“The highest form of wisdom is kindness…”  The Talmud

As we get ready to close out 2013 and prepare to embark on the educational adventures of 2014 as a learning community, the simple reminder to be kind on our personal quest for educational greatness and excellence resonates soundly.  There are so many profound daily gifts in this life we are given, especially when you move within the walls of an elementary campus each day!  question-mark2It starts with being grateful. What are you grateful for each day?  How do you show kindness each day?  When you are grateful for the gifts in your life, big and small, you always seem to find more things to be grateful about, thus abundance continues to flow into our life when gratitude flows out of our heart.

We are challenging ourselves at LME to find ways in 2014 to be grateful and kind along our personal and educational journeys.  Our classroom leaders are challenging our families to find more ways to model this example in action to each child on the educational journey each day; it takes all of us.  Be optimistic and excited about the new gifts coming our way and allow kindness (to you and yours to others) be one way to show peace, JOY, and love in action…Be wise; be kind!

In closing, the powerful words of John Wesley sum it up best:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can…

…So what will 2014 bring?  Blessings and best wishes for a most prosperous, kind, grateful, extraordinary 2014, LME!  Happy New Year!  🙂

Note:  We look forward to everyone returning on Tuesday, January 7th!

“That’s some present!”

We were honored to reunite a first grade sister with herIMG_3386 big Army brother this afternoon.  He’s in training and home on leave for a short time…what a happy reunion!  As one young friend noted, “Now that’s SOME present, Mrs. Van!”

It’s ironic then that we shared a special poem today during morning message.  Written in 1943 during WWII, this particular gift was special indeed:

The lights are dim, but atop the tree a star is shining bright;
For in spite of closing darkness, it’s Christmas Eve night.
Small hands clasp at a doll’s soft curl, and small eyes open wide;
And a small heart thrills with happiness at the presents side by side.
But dear little one, the things you have are more than those you see;
The gifts at this Christmastime are not placed upon the tree.
A family close in love and JOY, the care that they each give;
The promise you shall always have, this country in which you live.
Each may have some presents, but yours are more precious dear;
For you give love and hope anew by simply being here.

It is true in this season of JOY for those who believe that it’s more fun to give than it is to receive!  The blessing of giving should be freely shared, not just now, but throughout the coming year.  As we get ready to close our doors for a holiday break, here’s hoping you take time to enJOY a wonderful season of hope, peace, JOY, and great love.  You are greatly loved at LaRue Miller Elementary!  🙂

Note:  We are on holiday break Dec. 21 – Jan 6.  Students will return to class on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. 

Special gifts of learning…

Fourteen loaded buses…hundreds of students, staff members, bus drivers, and parents… Yes, Team Miller enJOYed our all-campus field trip to The Perot Museum today!  Thanks to all who assisted in planning, designing, and implementing a great adventure for our entire learning community to explore together.  As one little friend shared with me, “It was just Christmaspresentslike opening a bunch of gifts on Christmas morning, Mrs. Van!”

So, here’s your question today:  If your beautifully wrapped gifts contained surprises (other than material ones), what might you find inside these special packages?

May you always open the gift of knowledge each and every day!

Letter to Santa

“Mrs. Van, here’s your question today:  Have you written your letter to Santa yet and what do you really want him to bring you this year?”  Thus started a precious conversation about how the tradition of writing letters to Santa got started.

For example, the history behind writing Santa letters appears as mystical as Santa.  The first reference to a letter goes back to the real St. Nicholas in the 13th century (the patron protector of children).

The actual annual tradition of writing St. Nick steadily dear-santa lettertook hold in the 1800’s after the publication of Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas.”  Over 100 years ago, the United States Postal Service officially developed a program, Letters to Santa, by helping to make children’s Christmas wishes come true, ensuring letters to Santa remained a holiday mainstay in the lives of generations of families for years to come.

So after this extensive discussion, we both decided whether you believe or not, here’s hoping you have the opportunity to help someone write an important letter soon (whether it involves Santa or not)…and yes, little one, my letter was mailed two weeks ago (but what I said will remain a mystery)!   🙂


It’s no secret my favorite word is JOY…our learners know it because it’s something we talk about during morning message—finding our own JOY in simple, everyday ways.  We see the word all over the JOYplace during this time of year; you can find it on ornaments, in greetings, on wrapping paper, or even on the smiling young faces of little learners whose eyes sparkle and marvel at the wonder of the season (and there was great JOY on the beautiful faces of our third grade friends who shared their holiday spirit during “Holiday HoeDown” last week!).

JOY surrounds us, but we must teach our little ones the way to find it for themselves and how to share it with others, thus leading me to a couple of challenging questions for today:  How do you share JOY with those you hold dear during this JOYous season?  How do you convey JOY to little ones who look to you for guidance in finding it within themselves?  Yes, these are tough questions to ponder as you prepare for the coming days ahead…but, as always, may great hope, peace, JOY, and love surround you and those you hold dear!  🙂

Monty Moose update…

Well…Monty is certainly making his rounds these days.  monty5 monty6Over the long ice weekend, he did his best to write a letter to Santa and work on his keyboarding skills.  He shared another great piece of moose with the 3rd grade team while learning a valuable lesson in 4th grade about being a friend.  Monty even rapped his way through art with Mr. Fio.  This moose gets around…so, Monty is also asking ourmonty4 Christmas question today:  If you were a Christmas Moose on the loose, where would you go and who would you take with you?  Thanks to our talented staff members and creative students who have generously participated in this campus event.  We definitely look forward to more of your Moose adventures!

