Monday, December 17, 2012

Quiet Heroes

This is a copy of an email I sent to everyone who works in our District today:

DUSD Administrators, Teachers, and Staff,

I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you today as we come back after the horrible events that happened in Connecticut on Friday and all of the news coverage over the weekend.  Every shooting that we have had in this country has been a tragedy.   However, what happened on Friday is nothing that can even be processed.   Losing 20 six and seven years olds is beyond belief.   It seems that this has touched the core of everything that is right and wrong in our society today.

I don't believe that we will ever be able to fully understand or know why  Friday's massacre happened.    There will be all kinds of theories and all kind of reasons that politicians and the media will suggest caused this horrific event to happen.

I would like to share with you something that I feel strongly about and maybe one thing good can come out of this horrible day.   Public education has been neglected and put down by politicians and the media for quite sometime.    We have had to listen to people saying our schools are failing, teachers need to work harder, we have too many administrators, etc.  But I believe public education is the backbone of our society and has made this country what it is today.  Anyone here can get an education at any time, at any age.   This weekend, we heard about the heroic actions of many of the educators.  Some of them lost their lives trying to protect their children.   This did not surprise me at all.  I have been in education for many years and I don't know of an educator who wouldn't have done exactly the same thing faced with these circumstances!

As you work with the children in your schools today, please know that you are truly heroes in our society!  You come to school every day, walk into your classrooms or offices, and give our children the best that you can.  You do this under difficult circumstances, without adequate funding, and low salaries.  Public education must take every child who comes to us.  We can't be selective.

We hear how first responders are heroes and they are.  However, teachers and educators are the quiet heroes!    The DUSD administrators, teachers and support staff do an incredible job every day and I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful group of people!!!

You are all HEROES!!

Sheila

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Gift of Life and The Gift Friendship

I have a group of (retired)  friends who were all administrators with me through the years.  There are five of us who get together whenever we can to talk, laugh, commiserate, etc.  This has been going on for several years now.  When I was in Gilbert, we tried to get away for a weekend three to four times a year just to have fun.

Since I have been in Douglas, these wonderful friends have come down twice and I have been able to see them for dinner whenever it has worked out when I was up in the valley.

One of these friends came to Gilbert as a Junior High Principal the year that I moved from teaching third grade to the Interim Director of Personnel in 1988.  We became friends immediately and I have so valued having her in my life.  

About 15 years ago, Jill became very ill.  She ended up having to receive a kidney transplant.  The fortunate part was that her husband, George, was a perfect match for her (in more ways than just the kidney).  She had the transplant and has been relatively healthy ever since.  However, the amount of medication that she has had to take for rejection, etc., has caused her health to not always be perfect.  

Jill is always upbeat and positive and finds the good things about life.  She has taken care of herself over the years since the transplant, despite some setbacks.  I truly admire what she has done.

Last summer (2011) I was able to go on a really fun cruise with Jill, George, and several other friends.  Jill and George were doing all the things that I would never do on the day excursions. 

Last January, my friends were planning a trip down here and it was cancelled just before they were to come.  I didn't think much about it, but then I started to get worried.   I was up in the spring and I could see that she wasn't doing as well as she had before.  I was worried about her, but she was always positive.  I saw her again in late April and I knew then that things weren't going well.  That is when I found out that Jill was going to need another transplant.  Although she had taken care of herself so well, transplants only last a certain number of years and Jill had made it 15 years.  The scary part for Jill is that she was having to do dialysis during this period of time.

She was on the donor list which is incredibly long unless you have someone willing to donate.  We found out that she had an anonymous donor and everything was a great match.   Jill then found out who the donor was.  She is the daughter of a former teacher who worked for Jill when she was a junior high principal.  This young lady is also a teacher.

Her surgery was scheduled for July 4th, but had to be rescheduled because of an infection that Jill had.  But after much frustration, the transplant was done.  Everything turned out very well and both Jill and the wonderful young lady who gave her the gift of life did very well.

In the middle of all of this, Jill took the time to send a birthday card to my Aunt Teresa on her 90th birthday, which was July 30.  For her to think of Teresa's birthday when she was dealing with her health issue speaks volumes as to who Jill is as a person!

I hadn't seen my friends since the surgery, but had kept in touch with them through email, etc.  

During this time our friend, Susie, lost her father fairly suddenly.  I felt so bad that I was unable to make it to his funeral as I love Susie, too.

Monday night I was in the valley for meetings and a conference.  We were able to get together and it was so good for me to see these dear friends!!  And Jill looked absolutely wonderful!!!!!!!!  You would never know what she had been through.  And her positive attitude is still amazing.

As I told her, what a tribute to the kind of educator she was to have the daughter of one of her teachers be willing to give her a kidney!!    

I would like to say thank you to this young lady for giving my dear friend, Jill, the gift of life and for giving those of us who call Jill our friend, the gift of having Jill in our lives.

We had a wonderful evening talking and laughing.  For me it was a rejuvenation in so many ways.  This is one thing I do miss about being in Douglas--not getting to see my friends as often.  But they have a trip down here planned sometime in the next few months.

So Jill, Susie, Sharon, and Bev, thank you for your gift of friendship to me.  I value you more than you know and that I can ever express.   You are the best!!

One of my all time favorite books is The Prophet by Kahil Gibran.  I love quotes and found one from him that I think is very fitting for this post.  "In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.  For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."   My heart has been refreshed once again because of these wonderful friends.

Monday, September 3, 2012

What I Did on Summer Vacation.............



