Thursday, May 14, 2015

What I Want in a Principal: Here We Go Again!

I've been at my current school since it opened as a year-round school in 2007.  We've had some fabulous educators come and go through our building.  At the end of this year, our eighth year in operation, we are losing our third principal.

While all three of our principals have embodied various attributes, I publish my list once more in the hopes that we will get another incredible administrator for our school.

What I want in a future principal

I want a principal who will take the time to understand and truly appreciate the culture of positive learning that has been created at our middle school.

I want a principal who loves middle schoolers with all their quirkiness and hormonal energy.

I want a principal who listens to her students when they want to share a problem or concern, or just updates about what television show they watched last night.

I want a principal who lets her teachers take risks, allowing her teachers to try innovative instruction.

I want a principal who empowers her teachers to take on leadership roles and who supports their professional growth.

I want a principal who is well respected in the community, who makes connections with parents and business leaders.

I want a principal who is a teacher leader first and foremost, never forgetting what it takes to do the hard stuff of teaching on a daily basis.

I want a principal who stands up for her teachers and students when the time comes.

I want a principal who listens to her teachers when they have a concern or a problem or a solution or they just want to share some personal news.

I want a principal who is seen on the campus, in the classroom, in the media center, in the cafeteria, on the athletic field.

I want a principal who implements strong teaching and learning programs that will impact student achievement.

I want a principal who makes the most of her dollars, imploring sound financial abilities to effectively and efficiently provide the materials and resources to run our school.

I want a principal who recognizes, appreciates, and supports all levels of learners from special needs students to academically gifted students.

I want a principal who understands and can effectively assess the data to make important instructional decisions and support successful teaching practices.

I want a principal who is honest, tenacious, caring, professional, vibrant, personable, organized, savvy, accountable, objective, and positive.  I want a principal who is “real”.

I want a principal who is a cheerleader, recognizing teacher and staff professional achievements and student academic, behavior, and athletic achievements.

I want a principal who communicates her expectations to her teachers, students, and parents.

I want a principal who asks questions.

I want a principal who realizes that this is “our” school – it belongs to all of us-- the staff, students, parents and community -- and we are all vested in our future.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

WCPSS Teacher Librarians Presented at NCSLMA Conference in October

Fifteen teacher librarians presented at the annual conference of the NC School Library Media Association in Winston-Salem on October 9-11.  These educators shared their expertise in literacy, media and instructional technology with other media coordinators and teachers in attendance from across the state.

Kristen Ziller, Durant Road Middle, and Kendra Allen, Holly Grove Middle, presented their work with family history research projects and gave participants instructional strategies, personal examples, and online resources to use.  8th grade language arts teacher Laura Richardson, Durant Road Middle, also shared her work with the project.

Nancy Torborg, Root Elementary, presented a session on improving your book collection using data collection.

Jan Healy, Green Hope High, engaged participants about effective models for professional development with teachers.

Brenda Shore, Conn Elementary, shared her K-1 research journey and inquiry process with attendees, guiding them on ways to help our youngest students answer their questions and share their findings.

Allison Briggs and John E. Smith, Heritage High, had participants take a deeper look at current library trends related to social media, higher education, and virtual libraries.

Paula Barnes Cardinale and Marta King, Powell Elementary, engaged participants with their One Book One School program, sharing the implementation process and evolution of their program.

Christine Tuttell and Karen Pahl, Bugg Elementary, discussed the transformation of their media center into “The Hub” of the school through collaboration, maker’s spaces, technology tools, transformative displays, social media and public relations.

Deanna Harris and ELA teacher Sigridur Mitchell, East Cary Middle, presented their co-teaching and revamping of teaching the classroom novel with students.  Harris also presented a session on teacher leadership, having participants explore effective leadership skills and guiding them to set goals to affect change.

Karen Waller, Timber DriveElementary, shared her work with learning centers and collaboration with 4th and 5th grade teachers.

Stephanie Fiedler, Mills Park Middle, presented attendees with augmented reality to bring books and periodicals alive.

Angie Morris, Rolesville Middle, led participants in a session on building school-wide ownership of strong library media programs.

Debbie Dupree, Wake Young Women’sLeadership Academy, and Tess McMains,  Carnage Middle and East Garner Middle, showed how to use the AASL’s best websites for teaching and learning to enhance collaboration and instruction with teachers in various content areas.

Linda Dextre, Wendell Middle, shared her work with the after-school digital literacy club, or DigiLit, sharing activities that students explore.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Fabulous Jacqueline Woodson and her Brown Girl Dreaming

At the recent NCSLMA conference, I had the chance to see one of my favorite authors, Jacqueline Woodson.  She had participated in our conference before, at least ten years ago, and I remembered her as gracious and engaging. At that time, I had read a few of her books -- The House You Pass on the Way and If You Come Softly -- but I don't believe her novel Miracle's Boys was out yet.

Since then, I have voraciously read almost all the books she has written, including her young adult novels and her picture books, and I am constantly booktalking and recommending them to my middle school readers in my library.

