Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thunder Mountain Middle School

Close & Lock!!!

As the final curtain call for TMMS arrives my heart is in my throat. With eyes filled with tears I watch as the last bus exit the bus holding area. Teachers are lined up waving their last good-byes and knowing they will never be on that same spot again.

Some of us are moving on to Cactus Canyon Junior High School, the new name for our only junior high in Apache Junction. Some will move to other elementary and high school positions. Others will go to new destinations.

As for me I am not ready to close the doors to TMMS, and it is with a heavy heart that I must box up my belongings and move forward. It has been one of the hardest events of my life.

I find myself looking around my room and wondering how am I going to move forward. Just like the students that I teach I have such mix feelings. This has been my home for so many years, and it is not like I am leaving to move on to a different position in the district. I am closing the doors on a school that I have called home for 13 years. It may seem like a simple thing to do but as I look around at my students and my room I am feeled with so much emotion.

It is like leaving a home you have lived in and loved for so many years. A school may be a foundation to some but it is a place where I made my students feel safe, where they had a place to learn, and where they learned so many lessons about life. We will continue on but we will always remember where we were raised.

My mother told me when I left Florence that her and my dad gave me wings to explore new horizons and roots to always know where your home is. I always knew I could count on them for guidance and love, and I would always have the foundation to move forward.

When I lock my doors for the final time I will take with me the memories that only school teachers can know and love. I will pack that final box and wonder when I open it again where will I place that precious piece of me and my memories.

I don't need the time capsule that they haven't found to be a reminder of what my memories have been because I will have them in my boxes. And when I pull out each reminder I will know each and every memory by heart. I will place them in a special place of honor.

Thunder Mountain home of the world famous Mrs. Henry (Liz, Jen, Tricia, and Tara will know what that means)!

God Bless this home of mine that will be closed on May 28, 2010. Keep it safe and ready for our return. Dear Lord if this is not in your vision for the future please find a good caretaker. It has such special memories for me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Only the Lord Knows......

I do know that The Lord puts us in places where we need to be and only gives us as much as He thinks we can deal with at the time.

On February 23, 2010 at about 6:40 p.m. the announcement of the closure of two schools in Apache Junction was presented to the Apache Junction Unified School District Board at a special board meeting. Silly me thinking I could handle this because I have known that this would be inevitable since around October. I thought I prepared myself better to go and be there as a representative of someone that opened TMMS (1997) and was living in the boundaries of Gold Canyon when it opened 25 years ago.

It was the hardest thing I have had to do in a long time. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable but never to this extent. What I really didn't expect was to have a few respresentatives of the district rally for a fair RIF matrix of staff because of the closures. What were they thinking!!!!

On one hand we have the closure of 2 schools and staff that are dealing with the closure of their schools, one 13 years and one 25 years. I wasn't thinking about where I would be next year, Nancy Combs wasn't thinking of where she would be, and some of the other teachers affected weren't thinking about where would they be! We were thinking (some of us at Thunder Mountain Middle School and Gold Canyon Elemenrary School) what will happen to the place we call home (the dedicated ones that spend more than 8+ hours a day there and weekends). It is the only constant in some of our lives. Most of us were thinking how can we go to school tomorrow and face our students without tears in our eyes or a lump in our throat. I don't have time to think about what will happen next year or where I will be because I STILL have students that depend on me to be there for them. They deserve to have me be the same person I was when I started this year.

How dare you worry about the matrix when I am worried about the students that have to leave this school or GC. How dare you talk about seniority when I want only the best teachers for my students! If you have to worry about this then really you must not be very secure in your ability to promote yourself or what YOU have done for kids lately. I know the impact I have on kids. I know what my principals, past and present, think of me. I know what students think of me. Do I worry about my job or lack of one next year? ABSOLUTELY! But right now I have to be there for my students. Maybe those teachers that are worried about their jobs do so because they are not doing what they need to do to secure it. Maybe those teachers do have seniority but do they do what is right by kids. If you have to worry about your job, then you AREN'T doing your job.

I woke up this morning and got ready for work like I always do. I went to Starbucks and saw Jenny, my daughter, there. I talked to her for a bit and got teary eyed when I told her about the board meeting. Jenny told me that so much has happened in the past year that has left me so raw and was understandable to be sad. I had put those emotional incidents aside because I know I have to be there for my students. When I drove away and pulled into TMMS I sat there for a bit. The lump in my throat was so huge I wasn't sure I could swallow my Chai. I walked to my room and sat and let the tears roll down.

