Monday, June 18, 2018

This is Not a Goodbye Letter

Principal ponderings...
Dear Staff,

This is not a goodbye letter, definitely not.  It's not goodbye, it's simply a "see you real soon" letter.  Maybe I am in a little denial?  Maybe I can't believe that there are only three days left with students and staff.  My last three official days as the principal of FloRo.  Back when I announced that I would be leaving, this week seemed so far away, and now, it's here.  And it's hard for me to believe that I will soon be packing up my office and leaving our school for the last time. 

Thank you for letting me be your assistant principal and principal for the last seven years.  Together, we have learned a lot.  And you have taught me so much.  Thank you for pushing me and challenging me.  Thank you for taking risks with me and for growing with me,  Thank you for giving so much of yourselves and for putting all of our students first.  Thank you for helping me keep a smile on my face and reminding me why I love my job.

I thought I would end this year with a reminder of the Kids Deserve It quotes that you all fought for back in August.  Please always remember...

"Our most important job is to love kids and convince them they are absolutely incredible and unique -- to remind them they matter.  Academics are a bonus!"

"Kids want to know they matter to you.  They want to know you see them, hear them, and believe in them -- unconditionally."

"You never know the power of a simple word or action.  The smallest stone dropped into the largest lake will leave ripple felt miles away.  We can't undervalue our impact, our reach, and our potential."

Keep being amazing for our kids.  Florence Roche is an amazing place to learn and grow!  I have so many wonderful memories that I will take with me.  I love you and will miss you.

Liz Garden

P.S. Laura Taylor...go ahead and check my word count...definitely fits in the recommended 300 to 600 word limit!

Currently reading:
Emerson and I headed to the library last week to load up on picture books to get started with summer reading!  One of the books we got was: Dog Loves Drawing.  Certainly a fun read where the characters draw the story as it's happening.
Another quick read is the book I Will Not Read This Book.  This book is a good choice for those readers who don't want to read!  
The favorite one right now is definitely Miss Lina's Ballerina's.  I'm pretty sure we will be reading this one every night this week. 
Events this week:
Monday - Field Day!!! Report cards should be completed
Tuesday - Half day, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served, 4th grade Moving Up Ceremony in the PAC from 9:30-10:30, Staff surprise at 12:30
Wednesday - Last day of school! End of the year assembly in the PAC @ 9:20, Step Up Day @ 10:30, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served, Teachers need to complete the end of year checklist, report cards available to parents
Thursday - Enjoy your summer vacation!!!
Friday - Rest, relax, read, rejuvenate!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Kindergarteners had fun singing at their class concerts and they also enjoyed camping in class! 
  • Our "Principals for the Day" did a great job catching students making good choices, reading to classes, and helping design a new school. 
  • Mrs. Lanctot's 1st graders enjoyed a beach day in their classroom; they enjoyed reading under an umbrella while the sounds of the waves played in the background. 
  • The 4th graders had tons of fun on Friday at their mixer with Swallow Union.  Thanks to the PTA and SU's APT for organizing this fun event! 

Check it out:
If you are still's some videos to make you laugh!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Growing Leaders

Principal ponderings...

I have been going around to all of the classrooms to read to each class one more time.  This is the book I selected to read to the kindergarteners and 1st graders:
The character in the book remembers being young and having lots of different dreams.  She dreamed of being a vet and taking care of animals.  She dreamed of inventing a robot to help her do all the work around the house.  She dreamed of being an athlete and being the hero of the game.  She dreamed of being a teacher, the President, and a writer. 

It has been fun to have the students close their eyes at the end of the book and think about their dreams.  There have been of course been the usual police officer, teacher, fire fighter, and race car driver.  And there are always a few who dream of having a million dollars or owning all of the toys in the world.  But there were some interesting ones this year.  There was the 1st grader who wants to be a YouTube-er.  There was the was the kindergartner who wants to be a mom.  There was the one who said he wanted to be a programmer and the one who wants to be a doctor, "the chemistry kind, not the hospital kind" she informed me.  And there were several who said the wanted to be a principal.  I couldn't help but smile every time someone said their dream was to be a principal.

I shared the story of what my daughter pretends to be at home.  When I was little, I definitely remember playing teacher.  At our house, it looks a little different. Emerson plays principal.  She talks about all of her teachers and what they do during the day.  And she talks about how as the principal she gets to play with all of the kids.  Interesting to see her view of my job...granted she is only three and when she is with me at school it's usually during fun, social events so I can see why she thinks it's all play and no work!

As I have been talking to our youngest learners about their dreams and thinking about my own daughter and her dreams, I continue to think are we doing it the right way for them?  Are we remembering that their dreams, their ideas of the future are very different from what ours were?  Are we remembering that we have growing leaders in front of us every day and we have to figure out how to help them keep growing?  Are we changing to do what's best for them or are we expecting them to change and do what we have always done?

