Condoleezza Rice, will you have lunch with me? – Sincerely, Intentergy

Dear Condoleezza Rice,

I would like to cordially invite you to have lunch with me. My desire for this lunch date is so sincere that you may choose the day, time, and location that works best for you.

You and I share some very similar interests. We both love to sing and love our nation. We share the belief that good leaders listen, stand up for what needs to be done, and that sometimes simple solutions are all that is needed to make big changes.

Your mom was a teacher, and I am a mom and a teacher. So we both value education and moms.

You’ve written and published children’s books and having children’s books published from my pen is on my bucket list. (Maybe you could recommend a good literary agent.)

You are much better at golf than I, but maybe you could give me some pointers as we dine.

A love of laughter and sincerity are also things we have in common, and I know we could both use a sincere conversation and laugh right now. (People tell me I’m pretty funny, so I’ve got that to bring to the table.)

Continue reading “Condoleezza Rice, will you have lunch with me? – Sincerely, Intentergy”

Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics

There is nothing better than a good adventure story, except when there is a GREAT adventure story created through the collaboration of an entire 5th grade class AND the proceeds from its sale go to Special Olympics!!!

Prior to their school year being cut short by the Coronavirus, Mrs. Rebecca Harvey‘s 5th grade class read The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood.

Isle of Storms 4

The class was fascinated by the character Punky. In the book, Punky is the uncle of main character Delrita. The story revolves around Delrita’s desire to go unnoticed by society because of the embarrassment she feels over Punky’s behavior, while still loving his childlike ways. Punky has Down Syndrome and the challenges of living with and loving someone who has an intellectual disability are shared in an honest and compelling manner.

The class was so moved by Punky’s story and connections they made to individuals with Down Syndrome that they decided to do something for the Special Olympics. They just weren’t sure what it was yet.

Continue reading “Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics”

The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday

 

Handy Rationalizations 2

I will be honest. We have turned off our TV this week. (Mostly because I feel like the first five days of violence in America’s streets were enough to give my kids the understanding that things are not okay.) Secondly, it has allowed hubby and I to turn down the noise of the media and have serious and sincere discussions with our children about what’s going on and the ugly history behind it. The truth is we can’t turn off the ugliness in our world. There is no universal remote for peace, kindness, or equality. We can, however,  turn up the discussion on what must change and tune into what will make our world a better place.

Currently, I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I began reading this before George Floyd’s tragic death, but the book’s contents have rang painfully true for me in these times. Previously I’d read about the history behind the apartheid in South Africa and the impacts of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, but never did I give the circumstances of those who lived it much consideration. In my mind, it was as if a switch must have been flipped in South Africa, one day the apartheid ruled and the next day things were hunky dory. The problem with my thinking on that situation is as wrong and hurtful as those who are allowing generalizations and stereotypes to rule their reactions and beliefs about the protests and riots today. I am grateful Trevor Noah’s book provided me with the opportunity to grow in my understanding.

Handy Rationalizations 1

Noah does a terrific job of addressing his life experiences and the viewpoints of the South African apartheid in a candid and witty manner. I with that everyone would follow his lead and use this perspective to see the race situation for what it is and eliminate the handy rationalizations that allow the division of people’s to perpetuate.

Continue reading “The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday”

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don't believe everything you think

Peter Pan is a story about never growing up and believing in the unbelievable. When I was a kid, my younger sisters had a VHS of Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan. They loved that movie. We watched it A LOT, but the scene that sticks out most in my mind is the one where Tinkerbell’s light is going out and Peter Pan begs the audience to clap and cheer so that Tinkerbell would know they believed in her. Eventually, Tinkerbell’s light grew brighter; the music swelled and Peter Pan’s enthusiasm grew, knowing that darn good and well the kids at home JUST HAD to be clapping and cheering their little hearts out to bring Tink back.

Well, here’s the thing. Not everyone was cheering. (In my house we were not all cheering because we had seen the film 12,867 times.) Most were not cheering because they knew that Tinkerbell was just a light on the television screen and no amount of in-home enthusiasm was going to change that bulb’s brightness. The unbelievers chose not to support the idea that there was a fairy dying from unbelief of children.

Okay?!? Right now you are thinking, where is the positivity here? Why are you killing off Tinkerbell? Continue reading “May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think”

History in Childhood

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The timeline of my 1st grader’s life according to him.

In a recent Social Studies lesson, my son was learning about timelines. The last activity on the page was to make a timeline of events in his life. Of course we began with when he was born. The only other events he chose to include were getting our dog and starting school. When the time came to add 2020, I asked what he wanted to record for current events.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Anthony is stuck at home.”

Those five words spoke volumes. They reflected how our current situation has defined this period in our lives. Stuck.

