I’ve learned more about, and more about working with people in the last three weeks than all of last year. Working through some really tough situations, both with students and staff, has helped me recognize additional strategies for helping those in need and holding others accountable.

It used to be that when I taught US History back in the day and we discussed the downfalls of communism, the kids all asked why the near-perfect system didn’t work.

“People,” I said. “People are greedy, they want what they want, and you can’t control them.”

You can have a perfect system of behavior charts, HR manuals, or laws and regulations, but as soon as you mix those with people, you’re on your own. Things will happen that you didn’t account for. Stuff will take place that you never thought a rational person would do.

Because people.

And guess what? People are what make it all happen. People wrote the guidelines and made those behavior charts, too.

Perhaps in vain, perhaps in search of some unreachable vision of utopia, perhaps to set some order to their already chaotic world.

With people, it gets messy, difficult, and, for sure, unpredictable. You never know what will happen from one day to the next.

As a leader of people, every day is a new challenge. You adjust, tweak, try some self-deprecating humor, and give folks a second chance, or a third, or a… when they don’t follow the norm or take a left turn when they shouldn’t have.

And then the people change, and you have to start all over again.

That’s the nature of working with people. Nothing is perfect, nothing is constant, and nothing will cease to amaze me. Or surprise me.

But remember. People make it happen. Without people, we’d be just a collection of HR manuals and theoretical underpinnings in a dusty locker. Why not see what the people can really do?



Options. I’d like to have some.

When communicating with my team regularly, often via text messages on the iPhone, I find the lack of options needing an update.

I feel like I’m limited. Here’s why.

The current options to quickly respond to a message in iMessage by clicking and holding on a message are “thumbs up or down,” “heart,” “double !!,” “haha,” and the question mark.

Helpful. Sometimes.

I would love to have an “OK” or just a check mark, as in “received.”


The thumbs up or down connotes judgment. Feeling. I like it. I don’t like it. You get the idea. It doesn’t say, “I got it.”

The heart?

I just took care of that thing for work you asked me to do…

Heart emoji.

Not appropriate from supervisor to employee, perhaps.

A response to a kind message from a close friend. Then yes.

The double exclamation marks? Who writes like that? Russian bots, that’s who…

Not only is it an incorrect use of language, but what does it mean? Awesome work? What the hell happened? Outrage: That’s cray-cray!! Just no.

And the question mark? Does that question the reply? Do you have a question? I have questions. Why?

So here’s the idea…

Just like in Gmail, when I mark messages for follow-up, let me customize my response options.

  • Checkmark
  • OK
  • Heart Emoji
  • HAHA
  • YES
  • NO

That’s it. Who can help me?



“Let’s push that meeting up a bit…”

“Can we meet after the week of Easter?”

“I need to reschedule. What about next week sometime?”


But when, though?

Many tend to anchor their construction of time with other, seemingly available, events in time. Like Easter. Or Christmas Eve. Or the first Tuesday of the…

What about being a bit more exact?

I often find myself asking for exact clarification for meeting times and dates. People have varying reactions to that.

Here are some, perhaps, better ways of doing it.

“I can’t meet at 10 AM today. Can we reschedule for 11 AM?”


“I’d like to schedule my vacation during week 10. Is that okay?”


“Let’s meet Friday, the 29th or March, 2024.”

Also good. And close to Easter. I guess.

Some of us don’t connect various holidays, epochs, or seasonal festivities with our actual schedule. So if you say you want to book some time with me after ‘spring break’ you’ll have to be more specific.

Give me a date. And time. And a place.

And why aren’t we using week numbers yet in this country? Maybe for the same reasons we can’t seem to embrace other logistics, like the metric system, real 24-hour time (without the need for AM/PM), or just adding the sales tax to the listed price instead of the ever-present surprise at the end.

Yes, I know… this is America, home of the brave. We landed on the moon, and you didn’t. We get to pick our own ways of doing things…

All I’m saying is, that maybe, there’s a better way.

And isn’t that what this country is all about? Forever improving, making things better? Where’s the next moonshot? It ain’t Mars, I can tell you that.

