Saturday, August 30, 2008

And this is why I became a teacher!

I was at Publix today and one of my former students was bagging my groceries. After he greeted me he told the cashier that I had been his 5th grade teacher and I was the meanest teacher he ever had! I laughed and reminded him that I had always told him that one day he would thank me for being so hard on him.

And what did that young man say? "Yeah, I remember and that day is here." He is now a senior in high school, passed all of his graduation tests in his junior year and is planning on becoming an airline pilot. He has been accepted into a program with Delta airlines.

That young man came to me when he was in fifth grade barely able to read. He had been in special education for two years and had the unfortunate luck to have had a teacher who believed her job was to babysit the dummies. So by the time he got into his last year in elementary school he learned, along with 5 other boys, that if he misbehaved and acted out then no one would know he couldn't read.

When those boys came into my class I set high expectations and refused to let them get away with anything! I pushed and pushed and promised them that if they did as they were asked then they would learn how to read and write. I also told them that it was OK not to like me, to be angry with me but one day, in their future, they were going to realize how much I cared and they would want to thank me.

Out of the six boys I had that year, four left elementary school reading on a 4th grade level; up from barely reading at all. I've seen the boys over the years and they've all hugged me and laughed at how hard I pushed them. But this boy was the first to brag on his accomplishments and to let me know that he was grateful that I had the faith in his abilities.

I can't tell you how proud I am of this young man! Maybe I'll get to see him graduate this coming May.

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Olympic gymnast????

Today Grace was evaluated at the gym where she has just begun taking classes. Her new coach, after 2 classes, referred her to the developmental team director. What does that mean? It means that our sweet Grace is a natural gymnast!

The reason why we moved over to the gym rather than continue with the tumbling classes at the dance center, is because I was told by her teachers that Grace needed more than they could give! They felt she had great potential and needed to go to a gym to develop her talents. I'm glad I listened to their advice!

After the evaluation, the director told me that she recognized Grace's potential. However, Grace did not have the immediate skills needed to move right into the "preteam" class. What she is lacking is: upper body strength and knowledge of the technical gymnastics terms. When I told the director that Grace has had only 1 year of tumbling and 3 classes of gymnastics she told me that they were very interested in having Grace train with them to become a competetive gymnast---in the USAG level gymnastics!!!!

Once again I hear you say, "so, what does that mean?" Well the USAG stands for United States of America Gymnasts--yes, where they choose their olympians from!!!!!

The director told me that it is her job to identify young girls that have the potential to become competitive gymnasts and she feels that Grace has that potential. Grace was evaluated on her body type, her strength and her flexibility.

What we decided is that Grace will participate in a class that will prepare her for "preteam", which is the level right before the competition level. They want to build Grace's upper body strength and teach her the technical terms of the sport!

Once Grace moves into the competitive level (USAG) then she is on track with other girls training to be olympians! Grace's coach is so excited for her. She told me that at the first class with Grace she was intrigued and the second class convinced her that Grace had talent and she knew that she had to refer her to the developmental director! And the director agrees....Grace has great potential!!!

Unfortunately this means that Grace will not be doing any dance performances with the dance company. We've had to choose and Grace wants to focus on gymnastics. But, she does want to continue with her tap class and we are considering it. My concern is that she is only 7 and once she is put into the preteam class she will need to be at the gym 6 hours a week---that's an awful lot for a second grader.

Who knows, in the 2017 Olympics you may see Grace Feizhen Evans, from Georgia, adopted from Wenzhou China, representing the USA in the summer olympics!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Horrible tragedy

Please take a moment to pray for two young girls, adopted from China, who were viciously attacked by their overwhelmed mother. I do not, and will not, sit in judgement of the poor woman who only now will get the help she searched for but never received.

If you know of someone, or if you are feeling overwhelmed, please reach out! Things are never so bad that there isn't a solution, a solution that does not involve tragedy. Take a moment and read the article:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What a week!

What a busy, busy week we've had. It started with the first day of school! All of the kids were so excited Sunday night. It was hard to get them to go to sleep. Even though they were up later than I would have liked they had no trouble waking up at 6 AM. They all looked so cute in their new clothes!

Once we got to school it was just a madhouse! There were parents and kids everywhere just waiting to go down the halls to their new classrooms. Analiese did get to say hi to her friend, Michael. His mom and I work together and are great friends and we often swap stories about these two---they are just two peas in a pod!

Then, as a family, we walked Analiese down to her class first. Oh how excited she was! Her teacher was just waiting for her in the hallway. I didn't cry like I thought I would. I mean, Analiese is my baby!

Then off to Grace and Matthew's classes. Even Dad loves Mrs. DeJohn, Matthew's teacher!

