happynewyear2013It 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!  In honor of the coming new calendar year, here’s a little reminder to us all about the ABCs of living with personal excellence:

  • 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 with personal excellence
  • Nurture hope
  • Open your mind and heart
  • Pay it forward…always
  • 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…

Blessings for a prosperous, successful 2013 to all!  😉

‘Twas the Day after Christmas…

‘Twas the day after Christmas when all through the school, dayafterchristmasnot 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 she smiled, gave a gentle hug to assure this great teacher too; Mrs. Van said, “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 a few days down and several more 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…

christmas-spiritAs 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 LME!  Between the train whistles, the crafts, the cocoa, the stories, prizes, and festive PJ fun, there was never a dull moment on the Miller Express.  Did I mention we were in PJs all day too?!  🙂

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 final question:  “How will you and your family honor the spirit of the season throughout 2013?”  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 blessings of peace, hope, JOY, and love to you and those you hold dear!  Blessings and thanks for sharing your most valuable resource with us at LME everyday!   🙂

Note:  While we are on break December 22 – January 8, 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!  🙂 

Wintery hat fun and mustaches too…

It’s Winter Hat Day at LME and there are some interesting stylesmustache5 being shared across campus today.  We couldn’t have ordered better weather for the day–it’s blustery cold and wearing a hat keeps the warmth inside!

During morning walkabout, I stumbled upon this observation:

  • Child:  Did you know hats keep your brain warm, Mrs. Van?
  • Me:  Well, when I wear one, I know I keep the cold out of my ears and off my head.
  • Child:  You need to give us hat day everyday so our brains stay on fire all the time!   🙂

mustacheAs noted from the conversation after this observation, hats are just one article of clothing we use for protection from the elements.  Thus, the inspiration for today’s question was given by my friend, Austin:  “What special holiday article of clothing or ‘look’ do you always want to wear and why is it so special to you?” 

We will enJOY another Miller tradition tomorrow when we all board the Miller Express with our annual Pajama and Slipper day.  You can expect to hear a train whistle or two and share in some hot cocoa during special story times throughout the day.  It’s also Mrs. Miller birthday, so we’ll send some special wishes her way as well.  In them meantime, here’s hoping you find your way to wintery hat fun soon!

Note:  MISD continues to make campus safety the top priority.  School is being conducted as usual today and tomorrow.  The Midlothian Police Department, in an effort to provide the best security possible, will continue to post additional security at each campus for the duration of this week during crucial times for the security of the all MISD students and staff. 

Go, fight, win, Ethan!

Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well…  While there’s nothing ordinary about kicking cancer, Eethan1than is showing us how to do it extraordinarily well.  Our learners, classroom leaders, and several community members were involved in a special Miller Rally to send off our own 4th grade friend, Ethan, as he starts his next ethan10course of treatment at MD Anderson in Houston right after the holidays.  Ethan was able to join us today in person with his family (quite a treat indeed).  He was surprised by the Midlothian Fire Department early this morning who arrived to drive his family to school in true style—flashing lights and all!  Several of his MYFL football team members and coaches were present as were our own Panther Football Readers (who also cameethan6 at 7:15 a.m. to help us unload cars today).  Ethanethan9‘s 4th grade class (and Ms. Williams) helped on the back porch by forming a special tunnel for Ethan’s arrival and to personally escort their classmate into the gym where the entire campus cheered him.  Once in the gym, Ethan took the seat of honor in a sea of green (his favorite color), yellow (childhood cancer), and black (our special Ethan shirts) and was treated to everything from a KC Club presentation of joke books from each ethan3classroom ethan2to ethan7his MVP status announcement to some special Miller Moves with his favorite songs.  It was truly a celebration rally for a treasured young guy who shines brilliantly in spite of his intense fight to kick cancer.  Here’s hoping we all find Ethan’s great courage and bravery in our everyday lives!  We love you, Ethan…go, fight, win!  🙂

The Blessing of Music

The chords are so grand they send shivers down the back of your neck.  You hear the familiar strains of a holiday melody filling the air and instantly feel wrapped in the glorious blessing of music…

BRAVOS to our Frank Seale Middle School Band friends band2who serenaded us today with several Christmas carols and holiday tunes in what was a JOYous occasion indeed!  With so many of our former LME learners sitting in the first chair of each instrument section, it does our Miller hearts proud to know our learners are leaders in all areas, including music!

Many of my Christmas memories are stored away within the refrains of beloved carols and songs.  We begin as small children (like our youngest Head Start friends) learning these wonderful songs.  Each year, we are given the gift of dusting them off, tuning them up, and sharing them with others.  Like a fine antique, this music becomes priceless with the passing of time (especially as I get older each year!).  So here’s your question today:  “Other than carols or songs, what other things do you bring out at Christmas time, dust off, and share with others to enhance the holidays?”

