Having enough…

gratitudewordle2In walkabout today, several learners commented to me about their gratitudes and blessings of this school year–what they really were grateful to have learned along the journey this school year.  While this is a common theme in our classrooms this time of year, I genuinely hope it becomes practice throughout each child’s life.  In talking with one particular learner who is dealing with a great deal more than a young child should know, I was reminded of this saying my Granny B often quoted:

May you always have enough…

  • happiness to keep you sweet,
  • trials to keep you strong,
  • sorrows to keep you human,
  • hope to keep you JOYful,
  • failure to keep you humble,
  • success to make you eager,
  • friends to give you comfort,
  • wealth to meet your needs,
  • enthusiasm to look for tomorrow,
  • faith to banish worry, and
  • determination to make each day better than before! 

Yes, it is important to teach our children to share and embrace the gratitudes of daily life along with the necessary coping skills to deal with stress and pressure too.  Our daily focus on strong character traits at school (like trust, respect, responsibility, service and more) help to reinforce these coping skills and focus on the blessings all around us.  Together, we are working to truly design dreams and build leaders for today and everyday.  Thanks for walking the journey with us; thanks for sharing your most valuable blessing, your child, with us this year!

Kitty Cat Capers!

IMG_7446There was mischief and mayhem with scaredy cat struts as our Kinder friends presented their MEOWvelous program, Kitty Cat Capers, to a packed house this evening! Under the musical direction of our extraordinary Amber Perez (and written by Jill and Michael Gallina), the music, singing, and rhyming speaking shared a day in the life of a kitty. From the elaborate individual kitty costumes (great job, parents and grandparents!) to the whiskers, mannerisms, and songs, we all left humming a merry tune. Great job, teachers and staff; outstanding work, Kinder friends! As one little friend shared, “We avoided CATastrophe…meow, meow, meow!” :-)

Planting seeds…

Graduation is usually a time when we contemplate our future and purpose. It can be both a time of great excitement and, what I like to call, preventative worry. I certainly remember the anxiousness I felt after each graduation. Whether you or your child are graduating Kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college, or just know a graduate, take note of the 11 lessons author, Jon Gordon, shares from his book, The Seed. seed400 May they empower you and your child on the next steps of the journey forward:

1. You are here for a reason and the most important thing you can do in life is to find, live, and share your purpose. It’s the one thing in life that truly matters; if you don’t pursue it, everything else is meaningless.

2. Follow your passion; it often leads you to your purpose. You may not know what your passion is right now. That’s ok. To help find your passion, seek out learning experiences or jobs allowing you to use your strengths and gifts.

3. Beware of hobbies. Just because you enJOY social media doesn’t mean you would enjoy working for Twitter. Just because you love to cook doesn’t mean you would enjoy owning a restaurant. What aspects of the hobby do you love and work from them.

4. When you quit, quit for the right reasons. Don’t quit because work is hard or you’re experiencing challenges. Quit because in your heart you know there is something else for you to do.

5. Learn from every experience. Every job, good or bad, prepares you for the work you were ultimately born to do.

6.Your current situation may not be your ultimate purpose but it can serve as a vehicle to live and share your purpose.

7. Whatever job(s) you take after graduation, decide to simply serve. When you serve in small ways you’ll get more opportunities to serve in bigger ways.

8. Your dream job is likely not the one you dreamed about. So often we end up in amazing careers that have nothing to do with our college degree or childhood dreams.

9. The quest for your purpose is not a straight line. It is filled with mystery, signs, obstacles, victories, dead ends, delays and detours. Your job is to stay optimistic and faithful on your quest. Teachers are the best at knowing learning does not come in a straight line; there are many curves on the road to success.

10. Don’t rush the future. There is a process all seeds must go through in order to become all they are destined to become, and you must go through this same process to become the person you are meant to be and do the work you are meant to do.

11. Be the Seed. Seeds surrender themselves to the ground so they can be used for a greater purpose. Wherever you are, decide to plant yourself where you are and allow yourself to be used for a greater purpose. When you plant yourself and make a difference, you grow into the person you were born to be and produce a harvest that will benefit others and change the world.

Here’s hoping our planted seeds of this school year truly change the world! :-)

Keep Calm!

It’s been a full week of blessings, praise, accolades, bravos, and so much more! From the festive themes each day (and dressing choices) to the cute snacks and scrumptious treats, we have enJOYed Teacher Appreciation Week indeed! Thanks to our amazing PTO for the homemade meals and dailyteacher-appreciation mailbox surprises. Thanks to the parents and families who showered our teachers in special gifts and daily lunches. Thanks to our learners for the sweet notes and fancy cards. As one little friend shared with me today: “Mrs. Van, it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice…thanks for always being nice and calm all the time.” What a blessing to be in a position to share the JOY of learning with others everyday! Have a safe, calm weekend, LME! :-)

Power of the Written Word…

dr.seuss-quoteSome highly creative poets and writers open their colorfully-decorated journals to share some personal journal writing with the visitors in class. They eagerly anticipate this opportunity because the journals have been “private” from these visitors all year long, until today, that is. While it’s a personal endeavor each school day, these writers like to read and share aloud to classmates, but the visitors are not aware. There truly is magic in the effort of writer to phonetically write and then read words freely without correction or criticism. They smile, giggle, and genuinely enJOY sharing their words, describing everything from slightly exaggerated fishing trips to painful injuries to hopes and dreams for the future. It’s a marvel how they express themselves with great depth, emotional maturity, and compassion for each other as writers and poets!