Once again I have to say Goodbye to a friend. Almost 15 years ago I said goodbye to my best friend, Brian Hosey. I have never forgotten that day. When the end of June rolls around I always go to school to be by myself even if it is for an hour before the grandkids come. I pull out my picture of him and talk to him. I tell him how much I miss him and wish he was there with me. I sit and reflect on how much has happened since he left this world.

My mother died about 2 Thanksgivings ago. She always loved to hear about what I am doing at school. At that time my friend that replaced Brian at Four Peaks, Eric Samuels, was diagnosed with renal cancer. I watched his family go through the heartbreak of having Eric in so much pain. My friend, Beth was such an inspiration, to be with him every step of the way. He passed away at the beginning of this school year. My heart broke again.

In January I attended the funeral of my favorite substitute, Bill Cooper. He was the one substitute that I trusted with my lessons and kids. My heart hurt so much. I was so proud that I got up and spoke about Bill and the impact he had on Tara and on me. I am so glad I got to say this to his family. I told them how much he meant to me and how proud he was of his family. Bill and I spoke about our kids together and knew all of them through each of our stories. He would watch Tara and Trica play when his granddaughter from Coronado would play us. Tara got to know him well and would always go and hug him. I still love and miss you Billy Boy.

In May I have to say goodbye to my friend of 13 years, Thunder Mountain Middle School. You have been a wonderful friend and place I called my home-away-from-home for those years. Thank you for the memories, the laughter in your walls, the place that protected the students who attended since the beginning, the Pride of the Coyotes, and for many times that some of us teachers creeped in so early in the morning or very late at night. Thank you for keeping us safe and a place that we could be proud of forever. Your heart will be a part of our existence and will remain there until we meet again. I love you TMMS!

My Dear Lord, give me the strength to move forward because I know this is what you want for me. Thank you for giving me the time I had at TMMS with my friends there and my students. I have been the best teacher I could have been for all my students and am leaving this place with so many memories. Thank you for allowing me this time in my life to experience the wonderful people I call friends and the students that I have had the opportunity to be a small part in their lives. In your hands is my future. I trust you to make the best decision for me. Keep my students safe and would only ask for them to have the best teachers next year. I ask this in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It Has to be Hard to be a Mom of Boys

I wouldn't know because I had four beautiful girls. They entertained themselves (oh, except for Tricia because she could always con her dad into playing "My Little Ponys" with her), they were clean, they didn't wrestle, they ate every meal without much fuss, and were very easy to raise.

My two oldest daughters gave us 3 wonderful little boys who we lavish much love on every day. All of my girls are home now so the boys have much showing off to do for their Aunties. And their Aunties want to make sure that they are always loved.

On Saturday we took all the boys to see "Where the Wild Things Are" and all the girls and Grammy were there. What an event this was! Zane and Henry had comments for most everything. We never realized how loud their voices are because they play so hard at home. It sounded like bugles. They loved the show but didn't know how to lower the volume of what they were saying. Zach tried to act brave but thought some parts were kind of scary. He kind of hung on Tricia toward the second half of the show.

As a mother my heart was always in my throat because I wasn't allowed to run onto the court when one of the girls got hit or fell in basketball; this was unheard of in our house as the wife of a coach. I remember when Tricia got elbowed in the eye during a summer game and split her eyebrow open. I went to the lockerroom to check on her and Liz and Jenny were trying to patch her eye so I went back and sat down. When I saw her dad get ready to put her back in, Jenny turned and told me not to say one word that Tricia was fine. They must have done a pretty good job because there wasn't much of a scar to this day. I am truly amazed at how tough these girls were. Maybe the Lord knew it would be okay for them to have boys because Liz and Jen have done an amazing job raising boys.

They don't freak out when they rough each other up and tend to mop up cuts and scraps that come with rough housing. After the month we have had with Henry and Zach at the hospital, I am truly amazed at how proud of the way my girls have gone with the flow.

Henry had an intestinal virus after three nights at Banner Desert and Zach with a split lip and baby tooth knocked out playing football at school. Grammy and their aunties have a hard time knowing they are hurt and hearts are heavy but try to remain brave. We will never freak out in front of them or their parents but come home with hearts that feel like breaking.

Tricia and I were talking after she visited Zach and said she just wanted to cry about her Bear and his busted lip (she has always called Zach, Bear). She said his lip is swollen and luckily it was a baby tooth and the permanent is coming in. Zach knew more than the Emergency doctor. He told Liz that it wasn't his permanent tooth because he said that one has been loose for a while now and wouldn't fall out.

I know I will not be allowed to speak at any of my grandson's games when they get older even though I will want to be out on that field or court pushing anyone that comes close to hurting them.

I promise I will not embarrass my grandboys, I promise I will not embarrass my grandboys, oh bother I probably will. I hope they know that I love them more than my life.

