Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thankful #savmp #gratitude

This is the view from my deck. I love this view. Every day it's different. And yet if you were sitting here with me you would see this view from an older house in need of yard work, paint, and a new roof. Life is like that, isn't it? No matter where we find ourselves, we can always choose our view- the way in which we see our life and everything in it. And I choose gratitude. Life is not perfect or easy, but it is filled with extraordinary and ordinary moments that have shaped me and filled my life with joy.
our thankful wall 

This month I have been focused on showing gratitude and appreciation for others. One thing I did that is new to me was to start calling the families of staff members to say thank you and share why I am so grateful to have them on our school team. It was so fun making those calls, and I am about half way through my list! There is so much to be thankful for!

My family

This past year I celebrated being married for 25 years and my oldest daughter turns 25 this month. How can that be? I don't feel old! In fact just yesterday in the staff room we were listening to Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Fight For Your Right to Party! I can be hard to live with sometimes, and my family loves me anyways! Too many memories to count.
hiking with Sam
my mom and dad
this picture. 
my girls
My school community

I read somewhere that in life we should find a job we love so much we would do it for free. I feel that way about my work. Is every day sparkles and unicorns? Not a chance. But every day is filled with magical moments, hugs from kids, and learning. I make a lot of mistakes there. Every day I get to try to be better than the day before. And my days are filled with fun and incredible staff, students, and families. 
first day of school
Star In Motion- dance every day!
Passionate and creative teachers!
Smiles for miles 
learning everywhere!
I work with super heroes!
My favorite shirt.
Some days there are unicorns and sparkles!
I love to read! As I thought about the books I've read this year, I realized that each book made me think of a person or experience. Some of my toughest moments have happened this year and yet each of those experiences inevitably pointed me to a book to help me learn and grow as a person and leader. And I have read some truly inspirational and transformational books this year. Many I have read with others and have had great discussions. 

And every book in our book club! Check out our 2016 books here!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hold hands and stick together #connectedcommunity #savmp

I am so fortunate to be starting my third year as part of the School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program, #SAVMP, where administrators from across the country and around the world connect to learn and reflect through ongoing conversations and blog posts. This month, we're talking about the different ways we connect with our school community. You can read the entire #SAVMP prompt/post here. This year, I am so lucky to be connected with Sue Tonneson, a principal in Victoria, British Columbia! I love our conversations on Voxer-- they make my commute fly by!

From the #SAVMP blog:
The first question we are going to focus on is in based on the idea of creating strong relationships to build a solid foundation in your school. From our collective experience, we have seen many administrators focus on the idea of being “innovative” before focusing on the spending time with staff, students, and understanding classrooms. As George Couros would say, “Innovation is a human endeavor”, and it is important that we focus on these connections first. So here is the first question, whether you are a principal, vice-principal, or on any part of a leadership team:

“What are some ways you connect 
with your school community?”

First, I LOVE this prompt. I truly believe that relationships must come first, whether you are talking about students, staff, or families. At our school, we have three things that we feel are our signature practices-- the things that make our school unique and special: PBL--Our project based learning approach, Assessment-- and all of the different ways we know students are learning, and Connected Community-- our focus on social emotional learning, and health and happiness, as perhaps our most important school initiative. Included in our connected community focus is also the use of technology to build relationships and to tell our school story to the community and the world. 

How do we connect? 
Face to Face is one way!

Drop off 
Connecting starts in the parking lot!
I LOVE drop off. Rain or shine-- I cannot wait to greet our families and students!
We will even open your car door to say good morning!

Our custodians and teachers waiting to open
car doors at drop off every day!

Walking to school!

Connecting with hugs

And at recess

Rainy day recess
Four days a week we start the day dancing!
Connecting in classrooms
2nd grade book club
small group math
Ashley Crane and her 3rd grade students 
At meetings and professional development...
building relationships one meeting at a time!
STEM challenge with the staff from Stoneridge Elementary

4th grade collaboration between 2 schools!
Back to school PD= dancing as a staff!
Ro-sham bo tournament

Lego grade level challenge
Facebook, Twitter and Technology, oh my!
One of my favorite ways to connect with our school community is our Facebook page. This page isn't public- it's actually secret, and you have to be added to the group to post and view. This group now has almost 500 members, and parents , staff, and community members post every single day! Last year. when we were enrolling over 200 new families, the first thing we did was invite them to join our FB group- in hopes that they would really get a sense of how we are as a school community from joining. We loved being able to connect with and get to know our new families- months before they set foot on our campus. Many of our families use FB as their go to place to find out what is happening in our school. (I post every communication on FB, via Remind text, and on our school website-- trying to reach families where they are!)

Our counselor posting about Kind Kids Club & #socktober
Our City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby posts about community events!
I love posting from classrooms!
Parents posting! THIS happens every day!
Sharing about our school with Joe Wood and Brandon Blom
--when I'm off campus at a conference!
Teachers post from field trips!
Spirit day posts by parents
We love Twitter at our school! Teachers tweet out the awesome things happening in classrooms and these show up in the feed on our webpage, too. It's like Open House every day, and it allows our staff and teachers to see into other classrooms without ever leaving their class or office. Follow us at @staracademyncs and our #ncsstar hashtag. (We also use #ncsinnovate to connect all five academies at Natomas Charter School!)

Connecting can make every day feel like the best day!