~Breakfast and Birthdays~!

The school year is winding down day by day. True excitement coupled with fatigue, is in the air. As educators, we all know what the end of the year can bring! In the spirit of always trying to be a positive leader, morale booster, and support system, I often think about what are the gestures, albeit grand or small, that you can do to keep students and teachers smiling until summer! For me I live by, it’s not over until it’s OVER, so fight to the finish line…finish strong!! You owe it to yourself….

As a true believer and builder of school culture, I fully understand that you have to keep everyone accountable, especially during this time. Students are told to behave, and teachers are ask to teach until the end. That is hard. The burn out rate at this time of the year is high, and everyone is drained, yet we have to press onward!

So how do YOU keep spirits lifted, happy, and engaged? What are things you can do in order to show you care and are thinking about everyone? Well, I have a couple of answers to that: BREAKFAST AND BIRTHDAYS! I know, I know…doesn’t sound like rocket science or even award-winning. Though simple and trivial, it tends to work. A few things that I always say makes teachers smile are:

  1. The gift of time
  2. Eating (rather it is a sweet treat, breakfast, snacks, and MINUS children)
  3. Jeans 
  4. Administrators that show they care and support them 

This week happens to be National Teacher Appreciation Week. Though the internet says it is this week or next, we took this one. Educators should be celebrated daily, so either way it is fitting! It is THEE hardest working job in the land, and the job that creates all other jobs. They should be honored, and have love showered upon them for the constant day in and day out hard work of educating our youth of today. It’s not easy. That’s to say the least…

I am always ready and willing to celebrate educators! As an Admin Team we wanted to come up with sweet and thoughtful ideas for this week to show our teachers how much we care about them. I live and rest on the fact that if you have happy teachers they are teaching students…HAPPILY! 🙂 Each day we did something to show our teachers how much we love and appreciate them for their above and beyond hard work.

For students, they love to celebrate and LOVE sweet treats. Monthly, we provide birthday magnets, a school spirit wear day, and birthday cake during lunch! They love it, as you could imagine. This week, for our May/June birthdays (last up to celebrate for the school year), we all gathered for our Monday Morning Meet-Up…(another post to come on that, stay tuned!) and danced to ‘Celebrate Good Times, C’MON!’ Each student is called up and recognized for their birthday! We then had cake the next day and enjoyed ourselves together. 

In the end, school is still rolling on until, for us, May 26. It is very close, but yet still far away. I have a couple more ‘tricks’ up my sleeves for fun before then; but otherwise and in the meantime, we’ll just…

#FINISHSTRONG! 

5…4…3…2…1…BLAST OFF!

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On a chilly recent Monday morning, 73 sixth graders, and 8 chaperones loaded up 2 stage coach buses, and headed to Huntsville, AL. We were well all on our way to blast off to Space Camp! Some for the first time, and some for the millionth time…either way, the buzz of excitement was in the air.

We knew that we had a busy 3 days ahead of us, filled with missions, simulations, and friendly competitions. On the way we stopped,  and ate well at Chick Fil-A and a local mall food court. On the bus, movies were shown and students played cards (we had students to bring NO electronics, so that we could get the full space experience).  Students were fully engaged in real conversation, a good book, or just a plain ol’ bus nap!

While I sat at the front of the bus, and making sure as trip leader all was taken care of, I truly began to reflect on the importance of class trips; and how much it means to students. Every year, no matter how many times us as adults has taken a class on a trip, it is such a different experience with each group. Each class has their own personality and connection with what the trip will bring.

In the end, I continue to realize time after time that it is moments like these that students remember the most 5, 10, or even 20 years from now! They remember the time their teachers took them 3 days away to enjoy an overnight space adventure, in another state. The friendships and bonding that happens between us all is priceless. Even teachers attested to knowing students in a different light that they see every single day in the classroom. I can’t thank enough the 7 chaperones that went along with me. They made the trip flawless and attainable. They are the REAL MVPs! 

As the end drew near and Day 3 with graduation came, all were tired, but had smiles on our faces. It was worth the time spent! While I could never include the thousands of pictures taken, I’ve shared a few below. Check out my scrolling Twitter feed as well, on the side of my blog page for many more special moments captured. You can also check out: #MVSpace/#MVMiddle/#MVPSchool. 

