Starting to Sprout: The Growth of a New Garden Club

Starting to Sprout: The Growth of a New Garden Club

In October, I accepted a position as a Garden Club Advisor for an internationally themed elementary school in our area. It is a well-known, well-respected school of choice, locally. I do not want to say I was a shoe-in for the position, but I interviewed offering 13 years of experience of leading a garden club for an elementary school in my resident school district. Not only did I lead the club, I founded it in the fall of 2004 after completing my Master Gardener Volunteer Level One Training. What was supposed to be a way for me to obtain my volunteer hours, actually turned out to be my calling!  I am meant to teach children, this I know.  I have come to learn that I want most to teach them about our environment. Environmental education allows interdisciplinary lessons to be woven through all subject areas. It is a great fit for me, and hopefully, a new set of students, too!

After serving over 500 youth in my resident district, including my own three boys, and countless others that I developed relationships with during the last decade, I ended the group. Why, is not important for this post. Essentially, I needed to, so I did. It took a long time – actually years – to arrive at that decision. But, finally I was ready to leave. But, I knew I cold not go back to this school to visit, to hold my other group – a writer’s circle, or even to maintain the butterfly garden that I so lovingly created and maintained with students since 2006. I had to make a clean break.

Unexpectedly, this fall,  I saw an advertised position, a paid position for a Garden Club Advisor at a neighboring school district. A larger school system with a larger garden. A new school with new students! I did not need long to think it over.  I applied and was hired the day I interviewed.

Tonight, I held our fourth garden club meeting.  I had four students. We planted bulbs – not the bulbs I used with my previous group – but different kinds. Not one bulb per student – but six. Forcing bulbs and teaching young children about bulbs as plant structures is one of my favorite lessons.  I can firmly say that by the time we were done today, I think it was one of their favorite lessons, too!

Our group is jelling, I am happy to say! Yes, it is a small group. It is about 1/6th the size of my first garden club group at my previous school. Still, the students are engaged, good listeners, and curious about what we are learning. In addition, I am being paid! PAID! And, I am still love what I am doing!

I won’t lie. It is different. A new building. A New staff. The fourth administrator with whom I have worked. But, relationships take time. I have the time to build another club. It seemed this month was a turning point. I met with the principal on Monday to discuss my vision of the club for her school.  Mostly, I want to share with the staff, parents, and students what my vision is – not only beautiful gardens but the gardens used to educate, instill pride, and a collaborative effort. We put some plans into place to help me communicate the vision.  I want to get rid of any preconceived notions that might exist about my role. While the gardens are beautiful and will need maintaining, I am there for the students, first and foremost.

Our club meeting had a new comfort level. The students arrive knowing who I am, my expectations, and how the club meeting goes. I have gotten to know them, with the need for name tags long gone.  They are a great bunch. We talked about flower bulbs.  I was seated at a table with the students. We learned. We laughed. We planted some bulbs. We cleaned up as a group! Together. And then we played Garden Club Hangman which just means that our vocabulary words from the day’s lesson were used. New rules of play were accepted without question.  Everyone was picked up on time at dismissal. It was a very satisfying meeting.

On the way home, I found myself smiling. Our club is starting to sprout! Roots have been established. The building is warm. We are growing. Together, our garden will grow.

Volunteering: Part I Finding a Good Fit

Volunteering: Part I Finding a Good Fit

For a large portion of my adult life I have been an active community volunteer. Thousands of my life’s hours have been spent volunteering!  Most likely my earliest volunteer experiences occurred when we moved cross-country and I felt the need to immerse myself in a new community where we knew no one.  Due to some helpful neighbors, I found myself involved in our school’s PTO before my eldest son even attended kindergarten. For first year, I attended meetings and helped with what I could. This included making large games, some of which are still in use today, for the school’s fundraising festival. Of course, my very handy husband helped with the construction of mini-golf and another carnival type game. And, I remember working at the chicken-Q.

