Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Along My Teaching Journey…

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, on March 18th, 1972, just three days after my twenty-third birthday… I was so ready to influence; moreover make a difference for our children… Being a mother of a two year old, I was so excited to make that impact!

I was so willing to travel ninety miles a day to teach at an elementary school in a diverse community…So, on April 1, 1972, I began this journey, to Browning Pearce Elementary in Palatka, Florida… At the time, we had just gone through integration, and that particular school had two campuses… One originally being the school for African American students, was now the school’s intermediate grades…And I was to finish the year in a fourth grade…

Boy, how unready I was… Yet so very excited…It was the last ten weeks of school, and I was assigned to take over a for a seasoned teacher, who was relocating to Tallahassee to be with her husband …

I might have cried most days feeling overwhelmed, however with the wonderful assistant principal, and a caring colleague…I made it through!! Learning so very much ; This challenging opportunity was just my beginning!!!

The next year I was then assigned to teach kindergarten …Not being certified, I was required to get early childhood classes from my alma mater, University of Florida, to be certified in early childhood … This wonderful placement was an opportunity for such growth… My love for young children, and an appreciation of diversity thrived…Many of whom had been migrants

My next opportunity in my teaching career lead me a little closer to home, now I was only traveling about 30 miles a day to a newly integrated community elementary school… Alachua Elementary…Another diverse population of young children…first working as a paraprofessional, then teaching first graders….

This placement was for sixteen years, from seventy four to ninty; These were exciting times for public education and children coming from diversity… I felt my passion for teaching flourish …The federal government was providing programs and resources for our children…
At Alachua…I have some of my fondest memories in my years of teaching…I had the wonderful opportunity of team teaching with Mary Towers, a seasoned teacher…We taught together for nine wonderful years…teaching  high risk first graders…in one such federally funded program…“Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum”,ECPC…

I learned so much about the developmental ablities of young children with the challenges they may face…  However, with a smaller class size, and the extra assistance of an aide… And curriculum developmentally appropriate….I was to learn later, that many of our children grew into successful adults…

Upon Mary’s retirement in 1984, which tremendously impacted my growth …

I had another strong influence on my career, team teaching with Wetona Johnson…We taught together for five years…teaching first grade in Chapter I; Another federally funded program giving young children extra reinforcement in reading and math skills…

I must also thank the the two principals I worked under at Alachua Elementary School, who guided this growth…

First of whom was Mr. Bill Irby…A man of tremendous integrity… When Mr. Irby retired…this wonderful community even built an elementary school in his honor…
The second was another strong leader, Mrs. Pansy Post…who became principal of Alachua when Mr. Irby retired…Mrs. Post brought such a creative flair to Alachua…

I must again acknowledge and appreciate these opportunities that instilled such values making me the strong teacher I was to became; sixteen glorious years at Alachua Elementary …

I was now forty years old…a seasoned teacher ready for my next learning opportunity…And now I was closer to home, by less than five miles… Terwilliger Elementary…A neighborhood school enriched with diversity….A wonderful blend of students…This was nineteen eighty-nine, and public education was changing, not for the better… Here in Florida, we especially felt this impact with the “No Children Left Behind Act” thanks to our Governor, Jeb Bush… If it weren’t for the blend of wonderfully talented and professional teachers; and that mixture of diverse students, these years were filled with such blessings… I was able to teach upper level students: a year in fourth grade, and five years at fifth grade…Both were great… I also had the opportunity to teach second grade for five years…Even taking an educational sabbatical where I was able to attend the University of Florida in graduate level courses in counseling education…

However, due to health issues, I retired in 2002… after thirty years… I was so proud of my years of inspiring and influencing children…

I still had more to accomplish in my teaching career….More children needed my influence, especially in the times we were heading, in the twenty first century…

So, I was so blessed to be able to resume my teaching career in 2008…at Idywild Elementary, a diverse population of children where many of my students were from challenging homes situations….

I was back teaching first grade…. where, with the many years of experience, I was able to provide my children a strong, structured, safe and loving classroom…. Moreover, with a strong support staff providing our children the best education we were able…And, given these times of less funds…more testing and developmentally inappropriate curriculum…

Our children were successful!!!

As for me…What a gift I was given…to be able to teach eight more years, thirty-eight in all …I then felt I was ready to  retire from my teaching career …in 2015…

These last eight years at Idywild turned out to be my most rewarding…I truly felt I had made that difference I so hoped when I began this journey!!!

And now have the time advocating for our children, and their right to a strong public school education….

Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Our Season of Thanks….

2c3d19e6946923cbac75990147e20316This time of year, back in the day…My classroom was the place for fun that inhanced our  learning….We had time to incorporate into the  curriculum,  learning through special art  and  creative poetry projects that were made for our parents, as holiday gifts…

We truly enjoyed taking  two special  field trips to  magical places that our  children got to experience first hand: visiting a pumpkin patch farm and  the viewing of the Nutcracker Ballet…Some of our children would never have had those opportunities…What learning!

We spent a great deal of time learning and appreciating different cultures and how they celebrated the season…And finally,  the children couldn’t wait for the culmination of the celebration of the season with our holiday cookie exchange…Then off for winter break!!!

It is my hope that  our public school teachers continue these beautiful traditions for our children…As we know, there are those children who especially need to know the Beauty of the Season…

This could be a Season of Miracles…

Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

“What will Happen Now?…

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Being an eternal optimist… I must use my positive outlook… In having had many challenges in my personal life… I as many are feeling in the aftermath of this election, may  want to give up the fight…

My positive outlook on life dictates for me not to give up, but rise and a call to action….

We as a People can not… As “Hillary” would emphatically speak…

We are Stronger Together… For all that is right in our Country… For our beautiful children who need positive roll models…

Teaching  those many years,  my children who came into my classroom  from poverty and dysfunction in their homes, would listen, with full attention when I would share some of my  personal stories coming from a poor single family household…and how I overcame the many challenges I incurred in my life, having made me  work extra hard,  paying my way for a college education; I was always hoping to provide them with insight …and guidance… Our  young children want and must need to know…In order to succeed….

Now this election is over, I am deeply heartsick and realize how divided our Country is… We as teachers have definitely witnessed how these changes have impacted our children…Children, especially from poverty need positive role models to guide and direct their future…This is crucial especially those that may not get much if any support from home…

Having listened to  such negative and hateful rhetoric,  watching our media giving so much attention to getting the story… missed so much… The divide of our people…how their anger affects their  children, nor really caring…As I witnessed first hand in volunteering for Hillary’s campaign  this concerns me as the message we are giving our children..

However, In my own personal experiences canvassing neighborhoods for this campaign.  Flagler County, in a Republican Community  in Florida,  I did meet many people from different ethnicity, age groups, and genders… We were all ready working together to get Hillary  elected as our President…… I must be positive  and hopeful… Those of the many, as the popular vote affirms,  believe as I do…

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We need to  keep up the fight for all the beauty our Country has to offer…We must continue speaking out for the “good”… We need to be positive role models for our children…

I feel we will succeed…for our children…This is their future….!!!

Mission, Reflections

School Spirit…

With the beginning of a new school year, and the start of a second year since my retiring…I can reflect those many wonderful memories I hold onto…

The one I do hold dearly is that all through my forty plus years in my career as a teacher…I can truly appreciate my children allowing me such a wonderful platform where my unique sense of drama and creative talents allowed me to utilize my spirit in my teaching…

In these present challenging times with fewer resources and many demands of teaching ; even after these many years; It was the children’s love and innocence that  provided me the passion to inspire them with my enthusiasm; my strong sense of  spirit…They gave me a wonderful audience where I was able  to utilize  my sense of drama and creativity to make each day unique… I  now must happily recognize these essential components to my success, as a teacher…

It was always my goal to find the  fun… And now, I can recollect  those moments of fun a teacher shares with his or her children… Through this captive audience, my children allowed me to keep my spirit alive…Keeping “the child in me alive”…

When I first began teaching in the early “Seventies”, I was young and fresh; our  curriculum allowed  time for the fun…We got to bake more often…Play and theater was a big part of the day…I myself enjoyed the opportunity to use drama in the classroom… I felt like I was playing a role, putting on a performance…to engage with the children…Never a dull moment…Each day was a new beginning….The years flew….

Teaching children of today, has  certainly become much more serious,  many more challenges, many more demands…Children needed  more from me than the “play”,  they needed mr to be a positive,strong role model… I  was then able to incorporate to utilize “my spirit to gain their attention…even managing behavior issues…

For many, I was  their  one positive constant in their lives… With my drama and creative spirit,  I was able to reach them, even for that moment…Hopefully touching their lives forever…

 

 

 

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Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Politics in the Classroom..

