Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Week

My school was fortunate enough to have a three-day first week. That's enough time to get excited, crash, rest over the weekend, and return ready to go (hopefully) the following Monday morning for week two.

My first days were ones of reality:

  • Seeing the tiny tables set up in the cafeteria for the Pre-K class reminded me how precious and little some of our students are.

  • Hearing a kindergartner tell a friend, "Watch this: she knows me!" and then calling my name so I'd wave and prove it. (And my prayer every day is to learn ALL these names and faces quickly.)

  • Realizing there are days I don't get to sit down at my desk to do paperwork until 4:00 pm. (But the face time with students, teachers and parents is my favorite part of the job.)

  • Finishing a long list of email answers and hitting refresh to see 20 more emails were added since I began.

But the hardest reality? An armed bank robbery that put our school in a real Lock-down Friday afternoon. Of course everyone was safe and sound, but the realization of being responsible for all these precious children was very sobering. The teachers shared what the students said as the Lock-down continued long enough for everyone to realize it was not a drill. (My favorite? An eight-month pregnant teacher of seven year-olds. One little boy, after three days of school, finally got up the nerve to ask her, "What's wrong with your stomach?" When she answered she was having a baby, three other boys quickly added,"We were so glad he asked. We'd been wondering the same thing!" )

Week two begins tomorrow. Can't wait!

(And PS to those following my run-on sentences these days: anotherone.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My First Day of "Principal-ing"

I've been working at an "invisible" job all summer: a new principal with no teachers or students at the school. Today, the key players arrived for the first day of school, and our campus was filled to the brim with life.

I loved watching parents and grandparents taking all the first day pictures and videos.

I loved watching one of my brand new teachers begin her first day at our school. (The students loved her, too!)
I loved having the kindergarten classes come to my office to meet the principal. (I showed the Class of 2024 my school pictures from my first day of school!)

I loved having friends' children attending "my" school. (Welcome, Maggie Sue!)

I had the first discipline visit to my office. (A reminder we don't tell our PreK teacher we think her games are dumb.) I overheard my first entertaining kindergarten story. (Boys, of course, discussing stepping in gross things while barefoot.) I tied shoelaces, hugged crying children, handed Kleenex to crying mommies and overall had one of the best days of my life.

If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that the last 9 years of my life have been a very long and winding road. To find this job at the end of that path? In my mind it is nothing short of miraculous. I am so very grateful to a God who restores and blesses us in ways we could never deserve.

And at the end of the day? Flowers from Married Daughter and Faithful Son-in-Law, welcoming me to my new profession.

"This I will call to mind, therefore I will have the hope:

Because of His great love, we are not consumed.

For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness, O Lord." Lamentations 3:21-23

And, for those familiar with my posts, a little more news: thelastonewasnotaccidental.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Beginnings

I began my years of teaching in the early 80s. My first classroom was full of 35 fifth graders and was not air conditioned. (Oh, that I was making that up. But I'm not.) There were seven huge bulletin boards in that room that had to be kept decorated and were almost the death of me. (Along with the heat.) I was at the end of a hall with two other new teachers and most of the other (much) older teachers would not talk to us, let alone tell us how to fill up all that bulletin board space. The next year, all three of us transferred to another campus in the same district. Angels sang because we had air conditioning and carpet on the floors. A slight drawback was our shared space was that failed experiment called "open area". The only thing that separated our three classrooms were six foot high rolling chalkboards. The fourth area was for a special ed class. And did I mention we had 38 students each at some points during the year? Listen, if you can love teaching in those conditions, you were made to be a teacher.

The next school year brought a move to a smaller district. The only opening was first grade and I wasn't sure it would be a fit for me. I loved fifth graders! I had 16 six-year olds and spent much of the first week counting to make sure everyone was there. I was teaching 50% less students and getting paid the same? Double score, because I found a perfect fit in the early primary grades.

Babies followed and I stayed home with them. I heard there was a kindergarten opening when my only little toddlers were in half day preschool. I went to talk to my former principal to see if I could sell him on a half day kindergarten class. My chutzpah was rewarded with the offer of an on-the-spot created half day gifted and talented teaching position. One of my favorite years EVER.

Another move brought me into private Christian schools, where I helped administrate (and teach) a split level class of kindergartners and first graders (including my daughter). A magical year. Followed by two years in kindergarten that included my son. Perfection.

Shifts in life brought me through about 10 more years in private schools and five more in public schools. This is the first year I have not had a classroom to set up, and I am missing that a little bit. I love being a principal, but I miss putting together a room that will nurture and challenge little ones who will call it home for a school year.

Come Wednesday, the school year will begin and children will fill the halls. Bet you can smell the crayons and lunch boxes just imagining it. I know I can.

