Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Think I Can...I Hope I Can...

Truth is, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now!

Besides the fact that late July/early August is busy in general for educators feeling the "back-to-school" crunch, I went ahead and had two of my three babies between July 29th and August 4th!  :)  That means hosting out-of-town guests to see the birthday kids and "party planning" for the grade schooler!  (I no longer can get away with a simple visit to Chuck E Cheese...thank goodness.)

And then there's this...

Thirteen years worth of resource materials...stored in another classroom...and deposited in my office/classroom.  I'm the type of person that must have an organized classroom environment or I just can't function!  Needless to say...this is killing me!  :)

Slowly weeding through materials...pitching, recycling, donating, storing...I really don't know what I'll need until I actually begin doing the job.

Here's where I'm at after only a couple of hours of work. I'm limited on time with three kiddos in tow...but they really help me with work/family balance outside of contract hours! (Notice the blankie on my teacher desk?)

Anyway, thank you to all of my new Bloglovin followers and Blogger followers!  I see that I've got both some "old" and new friends following me.  While I would love to be creating and sharing all sorts of cutesy learning projects/aides right now, I feel like I need to focus my energy on this classroom environment.  It desperately needs some TLC!

More pics to come.  Wishing you a happy start to the work week!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Are You More of a Martha or Mary in the Classroom? (Sunday Snippet)

As a both a Catholic and a newly-hired parochial elementary-level teacher, I thought it would be nice to devote my Sunday blog posts to connecting the Gospel to my classroom teaching...a post that is short and sweet that connects some aspect of education/teaching to the Gospel.

This Sunday's Gospel reading Martha and Mary  (Luke 10:38-42) lends itself nicely to making those connections.

'Martha and Mary'Nathan Greene, born 1961

(38) As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  (39) She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.  (40) Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me."  (41)  The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many, many things.  (42) There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

As I contemplate those words, it occurs to me that more often than not, I am Martha rather than the classroom, in my own home, in my prayer life.  I often find myself distracted by the details....worrying about tomorrow...checking items off of my to do list....rather than being present and in relationship with those I love.  

I can recall (shamefully) how a student might come to me with a problem, but all I could focus on was the fact that they were not mastering the released test indicators for the upcoming assessment.  

And how many times do my own children come to me...wanting me to hear the story they wrote...or read them a book they chose from their bookshelf...only to be rebuffed by me because I had dishes to do or a floor to mop?

'Christ in the House of Martha and Mary', Jan Vermeer van Delft, 1654

It's true that as educators we must pay attention to detail.  We are expected and held accountable to manage the details...the assessments, grades, mastery...for each child in our care.  

But it seems to me, especially as a newly hired Resource Room Specialist, that while I must definitely pay attention to details, I must also be more like Mary...

...developing deep relationships with the students on my caseload...seeing them for more than their "disability" or label...listening to what they're trying to tell me...even if they struggle to use words.

It seems as if balance is the key to being a successful Resource Room Teacher...having systems in place to manage the paperwork associated with each case that allows the time necessary to develop relationship with each child.

Who do you find yourself to be more like...Martha or Mary?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Great Escape to South Florida (2013)

Dear Friends, Followers, and Readers of "I Think I Can...",

We just wanted to take a minute to say hello and explain our mommy's absence. She has been crazy-busy with taking us on a two-week vacation to south Florida (see pictures) and undertaking two extreme bedroom makeovers.  

It seems our mom started this blog literally just days before embarking with our dad and us on a 3000-mile road trip to south Florida.  Our family drove from Kansas City to Port St. Lucie, FL and back over a twelve-day period.  We did so many fun things including visiting friends and family along the way as well as the mandatory trips to reefs, aquariums, and different beaches.  It was definitely an educational trip!

Here are just a few highlights...

...and our mom promises to get back into the swing of things this week!

Hugs from,

Mary Catherine, Benjamin, & Luke

Hutchinson Island, Stuart, Florida, July 2013
Mary Catherine - 8
Benjamin - 6
Luke - 2

Driving through our mom's "hometown" of St. Louis, Missouri
Have YOU ever been up in the Arch???

First "potty break" in Metropolis, IL

We stayed overnight with dear friends in Fayetteville, TN on their working farm.
Good times included playing in the barn loft, feeding the cows, taking tractor rides, and practicing target shooting (both guns and compound bows).  Two kids!  LoVe!!!  :)

As we made our way down the east coast of Florida, we made the requisite stop at the World's Most Famous Beach!  Wow, the Atlantic Ocean is so COLD!!!

We finally arrived at our destination of Hutchinson Island (in Stuart, FL near Port St. Lucie).  Our daddy's boss owns the condo we stayed in.  The view from the lanai was the marina.  

Our daddy surprised us with a 1/2 day boat rental one afternoon while we were there.  Daddy took us up and down the St. Lucie River and we beached ourselves on a private island.  The locals taught us how to hunt for Conch shells. They were amazingly beautiful and HUGE!

View through the lanai screen.

Another afternoon, our mommy and daddy took us to a local oceanographic institute. We learned about sea turtles, sting rays, and sharks.

Of course we enjoyed ice cream several times!

Another day, our mom took us out to Bathtub Reef (a living reef off of Hutchinson Island).  Our mom taught us all about respecting the sea life and not walking/climbing on the reef.  She managed to photograph the reef with her camera phone without dropping the phone in the water!  

