I Have a Cold

My head feels heavy
My eyes are itchy
My nose is drippy
My throat is scratchy
I feel icky
Having a cold just isn’t fun

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A Tribute

One of a parent’s worst fears- for our children to be in danger when we are not with them; one of our most desperate wishes when such a tragedy strikes- for a hero to be there to protect and help our children.

On Wednesday, January 27, in the middle of dismissal at Amy Beverland Elementary School in Lawrence, Indiana, the unthinkable happened. A school bus filled with children accelerated unexpectedly and jumped over a curb into the crowd of children and staff still waiting for transportation. Staff members directed children quickly back into the building. The principal was seen pushing children out of the way before the bus struck her and two of the children. The two students sustained serious injuries and although hospitalized, survived. Principal Susan Jordan died at the scene.

Susan Jordan’s love, dedication, and sacrifice for the students and families of Amy Beverland were well-known. She had served as principal for 22 years, so she was already a hero to them. Her brave actions in this tragic situation made her a hero to the entire community.

The school district cancelled classes in all schools the next day to honor her, with counselors ready to meet with students as needed. Amy Beverland remained closed the rest of the week to give students and staff more time to process what had happened. Flags in the city were lowered to half-staff, and words of condolence were offered by the mayors of Lawrence and Indianapolis, and the governor of Indiana. A nearby parochial school held a mass and invited students and families, and churches in the area opened for prayer. Memorials sprang up in front of the school, and a campaign to collect books to be placed in libraries throughout the district in memory of the beloved principal began. The visitation and funeral were attended by hundreds, and the service was televised locally.

The staff at the school and students did what they were trained to do. In the midst of such a tragic time, there was no chaos. Parents were frantic for news and to be reunited with their children, but the staff was calm and took care of the children until they could be with their parents again- and parents did not rush the school. The school family is grieving, yet they were ready to get back to learning on Monday- even students were heard to say “we need to get back to school.” They are ready to “keep doing what they do” while giving each other time and space to grieve.

As teachers, principals, and school staff we take care of children many hours when they are away from their parents. Some day we may be the ones there when danger strikes. May we, like Susan Jordan and the staff she led, be the heroes parents hope for to help and protect their children. May we, like the parents at Amy Beverland, know that heroes are with our children at their schools, too. May our schools again be recognized as the center of the community, and those who work with children be held to high expectations and given respect for the work they do.

I did not know Susan Jordan, but I grew up in Lawrence schools and I live in Lawrence now. I am deeply affected by this accident and touched by the way everything has been handled, putting the children first and honoring the school staff and first responders. Even the investigation is being conducted with dignity and respect, rather than finger-pointing and blame. This awful accident has shown a school and community at its best.

(On the Tuesday evening news, after I originally posted this, I heard there is now a proposal to rename the school as Susan Jordan Elementary School.)

Posted in reflections, school, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

A Note from Home

A few teachers were chatting after school. The kindergarten teacher joined us, asking us if she had shared “the note” with any of us yet. In her hand was a business envelope, the kind with the cellophane window. It obviously had been opened and the contents removed, but it had writing in pencil covering one side. Someone asked if that was the actual note, and she confirmed it. We were laughing before she even started reading.

First she set up the story. One of her students has fallen into the habit of doing her work (which is generally all correct) very sloppily. Recently, the student had been required to redo a “penguin worksheet”┬áin class. The second attempt was sloppier than the first, so the teacher sent both home with a note and a third copy so she could try again. The student brought back a very crumpled worksheet and a note from home.

“I am sorry to report that J’s third attempt at the penguin worksheet was unsuccessful. She did match the letters and color the picture, but her little sister spilled her drink on the paper. Somehow, the two girls got the idea that if they put the paper in the freezer, it would help dry it. If you send another copy, I will make sure the penguin worksheet gets done the next time.”

We were practically rolling on the floor by the time she finished reading. “Maybe she remembered penguins live where it is cold…”

It’s the kind of thing that happens at school that anyone who is not a teacher would just think we make up!

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A List Before It’s Too Late

Like a fellow slicer said, a list is better than not writing, especially when it’s getting late on Slice of Life Tuesday. So here it is:

Winter finally came home over the weekend. When we got some cold weather and snow, that’s the thought that came to mind. My OLW making itself heard.

Another thought about the snow- the feathery white tree branches reached out as if presenting a peace offering, an apology for the mess on the roads…

My OLW was speaking loudly this weekend. One thing my word means to me is to use my home to offer hospitality. Sunday one of the verses in our Bible study was “show hospitality to one another without complaining.”

On Friday, a very unexpected moment- as we sat at a table in her classroom, my friend’s chair collapsed beneath her, and in a flash, shockingly, she was flat on her back on the floor. Scary! Thankfully, she was not hurt badly- she was plenty sore, though, and annoyed to have to go for two checkups with the workman’s comp doctor.

