Friday, June 24, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacay

New Chorus books!! Thank you, DCPS!!

As I scroll through friends' Facebook postings, I see folks traveling the world, hanging with family, visiting new places, hiking, swimming, fishing, going to the movies and attending various camps during the summer.  Well...this is how I spent my summer vacation.  At CAMP TEXTBOOK!!  

They arrive from the School Book Depository (the SBD) on pallets by the hundreds.  Each book is new, untouched and boxed in a cardboard cocoon.  I am responsible for attaching a 2-part barcode to each book - one on the front cover and one inside the back cover - in case one of the covers go missing with repeated use by students.

I work with the drama teacher on this little project every summer.  The Assistant Principal in charge of textbooks cannot complete the task alone, so we volunteered to assist so that books would be available when school reconvened in August.  We did this last year.  We came back for more this year.  It is a mindless task that keeps us "Type A's" busy for weeks.  We look forward to it. 

The Assistant Principal was heading out of the country for a week and left us a 3-page instruction sheet on what she needed done while she was away.  In two days, we completed every task on the list.  We will get a new set of instructions when she returns.  By then, there will be more pallets and more books to barcode.

When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember writing an essay at the start of every school year entitled, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation." My essay is now complete!

Until next time... 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"It's a Wrap!" 2016

Another school year has come to an end.  There are days you think you'll never make it to the end.  And other days, when you think, "where has all the time gone?"  The older I become, time seems to slip through my fingers much more quickly.

Teaching is an interesting profession.  It is the only profession I know where the employee has to set up their workspace at the beginning of the year and break it down ten months later.  We are asked to remove everything off the floors and walls so that our summer custodial crew can prepare the building for the next year.  We turn in our keys, even though we will be back in 54 days.  After 12 years of teaching, I still find this a rather odd practice.


For the record, I had multiple projects unfold simultaneously in my classroom this year.  My classroom is small for a chorus room.  There is limited storage space in my classroom.  For three years, I have been working on re-arranging, re-organizing and making my workspace functional, inviting and user-friendly.  Since I have been at my school, I have purchased hundreds of dollars worth of new music and had nowhere to store it.  I had 6 defunct filing cabinets in a tiny space that were cram-jammed full of music.  Some of the music was so old, it cost $.20 for an octavo.  Most octavos nowadays cost $1.95 each.

My music filing system has been a three-year, ongoing project.  Funding had to be secured.  The System had to be purchased.  60-year old cubbies had to be removed.  The System had to be installed where the cubbies used to live.  All of the music had to be transferred from 54-year old filing cabinets into the new System (Thank you, Stephanie!!)  The entire process broke down when the doors for the System were damaged by the freight carrier who delivered them back in April.  This project would have been completed before the end of the year had this not happened....UGH!!

As you can see in the bottom photo, the new doors are still resting in their shipping coffin and sitting on the floor waiting to be installed.  I made several attempts to schedule the installation before the final bell rang this year, but I couldn't make it happen.  FRUSTRATION!!

In the meantime, I decided to clean out the keyboard closet and move the old filing cabinets out so we could figure out a way to install racks on which to hang 21 keyboards.  Another unfinished project....SAY IT ISN'T SO!!

If you know me at all, you know that I need closure in my world.  I am not at rest until the compartments of my life are packaged up nicely and neatly with a red bow on top.

My school year still has a gaping hole in it.  Doors on the floor.  Keyboards on the floor.  At this point, I'm not sure when or how my little projects will be completed.  The custodians cannot strip and wax my floors with the doors in their final resting place.  Drama Dude said he'd figure out a way to hang the keyboards.  So now we wait.....

 Keyboard closet where music was formally filed.
No more filing cabinets!! YAY!!

 Electronics covered.
Bulletin boards refreshed for next year.

New Music Filing System (doors on the floor).
Classroom stripped down for custodial crew.
Exhaustion.

I would like to thank Brandon Lesando for his assistance yesterday with the filing cabinets.  I could never have accomplished this task without his help.  Drama Dude will come through; he always does.  At this point, I cannot vouch for the installers.  Unfinished business.  My least favorite thing ever!

Until next time...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grandma's Mini Concert

Sometimes in life, we are called upon to look beyond ourselves and bless others with the gifts we have been given.  This could mean something as simple as paying for the person's order in the drive-through behind you or mowing a neighbor's lawn because they are not able to do so themselves.  I must share a story with you that speaks to a deeper level of humanity not ordinarily exhibited by teenagers and restores my faith in this generation affectionately dubbed "The Millennials."

What I am about to share is a true story that occurred in my classroom yesterday.  I teach high school chorus.  My class creed hangs on my wall - "Great Music, Better People."  I was witness to an extraordinary outpouring of kindness towards another human being by my students yesterday and my hope is that this experience will remain with them for many years to come.

Our Spring concert was last week.  It was our final concert of the year.  This was one senior's last opportunity to sing with his high school chorus prior to graduation.  His grandmother had been in the hospital all week and was extremely ill.  She was devastated that she could not attend her grandson's final concert.  This young man pulled me aside and asked if there was any way his grandmother could come to school one day before the seniors left and listen to the choir perform one song.  Just one.  I looked at my student and said, "If she is physically able, have her come.  If she is not physically able to come, we will go to her.  Is she still in the hospital?" He told me she was recuperating at home.

