Thursday, September 04, 2014

What I've learned from challenging myself...

When I decided to enroll in the Education Specialist program 2 years ago, I did it for several reasons...partly to help me reach my Masters + 30 credits that would lead to a pay increase in my salary but more than that, I wanted to learn something new and to be challenged to consider future leadership positions. I've often been encouraged that I should consider leadership roles but I've never been willing to step out of my comfort zone out of the classroom. I've taken many classes over the years to earn my Masters degree and continuing education but its been a long time since I felt that I really learned anything new in a class or felt anything really challenged my thinking. I wanted to explore new things. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to at least have the opportunity for change down the road.

The past two years have been a whirlwind. I was fortunate to have been able to take my classes online. I didn't miss any family time or events for my kids. I may have lost some sleep and been busy, trying to accomplish all my assignments, but it was a great option for me and my family. I was nervous about not being able to connect with classmates in the same way I would in class, but I was fortunate to have connected with a great group of fellow educators. We helped each other through challenging assignments, problem solved questions both for our courses and in our classrooms and built friendships.

The topics and assignments through this Education Leadership program helped me gain experiences, knowledge and made connections that I may not have had otherwise. It challenged me to consider new perspectives on our program, my role and our impact on students and the community. I gained a better understanding of school systems, evaluation of my teaching and our programs, and was challenged to think of solutions and seek evidence that support what we do.

I knew that someday, I'd be ready to step out of the classroom and seek new roles. I planned at some point to seek out a Teacher Consultant position. Beyond that, possibly teach at the college level. What I didn't know was that the next step was closer than I thought. As one of our Teacher Consultant's retired last year, I was encouraged to consider applying for the position. At first, I wasn't sure I was ready but after considering my options, talking to other TCs and colleagues, I decided to apply. I think once I wrapped my head around the idea, I was even more hopeful I'd be given the opportunity. I was lucky to have been offered the position in the spring and even had the chance to begin that role part time at the end of the school year. It gave me time to get my feet wet, make connections and get a better idea of what I needed to be ready for.

As this school year begins, I'm excited about the new role ahead of me. I'm fortunate to work with a great team who has been very supportive. I'm thankful for those who believe in me and encouraged me along the way. I'm thankful for the experiences I've had and the opportunity to have been able to pursue this degree and position. I'm hoping to have an even bigger impact on more students and educators over the next few years. I want to use my knowledge and experience to help guide teachers and support students with Autism to be successful. I know I'll face many challenges, both big and small, but I've gained the confidence that I can face them professionally and productively.

On a side note, as part of my program, I had to do an Action Research project. Last year brought a lot of new technology to my classroom and I wanted to see how I could use that more effectively. If you're interested in seeing what I learned and did, feel free to check out the website I developed to share my research and results: Action Research Website - Exploring Ways to Increase Technology Use and Student Engagement

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

First Day of School 2014

They're off! All three kids are in the same elementary school beginning today for the next three years! Yeah! We love our elementary school and we have been blessed with three awesome teachers this year! I can't wait to see what the year holds for them.

This year did start off a little differently for us though. Jacob came down with a tummy bug yesterday and although he's feeling better today, we played it safe and kept him home today instead of sending him to school. In all my years as a student or teacher, I've never missed the first day of school but I'm so thankful my new position this year allows me a bit more flexible schedule and since I didn't have a classroom I had to be in today, I was able to take the day off with him. He actually already asked to practice math and we plan to do some reading and writing today, too. He should be officially a 2nd grader tomorrow.

I was glad to have had the chance to see Sarah and Adam get on the bus and go up to the school to see them get settled into their new classrooms. All three kids are excited about their teachers and had several friends in their classes. I think its going to be a great year!

 And they're off!

 On his way in!

 She looks so grown up!

 Cracking up at his cheesy grin as he walked by!

 Jacob found his desk and found all of his sister's good friends around him!

 My handsome boy!

 My pretty little lady!

Adam and his buddy in Kdg!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Play ball!

As summer comes to an end this weekend, its hard to believe that its been weeks since we were at the ballpark! for 8 weeks, we had no less than 5-6 games a week. It kept us busy but it was lots of fun. Jacob's already looking forward to next year. I found a few more pics hanging out on my phone that I wanted to remember.

Jacob on 1st base

Eye on the ball!

Jacob's first time as catcher

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer fun in photos

As usual, the kids and I made a Summer Fun List back and June and we're doing our best to accomplish everything on it! We'll have to forget about or put off a few things but we've done a LOT this summer. As a mom, we've had a busy, fun summer...but I've done nothing productive other than finish up my classes! Oh well! We've made lots of memories and had a great time. 

About 90% of these things are crossed off!

First visit to a Lego Store!

First time canoeing!

First time doing a Park-a-pa-looza with friends!

First time trying out a high ropes course!


First time tubing (this was NOT a hit with the kids!)

Detroit Zoo and the polar bears

A second canoe trip and their first time helping to paddle

First time fishing! (he didn't catch anything)

A new splash park on vacation

LOTS of reading...
I've read more books this summer than I've read in the last 2 years I think!

Jacob dove into chapter books!

Sarah read more books than I can count!

Lots of beach time, even with our friends!

Summer would not be complete without a visit to Applewood
My three ball players!

We raised Painted Lady butterflies this summer and then set them free! 
Such a fun process!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Beaches, lighthouses and lakes, oh my!

The Traverse City area has so much to offer. Our week was full of adventures, big and small! Highlights were the dunes and exploring the area. The low point was probably our tubing trip. They've enjoyed canoeing but tubing didn't seem to be as fun for the kids. It'd been two years since we'd been up in Traverse City and the area never disappoints! There's always so much to do and I'm so thankful for our friends who are willing to let us use their place for a week!

Atop the lighthouse at Old Mission Point

Swimming in Sutton's Bay

The water was still pretty cold after our long winter.
Friends tell us there was still ice in the lake in May!

They had no idea what this was! ha!

Watching the boats go in and out of the marina

A swing set with a view!

Picking Cherries!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Our trip to the "ocean", part 1

We were lucky to get in two trips this summer. No, we didn't travel anywhere exotic and we never left Michigan, but Adam was having a really hard time remembering that we were on lakes and bays and not on the ocean while on vacation. He often asked if the water was salty and if we saw any! Silly boy!

Our first vacation was up to beautiful Traverse City and Suttons Bay in northern Michigan. We rented my friend's home again and had a great week. It was a non-stop vacation that included a trip to the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes, tubing down the Platte River, miniature golf, bumper boats, lighthouse visits, beaches, parks and splash pads along with the children's museum and bowling. We packed a lot into 7 days! My parents joined us for several days and went to the Dunes with us, which I didn't realize until then that my Dad had never seen them before! So beautiful and I'm glad we got to share that with him! We also took them to the fun and yummy Cherry Republic for samples and goodies! They were awesome and offered to watch the kids for us one afternoon/evening so we could have a date night in wine country. Paul and I made the most of our day out, hitting lots of wineries and having a nice dinner.

I've got lots more pics but these ones are from our visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes with my parents. It was cool but sunny the day we went and we had a great day! It was voted one of the most beautiful places in America a few years ago by Good Morning America and it truly is breathtaking!

Look at the amazing blue water!

Dad's first times on the dunes!

Adam made it up the dune climb all by himself!! 
He was SO proud!

On top of the world!!

We are at the top of the dune we just climbed...the little specks in the 
background are people farther down. You can't even see the parking lot and park from here!

Mom and I

Grandpa and his lil ones at Cherry Republic