrain from including these items in the meal.

Eleven questions from Ben:

1. Do you prefer to shop in stores or online?

Online. This year, I made the mistake of going to Wal-Mart for groceries on Thanksgiving night. I didn’t realize Black Friday now crept into Thursday.

2. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Six? That includes my older ones that I probably just need to throw out.

3. What is your favorite type of music? Favorite band or song?

Acoustic rock, especially unplugged songs from rock bands like Nirvana and The Foo Fighters. I am currently listening to The Lumineers.

4. Cats or Dogs? Why…

Dogs, although I don’t own one right now. Dogs are always happy to see you when you get home.

5. What is your typical bedtime?

Around 10, but of course I have to read a little bit every night. Right now I am reading Invent to Learn by Martinez and Stager, and NOS482 by Joe Hill.

6. Favorite twitter chat?

Basing this on the conversation I seem to join the most, I will go with #educoach. I enjoy the dialogue, moderated by @principalj, @kathyperret, and @shiraleibowitz, around how administrators can take a coaching-like stance with their staff.

7. Democrat/Republican/Other?

I have never donated funds to either major party, so I would say “other”. In fact, I think money should be removed entirely out of politics. I think our current lack of government leadership is a direct result of this. Therefore, I don’t align myself with a party. It’s all too idealogical for me right now.

8. Best place you ever vacationed?

The two places I listed in my first fact: Victoria and Cozumel. I could see my family living in the former, and snowbirding in the latter (when we retire:).

9. Best book you’ve read in 2013?

I really liked Wool by Hugh Howey. It is a dystopian novel about the remaining members of human civilization living in silos underground. There are lots of parallels to our current society in this science fiction series. It is actually a trilogy, with the first book starting in the middle of this epic. Thanks to Curt Rees (@curtrees) for recommending and sharing this book.

10. Favorite television show when you were growing up?

Dukes of Hazard, no doubt. My family was also partial to reruns of the Andy Griffith Show.

11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of?

I received state recognition in high school for singing and for playing baseball. I know, a very unique combination. But if you see me, don’t ask for a solo. I only sang in duets and quartets.

And now for the eleven bloggers I want to highlight:

Clare Landrigan

Jessica Johnson

Donalyn Miller

P.L. Thomas

Val Tonn

Cathy Mere

John Wink

Dave Culberhouse

Vinny Cho

Jay Posick

Justin Baeder

These are the blogs I find deserve more attention, whether they get a lot of attention already or not. Bloggers: Please don’t feel obligated to complete this task. Feel free to simply revel in this unexpected recognition :). If you would like to pay it forward, here are 11 questions/prompts I have for each of you:

1. What songs/bands are on your favorite playlist right now?
2. What book would you recommend that you own in multiple formats (print, digital, and/or audio)?
3. Apple or Microsoft?
4. “If I could live in any country other than my own…”
5. “When I am not thinking about school, I am…”
6. Who is the most important person(s) in your life right now?
7. “If I could meet anyone…”
8. “During the holidays…”
9. What will be your 2014 new year’s resolution?
10. “If I wasn’t an educator, I would…”
11. “On Fridays, I like wearing…”


Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

6 thoughts on “Sunshine Award – A Little About Me”

  1. Matt,
    Thank you so much for the honor of mentioning me in your post. I enjoyed reading it and found we have many things in common. I too am married to a teacher, and have many teacher relatives which I think I will save for my post. Though I couldn’t see myself as a landscape architect, I do live on 6 acres and love to work on my flowerbeds in the summer. My husband is an avid “tree whisperer” so our property is slowly filling with a variety of interesting trees. I have named our space The Mere Arboretum.

    I would like to hear more about how you use your Moleskin books. I just haven’t found the love for them.

    Sorry, to be so slow at returning to respond to your post. Christmas keeps me busy with preparations for family. Today is the first day I’ve had to time to read, write, and respond in weeks.



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