Thursday, December 31, 2009

Promising Ending to 2009

I have often written about my wonderful Aunt Teresa and what a blessing she is to our entire family and to me personally. She is the only one of of my mom's brothers and sister still with us and she is a joy to all of her many nieces and nephews.

Teresa is amazing in so many ways. She loves to visit family as much as possible. She always sees the good in people and has probably the deepest faith of anyone that I know. She spends a lot of time with us up here in the valley, but Douglas is still her home. She loves the house at 858 where she was born 87 years ago. I also love this home where I was raised!

This year has brought a couple of health scares for her. The latest is a reoccurrence of the breast cancer that she had 11 years ago. At that time, she had a lumpectomy and went through radiation. We were told that if one is to have cancer, that this is a very treatable kind.

Recently, she had a mammogram and it showed a spot. She had a needle biopsy that was malignant. We felt very positive about it after talking to her doctor up here. The doctor recommended that we take her to an oncologist.

The appointment with Dr. Calvacant was today at 3:00. I have heard many wonderful things about this doctor and after meeting him today, I can understand why so many people like and respect him.

He told us that about 7% of the people who have the cancer that she did, get it again. He also told us that the body can only take so much radiation. He recommended that we take her to a surgeon and that she have a mastectomy. He was very positive about this being a good treatment. My cousin, Yaya, has a surgeon in Phoenix that she trusts very much. Dr. Calvacant knows her and also spoke very highly of her. I tried to get an appointment, but the office is closed for the holiday weekend.

Teresa's greatest joy is our family and my cousins are so wonderful with her. I know how much they love her and how much she loves them. A few years ago, Kerri put Teresa on our cell phone plan and we bought her a cell phone. Recently, Kerri was looking at the statement and guess who had the most minutes of all of us??? It was Teresa!!! We have laughed about that and it would probably make a great T-Mobile commercial. All laughter aside, what those minutes say about her communicating with our family and her friends is a tribute to who she is---I firmly believe!

I know that many, many people have been saying prayers for this wonderful lady. I know she says prayers for all of us all of the time!!

In a few hours we will be welcoming 2010. How fortunate for the extended Scott Family originally from Douglas, Arizona that we have our wonderful, amazing Aunt Teresa in our lives!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Very Special Gift

I have not written my blog in quite some time for a variety of reasons. So much has happened this month and the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have never been my favorites anyway. School is especially stressful the week before the break every year with this year being no exception. I think it has been one of the hardest that I have had since becoming a principal.

Two weeks ago one of the moms at our school was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Her son attends our school and there are many extended family members who also attend our school. We have had many things happen over the years, but this is the first time something like this has occurred. Each time we have something happen, I always write a letter to the parents in the students' classrooms or to our entire school community depending on the situation. I attended the rosary, but was not able to make the funeral. Several of our staff went to the funeral.

Last Wednesday morning, I received a phone call from our school nurse saying that a mom that so many of my staff members had become close with lost her battle to cancer. She has four young children. The father had called our nurse in the middle of the night and she was there when she died. The family had moved to Arizona about a year and a half ago and did not have any family here. Several of my staff members and parents became her family. They helped take care of the children, took her to doctor's appointments, sat with her when she was in the hospital and visited her at home. Again, a letter was sent home to the families of the students in the classrooms where the children are and a funeral to attend last Monday. It broke my heart to see her four year old son and her seven year old son as pall bearers...

We recently found out that my Aunt Teresa's breast cancer has come back. We are feeling very positive about this. Of course, she has a wonderful attitude and probably the strongest faith of anyone I know.

My cousin, Pat, went with me to Douglas to pick her up over the weekend. Pat lost her husband, Phil, to cancer last January. Over the weekend, we talked about last Christmas when Phil was so sick. We had all of our family Christmas gatherings at her house because of Phil's illness. When I look back on last Christmas, it is with joy and I told her that. Even though we knew he was so sick, we were all together. Phil's last Christmas with us was how we celebrated every Christmas. I have missed talking to him, especially when something funny happened at school. He always enjoyed my stories!

Every few days I send a text message to my cousin, Ana, who recently lost her son, Steven, in a tragic car accident in California. I can't imagine what she and her family are going through and the holidays have to be very difficult, especially this first one. I just want her to know that I am thinking of her. I hope that these messages bring her some comfort.

On Thursday morning, one of my wonderful teachers brought me a gift that is probably one of the most touching and meaningful gifts that I have ever received. Her dear mother who is an incredible human being had written a book about something that happened when she was about six or seven years old just before Christmas. It is advertised as a book for children, but it is much more than a book for children. It is a beautiful story about the power of faith and about Christmas. It takes place in Sacramento, California, where she grew up. I have several cousins who grew up in Sacramento and I have ordered a book for them.

