Friday, June 24, 2011

The End/Beginning

Hello Friends,
This blog has come to its natural end...but not to worry, I have started a new one for the next big adventure in my life.  It is called  HomeBuilding Countdown.  Here's the address:
I sure hope you will join me in this next journey.  I have so much enjoyed your encouragement and comments as I worked through my last year of teaching.  Really.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Retirement Party: part 2-The Photos

Here we go...
The morning started with free Zumba for everyone in honor of Samantha and I...

Yes.  The one in the middle is the instructor!
(and the author of my retirement did read it, right?)

Then on to decorating.  It's a party.   Must have balloons...
Here they are escaping out of my car...

Safely grasped!

And tied to the fence to lead the way in.
The building in the back used to be the BOE building,
and both of us were hired in that building...full circle!

We went with a Metamorphosis theme and monarch butterflies are the ones that we raised each fall in our classroom. These butterflies were to write us a note and hang on the tree.
The tree has been part of our classroom for many many years.

We decorated it each season.
When we took it back to school after the party on Saturday, it got put in the main hallway. By the time I got there Monday morning it was gone...trash. sigh.
Maybe just as well, because I would have had trouble throwing it away myself...

These were the directions we left on every table
and most were followed very nicely!

Amy brought cupcakes. Connie and I made cupcake toppers that looked as good as the cupcakes tasted...if I do say so my own self.
Need any for a party????
We got milkweed seeds to pass out to everyone.
They had this note from us about our career in helping all those little ones "become"....
"For our entire careers, we have believed in, encouraged and witnessed the power and magic of transformation.  We have seen many 'caterpillars' turn into butterfles!
Plant these seeds, each of you, to encourage others
to BECOME all that they are meant to be. 
Think of us when you see a monarch..."
Finally, we both took a great school picture.
Good thing, since there won't be any more of those.
Beautiful magnolia's from Claudia's own yard.
Some of my most favorite "big kids"
who could have been anywhere on a Saturday,
but came to see us...awwww.

My most favorite teacher to be.
I feel good about leaving things in the hands of upcoming teachers like Jen.
Oh, and you can get a glimpse, over our shoulders, of the slide show that Connie put together.

And always remember:

And this, I believe, is the end of this blog.  Thanks for joining me in the joyful journey! 
Next up....Home Building Countdown!  Is that really retirement?
Love, Donna

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Graduation

I'm off to Charlotte today to see my sweet niece, Chelsea, graduate from the Arts Institute.  She has worked hard for this and I am so proud of her.  She requested a woolie...doesn't that warm an Auntie's heart?  Here she is...the woolie, not Chelsea!
The cap and gown are scrapbook thingies.

That's a happy face!
Yikes.  You can see things up this close....
And here she is matted. 
She will go in an 11x14 black frame,
but I can't get a picture of that with the glass in.

Hope she likes her.
And knows how much I love her.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gift of Words

From my good friend, Karyn, whose daughter, was in my class this year and who is a strong woman of faith and an English, she gets it.  She really gets it and I cry, still, each time I read this.  Amazed, yet again.
Get your towel ready for some sweating eyes.

The classroom is empty and silent
The remnants of the day are scattered throughout
Children are gone, but the work remains
It's an unlikely mission field.
For years she has toiled here
Carefully preparing and repairing little hearts and minds
Too soon hardened by this world
Planting seeds of love and knowledge
Watering with compassion
Inspiring growth
Feeding with truth and patience
Protecting these tiny sprouts from the predators of doubt and neglect.
For a season they are hers
Prior to sending them out to nourish a world that is starving.
A lifetime of harvests she has reaped
Surveying the field one final time she wonders...
She does not fear their future without her.
She knows she has prepared them well.
As she turns the lights off in the room one last time,
Her children, far too numerous to count,
rise, and call her BLESSED.

Gotta go get my towel. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Retirement Party:part 1

I am sitting here so very humbled and amazed. 
People came to the party.
The smiles were plentiful.
The hugs warm.
The wishes for happiness even warmer.
The food was great.

I loved seeing so many friends. 
I loved seeing a group of my college age kids sitting together and remembering...and laughing at the photos of themselves as tiny ones.
I loved the affirmations of a job well done.
I loved when Greyson, as serious as could be, said, "You're really retiring?  But, I am going to miss you." 
Then my eyes started to sweat!

I read the sweetest notes on the butterflies that they hung on our tree...
-You are a good a artist.
-I miss you.  I love you.
-I'm so glad I was in your class.  Good jod, Mrs. Lohr
-I loved this class all the time.
Dang sweaty eyes!

The butterfly notes from the college kids were just as sweet and quite a bit longer.  They didn't have to come.  They didn't have to tell me I made a difference.  
One of the darlings brought a picture of us from her kindergarten days, still in the little frame we made for it.  I had a matching one on the photo board!
One of the other little darlings...well, actually quite large darlings with facial hair and a girl friend, but still adorable, came up to me as he was leaving and said as he opened his arms. "I'm only doing this once!" 

