Monday, September 21, 2015

Day of Gratitude

As I was driving to work today I heard it was the “National Day of Gratitude”.  Yea, maybe another made-up holiday, but I’m digging this one!

Today was a long day.   Meetings, class after work, grocery store after class.  I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I’m grateful for!

First, my family.  What would I be without my family? They pushed and challenged me as a child and instilled in me to never give up.  No feat was ever too big.  I was going to be successful and I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone tell me differently.  Sure there were obstacles along the way. There were tears.  But with those tears were hugs.  Although my dad is no longer physically with me I know he is still encouraging me every day.  The phone calls from my mom on those rough days make them seem a little easier.  I’m forever grateful for my parents and their love.

My friends are equally as important.  Changing jobs this year was an easy decision professionally, but I knew with leaving to better myself would mean leaving some pretty awesome friends.  I learned that true friends are true friends regardless of where you are every day.  The texts, the cards, the emails; they mean the world to me.  What’s even better is the great friend I made by changing jobs.  My office mate has the biggest heart and she inspires me every day to be a better teacher and a better person.  Her love of her students and her job are unlike anything I’ve seen in education in a very long time!  Love ya G-slice!

My health.  This has been a journey, and continues to be.  As I struggle a bit with crazy hours, I am encouraged daily by texts and Facebook posts by my awesome new running buddies.  The motivation that these people bring proves that “I Can” and for them I am grateful! #NoBo

As you grow older you realize the meaning of friendship too.  It’s not about having 30 friends.  It’s about having a handful that you trust, respect, and admire.  These are the people that inspire you to be better.  I’m so thankful for these friends!  It seems like when you are in need, true friends know – and new friends appear! 

My job and my students.  WOW!  Changing back to the high school was a leap, but do I love it!!!  My students are inspirational.  I love talking with them and making connections with them.  Just today I finally feel I made a “breakthrough” with a student I was struggling to connect with.  I offered my lunch to help her with a history assignment.  I wasn’t sure she’d come – but she did!  We talked and I offered help.  She listened and talked.  As she was leaving she thanked me.  During our time together I suggested she do something.  At the end of the school day she returned to my office and told me she followed through on that suggestion.  THIS is what I love about high school!

My mentors.  This list continues to grow, but it started when I was in elementary school and wanted to be just like my teacher.  It continued in to high school with great teachers.  In college I had a wonderful adviser that said "Hey Jodie, consider taking my special education class next quarter". I grateful for that! In graduate school the first time I was honored to get to work with Dr. Susan Sears.  She will always be in my heart and a second family.  And now - for this second go-around at grad school... The people that I am meeting and learning from will only make me a better person and administrator some day.  So very thankful!!!

So today, or even tomorrow – heck make a week out of it – think about the “National Day of Gratitude” and reflect on what you are thankful for!

"Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot"

Sunday, September 6, 2015

7 vs 17

As an intervention specialist and school counselor I’m licensed to work with students K-12.  A majority of my teaching experience has been teaching special education at the elementary level. These experiences have been in rural districts, suburban districts, and a district with a very high socio-economic status. I was a school counselor at an urban high school for three years, and taught multi-handicapped students at the high school level as well.  I’m currently a high school intervention specialist in a suburban district with great diversity and SES.

What I have found through these experiences is one simple thing.  No matter where you are, all kids are same. 

I know that may seem odd to some.  How are seven year olds like 17 year olds?  How are inner city kids like their rural counterparts?  Easy.  They all have a need to feel wanted, important, valued. They want to be special.  The rule followers or those who you have to dig just a little deeper each day to find that “special” need to feel important. 

For the last eight years I worked at an elementary school.  I had the same student for five years.  FIVE years.  I took time, but I grew to adore this student and understood her special needs.  Her need for love and encouragement.  Her need for breakfast and clothes and school supplies.  Her need for hugs and quiet lunches some days. And now she’s in another school.  A simple call from her the other day literally brought me to tears because she said “Guess what we’re doing in school.  Did you hear about….” Then… “I miss you ”.
Now, I’m at the high school and a student shares that he will be turning 16 the next day.  When I ask him how he will celebrate he responds with a shrug “it’s no big deal”.  SIXTEEN!  Sixteen is a big deal.  I go buy donuts.  We celebrate his sixteen years.  A few days later he stops by my office and said “thanks for those donuts.  Nobody has done that before”.

It’s little things.  Kids want to know you care.  It’s going to a football game, a little league soccer game, a choir performance or even asking about their anime drawings.  Seven or 17; kids are kids.