Friday, December 13, 2013

So much positivity

Wow, time has gotten away from me. The first week of this (December) month, we had an assembly. It was recommended to me by two of my STUCO girls who had seen the group at a 4H conference. The assembly was put on by a group called Project Elevate. They were amazing! It is usually a group of five that put on each assembly. There are videos, dancing, crowd interaction, testimonials/speaking, loud music, dancing and lots of silliness all within an hour. The kids totally loved it. These young men completely reached out students, grades 7-12th. It was all about making positive decisions, treating others with kindness, anti-bullying, anti-drugs and many more things.
I can't believe I haven't posted anything since October! Afterward, some of our students hung around while the guys were tearing down to leave. Some were there to just take pictures. Others were there to talk. Students really opened up, felt comfortable talking to these guys! These guys had never been to our school and the students didn't know any of them. It was amazing. Through the talking/testimonials and video stories, things that these young men said really reached some of our students and they wanted to talk to these guys about it! This week has been almost as exciting! I attended a training at our state's Regional Food Bank. While there we also got to tour the facility and learn about it's operation. It's amazing to thing that a warehouse the size of a Sam's Club, stocked full of food is emptied every week to go throughout our state to feed hungry people. The Food Bank is run entirely by volunteers (other than the skeleton staff that are permanent and there on a daily basis.) The STUCO had mentioned conducting a food drive. However, after doing some research I found that those didn't go over well. After calling the food bank and looking at all our options we decided to open a food pantry for our school. The Regional Food Bank sponsors Backpacks for Kids for those elementary students who might not have enough food. Backpacks are filled and go home one Friday with food for the weekend since students won't be in school to eat breakfast and lunch there. The backpacks are meant for the individual student but, it is a known fact that the students share with their entire family. Once out of elementary our students don't have any assistance. A food pantry allows MS/HS students to receive the same food service for the weekend. It will be housed in our building in a secure location. Students will be identified or referred by staff and could be a permanent or temporary situation. Students are made aware of what is available and either are told when the pantry will be open to come choose their food or they choose what they'd like to have from a list and their supply is gathered and bagged for them to pick up. I am thrilled to be a part of the ground breaking on this! STUCO will still play a huge part in that they will help stock the pantry when the food comes in each month. Who is being served, as well as the pick up, will be confidential. What a wonderful feeling to know that students in our district will not be going hungry, no matter what their grade. The same day that I went to this training I returned to school for the remainder of the day. After school I took four girls from STUCO (that is all that could attend due to work, ball games and recitals), to our local Wal-Mart. One of our local youth services organizations gave us a debit card and 18 kids names (Angel cards as they were called). Each student and I took cards with kids ages, gender, sizes, likes and needs and shopped for them for Christmas. We had $80-90 to spend on each kiddo. The girls had a great time! They got so excited learning what their kids wanted and then trying to find things. It wasn't easy, many things were the needed size, but wrong color, or just too expensive! The girls stacked things in groups on the conveyor belt and bagged items with each Angel's assigned number on the outside. They got very excited to see the total we'd spent. They quickly whipped out their phones and took pictures of the grand total (over $1,600). We shopped for about 1 1/2 hours then went to eat. For some reason we ate at the slowest restaurant in our town (LOL). Afterward we got frozen yogurt. After it was all finished it was after 9 p.m. when I returned home! What a long, but amazing day! Though we shopped for 18 kids I wasn't sure we made even a dent in the number. We were told there were 63 kids to buy for. One of the STUCO girls game in to my office today to get the contact's name. She said she was going to call to see if she could go shop for some more kids. Amazing!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Red Ribbon Assembly

Today, we held our Red Ribbon assembly. Our STUCO (which I sponsor) chose to celebrate RR week starting today, going through Friday instead of last week through Thursday. They worked so hard getting everything together! I'm so proud of them! We met last week to decide on general ideas. I previewed video clips for a couple of days and gathered supplies for games. I asked one of the girls to put together a power point on drug use by the end of last week. I added to it over the weekend. I decided it would help with the presentation if there was music added, but couldn't get the song to attach. This morning I went in to work stressed about not having the song. My STUCO president, a senior, came to the rescue! She played the DVD with the videos in her laptop. She suggested we choose one of the clips I'd passed over, as the celebrity was more relevant to the kids. By the way, the DVD with the celebrity clips came from Natural High. It was free and I highly recommend them for middle school/high school ideas. The celebrity clips and toolkit are updated each year. The toolkit includes activities and lesson plans for all grades. We also chose a student story from the DVD. So, once the power point was played with the song "This is Your Life" by Switchfoot, we watched three 5-6 minute video clips. STUCO kids stood and told what their natural high was, which went along with the video clips and we played to minute-to-win-it games. We planned three, but the batteries were dead in my donated pedometers so we cancelled one. The games were a hit and included students from every grade plus two teachers. Everyday we're dressing according to some theme like so many other schools. Monday: tie-dye, color your world; Tuesday: Camo/Duck Dynasty; Wednesday: wear red, don't let drugs twist your mind and so on. We're taking a count each day of the number of students dressed up in each class. The class with the highest percentage of participation for the week will get a prize next week. I was touched by some of the students' comments while planning everything. One student said and others agreed or made additional comments to go along with what was said which impacted me greatly. This is what was said, "Thank you for everything you're doing for us and with us. You have these ideas and are trying to be supportive and incorporate our suggestions, too, to make our school better for us. We appreciate everything you're doing for and with us." Wow! I was almost brought to tears! I've been struggling with being in a new school, disconnected from all the teachers and administration due to my role at the school. Right now I feel I have just one real friend at work, who I knew previously (all my life), and who is retiring at semester's end. The principal doesn't care for me and I'm not sure the secretary does. The secretary thinks the principal hung the moon and she knows he doesn't care for me. If you follow this blog you know I'm new to the district, but so is the principal and several other teachers. The secretary has only been there one year and she is someone I've also known almost my whole life. So, many days I feel I'm in no-man's land, working by myself, no one to confide in, no one to conspire with, no one to joke and be silly with. The principal comes in now and then to give me a task to do with no other interaction. The secretary has gone around me to avoid me doing things when the principal is gone, though I had instructions from the superintendent to carry on a certain way in the principal's absence. The principal is gone often and never lets me know, though he communicates this with the secretary regularly. Sometimes the secretary tells me when he is already gone and won't return, sometimes she doesn't. The kind comments from the STUCO kids were perfectly timed, though they have no idea how much so.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Test, test, test

