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….

Thoughts About Children

The Hearts of the School…

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I have learned through all my experiences as a teacher, there are those special individuals besides the classroom teacher that enhance a warm and caring climate …for children…One of those is a strong support staffThese special people interact with the children out side of the classroom… And their interactions are extremely beneficial to the care and welfare of children…

The first I need to recognize are those busy, caring office personnel; never too busy, to handle the many situations that occur each and everyday… Even before the day officially starts…These wonderful people utilize their talents to answer concerns that adults may have, and that particular child needing assistance, and moreover they will always find the time to wipe away the tears when a child needs some love…The office personnel are most times, the first to meet parents and make that initial important contact, even before they meet with their child’s classroom teacher…

Another caring person we teachers can not say enough about is the importance of the school nurse… she or he is that loving pair of hands that is there for those medical needs of children … Along with the many medical talents and duties a school nurse is responsible for, besides the dispensing of the medications and taking care of cuts and scrapes … is taking that extra time to be a good listener to that child in need or just may need to look for a warm jacket on a cold morning to finding dry clothes if a little one has an accident…

A warm and caring climate would not be successful without the caring support of the custodial staff...They not only have the important task of keeping the school clean and safe…Being many times understaffed, they are utilized to their full talents and capacity…They also are another pair of hands or heart, when a child needs just that…love…

Through my experiences. I must add how the cafeteria and cafeteria staff affect the climate of the school…They are the providers of nutritious meals for the children prepared with love and care… The cafeteria is that meeting place in the mornings where all the children are provided breakfast… For many children this meal is free and most need to get the day started on that full tummy…and warm hearts…Helping with their success in the classroom…

Lunch time too is a very important part of the children’s day… The cafeteria staff provides another nutritious meal, however now due to government constrains will no longer be so nutritious, and may be no longer free for those children in need… Lunch time is a favorite time for children to socialize appropriately… Caring support staff monitors children’s needs giving them loving attention…

In addition, I can not forget the many other support teachers who reinforce curriculum… providing academic support for those children in need, and moreover another loving heart…

When children have the opportunity to play out doors, a strong Physical Education Program provides just the right skills children need to learn; how to play cooperatively with a love and appreciation for good health through their exerciseHowever, because of funds and schedules, this may just be once a week… A physical education teacher provides this important knowledge and the necessary skills children need with the awareness of each child’s abilities and development…

However, children may get another opportunity to free play at recess, which they need and love…and gives them more time to practice cooperation and social skills … This free play time releases their pent up energy from the hours in the classroom…Sadly, recess may not be allowed due to governmental constraints…

Art and music are wonderful programs where children have an opportunity to utilize their creativity and release emotions constructively… These creatively talented, loving teachers who teach the arts, give their time to children to enable free expression …Many children who may not be strong in academics, may find success, love and passion through the arts!!!! Music and art teachers are a strong support to enhance this creativity and free expression children…

We can not forget to recognize bus drivers who are a special group of men and women… who are responsible for children getting to and from school each day…Our bus drivers must take extra precautions for the welfare of children…. Children safety is the utmost importance…Children may have had a hard morning or a challenging day… The bus driver, with a loving heart and driving skills, must utilize all his or her talents making sure the children will arrive safe and sound…And we must say thank you!

A warm and caring school climate impacts the hearts of children hopefully enabling them to have a successful education….And feel loved!!!

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, 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…