“Who’s left to make band special!? All the special people are gone- how is band going to be special?”

As you’re most likely aware, I’m a teacher.  I’m probably on a way to becoming a good teacher.  I had the pleasure of being a student of George N. Parks, one of my favorite teachers of all time.It’s so hard to look at a teacher and say exactly WHY you think they were a great teacher.  Probably every great teacher that you have ever had possesses the same trait, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly why we’re drawn to some teachers rather than others.  We all know what bad teaching looks like- but truly amazing teaching is hard to define.

You know, it really sucks getting older and seeing what’s happening in the world.  Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen some terrible things happen on here on Earth.  And 3 years ago tonight, we lost one of the people who was trying his hardest to make people better, to teach people to work together.  And sometimes, looking what’s going on in the world, I feel like all of the special people are gone.

But then I remember.  We’re now the special people in many people’s lives.  I’d love to see some hard numbers on how many people that George N. Parks taught that went on to teach or work with children.  I think that’s what there is to finding the truth about amazing teachers.  Do they put just a bit more effort and care into what they do?  Do they just burn a little brighter than the others?  Or do they realize that they are special and need to teach others to be special, too?

Here’s my list of George N. Parks (and others) Starrred Thoughts, one for every day of the school year:

1. You never get a second chance at a first impression

2. If you fail to plan, plan to fail

3. To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is unacceptable.

4. You cannot effectively do two things at once

5. Raise your hand as high as you can. Now raise it two inches higher. THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR LIVES!

6. The line is only long when you’re the last one in it!

7. Excellence is in the details

8. There are no problems; there are merely opportunities for creative thinking.

9. A leader does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you want to or not.

10. If you act the part long enough, it becomes reality.

11. The more difficult the conditions; the more you have to seem to like what you’re doing.

12. The key in life is participation!

13. A good teacher is a creative one; one who finds different ways for the same thing.

14. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

15. If you can get people to laugh, you can get them to do anything.

16. A leader should have a reason to say no, not yes.

17. Bad habits are easy to make, but hard to live with. Good habits are hard to make but easy to live with.

18. The only good disciplined group is disciplined from within.

19. You get back what you give out.

20. You will move in the direction you are thinking.

21. Being a leader is doing the uncomfortable thing.

22. There are three stages of band (life): 1) You believe in Santa Claus 2) You don’t believe in Santa Claus 3) You BECOME Santa Claus!

23. The real leader is the one who congratulates everyone.

24. School is a place for everyone.

25. If you’re not doing what you love, love what you’re doing.

26. If you’re not having fun, fake it.

27. Realize that people have different priorities.

28. Know when the spotlight is on you and when it’s not.

29. Treat your people well and put your heart into it, and it’s amazing where you will go.

30. Take your studies seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

31. Anyone can make a mistake.

32. Teaching is the art of presenting material and making sure it is understood.

33. Adopt, adapt, and improve.

34. Learn it, love it, live it

35. The essential condition of everything you do must be choice, love, and passion.

36. Be a leader, not a screamer

37. In order to be responsible, you have to respond. You have to respond with enthusiasm, excitement, energy, excellence, and intensity.

38. You learn about 4 times faster in an atmosphere of joy & relaxation.

39. Do not complain to someone who can’t help you; don’t sit and listen to someone complain if you can’t help.

40. Find someone that makes you a better person, and hold onto them.

41. It’s never too late to make the right decision.

42. If they did not learn it, you did not teach it.

43. Don’t let the grudges of your past become the regrets of your future.

44. No more negative moments.

45. Do or Do Not, there is no try.

46. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

47. Mediocrity is easy; excellence is the challenge.

48. Close enough is never close enough.

49. It takes 30 days to make a new habit.

50. People do not get better by making them feel worse.

51. Positives come and go; negatives accumulate.

52. Finish one thing before you start another.

53. Precision is doing the same thing, the same way, at the same time.

54. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

55. Write a letter to your favorite teacher and thank them before it’s too late

56. Your mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open.

57. Whatever you are, be a good one.

58. "Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy."

59. “You are at your best when things are at their worst.”

60. "What is wrong with the world? There’s not enough clapping."

61. Work Harder to create a better environment

62. Never miss an opportunity to be nice.

63. "Work smarter not harder."

64. Don’t waste time on stupid things

65. Set a goal; then reach it

66. Don’t quit when things are difficult."

67. "Success needs a great attitude."

68. "Every time you don’t do something because you’re afraid of failure, you failed."

69. "If you give less than 100%, everyone around you will suffer."

70. "Appreciate what you have."

71. "if at first you don’t succeed.. you are normal! The only time you truly fail is when you quit: don’t quit!!"

72. You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.  Think about it.

73. You don’t always get what you wish for; but you always get what you work for.

74. Do something so awesome that you don’t have to tell your grandchildren about it; their history teacher’s will

75. Even a pawn can take out a king.  Don’t count yourself out.

76. There’s a 100% chance that you’re awesome; act like it.

77. If you don’t stand by your standards, you don’t have any.

78. Expect to meet your soulmate every time you walk through a door.  Eventually, you will.

79. Do something for the first time every day.

80. Whenever someone makes you chose between them or another person, it’s usually safer to go with the other person

81. If you’re still bragging about yesterday, you must not have done much today.

82. No matter what mood you’re in, no matter what kind of day you had, no matter where you are: smile

83. You must have an open mind.

84. Smile, it makes people wonder what you’re up to!

85. You are given one chance to live, but if you live it right, one chance is all you nee

86. every criticism must have a chance for redemption

87. Act like you’re confident, even if you aren’t/

88. The best teacher isn’t even aware of the best lesson they teach you.

89. You are always on stage.

90. The moment you intentionally acknowledge that you don’t like someone, you don’t deserve their respect.

91. You ultimately motivate yourself.

92. Be a builder, not a wrecker.

93. The only way to lose is to quit.

94. As soon as you realize that you messed up, admit it.  It’s hard to do but everything will be ten times easier

95. Just a heads up: 90% of the things you worry about will never happen.  (0 % of the things that happen will have never occurred to you.