This summer I took vacation days to plan for and have the family reunion and celebration for Teresa's 90th birthday.  I took about two weeks in July.  I have found that the only way to truly get a vacation in my job is to leave town and get out of cell phone range!!!  Of the days that I took off in July, I went into the office at least two times each of the days except for the last day.  The last day of my vacation was also the last day of our reunion.  So I spent the day cleaning up and putting things away.  

This past week I received a call from a family friend and another cabin owner up in Cave Creek where our cabin is.  He told me that our cabin had been broken into.  So later that day, I had to drive up and give the keys to  a lady who offered to help get the window fixed.  I also wanted to see if there had been any damage done.   Fortunately, the only damage was the window being broken.  We don't leave anything of much value up there.   Once the person got in through the back window, they weren't able to open either of the doors to take anything because we have so many locks on the doors.  Our cabin is very remote and we have had some problems over the years--thank goodness, nothing major.



As we were looking at the window, one of the people there to help noticed that the pole holding the back porch up had been clawed by a bear!!  Since the fire last summer, bears have been coming down further than in the past.  I have never seen one at the cabin and the only time I remember hearing about one was when Teresa saw a bear several years ago.  



Then on Friday I took a vacation day to go back up to the cabin so that the outhouse could be cleaned out.   We have had the cabin since 1960 and I believe the outhouse has only been cleaned out twice.  I remember many years ago our Uncle Johnny cleaned it out with a shovel. I remember that very well because I spent the day climbing up a mountain so I wouldn't have to "deal" with this particular job!

When I got up to the cabin, I had to wait for about 45 minutes for the guys to arrive.  My poor puggies were not happy with this huge and very loud truck on our property.  Notice what a brave pug Diego is..............



They put 300 gallons of water down the hole and then used some kind of tool to break things up.   I certainly don't wish to go into detail on this blog...  They got as much as they could but there are so many tree roots that have gotten into the hole that they weren't able to get everything.  As the guy told me, the outhouse is a "smorgasbord" of nutrients for all of the trees--never thought of it that way.


By the time I got back into cell phone range, I had a text from Kerri saying she was sick and they wouldn't   be able to make it down for the long weekend.  Needless to say, I was disappointed as we were going to celebrate Cameron's 14th birthday.  When I talked to her, she sounded awful.

Since I had already purchased everything for the weekend and was really looking to get away from my cell phone, etc., I decided to go up anyway.  I had also invited one of our administrators and his family for Sunday.   So the pugs and I packed up and headed backup for the third time this week.  Fortunately it is only about an hour away.

Although it was a bit warm during the middle of the day, it was still beautiful.  There isn't much water in the creek which is very unusual for this time of year. There has been a lot of rain, but obviously not in the right places to cause the creek to flow.  The desert between Douglas and Portal is absolutely gorgeous--so green.


It was a peaceful, restful weekend.  Didn't see any bears or burglars!!     Listened to music, read two books, enjoyed my friends yesterday and totally relaxed.

I love the cabin and the area around it.  It is so peaceful and so beautiful!!  It is so great to be only an hour away!!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Validation

It sometimes amazes me when something happens out of the blue and comes when you least expect it to happen.  I had something happen this weekend that I believe might be a sort of sign--a sign to keep "on blogging" no matter what..........

Last January, I did a post called "Touching Moments" with a picture of President Obama hugging Gabby Giffords.  I wrote about some touching moments that had unexpectedly happened to me on that Saturday.   

Here is part of what I wrote:

Teresa and I usually go to 5:00 o'clock mass on Saturday evening.  Tonight, neither of the deacons or the altar server were there.  Father Gilbert was all by himself.  Everything went fine, but when it came time for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, there was no one to help Father with the preparation.

As he started preparing, an elderly (and very distinguished) gentleman came forth and went up to the altar to assist.  This wonderful man is almost 90 years old and suffers from the early stages of Alzheimers.  He is always at 5:00 o'clock mass and is often one of the Eucharistic Ministers. It is always touching for me to see him participate, despite the fact that he has oxygen with him and has a bit of trouble getting around. I have known him all of my life.  Our families' friendship goes way back and I went all through school with his children.

However, what happened last night was amazing!  I am sure at one point in his life he had been an altar boy.  He helped Father with the water and the wine and all of the preparation.  He then went down to where the altar server sits and knelt down right on the carpet (and I can tell you I wouldn't be able to do this.)  He then became the bell ringer during the consecration.  After that, he went about his way and did his Eucharistic Minister duties.  Just watching this tonight was so powerful.  I have given him a ride home a couple of times after church.  My admiration for him is immense!!   I believe there was a message in what I saw tonight!

Friday I had to go to Tucson for a meeting.  I got back just in time to change and go to the first DHS football game of the season.  I left the game about half time as I was tired and when I got home, there was a message on the answering machine.  It was from the wife of the gentleman that I wrote about.  They had been gone all summer to stay with one of their daughters.   First she wished Teresa a late happy birthday and told her she wished she could have been here for her birthday celebration.  She then started to thank me for writing about her husband on the computer.  As she was talking, she started to get choked up and couldn't continue talking.  I could hear her quietly crying and trying to continue talking.  She was able to say how much she appreciated the beautiful words that I had written about him, but it was very hard to understand her through her tears.  This evening, I called her and talked to her.  She was so appreciative and so supportive.  She told me she was glad I am here and will call if they ever need anything.

Needless to say, this message meant so much to me.  And it came at a time where I was considering not allowing just anyone to have access to my blog.  I had made the decision earlier this week that I would not allow a bully to keep me from writing my blog and keeping it so that it is accessible  for anyone.   I truly believe that this was a sign and was not just a  coincidence.

