Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why I Give to My Alma Mater

At our weekly card night, we were all discussing our weekend plans, and I mentioned that I was spending part of my Saturday at my alma mater, Meredith College, with a handful of alumnae and the alumnae director, reconnecting folks with our college and doing the soft sale for making a gift to the college.

My friends really didn't understand why I would give money to my alma mater. "People pay tuition. Don't they have enough funding? We don't get it."

My question is Why wouldn't I give back to my college?

Ultimately for me, it's really never a question of why or why not, it's how much! I had such a great educational and coming-of-age experience at my college that I want other women to have the opportunity to get the same great education and experience that I had.

So here's my list of reasons of why I give:
  1. Tuition does not cover the entire cost of the education. Alumnae donations make up the difference.
  2. It's intrinsic: If you believe in a cause, institution, organization, then you should support it.
  3. More women in strong, influential, top positions attended women's colleges. There are benefits to single gender education.
  4. The percentage of alumnae giving is vital to the college for receiving grants and outside funding. If we ain't giving, why would someone on the "outside" want to give?
  5. Traditions: Cornhuskin', Spring Fling, Class Day, daisy chains, hunting for the crook, ring dinners, luminaries, Honor Code, clubs and associations
  6. Giving keeps me connected with the college, participating on committees and boards, staying in touch with the changing campus and community.
  7. Giving makes me feel good!
Do you give back to your alma mater?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God Bless America!

This past weekend was a great time for watching sports and celebrating the good ol' U.S. of A. I've heard The Star Spangled Banner at least three times in the past week, as we geared up to watch the NASCAR races at Daytona and as we watch the Olympics.

While I've always loved hearing our national anthem, it's only been in the past few months (we've watched a lot of football, too) that hearing the song about Old Glory has made me teary. I'm not sure if it's just a basic hormonal response. (Yes, I'm getting old and my body is wacky.) Or if I'm just feeling more in tune and aware of the world around me and how really great our country and our people are, and ultimately our song embodies all those thoughts and ideas.

Mostly, it probably has to do with my thinking about the future of my young daughter and the traditions and nationalism and patriotism that I want her to have and feel about our country.

We really do live in the BEST country EVER. God bless America!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What are School Librarians Saying?

Too bad my friend and colleague over at The Tempered Radical has been listening to what the wrong school librarians are saying! And too bad he felt he had to remove this post from his blog and surrender to the emotional, stressful responses to his earlier posting.

Some of the school librarians who commented on your original post get it, Bill.

I know that as a language arts teacher, you are stressed, overworked, frustrated by the pressure of the tested curriculum. I know that you are working your arse off to provide creative, informative, valuable, technology-rich lessons to your learners. I know that you are the consummate educator, praising the strong outcomes of professional learning communities with your colleagues because the end result is improved instruction and through-the-roof student achievement.

I get it, Bill.

I felt this way, too -- stressed, overworked, frustrated. I also felt isolated, insular in my own little classroom, autonomous, and incredibly responsible for my 120+ students' learning. I felt all those things as a language arts teacher.

I realize that you don't feel like you have the time to collaborate with your school librarians and take them up on their offers to plan, teach, and assess with you and your students. I recognize that you are an intelligent, well-read, tech savvy professional. I recognize that you are an avid reader and that you take offense at comments that lead you to feel that school librarians believe themselves to be the "lead readers" in a school and the "make or break" factor in reading programs.

I take offense at that, too, because now as the school librarian at my current school, I'm responsible for creating 850+ information literate, life-long readers, and I certainly cannot do that by myself. I'm not arrogant enough to believe that I'm the "be-all-end-all" when it comes to reading instruction.

But I am smart enough to know that my students need our entire school community to become the most academically successful individuals they can be. I also know that I would be a better language arts teacher now because of my experiences as a school librarian.

I appreciated your disclaimer at the beginning of your post and your recognition of some of the strong school librarians in our district. Those are the school librarians you need to be listening to; those are the ones that can help us -- classroom teachers and school librarians -- figure out how to all be accountable for the learning that happens in our schools.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Chat Tool

I just had the best professional meeting, and I didn't have to get all dressed up, leave my house, drive across the state, and spend four hours listening to people give reports. In fact, I sat right at my living room table with my shoes off and experienced one of the most productive meeting conversations using Chatzy.

The meeting facilitator created a room for us and sent out the link, and we all gathered at the appointed time to talk real time about the issues and new business of our association. We have a script of all that was typed that can be referred to, if need be.

We also used a free conference call set up by another member. We called the number, punched in a code, and voila! Six of us were connected via phone, cell phone, instead of landlines. At one point, I pictured the big conference table with folks sitting around and the phone in the middle of the table with speaker phone on -- two or three way conference calling. I realized how far we've come! Six of us chatting via phone and internet.

How could I have imagined anything beyond the party line that we had when I was a child? Of if you had used the term 'chat', I may have thought of a teenage friend and talking on my princess phone until Mama said to get off!

We've come a long way, baby!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

7 Books Read; 93 More to Read!

I took the 100 Book Challenge with some of my fellow mommies, and I'm plugging along with my reading. I haven't quite read two books a week, but I've definitely enjoyed what I've read so far, even staying up until 2:00 a.m. last night to finish this year's Newbery Award winner.

4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins -- This is the sequel to Hunger Games and finds Katniss once again fighting for her life and fighting against the Capitol. (YA) I absolutely loved this book! But she left us hanging AGAIN. Need to read the third installment now.

5. Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cooking by Paula Deen -- This autobiography of the accomplished Southern cook is an easy to read look into her rags to riches story. I was a little shocked by some of the secrets that Paula revealed, but as always, her voice rang through loud and clear. Y'all, she's a determined Southern gal!

6. Anything But Typical by Nora Baskin -- Story about an autistic boy from his first person perspective sruggling to "fit in". This won the Schneider Family Award for teen book about disability. (YA) I have a few teachers and students that I'll be pushing this book on once we go back to school.

7. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead -- Coming of age story of Miranda, friends and mysterious notes she keeps finding. 2010 Newbery Award winner. (YA) Now I need to reread A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle.

What are you reading?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow Day Means Saturday School

We had our once a year winter storm here in North Carolina this weekend. While many school children hope for an early release or an entire day off because of snow, I was thankful to see the snow come in overnight on Friday. That gave us Saturday and Sunday - a "snowful" weekend - to enjoy the white stuff.

But today is Monday. The white stuff was followed by some of the shiny stuff - ice - and has left many of the secondary roads and especially neighborhood roads still slick. So school was canceled today.

For traditional schools, the inclement weather make-up days are built-in to the calendar. Snow days are most often traded with workdays or days at spring break. The unfortunate news for year-round schools is that snow days are traded for Saturdays. That means Saturday school for tracks 1, 2, and 4 sometime before the end of the school year.

Now the question is will it be this coming Saturday, or will it have to be the next time tracks 1, 2 and 4 are all in together. It can't be Saturday a week from now because track 2 will have tracked out the middle of next week. It's these minor complications that can make year-round less appealing. But then again we are lucky to get snow once a year around here, so I guess I can deal with it for all the benefits and things that I like about year-round school.