Howie

He was the kind of guy who leaned down and hugged you a little longer than you were comfortable with. He had big puppy brown eyes with lashes that every girl in high school was jealous of.  He was younger than my brother and I and one of my brother’s nicest friends. He was kind and generous. And he was passionate.

His wife, also a childhood friend was beaming and beautiful today. The picture of a woman at peace with what life has delivered. When she spoke, she honored him for exactly who he was to her, their family, and to the world. My favorite story she shared was of when he wandered off one day as they were at the gas station after she’d gone into the store for a soda. She looked and looked for him and finally found him, back behind the filling station sitting on the curb with a homeless man. He already had his shoes off and was putting them on the homeless man’s feet. Next, he took off his jacket and put it around the man’s shoulders.  Then he handed him twenty dollars and said,  “God loves you.”

Michael lived out loud.  He shouted his passionate beliefs from his Facebook page and everywhere he went.

Today he brought us back together again. People who knew us before we became us.  We searched each others’ faces looking for familiarity that after decades tends to fade. But the connection, the knowledge of one another remains, even after such a long time. Hugs were exchanged, words of affinity and remembering. People who knew you growing up are part and fiber of your being forever.

What a gift you were to all who knew you, Michael.  God speed my brother, my childhood friend.

 

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Posted in celebration, Family, Home, Random Acts of Kindness, Truths | 3 Comments

THAT child

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I read this blog post a couple of years ago  when it was first written.  I understood it then from a teachers’ point of view.

Today it was shared with me again and I realized I have a whole new understanding of it.  As acting principal I am in the unique place of being the last stop when parents find themselves completely upset and angry because one too many times their child has come home talking about an event at school.  They want to know what I’m doing about it. They want to know why nothing is being done. They want to SEE a change.

This post points out, from a teacher’s perspective some of the myriad things public educators DO when there’s a child who struggles. Truly, most children face a struggle at some point in their lives. Whether seen or unseen, publicly or privately, each and every one is struggling with something. I hope for each of our students that they are resilient learners. I hope that each child knows how very special and unique they are. I hope and believe that every child can learn and grow and excel. I know some get there more quickly. I know some walk through life more gracefully than others.

We are educators. We believe in the potential of every child. Even THAT one. My hope for each of the parents we serve is that their child is well served to the best of our capabilities. None of us show up to do anything less. Schools get terrible press. But we shouldn’t. The miracles that occur within our walls on a daily basis would surprise and delight even the most cynical among us. Often times the miracles are very personal to a child, to a family. We can’t always share the small miracles. We can’t always share the strides made. But we celebrate each and every one.

This evening I celebrate THAT child. And I lift up and hold EVERY child, YOURS, THEIRS, and OURS with the compassionate passionate belief that each one can and will thrive.

 

This is a favorite song, a sort of an anthem for this post. Truly, we are how we treat each other and nothing more.  

 

Note:  Amy, who wrote the blog post titled THAT child wrote a follow up for those who want to help. She was a kindergarten teacher who is now a principal at a school in Canada. Just thought you might like to know her ideas on how to help THAT child.

Thanks to Amy of MissNight’sMarbles for sharing her beautiful post and allowing me to link to it here.

 

 

 

Posted in Child Matters, Learning, parenting, Passion for teaching, perceptions, Principal, Teaching, thoughts, Truths | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Real vs. Fake News

fake-news
Tonight I’m joining with Margaret Simon and the #digilit community to consider real vs. fake news and how we can educate our children to decipher the difference.

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The task is daunting.  It really is.

The Oxford English Dictionary  named the 2016 word of the year. “Post Truth”.  No joke.

As an educated adult with a master’s degree, and credentials, I struggled over the past six months to live my life, do the important work of school and students and teachers and parents, stay connected to family, and keep up with the media coverage of the recent election. It was unusual at best. It wasn’t until the dust settled that the idea of fake news began to rise to the fore. Many were duped. News stories flew. We trusted them as we used to trust Ted Koppel, and our parents or grandparents trusted Walter Cronkite to deliver fact-checked stories. Stories that were true.

But today, January 15th, 2017, we know better.

If you’ve ever been involved in a news story. You’ve ever been part of a story written and published by a credible news source, you understand the inconvenience and sometimes pain of inaccuracy. Errors in reported news stories are frustrating and disappointing. We depend upon our media to deliver. To deliver the best rendition of fact and evidence and truth they can. But they fall short.

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SHEG works to help teachers teach students to determine fake news

Stanford History Education Group’s (SHEG’s) Sam Weinburg and Sarah McGrew published this article citing their research on how susceptible high school and college students are to fake news. It’s too easy, given current technology, to create websites and “studies” that purport news or statistics to support an agenda, but are not really “truth.”  SHEG has some great ideas about how to help students learn to question media to determine the credibility of the source, and accuracy of the information shared.

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Our institutions of learning cannot afford to do anything but jump head-long into the fray. We must learn, post haste, how to determine the credibility of a website, page, article or post. We must teach our children from the earliest of ages to question, inquire, and to think critically about what they read, see,  or hear.

This has always been the case, but somehow today it seems even more critical. It begins with educating ourselves about how to question. What more can we do? Here are a few tips:

  1. Read like a fact checker.
  2. Commit to checking the source of information before sharing online or in conversation as “truth”.
  3. Think about who the author is and why they are writing (filming, sharing) the information.
  4. Remember SNOPES?
  5. Including something we read on Facebook, or on a less than legitimate news source as truth in our small circles of conversation and growing body of beliefs can have serious implications. (Think Pizzagate.)  How about we decide to do better?  How about we decide to keep an open mind, check sources and slants?
  6. Check this NPR article on best practices for reading online.