Her latest novel, Brown Girl Dreaming, is a wonderful story of her growing up in South Carolina and New York, of her falling in love with words, and of her as a young child figuring out the world, the good and the bad.  Told in verse, the memoir is a lovely read, solidifying Woodson as a prolific writer.  The book has received numerous starred reviews and is a finalist for the National Book Award.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Year, New You: January Library Displays

One of my new year's resolutions or goals is to make sure that I have attractive, engaging, and inviting displays in my library media center.  While life without a library assistant is harder, I know that the displays that my former assistant used to put up after brainstorming with me really did make a difference in the appearance of our space as well as circulation and general browsing of the collection.

Here are the January displays:





Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Going Lean and Getting Clean in 2014

Happy new year!  Just like every other year, so many folks make resolutions to kick off the new year and usually by mid-March (if they are lucky to get that far) their resolve has gone by the way.  Just like my fellow resolution makers, I have set goals to lose weight, be healthier, study more, read more, be kinder, complete Bible studies, and umpteen other life enriching plans to mark the new year.  Some years I've been more successful than others, but ultimately I like reflecting on the previous year and looking forward to improving my life and the lives of my family and friends.

A friend was deciding on her own resolution for the year and wanted something with a catchy phrase.    I suggested a few: going green in 2014; giving up caffeine in 2014; living like a queen in 2014; more love, less mean in 2014.  Other friends offered just as quick mottos for the new year and I liked one of them: getting lean in 2014.

While I feel like the gist of this phrase is about getting healthy and losing weight, I liked the idea of lean as also being more efficient, less wasteful, clean.  So I'm going with the resolution:

Going Lean and Getting Clean in 2014

This doesn't just mean working towards living a healthier lifestyle - eating better, moving more.  It means clearing out my head, meditating and praying more.  It means making our home more lean and clean, clearing out clutter, getting rid of unnecessary items.  It also means cleaning up relationships, focusing on the positives and dismissing the negatives.  It means getting organized in all areas - physically, financially, personally and professionally.

What goals have you set for yourself for the new year?

Monday, August 12, 2013

100 Books in 2013: Peanut

Book 33: Peanut by Ayun Halliday

I loved this graphic novel!  Everybody knows that it's hard to fit in in high school, but it's even more devasting when you have to up and leave your best friend and move to a new high school.  So to fit in, Sadie tells everyone that she has a peanut allergy.  She figures it will get her the sympathy vote, a little attention, some new friends.  What she doesn't count on is how hard it is to remember that you have a peanut allergy when you really don't.  You can only imagine the trouble that is about to happen!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Remembering My Daddy

My dad passed a way a few weeks ago, and I've been flooded with tons of memories from my forty-four years with him.  Here's the eulogy that I gave at his funeral about the things that he taught me:

You may have thought there were only two teachers in our family – me and Mama – but there were three. These are a just a few of the things that my daddy taught me.

Hard work is honest work and an honest day’s work makes you a better person.

If you chop weeds out of the peanut field, you will be rewarded with a mid-morning Pepsi Cola and a bag of salted peanuts.

Nothing runs like a Deere, a John Deere, that is.

If your daddy plants a row, a really long row, of tomato plants, you will be expected to have a tomato stand at the road.

Nobody ever has to be a stranger.

If you don’t know someone’s name, it’s okay to call him Calvin until you catch his name.

If you know a farmer, you know a friend.

The Da-Nite is a great place for a cheese biscuit, a cup of coffee, and good friends.

Always say ‘Hi’ to the person next to you.

A little magic goes a long way to making someone smile.

If you practice, you, too, can pull off your finger and pull quarters out of your friends’ ears.

Fast talkers are not a bad thing.

If you practice enough, you can count from one to one hundred and back again really, really fast.

There’s always room for something sweet!

Once you set your mind to it, you can lose weight.

A slice of Mama’s butter pecan cake is better right out of the freezer.

Little brown bags always have surprises in them, like Zero bars and 5th Avenues.

Always carry a change of clothes in your truck.

You can never have too many collections – train stuff, bottles, fishing poles – or too many caps.

Duct tape and wire really can fix almost anything.

Even when you think somebody is asleep, he may still be watching television.

If you can fry good cornbread, you’ll be invited to lots of pig pickings and fish fries.

Barbecue chicken cooked on charcoals is the best barbecue chicken.

Cigarettes are really, really bad.

Anybody can learn anything if you have enough patience to teach her.

Even a girl can build a bookcase, bait a fishing hook, and shoot a .22.

If you aren’t following instructions, you can burn out the clutch of a ’63 Ford flatbed truck.

If you’re gonna tell a joke, don’t mess up the punch line.

If you’re asked to emcee your high school class reunion, you should say ‘yes’.

You should always take care of your mama and your daddy.

Raleigh is really not that far of a drive to a hospital when you’re spending time with your father in his last months of life.

You should visit your mama every day and if that’s not doable you should at least call her.

Always spend time with those you love.

If you have a daughter, she will probably be a daddy’s girl.

You can learn a lot about your daddy when you go to a farm equipment sale and watch him buy a tractor.

You should go on at least one family vacation a year.

And the number one thing that my daddy taught me – when you love, you should love with your whole heart. That’s how he loved my mama; that’s how he loved me. That’s how he loved our family, especially Elizabeth. That’s how he loved his mama and his daddy and his brother and his sister. It’s how he loved all of you, his friends. And it’s how he loved his God and Jesus.

I love you. I love you more. I love you the most.