Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday Pajama Run 2013

I am always looking for interesting and engaging ways to raise money for our chorus program so when this opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it.  I figured we had 48 hours to recover from our Disney trip and we were three days into our Christmas break.  Why not sing Christmas carols for runners running a 5K in their holiday PJs? And there you have it.  The 2013 Holiday Pajama Run.

This run was a 5K that was held at Metropolitan Park downtown and raised funds for the Children's Home Society of Jacksonville.  Everyone showed up in their pajamas, including Mrs. Tamburrino, and ran the race. At the one-mile mark, the race organizers had built a large gift box in which my students stood and sang carols as the runners jogged by.  There were also several additional photo frames that had been been designed with various holiday themes in mind.  You could stop, have your picture taken, enjoy a few holiday songs and be on your merry way.  At the end of the race, you received a holiday mug filled with Starbucks hot chocolate.  My students loved it and so did the runners!

Thanks for donating your time to spread a little holiday cheer!!
You are the best!!

"May your days be merry and bright" this Christmas Season.  

Until next time...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Candlelight Processional 2013

I spent the past two days with 55 members of the Fletcher High School Chorus in Orlando, Florida.

We were one of four public schools in Duval County who auditioned and were selected to participate in the Disney Candlelight Processional at EPCOT.  189 choirs from as far north as New York and as far west as Colorado participated in Candlelight this year.  It was a great opportunity for my students to work with the professionals at Walt Disney World, sing in a mass choir and spread a little Christmas cheer in the process. We performed on Tuesday, December 17th at 5:00 p.m.  Our narrator was Edward James Olmos.

Candlelight is "One of the most beloved holiday traditions at EPCOT."  The Christmas story, as written in the book of Luke, is retold by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra, Disney's "Voices of Liberty" singers and an auditioned mass choir.  It is a tradition that began with Walt Disney and has continued for many years.

This was the chorus's 14th trip to EPCOT to participate in Candlelight. Many choirs were turned away this year because Thanksgiving was so late and the number of performances had been reduced by seven.  We were proud to represent Fletcher High School and our community at Candlelight and look forward to auditioning again next year.

Fletcher High School Candlelight Processional 2013 on PhotoPeach

Until next time...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Repair Job

On Tuesday evening, our Holiday Extravaganza performance was in full swing.  All was going swimmingly until one of my guys came to me during intermission and informed me that his button had popped off of his tuxedo jacket and he didn't know what to do about it.

As he is standing before me with open coat and button in-hand, my brain jumped to a plastic container in the closet that had essentials in it that had been assembled by the former teacher for road trips with the chorus.  I was certain I had seen a sewing  kit in the box, so I dashed to the closet and located the kit.  During intermission, I re-attached his button to his jacket and all was well.

Thanks, Mom, for sewing lessons as a kid!

The concert was a huge success and so was the jacket repair.  One never knows when life-skills will be needed.  I'm just glad I had them when I was called upon to use them.

Until next time...

Apple of Their Eyes

I was honored last week.  I received the "Apple of Our Eyes" award from the Dean's Office.  This apple was delivered during class and was inscribed with the following words....

To:  Mrs. Tamburrino
From:  The Dean's Office

"You are the apple of our eyes! Thanks for making our lives easier!"

This award is presented to teachers who do the right thing when it matters most.  I have had so many students make poor choices this year and land themselves in ISSP (in school suspension) or ATOSS (alternative to out-of-school suspension).  While they are "doing their time" so to speak, I must provide additional work for them.  I am a chorus teacher.  When a student misses my class, there is no way they can make up rehearsal time missed.  I operate "in the moment" and chorus is a participatory experience.  With chorus students, I have to be a bit creative with the work I provide for them to do. With World Music, it's a bit easier, but the numbers of students who are assigned to ISSP are triple those of my chorus students.

What the Dean's office appreciates most about me is that I place student work in a folder with the student name, their assigned date for ISSP/ATOSS, the class period they are assigned to me, and several assignments to keep them busy while there.  If it is an assignment for a grade, I make a note of that on the folder so that the work is returned to me for grading purposes.  This procedure eases the workload on the Dean's secretary and she is grateful.  She does not have to search through her records on each student to locate this information.  It is the least that I can do to ease her burden. She is doing the job of three people this year and it is my gift to her.

It would be nice if my students would make better choices and stay out of trouble so that neither the Dean's secretary nor myself would have to go through this process on an almost-daily basis, but that is not our reality.  It warms my heart to know that what I am doing on my end is a blessing to them on their end.

Thanks for the recognition, Mrs. Chisolm and Mrs. Charvat!! 

I appreciate it!!

Until next time...

Monday, December 9, 2013


I have a student in my world music class who is vision-impaired.  He is totally blind, but extremely musical. His name is Chad.

He plays clarinet in our marching band and owns a room full of instruments.  He is totally fascinated by the timbre of children's voices and likes to compare the vocal ranges of singers with various wind instruments.  He has perfect pitch and has one of the most inquisitive minds I have ever met.  

Something happened today in class that was so spontaneous, I had to capture it.  

We had a little extra time at the end of class, so I gave the students an opportunity to pull out their electronic devices, read quietly or chit-chat with each other until the bell rang.  I was trying to set up for a dress rehearsal this afternoon and needed the extra time to prepare.

Garrett decided to disregard what I said and sit down at the piano.  He began playing "Lean on Me" and was doing a very fine job.  Next thing I knew, Chad had made his way over to the keyboard and was playing along with him. It was the coolest thing! Garrett and Chad working together in this spontaneous moment was absolutely magical.  If you knew these two guys personally, you would know just how magical that moment really was.  (You will have to trust me on this one.)

I never know what Chad is going to do or say.  He views the world through others' conversations, tactile experiences and a gazillion questions.  His classmates are totally fascinated by him and so am I.  I've never had the privilege of teaching someone with a severe handicap such as Chad's, but it is refreshing to know that I can.  I have learned a lot from Chad this year and am looking forward to wherever this journey takes us.

Chad and Garrett

Until next time...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mr. Ugly 2013

Class of 2014

It's been 35 years since I attended a "Mr. Ugly" competition, but I'm so glad I went Thursday night.  I had four senior men who are in Chorus competing against each other that evening and I had to be there!!

Mr. Ugly was always one of my favorite events during the school year when I was a student at Fletcher.  Only senior men can compete and it is billed as a "spoof on the Miss Fletcher Pageant."  I represented Chorus in Miss Fletcher (back in the day) and I know how much work goes into an event such as this.  You must prepare for a talent competition, street-wear competition, be ready to answer a question for the judges and show up for the fun.  I even had to show off my culinary skills and won the "Best Cook Award" for making baklava!!

My guys were hilarious....and I commend them for their efforts.  I was desperately in need of a good laugh, and they delivered!!  Two of the four placed in the competition - Phillip was selected "Miss Congeniality" by "her" peers and John Michael was 4th Runner Up.  Congratulations, "Ladies!!"

Logan "Hot Mess," John "The Hot Blonde," Brad "She Bad," and "Phillip "Queen of Sass"

Until next time...