Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Speech

Today was the first time in more than ten years that our association came together in the beginning of the year as one group. We met at the middle school and over 300 people came to the meeting. I gave my first speech (gulp) to a standing room only crowd. Each of the exec board gave a short speech with the theme running through it...get involved. I think it went well if compliments and "This was such a good thing to do" comments were an indication. Yesterday was our Crisis Committee (now called Action Committee) meeting, this afternoon negotiations and tomorrow our Rep Council. Four meetings in three days....I think I'm "meeting" out. Still, it was exhilarating to try to get people involved and think that maybe we are making a difference.

I hope everyone had a great first day of school and is resting up this weekend.

Stacy (Medford, NJ)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Unexpected

Some people fear the unexpected



the unexpected

can be

great. ----Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech is a great writer...evidence the awards she has won, but more importantly, the way the kids love her books and always ask for me to read more of them during story telling time (yes, I still do that in third-grade).

Today I had an unexpected day. My principal had told me about a future student's performance. She couldn't go, but I got some information from the dad and thought if I had time I would take a ride over to Philly to see it.

I was in awe of the little guy, a future third-grader coming my way in September. He took a chance and went to an actor's camp in Philadelphia this summer. He wants to be a stand-up comedian (oh, I can hear it now this year) so taking an acting course is a great start...even though he had no idea what to expect.

As I watched him on the huge professional Walnut Street Theater, he looked nervous but excited. I didn't tell him I was coming;he doesn't know me yet, but I could pick him out. I was sitting on the aisle, not too close to the stage. The show was very cute. The kids had written it themselves and it included acting,dancing, and singing. Microphones would have helped a bit, but I still have my teacher hearing even during the summer. I watched as he and other performed and watched the parents and families of the actors glowing with pride.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from the dad shortly after the performance. He told me Drew had seen me in the audience. How he did that, I have no idea. They invited me to lunch, which I thought was nice. I didn't have the opportunity to do that, but how unexpected was that.

All of this made me think about teachers...again. I know that so many of them who go to little league games, dance recitals, basketball games, shows and more to watch their students, former and current. They give their own time on weekends and at nights when they could be with their own families. I wonder if the new evaluation forms will include things like this on them?

We all fear the unexpected...with good reason, but as Sharon said it can be great. Just like our students and teachers are.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week of Dismay

Thie week started off with the high hopes that the Board of Education and the Association wold come to agreement about our contract that has been in flux going on it's second year. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and is now in the hands of the Board. For many reasons we would like this settled before starting the school year, the most pressing for moral. Going into a second year without a current contract makes everyone sad,yet going to fact finding is a scary situation. One, I am sure, that no one wants to take.

This meeting came on the heels of a funeral that was held for a former teacher/counselor/principal. A young woman who left a husband and grown daughter, who will be terribly missed. And then, today, there is the funeral of a former tennis coach who left behind children and grandchildren as his life finally came to an end in his 80s.

Then there was the tragedy on Friday, August 21 in Aurora, Colorado. a 24-year-old man police say opened fire early Friday on a movie audience who were watching the opening of the movie,"The Dark Knight Rises". 12 people died, including a six-year-old and 50 were injured. This horrific event has flooded social media and the tv for days.

Still, I really liked the brother of one of the victim's idea when he said...go and do something good for each of the 12 victims, including his sister. Do something that will honor their lives. Do not keep promoting the killer, but celebrate the victims lives.

Lives have changed this people I know and to people who I will never meet. Still, I couldn't let this week go without writing about these people; that would be a biggest disservice to all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Smile from Heaven

One of the things I must do as head of our association is represent our staff at events. Today was one such day...a funeral. I've been going to these too much this year. It's the second one for one of our own staff members. This time it was for a former principal.

Jane Hower was a wonderful part of our Medford family. She started as an elementary teacher, moved to be a school counselor at the middle school, and then became principal of Allen School, one of our five elementary schools in town.

Jane was also a responsible and active member of the association She was President of the association, a faculty rep and also headed our scholarship committee, a position she relished because it meant giving our students an opportunity to advance their education.

Cancer took Jane from us much too soon. She fought such a fight, surprising doctors as she survived far longer than they ever gave hope. But, that was Jane...fighting for others, in this case time for her family, time for the medical community to learn from her, and time for us to be able to say good-bye.

I will always see Jane's smile in her daughter, Lauren's, smile. I will always feel Jane in her husband's, Dave, big bear hugs. And I will always think of Jane every year when the daisies bloom in my front garden..the friendliest flowers there are...just like Jane.

A wife, mother, daughter, aunt, friend, educator...Jane's legacy will always be part of Medford Education.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Do You Say When...

We are in negotiations in our town right now. It isn't an easy time for anyone.. the teachers or the residents. I have tried to come up with some answers when people ask me or others WHY? Thanks to a very helpful friend (resident of the town, teacher and great writer) these were the answers we developed:

1. All we want is a fair settlement and a current contract.
2. We had to do things we didn't want to raise awareness of the issue.
3. Your children's education was not compromised by our actions.
4. The state-appointed mediator is about to send this to fact finding, which is a very expensive process.
5. We want to give our full attention to our jobs.
6. Please ask your board members to settle the contract.

I am sure others around the country are going through similar things. What would you add to this list?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

When a Cent Matters

This wasn't the blog I was planning on writing today, but that one can wait.

This morning I was so excited to see the 1cent sale back at Staples, an office box store. Crayons, pens,and glue...perfect to get my kids started for the first day of school. In the past I have been able to, as a teacher, buy 25 of each item for a penny each. I always bought, paper, something, so that I was always paying more than 25cents for something. I also would go another day during the week and buy 25 of each item to donate to the lovely lady in town who puts together back packs for needy students. So, imagine my surprise today when I was told I could buy two at a cent each, and if I wanted more, I would have to buy the at the regular price BUT I would get Staples reward points. Now, I do usually shop Staples because they do give reward points,but it would not behoove me this year to do that. And, looking at it from the other side,

I am sure they lost a ton of money last year, but remember, the people buying were teachers who were using their own money to buy for their classes, so yes, I am a bit disappointed in a store that I always promoted as being very friendly to teachers. I love their teacher appreciation day (a special shout out to the store in Berlin,NJ who makes an amazing day of it), but this new policy leaves me a bit cold.

Walmart claims to have price matching. They did it last year, without any limits. I will see if they stand by their policy or, like Staples, change it. If anyone tries it before I do, please comment.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independence Day...Minus One

It's funny. This evening several teachers are getting together to give out American flags to school children tonight before the 3rd of July fireworks in the town which I work. Teachers are giving up their evening with their families to reach out to children. We are not using school funds, but PRIDE money, which is money given to us by NJEA for activities where there will be students, parents, and teachers. Yet, one comment I received this morning from a concerned person was, "I hope you don't have any trouble." How sad to think that once again, I have to be concerned with how people will treat the members of my association rather than delighting in the fact that we are working with others.

Well, thankfully it was as much fun as I hoped it would be. Meeting students,parents, giving out the American flags. Everyone was in a great mood. We set up our table so we were the second group people saw. First, they were surprised the flags were free. And, of course being teachers, we loved going up to the children and giving them things. I hope people appreciated our efforts because we appreciate the parents.