After that initial year, I moved into a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) Board role as Secretary and served for two years. I had my third child during that time and remember bringing him to meetings in his nip-nap. This role introduced me to some of the frustrations of volunteering. PTO’s are fraught with politics and individual agendas. Invariably, there are one or two very strong personalities that either run the show or want to believe they are running the show.  My most irritating revelation about this occurred when I was co-chair of a gift basket raffle that was being held (and is still held today) for the first time. Our illustrious PTO leader wanted to micro-manage how we organized the raffle, what contributions were made by the classrooms, and even our communication with staff. She was not even on our committee! Out of this experience grew some personal guidelines, which I later shared in a bout of frustrated conversation with the PTO President. 1) If someone volunteers, give them space to complete the job – do not micro manage! I am a person that completes what I commit to doing and do it well! 2) Do not commit if you do not have the time, and 3) Do not commit if you are doing it to reap some kind of glory for there will surely be someone else who will grab the credit. Some other guidelines that are useful are to: 4) find something you are passionate about to donate your time. The hours go faster and you are helping a cause you believe in supporting.  This could be animal rights, environmental causes, athletic boosters, band boosters, or any number of any other interests. 5) Most importantly, I learned that if the volunteer role you possess for a group does not go well, makes you uncomfortable, and just leads to frustration, you need to find some other way to volunteer. 6) And finally, but also of utmost importance, volunteers MUST feel appreciated or they will cease being YOUR volunteer.

After learning PTO was not for me, I became a classroom volunteer and did that each year right up through 2014 when I was assisting at our middle school for an ELA teacher we came to know.  It is rare to be a volunteer at a middle school!  From the start of pre-k for my oldest through 8th grade for my youngest, I spent 14 years in various classrooms and was at school 2-4 times a week to help teachers with small group work.  My school volunteering continued through this past June when an after school garden club I led ended its thirteen year run!

During this earlier period, I also realized I had suppressed a creative side of my personality and started a craft group at our local Children’s Museum. This also helped me to get out of the house without my infant and toddler for several hours each week. For a period of three years, I prepared a craft for visitors to make in the museum’s “Reuseum” – a space that utilized donated items to create “treasures” for the children to take home. It was thematic and seasonal – something, I fondly remember. But, my point here is that I asked to volunteer at the museum by starting that group. It was a better fit for me than being a docent or at the “desk”.  And, they let me do it!  Although, at the time I did not realize that this position set me up for being assertive enough to start several other groups at our school, one district-wide group, and also gave me the confidence to attend Master Gardener Volunteer training sessions that would enable me to volunteer on a wider-community level in the future.

These early experiences were almost twenty years ago. I have continued to be a volunteer for many groups and donated many hours of my time. By doing so, I have been a volunteer role model for my children. Was I uncomfortable at first? Absolutely. Were all the experiences positive? As you read previously, no, they were not. Did I continue to volunteer? Yes.

Hopefully, my boys have seen that it is fairly easy to volunteer. They have witnessed the joy I experienced from the groups I organized such as Evergreen Garden Club, Writer’s Circle, Book Clubs, and time I spent on educating the community in my role as a Master Gardener Volunteer. They also saw frustration and irritation during my time as a co-leader of our Parent Advocacy group for local Talented and Gifted students.  My boys knew when I have not felt appreciated as a volunteer. They also saw me persist years beyond the onset of irritation just because I believed in or loved what I was doing and the irritation was extraneous. Through groups I have led,  I have demonstrated my belief that clear communication is paramount when working with volunteers.  They have witnessed me work through misunderstandings, miscommunication, and feelings of disregard to continue to be a volunteer.  My boys have seen me sad when a long time volunteer activity ends.  Through it all remains the feeling of joy you experience when you give of one’s self! It is not tangible, it is not monetary, but it is there and invaluable!

