"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Monday, June 2, 2014


I finally feel like I have made it. I am just a few days away from retiring. 31 years behind me...

I have a few things to do this summer to close out the grant, but I am feeling the taste of freedom, and I must say it is nice.

This will be my last post for the blog since I started it to go along with the grant. I have been reflective over the last month. Did I do a good job with the last 31 years? Did I spend enough time doing the things that really mattered? 

My advice to teachers would be to make sure you keep perspective with teaching. That perspective is to do what is best for the students you are given each year. I can't tell you how many things I have seen come and go. 

And...to make sure you don't let the job swallow you up. I think I did a bit too much of that the last ten years. I let the pressures of testing, trying to make parents happy, etc rule me. I regret that I didn't hold that off a bit more.

Early on in my career, I had a student come through my room. His name was Andrew. 4th grade at Ocean City Elementary. He was always so neat and well dressed. He didn't have a lot, but his jeans were ALWAYS starched with a crease in them. Being an ironer myself (I know that I am a dying breed) this was something I always noticed. So, my assumption was he was well taken care of at home. I will be honest...he drove me nuts:) He wanted to make 100's on everything. If he missed anything, I had to find it in the book to show him, so that he could be sure I hadn't messed up. He would have died with today's answers, because we have so many drawing conclusions, inferring kinds of questions. Back then, every thing was pretty concrete right there in front of you. He and I sparred often in a good way. Close to the end of the school year, I gave Andrew and two other students a pizza party after school for completing a math multiplication goal. The pizza was slightly late because of busses, so Andrew didn't get out to the car quite quick enough. His aunt picked him by coming to the room. She was nice enough at the door, but all the way down the hallway I heard her getting after him about being late. I will be honest, I didn't even know he lived with an aunt. I spoke with the guidance counselor that afternoon and discovered quite a few things I didn't know. I leave those off..I will say he was well taken care of, but there were certainly some things I wish I had known earlier. I wouldn't have begrudged him always needing to make a 100.

On the very last day of school, I did notice he wasn't really participating in game day, but rather he asked if he could get the Florida History book that I had already put on the shelf for next year. I said yes, and I vaguely noticed he was drawing. To be honest, I was counting the minutes down. As the bell rang, he was up and out with the crowd, so I didn't notice what he left on the desk.

Now, I guessing this is not going to look like much to anyone. How many drawings do we get every year, but this one touched me profoundly based on the relationship I had with this student. So much so, that I kept it and placed it in my scrapbook.

The fact that Andrew thought I was a great teacher tore me up. He really meant that, because he never said anything like that previously nor would he have ever had the guts to say that to me or give it to me personally. It touched my heart. I considered those notes and expressions that I received from that day forward better than any reward that could be offered. I know we all like to be noticed and patted on the back, but doing a job that made a difference to a child is the ultimate reward

I don't know what happened to him, because he wasn't there next year for 5th grade, but I never forgot him. 

We teach for the students, not the earthly rewards, the district mandates, or tests, but for the individual child. 

On a lighter note, I found this on the same page of the scrapbook. This was what I looked like and a view of the classroom that year. LOOK at that gorgeous black hair. I miss that too!!!!!!!!!!

circa ---early 1990's
On to the next chapter.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Three Very Special Teacher Friends

To say that this year has been a strange year would be an understatement. I have experienced much sorrow, but in doing so it has caused me to be so thankful for my many blessings. You lose people here on Earth, you miss them dearly, and you realize how much people touch your lives even in the smallest of ways.

Throughout this year of taking care of my mom and dealing with my stepdad's cancer and subsequent death, I have also planned a wedding. Times of sorrow and sweetness. It has been a year of feeling like I was on some kind of ride where there were highs and lows.

I lost three very special teacher friends this year. As teachers, we share a very special bond. I guess all professions do, but for us, we know that we get each other through the good and the bad. We know we have to smile for the kids and come to school even when we are going through rough times. We just hold each other up. Often times I wondered if we were really what you would call "friends" since in many cases, we only see each other at work, but I think we are. We spend a huge portion of time together and pull each other along with encouragement when you have the rough kids that weigh you down.

