Friday, December 25, 2015

Family Holiday Traditions

As I have written before, this holiday season isn't one of my favorites for a variety of reasons.   I think it is all of expectations, etc. that go along with the season.    However, we do have some family traditions that mean a lot to me.    Every Christmas Eve we spend with our Phoenix cousins at Yaya's house.   Every year there are more kids as the families grow.   Yaya makes her incredible enchiladas and I have always brought tamales from Douglas and I didn't this year.   Will make sure that changes for next year!  

We always do a white elephant exchange with the adults and it is fun!!   The little kids even enjoy it and the laughter.  I love spending time with my cousins as they are not only family, but friends!    I have a special bond with Cecilia and always have.  She is like my sister.

As Teresa continues to decline both physically and mentally, I wonder if this could be here last Christmas.   She is such a trouper and would never miss anything.  She works so hard to be "alert' at family get togethers.   It usually exhausts her.   I hate watching this decline, but I am so thankful to have her in my life still.    What a blessing for all of us!!!

Today we will be having prime rib here at my house with Judy and her family.  I just finished making beer bread--one red and one green!  I have been experimenting with using different kinds of beer and it is amazing the differences depending on the beer.  

This year baby Colton will be joining us.   Of course, I will miss Patrick, but he will be here in a few days.

I love fixing the prime rib dinner.  It has always been one of my favorites and it will be nice to spend quality time with just our families and one very close friend!

The best part for me is that I have now officially written more blog posts in 2015 than in any previous year.  My writer's block is gone!!!   And I am so happy to be back home in Gilbert with family and friends!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

December Doings

December has been a busy month for "fun" with good friends and wonderful family.  I didn't realize how much I missed my many friends while I was gone the past five years.  And I am blessed to have another wonderful circle of friends that I made while I was in Douglas.   I miss many of them, too.

My administrators friends, who were so incredible while I was in Douglas, are truly amazing.   We get together often for a movie, lunch, or an overnight and out of town time.   We had lunch recently to celebrate Jill's birthday.  Had a great lunch at the Biltmore.  It is such a beautiful hotel and is always decorated so well for the holidays.

Later that same day, I went to another birthday celebration for my friend (and former teacher for me).   There was a very nice happy hour in her honor and it is always fun to get together with this group of friends.

A tradition that was started while I was gone with some of the Gilbert El friends was "Breakfast in the Barn" at Shannon U's barn.   Everyone brought a breakfast dish and a gift to exchanged.  It was really fun and I am so glad to be a part of this tradition now!!   

At one of the earlier times together, several people suggested I have a party.  I have a great party house with my bar, Shenanigan's, in the basement with a pool table and karaoke.   My outside has a great patio with a bar to sit and a fire pit to keep the whole outside warm.  And the pool always looks so nice with the lights on.  We can regulate the color of the lights so we had red and green for my BAH HUMBUG party.   I have never really enjoyed the holiday season--not sure why.  I think it is all of the expectations and I don't particularly like to decorate.  So at my BH party, I told everyone that the only thing that they would see that was red and green was my red and green chili meat.   I invited former teachers and staff from Gilbert El, people I taught with over 26 years ago and former administrators.  What a great turn out!!!  We had red and green chili meat, fresh beans, and homemade salsa.    Everything was a hit and there were so many people here and I know they had a great time as I got a lot of positive responses.  As a matter of fact, I was "told" that this was going to have to be a new tradition!!!!

Then we had Kerri's traditional bean burro party for her fourth graders. I made beans and salsa and a lot of her parents showed up.   The best part--I think every student she had who is now in 5th and 6th grades came for bean burros.   And of course a lot of staff members were there.  There was some green chili meat left so I took it for the adults.  It was a hit!

Today I am going with some friends for a "pub crawl" in downtown Gilbert.  Should be interesting!!!

Have I mentioned how much I am enjoying being back in Gilbert and being retired????????????????????????????

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Memories Brought on by Senses

I wrote in a previous post about how the sense of smelling flowers triggered memories of my grandmother's funeral in 1957.  It is amazing how different senses can trigger memories.

I have a FitBit and have been doing a lot of walking and stepping.  I have incredible Bose headphones that I wear and have 2300 plus songs on my iPod that I listen to when exercising.   I have it on shuffle so different songs come up and I never know which one will come up next.

This morning several songs brought back memories of people who have meant a lot to me.  "Abilene" reminds me of my friend, Jane Campbell.   We were teachers together at Patterson and she was my son's first grade teacher.   She was a great lady and  a great teacher and was a very good friend to me through the years.  We also had so much fun over the years.   Jane passed away several years ago and I miss her friendship.  But that song always brings back memories of her as she was born in Abilene, Texas.

"I Hope You Dance" brings back memories of my dear friend, Ellen Widmer.   This song was sung at her funeral when she died in 2003.   I have written previous blog posts about Ellen.  She was one of my best friends ever and I miss her.  There are other songs that remind me of her and the years we had together, but this one is especially poignant.  I will never forget the day that Ellen called me at Gilbert El and asked me to do the eulogy at her funeral.  I was honored and saddened at the same time, but I did it.   Was that ever hard!