For the past two years that I have been in Douglas, a few things have happened that have truly helped me in making some of the very tough decisions that I have had to make in my job down here.  They were unexpected and I believe that maybe my mom is up there helping me out just a little bit!!!  And I think that is what happened on Friday night...........

My job in Douglas is not done.  I have had so many positive comments made to me over the last several weeks from so many different people.  Although I came down to Douglas primarily to be with Teresa, I believe that there might be a few more reasons.  Although this sign was about my writing, I actually believe it was far more than just about my blog.   I absolutely believe it was much more than that!!

Abraham Lincoln said, "I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end."  

I have three more years and I can guarantee that I will CONTINUE to do my very best until my   time is finished here!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sentimental Journey

Last week I had to be up in Phoenix for an important meeting concerning school improvement.  Our District has been in school improvement, but we are slowly turning things around.  We had way more gains than losses this year.  I am proud of the work that the administrators and teachers have done.  We are turning things around and starting to see some positive gains. That is one of the reasons why I want to stay around a few more years to see the results of all of our hard work.

When I was an elementary principal and things would get rough, I could always walk out my door and get so many hugs.  I knew that I would miss that when I got to the District office.  And these past few months, I have missed it tremendously.   There have been some difficult times with some very difficult people who want to take things down, not make them better.  And I have missed the fact that I could walk out and get those hugs.  Although I try to get to the schools when I can, the kids don't know me so it isn't quite the same.

Last week when I was up in Phoenix, I had a little time in the morning before I had to be at a meeting.  I decided that I would go to Gilbert El and just say hi.  I have only been back once since I left and it was for a reception in the evening.  I had not been there during the day.    When I came to Douglas, I was ready to be here.  However, Gilbert El was a part of my life for 20 years and it truly took me over two years to be able to go visit. 

Well, it couldn't have gone any better.  I was able to go around to many of the classrooms and see the kids. It was overwhelming when I went into the classrooms and how excited the kids (and teachers/staff) were to see me.  In particular, the sixth graders were awesome.  I got so many hugs and so many smiles.   What was particularly touching were some of the kids who I spent a lot of time with in discipline situations being so glad to see me.

Although I was very nervous about  going (and I am not sure why), I am so glad that I didn't "chicken out" at the last minute.   I felt so comfortable going around.

In one class, I was asked to read a book that I had given to their teacher.  It is one of my favorite books called The Language of Doves.  It is a beautiful story.   The second grade students were so attentive as I read it.  It made me remember why I am an educator.  

I posted on Facebook about being there last week.  I got so many positive comments.  It was overwhelming!

Today my friend, Carol, sent me a video from a former student.  She didn't know him, but ran into him at a restaurant.  He is married with a little girl and twins on the way.  I have to say that I needed both of these events right now.  I have tried to post it, but I can't figure out how to make it work on my blog.

I have dedicated my career to try to do the best I can always for children and the adults who work with them.  It has been discouraging to  have to encounter a few negative people who are always trying to find fault with everything that is done.  So this visit was so important to me.  It it all about the children and we can never lose sight of that.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taking a Stand

President Theodore Roosevelt said many years ago, "....the man (woman) who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic--the man (woman) who does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who talks and writes about how it ought to be done."

This quote caused me to truly reflect as to what is most important.   And it has caused me to change my mind on something that is very important to me. 

On Friday, I   blocked my blog so that only certain people could read it.  I sent an email to all of my   family and friends explaining to them that I had felt violated because of a certain person who   took something I wrote and only used part of a sentence.  I also posted something on Facebook that I was going to block it without going into much detail.   

The response I have gotten has been unbelievable with the number of people who would like to have access it.    

After much thought, I have decided that I will not be bullied into doing this.  I have written from my heart since I started this blog.  I tell stories of family and of things that happen.  I write about people who mean much to me and their stories.  I write about the humorous things that happen.  I do not write about the many difficult challenges that I have in my job and I am very careful about what I write because I know that anyone has access to it.  Because of that, I was astounded that someone could take a part of a sentence and use it against me.  If that person had written the entire sentence, it would have changed the context.  And if anyone took the time to go back and read all of my postings, I would hope that they would see who I am as a person.

I started this blog when Patrick and I went to Ireland in March of 2008.  I had truly forgotten how much I love to write.  So much of what I have dealt with as a principal and as a superintendent are not things I can write about.  For much of my administrative career, the writing I have had to do is technical of nature.  This blog has given me an outlet to write about things that I feel are important in my life.   

As educators, we teach children about bullying.  We do everything to put a stop to it and to also teach children about not being a bully, not being bullied, and not being a bystander who watches the bully in action and does nothing.  I need to practice what I preach!!  So those of you who knew my mom, know that I have much of her in me.  So I am going to take a stand and no longer be bullied.   And having this blog back where it is available for anyone to read, is the first step. 

I feel as though the first two years here in Douglas were years of getting things in order so that we could move forward.   I am truly proud of the accomplishments that have been made.  And I intend to see  and be a part of what has been started  for the next three years.  I came to Douglas two years ago hoping that I could make a difference.  I feels as though I have brought a lot and we are heading in the right direction in so many ways. I have a wonderful administrative team both at the District level and our school principals.  Our teachers and staff are wonderful.  And I could not have picked a better Assistant Superintendent who was here when I came. Together, we make a terrific team and collectively, our principals, teachers and staff have shown that children come first in Douglas.  The only way that could change is if the Governing Board decides that they don't like what I am doing.  And that has not been the case so far.