This week we (I) gave the EXPLORE and PLAN test. There were quite a few absent or on activities so I'll have to have a make up day next week. I was told by the helper from our local technology center that other counselors in the area don't give make ups. WOW! It does take extra time which is a precious thing this time of the year. However, if students who were absent are allowed to test on another day, everyone wins. Students in my state take EOI exams from 9th - 12th grade. They are required to pass four out of seven, with two being Algebra 1 and Eng. 2. If they don't pass, the score in that subject area on the EXPLORE or PLAN may be substituted if it's high enough. If there is no score, students have to retake he EOI exams until a passing score is achieved, or they complete a very involved project. Those things expend as much, if not more, time as the EXPLORE or PLAN. I couldn't imagine not allowing make ups. Through this testing I discovered 8th graders don't know their addresses, appalling but true. I corrected or filled in more addresses than ever!

STUCO, which I sponsor, is gearing up for Red Ribbon Week! We're not doing a single theme for the entire week, but a different theme each day with goodies and a dress up contest. I love seeing the kids creativity in how they interpret the dress up days! We're going to have an assembly with a short video from Natural High, a short speech by a student and a few minute-to-win-it games. Fun for all! We got all our goodies today, except the Twizzlers.
There will be one round of games for students and one round for teachers. I hope the teachers participate. Kids love seeing that!

It's Fall Break today and tomorrow. Besides spending time with family and my precious (and only) grandbaby and daughter, I have several projects for home to do, the hutch for my office to paint (I've had it since early September), housework, preparation for the class I teach in the evenings, uploading some scholarships onto our school website and previewing a video and movie for school. It is going to be a busy couple of days. However, I'm so looking forward to it. Hopefully there will be some rest in there somewhere as well.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I hosted my first Lunch Bunch Tuesday and it was a huge success! It was a group of six freshman girls. They were all students who are new to our district this year. They wanted to know why I chose them and how I chose to group them together. It was based on their lunch period really. I asked them questions about organizations they've joined and how or if they've gotten connected with other students who weren't new.
There was time for me to just visit with them, too, in an effort to get to know them a little bit. I was very pleased that all six said they were involved in an organization and to hear they'd made other friends. This will provide great data for documentation on my evaluation. We had lots of time after eating and chatting, so I broke out the checkers and rice crispy treats. Whenever I have a group in my office for something I always try to provide a treat for those attending. I was able to snap a picture before they left. For the next eight weeks, all my lunch bunches will be a combination of new students. Next week the group is small, only three. I'm going to ask them to bring a friend. I have sticky darts and bingo to play also. One of the computer classes made my invitations for me.
I'd seen them posted on another blog. I forget whose, so if you follow my blog and one of the invites looks like yours, first of all, thank you for the terrific inspiration! Second I give you all the credit for the idea. The students decided the picture on one looked like all boys and if girls were going to attend we needed one with girls on it.
I have one more being made it's an idea I came up with and I'll post pictures as soon as it's finished. Tomorrow I'm hosting my first Career Cafe of the year. A group of six will attend. I'm very excited to finally get this going!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I have been interacting with students a lot over the last few days. We held STUCO officer elections and had our first meeting along with the class representatives. It was very productive. Some of the students had really good ideas for some activities throughout the school year. I brought in some activities from previous schools I've known to be successful in other schools, too. The students seemed to like everything and having the chance to have their voice heard, which is what STUCO is all about. I have the Lunch Bunch groups all divided. We have an early and late lunch. I had to put them in groups according to their lunch period and tried to group males and females in such a way as everyone would have a friend in attendance. I found some great signs to use during these groups and some great ideas for activities. The first eight or 10 groups will be for new students only. I've scheduled a speaker for the first Career Cafe which will be this coming Friday. I will finally make a trip to the elementary to wrap up my classroom schedule there and possibly will begin classroom lessons on Thursday. If not this week then definitely next week. I have been proctoring tests for our concurrent enrollment students and getting those mailed, emailed for faxed in. Thursday evening was parent teacher conference night. We stayed until 9:00 p.m. Doing this allows us to be off on Friday. I made a home visit with supper for a family that has been struggling to keep things afloat due to one of their children being hospitalized then home in a medically induced comma. I counseled with a couple of girls on some very serious issues and made a couple of phone calls home to discuss other serious issues. I sent some post cards out to parents with some positive comments about their kids. I met with the entire senior class to show them where the scholarships are being posted and how to get to the links for them and an article on applying for scholarships in general. Once I start going to the elementary my time at the high school will look something like this: Mondays for the office, administrative and test coordinator duties. Wednesday: Lunch Bunch and class lessons in two middle school classes. Any leftover time will be administrative duties. Friday will be Career Cafe, meeting with two middle school classes for classroom lessons and any leftover administrative duties. I've started meeting with kids on the intelligible list to offer tutoring and encouraging communication between them and their teachers. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be in the elementary doing classroom lessons.I hope to get a reading group going soon there, maybe 4th grade girls, two advanced with two low level readers, at lunch time.
I'd also like to do a lunch bunch there as well maybe one day a week. Still in the works are monthly Coffee with the Counselor meetings with parents. The first meeting will be on scholarships, the second possibly middle school girls and stress. I went to a workshop Wednesday. When I got to the office Thursday, this is what me door looked like. I changed what was on the door, adding the chalkboard paper and chalk just recently. I wanted a place for students and staff to leave a note on days I wasn't in the high school offce. I didn't expect such sweet comments already. It made my day and helped me realize I'm already making a difference.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My New Group - Lunch Bunch