I mean, have you tried measuring your flour in grams instead of cups when baking? Did you know it makes a [profound] difference? And why? Because flour is a dry good, not measured by its volume, but by its weight.

A cup measures volume, only. Need to be convinced? How much does a cup of flour weigh? Now weigh a cup of water… Are they the same? Be specific. How much corn in a bushel?

How many meters in a Nautical Mile? Do you know why? That one actually makes sense… Compare that to how many yards are in a mile. Just sayin. 😉

A more humorous look at all of this nonsense:

Our land of liberty. Where we continue to reference things the hard way…. Let the struggle continue. For us immigrants, we just patiently learn all the conversions to a chaotic system.

Here’s to a new year. Week 1 starts on Monday, the first day of the week. You have 24 hours each lap around the sun to get some structure in your life. Enjoy!



I check the news, read emails, and ensure our staffing levels are okay for the day first thing in the morning. Usually, while still in the bathroom…

This morning, I noticed the battery indicator on my iPhone drop from 100% to 99%. At 4:47 AM.

“Well, Johansson…,” I thought. “What are you gonna do with the other ninety-nine?”

There’s only so much juice in a day.

And sure, you can plug in your phone for a quick boost anytime, but what about yourself?

I’ve been exhausted lately when I get home, and I feel like I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. Maybe it’s time I plug in and fully let myself recharge this weekend.

So, what’s it gonna be? How are you spending the rest of your battery life today? On something productive? Something fun? Something difficult?

I’m doing something for the first time today that will likely drain my emotional battery a bit. I hope I can recover.


Time travel.

Time travel might not be a thing of reality. Yet.

But tracking where an object has been, is quite simple.

To track a cat for example, all you have to do is check for an open window. Or a balled up piece of paper, perfect for chasing, left on the ground. Or a blanket spread on the couch.

The cat has been there.

It isn’t there anymore.

But at one point, the cat manipulated a human being into opening the window, sat there for a while, and then left.


Can you predict, or even control, the future by examining the past?

Almost certainly.

Open the window proactively, and I bet the cat will arrive. On its own time, naturally, but at some point, it will make its way over there to smell the outside.

Knowing what has happened, by thoroughly examining events in the past, you’re more likely to know what’s about to happen in the future. Events may not be exact, but patterns repeat themselves over, and over, and over again. Always.

And people, in particular, are predictable.

Know someone who’s always early to work? Someone who always shows up for the hard challenges? A colleague who’s always ready to go?

It’s likely, based on your examination of the past, they will continue to perform in the future. After all, they have a history of doing so.

Just like the cat you’ve been tracking by the trail of open windows in your house, if you start paying attention to people’s patterns and habits, you can learn a lot about how the future will unfold.

And like so, as I was writing this, a tail brushed my leg, a window was opened, and not one, but two cats appeared. As predicted. See? It’s true…


On Cats & Values

Unable to calculate the path of a solar eclipse using mental math?


It doesn’t recognize it’s living on a globe-shaped object.


Can’t open doors, windows, or anything else with its missing thumbs.

Average at best.

But. Able to provide companionship, lower blood pressures, and purr and purr until you feel better?


Cats. What they lack in some areas is countered by their specific gifts to humans.

Maybe people are that way, too?

Not everyone needs to know the physics of orbital objects. But what they bring to the table adds value nonetheless. Embrace the value. Ignore the other stuff.



Andreas started his educational journey in Torekov, Sweden, a fishing village of 800 inhabitants, where he attended Kindergarten through 6th grade at Sandlyckeskolan.

Much like a one-room schoolhouse, each grade level had only one class, and he had the same teacher for grades one through third, and another (in her first year of teaching) for grades four through six in a looping model.

It was here that Andreas’ love of learning took hold, albeit with some shaky performance, especially regarding mathematics. He excelled at foreign language instruction (English), and place-based instruction – often based in the woods or along the oceanfront.

One of his fondest memories from this time was constructing a scale model burned-out canoe when studying geography and the history of the stone-age era. The Vikings, naturally, represented another core memory.

Middle School at Strandängsskolan in Båstad, Sweden, grades 7-9 saw Andreas grow in his leadership skills, and he joined the student council, among other activities. In addition to English, he studied French as a second foreign language, along with the core curriculum.