I will conclude with another quote that I have always liked.  It is from Edmund Burke.  He  said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

My intention is to "continue to do SOMETHING!" 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

We Are Family!



It is hard to believe that it has been  almost a month  since the Scott Family Reunion and Teresa's 90th birthday celebration.  I have truly not had a chance to update my blog and write about what a wonderful four days we had here in Douglas.

On Monday of Reunion Week, our cousins, Mike and Lena, from San Francisco came to help and I can only say how much I appreciate this.  They were more help than they know.  Kerri came down on Tuesday and was also a tremendous help.  And even, Cameron (age 13) did so much.  He had been here all summer and helped me in many ways.  Both Kerri and Patrick came down and cleaned out the garage and did many other things to make this all work out smoothly.  

And our cousin, Maggie, put together a wonderful book of memories for her and also did all of the decorating, which is definitely not something I enjoy nor do well.  My friend, Carol, came down earlier in the month and took pictures of her.  She put them together in a beautiful book for Teresa.  

It was truly a wonderful four days!!  All of my generation came together and made sure that everything was set financially and I can only marvel at their generosity.  I know how proud the six original Scotts would be.  Actually, I am sure they ARE proud.  What wonderful role models for the sense of family we had and still have!!!

Wednesday was spent getting everything set up in the backyard.  We were able to get enough seating for everyone under a great tarp.  One of the maintenance men from our district took vacation and he and his son came and did all of the work setting things up.  I ordered the "primo" port-a-potties and the only glitch we had was that they wouldn't fit in the yard.  So we had them on the sidewalk by the garage.  I had to call the mayor and ask for his help--one of the many great things about living in a small town.  It was okayed immediately!   


I found a man who sells ice for a dollar a bag and the best part--he delivers!  We had quite a system in place for the two a day run they made.  He would bring the ice to the backyard and put the bags on the "garbage stand."  The ice would then be transferred to the ice chests by whatever family was in charge of that job that day.  We divided jobs up by families and that was amazing.  Everyone pitched in and made things so much easier.

The first night was green and red chili and beans. All of the serving was done in the garage, which worked out great.  The next evening we had Yaya's incredible enchiladas and red and green corn tamales.  The tamales were delivered warm about 4:00.  Once again, the great part of living in a small town.  

One of the best things that happened was watching all of the kids playing in the side yard.  They were playing tag, etc., and having a wonderful time.  And it was kids of all ages.  The bigger kids were helping the little kids.  What was amazing is that many of them didn't even really know each other, but there was a connection.


There is so much to see and do in southeastern Arizona, so day trips were taken by many families.  I love that our heritage can be shared with all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren.  

Saturday we had a family picture taken at the DHS football stadium.  It is an amazing picture.  It was followed by the actual 90th birthday party at the Elks' Club.  Teresa was in her glory and the Elks' Club was filled to the "brim" with family and old friends here in Douglas.  We had a banner made that was on the front of the house and then transferred to the Elks.   I had no idea how many people were going to be at the party as Teresa kept inviting people and then couldn't remember who she invited.  But everything went very well!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday all of the family attended 11:00 mass at St. Luke's Church.  At the end of Father Gilbert's sermon, he did a wonderful tribute to Teresa.   It was amazing!!  I don't ever remember attending a mass where this was done.  However, I don't believe there is anyone who deserved that more than Teresa.  She has been a loyal and supportive member of St. Luke's since its inception in the early 1950's.  She and my mom donated the cross and many other items to this church.

Sunday evening those of the family who were left, went back to the Elks for a steak dinner    put on by our dear family friends (who are more family than anything), the Reidys.   Once again, everyone had a wonderful time.  As a matter of fact, the Elks would like us to do this every summer as they made quite a bit of money at the bar!!!  I love the idea, but I still haven't recuperated from this one.  So I am not sure I can organize another one for next summer!!

Needless to say, Teresa was in her glory and is still says she can't believe how blessed she is for the wonderful family that we have.  I would agree with her, but we are blessed to have her in our lives!!

Thanks to everyone who made this event possible.   I know we will all cherish the memories of those wonderful four days!!

WE ARE FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

INVITATIONS

As I have posted before, there hasn't been a lot going on that can be written about.   However, I want this particular post to go down in the annals of family history.

Teresa and her friend did a list of people that she wants invited to the big party at the Elks Club on Saturday night.  I had hoped that someone would come down and help me with this part as I HATE to address envelopes, etc.   I don't mind doing 125 pounds of green and red chili meat, but I don't like this part  No one magically appeared, so I decided I better get busy so that we could have a "handle" on how  many people would be at the Elks on Saturday night so I can make sure everyone gets fed.

I asked one of our teachers who has a printing business on the side to make the copies of the invitations.  Needless to say, I didn't spend a lot of time designing them.  However, he made them look awesome and brought them to me last week.  

I retyped the list that she gave me and on Sunday sat down to address the envelopes.  Here is our conversations.  Please forgive me for not having correct punctuation, etc.

Sheila:  "Teresa, who is "Mary Smith?"  Teresa:  "I don't know."  Sheila:  "Do you think we should invite someone you don't know?"  Teresa:  "No, take them off the list."

So I got all of the names done that were on the list.  Here is some further conversation:

Teresa:  "I want to invite 'you know the guy that did the something ten years ago.  I can't remember his name."  Sheila:  "I am not sure who did what ten years ago, so no I don't know his name."  Teresa:  "I will call and find out."  Believe it or not, that has happened over the last few days.  She has called people to find the person who did this or that many years ago so we can invite them!

