Wednesday, October 27, 2010

100 things

I know we aren't there yet, but eventually it will be the 100 days of school celebration, where all the elementary students in the world bring 100 things to school, put them in a big mish mash tub and celebrate by eating a mix of the oddest things. So I decided to give my high school students an early assignment of finding 100 things and photographing them. These were so much fun and some of them were so clever.

Mrs. Block

Well according to the kids...she is AWESOME and CR-A-ZY. They are looking forward to one said race in the alley between the buildings next hour with Dalton Chambers. According to rumor he was talking smack about being faster than her so she is going to prove him wrong. Excellent, I may just head out there to watch. That sums up Mrs. Block. She is the chem teacher at PCHS and is always entertaining. She makes those kids work and learn by doing. I once got to judge the homemade boats her students made and raced at the YMCA pool. The boats had to race with two people in them. I particularly enjoyed watching a few of them sink into the depths of the pool. OK so that was rambling. But in the classroom she pushes her students to excel and are rewarded for it. They come out of her classes understanding far more than ever thought. Her teaching comes from the heart. She takes this ownership in her students and works so diligently to make them learn and understand what they are learning. Many times kids have this awesome ability for short term memorization just to get by, but in her classes it seems that she creates a learning environment that forces them to step away from that.
As a peer in education, she is always creating and organizing activities which get the teachers into the world of school spirit. I always enjoy her decked out on game days with her orange and black and her extremely tall chuck Taylors. So thanks Mrs. Block for making the kids at PCHS get it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mr. S Cox

When I asked the kids why I should write about Mr. Cox, they said because he is a good teacher. When I asked why, they said I don't know, he just is. Well OK then. Sometimes there isn't always a lot of explanation for things, they are what they are. Mr. Cox came to PHS a few years ago after being in the banking business. He said he just decided one day that he wanted more and wanted to teach, so here he is. Mr. Cox is the Ag teacher at PHS as well as the FFA sponsor. I enjoyed watching him and his laid back style walk into teaching. Although enthusiastic, I find him quite calm with his students. He knows how to interact with his students and there is a unique style in his teaching. I enjoy talking to this man. He has a jolly temperament that makes you smile. He is game for about anything, is always ready to take on and challenge his students in Agriculture. I like the way that Mr. Cox has brought the real world into school world. He provides a variety of real speakers from the Ag fields into his classroom. More of us should do this. I think it is important to get the kids thinking about their future fields outside of this school. Mr. Cox is one of those teachers who promotes his classes and his belief in agriculture and getting students active at the state and national levels in FFA. I think this is a wonderful thing. Having these kinds of experience such as life stock judging attending the national FFA convention give our students a unique education, one that just doesn't come from their nose in a book! Thanks, Mr. Cox for your hard work keeping our Ag and FFA programs strong!

Mrs. Stallings

Well the first thing the kids said is she can dougie. Now me being who I am said...what??? They then explained that she is a quite a dancer and can dougie dance with the best of them. I think this is something that I will have to experience for myself.

Mrs. Stallings is a science teacher as well as the assistant volleyball coach at PCHS. She is a newer teacher to the school but has slid right into place. She is always smiles and full of happy with the kids. She expects great things and does a great job getting through to them. I see her going out of her way to work with the kids so that they all succeed in her classes. She relates and teaches with the idea that they will get it!

As a teaching peer I really enjoy Mrs. Stallings. She has so much enthusiasm and is full of smiles. She is more than willing to do or try anything and is an encouragement to all she is around. She is active as a teacher and extra curricular coach. I like that she is always ready to give anything a shot and I am so glad that she found her way to Paris High School.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mr. Lynch

So I met a teacher one of my first years at PHS when I heard the words,"we need to get together and talk sometime soon." and from that moment on Mr. Lynch and I shared a special relationship. You see among his "real" position a social studies teacher, he is also THE drama guy. As the art teacher Mr. Lynch introduced me to the world of musical sets. For three years now, Mr. Lynch and I have a great working relationship with the high school musical. He has this amazing enthusiasm love of music and theater . What he shares with our school is truly a gift. Over 50% of our school participates in the spring musical whether through the play itself, building or painting the sets, or the pit. It is amazing. Mr. Lynch has drama down to a science with a wonderful group of parents and hardworking kids.The performances are great and what an education and experience for these students. I am in awe of how he handles this on top of the teaching as these productions are months and months of preparation. So thank you Mr. Lynch for your hard work and dedication in giving our students a unique and amazing opportunity in the arts!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ms. Seaton

