Miller’s got talent!

talentshow1It was a morning of BIG Miller events today…Miller Rally, final MVPs for the school year, special All-Stars, a fire engine ride to school (thanks Chief and team), and a special talent show of creative proportions!  Yes, Miller learners have the talent and could definitely move beyond to professional status soon.

Congratulations to our 4th and 5th grade friends who gave talentshow2their all singing, dancing, and performing for groups today.  Thanks to our parents who participated, shared, and cheered from the fan sections.  Thanks to our Specials Team for coordinating with our PTO to once again sponsor this fun end-of-year event.  Most of all, thanks to our extraordinarily talented Miller learners who shared their clever, inspiring, and meaningful talents with a grateful school…yes, Miller’s got talent indeed!

EnJOY your weekend; only 5 days to go until we celebrate 5 years at LME!  🙂

Note:  We will celebrate awards next Thursday and Friday; early dismissal both days is 12:45 p.m. 

Can we talk?

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  ~George Bernard Shaw~

This is true everyday in the education world…we think we’ve done our best to get the communicatemessage out and then someone communicates to us otherwise.  As part of our core principles, we believe communication and collaboration builds trust.  Trust is critical to our work as educators daily.  As a parent, you have to trust we are trained and properly certified to teach, to act in a crisis situation, to make educationally sound decisions for student success…the list is endless.  When we are wheeled into an operating room, we have to trust the surgeon and the anesthesiologist have communicated various allergies, reactions, and other medical concerns with each other.  TRUST is involved on a daily basis.

My conversation this morning with a small group of friends involved this very issue and a misunderstanding on everyone’s part.  As we talked through the situation, offered solutions, and worked our way to final conclusions to move forward, it was apparent the need to LISTEN first was the challenge really.  We teach our learners to “use your words” to share and “use your brain to really listen” as we communicate and collaborate together each day.  Sometimes we miss a critical step but assume we did it; sometimes we do it all too fast.  It’s important to remember how everyone involved in a situation carries a piece to the puzzle…sometimes, it’s really as simple as asking, “Can we talk?”  🙂

Summer Reading 2013!

As a little friend reminded me this morning…”it’s almost here…summer reading summer-reading(although I think she meant ‘summer break’)!”  🙂  There are multiple options this summer for our friends to continue making lots of progress in individual reading.  One of the best options is the Meadows Library 2013 Summer Reading Program from June 11 – August 6…no reservations needed.  Story time takes place each Tuesday and Friday @ 11:00 a.m.  Teen Book Club meets each Thursday @ 2:00 p.m.  Family-friendly events and book-related movies take place each Wednesday @ 2:00 p.m.  Check out or for more information today.

Another outstanding offering this summer is the Virtually Blooming Bluebonnet Camp.  It’s open to any MISD student currently in grades 3/4 who attends one of the six elementary campuses.  There is a two-hour introduction session on June 11 from 9:00-11:00, 12:00-2:00, or 2:00-4:00 where learners will log-in, discuss digital citizenship, and learn how to use the program to jump start their summer reading.  Readers will communicate throughout the summer with the virtual camp directors (MISD Library Media Specialists) to discuss books by participating in online discussions, posting questions and comments, and so forth.  Through this type of camp experience, readers are introduced to a safe virtual learning community with professional educators who support and LOVE reading.  Notices and permission forms went home last week.  Please contact our school librarian, Melissa Bolgiano, or the front office at 972-775-4497 for more information.

These are just two options to encourage your child to participate with others throughout the summer and read.  Here’s hoping you check these and others out as you make your summer plans…Happy Summer Reading 2013!

Trike Town Fever

triketown1For nearly five years now, our littlest learners have enJOYed the outdoor interactive area we affectionately call Miller Trike Town.  Based on a model we visited, our Special Education staff went to work to complete a grant to assist in funding this creative educational area.  Once approved (thanks Midlothian Education Foundation), the design and implementation were successfully completed; we are still in operation today!