Sheila:  "Who is 'Mary Smith?'  Teresa:  "I see her at church every day."  Sheila:  "So she is your friend?"  Teresa:  "Yes."

This is just a glimpse in what it has been like.  This is all happening in between trying to run the District.  Now you may not think a medium size District requires that much--BUT YOU HAVE NEVER LIVED ON THE BORDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am taking this week off, sort of!!! I am trying to make sure everything is in order.  I am so happy that this is happening for her sake.  Having this in Douglas is very important to her and the only way that this could happen would be for someone to be here.  We owe so much to her and to our Scott parents.  What a gift of family has been instilled in us!!

However, the last few nights, she has cried a lot because of all that is happening. I can deal with just about everything, but the crying is hard for me to take.  I know, I am a "wussy" but it is still hard.

And the best part, thanks to all of the cousins who have sent money!!! When I asked her how they did it for the last reunion, she said that they put the money in Edward Jones.  So when I needed the first reimbursement, I asked and had to wait 3 to 5 business days to get it.  When I asked her about that, she said it was my idea!!!!  So I guess it was!!!  I bring all receipts to her so that she can make sure it is all taken care of.  So, cousins, you don't have to worry about me absconding with the finances.  However, you may have to help with my funeral expenses when this is over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you know, my sense of humor and writing help me deal with all issues.  Please know that this has been great for me to be a part of and I feel blessed and honored to be able to do this. 

Anxious to see all of you soon!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Getting Ready

I just realized that June is almost over and I haven't done one post on my blog!  It has been a very busy month without much to write about.

A few weeks ago, some of my friends and former teachers from the school where I was principal came down for a few days.  We stayed in Bisbee for two nights and had a wonderful time.  It is always so good to see these wonderful people.  I truly cherish their friendships and I am happy we can get together.  That is one thing that I miss down here!

Other than that, it has been a busy month at the District with a lot going on in  preparation for the new year.  The Governing Board offered me a very generous three year contract and I signed it.  The past two years have been filled with trying to get everything going in the right direction.  I truly believe it is now and I want to be a part of this for many reasons.  I can't imagine what I would do if I was retired at this point.  I have a new kind of energy since I took this job.

Plans for our big Scott Family Reunion are just about finalized.  I am finishing the last of the 100 + pounds of red and green chili meat today.  I have done about 25 pounds a week for the last several weeks.  I will fix the beans and salsa as it gets closer to July 19th.  Teresa is so excited to have so many of our family.  Having it in Douglas at 858 means the world to her.  We are expecting over 150 cousins, etc.  On Saturday, July 21, we will be having a special 90th birthday celebration for her at the local Elks Club.  She is inviting many of her old friends from Douglas.  It should be quite a weekend.  She has been teary the last few evenings because this all means so much to her.

Cameron is here for the next few weeks.  He has been a lot of help with the things that I have had to do to get ready.   Last weekend, my kids came down and cleaned out the garage.  At one point, Patrick asked Teresa to please go back into the house so that they could get rid of things that she didn't even remember were there.  She thought maybe there would be some use for it.  I can tell you there isn't.  We got rid of a lot of junk!!!

I am taking this next week off of work to finish what I have to do for the reunion and to get a little rest before the big event!!

July should bring more posts!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012

The past month has been so busy for me with graduation and other events in May.  The three day weekend was very welcome!!  Teresa had been in Mesa for Kayla's high school graduation.  My dear friend, Louise, asked me if I would like to meet for the ASU/U of A baseball game on Sunday.  This was a perfect way to visit with Louise and get Teresa back to Douglas.  We have a lot of projects going on for the family reunion in July!  So on Sunday, I met Louise and Alyssa at the stadium to watch the game.  We had a wonderful visit.

 On Monday, Teresa asked if I wanted to go up to Bisbee and put flowers on her grandmother's grave.  She told me that when our great grandmother, Ellen Kneafsey Roughan was alive, she would always get dressed on Memorial Day and wait for one of her grand kids to come and take her to Bisbee to put flowers on her husband's and son's graves.  And Teresa said that she always tried to keep up this tradition.

So we went downtown and bought some pretty plastic flowers and drove to Bisbee to put the flowers on the grave.  The cemetery there is very old (by Arizona standards).  Several years ago, all of Ellen's grand kids gave money to cement the graves to keep all of the weeds out.  As we were driving to Bisbee, Teresa told me what a wonderful soul Grandma Roughan was.  In many ways, Teresa must be a lot like her.  Grandma Roughan lived to be 96 years old and died in 1949.  That is amazing when you think about it.  She came to the U.S. from Ireland when she was very young.  She and my great grandfather moved to Bisbee in 1902.  He was a miner.
 
 


 
I knew that Teresa and my mom always talked about doing this on Memorial Day.  I don't remember doing this growing up.  I remember going to the graves, but no necessarily on Memorial Day.
 
 
 

When we got back to Douglas, we went to the cemetery here to put flowers on my grandparents' grave, my Uncle Johnny's, my mom's and our dear Mary's graves.  We also visited the grave of my Park cousins' grandfather, L.J. Park, who is buried close to our family.

I know Memorial Day honors those who have died in service to our country.  However, going to the graves with Teresa really meant a lot to me for many reasons.  Although I was very tired, I am glad that I was able to do this with her.  As I have written before, these past two years have been a blessing for me to be here in Douglas.  So many memories............

