Friday, April 29, 2011

A Personal Day...It's All About the Fairytale

Today I took a personal leave day to to be with my 17 year old daughter. There are not too many times since I have been teaching that I have taken a day...just because.  The reason?....The Royal Wedding. 

In 1981 I woke up before dawn to watch Charles and Di's wedding with my Daddy.  It was one of the neatest experiences we ever had together.  My Daddy has since passed, and I wanted to make this a tradition with my daughter.  So this morning  we got up before dawn and watched....and oohed and aahed and even shed a few tears of happiness and bittersweet memories of Princess Diana. It was the stuff fairytales are made of. It was wonderful. 

I captured the experience in a play-by-play of sorts.  And here it is.

3:30 am. Love the live trees lining the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Very "New York" looking I think.
3:30a.m. Hats galore as guests arrive. Note the difference between a hat and a "fascinator."
3:48a.m. They are not called chartered buses in London. They are "motor coaches" my dear.
4:00a.m. British commentator: "What a great day to be British." Anderson Cooper of CNN: "What a great day to be a Commoner."
4:05a.m. Chelsy Davy, longtime girlfriend of Prince Harry the door for "incidental guests." OUCH!
4:07a.m. About those "fascinators" do they stay perfectly balanced on one side of the head? Do you get a big time headache after an hour or two of wearing something on only one side of your head?
4:10 a.m. Anderson Cooper of CNN: "Do you have to keep referring to non Brits as Commoners." British commentator: "Yes."
4:13a.m. British commentator in the crowds ask a woman from Boston, USA what she was looking most forward to. She replies, "the Kiss, the Kiss!" Gotta love American honesty!
4:20a.m. David and Victoria Beckham arrive. They look beautiful. He is scrumptious and she is pregnant and radiant!
4:21a.m. Becca is awake and ready to watch with me.
4:22a.m. British commentator on Brits..."They love to party." Well now!
4:29a.m. Princess Diana's brother arrives. Remembering his speech at her funeral. Bittersweet.
4:35a.m. Mr. Bean arrives. Did I just hear the commentator say that he is a relative? Well now....Imagine having Mr. Bean as your cousin.
4:47a.m. Elton John and David Furnish arrive. I love the fact that even though the guests seated are well to do Brits, they still drop their jaws and ooh and ahh when he walks by.
4:50am. Just saw a woman arrive with a fascinator SO large with a large pokey stick thing. I think she just might hurt the persons seated on either side of her. Hope she sits still.
4:55a.m. Another shot of Elton John. It would be so tough to sit beside him at the wedding and keep myself quiet. The whole time I would be refraining myself from singing, "B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets" in his ear.
5:02a.m. I am currently fixed on ABC's coverage rather than CBS and NBC. There's something about Babawa Walters and Diane Sawyer together. Lovin' it.
5:04a.m. Prime Minister of England arrives with his wife. She is NOT wearing a hat or fascinator but a small comb. Very unique and pretty. Love that she is being different.
5:12a.m. Just spotted a woman in drag in Hyde Park. Love it!
5:13a.m. First glimpse of Wills and Harry leaving Clarence House in a Bentley. They look SO handsome in their uniforms. Prince William looks like the Prince in Cinderella. Just sayin!
5:19a.m. ABC commentator on the Princes Harry and Wills. "They truly are best friends."
5:20a.m. I love that William broke with tradition and had a "best man" instead of "a supporter." And that he is wallking down the aisle in Westminster with his brother.
5:25a.m. Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiance arrive. Wonder if she'll be taking notes during the ceremony for her future wedding this summer?
5:30a.m. Commentator just announced that many personal staff are invited as guests. Very cool considering that Wills and Kate were given an allotment of 150 personal guests each to invite. There are 1900 guests invited in all.
5:32a.m. Mother of the Bride arrives with Kate's brother. Her mother looks simple and elegant in a soft grey/blue.
5:37a.m. Close family of the Queen arrives. The Duchess of Kent looks beautiful. Her hat is so wide brimmed, though, that you cannot see her face. La de dah!