"De Colores" always reminds me of my dear friend, Emilie Rodger, and her dad.    When he died several years ago, this song was played at his funeral.  I am so grateful to have Emilie in my life and as a friend.   Her family meant the world to me as they are much like my own big family.

A song came up today that I hadn't heard for sometime.  It is by Connie Francis and is named "Stupid Cupid."   That brought back some great memories of high school when I was president of the club that sponsored foreign exchange students.  We had a talent show (I think it was called a Hootenanny then).   My little "sister" Judy danced to this song.  I think she was probably around eight years old.  She was so cute doing that dance and I remember she was introduced as "Sheila's little sister."

And then there is "Mack the Knife" which brings back so many memories of my wonderful Aunt Dot!  This was her favorite song and is always played at any family get together that we have.   Dot was one of a kind!   She was always so good to me and I loved her dearly.  She has been gone since 1981 and I still miss her.   But the good thing is that I am close to her incredible children (my Park cousins) and I am so thankful for that!!!

So as I get my steps in each day, I am also able to remember different people and events in my life that have meant a lot.   

It is amazing how the senses of smell and hearing can trigger memories and emotions!!! I am thankful that they do because I have so many wonderful memories!!!

Monday, November 30, 2015

So Many Things To Be Thankful For...........

As Thanksgiving weekend has come to a close, I have been able to reflect on so many things that I am thankful for in my life.   I don't like a lot of holidays for a variety of reasons, but Thanksgiving is okay.   Years ago I didn't like it because we always had to get out the "good China" but that has changed over the last many years.

First and foremost, I am thankful for the wonderful family that I was born into--The Scott Family!!!   What an incredible family it is for many reasons.    I am thankful for my own family--my kids, Kerri and Patrick, and my incredible grandson, Cameron.  I am thankful for the lives that they lead!!  Then there is the blessing of my wonderful Aunt Teresa.   The fact that she is 93 and still around is amazing!! Her decline is considerable, especially since leaving Douglas, but it is still such a blessing to have her in our lives!!

Judy and her family are so important to me.  My cousins play such a big part in my life.  My Phoenix cousins are my "sisters" and I so love being with them again!!!  However, our extended family s also amazing!!!!!   I love my cousins and the relationships that we have!!

I am also so fortunate to have so many wonderful friends!  Actually, I am blessed.  Some day I am going to write about these wonderful friends individually!!!  They mean so much to me!!!

My 44 years as an educator were incredible!!!!!!!!  Even the so called not so great times can't even be compared to what some people deal with.  I love the relationships that I have with former students and their families.   It means the world to me.

I am also thankful for the last five years spent in Douglas--my home town.  It gave Teresa more years down there and gave me opportunities to give back.  But I am so happy to be back home in Gilbert!!!  I love being retired and look forward to what the next few years might bring!!!!!

I love my life!!!!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Own Tiger Buddy

There are many things that I am very proud of over my 44 years as a public school educator!!!  I had so many wonderful experiences and was so fortunate to have worked alongside some of the very best educators anywhere.   

When I first became the principal at Gilbert Elementary, my boss, Leona Shreve, wrote a restructuring grant that was being funded by the Arizona State Legislature.  It was a significant grant and Gilbert El was fortunate to receive one of them because of Leona.  One of the many things that she wrote into the grant that was really at no cost was a mentoring program for our at-risk students.   We named it Tiger Buddies.   What it did was pair an adult with a student who just needed some extra attention, or who had issues at home, or for whatever reason the teacher felt that the student needed an adult's attention.

Because of our proximity to the District Office, we had the honor of having many of the DO employees who had worked in schools and missed kids and wanted to participate.   It was amazing.  We always had enough adults for the number of children who needed a Tiger Buddy.   Through the years, there were many times that I was doing some kind of discipline with a child and would find out something that was going on in their lives.   After I administered the discipline, I would often call the Tiger Buddy adult and let them know that maybe their buddy needed some extra attention.  And it always happened.  

This year since I am retired and back in Gilbert, I have my own TIGER BUDDY!!   I went to the kick-off breakfast a few weeks ago and met my fifth grader.  He is darling!!!  Last week I wanted to go have lunch with him with his class for their Tuesday Talk Club lunch.  I asked his teacher, Mrs. Dawn, if it was okay if I brought pizza to the whole class and it was.  So I was able to be around the whole class and I know that my Tiger Buddy felt special that I brought lunch to everyone.  A mom came and thanked me for bringing it!! 

It was a great day and I look forward to spending more time with him as the year goes on.  I love this program and I am very proud that 20 plus years later, it is still going strong!!! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Memories of November 15, 1957

It doesn't seem possible that it was 58 years ago today that our family lost my grandmother, Katherine Ellen Roughan Scott.    I was in third grade that year and will always remember that day.   I had the privilege of living with her in Douglas.   She was quite a lady!!  It was because of her that I have such a love of reading.  I remember sitting on her lap while she read to me before I went to school.  

Grandma had diabetes and she loved sweets!   I remember that when my mom and Teresa would be gone, she would send me (and other cousins who spent a lot of time at 858) to the Superette Market a block from the house to get Heath Bars for her.  She would split one between us and then "swear us to secrecy" to not tell my mom and Teresa.  She kept her change purse in her corset!!!  I will always remember her taking it out to give us the money for the candy1

She loved to play Canasta and I think she may have cheated just a little bit! I remember being her partner quite often because I think she knew that she could get away with things with me.   