Mrs. Seaton is one of the computer teachers here at the high school as well as the senior sponsor, mentor chair, and the yearbook sponsor. I honestly don't know how she does it all. I saw her in the office today talking about yet another activity she is heading up and I am so amazed at all she does. The thing about her is, I never really hear her complain about anything. She is on board for anything that is thrown at her. As teachers, we are constantly asked to help or become involved in things. Many of us have our limits, but I have never seen this woman say no. She is truly wonderful in this way. I respect her immensely for it.

Ms. Seaton has amazing school spirit, with tiger ears and all, when the event allows. She is always there to cheer on her students whether academically or extracurricular. Today as I watched her participate in the Teacher Football Shuffle, I could tell that she genuinely loves what she does. The idea of waking up and coming to school and working with these students everyday is not a job, but something deep down inside, is just part of who she is. Thanks, Mrs. Seaton for sharing your support and enthusiasm with our students.

Mrs. Wilson

Mrs. Wilson is the Biology and Anatomy teacher here at PCHS. I could not teach what she does for anything. I am so not into anything that has to do with dissection. Heck I am the one in tears when I hit a butterfly. So to me, Mrs. Wilson is amazing. I simply don't know how she does it and she does it well. She has this excitement with the students engaging them in all her classes. The students are given these creative ways to use their knowledge such as having their very own crime scene. How cool is that?! Mrs. Wilson is always smiling and I enjoy her rapoire with her students. They are not afraid to ask her for help and she is always there to give it to them, no matter before or after school or anywhere in between. I know this because I park next to her and her being here so early is the only way I seem to find my parking space in the morning. She has a smile from the time she walks in the building to the time she leaves. Could be her amazing pig decor in her room, to her genuine love of her job. I don't know, but I am glad she is here and smiling everyday!

Mr. V

Well to be honest I went to the kids for this one. I heard from the students that I need to blog about Mr. V. His official retirement was last year from the halls of PCHS, but like many teachers, he has come back to teach a few hours every day this school year. When I asked the kids why I should blog about him, they simply said, "because we need him to come back next year... every students needs to experience him." And with that I went digging. I have found a lot of things out from the students that I think I already knew, but it was great to hear it from their mouths. Mr. V has been one of those teachers that is the foundation of Paris High School. He has been here "forever." Now with that said, most of the time when a teacher has been in a school that long, the kids grow tired of that person, but in this case that is far from true. The kids think he is amazing. So when asking the students why they have this awe of him as a teacher, I found some interesting facts. Some things that are great for any teacher to know. Mr. V treats his students like young adults. His gives them the responsibilities and guided direction that they would receive at the college level. The kids like the fact that he treats his classroom as a college classroom, with lecture and thoughts. That he is simply cool in that way. So that when he is lecturing he is not talking at them but to them. Something we all need to remember, as we sometimes forget. They like his laid back, almost cool teacher style. My ideas of Mr.V are seeing him at the gas station across the street every morning in his shirt and tie getting his coffee. Always carrying his briefcase and never looking like he is in a hurry. I admire that in him as I seem to be a hot mess most of the time. To sum him up he is comfortable in his "educational" shoes, something that as educators we all hope to achieve. Something I hope to achieve. Thank you Mr. V for your dedication to the education of our students.


Finding a way to teach your students about Surrealism is sometimes hard. They simply don't get it sometimes. You can talk to them about the weird, you can talk to them about dreams, you can talk and talk and talk, and even show them, but they still don't get it. SO I have found a way that makes them think and work and even get excited. We talk about Alice and Wonderland. One of the creepiest movies ever in my opinion. But when we talk about scale, and proportion, and attention to detail to convey meaning, they suddenly get it. So today is Alice and Wonderland day in class, where the Disney version goes on the screen, there paper is in front of them and they watch and draw taking from the movie and making use of the ideas it gives. This has always been pretty successful and I will show you the finished projects soon.

