Monday, January 22, 2018

Another Year of Community Service

January is the beginning of the new year of my four year board term.  We are elected in a November election and then take office the first of January.  Last year I was elected Board president and it was quite a year.   The superintendent that was in place when I was elected, resigned in June. We had an incredible interim superintendent in Suzanne Zentner, who had been the executive director of Talent Management.  Suzanne served the District well in this role from June until October.  She continues to be an integral part of our leadership team and I so value her contributions.

We went through the Arizona School Board Association to find a new superintendent.  Shane McCord was selected in September and started the first of October.  What an amazing four months we have had with Shane at the helm!!  GPS is on its way back (in my humble opinion) to being the best District in Arizona.

For the past four months, I have been able to truly serve the District as a board member and be a part of some incredible happenings.  Because public education is underfunded and a myriad of other issues, it will always be a difficult job, but it has truly been a pleasure working with the other Board Members and the administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents.  

We had our organizational meeting last week and I was touched to be elected Board President for another year.   I look forward to the next three years of service to GPS.   It will be a difficult, but extremely important journey and I believe in the people we have in place!

As I look back on my wonderful educational career, I am blessed to have had the experiences that I have had and the wonderful relationships that have been built through the years.  

When I retired in July, 2015, I was worried about what I would do with my life after so many years (and hours) of working.  I shouldn't have been as my days are filled.  

I can continue to count these past three years as part of my career in education from being a substitute principal in Gilbert, to working with ASU and mentoring a principal, to my time on the Board.  Not many people can say that they have had a career that spans 47 years.   I had 44 years of "regular" employment in the schools to now.  Although I don't get paid anything, I am getting way more than a paycheck could ever bring.   

I have three more years on the Board which will bring me to 49 years (as I am counting this year in the 47).  I don't know what three years will bring, but I may just have to run for one more term to get 50 years in!  Who knows?   But as I said previously, I am blessed in more ways that I can express!!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Twenty Eight Years

Twenty eight years ago today, we moved into our house on Gary Way in Gilbert.  I remember being so excited to have this new house that I had a lot of input into it being built.  I wanted a house with a basement so that we could have a pool table and a fun place to be.

At the time, there were very few houses in the area.  I was able to choose the lot as well as the floor plan.  The houses are really close together and I was able to get a corner lot with no houses on one side or in the back.  That has proven to be a really good thing.

Having had the house in Douglas for almost 100 years in our family, it is still a milestone to live in the same house for 28 years.  I love my house and I love the area that we are in.

As I grow older, this location will be great as there are so many stores, etc., close by.

I have been here by myself (for the most part) since mid-October.  I love having the house just to myself after so many years of having my kids (and various other people) living with me. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Good Friends, Good Times

I have written many times about the friendship I have with Elise and Jessie who live in Tucson.  They have been such dear friends and have been there for me through thick and thin.  Elise and her sister, Ann, lived across the street from us in Douglas when we were very young.  I don't know the exact number of years, but we have been friends for over 60 years.  Not many people can say that.
 
Like many friendships, there were times we saw a lot of each other and then there were years where we hardly did.  But it has never mattered.
 
When Judy had my 60th birthday party, Elise, Jessie and Elise's mom, Marge, came.  I went to Marge's birthday party a few years later and then to her memorial service.
 
During my five years in Douglas, Elise and Jessie were a gift for many reasons.  I spent time with them in Tucson to get away, which was greatly needed.  Every year, we go to the cabin for a few days at least twice.   We went this past fall and have a trip planned for April.  They will be up in February as we are going to see Bill Maher. Needless to say, I look forward to being with them. 
 
I went to Tucson on Saturday and stayed until Sunday.  We sat around and talked in the afternoon and then went to dinner at our favorite place when I go down--The Outback Steakhouse.  Unfortunately, food hasn't tasted very good to me lately and I didn't get to enjoy my prime rib like I usually do.
 
Elise's daughter, Tanyge, came with us and spent the night.  I have gotten to know her and she is fun.
 
Elise and Jessie had this sign waiting for us when we got there.
 
 
Needless to say, I had another great visit and look forward to seeing them again in February (if not sooner)!
 

Here is a picture of Elise and her precious son, Chris.  Elise and Jessie are both so dedicated to his care.  I admire them MUCHO!
 
The only "problem" that I have when I go down there, is I have to sleep on a bed with a U of A bedspread!!!  The sacrifices we make for our good friends............
 
 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Facebook Post from a Former Student

I have been so privileged to know former students from both my teaching days and my years as principal at Gilbert El.  Most are adults now and I love connecting with them.

This post was on Facebook this weekend and it says it all to me.  It really means a whole lot and confirms why my many years in education is the best.  I am so blessed!

 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Carmen Agra Deedy, Storyteller Extraordinaire!



