Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jaci Turns 5 and Starts School on the Same Day!!

Yesterday was our granddaughter Jaci's 5th birthday and also her first day at school in Henderson, Nevada. She is the very delightful daughter of our daughter, Mandy and son-in-law, Jason Leavitt. Her older brother, Eli is nine.

Jaci is such a "girlie girl" and so adorable. So, for her birthday, Mandy took her to Libby Lu's in the Mall and here are the pictures and captions Mandy sent to document it:
This store is sooooo cute! It is every little girls' dream come true. Basically it is a beauty salon for little girls. The first thing they do is let them dress up. Jaci chose this sparkle dress.
Next they take them to a little stool with a heart shaped mirror. Then they get to choose eyeshadow and lip gloss. Pink for Jaci! Next, a manicure is in order followed by the child's choice of hair style:
Jaci chose the "Royal."
The accessory Jaci chose was the Diva hair piece while Eli supported the whole thing. What a good brother.

They followed it up with a trip to Dairy Queen!! Jaci's words: "This was the best b-day ever." (which she says every b-day) It was a fun little pamper session. Happy Birthday Jaci!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Still Alive

Hey, friends and family ~ I'm still alive!! But SWAMPED... love teaching these little guys, but tired and I never get to laze around writing or reading blogs much these last couple of weeks ~ I think I only watched about 45 minutes TOTAL (over several days) of the Olympics!! Oh well. So, if you happen to be kind enough to be checking now and then to see if I wrote anything... nah. But I did put up a post on the ANWA Founder and Friends blog (since it was my turn) and it's one you may be familiar with if you know me well: "Recipe for Disaster." People tell me they never tire of hearing/reading that story so if you want to see it again OR if you have never heard it, head on over there and take a look. I'll get my schedule down one of these days and start paying more attention to my blog and all the other ones I used to frequent. Catch ya' later ~ got school stuff to do... bye!!

HERE'S THE LINK: http://anwafounder.blogspot.com/2008/08/recipe-for-disaster.html

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Meet Your Teacher Night

Well, everyone ~

I have been so busy, especially the last two weeks, getting ready for school to start that I have missed blogging about a ton of stuff. But I'll have to try to play catch up later. For now, I'm just going to make a few changes to the blog I just wrote for my writer's group blog, ANWA Founder and Friends... I keep trying to get off to bed, but then I thought it would be great to just copy and paste, fix whatever won't make sense to those who don't know any of my writer friends and such in order to get something on my blog. So.... here it is:

My feet hurt. I’m exhausted, but it’s that good, satisfying exhausted feeling. It’s my turn to blog (for my writer's group) and it’s getting pretty late so I figured I’d tell you some sweet moments I had with my first official “Meet Your Teacher” ~ well, certainly I’ve GONE to plenty of them, but this is the first time that I was the teacher and the students and parents came to meet me, in the rain no less. It was awesome. I’m pretty much in heaven; tired heaven, but heaven.

In case you are not aware, I am teaching full time this year after 13 years of substitute teaching (including 10-11 years at the school I’m now at). I’m at Eagle’s Aerie School (K-12) in Gilbert, AZ and Lorna Hale (who is also the general president of ANWA ~ American Night Writer's Association ~ I'm the vice-president) is the Assistant Director (and as such, she pretty much runs the show ~ there is a Director, Tim Peak, and a board and all... but Tim and Lorna’s husband, Rob, are pretty busy with the L.E.A.D.S. center and that’s another blog all on it’s own), so Lorna hired me and Lorna has done the most training these last two weeks (although her hubby, Rob, did some and Tim has given us some excellent information) and here I go again… running off at the mouth (or the keyboard keys) and not telling you about the school or my evening. However, I should mention, that Lorna is a dream to work with because she is so supportive and follows through on everything she says she will do ~ she’s been there every night until after midnight for days now just getting ready for the new school year.

The focus at Eagle’s Aerie is on citizenship, leadership, patriotism and excellence. They embrace what is known as a “Thomas Jefferson Education” (you should get the book: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century by Oliver Van DeMille). You will be enthralled with the principles. They use a “mentoring” program for the upper grades (7-12) – those students are referred to as the “American Leadership School.” (And another ANWA member, Kaleen Polakoff, teaches the upper grades). Eagle’s Aerie has a rural feel to it and maintains a barn with horses, goats, chickens and other animals as well as garden patches. Working with the animals is part of the curriculum for all grade levels. It’s pretty cool. It’s not uncommon to open the door and have to wait for a mother hen and her chicks to walk past before you can continue on outside. This school also sets aside “reading days” and “writing days” every Monday (switching between the two subjects) and their reading and writing scores have shot through the roof (in the top 5% for the entire state of Arizona). The school also has a brief “opening” and “closing” ceremony each day where the pledge for the flag is done, patriotic and character building songs are sung, announcements given, etc. American Leadership Scholars take turns leading these ceremonies and gain leadership training and so much more.

Anyway, now that I’ve thoroughly impressed you with all of that when I said I was tired and it is late, I’ll confess I just copied and pasted that (NO, not plagiarized) it from the answers I gave to a question in my EDU class that I took this summer (with a few little added tidbits). So, on to tonight… Every day after training and staff meetings for the last two weeks, we have been given time to work on our rooms ~ the room I inherited was in pretty bad shape ~ but with lots of help from the school maintenance staff and my husband, Jim, we whipped it into shape.

A couple of days ago I was in the office when a cute little boy was standing there waiting for his mom. I spoke to him and found out he was new to the school and would be in the second grade and I told him I was the second grade teacher. So, tonight after his mom filled out the forms in my room, she said that he told her he really hoped I would be his teacher because he met me in the office and I was so nice. Sweet. (Maybe he missed the fact that I am the ONLY 2nd grade teacher). Then, one of the moms walked in, took one look at me and said, “Oh it’s you!!! I’m so thrilled.” And she gave me a big hug (she remembered me from substitute teaching). She was bringing in her daughter this year. And then, a cute little girl that met me earlier in the evening and then went to some other places on campus brought her mother back to my room because she “wanted to say good-bye” to me.

Everyone there is so marvelous… very much a servant leadership situation… which is awesome. I was running behind getting my room set up because I was starting from scratch and they had to paint it, etc. My husband was very helpful, coming out two nights to paint a bookcase apple red for me and to help out otherwise. And then tonight, it was getting close and I still hadn’t had a chance to set up the desks and they were all bunched together at one side of the room. In walks Lorna (just 30 minutes before she had to be meeting parents), and Angel (she teaches horsemanship and riding) and then, Cody (Tim Peak’s son who works on the grounds during the summer and after school) and with all of us, and a brainstorm from Cody ~ we got it all to fit beautifully and then, I was ready.

Towards the end, it started to pour and I still had a couple of families show up. Once it was over, that sweet Cody (whom I remember well from years ago and throughout the years when I would substitute for whatever class he was in). He's a great young man and I enjoyed him then as a little boy and I have loved getting to know him all over again. He is so friendly and helpful. We had to park our cars out on the field to free up parking space for the parents. When it was time to go home, Cody came in my room with an umbrella and said, “Come on; let’s get your car off that field.” He handed me the umbrella and walked me to my car. I drove it to my classroom door, went in my room, gathered up my things, turned off the A/C and the lights, locked the door and slid in behind the wheel of my car, thinking, “When you come to the end of a perfect day…”

More later ~ I actually have a combined class of 18 children, ages six, seven, and eight … makes me feel like “Little House on the Prairie” ~ but the school offers individualized education ~ whatever that child needs, is what that child gets so it doesn’t really matter which class they are in.

Good night ~ I’m going to bed!