Posted in Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Memory Lane…

Florida Educator…38 years …Retired 6 years…

7 years today …My last teaching year … Idylwild Elementary….

Praying for our children being a priority…

Starting in Palatka April Fools Day…1972… traveling 90 a day just to teach…


Alachua…1973-Assistant teacher
1974-1989
Terwilliger… 1989-2002
Idylwild…2007-2015
“38 years”…

I pray our children, teachers, essential staff…
Are safe.. learn lots, and have fun…

💞🌈🙏🏼😷🍎

#OurChildrenMatter
#teachersrock
#essentialstaff

Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

School Days 2021… Please… Don’t Forget Our Children

Together we can change…

Hoping for a better year for our children… They have dealt with so much this past year…

Yet, I am not so sure it will be much better…

We are still dealing with residual issues from the past year, due largely from the consequences from the previous presidency…

This pandemic is not over! We have a new variant… And, we have citizens in our Country who are extremely resistant to follow the necessary protocols and the recommendation of getting vaccinated…

Thus, our children and schools will suffer from this divisive inaction!

The CDC is now recommending children twelve and older get vaccinated…All children, teachers, essential staff wear masks indoors…

Yet here in Florida and other Republican controlled states, not always follow the necessary guidelines…

And now Governor Ron DeSantis is preparing to sign an executive order that would keep schools from mandating students wear masks in schools;

And will withhold state funds from schools with mask mandates…

This comes after that CDC guidance recommendation … https://bit.ly/3rGUg0F

Once again our children…may experience consequential repercussions!

In addition to such restrictions, Florida and Republican controlled states are even dictating what children will learn in history…

Teachers; the professionals we are; and many parents; are extremely concerned…We know how dangerous this is!!!

We know children need to be able to get a foundation in truth… without bias, with a developmentally, appropriate curriculum…

The new child tax credit parents are now receiving,  could lift more than 5 million kids out of poverty and give families in need that extra boost!!!

This new year, we will now have a wonderful opportunity to get the much needed funding from the American Rescue Plan…The Biden-Harris Administration got passed!!!

Lifting many children out of poverty…

From my own teaching experiences working with children from poverty…I so realized that those children who came to school hungry were restless and inattentive…

Because our school district was concerned for our struggling families…. They made sure our schools in need had free breakfast and lunch programs; even throughout the summer…

In addition, our district made sure children had access to wifi during the pandemic…

Now with extra monies allocated by the American Rescue Plan more resources for struggling families will be available…going directly to parents in need and schools getting extra funding!!!

With the new child tax credit parents are now receiving, it could lift more than 5 million kids out of poverty and give families in need that extra boost!!!

This upcoming year may still be quite daunting…I pray that our Country do better for our children …

We now have a President, Vice President, Secretary of Education; an Administration that truly care… knowing to provide monetary resources we have so yearned for our children…

Now really it is up to all of us …

Please…Follow CDC guidelines…so we can manage the pandemic, and our children will be safe at school…

And the citizens of Florida…

Vote for a governor that represents our children and public schools… 💞🌈🙏🏼🍎🇺🇸

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Our Schools…The Aftermath of the Pandemic…

Finally …

With our New President, Joe Biden and New Secretary of Education, Dr.Miguel Cardona allocating the much needed funds for schools through the American Rescue Plan providing resources and programs to help our children… Especially now living through this Pandemic…

We just may see the much needed change to our public schools…”a redesign”…A renaissance…

We will now have the monetary resources available;

To provide mental health support;

Better training for all educators, including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, everyone that engage with students, to understand the social and emotional needs of students…

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Says Schools Have to Be ‘Redesigned’ Post-Pandemic

BY KATHERINE FUNG ON 4/14

Watch “Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Says Schools Have to Be ‘Redesigned'” on YouTube

The nation’s new education secretary is calling for schools to be “redesigned” after the coronavirus pandemic.

“We shouldn’t go back to the schools of March 2020—that’s a low bar,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a discussion with the founders of A Starting Point, a civic engagement organization.

“We have to make sure that our schools have stronger mental health supports, have better training for all educators, including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, everyone that engages with students, to understand the social and emotional needs of students,” he continued. “That has to be a prerequisite to getting our schools open quickly and safely.”

Cardona said the coronavirus relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last month will focus on redesigning schools so that students feel supported amid the ongoing public health crisis.