If you want a further glance to what our 3 days included, (and why we were so tired by the end!) Here is our itinerary below:

Day One – Monday, February 27, 2017
7:00 a.m. – Students load buses at Founders Campus parking lot (outside Fellowship Hall)
7:30 a.m. – Buses depart Mount Vernon – Travel time 4 1/2 hours, plus food stops
8:00 a.m. – Stop for biscuits/breakfast once out of city traffic between 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Stop for lunch outside of Huntsville, AL – students bring $10
(1:30 p.m.) (12:30 p.m. CST) – Registration at Space Camp
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Program Starts and Orientation
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Team Photo
(2:30 p.m.) – Mission Prebrief
(3:00 p.m.) – Missing Training
(4:00 p.m.) – Astronaut Training Simulator
(5:00 p.m.) – Dinner
(5:45 p.m.) – Story of Space, Part 1
(6:30 p.m.) – Model Rocket Construction
(7:30 p.m.) – Astronaut Training Simulator
(8:30 p.m.) – Prep for Bed
(9:00 p.m.) – Lights Out and Bedtime


Day Two – Tuesday, February 28, 2017
7:30 a.m.- 8:00 a.m. Wake Up and Prep for Day

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. Breakfast

8:45 a.m.- 9:30 a.m. Story of Space, Part 2

9:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. Spaceshot, G-Force, and Mars Climbing Wall  Simulators

10:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Museum Exhibits

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Mission

12:00 p.m.- 12:30 p.m. Mission Debrief

12:30 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Lunch

1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m. Rocket Launch

2:15 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. Gift Shop

3:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Concessions

3:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. IMAX Movie

4:30 p.m.- 5:15 p.m. Mission Patch

5:15 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. Dinner

6:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. Space Station Presentation

7:00 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. “ISS: Science on Orbit” Exhibit

7:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. Space Bowl

8:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Prep for Bed

9:00 p.m. Light Out & Bedtime

————————————————————————–
Day Three – Wednesday, March 1, 2017
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.  Wake Up & Prep for the Day
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Load Luggage
8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Breakfast
9:15 a.m. 9:30 a.m. – Team Time
9:30 a.m.- 10:00 a.m. Prep for Graduation
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. GRADUATION

A great time happened, and we are truly grateful to Space Camp for another awesome year.

Now we are all off to a well deserved and highly anticipated spring break!

Happy Trails and blessings to all.

Diversity is Good.

…So my monthly blog alert warning went off 2 days ago, as I committed to achieving my goal of blogging once a month! Though the balancing act of being a full-time Dean of Middle School students, coupled with a full-time pursuit of a doctoral student continues, it feels promising that I can attempt to revive Meeting of the Minds monthly…so here goes nothing!

Ah as the fall air, season, and fashion begins to settle in (my favorite time of the year), I can’t help that the bright and beautiful world of education continues to change right along with the seasons. Our world as we know it, has so much going on…yet we still want our students to experience the best it has to offer, despite of what the media and background noise may be going on around them.

This past week at our school we had a Cultural Awareness Assembly. I always think about no matter who or where you are, this can be quite a tough subject to tackle; especially with students. This week as well happened to be Homecoming Week at our school, and we spent each day celebrating such Mustang pride leading up to the BIG GAME Friday night. On the same day as our assembly, I couldn’t help but notice that it was CraZy Sock Day. As everyone came in showing off their ‘cool’ and swagged out socks, everyone was in celebration and had no judgment of the different colors (and there were LOTS!), shapes, sizes, designs, or even logo of the sock. There was high energy of sock diversity!

However, I noticed, and it made me think about, that when we shortly later on that morning gathered in the gym, grades 5-8, to talk about diversity, there was a different vibe in the room..not bad, just different. We had a guest speaker name D.J. Coleman who truly was inspirational, and simply stated…DIVERSITY IS GOOD. I felt like it was an understandable and easy message for students of this age. While I don’t know if they really and truly understood what diversity was and all it includes (not just race of black and white), they knew regardless that whatever it was, he said it was good. 

All and all, my wish for everyone listening was to understand that diversity has a close connection to the socks they wore to school that day..different sizes, colors, beliefs, life stories, life styles, designs, and walking different paths of life.

If we all could just be like the socks, wear a pair…embrace diversity and walk around this world not assuming, prejudging, or not getting to know someone different from us…but instead taking on the challenge of widening our ‘friendship circle’ to include everyone with different “socks,” that truly is a step in the right direction…

STAY TUNED! ….More to come next month! (Hopefully:)

 

 

~Blogger Challenge Comes to an End~

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I must say that I have had a great time writing and reflecting over the past 10 days! It has truly allowed me to stop and engage in intentional writing, that I know colleagues and the outside world could see. I’ve been able to think about creative ideas, and what I wanted to say that was of value, importance, or simply someone out there would want to read…

Though I struggled some days to come up with topics, or along with my homework, still working over the summer,  and paper writing, didn’t want to make more work for myself; it was often times therapeutic and exciting to blog.

I enjoyed reading and commenting on my fellow bloggers posts! I felt closer to their passions and interests, therefore, I am very excited to continue to follow their blogs.

