Take a bow…

On Saturday, seventeen very dedicated 5th graders from Davisburg set off to Stony Creek High School in Rochester for their very first Division III Math Pentathlon  state competition.  This group of students have met after school weekly since January to prepare for the competition.  These Pentathletes learned and strategized the five  different problem solving Math Pentathlon games that they would face at the competition.

The gymnasium was filled with over 600 Pentathletes from the Michigan-Ohio center. Seventeen of those kids were ours.  It was inspiring to look out over the sea of children playing their games, strategizing, respectfully challenging, puzzling, and shaking hands with their opponents once the game was through. It was neat to watch them out of their element, matched up with competitors outside of our Holly world. Between games they shared their triumphs with pride, and their losses with grace.

I know that their biggest cheerleaders (and teachers)- Julianne Strong and Stephanie Creasey were keeping pretty close tabs on how the kids were doing throughout the day. When it came time for the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the games, I have never seen 600 4th and 5th graders sit so still awaiting their final scores.  The awardees were called up by category by Math Pentathlon co-founders Dr. John del Regato and Dr.  Mary Gilfeather and were asked to “take a bow”. There were tears, it was touching.

For Davisburg’s first showing at Math Pentathlon the children did amazing. You never know how our students stack up to their peers, and they showed that they were there to represent, and can hold their own. We brought home some hardware. Not bad for our first go at it.

Congrats to our 17 Davisburg Pentathletes. Take a bow.

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Appreciating Teachers

As we enter Teacher Appreciation Week at our building, some reflections on some biggies in my life. Who inspired you?

*Barb Naylor, my third grade teacher at Reid Elementary, Grand Blanc. Would you believe that she is NOW my neighbor and good friend?  She is as cool now, as she was back then.  Thanks to her I got my first taste of history and days of yore.

* Gene Dolby, sixth grade, Grand Blanc Middle School. We had something that he called a “Syllabus”. The syllabus was full of vocabulary words that we learned. I can still remember him walking around in his kelly green pants with ducks on them teaching us what a credenza  is.  I still have my syllabus from his class.  I do.

* Pam Whipple. She tutored me a few summers in math. She always had really sharp yellow pencils and she helped me master my multiplication facts. 8×7=56 written on a Gloria Vanderbilt postcard.

* Vic Trembley, English, Grand Blanc High School. He taught us never to settle for anything but the best. We read a ton in his class, talked about books, and learned to love literature. He would not accept my work unless it was written in cursive. Just so you know Mr. Trembley, I still print. Neatly.

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What I Learned From A Second Grader

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They say that people come into your life for a reason. I am a firm believer in that. I believe that every person that you encounter has something to teach us. Today this is a story of one special spunky second grader.

This student arrived at our school a few weeks into the school year and soon became part of my daily life. Sure, we worked on reading and math, but it was way more than that.

I learned her life story. She shared it openly, honestly, and frankly. Sometimes I had to shake myself out of it because I thought, at any given time, that I was sitting with an adult.  This is a child that fully understands her struggles, embraces her strengths, stands up for the little guy, forgives, is empathetic to others, and lights up a room with sass on a daily basis.

Friday was her last day with us. And there was a party. Her classroom teacher did a beautiful job making it a party to remember. There were invitations, treats, dancing, and presents. The class gathered around her to watch her read the book that her teacher had created for her. She opened her presents and thanked everyone with grace and kindness. Her classmates wrote kind words about her on sticky notes, placed them on a board that read “Happy Day”, and her teacher read a few of them out loud. She listened with light in her eyes and joy in her heart. It was her day. She rocked it like a champ.

So there will be a huge empty hole on Monday in my room. Hopefully we will meet again someday. We all learned from you. Stand up for the underdog. Stand up for yourself. Someday she wants to be a Social Worker or a Police Officer. And she will be.

Thanks kid.

Mic Drop

As we are riding off into the Spring Break sunset for a much needed recharging of our souls, whether your toes will be dipped in the sand, or you are snuggling up on the couch for a much needed afternoon nap, I leave you with this picture from one of my spunky first graders. Rest and recharge my friends.  You have earned it.

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My Cup Runneth Over

Our school is just wrapping up spring Parent/Teacher Conferences. For this round of conferences I decided that I was going to do things a little bit different.  Usually I run around(literally) on conference night going from classroom to classroom  to touch base with as many parents as I can.  There were times that  I was triple booked for one time slot and I was missing out on connecting with families.  I also wanted to make sure that the students that I support had a chance to shine. I am so proud of the reading growth that each and every one of our students has made and I wanted to help them CELEBRATE! So the planning began.

The students helped design the invitation for their parents and hand delivered them with care. We researched what we could serve for a snack and decided that Bunny Mix was a perfect fit for our celebration. Each child had a part in creating the snack and setting up for “the party” as they called it. We put tablecloths and balloons on the tables, added a few extra touches and we were ready!  They were very excited to pull out their most favorite LLI books to share with their guests.

I really wanted this night to be a celebration of growth- because they have come so far. It might not show up on a state assessment, but they are growing. That is something to be proud of.

And guess what?  They came! At one point all of the tables were filled with kids, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and grandmas! It was a beautiful sight.

I was hoping that 5 or 6 of the kids on my caseload came– guess what?  I had 26 students show up with their people!  26!  With smiles, and excitement, and pride they had their chance to shine and show their stuff.

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Thanks and Gratitude

This past week I attended a Leadership Day at a school in a neighboring district. We all know that when we know that guests are coming we pull out all of the stops and are ready to shine!  We were able to tour the building and I happened to land in a third grade classroom. I wasn’t surprised because third graders are “my people”.  I made sure that I spend time listening to the presentations that these very eager eight year olds were ready to share. They were so proud and I could tell that the teacher has worked really hard to get her students “visitor ready”.

I wanted to let the teacher know how much I enjoyed being in her classroom and was amazed by her students.  I sent her this  quick email and what happened next shocked me.

Hi Aimee,  I was so happy to read your email!  I’ve never received one from one of our “Leadership” visitors before. This is one I will keep and read over to make me smile for the rest of the year- you know how it goes. I will pass your compliment on to Kayleigh and you are right about her. With all of our work (and stress) that goes into every school day, it’s wonderful to know that our efforts noticed and are paying off! Thank you and you have a great week too!

This prompted a conversation with some colleagues about the idea of sending a formal “Thank You” as a way to share your gratitude. Sure, these days we send an email or spring for the cost of a notecard and a stamp and do it the old-fashioned way.  Is it a lost art?  Will our younger digital generation carry on the written tradition of a card?

So this is a Big Blue Challenge: Who can you thank?  Will your “Thank You” make someone smile?  Who is missing that “Thank You” in their life?  Thank someone who makes a difference. It just takes a minute to make their day!

 

 

So, what DO you do?

I laugh every time I get this question from kids, which is almost daily.  We might be in the middle of a really tricky text and someone asks it. The question.

“Miss Schwartz, what DO you do?”  (insert first grade voice)

The conversation typically goes a little something like this:

Me: “What do you think I do?”

Student: “Well you work on reading with us.”

Student: “Sometimes you help us with math or with a test.”

Student:  “You help me tie my shoes.”

And here is the kicker…

Student: “But where is your class?”

This one really baffles them. It feels a little Wayside School “-ish” to me. Do they think there is this large group of students in a secret classroom in the school?

I always tell them, YOU are my class, I just see a lot of classes in one day.  After establishing that and thinking that we are all good, they hit me with another.

Student: “But where is their stuff?”

So do they really know what I do?  After I received this message at my table today I think that they do:

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