Friday, September 18, 2009

Celebrating Community Partnerships

When the school was built we wanted it to become an integral part of our community. In fact, one of our Learner Outcomes is to teach our students to be Community Contributors We knew that by making our school the heart of our neighborhood it would be treasured. We open our doors at night for Girl Scouts, home owner's association meetings and church groups. We always hope to give back more than we take. Last school year our local, and brand new, Chick-fil-A approached us about hosting a Chets Creek Spirit Night. Between the hours of 6:00 - 8:00 PM on the second Monday of each month we assist them in hosting the event and they support us by donating a portion of their proceeds during this time frame to our school! They even extended this offer to include a portion of the proceeds any other time during the day of the CCE Spirit Night if the customer mentions the school. This year we are extending and expanding our support of them by having a different grade level group help host the event each month for no other reason than to show our presence in, and support of, the community we serve. Stop by the Pablo Creek Plaza Chick-fil-A at Hodges and Beach in Jacksonville, FL on a CCE Spirit Night this year, have a great meal and spend some time with your favorite teacher. Don't forget to thank Restaurant Operators Jeff and Christine Weir for supporting our school because your dinner out is helping us provide for our classrooms!

October - Resource Team; November - Fifth Grade Team; December - First Grade Team; January - Foundations Team; February - Third Grade Team; March - Kindergarten Team; April - Second Grade Team; May - Fourth Grade Team; June - Office/Administration Team

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11 - 14 Cows for America

The Principals' Book of the Month is a monthly tradition where I get to choose an well written picture book to gift each classroom. A faculty meeting is held to share the book with my teachers along with an instructional strategy that can be used in the classroom with students. It is a highly anticipated event that takes research, planning and meaningful execution. I found our first book for this year while attending the International Reading Association Convention in May. The book was not even published yet but I knew the moment I finished that it was the perfect book for September and I had to get it! One little problem...I was to be in South Carolina on vacation the morning of the Book of the Month presentation. My technology mentor, Melanie Holtsman, and I got together and hatched a plan. Could we get our district to unblock Skype just long enough for me to present Book of the Month live? We presented our case, helped with some trial runs and finally got the answer - YES! It worked beautifully and from my mother in law's kitchen table I presented 14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy, to our faculty.

14 Cows for America is the true story of one nation’s incredible and compassionate gift to another. Following the devastating attacks of 9/11, Kimeli, a Maasai warrior, returns to his tribe in western Kenya and relates the tragic events of the attack to his people. They are so moved by the sorrow of the story that they offer a most selfless gesture in an effort to reach out to a country suffering with tremendous grief by giving a gift whose very meaning equals life.

I chose 14 Cows for America as the September Book of the Month to remind us not only of the 9/11 attacks, which targeted the very heart of the American people, but of the extraordinary gifts of compassion shown by people half a world away. Being able to offer any gesture of kindness, big or small, to another selflessly is an important lesson to learn in life. As educators we have the incredible responsibility to not only teach our students the academics but to also provide lessons that shape these lifelong behaviors.

For this presentation we also made a video of me reading the story so that it could also be shown to students throughout the day on September 11.

Read Aloud of 14 Cows for America from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.

To learn more about the book and access valuable teaching resources visit the 14 Cows for America website. For a complete write up for this Book of the Month you can visit my Book of the Month Wiki.

“Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded,
nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort.”

from 14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm Published! Well Kinda...

Last fall I was contacted by one of the authors of our yearlong faculty book study, Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools and asked to write a short story about how administrators use technology in innovative ways for the new book she was working on. Seems she had stumbled across my blog and liked what she saw. The vignettes in the book are titled One School Leader's Story and mine was to detail how we were accomplishing the implementation of Web 2.0 tools school wide and specifically to address how my blog was used to communicate expectations for teachers. I was completely honored and then almost immediately panicked! Who in the world would want to hear what I have to say? Y'all are forced to listen to me because you have to work with me. I mean really? I super procrastinated on this one but finally got my thoughts out on paper and got it turned in to Lynne Schrum's assistant. Whew! Done! It actually wasn't all that hard. It never is when I am describing the extraordinary work my faculty does with children. I had made up my mind that if she hated it I wouldn't even bother telling anyone I had done it. Turns out she loved it, thought it was wonderful - ha! Five days later another email arrived asking for another story - I couldn't believe it! This time they had me write about how we keep students safe as they access web tools on the internet. Armed with a touch of confidence I didn't procrastinate this time, got it written and submitted. I think I still expected them to send it back as garbage - they didn't. It was just what they needed. Whoa! I have to say that it was a lifetime high when my complimentary copy of Leading 21st Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement arrived this week. There it was - my name along side the name of the school I love - in black and white!! It's just 1 and 3/4 pages of a 212 page book but I can promise you if my Moma was still alive she'd be campaigning for me to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature! I'd love to be able to insert what I wrote at this point but I can't - even though I wrote it I don't own it you'll just have to buy the book or stop just long enough at my office door. I could probably be pursuaded to read it to you!

Can you hear the music?