All of these memories come back from an eight year old's perspective, but they are vivid and wonderful memories.  

Just before she died, we took her to Phoenix to my Uncle Matt's house.  She had some doctor appointments, etc. and was going to stay with his family for awhile.   I remember her saying in the car as we left Douglas that she didn't want to go because she wanted to die at home.   There was no reason to think at that time that she was going to die.   

November 15th was a Friday.   Teresa, Judy, and I were at the Hubers that Friday evening.  My mom was playing bridge or doing something with the church so she wasn't with us.  I remember Teresa getting a call and I remember having the feeling that I knew it was bad news and that she had died in Phoenix.    I remember going to pick up my mom and Teresa having to tell her the news.

My mom and Teresa went to Phoenix immediately.   There was a funeral mass there before they brought her back to Douglas for the funeral there.  Judy and I stayed in Douglas.   Judy was just two and I know she doesn't have any memories of any of this.

In the old Irish tradition, her body was brought to the house for the rosary and the wake.   The living room was cleared out and her casket was put by the front windows.  I remember the funeral home bringing in so many flowers.  To this day, if I go to a florist shop or am around a lot of flowers, it brings back memories of that night at the house.

My Aunt Dot Park's birthday was November 15.   I always thought how hard that would have been to lose her mom on her birthday.    

My grandmother was my first loss as I was just a baby when my grandfather and great grandmother died.   I remember the feeling of loss and helplessness so well.  I loved her dearly and missed sitting on her lap and getting big hugs from her.

In December after my grandma died, my cousins' grandma (Grandma Park) died in Douglas.   She was the grandmother of Tom, Kathy, Jean, Jan, Ted and Ed.   Grandma and Grandpa Park lived a few blocks from our house.   Although they weren't my grandparents, I always called them that, especially Grandpa Park, as he lived several years longer and was around during my formative years.

Interestingly enough that same year, my third grade teacher, Sister Beatrice Ann, also died.   I loved Sister Beatrice.  She had also been my first grade teacher.   I think it happened in the spring time.  I know if was after my grandma's passing.   

Years later, I taught third grade for about 10 years.  My first year as a third grade teacher was a fluke as that is where there was an opening.   I loved teaching third grade and I wonder now if that was just a coincidence or part of something else!!!

My grandmother loved her grandchildren and was so proud of them.  She went to visit them as often as she could and we always seemed to have cousins at 858, especially our Phoenix cousins, Yaya, Pat, Marion, Cecilia and Teresa.

I have such wonderful memories of growing up and our extended Scott Family.  I love the fact that we are still so close all of these years later!

In the words of my favorite author:  "Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told....."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Variety of Events

So much has been happening and I haven't taken the time to update my blog.  All is so positive and I usually don't have any trouble writing about the good things!!   

Best news for Gilbert Public Schools is that the Override and Bond passed.   I continue to be impressed with the hardworking and dedicated community members who did so much work and made sure that this passed.   I can only hope that our entire state (and country) can come together on such important issues and find a common ground to solve problems. 

October was a busy month for me.   My dear friend, Susie and I, went to the Garth Brooks concert in downtown Phoenix.  We took the light rail and had dinner and then saw Garth.  It was an amazing concert!!!!    I couldn't believe the energy that  he had for the entire concert.  It was well worth going to it.  And taking the light rail was fun!  It was filled with people going to the concert.    

The next day I went to Vegas with my dear friends, Elise and Jessie.  They picked me up in the morning and we drove to Vegas.  While waiting for them to get here, I felt something crawling up the leg of my pants.  My worst nightmare--a scorpion!  I was stung three for four times before I could get it out.   Having never been stung by a scorpion, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Although it burned and stung most of the day, I was very happy that was the extent of it.   

We got to Vegas and met some friends from Douglas who flew in to meet us at the Palms.  We had tickets to see Bill Maher.  This is the third time that we have gone to Vegas to see Bill and he didn't disappoint!!!!   I love his humor and I love his politics!!!!   It was a great evening.   We stayed until Tuesday.  I love to play slots, but haven't done much lately as my luck on them has not been good.  I hate to put money in and lose it all right away!!! So I did other things while Jessie and Elise played the slots.   The Palms is a great place to stay and they have a movie theater so we saw a couple of movies.  I have been to more movies in the last few months since I moved back than probably in the last 20 years!!!

Tuesday night after getting back, I met my friend, Patty for drinks and dinner at the Red Robin.   We had been there a little over an hour when a Mesa Police Officer came in and asked if anyone had a red CRV.  That was me!!!!   He told me that a school bus had backed into my car after letting the band kids off to eat at a fast food restaurant nearby.  The bus was from Safford.  So I went out to the parking lot.  The bus driver and band director were really upset.  I told them not to worry because I totally understood and I know that schools have great insurance.  If they had to have an accident, I think it was good it was someone like me!!!   All is fixed and now I am just waiting to be reimbursed for my deductible!!!

