Monday, December 22, 2014

See you soon, Sugar

When asked to reflect on this year the only thing on my mind was the passing of my mom. So I decided to write a reflection of how she spent her "dash". Maybe you will come to know her and see how she affected those around her. I hope I make a difference in someone's life like she made with everyone who came in contact with her.  The two dates on her headstone aren't as important as her dash. May your dash be as full. 

On December 8, 2014 Sugar, Honey, Sweetheart departed this earth. Mrs. Charlene Rolleigh had spent 70 years here and was ready to move on. Of those 70 years she spent 48 of them telling Dr. Tom Rolleigh what to do. If you ever walked into Rolleigh Chiropractic Office you know what I am talking about. For 43 of those 48 years Dr. Rolleigh would fix your misalignments, but Mrs. Charlene would fix your soul. If she thought Dr. Rolleigh didn’t run the massager long enough she would crank it back up. If you had a bad day you might have been a 2 packer: heat packs that is. Or if it was really bad, she might even exchange them when they cooled down for a third. You never left without a pat or warm hug and a “See you soon, Sugar. You knew you were loved. Sugar, Honey, Sweetheart had three children.  Her son, Tommy, is the oldest and loves his sisters and his momma. If he thought someone was talking about either he would fight (just check his school records).  Momma loved him too. There was never a football game when you didn’t hear her screaming, “Get ‘em. Tommy!” or “Kill ‘em, Tommy!” Everyone knew where Mrs. Charlene sat.  She also was there yelling for her two daughters, Monica and Danielle (or as we affectionately called her Dede) as they cheered. When she screamed their name everyone in the stands heard her pride in them. When Monica married Chris Moss, Mrs. Charlene was so excited to get another son. She loved him dearly and no one was more proud when he became a chiropractor as well. All through chiropractic school she could be heard saying, “Wait until my son-in-law graduates, he is going to be so good. He’s just like Tom!”Mrs. Charlene’s office is filled with pictures of all her children. (Some more embarrassing than others.) She loved to show them off. Later in the years Momma became Nana and more pictures were added to her office. She was blessed with four grandchildren: two girls, Lakin and Lacey, and two boys, Harrison and Brennan. When they came along she said, “If I had known how great grandchildren would be, I would have skipped the children and gone straight to grandchildren.” Those kids love their Nana.

Although Mrs. Charlene has gone on we will always remember her love for her family, her friends, and her community.

We want to thank you all for the calls, visits, emails, texts, food, gifts, prayers, and love sent our way. As we approach Christmas we know there will be a void in our hearts because she isn’t here. But she would like to leave you with this, “I’ll see you soon, Sugar.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The scariest day of the year!

Nothing puts fear into the hearts of teachers more than the words: Parent/Teacher Conferences. This year we decided to make a few changes that add even more fear. We decided to add "sessions" to help educate parents of what is going on in our school. The point in this was to help the teachers show the parents what is happening instead of defending what is happening. The words common core seem to be ugly words around here and we wanted to change that perception. After much deliberation we decided to add these sessions: Bullying, Tier II/III, STAR/ Lexile, 5th grade math, 6th grade reading, 7th grade math, 7th grade English, 8th grade math, 8th grade English, 8th grade science, 8th grade history, and Parent/Community advisory committee. We wanted to address every oncern we had heard. Ok, maybe we went into overkill a little. We planned everything out and sent out a newsletter with the session times on it. Since this was such a new concept, our parents were a little confused. Some asked questions, some did not. The night of the conferences we were very excited to offer this new format. I mean we had this great idea - what could go wrong?!? Well, I'll tell you what went wrong.
            * parent/teacher conferences for the entire county are held on the same night
            * parents can't get to all schools on the same night for extended periods of time 
            * parents misunderstood what the sessions were and some avoided them
            * the lowest turnout of parents in years
However, we continued with the plan and held our sessions. I gave each teacher that was holding a session a sign in sheet to track the parents. As I figured, the teachers with the lowest grades had the most parents. I felt that was a good thing though. Those parents now know how that class is set up. Every teacher that held a session said they enjoyed it. They felt they were able to talk to parents without having to defend themselves. 

