Friday, August 16, 2019

New Beginnings

The start of the school year elicits so many thoughts and feelings. For teachers, it means that it's time to go back to work. For students, the days of sleeping until noon every day are over. For parents, it means that the house will be cleaner and quieter.

As I begin my 27th year in this business that we call education, the start of the school year is a new beginning. We (along with pro athletes) have unique jobs in that our "season" has a definitive beginning in August and a clear end in May. A school year is like a distance run in that we have to pace ourselves so that we finish strong in May.

On August 20th, approximately 1,170 kids will show up at WGMS. Let's make them feel welcome and let them know that we care. Let's make this the best school year they've ever had.

Upcoming Events
20 - Soda Social, 4:10pm, library - Come and enjoy an ice cold drink after your first day!
21 - District-Wide Faculty Meeting, 4:15,
27 - Volleyball Parent Meeting, 5:00, Main Gym
27 - Cross Country Parent Meeting, 5:30, Cafeteria
27 - Meet the Teacher Night, 6:30 - 8:30
28 - Faculty Meeting, 4:10, library
29 - School Picture Day, Social Studies classes

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Finish Line!

Being an educator is unique in that our jobs have a definitive beginning and ending. It's kind of like running a marathon - in August, the starter's gun goes off; at the end of May, the finish line appears. During those months, school really is similar to a race - sometimes you feel great, and at other times, you feel like you may not make it to the finish. At times, the course is smooth and straight, even sloped downhill, and at others, uphill with obstacles.

The good news is that the finish line for the 2018-19 school year is within sight. Please know that despite the difficulties and challenges of the "race," this has been an incredible school year. Our teachers and staff impacted 1,135 kids this year. Your hard work, your love for our kids, and your commitment to service helped them to learn and to grow in ways we don't even understand yet. I can only imagine the things that WGMS students will accomplish in life because of each of you. I always tell our students - you are the .... And the students always respond, "The best!" To you, teachers, you are the BEST!

Therefore, I want each of you to celebrate as you cross the finish line on May 30th. Please rest as much as possible over the summer. Take a trip. Sleep in. Eat some great food. Enjoy family and friends. Learn something new that you can use to make you an even better teacher or para for the 19-20 marathon, uh, school year!

Upcoming Events
20 - 8th Grade Field Day
21 - 6th Grade Choir @ Midtown Assisted Living
21 - Sharon Sheridan retirement party, library, 4:00
22 - Inside Midlothian group to tour WGMS, 8:30 - 10:00
22 - Ice Cream Social, 4:00 - 5:00, cafeteria
24 - Choir @ Six Flags
24 - Cupp's Kids
24 - 8th Grade Dinner Dance, 7:00 - 10:00
25 - Mr. WGMS Pageant, 5:00 - 7:00, cafeteria
27 - Memorial Day - no school
29 - Exams for periods 1,3,5,&7, release at 3:55
30 - Exams for periods 2,4,&6, release at 1:55
30 - Staff awards and lunch or dinner, whichever you prefer, 2:30

Friday, May 3, 2019

Guest Blogger - Kathleen Miller

Memory Bouquets and Do-Overs

A favorite line of mine from a Three Dog Night song is, “I’ve got pieces of April. I keep them in a memory bouquet. I’ve got pieces of April, but it’s a morning in May.”  
As teachers, it is natural for us to reflect and create “memory bouquets” at the end of each school year.

First in my memory bouquet of celebration is WGMS and those of us who have been here from day one. (August 2005): Mr. Blackwell, myself, Genevieve, Jason S., Carrie, Tamie, Clark, Rita, Carol, Audrey, April, Darla, and Sharon.

Sharon Sheridan is completing her memory bouquet this year with retirement!  Sharon has been the cornerstone of 6th grade ELAR from day one and cannot be replaced. We have all reaped the rewards of Sharon’s hard work with reading, writing, parts of speech, and character development. She looks forward to traveling with her husband and spending time with her grandson, Walter. Sharon got emotional when telling me what she will miss most about teaching.  She will miss being in the classroom working with students and will most remember those “lightbulb” moments when a child ‘gets it’ and Sharon knows he will take that new knowledge with him forever.

I will add to my own bouquet for 2018-19 the positive vibe Mrs. Woolery brings to the building. My heart is happy when I see Carly pushing her cart around spreading Motivational Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays, and taking selfies with tons of students. I also celebrate Mrs. Marable and the impact she has on our students daily. I celebrate the love I have for my comrades, the support we give each other in the hard times, and the way we affirm each other's accomplishments.

The most wonderful thing about being a teacher is that we get a do-over every single year! We reflect on both the good and not-so-good, and we get a fresh start each August to change something or everything! Nathan Pettijohn confirmed this idea by sharing that his favorite month of the year is May. In May Nathan gets excited about the upcoming school year and recreating everything about his curriculum.

So, here we are, my fellow educators, and it is a morning in May.  What will you put in your memory bouquet?

Upcoming Events
6-10 - Teacher Appreciation Week!
7 - 8th Grade core teachers meeting (exam exemptions), 4:00, library
8 - School Nurse's Day!
9 - NJHS Induction, 6:30, cafeteria
10 - Aim for Success assemblies, 7th Science classes
10 - Teacher Appreciation Luncheon, all lunches, CBI room
10 - Choir concert, 7:00, cafeteria
11 - Choir concerts, 1:00 and 7:00
13 - STAAR Math, 6th and 7th grades, 2nd admin 8th Math
14 - STAAR Reading, 6th and 7th grades, 2nd admin 8th Reading
15 - STAAR Science Test, 8th Grade
16 - STAAR S.S. Test, 8th Grade
17 - Cupp's Kids
17 - Field Day, 6th and 7th grades

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Love Languages

Years ago, my wife gave me a book to read called, The 5 Love Languages. The main premise of this book is that all people respond to at least one "language" as it pertains to relationships. I read it with an open mind and learned lots about my wife and about relationships in general. The love languages discussed in the book are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

I also learned that these love languages are important in every relationship that I have, not just with my wife. They extend to my relationship with my daughter. They extend to my co-workers. As an educator, they even relate to my students. As I thought about how the book relates to students, I imagined the following ways that we can "speak" students' languages:

Words of Affirmation - bragging on students, verbal praise, recognizing a job well done, telling them how happy you are to have them in your class.

Physical Touch - high fives, handshakes, fist bumps, pats on the back, and side hugs.

Quality Time - attending their school events, spending extra time to help with assignments, holding conversations with them, listening to them.

Gifts - a piece of candy for a job well-done, a donut on their birthday, school supplies if they need them.

Acts of Service - Opening a door for them, helping them with a problem, tutoring them.

Don't get me wrong, our school does an incredible job of building great relationships with students. But, I wonder what would happen if we all worked even harder to get to know our kids and what language they speak?

Upcoming Events
23 - Tennis vs. Cleburne, away, 4:30
23 - Soccer vs. Coleman/Finley, boys home, girls away, 5:30
24 - Administrative Professionals Day
25 - PTV Luncheon, Taco Bar, CBI room, all lunches
29 - Tennis vs. FSMS, away, 4:30
29 - Progress reports go home
30 - Faculty meeting, 4:00, library

1 - Elementary 5th grade tours, Baxter @ 9:00, LBE @ 10:15

Friday, April 5, 2019

Guest Blogger, David Fontenot - Imagine What You Need for Your Future Destination

The changing world is searching for skills that go beyond the ability of traditional educational practices.  The careers our current students are preparing for may not even exist yet. I have always wanted students to be able to create for themselves, solve problems, overcome challenges, and work successfully as a team more than I have wanted them to simply make an “A” on a test.  Destination Imagination is one of the extracurricular activities that teach tomorrow’s skills today.

This year I was able to watch as Walnut Grove’s own Destination Imagination Team, the Pickle Unicorns, won first place in a regional competition with an almost perfect score before medaling in the second round at state; thus earning the opportunity to compete globally in Kansas City, Missouri, next month.  WGMS sixth graders Haley Hamilton, Julia Wigington, Nicholas May, Emmy Guynes, Allegra Maggiora, and Tate Newman make up the Pickle Unicorn team who are applying the skills of the future.

Destination Imagination is a project based school program which encourages students from around the world to compete in the application of team building skills, problem-solving, and innovation. Open-ended challenges allow student-led teams to plan, create, and apply solutions. Haley Hamilton describes what she has learned in DI, “It has taught me how to work with a team, friendship, and out of the box thinking.”  “Creative problem solving is the main part of it,” says Julia Wigington. “It has taught me thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork,” adds Allegra Maggiora.  

The Pickle Unicorns have had to face challenges along the way as one of the youngest teams in their division. Emmy Guynes describes their team as,  “We are 6th graders competing against a bunch of 8th graders.“ “We are Davids facing the Goliaths,” Nicholas May adds. Despite adversities, Brennon Kate Johnson believes, “DI has taught me friendship, and I have grown very close to all of them.”  

Tate Newman speaks about the Pickle Unicorns future, “We have already made it as far as we possibly could in this competition, to globals, but we are not done yet.”

Upcoming Events
8 - 6th Six Weeks begins
9 - STAAR Writing (7th), Math (8th)
10 - STAAR Reading (8th)
11 - 6th No Zeroes, 3:15
11 - Soccer vs. FSMS, boys home, girls away, 5:30
12 - 7th No Zeroes, 3:15
15 - 8th No Zeroes, 3:15
15 - Faculty Meeting for all staff, 4:00, library
15 - Tennis @ Corsicana, 4:00
16 - Soccer vs. Coleman, boys home, girls away, 6:45

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Power of Paras

I'd like to spend my time on this edition of Cat Tales bragging on and highlighting one of the most important groups of people on our awesome staff: the paraprofessionals of WGMS. Imagine one school day or even one hour without our teacher's aides and office staff. I can tell you now that the operation of this finely tuned school machine would come to a screeching halt if that happened. I would not want to be present for that.

Our paraprofessionals do so much for our school. Many come in early to do morning duty so that our teachers can tutor before school. They help kids in every content area by patiently helping them with their work. Our office ladies work in a hectic, crazy busy environment - juggling phone calls, parents who show up, delivering lunches, getting notes to kids, scanning in visitors, all while taking care of kids, teachers, and principals. In short, our school simply could not function without our teacher's aides and office staff.

So, if you're reading this and you are a WGMS para, please accept a most sincere thank you from all of us. You are the best of the best!

Upcoming Events
25 - Faculty Meeting, library, 4:00. Teachers will be doing BrightBytes Survey
27 - STAAR Training, conference periods
27 - Students take BrightBytes Survey in S.S. classes
28 - Symphonic Band at UIL, 3:15, @ CHHS
29 - Choir Lock In, 8:00 pm

1 - Tennis vs. Kaufman, 4:00, @ Heritage
5 - End of 5th Six Weeks
5 - Cupp's Kids
5 - Honor Band at UIL, 1:55, @ ROHS

Friday, March 1, 2019

Heart for the Homeless

One of the things that I want our students to learn at WGMS is how to love and serve others.  I want them to know that the happiest people on earth are those put other's needs ahead of their own. Sixth grader, Chase Jones, has already mastered all of the above.

Chase developed a heart for homeless people when he was a young boy. He developed his concern for them  one day when he was thinking about their plight while hanging out in his room. He had seen homeless people, living on the streets or in tents when he visited the city, and heart went out to them.

Chase then approached his mom, Shelonda Jones, and told her about how he was feeling. His mom then asked him if he wanted to help. He and Mrs. Jones then started collecting food, towels, toiletries, clothes, and gloves to give to needy people on the streets. They have even started their own 501(c)3 to collect funds to buy items for the homeless, and named it Chase's Heart.

Jones has made many personal sacrifices in order to help others. He has taken his own money, given to him as a gift, to purchase items for the needy. He has done yard work and other chores to raise money for the less fortunate. Chase has even sacrificed his own Christmas in order to have money to feed the homeless.

Chase also provides meals for those living on the streets. On his first outing to feed the needy, he provided meals for 227 people! His goal is to feed 500 or more at one time! WGMS is a special place because of incredible kids like Chase Jones!

Upcoming Events
4 - 7th Grade No Zeroes Party, 3:15, cafeteria
5 - 8th Grade No Zeroes Party, 3:15, cafeteria
7 - Faculty meeting, STAAR area teachers only, 4:00, library
8 - Cupp's Kids
8 - Aim for Success Assemblies, 8th Science classes
8 - 8th Grade Band Lock in, 6:00
11 - 15 - Spring Break
18 - Progress reports go home for the 5th Six Weeks
18 - Middle School # 3 Groundbreaking, 4:30, at job site
21 - Sonic Drink Day, compliments of parent volunteers, conference room
21 - Band Concert, 6:00, @ MHS Auditorium
23 - Wildcat Dancer Spring Show, 7:00, @ MHS Auditorium