Tag Archives: school

Saint, my pint-sized protector

From the moment he first saw me in the wheelchair, my ankle bandaged up, he was my protector. My little Saint.

I wheeled over to the edge of the playground where my class was happily playing. I’ve missed their smiling faces, their hugs, their sense of wonder. Catching their attention, they rushed over, all with the same question, “What happened?” All, that is, except Saint. With indignation in his voice, he points to my ankle, and asks, “Who this?” His face said it all. Being his teacher, I knew “Who this?” really meant “Who did this?”. Saint, my little three-year-old protector, wanted to know who did this to me. What happened wasn’t as important as who hurt me. Such sweetness wrapped up in such a tiny person.

Since returning to school, wheelchair-bound, my class has been curious, asking me what happened one too many times, learning to respect my boundaries (“no touching my foot please”), and wondering why I can’t do the things I normally can. The novelty for some has worn off, and preschool as they know it is back to normal. But not for Saint, whose sweet gestures bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Everyday, at random times, he comes over to me, smiles, and pats me on my arm or my leg or my shoulder, reassuring me that he cares and is worried about me. Knowing that I keep my ice packs in the freezer, he will bring me one at random, making sure I take care of my foot. He watches me, too. When the pain and swelling get to be too much, I prop my leg up on the table, an attempt to reduce the swelling that occurs from keeping it down all day. He questions, wondering what I’m doing, why I’m resting.

Yesterday during interest areas, I was wheeling around, snapping photos of students busily cooking hamburgers and salad with the playdoh, making melodies on the xylophone, or building a tower out of blocks, wondering how high they can make it until it topples over, sending them into fits of laughter, when something caught my eye.

The dramatic play area, by far the students’ most sought-after center, is too small for my wheelchair to fit, so I watch from afar, an outsider not a part of their fantasy. What I saw was Saint sitting in a chair, his leg up on the table. Lali was tending to him, bringing him a glass of water. Zooming in, I snap a picture before I ask, “Saint, what are you doing?”

With a forlorn look on his face, he responds, “My leg is hurt.”

“It is? I’m sorry. Is Lali helping you?”

Nodding, he says yes. A smile crosses Lali’s face, as she continues to care for her hurt friend. Knowing that I’d removed all the doctor stuff last week, I asked, “Would you like an ice pack?” Of course he would!

Lali came over and I handed her a no-longer-cold ice pack. She went back over and wrapped his leg. Later, his leg still on the table, another student tries to help him, using a pizza cutter as a tool. Grinning, I think, maybe I should return the doctor stuff to dramatic play.

I go about my business of tending to the other students in the class, but about ten minutes later, I look over at the dramatic play area again. There is Saint, his leg still propped up with his ice pack, sitting alone. His heart is so tender and loving, and he is just trying to make sense of his little world.

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Last Day

Today was the last day of school with students, but for some reason, it didn’t feel like a typical last day of school. It’s weird. Normally, the end of school has a buzz to it. There’s an excitement in the air that is palpable. I’m not quite sure why today didn’t feel like that to me. Maybe it was because while today was the last full day, students are returning to school for 2 hours on Friday for an assembly and to pick up their reports and portfolios. Maybe it’s because I was glued to the computer most of the day editing said reports. Maybe it’s because many of our students were absent, already on holiday and enjoying the beach. Maybe it’s because it’s a Tuesday. Usually last days are Fridays, which naturally bring excitement. Or maybe it was a combination of all of it. I guess it’s just hard to imagine being done this week. I want that feeling that normally accompanies the end of the year to make it feel done.

We have a lot to celebrate this year. We came together, this bunch of very talented educators, and formed a team. We learned how to collaborate with one another, and we created a school. There’s something really magical about that. Ten months ago, ACT was just a vision. We made it a reality, and we should be proud of that. We inspired students. We nurtured a school community. We developed curriculum and policies and reports and systems. We supported one another through the hard times, and we celebrated the good ones. We did it…together.

While this year was tough, as any first year of a brand new school probably is, I have my team to thank. They have worked so hard to create a real school that we can be proud of, and for that, I am grateful. So, even though today didn’t feel like the last day, it’s okay. Maybe it will on Friday.