So…turn on your favorite tune, close your eyes, and allow the music to move you beyond the hustle and bustle of the daily rush.  Here’s hoping you are blessed with the wonderful gift of music now and throughout the coming year!  🙂

STARTing the day with sweet carolers…

The halls were alive with the sounds of the season today!  carolers1Our Head Start friends caroled their way across campus to spread some holiday cheer and what a blessing it was indeed.  My thanks to our HS Team of educators who ensured JOY was a focus on this Monday.

Hearing these youngest of voices while answering multiple phone calls and emails from concerned parents seeking assurance confirmed a few things:

  • Children thrive on daily routines and expectations; they gain security from the predictability of school.
  • Being active listeners to a child’s fears and concerns is important–validate the fear by saying it’s natural to feel fear, but finish with, “I’m going to do everything I can to keep you safe.”
  • Students believe the world is a good place, but there are people who make bad choices and do bad things.
  • Building strong connections and relationships with our learners and their families is critical to our overall success; we are so grateful for the support of our LME families!

It’s the little things (like these little voices sharing JOY this morning with us) that start the slow process of healing.  May you find hope, healing, peace, and love in the little things this holiday.  Remember to “sing loud and proud” like our Head Start friends say!  🙂

Safety first…

Of course, our thoughts turn to Connecticut…to the victims, the grieving families, and an overwhelmed community in light of recent tragic events.  A letter from Dr. Stewart, MISD Superintendent, and a reminder note from Miller are coming home with your child today.  Please read both and don’t hesitate to contact our school office should you have additional questions or concerns.

My mind never shut down this past weekend.  We all know a safe, caring learning environment is critical to success everyday.  We make safety our first priority and follow procedures and specific measures to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep each person safe while on campus.  We have strong working relationships with and the support of our community first responders who spend countless hours training and preparing us.  We practice our safety drills (lockdown, shelter-in-place, and evacuation) and our crisis plan with our entire campus.  Our staff participates in table-top sessions and other safety exercises conducted by experts in the field.  Is it enough?  Are we ever fully prepared for every single scenario?

Please know this:  We will do everything we can to keep every person safe in our school.

Safety comes first.  We always appreciate everything you do to follow our protocols and assist in our learning environment when you visit us on campus.  Unfortunately, this tragedy (and so many others) reminds us all to be keenly aware of our surroundings and to report unusual people or situations to the proper authorities, regardless of the setting you find yourself in at the time.

Here’s hoping you can rest a little easier remembering we believe in safety first…

Food for thought…

Keeping Christmas is good, but sharing it with others is even better.  reindeercookiesYou can imagine the excitement and anticipation…Yes, it’s holiday parties today and we are heartily partying in classrooms all over the building (just NOT during lunches).  🙂  There’s a group within our Miller learning community who give and give and give throughout the school year; we are blessed with the BEST volunteers ever!  Our active group of parents give so much more than they receive and today was certainly no exception.  Each classroom enJOYed lavish spreads of food, festive decor, and fun activities.  From creative cookie trays to clever crafts, learners celebrated the season in style with great parent/family participation.  In the midst of the organized chaos, you can imagine my surprise to discover an entire grade level in the hallway singing Christmas Karaoke together…never a dull moment!

As is the custom, so many celebrations are created around the food–perhaps it’s a cultural thing or just something that evolved over time (I know this is certainly true in our family).  So here’s your “food for thought” for the day:  “What is your favorite holiday food and what stories (or memories) does this food evoke for you?”

We are so grateful for the support and partnership of our volunteers and parents who give unconditionally of their time and talents.  As my Granny B. noted, “Generosity is a sign of a great soul and we are blessed with many great souls (and party planners) here at LME!

Merry GRINCHmas!

grinch1He’s a mean one for sure and for certain…until his heart melts and he saves Christmas for all the Whos in WhoVille.  Our first graders spent the day working with one of their favorite seasonal characters while doing core-curricular lessons using Dr. Suess’ famous Christmas story.  As one child told me, “He’s a mean one, that Mr. Grinch, but he finally ‘gets’ it you know!”  Of course, this brings us to our question for the day:  “Which literary character from a holiday story is your favorite and what lesson does this character teach you?”  I have many character favorites and each one teaches a variety of important lessons.  When talking about the Grinch, though, he learns how a JOY shared is a JOY made double.  While leaving the first grade hallway, I hear a little song and a ‘Merry GRINCHmas’ from my first grade friends; it’s truly a blessing to share the JOY (and some important lessons) of the holiday with our learners!  🙂

Note:  Our class holiday parties are tomorrow at LME:  HS/KG/1st/2nd @ 9:00-10:00; 3rd/4th/5th @ 1:30-2:30.