Mrs. Terrell

Mrs. Terrell is one of the physical education teachers at the school. She is one of those people that is so quiet that you may sometimes miss her in a crowd. She loves her job and she truly cares about her students. So many people look at the PE, Art, Ind. Arts, etc teachers as the "oh yeah, I forgot about them" teachers. But let me tell you, each one of us takes our love for our jobs and are genuine care of our students to heart. And she is one of these teachers. She knows every student in the high school as she sees them everyday. And she works with these kids to make sure they understand their importance in school. She has taken the job of teacher physical education to level of making it a course with activity, writing, and reading which has created a complete and holistic course for her students. She pushes her students toward a positive emotional outlet through physical health and activity. Mrs. Terrell is also one of those peers that you love to have supporting your causes. I see the way that she is willing to help fellow teachers whether big or small with no hesitation. We are very lucky to have a teacher like that at PCHS.

Mr. Doughan

Oh, Mr. Doughan, there are countless adjectives to describe this man. One for me, Charisma. I enjoy talking to this man who is quite clever on the whole. He is quick witted and entertaining, yet is amazingly professional with his students. His joking ways combined with his sincere push for advanced learning makes him the teacher that he is. And his students leave this high school prepared for the advanced writing in college. In the past few years, I have watched Mr. Doughan pull his English department together and making them a strong asset in the school.

I didn't really know Mr. Doughan as a person all that well until last year when the poor man had to make the trek to the "other" building to work with online classes. It was there that the true Gary Doughan made it through to me. He has a strong sense of jealousy when it comes to microwaves and coffee makers, but other than that he is a pretty good guy. I had some struggles health wise last year and Mr.Doughan was always there to watch my class when I needed it. That is a great thing to have someone like him, there when you need them. On a personal level, I have enjoyed watching Mr. Doughan change since his children have been born. Although his love of teaching is there and will always be, I can see his desire to be with his family. His face shines when he talks about his wife and children and I think that is awesome.

Mr. Doughan = awesome

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mrs. Propst

So when I first started at this school, I was the only new teacher that year. That meant, no crazy welcome from everyone, you kinda found your place and fit in. I was OK with that, really. But one woman came up to me just smiling and introduced herself and let me know that if I needed anything, she was there.

Let me tell you, in the past 5 years, she has been there and then some. Mrs. Propst is an educator that her students will always remember. She is a teacher who makes that extra effort. She is the teacher that talks and opens up to her students and shows her heart and her passion and her genuine love of what she teaches to her students. Mrs. Propst has created programs within her Family and Consumer Science courses that make students learn through hands on experience. Her students in turn become accountable and sincere in their quest to become educated. The thing I admire most about this woman is her need to succeed as a teacher. She takes such great ownership in her style of educating. This need for change in education is a little frustrating to her. Teachers like her, understand that technology does not reach everyone in education. Some styles of teaching are timeless. Her style is one of those. I hope that she sees the impact that she makes as educator and she keeps teaching from the heart.

Ogle, Ogle, and Ogle

So the name Ogle here at PCHS is pretty similar to the name Smith in all parts of the world. Common as they come. Now the same as most Smiths, these Ogles are not always related, just the same last name.

Mr. Ogle, the Automotive teacher, is one that everyone should know. I enjoy watching the kids in Mr. Ogle's class and talking to them. Mr. Ogle teaches a class, that I don't care who you are, should take it. He teaches those things that as time has gone by, fewer and fewer people are starting to care about. Why learn how to do it yourself, when you can take it somewhere and have it fixed. Really?? I was thinking about education last night and how our students values have changed since our parents were in school. Things that they once valued, our kids today don't really care about. One of those things is taking pride in learning how to take care of things and learning how to fix them. I used to follow my dad around all summer long. I am pretty sure he would have like one afternoon break at Weaver's Cafe with guys alone instead of a seven year old following behind, but he never complained. My dad took time and taught me things about cars, about electrical, about all those things kids don't care about anymore. And thanks to him, I have those skills I can fall back on. Mr. Ogle is a lot like that. He wants his students to learn skills and traits that they can fall back on as they get older. I appreciate that in him and I wish that more people really understood the importance of his courses.

