Thursday, February 16, 2017

Teacher Appreciation 2016-17

The collection....

As I gaze across my classroom trying to decide where and how to begin my day, I see a memorial of sorts.  These are gifts my students have given me over the past several months.  

They include a framed photo of one of my senior girls in her Chorus T-Shirt.  She's been with me in chorus for the past four years and wanted to wear her t-shirt in her senior photo session. I was honored by this.  It is truly a gift.

Another is a white teddy bear with a Hershey bar and its companion book, "Why You're the Best Teacher Ever" completed in a student's handwriting.  It is a fill-in-the-blank book in which she did an amazing job reminding me of why I teach in the first place.  I was blessed to glimpse into this child's heart through her writing.

The next is a black and gray monkey with a heart in his hands.  This came from a student I have taught since elementary school.  He comes from a large family and has very little money.  Over the years, I have fed him, clothed him and covered his chorus participation fees.  I have done this with a cheerful heart and "as unto the least of these." He is such a blessing in my life.

Today, one of my 6'5" boys rode his skate board to Duncan Donuts to buy me coffee on his way to school.  The outside of the cup was completely covered in coffee from the sloshing which occurred on his way from the store to the school.  I didn't care.  This was such a thoughtful gesture on his part and I was touched by his kindness.

Yesterday, my principal came into my classroom to do my Formal Observation.  I had prepared my students for this and explained that "I only get one shot to prove myself as a teacher every year and I chose you to help me be my best.  Please be here, be on time, be in the moment and responsive to anything I ask while I'm teaching.  I am counting on you to support me in this."  The energy, the love, the support, the connection between singer and conductor was astounding.  They stepped up and made me shine!  There were lots of teachable moments.  I am forever grateful for their effort yesterday. 

Teaching is tough.  These "random acts of kindness" by our students are what get us through the day sometimes.  There are days when I am struggling in the classroom.  There are days I am questioning myself and wondering if it's time to hang up my "teacher hat."  I wear many of them and it is exhausting.  When I am really down, I read a "gratitude board" in my office filled with thank-you notes from students and colleagues.  On occasion, will scroll through my blog and be uplifted.  This is one of those days.

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Catching Up With 2016

Fall Semester has flown by.  I enjoy blogging because it gives me an opportunity to reflect.  It is evident from the date of my last post that I haven't had much time for reflection lately.

Reflecting is important for teachers.  It is grounding.  It helps us center ourselves when the world is swirling around us.  It is validating.  It is an opportunity for an "atta girl" in the world of academia.  It affirms that I am making a difference in the lives of children daily.

So with this in mind, I am going to do what "Life" magazine, "People" magazine and "Time" magazine do.  Present our "year in pictures," thus far....

Selling "Spirit Bandanas" at home football games

Road trip to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
to preview film on the life of one of our greats!
Robert Shaw, Conductor - Atlanta Symphony Chorus
 Edda's Bundt Cake Fundraiser!!

Fall Concert - pushed out two weeks
due to Hurricane Matthew

Performed at the Duval County School Board Meeting
and bumped into our former principal!
 Rehearsing in the FHS Amphitheatre

Chorus Kids in "Romeo, You Idiot"
Fall Drama Show

Jonathan - Our very own "Mr. Ugly" winner!!

 Touring the Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage Center

Caroling at the Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage Center
Holiday Fun!

"Holiday Extravaganza 2016"
In-School Performance

"Holiday Fest" at the
Jacksonville International Airport

 Jacksonville International Airport

 Jacksonville International Airport

 Jacksonville International Airport

Jacksonville International Airport
Blaze Pizza - River City Marketplace
Gotta feed 'em!

Caroling at Harbor Chase Memory Care Facility

Interact Fundraiser - Slider's - Neptune Beach

Destinations Unlimited to DeLand and Tampa

 Stetson Mansion - DeLand, Florida

 Performance at Stetson Mansion

Tour of Stetson Mansion

Christmas Town - Busch Gardens, Tampa

Busch Gardens - Marrakesh Theatre
December 22, 2016
Until next time....

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The 5th Bass

Last night, I was given the incredible honor of playing  "The 5th Bass" with my school's drumline. 
Now, for the back story....