Adrenaline

There’s something about the end of the school year that just gets my adrenaline pumping. The combination of the million things that have to be done, the dress up days for Spirit Week, the reflecting on the year’s accomplishments, the fast pace of trying to squeeze it all in, the weekends with friends enjoying the sunshine, the kids buzzing with excitement, the flurry of teacher interviews and meetings with prospective parents telling them about how awesome my school is…all of this and more adds to the adrenaline pumping through my veins. MY brain is in overdrive and I’m having trouble sleeping, but I keep going, working toward that finish line. Once I reach it, I know I’ll be exhausted and in need of a break. This is why schools invented summer breaks. As much as the kids need a break from the go-go-go, so do teachers and administrators (even more I think!).

And then summer comes and I get to breathe. I get to do what I want to do, and it’s amazing! Things like sleeping in, having long, wandering conversations with friends and family you haven’t seen in a year, reading for pleasure, barbecues with loved ones, going to the cinema, shopping (!!), having more time and space to write, really reflecting on the past year and making plans about how to improve when I come back in August, trying out new recipes, and swimming and laying out in the sun.

I have two more weeks of adrenaline. Two more weeks to get it all done. Two more weeks to say goodbyes. Two more weeks to enjoy my students and teachers. Two more weeks to enjoy Tirana before heading out for six weeks of traveling and visiting home. Two more weeks until the first year at ACT is done. As much as I want time to slow down, I know it’s going to be here in no time. I’m going to try and slow down as much as I can, take it all in, and enjoy all that our team has accomplished this year. Starting a new school is hard work, but the rewards are great!

Sweet Little Ones- SOL #12

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I love this part of my job- I got to meet a bunch of sweet little 2-year-olds today! Our newest class at school, Early Years D, opens on Monday, and we had an orientation for the families today. Ms. CJ and Ms. May, the EYD teachers, have been busily getting their room ready in anticipation of their arrival, and their room looks great! When you walk in, you see splashes of bright colors, a cozy reading nook, a kitchen corner complete with tiny dishes, tables with puzzles and coloring, just waiting to be played with, and a dress up corner full of hats, scarves, and clothing.

As the families arrived, with smiles and excitement on their faces, Ms. CJ and Ms. May welcomed them to the room and began getting to know the students and parents. They were both naturals! With their warm disposition and friendly demeanor, the families felt right at home. The students began exploring the classroom, some more timid than others at first, and the teachers began circulating the room, having one-on-one conversations with the parents.

As the principal, my part of the orientation was to welcome them, explain relevant handbook details, and take them on a school tour. On the tour, the kids loved exploring the playroom, where they quickly let got of their parents’ hands and began climbing on the equipment, scooting around in the cars, and sliding down the slide. Moving on, we traveled up the stairs to the library, where they immediately gravitated to the shelves, choosing a book and sitting down to read. I was amazed at their level of independence and confidence, especially since this was their first school experience.

As we left the library, I felt a little hand in mine. George had run up to grab my hand as we headed down the stairs. It was just so sweet! Already feeling like they owned the school, some of the more independent ones even ran ahead of me, like they knew where we were headed next! Once we were back in the classroom, they gathered their things to leave. Ka Ne, a very inquisitive boy with an obvious independent streak, turned to his grandma and said, “This is not your school! This is my school!” Guess he’s ready for Monday morning! 😉

 

Breakfast for 100- SOL #21

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This morning was fun! It was a lot of work…but it was fun. As a thank you to our staff for exceeding 400 students this year, we honored them with a homemade breakfast today. In August, our enrollment was 347 students. Now it’s 412. Our highest enrollment in the school’s 17-year history is 418. We are so close to breaking our record that we can taste it!!! It’s all thanks to the amazing educators and dedicated Admissions team here at RBIS.

Earlier this week, all of the staff members were given a menu from which to choose their breakfast choices. Our Leadership and Admissions teams then cooked up made-to-order meals, consisting of veggie “omelettes” (more like scrambled eggs because it was faster), banana nut muffins, fresh fruit, bao zi, and coffee, tea, or juice. Then we hand-delivered the plates to the eager teachers and staff members.

Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their gratitude for such a small gesture meant the world to us! It was so great to be able to serve them in this way. Our teachers, support staff, ayis, and guards give so much to our school, that we felt it was time to give something back to them! I loved being able to bring a little bit of sunshine to their day. 🙂

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