I have been pouring over blogs lately, lots and lots of blogs. I am amazed and very thankful there are so many out there full of ideas. They have helped me in my counseling position in the past and are continuing to allow me to improve things as the year goes by. Last weekend I decided since my Career Cafe is taking a while to get off the ground, I need to do something else in the meantime. I have three professionals lined up already to speak, but still lack quite a few students to interview for take interest inventories for a career path. Like always I started reading blogs and found great ideas. I am now working on starting a Lunch Bunch. While Career Cafe is still in the plans (I worked on it more today), the Lunch Bunch is coming together much faster. I have the names of all our new students grouped together in eight different groups of various sizes. Some groups will be allowed to bring a friend, since they are smaller, some won't. I found an invitation on a blog and modified it to fit our school. I went to the Desktop publishing class to see if that teacher would help me make it so I could just copy it on cardstock, business card size. She had her class get on that project that very afternoon! I will have one to give to girls and one for boys and I think one that is mixed. The middle school kids I think are grouped in boy/girl groups due to their lunch schedule. I didn't want to just have students come in, eat lunch and talk to them. I wanted a little more activity than that. I started looking for quick games and even googled Lunch Bunch games and Lunch Bunch activities. I found a treasure chest of things to do! I found activities for the cafeteria, like possibly having table 'groups' compete against each other by answering trivia questions using one dry erase board per table until all questions are asked and points are tallied. The winning table comes to the office for a treat. There were so many great ideas, to be used with large and small groups. I'm adding checkers to my office to hold quick games. I already have Jenga type games to use. I'm developing some "I have, who has" type games and 'get to know me' games to be used, also. Once the new students are seen through Lunch Bunch I'll start groups that are going to be retesting and use study skills games. I'm hoping to have a Lunch Bunch going next week. The week after I'm hoping to start going to the elementary two days a week as discussed in earlier posts and requested by the superintendent. I requested the teachers to send me their preferred time on the potential two days already. With that in mind, my schedule in the middle school/high school will be Monday: administrative/catch up, necessary office things. Tuesday will be an elementary day of class guidance lessons. Wednesday will be Lunch Bunch (among other things) in the high school. Thursday, elementary lessons like Tuesday. Friday, among other things will be Career Cafe. This schedule will be keep me hopping, but I'm looking forward to everything. Still in the works for my program: a girls' night out for 4-6th grades, coffee with the counselor for parents (middle school/high school), breakfast with the counselor (both building). I'm the STUCO sponsor in the h.s. and am getting that rolling this week, too!

Friday, September 13, 2013

College Fair and treats

Today was a great day though I am still handcuffed to my computer. Test reports from last year's academic testing just came in and those results have to be entered onto the students' transcripts. Some grades have three tests others have just one. Plus, there are make up test results. Each test result gets hand entered by me onto each transcript. I am far from finished with this task but, today was different. I had the opportunity to take the seniors to a regional university for a college fair. It was great. Let me just say this group was the best group of kids I've taken like this.
Their noise level on the bus going and coming was minimal. I took roll three times and the kids were quiet, courteous and helpful every time. I was so pleased with their behavior! While there, they looked out for each other and made sure the word was spread throughout the group so everyone knew when it was time to leave. The kids weren't the only ones getting great information. I was able to load up on lots of material for my office. I put the material in the black file cabinet I posted a picture of a while back. I will still have some empty drawers, too. If you don't normally take your students to a college fair day, I highly recommend you start. It is not only beneficial for the students, but it's a great opportunity for you to network with the college reps!

