Top 20 Blog

A series of Top 20-related articles from Principal Rathke


The challenge I have for each of you today is to focus on listening. Listening is hard sometimes. You might get distracted by noises in the hall or other things in your room. Or maybe you let your mind wander and think about other things. If you get distracted or have life on your mind, gently tap your head and whisper "Not Now" to yourself. Then refocus on what you need to learn.

You Matter

The month of December we are focusing on "Communicate YOU MATTER" with staff and students.

This cornerstone fosters human development by creating a positive culture of safety and trust. A natural need for humans is to feel that they matter. By being aware of this human need, we can be deliberate in communicating "you matter"!

Some ways we can communicate that ...


Listening not only helps you learn, it helps other succeed. When you're a good listener, you communicate "you matter" to the person who's speaking.

Today, communicate "you matter" to your teachers, classmates, and parents by listening to them.


Stay curious! When you listen and know what the other person wants as well as what you want, sometimes you can discover how to get both of those things. That is totally how you live as an effective communicator, listener and thinker!

The Frame

It's time for action. Here are some questions that you can ask your student to help understand how they see things and feel about things:

  1. Consider your most challenging class
    • How do you see it?
    • How do you feel about it?
    • How do you act in this class?
    • What results are you getting in there?
  2. Challenge yourself to see the situation differently.
  3. How would a new way of seeing it affect your feelings and actions?
  4. What different results might you get?
Becoming a Top 20 School

The Process of becoming a Top 20 school consists of our individual journeys and the collective journey of each member of Justice Page Middle School. The purpose of this blog section is to communicate the Top 20 practices and principles we want to imbed in our school community and provide personal reflections regarding our own participation in accomplishing the goals.

The strategy for becoming a Top 20 school is to implement 20 Top 20 practices, all of which are intended...

Our #1 Job: We Help Others Succeed

(Note: This is an occasional series of Top 20-related articles from Principal Rathke)

When we intentionally build positive culture, we know that our #1 job is to help others succeed.

See a quick video about helping others succeed.

Let's begin by thinking about our jobs. What were you hired to do? People are hired to do many different things: teach, sell, coach, facilitate, prepare meals, heal people, etc. Although these are essential, in a Top 20 culture they're not...

Roadblock to Success: I AM STUPID!

An epidemic that continues to go undiagnosed in American schools is how students from all stages of the academic achievement spectrum experience feelings of stupidity. Although this disease diminishes the potential of all students, it is deadly for young people who experience feelings of stupidity on a daily basis…and many do.

For these students, quitting school or disengaging while attending school is an understandable yet personally damaging response.

Based on research from students throughout the country,...

The Development of Mental Habits

Living Top 20 means to be the best version of yourself, to live up to your potential by eliminating roadblocks, and to make a positive difference in your own life and in the lives of others. Is Living Top 20 worth the effort? Complaining, blaming and waiting for other people to change are dysfunctional habits that lead nowhere. It's going to take a little awareness, commitment and effort to hang out in the Top 20 stratosphere, but it'll be worth the investment! There are three major reasons that this lifestyle will pay off for you.

It's neither a good nor bad thing to operate as a Top 20 or a Bottom 80. It's just a life thing, a human thing. However, there's a big difference between always and sometimes. Where you think most of the time...

Life Looks Different Above and Below the Line

Everyone has potential. Some people's potential remains dormant and undeveloped. Most people's potential develops at a commonly expected rate, achieving reasonable goals. But some, their potential explodes. These people are what we call Top 20.

Top 20 is not a comparison between students, between teachers, or between parents. We are all Top 20 and Bottom 20. When we are at our most effective, we are Top 20; when we are less effective or ineffective, we are Bottom 20.

Living Top 20 means to be the best version of yourself, to live up to...

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