“The American Rescue Plan prioritizes funds and, really, prioritizes redesigning our schools,” he told Starting Point founders Chris Evans and Mark Kassen.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, and our school systems have to be prepared to welcome our students back, not only with the academic learning needs that they might have missed but really to receive them and our staff after having experienced a traumatic experience like COVID-19,” Cardona said.

Biden’s relief package provided the U.S. Education Department with $122 billion to help reopen the majority of K-8 schools within the president’s first 100 days in office.

Miguel Cardona speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination for education secretary on December 23, 2020. Cardona, who was confirmed by the Senate last month, said schools need to be “redesigned” to better help students return to in-person learning. Joshua Roberts/Stringer
Most of the nation’s schools shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic last year, moving instead to virtual learning, which presented its own challenges, especially among lower-income students who did not have broadband connection to the internet.

As schools began reopening in the fall, safety measures, such as face masks and social distancing, were implemented, but some districts faced pushback from educators who felt unsafe returning to work. In response, federal health officials stressed the importance of in-person learning by highlighting the toll online classes had taken on students and recommended that states prioritize teachers in their vaccination rollouts.

“We know there is no substitute for in-person learning. The biggest equity lever we have is providing safe, in-person learning options for students,” Cardona said. “We know, as much as we’ve worked really hard to get the laptops to connect and make sure there’s internet access, the relationship that students have with their peers and their teachers—there’s no substitute for that.”

Despite the return to in-person classes, the education secretary, who was confirmed on March 1, said the digital divide that was seen as schools scrambled to provide virtual lessons needs to be addressed by his department.

“The laptop is like the new pencil. It’s no longer a privilege. It’s no longer something that’s cool. It’s a necessity to be functional in today’s society and in today’s schools,” he said. “We need to close that digital divide across the country once and for all. It’s a finite problem to have, and that’s something that we need to make sure we’re focusing on as we reopen [schools].”

Cardona emphasized the importance of building up that infrastructure, pointing to Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plans, which includes $100 billion to expand broadband access across the country over the next eight years…

This will be a new beginning for our children…

Posted in Reflections

My Dearest…Mary

Mary and Me… Celebrating Mary’s 100th birthday!!!

Mary Towers has been an inspiration to both; my professional and personal life…

Our story begins when I was hired by Mr. Bill Irby, principal of Alachua Elementary School, in Alachua, Florida; in the fall of nineteen seventy-three… I was hired for a paraprofessional position…

Before then, I had been a beginning teacher at Browning Pearce Elementary, in Palatka, Florida… traveling ninety miles daily… Alachua Elementary was fifteen miles from my home; so I accepted this position… I was assigned to tutor first grade students who needed extra support…Hoping that if a teaching position would become available…I would be hired…

Mary was one of the five teachers I was to assist in an open classroom; Learning Community A… LCA, as it was called; housed five classrooms, four of which were first grade and one was kindergarten; with over one hundred students separated only by partitions…I was to be placed with my small group, in the middle of this very large room divided by furniture and mobile chalkboards… Believe it or not, it it was not all that noisy…

On my very first day, I will never forget how I met Mary… I was walking through the unit, being introduced by the team leader, Chris Hirsch, to the teachers of the team in LCA… Mary being one of them, was very busy with a particular student…A little girl in her class was in the bathroom dealing with intestinal worms, and Mary was taking care of this most challenging situation…How impressed I was by how Mary was managing such a situation …

It was then, after a year, my wish came true…I did get reassigned to teach a first grade class!

And then, opening up the very next year in nineteen and seventy-five; one of the most special of my teaching opportunities opened up!

I was to team with Mary Towers, a professional relationship lasting nine years…. ending in 1984…when Mary retired…

This special opportunity arose in the summer of seventy-five, when Mr.Irby, offered me a co-teaching position with Mary, in a newly federally funded, early childhood education program called ECPC… The Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program...

This innovative program was designed as an intervention for diverse, young children who were screened in kindergarten, exhibiting difficulties with their learning…

This center based program was designed with no more than sixteen students, assisted by a full-time aide who would be responsible for the reinforcement associated with specific activities; that would build upon the deficits, diagnostically determined through pre and post tests through the child’s auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile learning styles…

Mary and I each had our own group of children assisted by our full time aide.. Our class was housed within the large classroom in LCA…which now had mobilized walls separating each of the five classrooms; providing the children less distractions…

Our morning time was devoted to four specific centers that incorporated the curriculum:

Reading; Follow Up Reading, and Language Arts activities: Listening; and last “Willy Worm” an aide directed center with specific activities prescribed by the pre and post testing…

The reading curriculum utilized, the Sullivan Programmed Readers…a successful program of the time…. teaching children decoding skills in reading context within a linguistic progression of sound-symbol relationships...