Today was another day of treats for the high school staff. I intended to make these several weeks ago, but the timing just wasn't right. I finally got them made this week. Our state is very pro football. We have two state teams and it seems everyone is for one or the other with no inbetween. One of those teams is finally playing their first home game this weekend. I gave everyone a cookie today with the note, "To help kick off your weekend. Have a good one!" I made the font color of the word kick alternate between our two teams' colors. The cookies were nothing fancy, just sugar cookies with brown (not even chocolate) royal icing and a little white piping to make them look like footballs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A little boost

I gave everyone in the high school building these today! It made a great end to a trying (though short) week. I had enough to include teachers, administration, secretaries, maintenance, cafeteria and all aides! I got to school early so I could slip most of them in their boxes before they arrived. It was great to hear so many great comments throughout the day for such a small gesture. I wanted to do a baked goody, but just didn't have time this week. I'll save that for another day, another week.

I've also been trying to think what I could do to give a little boost to the students. It's not possible for me to hand out a sweet or any kind of simple treat to the entire student body. I don't see the entire student body on a daily basis so it's not possible for me to speak to all of them either. What I decided to do was make up some small posters with motivational, uplifting, or thought provoking quotes and post them around the school. I made several weeks' worth and just printed them out in black and white to save on school ink since I liked the idea of including a little graphic to go with the quote. I also like the idea of hanging them around the school when no one is present and in places everyone will be at some point. I decided on the restrooms. This week I hung them up early Tuesday morning (our first day of this week). I don't like being there so early on the first day of the week so today, Friday, I waited until the school had cleared of students and hung them up, in place for next week already.
I realize they're not loaded with lots of color, eye popping graphics, but they're just something everyone will see (I even hung one in the lounge restroom) and be a nice (hopefully) surprise, a little encouragement possibly that some are headed in the right direction and indirectly encourage others to head that way, too. It's another way for me to make a small impact on the school environment.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gathering Data

During my drive to work each morning I pray, a lot! I pray for grace in the way I handle all things that come my way and that I will have mercy on others. I'm so glad I got into this routine during my previous drive (45 minutes one way) and have maintained it, though I have a much shorter drive now (20 minutes). It has been a trying week, time, and start to the new year. Over the past week I have worked feverishly on the computer to get courses put in the right way so that the number of red flags are decreased in our student information system. Yesterday I spent nearly half the day working on concurrent enrollment courses, creating them all, entering them into transcripts and making sure they were all the way they should be within the students' schedules. Right at the end of what I was doing I noticed a student already had concurrent enrollment class listed (what!) and I didn't enter it. I questioned the principal (who had asked me to take care of that the afternoon before) and he told me he completed three of the four courses (but didn't bother telling me). I wasted 1/2 a day doing that! Ugh. Another situation happened today that was very similar, again, with the same person. Thankfully, I'm prayed up and so my frustration level remained low. I was able to interact with the students quite a bit over the past week which got me out of the office and time away from the computer. I stepped into several classes to have students complete interest inventories on This site is great for giving all kinds of information on careers, career fields and much needed data to go with it. I usually use just a portion of it to get a general idea of careers in which middle school students are interested. I have a few stragglers that were absent. I'd like to get their information by the middle of next week so that I can start putting together professionals for career cafe. A few parents came and went over the week, I spoke to many others on the phone. I registered all seniors for a local college fair coming up on Sept. 13th. The kids were so great about changing schedules (some as many as four times - not their choice) and informing classmates who were absent or other places the day we registered or completed inventories.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So many new names and faces!