Ms. Ogle. What can I say, this lady cracks me up. She has a laugh that simply makes you laugh. Ms. Ogle is considered a special education teacher that instructs in the classroom below and to the left of me. I like the fact that she is truly interested in pushing her students to achieve and has high expectations for them. There are a lot things that we as a staff don't know about this lady. One of the things that I admire is her knowledge and understanding of her students. She knows backgrounds and hardships. She is the teacher that you see making breakfast for her students when she knows that they haven't eaten. She is the teacher that will slip kids lunch money if they simply don't have it that day. She is one of THOSE teachers.

Mr. Ogle (the young one). Now the second Mr. Ogle is a little newer to our group of teachers. I admire this man. He came into teaching a little later after proudly serving in our military. He is this bald man who is simply funny. And yes I asked him if I could call him a bald man, and he said sure. Mr Ogle has an enthusiasm that spreads like wild fire around his students. He is an English teacher here at the high school and has involved his kids by teaching them English using a tool that they love... technology. His kids write through blogging and they chat by class online. They are simply cool, and if Mr. Ogle was here, he would chime in, " their teacher." Perhaps Mr. Ogle's best personality trait (in my opinion, of course) is his ability for lively banter. Thank you for that Mr. Ogle. We need that in our school!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mr Tripp

So band has always been a pretty big deal in Paris Illinois. Recently we were lucky enough to obtain a new director of bands whose passion and love of his field is evident in everything he does. Mr Tripp loves his job and each day that I hear kids talking about their music classes is a good day. I always enjoy watching Mr. Tripp conduct. He has this enthusiasm and excitement that moves his listeners. The kids are starting to learn an appreciation for all forms of music and that is worth thank Mr. Tripp for bringing a love of music to our kids.

Ok, so I have to do it. There is one more thing that makes Mr. Tripp fabulous and that is his hair. Mr. Tripp has the best hair and that is a true compliment from the art teacher who changes her hair color every other month. He has this great conductor hair that the more he gets into conducting, the crazier it gets. It makes him seem as if he is this mad professor of the music! It is as fabulous as he is! Love it Mr. Tripp!

Mrs. Keys Classroom

After blogging about a certain special education teacher last week, I honestly felt good. I kinda keep to myself over here and like most teachers I get wrapped up in my own classroom and don't take the time to share my appreciation and admiration of others that I work with, so today I decided that I am going to start blogging about my counterparts in education and share my thoughts about them every week.

In my vocational building at the school, I get to see education in a non traditional format. We have ag and auto as well as industrial arts,horticulture, and SVE. But hidden among the lot of us is a special classroom that gets talked about little, but does wonders. I am talking about Mrs. Keys and her classroom. Mrs. Keys and her clan of classroom aides are those wonderful people who work with our students with severe disabilities. Each one of their students is special to them and they take such great pride in working and helping them learn basic life skills. I admire this group of women and the heart that that they pour into their jobs. It takes a special person to do what they do, and not only do they do their job, but they do it well...just ask their kids!

The Cell Phone

So I love my IPhone. And when I say I love my phone, I can tell you that it is my best friend. It is whom I wake up and check on in the morning and is that last person I say goodnight. It has it all. So imagine my dismay yesterday as I dropped my best friend into his favorite place in the car (the first cup holder) not thinking a thing about it, and as i got ready to get him out, I looked in absolute shock that he was sitting in a cup holder full of water. Apparently, my other best friend the Polar Pop decided to spout a leak from his holder, holder 2, into holder 1. I am not sure if it was jealously thing between the two of them or what had happened in this great relationship. Needless to say iPhone is sitting in a large bag of rice at home alone for 5 days. He was tough enough to register on my computer last night and let me download my 756 pictures from him and give me all my favorite music he carries. Now is the waiting game. 5 days. I am sure he misses me as much as I miss him. I only hope he can pull through...not sure what I will do without him.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good Morning Monday

