Wednesday, June 30, 2010

At the end.....

The year ended as it always does- in a rush of backpacks over flowing with books and papers collected from a year of learning, in the crush of many eight year old arms wrapping themselves around me, the piles of pictures telling me that I am the Best! Teacher! Ever!, last minute gifts, quick thank yous, cleaning and packing up and emptying a classroom that was so full of laughter and learning, discussing next year's class, and.....inevitably, tears.

Sometimes it is I who is doing the crying. Ten years in though, I can honestly say I haven't cried on the last day in a few years. This year, I did. Several times in fact.

The first time I cried on the last day of school was when I received an email, forwarded to me from my principal, sent by a parent whose two children I was blessed to have in my classroom. I say blessed because, truly, they are amazing kids and wonderfully supportive parents. The kind of kid who, on the last day of PE class, fumbled the ball and pretended to drop it so that my little special ed child would not get out during a game of Mat Ball. Point to a third grader that will do that and I'd be astonished, because in ten years of teaching (nine in third grade), I can say I've come across maybe half a dozen kids like that. Anyways, the email was the nicest thing I have ever received far and away. Those words don't even do it justice.....
Here is a snippet from the email:
Lisa is truly at a level that differentiates her from her colleagues. It is a wonderful combination to be so professionally gifted as a teacher, coupled with a distinctive ability to motivate and inspire children to learn and develop…and Lisa possesses such talents. I am incredibly impressed with her professional approach to her job, characterized by preparation, attention to detail and a tireless energy for teaching. While this in and of itself would be significant, with Lisa it only tells half of the story. Her unique gift lies in her ability to create a wonderful environment in her classroom, filled with warmth and caring and encompassed in her deep personal commitment towards the children. Long after the memories of flash cards and homework assignments passes, our children will remember and benefit from the personal investment Lisa made in their lives. As parents, we will also see it in their confidence, maturity and continued passion for learning.

You see now why I cried.....
I cried again when I opened the gift from this particular student whose dad sent this email.... he gave me a nice picture of the two of us together, with a card that read, "Mrs. S, when I'm with you, you always make me feel good!"
I'm not kidding when I say I was bawling when I read that card and then proceeded to embarrass the poor boy horribly by hugging him in front of all of his friends.

And then I cried one last time when I hugged my biter/stabber/kicker/yeller good bye. I'm sure some of you are wondering why in the world I cried rather than celebrated him leaving my classroom. All I can say is that this little guy taught me so much- about myself, about my profession, about my school. About learning and life and patience and strength and humor and frustration and honesty.....about the kind of teacher I always hoped I was and the kind of teacher I discovered I really am. I poured a lot of myself into helping him, never realizing until the end that he helped me just as much as I hope helped him. He is a gift, and I was blessed to learn with him.
And that- those two students and the nineteen others I had this year--that is why
I am a teacher.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Today is the last day in what has been a long and challenging school year......
As Aliza would say, "Yahoo, yahoo!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I didn't truly get (or know) until I became a mom....
(In no particular order.)

1) Automatic car starters

This might seem trivial and I'll admit, I was one of those people that thought automatic car starters was one of those silly things that you didn't *really* need. What's the big deal with running outside to start your car? But now that I have a child that I am rushing around in the morning with, trying to get her out the door and myself out the door looking somewhat decent and at a reasonable I get it. Especially when it is below 0 and I have to figure out a way to run outside to start the car--do I bundle Aliza up, or not? How cold is it really? Do I strap her into her chair for a few seconds and risk it or bring her? These are the questions I debate every morning. And one day, it struck me, man it would be awesome to just push a button and have my car nice and warm for both of us to climb into when we are finally ready!

2) Joy.
Oh sure, I knew happiness. And contentment. Laughter and love....but joy. True joy, the kind that makes you catch your breath and fight back tears. The kind that makes you feel like your heart is in your throat.....that I didn't get until I had Aliza. To see her smile, hear her laugh, or, better yet, hear her say "Mama". That is JOY.

3) Reading.

Oh how I miss the days when I could just lose myself in a book. Go to bed and actually stay awake long enough to make it through more than a paragraph. Have something to read other than journal articles and professional books. Sigh.

4) Sleep/exhaustion.

No one knows tired like a working Mom. Especially a working mom to a toddler who keeps waking up in the night and won't sleep unless I am in the room with her.

Enough said.

5) DVR.

I knew before Aliza came that I'd want DVR. Made Russ get it so that we could use it. And it was one of the smartest things I ever did. Folks, I have a show on there from December that I still haven't watched. December. I don't watch much TV as it is, and I'd watch even less without DVR.

6) Couches.

Russ told me the other day that before Aliza came I would watch TV on the couch after dinner and fall asleep early.
I have no recollection of this.

7) Tissues/Wet wipes/hand sanitizer

Aliza and I were out to breakfast the other day with Nonna and Grosspapa and I had a momentary panic (internal) because I realized I didn't have wipes to wipe the table or her hands. We made due with a napkin that I dipped in my water glass.... I swear I go through more tissues and wipes than I would have ever imagined possible.