The book's title is Christmas on K Street, by Nancy Gilson Olivas. In the epilogue Nancy writes "As with most people, my life has been filled with great blessings and great sorrows. The sorrows are hard to understand sometimes. They can surely get you off track. But I have always been aware as the years go by that blessings far outweigh the troubles in my life."

This is beautifully said and I needed that book that day! Thank you for the gift of this book, Becky. Thank you for writing this story, Nancy, and for your incredible support over the years.

The last paragraph in the book says, "Believe. Believe in Santa and the message of hope and love he brings to us every Christmas. And if you are so inclined, say a little prayer to Jesus."

I continue to feel blessed for many reasons. The family that I was born into is second to none. My cousins and their families are more than cousins to me. My mother taught me so much and was such a role model as to how you treat people and how you stand up for what you believe in. I feel blessed to have had her in my life for so many years and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. My Uncle Johnny who lived with us when I was growing up meant so much to me. Mary, the wonderful lady who took care of us growing up, taught me many valuable lessons about life. She didn't have much, but she had love. Every time I make beans or green and red chili meat I think of her and thank her for teaching me this along with so many other important lessons about life. My Aunt Teresa is probably the best person I have ever known. I love her dearly! Having Judy be such a support in my life means so much to me. And of course, what would I do without my children, Kerri and Patrick, and Cameron?

I am also blessed with many dear friends and a job that is not just a job at a wonderful school with an incredible group of people who come to school each day to make a difference in the lives of children, both academically and emotionally.

And as always on December 23rd, I think of my dear friend, Ellen Widmer, on this her birthday. She has been gone for six years now and I miss her kindness, her love of teaching and of all children, but most of all her---friendship. I am thankful that I had her in my life!

In my life, the joys do outweigh the sorrows.........

For those of you who read this blog, I hope that your holidays are filled with joy and peace. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amazing Moments

The weeks between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays are among my least favorite of the school year. I could not tell you why based on any research on this matter, but I do have an opinion. I think that there are several reasons--kids are excited and trying to get through required curriculum isn't what they want to be doing; teachers are the most patient of people, but these weeks stretch that patience. This year in particular has brought a lot more stress because of the economic woes that we are facing. Many families of both children and staff have faced job loss, less money, higher insurance premiums...... Public education deals with all that is good and bad in our society.

For the past several years, our school has housed three of the district's Autism classrooms. Although I have a special education background, I truly knew very little about working with Autistic children. I have learned so much over the last several years. It has probably been one of the most rewarding programs that I have ever overseen. The students have done incredibly well at our school thanks to the wonderful special education teachers, regular classroom teachers, instructional assistants, and the incredible children that we work with every day.

We have approximately 53 students who have been diagnosed with Autism which is a fairly high number. I truly believe in what we are doing and what it means to society in the future. Many of these children are incredibly bright. I believe that by giving them opportunities to learn social skills and be integrated into the regular classroom, we are opening doors for them that will enable them to be productive members of society. I believe that one of these students might find a cure for cancer or some other disease in the future.

Something happened yesterday that sums up everything that occurs every day in the wonderful school that I am fortunate to be a part of. We had our annual Geography Bee. Several of the students who participated in the bee were students in our Autism program. One of the students missed his first two questions and was so upset. His teachers tried to calm him and he continued to sob. It wasn't very loud, but it was noticeable to all of the students in the audience. When it came time for the third round, he got up and then took his name card off and wasn't going to even attempt to answer. He then decided to try and got the answer incorrect again. The fourth round came along and he was still very upset and not sure he wanted to try again. However, he did and got the answer correct. Very quietly, the students in the audience began to clap for him. It wasn't loud, but it was spontaneous and such an incredible gesture on the part of our fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

When something like this happens, you know that all of the hard work that everyone at our school performs on a daily basis to ensure academic and emotional successes is well worth it. I was so proud of our students yesterday for so many reasons. Trying to recount this event with words is difficult and doesn't capture the emotions that I felt yesterday.

Once again, I can honestly say that this is why I get up each morning and go to school and work the crazy hours that I do and deal with some of the unbelievable situations that occur. If we had a camera going to record for reality television, there would be some that would say that we made these things up!!

If I had the opportunity to live my life over again, I can't imagine doing anything different than being an educator. It is truly the most important profession in our society. Even though the politicians and many people in our society don't respect it enough, I can say that is their problem. I know that when the day comes that I leave my office for the last time, I will know that my many years contributed to the betterment of our society. I am proud to be an educator!!!