Tuesday April 17, 2016

Well, we are down to the last week of school.  We graduate our 5th graders next week and each year my team sits down to craft our farewell speech.  This year we have decided to use the format of a “Just Because” poem.  Most of the stanzas were written by my teammate but I thought I would share the ones that I contributed along with some we crafted together.  I give credit to my amazing teammate who wrote the beginning and ending stanzas and who inspired us to use this format (and inspires my teaching every single day).

Just because I’m a teacher

Doesn’t mean I am counting down the days

Eagerly awaiting summer’s freedom

I’m not ready for the end to arrive so soon


Just because you will be the 6th graders next year

Doesn’t mean you can’t speak up

Or that you matter any less than anyone else

You are important because you are you.


Just because you are heading to different schools

Doesn’t mean you won’t see each other again

Your different pathways will meet again

Your Foothill friends are always your friends.


Just because you are surrounded by friends

Doesn’t mean you won’t feel loneliness

Stay strong

Everyone feels that way sometimes


Just because you’ll make lots of mistakes

Doesn’t mean they will define you

Doesn’t mean you are wrong

Each one is the opportunity to grow


Just because I’m a teacher

Doesn’t mean I am counting down the days

Eagerly awaiting summer’s freedom

I’m not ready for the end to arrive so soon

Tuesday, May 9, 2016


“Peace out,” he said as he left for school this morning.  My youngest is in his final weeks of high school.  I have been getting calls from the attendance office almost daily.  With AP exams, he is either studying or skipping the classes where they are just showing movies.  He has ‘peaced out’ for sure!

And so have my own 5th graders.  It is such a hard time of year for all of us.  The weather is finally nice after weeks of rain and snow so we are all antsy to be outdoors a little more – or a lot more.  But what is that shifts our brains away from concentration and into the daydreaming of summer.

I have always loved the rhythm of a school year.  I like beginning anew in August, wrapping up in May, and rejuvenating over the summer.  I have never worked a job that required me to give my full attention for a full year.  (I know – I am very lucky and am quite grateful as well).  I like that I get to try again each year.  I have a new project that has a specific start date and end date with breathing room in between.  Honestly, I don’t know how most people work all year long.

But I always struggle with those last few weeks of the school year.  We have some tricks up our sleeves – like saving our Human Growth and Development unit for the last two weeks.  Funny how those 5th graders can sit in rapt attention for that content!!!  They are already middle schoolers in so many ways so sitting around talking about adolescence is right up their alley.  Beyond that though, I have already lost them.

I am holding on, not quite ready to say goodbye, and they are at least one foot out the door.  Just like my son.  I am holding on to him too.  He is off to college in a few months and I think both feet are already out the door.  I tell myself that it is good if they aren’t looking back.  Right?

Peace out!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

We are so blessed to have the opportunity to take our 5th graders to Outdoor School at a camp in the mountains about 45 minutes away.  We go for three days and two nights.  It is so much work to organize and being on duty with all of the 5th graders for three days straight adds more grey hairs than I’d like to admit.  But I LOVE every minute of it.  The amount of happiness in those three days is worth it all.  And it becomes a real celebration for some students.  This year it was the two boys who had cried off and on for months about not wanting to go because they had never been away from home before.  They both made it and loved it.  Or the kids who struggle with exercise – they hiked miles each day, not noticing how far they went for the fun they were having.  It was yet another success.

To thank the camp and their staff, we have started a tradition of writing an inspired by thank you book.  It is inspired by the book, If You’re Not From the Prairie by David Bouchard – a true gem of a book.


The students made a list of the things that you can’t know about camp if you haven’t been there – cold, hard luck, moose tracking, camouflage, counselors, bacon – and they will get to write their own page of the book about one of them.  My teammates and I wrote our own page yesterday.  I am so deeply grateful that our school district supports this program.

If you’ve never been to Cal-Wood, you don’t know gratitude.

You can’t know gratitude.

Filling our children with fresh mountain air,

With wind, fog, and snowflakes dusting their hair.

Getting dirt in our nails and mud on our shoes,

Creating fond memories we’ll never lose.

Giving them roots to allow them to soar,

Pushing to places not seen before.

Whether in community or lone solitude,

Our thanks pours out in great multitude.

If you’ve never been to Cal-Wood, you don’t know gratitude.