In the end we felt it was very successful despite the low numbers. We are now planning "A day in the life of your middle schooler". The idea is the same, but we are planning on holding it on a separate date than all other schools. We want the parents to be informed in how the classes are set up. But this time all teachers will hold sessions. We plan to give each parent their child's schedule and send them to first period. We will "teach" for about 7/10 minutes, ring a bell, and move to the next period. Our plan is to help the parents understand their child's day and maybe, just maybe, realize we are all here in that child's best interest. We want every child in our school to be successful and we want every parent in our school to be informed. We have hopefully figured out a way to make this day not the scariest day of the year but the day we united with parents to help each child become the success we know they can be. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

Several years ago a friend and colleague passed away from cancer. It hit us all hard. I had a son in her class, and he was devastated. After that, the school formed "Team Jeanne" and began raising money for Relay for Life. This year I was constantly challenged by students to do the Ice Bucket Challenge. I wanted to do it to show the students my support for a good cause, but I felt the students didn't truly understand what the "challenge" was all about. I wanted the students to understand this was not just a bunch of people getting wet for fun. I thought about it a lot and decided I would do the Challenge, but the students had to raise money for "Team Jeanne" as part of our Pink Out football game. The response was amazing. Several teachers also took the challenge, along with the principal, superintendent, assistant superintendent, and me (assistant principal). We raised $466 dollars in just a couple of days. I learned the ice water was extremely cold, but I also learned when you give your heart to your students and teachers they will show you amazing things. Yes, the students found it extremely funny, but they also loved the fact that I was willing to do that for them, their parents, the cancer survivors, and the ones we lost. Was this an academic lesson? No, but it was a life lesson that I hope they learned. I also hope they learn that I will stop at nothing to do what I can to show my love for the students, teachers, and parents, and they shouldn't either. My heart is still sad over the loss of Jeanne, but I know she will live on forever in us and in our actions.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Technology surprises

I have been thinking about all the available technology in the classrooms and schools these days. It's amazing how much is out there. Unfortunately most is out of our price range. When I was looking at the budget and the availability, it hit me that the most important piece I use is free. I discovered the amazing uses of Twitter about a year ago. I joined Twitter because my children and students were always talking about it. I stumbled upon "Twitter chats" and #satchat. I was hooked! I cannot even tell you how much I have learned through my own personal professional development on Twitter. I discovered I could fix a cup of coffee, sit in my pajamas, and learn a plethora of information on how to make my school even more amazing, help my teachers with new ideas, and make sure my students are receiving some of the newest strategies.  Twitter is where I learned about Standards Based Learning and Standards Based Grading. I learned about ZAP and why it's important to make zeros a behavior not a grade. I discovered Failure WAS an option and how to fail forward. Genius hour was explained and so was what great principals do differently. I met amazing authors who turned me on to amazing books. I learned about Voxer and Evernote; although I'm still learning about those. I found so many super educational chats that I often find myself following several at one time. Every day of the week has a learning opportunity. Just a couple are #satchat, #sunchat, #iaedchat, #aledchat, #nbtchat, #apchat and many, many more. I have even been challenged to write all my ideas down into a blog. I could go on and on because of the amazing information available. So, for me, Twitter is the foundation of all my technology. It got me started, it's keeping me going, and I look forward to seeing where it will take me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The real school budget

As an admin, I am often trying to figure out how to efficiently spend money, during the summer especially. There is paint, air conditioners, summer workers, mowing, etc. But it got me thinking. We need all that stuff, yes, but honestly there are more important things we should be able to spend our money on. So, I have composed a list of what we should really spend school money on.
            * anger management classes: this is for those parents who do not like when or how we release them in the car line.
            * endless coffee: this is for the first week of school, the morning after ball games (middle school plays on Tuesday nights), and the morning after parent/ teacher conferences. It always feels like we never went home on those days. 
            * uggs: this is for those mornings when the thermometer forgets to move, but I must be able to go outside and say "Good Morning". 
            * snow machine : this is for that day when you just need a small break. We can use it to send them home early or not come at all. 
            * chiropractor and masseuse on staff : this is for those moments when you write on the board and have to see behind you at the same time. 
            * endless supply of buttons and zippers: this is for all those pants I have ruined. 
            * personal chef: school lunches just don't cut it. It's not enough food and with all the dietary restrictions now - it's just not good. 
            * and last but certainly not least: a duplicating machine for me: this is for those nights my children have a ball game on the same night as my students. This way I could be in two places at once. 
Even though as educators we see the need in my list, we know that we are not going to be able to check them off. However, if we come to school every day to ensure each child learns to the very best of their ability, then we have done our job and spent our money wisely. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