When I took the science coach job a little over 2 and a half years ago, I left behind a superb class and one of the best group of teachers that I had ever worked with. We got along so well and enjoyed our laughs in the hallway when we dropped the students off for PE. We were one of those groups that rather than whine, we kind of just laughed off the insanities and encouraged each other. We met for lunch at the end of that year to send one off to retirement land, well really two (she hadn't announced it yet). We had a great lunch together and little did we know that we would lose two of them in two short years.

My friend Jackie, the healthiest person and most physically fit person I have ever known, was struck with a brain tumor. I knew Jackie long before I worked with her because we have boys the same age who did Little League together. Jackie always had a smile and a positive attitude. She came in every morning with such pep and zest for life in general. She loved teaching and I was blessed to know her. I loved how she just always laughed about everything. She loved her family and we had that in common. Family first. I learned at her funeral that she often gave china cups as gifts. She had all boys, so she remembered to use china to drink her coffee in. She had to keep the girly, beautiful things around her. I have been using my china a lot more recently to have that morning coffee and remembering my sweet friend Jackie.

I will take time to notice the pretty things.

My dear Martha was also at that lunch table planning to retire in a few short days. She would have taught forever, but she knew something wasn't quite right. Martha was already sick. She would never really enjoy retirement, but I think that was ok with Martha. Teaching was her life. I knew who Martha was even before I started teaching at Shalimar. She had a teacher website long before most ever thought of them. I had stalked it and thought what a great teacher she must be. When I met her, there was no doubt. Amazing teacher. I miss Martha already.

And then, there is dear Hope. I truly don't think there has ever been a nicer person than Hope. She was a Title 1 teacher at the school I worked at when my children were born. She had two little ones then. I watched her raise them making sure they never missed church. She was a great mother and teacher. Inclusion started way back then, and I must say I wasn't too keen on it. One of the Title 1 teachers made you feel so nervous, but not Hope. I loved having her in my room. She was so genuinely kind and sincere that I never minded her presence in my room.  I will truly miss seeing Hope, but I see her in her daughter. She left a legacy there for sure.

I just felt a strong need to share how much these ladies had touched me. Teaching is a busy, fast paced job, but our teacher friends can make such a difference in our lives.

Life is very fleeting. I feel a very strong need to live life to the fullest everyday. I have spent a lot of time stressing over work and not nearly enough time living. I plan to rectify that.

I will do my best to stop and smell the roses.

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. ---Psalms 118:24

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Leaf Safari

Mrs. Leach's class at Florosa came in today, and we did the AIMS lesson "Leaf Safari." I have enjoyed working with Mrs. Leach this year. She has let me model each month the lesson and taken notes, so that she would feel comfortable doing them next year on her own. She is a wonderful teacher and her class is a pleasure to work with because they are so well behaved.

Of course, I always forget to take pictures while I am teaching, so I put together some at the beginning and end so that you could see what they did.

To begin, we had a variety of leaves found only on the school grounds to observe and work with. I say only on the school grounds, because if you have more time than we did, you can have the students collect them on a nature walk. Also, by using only what I had here, I was able to keep it a low stress preparation lesson.

The students came in and sat on the floor first. We read the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. (I love including good books with our science labs.) 

Leaf Man is an adorable book that has the Leaf Man traveling everywhere. Things I like about the book are...beautiful pictures, repeated lines, imagination, and children must observe closely to find the imaginative pictures made with the leaves.

See the turtle and fish on the lake.

See the cute cow.

After reading we discussed words that describe leaves and just ways to observe that would lead to the intermediate grades classifying leaves.

Part of our list of describing words.

Then, the students went to the table to observe and discuss what they saw. They chose one leaf to draw and write three descriptive words to go with it. They would later measure the length and width in centimeters of course!

Then I led them through classifying the leaves. We did needle and broad first, then rough and smooth, then the students had to come up with their own way to classify them. Mrs. Leach and I walked around and tried to guess.

The circles are from AIMS and come in a set of three. For first grade, we only used two, but if we had more time, we could have easily increased the difficulty.

We then had them measure the length and width of one leaf.