5:39a.m. Becca nods off.
5:42a.m. First glimpse of the bright sunny yellow. Very pretty.
5:44a.m. Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at Westminster. She good as she can. She is no Diana.
5:47a.m. Another glimpse of the Queen in her car. There is a blue blanket covering her legs. I love that she gets chilly while riding in a car....just like me!
5:49a.m. And the royal trumpets play as the Queen is announced in Westminster.
5:50a.m. Barbawa WaWa just mentions that the Queen owns some 5,000 hats. Thank you Babawa.
5:52a.m. First glimpse of Kate getting in the car. Lace bodice, flowing not poofy train. Her hair is down.
5:53a.m. Kate waves to the crowd from her car. Not a "screwing in a light bulb" wave, but a "hi, how are ya!" wave. I hope that never changes.
5:55a.m. Commentator just mentions that Kate wanted to wear her hair as she normally does so that Wills would recognize her. Is that sweet or what?
5:56a.m. Pippa arrives with the bridesmaids. She is gorgeous. The silhouette of her dress is amazing!
6:02a.m. Kate arrives at Westminster. Beautiful.
6:02a.m. Kate's father appears to say to her, "Are you alright?" I am tearing up right now.
6:04a.m. Wills and Harry walk into the ceremonial area. Harry hands off his program to a foreign person (shiek or sultan)? I wonder...was this planned or a quick discard? Insert chuckle.
6:08a.m. Shot of Harry looking back at Kate coming down the aisle. He looks at his brother and seems to say, "Wait til you see Katherine."
6:09a.m. Wills and Kate are side by side. William says to Kate, "You look beautiful."
6:10 a.m. A hymn is sung. Shot of Elton John singing...while reading the words. Love it!
6:13a.m. Ceremony begins. Missing Princess Di right now. How different would it be?
6:16a.m. Wills...."I will."
6:16a.m. Kate...."I will."
6:18a.m. Beautifully said vows. No blunders at all.
6:21a.m. Arch Bishop takes off his hat before praying. He forgot to shave and get a haircut.
6:23a.m. Random shot of Orlando, Florida. Little girls and their Moms at Disney's wedding pavilion watching the ceremony. Too cute!
6:27a.m. Kate's brother speaks. I think very reminscent of Princess Di's brother's speech at her funeral. I wonder if that was the intent. Very moving.
6:36a.m. Shot of the Queen. Is she sleeping or reading her program?
6:37a.m. Shot of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Train wrecks of fashion...once again.
6:39a.m. A prayer is read that William and Kate composed together. Very simple. Speaks of humility and servitude.
6:45a.m. As each part of the ceremony is completed, you can now hear the crowds cheering outside Westminster Abbey.
6:49a.m. Random thought. I can't wait to see a side by side photo comparision of Kate with Princess Grace in their wedding gowns. I am thinking the look is very similar.
6:52a.m. And the trumpets sound! "God Save the Queen."
6:59a.m. Commentators explain that from now on Kate is curtesed to by everyone EXCEPT the Queen and Camilla, who are the only two women of higher royal status than her.
7:03a.m. Random thought. The little choir boys deserve MAJOR Happy Meals (or whatever they call them in England) for singing for such a long time. They ROCK!
7:05a.m. Down the aisle they come. They curtsey and bow to the Queen. Kate is so poised. I wonder how many Tylenol it took to get her that way?
7:08a.m. Harry and Kate's sister Pippa follow down the aisle smiling and chatting. Penny for those thoughts! They look like they could have some fun together!
7:09a.m. The bells of Westminster ring as they emerge from Westminster Abbey.
7:10a.m. Wills puts on his gloves before he helps her into the carriage. How princely!
7:19a.m. Harry riding in a carriage with the little attendants is absolutely adorable. He is such a rascal!
7:20a.m. Wills is smiling more broadly with every foot traveled by the carriage. It's that same dimpled smile he had as a little boy.
7:23a.m. Babawa Wawa: "Nobody does it like the British." I do wish America had just a little of a fairy tale like this. Maybe one day we will have another Camelot. . Until then we have our friends across the ocean to fulfill our fairytale dreams!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh The Things They Will Say...H-and

