Sunday, April 27, 2014


Shameless plug alert!

My crazy wonderful fourth graders
Cardinal students are some of the most caring, considerate and loving people I have ever known. This dynamic school district has felt some major heartache, and has faced some trials educators, parents and community members hope to never experience. Yet, the team of students, teachers, administrators and community members band together when things are tough and find a way to come out on top.

A few of our AMAZING families
Culture and climate are things that usually take a hit when times get tough or when tragedy strikes.Yet, Cardinal has found a way to see the sunshine through the darkness because our leaders, parents and community members have helped create a positive environment. Cardinal is not just a community of learners and educators it is a family full of love, hope, passion and empathy.  

Our culture is one of solution-oriented conversations, and a powerful and engaging education. We are a team who embrace and then learn from our mistakes. I see greatness in our kids daily, and at least 2-3 times a day I am choked up by random acts of kindness.  Many times I think our kids could be role models to the world with their kindness, compassion and the choices they make when it comes to caring for one another.  Cardinal is a school full of emotional intelligence, and it is evident if you walk through the halls and just listen.

This week there were many specific examples of true character shining through.  A few of the tearjerker moments were pointed out through comments by community members noticing how great Cardinal students really are. On more than one occasion the students humbled the people who were blessed to have witnessed the act.  

Sharing during reading time.
Marvelous Monday: A teeny student was struggling to tie her shoe in the bathroom doorway, as I was walking by I saw her knelt in frustration. Before I could step in, an older student, started out of the bathroom. She stopped and monitored the situation for a second. Then approached the younger student and asked if she could help. The little face peered up with admiration as the skilled fingers of the older student looped, swopped and pulled.  The smiles on both faces were priceless, and a bond was created over a tricky shoelace.

Check this out! 
Terrific Tuesday: During a math lesson tears began to fall when one student could not figure out how to use a transparent mirror to move an image. Another student, across the room, noticed the distress and walked over to assist quietly. The helper explained how she too was confused at first, but realized the mirror needed to be turned so the recessed edge was pressed on the paper. Then she further explained how to look to find the image and walk it around the paper. She modeled, then they did one together, and then she asked her “protégé” to try one on her own. Once the “teacher” made sure the student understood, she returned to her own work. The amazing feeling I felt inside was indescribable, and unforgettable.

Reading to Someone
Wonderful Wednesday: During Readers Theater students were performing in front of their peers. One struggling reader looked pained and worried as they took the “stage.” A really strong reader shuffled into place beside him. Then as the play began I realized I was not needed to cue lines, for a helpful friend was already doing it quietly in his ear. It was done in a discreet manner and did not draw attention to the weakness. Instead it sent a message to others about what it takes to work as a team.

Helping decode some words
Thoughtful Thursday: The rumor mill had started and students were anxious as they learned of an accident. Instead of making a big scene I heard many students asking others to pray for some fellow Comets.  All throughout the day they worked hard to remind each other of respectful behavior and continued to show what it takes to be considerate citizens. 

Spencer is excited to blow up his volcano.
Fuzzy Friday: This is a day we all normally enjoy greatly. We write a note to a teacher who has made us feel welcome or loved in the building, and classmates who have made our week. However, this Friday morning the mood was not as festive, as we learned there was great heartache in the soul of our community. Yet, the kids reminded each other to not spread rumors, and to respect the family.  Their kindness was touching, and the conversations were silenced respectfully.
Later that afternoon, a student from a neighboring district came to visit Cardinal.  He wanted to check it out for a possibility of open enrollment next year. I handed the microphone over to the students and told them to explain why Cardinal is so great. The responses were immediate and spoke volumes for our community. 
“ We have no bullies here.”
“If there is a bully we will stop it, and talk to both you and the bully.”
“The teachers really care.”
“Learning is fun here, and we get to use a lot of technology.”
“We have Skyped with 31 other places this year, so we have many opportunities to “get out” of the building.”
“Everyone makes you feel welcome.”
Mrs. Gardner and the 4th Grade Bully Busters 
Hopefully, this young man and his family will make a new home at Cardinal, but either way I pray he felt the welcome tone the students expressed.

Splendid Saturday was prom. There were so many great comments about how mature the students were in decorating, and the amazing janitorial staff creating a BEAUTIFUL campus for the night. I also heard positive comments about the businesses that donated materials and prizes for the after prom. Parents were helpful and respectful as they filed in to help, set up, and take photos to savor memories for years to come.
The promenade was gorgeous, and the hard work of the advisors, and prom committee was evident and well worth the time and effort it took to create.  During promenade, a crowd member noticed a special needs student was in need of a chair. Before an adult could respond he was given a chair by a Comet, who shrugged off the kindness by saying, “ I didn’t need a chair.”

Though, no one will forget the crowning of the King and Queen. As the crown was placed on the head of our beautiful queen every single student rose to their feet.  The king knelt beside the queen’s wheelchair for pictures as cameras flashed and cheers amongst sniffles swept across the gym. The king then gave his crown to the queen’s date.  This was just another shining example of the amazing individuals we have at Cardinal. 

Prom Court 
Prom Queen and King

There are so many wonderful things happening at this district, but do not take my word for it. Come on down to Eldon, Iowa and take a short tour. See our clean and welcoming facilities, and well-kept grounds. Talk to the students, observe their spirit, and allow the humble kindness of our kids to restore your faith in humanity.  You will become a believer very quickly, and you will understand why, “We Are Cardinal!”