Monday, March 30, 2009

The end of March, finally

Well, I've almost made it through March. It's been a rough month. We started with McKenzie getting sick, moved through to FCATs (also known as Hell Week) and since then have been dealing with major budget cuts and union business. I'm so ready for Spring Break.

There has been lots of drama at work. The district has decided that they want all teachers to have their ESOL certification, pronto! Like yesterday! Nevermind that they state Department of Education gives you six years from your hire date to get all of your classes done. Our district says four years, or else! Only they didn't tell any of the teachers. Oops. Major headache.

So I've been scrambling to get all my ducks in a row. Because I'm in my fourth year of teaching. Yeah, major panic. In the end, I think I'm okay and have everything done that I am supposed to have done. It gets so confusing because everyone you talk to says something different. There are five classes to take for some teachers, others need one or two. As a reading teacher I have to take five. I have taken two but then some of my reading classes count toward this requirement. How many and which ones vary depending on who you talk to and when and which orbit the moon is in. Crazy. Or you can take the ESOL test and only take two of the classes. Some websites say two specific classes, some say any two classes. Ugh.

So on Friday morning it really looked like my job would be in jeopardy. But then someone from the state apparently said that if you pass the ESOL exam and you have a reading endorsement, you're good. And this morning I got an email that said my paperwork was on it's way to the state and should be approved by the end of next week. I'll believe it when I see it.

Thursday night the girls and I went grocery shopping for the first time in weeks and filled up two grocery carts and spent $400. Whoa. Had a quiet weekend. Laundry. Cleaning. Shopping. Friday I went out to dinner with Michelle for some much needed girl talk and venting (about school stuff) time. Later that night Gonzaga lost to a very good UNC team. Saturday Becca went to a spring training game with a friend down in Jupiter. In the evening the girls and I went shopping for a dress for me to wear to a wedding next weekend. I found two and I couldn't decide so i got both. I think I have decided to wear one of them to the eighth grade dance in May and one of them to Marissa's wedding. I got a new haircut and highlights on Sunday afternoon and had many compliments today. I guess I look good as a blonde. Also on Sunday I made two dozen cupcakes for Marissa's surprise bridal shower at lunch today. I used marshmallows to make flowers for the tops. Very cute. And of course I didn't even take any pictures!! I've been bad about that lately.

So there you have it. Tons of stress at work as the budget nightmare goes on. And lots of chores at home. Fun. Fun. Fun.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bad News All Around

I have spent the past couple of weeks up to my elbows in union issues. For those of you that don't know, I am a union rep at my school site. It's my first year, so I'm learning as I go. Because of the fiscal disaster, otherwise known as Florida, our district is looking at needing to cut at least $30 million out of a $238 million budget (this is on top of the $23 million cut last year). It's not pretty. We are a district of declining enrollment in a county where home prices have fallen 40% in the past year. Unemployment is over 10%. It's ugly anyway you look at it. And some very unpleasant decisions have to be made. Three hundred jobs are on the chopping block already.

As it stands, the budget committee and superintendant have made recommendations which the School Board will review. The final decisions will be made April 7 although things will need to be tweaked depending on whether the FL legislature can cough up some more money or decides to make even deeper cuts. Whatever happened to the FL constitution that says the "Paramount responsibility" on the state is to educate it's young people?

I am still on annual contract, so my job is by no means safe. Principals will not know how many positions that have until mid-May and I may not know until the end of May if I have position or not. If I have a position I have no guarantee as to grade or subject area. Needless to say I have had a lot on my mind lately.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This post isn't really going to be about St. Patrick's Day, just an update on what we have been up to. The girls and I just got back from a quick trip to Sam's Club where we had dinner and stocked up on groceries and books (there aren't any bookstores within 20 miles of our house, so we make due).

FCATS are over. McKenzie took her last session today. It was over for me yesterday. Becca only had two tests so she was done last Thursday. Now the trick is to keep my students motivated to learn through the end of school! It's so hard when the students have already taken their end-of-year assessments. Spring fever has already hit hard, too, with scuffles, skirmishes and fights erupting everyday. I almost had a fight in my room today during sixth period. Two girls came in yelling at eachother and it just kept getting louder and louder and I had to step in between them. I think if one of them started swinging though I would have stepped out of the way!

The weather has been really fabulous here, warm and dry, but now we are dealing with a long-term drought. Our grass is just about dead. Mike and I are having a hard time deciding how much money to put into our yard when the value is going down, down, down. We have been talking about replacing the grass, putting in a sprinkler system, screening in the porch, landscaping the back, etc. but then it seems foolish to put more $ into our house. So we talk, and talk some more, but keep putting off making any decisions.

That's about all for now. We are just busy with school, work and housework, that kind of stuff. Wish there was something exciting to share, but I can't really think of anything!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I passed!!

This morning I drove up to Melbourne (about 85 miles) and took my ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) certification test. Not having my ESOL coursework done was apparently the reason I wasn't granted tenure last year. I have three courses done and three to go, but found out that in the state of Florida you can also certify by taking two courses and passing the ESOL K-12 exam. So guess what? I took the test! I don't mind taking classes; I love learning. But the ESOL classes I took online two years ago were very time consuming and took up a full month of my summer break. I can't even fathom taking the courses during the school year. It would either take up all my free time in the evenings or all of my Saturdays for two months. And I definitely need my down time. The good news is I passed! Thank God. Now hopefully I can go on continuing contract (instead of annual) and have a bit more job security.

McKenzie, unfortunately, is still not feeling well. It started last Sunday with lethargy and some cold symptoms and has continued all week long. she has had fevers up to 102.5 but they con be controlled with Tylenol. She has had a stuffed up nose, cough, sore throat. I stayed home from work with her on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Mike stayed home Tuesday and took McKenzie with him to work on Thursday. I checked on her this morning before I left for Melbourne and her temp was 101.7. When will this crap go away?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Catching Up!

Things have been crazy at school! That's my excuse anyway! I stayed home with Kenzie today (she just has a cold with a low fever) and I finally downloaded some photos and figured I'd better post!

Valentine's Day!
We didn't do anything special really. We went to Sam's Club and picked up some steaks and I made the family a nice dinner. We also shot some cute family photos:

Honor Roll!

Both girls got perfect A's second quarter and made the Principal's Honor Roll. I didn't get any good shots of them accepting their awards from the principal (my camera does not do well taking indoor shots from far away. Does anyone know what to do about that?) but I did get some shots of McKenzie and her silly classmates! And yes, McKenzie is getting VERY tall!

Student of the MONTH!!
Rebecca was chosen as Student of the Month again, this time for the trait of FAIRNESS. She was previously chosen for Initiative by her teacher Mrs. Zimmerman. This time she was chosen by her Music teacher. We are extremely proud of her! Coincidentally our friend, Rachel, was also chosen for her second time this month. Such great girls!

Science Day!

Scripps, where Mike works, just dedicated their new permanent buildings and to celebrate they invited a bunch of Nobel Laureates to give speeches, etc. On Saturday Sir Harold Kroto gave a short, one-hour, class to a group of Palm Beach County 5th and 6th graders. McKenzie was invited to participate and Rebecca and our friend Rachel joined in too. The more the merrier! Dr. Kroto was pretty funny and the girls had a good time. They might even have learned something! The girl's favorite part was creating Buckyballs (the shape of a soccer ball) out of plastic rods. After the class Scripps hosted a Family Science Day from 10-3pm. When it was all over they estimated that 6,000 to 8,000 people came! We also hit the Palm Beach Gardens mall for lunch and Costco before heading home.