Then on Friday, we had tickets to the "Book of Mormon" at Gammage.  My friends, Jessie and Elise, came up for that and stayed with me.  Once again, we took the light rail to Tempe, had dinner and then walked to Gammage.  We saw the musical in Chicago a few years ago and it didn't disappoint at all.  It was great and we had a fun evening!!!!  I love being able to take the light rail to events!!!

Elise and Jessie spent the weekend.  Saturday night, Lloyd and Amanda (more friends from childhood) came to dinner.  We had a great time and played my favorite board game--Cards Against Humanity!!

I can't begin to explain how much I am enjoying my retirement.  I have one project I am working on through ASU in that I am mentoring a first year principal.  I have had to go to several all day workshops so at least I am keeping current on a few things in education!! But for the most part, I have time to do just what I want.

I have Teresa often.  She was with us for about 10 days and we ended up in the emergency room last Saturday night after church.  I was really worried about her, but it turned out to be a UTI and she is well on the mend.  It continues to sadden me to see the decline in her mental faculties. Teresa having to leave Douglas has been and continues to be very difficult for her as she was born at 858 in 1922.  However, her being with us is the best thing for her (and us).   When she is here, I try to take her out with friends and keep her mind going, but it is getting harder and harder to get her out and about.   My cousins came over for lunch on Tuesday and brought the three darling little girls.  Teresa loves the babies so that was really good for her.

I joined 24 Hour Fitness several weeks ago.   It is free with my state retirement insurance.  So I go to the gym several days a week and have really enjoyed working out.  I think I am in the best shape of my life!!!  I have been involved in a "fitbit challenge" and I have won it three out of the four weeks!! Never won any kind of athletic event in my life!!!!

So this kind of sums up the last several weeks!  Just want to keep a little journal for myself and what is happening!  It is fun to go back and read after time has passed.

I absolutely love this time in my life.  My 43 years of hard work have paid off and I am so happy to be back in my house and back seeing old and dear friends and being able to see my wonderful cousins much more often!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!!! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Importance of Public Education

Last Friday afternoon, I went to Fry's to get some groceries.  All of a sudden, two little girls came running up to me.   One of them told me that she was in kindergarten the last year I was principal at Gilbert El and now she is a sixth grader.  They were there with their parents and the mom reminded me that she was also a student when I was the principal.  That can happen when you spend 20 years somewhere!!   I was so touched that she remembered me and wanted a hug.   As I walked through the store, I got a bit teary as these relationships are so important to me.

When I got home I did a post about what had happened on Facebook.   I did a bit of a "rant" about what is currently happening in Arizona and around the country to public education.  The lack of funding in Arizona in particular is a travesty of such major proportions that I believe we are in a real crisis.  Here is what I wrote:

I just don't understand why education is taking such a beating by politicians, in Arizona especially. The unwillingness to fully fund public education is beyond scary and is such a disservice to the future of our country. The reason the US is a leading country in the world is that ANYONE can get an education here. I always remember my mom telling me that we should always vote yes in every election that was for funding education even though we went to a Catholic school because of the importance of public education. I don't care what political party anyone belongs to...we need to wake up and take care of our children and keep good people in the field of education by adequately compensating them. I hope that everyone out there (who can) votes YES for the Gilbert Override and I sincerely hope that people will reflect on who they vote for in the next election and determine if that candidate truly cares about the future of Arizona and our country. I read today that there is a surplus of money in Arizona but there is still going to be a huge fight about how much (or how little) will go to the schools. I had an incredible 43 year career in education and I hate that things are in such a mess. I know getting a hug shouldn't set me off, but it is all about the children and the relationships that are built.

Since I have been back in Gilbert, I have done some work on the GPS Bond and Override Campaign.  Last weekend, I walked neighborhoods both Saturday and Sunday going door to door asking people to vote yes.  It was a very rewarding experience.   I continue to be so impressed with the Gilbert community coming together to take care of the great schools here.  The committee is bi-partisan and there are people on the committee who are conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.  But they all understand the importance of public education.  It has been good for my soul to see this happen.   

A few years after I left Gilbert, the Board majority became a "tea party" majority.   In just a few short years, this Board did so much damage to the wonderful District that I had worked in for 39 years.    The superintendent, all of the assistant superintendents, many quality administrators and teachers left the District because of this.  I believe it will take years to repair the damage.  However, it is well on its way to getting better because of the support of the community.   They were able to get the Board majority reversed the last election to bring some sanity back.  

I am proud to be a part of this effort.  I have always "preached" that we have enough outside forces trying to destroy education that we should all be working together.  This was one of the sad parts of my previous position in that a very few "very" narrow minded people did their best to try to destroy the good things that were happening.  They tried to take the focus off of what the real problem is--state funding.   But as I have said before, I still believe "what goes around, comes around" and they have to deal with the extreme damage that they have done through the years.........

The comments that I got from my post on Facebook were amazing!!!!!!  I may post some of them on my blog.  

I am loving being able to be involved in so many different activities now that I have time.  I am looking forward to being able to do more in the future.  I have even been asked to run for the Board here by several people.  Not sure that is something I want to do, but will definitely leave my options open!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Few Days in "My" Paradise!

