Friday, February 27, 2009

To whom much is given...

...much is required.

I hope that I can adequately record the events of this week because I promised someone that when I write my book someday, I will include the details of what happened. Last Thursday, Nancy Meyer and I attended an inservice at South-Doyle Middle that Karen Hembree had said would be "wonderful." I enjoyed Dr. Beaman's presentation at our last inservice, so I trusted her judgement. The lady was from a rural middle Tennessee County and Ms. Hembree was obviously taken with her. I, on the other hand, was not as impressed. While she obviously loved her students, the activities she shared with us were not feasible with 150 students, nor were they all that impressive. The presentation felt like going back in time. She had her students make diaramas, dress as book characters, and create magazines based on the books they read. Very little technology, and very little higher order thinking. I was disappointed that Karen did not ask someone from within the system to share ideas as I believe there is a wealth of expertise and ideas right in our own back yard!

Saturday's highlight was meeting with Erin Powers at Panera to discuss our plans for the Mentoring Institute. We have to present a brief skit/commercial/video to promote the summer institute. We decided to create a take-off of an SNL skit of four people in a car going on a trip. Music will play a significant role as will good script writing. The pressure is on! Our "outside the box" idea is to have the front of a car, a convertible, or a golf cart brought in to serve as our setting.

Our Small Group met on Sunday night at Ed's dad's house. Ed made chili and everyone brought sides. I picked up a peanut butter pie from Perkins and brought a leftover chocolate pie that Phil gave me. We didn't do much Bible studying. Tom came late and brought along the White family. They are moving to Knoxville from Virginia(?) with their three daughers and son (triplets)! We decided that our next book would be "Defending Your Faith." I need to order it soon so we'll have time to read it.

Laurie Macnair and I finally got together Monday evening and it was nice catching up with her. She's taken on more responsibilities at work and is stressed and tired. Blake is doing well, and I'm glad he has his opportunity to be in the spotlight instead of the shadow of his big sister.

Tuesday, Mickey and I spent some time chatting about what it takes to make it as a teacher. I feel like I've failed him this year as his mentor because I knew he struggled, but couldn't find the time or words to give him the help me needed. Hopefully, I provided him with some encouragement this afternoon.

I called for substitute on Wednesday because my application packet was due by 4:00, and I still hadn't finished it! I got up early anyway and took the kids to school (a little late), then dropped off sub plans at WVMS for Brandon White. Brandon did an excellent job as my sub and left detailed notes for me.

Chelcie had a short break between classes, so she and I met for breakfast at Panera on the strip. After accidentally paying $10 for a parking place a half mile away, I headed to the City-County Building to pick up letters of recommendation from both the city and county mayors! Both did an excellent job! I was very impressed. Wanda Williams actually works in Mike Ragsdale's office and she remembered me and was very kind.

Then I hiked over to the AJ Building to meet briefly with Dr. Alves about including the additional references in my packet. She suggested I include them, so I did. Dr. Alves was supportive and encouraging!

Once again I headed back to the car for a race to A.L. Lotts in time to catch the second half of Addie's lunch. I enjoyed chatting with her and her friends. "Miss Jenny" and I had a few minutes to catch up as well and I dropping in on Jane Manning before leaving Sam a little note from his secret admirerer. I finally completed the editting of my application in time to head to WVMS to make copies of it before heading back to Lotts for pick-up. Once I got the kids picked up, we dropped by Sonic for some ice, hot fudge sundae for Sam and some popcorn chicken for Addie. Home at last, but not for long. We traded Sam for Taylor then made another (my third in a day) trip to WVMS to make another set of copies! Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief and collapsed joyfully at home a tired, but satisfied mom!

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday! Here we go again...Back at school I was not as prepared as I would have liked to have been, and "Barney" my worthless laptop computer was not cooperating with me! Helen Abee, from the technology department emailed me to ask if she could stop by to take a picture of me teaching with the ActivBoard. I thought is was kind of strange that Dave Armstrong called and asked the same thing, but just shrugged it off. During my plan time, I booked out of school and drove like crazy down to the AJ Building to drop off my final packet. It was a much quicker trip this time as I met with no resistance, parked in the parking garage for $1 and did not speak to anyone as no one was in the office. Unfortunately, Helen had stopped by for the pictures and I wasn't there. I called to apologize and she was insistant about coming as soon as possible. She sounded determined and said she needed to speak to me when the kids weren't around. I thought that something was wrong. Maybe someone had found porn on my computer of something (of course, there is no porn on my computer), but I was worried none-the-less. She asked if she come during plantime on Friday. Unfortunately, I had a conference already scheduled. She asked if she could come back after school. I told her I had National Junior Honor Society, then a community forum presented by KLF on Child Abuse, but she could stop by between 4:15 and 4:30.