Throughout the months of this school year, the teacher may have given topic ideas, daily story starters, prompts, and more, however, the contents are left up to each writer for the day. For many, creating an illustration for their daily entry is a favorite part of the writing process, especially to a child who struggles with the process skill of writing.

The visitors took their perspective place alongside each child’s table area. They began to listen, laugh, and identify spontaneously as funny experiences about learning how to ride a bike, what not to say at someone birthday’s party, catching “the big one,” and more poured out from the worn pages of each child’s journal. The visitors placed their arms around each child, wiped their eyes, spoke softly, or laughed belly-style as they listened to individual stories and poems. Here was the true value of writing for these young learners–their unique self-expression was shining through in their own words, allowing each writer’s parent (the visitors today) a brief glimpse inside the child’s perspective of daily school life and living. One parent in particular grasped the journal in her hands exclaiming, “I’ll treasure this always!”

Everyone is a teacher to someone…sometimes it is easy to forget how learners teach us and those around them everyday. With great attitude and effort, these young writers experience the power of the written word daily. As one learner notes, “WRITE on, Mrs. Van!”

Everyone is a teacher to someone…

teacherIt’s National Teacher Day and where do I even begin to express the depths of appreciation for the work teachers are called to do everyday? To educate literally means, “to assist in training the mind and abilities with instruction to impart knowledge.” Basically, we are all teachers because someone is a teacher to someone every day. While our parents are our first and most important teachers, it is hoped there are many along each educational path who share great enthusiasm, passion, and rapport with us as we climb educational mountains of knowledge. As someone noted, “Thinking will not overcome fear of learning, but action will.” Daily classroom action is what I sincerely hope each learner experiences daily in our classrooms!

During walkabout this morning, these are some comments shared with me by some of our learners regarding our teachers:
*She sees us as unique and encourages our talents and strengths; she smooths the rough edges.
*He looks beyond my face and sees inside my soul.
*She has a caring heart and respects me even when I don’t deserve it.
*He has this great laugh and I know everything will be okay.
*She smiles, looks past my bad choice, and sees my pain.
*He builds my confidence and makes me feel worthy.
*She makes a BIG difference in everyday for me; I know she loves me!

The comments go on and on…what a blessing and honor to do what we do everyday! My Granny B always said, “Generosity is a sign of a great soul.” Teachers are called to this work (and I help those who are not to open their future to other possibilities). Teachers give beyond the daily eight hours and the 180 days of instruction (just visit with a significant other in the life of a teacher for the “real” scoop). Teachers are people who crave encouragement, praise, and positive reinforcement, but rarely experience the fruits of their labor for years to come. We’ve all had the BEST examples of teachers and some who are not…either way, lessons in life were shared and memories were cemented in place (for better or worse). Your challenge is to reach out, thank those who influenced your journey (remember, everyone is a teacher to someone). Take time to share your praise and encouragement. Reflect and revisit those days…thank a teacher today!

Camps, Compassion, and Kindness…

This year is flying by so quickly now and each day brings new opportunities!

summercampsIn looking ahead, please make note of important Summer Sports Camp information:  The Midlothian ISD Athletic Department’s sport camps offer fun-filled summer programs for youth in and around Midlothian, Texas.  Each week, participants jump into action, participating in exciting sport programs while exploring various techniques and tactics associated with athletics.  If you are looking for a sports camp this summer, please check out the links below to sign up. Walk-up registrations are welcome at all camps and more camps will be added when they are finalized.

…and speaking of sports, tactics, and techniques, FieldDay1our 7th Annual Field Day Events was a smashing success!  From the many competitive games to new stations like Gaga Ball Pit, students, staff members, and families joined in the all-day event.  We most certainly appreciated the sublime spring day and wonderful outside temperatures along with the grilled hotdogs provided by Aramark!  Special thanks to Coach Rogers, our Specials Team, our volunteers (including MHS PALs), and our parents for assisting with smiles throughout the day’s events!

KCpic…and speaking of smiles, our Kindness and Compassion (KC) Club shared big smiles with the folks from Children’s Medical Center of Dallas when they donated over 250 new stuffed animals for patients.  Representatives from the hospital came to accept the donations and shared how these will positively impact many young lives in the days ahead.  The stuffed animals are given to patients during triage, diagnostic procedures, or surgery to calm and bring friendly comfort.  Special thanks to the KC Club sponsor, Ms. Daniell, and her team for encouraging this service learning project throughout our campus.

We are blessed in extraordinary ways everyday on our growing campus.  Thanks for walking the educational journey with us!