Thursday, May 15, 2014

#YouMatter Day 2014

Yesterday we celebrated our annual #YouMatter Day!

It's a day I came up with to celebrate those around us and recognize staff and family at Fields Store Elementary for the contributions they make and to remind them that they're noticed. 

The first thing we did was watch Angela Maiers message that she did for Tedx. It was very inspiring and definitely got things off on the right foot. 

After we watched the 20 minute video we talked about how important it is to let people know that you value them. 

Each student was asked to select two school employees and one personal family member or friend. They had to write a letter to the three individuals. I made special #YouMatter pages for the kids to write on. 

After the students finished their letters the took the letters to the employees and hand delivered them with the message "I wanted to write you a letter to let you know that you matter to me". They were then tasked with delivering their "personal" letter within 24 hours. 

Another thing that we did was create a #YouMatter wall. Each student was tasked with writing at least one statement on the wall recognizing someone on campus. But they were not allowed to sign their names. I wanted it to be completely annonymous praise. It was great to see the kids comments. I also encouraged the staff to take time to write on the wall too. 

I absolutely love #YouMatter day and giving students the opportunity to recognize others and let them know they're noticed. I also know that many teachers spend this day in tears because they easily forget how valuable they are. Far too often we don't take enough opportunities to praise others for their hard work. 

To all the educators and parents reading this I say thank you and that you matter to me. Together we make this work but the contribution you make is invaluable. Please know you're valued and you have great worth. 

How will you make sure someone knows they matter?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Come work with me in @NavasotaISD

For those of you who don't know, recently I accepted a position as Principal of Navasota Intermediate in Navasota, Texas!

I couldn't be more excited.  Stepping out of the classroom and into a leadership role wasn't something I thought I was ready to do yet.  I LOVE working with my group of kiddos every year.  But after my first meeting with the leaders in Navasota ISD, I knew this was somewhere I was meant to be.

All of the ideals about students, learning, and technology that Navasota is trying to achieve, completely align with what I believe!

The school I am taking over is starting over from scratch.....meaning I have LOTS of positions to fill!  We've hired a few teachers but are in need of more outstanding educators.  The campus is a 4th and 5th grade campus, and we are going completely self-contained and Project Based.  We'll be working with an organization called Engage! Learning who will help us through this project based learning transformation.

The Jr. High in Navasota has already gone full PBL, and now it's coming to the Intermediate!

I've already hired a few teachers, and I have my whole administration team in place.  If you know anything about me, you know I dream big and expect amazing things.  I can't even express how excited I am about this upcoming school year!

Are you interested in joining the team at Navasota Intermediate???  You can go HERE to apply (when applying make sure you check the box that signifies your interest in Navasota Intermediate, not just Navasota ISD.  It makes it easier for me to find your application)  And you can even send me an email after you've applied!  My new Navasota email is (and YES we can do Skype/Google Hangout interviews for those who live far away)

If you're looking for somewhere that is looking to impact students, give them a voice, teach them their value, all while extending a quality education grounded in real life work and technology, then Navasota Intermediate is where you want to be! Apply Today!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Day @SledSweeney13 & @ClassroomChamps Changed an Entire Campus

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you know that I am a Classroom Champions teacher.  I couldn't agree more with the mission of this organization. They seek to connect top performing athletes with students and classrooms from across the country.

When I was accepted as a Classroom Champions teacher at the end of last school year, I had no idea the impact or change it would have on not only my students, but me.   I knew it had the potential to inspire my students, but never at the level it has.

This year my students have learned so much from our athlete, Joshua Sweeney.  Josh plays on the US Men's Sled Hockey team.  He scored the winning goal at the Paralympics this year that earned the US Men's Sled Hockey team their GOLD Olympic medal!  But even more inspiring is the fact that Josh is a former US Marine and Purple Heart recipient who stepped on an IED while fighting in Afghanistan and lost both of his legs.

In January my students submitted a video in a contest to win an "in-person" visit from Josh.....and we WON!

Yesterday, Tuesday May 6th, Josh came to visit Fields Store Elementary.

Before Josh's visit, the entire school spent time learning about him.  They watched this PBS Documentary, did research, and even created their own "I Dream Big" posters for Josh to read when he visited.

He started his visit with a school-wide assembly where ten 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students got to ask Josh questions.  His answers were inspiring, motivating, honest, and real.  For a room full of 700 pre-k through 5th graders, you could have heard a pin drop.  And the moment he brought out his medal, the crowd went WILD!

After his school wide assembly, he spent the next 2 and 1/2 hours with my fifth graders.  He shared stories from his life and let kids ask him anything.  He talked about his time in the military, what it was like at the Olympics, living with no legs, learning through mistakes, and so much more.

As I sat next to Josh, and even spent some time talking to him one on one, I couldn't believe the power of that moment.  I'm not even sure Josh will ever realize what he brought to our campus.  Not only did he bring a sense of excitement (HELLO, he was a Olympic Gold Medalist and US Marine!!), but he brought a sense of understanding.

Most of our students have never met someone with a "disability".  And to see this top performing athlete sit and talk about going through trials, doing your best, and never giving up; it just hit home.

It's been a day since Josh's visit, and still our school is a buzz.  Hundreds of autographs were signed, many pictures were taken, but most of all lives were impacted yesterday.

It was such a reminder of the importance of finding ways to bring outside experiences into our students and allow them to learn from people from all walks of life.

To Josh Sweeney I say , Thank You.  Thank you for inspiring not only my students, and my fellow staff members, but for inspiring me. My heart is forever changed with the interactions I saw you have with the students and the conversations I got to have with you personally.