June 29, 2014

Getting Away...Jamaica

Essentials:  sunglasses, sunblock
and a iPad mini w/the Kindle app

Smooth flight!
I made a promise to myself that I would take some time to myself to relax-relate-release.  This trip was planned since January when Chicago was under several feet of snow and I had reached my patience with bad weather.  

The only place I can truly rejuvenate and rest is in Jamaica.  This school year was really challenging.  Personally I set and achieved many goals that I set.  In some cases, the tasks that had to be completed were so tedious and tested my patience (of which lately I have none!)  Overall I'm happy with the results.
Me and my new
Dr. Dre Beats Headsets

Tumeric Plant
I designated this trip as a 'total learning experience'.  I've done the excursion thing for years so I wanted to try something totally new.  

     Since arriving on June 19th, I learned from the best:  Rastafarians.  This group of often times misunderstood Jamaicans believe is natural living and healing.  Through their instruction, I've learned how to cook steamed spicy Jamaican fish with Callaloo, identify the best plants back home to remedy the common cold and learned how the Tumeric plant and coconut water used together relieves pain.  (yes, my back pain has eased quite a bit!).  Most importantly, their belief of meditation and not 'worrying' about things you don't have any control of is a life lesson.

I had to haggle with a Ratafarian
 to get a good price on this coconut
Another cool thing about this trip is I met a University professor from the UK.  It was really interesting to discuss issues as they pertain to K-12 and higher ed education in our respective countries.  I also owe her greatly because she really calmed me down after I heard about the 1,100 teacher layoffs back in Chicago.  I'm fearful for my job as well as my friends.  I swear this is really tough times!  We go through this every year in my district and it's so disheartening!
My name twin:  Kimberly!

Even though I'm on vacation, I couldn't help visiting a the St. James Parrish Public Library and visiting with a librarian colleague.  Last Friday I volunteered at the Mount Olive Basic School reading books to pre-school children and donated board books for their much needed library.  Sadly, the lack of books in both school and public libraries were dismal and in some cases reminded me of some of the libraries I've visited in the states.  

The Mount Olive Basic School is located in the hills north of Montego  Bay.   The kids were sooooooo cute!  They even sang a little song for me and some of the other volunteers. 

     This experience brought me back to my first teaching assignment of working with young children.   I haven't taught little ones in years so I forgot how 'wiggly' they can be.   One little boy, Wellington, grabbed my iPhone and took some of the pictures you see here.  The pictures came out great, the only problem was I had a hard time getting my phone back!  
Sarah, Wellington and I

Now if I only could meet Usain Bolt, my trip would be complete!

June 26, 2014

SLJ's Leadership Summit 2014

Mark your calendars!  I will be serving as a panelist for the upcoming School Library Journal 'Leadership Summit 2014'.  The summit will be held on Sunday, October 26th in St. Paul, Minnesota.    

For more information, visit the SLJ Leadership website -  SLJ's Leadership Summit 

June 12, 2014

Just Bring Them Back!

First period book return
During this time of the year I have to scramble to to get my books back from my students.  Last year I stopped charging late fees to encourage my students to bring their books back and not keep them out of fear.   So far, the book return has been going very well this year.  Above is a picture of some books that were returned during first period earlier this week.  
Returning a book from his favorite Manga series.
So far it's working but I decided to do something a little different this year.  My students created a PSA about returning library books.  I gave them some basic information and encouraged them to be creative and encourage their peers to return the books in their own voice.   What I appreciate greatly is my students really understand how challenging it is to get all of my books back at the end of the school year.
I guard my precious four library book carts with my life!
The students used iPads and a MacBook Pro to shoot and edit the video.  They also included a funny voice over along with two things that I love:  Bob Marley music and cats.  Intrigued?  The outtakes of the video are hilarious.  The students were really critical about shooting the video and making it just right.  I'm proud of them and they did a great job!  Take a look at this funny presentation.

Support Jermaine Attending EIU

My student Jermaine Lumpkin graduated from Wendell Phillips Academy High School on June 7th with honors.  He was a member of the Phillips Debate, Bowling and Golf Teams during his tenure. Jermaine will be attending Eastern Illinois University this fall, majoring in Biology. 

Jermaine is need of serious financial help. Since the passing of his grandmother, Jermaine's family support and home life has been 'less than desirable'.  Despite these challenges, Jermaine has kept his grades up and continued to maintain a positive attitude.  His relatives did not attend graduation nor are they supporting his dream of attending college. Essentially Jermaine is on his own.  

My co-workers will be driving Jermaine to campus later this summer to begin a early bird program for freshman students. Currently we are organizing a Trunk Party for Jermaine that is scheduled for Friday, June 13th at Wendell Phillips Academy High School.  I along with many others at Phillips believe that this young man can make it!  Jermaine is an example of the 'good' that is produced out of the Englewood neighborhood.  At this time, Jermaine needs some support getting on his feet and beginning the next chapter of his life.

If you can assist and/or encourage friends, family/church members or organizations to donate the following items or gift cards, that would be wonderful! Items needed are toiletries, school supplies, and clothing (t-shirt - L, pants - 32-34, shoes - size 12).  These items are not covered by his partial scholarships he has been awarded.  

The school's address is:
Wendell Phillips Academy High School
244 East Pershing Road
Chicago, IL  60653
Attention:  Jermaine Lumpkin

If you have any questions, please contact me directly at 773/535-0315.

June 10, 2014

The Sweetest Thing

I want this for my next birthday party. These sweet streets are so divine!