I can’t make any promises that I can keep it up at this rate, but it definitely got me going! I have a feeling another blogger challenge will come along, and I look forward to possibly taking it on again. I hope to be inspired and make time to blog in between time.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who read Meeting of the Minds! Stay tuned for some more exciting posts in the future.

Blog on friends!

Believeland!

When your hometown (CLEVELAND!~LeBron Country!) looks like this, and you are all the way down south!

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What does it meant to you to be ALL IN?? 

Are you that way in your personal life? Kids? Career? Workouts? Your hometown?

Recommit yourself to be ‘all in’ to something great!

 

~Doctoral DNA~

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Currently I am in pursuit of becoming a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership at Grand Canyon University, located in Phoenix, AZ. While I fell in love with more than just the fact that this university’s colors are purple and white, (my favorite color!) I was captivated by their strong online programming and Christian values. At times I grow very weary and tired balancing this on top of a full work load and home life. But, this long and hard journey to becoming a doctor in my field, is nothing short of amazing. 

I never thought I would be one to enjoy online classes, and not being in a physical classroom. However, this is THEE BEST approach to my learning these days based on my very full and busy schedule. It helps  too that Arizona is in another time zone, which always gives me into the ‘wee hours of the morning’ to get my tons and tons of research completed and turned in on time. Although I took a year off when I was blessed with the great new position as Dean of Students (wanted to take time to fully commit to my new role), I understand that it would put me a year behind…however I knew I had to do what was best for me.

My program is based on some strong and very appealing design principles of education:

Program Design Principles

  • Scaffolded curriculum with embedded research skills to support the formation of scholar-practitioners.
  • Integrated dissertation process encourages the scholarly integration of knowledge, research skills and practice.
  • Systematic feedback to achieve dissertation milestones and programmatic competencies.
  • Value-based, transparent curriculum supports the growth of ethical leaders and researchers.
  • Reflective learning structure encourages the development of critical thinking and scholarly reasoning.
  • Innovative Doctoral Community (DC) which engages learners and faculty in collaborative scholarship and collegial development.

The ‘cliff notes version’ of my dissertation as I like to call it, embodies the research of how African-American girls find their voice of leadership from childhood to adulthood. 

In case you are interested, the complete doctoral program set up in it’s entirety is mapped out here through the Doctoral DNA: 

GCU Doctoral DNA

Dissertation Lifecycle

 

Though some times I feel like it will NEVER end, I am yet and still staying the course…

Don’t ever give up on your dreams! I hope and pray I’ll be ‘Dr. Mines’ before I know it.

Ode to Paris….

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ANYone that knows me, understands that I love a good theme. IF you have ever even stepped foot inside my office, you know it is all about PARIS!!!While many have witnessed it first hand, you may not fathom the complete story behind it.

When I was an adjunct professor at Madonna University, one of the full-time faculty professors that I shared the College of Education suite with, had a Paris theme in her office. It was so beautifully decorated with black and white Paris items, pictures, and furniture that was absolutely breath taking. It looked straight out of a magazine! Other than being apart of her cultural background…she always told me that it made her feel like home. That inspired me.

Therefore, I always want any space I dwell in to ‘feel like home.’ Paris is the city of love, and I am all about that! When I complete my doctorate in about another year (more to come in a another blog post!) I plan to spend about 2 weeks in this city, truly taking in when it’s all about live and in color…

A huge part of my role as Dean of Students, (though I embody the complete idea of relationship and culture building), discipline is a huge part of that job title. It is so important to me that students, teachers, parents, co-workers, and friends entering my office feel what I refer to as, “Paris safe…”  It’s the lighting, it’s the mood, the lit candles, the atmosphere, the music that sometimes softly plays in the background…it’s an experience!

People that visit ‘Paris’   know they can trust me and whatever they say won’t leave those walls. It is vital to me that they understand this concept. As a student you are always scared to be ‘called into THEE office..!’ However, students always seem to feel more at ease when I say, “Do you know why I called you into Paris today???” Some look puzzled and begin to look around. Once they realize what I am referring to, a sense of calmness seems to come over their faces. That is apart of the atmosphere that I long to construct….and then proceed to discipline with love and logic.

Some parents come in, laugh, and ask, “How do you stand being in this small office?” Or “What’s with this hole in the wall?” While I typically tend to chuckle at their reaction, I instantly let them know it is the most cozy and perfect magical place, and it works for me! Others feel bad and want to help me paint it, or build a ceiling (which is could seriously use..) and that is nice too.