This is the first full week of school (with students). I am still feeling handcuffed to my computer! We are finally finished with schedule changes. I actually finished them last Friday with the exception of a few stragglers. Today, there was one class with more students than desks and no room for more desks. It was time to move some kiddos. I went through the entire Freshman class. I was looking for a student who didn't have Spanish 1 so I could just put classes in a different order. I found three girls. I didn't have to completely rearrange their schedule. I only had to move them from Algebra II to Geomentry and put the other class where the math class was. Easy, easy, easy. The three girls had a great attitude about it, which I was very thankful for and told them so many times. I was able to get some transcripts corrected that contained errors from switching from one student information system on the computer to another and things not rolling over like they should. Now all that is left to do regarding schedules and transcripts is obtaining state course numbers for career tech classes and subject credits for things that might be contained within the programs (such as a Science credit being in the Health Careers program). I won't be able to get this accomplished until next Tuesday as the career tech person will be out until that time. I was able to visit with some students here and there throughout the week thus far, just by working with schedules. The office aides are getting used to me (learning my personality), as I am getting used to them also. I started surveying students for Career Cafe. For 9th through 12th grades I just passed around a class list where students wrote what they wanted to do. If they didn't know, I had them write that information on the list and told them I'd call them in next week (maybe this week) to do an interest inventory so we could get a better idea of what they liked or what they were good at. The 7th and 8th grade I feel like we should go ahead and use the website since they are young and typically have no idea (though many of them know what they are good at). I hoping to be able to host my first cafe the week after next. I had a six foot table brought in to my office. It's folded up against the wall and I plan on just setting it up for the cafe each week. I'm so glad I took the time to clean up and clear out my new office so that there is now enough room to host this in my office. It just makes things easier on everyone! I'm posting pictures of what I've done on the walls. I'm still looking for a hutch to go on the red desk so that wall is blank. There are things that show my personality, but it is sort of office-y. I don't really have groups at this level (I would go to a classroom or just use my table planned for cafe) and there are a couple of chairs in front of my desk for students to sit. The first picture is a file cabinet given to me about 11 years ago. We had it sand blasted and painted a cream. The person didn't do a very good job, it was multiple shades of cream and it was peeling off in places. It's been in storage for three years (I didn't use it in my previous counseling office). There was no place to put college information or military information in my new office (a previous office remodel lowered the ceilings and the shelf no longer fit in the office). So my husband painted it black and I think it looks better than ever! The middle picture is just a collage of things I've bought or made to decorate and show a little bit of my personality. The bottom picture is the same thing on a different wall, something I've made, the corner of my red desk I painte and brought in, my fridge and on the adjoining wall, my certificate and diplomas.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I'm going for a pedicure with my wonderful daughter after school. Friday evening we are leaving for Canton, TX. We're spending our Labor Day weekend there, attending the Trade Days. Since our new/first grandbaby was born this past summer we didn't take a vacation. I am so looking forward to the long weekend and a little get away!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wow! What a crazy, busy time it has been the last week! After enrollment we worked very hard to get students' schedules in the computer so they'd be ready for open house on Monday, Aug. 19th. There were so many issues with the computer program: students who didn't show up in our system, schedules that printed out wrong, students with blank schedules, students who had left had a schedule, middle school students showing up in the high school site and vice versa, students with empty hours in their schedule who needed to go to a specific class but, while trying to enter them in that specific class they were already listed on the roster! We worked and worked after open house to correct the problems. It was 12:30 a.m. before I went to bed last night (this morning). Today was the first day of classes for students. I got to school at about 7:25 and the first thing I did was print new schedules out for everyone. We told students if they had class changes they needed to make to put their name on a list and we'd get to them starting tomorrow (Thursday) with seniors and working our way down to seventh grade. There are three complete pages of student class changes! Of course, just because they put a request on the list doesn't mean they're automatically going to get it. However, we will do our best. Then as the day went along one of the English teachers came by and informed us she had seven students in one class and 28 in another (the same English course). There were probably about three classes like this. The problem is that there are no other classes for students to go to when they are behind on required courses and those take priority, so there are larger classes, bummer. We did manage to correct a middle school class problem because a previous teacher happened to come to school today. We were needing to look at last year's seventh grade test scores to determine who could go in to eighth grade honors mathematics. Our state had major issues with testing last year and we still don't have final scores! High school and middle school classes sometimes depend on these test results (remediation classes), graduating students sometimes depend on these results if they have failed tests, so it has been a mess. Since that teacher happened to visit someone was able to get information pertaining to those students from her because she taught them. Based on what she told us, we switched the students. Another two classes share seventh grade for a semester only. At semester's end, they switch teachers. I was brought a list of students wanting to take one of the specific semester classes first and the other in the spring. This helped a great deal. Without that list it would just be a guessing game. Another teacher who teaches business classes is willing to take come kids and change her class so that it is a dual class (course I and II at the same time). That way she can include more students in her class, reducing the large number of students in the English class. My days are going to be like this for a while. Tomorrow I will be looking at class numbers and switching students. After that I will start calling in students one at a time to make schedule changes. I'm not sure when I'll get to the elementary. I still plan on doing my welcome back bulletin board (a little late). Hopefully by the end of the week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, again! Today was a very busy day. The principal took the schedules pre-enrollment forms for grades seven through ten home with him when he left last Thursday. I was only able to work on juniors and seniors last Friday. This was perfect because that took all day! The principal worked on the seventh-tenth grade student forms and master schedule until about 3 a.m. this morning. Today I completed the seventh grade student forms and about half of the eighth grade. Wow! What a busy day. Those eighth grade forms will have to be completed tomorrow. I have met many people over the last week and reaquainted myself with others. It has been nothing but joy. I met the cafeteria ladies today. The cafeteria staff are always people to get to know and stay in contact with. I never know when I might need something for Career Cafe that I forgot at home. I've been debating the way I run Career Cafe. In the past I would host one a week, maybe every other week. Since we have an early and a late lunch, I've been debating, if it works out with the students, hosting two in one day. One for the early lunchers, one for the late lunchers. The difference in the lunches is that most middle/junior high students are on early lunch and most high school students are on late lunch. Hosting two in one day might be a bit of a challenge, but, I could then skip a week. I'll just have to see how that plays out with what the kids want to do regarding a career.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Time to make the donuts