Today I was administering the phonemic awareness portion of FAIR (Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading) to one of my Kinders.  The objective of this particular assessment was to segment compound words, and onset and rimes.  For example, "Say cookbook without cook." and "Say pup without /p/." 

The assessment was going really well until my little friend became tired and bit bored with our learning game (as I like to call diagnostic assessments when I give them).  She began to wiggle and asked me when the game would be finished.  I held her off for a few more moments with a gentle smile and an encouraging nod, and then continued with more questions. 

But then I knew our time had definitely come to an end when I asked her the question, "Say hand without the /h/.  What do you have left?"

She paused reflectively, looked around, and then with a great big smile replied, "I know. Fingers!"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

KinderGarden Kids

Through a grant from Lowe's, our school built potager gardens for each grade level to plant throughout the school year.  This past week, we planted herbs and spring annuals while learning about plants.
Checking out the potager gardens planted by
other grade levels at our school

Getting the soil ready to plant a Marigold.

It was a hot afternoon in the Florida sun.
Getting a cool drink from the sprinkler system was refreshing

Kindergarten kids growing in the garden.
Kindergarten kids growing in the sun.
The most important thing about a Kindergarten kid...
Each one grows to be a special one.

No one's like the other it's plain to see.
Each one's as different as you and me.
Their arms are open and their hearts are too.
Their always ready for a hug from you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Walk to Remember

Yesterday I took a very special walk in honor of one of my Kinders, Sydney.  I joined her wonderful family and my coworkers for a morning dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  I was so humbled and moved by the children, young adults, families, and health care providers who rallied together as a community for this event, which raised $42,000!

I knew right away that Sydney was pretty special when I met her last August.  She was diagnosed with Type 1 at 19 months of age, and since then has also been diagnosed with Celiacs Disease. She is so strong and so brave.  Her Mom, Amy, explained to me that kids with Type 1 (plus celiacs) have to grow up pretty fast in order to manage their conditions, which never take a recess, not even when they sleep. 

When I met her I didn't know anything about either disease, much less taking care of a student who has both.  I have to admit....I was a little scared. Thankfully, Sydney and her Mom have been very patient with me throughout this school year.  They taught me not only how to check Syd's glucose level, but how to work her Bolus wizard, how to calculate carbs, read the tellltale signs for lows and highs and what to do to correct them.  I also learned how to make gluten free brownies and cake, where to buy gluten free pasta for classroom projects, and how to make sure that Sydney's environment stays as uncontaminated as possible.

But being Sydney's teacher has taught me so much more.  Diabetes and Celiacs do not define Sydney.  Everyday she triumphs over her obstacles with strength and humor.  Instead of Sydney focusing on her own needs, she often seeks out others who need a little boost to help them to feel better about themselves.  She helped me to create a classroom atmosphere this year that embraced compassion, empathy, and care above all else.

I will always be thankful to Sydney for blessing me and my classroom this year. 

So the least I could do on a Saturday morning in April was to take a little walk for Sydney and pledge to do what I can to advocate for her and other students who come my way with Type 1. 

It was truly a walk to remember.

Sydney showing off her prize basket for having the largest team in the walk.

Members of our Kinder Cub teaching team with Sydney

Sydney and her wonderful Mom, Amy

"When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless.
But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment
that comes from knowing you are working to make things better"

*For more information about Type 1 Diabetes and what you can do to help, check out this link to the website for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF):

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dunkin'....And I'm Not Talking About Basketball or Donuts

Last Saturday our school held its annual Spring Festival.  It's was a wonderful afternoon filled with fun games, yummy food, and entertainment.  It's also our PTA's main fund raiser.  This year we raised around $28,000.  I think this is a phenomenal amount, given the economy right now plus the fact that my community is still pretty rural. 

Each classroom operates a game or food booth, and mine was the bouncy house.  It was great to talk with parents of past, present and (hopefully) future students while their kids bounced....and bounced...and bounced.

Next door to the bouncy house was the dunking booth.  I signed up for a 30 minute shift in the dunk chair, along with our school's Principal and several other fellow faculty and staff members.  Given the 83 degree weather on that day, it was actually refreshing to cool off again....and again....and again.

Our Principal, Mrs. Walker, was very confident that she wouldn't be dunked.
She brought along a good book to pass the time during her 30 minute shift.

Mr. Van, our Guidance Counselor, and Mrs. Kelley, one of our Para Extraordinaire.
All geared up and ready for their turns in the booth.
Some of our Kinders lining up and waiting to dunk a teacher (or two). 

My intern, Ms. Brown, gives R. a high-five after a successful dunk.

Here I am, pleading with I. to go easy on me.

The begging and pleading didn't work.  I went down!

...And down again.  This time J. dunked me.

A little water-logged after about 20 dunks,
but I was still smiling nonetheless.

Note to self when contemplating another turn in the dunking booth at next year's festival:
Never underestimate the aim of a Kindergartener who wants to get their teacher REALLY wet.

**Thank you to Amy Andrews for capturing all the fun in photos!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh the Things They Will Say....Heart Glue

I was walking down the the main hallway at school with three of my Kinders in tow when we passed one of my former students.  I stopped to briefly say hello to him, ask how his learning day was going, and give him a quick hug. 

As we resumed our walk,  R. asked me about the boy who passed us.  I explained that he used to be one of my students when he was in Kindergarten, and I like to check on him because I still care about him. 

J. asked, "You mean you still love him like you love us?"  I answered, "Absolutely.  Once you are in Mrs. Pearce's class you are always in my heart."

S. asked, "Will we be in your heart after we go to 1st grade?" 

I didn't hesitate to answer, "Of course you will."

R. posed the next question, "How do all those kids stay in your heart?" 

I knew I better think fast on my feet and make this a good answer.  So I explained that the kids stay in my heart because I remember all the wonderful times we had together.  They stick like memories do in our heads.

J. caught on to this idea of sticking and ran with it.  "Oh!  All the kids stick in your heart like they have glue on them.  Heart glue!  I'll bet you need lots and lots of heart glue, Mrs. Pearce!"

If he only knew.....