Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Going "Home"

On Monday, I went to Douglas to attend a rosary and funeral.  One of the wonderful board members I worked with in Douglas, lost her 21 year old son.  She means the world to me and I wanted her to know  that by going to the services.     She was so supportive of me during some difficult times and she has become a good friend.   I love her and sometimes the only thing you can do for some one is to be there for them.   And Patty was there for me during some very difficult times with a few very unreasonable people.     Fortunately it was only a few and they had their own set of  issues that are very sad.    I will always remember what Michele Obama said in many of her speeches..."when they go low, we go high!"     I so agree with this because no one wins when you "wallow in the mud" with people who are just plain mean.     And the other sad part of this, is that often people with agendas who have things in their past which are nothing to be proud of.  Over the last 18 months, I have met with so many people from Douglas who have ugly stories about some of these people and what they did to them.     But as my cousin, Cecilia, says, "what goes around comes around."  So I can only say that a few very pathetic people who need attention for the wrong reasons try to interfere in what is right for kids.   But they have to live with their choices and they will have to answer to a higher power someday for the many abuses  to children and the community that they have done through the years. 

With that being said, my trip to Douglas was so therapeutic   for me.    I had worried about going down to the house knowing that Teresa will probably never be able to go back again.    The sad and good part is that she doesn't realize it.  I was just worried about how I would deal with it.   Teresa gave everything to the community with her generosity and kindness.   After she retired from the City of Douglas after 44 years, she started her own business.   She had a couple of paying clients, but nothing compared to the work she did.    Until she turned 80, she did the books and PAYROLL every two weeks for the Douglas Area Retarded Citizens, Loretto School, St. Vincent de Paul and for the Catholic parishes.  She has a few other clients who paid her a bit, but most of what she did was because she wanted to do it.  It tied her down as the payroll for most had to be done very two weeks.   Just after my mom died, we "made" her quit.   It was hard.

When I went to Douglas in 2010, it was to give her a few more years down there.  Plus it gave me an opportunity to give back to my community.    The last two times I have been there, I have met with teachers, administrators, board members, and parents who have been extremely supportive of me and who feel that a few people did everything they could to try to make me unsuccessful.   But I know that wasn't true, because there was never a time when I didn't do what I thought was best for our kiddos.   And the kids in Douglas deserve the same education as the kids in Gilbert.  It is not a level playing field and people who want to criticize need to focus on the state level, not the local level.   But it is much easier to try to be a "big fish in a little pond," then it is to really try to advocate for what is right for the kids!!

Teresa did not deserve to have what happened to me as being the driving force in why she had to leave Douglas.   And I know that my conscience if ABSOLUTELY clear!   The few mean spirited people have to live with their actions and their total disregard for the children.   And in some cases, disregard is a kind word for the way children were treated.    

I was so fortunate to have incredible board members  through the years who understood and wanted what was best.   Thank you Susan Kramer, Patty Lopez, Mario Ramos, Dr. Ed Gomez, Chuck Hoyack, and Mike Ortega.    I always appreciated our dialogs when we didn't agree and the respect that I always felt.  

So my time in Douglas was amazing and I will be back soon.   I loved connecting to so many great people and I loved my visit to the District Office with the wonderful employees who I know supported me and who I will always value.  

Even though going down was under difficult circumstances , it was very healing for me.  I loved being there and love so many wonderful people in Douglas who deserve the very best there is.

And my puggies love 858!!


Friday, November 25, 2016

One of the Hardest Days of My Life

"No matter who you are, what you've accomplished, what your financial situation is - when you're dealing with a parent with Alzheimer's, you yourself feel helpless. The parent can't work, can't live alone, and is totally dependent, like a toddler. As the disease unfolds, you don't know what to expect."
Maria Shriver

Today we had to put our beloved Aunt Teresa into a wonderful group home because her physical needs have become to difficult for us to deal with. This disease has robbed her of cognitive functions and now physical ones. It has been one of the hardest days of my life. I know it was the best decision, but leaving her there and coming home to her not being here was so hard. As one of our wonderful "in-law" cousins said, "Teresa knows you are doing your best. Right now your best is entrusting her care to professionals. That is an act of love." Thank you, Beth Hunt-Rush.

My one consolation is that she has lived an incredible 94 years and has been loved and has loved so many people. She continues to be one of the kindest and nicest humans ever. Her caring and generosity to our family and to her friends can never be matched. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers.

A Very Difficult Decision Navigating the Journey of Age and Alzheimer's

I am so thankful for the wonderful Scott Family that we have been so fortunate to grow up in and continue to have such incredible relationships. Not many families can have what we have had for so many years. E.A. and Katherine Scott raised seven children in Douglas. They bought the house at 858 14th St. in 1918 and how many people can say that a family home has been there for almost 100 years?? 