Several years ago, I found a children's book at a workshop that was held at Gilbert El.  This special book, "The Last Dance," has become my absolute favorite book ever.   It is a beautiful story about the cycle of life and the importance of family.   I have used it many times when I have had to give a eulogy and always keep copies of it when someone loses a loved one.
 
I met Carmen at the IRA in Chicago awhile back and she was delightful.  When I was the superintendent in Douglas, we were fortunate to have her come two different times to tell her stories to our kids there.  She was beyond amazing.
 
When I got on the school board, there are many things I want to help accomplish, but I have two major goals that I am going to really work hard to make happen before my time is us.  I have done one and that is bring Carmen to Gilbert.
 
She was here this past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and told her stories to over 7000 third, fourth and fifth graders.  It was an incredible three days.  She did nine sessions and never told the same story.  And each one of the stories was unique in itself.  She had the kids (and the entire audience) in the palm of her hand.  To me, seeing an entire auditorium full of children totally engaged with smiles on their faces was PERFECT in every way.  
 
Although her stories are funny, they all have a point to them.  There was a few times where I got a bit teary. 
 
The response from the teachers and other adults was equally amazing.  EVERYONE enjoyed her!  Our librarians did an incredible job of giving the children background on Carmen and her books.  The District administrations was extremely supportive.  It could not have been a better three days.
 
Carmen has become a friend and I value that so much.  She is truly a warm, compassionate and real human being and I am so  proud she came to Gilbert. I know she will be back sometime in the future.
 
Here is a quote that I got from a storytelling website:
 
"At the most basic level "Telling the Story" is a means of transmitting ideas from one person to another. [1] Storytelling is a part of life, intrinsic to most cultures. They help people make sense of the world--life’s experiences, dilemmas and hardships. Stories can educate, inspire and build rapport. They are a means of communicating, recreating, and helping preserve cultures [2] by translating memories into a more concrete manner that can be handed down verbally or in written form. Telling the story can provide the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of one’s experiences and oneself."
 

 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Finally Feeling Better

Since the end of December, I have been fighting a bug--not the flu kind.  Mine was more of an infection in sinuses and lungs.   I don't normally get sick and when I do, I usually can maintain and continue to do what I have to do.  

I went to urgent care on Wednesday because of a pounding headache that was caused by the sinus infection.  I felt so much better on Thursday and then the headaches hit again and were awful.

The guy who does my pool was here over the weekend to fix something and I told him about falling in the pool.  He said that could be the reason it has been so hard for me to get over it.  Hadn't thought about that.  Just glad that I am finally on the mend.

My friends, Jessie and Elise, have been really sick.  We are getting together this Saturday when I go to Tucson and I was afraid that we would have to postpone that, which would be very disappointing as they are so much fun!

Jessie does a blog and he hasn't been writing much.   I just read what he wrote and I want to "copy his words" as they are really profound and so true.  So thanks, Jessie, for what you wrote today.   You guys are the best!

From Jessie:

"You will come across people that have been hurt or broken in one facet or another....but you recognize the goodness in them...There are times though when you just have to realize that regardless of how much you want to help....some of those people need more than you are able to give.

"The moment you start to hate others (for no reason) you narrow and degrade your soul".

"The problem is not that you don't know your worth....the problem is that you're hanging around people who don't know what you're worth"..

I love my (me) time and being sick over the past few days allowed me to go deep inside of myself to pick my brain if you will.

Like my brother Dr. Herman Toles always tells me "Let Go" "Let God". It works indeed.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ushering in the New Year!

I rarely get sick, especially since my asthma has gotten totally under control.  I use to have at least one asthma related episode every year, but I did my best to not allow it to get the better of me.

For the past several years, I have had a few sinus infections or bronchitis, but nothing major.   In August, I lost my voice off and on for about six weeks.  It happened the day of Teresa's burial.  I didn't really feel bad, but trying to talk at times was exhausting.

I didn't feel well over New Year's Eve weekend.  I had a mild case of bronchitis.  I was in the backyard hosing off the cool deck and the turf when I pulled the hose.  Somehow, I ended up in the pool.  It was COLD!!!  Fortunately, I was able to get out even though I was in shock from the cold and falling in the pool so quickly!  It took me a few hours to get warm, even after a hot shower and putting my pj's on.

Between coughing and sneezing, it was fairly miserable.  Lack of sleep didn't help.   On Tuesday, a headache was really bad.  I went to Urgent Care and have a very severe sinus infection.  I am thinking that the "December Swim" may have contributed to it a bit.

A strong antibiotic, cough medicine, and another prescription certainly have made a difference.    Even though I am not 100%, what a difference!

I am not good at being "sick" and I know that is part of the problem.  I can't seem to just rest.  With Patrick here, it was hard not to do things. I made him green chili burros and beans.  Last night Judy came over and fixed tostados which really helped.

Here's hoping that I got all of the bugs out of the way for the rest of 2018.  Looking forward to the second year of my four year term on the GPS Board. Things are looking up!!