Archive | June, 2019

Homecomings and goings

26 Jun

Yesterday, as I waited for news about my job for next year, I read Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga.

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From the Author’s Website:

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind her, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her home town start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the U.S. –and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home, and most importantly, finding yourself.

Quite frankly, it was the perfect thing to read as I found out that friends were being moved to other schools, while I got to stay with my team in a job I loved. Like Jude, my emotions were conflicted. I was relieved for myself, disheartened for friends. A school staff is like an extended family. You see some a lot, others rarely. You like some members more than others. And when you have to move on, you have to create a new home with strangers or very distant relatives.

Other Words For Home has a happy-ish ending. Jude realizes she can be at home in two places, but her family, though safe, is still separated. Middle grade readers get a great snapshot into the life of a recent immigrant and the realities of being a Muslim in America. The novel is written in free verse making it a quick read that gets to the heart of the matter.

In her afterward, Warg write that she wanted to show that children fleeing a war zone “want the same things all of us do—love, understanding, safety, a chance at happiness.” I think she succeeded.

Waiting

25 Jun

I have officially been on vacation for a week, but the big end of the year drama happens today.

Sunday afternoon,  staff got a text telling us to check our email. I did and the message was short and sweet: Tuesday the administrators will call all staff to tell them what their job will be next year.

It’s been a long wait. The discovery of budgeting irregularities meant that our district had a severe shortfall and the projected cutbacks for the 2019-20 year meant jobs would be eliminated. At first it seemed like the RIF might be as bad as the bad year, after the financial crisis. But with retirements and consolidation, it was projected to be not as bad. But still bad enough that we left school last week not knowing for sure what we’d be teaching.

But today is the day.

The staff are buzzing, trying to predict how the calls will happen. By grade level? Alphabetically? Bad news first? Moving first, staying second? It’s a way to try to make sense out of this crazy process.

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I don’t normally bring the phone with me when I walk Lucy, but today I will. Lucy will be there to support me if it is bad news and celebrate if it is good. Wish us luck.

Late Tuesday Update: Good news: My team gets to stay intact!

My summer Solstice Book

21 Jun

The Summer Solstice occurred at 8:54 a.m. this morning here in Portland. Although my summer reading started a few days ago, today, I started a perfect summer read: Hot Dog Girl  by Jennifer Dugan.

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Publisher’s Summary: Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:
  *  She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
*  Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
*  Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
*  And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places.

Well, I am not very far into it, but I am looking forward to reading something a little bit funny.

Most checked out 2018-19

19 Jun

As always, graphic novels were the most checked out books form my classroom library this year. Here are the top three stats on what kids checked out most in graphic novels, fiction, and nonfiction.

Graphic Novels

# 1 – This One Summer by  Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

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# 2 – Hey Kiddo by  Jarrett J. Krosoczka

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#3 – Brave  by Svetlana Chmakova

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Fiction

#1 –The Valiant  by Lesley Livingston

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#2 – The Fourteenth Goldfish

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#3 – Fallout by Todd Strasser

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Non-fiction

#1 – The Faithful Spy  by John Hendrix

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#2 – Spooked  by Gail Jarrow

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#3 – Poison  by Sara Albee

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School’s out…there was some drama

18 Jun

Act 1

INT. Classroom – Last Day of school

Sixth graders are sitting on floor. Two girls are singing in front of room. Three teachers are huddled on one side of room. One stands alone on the other side. One of the three teachers is mouthing words to the lone teacher. She cannot understand so walks over to the group.

ME THE TEACHER: My lip-reading sucks. What’s up?

TEACHER 1: We are moving to Orange Hall.

ME THE TEACHER: What??? Are you joking?

TEACHER 2: No. Go check your email.

As Me the Teacher weaves through the mass of 6th grade bodies, Teacher 3 paces and mutters to himself.

Act 2

EXT. Later the same day on the playing field

Sixth graders are gathered on the field in various groups. Some are running. Some are signing yearbooks. A group is sitting in the grass playing with their Magic cards. A lone boy wanders, playing a harmonica.

ME THE TEACHER: The timing is bad, but there might be some perks to the move.

TEACHER 3: The locker room is bigger in Orange hall and, because we will be on the first floor, we will have direct outside access.

TEACHERS 1 & 2: I was thinking the same thing.

Act 3

INT. Classroom – Teacher’s Last Day of school

Me the Teacher is frantically packing. She is disheveled and her face is very red.

Act 4

INT. Classroom – Teacher’s Last Day of school

CUSTODIAN: Are you ready?

ME THE TEACHER: Yes. I didn’t think it was possible,  but I got it all packed up.

CUSTODIAN: This move means a lot of extra work for us.

ME THE TEACHER: I know and I am sorry, but have a great summer.

Custodian exits.

Me the Teacher does one last sweep of the classroom, turns off the lights and exits the room, closing the door behind her.

FADE OUT

 

 

 

 

With the Prose on High

17 Jun

Today is the teacher’s last day. It’s all over except for the packing – and there will be a lot of that today. I might write more about that another time. Over the weekend, I read or finished the books we will be discussing at book club tonight. One of those was With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo.

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Publisher’s Summary: Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Like most people, I loved The Poet X.  When I first learned this book was all prose, I was a little concerned. Before my library hold came through, I heard Elizabeth Acevedo interviewed on NPR and she said that she chose prose for this book because Emoni wasn’t a poet like Xiomara. This might be a novel in prose, but there are places where that prose is pure poetry.

This week’s book talks 6/10-14

14 Jun

I am so excited that today is the last day of the school, that I got up early and wound up some yarn so I can do celebratory cast on of my first socks of summer tonight.

This week, I talked about books I’ve taken out from the public library and plan to read this summer.

Monday

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Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue by Marc Aronson

Tuesday

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The Line Tender by Kate Allen

Wednesday

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Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

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Finding Orion  by John David Anderson

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