I went to see the movie “The Martian” on Saturday (it was 50 degrees and rainy the day before snow arrived)- and Matt Damon won a Golden Globe for his performance in the movie on Sunday.

My daughter headed back to school after winter break. It’s her last semester of college. How could that be?!?!? (This blog started during her senior year of high school as we anticipated her becoming an ISU Sycamore and me becoming a “newtreemom.”)

I’m keeping on with writing, even when I am not sure I have something to write about and especially when I do have something I want to write about.

And that’s my list for today.

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My OLW came to me when I wasn’t even thinking about it. I have tried OLW before but the word didn’t stick with me through the whole year, so I wasn’t convinced I would choose a word this time. I do like the idea, though, and maybe I was thinking about it more than I realized. So I am starting the year with my word, and I will see where it takes me.

The word that is on my heart and mind is HOME. It started with the thought that I need to do some heavy-duty cleaning in my house to make it the welcoming HOME I want to have. There will be some repair/maintenance/updating projects that need to be done throughout the year, too. I will be focusing on my home to prioritize and carry out those projects.

HOME also means hospitality. I want to share my home with others throughout this year. With my daughter graduating from college this year and anxious to get out on her own, I don’t want empty to end up being the word that describes my home. I don’t envision entertaining, but rather homey dinners with friends and family and some fun times together.

HOME will also mean back to basics, getting more in touch with what is important to me. Faith, family and friends. Reading, writing, teaching (and learning, too). Working hard and resting well.

That is a lot for One. Little. Word.

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Some of My Favorite Writing from 2015

Year-end is a good time to reflect and remember before moving into all the newness of the next year. I looked back over my slices to find some of my favorites. So here are a few lines and reflections about them:

From Spring Breezes

setting the leaves
like the wings
of a thousand
emerald butterflies

is my favorite simile.

Reading is a huge slice of my life. I like reading posts from other slicers about their book discoveries. This is a slice I wrote about a phase of my reading this year after I found a memoir by a favorite author.

Here are a couple of reflections on the same scene: Out My Window and Out My Window Again. This is one of the great things about the March challenge: writing every day gives us the opportunity to explore more deeply and develop themes.

Several times throughout the year, I wrote about my mother and how I miss her. This is one of the poems. I also wrote about some of her things that I kept.

My daughter is another frequent subject of my writing. This is a poem inspired by one of her visits home from college.

Writing has become another slice of my life since first joining the March Challenge on TWT in 2012 and continuing with SOLSC year round. These are a couple of slices reflecting on writing. One is a warning and the other more of a gentle reminder.

Hope you enjoy going down memory lane with me… and that it inspires you to stroll back through your writing from the year.

Posted in reflections, Uncategorized, writing | 6 Comments

This and That

Here are a few snippets of the holiday season…

Staff Shenanigans

We had an “ugly sweater contest” the last day of school. The afternoon before, at staff meeting, one of our minority of men (we are an elementary school, with just 3 men who are teachers on our staff- they put up with a lot) announced he was sure he would win this year, since he would be wearing a Purdue sweatshirt (taking advantage of the ongoing Indiana-Purdue rivalry). Sure enough, he did win. Another one of the men, one of our newest teachers, put in a valiant effort. He wore an army-green sweater with an ornament hung in the front. Students brought him candy canes, which he hung in the button holes.

Family Dinner

Our own “home entertainment system,” AKA my 15 month-old nephew, came through in a big way at our family dinner Sunday. He delighted us all with repeated games of peek-a-boo with his 91 year-old granny throughout the afternoon. His bright laughter, along with granny’s giggles, warmed every heart.

Shopping Scene

Standing in line to check out at a popular department store, I noticed the young woman in front of me bend over to pick something up off the floor. She tapped the lady in front of her and asked, “Did you drop a bank envelope?”

“No, it’s not mine,” she said, in turn tapping the woman in front of her.

That woman, seeing what the young woman was holding up, broke into profuse thanks. “Oh, what would I have done when I got to the register and discovered I had lost it! Thank you, thank you! I can’t thank you enough!”

I smiled inside and outside to see that kindness and honesty really do exist. Either of the first two women could have quietly claimed the envelope, knowing it probably held cash…but they did the right thing. These moments surround us as surely as the bad news in the world. Keeping our eyes and hearts open to them is so important!

A Fun Gift

I asked my college senior daughter for a few gift ideas. One of the items on her list: things for my walls- anything Paris or purple. Maybe I’ve been shopping in the wrong stores, but I haven’t found any purple. I did have a brainstorm, though, which has led to what I think is going to be a unique and hopefully, cherished, gift. I bought some frames which look like they could be from an apartment on a Paris street and framed the covers from her childhood copies of Madeline and Madeline’s Christmas, which both feature the Eiffel Tower. Those books must be the start of her love affair with Paris. I hope she gets there some day…and in the meantime, I hope she loves this gift!

Posted in home and family, random thoughts, reflections | 2 Comments