Thursday, June 10, 2010

The End of an Era

I began my teaching carrer six years ago when my youngest son was starting kindergarten. I had been out of graduate school for 12 years. During that time, I raised two babies and cared for my father who had been incapacitated by a stroke. It was a new beginning for all of us. I was blessed to be able to take he and his older brother to school with me and we were looking forward to this new adventure together. Fast-forward six years...

Yesterday, I graduated my first class of kindergarteners - Zac included. It was truly a bittersweet moment for me. I am very excited for Zac and a little sad for me. He has been well-prepared by some of the finest teachers in the district. He has matured into a scholar, an athlete and a comedian. He has served his school as a patrol and has been a shining light for others to see. I will miss my door being flung open on a daily basis with the usual shout-out of "HI, MOM!!" For the first time in 6 years, my car will be empty except for me traveling to and from school. It is a strange and wonderful place in which I find myself.

Mr. Ruark doing the high-five thing with his scholars

Zac received a medal for making the "A" Honor Roll

Zac received a Physical Fitness award

Zac high-fiving his teachers with his diploma

I would like to take a moment to thank his teachers as they have imparted knowledge to him in a masterful way over the past six years. They have helped shape him and mold him into the young man that he is today and I would be remiss if I let this opportunity go by without a proper "thank you!"

To Mrs. Michelle Ellis and Mrs. Debby Cothern, I would like to say thank you for helping him make the transition from preschool to kindergarten and first grade. You provided him with stability and a highly structured environment which he desperately needed. You taught him to read. You loved on him when all he wanted was to be in my classroom with me. You paved the way for the others.

To Mrs. Wanda Lankford and Miss Amy Adams, I would like to say thank you for caring for my child in a way that only you could. To this day, he speaks very highly of you. Besides, he thought it was incredibly cool to be outside in a cottage! Wanda, you are still his favorite cheerleader!!

To Mrs. Toni Chant and Miss Bridget O'Connor, thank you for helping him stretch his mind and work on social skills at the same time. Both of you encouraged him and loved on him and helped him find himself in third grade. Without your help, he would not have performed at the level he did in 4th grade and we are grateful. Mrs. Chant, I love that you still have his picture on your wall two years later. To me, that speaks volumes. You promised you would attend his wedding; I will hold you to it. It may not be a "Big, Fat Greek Wedding," but we would like you in attendance nonetheless.

To Mrs. Angela Phillips and Mr. Rick Pinchot, thank you for helping him slow down when trying to do mathematical calculations. He operates in turbo-drive most of the time and both of you ingrained in him the importance of slowing down, checking your work and finishing the task before moving on to something different. We now call him the "human calculator" and he is looking forward to being on the Scholar Bowl Team in middle school like his older brother. And to Mrs. Dorry Lopez-Sinclair and Miss Meli Launey, thank you for nurturing in him a desire to read and to explore new genres of literature. Dorry, thank you for allowing him to assist you with technology and help you get ready for your day. It made him feel valued and needed.

And finally, to Mr. Tom Ruark, Mrs. Carolyn Swidorsky and Mrs. Jane Szerba - what a great way to end an era!! Thank you for making his 5th grade experience at CCE a fabulous one. He worked so hard in your classes and has learned the importance of being organized and following through. When he panicked because he didn't have what he needed to complete an assignment, you were so understanding. When he was out of line in class, you re-directed him and got him back in line. When he was sick at home, you called to check on him. There are no words to express my gratitude to each of you.

I would be remiss in not expressing a word of thanks to the resource teachers in our building who have helped him become an artist, an athlete, a young man of character and a technology guru. He is also quite the musician. You have considered him as one of your own and I will return the kindness as your children pass through the music department.

Not every parent can say "I taught my own kid in the public school system." I've had the good fortune of teaching mine and many others and consider it a privilege and an honor to have done so.

Until next time...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Flag Retirement 2010

"United States Federal Law provides that when the United States flag (Old Glory) becomes worn, torn, faded or badly soiled, it is time to replace it with a new flag, and the old flag should be "retired" with all the dignity and respect befitting our nation's flag. The traditional method of retirement is to incinerate the flag, but this does not mean that one should simply drop the flag into a fire. Today, we are not burning a flag. We are retiring a symbol of America's honor, courage, and strength."

And so began our final flag ceremony of the school year...

With the "Armed Services Medley" playing in the background, 1342 students filed out of the building and took their place around the bus loop. 100 5th graders who have served our school as Patrols were lined up and standing at attention. It was their final act of service as a Patrol this school year. 100 "Junior Patrols" were standing in formation as the honor of serving as a patrol was passed along from those who have served to those who will serve during the 2010-2011 school year.

After Mrs. Phillips completed her opening remarks, the flag team marched the new flag out to the flag pole and raised it to the top of the pole. Everyone recited the "Pledge of Allegience" and the "Star Spangled Banner" was sung by Courtney, one of my first-graders.

At the conclusion of the of the National Anthem, the flag was lowered to half-mast.

Sixteen of our 5th Grade Patrols celebrated the flag with reflective commentary while the retired flags were carried to the place where they would be incinerated. As the speakers shared their reflections, each of the 13 red and white stripes were separated from the flags and dropped into the fire.

At the conclusion of this portion of the ceremony, Andrew Bohn (a senior from Fletcher High School) played "Taps."

A moment of silence was observed in honor of the flags that were retired and for those who have served and are currently serving in our Armed Forces. The new flag was then returned to the top of the flag pole.

On a personal note, my father served in the United States Navy and saw combat during WWII in the South Pacific. My father passed away ten years ago and it is with great pride that I dedicate our flag retirement ceremony to him in my heart. I will never again be able to hear "Anchor's Away" or "Taps" without thinking about my daddy. Today, my mother was in attendance as her grandson (Zac) had a speaking part in the ceremony. She was deeply touched by the patriotism she saw in our students and our faculty today.

I am grateful to Mrs. Phillips for teaching our students what it means to be a good citizen of the United States of America. Teaching them to honor our country's flag is an important part of the process.

Until next time...