Today’s youth are expected to volunteer. But, this is tricky.  Very often they are volunteering to fulfill service hours for church or to meet requirements for membership in a group such as National Honor Society.  I am not all that sure that these requirements are imparting the true meaning of being a volunteer. For many, it is just checking a box or an item off their “list”, it is not giving of one’s time just because they want to do it or believe in the group/cause for which they are volunteering.

Yesterday, I volunteered with my youngest son for the school’s athletic booster club. He moaned and groaned but we went. I can understand that some of his reluctance was fear of the unknown. Has he volunteered before? Yes. Has he volunteered in this capacity before? No. This was a new experience. But, I saw as we were there – especially after his friends arrived and he saw other friends volunteering in different roles at the same event – the veil of reluctance lifted.  If only a little bit, it lifted. Yesterday, my son supported a group that supports him and his activities as a student athlete. It is important to give back. This is the lesson I hope to impart.

Giving back is easier when you do it for a group you believe in, do it with friends, experience a well-organized activity with clear communication, and feel valued for giving of yourself and your time. With the exception of clear communication regarding the event venue, all of these other pieces were in place yesterday.  Hopefully, the experience was “harmless” enough to bear repeating for my son.  I know I repeated it many times before I was totally comfortable in my volunteer skin. Comfort level will increase with maturity, too. As adults, we need to role model and encourage volunteering in a positive light, as well as something you do because you care – not because you have to do it.  Only time will tell if I have been successful!


My Grown Up Christmas List (Wish)

My Grown Up Christmas List (Wish)

Yesterday, I was making some jewelry at my workstation in our home. It is another hobby of mine. With my graduate classes in full swing this fall, I did not have much time available for creativity regarding my beadwork. Pandora was festively playing  traditional Christmas tunes that kept me in good company while I worked.  A song sung by Amy Grant came on called my Grown Up Christmas List (I actually thought it was “Wish” before I looked it up to write the blog) and it got me thinking how powerful the words to that song could be… other words, the song inspired me. If you’d like to listen to the song, you can do that here: Grown Up Christmas List sung by Amy Grant.

For a while I have been thinking of asking something of those adults I know with children. Parents. Caring people. Humans living busy lives. I know  – another person asking another thing of you. However, am still going to ask because I think it is important. So, here goes…..

If someone besides yourself has helped your child succeed academically – a teacher, a friend, a club leader, a pastor, a priest, a neighbor, a librarian, a tutor, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a coach – anyone – besides yourself, I am asking YOU to return the favor and help another child besides your own, to be a success in school!

When I think about the success my boys have enjoyed in school, much of it is due to the priority my husband and I put on academics as their parents. However, there is also a great deal of influence by people we know – at our schools, or in our community – who have made a great difference in our boys’ academic lives. As I stepped away from formal student advocacy this year, I am asking you to step up. When I advocated for my boys, I was sure to advocate for other students as well.  Over the years, I have been sadly surprised to learn that this is not the “normal” occurrence.   Typically, parents advocate for their student and their student only. I find this unacceptable and not at all in the “it takes a village” philosophy.

So, this coming year (I am not asking you to do this immediately), but this coming year, as you pursue something that might benefit your child academically, try to include or extend that benefit to another child – one that is not your own. It could be qualifying to take an accelerated class, inclusion in a “special” group like advanced book club or writing circle, participation in  MathCounts, or help with their National History Day project. It could be anything. I am just asking you to help a child/student who is not your own, but might have the same needs as yours.

Sadly, some children do not have advocates. If we go through life just protecting and pushing “our own” children forward, we are missing the opportunity to impart a sense of community to those around us, but mostly we are missing the chance to build a village capable of sustaining excellence in an academic community.

So, my Grown Up Christmas Wish is this:

if your child has been the recipient of  academic opportunity, you will help another child have opportunity to succeed, as well. It is a wish well in accordance with the holiday spirit. Be thankful for what you have been given and then, give back!  Thank you!




Poinsettias: An Enrichment Post

Poinsettias: An Enrichment Post

Between yesterday and today I taught five classrooms of students about poinsettias.  They ranged from second to fifth grade. What follows is some of what I shared with them.