Though many passions and stories are shared in ‘Paris’, it is surely a place that I pray and meditate each morning. My beautiful Godmother mailed me a ‘prayer before starting work’ from back home in Cleveland. This is apart of my quiet moments before I start my day every morning, and most times, just says it all…

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So I ask you, do you have a theme to any room in you life? A place you can go, escape, pray, meditate, and feel safe? 

I truly have found this to be a game changer in my career, no matter where my classroom or office has been. I challenge you to do the same! (Or at least try it out on a smaller scale…)

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Calling All Makers!

Today was truly a great day to learn and play with our Middle School faculty. How cool is it to gather a team of educators on a Monday afternoon in the summer to ‘tinker?’  Lead by one of our dynamic MS colleagues, Amy Wilkes, she brought us all together for a fun time! Exercising one of our School norms of ‘start with questions’, she simply asked us…

What inspires you? 

I instantly went to my FAITH, and how it truly inspires me to be who and what I am, as well as strive to be, daily. Faith really is the key that ignites all passion for me. I really enjoyed this afternoon together, and look forward to our students discovering their passions and beyond in Studio(i) this fall!

So now I ask too:

What inspires YOU? 

I had an awesome time with colleagues and watching us all work hard to develop our stickers of inspiration!

 

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Who are We? We’re Destiny!

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One place I can’t say enough about is my church, Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church in Marietta, GA. Finding a church home, once moving to Atlanta almost 5 years ago now, was on the top of my priority list. I needed a church home with a modern feel, but still a touch of that ‘old time religion’ that I grew up with in the Baptist faith. Destiny was truly a great fit, and I love my weekly refill of my spiritual cup!

Today my pastor, Pastor Bryan E. Crute, continued his series on Family Treasures. I love how he takes a text from the Bible, and turns into a complete teaching experience. 
Today was based on finding a friend in Jesus, and what it takes to have a relationship with Him. (Hosea 6:6~ The Living Bible) . As much as we all long and need friends, what a Friend is it to have in Jesus. Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.12.25 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.59.34 AM

One thing that I always said was when schools took Christ out of it’s midst, is where the world began to go wrong! However, I am so grateful to work at a Christian School, where we are grounded in Christian values, and teach with the love of Christ as our center. God is the true meaning behind who I am, my rock, my fortress, my foundation. He is the reason I make it through tough times, and handle whatever life brings my way. To God be the glory, and in Him do I trust.

I invite you to come have the true Destiny Experience with me anytime! Checkout our church website at: 

https://destiny.city/

We have 3 services every Sunday: 

8:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m.

12:30 p.m.

You can even tune in online, during the listed times at: 

http://destinymetro.churchonline.org/

Try it out at least once…you will never be the same!

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“We are a family who is passionate about family, friendships, and discovering our purpose in this life. Our members call Destiny their church home. A place where they can grow spiritually having a safe place to get help, healing, and hope knowing that their Best and Brightest days are ahead. Come join us! Whether you are a lifetime follower of Christ or an atheist, you are welcome here. There is one Body and one Spirit…there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all…”

~Destiny

Breaking ‘EGGS’…

   “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs…” 

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    During the weekends, some of my best time is spent on one of my favorite activities….watching Lifetime Movies! Sadly, yes this is something I enjoy but proud of it! Lifetime movies were a HUGE part of how my mom, sister, and I spend our time together after hours and hours of shopping on the weekends, growing up. So now living away from home , and ALL of my family are back in Cleveland, OH, I love to still feel that connection…

Silly to think it is through a movie channel right? Especially when the station gets such a bad reputation for affairs, male bashing, and killing. Ironically, there are still so many powerful stories of strong and determined women, with their many stories, that are so inspiring to watch.

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One of the movies I saw today made a reference to eggs…while I love a good egg like the next person, I thrive off of a good metaphor or simile filled with deeper meanings even more. When I heard a character in the movie who was already down and out say,

 “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs…” 

There were so many things that came to my mind in regards to all facets of life. One being, life is hard. Period. No short cuts or ways around that. Things get broken. You can try to fix them, and sometimes it’s good, while other times we fail…

I thought about in the classroom as educators. Things get broken…objects, materials, technology, pencils, even English! However, sometimes that goes for ‘broken’ lesson plans, rules, routines, time, and feelings. One concept of this ‘lifetime’ is that I learned over and over how beautiful ideas can come from broken places. Being with middle schoolers the majority of my career, I tell them all the time I know right now seems like the worst of the worst that could ever happen to you, but just wait until you run on and see what’s at the finish line ahead…It’s hard to see a child broken, right? We always want them to be whole, pure, and happy…but so much can emerge from a wound that manifests from brokenness.

All and all, LifetimeTV may  not always have the answers, or even an egg for that matter…however, I do know that some of the best omelettes are hatched from a few broken eggs….