Friday, July 11, 2014

Nine Years and Counting

2013-2014 School Year in Review 

This was my 3rd year in the great state of Texas and my first year at my current district (to remain nameless for professional purposes). This district is more like the district I grew up in and graduated from in Arp, TX. A small town, small district school on the very northern part of Montgomery county and Conroe. 

The elementary campus I teach at has about 700 students enrolled and is about 300-400 students smaller than my previous position in Spring. The type of student enrolled in this school is also very different than what I had he previous 2 years. These students come from the smaller town and it does not feel like I am teaching at an inner city school or urban area anymore. I was very uncomfortable with this the past few years so this situation makes me feel so much better. 

I had a great year and enjoyed working alongside such wonderful teachers, staff and administrators but more importantly the students. These students were great and I loved teaching hem and watching them grow. We had some great times throughout the year but here are a few of the highlights: 

The Meet the Teacher night and Back to School night were very memorable because they really showed me what this district and campus would be like and really left a good lasting impression on me. Huge thanks to all he teachers and community members for helping me feel right at home. 

The Pumpkin Run that was led by Coach Tammy Schneider, my teammate, was one of the most unique and fun things I have ever seen done in elementary school and it was just the tip of the iceberg for Tammy! She really is amazing and I am so grateful God allowed me to be her teammate. Thank you, Tammy for all you do. 

We had another fun run called the Turkey Trot and it too was a lot of fun for the kids! I was also able to help out and experience the Veterans Museum that the teachers, staff AND students prepared for our community! Wow... This was amazing and so impressive! 

This is always a busy month in school with all the holiday celebrations and concert and this year proved to be the same. I did have my first program of the year in late December with my 3rd grade classes. We performed a fabulous Christmas Carol concert using the musical instruments "BOOM-WHACKERS". These are musical tubes (much like PVC pipes) that produce different pitches when hit. They are so cool and I only wish they were around back when I was 10 years old. This concert also included a "Movement/Motion" part to it where our kids performed things like streamers, ball drums and a parachute routine to more Christmas carols. This combined Music and Movement which is a cornerstone of my teaching philosophy and got to incorporate PE into the program as well. Once again, I would not have been able to pull it off without Tammy! Have I told you how awesome she is! 

There are basically two words to sum up this month- RODEO ART! As part of my contract, I am responsible for teaching the Texas Arts TEKS as well as teaching an art lesson once per 6 weeks. I usually tie this lesson to music but 1 time a year I have to have our kids participate in a Houston-Wide competition called Rodeo Art. Here the students draw free art that has to do with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Then we have a school-wide and district-wide art show where the art is critiqued and then chosen to go down to Houston for the ACTUAL rodeo. Since I only have .05% of art in a single bone of my body, this was a HUGE struggle for me. There were lots of "can you show me how to draw this Mrs. Davis" and "what shades should I use here" to which I had to answer "ummmm.... I don't know" to all of these. This was really hard for me to take 6 weeks off of teaching music as well but now that I know how this works I am more prepared for this coming school year! 

This is one of my favorite months of the school year because I get to attend the Texas Music Educators Association Conference in San Antonio. This is the most amazing conference and I learn SO MUCH and come back feeling refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. This year I got to share this opportunity with the other music teachers from my district which made the experience even better. 

This too is also I month I LOVE... But this is because of the much needed and deserved SPRING BREAK. This year I had a 1st Grade Concert/Program the Thursday before Spring Break which made for a very long few weeks. This concert was really cool because it was based around Rock and Roll and the kids got to use basic rhythm sticks to "Rock out". It also included a movement portion where the kids got to Rock Out while moving out! This was one of my favorite programs I have done to date.

Coach Tammy Schneider and I after the "Rock and Roll" 1st Grade Concert! 

This was a BUSY month for our school with state-wide STAAR tests and long teaching days. The STAAR tests allowed my team to bring in special speakers to talk to our kids about anything from teamwork to trusting exercises to extreme animals. This was so cool and I am already looking forward to it for next year. Once again, it could not have happened without my wonderful team and administrators/counselors. 

I also had the privilege of planning a STAAR pep-rally based on baseball. This was so cool for me because I LOVE baseball. I was able to get the High School baseball and softball teams as well as the High School drum line. This was another perk of being in a small district. And my ex-MLB pitcher/ superintendent even came out and threw some pitches! One of he highlights of my year! 

We also had "Soar Over STAAR" day where our testing kids got to relax from testing being over and have some real fun. This included basic field day type of activities PLUS a rock climbing wall. This was so cool and special (little did I realize how hard rock climbing really was at the time... More on this later). 

This was a BUSY month at my school with all kinds of "end-of-year" activities. This was also the close of our District Honor Choir at their Spring Concert. This was very special since we had been working on these pieces since the fall semester. It was extra meaningful to me because it combined students from all 5 elementary schools  and I was able to teach and work with all of them, 150+, in a large concert setting. This was also the only time this year I got to formally conduct, which is where my true passion lies. 

Yes... I had to go to school in June. I fact, thanks to 3 ICE DAYS (in Houston nonetheless) I had to go until June 10th. It was awful! But it was only 10 days and then my summer could begin. FINALLY! 

This was a fantastic year and I finally feel like I am "at home" here in Houston. I am so lucky and blessed to work alongside such wonderful people and teach such great kids. Thank You, Lord for this opportunity! 

Next year (2014-2015) is the BIG 1-0! TEN YEARS... I cannot believe it! It feels like only yesterday I was student teaching. I have learned a lot in my 9 years but I think I will learn even more in the next 29 years (ha, I'm on the "90 plan" for retirement). Once again... 

God is good... ALL the time! 

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