Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not Your Average

Between some kids being pulled this way and that way for stage crew and orff ensemble, it was a little bit of a mixed-up day today, but that's okay. The kids all created some interesting animals that are adaptable to any environment. They are very cool, so if you're walking around Woodbrook, you'll have to keep an eye out for them.

We also watched our orff ensemble members Nick Snow and Noah Spangler up there on the stage today as they played their instruments for the entire school. It was a very nice performance--great work, guys!

I hope everyone got outside today. It was way too beautiful not to enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Please pardon my slacker-like attention to this blog over the past week. In getting back into the groove this week (not discounting ISTEP at all), this has fallen by the wayside. Here are some highlights:
  • ISTEP has come and gone. And good riddance, say the kids! (Their teacher isn't too broken-hearted, either...)
  • In Social Studies, we've been studying the Trail of Tears. It's horrific, and the kids were asked to make some tough decisions. Very interesting talk today in class.
  • In Math, we've been talking rates, proportions, ratios, unit rates, scale drawings and models, and all that kind of stuff. They seem to be getting it pretty well overall. Expect a test on Friday or early next week.
  • I've received compliments on how well-behaved my class is from Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Moon, Mrs. Haberfield, the substitute who was in my class Friday afternoon, and a volunteer mom in the library! I'm so happy with these kids! And just like it is every year, I get them just the way I want them...and then they're going on to sixth grade. Sigh.
Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Many Children Left Behind

It's been a rough week here at WB.

When I first came to WB ten years ago, it really grabbed me what a family feel this place has to it. It's not just me. People who move from WB to a different school say that's the first thing they notice about the new school--it just doesn't feel like WB. We've always prided ourselves on the way this place feels like one giant family. We look out for each other. When one person hurts, everyone jumps in and comes together.

I think this is the greatest legacy left behind by Mr. A. He always told us that there were more important things than numbers and assimilation. Things like individuals. And this comes from someone with excellent statistics. In the end, he was far more worried about people than he was his numbers.

The first time I went in to visit him at the hospital, Mr. A looked at me, and the first thing he said was, "It's amazing how quickly everything can change, Jeff. It's amazing how all the sudden, so much that mattered before suddenly doesn't matter at all." He sat me down and held my hand while he started telling me about how well the boys were doing in school and all of their accomplishments. He had e-mailed me a few times during the school year to tell me about how much he appreciated what I had done for them.

In my nine years as a full-time teacher, and ten years here at WB, I've experienced death a few other times like this. Each time, it rings out through the entire school and shows what a family WB really is. This was always something that Mr. Akin always took such great pride in. The way everyone can bicker and fight all the way through their lives together, but the moment something especially tragic or especially wonderful happens, everyone comes together for each other. I've always prided myself on the fact that my classes tend to be like a family. I've always said that I don't expect everyone to always get along, but I do expect you all to stick up for one another when it counts. And as we've moved through this school year, I've found that to be true more and more.

One thing that I think I need to remind you about, and one thing that Mr. A reminded me of when I visited him in the hospital that first day, is that you as kids should never ever ever judge your worth as a human being based on how well you do in school as long as you really are trying your hardest (and you know whether you are or not, don't fool yourself), and not based on how well you do in sports or piano competitions or cheerleading or whatever you do. Those things, those grades, those trophies and medals...those are just things that are sitting next to you. Those aren't any part of what you are as a person.

As proud as Mr. Akin always was of his accomplishments both as a soccer coach with several state titles and as the principal of the school who got the top ISTEP scores in the state, I know that in the end, his true pride was that WB was a family while we were under his reign. And even though you're leaving for bigger and better things next year, I hope you all realize that you're still going to be a part of the WB family. Just like when you move away to college, you'll still be a member of your family. I think this is the greatest tribute we can give him: to hold these things dear. To take care of each other. To stand up for one another. To always be a family.

Now that Mr. A is gone, we have to take this idea--this command--and do it. We have to look out for each other. We can't let it start anywhere else, because it probably wouldn't. I have no control over your actions, but I know what I would do. And you know what you should do, too.


Monday, April 19, 2010


Hey, guys, just an update. The visitation for Mr. Akin is from 2:00 to 8:00 at Flanner Buchanan in Carmel. The funeral is at 3:30 on Thurday at St. Luke's on 86th Street in Indy.

The kids were real troopers today.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mr. A

Rest in peace, old friend. By all of us teachers, by the thousands and thousands of students you influenced over the years, by your family and extended family, you are already missed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Funny What One Compliment Can Do

I wanted to pass along that I received two compliments from two different specials teachers in the last two days about how wonderful my class was. Both of them told me that my class had made a profound change over the course of the year, which of course made my head inflate about ten sizes. I told the kids that same thing, and I told them that they deserved to feel extremely proud of themselves as well. Understand that this extends to you as parents as well.

And after receiving a compliment like that, it's funny how nothing else that happens within a day really matters.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Owl Cuisine

Well, the kids just spent the entire morning dissecting owl pellets. It turned out much better than I expected it to, and they weren't nearly as grossed out as what figured they would be. I really wish I had my camera here to take some pictures of it. They even glued the bones onto black paper and labeled it with the proper names of each bone.

It really is a neat project, especially if you have some patience. In a world full of high-speed internet text messaging, patience is something of a lost art. Luckily at least a few of the kids in here still have some. At best, they looked like little forensic scientists (okay, maybe "little" is the wrong word--youthful, maybe?). At worst, they at least had a great time digging through the bone piles.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And Everything Switches Back Again

So the internet wasn't working after school today, so here I am updating from here. As you undoubtedly saw from the kids' workload after school today, we're not going light on anything just because it's post-spring break time. You--I'm SURE--know all about the Caesar's English, Spelling, and etc. etc., as well as the Science vocab quiz on Friday as well as the Reading assignments for this week.

Also, my Math class should know that they not only have a vocabulary sheet due tomorrow, but also 1-4 on Study Link 8.6.

We're done with the BIG projects, but that doesn't mean that I won't be keeping them plenty busy between now and the end of May.

Hope everybody had a great, restful Spring Break!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Harsh Timing Abounds

I want to apologize for the fact that there were no comments on the report cards today. I received them too late to get the on there! I'll try to write something up for each child before the end of break.

Everyone, have a great spring break. See y'all in just over a week.