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Posted by on in General

 

Everybody Cooks Rice

Learning To Cook Together

I AM WRITING THIS TONIGHT FROM MY HEART. It’s World Kindness Day today!

Recent events caused me to lose my faith for a bit. It wasn’t just about who won or didn’t win the Election, but the level of hate spewing throughout and continuing. I worry about the children affected, the intense divisions, yet hope our collective voices will shout what needs to be done, our collective actions will be wise and sure.

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Posted by on in School Culture

Anyone who has worked with me can attest to the mantra I believe wholeheartedly: “Education is like a three legged stool. The school is one leg, the student is another, and the parents are the third. It takes all legs holding up their load for the stool to stand.” All legs have an equal responsibility, different, yet equal.

The school has a responsibility to provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Engaging lessons crafted to develop the whole child should be delivered in a safe and caring environment. Instruction should be multicultural with equity and inclusion for all. The school should provide feedback to each student in regards to closing achievement gaps. Finally, the school should introduce children to the arts to offer opportunities not always available through the family.

The student has the responsibility to be a learner, not just a student. A student infers seat time. A learner embraces and takes ownership of his learning. The learner should engage in the classroom, know where he/she is in regards to mastering a target, and be a good citizen, both in and out of the school. The learner should be open-minded, caring and respectful to all in which he encounters.

Parents need to be their children’s first teachers. Developing language, introducing literacy, and making every activity a teachable moment are parents’ responsibilities. Parents should value education and support the school and teachers in whatever manner is doable for them. They should ensure that their children are well rested and loved. Parents need to make sure that their children are on time and attend school regularly.

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Posted by on in School Culture

When I was principal of a rural high school we did an exercise to determine which students had connections with adults in our building. We had every student’s name on a list hanging on the wall in the library. Armed with colored dot stickers teachers were to go through the entire list and place a sticker next to every student in which  they felt they had established a solid relationship. The stickers began to overlap for many children. These were the students that were social, popular, and active in extra curricular activities. These students that had multiple stickers liked school and liked their teachers. There was no doubt as to their graduation completion.

As the exercise continued we noticed that there were a few, 4 in all, that had not one sticker by the name. Who were these children? How had they managed to attend our school and yet not one teacher would say a relationship was established? The information was profound. These children were at the biggest risk for dropping out. They were disenfranchised.

A plan was put into place as we determined how we could get to know and engage these children in school. Various teachers would reach out and try to get to  know these students. Perhaps they could invite them to participate in an extra curricular activity. Maybe just having a deliberate conversation routinely would make a difference. How had these children slipped through the cracks?

Did we save them all? Sadly, we did not. Honestly we were able to reach 1 of the 4 and engage him in school. The other 3 ended up dropping out. I take responsibility for these 3. Never again would this happen under my watch.

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Posted by on in Special Education

Once in awhile we meet Henry. He may be your child. Henry inspires and teaches that we all belong together. Tonight I am writing about Inclusion, in particular, one young spirit who overcame many obstacles, and his devoted mother. Mama love. Get your tissues, this story is like Rudy, Rocky and every feel-good inspirational book and movie, ever. Be sure to watch Henry's last basketball game with someone you love.

Before I moved to Eugene to be with my kids, my husband and I had a historic home in the middle of nowhere, Northern California. There were a couple of towns nearby, but our house was a kind of hang-out, with a pond, barn, community gardens, wildllife and berries. I was teaching at nearby Chapman University, and tutoring a lot of kids at the property. One day Patricia Storrs brought Henry over to work in the garden and see the house. He had been reluctant, fearful of the 1858 ghosts, incuding Mark Twain. 

Henry stayed in the car for over an hour. Patti and I checked on him, let him garner courage, and then he walked the property, house and had a great time touring on his own. It was joyous seeing him emerge from that car and do his thing. I knew that day that Henry is special, in the very best way.

Henry is a hometown hero.

While Principal, we had the District LH class on our campus. First thing I did was move the kids from the trailer in the North Forty right into the middle of our campus. Our students were fully included, or nearly, most of the day and participated in every school project, club and activity. The class was in charge of the the wildlife compound outside their door. These kids were our Henry, believe me.

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Posted by on in General

They

In the past couple of weeks, the dorkiest subsegments of the twitterverse, the blogosphere, and various other social interwebs have erupted with news of singular they. In December the Washington Post made their own headlines by adding  singular they to their style guide. Then last week, the folks at the American Dialect Society went a step further, naming singular they their word of the year. The selection was reported by the Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Slate, The Economist, and of course the Kilgore News Herald

If you’re saying to yourself, Wait, I coulda sworn the word of the year was b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2016-02-05-at-8.18.38-AM.png , you're not totally crazy. It seems that a number of organizations have recognized that word of the year announcements have the potential to go viral, resulting in a profusion of words of the year. But it's the ADS WOTY that goes back furthest and carries the most clout, and their selection was singular they. 

The SNOOTs Protest!

Now it might not surprise you that certain subsubsegments or the dorkiest subsegments of the Internet are none too happy with this decision; singular they has peeved language SNOOTs for pretty much ever in sentences like, I don’t know who is responsible, but they will face the consequences.Prescriptively, if you needed a generic third person singular pronoun, he was your andro-normative go-to, as in When each guest arrives, he should sign in. Everyone’s favorite prescriptivists, Strunk and White, put it thusly: “The use of he as pronoun for nouns embracing both genders is a simple, practical convention rooted in the beginnings of the English language.” Other common options were he or she and s/he but these have a certain clunkiness that kept them from catching on. Those among us who wanted to put in a good faith effort would try to mix in a generic she from time to time.

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