SOLC 31 of 31: 31 days of…

Thirty-one days where I…

noticed

reflected

reviewed

remembered

revisited

observed

shared snippets

quoted dialogue

promised

honored

wondered

and wrote

and wrote

and wrote.

Thirty one slices of my life,

documented

in small 

bite-size 

written posts. 

SOLC 30 of 31: Keeping a Promise

Last night, I kept a promise to my son. We went bowling.

Truth be told, it was only part of a promise that I kept, but we did it.  The rest is still owed to him.

You see, a few weeks ago, my daughter was at a sleepover party, so I promised my son that we could do whatever he wanted. Th at was easy, he wanted to go to “Moe’s” for dinner.  After dinner I offered a movie or bowling. He picked bowling. Then I realized that neither of us had socks with us. Bowling will have to be another time.

Last night, was the the other time. My daughter was at a birthday party and so I promised him “Moe’s” and “Bowling.” We wore socks. We were prepared. On the way to the party, my husband called after his day out to look at beach houses and asked us to meet him for dinner instead. Uh oh, no Moe’s. 

My son was in the backseat of the car during this conversation and had his headphones on and was playing his game. I didn’t think he heard the conversation.

“Did you hear that?” my daughter asked him? 

“What? That daddy is crashing my plans with mommy?” he said.

“We’ll go to Moe’s another time,” I said, hoping that would be okay.

“Okay. Can we still go bowling?” he asked, hopeful.

“Yes. We’ll go bowling and then go meet daddy,” I said, breathing a small sigh of relief.

I found a bowling alley near the restaurant where we were going to meet. We squeezed in one game for each of us. But we did it. I kept my promise and he was happy.

“Daddy,” he said at dinner, “you owe me two bowling games and Moe’s!”

SOLC 29 of 31: Stay Away From the Bagel Tray

Dear Bagels,

I’m sorry to say, that for now, I must stay away from the bagel tray.

It’s not because I don’t adore you, I do.

It’s just that for now, it is true.

I must go back to fruits and veggies, no bread for me for a while.

In hopes of a healthier and slimmer me.

Maybe I’ll return to you and can enjoy you scooped out, or in a bagel-thin version.

But for now, I’ll have to stay away from the bagel tray.

SOLC 28 of 31: Pajama Day

At night,

oh how I love

my pajamas!

Can’t wait

for the comfort

the cuddly

soft 

relaxed feel

of my pajamas.

But oh,

how

I don’t like

wearing them

to school

for Pajama Day.

 

 

SOLC 27 of 31: Advice for First Year Teachers

Last night I had the privilege to speak to a seminar of soon to be graduating college students at TCNJ.  They are all just about to complete a 5 year BA/MA Education program. Along with another local elementary school principal, we had the chance to talk to them about being a first year teacher.

Here was some of our advice (starting with the interview process).

1. Dress professionally. Leggings are not pants. If you wear them, be sure you are covered.

2. Use your college e-mail. Partygirl@gmail.com does not impress.

3. Show your passion, but don’t fake it.  Speak directly to what drives you in an interview.

4. Share you what you know and don’t know. If you aren’t sure about a program or an approach, don’t pretend you do. Ask questions and show your willingness to learn more.

5. Once you get a job, be humble. Yes, you know a lot, but so do we. Be ready to keep learning. 

6. Collaborate with your mentor in a scheduled way. Don’t bombard your mentor daily or period by period with questions.  Keep them together until the next scheduled time to meet.

7. Learn the culture of the school.  What are the expectations? Do them. 

8. Be on time – to school, with deadlines, with submissions. Don’t make me chase you or ask twice.

9. Be positive and proactive with parent communication. Good news phone calls and notes are imperative. They will go a long way. Aim to get at least one of these in for each student before Back to School Night.

10. Don’t over-promise. Commit to what you can deliver, but don’t over promise.  It’s better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly. 

SOLC 26 of 31: Not what I expected

Yesterday morning what not what I expected.

Being a school principal, I’m used the days taking on a life of their own, but yesterday was a little more of a rough start than usual.

I left the house on time. Ready to be at the building early to return the edited report cards to teacher mailboxes before heading off to my all day meeting. Almost at school, I realized that I had left my phone at home.  Being at an all day administrative meeting away from the building all day without my phone is not a good idea – especially since my AP was out with his new baby too!

I decided to go to the building to drop off the report cards and then return home (20 minutes each way) to get my phone. This proved to be a good move. Having picked up my phone and returned to the building where my meeting was taking place, I checked my phone for any messages before getting out of the car.  

Message: “xxx is out of control in the office. We need you. 20 minute meltdown.”

My reply: “coming.”

Out of the parking lot and back to the building to calm the child, calm the teachers, call the parent, coordinate with the psychologist and school counselor and leave a plan should the event reoccur.

Off the meeting, finally, an hour late. The rest of the day was without interruption.

Phew!

SOLC 25 of 31: If Walls Could Talk, Part 3

“Would you like to see next door?” the adult son asked us.

“Oh yes,” we said. 

The duplex next door had been where my mom’s Aunt and Uncle and cousins had lived.  Both duplex houses had been bought by my grandfather’s father for his sons, my grandfather and my great uncle. 

Apparently, the adult son of the woman who lived in my mom’s old house, had bought the connecting duplex next door. He offered to show it to us.

