Stories, Culture and beliefs
References at the bottom
My father was a career military man. He began as an enlisted man but after 9 years went to officer's candidate school and eventually became a Major. He did this without a college education. When I considered joining the military he was emphatic in telling me "no." I was going to college and became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Like my father, I have not always taken the traditional route but I go where my heart takes me.
My mother lived through WW2 and it's aftermath. She was lucky that they had a family farm to go to after her father died in the Battle of Stalingrad. While my father was in Korea or Vietnam we spent several years on this farm. Although I was young, I had my chores to do on the farm. I cleaned animal stalls, chopped wood, worked in the fields and more. We were up at 5am to mild the cows everyday. I believe this period instilled the idea of working hard for what you want.
We moved.....a lot! I never outwardly felt like I was missing anything. To the contrary, each move was an adventure. I was always the new kid. Unpacking after each move was like Christmas! " Moving often give military youth a resilience" (Easterbrooks, Ginsburg & Lerner, 2013, p. 101.) This probably contributed to my ability to talk to just about anyone at any time. This also gave me the ability to be on own with few connections to others.
Most of my adult life I assumed that I was a good to great elementary school student I was well into my 40's when my father was cleaning out their attic and showed me my report cards. After reading my teacher's comments, I realized that I was that student who could not be quiet or stay in their seat. Today I would be assessed as hyperactive. Combine that with some of my escapades in high school and I realized that I am very much like many of my students and has helped me to relate to and bond with them. Reflecting on my experiences has shaped the type of teacher I became.
Being raised in the home of an Army officer father and German mother resulted in perhaps the most regimented upbringing a child could have. Everything was done on a schedule and indulgences were rare. However, instead of resenting this structure or discipline it made those times we let things go even more special. I also wonder, with my tendency towards hyperactivity, how would have turned out if my home had not been so structured. While my current household is not nearly so structured, I still do things on a schedule and deadlines are something I stick to.
The military was the first US institution to integrate. "The most important key to the Army's success is that racial integration never served as a goal. Rather, the focus is directed at maximizing skills to afford maximum efficiency and readiness" (Stanley, 1997, p. 669.) On Army bases the hierarchy was not based on color. I do not recall thinking of race until we moved back to the US when I was in 10th grade. Without a doubt this contributed to my attitudes on equality for everyone and has influenced my decision to remain at my school after the demographics changed.
College and Adulthood
People use the term "blessed" a great deal but I think it really applies to my life. So many random things have impacted me so greatly that I truly am blessed. One random occurrence was meeting my wife. The story is long, but here is the abridged version. We saw each other the first day of college. There was an instant connection, from afar though. She tired several times to talk to me but this is the one time I was at a loss for words. We shared a class with 298 other students but I rarely attended. The last day of class, after weeks of not attending, I decided to go. Somehow, out of 300 seats, only 2 were empty. Those 2 seats happened to be next to each other. I took one, a few minutes later she walked in and sat in the other. I had no choice but to talk to her. That was Dec. 7th 1981, 38 years later we are still together.
When interviewing for the Athletic Director job I stressed my idea of servant leadership. This idea has been central to my professional teaching and coaching career as well as my personal life. After 5 years as Athletic Director I decided to step down. I had three jobs - Athletic Director, teacher and coach. I was doing none well. There was just too much on my plate. Most people encouraged me to give up one of my other jobs. Being AD was prestigious! However, I thought differently. I chose the jobs where I could have the most impact on students and athletes.
One concept that has driven me as a teacher and as a coach is the idea that a student or athlete would be so driven that I could not appropriately help them. Because of this I have been a life long learner. Most of the time it has been informally or through casual reading. However, after beginning my masters I understand how important formal learning can be to a person's intellect.
I had a great deal of success in coaching. One thing that many athletes and parents have told me is that it did not matter how good an athlete was, I treated each of them as if they were the most important member of the team. I think that comes from a place of valuing every single person. Just this morning, as I write this, I received a long letter from a former athlete who thanked me for my contributions to their life. This letter appeared out of the blue and I have not spoken to this athlete in 14 years. It is hard to quantify how this feels, but it is important to know that I made a difference.
I have always reflected on where I am and where I am going. When I made the change from Real Estate to teaching it was what I wanted to do. The same when I made the change from elementary to high school and when I made the decision to step down as Athletic Director. Two and a half years ago I was diagnosed with severe heart disease. I had no symptoms and still have not but statistically it is only a matter of time. Staring this diagnosis in the face caused me to reflect on another level. I am going to be the best teacher I can be and I will continue to be an asset to the school but enjoyment of my time here will now be a priority. My wife has been the most supportive wife a husband could ask for. Time together will be a priority. Here is a newspaper article that did a good job of articulating who I am and how I viewed my career. I want to continue to do things the right way and for the right reasons.
Ann Easterbrooks, M., Ginsburg, K., & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Resilience among Military Youth. Future of Children, 23(2), 99–120.
Goodman, D. (2019, May 29). Eagle's Landing's Claud Spinks officially retires from coaching. Henry Herald. Retrieved July 20, 2019, from
Eagle's Landing's Claud Spinks officially retires from coaching
Spinks, F. C. (2019, July 7). ABOUT ME -bio, presentations...: United States: Claud Spinks. Retrieved July 20, 2019, from
Stanley, J. (1997). All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way. Armed Forces & Society (0095327X), 23(4), 669– 672.