I always wanted to be a percussionist in the marching band.  My dad said, "Drums are for boys!" and refused to allow me to play.  My entire childhood was spent at the high school football field every Friday night.  I watched my aunt play flute, my cousin play the tenor drums, my sister play flute/piccolo and my baby sister twirl flags with the colorguard.  And there I sat.  Wishing.  Hoping.  Longing to play percussion and march with the band.  I had to settle for sitting next to the band at every game, working in the concession stand at the game or chaperoning the band on trips after I graduated from college.  It was the best I could offer.

This is my fourth year at the Fletcher High and my third band director in four years.  Every one of these guys has honored me by allowing me to march in a parade, clang a cymbal, shake a tambourine and play The 5th Bass. 

To be honest, I did not know what that meant, but I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.  The fellow that was on the drum graciously stepped aside so I could play his part.  The 5th Bass is the largest drum they had on the line.  I had the time of my life and a few minutes of glory as part of an actual drumline.


I missed out on the parade last year because of a broken toe.  They asked if I would march again this year.  My answer is and always will be a resounding "YES!!!"

Until next time....

Friday, September 2, 2016

Top-Notch Customer Service
George's Music Jacksonville Beach, FL

If you ever need a hand stocking your classroom with sound equipment or instruments, may I recommend George's Music Jacksonville Beach, FL.  I was desperate for more keyboards and keyboard stands which my principal said he would purchase AND HE DID!!

My keyboard classes are large.  In one class, I have 33 students.  In the other class, I have 27 students.  The problem is that I only have 18 working keyboards in my room, so my students are doubled-up on them.  This is both good and bad.  Since "Middle C" sits in the center of the piano, neither student is actually playing where they should be playing on the keyboard.  What they are reading on the staff is not where they are actually playing on the piano.  This could be cumbersome later on if they choose to continue their study of this particular instrument, but for our purposes in a semester course, we manage.

The good news is that being paired with another student allows them to help each other.  I cannot always circulate through a classroom filled with a grand piano, digital keyboards, students, and backpacks, etc.  Peer-tutoring has worked really well in our learning environment and I have maintained that protocol from the beginning.

This year, my administration added a new twist and placed a handful of Keyboard II students within my Keyboard I classes.  This model fulfills the mandate for "differentiated instruction" because both groups are in different places in the curriculum and I am teaching both simultaneously.  I work with one group and ask them to practice independently while I dash to the keyboard at the front of the classroom to work with my Keyboard II students.  This is definitely not ideal, but I'm making it work because I am "Super Teacher" and that's what I do.

The sales representative above is the brother of a student I taught in elementary school.  He's getting ready to head to Nashville to live his dream.  I was fortunate enough to speak to him first at the store and he saw my purchase through to the end.  He allowed me to pick up the keyboard stands before the keyboards arrived.  He even volunteered to deliver the keyboards to the school so I did not have to return to the store to pick them up.  The folks at George's Music Jacksonville Beach go above and beyond to make certain your shopping experience is a great one. I highly recommend them!!

George's Music is located at 912 Third Street South, Jacksonville, Beach, FL 32250.  904.270.2220.
Give 'em a call.  Tell 'em Mrs. Tamburrino sent you.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Music Filing System - Finally!

Projects.  I love them.  I love tackling a project and seeing it through to completion.  I am driven and very task-oriented.  My "To Do" list is always full.  I even have a notepad by my computer at school that says, "I love lists!"  I know what you're thinking.  And yes, I am a bit OCD when it comes to being able to function in my corner of the world.  I am a woman with a plan.  Always.

For three years, I struggled to figure out how to move 800+ titles of choral music out of six broken down filing cabinets that had been in use since the school opened in 1962.  That's 54 years' worth of stuff.  My classroom is smaller than most choral classrooms, so it was quite a challenge.  Then, I had to procure the funding for a filing system that would serve our purposes and fit along a wall in my classroom.  I did several internet searches looking for just the right system and then approached my principal.

After negotiating with my principal for 3 years, he finally purchased a new music filing system for me.  My choral librarian from last year helped transfer all of the files from the filing cabinets into the new system before she graduated.  My choral librarian this year helped me catalogue all of the music in the new system so that the company could create labels for the system and simplify the process of locating music.

I am very happy to report that at 4:20 p.m. today (3 days before school officially opens), we finally finished the project.  I am still waiting for the roll-top doors to be installed, but that's another blog post for another day.

Music Filing System

Title, Composer/Arranger, Voicing

Yay Team!!

Until next time...

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...