Some Head Start friends met outside with our PPCD friends to triketown3work through various stations while riding the track and following safety signs.  They stop to order some eats and treats, check out a book from the local library, and even fill their tanks with gas at the pumps.  The language, personal conversations, social skills, and safety practice are just some of the many educational opportunities experienced while they “work.”  In reality, our students just think they are playing.  As one friend shared with me, “I’ve got Trike Fever!”  🙂  Ride on…

Live good…

“If we live good lives, the times are also good.  As we are, such are the times.”  ~St. Augustine~

A fourth grade friend stopped by the office this morning to share a book with me.  You see, he picked it out and wanted to read it with me.  I have to admit…being a Thursday morning and knowing I had several items to “check off the list” before leaving the campus for a principal meeting, I nearly asked for a rain-check for later in the day.  Fortunately, my loving office staff insisted I stop for a moment (they are called bulldogs for a reason, you know!).  🙂

  • Child:  This little book screamed you, Mrs. Van!
  • Me:  WOW…I love the title and your passion for it already!
  • Child:  Well, my teacher says it should say Live Well, but who cares about grammar anyway?!  🙂  It’s like that Life Is Good book and t-shirt you shared and love so much.  This book is filled with quotes and you can use them in your morning message now.
  • Me:  Let’s read then . . . (we spend about 15 minutes reading and talking through each page filled with inspirational thought, quotes, and challenges to live by daily).

You see, this learner, even at the tender age of 9, obviously makes a choice everydaylivegood to live good by doing good…like sharing a book with me, talking about ideas, doing his best to figure out his plan.  It’s humbling to share with him.  As he handed me the book to keep, he left me with these words:  “Look for what is good and you will find it.”  Live good!  🙂

Wednesday Wrapups…

Our Miller Bell news staff received a special visit today from our own mayor, mayorvisitMr. Bill Houston.  The students were abuzz to interview him on “hot topics” around the town for an upcoming edition of The Miller Bell (in a week).  Be watching for their article and his responses to their challenging questions.

In other news today, congratulations go out to our own music teacher, Ms. Amber Grant, who recently graduated with her Masters of Music degree!  We are proud of you, Ms. Grant!

We practiced our Shelter-in-Place response this morning.  With our thoughts weighing so heavily for our Oklahoma friends and families, this is especially important as we learn better strategies and actions for this type of crisis response.  I am pleased to report everyone did a wonderful job by acting swiftly and appropriately throughout the process.  Continued reminders and practice are critical to knowing what and how to react in a real emergency situation.

Finally, if you haven’t taken a moment to complete our LME parent survey for this year, please do so.  We value your input, your suggestions, and your perspective for future improvements.  Thanks for taking valuable time to provide this important feedback!

It’s a Monday on a Wednesday of a short week for us here…With only 11 days to go now, you need to catch your breath to believe it!  Stay safe!  🙂

A letter to my child…

While enJOYing the buzz of meaningful conversation during the Educational Showcase last night, a young learner gingerly tugged on my arm and this dialogue followed:

  • Child:  Just exactly why were you not at Miller Rally or at school on Friday?
  • Me:  I flew with Mr. Van to California to see our daughter graduate from college again.
  • Child:  Why is she graduating again?
  • Me:  Because she wanted more school time for the work she plans to do in her future.
  • Child:  Well, I missed you and you should have just written her a letter instead of going out there.  🙂

Of course, this had me thinking about what I might say in a letter to my daughter today.  Just like her lunchbox in elementary school, she’s accustomed to receiving little notes and funny cards (with monetary surprises at times) in her mailbox on a fairly regular basis (we are “note” people in our house).  She has heard me say (at least a thousand times) to “plan your work; work your plan; autograph your work with personal excellence.”  As an educator’s child, she has endured countless school programs and events, parent conferences in the grocery store, and some of the funniest supper and story time conversation imaginable.  Rachel knows her dad and I only ask and accept her personal best, no matter the endeavor…she never disappoints either.

Here’s the part you don’t fully synthesize when you meet your child for the first time:  All children enter this life free of time or worry, carrying great hope for JOY, celebration, and unconditional love.  Their delicate beginning reminds us how rich and fragile life is, that beauty is everywhere, and every personal connection has profound meaning.  Children bring great JOY and sometimes sorrow; good days and not-so-good days, but they live up to what we believe of them!  It’s true; the days of raising children are long but the years are sadly short.rva2

So here’s hoping you write a letter to your child occasionally.  Talk about the successes, hopes, and dreams; talk about growth and lessons learned…just remember to talk!

For now, congratulations, Rachel, on completing your Master’s degree with highest honors at USC in LA (Fight on!)…oh, and your letter’s in the mail!  xoxo  🙂

Educational Showcase Time!