There cannot be another job that is as challenging/satisfying as teaching and shaping children's lives. 2011-2012 school year: You may be the best one yet. Can't wait.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Showers of Blessing

I love blogging, but my posts have been sporatic lately with life coming at me fast right now because... The Teachers Have Returned to the School for Inservice! (More on that later.)

First, I'm catching up on the last few weeks that were filled with wonderful friends. And these friends pictured below? An elementary school reunion thanks to our friend, Facebook. Most of us still live scattered through out central Texas, but it was the transplanted Californian who initiated the meeting. (We forgive her for her initial suggestion of an outside meeting in the million degree Texas summer. Oh, to be in cool San Diego at her home.) (ROAD TRIP!)

In first grade, I was the shortest...and that has not changed. Neither has the sweetness of this group. We were amazed at how much we remembered from our formative elementary years together. I got downright giddy trying to tell others how rewarding and meaningful time spent with this group was after almost 4 decades.

And speaking of being the shortest? This is another former kindergartener of mine.

( And I had on heels.) K was leaving for college, and her mother threw a blessing party for her. Women who had played important parts in K's life were asked to come with a blessing to read over her. It was one of the most meaningful gatherings I ever attended and I think that I was the one who was most blessed.

And this little group below? It's a view from my seat at MY FIRST INSERVICE AS A PRINCIPAL. (Back away from the caps and we will all be fine.) We have two successful days behind us and begin our final week of meetings in the morning. I was given a wonderful faculty that was excited about beginning a new year of teaching and training up students for the 2011-2012 school year.

This weekend I went to see the movie "The Help" with my college roommate. (Do not miss this movie. Seriously.) One of my friends from high school (slash fellow teacher from my last school) brought over homemade lemon meringue pie to christen my new school year.(Are you lucky enough to have a friend who knows your favorite kind of pie? There is still time to make one.) Last night was a picture perfect wedding of a young man I watched grow up, with Young Son as my date. (My favorite reception moment? Sitting with a friend who told Young Son he read my blog and knew of YS's vegetarian "commune" living experience. I'm thinking YS may begin reading this blog very, very soon to see the kind of press he is getting on it. Thanks, RJ.) Today? Church and brunch in downtown Austin with a friend who is fighting cancer with all her might. My soul is filled up with friendship.

And right now? As I am writing this it is RAINING. The last rain of substance in my drought stricken state was almost a year ago. I think the 100+ degree weather may be under 100 for the first time this summer. Maybe, just maybe, a new season of life is beginning for me, too. And I am so very grateful.

Thank you, bloggy friends, for walking the last two years on this journey through grief. I'm looking for the rainbows now.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I have never really enjoyed shopping for clothes. Right now my "Back-to-School" needs are a little more formal than when I was a classroom teacher who spent a lot of time on the floor with six year olds. But is anyone selling dressier clothes yet this season? Nooooooo. I'm convinced that the downturn in the economy has also affected the amount of merchandise being put out in store. I'm pretty sure Kohl's has been pushing the same clothes around on racks since April or May.

I've tried--goodness knows, I've tried, to shop during the last few days. I recently experienced a lower level of dressing room torture at Marshall's. You know how hard it is to look good in clothes lit by florescent lighting? Well, that chain has decided that more is better, and installed two six-foot vertical lights in each individual dressing room. I mean, who doesn't look great with 1000 watts of light being beamed off a fun house mirror? Isn't that the normal lighting of your wardrobe?

(My first thought on exiting the dressing room was that I bet they didn't do that in the men's dressing rooms. Then I remembered I've never known a man who actually tried on clothes before buying them. So all the fancy new lighting was reserved just for the females.)

I even went to a store tonight that had the word "Dress" in its name, but there were few dresses to be found. Does anyone know of any stores that have dresses out during this hot, hot August in Texas?

And normally lit dressing rooms would be a plus.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Happy About the Heat

I am sure that we are all Sick to Death about all this talk of the heat. Yes: we know we are setting records. Yes: we know it hasn't been this bad in central Texas since the 1950s and we are closing in on that record quickly. But let's just embrace it for a bit and see where it takes us.

I find myself taking pictures of landscaping that is actually thriving this summer. I have a bit o' fear that my backyard may end up looking like the parking lot islands at the mall. Or the parking lot itself, since it does not require watering.

One activity that always blows fresh breezes through the soul?

Weekends away with precious friends! We found a town built around a lake and enjoyed cool conversation for two days. We had a balcony that framed the sunset over the water, and enjoyed the breezes blowing by the shady side of our hotel. (If only we'd taken pictures of that instead of having a stranger snap parking lot shots as we stopped for iced drinks on the way home.)
Even my backyard critters are learning to hang out and cool off in unnaturally flat positions.

Hmmm. Anything else going on? Well, I thinkImayhaveaccidentallyhadadate. I wasn't paying attention to the lunch invitation; I just jumped up and went. And that is a I am saying about that.

Fall is somewhere on that shimmering horizon. Hold on to that thought.