Last weekend,  I went to Douglas and took Teresa down to spend a few days as she really misses 858 and Douglas. The move up here has been very hard on her as Douglas and 858 have always been her home.  We left early on Friday so that she could play bridge with her friends.  I was able to connect with some friends who I worked with Friday night   It was great!!!

The main reason I went down was to spend a few days at the cabin.   I hadn't been there for awhile and it was so nice to get up there.  My friends, Elise and Jessie, went up there with me, as well as my pugs.   

We left early Saturday morning.  It lightly rained most of the day and it was beautiful.  We had a nice fire going outside most of the day.   Jessie cooked our steaks on the wood fireplace which has a grill.  Steaks cooked on the wood are absolutely delicious.   We had to eat inside because of the rain, which turned out to be a very good thing.  Right after we ate, Jessie went outside for something and there was a huge (and beautiful) skunk right outside the back door.  She sort of chased Jessie who ran quickly to get back in the cabin.   If the pugs had been outside, it would definitely not have been a good thing.  I don't remember seeing a skunk around there before.

Sunday was clear and beautiful.   We decided to hike up the road, which has been closed for over a year.   Last September, the hurricane did incredible damage.   The road became the creek right above the cabin.  I hadn't really been up very far so it was unbelievable to see what damage water can do.   We basically hiked up a creek with so many rocks.   

The mountain right behind the cabin is beautiful.   When you climb to the top, you can see all the way out to the Animas Valley in New Mexico.   Because of the trees, I had never really seen how beautiful the rocks are.   There was a place right up the road where the trees were taken out by the water so we were able to see the rock formations.   They are breathtakingly beautiful!!

 The Chiricahuas are so beautiful and I love the solitude of the cabin.   It was good for my soul and it was great to spend time with Elise and Jessie.  

Monday a big storm was coming in so we packed up and left as soon as we could.  The rain was really coming down hard through the trees.

I hope to be able to get down more often now, even though it is a bit of a drive.   It is so relaxing and so rejuvenating.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Good Friends, Good Times!

For the past many years, four of my friends and I have gotten together for a "girls" few days and have gone out of town for a few days for some fun times or just meet for happy hour or go to a movie.    This week we we went to Flagstaff for three days of fun!!!

We were all administrators together for many years in Gilbert.   Jill was a junior high principal, Sharon and Susie were elementary principals, and Bev was curriculum at the District.    Jill was hired the same year I became an administrator-1988.  

We were trying to remember how many years we have been getting together and all of the places we have gone.  We figure it is about 14 years.   We have been to San Diego, Rio Rico, Casa Grande, downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe.    We met in Bisbee several times while I was in Douglas.  The times in Bisbee were so great for me!   We always have an incredible time when we get together. 

When we get together, we talk, eat, and are "merry" most of the time!    So many laughs are shared and stories about our lives and families are listened to and advice given!!!   I found this quote and it is so appropriate for our times together:

"Most of us don’t need a psychiatric therapist as much as a friend to be silly with."~Robert Brault

I cannot express how much getting together with these friends means to me, especially the last few years.    They have been such great friends.   I am so thankful for our time together!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Introducing Baby Colton to the Family!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a family party/shower to introduce Baby Colton, Ryan's new little guy, to the family.    He was born in April and this was the first time we were able to get everyone together.   All of the cousins came with all of the little kids and very generous gifts for Colton.   Colton is Teresa's great grandson and Judy's grandson and he is precious!!  He looks so much like Ryan.  He is a very happy baby and has big smiles.

I love all of my Phoenix cousins.   It is so nice to be back here and be able to get together with everyone.  I hope that we will be able to get together a lot more often.

The kids were all able to swim and we had hot dogs, hamburgers, and beans (of course)!  And always there were plenty of ice cold beverages!! 

All of the little kids are so sweet with Teresa and she is in her glory around the family.   I am going to try to arrange more time for us to get together so that she can be around the family.   It is what is most important to her (and to all of us).   

We are so fortunate to have such a great and loving family!!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Beautiful Poem

I haven't written much lately--not sure why.    It has been a quiet two months for me and I have had a chance to unwind and relax.     This is something that I haven't been able to do in many, many years!   It has been absolutely great!

I love how technology has allowed people to reconnect in various ways.   Social media has to be used responsibly.   When it is, it provides so many opportunities.   One of the greatest things for me is being able to reconnect with former students and families from many years ago.   All of the students are adults now--some were in my third grade class and others were at Gilbert El when I was principal.

Several years ago I received a beautiful, framed poem from a family that was absolutely amazing.  I think they gave it to me when their daughter finished sixth grade.  I always had it displayed in my offices.    When I was unpacking and putting things away here at home, I placed it in a special spot in my room.   Yesterday I posted a picture of it on Facebook and thanked the family for giving it to me.  I am friends with most of them and it was so nice to be able to say thank you again many years later.   I continue to be amazed at the many blessings I have had over the years and very thankful for the opportunities to work with so many wonderful people!!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Flag for Hope

Last June when we went to Alabama, we visited Nashville for a few days.   While we were in Nashville, we were able to participate in an incredible project called "Flag for Hope."   Kerri, Cam and I were able to have our hand prints on this flag.  It was so touching and I was so excited to be a part of this amazing project!

Here is the info from their website about what Flag for Hope is about:


What is Flag for Hope?