At 1:00 p.m. yesterday, this young man's grandmother and grandfather walked into our classroom.  She was wearing a portable heart monitor.  We sat them down in a chair and my beautiful choir gave an encore presentation of their music that was sung at our concert last week.  At the conclusion of our mini-concert, the grandmother was weeping.  I knelt down beside her and gave her a hug.  She said, "Thank you for doing this for me.  No one has ever done anything like this for me before."  Then I began to weep.  It was one of the most touching experiences I've ever shared with another person.  You could feel the joy in the air as my students witnessed the blessing of giving the gift of music to another human being.  It was a treasure that only they could give; only this group at only this time.

 Men's Ensemble performing "Vive L'Amour"
which means "Long Live Love!"

I shared this story with 96 people who attended our chorus banquet last night.  It was fresh and it was beautiful and I had to share it.  So many people were touched by this story that I had to share it here as well.

To my students who blessed this woman beyond measure - THANK YOU! You are the reason I get up in the morning, get dressed and show up for another day of music-making in a public high school.  I am extremely proud to call you my students.  You have become "Better People" in the time that I have known you.  May your legacy live on long after you graduate.

Until next time...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Teacher of the Quarter

O.K., Folks.  Today has been an awesome day.  It isn't everyday that an entourage of family, friends, an Assistant Principal and several PTSA Board Members storm your room and shower you with blessings.  I was completely taken by surprise when they announced the reason for their visit.



My students voted me the new "Teacher of the Quarter."  They gave me flowers, a plaque, a prime parking space, lots of hugs and a $100 gift card to Outback Steakhouse.  It was just as good as "Teacher of the Year" and I didn't have to complete the ominous packet to compete with everyone else!!


My heartfelt thanks go out to my students who make my job interesting, exciting and filled with music everyday. 

O, Happy Day.......

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Week That Was

I knew it was coming.  I prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually during Spring break which was the week prior to "The Week That Was."  This week actually began on Tuesday, March 29th - our first day back from Spring Break 2016.

I have decided that Spring Break is just a tease....a big tease, in preparation for summer break.  Waking up without an alarm, chilling with friends, hitting the beach, fishing on the pier, reading a good novel -- this is my idea of an awesome Spring Break.  I'm always too tired to travel.  The thought of packing a bag to go anywhere does not excite me.  By this time of the year, I am tired.  Really tired.  Spring Break is the week I use to re-charge my batteries.  I'm top-tier when it comes to "doing."  I'm lower than pond scum when it comes to just "being."  Spring Break is my time to just "be."

We returned to school on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, we took our Senior Photo at the beach in full concert regalia, then headed back to school for a 2-hour rehearsal for State Solo and Ensemble with our accompanist.  Thursday, we had a 4-hour technical rehearsal for our annual talent showcase.  It would not have lasted that long, but the breaker blew while our lighting designer was recording light cues for the show and had to start all over.  Friday, April 1st - our "Fletcher's Got Talent" talent showcase took the stage!! I was at school from 6:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. yesterday.  Today - I took a bus load of 25 students to see a "live" stream of "Madame Butterfly" in HD.  Yes...24 high school chorus students, one keyboard student and two chaperones on a Saturday to see an opera.  It was awesome!! 

Seniors - 2016

Talent Show Crew - Student Officers

 The Metropolitan Opera House - New York, New York
1:00 p.m. matinee "Madame Butterfly"

"Live" Stream in HD at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
1:00 p.m. matinee - Jacksonville, Florida

Intermission 1 - Pizza!!

On Tuesday, April 5th, I will take 11 students to compete in the Florida Vocal Association's North State Solo and Ensemble Music Performance Assessment...and thus will end my "Week That Was."
Until next time...


Friday, March 18, 2016

National Association for Alternative Education



Spring Break began today and I spent the early morning hours with one of my students who had agreed to sing the National Anthem at the general session of the National Association for Alternative Education's annual conference.  Teachers from all over the United States converged upon the Sawgrass Marriott this week to share ideas and gain a better understanding of how we can help our students finish their high school years and receive their diploma.  If we, as educators, can help them understand that "the tassle is worth the hassle" and if they complete the task, their lives would be forever changed.  No one can ever take away your education.  That is one thing in this life you can hold onto forever.

The path to this invitation was rather circuitous.  It was brought to the attention of my current principal by the school's former principal.  The invitation then traveled through me (chorus teacher) to my student, Sammie.  Her family postponed their trip out of town so she could sing today and I am so grateful for their support.

Sammie played the lead role of "Dorothy" in our spring musical ("The Wizard of Oz") several weeks ago and did a beautiful job.  I knew she would represent our school well today, and she did.


I told Sammie that this was the "first of many opportunities" for her to represent Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School in this way.  She is a freshman and I am thrilled to have her for another 3 years!

Thank you to Mr. Dane Gilbert, Mr. Don Nelson, Ms. Jackie Whitt and the NAEA Board for this opportunity.  Now that this performance engagement has been fulfilled, here's wishing all of my students a safe and restful Spring Break!!

Until next time...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Birthday Blessings


Yesterday was my birthday.  I had an awesome day!!

Lots of FB posts, text messages, e-mails, telephone calls, cards, flowers and gifts.  AND the Dean's secretary (who also happens to be my cousin) sang to me over the intercom.  It just doesn't get any better than that.

Even the band honored me by writing my name on their monthly calendar!!




I love bulb flowers of any variety.  My sister sent me a brimming bouquet of irises and tulips!!

I am blessed beyond measure and I'm "feeling the love."  Thank you everyone!! 

Until next time....