When Helen arrived, she came in on the tail end of NJHS as the kids were trying unsuccessfully to create a wordle with NJHS words. I told them I would get it printed for them as time was up. Helen let us use her laptop to save their wordle, and once again I was filled with jealousy because the Mac computers seem to be much more conducive to use with an ActivBoard. Helen asked me to pose with the ActivBoard and pen and had even made me a flipchart that said "Welcome to 8th Grade!" I posed dutifully, then she said to click the screen which opened a new page that said, "Congratulations Amy Crawford!" Click here. I was surprised and kind of embarrassed, then Helen told me to click the screen again and another page appeared that said, "I hope you enjoy your new MacBook Pro!" and Helen pointed to the computer she had just connected to my IWB. I was in shock!

All I could think about was "To whom much is given, much is required." God has poured out His blessing on me this week far beyond my wildest expectations. I do not want to disappoint Him. My prayer is to leave this world completely used up for Him. I've got some work to do!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pouring Buckets of Water Over Their Heads

Forgive me in advance for rambling through this post. I never know who's going to actually read these words and I suspect many who inadvertantly find themselves here are quite aggravated to read the musings of a middle-aged mom, who also happens be a teacher with a dream. It's difficult for me to separate the two, so this will be a ping pong post bouncing between my "mom" voice and my "teacher" voice.

Let's start with the mom musings. I believe my eldest child has left the nest. While not entirely on her own, she has the freedom now to pretty much do as she sees fit. This could be disheartening for many parents, but not for me. I am confident that Chelcie was raised to be an independent thinker, a strategic problem-solver, a classy young lady with a good head on her shoulder...I think she probably makes better decisions than I do! BUT, that said, I know how "things" can happen and I pray for her safety every day. Without her own car to keep her in control, I hope that she considers the possibilities before she gets in the car with others. I still keep thinking that I'll wake up one day and find that it's all been a dream; that I still have my little girl safely at home with me. Each day that passes helps to convince me otherwise...

Drew. My son with the dry wit, and engaging sense of humor. Does it concern me that his "friends" on Facebook have voted him #3 most likely to drink the most? Ummm, yes. But he says it's a joke, and when I honestly sit down to consider the possibility, I'm left believing him. First of all, he's home every night. He comes straight home after cross country practice and stays home. Even on the weekends, he's home. Occasionally, he and a friend will go to McKay's for some CDs, but that's about the extent of his partying. don't suppose he could be sneaking out? Nah, of course not! (I hope!)

Addie's ingenuity contines to impress me. She performs great in school and I am thankful she has a teacher who builds up her students and lets them know she believes in them. Addie is confident, happy, and hard-working. This girl will make a name for herself. Watch.
Sam...there's no other way to say it, he's the light of all of our lives, except maybe Addie's. He tends to push her buttons on a regular basis. With his missing two front teeth, big blue eyes, and mischievious little grin, you can't help but love him. He remembers everything! Just this week my dad told Tom he would sell him a car that he bought for $2000. (Drew needs a reliable form of transportation). Later that day, Sam said that he heard Papaw say that he paid $1600 for the car! Can you believe my dad would try to make a profit off of us? His own family?! Ummm, yes. He is a businessman, and that's what businessmen do. Anyway, this has not been Sam's best year in school. His grades are fine, but his love for learning just hasn't been there. I'm disappointed because every first grader should be naturally thirsty for learning. When they are not ALL encouraged and celebrated, young minds tend to dry up and give up. I hope I can reverse the trend for Sam. I must do a better job keeping up with his Reading Log. Remind me, blog, never to require a reading log again!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oops! I Did it Again!

That's right. Again. I procrastinated. I let too much time pass before I took the time to document the one resource I have that is not renewable-my time. How did I spend it? Did I receive a return on my investment? Not sure yet, but I certainly hope so!

Highlights from the past few days...
Last Friday, Sherry Storms and I made fast tracks across town to turn in our "Teacher of the Year" applications and pick up lunch for our WVMS bffs. Unfortunately, Mr. Policeman was not as impressed with us and our clever banter. Sherry got a ticket for speeding. 60 mph in a 55 mph. But Officer, nobody would consider THAT speeding...'cept maybe God because He's an all or nothing kinda God. Anyway, we tried to charm and cojole Mr. Policeman into letting us off with a warning, but he was not to be charmed and/or cajoled. In fact, I don't think he had a smile in him. I did my best to cheer up Sherry because she felt terrible about it. I told her my new name for her was "Thelma" and I'd be "Louise" and we could just take off and rob some banks and take some hostages since we were already on the wrong side of the law. She wasn't buying it, but that didn't stop me from trying to sell it. In spite of the run-in with the law, we had a good day, and made a memory in the process. Sure wish I had a picture to post, but, as I said, Mr. Policeman was not in a mood to pose for pictures. Darn, they would've been really funny too! Use your imagination...

Another Friday moment was the loss of Sam's "other" front tooth, so he officially looks like a first grader now! I must post many pictures as I've learned how quickly those toothless days are gone.