How are you reading in the era of “fake” news?

 

 

 

Posted in close reading, digilit sunday, Truths | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Celebrate: Books!

I believe there is always something to celebrate.  Today I join with Ruth Ayers and her commuity of writers who celebrate each weekend to celebrate the arrival of new books at our school.  celebrate-this-week-new

 

img_3012The first boxes arrived the last instructional day in December, right before our three-week winter break.

In the flurry of a holiday celebration on the last school day of the calendar year, the boxes were just one more thing. But after the last school bell rang out, and most of the children had gone off to their homes or afterschool care providers, a strange quiet began to settle over our central office.

“The books arrived,” declared the office manager.

“Really?  Which books are they?”

“I think they’re the libraries.”

“Oh?” I responded, not looking up from the report I was working to finish before heading out to the staff dinner.  But then… a few sentences later …it hit me.

“Wait! Did you say the libraries?” I queried.

“Yes.”

“How many boxes?”

“There’s a lot,” she replied.

And so it was. Boxes and boxes of beautiful books had arrived for kindergarten hands and first-grade fingers and second-grade book baggies.  These are no regular libraries!  These are the new Heinemann leveled classroom libraries.  Here they were. Bright and beautiful, tiny treasures and crisp clean picture books for reading aloud sitting there so proud in their shiny new jackets.

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…fast forward three weeks…

Tuesday afternoon, early dismissal for teachers to have professional development.  And on this particular afternoon, teachers came together for a book check-in party.  They stamped the books with the school’s name, laughed, shared stories and talked about the libraries.

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“Can I take them back to my room?” one teacher asked.

“Are these for OUR classrooms?” inquired another.

Our resource teacher just stopped to read one of the books, Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. “What a great story!  I can’t wait to share it with my kids.”

Teachers know the power of a book in a child’s hands.

Now at the end of the first week of our bright and promising new school year, the building is breathing in and breathing out with libraries that are growing, becoming, building to support the important work each of our students do every day.

 

 

 

Posted in Books, celebrate, libraries, Passion for teaching, Principal, reading, Students First | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Reset

Caught in the rutted grooves of long traveled highways

Your desire to continue

Mine for change.

Conflict arises

Expectations and Traditions

block Connection

“We’ve always done _________”

crowds the season

“Remember how you used to _____________”

shades appreciation for evolution of the butterfly.

Let go.

Close your eyes and breathe in

Hold on to appreciation for the past

and then release

Cry if you must. But know that today brings opportunity for

A fresh look

New feelings of joy

Connection with

Present

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Posted in Poem, poetry | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Thankful

Anticipation Anxiety

Rubber against roadway for two hundred and eleven miles

miles and more miles

College kids kick it on a long journey home

 

Try not to worry, momma

Just wait. watch.

Wait a little longer now.

 

Dusk settles tick tock

and at last just before midnight

Arrival and relief

 

Voices relay volleys of events and truths

expectations and hopes across this week at home

The ground shifts ever so slightly.

 

Midnight omelet sizzles and swirls

 

We settle in against each other

Plates clink against flatware

Shared meals and conversations

Hearts bump up against one another in a familiar dance

 

Days stretch out into a cadence of possible

Our souls are seated again

Smiles seal the simple joy of being under a roof

Together

Hold on a little tighter, grip this moment just a bit longer

This is it.

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Posted in celebration, Family, Holidays, Poem, Small Moment | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

This is Not a Political Post

I’m voting tonight.

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Voting early. Only by a week. But early still.  I’m ready.

Well, at least I thought I was ready.  I began studying the issues, initiatives – there are 17 on our state’s ballot this year – a month ago.  I’m still studying.  Some of these are complex issues.  If you try to read through the language of the law chances are, no matter how well educated you are, you’re going to find yourself slightly lost.  Most people I know talk to other people or consult mailers or friends to figure out how to vote. But I’m not exactly sure because we don’t often discuss it.  Too polarizing. These kinds of views are closely held for reasons.

In addition to all of the materials the election people send, there are fliers and pamphlets from people who would like to weigh in on how I vote.  Do you get those too?

I appreciate the right to vote for issues that concern my city, county, state and country.

The process of voting early is in some ways less satisfying than going to the polls to vote. I love standing in line with neighbors, signing in, punching the ballot in that little booth.  I remember the days of dressing up my kids in red, white, and blue and taking them to vote with me from the time they were in strollers. They always got a pretend ballot and got to vote too.  We all got “I voted” stickers.  This is the first presidential election both of my children will be able to vote in.

I loved taking my youngest to vote for the first time.  Pretty sure she loved it too.

img_4957It’s gratifying knowing they know what they think and will cast their votes accordingly.

A friend of mine shared her early vote ballot with me. She sits with a friend of hers who is a judge and goes through each measure one at a time. They discuss the language of each measure and why it matters.  Sometimes, she says, “It is only a WORD that makes a big difference in whether it is a good idea kind of initiative or a not so good idea kind.” She handed me the copy of her ballot adding, “I’m extremely moderate.”

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So tonight, I pull out the pile of ballots, fliers, pamphlets, articles, the friend’s ballot, log onto a couple of websites I think may be less biased and more informative, and I’ll make my decisions.  Then I will mark my ballot pamphlet. I’ll review it.  Then I will mark the numbers on that ballot without the benefit of the ballot box and the little puncher thing that marks it with ink right next to the person or initiative “YES” or “NO.”  Finally, I’ll place my ballot into its envelope, stamp and mail it.

I’ll save my “I voted” sticker for next Tuesday, November 8th. And I’ll proudly put it on before I head out to work in the morning.  Thankful for the opportunity to participate in our democracy.

 

 

Posted in democracy, thoughts | Tagged | 3 Comments