The poinsettia is named after Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico. Dr. Poinsett, whose hobby was botany, saw the plant while on a trip to Mexico in the 1820’s.  It was probably growing alongside the road, as poinsettias do in tropical climates.  He was impressed with the flame red color of the plant and took some cuttings.  As I told the students, Dr. Poinsett must have been a man of some means, as he owned green houses! Upon return to his home in South Carolina, he rooted the cuttings of the poinsettia and produced more plants. Like anything beautiful, the poinsettia soon gained in popularity in the United States.


Besides the brief history lesson, we talked about what it means when a plant is considered to be”tropical”. It is probably the last thing we are thinking about poinsettias when we see them in such prevalence at holiday time in the northern reaches of our country, such as Wisconsin. Truly, the poinsettia is ubiquitous from late October through December. It can be seen and bought almost anywhere. And, likewise is displayed similarly. Most of the students easily understood that a tropical plant would have needs other than what we have here in the mid-west in December. They knew tropical meant that the poinsettia would grow in areas of the world closer to the equator, with more warmth, bright sunshine, adequate rainfall, and humidity. As purchasers of these plants we need to imitate these conditions in our homes. We talked about how to do that as well.

The very basic part of our discussion centered around plant parts but with a poinsettia, determining the basic parts are trickier than you think.  And, I intended to trick the students!  We reviewed that most, if not all, plants have roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. In every single class, the flowers were the very last part to be mentioned! When we finally got around to establishing that flowers were indeed a very important part of a plant, I asked them where they thought the flowers were on the poinsettia plant.

poinsetta flower 17

Well, students in every single class responded, the flowers red leaves of course! This was the response I got and also the one I expected. Wait a minute, the red leaves are leaves….could they be the flowers, too? No. The red leaves on poinsettias are actually modified leaves called bracts. Bracts are leaves that cluster around flowers. Ahhhh, there is a clue! The flowers on a poinsettia are in the very center of each swirl of red leaves (bracts). They are small yellowish-green nubs, not remarkable at all.  And the purpose of the red leaves (bracts), to bring attention to the flower – where pollen is found, of course!

Plant names were also discussed with the poinsettia very obviously being named for Dr. Poinsett. But, plants have scientific names as well as their common or lay names. The scientific name for the Poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima It means very beautiful flower. The Mexican name for the flower is The Flower of the Holy Night or Flores de Noche Buena. We talked about families and how just like they share characteristics with others in their family – plants also belong to families and all those that belong to the Euphorbias ooze a milky sap. The poinsettia’s sap can be irritating to the skin.

Irritating is not poisonous, however. Poinsettias are not poisonous to people! Many years ago, in the 1970’s, Ohio State University studied this very idea and found that a 50 pound child would have to eat 500-600 poinsettia bracts to just get an upset stomach! That’s a lot of leaves!  No, poinsettias are not poisonous. It is must a myth that continues to be told….and told….and told – that’s how myths get spread, right!  The students definitely understood.  Still, not poisonous is not synonymous with edible. I was sure to make that point. And, we talked about how pets are different than people and might get sick (or poisoned by much smaller amounts of poinsettia leaves). So, it is best to keep this plant away from pets.


I love poinsettias. I am confident that came across in my presentations in the last two days. Twice in the last eight weeks since being at this new school the staff have verbally recognized my passion for these subjects. I am glad they can see it. The last thing I did before leaving each room was to contribute a book to their  class library –   Poinsettias : Myth and Legend – History and Botanical Fact by Christine Anderson  and to recommend The Legend of the Poinsettia book by Tomie de Paola. I recommend those to you as well.

Still Broken: Talented & Gifted Education

Still Broken: Talented & Gifted Education

A number of recent things have got me thinking about Talented and Gifted (TAG) Education services in our school district again.

