Thursday, June 5, 2008

Teachers Celebrate!

The 2007-08 Kindergarten Team
As the children left the building for the last time, teachers left too! All the faculty leaves for an "End of the Year Gala" - in this case, a magical celebration, all brought to us by one amazing principal. Kindergarten teachers this year arrived in style with a limo picking them up. Off they all went to the Ponte Vedra Lodge for lunch with a seaside view.

Rich Relationships
After an elegant lunch the principal, Susan Phillips, began to read letters she has gotten from parents. The letters emphasized the rich relationships that are our tradition. They honor colleagues "who have demonstrated high intention, determined effort and great passion." Parents write about outstanding teachers who are making a difference - who are changing lives one child at a time. There is never a dry eye in the house! This year was no exception.

The Keys to the Kingdom
Then the awards began. A key to the Magical Kingdom was given to our PTA President who led her team to a fourth win as the "PTA of the Year." Our Business Partner Liaison was also recognized for establishing over 50 business partnerships.

Just as the Mouseketeers began as unknowns and many rose to greatness, the beginning teachers were recognized - a large group because of our continued growth. Autograph pens were given to this group who are destined for super stardom so that they might write their signature on the hearts of the children they teach.

The Spirit of Quality and Excellence
Our Teacher of the Year, Duval County Math Teacher of the Year and our Employee of the Year were recognized with plaques along with our three new National Board Certified teachers. The names of the Nation Board Teachers will be added to the list of 14 previous winners who earned the distinction while at Chets Creek. That plaque is displayed in our hallway.

The "dreamers" included those teachers who had a dream and made it happen. This group included those that organized the Battle of the Books, teachers who had ALL of their students score proficient on our state test, a paraprofessional who works with our second language learners, two paraprofessionals who have embraced working with some of our most challenging students, our PE coach who brought us "Wacky Olympics," and two teachers who walked into difficult situations and handled them with grace. Each of these dreamers was given a star paper weight to wish upon!

This award was given to those who believe in mankind. They included those teachers that organized the Relay for Life Team, who organized children to stuff shoe boxes of love for needy children, who united us in gifts of goodwill to one of our own - a Spanish-speaking family in our community with four children at our school, and to our own "Spirit Chair Extraordinaire" who models selfless giving. Their award was a star in which part of the proceeds go toward the "Make a Wish Foundation." Even their award keeps on giving!

Awards were given to those that "dare." This year that went to all the teachers who have consistently blogged all year long- those who have taken the risk to jump into something new and unknown.

Team Award
The Team Award is a coveted title. This year the Team Award went to individuals who model Daniel's Pink's A Whole New Mind because each, by example, has led a team of colleagues to discover their right-brained selves. From Design, Story (a kindergarten teacher!), Symphony, Empathy, and Play to Meaning, these are our super stars. (Can you guess from the picture below which one was selected for Play?)
One of the most tearful moments of the afternoon came when our own cancer survivor was honored for Meaning and was presented a picture of the faculty all dressed in pink - the same pink that they wore every Friday as a way to help her through the ordeal. She definitely taught us about Meaning this year! Each recipient of the "Team of the Year" was given a different colored gem showing the brilliance in which they shine.

Park Closing
There are always members of the "family" leaving us and moving on - some to stay home on the "mommy track," some leave because their husbands have been transferred. An autographed photograph of the faculty was given to each of the staff leaving. In closing the Principal presented a "Think BIG Pen" to each Imagineer who all agree that they work in the happiest place on Earth.
A New Beginning
Finally we reviewed the year with a themed slide show to the tune of Disney favorites. At the end of the slide show the new theme was announced with a movie in which the principal runs along the wall of China and jumps out of an airplane and parachutes into Chets Creek among other Indiana Jones-type feats. This video will open every day next year. Each grade level will represent a continent: Kindergarten - North America; !st - Australia; 2nd - South America; 3rd - Africa; 4th - Europe; 5th - Asia; Resources - Anartica. We will take a virtual technological journey "Around the World in 180 Days" exploring the wonders of the world celebrating our own Chets Creek as the "eight wonder of the world." What an exciting close for this magical year... and what an amazing beginning for next year!

The Last Day of Kindergarten

The last day of school is a half day for the children of Chets Creek. Teaching to the very end, many kinder teachers had special and fun activities planned for this last day. In the Timmonte's class, for instance, they have been preparing a skit for the last day. Some children have been designing costumes, some have been making the backdrop and still others have been practicing parts. They had their final presentation of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" to thunderous applause!

Mrs. Phillips walks with her 5th grade daughter,
Miller, on her last day
The final minutes of the day are a send-off to celebrate our 5th grade graduates. All of the students, kindergarten through fourth grade, line the halls to "clap out" the senior 5th grade class. "Pomp and Circumstance" is played over the intercom as the 5th graders, led by the Principal, round the halls for the last time. This year is especially meaningful to the Principal as she walks accompanied by her own 5th grade daughter who has been at Chets Creek since kindergarten. It will be the first time that kindergartners have seen this yearly tradition - a tradition that they will grow up in and finally participate in during their own last days at Chets Creek. It's a fitting - and a very emotional - end to a grand elementary school career!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Last Week of School - Kindergarten 2008

What happens the last week of school in a high performing building?

Starting the day with a pancake breakfast
While you will see some cleaning, straightening and organizing in this last week, teachers do not a move ANYTHING until the first day of post planning. You will not see fifth grade boys being used as free labor during this last week or custodians moving furniture and you won't walk into classrooms where the last week's agenda is watching endless movies or having hour long recess. This week is about celebrating all that has been done throughout the year. It's about creating memories.

Writing post cards to patrols
In most kindergarten classes, each day of this final week has a theme such as "Wacky Wednesday," or "Backwards Day" where you wear everything backwards, or "PJs and Pancake Day" where everyone wears pajamas and has pancakes for lunch, or "Crazy Hat Day" where everyone wears the craziest hat they can find, or "Crazy Socks Day" where you wear the craziest socks that you have. Many activities include writing such as writing postcards to patrols who have worked in the class all year or making Father's Day cards or writing directions for how to make those delicious pancakes so mom can make them all summer.

Decorating bags to take
end-of-the-year "stuff" home
Some classes are reflecting back and writing about their favorite kindergarten activity - a final keepsake to remember their first year in school. Some classes are decorating bags or large brown envelopes to take all the end-of-the-year "stuff" home by drawing and writing about the Wacky Olympics held last week. Others are writing thank you notes to the coaches for putting on such an amazing event as Wacky Olympics. Some classes revisit their favorite star books from earlier in the year and put on plays or Readers' Theatre, remembering to use all the intonation and "voices" that they have learned throughout the year.
Readers' Theatre
 Some classes make their own class yearbooks. Teachers bring in one of their own yearbooks and show it to the students and then invite them to draw a portrait-type picture of each of their classmates. They staple the pictures together with the picture pages, a cover and a blank page and on the last day the students go around and collect autographs of all their friends. Regardless, the last week of school is a time to celebrate all of the learning that has taken place and a time to look forward to the break over the summer. It's a week filled with memories, hugs and - can't wait until next year!
My Class Yearbook