The Flag for Hope project was started to help promote UNITY among all Americans.


It is about honor and respect for the men and women that have proudly worn a United States Military Uniform and fought for our freedoms. It signifies appreciation and gratitude for those individuals who serve in our communities like police, fire, teachers, doctors and nurses. It calls us to remember all Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of both foreign and domestic enemy attacks. We are all one country and one people. If an American is harmed ANYWHERE, we all suffer and mourn.

This epic mission was started at the Indianapolis 500 on May 23, 2015. The Flag for Hope team will travel across the United States and go to over 120 cities and roughly 300 locations. Our goal is to collect approximately 5,000 American hand impressions on a giant canvas to create the American Flag. Each participant will put their impression on the flag in either red, white or blue paint. There will be 50 American Gold Medal Olympians representing the 50 states. This symbolically will show the solidarity of the entire nation. Lastly, the 50 stars will be Iconic Americans that have greatly contributed to the strength of our country. They will be honored in 5 categories of significance. They are as follows:
  1. Humanitarian/Philanthropy/BusinessBlueStar_FFHSite
  2. Entertainment/Music
  3. Sports Legends
  4. American Heroes/Veteran
  5. American Heroes/Civilian
The Flag For Hope will be completed on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2015 at the Arlington National Cemetery. Finally, the flag will be donated to a museum like the Smithsonian Institute for all Americans to view for generations to come.

In August, I was contacted by Darcy from Flag for Hope.  She said that they were coming to Arizona and asked if I would like to host a private party.   Of course I said "ABSOLUTELY I WOULD!!!!!!"    What an honor!!  So on Sunday, August 30, 2015, we had Don and Marcos here at my house from 2:00 through 5:00.  We invited several people and ended up with 35.   Most everyone stayed the entire time.   By now the flag was very filled compared to June so everyone put their fingerprints in red on it.  Then Marcos videotaped each person on what the flag means to them.  My aunt Teresa was able to participate also and she was very touched.

In order to go along with the theme, I made red chili meat, got blue corn tortillas chips and had white tortillas (also beans and salsa) for everyone who came.   There will only be around 5000 people who participate in the entire country.  They hope to put it in the National Museum and eventually the Smithsonian.    And we all got to be part of history!  I was so honored to host this party.

Here is what Darcy wrote on Facebook about our event:

Here is a great story from Gilbert, Arizona. These Flag for Hope Day pictures are from a gathering hosted by Sheila Rogers. We originally met Sheila in Nashville, TN but when she heard we were in Arizona she contacted us to host an event. It was especially nice to hear Sheila talk about how far the Flag has come since she saw it initially. Sheila, as well as most of the guests are current or retired school teachers. Thanks for the great work and support Arizona! ‪#‎flagforhope‬ 

While they were in Arizona, they added the first three of 50 stars to the flag...John McCain, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and Muhammad Ali!   What great company we were in!!!

This week they have been in New York City of the 9/11 anniversary.  I cannot begin to express what being a part of this has meant to me and how honored I was to be asked to host an event.  I know everyone who was here that Sunday feels the same way.  We are blessed!!!!!! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

No First Day!

Today was the first day of school in Gilbert.  For me, it was the first day in 61 years that I didn't have a first day of school.  It goes all the way back to when I started kindergarten at 15th St. School in Douglas with Mrs. Bond.   Every year thereafter, I have had a first day of school!  But this year I don't.   I know that I have had several people tell me that they had to leave town when this happened to them when they retired, but it truly was okay with me! 

My daughter, Kerri, teaches fourth grade so I took donut holes and juice to her classroom this morning for the kids to get off to a sweet start for the new year.  The kids were great.  They asked me questions about Kerri when she was in school.  The best questions was did I ever have to fire a principal!!   

Yesterday when I went to get propane for the barbeque, I ran into a former student from when I was a teacher.  We hugged and caught up with her life.  She told me that she will be 43 next month.  We had a great visit.  Today when I went to get the juice at Fry's, I ran into a former student from Gilbert El who was there with his wife and little son.  Again, we had a great visit.  I shared some things with his wife about him and we had some great laughs.   I think that helped me!!

Yesterday I posted on Facebook wishing all of my Gilbert friends a great school year.  Today, I posted for my Douglas friends.   There is not a level playing field in Arizona and it is bad enough at the best of places.  Here is what I posted today:

For the past five years, I had the privilege of working with an incredible group of educators, support staff, parents, and kiddos in Douglas where I grew up. Tomorrow is the first day of school in Douglas. In the words of Rascal Flatts, "My Wish".....I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you wanna go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile.
But more than anything, more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
I have had such a great month just relaxing and getting situated again.  It has been wonderful.  I have had an incredible career and I would not trade it for anything!!!!!!  What a gift I have been given!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

History Repeats Itself

Many years ago I read John Jakes' book, "North and South."  It was excellent.  Because I have traveled so much over the past few years, I listen to books in the car.  I recently started listening to this book.   Wow!   It has been so long since I read it, I didn't remember much.