He helped design and arrange a simulation for the 9th-grade class focused on war refugees and their experiences – an activity delivered completely in English and run by students, for students. He traveled on several class trips, including a week spent on a sailboat with his classmates and another week spent in and around Copenhagen, Denmark.

In middle school, Andreas fell off the math bandwagon, too… now we call that a failure to scaffold by the teacher, but at the time, it felt like being left behind. Only later would he find out math is for everyone and almost anything can be solved with a spreadsheet!

All students in grades 7-9 participated in week-long internships as well, and Andreas spent a week each in grades 7, 8, and 9 working at an electrical component factory, a bank, and as a groundskeeper at a golf course, respectively. He also joined the Swedish Youth National Guard (Hemvärnet), and enjoyed many a night out in the woods or at survival camps – both summer and winter editions!

In Swedish middle schools, in preparation for high school, kids choose a track for the next step in their education. Students can pick from either an academic track or vocational track, and Andreas enrolled in the social studies track with a focus on history.

He attended the first year of Swedish High School at Rönnegymnasiet in Ängelholm, Sweden. A highlight here was creating his first website in 1995, coded in straight HTML around a class project on permafrost, where a project component was an unchaperoned trip to Lund to interview a university professor.

During the summer of 1996, after eight weeks in Penang, Malaysia, Andreas moved with his family (mom and sister) to Stow, OH, and he enrolled at Stow High School. Quite the culture shock, with a student population of over 2,000 students, Andreas managed to settle in, and after the first year as a Junior, teachers quickly figured out he wasn’t exchanging, just foreign. 😉

While in high school, Andreas enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard, and spent the summers in basic training in Fort Knox, KY, eventually serving six years as a 19D Cavalry Scout (1997-2003) stationed with the 1/107th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Stow, OH.

After graduating high school, he enrolled at Kent State University, first as a chemistry major (mistake!), and very quickly changed to study international relations under the expert tutelage of Dr. Mark Rubin.

After a short deployment post 9/11 with the National Guard, he graduated in 2002, and worked in the private sector (IT and QA) for a while until hearing the call for more learning and a career track switch.

In 2006, Andreas was admitted to the graduate program at Kent State for the Master’s in Teaching cohort, focused on the social studies 7-12 licensure track. Dr. Janice Hutchison had a profound impact on Andreas’ understanding and appreciation for the art of teaching and educating others and set him on a trajectory toward a wonderful and beautiful life as an educator and administrator.

He found employment as a teacher, first teaching 6-8 at Fairless Middle School, and later at Nordonia High School, teaching U.S. History and Economics.

Post-Master’s, Andreas continued to seek coursework and professional development opportunities wherever they presented themselves, and he racked up 30+ graduate credit hours through various programs, often involving week-long residential workshops during the summer, or weekend trips to Washington, D.C. for workshops in teaching economics, often with his teaching partners at the time, Steve Testa and Nate Loman.

After receiving tenure and being reduced in force at the same Board meeting after three levy failures at Nordonia, Andreas rebounded and worked for two years at the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, providing technical expertise and leading workshops for hundreds of teachers across Northeast Ohio. Later, he joined Kenston Schools as a Director of Technology Intergration, and finally ended up in Streetsboro as the Director of Technology, then took on Transportation, and more and more, until being named Director of Operations.

In 2018 he was admitted to the Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership under the watchful eyes of Dr. Rosie Gornik, and later Dr. Mandy Cenker and Associate Dean Dr. Steve Mitchell. He hopes to finish up with a qualitative exploration of transitional leadership and the support mechanisms that exist (or not) when we promote from within, especially within non-instructional departments in public schools like school transportation, food service, maintenance, and central office positions.

Andreas has led hundreds of workshops for teachers and adults on a variety of topics from technology to leadership to process improvement and has given conference presentations at local, state, and national levels. He continues to build systems, design experiences for others, and lead forward progress. Andreas holds an Ohio Teaching License for 7-12 Integrated Social Studies and an Ohio Professional Superintendent’s License.