I am tired.
I am happy.
I made a difference.

I still have gifts to open.

There were so many pictures taken, but I am too tired to do that bit now...can you wait?  Please.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Packing a Career

So, it has been a long couple of days trying to pack up my teaching career.  I have been touching all my stuff and thinking and remembering...and deciding if it stays or goes with me.
What?  Why would it go with me you ask....
It's my stuff.  I have used it and loved it and seen kids learn with it and have fun.
Who else will it be important to?  Everyone has their own way...not as good as my way, of course, but still - oh, just kidding!  I absolutely cannot stand the idea of my good stuff getting tossed.  Can't stand it at all.  So, I am packing.
Also, I might like to teach a college course or help with homeschoolers somehow or give it all to my neice who says she is going to be a teacher or if all else fails, get it packaged prettily and sell it to someone else who will love and use it...and I can go places...Slovenia, places.
Who else will love the shiny colors and round circles?  Who else will want to see the joy in kid's faces as they put them over their eyes to see the world in new colors or when they double them up to make new colors...what happy dicoveries.

Who else will see the world of possibilities in a tin of used crayons?  And boy oh boy, do I wish you could smell the smell when I open that huge tin.  As powerful as the mimeo smell.  Different entirely, but just as powerful.

I am making progress.  Don't you love how it always looks worse first?  The stacks are books that have my name in them...LOVE kids books.  Can't leave them behind.  Can't.  And this is just one of the sections of stacks...yikes.  :-)

Did find these lovely stacking boxes that are sturdy and see through.  Of course they aren't quite wide enough for two books...I'm thinking I need some smaller ones so I can have "collections"...yes.  That's the ticket.

And then there's the other stuff that doesn't stack all that well. Sigh.

And, OH, the stuff you find...spiders (yes, I know he only has six legs, but I could not squeeze another pipe cleaner in the bead hole, but he is still awfully cute) AND ... well, the hair! 

I am going to work on being that skinny again, though...
So, I am not done with the packing and perhaps I will show you the completed look in a couple of days.  Got a party to decorate for and attend first!

Interesting that new beginnings are always attached to endings....interesting and full.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zero Days Left

I have never been emotional about the last day of school really. I figure I have spent the entire year getting them ready to go on to first grade with confidence. If they leave me smiling and feeling on top of the world then I have done my job well.
Today, they left smiling, happy and ready to take on first grade.

There were a couple of moments...mothers saying thank-you almost always does me in.
One of our wonderful 5th grade teachers has her kids write thank you cards to all the teachers that they believe have helped them get to where they are...ready to go to middle school...and then they take a Victory Lap around the school and deliver their cards. I got 3 from her students that I had in Kindergarten!
One of my little ones who will be going into 3rd grade next year gave me a card and wanted to know how we are going to stay in touch now. We were in the same hallway this year and had hugs aplenty. I found her and assured her that we would find a way.

Yesterday the kids got to pick all the things they wanted to do today and it was my job to find a way to fit them all into the day! We created from the scrap box (hardly anything is more fun than cutting, gluing, coloring pieces of paper left over from old's fun to hear them remember what the paper was used for originally), had bubbles and races outside, painted (I almost never get the paints out, but they did a great job), made BIG pictures on BIG paper(they remembered the 9' tall Scakagrall we had made at Halloween), had a picnic snack, sang favorite songs and packed all of their stuff. It is an indication that they don't really get "it" about the end of the year when they ask, "Why are we taking our art boxes home?"...
They wore home the sailor hats they wore the first day of school and were astonished that they fit!
Here are some photos of the day:
 Some wonderful "scrap" ocean mural!

Good toss and good catch....(as we show them how it is supposed to be done)
  Bad toss and wet feet!

      Flying frogs or gorillas....

        Bubble magic!

  Coconut race.  And then it was lunchtime.There was a lovely salad, but this  One of our colleagues provided lunch and the cake!  Yummy.

BIG paper pictures.  Me and my monsters.

  And painting.  Look at that concentration.
Remember when I said that if they leave happy and confident then I have done my job well...

        ...job well done!
It ended well.
All that is left is paperwork, packing and the PARTY!

Monday, June 6, 2011

1 Day Left: Treasure Bags and an Award

For the last several years I have given the kids a treasure bag to be stored where they store their other treasures.  When you team teach and have aides, it is rare to have time alone with your kids.  This is a time that I plan just for and the kids. 
Inside the little treasure bag is a paper that says:
In this bag you will find a ROCK to remind you how hard you worked this year.  You will find a FEATHER to remind you to fly high to reach your dreams.  There are two small STARS to remind you to always be the best you can be....shine your light for all to see.  The HEART is to remind you how very much I love you.  Take care of yourself and each other (share the cookies) and never foget that I will ALWAYS be here for you.    Love, Mrs. Lohr.
I pick their name stick for the last time, write I love you on the back and they get to pick a treasure bag and take their stick home... the stick that has gotten them chosen all year.

The note was written on the back of this yummy paper. 
Little Red Riding Hood was taking chocolate chop cookies to her grandma.