Do any of you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercial from many years ago that showed a worker rising very early, middle of the night actually, to go to work and make donut? He'd then get finished and crawl into bed only to be awakened by the alarm again, much too early (for his liking) to make them again. It showed him doing this over and over, eventually meeting himself coming and going. While I'm not at the point of meeting myself coming and going I love that commercial and heading back to work always reminds me of that phrase from it, "Time to make the donuts." Today was very interesting! I learned so much about my new school already! My official report date isn't until Wednesday, August 7th, but today and tomorrow are enrollment days. I got here just before 8 a.m. thinking I would have time to make a cup of coffee and load things in to my office that I'd put together over the weekend. Senior enrollment started at 8 and I know how seniors are, not in any hurry! When I got to school I went straight to my office with a load, dropped it inside the door and went to my car for the rest. After I put my second load down I stepped back into the main office and students had followed me in to the building! There were so many early birds I was impressed (really)! The secretary, who has only been with the district one year, and I hadn't met before this morning, To my surprise she is someone from high school! I hadn't seen her in over 25 years and had long ago forgotten her married name. I was thrilled to see her and know that I would be working so close with her! There are also several parents I went to school with whose kids or grandkids attend this school. It was like a small family reunion! If you've read previous posts you know I've been working on my office a lot! I took a picture. I forgot to take a before shot, so it's an "in progress" picture.
If I were to turn around from were I took the picture I would be in the main office of the building. The black metal cart with the bar handle is now out, that is a cart full of ipads. Also the table is gone. I moved two six foot tables and the square one in the picture out. The elementary office won't be available for quite some time, into September. School starts Aug. 21st which is a little late for this area. I thought I'd wait until the 2nd full week of classes to start working in the elementary. I have a lot of curriculum I've acquired and am very anxious to meet with those students. The superintendent just told me my priority was the high school building and it might be late September before I'd be getting to the elementary building. I also met a teacher that is working on her master's in counseling and I think the superintendent may have her in mind eventually for a 1/2 time counseling position over there. Based on that information I think my time (due to the workload in the high school) in the elementary will be limited to just a couple of years until she is finished. I will probably not be purchasing any more elementary materials. I don't want to purchase something tha will only be used a year or two. At this point I'm not sure if I'd rather serve the elementary or the high school. I also got to meet one teacher I'll be working with. She is the FACS teacher and has a senior student. I was glad to meet her, the FACS classroom is decorated so cute (already) and I'll probably have to be going in and out of her room some for career cafe supplies. I got several things hung on my walls but, still have other things to put up and I think in addition to the hutch I'll be purchasing soon, I'm also in the market for a bookshelf.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Surprise bargains

Today, while waiting for my car to have some work done on it I ran some errands. I'm an avid couponer and I was in a different city with stores not in the town in which I live. The work on my car was supposed to take about 3-4 hours so I had my list, coupons and was very excited. One of my first stops was Target. I love their Dollar Spot. I can always find something I can't live without such as Pacman or Strawberry Shortcake band-aids. :) Today I scored huge for my counseling office.
Everything I found will go great in my elementary office or on a bulletin board or even as an addition to a classroom lesson. I got two packages of posters. There are three posters in each pack and each one is different. I found packs of 24 count bookmarks that match one of the posters. I bought several packs and I may go back to get more so I'll have enough for the entire school. They were just $1 and it's a small school. I also found some foam shapes that will work great on a bulletin board. One of the posters says something about lending a hand. I found a pack of multi-colored foam hands! I got a package of over the door hooks so I can hang my purse/sweater/coat when the weather turns cooler and a magnetized locker mirror. I had one of these in my other office, tucked into a cubby and used it all the time. Everything was just $1 each which was wonderful since I have been purchasing so much! The American Girl DVD I purchased for our girls' night out came in. Now I just have to find time to preview it. I've found a sock monkey poster, "Gossip, Put A Sock In It" and matching bulletin board border. I found paw print bulletin board border, (we're panthers) and some window clings that are the same, all in our school colors! I was able to purchase some positive posters last week, too. They weren't quite as cheap as the $1 for three Target deal, but they were a great price. My car didn't take three to four hours. It took over six hours! I didn't make it to work but, I found every deal on my list that I'd matched up with coupons. My car is loaded with office goodies and I will be going to work bright and early tomorrow to get some more work done! We have open house Thursday evening and there is a lot to do!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Information