Finally to Sarah's class. I was told that I had to give Sarah a goodbye kiss BEFORE she got to her class. I guess at 5th grade you are just too cool to get a kiss from your Mom! This year Sarah has two teachers to help get her ready for middle school. Yikes! The last year of elementary school; Sarah is growing up!

The rest of the week was spent going to gymnastics, dance and doctor appointments! Sarah's dance classes are later than last year because of her being moved up to the intermediate level. So Dave and I have been trying to find a good way to get everyone where they need to be. Sarah did decide to drop the gymnastics class and just focus on dance. So, I've changed Grace's class to an earlier time. Hopefully this coming week will be less hectic!

Matthew went for his follow-up to the eye doctor. His eye has gotten a bit stronger but not strong enough. The doctor now wants Matthew to wear an eye patch for at least 8 hours a day. The doctor put the patch on Matthew and by the time Dave had Matthew back to school the patch was removed and folded in half! There was no way it was going to stay on his eye! I guess I don't blame him for taking it off; it had butterflies, hearts and flowers on it. What was Dad and the doctor thinking?????

I went on-line and ordered some cool patches with lizards, spiders and sport balls on them. Until they arrive Matthew is wearing the flesh colored ones I found at the pharmacy. Today he has worn the patch all day without a complaint.

Today we've just relaxed and hung around the house. It's been threatening to rain as Tropical Storm Faye is hanging around south Georgia. We've had wind but no rain yet and the temperature has been very pleasant. I can feel fall in the air!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meet and Greet

On Thursday all of the kids had the opportunity to meet their new teacher. I am so grateful that I am able to request a specific teacher for each of them (one of those non-monetary benefits). The teachers that I had for Sarah are not necessarily the same ones I will choose for the others. Each of the children have such different personalities and need a teacher that will be best for them! I also don't want the children to be compared to one another.

Analiese's teacher this year is outgoing, bubbly and very talkative, not to mention very tolerant of little ones who talk a lot themselves!!! She and Analiese will get along beautifully.

It was a tough choice for Grace as my first choice of a teacher left the classroom to take another job in the school (school improvement specialist). The teacher I did choose hopefully will work well with Grace's difficulty in accepting correction.

For Matthew it was much, much easier. The teacher I chose is just full of energy! She speaks loudly, wears outrageous clothing (beautiful, but not generally what you see on a 2nd grade teacher) is fantastic with special needs kids and is a hugger! Matthew readily went to her, hugged her and once at home he announced, "I like my teacher!" We are going to have a great year.

This year I did not choose a teacher for Sarah. The entire team of 5th grade teachers are awesome! My requests for Sarah this year were the girls in her class. Having been in the elementary schools now for 14 years I know that in 5th grade the drama, the mean-girls and the puberty kicks in. Sarah is such a nice, sweet, young lady that I wanted her to be with others that demonstrated the same characteristics. Of course I couldn't pick ALL of the kids in the class but I did get to ask for a select few!

I'm very optimistic that this year will be smooth and each child will find success. I expect that Matthew will find a whole new world once he starts to read and Analiese will mature. Grace is definitely on the way to forging her own path and Sarah's year will be full of excitement. She is the "oldest" in the school now and part of the very first class to have started at this school.

This weekend we will be busy making sure we have all of our supplies and enjoying the pool before summer ends for the kids!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to work!!!!

Well it's official--Summer is over for me :(

I've only been back to work for three days and already I'm running behind. My office is a wreck because I've been in meetings every day, we have new children enrolling every day, we are frantically trying to get a working schedule and I am serving four schools again this year!

Tomorrow is meet and greet so by 2:00 the school will be full of anxious parents and excited children. I'll need to be available to smile, greet, hug and welcome our families so my office will have to wait until Friday.

The kids are all excited to be returning to school. This year I will have all four at school with me--YIPPEE!!! I can't believe this is Sarah's last year of elementary school nor can I believe that my baby, Analiese will be starting kindergarten. Where did the time go????

Starting Monday our full schedule begins; school, dance and gymnastics! Whew, we are going to be busy, busy, busy!

Sarah has been invited to try out for the next level of company dance (intermediate 1); she is so excited and we are so very proud of her. The audition is on Friday and we will know that evening if she is chosen for the higher level or must stay at the beginning level (junior company). Whatever the decision, the experience will be great for her!

Grace is going to be part of the "ensemble" group at the studio this year. They do some performances and one competition through the year. The commitment is not quite at the company level and gives the kids an idea of what being in company would be like. Sarah started here and helped to ease her into the amount of time she must give to dance. Grace is such a good dancer and will do very well in this group.

Analiese is taking a dance class and a gymnastics class (all of the kids are taking one gymnastics class). We saw lots of progress last year and know she will have lots of fun with her favorite teacher, Miss Courtney.

Matthew is only taking the gymnastics class but has already proven, after two classes, how much his attention and his gross motor skills have improved. We expect he will only get better.

