Saturday, November 15, 2014

American Education Week : Celebrate an Educator

Mark your calendars for American Education Week, scheduled for Nov. 17-21, 2014. The weeklong celebration presents opportunities to celebrate public education and honor the teachers who make a difference in the lives of children in classrooms across America. 

Fun fact: The first observance of American Education Week took place in Dec. 1921.   

Flourishing In Education By: Alecia Gardner
Who do you consider an educator? I have studied, researched, and my ideas have evolved throughout the years in trying to answer this question. I have even written a book on the subject of the difference in a teacher and an educator. However, one of the best definitions I have found came from Sr. Geralyn Schmidt, "An educator coaches individuals to become what is essential — to develop into human beings who are fully alive." 

Education has been deemed a thankless career field, with consistently low pay. However, there is no greater payment in the world than seeing students succeed.  True educators see the thanks in the smiles, hugs, and shouts of excitement. We embrace the joy that comes when a child "gets it," for the first time. We celebrate the small victories, and look at failure as a chance to grow. Educators do not give up even when a student has thrown in the towel.  Instead we research, design, plan and come up with another way to make a connection. 

I know from personal experience, an educator can change your life forever. Mrs. Frederick, my first grade teacher, taught me about what it means to be an educator during a terrible time in my life.  (Read more about The Moment I became an Educator). When I had thrown in the towel she was there to show me how to get back in the game. She taught me that education means more than just lesson planning, instructional strategies and assessments. Education is about developing relationships, and creating opportunities for students to become who God intended them to be. 

I know at Cardinal Community School District we embrace Schmidt's definition of an educator. We have a wonderful community of learners and educators within our district.  

So, this week as we celebrate National Education Week, we will have activities, thank you cards/letters and goodies for parents, support staff, teachers, paraeducators, secretaries, bus drivers, janitors, and substitutes to enjoy. We will celebrate their dedication and commitment to our students and to each other. 

 I extend a challenge to all who read this blog post to share it, comment with the name(s) of your favorite educator(s), and contact an educator in your life to thank him or her for helping you become "fully alive." Let's see how many educators we can impact this week with a simple act of kindness for the countless hours they have dedicated to developing "human beings who are fully alive." 

Monday :Kick Off Day
Tuesday: Parent Day
Wednesday: Support Staff Day
Thursday: Educators Day
Friday:Substitute Educator Day

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Preparing for Veterans Day

November 11th is Veterans Day and Cardinal students, staff and community are preparing for the big assembly we have every year. The teachers are all developing lessons, activities, and sharing information about what Veterans Day really means. Students are feverishly working on the annual coloring and writing contests hosted by the Student Council. The entire district is discussing the importance of freedom and sharing why they are so thankful for veterans.  It is a time of great pride and patriotism as we think of ways to show the love and respect we have for the veterans in our community and in our lives. 

As a military wife, I know all too well the sacrifice that families and soldiers make to ensure we can be free to hold ceremonies like this one. However, this year the Cardinal community has a new level of understanding of the word sacrifice. This year we will be honoring all our veterans,  and paying a special tribute to a fallen soldier and Cardinal graduate, who was killed in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Our hearts are heavy with the loss, but our souls are thankful for the protection these brave men and women offer.  So, as we prepare for this day we ask that you take a moment to thank a veteran, and lift up a word of prayer to honor their service so that Americans may live in peace. If you cannot make it to the Cardinal Community School District's ceremony on November 11th at 1:30-2:30 at least take the time to read and share the story of Lance Corporal Adam Wolff  below. 

There are days when words are not enough. Even the most reverent and noble of our language falls short of the emotions tied to them.  Words often seem pointless in the middle of heartache and tragedy. The only words that seem to matter are those we can feel, but cannot fully explain.    This week our community has learned that the words we lack in times of great sorrow are lived instead of spoken; through acts of faith, hope and love. 

FAITH: It is easy in a world of pain, war, and chaos to lose faith in humanity. Yet, today, as I passed thousands of flags honoring the ultimate sacrifice of a brave marine, beloved son,  caring brother, trusted friend, and a Cardinal graduate, my faith was restored.   Lance Corporal Adam Wolff was laid to rest after making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. There is nothing we can say to express how humbled, honored, and saddened we are for the loss his family has endured. 

However, the acts of faith this community pledged were evident. The streets were lined with flags, the
 Patriot Guard Riders escorted him "home," and local fire departments, schools, churches, and community members stood together to show their respect for this fallen marine and his family.  The despondency we feel as a community, who were reminded that freedom is not free, is immeasurable.  

Yet, there is faith lurking behind each tear, for we are reminded that it is through the love of Jesus we are redeemed.  We know that this soldier is free from the burden of earth's toils, and is now a soldier in Christ. It is only through our faith that we can truly understand and honor the sacrifice of a life lost for a cause greater than ourselves.  Your community salutes you, Lance Corporal Adam Wolff, as the Lord welcomes you home.  Your sacrifice has reminded all of us that we must have faith in each other, and faith that we can make this world a better place to live together. 1 Corinthians 16:13 we will "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong." 

HOPE:  How do you tell a mom her son will not be coming home. How do share with a family that there will be one loved one missing at the next holiday gathering. How do you battle back from the heartache that fills your soul with a darkness no one can comprehend unless they have "been there?" Words are not always the answer, but finding hope in the times of tribulation can solve the greatest mysteries of this life. Sometimes it is less about offering words that fall short and more about the way we stand together to support our "brothers and sisters." You do not have to know the family to pray or to offer support in other ways. You can spread the hope of the Lord's promise with acts of kindness and love. A meal, a donation or a prayer can offer greater hope than you may realize. As believers we are to leave behind a world filled with more light than darkness. We do this through our never ending fight to offer hope to those who need it. Romans 5:2-5 : "Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." 

Love: You cannot love without sacrifice. When you love your soul feels what words cannot express. Husbands and wives feel this love in the little things; a gentle caress of the hand, a hug out of the blue, or a smile felt deeper than the heart.  The love of a parent cannot be explained before you experience it. For, there is no greater earthly love than the feel of your own child being placed in your arms for the first time. John 15:13 states; "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Our community recognized that kind of love through the sacrifice of Lance Corporal Adam Wolff.  However, the love of your creator trumps it all. His love for us is so great that only He can quantify it.  Through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ He rescued us all from death. His love touches the hearts of those who are suffering and brings them peace beyond understanding. Therefore, I believe God is there with the families who are experiencing pain within their hearts and souls tonight.  I also know that this community has joined in faith, hope and love to support them this week, in ways that were pleasing to God. I just pray that it continues, and we do whatever we can to make sure the sacrifice of a hero and the loved ones of a spirited man are not forgotten. For I know there is honor in our hearts if we remember 1 Thessalonians 1:3: "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." 

In the darkness be the light, and in all you do honor the Lord.  So, live today as if it is your last day on earth. Hug your kids, kiss them, and tell them you love them. Forgive, Forgive, and Forgive some more.  Do not be afraid to make mistakes, be afraid of living a life without learning from them. Call an old friend or fix a broken relationship. Breakout the fancy china, get dressed up and have dinner with your family. Or, have a picnic in the living room and eat dessert first. Whatever you do, I pray you do it with faith, hope and love.  And when you lay down your head tonight I pray you lift up the families who need God's healing and comfort right now.   

Please share this blog, and donate in honor of the words this community has spoken through their acts of faith, hope and love.  

Above all else remember 1 Corinthians 13:13: 
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."