Wednesday, December 27, 2017

MetHD Program

OPERA.  Mention the word to high school students and noses wrinkle, eyes roll and heavy sighing ensues.  This is a common occurrence in many settings. However, because of the work of so many and a collaborative effort between Duval County Public Schools and Opera Jax, my students get excited and sign up to attend the opera!

As a choral educator, I am actively involved in the MetHD program in my school district.  This is my third year in the program and it has grown each year since we began attending.  In order for me to take a group of students to the opera, I must attend an educator's training in the fall.  This is required by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, our parent organization, who provides training materials and a 4-day workshop to a cohort of teachers from our district.  Our district sends several teachers to the workshop and they come back and share their insights with us.  Teachers from all academic disciplines are invited to participate in this program.

Opera is a culminating art form which incorporates music (both vocal and instrumental), acting, movement/dance, theatrical aspects of lighting, sound and set design, puppetry, extravagant costuming and libretti that are far-reaching in their scope.  When this program began 10 years ago, students were dropped off at a local movie theatre to watch the performance which was streamed "live" from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.  Several years ago, Mr. Lawrence J. DuBow provided funding for an upgrade to the theatre at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts so that we could take our students to DASOTA to watch the opera.  The upgrade was approved by the Metropolitan Opera House and we are the only school district in the nation to have our own designated HD theatre for this purpose.

Bus transportation is costly, however, I wrote a grant which was funded by the Woman's Club of Jacksonville last year for $1,000 to help defray the cost of procuring transportation to the opera broadcasts.  This year, my students will travel to DASOTA to see "Tosca" and "Cendrillon" (the French version of "Cinderella").  We completed our teacher training in early December and I am excited to be able to offer this opportunity to my students in January and in April, 2018.

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to the Arts Office of the Duval County School Board for their vision, OperaJax who coordinates our teacher training, LaVilla School of the Arts who hosts our training every year, Mr. Lawrence J. DuBow and his foundation, the team of teachers who traveled to NYC to bring the training back to us and to the Woman's Club of Jacksonville for helping us with transportation costs to travel to the opera broadcasts.  It is such a collaborative effort on the parts of many and we are most grateful for this opportunity.

 "Tosca" - MetHD - 2018

 "Cendrillon" - MetHD - 2018
Until next time...

Monday, June 5, 2017

FHS Hall of Honor 2017

Mrs. Jane Palmer
Mrs. Dee Dee Tamburrino

Today was a very special day.  I had the privilege of celebrating a master teacher and my mentor with our faculty.  Our lives have been very similar.  She was one of five sisters growing up; I was one of four.  She began her teaching career at the elementary level and moved up to high school, where she remained for fifteen years.  I did the same.  I taught for nine years at the elementary level and am now a high school chorus teacher.  She taught for 35 years; I'm hoping to reach 20!  (I'm a late bloomer!)
Jane G. Palmer, formerly the chorus teacher at Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School (where I am currently teaching) was inducted into our "Hall of Honor" today.  She will receive a plaque to take home and her name will be added to a plaque in our front office.  The PTSA has will also donate a brick in her name at the school.

Jane is a 35-year veteran of Duval County Public Schools.  She retired in June, 2013.  At Fletcher High School, she was the Performing Arts Department Chair, Teacher of the Year and a dedicated musician who instilled a love of choral music in thousands of students.  Her award-winning choirs performed in the Florida Vocal Association's Music Performance Assessments, annually at Disney's Candlelight Processional in EPCOT (Orlando, FL), at the White House in Washington, D.C. and at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2012.

I have known Jane for many years and it was an honor to celebrate her today.  Without her dedication and support, I would not be where I am today.  Thank you, Jane, for your for your friendship.  I congratulate and celebrate you today!!

Until next time...

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...