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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Roadchips, Part I

Roadchips, Part I

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

“We’re taking the lead because for too long the public school system in Camden has failed its children,” proclaimed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Flanked by public officials at a local high school in recent days, he added that inaction would be “immoral”  (Zezima, 2013).

This was not New Jersey’s first rodeo in the school takeover business, but reports stated that it might be Governor Christie’s first ride. 

In such, I very much wanted to write about Christie and the Camden schools this week in the Leadershop … but I didn’t.

I noticed Christie’s announcement first on CNN, while arising in a hotel, flipping past a number of televangelists on the way to a news channel before leaving for a school site visit.    After watching a bit of the news, I flipped back again, as I needed a bit of higher-order inspiration after seeing how spin-doctors and political pundits indict professional educators for what they do.

I quickly found the usual: Bright Lights, Botox, Healing, and Hairspray -- Charismatic caretakers tending to their flocks, including those yearning for their own 2nd chances to lead special-purpose lives, to live moments-made-the-most-of, and to enjoy their grace-given rights to have-it-all! 

For a few days, I wanted to write about THAT as well, as our services include “faith” and “followership” – with a message that hard work and deferred gratification will provide for the true believers who cannot presently fathom such. 

But I didn’t. 

Instead, I found myself gassing-up my car today on the way home from an inspiring school accreditation visit.  I was in rural, rural Indiana. 

The gas station was an older-style eatery/gift shop.  It housed only a few pumps, so space was tight.  As I re-hooked the nozzle to the dispenser and twisted my cap, a car screeched to a stop just inches behind me.  It startled me, so I turned. Its windshield was cracked.

Out stepped a good-ole-boy, Carhartt jacket … unshaven … and in a hurry.  

Giving him a friendly nod, I pulled my car out of the way and stepped out to enter the store.  Immediately, I felt a brisk cloud of dust hit me, the product of a big wind. 

I heard profanity too … significant, off-putting, loud profanity.  As I turned, I noticed the young man’s baseball hat tumbling through the parking lot in my direction, blown by the wind.

Quickly scooping up the hat as it nearly blew by, I handed it to its owner as he caught up, to which he replied, “Thanks, man.” 

I responded, “You’re welcome,” and nodded.

I then went in the store, losing all interest in putting Chris Christie and televangelists together in a 5-minute read.

Roadchips, I thought.  Roadchips.

What are they? 

They are the little chips we find in our windshields after stones hit them while we’re driving.  They make cracks.

Some are only miniscule; others are a bit larger.  Roadchips, a thought borne of that young man’s cracked window and his out-of-character behavior, reminded me of our obligations in leadership when working with others.

I’ll share more next week.


Zezima, K. (2013, March 25-26) Huff Post Politics, The Huffington Post, Retrieved at


Dr. Ryan Donlan will be spending the next week thinking of roadchips and can be reached for any thoughts you might have regarding such and how they impact one’s leadership at (812) 237-8624 or

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