If you take just a minute to turn on the television or pull up a news article, you are bombarded with news and information. Much of which has become a stream of gasp-inducing executive orders, mean-spirited Tweets/Facebook posts, or worse.
One of my favorite things about being a principal is the opportunity to go into classrooms and read stories. There is nothing better than walking into a classroom and having a kindergarten student tug on my pants leg and ask me, "Mr Nesloney will you read me a story?".
And I've read stories to classrooms since my first year as a Principal. A few months ago, I wrote an article for Scholastic's Reader Leader Blog called "She Looked Like Me". That post came from a new season of my life I had entered. A season where now I feel so much more educated about providing opportunities for children to read and have stories read to them that include characters and storylines that are personal to them. No longer do I ignorantly read stories that include predominantly white and/or male characters.
I know stories teach empathy, understanding, and acceptance. Stories can teach you how to deal with your emotions, handle difficult circumstances, and remind you that you're not alone. And as a Principal I know the importance it is to introduce children to those stories. And I'm not just talking elementary aged children either. High School students are EQUALLY as important!
A month or so ago I was able to visit an incredible bookstore in Minnesota. Instead of having all the picture books organized on one large shelf, it had shelves that were sorted by what country the author or story was from. And the books were fantastically eye opening. The distinct artistic and storyline differences. The concepts, cultures, characters were vibrant and reflective of people from all over the world.
So I chose a variety of stories. I chose books from all over the world and spent way too much money. But I knew it'd be worth it.
This month I read "Seven Blind Mice" written and illustrated by Ed Young to the PreK and Life Skills classes. A simple story of what seven blind mice THINK they are encountering at their pond. Ed Young is a Chinese born illustrator and author and his story is filled with beautiful pictures and brief, but powerful story about understanding the whole picture before you make an assumption.
Then I read "My Name is Yoon" written by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska to the Kinder-5th grade classes. Gabi is a Polish born artist and Helen's parents were immigrants. "My Name is Yoon" is a WONDERFUL story of a little Korean girl just moving to America and trying to find her place in an English filled world where she feels alone and can't stand the English version of her name.
I read the stories to the children. We talked about what they meant, the characters, the lessons. Did it change their lives? Maybe not. But what it did do was introduce them to characters that didn't look exactly like them, that didn't sound like them, or necessarily think like them.
Building empathy in children is about letting them see we all go through different things and handle things differently, but in the end we are so very much alike.
We live in a world where people feel more bold than ever before to scream out "illegal", or "learn english!" or "go back where you came from". A world where 6 year olds stop me in the hall and ask if mommy will be here today to pick her up or if she is going to be deported before she gets home. A world where a 4th grader stands up and says "I am more than the gangs and drugs you see on my streets". A world where a 3rd grade girl asks me "Girls can do that too, right?".
As educators we can't waste a moment. We must use books to teach stories and introduce children to a vast variety of characters and experiences. Our future depends on it.
Go through your classroom books, seek to diversify and add new stories, and when that child looks up at you and says "will you read me a story?", find a story that will only add to their experiences. It's easier than you think, but it will take an effort on all of us.
Week At a Glance
Monday - P/T Conference Week
Central Office Curriculum Walk at Webb
Tuesday - P/T Conference Week
Science Vertical Meeting - 3:30pm - TP Room
Staff Workout - 4pm
Wednesday - P/T Conference Week
Nesloney Off Campus
Bible Study - 7am - TP Room
TELPAS Training (Option 1) - 3:30pm - TP Room
PTO Meeting - 5:30pm - Library
Thursday - P/T Conference Week
TELPS Training (Option 2) - 3:30pm - TP Room
Staff Workout - 4pm
Friday - P/T Conference Week
100th Day of School
P/T Conference Week
This week is P/T Conference Week! Make sure we're meeting with all families. A concern was brought up about parents with non-working numbers or who don't show up for their conference. That means HOME VISIT! As a staff we don't do enough of those. If we need to do them during your conference time or after school an admin can attend with you. But we can't let ANY excuse come up on why we didn't meet with a parent.
Aaron will reach out to all those who require a TELPAS Training. You can attend either the Wednesday one OR the Thursday one. If you don't hear from Aaron, you don't need to attend.
The 100th Day of School is actually Monday, but we didn't want to celebrate until Friday to keep our week as normal as possible :-) Plan some fun activities to do with your students to celebrate the 100th day.
School Counselor Week
This week is National School Counselor week. Let's find ways to celebrate our wonderful counselors, Geralyn Jackson and Cewilla Thomas.
February 7 - Angela Calkins
February 11 - Geralyn Jackson
Please make sure you're getting with your evaluator as we've finished just about all Swivl Recordings. I've only received Google Docs from like 6 of my 20 people, and I have only received requests to meet from two of them. Please make sure you're getting with your evaluator THIS WEEK to plan a time this month to meet. You also should have turned in your reflection this week.
Due to P/T Conference week we will not be meeting to talk about "The Energy Bus" this week. But we will cover double the chapters next week!
This time is to be used as P/T Conference time.
Monday - 2nd Grade
Tuesday - Kinder
Wednesday - 5th Grade
Thursday - 4th Grade
Friday - 3rd Grade
Reading to Classes
This week I would like to read to 4th and 5th grade classes. Please send me a few times/days that work for you and I will send you a calendar invite.
Kids Deserve It
There are limited edition KDI shirts if you want one HERE. Episode 58 with Olympian Christa Dietzen
28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month
Some Gifts Are Not So Obvious
19 Books to Help Children Find Hope and Strength
Gerry Williams - Gerry is one of our 3rd Grade Teachers. Where do I even begin with Gerry? Whenever I need a volunteer, Gerry is always one of the first ones to step up. She is encouraging, uplifting, and a huge prayer warrior. She connects with kids, goes to their events, calls all their parents and works tirelessly to watch each of them succeed. I am so thankful for leaders like Gerry who never quit and are always giving their all!
Eric Ceballos - Eric is one of our 4th Grade Teachers. Eric is a continuous learner. He is always seeking to get better and grow. He isn't afraid to ask for advice and jumps right into trying something. Eric is full of energy and is always one who isn't afraid of asking a question. He loves spending time with his students and genuinely wants to be the best teacher he can be! I love seeing Eric grow and am thankful we have go-getters like Eric!
Lauren Neutzler - Lauren a 2nd Grade Teacher. Lauren connects with kids on such a personal level. So much so that whey they hurt, she hurts. She attends their games, and checks on all her former students. She's passionate and compassionate. I am so thankful we have teachers like Lauren who give every single piece of their heart for our kids.
We are at a pivitol point in our education system's history with the potential voting through of Betsy Devos. Her hearing is this week and it's ever so important for us to stand up, use our voice, and protect public education. If you haven't already I encourage you to call or email our senator and share your opinions.