If you notice that the water is suspiciously absent of's because a shark was spotted in the water. Fortunately, daddy shared this info with mommy AFTER she exited the ocean...otherwise, she might have panicked...and truly dropped her phone.  That would have been the least of her concerns! 

Our  last day of vacation found us touring the Elliott Museum (dedicated to inventors!) which was right near the Marriott property we were staying at.  Of course, our mom could not get enough pictures of the  beautifully restored 1931 School Bus!!!  It was actually once used in the Stuart, FL area school district.

The Elliott Museum opened in March of 2013 and was totally amazing. While were there, they were hosting the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit.  Completely hands-on and kids were encouraged to touch and explore while searching for simple machines!  (Luckily, our mom used to teach Third Grade Science Lessons which really came in handy helping us find planes, screws, levers and pulleys!)

We wrapped up our Great Escape to South Florida with a quick stop at Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, MS.  

So until next year, we bid the ocean revoir!

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."

~Jacques Yves Cousteau~

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Official...I've Been Hired!

I've been dying to type these three little words for a couple of weeks now...

I've been hired!

All of the "i"s have been dotted..the "t"s have been crossed...the background check completed...and the references contacted.  The "official" offer was made this morning for a position as a... 

Part-Time Resource Room Specialist

...and I readily accepted!  

This is a huge deal for me and my little family.  I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past five years, but never very far from the classroom.

I've been on PTO...served as Room Mother...volunteered for field trips...put up bulletin boards for teachers during National Catholic Schools Week...

...yup, I've been that mom!  :)

And I've loved every minute of it.

But, I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to once again be in an "official" teaching position.  

And although it is only part-time, it is the perfect fit for me and our family.  I will be working 12-15 hours a week, and only in the afternoons when our youngest is at preschool...which is right on the Catholic school campus.

Feeling very blessed...overwhelmed...excited.  So much has changed in education over the past five years, but between the internet...blogging...and awesome public-school teacher colleagues that I've remained close in contact with, I'm certain I can get myself up to speed!

Some Blog Housekeeping...Bloglovin'

I managed to create a new teaching blog around the exact same time that Google Reader is going away.

I really don't know much about Bloglovin! as of today, but I figured I might as well sign up for it.

Following Bloglovin's directions I am copying and pasting their code...

Happy Blogging, Friends!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome! A Little Bit About Me

Welcome to "I Think I Can..." my blog dedicated to my journey towards teacher re-certification and re-entry into the education work place.

I am currently a stay-at-home mom to three precious kiddos.

Mary Catherine is eight (soon to be nine) and entering into 3rd Grade.  She's sassy and spunky...a lover of tap and ballet...and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up (didn't we all???!!!).  She's pining to live on a farm and we are hoping to make that dream come true.  She's a strong student and a great mama's helper with her little brothers.  She just completed her first year in 4-H and plans to show her newly acquired sewing skills in the clothing construction competition.

Benjamin is our sweet middle child.  He is all boy, six years old, and entering into 1st Grade.  When he grows up he wants to be a police officer.  This causes his fire-fighting father great angst.  (There's a perpetual debate over who has the "cooler" job between the blue and the red!  LOL)  Ben also participated in 4-H this past school year, but his real passion is T-Ball!

And finally, I'd like to introduce our youngest...Luke.  He is rough and tough and can hold his own at age two!  He almost shares a birthday with his big sister so we celebrate the double trouble the first week of August.  Unlike his big brother, Luke definitely wants to be a fire fighter when he grows up.  (He wears the plastic fire helmet

"The Fire Fighter"

Chris, AKA "the Fire Fighter" and I have been married for nearly 20 years.  He is currently a Fire Captain with a big suburban fire department and recently received his 25-year pin!  (Yup, he was just a babe when he made the recruit class.)  Since we were married before the digital age, I'm including a photo of a photo from our wedding album!  LOL

"The Teacher"

I am currently a stay-at-home mom, but preparing to re-enter the work force this Fall.  I am going through the formal interview process with my local Archdiocese to obtain a position as a Resource Room Specialist.  I am also contemplating a return to graduate school for a SPED endorsement.  I currently hold a Master's Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, but allowed my Kansas teaching license to expire while staying at home.  Since I need a minimum of six graduate hours to re-certify, and I've felt a calling to Special Education, I'm researching grad school options and programs.

Previous to answering to the call of mom, I taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades in the regular ed classroom for a large suburban school district.  I spent four years in a Title 1 building where I really honed my skills and discovered my passion for working with both ESL and special needs learners.  I was also blessed to experience the opportunity of opening a brand new elementary building.  To this day, I have maintained connections with the incredible staff, parents, and students of RW Elementary School!

When it was time to educate our own children, my husband and I thought long and hard about our decision.  It was a difficult choice (emotionally and financially) to put our children in parochial school when we have such fantastic public school options where we live.  But, for our family, faith-based education played a significant role in our decision.  My husband and I are both Catholic school graduates.  And so, for now, I've decided to pursue employment within the Catholic school system.

Mommy and Daddy with Mary Catherine on her First Holy Communion (April 2013)

Again, welcome!  I invite you to follow along as "I Think I can..." make a difference in the lives of some very special learners!