Monthly Archives: June 2013

A.C.E. launches into new adventures!

MISD’s annual Academic Camp for Elementary or ACE is winding down today, but what a week around here!  Elementary students from around MISD have participated in the following ways:

Camp SCRAPs (Super Cool Recycled Art Projects), taught by Baxter teacher, Amy Sears.  Artists explored who uses recycled materials in their work while creating their own unique prints, paintings, drawings, collages, and other crafts using a variety of previously enjoyed materials blended with quality resources.

Drawing! Painting! Pottery! Crafts! was designed by Miller teacher, Scott Fiorenza.  Various art topics were explored through different mediums to create inspired artwork based on the art elements and principles of design.

Creating Music Using Technology, shared by Irvin’s music teacher, Adriane Brown, had students using technology to create and perform original compositions.  Digital instruments, iPads,, and other innovative online music programs were used.  Students performed a short program to showcase their amazing musical creations.

Be A Rocket Scientist, engineered by MHS teacher, Sarah Hardin, challenged rocketlauncherslearners to build genuine combustible engine rockets.  Young scientists ignited and launched their rockets in a special ceremony, marveling at each one soared upwards of 700 feet and then gracefully returned assisted by their skillfully crafted parachutes.

Balanced Brain-iacs, led by Vitovsky teacher, Paula Doskocil, focused on activities designed to enhance the brain’s function.  Students used balance boards, too backboards, rotation boards, balance beams, and the pendulum ball to enhance their handwriting, reading, and math skills as well as hand-eye coordination and focus.

Go Google, conceived by Vitovsky teacher, Stacee Johnson, used iPads and laptops to “go Google.”  Students researched topics of choice as they explored Google educational tools and web 2.0 applications to learn web search techniques and create a finished technology project to share with others.

Campers enthusiastically shared their overwhelming appreciation and thanks to these talented teachers for their creative experiences.  MHS Pals assisted and earned community service hours for participating during the week.  Special thanks to Miller AP, Robin Bass, and her team for leading the groups throughout the week.  Thanks to the campers, their leaders, and families who embraced the ideas and participated at the highest levels.  It’s great to launch into new adventures…and never better than the summertime!  🙂

If you could not fail…

The picture asks the poignant question:  notfailWhat would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?  Failure is often perceived as an enemy, yet failure often provides the best lessons in life.  As a child (who is attending summer school in math right now) reminded me today, “we all need to experience failure in order to appreciate the success even more.” What a profound and positive attitude to have as we move forward to success!  So…what WOULD you attempt to do today if you were guaranteed not to fail?

Summer Reading for Parents

“You who are on the road must have a code that you can live by…” ~Graham Nash~

“They certainly don’t come with instructions, Mrs. Van, and I didn’t even need a license to birth them either!”  Such was the beginning of a difficult conversation with a parent recently.  She’s correct!  I remember thinking, upon hearing the first whimper of my precious newborn child, “Oh dear; now I have to take her home, raise her, and pray it all turns out okay…”

There are two outstanding parenting books I recommended and loaned to this mom; we’re doing a book study with the first one right now:

Teach Your Children Well:  Parenting for Authentic Success (Why values and coping skills matter more than grades, trophies, or ‘fat envelopes’) by Dr. Madeline Levine, and

Building Resilience in Children and Teens:  Giving Roots and Wings by Kenneth R. Ginsburg.

Both books are highly recommended parent reading by the American Academy of Pediatrics in fact and I certainly wish both had been around for my personal reading long before now.

Teach-Your-Children-Well-Levine-Madeline-9780061824746Dr. Levine discusses in depth the critical need for strong core values and parenting choices that lead to authentic success for our children in place of exhausted, externally-driven children who believe they are only as good as their last performance.  As adults, we know real success is not measured by today’s report card, but by the person the child becomes in 15-20 years.  Dr. Levine argues and proves a strong point that our parenting style should solely concentrate on both enabling academic success as well as developing a sense of true purpose, well-being, connection to others, and meaning in their lives.  Her book is a call to action as we return to healthier, saner versions of ourselves.