They were quiet and purposeful with this.  Each took it to put in a safe place in their backpack.

Today was also Awards Day.   Each year, each teacher gets to choose one student to receive the Merit Student Award.  It is not for academic or athletic excellence.  It is for effort and progress and good faith.  I love giving this award to a deserving student each year.  Here is the essay I wrote for this year:

My merit student has made a total and dramatic tranformation this year.  From a child who had to be carried into the school crying to one who comes willingly by himself and with joy most days.  From a child who could not deal with any frustration to one who can laugh his way back to happy these days.   From a child who would not socialize with adults or peers to one who tells some of the worse jokes in the world and enjoys them so much himself that you can't help but giggle with him.  From a child who couldn't really read or write to one who is right on level and learning more each day...
From dark into light...
From sad into happy...
From there to here....
Congratulations, with love, to Wyatt!

OK.  So, I was crying while our guidance counselor was reading this.  The guidance counselor was choking up, my photographer was crying....
And now that you have dried your few little tears let me tell you a little bit more.  While the essay was being read, I was watching Wyatt.  Immediately when he heard the part about the worst jokes in the world he pointed to himself.  He knew it was about him and the grin began.  When they said his name he jumped up and came to claim his prize.  As we sat through the rest of the program he clasped his medal between his hands and the grin continued.   The classmates sitting around him congratulated him and were happy for him.  They know how much he grew this year.   Need another tissue?

Now, for the rest of the story.  Wyatt's mom called this evening to tell this story.  When she picked Wyatt up from daycare, she asked if he showed them his award.  He hadn't because I told him not to get it out until he got home.  She said he could show it so he got it out and showed them.  When they asked why he got the award he just smiled.  His mom told him to tell them why he got the award.  He grinned big and said, "Because I tell the worst jokes in the world!"

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

That ranks right up there with this:
When we were making the clay creations on the Luau day, one of the girls wanted to make a Hawaii biscuit.  What??  You know...the flower of Hawaii...the Hawaii biscuit.  Oh, you mean the hibiscus?  Yeah, the hibiscuit.

And they had a little party after school for those of us who are retiring from KES this year...good cake, good punch, good friends and some hilarious songs!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Who Will I Be?

I may have mentioned this in a previous blog, but I am still thinking about it, so it is worthy of a few more words.
I have always told people, if they asked, well, probably sometimes even if they didn't ask, that teaching and being a teacher was not something I did, it was who I am.
So, will that change now?
Who will I be?
Here's what I know today.
I am an encourager.  "You can do it...remember what I taught you."
I am an organizer.  "It is on the purple shelf, left side, half way down."
I am a doer.  "What is the problem?"
I am a fixer.   "You can do this..."
I am a sharer.  "Here, let me show you how I did that."
I am, in the best sense of the word, a teacher. 
I am a learner.
I am a loner....I know.  How is that possible when I am also all of those other things?
I am a child of God.

I wonder if my husband will start telling me he is not one of my students when I start being bossy...ok, bossier.
I wonder when I will stop saying "we" when I talk about Kingwood Elementary where I taught for all but 3 of my 33 years, and start saying "they"?
I wonder what it will be like to not have at least a visual knowing of about 500 of the kids who live in my town?

I am just now having the urge to sing a chorus of "Que Sera, Sera" Whatever will be, will be...
I am a child of God.
I will find my new place to serve.


Friday, June 3, 2011

2 Days Left: The Loo-ow

Yes, that is how many of them spelled it in their journals and I was happy to see how they were using what I had taught them and why isn't it spelled that way? And don't even get me started on words like eight, was, are....
Sorry for the side track.
Today the weather was perfect! Sunny and about 75 with a nice breeze. We started the day by learning a little hula dancing that even the boys did willingly. Just as well because I had a video clip of a master hula teacher who is a male!We divided into 4 groups and went about making merry....

A little low can you go????

A litttle clay crafting...swim fishy, swim.
They have to dry and we will paint them on Monday.

We made flower leis and got some from Anna's mom.
Very festive!

And the fruit kabobs they made to eat at the luau feast.

Our "chef" roasting the "pigs".

The table set up and ...

...the chow down.

And then we got out the water!
This is a favorite activity every year. I dump clear marbles into the water and they have to pick them up using only their toes. They hand them off to a partner who holds and counts for them. Then we switch. I do believe that some of them could use those toes for fingers if they needed to!
Next, the water balloons! We tossed several times and they got better and better. Anna was usually one of the last

The catch.

The toss.
The catch.
Did you notice the little guy beside her?

Ahhh...the delicious terror of it all!

So, the day ended with volcano cupcake snacks and a cute BackYardigans movie about a luau.
I am so tired.
I am going to bed.
Do I have 2 more days in me????

Oh, and once again, the teachers have as much fun as the students...

Everyone got their photo taken in front of the backdrop with the props...grass skirts for the girls and Hawaiian shirts for the boys...we made their photos into pins for them to wear.
Can you see how we made the piggies?  See their little legs?