Monday, September 7, 2015


I am about to try a fruit and veggie popsicle. They have sat unopened in my refrigerator now for a week. I thought I could sneak a few veggies into my teenage son's diet but I'm not fooling him! It's kind of like the peas that we serve the children. The children aren't fooled either: those peas aren't food! They might be harmful; you just never know when something that looks like those peas appears on your plate.

There has been so much material and so little time since my last post. I obviously have some catching up to do although I now have 144 readers or well, at least I have one reader who may have read my posts 144 times or 12 readers that read them um, make that 2 readers that read the posts um, well heck. Math was never my strong suit.

I was incredibly delighted to be asked to speak at the local community club meeting recently. I have never been an invited speaker anywhere! The community club meets monthly and holds a potluck which reminded me so much of potlucks I attended as a child. Two of my children, or my students rather, were present in the audience and nary a pea was found. In fact, the food was home-made and so tasty! It was just so nice, a word that doesn't describe well but says so much. It was nice. Good food, kind people and a rapt audience. What more can a speaker ask?

My thrill began right away when I walked into the old but beautifully furnished building. Wood panels cover the walls and what look like 30's era seats lined the inside perimeter. "What a great place to have a dance," I thought to myself. I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt (three t-shirts actually) each representing something special about the community and related to a local business. My hostess was surprised to see me dressed thusly and exclaimed that I didn't look a thing like she expected. She was looking for a "short,  frumpy,dowdy-looking older woman". I must have sounded short and frumpy on the phone. I'll need to work on that. I am short, and I am small, but frumpy or dowdy? Nah. My hostess was most pleased by my appearance and one of my substitute teachers and volunteers decided I looked much more like a local than I do at the school (where I might be found wearing a not-frumpy suit).

Do public speakers regularly get to have so much fun? I was able to talk about my passion for the school and the community. I wore one t-shirt that described my adventures on the river nearby, and stripped that off, to reveal a shirt that advertised the local creamery. I connected each shirt to the community and to something from my own life, that shockingly, fits right in. Our community is nestled right on the banks of the Stanislaus River and this river figures prominently in the history of the town. It's integral to the creation and continued survival of this tiny community. I hadn't realized until I started putting together my presentation that my own high  school mascot was the River Rat. Indeed, I was a River Rat, and proudly so many years ago. I joked with the audience about making sure that my third, and final shirt stayed in place while stripping off the other t-shirts. My final shirt was again, a t-shirt exemplifying another historical feature of the community, a 300 foot long covered bridge. The longest bridge of its type west of the Mississippi.

Anyway, it was such a joy to discuss how my little school, our little school, to which I have been graciously appointed, can make a difference in the community itself; how utilizing the very natural resources and business opportunities to teach the children academic content, will increase the academic skills of the students while hopefully creating business opportunities at the same time. The teachers and I have been working on something called Place-Based Education or PBE. This initiative brings the kids out of the classrooms and into the natural environment, specifically their own. Studies point to higher academic achievement with PBE methodologies and what possibly could be more reinforcing than learning in the natural environment doing things that matter? What could be more beneficial, especially in a small rural community like ours, than education initiatives that utilize local history, local geography and habitats and local businesses to create unique learning environments for all students? PBE is a perfect fit for us as the school is already an integral part of the community and highly supported by the locals as well. In fact, remember that bell I got to ring? Well, eyes where shining at this community club meeting because we ring that bell every day, like it was rung so many years ago.

I sometimes feel like a veteran at this school and in this position, although putting together my first Board agenda with my brand new administrative assistant could be a blog of it's own.  This school, it's students, teachers and staff, the community and parents feel like home already. I feel like I've been adopted into the community, in part because I value its unique essence. My community is small, but hardly frumpy. My community is proud of its heritage and individuality. My community reminds me of myself.

A few closing remarks: 12 x 12 is 144 so if I had 12 readers they may have read my posts 12 times each!  I knew that. The fruit  and veggie bars were tasty.

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