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Alma Intermediate School News, September, 2016
From the Principal…
When hiking friend, Nick, asked if I would like to attempt the John Muir Trail (JMT), I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see if the High Sierra Mountains of California were as beautiful as photos I’d seen. I wanted to climb my first 14,000 foot mountain. I wanted to spend twenty-one days on the trail carrying everything needed in my pack.
I learned much from those days on the JMT. The physical challenge was greater than expected. The beauty was much greater than I could imagine. History and stories surrounded the most unlikely locations, especially at 14,000 feet.
I felt thankful at every step of this trip but realized that the sense of adventure came from the unexpected learning that occurred. Some of the best learning occurred where things were hardest.
That unexpected learning can happen right here at home. I often see small adventures in learning happen in our classrooms as students and teachers take on challenges, try new things, or approach a problem from another angle.
There are more than enough adventures to last a lifetime if we have an enthusiasm for learning and exploration. Adventures in learning are what we want for all of our students.
If you want to read more about the JMT hiking trip go to OzarkMountainHiker.com
While we’re on the subject of adventure, be sure to read page 2 of the newsletter linked below where Rebecca Tate shares her summer learning at Mount Vernon. She was selected among hundreds of applications to be part of a small group of teachers for a one-week seminar. Miss Tate experienced a week packed with new learning that will benefit our students and our staff.
To read the entire September newsletter including photos, open this link:
Losing a Mentor and Friend
When I returned from a backpacking trip in California, I learned that my mentor and longtime friend Glynn Calahan had died. She was elderly and burdened with health problems. When I saw her at church on our last visit to El Dorado, we hugged, and she asked about my daughters, Christen and Anna. I will miss Mrs. Calahan very much, but am thankful that I was able to be a teacher in her school.
Below is an excerpt from something I wrote a couple of years ago about Glynn.
In the early 1990s, I applied to teach elementary music in El Dorado while I worked on my master’s degree in counseling. It turned out to be one of the best career moves I’ve ever made.
Since Glynn had known me since childhood, I assumed we’d have a 30-minute “courtesy interview.” I was wrong about that. We spent two hours together. She asked some challenging questions and shared her heart for education. By the end of our interview, I had a much better understanding of her love for students and her philosophy about teaching and learning.
What followed were two of my favorite years in education. I began to think of Glynn as a mentor, watching everything she did. I’d never considered becoming a school principal until after seeing the positive impact she had on students and teachers.
Later, when I became a principal, I tried to be just like her and often noticed similar practices. I had my white notebook (now Chromebook) with students’ test scores and for my observations in classrooms. I had benches placed in the hallways for mini-conferences with students about their learning. I visited classrooms a lot. As a beginning principal, I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I visited classrooms often like I’d seen Glynn do, and there was value in that.
There is no way to measure the influence of Glynn Calahan. It continues through her students and teachers today, and for years to come.
Alma Shares State-Wide in the June Issue of Instructional Leader
The Instructional Leader this month features two articles by educators in Alma!
Page 1 Using Nearpod to Increase Engagement in Learning
Page 3 Robotics is Real World
The following link opens the publication where you can read about the use of Nearpod and Chromebooks at Alma Intermediate School and the use of robotics at Alma High School.
This publication is usually available only to members of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, but since we have articles in this issue, we’re able to share with our parents and staff.
It’s exciting to see our teachers sharing the great work they do!
“CAN You Draw a Texas Longhorn?”
My mother with older brother, Reese Kennedy
Yesterday I was reminded that January 4 would have been my Uncle Reese’s 90th birthday. He was my mother’s older brother and she loved him very much. As a child, I was in awe of him because he was an artist. As an adult, I was in awe of him because of his adventurous spirit, his open questioning mind, and his talent.
When I was 5-years old we were visiting Uncle Reese and his family in Dallas. For reasons I can’t recall, I was obsessed with Texas Longhorns. Shortly after we arrived I approached Uncle Reese as the adults were visiting and asked if he would draw me a picture of a Texas Longhorn. He said he’d do this later and continued to visit with my parents.
I approached my uncle several more times over the next day or two and each time he…
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Newsletter for February, 2016
Click this link to open the newsletter.