Having taught back in the early seventies, post Civil Rights Movement and  having the most important opportunity teaching all children especially those that were mainstreamed from our society that practiced segregation …I  can remember just like it was yesterday,  entering into teaching with such passion that reflected my idealism and hope…As I do speak for myself;  many of my colleagues felt as I did…

I can even remember entering the classroom for the very first time, summer of…1970…doing my first field experience in preparation for my becoming a teacher….

I was going to “Change the World”…And “Make that Difference”!

The political climate of the Seventies was definitely pro education…It was more than just rhetoric… Federal programs such as Head Start with such a strong emphasis on early childhood education and Title I programs that assisted those children who struggled with their learning…were being funded and implemented…

Parenting groups also began at this time,  providing such educational and informative workshops for those parents who needed support and encouragement;  Hopefully in the end, becoming more knowledgeable and  involved in the educational needs of their child…And I too, even had the wonderful opportunity to be involved with…

I feel so blessed that I was able to be a part of this history; fueling my passion for saving children …So much so , that most of my forty years have been in primary education…

Over twenty five years as a first grade teacher, of which ten of those years, teaching children that were not on grade level…

 This  political climate of pro funding continued through the Eighties … However by the early Nineties there was a most definite shift… … the result from the direction of our politics right here in Florida, under the Governorship of Jeb Bush. .. Sadly, his politics encouraged the privatization of education, detrimentally affecting our children with the… “No Child Left Behind” Movement…And I as many feel the beginning of Public Education’s struggles….

Public Education was most definitely not a top priority any more…We teachers felt this in our classroom everyday… We had to deal with the strain of  more standardized tests, and more biased accountability…  This was now  the beginnings of vouchers and the privatization of  education…Our children were now  feeling  this emphasis, more demands and  less resources…We  teachers, feeling so unappreciated…and devalued…And more than ever the blame with all the reasons schools were failing…

“Our children were being left behind”… 

My first twenty years flew by so…Teaching was such a joy…

However, through the Nineties, and into this New Millennium with the demands and  fewer resources due to this political shift…Society’s politics has impacted families thus affecting our children… Children are now coming in to school less prepared…More of our children live in poverty and have emotional and physical issues… …And we teachers with all our creative talents have such unrealistic demands…Our classrooms are micromanaged and we are being assessed on how proficient we are…We educators have always felt being accountable is extremely essential…Children deserve the best… However we are not being assessed fairly due to the limits placed on with testing and collecting data… Many teach in overcrowded classrooms and fewer resources at our disposal….

How will the Politics of Today play out? …Thanks to President Obama Passing…The Every Child Succeeds Act, no child will be left behind

Some of the rhetoric has been ecouraging fewer tests and even giving recess back to children….

I feel this can be a fresh start, and we may be going  back to a time in History… the politics of the Seventies when all our children were important…We must prioritize funding Public Education for all our children…

 

 

Mission, Reflections

“Great Teachers” …2016

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It is my belief that teachers do not need a script to teach…They are born with a passion …to teach…

I have learned through the many years in the classroom that teachers may be technologically skilled…

However, the greatest teachers are quite unique with their skillful use of their creativity, and knowing just how to balance the necessary and fundamental skills that today’s teachers are required to teach;  essentially knowing the background, abilities and styles of their children;  And moreover, what is truly important, given all the constraints and demands of today…

“That Great Teacher” is the master of his or her class…

Today’s concerns and demands influencing and impeding the efforts of “That Great Teacher”  and the success she or he will have with their children, is the powerful political agenda…

This  political agenda does not want to provide the monies necessary that it takes for teachers to be successful

This  lack of money impacts Public Education today…What concerns me the most that those in charge with this power,  know so little about educating children, in addition to their biases and disinterest  with  the knowledge  of the fundamental needs of our children and moreover, the talents teachers of today must have, if children of today are to be successful….

Putting it simply…Politicians do not want to provide resources available to lower class size, and provide teachers the necessary resources to teach successfully… In addition to  requiring a the developmentally inappropriate curriculum that includes over use of testing and data collecting…They want to privatize education taking the necessary resources  away from Public Education…wanting it to fail…

With all that is not  happening In Public Education; those born with that passion for children and their  unique talents for teaching, may not even go into teaching, nor stay for very long…due to all these constraints and demands…Veteran teachers such as myself…can not wait to retire…

And now…There is  a new hope in 2016… Thanks to President Obama signing and putting into law…  the passage of  , , , , v….

With The Every Child Succeeds Act, no child will be left behind… Hopefully, every child could be successful and have the same opportunities…Great teachers with all their passion and creativity will be able to meet the needs of their children…

A new hope for 2016….and the future for our children’s right to a strong education…