In other news, it’s time to once again celebrate our Miller Christmas Express Day with PJs and parties.  We look forward to welcoming our parents and other guests to our learning environment for the big event.  Thanks in advance for the great support and fun you bring!  🙂

STACHing through the day…

Our classroom leaders and staff members received a little Santa clip this week with the words:  “Santa MUSTACHE you to have a Merry Christmas,” so we declared today LME Mustache Day.  This has been so festive as we STACHEd Stashingthrough the day with various activities, conversations, and holiday fun!  Here’s Mrs. King’s class STACHing through the hall…

…then there were twin Santas on campus today!  Mrs. Perez and Ms. Mach are frequently confused by students and parents as twinSantasbeing one in the same.  One student commented:  “I just couldn’t figure out why you made her teach upstairs AND downstairs everyday, Mrs. Van; it just didn’t seem fair!”  🙂  While they do look a great deal alike, please know they really are two unique and fun ladies who decided to have a little Santa fun with this problem.  Thanks for being such great sports about all this, ladies!  🙂

So here’s your question today:  If you could wear any holiday or character disguise, who would you choose and why?  Here’s hoping you have some fun STACHing through your day towards the big holiday too!

Reminder:  Our 3rd Graders will present their “Holiday Hoe-Down” program tomorrow evening @ 7:00 in the cafe.  On Friday, we will join the Miller Express Christmas Cheer Train with our annual (school-appropriate) PJs, slippers, robes, and holiday parties. 

Do you hear what we hear?

This special season would never be the same without the beloved sounds, carols, voices, and music.  A young child stopped me this morning:

  • Child:  Do you hear what we hear today?
  • Me:  I hear carols playing softly in the background while you work!
  • Child: So, Mrs. Van, here’s your question today:  What would be your all-time favorite Christmas carol?
  • Me:  Oh dear…this is a tough question!  May I choose a couple at least?
  • Child:  Only because I like you and the choices you make!  🙂

Choosing only two songs to share was a complete challenge as I pondered my final answer (I knew they might ask me to sing them next).  hollyivystitcheryMy first choice was one my grandmother sang often to me, a French carol called The Holly and the Ivy (you can see her handiwork here):

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir…

The second carol is one we sing frequently in our church.  Gustav Holst composed the music in 1906, set to Christina Rossetti’s beautiful 1872 poem, In The Bleak Midwinter:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow;
In the bleak midwinter, long ago… (there are two more verses and this final one)

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him; give Him my heart.

Both of these carols have deep and personal meaning to me; they are just two of a long list.  So here’s YOUR question today:  What are your favorite Christmas or seasonal carols/songs you always wish to hear and sing during the holiday?  Here’s hoping you hear some beautiful seasonal sounds during the season too!  🙂

Speaking of hearing seasonal sounds, our LME third graders will present their program, “Holiday Hoe-Down,” this Thursday evening in our cafe @ 7:00 p.m.  We look forward to a festive performance indeed!

Seasonal Traditions

Most likely we all have a favorite holiday tradition or two…something you treasure each year as the season comes around again.  Whether it’s placing a special ornament on the tree, watching a holiday movie together, visiting family and friends, making treats, or doing a familiar activity together, you have something you don’t want to miss.

santa1My girls, Rachel and Hannah, would always write cleverly decorated notes to Santa the day before Thanksgiving in order to give them to him the day after Thanksgiving when we woke up early to go to his first story time of the season.  We never missed this treasured tradition or the chance to visit personally with him; he also remembered their names every single year too!  🙂

So…here’s your question for today:  What are your favorite Christmas or holiday traditions and how do you honor them each year when the season rolls in again?  In whatever way your family chooses to define the holiday season, take time to reflect with your child on these special traditions.  If you don’t have a favorite tradition, here’s hoping you start one this year!santa2

Speaking of Santa, we need to thank him for taking time out today to stop by several of our LME younger classrooms to “check on grades,” give out hugs, take some pictures, and share a laugh or two.  He even found our friend, Fisher, wearing something similar to him today; what a great conversation this was too!  🙂  Thanks, Santa; we sure love you!

Note:  Angel Tree gifts are due on Wednesday this week.  Thanks for all you are doing to support those in need in our learning community.

Ice day…

We rarely have the day off from school in our area, but today is the exception.  With a couple of inches (or more in some of our rural areas) of ice–not snow–ice, the call was made to close today.  Wise decision.  Here’s hoping you IMG_3347are warm, safe, and enJOYing a little pre-Christmas break before the break…which brings me to our question today:  What do you like to do on SNOW/ICE days off from school?

Be safe out there and above all, Keep Calm and Be Merry!  🙂