Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today, July 30, is our Aunt Teresa's birthday!! She is 86 years old. Last year, we had a wonderful celebration for her 85th Birthday here in Gilbert. Over 100 relatives and friends joined us for the weekend to honor this wonderful lady.

Teresa is in Douglas right now. Kerri, Cameron, and Kerri's friend went down on Monday. They fixed dinner for her last night, as they had to return to Gilbert today.

As I have said in previous entries, our family is blessed to have her in our lives!! I am so thankful for everything that she has done for me and for my children. She is truly one of the kindest, gentlest, people that you would ever want to meet. We are blessed to have her in our lives!!

She is so thrilled that we have made contact with some of our relatives in Ireland.

So, Teresa, happy 86th and here's to many more!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Family Ties

I have had a bit of writer's block lately (that and the fact that things have been a bit dull). But something awesome happened today!!

When I started writing this blog, it was just with the intention of chronicling the trip to Ireland during spring break. However, I had forgotten how much I enjoy writing and so it continued. Several weeks ago, I received an email that someone had posted a comment on one of my early blogs. It was before we went to Ireland and I had found a letter that Teresa had written 30 years ago. The person who commented lives in Ireland and her family name is the same as my great grandmother's--Kneafsey. This is not a common name. I was able to find her name and phone number on the internet and I called yesterday and left a message. Well, Michele just called me and we had a wonderful visit. She is a doctor and lives in County Donegal. Today is her birthday!!

I am thinking that her great grandfather and my great grandmother were brother and sister. We talked for some time. Her great grandfather was William Kneafsey. He was a school teacher in Ballycastle, County Mayo. My great grandmother was Ellen Kneafsey Roughan. Michele told me that her great grandfather's father was John Kneafsey. Ellen had a son named John who died in 1904 in Bisbee, Arizona.

Anyway, I am really excited that we were able to talk. I will send her email address to my cousins.

I just got off the phone with Teresa. She was very excited that I heard from Michele. She just got back from our cabin in the Chiricahua Mountains and she said it was absolutely gorgeous. She said there was more water in the creek than she has ever seen.

So once again, thank you to my friend, Carol, for prodding me into doing this blog! I am really excited to have made contact with Michele in Ireland!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

New School Year, New Beginning

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

This past week we went to Las Vegas for a few days to get away and have some fun. On Wednesday, we were walking on the strip by the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. In the front, they have a display to honor the people who died on September 11th. This quote really caught my eye. I have heard it many times before, but for some reason this time it has made me think about what it truly means.

Last school year was perhaps the most difficult year that I have ever had in my educational career. Every year we face new challenges and problems, but for some reason last school year was different. Even though according to the State of Arizona our school is considered "highly performing," (which is the second highest rank a school can be), we didn't make AYP--adequate yearly progress which is part of the federal law, No Child Left Behind. The reason we didn't make it is very complicated, but basically it is because we followed our special education students' legal document called an IEP and allowed many of them to have accommodations during testing. As a result, those students didn't count as being tested and so we were considered a failure. There are over 100 ways a school can fail.

Our staff is second to none and they do incredible things for kids. This was very demoralizing to everyone. I tried every trick that I knew to help with morale and it just wasn't enough.

On top of that, after 36 years in education and 18 as a principal, I was given a "coach" to help me figure out what to do!! What an experience that has been!!

In addition, we had several things occur that were totally out of the ordinary and created a lot of extra work and stress.

But we survived!!! And one of the best things about being in education is that every year is a new year. Everyone gets a fresh start.

I think that those who work in what I call "the real world" don't truly understand the day to day operations of a school. A school is a microcosm of our society with all that is good and bad and everything in between.

So over the weeks since school was out, I have had a lot of time to reflect on this past year. I am not sure I could have or would have done anything differently. However, I am really glad that I saw that quote in Las Vegas. I have had time to think about it quite a bit. And I am really looking forward to the 2008/09 school year. I have faith that it is going to be a great one. I believe so much that we can make a difference in the lives of children and families and that is why I get up every day and go back to my school. It is more than a job to me and I am excited that I can continue to be a part of such a great place with so many great teachers, staff, kids, and families!!

LET'S GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wild Sonoran Pugs Spotted in the Chiricahua Mountains!!!

For the 4th of July weekend, Kerri, Cameron, Judy, Ryan, Kayla and I and the pugs and Judy's dog, Rex, went to Douglas. The 4th of July in Douglas is always a fun time. The weather down in southeastern Arizona is so much nicer than here in the valley. The monsoons are starting right about now and the afternoons usually produce a thunderstorm.

Cameron loves to go for the 4th because we can sit on the side of the house in lawn chairs and watch the fireworks.
Of course, our pugs love Douglas. They love the backyard and run around like crazy. They love to run up and down the stairs and can't decide which bed to sleep in at night.

Saturday we drove up to our cabin in South Fork in the Chiricahua Mountains. It was cloudy and cool and beautiful. There isn't any water in the creek yet as the summer storms haven't had time to produce any. We sat around and just enjoyed the weather and the scenery.
The pugs were a riot. We let them off of their leashes and they ran all over the place. I don't think they could believe the freedom that they had. Lucy, who is normally shy and a bit timid, was running everywhere. Pancho, who loves balls, was playing fetch with a pine cone that he found. And Pedro was in his glory. They were off exploring all of the smells and the wonderful sounds in the forest.

It started to rain. Because of the density of the trees, it must rain quite hard before we can really feel it. We had to move our chairs to the cabin porch as the rain got harder. It is so beautiful!!!

Many times these summer storms are accompanied by lightning and thunder. We didn't see much lightning, but it did thunder a bit. Judy has a fairly large white German Shepherd, Rex, who is a bit of a neurotic. He is not very excited to be around our rambunctious pugs. They think he is great, but that feeling is definitely not mutual. He was excited to be out, but wasn't exploring and running like our pugs. Well, the first clap of thunder hit, and there went Rex---directly to Judy's lap where he sat for the better part of an hour!! Try to picture this in your head--three pugs running wild; one German Shepherd sitting on his owner's lap!! It was so funny!! No amount of prodding was going to get this shaking dog away from his protector. Our intelligent pugs continued to run amok enjoying their new found freedom.

As the clouds grew darker, we decided it was time to head back to Douglas. We rounded up the pugs, got Rex off of Judy's lap, loaded the cars and drove back in an incredible rainstorm.

The three pugs literally collapsed in the back seat of the car and "snored" all the way back to Douglas. Hence their name, "The Wild Snorin' Pugs." They were so tired last night and today on the way back from Douglas. I think that they might sleep for days!!

It was a great way to celebrate the 4th of July!!!