Dear Lord, please protect my grandchildren on and off the playing field. Please guide them with your loving heart to be a good friend, athelete, and human being. With your grace and love help them to be the kind of little boys that grow to be fine young men. I ask this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blast From the Past

Today I started my NAU/CAC cohort class. I rushed home only to find my grandsons at their Auntie G's house. I miss the days that I don't see them.

WOW, what a class! Before I left school (knew I had limited time when I got home)I printed my class list. I like to look at names and see if any names are names of my students' names. I saw this name today Starkey (last name). I thought wouldn't it be funny if she is related to Robert(Bob) Starkey who was a teacher at AJJHS when I was Secretary to Students Services. (I think you know where this is going) When I was calling roll today I stopped at her name and very sarcasticly said, "Your dad's name isn't Bob is it?" She looked up and said, "No, please don't tell me you know him." I stopped and started laughing. I asked her if he taught at AJJHS once and was told yes. I told her to text her dad and tell him if he remembered Pito Perez. She did and he said WHAT? Then she asked him if he remembered Lydia Henry. He said, "OMG!"

Bob Starkey was the Spanish teacher at AJJHS the last few years I was there before I started ASU. I did attendance by hand, and the teachers would send the attendance every hour to me to input in my register (I did ADM and ADA by hand-we had no computer program for this yet). Bob would send the attendance and Pito Perez would appear absent everyday and sometimes for a treat he would send this Mexican woman (me)a message in Spanish for me to translate. He was real disappointed in me that I didn't know Spanish being the daughter of two fluent-speaking parents. I always was close to the correct translation. What a wonderful teacher he was! We were lucky to have Bob as a teacher.

"The circle of life" does exist. If I can touch his daughter's life the way that he touched my life I will feel that I have been a success.

Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of "the circle of life" and being able to impact the students that I teach to be educators. I know that you have placed me here with someone that long ago talked to me about me going on to pursue the educational field. I wasn't sure at that time if this was something that I could do. So thank you, Lord for this opportunity to let Bob Starkey know how much I appreciate the confidence he had in me when I wasn't sure I had that confidence in myself. I will work hard to help Bob's daughter and the rest of her class be the best they can be.

Lord, I have had three surprises today when I know that my friend, Eric is preparing for his entry into your Heavenly Kingdom. Thank you for them. Today, I heard that Troy Gingrich's wife gave birth today to twins. Then Jessica and Jamie (Samuels) stopped by today. They were looking for Jenna who was visiting her 6th grade teachers. She took off so they came and found me (I think my heart stopped for a split second-knew they wouldn't be here for that) for me to find her. I did. I did an "all call." I think they needed to see me as much as I needed to see them. You knew I needed to be reminded of your love. Thank you so much for this part of the Samuels' love that will be remembered. And third, You gave me Jennifer Christine Starkey to remind me of "The Circle of Life." Please Lord, bless these families with your undying love. Let them feel your strength and love. I ask this in the Name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 7, 2009

"The Wheels of the Bus go Round and Round....."

As the year approaches, I am always excited to see what the new year brings. Monday was the official end of "Grammy Daycare" and what a sad day for me that was. I feel so fortunate to have my grandkids here so summers with my grandboys are very special to me. Wednesday was the first full day that I was gone from the boys since the beginning of the summer.

For the first time in all the years that I have been teaching in Apache Junction, I was so sad and frustrated that I was beginning a new school year. When I got home I really didn't want to dwell on this but I knew I had to get it out. I talked to Cy, and he wouldn't let me have a pity party for myself. He said that I could let it ruin my beginning of the year or just put it down to inexperience. I laid awake most of the night thinking of how I was going to get through this year. Do I really need to be teaching anymore? Do I want to? Do I make a difference? Will I miss what I do?

So, after thinking about what was said on Wednesday this is what I don't like:
1. I don't like someone telling me that there is no way that I can be evaluated with all commendables (proficiency is the new word) even if I am.
2. I don't like "Gloomy Gus" approach to the first day of all teacher reporting.
3. I don't like negatives because I am always a positive person.

I feel that motivating me in a small way will go further to getting me to be the best I can be. I am on campus before 6 most mornings, I work hard to find ways to motivate my students, I listen to their problems when I see something is not right with them, I do whatever duties that I have to do as assigned, I help others, I am a good listener, I am a nurse when the nurse can't help them, I am parent when a parent is lacking and discipline is needed, I try to be at events that are important to my students, etc., etc. So when I get the negative side on a day when we should be pepped up since we are frozen on the salary schedule, insurance is high, class sizes are growing, duties are increased, activities decreased, and all the gloom and doom has been delivered I have a tendency to want to rethink what I am doing here. I gave up that day with my grandkids to listen to this? So not worth it. What a sad day Wendesday was.

