Summer Reading

One specific goal of LaRue Miller Elementary is the hope all our learners become lifelong readers.  These summer months provide a wonderful opportunity to extend and enrich the lessons in the classroom to the world well outside the classroom walls.  YOU are your child’s first and most important teacher after all!

You can surf the web and find the same result on current reading research:  “summer reading loss is cumulative; children do not ‘catch up’ in the fall because the other children are moving ahead with their skills.”  So what can you do?  Here are some suggestions for summer reading encouragement:

  1. Select books of interest.
  2. Read at least 20 minutes per day.
  3. Take advantage of the sunshine and read aloud outdoors.
  4. Set aside a portion of the day as DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read).
  5. Read all genres—magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, road signs, anything.
  6. Ask the “W” Questions:  who, what, when, where, why, how.
  7. Review comprehension, vocabulary, and listening skills when reading aloud.
  8. Coordinate a summer book club with your child’s friends (this is great on rainy summer days).
  9. Check out the great library programs at the Meadows Public Library (they have summer reading challenges, activities, and online books at

Whether you’re on a beach, on a road trip, or just having a “staycation” at home, find ways to foster a lifelong love of reading.  Please continue having a safe, fun summer; we’ll see you back in August!  🙂

The Zombie Teacher Project!

Have you seen any Zombies running around MISD lately?  It’s true!  MISD has been invaded with Zombie Teachers!  This unique summer opportunity each year gathers interest from all walks of educational life in Midlothian.  Teams of MISD teachers work collaboratively on a 4-minute short film incorporating a teaching topic of interest or concern.  Each team must adhere to strict guidelines and rules while creating their completed film within a 24-hour period.

LaRue Miller Elementary is especially blessed to have teams participate each year and represent us well during the annual Film Festival and Awards Ceremony.  This year, the stakes were raised even more for each team and the results were showcased in an outdoor amphitheater environment (Hawkins Springs Park…Movies after Dark).  With lawn chairs, movie snacks, lots of bug spray, and a critical eye for detail, all participants enJOYed 18 entries to this year’s Zombie Teacher Project Film Festival.  Along with individual team awards, the audience voted on the “Teacher’s Choice Award” for favorite picture by entering a ballot at the conclusion of the screenings.  Special recognition and thanks go to our two 1/2 Miller teams:

  • Team #5:  Reflections:  Jennifer Kids, Susie Dickard, Jane Crisp, and Brittany Cole
  • Team #6:  Magic Machines:  Jennifer Rinehart, Rebekah Johnson, and Jurae Greiten
  • Team #17:  Rowdy Runners:  Blane Rogers, Scott Fiorenza, Ryan Timm (Irvin), and Kristi Cooper (Irvin)–gotta love multiple school cooperation!

Special congratulations to Team #14:  O.B.C.T. (Obesity) from combined J.A. Vitovsky and Mt. Peak Elementaries who won the prestigious Judges’ Award and the Teacher’s Choice Award!  Here’s hoping you might catch a MISD Zombie Teacher soon…and you just thought teachers went far, far away in the summer months…. 🙂

PTO…knocks it out of the park!

I had the privilege of spending last evening with our outgoing and incoming PTO Board members.  It’s a Miller PTO tradition for me to have the officers and committee chairpersons over to my house for a home-cooked meal, conversation, fellowship, and some serious planning for the coming school year.  We celebrate successes, bounce clever ideas around, and they openly share concerns experienced throughout the past year.  This reflective conversation enlightens and keeps us grounded as to the growing expectations of our entire LME learning community.

We are truly blessed to have these dedicated parent leaders willing to step up, lead, and support our daily campus initiatives and activities.  We encourage everyone in the coming year to join in the fun by giving your time, talents, and service in whatever way you feel led to further enrich and enhance our learning community.  Thanks, PTO; you always knock it out of the park!

Highlights and Achievements 2011-2012

A parent emailed me this morning to ask a question and give a compliment.  The question was, “Why don’t you blog us a list of all the Miller achievements this year like the newsletter did in years past?”  Consider it done!

It’s important to celebrate our successes, highlights, and achievements, so here you go, LME learners, leaders, and families:

