Grand Canyon

I almost went to the Grand Canyon this morning. Have you been there? Sunny Arizona. Deep, craggy valleys. Majestic views. Crowds of tourists.

Yeah, that’s not the one. The one I nearly visited did have deep, craggy sides. But it was in the middle of the road. It would have eaten one of my tires had I not narrowly missed it. Or worse, I could have been in a multi-car accident had there been crowds of tourists heading the same way.

Be careful out there, everybody! It’s pothole season. A Grand Canyon could be waiting for you.

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Not exactly “trending,” but I saw it several times scrolling Twitter and Facebook… a reminder from our superintendent.

Today is PIT Day and there is no school for students.

What is PIT Day you ask? Can you guess?

The acronym (apt or unfortunate, depending on your viewpoint, I guess) stands for Parents in Touch. It is our biannual parent- teacher conference day. We have the first in September and the second in March. Commonly called Pit Day, rarely called Parents in Touch Day.

Who could forget it? Not the teachers, who put a great deal of preparation into it and gain so much insight into their students. After spending so much time yesterday wrangling the schedules of five interpreters for conferences with parents of our bilingual students, I am not going to forget. Students, happy for the mid-week day off, won’t forget (though on the days when we were doing it in person, a large number of them tagged along with parents and showed up at school). And parents don’t forget, juggling work and child care schedules to make time for their 15 minute appointments.

But there are those who don’t make it. Despite the goal to conference with 100% of parents, a few will slip between the cracks. Especially this year. I am sure they don’t forget. It is a reminder that we have families with difficult circumstances. A reminder how important the school-family relationship is in supporting our students. We cannot forget.

PIT Day… Parents in Touch.

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The Starving Artist

I saw him as I drove to work. It was early, but the sun was fully up. Still, the air outside was below freezing, and it seemed early to be working the street. There he was, though, pacing up and down the median near the intersection. He had on a heavy jacket over clean jeans, and a furry hat. He didn’t look as if he’d been living on the streets, at least not too long. He looked young. He carried a sign made from a flattened cardboard box. One side was brightly painted with graffiti-style art. He turned it over to reveal his message. “Money for art,” it read. In his hand was a cup he held out for donations.

A new twist on panhandling- not the usual “Will work for food” or “need money to get home.” It made me think. The art work on his sign was well done. He was only a block away from a charter school for the Arts that is well known locally. Did he truly want to buy art supplies?

Was he really a starving artist? Or a con artist? He was giving out waves and smiles to convince his audience in the cars stopped at the light to donate. I didn’t see anyone make a donation. As the light changed, he folded his sign and started walking away…

And I drove on, turning my thoughts to the day ahead at school…

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Hope Springs Up

The sun is shining and warming the day

The birds are chattering a happy song

The neighbor kids are running and laughing

in the yard

I got the first shot this morning

My heart feels lighter…

Hope springs up!

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What could be better than a warm bowl of potato soup on a cold winter night? A warm bowl of potato soup with cheese and bacon bits to sprinkle on top delivered by your sweet little next door neighbor and her mom! Warms the tummy and the heart!!

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I Didn’t Like That Book

It was the last day with students before Winter Break. I was online with a small group of fourth graders- all bilingual learners who speak Spanish and English. We rushed to complete a compare/contrast assignment, their last assignment. Luckily, it was a short one. I had a book to share with them- ‘Twas Nochebuena, a Christmas Story in English and Spanish. My plan was simple. I’d read the story, pausing after each Spanish word, allowing them time to say the words in English.

Everyone was instantly engaged. It was slightly chaotic- all teachers who have been teaching remote can understand how having multiple kids unmuting/muting at the same time to shout out answers gets chaotic. Each wanted to be first to say the words. When they had different responses, they passionately defended their choices. Familiar (and beloved) traditions and foods drew comments of “we do that” and “yum” and “my mom (tia, abuela) makes the best.”

We finished the book. Imagine how my heart dropped when one of them said, “I didn’t like that book.” But after a dramatic pause he rushed on to say…”I loved it!” Everyone chimed in. “Yeah, I didn’t just like it, I loved it.”

Merry Christmas to me!

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Christmas Book Joy

Some Christmas book joy- 
Squirreled away all year long
Soon to be gifted 

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Haiku Praise

A gaggle of geese

Gather near pond, honk and flap

In the evening glow

Starry, starry night

Stand still, inspired, softly say

O my soul, praise God

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Daily Thanks

With many other writers, I’ve been focusing on gratitude this month. Today I wrote of a brief exchange that brightens each morning. As I stand at my assigned spot greeting and directing arriving students each morning as parents drop them off in our car line, I get varied responses. One of my ELL students is usually one of the last few to arrive. He ALWAYS tells me good morning and have a great day. His kindness and smile are especially meaningful because he is so shy.
Here’s the moment, in my “gratiku.”

He says Good Morning

Cheerfully each day to me

Sweet reason for thanks

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Our votes together 

Count for our nation’s future-

Be thankful and VOTE!

What a privilege, 

This right of citizenship-

Be thankful and VOTE!

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