The new month has started with a wintery vengeance here, and I am tucked under my favorite afghan tonight, sipping tea, resting my weary bones, and blogging a bit!
I spent the weekend traveling and visiting family in weather that was not road trip-friendly, and am just taking this evening to decompress and rest before heading back to Room #2 tomorrow. So.... without further fuss, I will share my Farley-inspired CURRENTLY list!
Resilience and perseverance were two key words on our trek to the Windy City this weekend, because we needed to be there for my daughter's debut as a professional and paid actress! Our family of fans had a great time applauding her performance and enjoyed Lou Malnati's famous pizza afterwards! And yes, my eyes "got a little wet" when she came on stage. Crying quietly in my seat is what this Proud Drama Mama often does when pride and joy swamp me!
This week I found out that I was approved as a pull-out session presenter at the Mazza Summer Institute in Findlay, Ohio. I'll be sharing ideas with other elementary teachers and librarians about how to use wordless picture books to enhance reading, writing, and Social Studies lessons. The Mazza Museum that hosts this week-long learning event, features original artwork from children's books that has been created by the award-winning illustrators.
It is a truly magical place, and two of this year's keynote speakers are Mark Teague (How Do Dinosaurs..., Dear Mrs. LaRue) and Aaron Becker (Journey,Quest). I can hardly contain my excitement! Every time I participate in the Summer Institute, I come away inspired with new ideas and books to share with my students.
I also hope to participate in the Mazza Summer Author Study in June. This year's bus tour is headed to the Philadelphia/New Jersey area, and features visits with Judy Schachner (Skippyjon Jones),
Peter Catalanatto (Dylan's Day Out, Matthew A.B.C.), and David Wiesner ( Tuesday, Flotsam, Mr. Wuffles). I am going to do my best not to be an overzealous, paparazzi-like fan, and just remain calm as they welcome our group into their homes and creative spaces!
I use this marvelously musical wand to track print, add emphasis to my "Hocus Pocus! Everybody focus!" directives, and inject a bit of magic into my teaching at times. I just wish that it really did have the power to score papers for me and record them in my grade book. Sigh....
At my most recent post-observation conference with my principal, he asked me, Where do you see yourself in five years?" I chuckled and said, "In a perfect world? As the owner of a children's bookstore." He smiled and said, "You need to write books for children!"
He reiterated what others have told me over the years, and what I have thought about more and more recently. I have begun to dabble with a collection of some fun, thematic poems, but really need to put a STORY on paper. Carving out the time to write every day is a challenge for me, but I must discipline myself to do it!
This prompt took me on a trip down memory lane, back to my reign as Queen of DeVeaux Park! It was a neighborhood contest that I remember winning when I was 10, wearing the pink gingham smock dress my Mom had made, with white gloves and lace-trimmed ankle socks. My sash was made of blue burlap with yarn letters, and my crown was glittery paper.
I also remember the "final" pageant at the Ottawa Park shelter house where the other contestants were much older, fancier, and more confident. What I lacked in appearance and grace that day, I made up for in personality and humor--something I continue to do today.
I am that person who asks the hard questions at faculty meetings and who isn't afraid to challenge instructional practices that I don't think are developmentally appropriate. I am also not a big fan of over-testing and data-walls--and I can make no secret of that. I am an advocate for young children, and I really should have either a tiara or a shirt that is emblazoned with these words from Dr. Suess.
"I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees."
My paternal grandmother, Amelia Josephine Bonegura, once gave me this great advice,
"Jen, when you are as old as I am.....you are allowed to say anything you want!"
I have taken her words of wisdom to heart.
As always, thanks for sharing my story! Continue to teach your children well, hold a song in your heart, and follow your dreams.