What we saw when walked in was quite a juxtaposition to the other half of the duplex that we just came from. The son was renovating the duplex from top to bottom and wasn’t even living there yet.  The renovation looked like something out of a HGTV show.  The wood trim had all been sanded and re-stained. Ceiling beams were added to add architectural interest.  The rooms were flooded with light. Molding, chair rail and intricate attention to detail brought this duplex into the 21st century while maintaining its character. It was stunning. 

And yet, as we stood there, my mom could appreciate the new renovations, but still remember the places where she played with her cousins June and Jackie.  She could still recognize the living room that held family memories and the dining room that hosted dinners.

Oh, if those walls could talk to tell us all of the stories that happened while they lived there!

 

SOLC 24 of 31: If Walls Could Talk, Part 2

In our car, about to leave, the daughter of the older woman followed us and said, “please come in, my mom wants to show you something.”

She wanted to invite us inside her home. Before doing so she asked my mom, “Do you remember the mirror?”  It seemed a test of shared history. 

“Of course! The mirror! Yes! Is it still there?” my mom asked in disbelief.

“Yes, come in, I’ll show you.”

We entered the duplex into a dark, purposely dimly lit room (to hide the state of disrepair of the room). In front of us, in the dining room, was a large mirror that planked the entire dining room wall.

“There it is,” my mother exclaimed. “Oh, that mirror!  My mom loved that mirror. It was a gift to her from my grandfather’s father as a home warming gift for them.  He had bought the house for them and then bought the mirror as well.  I remember when we moved, my mother wanted to bring the mirror with us, but the movers said that it wouldn’t be possible. She hated to leave it behind. I can’t believe it’s still here.”  My mom was tickled. 

She stood there in the dim room and took it all in.  Memories of childhood dinners, playing games and company flooded her thoughts. The space truly hadn’t changed.  We didn’t get to see any more of the inside of the house, but what we saw was pretty magical for my mom anyway. For me and my children, it brought to life the stories of playing on the porch, sharing bedrooms and growing up in Newark. 

Finally, ready to leave, we thanked our host and turned to go down the porch steps. 

“Would you like to see next door?” the adult son asked us.

SOLC 23 of 31: If walls could talk, Part I

Recently, during a vacation day from school, my mom and I took my children to the Newark museum for the day.  After touring the museum, we made a last minute decision to drive by her first childhood home in Newark.  My mom is always telling my children stories about her childhood and her home on Osborne Terrace is a staple in these stories. How perfect then, to give them a real visual for the setting of each  memory.

I plugged the address into the GPS and in less than 5 minutes we were parked in front of the Newark duplex. It looked good.  Really good. So did the street. Clean and cared for. “It’s just as a I remember it,” mom said. “There’s the porch that we played on.  See that window up there, that was our room,” she narrated.

We stayed there parked for a while, but I suggested we get out for a better look. And then, I did something that I don’t normally do. It’s just not my personality.  I suggested that I ring the doorbell and tell the people who lived there why we were standing in front of the house and staring.  Mom didn’t think it was a good idea.  Turned out, it was. 

I rang the doorbell and a woman answered the door.  I explained to her that my mother and I and my children were visiting and that my  mother used to live in this house.  Behind her appeared an older woman, her mother.  It was  her mother’s house and if fact, her mother’s parents had bought the house from my mother’s  parents – 60-something years ago. Wow.  We chatted on the front porch for a while and then we said goodbye and thank you.

In our car, about to leave, the daughter of the other woman followed us and said, “please come in, my mom wants to show you something.”

SOLC 22 of 31: Dad’s turn, honoring him, just-because

The other day, I wrote a slice about honoring my mom. Letting her know, now, while she’s alive, that I appreciate her. It wouldn’t be fair then, to not honor my dad too. He’s pretty awesome as well.

My dad is driven, analytic and a fabulous writer. My mom’s a great writer too (she should get more credit here), but throughout my secondary schooling it was my Dad who edited my papers, gave me feedback at midnight for college papers due the next day and made me a better writer overall.  I remember e-mailing my college drafts to him and having him edit them with me line by line, paragraph by paragraph over the phone. It helped. 

My dad is also a great photographer. Again, my mom is too – they’re a good pair.  They both instilled a love of photography into me and my brother. When I was young, maybe around 8 or 9, I had my own first camera.  On family vacations each member of our family  had their own camera and compared our pictures once the vacation was over.  In college, I continued learning about photography in college courses.  Now my children love taking pictures and my dad and mom share their love of picture taking with them as well.  My 9 year old daughter got her first camera many years ago.  Both of my children can handle the 35 mm camera beautifully already.  There is a sense of trust and belief that comes along with letting someone use your very expensive camera or buying them on of their own.  It’s wonderful.

My dad, like my mom, is a great cheerleader.  Always making me feel good for my efforts.  In high school and college, I was a fencer. He and mom were at every match for hours (and hours and hours). They cheered me on, consoled me through taking a leave during my junior year due to injury and helped me find myself as an athlete and team captain. 

My dad served 10 years on the school board of education (maybe more, he’ll edit this when he reads it!).  He gave long hours, fought fiercely to save a school building and negotiated for salaries among other big issues. His dedication and ability to volunteer and serve the community certainly serves as a long-standing model of community service for all of us. 

Thanks dad for being my champion again and again and again!

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