It’s the annual Midlothian ISD Educational Showcase tonight (May 20th) from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Midlothian High School.  Our LaRue Miller Elementary learners will display and discuss some of their most meaningful, engaging work from this year in the core subjects.  Come see and hear our students in action from PK – 5th grades in math, science, social studies, reading, writing, art, and more.

You won’t be disappointed and chances are strong you will learn something new indeed!  See you there!

Show us your talent!

Fourth and fifth grade friends are invited to audition and participate in our annual talentshow2LME Talent Show sponsored by the PTO.  Participants are limited to students currently enrolled at Miller in 4th and 5th grade.  Acts may consist of solos, ensembles, and larger groups who sing, dance, play instruments, or perform other creative talents.  The show will be held on Friday, May 31st with two performances:  Grades K-2 @ 8:15 and Grades 3-5 @ 9:15 in the Miller Cafe.  For additional show rules or more information, please contact the school office at 972-775-4497.  Come on; show us your talent!

Organized vs. Disorganized, Part VIII

Note:  This is the final installment in a series from the book Organizing the Disorganized Child:  Simple Strategies to Succeed in School by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran.  Thanks for your positive feedback on this series!

Describe your morning and evening routines with your child.  Do you have to repeatedly organizingcall the child’s name to get her up?  Is he wasting time looking for items in the morning?  Does she get everything set for the next day at night?  Does he have a hard time getting to sleep at night or tends to stay up too late?

Chaos occurs for the disorganized child when there are no strategies in place for the morning and nighttime routines.  Organizational strategies like the ones previously suggested can extend to all waking hours.  Set routines truly help establish a structured pattern to follow everyday.  As always, ask lots of questions (and really listen to the answers) to determine exactly what part of the morning or night routine (or both) needs help so you can work together to seek win-win solutions for all.  This will result in your child feeling more confident and responsible as well as less stressed, and you too!  Consider the following suggestions in both areas:

Morning Routine — Frustration need not start the moment eyes open to a new day; everyone deserves to start off the day stress free and ready to move forward.

  • Begin the wake up process 30 minutes earlier.
  • Use an effective alarm clock (one that is annoying or hard to turn off).
  • Establish morning routines with lists; picture charts work well for young ones.
  • Once the child leaves her room, she should not go back in there.
  • Have a list or picture chart in the kitchen area for reminders, chores, or other morning details before school.
  • If breakfast is an issue, consider having the child “eat on the run” or while getting dressed (like a protein shake, breakfast bar, bowl of oatmeal, etc.).

Nighttime Routine — This routine should start after homework and supper are completed.

  • Prepare the backpack with tomorrow’s necessary papers and books.  Put all the work going back to school into the proper folder or place (discussed earlier).
  • Prepare the backpack (the black hole) with all of tomorrow’s supplies (gym clothes or shoes, anyone?).  A written or visual list of special supplies for each day of the week posted in a general area may be quite helpful.
  • Choose outfits and clothing the night before (with my youngest daughter, we laid out two complete outfits–this way she still had a choice when she got up, but only between the two outfits).
  • Try bathing at night and then sponge-bathing in the morning if showering is a time issue.

While all these things are negotiable depending on your household routines, just remember to always develop strategies WITH your child because it’s all about listening and compromising in the end!

Final Thoughts on this series:  As with most ideas, children in particular are more willing to try something new if they are asked to consider doing it during a “trial” period (adults too, for that matter).  Often times, children will come up with their own best solutions when we work with them on it in an open, patient manner.  Start now to adopt the attitude “so, it doesn’t meet my idea of organization but it’s working which makes it fine by me!”  🙂  Keep your sense of humor and continue asking lots of questions.  Baby steps, mom and dad!  Teaching and supervising simple organizational skills doesn’t occur overnight.  Some children are simply shown and they’re running well.  Others may be waiting for the frontal lobe of the brain to kick into gear.  Finally, others may simply be on a 50-year plan.  🙂  Gratitude, self-worth, and contentment come from achieving a common goal together.  Just remember that you don’t sprint an entire marathon; you pace yourself (and your child) to make steady progress along the winding journey.  Here’s hoping you find these many strategies useful for school and life success…now let’s get organized!  🙂