96. Do anything and everything that you love to do, and you’ll be happy

97. If you think things changing is terrible, compare it to the thought of everything always being the same

98. Don’t settle for being “The next” anything.  Be the first you, and everyone who follows can be the next you.

99. Don’t stress when people tell you that you’ve changed.  That just means you’re not who they want you to be.

100. Some say to flip a coin to make decisions-not to get an answer, but because when it’s in the air, you’ll know what you’re hoping for.

101. Do what you’ve been waiting to do, in case “someday” never comes.

102. Don’t take anything for granted

103. Never be afraid to risk looking stupid in order to do something awesome

104. It’s impossible to make the same “mistake” twice.  The second time, it’s called a decision.

105. You were born with the ability to change someone’s life.  Don’t waste it.

106. Never pass up the ability to give a random and unprovoked compliment.

107. Let your past make you better, not bitter.

108. Common sense isn’t all that common.

109. Remember that your presence is a present.  If someone doesn’t appreciate it, find someone that will.

110. Telling someone you’re different doesn’t work nearly as well as proving it.

111. If you can’t change your situation, change your attitude.

112. Everyone’s been through rough times.  Remember that it made you stronger.

113. You don’t always have to say something.  Sometimes your silence says more than words ever could

114. If you take a risk and it pays off, you’ll be happy.  If you take a risk and it doesn’t, you’ll be wiser.

115. You can sleep and dream of what you want, or you can wake up and go get it, your choice.

116. No matter how far you go in life, remember where you come from.

117. Remember that guy who gave up?  Yeah, neither does anyone else.

118. Any path that doesn’t have any obstacles never led anywhere to begin with.

119. Your mistakes should be your motivation, not your excuses.

120. One day, your life is going to flash before your eyes.  Make sure it’s worth watching.

121. Never let someone tell you not to believe in your dreams.

122. if the worst that can happen is someone saying no, it’s worth a try

123. accept whats unchangeable.  change what’s unacceptable

124. there’s a reason why you have two ears and one mouth

125. the time you waste counting the days could be spent making the days count

126. smooth seas don’t make for awesome sailors.

127. never let your pride prevent you from asking for help

128. the cure for boredom is curiosity

129. to get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.

130. live every week like it’s shark week

131. it’s not who you are that holds you back.  its who you think you aren’t

132. play like you’re the best, but practice like you’re in second place.

133. open your mind before you open your mouth

134. it isn’t how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward

135. today, do something nice for someone and don’t expect anything back

136. the risks of breaking out of your comfort zone aren’t nearly as bad as the risks of staying in it your whole life.

137. don’t burn your bridges. odds are you’ll eventually need to cross them again

138. your only competition is in the mirror

139. you’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and the chances you don’t make

140. if you’re lucky enough to get a second chance at something, don’t waste it

141. it might be terrible to be the person everyone depends on, but it’s worse to be the person depending on everyone

142. if you can’t win, lose like a champion

143. if you want credit for your successes, you have to take responsibility for your mistakes

144. tomorrows version of you is going to want to kick today’s version of you for making them do all the work

145. Nothing in this life worth having comes easy

146. don’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results

147. know your limits; push them

148. There are two types of people in life; those who make the time and those who never have the time.  lose the latter

149. play life on hard mode.  that way, in the end you get all of the achievements

150. live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live

151. may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows

152. two people to never be: the person who only considers the rewards, and the person who only considers the risks.

153. take chances when you’re young; tell stories when you’re old.

154. Don’t settle for a place where you’re tolerated, go where you’re celebrated.

155. Since you can’t live forever, create something that does.

156. Stay in your lane when it comes to driving and minding your own business

157. Small choices can snowball into a massive outcome

158. Strength can’t be estimated.  No one knows exactly how strong you are until you have to step up and prove it.

159. Don’t let celebrating small victories distract you from getting the big win.

160. Never let the things you can’t do distract you from the things you can.

161. When you’re struggling, remember that there’s always someone around who’s been there and can help.

162. Some of the best ideas happened by mistake.  Some of the worst happened by someone trying too hard.

163. Very few decsisions are both important and easy.

164. Turn your setbacks into comebacks.

165. Benched players that play like starters become starters.  Step it up and watch what happens.

166. Even when you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just stand there.

167. If your problem has a solution, why worry?  If your problem has no solution, why worry?

168. You’re the writer of your own story.

169. You can’t always miraculously get out of a bad situation, but you can keep yourself from getting into it.

170. Spend a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

171. Work hard on something.  The apple you have to climb the tree to reach is better than the ones laying on the ground.

172. If you start cutting corners, you’re just going to end up going in circles.

173. You don’t define people by your judgments.  Your judgments define you.

174. There’s enough clay in the world already.  Somebody has to be the mold.

175. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

176. Why do we fall?  So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.

177. Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.

178. Reach for the stars, because if you fall, you land in a cloud.    

179. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

180. Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.


  1. Christopher Constantine says

    Thanks for compiling and posting this, Jason. I was thinking about GNP today, as we all do especially at this time of year, and looking for a decent collection of his starred thoughts. Yours is the most complete I’ve been able to find. Well done, sir.

    Congratulations on your achievements since middle school, and on your teaching career. 😉