I am diving into the book What School Could Be and beginning to discuss the book with other educators.  I shared my recent discussions with young students about their dreams.  I really liked how one woman suggested that instead of asking about what their dreams were, maybe we should be asking them about what problem they want to solve.  We are growing leaders in our school, and they will absolutely be the problem solvers of tomorrow.  We have to think differently about how we are educating them so we should probably be thinking about asking them different questions.

Currently reading:
I finished listening to Hillbilly Elegy; it was a fascinating memoir to listen to on my drive.  Amazing to hear how J.D. beat the odds and was a success story, but sad to think of how many children growing up in poor working class America don't have such a happy ending.  I started to read a book a picked up after hearing this teacher speak at a conference: I Wish My Teacher Knew.
I need to figure out what my next audio book will be.  Any suggestions?

Events this week:
Monday - 4th grade Museum of Science enrichment program @PTYC, Kindergarten concert during music class, Meet the Teacher event for Kindergarten - 3:45-4:15 in K classrooms
Tuesday - 4th grade Museum of Science enrichment program @ PTYC, Kindergarten concert during music class, 4th and 5th grade teachers meet in the afternoon, ELL Dinner 5:30-7:00
Wednesday - Kindergarten concert during music class
Thursday - Kindergarten concert during music class, GPL librarian visits 3rd grade in the afternoon, Principal for the Day!
Friday - Kindergarten concert during music class, FR/SU 4th grade mixer on the back field from 9:30-12:30

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I had some kindergarten writers share some amazing collaborative letters with me.  They were very persuasive...I too would love a field trip to a water park and a twisty slide on the playground! 
  • I had fun popping into a 1st grade music class as they were warming up. 
  • Our final staff meeting for the year was a good one!  I loved watching everyone write notes of appreciation to their peers. 
  • This student was so proud to show off her trophy to me! 

Check it out:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Beach, Blankets, BBQ, and...Books!

Principal ponderings...

Only a few weeks left before summer vacation and that means it's time to think about summer reading!  Have you started to make a list of the books that you want to dive into this summer?  Of course, I have several professional development books, several kids books, and several just for fun that I want to read.

Here's the newest professional development book that I can't wait to purchase and read cover to cover:
This book is written by Todd Nesloney, one of the authors of Kids Deserve It, and Travis Crowder, who is a middle school ELA teacher.  This book looks amazing!  Can't wait to read stories of sparking a love of literacy!

Another professional development book that I hope to read this summer is Enticing Hard-To-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres.  This book merges the idea of the power of writing with the idea of reaching students who have dealt with trauma in any form.  Talk about a powerful combination!

For fun and a little bit of professional development as well, I would like to read Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World.  Love the concept behind this book...reimagining women in leadership roles.
As far as new picture books go, I can't wait for Josh Funk's new books...yes, he has several coming out.  And I also can't wait for Cynthia Lord's new books! (unfortunately I think we all have to wait until 2019 for her two new books!) One of Josh's newest books is the third one in the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series...Mission Defrostable.  I am sure it will be just as good as the first two! 
There are several good MCBA books on next year's list.  One of the books that I hope to read this summer is All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook.  

Need some more ideas for your summer reading?
Check out some of these lists...

So what does your summer reading list look like?  Have any books to recommend to me?  Can't wait to put my toes in the sand and my nose in a book!

Currently reading:
I am still enjoying listening to Hillbilly Elegy on my drive to work.  I have also enjoyed reading the advanced copy of Balance Like a Pirate.  I am getting excited to be part of a summer book study about the book What School Could Be.  I am just getting start reading it, and the discussion will start in a few weeks!

Events this week:
Tuesday - 4th grade library trip, Liz @ Crisis Team Meeting, Prescott - 1:00-3:00
Wednesday - 4th grade library trip, final staff meeting @ 3:30
Thursday - 4th grade Enviroscape Enrichment program
Friday - Liz and Melissa at SLT from 8:30-11:00, Brian O'Donoghue visits FloRo for the afternoon

Great things I noticed last week:

  • The 3rd graders put on an awesome concert, both during the school day for peers and at night for parents. 
  • I had two amazing principals for the day on Thursday.  Check out this link for pictures from the day:
  • I did a few read alouds in some 3rd and 4th grade classrooms.  Before I read to Mrs. Guernsey's students, I listened to some of them recite their poems they had practiced. 
  • While I did not get any pictures, I did have so much fun meeting the future of FloRo at kindergarten screening.  Thanks to Stasia we were able to do screening at the PTYC.  I met lots of siblings and several new families as well.
  • Check out this future architect in Mrs. Spiczka's room! 
  • 2nd graders having some word work fun with Boggle! 

Check it out:
Check out Travis Crowder's recent post: A Reason to Read: