Monday, September 22, 2008

Warm Cookies

We are four weeks into the school year and I find myself asking "What happened to the BACK TO SCHOOL frenzy?" Where were the ubiquitous television and print ads hawking the latest 'must have' items for teens in the know? How did I escape the crowds at STAPLES where bewildered parents ushered their reluctant children through the abundantly stocked aisles in pursuit of notebooks, pens and all things Hannah Montana? It must have have happened. As the Grinch knows, there is no stopping Christmas and there is certainly no stopping that similar consumer onslaught that BACK TO SCHOOL sales engender.

It came and went, yet the craziness somehow passed me by. This was a gentler, kinder, calmer beginning. A start to a new year marked by the slow pace of someone who had the confidence and experience to realize that all will unfold in its proper time. It was not a bad place in which to find myself.

Instead of rushing through my days with a singular focus, or sequential unfolding foci that require running from one thing to another, I took time to enjoy the 'warm cookie' moments.

These are moments that allow you to partake in the greatest treasure we have - one another. If we think back to our childhoods I think all of us can identify several precious moments that we now hold dear but that were just ordinary moments at the time. Perspective changes as we get older doesn't it.

My friend Patti wrote me on the first day of this school year wishing me well and sharing her thoughts about sending her children off to school. With her permission I'd like to include part of her email:

Today, the first day of school, is always special to me. I try and make it special for the kids also. My oldest Anna is off at 6:40 am, so I made her breakfast and just chatted about what to expect. It was a special time for me. Calli was off at 8:55 am, and now I am at work for a bit. Can't wait to hear all the stories of day 1 for both of them over milk and warm cookies (yes, I am a geek) Warm cookies are always a first day of school affair.

Her daughters may not know it now but these are the days my friend (we thought they'd never end...) I can clearly see my younger self tearing off the school bus and running home to tell my mom all about my first day of school - thanks for listening mom!

This is what BACK TO SCHOOL should be, at least in my opinion. The warm cookie moments are the moments to remember. I am sure the big hearted Grinch would agree.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Victory

I Love New York!

or rather...

NYC is chock full o' amazing opportunities for school children and I am of the opinion that it is my honor/duty as an educator to provide my students with the means to take advantage of as many of them as possible. If you are going to attend classes in this cultural wonderland why not partake of its majestic parks, wondrous museums and captivating theater?

In the past I have taken my students to see several shows including Peter Pan at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. We went to see The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley last December and attended a children's theater performance of The Adventures of Curious George at The Town Hall in the heart of New York's theater district.

But for each of these shows I have had to figure out a way to raise the bucks to fund the outing or jump through hoops to acquire the script to give to the sign language interpreters. This was all a hassle, to be sure, but one that seemed worth it while the children's excitement grew as the day of the show drew nearer. The troubles I went through to bring them to their seats were forgotten when the curtain rose, but when it came time to plan another outing those memories came flooding back. I'd tell myself to take a deep breath and dive into the paperwork again.

So, imagine my delight when I discovered The New Victory Theater Education Program. This is a ridiculously affordable theater experience at the gorgeously restored New Victory Theater on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Their Education Partnership Program includes "$2 tickets to education performances, free New Vic in the classroom workshops, free New Vic SCHOOL TOOL resource guides and free seasonal teacher institutes" and each of the 15 shows in the 2008/09 season includes a sign language interpreted performance! Who could ask for anything more?

There is a $100 enrollment fee which my gracious and supportive principal Rebecca is paying. That covers the entire school for the next year. And to top it all off the contact person at the New Vic is Jonathan Shmidt - Education Associate. He has made this process extremely smooth for me. I give him a great big heartfelt "Thank You!"

The first show we are attending on September 16th is based on the children's book Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox. Jonathan was able to arrange it so that our entire kindergarten and first grade could acquire last minute tickets (yippee!).

This show is done with puppets while other titles in the season range from circus performances to comedy, variety and music/dance. It seems to be a brilliantly diverse offering of shows that reflects the colors of our exciting city. I heart New York indeed!


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