Yesterday and today I spent at the ALCA workshop. I don't know if any of you reading this have every been to, through or heard about ALCA but, it is reall good information. With all the Common Core changes and, here in our state, School Report Card changes, it has been great information of which I was in great need! Yesterday I rode with the new principal. That was a great time for us to visit and get insight into one another's personalities. Today I was on my own. Over the weekend I got a second desk moved into my high school office. I will eventually put a hutch on top of it. This set up sits against the wall, as would I when sitting there. The plan is for my computer to go here. My other desk sits in front of that facing the door. My desk chair sits between the two so I can just rotate to face one or the other. The desk facing the door will be my working desk that I use when others are in the office or I'm not working on the computer. Though I did get everything shredded that needed to be and the extra cabinets and tables out, I still have a lot to do there. I haven't even started on my elementary office. I contacted the elementary principal today to see how her moving out of it was going. She said she had hoped to start moving out last Thursday. We're all in limbo waiting on a new addition to be completed. It's not yet finished so she hasn't started moving yet! Open house is next week! I have things to do in the high school that need to be completed by August 1st. I can work around that office being incomplete, but need time to work in the elementary and really wanted that office to be set to go by open house. It may not make it. After the Thursday, August 1st open house in the elementary, I have high school and middle school enrollment the following Monday and Tuesday. Wow, putting it all down here makes me realize how little time there truly is!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Making Room

After hanging out at home for the last two weeks, I finally made it to school again! I worked in my high school office and with the help of a friend yesterday and made a lot of progress! I got the desk moved over to make room for another (2nd desk) to be placed behind it. I cleaned, a lot, and feel really good about that, now. I got nearly everything loaded in to the office, out of boxes and off the floor. Most things are put away, though I know that will change again. Today I spent a lot of time shredding. There was testing information all the way back to the early 90s! We only have to keep five years! Why oh why do counselors not get rid of old information? I had to do this at my previous school, too. Only there it was testing and student records both, dating back to the 80s! The head maintenance person was in and out several times today and offered to give me the grand tour of the entire campus, so I took time to do that. I'm glad I did because I learned some things about the upcoming year that I wouldn't have known ordinarily and had a great time getting to know a coworker! In the high school I won't have a bulletin board in the hallway that is just mine. There is one that I will share with newspaper clippings and other notifications. However, there is a television mounted in the hallway where every student enters and exits each day. It's right by the main office. I will be able to put informational power points on it for all to see. This will be great during testing season to put out reminders for students. Since it's a high school building I thought I'd use it to introduce myself. Nearly all the teachers are new this year, I might be able to have some join me and put slides in to introduce themselves as well. In the elementary I have two ways to introduce myself in the classrooms (a poster for older grades, Mrs. Potato Head for younger grades). I also thought the power points on the television would be great to promote silly holidays (sponge day, national bubble wrap day) and things like Red Ribbon Week, etc. I've been book shopping again. The Big Test came in for my elementary office. It is such a cute book! I also received The Organizational Skills Bootcamp and The Bully Free Classroom. I'm getting thoroughly excited about the upcoming year and I hope you are, too. Tomorrow I'll being going back to do a few more things in my high school office: cover the bulletin board with fabric, hang some things on the wall and shred, shred, shred!

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Materials (Again)

This weekend was so much fun! While out and about we went to Barnes and Noble. I LOVE Barnes and Noble! I forget how much I love it until I walk in and start browsing. I don't get to go very often, which is probably a good thing. By the way, if you haven't signed up for an educator's card, you need to do that. You can save a lot! You don't have to purchase educational material to get the savings either. I made a list ahead of time in hopes we would be going there while out. Most of my books (for me personally) are on my iPad these days. I have no more room on any bookshelf in my house. So, I was thrilled to go shopping for actual physical books. We have a pool and throughout the summer I relax by floating and reading. It's my favorite summertime thing to do. I can't take my iPad to the pool so I've sort of been at a loss this summer. I still have three books on it I haven't read yet. I found three of the five books on my list. Now, I can kill two birds with one stone, reading in the pool and reading for school. The first one I found was Wonder. I didn't realize it was a NY Times Best Seller! I'd been hearing bits and pieces about it and saw someone on the Today show list it in a summer reading list for kids. So I put it on my list of new books to purchase. As a former special education teacher once I read information about it I was very intrigued. I've just started it and so far it is really a wonderful story! Another book I purchased is Gifted Hands. It is about someone who overcame adversity and circumstance, used a God given gift to do amazing work and be successful in the medical field. The last book I purchased is The Drama Years. The last two I haven't started yet and probably won't until I finish Wonder. Tomorrow is a busy day. I'll be going to the high school building (after doing somethings around home) then to the dentist. If I have time I'll drive over to the elementary, too. Hopefully I'll get to pick up keys tomorrow. I'll definitely be measuring windows for curtains.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Being flexible

Today I went to school to get my keys, discuss a couple of things with the supt., and meet the new principal. I was told he'd be there this afternoon since he had some things to wrap up at his previous school in the morning. The previous counselor was going to do some cleaning (last week before her vacation this week) and get her things out of the office so that I could start moving my things in this week. I guess we're all on summer schedule :) because the principal had been there and gone by the time I got there. He was there this morning not this afternoon. The supt. wasn't there at all today. I couldn't arrange any of my things in my office in the high school building because the previous counselor hadn't taken anything of hers out yet. Since the supt. wasn't there I couldn't get my keys and the elementary principal is on vacation so I can't get my keys to that building or start moving into that office either (which I knew all of this about the elementary principal and building). All I could do was laugh and say, "Oh well." I faxed a couple of things while there and took in the three boxes I'd loaded up. That's just the way it is, might as well go with the flow, right? Over the weekend I made an introduction board to use at the beginning of the school year in the elementary. Those students are not used to having a counselor and therefore, probably don't know what to expect. I read through a couple of blogs, picked out some things I liked and put them together on this board.
I really liked what jyjcounselor had done with her Prezi so I modified it to work on the board. The center is my picture surrounded by pictures of my family, hobbies and interests outside of school. Outside of that are clues to what I'll be doing around school and in the classrooms. It's just a great visual to have while introducing myself and what to expect. Of course, I couldn't pass up the "Happy, Happy, Happy!" (which I placed on the board after I snapped a picture) reference to Duck Dynasty. In this part of the US nearly everyone can relate to that! I plan on going back later this week to (hopefully) accomplish a little more than today.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Old Is New Again

