Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 26-08-2019


Hello, welcome back to school everyone.  My name is Jeff Fastnacht and I am the Assistant Superintendent here at Mandan Public Schools.

Introductions are an important aspect of humanity.  Introductions have begun every human interaction in history, albeit not always nicely.  An introduction can be a knuckle bump or a handshake.  They commonly are combined with words of welcome but that is not always necessary.  A “proper” introduction should include a verbal welcome and socially appropriate exchange of names or titles.  Introductions are the first step toward a warm and positive relationship.


In our modern society, we have misplaced the importance of an introduction in direct proportion to our reliance on our cellular devices.  I realize there can be an introduction done via technology and there are new ways of saying “hi”.  I am simply worried that we (all of us, not just kids) are forgetting how to do a nice introduction.  I feel we are forgetting how to create a positive relationship that begins with a handshake, greeting, and personal connection?

From my small corner of the world, I see more people starting interactions in these ways:

  • “Hey” – start with a question
  • “I emailed you and you did not respond” – begin with a complaint
  • Just walk up to me and say nothing (questioning look)

None of these are good.  Before we condemn those people can we consider that maybe their actions are not about WILL but about SKILL.  Most people strive to do things the right way, and when they don’t it is commonly because they lack the skills necessary.  Even with simple things, like an introduction, many lack the skills necessary to execute one with ease.  This is why Mandan Public Schools has concentrated our focus this year on social and emotional learning.  Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.  Learning to navigate an introduction is just a small part of SEL but it is one aspect of maintaining a positive relationship with others.  SEL is also the means to begin to ensure our adults (every educator in MPS) can create a positive relationship with each and every one of our students.  You will be hearing more about SEL over the course of the year and how we are striving to help our students learn the SKILLS to manage their emotions, set goals, and build positive relationships.  I hope you can already see small positive changes.

Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day.