The story is about two families, one from Pennsylvania (north) and one from South Carolina (south) who are friends.   The two main characters meet at West Point.   It takes place in the 1840's and 50's.   Although it is fiction, Mr. Jakes does an excellent job of the historical facts that were occurring in our country during that time.   It all surrounded the issue of slavery and prejudice and all of the issues leading up to the Civil War.    

All I can say is that we, as a country, have not learned much in the 150 plus years since this happened.   Although what is happening in our country right now is not the same, many of the issues are.   They get back to prejudice and not accepting of people because of the color of their skin.   I know I realized that when I read it before, but for some reason it really has made an impression on me.   Maybe it is because of the media in our country and things being brought out into the open.   I don't know.   It just makes me sad that we are still fighting equality battles for people because of the color of their skin or because of where they come from.   

There is a saying that history repeats itself and I would have to agree.    We have not learned!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

An Amazing Conference and a Very Touching Moment!

I just attended the facilitators' training for the Family Leadership Institute that was done by my "shero"--Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch.   I have been involved in many programs over my 44 years in education, but I believe that FLI is the single best program that I have ever been a part of.   This program empowers parents to become leaders in their homes and in their communities.   

I have been to many, many conferences through the years, but I have never attended one that included parents as total equals or even that had many parents at the conference.   There were many parents attending this training, many of whom are first generation Americans and many who work as migrant workers in the fields of California and Washington.  There were also many educators from superintendents, to principals, to teachers, to attendance clerks.  Consuelo did the majority of the work for the four days that we were there.  And she is powerful.  It is hard to explain, but it is more than just an educational experience, it is also a spiritual experience.  As she often says, one has to get naked with their souls in order to move on.  And she talks about forgiveness.   I can't even begin to capture in words what this  experience was like.   And I am not going to try, but I am going to share something personal that happened to me that I will always cherish.

I got to Las Vegas Sunday afternoon and we had our opening session Sunday night.  Two administrators and two parents from Douglas also were there.   The first night, I was very uncomfortable because it brought back all of the awful negative issues that I dealt with because of trying to stand up for the parents in Douglas and involve and empower them.  I went through a lot from a few people who are so narrow minded that they can't see what a community needs in order to progress.   And they did everything to try to stop this program, but they weren't successful.    During these sad times I had a lot of support, but I did not have anyone step up to stop the insanity.   

When I left Douglas and moved back to Gilbert, I was able to put the pettiness and bullying behind me and I knew I would never have to deal with anything like this ever again.    The month of July has been such an enjoyable and relaxing month for me being away from the ugliness of a few.  

But Sunday night for some reason brought it back.  And the absolute hardest thing for me because of my passion for children, families and our schools, was that I wasn't able to continue to make changes for the betterment of that community.   I seriously thought about leaving the next day because of the feelings I was having.   I told Consuelo about it in the morning, but told her I was absolutely going to stay.

At one of the breaks, one of the Douglas parents was talking to me and she started to cry.  She told me that she was so sorry that she and the others didn't step up and try to stop the mean spirited people.  She said that she was apologizing to me for many, many people in the community.  She said that she has so many regrets now that I am gone. 

Later in the morning, we did an exercise and it turned into a true teachable moment for Consuelo.  We got into quite an emotional discussion from parents who don't feel that they are welcomed at their children's schools.   The parents were sharing it very emotionally and the educators were listening.  Consuelo has a magic way of turning something like this into an incredible opportunity.  There were many tears and much discussion about how this can be changed.  I truly believe that the educators in the room heard what the parents were saying and one of the things they were saying is that they don't feel as though they are listened to by the educators.

Several people went to the front of the room and shared and Consuelo brought parents and educators from the same district up to talk in front of everyone.  As I said, it was very emotional and very profound.

Then one of the parents from Douglas raised her hand and  said that she was listening to all of these parents saying that they aren't listened to, but that Douglas had an administrator who always listened and empowered them and they let her go.  She was crying as she talked about how I treated parents and gave them a voice that they had never had before, but no one stood up for me. She also said something that I will never forget and that was that she was raised in a single family home and when her father left, she felt abandoned.  And she said that is how she felt when I left.   I can hardly write this without getting teary. Consuelo had me come up and stand by the parent.  She asked if she could share what I told her about wanting to leave and I said absolutely.  So she did and she told everyone about the absolute ugliness that went on because I believed in FLI and I had to fight nasty people.   She gave some examples about what some did to try to destroy FLI.   Then she said that I still did my best to make sure it continued despite these few ugly people.    All of a sudden, everyone in the room stood up and started clapping.  It was unbelievable and I can't even begin to put in writing what it meant to me.

Many of the participants came up to hug me when we had a break, which we did right after this as it was so emotional.   

I know in my heart that I always did the best I could and always had the children as my first priority for the five years I was in Douglas.  It saddens me how a few people can do so much damage.  I tend to be an optimist and I think that will change in the future.   I think FLI is alive and well in Douglas and I think the parents will make sure that it continues.  And I believe with my entire being that it will make all of the difference for Douglas--not just the schools, but the entire community!   And there are so many great parents, educators, etc. in Douglas and I care very deeply for them and can only hope for the best for them.   And of course, the children of Douglas deserve the very best on a playing field that is not level in Arizona!