The final activity was to make a leaf rubbing. You can then really see the veins and patterns that show up in the leaf. I can't believe how many kids don't know what rubbing is. We used to do that all the time when I was little. Good reason for why we need the A in STEM, so now it is STEAM adding art in.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Last Year


             What a year!

My last year of a public school teacher is almost done. Can I get a cheer? I have almost made it. My plan for the blog is to finish out the remainder of the year with a few reflections, and then it is on to a new chapter in my life.

I thought I would share a few changes to my bio from the "Meet the Coach" post/page. 

For one, my daughter graduated from Auburn, met her love, got a job, and married the perfect match for her on February 1st of this year. We had fun planning the wedding, although they are very costly and a bit stressful:) However, the week of the wedding was the now infamous deep freeze that paralyzed Atlanta and Birmingham. Tyler's (my new son-in-law) parents spent the night in a Publix parking lot in Atlanta. A couple of the girls in the wedding live in Birmingham, so by Saturday, I was just relieved they all made it safely.
The day turned out to be pretty and pleasant. You can read more about it here.

Yes, I am proud.

Had to include this picture b/c the next picture of me coming up is so horrible:)

My fantastic husband of almost 30 years is now the principal of a high school. I think they are so lucky to have him. He is a fantastic leader and in my humble opinion, the very best. I am grateful for his leadership in our home.

Board meeting.
Terrible picture of me!!!

Well, I have great plans for myself. I am excited about what the future holds.
I will be blogging this summer at my new blog...

I Majored in Home Economics


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fun Day at Florosa

 On Thursday, Mrs. McGlynn spear headed a fun day of space/aviation/science fun for the third graders. With the help of the fabulous third grade teachers, they had some great teamwork going. The students didn't need a field trip to have a full day of fun learning. The third grade teachers at Florosa are fun to work with. They always are the most flexible and do their job in the science lab with no whining, so I was not surprised when I went down to their pod to see each of them working together to give the students a day of learning that had students fully engaged.

Each teacher had a lesson prepared and then shared with each homeroom group throughout the day. One did a lesson on Mars, another on food in space, another balloon rockets, another straw rockets, and another on Bernoulli's theory. As I poked my head in each group to take a look, the kids were definitely having a great time.

I finally remembered to pull out my phone and take a few photos...some a little too late. I was so proud of all the teachers though. I love when you see teamwork by the teachers.
Kind of rare these days...
Students made a Bernoulli mask after learning about how low pressure is created above an airplane wing with fast moving air that then causes the air pressure to be high beneath the wing which helps it to create lift. The students blew through the hole which caused the strip of paper to rise.

Like I said I remembered too late to get pictures, but the students used these homemade straw rocket launchers made by the Hurlburt AFA members for teacher workshops.
The students used these to launch for not only distance, but target accuracy as well.

Some of the targets were laying flat on the floor while others were hanging.

One teacher taught about Mars and the students made a timeline of facts.

And I am sad that I got no pictures of the students using the balloon rockets and measuring for distance traveled or the lesson on eating in space. 

One of the dad pilots shared several video clips with the students. This is showed night vision and another I saw had them doing drops of cargo into a very small targeted area.

They shared some of the planes that fly over in our area.

They ended up in the multipurpose room with a guest author, and then their very own military dad pilots' as guest speakers. They loved this. I loved how well behaved they were and how attentive they were. Good job third graders.

Each time I see our very own military doing things in the schools like this, I am reminded of how lucky we are to live in our area. Each room had volunteers from Hurlburt helping out with the projects going on in each of the rooms.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Classroom Tour with Movie Maker

In the past, I did a post on the book Environments for Learning by Eric Jensen. Jensen does a great job with brain research and education. His website is http://www.ericjensen.com/.  You can view the post that I summarized pieces of the book here.

I recently attended a workshop on using Movie Maker, so I put my last 3rd grade classroom into a video with information from this book.

Here is the video that I made for that workshop.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Science Fix

I love this guy's site. He doesn't post often, but when he does, it is worth noting.

A must see post is this one:

If you are looking for a way to share how results can be varied in the scientific method, then check out his video.