Teresa is so excited for the reunion in July.   The family coming to Douglas means more to her than anything else.  I am so  glad that we are able to do this for her 90th birthday.  Our family is amazing and I want to thank all of the cousins for the support that they have given to make this happen.  It is going to be a memorable time for all of us in the place where all of the original Scotts called home--858 14th St.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

DHS Graduation 2012




Last night was the culmination of all of the hard work for the Class of 2012.  It was my honor and privilege to be able to give out diplomas to the almost 300 graduates.  As I gave the diplomas, the photographer  took our pictures.  Over the last two years, I have been able to get to know some of the students.  That has been awesome for me as the day-to-day dealings with kids is the one part of my job that I truly miss.  And I was able to give diplomas to a few students whose grandmothers have been my friends since high school.  That was special to me.

The students were excited and rightly so.  But the one thing that stood out to me is the respect that Douglas students have.  So many of them said "thank you" to me as I gave them their diploma.   I even got hugs.  

Of course there were touching moments, too.   Two young men who graduated are in wheelchairs.  As they came across the stage to get their diplomas, the entire senior class stood and cheered for both of them.  It was hard to hold back the tears.  And I love this picture that was in the local newspaper!



This has been a difficult week because some of our students weren't able to graduate because of AIMS (state tests).  I absolutely believe that we put way too much emphasis on testing and we are getting away from creativity and deep thinking because of this.  Despite my feelings on this, I still have to follow state and federal guidelines.  Students have five opportunities to take the tests.  The final one happens in April and we had many students who had to pass one or two of the tests still.  We didn't get the results until last week.  The students and parents have been informed of this possibility from freshman year on.  There are still opportunities to graduate if a student doesn't pass, but there are many factors that have to go into this.  It is called augmentation and the state gives us the guidelines.  When we got the tests back, several students had still not passed the AIMS math.  I think back to my math experience in school and I could have been one of those students.  However, many of them met all of the requirements for augmentation---grades in core classes, attending intervention classes and tutoring, etc.  These students got points for this and had enough to graduate. 

Unfortunately about 14 students didn't make augmentation.  Last year we only had five.  Several of the parents met with me and I had to take a firm stand as our Board Policy states that in order to walk a student must fulfill all requirements.  There was one family who could not accept this answer.  On Thursday, one of the television stations from Tucson came down to do an interview.  It wasn't aired until last night at 6:00.  I was very worried about the slant it would take because I have dealt with reporters for many years.  My former superintendent always says that the media doesn't let the truth get in the way of a good story and I have experienced that many times.  This time it was very fair I believe.  However, it was nerve wracking waiting to see how the spin would be.  I was so relieved!!!  I don't ordinarily  write about any of the negative parts of my job, but this particular event became a media event.

So after these events this week, standing for two hours passing out diplomas and getting my picture taken with almost 300 kiddos, I am very tired today.  But it is a good tired!!!  Glad we have two more days off recuperate and regroup!!

All and all it was a wonderful night and I was so proud to be able to be a part of this ceremony.  

ONCE A BULLDOG, ALWAYS A BULLDOG!!!!!!!!!!




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May Milestones

What an incredibly busy month this May has been!!!  So many activities involved with our kids and the conclusion of this school year.   Our boys' baseball team made the state playoffs and the first round game was held here in Douglas.  The boys won the game, but what was even more important, they showed incredible character.  At the end of the game, all of the team walked to home plate, faced the crowd, and took of their hats to thank the fans.  What a class act!!  They eventually lost, but they represented our community very well.  

Our girls' tennis team also qualified for state.  Their coach invited me to come and talk to the team just before their first playoff game that was held here.  I was honored to be able to do this.  The girls were also wonderful representatives.  They suffered a tragedy on their way to Phoenix for the playoffs as one of their best players had to leave because her father died.  I believe they could have won the state title if she had been able to  play.  But the team was so incredibly supportive of her and the family.  


On Saturday, May 12, we had our first graduation of the Family Leadership Institute that we are doing in conjunction with Consuelo Castillo Kickbush.  It is an incredible program to involve parents in the education of their children.  Parent involvement is so important, especially today.  


Sunday (Mother's Day), I worked at the cake auction for the Douglas Area Retarded Citizens.  This auction has been going on for 40+ years.  This year they made about $23,000.  It was fun and such a worthwhile cause!

We have had so many positive comments from the community about our Diamond Scholar Night.  Last Tuesday, much to my surprise, I was presented a beautiful plaque at our Board Meeting.  I don't get surprised by very many events, but I had no idea about this.  I was truly touched.

Last Wednesday was the Awards Night at DHS.  There is a tradition for the Superintendent to give an award to the outstanding junior student.  That was awesome for me.   I also presented the Normal Littrell Scholarship on behalf of my two dear friends, Elise Littrell Hesser and Ann Littrell.  It was an honor for me to present this scholarship for them!

And on Sunday evening, I attended Baccalaureate for the Class of 2012.  It was held on the playground at Loretto School where I attended from first through eighth grades.  I walked up to the school as it is only a few blocks away and knew that the parking would be very hard to get.  The weather was beautiful and the seniors who are involved in the youth group did all of the readings, etc.  As the students walked in to Pomp and Circumstance, I have to say it was a bit emotional.  As I sat there looking around, it brought back so many memories of my life growing up in Douglas.  I thought about how my mom, Teresa, my Uncles Tom and Bill and Aunt Dot all attended Loretto, too.  After the mass, the Deacon thanked me for being there and reminded the students that I was a Loretto grad and a DHS grad.   Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if this all is really happening!!  It means so much to me to be here and give back to this community that I feel made me who I am today.  