When it was originally written in 2006, Mr. Ginsburg’s goal was to “translate the Building_Resiliencebest of what was known about positive youth development and resilience into strategies parents could apply at home.”  His pearls of wisdom now include previous observations as well as other gems devoted to preparing parents and communities to stand together against toxic society messages, maintaining  vital connections despite multiple moves and deployments (based on his work with military families), and how resilience should never be confused with invulnerability.  Just as children can reach their limits of resilience, so too can the adults who love and care for them…we all need to reboot!

Children thrive best when they have many layers of support!  We all are responsible for developing the strengths, values, and choices needed for personal success now and in the future.  Here’s hoping you’ll join us as we all continue working together to nurture our children today so they become the compassionate, creative 30-year-olds we need tomorrow.  After all, as my precious newborn (now 24) reminds me:  “I will be picking your assisted-living care, mom…”   🙂

Water Safety Tips

As summer gets rolling now for our learners and their families, water safety is on my mind.  water_safetyHere are some tips from the American Red Cross:

  1. Learn to swim.  There are multiple courses offered by organizations and certified individuals in our area.
  2. Always swim with a buddy and never alone.
  3. Swim in areas supervised by adult swimmers (lifeguards at public pools, lakes, and beach swimming areas).
  4. Read and obey all the posted rules and signs, especially at the beach.
  5. Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  6. Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities.
  7. Be knowledgeable about the water environment you are in and the potential hazards (shallow or deep, riptides, etc.).
  8. Pay attention to local weather forecasts and conditions (summer storms and lightening in particular).
  9. Only dive when the area is clearly marked for it.
  10. Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to water emergencies.  Being proactive versus reactive goes a long way to ensuring everyone’s water safety and a fun time!

We want our LME family and learning community to have a safe summer filled with all those activities (water in particular) that bring JOY.  It’s time to splash into some safe water fun today!  🙂

Seeds of Success…

A parent stopped me today in the midst of final day (organized?) chaos SeedsofSuccessand shared this  beautiful note with me:

I’m the voice of a grateful parent whose child was in your school; the one who needed lots of help to find his way.

You and so many have been a blessing to our family as everyone helped my child succeed; we are grateful for the part each person had to play.

You gave him so much more than just lessons or books or boundaries; you gave him wings so he could learn to fly.

You ignited a flame within his soul, a passion to learn and grow, and to never give up and always be willing to try!

The encouragement inspired him, and everyone’s kindness was so real, but the thing thrilling my heart the most is this;

Building his self-confidence has changed his life forever because he believes in himself, and a brighter future is now his!

WOW…may we never underestimate the powerful impact of the work we choose to do everyday at LME!  Here’s hoping we always continue to plant seeds and be a catalyst for success!

Bravos, Team Miller, on a job well done this school year! 

Awards and Accolades!

Thanks to our Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grade parents and families who braved the rainy weather awardto help celebrate our learners’ achievements this year!  Each group did an amazing job of supporting each other, shaking hands, smiling big for all those pictures, and sharing successes of the year.  Special thanks to our teachers and staff who ensured everything ran so smoothly all morning.

One day to go…it just doesn’t seem possible but it’s really here!  We will celebrate our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade friends on Friday.  As the saying goes, “School’s (almost) out for summer!  🙂

Principal helps us surf into summer!

MT1LME enJOYed a guest princiPAL or what we affectionately call the “bonus” princiPAL today.  Macie, one of our fifth grade friends, spent the entire day serving as our princiPAL for the day.  She won this opportunity at the recent PTO Denim and Diamonds Event.  Macie started her day before 7:00 a.m., organizing and preparing before meeting buses and doing arrival duties.  Announcements, morning message, walk-about, appraisals, dress code issues, meetings, and lots of Miller Moves (involving snippets of famous beach music) continued throughout the day.  She accompanied the Principal Luncheon group to Red Robin, serving and assisting in all capacities.  Macie even shared ideas, suggestions, and inspiration with teachers for next year!  In fact, I was told by several today, “Mrs. Van, this goes to show you ARE replaceable and you’re training her right now!”  🙂  Special thanks to Macie for an extraordinary day!

Bravos also go out to our Principal Luncheon group for the spring semester.  P.Lunch1These students earned top grades, top citizenship, and attended every single day of school this semester.  The folks at Red Robin did a wonderful job of serving and celebrating with us as we enJOYed this special reward.

Yes, we’re wrapping things up as we surf into the summer…here’s hoping you get a little surfing of your own coming soon!  Stay safe out there!