Goodbye 2011; Hello 2012…

It was a year of ups and downs; triumphs and trials; challenges and solutions…the same can be said about each year upon reflection.  What a blessing it is to walk the journey with our LaRue Miller Elementary learners, their classroom leaders, and our learning community though!  In honor of the new year, here’s a little reminder to us all about the ABCs of living:

  • Accept differences
  • Be kind
  • Count your blessings
  • Dream big
  • Express thanks
  • Forgive others and yourself
  • Give generously
  • Harm no one
  • Imagine more
  • JOYfully live
  • Keep confidences
  • Love truly and deeply
  • Master something
  • Nurture hope
  • Open your mind and heart
  • Pay it forward
  • Quell rumors with the truth
  • Reciprocate
  • Seek wisdom
  • Touch lives
  • Understand
  • Value truth and wisdom
  • Win graciously
  • eXcite others
  • Yearn for peace
  • Zealously support each other…

May we each find ways to live the ABCs everyday.  Happy 2012, LaRue Miller Elementary!

Walk-about, the day after…

Twas the day after Christmas when all through the school, not a creature was stirring with the hallways so cool.  Mrs. Van checked on things inside and out, while making her routine holiday safety walk-about.  When what to her wandering eye should appear but a teacher planning lessons, such a dedicated career!  With a building so cold, no lights did she use, she just wanted the comfort of her classroom muse.  Her house was quite crowded because all the relatives came; she wanted peace and control and no fussing to blame!  “Just give me a few quiet minutes, Mrs. Van, then I promise to leave; I’ll go back to the eating and drama and do my best to retrieve . . . my sanity, a level of comfort, and some quiet all alone; and get through this vacation week with some rest of my own.”  As I smiled and gave a gentle hug and assured this great teacher too, “you’ll get through this holiday, but before you do . . . try to focus on the fact you need this time away; you need time for family, friends, fellowship, and play.”  So here’s to one week down and another to go; school days will be with us before we know . . . EnJOY your time away; stay safe and have fun!  Happy winter break Miller learners and leaders; you’re always #1!  🙂

Blessings and Thanks…

As Charles Dickens noted:  “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas…”  Today was a great day to be a child at LaRue Miller Elementary!  Between the crafts, snacks, games, food, prizes, sweet treats, gift exchanges, candy, and festive fun, there was never a dull moment.  Did I mention there was food?  The winter winds engulfed the elves as they made their way into our building with loads of goodies to share.  Special thanks to our SpEd and Specials teams for assisting elves into the building, parking cars, giving out badges, and cleaning up with everyone.  Thanks to our many parent volunteers who planned and implemented AH-mazing parties today!  Thanks to our PTO for supplementing things where needed.  Thanks to the office staff for smiling throughout a complete day of party-mania!

Mr. Dickens also challenged all of us with this famous thought:  “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”  So here’s your Christmas Question today:  How will you and your family honor the spirit of the season throughout 2012?  As you go through your routines over the holiday break, take a moment to reflect and revisit on the previous year; share these thoughts with your child as well.  Perhaps you can write down goals for the coming year to share with each other.  In the meantime, here’s hoping this season and the new year bring profound blessings of peace, hope, JOY, and love to you and those you hold dear!  🙂

Note:  While we are on break December 21 – January 4, there may not be a daily post on our blog.  Please know we will greet the new year and our second semester with the same “zeal and zest for educational quests” you have come to expect of our campus.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at LaRue Miller Elementary!  EnJOY!  🙂

Stories and bells and gingerbread tales…

It’s Pajama Day at LME and in our annual tradition, there are lots of stories (like The Polar Express), engaging activities, some fun snacks to share, and lots of interesting tales to tell!  These first grade friends are graphing important information about gingerbread men/women before they share their findings.