These thoughts started when we learned at the recent senior meeting that one of the high school counselors was now being called a career counselor and would be the contact person for TAG students, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Acceleration, Youth Options, and Course Options. Students can visit him to get help with registration for the above opportunities. It sounds like he is popular since his other counseling responsibilities were alleviated by the hiring of an additional student services school counselor. I came home excited for our talented and gifted student population, taking this as a “win” for the students a group of us had advocated for some years ago.

But, my excitement did not last too long, perhaps a few days to a week.  Within a very brief time, I found myself instead thinking about who was being serviced by this counselor and exactly what services were being offered.

A number of years ago, our high school (HS) went to a self-selection process for AP classes, instead of referral or need for registration approval by an assigned faculty member.  Our family found this former system faulty,  and within the leadership of the TAG Parent Group, a group I co-founded with other parents, we pushed for self-selection and deleting the need for the so-called “approval”.  This action was far removed from helping my oldest son, who ended up leaving our resident district shortly after being denied the ability to take three AP classes as a junior (he had taken AP Calculus as a freshman and AP US History as a sophomore). He was ranked number one at the time with a 4.33 G.P.A..  There was no need to deny him the opportunity of three AP classes except to weld administrative power over our student.  Subsequently, the district lost its claim to our National Merit Scholarship winner, who ended up being valedictorian at his adopted, virtual high school, as well as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee as a sophomore at his University, and a national Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention winner for student research who has already presented at an international level science conference and published a paper.  They were short-sighted, then. And, I am afraid that their sight has not improved.

I have had two more students qualify for TAG services at both the elementary and middle school levels as they progressed in school. Yet, neither have received anything in terms of service from our HS.  My second oldest son, now a senior, received a letter as a sophomore from the counselor at the HS who was going to service TAG students as part of a newly expanded position, two years ago.  This is the same counselor who was now  servicing only TAG students and enrichment opportunities. Unfortunately, it then happened that our student went on to have some difficulties caused in part by an overloaded schedule (which, admittedly, we allowed) and more so, because of insensitive teaching practices such as being called stupid in front of his peers.  Unfortunately, the TAG counselor did nothing to help rectify the insensitive and unhelpful instructional situation our son found himself in.  We learned, through self-examination and reflection, but with no help from the school’s administration or guidance office,  that our senior learns “differently” than most.  That, and only that, is what he is guilty of.  Stupidity does not come into play.  At all.

And then, there is my youngest boy, who is a sophomore at the HS this year.  He has consistently tested in the 97-99th percentile in mathematics on standardized tests since being a young elementary student. He accelerated in math to the extent that he is now taking AP Calculus as a sophomore. He used to be a gifted writer, having published several times, and in at least one adjudicated compilation.  In addition, his artful origami creations, a former passion, were included in a national travelling library exhibit several years ago through Origami USA.  Yet, he has never heard from the so-called TAG counselor at the HS.  He did not even get the “letter” than my second son received.  It makes me wonder if he was even referred by the middle school personell for continued TAG service – something he had benefited from since second grade, which in, and of itself, is another story. My experience has shown me that gifted education is embroiled in the politics of education, with support of the these students and their needs being highly questioned by many – but, sadly, mostly by educators, themselves.

In the spring of his eighth grade year, my current sophomore student was provided an opportunity to “double up on English” credits during ninth grade which was mis-labeled and mis-billed as acceleration but was not.  After some consideration, we refused this course of action which really attracted many by casting a wide net, and by reports was not well tolerated by some of the students.  One of the reasons for our refusal was that he was already accelerated in mathematics and was only one of five students who took pre-calculus as a freshman.  Enough was enough. However, it does seem that we should have at least heard from this counselor at some point last year. We did not. It has made me wonder if the refusal of the “accelerated” English took him off the TAG list that was sent to the high school prior to his entering last year.  It would account for the TAG counselor not knowing of him.