8) Tip toeing

I am an expert tip-toer. Russ? Not so much. I learned early on how to tip toe out of her room. Tip toe into my room, climb into bed barely making a sound. I learned which floorboards creak, in her room, in the hall way. I'm awesome at tiptoeing down the stairs--jumping over the first few steps at the top that creak the loudest.....who know that would be a mommy skill?

9) Pumping

This might sound gross, but man, I didn't quite get it when my sister referred to her breast milk as liquid gold. Until I had to do it myself...nurse, pump, feed, worry that I had enough, wonder if I'd have time during my special to make my copies, go the bathroom, pump for long enough, pass out papers etc. Wondering if I could even find a space to pump that wasn't occupied, dirty or surrounded by kids. Liquid gold. Seriously, it is.

10) Blogging

Believe it or not, I miss blogging. I know, I wasn't that active of a blogger before I had Aliza but I definitely posted more regularly than I do now. Now I'm down to two posts a month I think. Pathetic. Seriously though? I don't have the time. I keep telling myself it will be easier next year, no thesis, no practicum, no really tough kids etc etc etc. I NEED to believe it will get easier because I miss the days when I could check in on blogs, catch up on people's lives and share my own. I crave that time.

11) Crying

I'm a crier, always have been. No big surprise then that after giving birth I became even MORE of a crier. It's embarrassing really. I cry at everything now. I try to hide it, but really, when I cry it is obvious. As in the puffy eyes, red face and splotches everywhere. Not pretty.
12) B.R.A.T.

Brat is no longer just a spoiled kid.....BRAT is what you feed your kid to stop them up. Moms out there know what I'm talking about....Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. Learn it. Love it. Use it.

13) Aliza.

She was a whispered dream in the night, a hope in my heart, a wish for my future. Now she is my sunshine, my light, my world. Now I can't imagine a life without her.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Because I'm sure the four or so followers that are not my family members are dying to know.... I thought I'd share the results of my interview.....
Turns out I didn't need to be as nervous as I made myself, nor did I need to prepare as much as I did. (I certainly didn't need to stay up until 11 the night before analyzing data from the school!)

I went with the suit (thank god for mother-in-laws, who gave me some fashion advice minutes before I was to leave), closed toe shoes and a light blue top underneath. It was a pants suit, because I don't own a skirt suit, but it worked. I felt especially good with the choice when my principal told me that I looked professional. Coming from a man who wears a suit and tie to work every day, it was a good thing.

I showed up at the interview appropriately early, sat and chatted with the secretary for a bit and observed life in this elementary school. I had gotten a good vibe from the website and got an even better one sitting in the office. The secretary greeted everyone by name and seemed cheerful. Staff stopped to chat and joke and everyone seemed friendly and welcoming. I knew a few people- some by name, others by face, and that felt good. Plus there was two of the largest goldfish I've ever seen in the office, which, for some reason, I thought was a good sign.

Much of that good vibe disappeared when the principal walked in (after being paged). He seemed nice enough, greeted me with a smile and shook my hand firmly....then led me into his office. By himself.
No interview committee.
No panel made up of other administrative-y types, or classroom teachers.
Just him.

OK, maybe he was being nice to his staff, it was before contractual hours and the second to last week of school. Granted, every interview I've ever participated in while working in this district has been with a team of people and granted I'm a firm believer in being the type of administrator that includes their staff on important decisions but, hey, I can overlook this, quietly tuck away the ten copies of my resume I brought and move on.....

Then he started asking me questions, and I use the term loosely. It felt more like a checklist and a chat, than an interview. Do you know this? Yes, OK, good. Are you trained in this? No, not yet? OK. Have you heard of this? You have, great. That was the tone and the feel. I didn't feel like he wanted to know me or whether or not I was a good fit for the school, more like he was checking off a list all of the things he needed to know I could do.....

As I talked to Russ about it after the fact, I told him it seemed to me like he was either going through the motions and already had his candidate hired so why bother pulling together an interview committee, or like he was the kind of principal who makes decisions on his own without consulting his staff or his leadership team. Either way, good vibe totally gone.

All that being said, I consider the experience a success. I went through it and survived first of all. My name is out there, along with the information that this is the direction I want to go in. Those principals chat, I know they do. I'd say I had everything he was looking for too--especially when, at the end of the conversation, I asked him and everything he named was something I had done or was trained to do. In terms of candidates, I feel I'm a pretty strong one. My resume is updated, my cover letter is done and, after wearing it all day, my suit will be dry cleaned.
Bring on the next interview!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To suit or not to suit?

I'm going on an interview on Thursday.

That's feeling a little surreal, so let me just say it again---
I'm going on an interview on Thursday.

There are these positions in my district which, essentially, are the equivalent to an Assistant Principal position. Only, because my district is clever, they give them a fancy title that ends in the word teacher so that these people get paid the same salaries as teachers and NOT the same salary as administrators. Even though the job is most definitely not the same as a teacher. Clever, no?

Anyways, for me, this job is a natural next step on my path towards eventual administration. More than that, this year has made me ready to leave the classroom.....or more ready to leave than I ever have been before.
It's been a rough year.

And that's the understatement of the century.

