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.  


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


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!!