As for me and Dave we hope to spend some time not only with the kids but with each other. He will be home every night this year as he quit the part-time night job he held for 11 years!!! I hope the two of us will be less stressed as we can split the responsibilities for driving, dinner and homework. Maybe we might be able to squeeze in a date night????

Friday, August 8, 2008

We just can't wait!

To watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics this evening! Hope you'll be watching also!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What do I see????

The end of my summer vacation! Yes, it is THAT close. I only have 6 (S-I-X) more days and then I am back to daily grind. I do love my job but I gotta tell you, having the summer off is just the best!

I had such grand plans to get things organized. What, on my list, did I complete? Organizing my closet? Nope. Working on the kid's scrapbooks? Nope. Starting life books for Grace, Analiese and Matthew? Nope. Organizing our photos? Nope. Cleaning out my kitchen cabinets. Some of them. Sorting out and filing the kid's keepsakes? Yup. Re-organizing my home files? Started it.

Well, if the "summer list" was my job, I'd for sure be fired! Oh well, there is always next summer....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"I'm leaving"

Got my pillow and blanket
Thanks to Matthew I now have my toothbrush
Our neighbor's house

Said Analiese...The kids were all playing upstairs and as will happen, Analiese became the "odd man out" and her sisters and brother did not want to include her anymore. After some yelling and tears Analiese came down to inform me, "I'm leaving". She had her blanket and her pillow but nothing else.

When I asked where she was going she told me, "The Browns". I then asked her how she was going to get there because they lived very far away she told me that she wanted me to drive her there. When I explained that I couldn't because I had to stay at home to take care of the other children Analiese complained that she couldn't drive and her "legs were too small to walk".

Analiese then had another idea; she would run away to our neighbor's (the Woods) house! Yeah, that's what she decided was best. I told her that I loved her and would miss her, helped her put her blanket in her pillow case, told her to call me (she told me to keep my cell phone on), Sarah got Analiese her shoes and off she went (with a stop for photos of course!).

Once we got outside, our other neighbor, across the street, just happen to be delivering cookies to our neighbor's! So, out came Tanya and I explained that Analiese was running away and wanted to run to her house. Tanya told her to come on, Analiese hugged me and then asked Tanya if she could call me.

From behind Analiese's back, I shook my head "no" to Tanya. She told Analiese, "no, you can't call your Mom". Analiese looked at me and said, "I think I'll stay home". So...into the house went Analiese, with her blanket, pillow and toothbrush!

Analiese told me that she even though she wasn't leaving this time, she was keeping her options open. I told her that was fine and I was glad she decided to stay! After a quick hug and a kiss she was off playing with Sarah and Grace again!

I remember Sarah running away when she was five. She got about 2 houses away and ran back and told me she couldn't go because she wasn't allowed to cross the street! Grace hasn't mentioned it and I know Matthew has NO intention of even mentioning it because he's afraid we'll agree to let him go!

My life is so full of wonderful moments and memories!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

And the survey says...

The pair that we bought? Well, it actually is choice #6, none of these (but only because I didn't take a photo of the frames we finally settled on!). However, they look very similar to the Disney frames. So, for all of you who voted for the round Disney frames--we agree!

So, Matthew had the glasses for not even a full day when they got broken. Sure glad we bought the extended warranty! Matthew had set his glasses on the floor of the playroom (no, no, no!) and Analiese stepped on them! Yes, we had many tears. Matthew, because he lied and tried to say that Analiese pulled the glasses off of his face and then stepped on them and then Analiese because she vehemently denied breaking them that way (but accepting that she did indeed step on them).

We finally got through to the truth and Matthew was sent to his room for lying and for not taking care of his glasses. He is also working off the cost of having the glasses repaired. Hopefully Matthew will take better care of them now.

As you can see the frames also came with some cool, clip on (with magnets) sun glasses. He loves those and wears them as much as I will allow him. The other night he did a magic show and had on his sunglasses. He couldn't see a thing but boy did he look good!

From what we can tell Matthew's vision seems to be better. He doesn't sit as close to the TV but as for other things we haven't heard many comments. We'll see on the follow up appointment.

Grace is doing better. She has some pain from the incisions. We make sure to cover her belly button with a cotton ball and a ball. This morning she woke up and the cotton ball was missing--maybe it worked! She hasn't started complaining of not being able to swim or do other activities so that tells me she is still not feeling herself. We'll see on Monday what happens when gymnastics class starts. I've told her she can dress and sit with her class but she cannot participate. She is fine with that today....

I have just one week left of vacation. As usual the summer just flew by. It was a great break. I enjoyed the kids, the pool, the movies, the beach, our trip to Michigan and not having to run from school to dance to doing errands. But, that fun is just around the corner!