Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Streams of Conscientiousness and Kindness Continued...

Many of you have asked about the Seasons of Giving Projects that our classrooms participated in. Classrooms donated the proceeds from their holiday auctions, while others participated in can or supply drives. Many classes picked the same recipients. Here's a rundown of the many who were helped.

Never have I seen a more generous offering to help those less fortuante and in need. Our students truly learned how to give back to their community. I am so very proud of them! No matter what holiday you celebrate I hope it is a beautiful one, full of fun, family and love.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Streams of Consciousness and Kindness

I've been really thinking about a lot of things recently. I am so grateful for my family, friends, and the best school full of people who care about each other and the children they serve. In the toughest of circumstances these people come through and they amaze me with their thoughtfulness and sincerity of mission. Here's just some of the kindness I've been witness to in just the past few weeks:

1 - One of our expected Learner Outcomes for students is that they learn to become Community Contributors and in this time of hardship for so many, our classrooms have elected to choose ways to give back to others during this season. In the past it has been tradition to hold a Holiday Auction in conjunction with our PTA in which all classes create a holiday decoration that is silently auctioned off with the proceeds given back to the classroom. This year we are offering a new twist on this old classic. Classrooms have discussed and chosen how they will participate in our new program the “Season of Giving Project”. Some classes still choose to participate in the Holiday Auction but instead donated their proceeds to a charitable cause. Other classes elected to complete a community service project (ex. making cards for our troops, donating time, etc…) or participated in a drive to collect items to donate (ex. food, clothing, or pet supplies for the animal shelter, etc…). You can't imagine the number of ways in which others have been helped through these gestures.

2 - A parent anonymously sent in $100 for a teacher to place in a needy student's lunch account. They also sent in a shopping gift card for the teacher to send to a family with the greatest need.

3 - 65 Thanksgiving baskets were assembled through the help of one of our Business Partners, Chets Creek Church, and distributed to our families in need.

4 - A colleague anonymously gave $100 to another colleague whose husband just lost his job. The receiving teacher wants whoever their angel is to know who touched and grateful they are. :)

5 - A colleague donated to a cause in the name of her team instead of participating in the team's annual gift exchange. The cause chosen benefits research for a condition a former colleague's child has been diagnosed with.

6 - To date over 200 cans of food and many, many toys have been donated by Chets Creek families to our Giving Tree for distributed to several families in need for the holidays.

7 - Our Behavior Interventionist has almost singlehandedly organized a community outreach event for tomorrow in our largest neighborhood with the greatest challenges. Teachers, staff and volunteers from Beach United Methodist Church will descend to help with home improvements and provide snacks, crafts and activities for our children.

This is a truly extraordinary place with incredibly kind and compassionate people. They touch lives that are forever changed for the better.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Life As a Writer!

Growing up I NEVER thought of myself as a writer, especially not a good writer. My childhood friend Catherine was the writer - and exceptional at it! I was never confident about it and actually found it to be a painful experience. I wasn't always the best student. I was a major procrastinator and daydreamed way too much to ever actually get any thoughts down on paper.

Looking back I'm not even sure I knew how to write, at least not until high school when I landed in the classrooms of two very special English teachers, Mrs. Hedgepath's 9th grade Honors and Mrs. Gobbel's 12th grade AP. Mrs. Hedgepath taught me to write from the heart and express my feelings about the topic at hand. I loved her, her class and every writing assignment she gave me. Headed into that AP class in 12th grade I never, ever imagined I would pass the end exam - after all, you had to write a 5 paragraph essay on some obsure literary topic in 30 minutes or less. Hardly anybody ever passed the essay portion and I didn't even consider it a possibility. But, Mrs. Gobbel taught me to think critically, organize my thoughts and succinctly put it all down. She was confident in my ability, and guess what, I got the essay done and PASSED. I was one of only a few that year, out of group of peers I considered much more talented than me. It was HUGE for me.

So much of my job over the years has required me to write, a lot, and in many different ways. And even though I find myself complaining about the volume from time to time I actually really enjoy it and the thoughts and ideas flow fairly easily once I'm started. That is, until the last few weeks. I have had the worst case of writer's block EVER! I've started and stopped many blog posts, fought through the technical writing my job requires and basically avoided the creative process because it had truly become painful. It hasn't happened but a time or two in the last twenty years, and I have really resisted struggling through it this time, and it has really bothered me. Ignoring the issue was easy since everyone had very carefully avoided asking me why I wasn't writing until my mother in law, whom I adore :), asked me last week if I had just quit my weekly blog. Ugh - you gotta love those mothers in law for holding you accountable just when you need it the most.

So, I committed myself to pushing through it and getting back on the communication bandwagon again. Forgive me if its rough at first but there is a lot of stuff rattling around upstairs and it will take me some time to sort through it and get it all out. Being able to share through the written word is a huge part of who I am and I've missed the creative expression. When I'm writing I am focused and when I'm focused, I am productive. When I'm productive, WATCH OUT! Thank goodness I had two teachers along the way who brought my inner writer to life, writing has shaped who I've become, how I feel about myself and how I relate to every single part of life.

Even though this post has taken way longer than it should've, I'm already starting to feel better...