Middle school TAG services were not favored by my boys, with one of them even opting out of them during his 8th grade year.  Content did not focus on their high interest areas and both were self-directed enough in their learning to continue to explore new subjects or deepen areas of learning on their own.  We did not make a big deal about it and let them drop the time spent with the TAG teacher.  Unfortunately, she was a friend at the time and this made for an uncomfortable situation.  But, we allowed it.   And, to give some credence to her effort, they were not the most willing students, shunning attempts she made at engaging them in the topics of her choice, like the law and philosophy.  Still, dropping the TAG course content did not change what they are capable of achieving – only, it seems, who might possibly know of their specific, and perhaps, niche capabilities.

So, can you understand my wondering about who is being serviced by the TAG counselor at our HS?  Of course, I could name a few students. I have a long history of advocacy in this area with local students. I have probably helped other students more than my own and that is something I somewhat regret.  Unfortunately, in addition, I do not see much improvement to our system of providing TAG services (beyond self-selection for AP, and other advanced curricular offerings) than we experienced when our oldest son was still a student at our resident district high school – that was seven years ago.  The players have changed but the scenarios have pretty much remained the same.  It is too bad we have not come farther in helping our most academically talented students to succeed. I wonder if they still feel as alone as my oldest son felt at times.  I hope, at least that aspect has improved.

What I have come to realize is that despite whether this counselor knows of my youngest son or not, he will be challenged and he will succeed.  He took an online math class over the summer through a highly regarded national university that specializes in offerings for talented youth.  We registered him for the course and set up his study schedule.  He finished on time and did well.  He is a talented artist.  He took care of setting up his own independent study in art this fall.  I am sure the experience will be enjoyable for both him and his teacher.  We really do not need the TAG counselor.  But, I still wonder …… if my son is not on the counselor’s list – a student who qualifies for service, without a doubt, by many definitions – who is on the list?  Or are they just not reaching out to students at all now?  I am not sure I want to know.  And, if he is not on the list – why not?  It is frustrating to realize that a system I knew was broken seven years ago, remains so.  It is also liberating to realize that I do not have choose to try to fix it again.


Tending My Own Garden

Tending My Own Garden

By 6:50 a.m. this morning, they were gone. My two students were off to the high school for another year. One was excited, and one was reluctant but glad it was the beginning of the end of high school for him.  He is ready for something more.

On the first of this month, I wrote about my wishes for this school year.  The post is filled with reflections, observations, hopes, and desires for the year that starts today.  The first week of September is always jam-packed for my family. Not only is school always scheduled to begin, we also have two birthdays to celebrate, back to back. One today and one tomorrow.  Luckily, we were able to do some celebrating over the weekend, so I feel good about taking care of that.

Now, it is my turn. I need to tend my own garden. I mean this metaphorically as well as literally. Over the last few weeks, I realized that I did not have to run over to school to weed the butterfly garden in an attempt to have it presentable for our students and their families on the first day of school.  I have not missed going, however much I will miss the students. It was a task that always made me resentful, for many reasons. This summer I relieved myself of this self-imposed duty for the first time in 13 years. It actually feels good!

Today, I can tend my own flower garden, not because I have to, but because I want to. Over the weekend I planted mums. Today, I will weed the front perennial bed. Later this week, I will have monarchs to release. And soon, there will be milkweed pods to collect.

Today, I will tend my mental garden. A new round of graduate classes start for me, one of which includes a research study which I am designing and need to prepare to implement by the holidays.  My time is freed up to attend to my own needs as a student, life-long learner, and community educator.

Today, there is much to be done. I have given myself time to do it. Today, while the house is quiet and my students are starting their own year, full of new classes, friends, and activities, I have time to tend my own garden. I am grateful for that.

Via TwoWritingTeachers Blog and Slice of Life Tuesdays

What I Wish for This School Year

What I Wish for This School Year

September is here. It is a time of transition, once again.  Already, some schools are back in session, or soon will be after the Labor Day holiday. With two sons still in high school, I have wishes for both of them, as well as for myself, for this upcoming year.

