Monday, June 17, 2013

The Week After...

Although teachers ended their school year on Tuesday, June 11th, I spent the next three days packing up my classroom.  By 1:00 p.m. on Friday, June 14th, nine years of memories had been removed, boxed up and loaded into my 1997 station wagon I have lovingly dubbed, "The Big Red Whale."  I never realized just how much of a person's personality hangs on the walls of their classroom.  When I was finally finished, it was stark, drab and extremely sterile-looking.  It was also painfully empty.  I cried as I ate my lunch out in the hallway.  The A/C had been shut off to conserve electricity.  The only place I could breathe was out in the hallway.

Once the car was loaded, it was time for me to turn in my classroom key.  My principal happened to be covering the front desk when it was time for me to leave.  I had bagged my key in a plastic sandwich bag (I use sandwich bags to collect teeth from my little guys when they drop out of their mouths in class.  The Tooth Fairy is still rather important at this age.)  I had written my room number and name on a bright green piece of paper and stuffed it into the bag with the key.  As I handed the bag to my principal, her bottom lip drooped and she said, "This all seems so final."

Yes.  I guess it is.

I'm still debating whether or not to begin a new blog that chronicle's my life as a high school chorus teacher or continue what I began here four years ago.  I guess I still have some time to think about it.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Time to say "Goodbye"

This post is going to be a tough one.

For the past nine years, I have served as the lead music teacher at Chets Creek Elementary.  During that time, I grew as an educator, became Board-Certified in the process, taught thousands of children, was blessed to have students in the All-State Chorus, LaVilla Side-by-Side and the First Coast Honors Chorus, established a Recorder Club that performed all over the city, developed budding musicians many of whom are still singing in choirs and playing in bands throughout the district, etc. The list could go on and on.  I recently found myself at a place in my career where I could have chosen to coast until retirement or finish what was started many years ago.  I chose the latter.

As a child, I grew up in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.  I attended Seabreeze Elementary, was bussed to a 6th Grade Center located in a part of town we rarely frequented during the height of integration, attended 7th-9th grades at Fletcher Junior High (now Fletcher Middle School) and 10th-12th grades at Fletcher Senior High School.  Thirty-seven years ago, I entered the chorus room at FHS and the rest is history.  While at Fletcher, I sang in the Varsity Chorus, the Madrigal Ensemble, the Pop Ensemble and was the official Student Conductor.  I was the only person at that time to have made the cut for the All-State Mixed Chorus every year that I was eligible (8th through 12th grades).  Sweet memories....

Five years ago, I was made aware by the current choral director at Fletcher that she would be retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year.  For the next five years, I shadowed her all over the state of Florida trying to get a handle on what life is like as a choral educator at the high school level.  For the past two years, I have paid professional dues for both the Florida Elementary Music Educators' Association AND the Florida Vocal Association so I could follow their e-mails and track with them throughout the course of the school year.  I did everything I could think of to be well-prepared when the time arrived for her to retire after 35 years of service in music education.

I have no idea how many applicants applied for her position, but God chose me to take her place.  I am humbled and grateful to her for having more faith in me than I could ever have in myself.  I am thankful to my music teachers who invested time and talent into helping me become the very best I could be.  Many of them have passed on, but my heart tells me that somehow they know.  I must trust that my Daddy knows too.  He would be extremely proud of me.

I will spend the summer practicing the piano and running scales with my voice so I will be ready.  I am registered for Choral Panorama and have met with the chorus officers for next year.  I have asked a very capable high school chorus director in our county to mentor me as I walk through this first year, and he has graciously agreed to do so.  It isn't often one gets to return to their roots nearly 40 years later and relive the experience from the other side.

It's a brand new work with a new principal, a new performing arts team, a new group of students and a new teacher tool kit.  The mission is the same; the mission field has dramatically changed. As I told my current principal, "I love living on the edge!"  She smiled.  She lives on the edge much of the time herself.

I will dearly miss my principal, my team members and my colleagues at Chets Creek Elementary.  I promised at our faculty luncheon last week that I would open a FaceBook account so that we can keep in touch.  I received word today that there is a Resource Team meeting scheduled tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. and I will not be present.  I'm having a difficult time wrapping my brain around that one...

I leave you with a quote from a rather famous children's author.  "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."  (Dr. Seuss).  As I move from one season of life into another, I would like to say "thank you" to those of you who loved, supported and encouraged me over the past nine years.  I could not have done it without you!!

Until next time....

Monday, June 3, 2013

Flag Retirement 2013

On Friday, May 31, Chets Creek Elementary retired all three flags that had been flying over our school for the past 10 months.  Our flag-retirement ceremony is a solemn occasion.  The principal addresses the audience each year and explains what is about to happen.  The patrols share pertinent information regarding the flag of the United States of America - what it symbolizes, what it represents and why we give it this kind of honor once it has been tattered and torn from the elements outside.  It is a great educational experience for everyone.

My job is to audition singers who will honor our flag by singing the "Star Spangled Banner" during the ceremony and locate a trumpet player who can navigate "TAPS" without issue.  Ordinarily, I go for the "cute factor" and choose little guys (first through third graders) to handle the singing and borrow a trumpet player from one of our high schools to handle the trumpet part.  This year, however, I was fortunate enough to use all of my own students (both past and present).

Ashlei, Conor and Lily - my trio who sang the National Anthem

Tori - a former student, now a 6th grader at my feeder school

I was extremely proud of my students who practiced hard and performed well.  They had been preparing for this ceremony for many weeks and I know their parents were proud of them also.  The weather was fabulous and everything came off without a hitch.  That's a really great day in my world!!

Until next time...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blast From My Past

Today I visited my elementary school.  Seabreeze Elementary School in Jacksonville Beach, Florida is celebrating its 50th birthday.

Although I did not spend my entire elementary career there (I started in the 2nd grade and both of my boys attended 2nd grade there), I felt compelled to stroll down memory lane with fellow "Seabreeze Seahorses" wearing my school colors (blue and white).  Seabreeze is one of the last true "neighborhood schools" left in our district.  Scores of children have passed through its doors since it opened in the early 60's and I am proud to be one of them.  Enjoy the photos from my visit today.

Dee Dee Abdullah Tamburrino

My lunchbox

John is third from the left on the bottom 
(Second Grade, 2002-03)

Zac is the snaggle-toothed, curly headed one in the middle
(Second Grade, 2006-07)

Until next time...