Well, I have come to school early today, 7:15 to be precise, and yes to some of you fabulous teachers out there that is not early, but let me say for me it is WAY EARLY! And I feel pretty good. I am looking forward to the day and to the kids. There are days I would rather be at home doing the 3 loads of laundry I am behind or dusting which needs done, but today I just want to be with the kids! That is an awesome feeling!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Curriculum Maps

I used to hate the idea of laying out curriculum maps. Heck, half the time I never know what I am going to do the next day in class. We kinda roll day to day in art and need to be ready for adaptation on time, materials, etc. so therefore this teacher didn't really believe in them or like them. I always thought they should be for teachers who have a textbook or something that was solid to base their classroom on. But none the less, this year as a school we were asked to create them and turn them in. Now for me, it wasn't hard, it just took time. I know what I teach each year but seeing it on paper started to make sense as I was writing my map. The other thing I had to come to terms with, in my own little world, is that even though it is on paper, it does not set it in stone. I can change it, move it around, and do what I need to do. But it sure is nice to grab a piece of paper and check out what is next on the list. Perhaps I should begin to map out my life this way. It might just get easier. Just a little rambling note from the art teacher today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Difference Between Good and Great

I work with all kinds of people in a school. There are some really good teachers and then there are those really great teachers. Now the really great teachers are kinda sneaky. They are those teachers that never say anything about how good they are, but instead they are the ones you see that are sometimes frustrated, sometimes ask lots of questions, and sometimes never say anything at all. So the question is, how do you know they are great? Well, you start by asking the kids and watch them respond and that gives a hint, but other times you find them by simply seeing them in action. Last night I had the privilege of watching one of those great teachers. I took part in a student meeting with a special education case worker/teacher. What she brought to the floor with that parent and that child was something I had not really witnessed in too many of those meetings. Most of the time you go in, shuffle through paperwork, say a few things, and you are done. Last night in 30 minutes, I saw a teacher, this teacher, make a child feel incredibly important, special, and also accountable for their achievement in school. As I watched this teacher I could see that she takes a lot of pride and has a vested interest in the success of this student and every one that walks in the door to her room. That is so significant, because she is a woman who constantly doubts and questions herself as an educator in the system today. I think she should know that she has no reason to, because in those 30 minutes I saw a powerful teacher who makes a difference with her students. I saw a great teacher.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Regional Institute conclusion

Well, Institute was fun! I enjoy those days where you spend time with your peers and they are excited about what they are doing. I think we had one of those days! We talked a little and explored a lot! That is the key to art!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recycled Art

As I was preparing to teach at this year's Regional Teacher Institute, I was doing a lot of research online and found so much out there on Recycled Art. A little light bulb went off at that point and I realized how amazing this would be for my high school students. They have spent the last two days researching, brainstorming, creating lists, planning on materials, and all kinds of great things for one project. This one is making them think and I am so ok with that! I have found that even my mentor students, who are not in the class themselves, have volunteered time from their lunch period to collect plastic bottles for a project. A project that originally was one I was going to do, but now they have decided they would like to work on it during homeroom. Works for me. The one huge thing that is coming from this project is challenge. I have not given the students one project, with a lap full of materials, told them what I expect, and they begin. Instead I have opened a new door to them. They have ownership and expectations of their own for this one, and I look forward to seeing the results. I will make sure to post them here!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Former Students

Kelsey Wright- sculpture assignment at SIU

My girl Meghan Koester and her Photography

I have to thank Facebook for keeping me in touch with my former students! I love reading each time one of them is working on an art project for school or sometimes simply creating art for themselves. Great Stuff!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Education: Who is at fault?

Wow. I gotta tell you, I am really tired of hearing and watching everyone point fingers as to who is at fault in the world of education. Honestly it is time for us all to step up and take a little responsibility regarding the issues and conditions of today's education. We gotta start at the top and work our way down. Until the government values our countries educational system and realizes that every single public school in the country is in complete need of funding, we aren't going to get very far. Making schools that are under funded and in dire straits jump through hoops so they "might" have a chance at some funding is like shooting a horse with one bad leg in the other other and asking it to run. Not a good motivator in my eyes. We instead need to find value in our children's future and simply fund it. And thank you to the creators of Facebook for stepping up and realizing that!