High Five

There have been a couple of things happen lately that have made me reflect. I saw a former teacher. One that I loved and was partly responsible for me being an educator. I also ran into a couple of former students, and we spent 15 minutes just talking about their new schedule at "high school".  It made me smile to see them so excited about this new step in their life. It also made me reflect on them, my other students, and my goals for this year. What was most important to me this year? Test scores? Honor roll? Good behavior? Then it hit me. Although great test scores, grades, and behavior are important, it's not what's most important. I want the students to know that I care about them. Yes, I want them to do well in school, but their lives are most important to me. When they walk out of my school I want them to know they mattered! So as I walk down the halls this year giving high fives and fist bumps, it's important to me to talk about not just their grades, but also that game last night, that band/chorus concert, or that newest movie. So, let's get this year rolling. Get your hand up and give me five.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Good Morning

Every morning during school I stand outside where the car riders drop off. Some mornings it's 85 degrees. Some mornings it's 3 degrees. The 85 degree mornings are not so bad. The 3 degree days- well that's not so good. During those cold mornings many teachers and parents tell me to stay inside, it's too cold. They tell me they understand. But I thought about it. I stand outside for several reasons. Of course I stand out there for the safety of those car riders, but the reasons go deeper. I had a parent tell me one time that her daughter was mad at her because they got to school late and she wouldn't be able to see what I had on. Apparently they discuss my wardrobe each morning. I laughed but I realized they know when I am out there and when I am not. To me standing out there gives me a chance to be the first person at school to speak to them that morning. I am the first smile they will receive. I have a chance to give them a good morning, and I choose to do that. I spend those few seconds asking about their evening, their game, their homework, their tests, their life. I want them to know I really care what is going on with them. I really care about what's important to them. So I have purchased some heavy coats, Uggs, rain boots, rain coats, whatever is necessary to be there every morning. Rain or shine, warm or freezing cold, this is my chance to say "I love you". I just disguise it as "Good Morning". 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

To Fail or not to Fail

Fail. It's a four letter word isn't it. I hear teachers say all the time "failure is not an option," or "I didn't fail you, you failed yourself." But, what if failure was an option? What if we encouraged teachers and students to step outside the box and outside their comfort zone and encourage them to try something new? What if Fail really meant First Attempt In Learning? Think back. How many children walked the first time they stood? How many people drove perfect the first time behind the wheel? So why do we not allow students and teachers to try something new and possibly fail? Let's try this. Let's change our schools and classrooms to learner centered. The learner may be the student OR it may be the teacher. You do something or teach something that doesn't work? So what! Make some changes and try again. The definition of grit is basically a trait based on an individual's passion or ability to hang with a long term goal. How do we teach grit if they don't learn how to triumph over failure? So let's teach grit by teaching students that failure is part of learning. Mistakes are proof of trying, and to just remember that stars don't shine without darkness. Help them shine

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Salt the Hay

I recently came out of the classroom and back into admin. Several people asked me if I missed the classroom. You know what? Of course. I loved "my kids" and the special relationship we had. But you know what else? I love my new relationship. Instead of 22 kids, "My kids" now consist of 354 middle schoolers. I can't believe how lucky I am. They challenge me to be better. Every day I am searching for ways to help them succeed. I love knowing all about them. And what makes them tick. But it's not without it's challenges. Middle schoolers have a mind of their own and they do not follow the "normal" path. I hear teachers say all the time "I give them the information. It's up to them to learn it. You know, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink." I guess I just don't believe that. I had an old friend once tell me that if you salt the hay it will make them drink. That's the way I feel about learners. If we can entice them with something (salt) they will learn. Continue to engage them and they will want to learn. It's not always easy but it's so worth it. So teachers - step out of the box. Look for ways to entice and engage your learners. Make school fun again. Let's drop so much book/workbook. Look for assessments that require the mind and not always the pencil. Kids are amazing and will completely surprise you if you will just "salt the hay".