Thursday, May 19, 2011

Year of Discovery

In February, I turned fifty.  Something happens to you when you turn fifty.  You realize you've lived a half-century on the planet and you thank God for every breath He has allowed up to this point.  You also realize that there are things on your "bucket list" that need your attention.  This year, I decided to reinvent myself and do things I've wanted to do for many years but could never find the time, the money nor the energy to do. 

In March, I took a trip to Holland to see a friend I hadn't seen in 14 years.  She and I were missionaries in 1988 and 1989.  We traveled the globe together singing and sharing our faith.  Even though we currently live on separate continents, our hearts are and always will be knit together.  We are kindred spirits in the truest sense of the word.  My heart was to have my photo taken in a field of blooming tulips, but I was a little early this year.  She had a back-up plan and made certain I had my "tulip experience" while there.

Eleonora and I in Amsterdam
Holland - Land of Windmills and Wooden Shoes

Keukenhoff Flower Park

My "Field of Tulips" at the Keukenhoff Flower Park

In April, I bit the bullet and completed a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor's course at UNF.  This is something I have wanted to do for many years.  It was a nine-day intensive course that worked me both physically and mentally.  I am happy to report that I am now coaching six-year-olds and helping them get ready for their first swim meet on June 4th.  I will also be teaching swim lessons this summer at the Aquatics Center at the University of North Florida.

In May, my neice invited me to share her birthday celebration with her in Orlando.  She said she was going to "swim with the dolphins" and wanted me to join her.  Last weekend, I had the experience of a lifetime at Discovery Cove in Orlando.  As a kid, I wanted to be a marine scientist but I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to pass organic chemistry, I gave up the dream in high school. (Mathematics and Mrs. Tamburrino don't get along very well!)  The dolphin experience at Discovery Cove was the next best thing.

Wetsuit Babes

"Paradise Found" in Orlando

February....March....April....May....Can't wait for June!!

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Little Buddy, Kevin

Today was a first! My little buddy, Kevin, won the privilege of spending the morning with me.  His mom bid on me during our Relay-For-Life fundraiser last month and today was the day he came to collect his reward.  Kevin is a second-grader and I thought it would be fun for him to experience music class with my intermediate students. 

Our day began with Kevin serving as scorekeeper in a game called "Daffy Duck Passes the Buck."  I use this game to review for the MAP test (a district-mandated diagnostic which is given to all second and fifth graders to measure learning gains over the course of the year in Music, Art and PE).  Kevin was a great help to me during this session of our morning together.

"Daffy Duck Passes the Buck" - Scorekeeper

After fifth grade exited the classroom, third grade filed in and we spent the next 50 minutes rehearsing for their upcoming musical entitled, "A Better You, A Better Me."  Kevin was the official sound tech for our rehearsal.  He was in charge of operating the CD player while I played the piano and conducted the musical rehearsal.
Sound Technician

Third Grade Rehearsal

Once third grade left, my fourth grade recorder class came in for their final class of the year.  Again, Kevin assisted me with the CD player and passed out "karate belts" when the students successfully tested out of the blue belt song. 
Recorder Testing

At the conclusion of our morning together, his Mom appeared with lunch for both of us and we had a picnic in the back of my classroom. 
Picnic with Mrs. Tamburrino

Kevin shared a joke with me that I will pass along to you.  "What kind of insects do secret agents like best?"  "Spy-ders."  And thus ended my time with my little buddy, Kevin.

Until next time...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cultural Arts Week 2011

Cultural Arts Week is one of the ways we celebrate the Arts and Arts Education here at Chets Creek Elementary! Our theme this year was "Home Grown," in keeping with our school's theme of "Cultivating a Community of Excellence."

We brought back former Chets Creek students who are now playing in performing ensembles at the secondary level.  We showcased student art work, enjoyed "live" performances and culminated the week with Arts Extravaganza - our family night where folks can come and "do art" together. 

The Fletcher Middle Band and the Sandalwood Chorus shared their talents with us.  The Duval Recorder Ensemble performed Renaissance music and the students were fascinated by the sound of the instruments.  Miss Kristy "grew" a garden of sunflowers created in the style of Dale Chahuly (a world-reknowned glass blower whose work hangs in the lobby at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville).  These beautiful flowers were made from recycled water bottles.  Our community piece was a mosaic of a farm nestled among rolling hills that was completed during the evening on Friday.  A Panamanian dance ensemble delighted us with their colorful costumes and footwork.  It was absolutely spectacular!
Until next time...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Teachers - Past and Present

A Profound Answer

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Order of Canada.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an
iPod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain, not the man-made calculator.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life. (Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make Mr. CEO?

His jaw dropped, he went silent.

A truly profound answer!!!

Teaching is...the profession that makes all other professions possible!

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crying Shame

I'm a positive person most of the time, except when things are completely out of my control. 

With a $91 million dollar budget shortfall predicted this year, my school district has had to make some very difficult choices.  The School Board along with our Superintendent have had to prioritize cuts that will be made based upon projected cuts to educational funding by the Florida Legislature.  They've tossed around several ideas this year...cutting elementary art, music and PE, furloughs for teachers, a four-day work week, cutting after school sports in middle and high school, delaying the purchase of new textbooks (although by law, they are to be purchased every 5 years), making administrative cuts, demoting full-fledged teachers to "associate teachers" and paying them less, asking employees to contribute both to the pension plan and health insurance - the list goes on and on...

Every year it's the same story.  I hope that one day, our leaders will wake up and realize that cuts to education are robbing our children of something that is critical to their success as an adult - the right to a quality education.  Our students are currently being funded at the same level I was funded in 1976 as a 10th grader here in Duval County.  It is now 2011.  We are doing a great disservice to the very ones who will be the decision-makers, the lawmakers, the caregivers and those in authority over us in our elder years.  Will they be equipped to handle the job?

Elementary Music Class - First Grade

Until next time...