He’s come quite a long way from that little blond boy with the orange Fjällräven backpack (he still has it!) on the doorsteps of his first school. No longer blond, but with lots of salt in his pepper, his passion for education burns ever brighter, and if you’re ever in the same location, he’s hard to miss.



People love acronyms, right?

Here’s one that popped into my head when I was still slumbering on a Sunday morning and didn’t want to open my eyes. I captured it quickly and have let the idea ruminate a bit. So here goes…


L – Learn everything you can about what it is you do. Listen to your people, let them tell you how it works, where the problems are, and what their solutions would be.

E – Engage your team. Let them take the reins, give them support, and make sure they have the resources needed to get it done.

A – Adapt your thinking, skills, and methods to whatever lies ahead of you. Need a softer tone? Work a little later? Now’s the time to adjust and overcome.

D – Decide what works, where to go, what to do…and do just that. If it doesn’t work, make another decision. Start over at the top – learn, get your team, tune in, and get ready to dominate.

Are you ready to L.E.A.D.?

See the picture above? Both horses and camels do well in the sand. But the dromedary does it best. If you’re not constantly looking for the best tools for your team, you’re missing out on a more comfortable journey.



I taught Oskar how to mow the lawn this summer. Again. I had tried last year, and we couldn’t get it right. My emotions got in the way, and the need for straight lines muddled the fact that it probably didn’t matter much.

He’s doing great this year, and I’ve learned to relax about the criss-cross patterns I so desperately crave. He’s doing just fine and learning the ins and outs of mowing, flower bed navigation, and what to do when he runs out of fuel.

As a bonus, I have time to weed and trim trees and bushes, and we spend an hour together outside. He checks in with me, and I check in with him. Halfway through, we stop for drinks in the shade of the garage.

He’s at 80% of what I would do. So I let it go.

Over the last few years at work, I’ve learned to let go, too. I’ve started to let go of departments that I’ve either built back up from the ground or managed for a while, and now, with people I’ve developed in the driving seats, I let them do their thing. If they’re at 80% or more…

This idea isn’t mine, but I like it, and it works. Jocko, former Navy Seal and successful waker-upper at 4:30 AM shared this idea in one of his books I crushed a few years ago.

If your team can perform at 80% of what you would do, let them go, and let them perform. They’ll do it their way, with their vision, drive, and flair. Of course, if they’re sliding down to 60%-70%, it’s time to step in to adjust, redirect, lend a hand, or take over. But if not, let them get after it their way.

Last year, Oskar was all over the place. Mowing just wasn’t his flavor. This year, he’s motivated, careful, asks questions, and gets it (mostly) right in the yard.

That’s probably a lot like your team, too. When they’re ready, they’re ready. So let them drive. Or push the mower. Or whatever you do. After all, you have other things to take care of…


Back to school.

School’s back in session. Our first day was a success; no student got on the wrong bus to get home. Safe and sound, even with a major road flooded.

Looked easy. Felt good.

It’s what people don’t see that made it happen.

Weeks and weeks of planning, testing, data mapping, uploads, rosters, checking, calling, meeting, crying, frustration, launching…

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a small army to run a school district.

An army of dedicated team players who all understand their piece of the puzzle and give it their best, even when the storm clouds are gathering.

Nothing about going back to school is easy.

The dedicated professionals behind every successful opening day are often forgotten. Even to themselves, it’s often hard to realize that what looks and feels like “just another summer of work” is often so far removed from other experiences in the regular world that we take it for granted, and move on with our day.

Technology teams, food service programs, transportation professionals, custodial and maintenance workers, project leads, and supervisors work hard to make that day worth it.

I am fortunate to lead many of the teams on campus that make it happen, and I often reflect on the “dance” that makes it all work.

Here’s to you, dedicated public school professional – a toast in your honor! Well done!

May the school year be successful and full of learning opportunities for you and your teammates and colleagues.

On day two of school this year, at 4 AM, we lost all power and closed school. Downed trees were everywhere, several telephone poles snapped in half, and five confirmed tornadoes had touched down within miles of the district. A new day. A new challenge.

Now what?

We drive on. Like every year. We know what we’re doing because we’ve spent years perfecting our trade.