Today I have been going through my school and office things that have been packed away here and there for so long. I've had so much fun rediscovering things I haven't seen in a while, finding pictures of former students that have brought back many memories. I've got several things for the upcoming year in my calendar already (Red Ribbon Week, Anti-Bullying Week, No Name Calling Week, National School Counseling Week, etc.) and am gathering ideas to go along with them. While at my previous school I noticed that a teacher had a bubblegum machine on her desk full of erasers. I loved the idea so I stole it! Isn't that the best form of flattery, someone stealing (using) your idea, copy catting you or something you did? I think it is! I found this bubblegum machine at a flea market or trade days event somewhere. Now I'm trying to fill it with erasers! I've discovered that Wal-Mart is the cheapest place (really) to get them. After buying quite a few packages I've decided I need to wait for back to school sales to finish it. I think it will make a great addition to my elementary office. That building is Pre-K through 6th grade. I also discovered a supply of pencils I forgot I had. I am still going strong thinking of bulletin board ideas for the hallways of the two buildings for various times of the year. Creativity is in full force here as I think of ways to begin interacting with students, help make new students comfortable and try to learn the processes of a new school myself.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Contract signed!

Yesterday I went to school and signed the contract for my new job/school. I intended to go, sign the contract, visit with the superintendent about a few things and leave to run errands in town and spend some time with my new grandbaby. Well, the day didn't quite go like that, though I count it all good. When I got to school, the elementary principal (who I hadn't yet met) was in the supt.'s office so I visited with the both of them about some things for the upcoming year. The elementary principal is a former counselor. This is going to be so beneficial! The counselor, who is leaving, was there, discussing testing issues (yes, they're still going on) also. I went with her to the office that will soon be mine. This is a school where I did a portion of my student teaching. I remember the principal's and counselor's offices. They were small, dark and in need of a bad update (think dark brown paneling from 1970s). It was remodeled last year! Now it is light and bright, a little larger and I was thrilled to see it. However, it gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it, I like to think it's better). I'm going to be working in the elementary a couple of days a week, as I mentioned in my previous post, so they're putting an office in place for me there. I joked when I asked about space, asking if it might be a broom closet, a corner in the front office, maybe just a desk at the end of the hall? They're getting me an office set up with a real desk, computer, shelving, etc. I'm thrilled, though this means I will need to gather supplies so that I have my touch and my personality in both locations. I'm thinking primary colors in the elementary office and a general school theme if possible. This office I will be starting from scratch. The high school office will be more colors I am drawn to such as the soft, fern green, brick reds with some yellow/gold in there. Things I already had in place in my old office. I have fabric for curtains in those colors already, a wall hanging and some desk decorations along with pictures. The supt. and principal are very receptive to all my ideas, which I'm thrilled, because I have many, many more! I met a couple of coworkers while there, and they, of course, were great, too. My mind has been spinning with ideas, I've been reading blogs and researching things almost non-stop since last Friday. I know it will be a lot of hard work, being that the buildings are so far apart. I will have to commit to days or mornings/afternoons in just one location and I am it, the only counselor for the entire school. However, it's everything I've done previously and it is closer to home, making it easier to stay late, go in early or even run down on a Saturday morning. I'm feeling very blessed!

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Job

It has been a very long time since I've written a post. Because I didn't work in counseling during the 2012-13 school year, I didn't really feel I had anything related to post. In fact, the only 'job' I held was teaching my cake decorating class at the local technology center, which is one night a week during the school year only. While I've enjoyed the time off (I haven't had a long term break in over 23 years) I have really been 'itching' to go back to work and to put into place things that I have learned and use resources I've acquired. I am excited to post that I have just been offered, as of today, a counseling position at a rural school, 20 minutes from my home. This is a huge improvement over the 45 minute drive (pushing it to make it in 45 minutes) I previously had. The district has two separate locations (one for PK-6 and one for 7-12. There is a short drive between the two. I will be serving both locations, one or two days a week with the lower grades and the rest of the time with the upper grades. Not only will I be doing character education and individual sessions (groups at my choosing I think like at my previous location, not required), but also academic counseling, scholarship searching, enrollment, district testing coordinator, student council and other things as well. I will have my plate just as full in this district as in my previous one. However, it is closer to home which makes it completely doable, lots of hard work, but doable.