Our schools are simply tired. The education and information that is pouring into our schools is coming at such enormous rate of speed that they simply can't keep up. Without the funding, schools of all shapes and sizes simply cannot provide their students the materials, the technology and everything in between to stay competitive with those that have the access. This is not an excuse, this is simply a basic fact. Educators and administrators on the whole, truly want our students to succeed. The majority of us love our jobs and we went in to education with the idea of change on our minds. Making a difference and a positive one at that. These things which we used to provide our students are support, an appreciation for our communities, the idea and value in becoming a productive citizen, and an education that will benefit them in what they choose to do in their future as an adult. I never went into education thinking "oh boy I can't wait to teach to a test." We seem to be spending an awful lot of time teaching to a test instead of teaching our students. And look where it has got us. Maybe it is time to re-evaluate the idea of testing. To me some testing is good and provides us with valuable information, but we seem to be shoving testing down the throats of our students starting at such an early age that by the time they reach high school, they could care less about the test. Maybe we should start teaching again. Having the ablility to teach relevance and importance and making our students feel successful in their knowledge and abilities. Teachers and administrators are chomping at the bit for this to happen. Honestly I can't name one teacher that is jumping up and down, yelling "pick me, pick me, to teach to the test," but I bet I can find a thousand, that would shout "pick me, pick me to make a difference and let me teach to the student."

Our kids are sadly losing their support at home. The parents aren't home like they used to be, instead they are working multiple jobs to pay bills and stay out of the debt that is rising around them. The nuclear family is gone and today there are parents, step parents, fosters , and grandparents raising these students. They work all day and all night. Quite honestly checking homework, providing quality family time, and creating a learning environment is disappearing and what is appearing are our children becoming home cooks, daycare providers for their siblings, and picking up jobs after school to help support their struggling families. The importance is shifting for kids from school to survival at home. Everyone needs to be aware of this. It wasn't planned and it isn't right, but our children's lives are shifting because of our economic and social expectations and on top of that we still want them to value education like the good old days. Let me tell you, in their eyes making eight bucks an hour at a fast food gig is way more important than writing any paper. And who's fault is it that they think this way? All of ours.

Until we stop pointing fingers, we will never fix what is breaking in our educational system. We need to look at solutions together, admit we are all guilty, and look for positive change. As a teacher, I know what I do each and everyday can make a difference. I know as a parent what I do each and everyday can make a difference. I am ready to make a difference...are you?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Basic Elements in Photography

Students completed their first major assignment in photography. They looked at the Rule of Thirds, Focus, Contrast, etc. Although this Josh Turner song isn't quite what should go with this, this teacher LOVES Josh Turner, so here he is singing along as my very TALENTED new photographers (who still have so much to learn) are showcased!

Regional Institute Day

I am preparing to present at the Regional Teacher Institute next Friday and I had no hesitation what I wanted to do. This will be the 4th time I have presented at the Institute and I love it because each time it is something different. My first presentation was back when I taught at another school and I co-presented on school improvement. My second time was on Blogger itself and my third was a co-presenter on a Fine Arts Forum. This year is something new yet again. This year I am presenting to elementary educators on adding art into their traditional classroom. I am so excited about this! I have taught for 14 years, and the first 10 years I was a pre-k through 6 grade art teacher and I loved it! There is something special about creating with young children. They get those little heads down on that table, tongue sticking out and they are officially in art zone. Don't bother them, just let them go. And they create these masterpieces that are perfect in each and every way. There is something about art and children. Art brings out something inside them, something we don't always reach just through reading and writing. I have never been able to give up working with these little ones. I still teach summer art at the Art Museum here in town and my art club always holds a winter arts festival at Wenz Elementary ever year where my high school students teach the elementary kids. I want my high school kids to see the sparkle and they do. What I do may be different from the traditional high school art teacher, is that I approach my high school students the same way I did my elementary students. I want to see that same focus in my older kids that I did my younger and sometimes that means thinking outside the box a little. My research for this new presentation has been so fun. There are things that I had "forgotten" and had that great "aha" moment again. This is going to be so much fun!