Teaching those nine years with Mary really flew by!!…Sadly both our Team and ECPC Program ended with Mary’s retirement... Mary and I can look back and be quite proud of what our children accomplished from the Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program…

Many of our children went on to have successful lives; some going into local politics and a few playing collegiate and professional football…

Mary made this for me…when she retired…1984….

June 5, 1984…..Mary’s Retirement…

As I have reflect on our years together, this special relationship provided me the knowledge and experiences I learned from teaching with Mary…enabling me to evolve into a strong teacher…

Not only has Mary been such an influence on me professionally…Personally, Mary has been a guiding support even more so…

Having lost my mother when I was a senior in high school…I always felt a little lost…Mary was close in age to what my mother’s age would have been…And having such a warm connection with Mary…I always believed my mother, placed Mary in my life for a special reason…I have felt blessed to have Mary in my corner for these forty plus years…

Through the many years I have learned so much about Mary’s beautiful family; especially now that her husband’s recent passing,..Her four children never leave her side…

Mary will be one hundred this year, and she still lives in the same house that she and her husband built after World War II; on land that has been in her family for generations … There are always family gatherings with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family members and close friends …

What I dearly appreciate truly about Mary is about service and sacrifice, pertaining to her husband Frank Towers ….their story; how they met and married during World War II…Frank was a true hero of the War…He was a commissioned officer in the 30th Infantry Division during the Invasion at Normandy and helped in the liberation of the Jewish Holocaust survivors on a train from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp….

Mary was still actively involved in my life even in her early nineties…The years passing we have kept our special lunches just to keep in touch…

Then when I began teaching at Idylwild in 20O7…She and her husband offered to assist me in my move to be closer to Idylwild…Utilizing their large van and Frank’s technological skills….with my computer…

Mary would even volunteer in my classroom…I so loved and appreciated her help…

She did so much: she would help any child that needed assistance with their math or reading; at home she would make all the children flash cards for reading practice; bring in much needed school supplies; make our individual math packets…
Our children and Idywild loved her…And in 2011 Idywild nominated Mary for “Volunteer of the Year…

With my retirement in 2015…I have moved to Palm Coast, to be closer to the ocean…

I am still loving and appreciating Mary…

And… so looking forward to coming back to Gainesville; spring and fall…celebrating our friendship with our special lunch dates…

Thank you Dearest…Mary♥️

Posted in 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 that complement the classroom teacher…They are those that foster a warm, 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…

In this group, 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

They 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!!!

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…

Our Season of Thanks….

Posted in Mission, Reflections

School Spirit…

With the beginning of a new school year, and the start of my second year since retiring…I am ready to reflect on those many wonderful memories …

The one I do hold dearly is that all through my thirty-eight years…I truly appreciate my children allowing me such a wonderful platform where I could utilize my unique sense of drama and creative talents into my teaching..

In today’s 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 with passion to inspire them utilizing my enthusiasm and my strong sense of spirit…

They were a wonderful audience where each day was unique… And led to my success I felt 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 right on by….

Teaching the children of today, has certainly become much more serious… than just the “play”… I have needed to become a strong, positive role model… incorporating “my spirit’ to get their attention…even to manage behavioral issues…

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

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Posted in Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Begin Again…

image

Summer will soon be over for me, as I always like to start back early to set up my classroom…

Starting back earlier than the required time, gives me the much needed time to plan, organize, and utilize my creativity hoping to make it a “great year”…

I have found through my many years of experience;

Setting up a well organized classroom is fundamentally crucial to the success of the beginning of a new school year…

Supplies are essential, and I do hope my new students will be able to contribute…However, because our school has such a diverse population, I do realize, and understand many will not be able to help…We teachers do receive a small  budget, so in order to provide for our children, we do have to pay for much of our supplies out of our own pocket…

I can always hope after the many years of teaching, we would have the necessary funding and support for our precious children and our public education system…

I do love utilizing my creativity in decorating the classroom…I do believe a classroom, especially with young children, should be warm and inviting…one that will inspire
learning…

My hope is to have such a classroom, even with all the rigors and demands…My children will want to learn, and want to return each and every day!