I am proud of this incredible program and I thank Consuelo for her passion and vision.  She is truly a servant leader and I admire her so much!   She is absolutely one of the most amazing leaders we have in this country today!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Whine, Wine and Unwind

After doing my 43 years and 43 days posts on Facebook, I received this post from Debra Garza, the amazing art teacher at Gilbert El for many years:

Hi Sheila,
Ive so enjoyed following the journey of your career, especially the time spent at Gilbert El. I realized, reading the stories and everyones responses, that our community family was more than the children that attend the school, but also all the teachers and staff there too. So I went to Justin and asked if I could add a row of portrait tiles to the wall of you and all the staff that were there during your leadership. With your help, and encouragement, I'd like to get as many people as possible to paint a tile, and install them this year. Whacha think?

I responded immediately and we decided to have as many of the faculty and staff who worked with me through the  years do a special tile for Gilbert El.  I was so touched by the positive responses to this.

Last Thursday, I held the first installment of this tile project at my house.  I will host a few more so that we can get as many people together as possible.  It was such a good time and there were about 15 people there.  Several of those who came, want to come to the next one even if they have already made a tile.  I think everyone enjoyed seeing each other.  I had Teresa come and be a part of it as she really enjoys things like this.

Here are pictures of some of the tiles that were done that night!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thank you, Mrs. Rogers

From the DUSD website:

Thank you, Mrs. Rogers

We would like to thank Superintendent Sheila Rogers for her work and dedication for the last 5 years.  She has left us with some great programs such as Diamond Scholar, Parent, Classified Staff, and  Certified Staff Councils, and Family Leadership Institute. We wish her the best of luck and only hope that what she started at DUSD only gets stronger.   Thanks for making a difference in so many people at Douglas Unified.

This means a lot to me! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Parking Ticket

A few months ago, Teresa gave her 1998 Oldsmobile to Cameron since he is now 16.   When she stopped driving, it was just sitting in the garage in Douglas.  The car is mechanically in good shape and only has a little over 50,000 miles on it.  However, it has been "hit" a few times.  As Teresa told me, "she doesn't understand why people keep hitting her car!"  (That was when we knew it was time to have her stop driving.  I think that losing the independence of being able to drive is probably one of the hardest decisions that has to be made as people age.

Although Cam is 16, he still doesn't have his license and he isn't really anxious to get it.  I don't understand that, but it is what it is.   He still rides his bike to work.  However, I know that he will need transportation down the road and this will be a good and reliable car for him.

It has been parked in front of the Gilbert house for the last few months.  Kerri and Cam drive it every now and then.   About a month ago when I was still in Douglas, "I" got a parking ticket for parking too close to the stop sign.   Now we have lived in this house and parked in the same spot for the past 25 1/2 years.   Obviously, the police officer was bored that Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday we went to court and spent almost two hours there.  Most of the people there were for speeding, etc.  But there were three or four parking tickets similar to mine.  One little old lady in a wheelchair had gotten one the same day.  Her daughter had taken her to Urgent Care and didn't put her handicapped parking sticker in the window because they were in a hurry.  So she was there along with all of the rest of us!  I also had Kerri come with me as I told her "I might throw her under the bus with the judge since I wasn't even here when it happened!"

I decided to ask for a hearing on this as I feel it was a ridiculous ticket.  Believe it or not, I have never had a speeding ticket of any kind and didn't want to pay the reduced fee of $75 (from $145).  So I go back to court in August.   I am hoping the officer doesn't show up for the hearing.  The judge actually kind of shook his head when I went up there.   Almost all of the other cases were ones that people can go to traffic school for, but this isn't one of them.

Fortunately I have the time right now to go to court and fight this!   Looking around our 
neighborhood, there are many cars parked in front of houses or next to houses by stop signs.   Not quite sure what the problem was, but I don't think we were blocking anyone's view of the stop sign!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Meaningful Gift and the Gift of Words

Every year in May I receive several invitations to high school graduations from former students that I had at Gilbert El.   Over the past few years, I have also been invited to several graduation parties of students graduating from Douglas High School.   Getting those invitations means the world to me for many reasons and I consider it an honor.   I always get such sweet thank you notes from the students.   

Recently I found an invitation here at my house that somehow got put in a pile of things and it took me getting organized to find it.  I sent this young man a check and received a thank you note in the mail on Friday.   I am always touched by what the kids write to me and it truly makes me feel as though I have played a small part in their educational journey.  However, this particular note was really one that I will always cherish.  What this young man wrote and then ended with some humor was so incredible.   I took a picture of it to post on my blog.  Here it is:

I also sent a text to his dad about how much it meant to me.  He told me that he knew he had written it but didn't know what he wrote so I sent a picture of the note to him.     I asked him to let his son know how much it meant to me!!  

As I continue to unpack boxes and put things away, I came across a beautiful cup that was given to me by one of the DUSD district office classified staff the day that I met with her.  She is truly one of the nicest human beings that I have ever known.   As I have written before, being able to bring closure with each DO employee before I left was so incredible.  So today when I had my coffee, I used this beautiful cup and thought of her and the other wonderful people that I had the privilege of working with and getting to know over the past five years.   I intend to use this cup every day!  It is beautiful and means so much to me!

It is so nice to be able to write freely on my blog again and express my thoughts and feelings!