When I went to Douglas in 2010, it was such a blessing for me to be able to live there with Teresa for five years. We had such a wonderful time and I will always treasure those five years we had together. 

When I moved back here in 2015 and Teresa had to come with me, it was difficult at many levels. Over the last 18 months, Judy and I have had her with us and shared her time. We have been been able to have her spend time with our Phoenix family and attend other family events, both positive and sad. 

Since July, she has been with me because I have been retired and could make it work. The last few weeks, we have seen a significant decline mentally as well as physically. It has happened fairly quickly. I know we have let family know that she has qualified for Hospice with the decline. We have tried to keep her here with me, but the physical decline is making it very difficult for me to be able to continue to meet her needs. So tomorrow, she is moving to a group home near us in Gilbert. From everything we can tell, it is a wonderful home. Hospice recommended several and Judy and I really like this one. It is a private home and run by some wonderful people from the Philippines. Most important for Teresa, is they are Catholic and have a Deacon who comes every Sunday. There are only five residents and she has her own room. And the second most important thing (to me) is that the pugs (one at a time) can come visit her. So today when all of our Phoenix cousins celebrated Thanksgiving, we had a quiet one here at my house with Judy's family and mine. She didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving or what that means. It has been a very emotional day for all of us today. 

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we make this transition tomorrow. I wish I could keep her here, but I know that this is the best decision for Teresa and for all of us. Please say an extra prayer for Cameron Rogers. This wonderful young man has been a rock for her and he loves her dearly. He is spending the night with a friend and said he can't be here tomorrow when this move takes place. That is a lot for an 18 year old to handle. It is hard for me and I am 67. 

The home is very close to Kerri's school and she can actually go there during her lunch hour. Many of her friends have grown to love Teresa so I know that she will have many visitors. Cameron can go there after school as it is close to his high school. It is close to Judy's school and close to our house. And I know that our wonderful Phoenix cousins will continue to support this journey. 

Sorry for this very long post. I am thankful on this 2016 Thanksgiving Day, that we have the wonderful family that we have and that I know all of Teresa's siblings' families can always know that they have been there for her and have meant the world to her. And for all of the young people in our family who may read this, never forget the wonderful family values that have been passed down to you from your great grandparents, grandparents and parents. After all, Family is what it is all about!!! 

And thank you, Janice Boyer, for saying several years ago that we need to get together for the good times!!! Let us all remember the good times and let us all remember that we come from great genes and "WE ARE FAMILY!"

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Approaching Thanksgiving Week, Thinking of What I Am Thankful For.....

As Thanksgiving week approaches, I would like to say how "thankful" I am to have connected and reconnected with so many families and former students who I have had the pleasure of working with as a teacher and a principal. I am also thankful to the many colleagues I have worked with through the years in both GPS and DUSD. And it has been wonderful to meet the new community members, teachers, parents and students throughout the last several months this campaign. I am also thankful to the over 36,000 voters who put their trust in me to serve on the GPS Board for the next four years. I can promise that I will always do my best to serve the children of our community. Teachers, administrators and staff are key to this so they will also be a priority. And of course the parents are absolutely key to the success of their children and our district.

One of the most influential people I have ever met and who has become a dear friend, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, does a lot of work in school districts with parental involvement and leadership. I have learned much from her and I admire everything she stands for. She says that it is so important to be an active listener. "Everyone has had a journey so part of leadership-if you truly want to lead, is learning to truly listen. Talk less, observe more, feel more, listen."

"Being an active listener isn't as simple as it sounds. It is a communication technique that requires the listener to not only comprehend what is being said, but evaluate what they hear. The ability to listen actively can improve interpersonal skills and strengthen cooperation that can advance mutual understanding. So when practicing this technique completely open your mind along with your ears."

I will do my best to follow Consuelo's words!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Victory Celebration and Some Tough Decisions

Last night I had the most amazing evening with a victory celebration/retire the debt party at Nicantoni's Pizza here in Gilbert.  One of the hardest things for me was to ask people for money.    However, campaigns for school board here in Gilbert can be expensive.  My  campaign was fairly low key.  I bought 50 big signs, 500 yard signs (and had to buy another 50 because of the demand), advertised on Facebook, paid for a webpage, and a few other minor expenses.   I gave myself a loan of $5100 and was able to "retire" that last night.    What I am most proud of is the fact that I came in with the second most votes (36,243) on probably the lowest budget of anyone who ran.

So many people attended last night.   Parents and former students from Gilbert El were there, as well as many of my former staff.   I also had a lot of parents and people I have met through the campaign stop by.   It was a great turn out and I think everyone had fun.  I was really touched.   

Judy and Ken brought my aunt Teresa.   During the day, she was excited to go, but when she got there, she didn't know where she was and wanted to leave.

