Smiles and Technology

I had the opportunity to attend the annual 1st grade Grandparent’s Day at Vera Wilsie Elementary school, which is a program assembled by the First Grade Teachers.  Each year I, along with the other attendees, really enjoy watching our students perform.  It’s also enjoyable to watch the other group involved in this event as well, namely; the grandparents themselves.  The smiles exhibited by this group are abundant and the resulting positive energy in the room is great.

I also noticed something else about what occurs during this program that probably wasn’t present several years ago.  I would guess that cameras have always been present during programs like this.  What might be different, however is the number of cameras, iPads, mobile phones, and other video technology utilized by attendees.  As part of the story-time portion of the program our staff was able to utilize a document camera to project the book for the large group to see.  Technology is everywhere and our students are familiar with a technological environment.  I would venture to guess that perhaps one of these 1st grade students will end up helping their grandparent to upload and/or edit the pictures and video taken that day. Possibly there will be more smiles as a result!

Let’s give credit to the Vera Wilsie teachers and staff who organized this event and the grandparents who attended. The students and parents thank you!




I Like to Help People

This week, I was alerted to the fact that one of our very own 4th grade students at Velma Matson Upper Elementary had started something really great.  Iris Herrera talked with her Mom about the fact that in her class during snack time, Iris noticed some students never ate.  Iris didn’t necessarily pry into the reasons why but her heart compelled her to do something, so Iris and her mother set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for snacks for students at school.

Curious about this initiative, I spoke with both Iris and her Mom.  Ms. Herrera and Iris were both nervous when setting up the fundraising account.  Questions ensued.  What if by doing this, we offend people?  What if nobody contributes or participates?  What if we don’t reach our goal?  These questions, while very real, didn’t deter Iris from setting a goal and moving forward.  Lo and behold, the monetary goal was not only reached but is was surpassed!

Shortly after this all got started, I asked Iris, “Why did you do this?”  Her eyes lit up and she beamed, “I like to help people. It feels good.”  That simple conversation provided great insight.  This entire experience turned out to prove two things:  1.)  We have young people in our community who are capable of seeing the needs of others and devising a plan to help them and 2.)  The community’s support of Iris’ work is yet more evidence of how special the Newaygo community is.

This is Hard, But I Know I Can Do It

I tried to visit most of the classrooms this week as we kicked off the 2014-2015 school year.  In making rounds at the Upper Elementary, I stepped into Mrs. Cotner’s second grade classroom.  In her classroom at that time, the students were on the floor playing with toys.  They were building things with the various toys either working alone or with a partner or group.  I turned my head over to an area where a little girl was working on a project trying to put together some pieces.  She then exclaimed, “Wow, the teacher was right. This is hard. But I know I can do it!”  This student wasn’t talking to anyone in particular as she working by herself on a task at that time.  In fact, Mrs. Cotner didn’t even hear the statement as she assisting another student on a different project.

What a powerful lesson in “self-talk” from a 2nd grader!  I don’t know the student’s name and I am certain she doesn’t even know that I heard her declaration.  I just smiled and exited the room and took comfort in knowing that whatever that child chooses to do in life, she will be successful.  I hope all of us can learn something from this 2nd grade student in Mrs. Cotner’s class and use it for this school year and in our lives.  Yes, this is hard… but I know I can do it!