The day started with Miller Moves and the delightful sound of the Polar Express conductor welcoming all of us on board.  There were several packages delivered from the North Pole this morning to classrooms as well.  Upon further inspection (because that’s an office job, you know), there was the faint sound of jingle bells within all these boxes.  Though some of us have grown older, “the bell still rings for all who truly believe…”

All the fun holiday stories throughout each classroom sparked conversations about family stories, so here’s your Christmas Question today:  What is an important story from your family’s history or a favorite family holiday story you should share this year?  I challenge you to verbally tell stories as well as read stories throughout the upcoming holiday break.  We learn through our family experiences and those events that make unique memories for all of us–talk verbally about them and write them down too!  Here’s hoping you share those stories and memories with the next generation; they will thank you later!

Note:  Special thanks to our parent volunteers who assisted today in immeasurable ways!  We look forward to seeing you tomorrow during class parties. 

  • Party times tomorrow:  KG/1/2 @ 9:00; 3/4/5 @ 10:15; Head Start @ 11:15. 
  • Early Dismissal tomorrow:  12:45 for gr. KG-5th; Head Start releases @ 12:00 Noon.

Sounds of the Season…do you hear what we hear?

Busy Friday; multiple activities; hustle and bustle to get it all done…sound familiar?  We were blessed today with several fun learning and listening opportunities at Miller:

Third graders shared a wax museum with our school this morning.  When you pushed a button, the figures came to life to share facts about themselves.  Here’s Scott O’Dell (Wes) with a visitor.  Mrs. Griffin-Loftis is listening to Whitney talk about her work at NASA too!

Our own Miller Singers are currently at Six Flags this afternoon sharing the sounds of the season with the MISD All-City Choir.  We enJOY our extraordinary musicians sharing their gifts with others!

We were also blessed with a visit from the Frank Seale Middle School Honor Band this afternoon!  Under the direction of Mr. Maxwell, these fine instrumentalists (many are former Miller learners, of course!), shared the sounds of the season, showcased various instruments, and led the school in the singing of several fun holiday songs.  (You know what’s coming next):  What is your favorite Christmas/holiday song or carol and why?  Here’s hoping you have multiple opportunities to sing it and to enJOY the sounds of the wonderful season.  Do you hear what we hear…we sure hope so!

Note:  Speaking of hearing sounds…there was a special bell ringing and a train whistle blowing at the end of school today to remind us about pajama day on Monday…all aboard! 🙂


Dear Santa…

“Dear Santa Claus,  It’s me again reminding you I’m here, and that I’m making my list easier this year…”  Such is the start of a child’s clever writing; impressive, huh?!  Letters abound these days here at Miller.  Several classes mailed lots of letters to service men and women serving overseas during the holidays.  We had a class come down to the office to officially mail a huge envelope of them together.  One class reported to me that they sent them via a parent who was traveling to Canada this week; they wanted them mailed from Canada so they “get to the North Pole faster this year!” 🙂

In a previous blog, I shared how my sister and I always wrote our letters together and wouldn’t share the contents with anyone.  Sharing special wishes is important and whether your family writes letters to Santa or not, it’s always fun to share.  So here’s the  Christmas Question today:  What is your perfect Christmas or holiday wish (or gift) and how will you share it with others this year?  Here’s hoping several interesting conversations are sparked by thoughts of special wishes throughout the holiday season!

Reindeer Games!

At the Santa Stop in the first grade hallway this morning, I wandered into a large group of reindeer busy at work on various games, crafts, and activities.  One reindeer friend stopped me to share exactly what he was doing:

  • Child:  So, Mrs. Van, do you know who we are today?
  • Me:  I have no idea; please share!
  • Child:  If you look at my new shirt, there’s a clue.
  • Me: I see antlers. Could you be Santa’s reindeer?
  • Child:  That’s why you’re the principal you know… 🙂

Not only were these young readers and learners sharing ideas in small groups and questioning one another, they were engaged in the process of talking strategy when playing games (which were really objective-based activities cleverly disguised as “games”).  Naturally, this inspired our Christmas Question today:  What games or other activities does your family play during the holiday break?  What are your family favorites?

As you enJOY two weeks off from organized curriculum, projects, required homework, and the like, please make time to play games together.  Discussing strategy, following game rules, and engaging in friendly competition teach valuable life lessons . . . so here’s hoping you find a new family board game in your stocking this year!