Today has been a very emotional day for me.    With all of the amazing things going on with the election for me, the deterioration of Teresa has been so difficult to watch.   The past week her physical limitations have increased.   She is unable to get up and down without help.    The last few nights when she has gotten up in the night, I have had a hard time getting her back into bed.  So I know that I probably can't do this much longer and we are going to have to place her in some kind of home.   Although I know this is the best, it still is breaking my heart.

As I sat down at my computer to write this, it is with such mixed feelings.   I am so touched by the support of so many people, but I am so saddened at the decline of my wonderful aunt.   As I write this, it is with a few tears in my eyes.  


Monday, November 14, 2016

Life's Next Journey

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of having our wonderful Aunt Teresa live with us. She is 94 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. When we started this journey, I knew I had the time to be with her because Judy Engel, Ken Engel, and Kerri Rogers all work and I had the time. Her mental deterioration has gotten progressively worse and she could not be left alone anymore. After everyone went back to school in August, I found three wonderful young people who came in daily to give me a few hours away. In addition, Cameron Rogers has been so incredible with her and has helped tremendously. I waited to post this until I had talked to each of these three wonderful young people today who have helped me over the past few months.

On Friday, Hospice of the Valley accepted Teresa. The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotions and getting things set up. In addition, we have caregivers coming in each day who have medical training to help me with the her daily care which has become increasingly more involved. We have a family Facebook page and I posted on it yesterday to let our family know first. We have an incredible extended family who love her dearly. She is the last of the original Douglas Scott Family left. I just want my dear friends from both Gilbert and Douglas to know this and her dear friends through the years. She has been a blessing to so many of us through her kindness and her deep love of family and friends and her devotion to all of us. 

I have learned much from her and I cherish the time I spent with her in Douglas and now. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers as we navigate this stage of life. And although she may not know you, she still loves to see people. Thank you Ruth Holland, Kecia Sweeney, and Lorie Oros for your wonderful young people who have helped me navigate the last few months. Thank you Maggie Jetty for being here so much and my wonderful Phoenix cousins, Cecilia Henderson, Patricia Scott Rush, Margaret Gabaldon, and Scotti Steingrebe (in Turlock) for your absolute support!! Teresa has lead an incredible life for 94 years and has given so much to so many of us. 

But I know however long this part of the journey continues, we will do our absolute best to make it as comfortable and loving as possible.

Friday, November 11, 2016

One Good Election Result!

I find it hard to believe in this time of technology, that we don't always get the results of elections for a few days. As of November 9 at 2:24 p.m. 100% of the precincts had reported. I received 26,071 votes. It is approximately 872 votes less than Lori Wood, the front runner. Apparently, there are still around 7000 early votes that were turned in, etc. that haven't been counted. From what I understand, that means that I am officially elected even when these votes are counted. It appears that Reed Carr has also been elected and even these votes will not be a factor in his election mathematically. So it is safe to assume that Reed Carr, Lori Wood, and I will be fortunate to serve GPS as Governing Board Members for the next four years. I can only speak for myself when I say that this is a huge honor. I would also like to say that I personally thank Lily Tram for her years of service to GPS during some very difficult times. I know Lily has held her head up and has conducted herself professionally during her tenure as a GPS Board Member. It is always difficult to lose when you have given so much. So thank you, Lily, for your years of service.

I look forward to being able to work with Reed and Lori as well as Charlie Santa Cruz and Jill Humphreys over the next few years. Gilbert has been through some tough times over the past several years, but I believe that we can come together and bring Gilbert back to the most incredible District it was.

I have seen the incredible dedication of teachers, support staff and administrators who have stayed with Gilbert during the tough times. I hope to make sure that their loyalty is rewarded in the best way that I can.

I have been impressed with the wonderful parents who have worked so hard to pass the override and bond and to see the importance of a Board willing to work with the Superintendency and to make sure that some of the issues that have hurt Gilbert over the past few years can be dealt with in a fair and positive way with input from all of the stakeholders.

I know first hand that there are a lot of incredible educators who have stayed in Gilbert despite the tough times and these people need to be respected for their dedication. Although we need new people, we can't forget the history and the dedication of the employees who have stayed no matter what.

I am so thankful for the overwhelming support from the community with the great number of votes that I received. I did not raise much money because I hate to ask people for money.  So that makes this even better to me.  I believe I raised the least amount of money and still had a lot of votes.  I love GPS and I welcome  input, questions or comments at any time. We may not agree all of the time, but I will always do my best to do the right thing and I promise that I will listen. 

The picture above was from my wonderful hairdresser, Jen.  She put it in front of her shop on Gilbert Road.

And as of 5:00 pm today, my total is 29,452 votes!!  Pretty cool!!!   And even better because I think I spent the least amount of money.    One of the candidates actually raised $30,000.  I only raised about $4500 and still got mucho votes!!