The weekend's highlight was the Ulster dinner at the Foundry. I rode with Shawn and Robbie Conners because Tom had to be down there early to set up. They are such a fun couple! I have enjoyed getting to know them and always laugh a lot when I'm with them. Dinner was tasty, and the company was delightful! The two glasses of wine I had only served to enhance my already jovial state of mind. Sometimes I think I should partake more often...

I skipped church on Sunday because I wasn't feeling up to it. Instead I stayed in bed until about 12 and dozed and prayed and thought about the state of the world's problems and how I could help fix them. This is going to take a while!

Monday, I enjoyed the Boy Scout fund-raiser which honored Hallerin Hilton Hill with its "Distinguished Citizen Award." I can think of no one more deserving! HHH was classy as always with his remarks and I was proud to know him. Jack and Sue Wickstrom, Robert and Sherry Storms, Theresa Nixon, Ed Knowling, Mary Lou Horner, Chelcie and "Guest" sat at my table. "Guest" was the name they put on Tom's nametag. Not good. He was rather ticked about it. Can't say that I blame him. I probably would've felt the same way if the situation were reversed. Tom and Chelcie left right after dinner, with the assumption that I could catch a ride with the Storms. Unfortunately, the Storms slipped out right after he did, so I was stuck. I begged and pleaded via text messaging for Tom to come back for me, so I wouldn't have to hitchhike home, and thankfully, he did come back and waited for me out front.

Tuesday's highlight was the birthday celebration of my baby boy's 18th year of life! So hard to believe that he's already an "adult"...almost. We had the good fortune of having the entire family meet at the Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Drew, Tom, Addie, Sam, Chelcie, Grandmom, Papaw, Lori, Chuck, Courtney, Charlie, Natalie, Katie, Andrew, Bennett, Lauren, Ricky, Ed, Olivia, Delaney, Silas, Dane, Peter, and I chowed down on some scrumptious pizza before calling it a night. I think Drew really enjoyed his impromptu party and he especially enjoyed getting a brand new cell phone! I'm so proud of that kid! I wish I could find the words to tell him how much!

Today was a regular day at WVMS, but I enjoyed my classes. We're working on poetry this week. The kids are memorizing "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and we're using the IWB to assist the memorization process. Today was discussed ballads. I can't wait to see what they come up with to write for their original ballads. Perhaps a few of them will be brave enough to set their words to music!

Enough for now!

Monday, February 2, 2009

God Pours Out His Blessing!

It's already been two weeks since my last post, and I had every intention to keep up, not catch up in 2009! Today is Groundhog Day and it seems that we are have six more weeks of winter in store for us as Puxatawny Phil DID see his shadow today.

I didn't see MY shadow, but I did see a lot of snow falling outside my classroom window. The morning started out "harmless" enough with temperatures in the mid-40's, but conditions deteriorated quickly. Flurries began to fall about 9:00, but by 9:25, the flurries had grown considerably! An hour later, an inch of snow was on the ground and I was receiving text messages from various folks "outside the system" asking if "they" were going to dismiss school early.

Finally, after much speculation and many, many announcements requesting students be sent to the office for dismissal, the call was made to dismiss school at 12:30. What a mess! Lunch was chaotic, but the kids, for the most part, handled things very well. The "no cell phone" rule was temporarily lifted, and we're grateful that most kids had a phone from which to call their parents. The roughest part of the day came when I was outside with about 300 kids waiting for their parents to pick them up. Slushy, muddy snow, excited middle schoolers, lack of adequate supervision, and opportunity to misbehave. Several students took advantage of the opportunity to throw snowballs as hard as they could into unsuspecting groups of people. Unfortunately, some of their brains have not developed to the point at which they can visual the consequences of their bad choices, and I had to "remind" many of them. I must have said, "Drop it!" and "Put the snowball down!" in my "teacher voice" at least 100 times. Truth is, I understood their excitement and couldn't blame them for their youthful appreciation of the snow. I felt like a grown-up today as I was one of the ones to put an end to their fun.

The highlight of the week for me was receiving word that I had been chosen West Valley Teacher of the Year along with my good friend and colleague, Sherry Storms, and fantastic 8th grade Science teacher, Anthony Hussey. Unfortunately, Anthony has not been teaching the required five years to advance to the County competition, but earned the honor nonetheless! The paperwork is a little overwhelming, but Suzanne Stelling said she's help me with it.

I have mixed feelings about this honor. On one hand, I feel that there are so many others at WVMS more deserving than me. There are others that need the "positive push" that an honor like this would give. Then, on the other hand, this could be a great opportunity to share Reach Them to Teach Them with a wider audience. Before I can share the details of Reach Them, I would have to make it past the County level. Based on my level of education, and my lack of leadership positions in professional organizations, I have my doubts. Regardless, this award means a great deal to me. My heart is encouraged and my resolve strengthened. I pray that God will be honored and glorified wherever He has me! More later....