What I wish for my high school students, a senior and a sophomore:

1. I hope that you have a year filled with learning that is satisfying. You both are self-directed in your learning already, so I hope for that to continue. But, I hope you find some joy, satisfaction, and challenge in your school work.

2.  I hope that you have teachers who really love to teach and do their job well.  I believe most people in academics want this for themselves. However, in today’s educational climate whether love for teaching stays or morphs into frustration is up to the individual and the circumstances in which they find themselves. You never can tell how it is going to be.

3. Be a squeaky enough wheel that you get some grease, but not so squeaky that you become labelled, are repelled, or left “flat”. We all know squeaky wheels get the grease. Sometimes, I become concerned that the “average” or even “gifted” student’s needs are overlooked because “they are doing okay” or do not make enough noise to be heard.

4. Continue to be involved. Enjoy your sports: tennis, track, and soccer. You are both loyal and committed athletes that are assets to your team and teammates.  I hope that is recognized. Appreciate other forms of involvement and creative expression.

5. I hope your organizational skills continue to grow. I hope you have teachers that will continue to model how to organize, study, and ready yourself for performance. We need more of this.

6. I want you both to continue to manage your time well. Please, continue to adhere to our family belief that academics comes first.

7.  Appreciate and widen your support system. You never know when you will need a friend, mentor, advocate, recommendation, or advice. Know that your supports can be people from all walks of life.  Continue to be a support to others, as well. Both of you are apt at lending a hand, and not for any reason (credit, recognition, etc,) other than because you can and want to help.  This makes me especially proud.

8. Be a good friend, as well as a good student. Try hard, do your best, and good things will come to you (hopefully)!

9. Continue to make good and safe decisions. Thank you.

10. Finish as strong as you start, meet the goals you set, and get ready to fly!

What I wish for myself for this school year

  1. I wish that parents voices are heard, contemplated, and included in district decision-making.
  2.  I hope that no educator calls my student or any other student “stupid”. This is somewhat of an old wound but one that is ripped open at the outset of each new semester. Therefore, it needs mentioning.
  3. I hope that I can verbalize concerns rationally, without too much intensity.
  4. I believe that while we are good, we can always be better at what and HOW we educate our students. Strive for excellence, not meritocracy. Do not give in to “good enough” mentality. There is always room for improvement.
  5. I hope there is a lessening need for character education. This starts and grows at home, not just within the school walls for only 8 hours a day.
  6. I hope for more transparency in grading. The students deserve “a bird’s eye view” of their semester at the outset. This means having a comprehensive syllabus that includes ALL points and percentages for the entire course, from start to finish, delineating where (what assessments) those points are derived from.  This means not changing points, percentages, or multipliers, without first informing the students.  This means the teacher assigning the work is the one to grade it, unless the students are aware, in advance, that a “co-teacher” will grade their work.  This means, having your act together before you start assessing.  This means grading in a timely fashion, and not withholding a grade to see how they do on other assessments first. The students deserve all of this and more. You are affecting their learning outcomes in both good and bad ways. I hope for more good than bad, this year.
  7. I hope that I use restraint in paying attention to the digital grade book (which I hate).  For me, this means looking at it only twice a week or less.  It means my students (and yours) need to keep abreast of it themselves.
  8. I hope that no summative assessments are lost by any teacher! Again, somewhat of an old wound, but one that was not resolved satisfactorily.  If a test is lost, the party responsible needs to make amends, not the student.
  9. I hope that hard work is recognized and rewarded.
  10. I hope our educators are filled with passion for their subject area as well as a caring attitude toward their students.
  11. I hope that teachers invest in all students. This means getting to know them all, not just those you think you connect with.
  12. I hope that I transition to not volunteering this fall. I know I can find other ways to contribute and I will.
  13. I hope that all volunteers are recognized and appreciated for their contributions.
  14. I hope that our educators, students, and administrators stay safe.
  15. I hope that our buildings are warm, friendly, approachable places for both students, parents, and community members.  Smile, and say, hello!

I hope for a great year! Let us all make it so! It does take a village!