  • Smooth Opening Day and Boo-Hoo/YaHoo Breakfast
  • Hundreds of volunteers working weekly in classrooms and during events
  • PTO Meetings – great attendance, themes, and fun while planning
  • Technology Projects like “hAPPy days”
  • Parent Night Meetings and Family Suppers
  • Miller “Moves” each week
  • Constitution Day 2011
  • Miller Singers and Ringers
  • Miller Student Honor Council
  • Miller HotSteppers
  • Miller KC Club
  • The Miller Bell
  • Miller Yearbook Staff
  • Rachel’s Challenge
  • Musicals and Fine Arts Show and Gallery
  • All-Star Fun Run and Fundraiser
  • Veteran’s Day Assembly and events
  • Character Day Parade
  • PTO Parties
  • Red Ribbon Week events
  • Miller D.A.D.s
  • Safety Patrol
  • No-TV Family Night events
  • Pentathlon
  • Destination Imagination
  • Book Fairs
  • Birds of Prey and other assemblies
  • Bluebonnet Book Bowl – Hooray to Team Miller!
  • Field of Readers
  • Jump Rope for Heart
  • Service Learning Projects
  • PTO’s Tutus and Ties Event
  • PTO’s Boys’ Night Out Event
  • Super Outrageous Science Event and Science Fair
  • Miller PALs
  • 3-M Day:  Miller Math Mania
  • Box Tops for Education
  • WattWatchers and various WW Awards
  • Themes and Dress-up Days
  • Texas Ranger Days (let’s go all the way this year!)
  • Fire Prevention Week and activities
  • Community Helpers’ visits
  • Teacher Appreciation Week
  • College and Career Days
  • All-School Field Trip to Casa Manana
  • Study Buddies and Peer Tutors
  • Field Day – WOW!
  • Awards Assemblies and Celebrations
  • Fifth Grade Clap-out and Reception – will we miss our 5th graders; make us proud!

This is by no means everything, but it’s a start to the many ways each school day counts here at LaRue Miller Elementary.  Here’s hoping you have many more to add to this list!

Happy Feet

So, what do elementary principals do in the evening hours during summer conference?  If you’re like the MISD elementary PALs, you share great meals and tell stories with funny anecdotes, including the ones involving walking in other shoes (literally and figuratively).  It’s a time to network and build relationships, share successes and failures, problem solve together, and take turns walking new pathways.  It’s also a time for fun and games (not that we’re competitive or anything).  Pictured are the six MISD elementary principals and three of our assistant principals (you have to guess who is walking in which sandel).

We are blessed in MISD to truly enJOY each other on this leadership team and to share our happy feet along the educational journey.

Lifelong Learning

It’s often been said, “Change of place and pace impart new vigor to the mind.”  This past week has been the opportunity to not only change venues a couple of times, but to pace my mind as well.  Wrapping my thoughts and plans around new and existing educational updates, ideas, and challenges for the coming school year in a stimulating setting always gets me excited to begin to again (even though my summer break hasn’t started yet).  🙂 Austin is the annual gathering place the second week in June each summer for Texas principals.  We meet to discuss, share, learn, listen, reflect, renew, and fellowship in a variety of ways.  I truly appreciate the opportunity to interact with principals from the entire state of Texas.  Mostly though, I treasure the bonding time with our MISD team of principals as we celebrate, communicate, and participate with each other throughout the week while nurturing our need for lifelong learning together!  Here’s hoping you find a way to change your pace and place for new vigor to the mind at some point this summer as well!  Stay safe out there!

Solving Problems…

A student emailed me over the weekend to just “check-in” and see how I was doing up at school “all alone” (not knowing we have summer school, trainings, work, and other activities to keep me busy). 🙂  He reminded me to keep posting on the blog because “it can’t take a vacation just because we do.”  🙂  So, here goes (and I’ll do better about keeping up with it too)…

Last week, in spite of the extreme Texas storms keeping us grounded, a long-time friend/colleague and I made our way to the annual International Future Problem Solving Program Competition at Indiana University in Bloomington.  Being associated with this extraordinary program as a teacher, academic coach, mom, and now evaluator for the past 17 years, this annual opportunity holds special meaning professionally and personally.  Besides the excitement of traveling to various university venues, we are honored and humbled to work with problem solving students around the world in the Community Problem Solving division of the program.  Teams of students from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Korea, Portugal, and other countries participate in the four-day competition.  In the Community division, students work to solve a local community problem with unique solutions—thinking globally and acting locally to literally making a world of difference in their communities.  The Future Problem Solving Program, started by Dr. Paul Torrence at the University of Georgia in the 20th century, has provided hundreds of thousands of students across the globe the opportunity to actively think, solve, and implement action plans and solutions on a global issues throughout the years.  Topics and solutions vary according to the specific needs of the community or future problem (and I could spend hours blogging about examples).  Just as Einstein himself noted:  “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”   The bottom line…we can all be part of the problem or part of the solution!

Clap-outs and Congratulations!

It’s really been a great week of celebrating successes!  Today, we honored our fourth and fifth graders with awards assemblies.  As is the tradition here at LME, our fifth graders enJOYed a slideshow presentation of their time with us, a special reception, and the annual “clap-out” where we line the hallways of Miller with our entire learning community (parent, teachers, friends, tutors, and all) so they can take a final tour of LME.  It’s our opportunity to say thanks one more time.  The staff then lined the hallways during dismissal to “clap-out” all our students today.

Yes, school’s out for summer…it’s hard to comprehend really since it feels like we just opened the year yesterday.  Just like raising children, the days are sometimes long, but the year is short…and sometimes the simplest of things become the truest.  May you truly have a relaxing, safe summer break doing the things you enJOY with the ones you adore.  Blessings and thanks, Mrs. Van  🙂