So wondering how I was going to look forward to the start of the school year I had choices to make. Do I allow this to ruin my year or do I move on and hope that Friday's "Welcome Back" will help me to be energized?

Thank You! Thank you! Thank you, Jim Lockwood and Chad Wilson. Jim Lockwood was hysterical in a very dry way and Chad you lead in an incredible heartfelt way. I truly felt moved that I can put Wednesday behind me and hope that was how it was planned that my principal needed to be tough because he was rebuilding after our other principal left midyear last school year. I can do most things if I am appreciated for the job I do. With so much budget cuts, I am not a stupid person that I don't know that is school year will be tough but don't kill the people that have been your soldiers when times are bad. Pump up you soldiers, and they will do anything for you or die trying.

When those first busses wheel to a stop in front of Thunder Mountain Middle School I will be ready for my first set of classes of the school year. I know I will be ready for them because I have the ability to make a successful year or not. I will be the best worker bee that I can. All that I am asking in return is to tell me occasionally that I am valued. Also encourage me to be "proficient" in all areas of my evaluation. I know I can but someone else has got to believe that I can. I would never tell any student on the first day of school that students couldn't get an A because I have high expectations so why tell me that. I refuse to accept that I am not "proficient" in all areas.

Dear Lord, guide our administrators, principals, board members and parents to be kind to the people that have an impact on the students' lives. Have them remember that compliments and encouragement go a long way to making someone feel valued. And Dear Lord, I will need your abundance strength and love to make sure I am everything to those students that I teach. Keep me strong and positive so I will remember that they are just kids. Never let me forget this. Please Lord, make sure all teachers are reminded to treat kids kindly and love them for being who they are.

The wheels of the bus go round and round.......Welcome to Thunder Mountain Middle School and Mrs. Henry's class. Let's make this year spectacular!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What I Like Most About my Girls

These are the things that I like most about my girls. They love tradition, each other, their family, and most important they love their nephew(s).

Starting Friday all the girls were off so that let me off of a day of watching my young charges for the day. I could have planned a quiet day of doing nothing or spend the day with them. I chose to spend my day off with the girls and the boys. I try not to miss out on too many of these days because I know one day the boys will be grown and have lives of their own. What a great day and thanks to Jenny and Liz for capturing these moments.

Saturday started with Tara and I waiting for everyone getting here. Jada and I had spent some quality time together. She gets a little jealous being the only female and my time spent with the boys. When we thought that we got the time wrong in comes everyone with 5 minutes of each other. We knew that Liz and Dan had to get back to the July 4th preparations so Cy had the steaks ready by 3:05. We all started right away. What great food we had!

About every 20 minutes or so Zane would ask Sasha (not sure if Zane and Henry both call Tricia that but I love it) that we wanted to "go to mobie and popporn?" Jenny got on line about that 5th time he said this. So off Tricia, Joe, Tara, Jenny, Ryan, Zach, Zane, and Henry went to the movies. They came back more wound up than when they left. About an hour after getting home we all headed out to Apache Junction Parks and Recreation's Fireworks held at Davis Field at AJHS. Parks and Recreation outdid themselves. What an amazing fireworks display! Heard Mesa didn't have fireworks but our little town managed to still keep tradition alive.

Girls you will never regret the love you have for your nephew(s). Liz is "yis" to Henry and tries real hard to pay back all the sneaking we did to her two boys. Tricia and Tara are "Auntie" to all three and Jenny is "G" to Zane and Jenny to Zach. My girls make sure none of the boys feel the least bit slighted for attention. I am lucky to have girls that want to do things with their sisters and family.

Liz, you cannot believe how proud I am of your involvement with your job. Today, I noticed that you could have left the clean up crew on their own and Rich would make sure his football boys did what needed to be done. You were right there with them working along side of them and wanting to make this worth their community service provided them with my tacos and beans. It doesn't go unnoticed that you do your job above and beyond what you should do as a supervisor. Your dad has always said that people never mind working for someone that works just as hard as they do or more. I am so proud of the job you do for P & R.

All my girls you have made Dad and I proud of how you turned out. Each of you work hard and never have been lazy workers. You are amazing and well respected in your jobs because you are not afraid to work hard. You are successful because you know how to work and never have to be told what needs to be done. Oh, yeah, that doesn't include when you were young and your rooms were a mess. It was easier to just close your door.

Happy 4th Of July weekend and thank you all for more memories of our times together. They are priceless and thankfully captured on film.

Aunties, thank you for taking care of your nephews and making sure they are loved. They are so lucky to be a part of you and as Zach always said, "fam-i-ly!"

I love all four of you so much.