Today I met with DHS Grads who host a baseball game every Memorial Day to raise money for scholarships.  A large group of DHS alumni come to play in this game from the Los Angeles area.  It never ceases to amaze me how much Douglas means to the people who grew up here.  So many people want to give back to this community.  For some reason, we got into who I was and two of the guys didn't realize I was Margaret Shannon's daughter.  We had a nice discussion about how much they admired her.  This also happened last week with a gentleman who came in to do some work in my office.

And Friday culminates the school year of 2011/2012 at DHS Graduation at the football stadium.  It will be my honor to present diplomas to over 300 DHS seniors!!!

There are no funny stories in this post, nor any profound thoughts.  It is just an opportunity for me to chronicle the journey that this part of my life is taking.  Never in a million years would I have ever believed I would be doing this now.  For the most part, it has been a wonderful journey that I hope to continue for a few more years.  There is still much to be done for the good of the kids, families, teachers and staff of DUSD.  I feel as though I am making a difference and that is why I continue this journey.  I am blessed!!!



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Roots


I have always been proud of our family roots--both in Ireland and in southeastern Arizona.  My great grandparents, Matthew and Ellen Roughan, moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 1903. Matthew was a miner and copper was discovered here.   My grandparents, Edward and Katherine Scott, joined them in Arizona in 1912--the year Arizona became a state.   My grandparents moved to Douglas as my grandfather went to work on the railroad.

When I started teaching at Patterson Elementary School in Gilbert, I decided to take my students on a field trip to Bisbee and Tombstone.  I was able to work this into my curriculum as there were not the standards that are required today.  I was able to make this a part of language arts, social studies, science, etc.  I remember the first year that I asked to go on this trip.  No other elementary teacher had ever asked the Governing Board to take an overnight field trip.  So I had to go before the Board and explain why I wanted to do this.  The Board approved it and thus began an annual trip with my class.  

We visited Tombstone and Bisbee and spent the night in the gym at Bisbee High School.  I was able to share my heritage with my students.  It was an incredible trip and I think I did this trip for about 10 years.

After I became a principal, our sixth grades did their science camp trip down here.  This was before science camp became more formalized.  Then one of my wonderful teachers started bringing her class down here.  By that time, Bisbee no longer allowed students to stay in the gym.  I arranged for them to stay at an elementary school in Sierra Vista.

Then my wonderful daughter, Kerri, became a fourth grade teacher.  She decided to take her class on this trip.  Kartchner Caverns had just been discovered right about the time I quit teaching.  My dream at that time was to be able to have the kids see nature made (Kartchner) and man made (Bisbee Mine Tour), but that never happened for me.

Last year, all of the fourth graders at her school did the trip.  I arranged to have them stay at the middle school here in Douglas that is close to our house.  I hosted Kerri's class at the house, but arranged for pizza for the other classes.

This year, the students in Gilbert became pen pals with fourth graders at one of our elementary schools.  So this meant that I had to host three different nights of kids meeting each other.  It was incredible!!!  We had bean burros, salsa, and hot dogs and many kids.  It was so much fun to see the groups of children getting to know each other.

Last Thursday (May 3), was Kerri's class's visit.   She asked me to get tamales for her parents, which I did.  We had a wonderful barbecue in the backyard.  One of the neatest things that happened was a visit from Ray Borane.  Ray is a very close old family friend and the middle school is named after him.  The kids got to meet him. Most schools are named after people after they die so it was so cool for them to meet Ray.

I have had many experiences that I never even thought would happen since I have been here.  This was one.  I posted a picture on Facebook and probably my most favorite comment was from one of my former third graders as to what a great trip it was.  

Education  is so much more than testing!!  It is about relationships, getting along and building community.  I saw what a great community Kerri has built in her classroom as the parents were having such a good time in the backyard and stayed until quite late.  And the kids were great!!!

This is why I am still an educator 41 years later...............  I just realized last week it has been this many years.  WOW!!  I could not have ever asked for a better career--despite what the politicians want to do to our educational system!!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

And Another Tradition Started


Last Monday night, we started a new tradition for the Douglas Unified School District.  We started what I hope to be an annual event called "Douglas Diamond Scholars."  We honored all students from fourth through twelfth grades.    It was an amazing evening!!

We honored the elementary students at 5:30 in the James A. Brenden Auditorium and then the middle and high school students at 7:00.  A fifth grader spoke at the elementary program about the importance of grades.  At the middle and high school ceremony, we had a sixth grader and a junior speak.

Many years ago, my mentor and former superintendent, Wally Delecki, started doing this in Gilbert.  He felt that we honored athletes and musicians, which is very important, but we didn't honor the students who did well in school. So he started this ceremony many years ago.

When I came to Douglas, I wanted to do something similar.  Because of our high poverty rate and our high second language learners, we spend a lot of time concentrating on improvement.  This is everywhere in our schools today because of the unreasonable demands made on us by politicians.  

Our Diamond Scholar Night was incredible and focused on the things that are going well.  So often the average and above average students get lost in the focus.  

We practiced with the students in the morning.  I talked to them about the importance of being respectful during this ceremony.  I asked them to please remind their families that this was a very important and serious event.  Parents can cheer at sporting events, but I asked them to remember the seriousness of this honor.  Both programs were amazing!!  The audience could not have been any more respectful.  The students walked across the stage and were given a medallion around their necks by our Governing Board members.

One of the wonderful teachers who works in our Curriculum Department coordinated this event for us.  She did an incredible job making everything work so smoothly!!