This assignment reminded me of a homework activity my daughter had last fall. She was to interview family members and ask what event they believed defined their generation. Both hubby and I believed that 9/11 was the defining experience for those of our age. My mother-in-law and father-in-law said Vietnam or Korean Wars. Greg’s grandmother said World War II and a tornado that had hit their hometown. It was funny to me how tragedies seemed to determine our identities. Why is it that we don’t typically use the advent of a new invention or success as the center to what we see in ourselves?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

Success is beautiful and uplifting, but tragedy builds character and resilience. Continue reading “History in Childhood”

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

March Positivity Challenge – Make Your Mess Less

White Puffy Clouds

We all know life is messy. Many of us feel like there is just too much going on in our lives. Our mole hills really are mountains and a simpler existence would make getting through the day so much easier.

This month let’s make our mess less.

Each day in March, I encourage you to toss out, donate, or give away at least one thing that you no longer use or that just takes up too much space in your place. Once you start the process of picking out the excess, you will find the act of eliminating the unnecessary empowering.

Don’t know where to start?

Consider your closet or dresser. Anything you didn’t wear in the last year is perfect for purging.

Give the kitchen cabinets a sweep. Gadgets, pans, or expired products provide instant pitches or pass alongs.

What about your catch-all drawer? I am certain there are some Box-tops to go to education, coupons that no longer count, or just some stuff that would benefit from being organized.

A large part of March makes up the Lenten season and I always use this season as a chance to challenge myself to get rid of the excess in my home. Continue reading “March Positivity Challenge – Make Your Mess Less”

A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday

Hellava start

“It’s a hellava start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” – Lucille Ball

Most of the time it’s easy to find things that bother or irritate us. Often it’s just as easy to find things that we want or wish for, but it’s a whole other challenge to find what makes us happy.

When I was 22, I ended my relationship with a longtime boyfriend. In fact, we were engaged, but it just wasn’t a situation that I felt could work. I wasn’t happy.

After ending a relationship that I had believed I wanted since the 4th grade, I was really lost. I mean, there was not a map, compass, GPS, or Uber who could have gotten me where I needed to be.

I went on a few first/last dates. There was one nice guy who I ran off with a massive meltdown after a way too late night at karaoke.

It took a blind date, two follow up dates, and meeting his Grandpa Joe and Grandma Dorothy before I began to believe happiness could be found with the man who is now my hubby.

Love is one arena that seems to give happiness a run for its money, but once we give love a chance, we’ve got a hellava lot better chance at finding happiness. Continue reading “A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday”

Shallow Happiness

Shallow Happiness

That whole put-on-a-smile all day, every day thing is exhausting.

There are plenty of days when I feel like my smiles are used up before I even get out of bed.

Earlier this week, I channeled my inner Dolly Parton  when someone asked my how I can stay so positive when people can be such jerks sometimes.

All I could do was quote Dolly, “I’m not happy all the time, and I wouldn’t want to be because that would make me a shallow person. But I do try to find the good in everybody.”

I’m not gonna lie. This week was a doozy. We lost a good friend to an automobile accident, learned the illness of another friend had progressed for the worse, and that we will lose our sweet uncle very soon. Students gave pitiful excuses. My children couldn’t seem to get along at all. It was a doozy.

Before I had to channel Dolly’s words of wisdom, I really was in a funk. A coworker called me out on it and so I dropped the shallow happiness quote on them.

We can’t be happy all the time.

We don’t like everyone all the time.

It is darn near impossible to find the silver lining all the time, but it is always possible to turn things around by finding one good thing in ourselves or those surrounding us. Continue reading “Shallow Happiness”

The Heavy Approach

Heavy Approach

“You approached it like it was heavy, so it was.”

In the past I have written about my struggles with laundry. Laundry and I have a tumultuous relationship. The laundry tumults and I trip over it and fuss about having to fold it. My kids’ relationship with those baskets of socks, shorts, and shirts is way more tragic than mine.

Each day my children are given chores. Nothing too crazy. They are to do things like empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, and clean off the table, but this past weekend my boys were to fold the socks. As far as sock piles go, this one was definitely more of a mole hill than a mountain.

It took my 8 year-old and 6 year-old almost two hours to fold approximately 20 pairs of socks.

It was ugly.

Hubby had to threaten. I had to physically remove every electronic device, every pillow and blanket, and some small furniture from the living room so they could do their job.

When the 2nd hour loomed and I had better things to do than wait for socks to be folded, I set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes.

If the socks were not folded, sorted, and delivered to their respective rooms in those 5 minutes, there would be NO internet, TV, Legos, baseball, or fishing for a week. Continue reading “The Heavy Approach”