So. This job posting came up....I panicked, thought about it, talked to people, worried some more and then decided to go for it. After I decided that I learned that the position is all but taken. See, they have to post the job, and they have to interview everyone that applies, but the position was held by a teacher at the school for a year (whom I know, he's in the same program as me and we've shared classes together). Then the job went part time (because of number of students in the school) so this gentleman returned to the classroom. Now it is going full time again and he's reapplying. It was his job and he's getting it again. Word on the street is that they essentially have hired him already but are going through the motions.....

But, hey, I figured I'd apply anyways and get some practice interviewing.
The thing is, even though I know it is not for real, I am still so nervous. I drove home today, practicing my answers to the questions I'm sure I'll be asked. I went online and did some research on the school. I went and looked up their CMT scores so I could have some talking points and sound super smart during the interview.....And, most importantly, I already started debating my outfit--suit? No suit? Skirt? Pants? Open toed shoes or not? The thing is, the interview is in the morning and then I have a long day of teaching ahead of I wear a suit and then change? Clearly I'm worried about the important stuff!

So. Thursday I interview for the first time in over ten years.
Wish me luck.
But not too much luck, since, you know, I'm not getting the job anyways.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes...or toddlers....

Aliza, at two, is filled to bursting with language. She talks so much it boggles my mind. She is already using complete sentences, although she does, at times, mix up her words. In a totally adorable way of course. My all time favorite is when she asks me to "Pick my up". I know I should correct her, but honestly, it's so darned cute that I smile and hug her instead.

Lately, she's come out with some real the other day when she said, "Mommy, I don't like poops, they're yucky!" (This following a nasty stomach bug that had us going through many, many, many diaper changes in a day.)

Or this one, when she told me, "I'm not sick, I'm 2!" (This one came after I told her she couldn't have something she wanted because she was sick and I was worried about it upsetting her stomach.)

Tonight, while sitting in her "big girl" chair, she went to the bathroom (still not over her stomach bug) and immediately announced, "Oopsie, poopsie!" No idea where that came from but it left both Russ and I laughing out loud for a good five minutes.

My all time favorite though is when she spontaneously bursts into song. Sometimes she wakes up singing, sometimes she'll be sitting in her car seat and suddenly start singing, sometimes she'll be quietly playing and singing to herself, but it is always just about the cutest darned thing I've ever heard.
Sometimes I wish I could freeze her in this moment in time for just a bit longer......

Sunday, June 06, 2010


By 9:30 am today....
I changed Aliza's crib sheet (trust me when I tell you it is a huge pain and a large accomplishment)
Gone through a bin of summer clothes my sister gave me and pulled out the stuff that I thought might actually fit Aliza
Thrown a huge load of laundry in the washer for Aliza
Played Ring Around the Rosie a dozen times
Unloaded, and reloaded, the dishwasher
Made coffee for Russ
Straightened up the kitchen
Fed Aliza breakfast
Played catch at least 30 times
Sorted through the pile of mail on the dining room table
Wrote out two checks for bills
Watched five minutes of three different Mickey Mouse Clubhouse shows and danced with Aliza to her favorite songs on said show
Swept the kitchen floor
Gave Aliza about 50 kisses

By 2:00 today.....
I showered, dressed and dried my hair
Got Aliza dressed and combed her hair (also a huge accomplishment)
Visited my grandfather in the hospital
Cleaned, steamed and pureed an entire head of cauliflower
Slid down the slide three times
Cooked a sweet potato
Paid three bills online
Swung on the swing and pushed Aliza for twenty minutes on her swing
Made homemade banana bread (with the cauliflower hidden inside.....gotta love Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook)
Played in the sandbox
Straightened up the kitchen
Built half a dozen castles for Aliza to destroy
Fed Aliza lunch
Got Aliza to fall asleep for her nap
Cleaned out the fridge
Gave Aliza at least fifty more kisses

By 9:00 tonight....
I snuggled with Aliza as she woke up from her nap on the wrong side of the crib
I went for two different walks with Aliza--one in her bike, one in her vroom vroom, which she insisted on pushing herself for a (rather long) block
Put away three loads of laundry
Went to Best Buy to buy Russ a birthday present, Babies R' Us to pick up a couple of things for Aliza and Stop and Shop to buy stuff for school
Played with a dump truck and a piggy bank
Fed Aliza dinner
Managed to finally put away my turtle necks and begin taking out my t-shirts (still not completely done with that project, but progress was made)
Told Aliza I loved her at least a dozen times
Laughed at her silly antics at the dinner table
Packed breakfast, morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack for Aliza
Responded to half a dozen emails
Filled out Aliza's daycare sheet for tomorrow, packed her bag and labelled her new shorts, t-shirts, generic Tylenol and spray on suntan lotion (apparently the lotion stuff is no longer acceptable so I have to trade it for spray stuff at daycare)
Waited for an hour for Aliza to fall asleep
Cleaned the kitchen
Gave Aliza at least 100 kisses, at least 50 more hugs and told her I loved her a dozen times (have to give her extra Sunday night since I won't see her all day Monday.....)
Finally posted to my blog
Started to do school work (started being the operative word here)

When people ask me how my weekend was, my response is always the same: