Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Welcoming!

The holidays are always filled with optimism and a bit of stress. Thanksgiving brings thoughts of being thankful for so much. It is good to take a look at everything around us and find the many reasons to give thanks!! And there are many, many reasons....

Of course I am thankful for good health, good friends, and a great job working with wonderful teachers and staff! This time of year is always difficult at an elementary school. I don't know what the reason for this is, but it has been my experience. I just know that the next three weeks will probably not be so easy--they never have been. These weeks between Thanksgiving and the holidays have never been my favorite. I think this year with all of the bad news about the economy might even make things a bit more difficult. However, after 19 years of doing this, I know that January will bring a renewed energy to everyone.

I am also very thankful for the wonderful family that I am blessed to be a part of. My children, Kerri and Patrick, my grandson, Cameron, my wonderful Aunt Teresa, my sister Judy and her family are so much a part of my every day life and I am grateful for this blessing, In addition, the extended Scott Family is such an integral part of our lives that I don't know what I would do without their love and support.

We spent Thanksgiving at my cousin Pat's house this year. Her husband, Phil, is not doing well. I have written about him in previous posts--a wonderful man. Pat wanted everyone at her house for this Thanksgiving and I am glad we were all there together.

My cousin Cecilia's daughter, Annie, was there on Thursday VERY PREGNANT as you will see in the picture that I am posting. Yesterday (Nov. 29) Annie gave birth to a new member of our family, Cole Jacob Grove. Annie and Jeremy have a two year old son, Mattox. Mattox celebrated his second birthday on November 28. Cecilia called us about 6:00 p.m. to let us know that all was well and that Cole weighed in at 9 lbs. 7 oz.

So welcome to the world and to our family, Cole!! You will have a great life, this much I know is true. You have great parents, aunts and uncles, great grandparents in Jay and Cecilia, and lots of cousins who love you! It couldn't get much better than that!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ticket to Write

Last summer, I attended an entire week of training with four of my teachers on a program to teach writing to students. We have all kinds of programs to teach reading, math, science, etc., but there is very little out there to actually teach writing. When I think back to my school days, I don't ever remember actually learning how to write. As a teacher, I always felt that it was one of the hardest subjects to teach. It was exciting to me to find something that would really assist teachers in the teaching of the writing process.

One of my former students is a writer for the Arizona Republic. In correspondence with her, she told me several years ago that her love for writing came from the year she was in my class. Although I don't think I did a very good job of teaching writing, I do know that I showed my students how much I love writing. So that is a good thing, I think!

I have always loved to write. Humor was probably what I enjoyed the most. I actually wrote an "underground bulletin" at my schools when I was a teacher and it was a lot of fun. Since I have become a principal, I have to write so much with an enormous amount of it being tedious. At times I have come to dread writing. As a result, I haven't done much of the enjoyable writing for quite some time.

Then came this blog.......... All of a sudden writing became fun again. Over the last several months, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing again.

The week we spent in June in the training was great. I learned a lot about the art and science of teaching writing with a great instructor. We were given an assignment that had to be turned in when we went back for the next phase of the training. With my busy schedule and so much to do, I didn't think about it until yesterday. One of my dear principal friends reminded me at a meeting we were in that I needed to have this assignment completed. Of course, I had nothing with me. She gave me her outline and the "prompt" that we were given. We had a choice of two prompts, but I knew that I would do the one about the Dairy Queen. I had actually thought about it, but hadn't actually sat down to do this. So in the middle of our "other" meeting, I wrote my story with confidence born out of seven months of blogging!!

The following is my story with the first sentence being the prompt that was given to us:

I raced from the car to the Dairy Queen door, threw it open and slid into line.

The Dairy Queen in the small town I grew up in was only open for the sizzling hot summer months. April 1st was an exciting day in our town as the local DQ reopened after six months. So many people were anxious for the first Dairy Queen treat in months.

I couldn't decide which item on the menu I had missed the most. Was it a Dilly Bar or a chocolate ice cream soda?

I could taste both of these after months of not being able to go to Dairy Queen. I was so excited that it had reopened and that I could go every evening on my bike, although tonight my mother drove me. I think she was as excited as I was that it was open again.

Finally, I was in line with only one person in front of me--decision time! I decided on the ice cream soda at the very last minute before I had to place the order. I could taste it even before I ordered it--sweet, delicious, and refreshing.

Going back to the car, I asked my mom if I could walk home. I wanted to savor every drop as I sauntered home, just four short blocks away. She said yes, which was exciting in itself to be allowed to walk on my own.

As I walked, I thought about the 12 Dilly Bars that my mother had purchased and was taking home to the freezer. Dairy Queen treats were back for a few months at least. The enjoyment of these treats had to be even better because of so many months without them.

Oh, the wonderful memories of growing up in a small town will be with me every time I pass a Dairy Queen!!

Much of this is true. This is called believable fiction I learned today. The Dairy Queen part is very accurate. I was never really that excited about the opening or closing of it because I don't really care much about sweets. The rest is accurate. My mom loved Dairy Queen and so we went often. It really is only four blocks from 858!

I turned my paper in at the end of the day yesterday with great confidence. Our instructor told us she would have them ready for us tomorrow and not to worry if we didn't get a check. Most mistakes would be easy to remedy. So I am thinking--no problem. Even though I did this quickly, I am a very good writer. I will have a check mark.

So this morning I go to get my paper and there is a SEE ME. SEE ME???? I couldn't believe it. So I saw her! I needed to have two sentences for my opening and two for my closing. Okay, I could fix that easily!! So I added to my entry "The excitement of this event filled the air." That was fine. But I truly felt that my voice in the closing would be compromised by adding another sentence. But I did it anyway...: "I love these memories and I am happy that there are still Dairy Queens everywhere."

At the end of the day, I was able to speak with our wonderful instructor. I told her how I felt about my voice at the end. She read it and suggested that I just change the order of the sentences. It would read "I am happy that there are still Dairy Queens everywhere. Oh the wonderful memories of growing up in a small town will be with me every time I pass a Dairy Queen." I could definitely live with this!!

Tomorrow is the last day of training. It has been great and I have learned so much. I know that my teachers who attended will be able to bring this back to our faculty and to our students. I truly am excited that we finally have a "program" that I think is going to be fabulous in the teaching of writing. Because I love to write so much, I hope that our students will also have this love.

I look forward to the months ahead where we can instill the love of writing (and reading) in all of our students and possibly untap some incredible potential that is out there with our children. Writing is so personal and can be so therapeutic. At the same time, being able to read a great writer can work wonders and draw out such emotion. I know how much it has helped me and I hope my love for this craft will be imparted to others. This blog has done this for me. I truly hope that what I write is enjoyed by others out there. Technology is such an awesome tool!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Glimpse of a Moment in Arizona History

A few Sundays ago, there was an article in the Arizona Republic about the Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. October 26th was the 127th anniversary of this infamous gunfight.

Reading this article brought back a flood of memories. I have always been interested in Arizona history. It has been a passion of mine and so much of the history of Arizona is not that long ago when you compare it to U. S. and world history. When I was growing up in Douglas, I remember hearing stories about Pancho Villa, the deportation in Bisbee of the miners who worked in the copper mines, Texas John Slaughter, and so many stories.

When I started teaching third grade, I wanted my students to be able to know about Arizona history first hand, so I decided to take them on a field trip to Bisbee and Tombstone. I was the first elementary teacher in Gilbert to ask to take students on an overnight field trip. I remember that I had to go before the Governing Board personally to make this request. The members of the Board had many questions as to why I wanted to do this and how I was going to make it happen. I was prepared and they gave me the go ahead.

The entire semester before we went, I did a lot of teaching about the science and history of southern Arizona. I continued this trip for the entire time I taught third grade, about nine years. It was an incredible trip and one that I know my students remember to this day!

I always remembered hearing from my Uncle Matt about his father-in-law, Emil Marks. Emil was his wife, Gyp's, father and the grandfather to my wonderful Phoenix cousins. Emil was a barber in Tombstone during the 1880's. He cut the hair of many of the historic figures. I remember hearing about how he decided to move to Bisbee because things had gotten so bad in Tombstone during this time.

The year 1981 was the 100th anniverary of this historic event. The morning of October 26, 1981, there was an article in the Mesa Tribune by a columnist by the name of Walter Zipf. He wrote about the 100th anniversary of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He told the story of what occurred that day. Of course, I was very interested to read this when I saw the headline. In this article, Mr. Zipf told about how he had actually interviewed someone many years before who had witnessed this gunfight. He went on to write about Emil Marks, a barber in Tombstone. I immediately called my Uncle Matt. He immediately went out and got copies of the newspaper for all of his children. I don't think that he knew that Emil had witnessed this event.

The past few weeks I have tried to find my copy of the article. I was able to locate a copy of it from some papers that are at the University of Arizona. I have been in contact with a librarian from the U of A who is trying to locate it and send it to me.

I did find some information on the web from the Arizona Jewish Historical Society. Here is what they have written:

"Emil Marks, a barber, completed his 1881 journey from Germany to Tombstone by stagecoach over the very rough road from Benson. He was to find himself shaving the beards and cutting the hair of the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Clanton boys, all of whom kept their guns on their laps during his ministrations. This made him very nervous.

He realized that his fears were well founded when hostilities opened up and he watched as the memorable gunfight at the OK Corral unfolded."

I find this information fascinating! Even though Emil was not related to me, I feel as though I am a part of his family because of how I feel about my cousins, Yaya, Pat, Marion, Cecilia, and Teresa. I hope they enjoy reading this post! The picture at the top of this entry is of their grandfather, Emil Marks!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy 30th, Patrick!!

Today is Patrick's 30th Birthday!!! Where have the years gone??? It just doesn't seem possible!

Here's to the next 30, Patrick!!