Go the distance…

Some of us do a considerable amount of traveling during the holiday break.  This was a discussion topic in fact during my daily walk-about this morning.  The classroom leader asked about the distances each child travels to visit with family or friends; you would be amazed at some of the answers!  Her learners are graphing their results to share, which brings me to our Christmas Question today:  What is the furthest distance you or a family member has traveled to make a holiday gathering with others?

My friend, Rudolph (Camden), talked about traveling long distances during the third grade musical last week and how he needed his “sustenance to make the important annual trip with Santa.”  He actively demonstrated the best reindeer food (during a commercial break) for the live audience as well!  A learner this morning remembered watching Camden last week and made note of Santa’s long distance journey (which then started another discussion about how many miles it takes to travel the Earth) . . . .

As you make your travel plans this holiday season, here’s hoping you and your learner go the distance together with hearts smiling and JOY abounding!  🙂

Note:  Speaking of “going the distance,” congratulations to all our Rowdy Runners (and parents) for participating last night in the annual Reindeer Dash benefiting Special Olympics in MISD.  I completed my first 5K and really appreciated the support at the finish line!  Thanks to all who traveled the journey together! 🙂

Cheering Others…

I believe it was Mark Twain who noted:  “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.”  Such is the goal of a group of learners today who are making cards, decorating some holiday treats (candy cane reindeer), and wrapping up gift cards they are donating to local senior citizens.  You see, in place of purchasing each other gifts, they used the money they collected to purchase gift cards to share instead. 

While one group within this class diligently worked together on various tasks, an intense conversation took place about Christmas smells and favorite holiday smells.  Of course (you know what’s coming next), they encouraged me to blog this question to you today:  Of all the smells of the season, which one is your favorite?  Why is this smell so memorable to you?

I was pressured to share with these young learners that I vividly remember my Granny’s house smelling of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges she would boil on the gas stove (I do this in our home today); peppermint sticks in my hot cocoa (made from scratch–no envelope packets back in the day); the aroma of fresh pine on the front door wreath…all these smells evoke strong memories and images of my childhood.  Whether you have special seasonal smells or not, these learners and I challenge you today to be SCENTsationally aware of the holiday smells in your world…and don’t forget to share it cheerfully with others along the way.  After all, keeping Christmas throughout the year is good, but sharing it with others is even better!  🙂

WRAPPING up another great week!

William Blake noted:  “In seed time, learn; in harvest time, teach; in winter, enJOY.”  It’s been a week full of JOY in so many ways . . . .

Mrs. Stanley and Mrs. Bass delivered gifts for over 200 angels on Thursday afternoon.  Our Miller families really go above and beyond in their service and care of others!  Thanks for sharing the greatest gift of giving to those in need!

Our third graders presented us with the amazing seasonal musical, “North Pole STAR,” under the musical direction of Amber Grant and the specials team.  Santa’s famous reindeer (Darrow, Kylie, Kaleigh, Truman, Johnathan, Deven, Whitney, and Amber) showcased their unique reindeer talents for guest judges (and a live, voting studio audience) to award the coveted “North Pole STAR” trophy (think, American Idol at the North Pole!).  An emcee, guests judges, background entertainers, and even live commercial breaks brought the action to life.  Elves (Victoria, Marli, Alex, Peyton, and several others) provided commercial breaks for important seasonal products (reindeer food, anyone?).  The singing, dancing, jokes, and acting during this demanding show were nothing short of truly extraordinary!  BRAVOS to our talented students and to all who gave of their musical genius to make this festive musical come alive!

Which brings me to the Christmas Question of the day:  What gifts do you give during the season that do not come wrapped in a box?  As you know, it’s not all about the physical gifts during the season.  The other ways we choose to give (time, talents, and service) are sometimes much more important in fact!  For example, I’m grateful for the talents of our office ladies (who are wearing Mrs. Worley’s handcrafted JOY shirts she gifted to us!).  We are indeed blessed at Miller with the gifts you and your child bring everyday to our learning community!  🙂