Dr. J.D. Rottweiler, the President of Cochise College, was our keynote speaker.  We could not have picked anyone better for this first ceremony.  He spoke to the students about the importance of education and gave them statistics about their future with an education.  He talked to them about how they are now a "diamond in the rough."   With their continuing education, that diamond will become what a true diamond looks like!!   He is an excellent speaker and tied everything we were trying to do into his speech.

After the second ceremony, I went out to go to my car.  It was about 15 minutes after the conclusion.  As  I walked out of the auditorium, it seemed that most of the families were still out in front.  They were in different groups talking and laughing.  That in itself was wonderful!!!

Both ceremonies filled the auditorium.  One of the fourth grade teachers told me that his student had 21 family members there.  I even had a Facebook friend (from Douglas who I didn't really know) there to see her nephew.

I have received so many compliments about this evening.  I am hoping to make it a tradition here in Douglas.  We have wonderful students and families and we need  to celebrate that!!  As I told the students, I am proud to be their superintendent!!

Despite what  grade our District has received from the state and federal government, I know we are doing a good job for our students.  It is time to acknowledge the wonderful jobs our teachers and administrators are doing!!!

What a wonderful end to this school year Diamond Scholar Night has been!!

Front page of the Douglas Dispatch was covered with pictures and the article.  Here is the link:

http://www.douglasdispatch.com/articles/2012/05/03/news/doc4fa18bac2ffb1656884290.txt 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Starting a Tradition



Since I have been down here in Douglas, it has taken time for me to build trust with the wonderful people who work for the district.  As I have worked to build that trust, I also wanted to start building "community" with the people who work at the District Office.  I took the time to build community in my classroom as a teacher--although in those days that wasn't what it was called.  As a result, I still have contact with many of my former students (who are now adults)  and their families.  

When I became a principal, I knew that building community was a key to success.  I truly believe that we had a wonderful community and I am proud to say I am still in contact with many of the wonderful people that I worked with and still many of the children and families.  This means the world to me.

Last year, I started a tradition that my cousin, Jan, told me about that she did when she was an assistant superintendent in her district.   In March, we had a potato bar.  I brought my Irish music and invited all of the District Office personnel.  It was a big hit.  I wanted to share my heritage.  I have always said that the only two things I wanted out of life would be a Mexican wedding and an Irish wake--so I am half way there!!!

This year, I asked if we could have a monthly potluck with all of the District Office.   So we have done something every month with different departments being in charge of main dish, desserts, etc.  It has been wonderful.  However, I told them that I wanted to do the Potato Bar again.  Last year I had the basics--potatoes, butter, sour cream, bacon bits, cheese, etc.  Well this year it was even better with lots of great things to put on the potatoes.  Many of the people said that they had never done anything like this before.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, so much of what I have been dealing with since I got here can't be put on my blog.  However, this has proven to be a very positive event for everyone. It gives all of us a chance to sit together and get to know each other and forget about the day-to-day dealings that can be burdensome.  

So a new tradition has been born. I hope to be able to keep this going for a few more years.  It seems like such a small thing and it is, but I truly believe that it is extremely important.  There is an old saying that "the family that prays together, stays together."  I am hoping that the "staff who eats together, works even better together."

I work with a great group of people and I appreciate so much what they do.  They work for low wages, but they are committed, hard working and have integrity.  It is a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful group of people!!!

And finally, my favorite Irish saying that I have in my office:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sports and Character--How Incredible!!

I get so many emails at work.  A lot of them are "advertisements" for different programs that cost a lot of money but offer to solve all the problems in public schools today.  I usually delete those.  I get many others with important information from the Department of Education, etc.  I also get a lot of ones that are asking questions about different issues.  And I get some that are complaining about a situation or an issue.  Very rarely do I get one that is positive.  I understand this because people tend to want to get negative things taken care of, but forget about the positives.  That is human nature.  

Over the course of my career and experiencing this, I have tried to write positive emails and letters when something good happens.  I know that I don't do it often enough, but I have truly tried to make that effort.

About two weeks ago, I opened an email from someone I didn't know and here is what it said:

Good Morning Ms. Rogers,

Not often do I get a chance to compliment a High School sports team and staff that has stayed with us.  We had the pleasure of hosting the Douglass High School Soccer team on Friday night and though I was not here while they were checked in I received a glowing report about these young men.

The manager on duty informed me that they were not only well behaved but very polite and left their rooms very clean.  This may not sound like much but we deal with a lot of teams from 8 year olds to professional baseball players and I don’t remember a time when this manager had such complimentary things to say about a group of athletes.

I would appreciate you passing along my sincere thanks to Principal Schneider and the Douglass High School Soccer Team and Staff.  I was not able to locate an e-mail address for them to copy on.

Sincerely,

Mark Maddix 

I was so thrilled to receive this email.  I immediately sent it to our athletic director and the coach.  We were having a Board Meeting that week and I was able to read this email at the meeting.  In addition, our local newspaper asked for it and they put it in the newspaper.

Last night, I attended the banquet for the DHS Soccer teams.  Our coach invited me and I was able to say a few words to these wonderful boys.  There was a full house with parents and families there to honor these student athletes.  

Their coach invited me and I was touched and honored to be asked to attend.  The varsity team played the entire season without any issues with grades.  They made it to the playoffs--the final four in our division.  I told these young men how proud I was of what they had done academically.  But I truly feel that what is equally important is their character.  

I told them that I am proud to be their superintendent, and I am!!  This is what makes going to work every day worthwhile!!!  These young men and their coaches are to be commended for making us proud to be Douglas Bulldogs!!!