Friday, September 30, 2011

A Wealth of Experience and Wisdom in Retired Teacher Corps

The Moore County chapter of North Carolina Retired School Personnel met this week at the Moore County Schools Board Room.  I am proud to have been a member of this organization and its sister group NCAE since my retirement.  I am also a Life Member of the National Education Association.

As retired educators, we take pride in continuing our advocacy for children, families, teachers, and schools in Moore County and across North Carolina.  We wholeheartedly endorse such positive initiatives as the Growing to Greatness Goals shown below.  These were developed by our Board of Education under the guidance of Dr. Susan Purser, our superintendent.

As our members gathered for this fall meeting, I provided some keyboard music in the background.  There were refreshments to be enjoyed, many informational sheets to be passed out, and most of all, old friendships to be renewed.  Some in the room have been retired 25 years or more, meaning they have known each other as long as half a century!

Believe me, their compassion and concern for our public schools has not waned with the years out of the classroom.  We are as committed as ever to the mission of our schools in fostering the growth of happy, successful, and productive citizens.  Because that is the broad purpose of all public education, a worthy and noble purpose we all share a stake in.

Our president, Sandi Keyser, is as dedicated a leader as can be found.  She keeps us up-to-date and on our toes with her contagious enthusiasm.

Attendance was quite good this crisp fall morning.  We have many more members who can't get out much any more, but they are just as interested in what's going on in educational circles.

We were pleased and honored to have Dr. Susan Purser as our guest speaker this morning.  After a 41 year career in education, Dr. Purser will retire this December. 

She has lent her own wisdom in adding stability to our school system in very trying times.  She has not played "the blame game" with either our county commissioners or the state legislature.  While quietly, but urgently advocating for our many needs, she has managed our shrinking resources with skill. 

She spoke of many issues: budget concerns, our revamped transportation system, the smooth transition of our new year-round schools, and ongoing work for School Improvement Plans.  We presented her with a nice serving platter in appreciation of her dedicated service and support.

I won't bore all you non-educators out there with the nuts and bolts of the rest of our meeting.  But there were door prizes.
I'm thankful to have a hand in this organization of retired public servants who

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Visit With Evan and Claire in the 'Hood

Judy and I had the pleasure of babysitting Evan and Claire at their house instead of ours this week.  It was great to hang out in their 'hood.  Here's what was happening.

When Claire realized that these knots are what support the swing, she set out to sabotage it.  Of course, no one swings here but her and Grandma.  Uh oh!

We love to watch Claire's hair blow in the wind. 
And she must love the way it feels.

If Claire can just get up enough speed,
she may pass through a time warp.
Of course, being with me and Judy is sort of like that.

"Nobody made me sit in the corner. 
I just wanted to be like Dennis the Menace."

"Why should I care if you tell Mommy. 
She's the one who taught me this."

"See, Grandma, this is what we mathematicians call symmetry.
Arms-- just so, legs-- just so, and mouth-- just so."

"If I ever get a four-wheeler that goes more than
two miles an hour, then I'll get a helmet."

What do you do when the balls take over the swing set?

Claire started the afternoon with her boots.
Then she transitioned to her lovely slippers.
But most of the time she preferred going barefoot.

After that strenuous workout, Claire relaxes with a cold drink and a wagon ride with Grandma.  Hey, what about some rest for Grandma, too!

Not even that pacifier can hide Evan's perpetual smile.

Okay, Evan, what mischief are you about to engage in?

"Here, Grandpa.  Let's swap cameras."
(Explanation:  He's holding my old camera, which quit focusing properly.  Claire gave me her camera which Jennifer had given to her.  I've been using it since last spring with no problems.)

"Grandpa and Grandma, I really like the toy rotary phone and the toy mailbox.  But why are you guys hung up on all these obsolete things?"

Three generations of smiles.

"Say cheese.
Grandpa wore his airplane shirt just for Claire.

Claire and Grandpa can have fun doing just nothing.

WOW!  What luck!  My first photo of Evan standing unsupported.
He's been doing this more and more, but I've never been ready with the camera.  Until today!  Way to go, Ev Man.

And Claire is just head-over-heels
with pride in her little brother.
And I'm head-over-heels with both of 'em!

Hunter is ONE! And Bri says "Don't forget ME!"

This is not strictly a "birthday blog," but I'd like you all to know that Hunter has now turned ONE, thereby meeting his annual goal.  His big party is coming up Saturday and there will be more pictures.  Today there will be more of him than of Brianna, but I couldn't leave her cute self out!

Here, both kids are hard at work.  For I agree with Maria Montessori that play is the work of a child.

Hunter: "I'm warning you: take my picture or I push this button!  AGAIN!"

Sometimes merely playing with toys doesn't present enough of a challenge.  When that happens, Hunter creates his own obstacle course. 
A natural climber.

Not content with manipulating just one toy, Hunter demonstrates his dexterity in handling (or footling) two.

Can't you just see the wheels turning?
I wonder what has his eyes lit up and his mouth poised . . .

"Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!"

Hunter's practicing the "Say 'AH'" that he'll need for doctor and dentist visits.  Someday.  Don't stick your hand in there.

An always active Bri practices chillin' with Grandma and Goldfish.

"Yeah, Grandma, you can check my diaper. 
But me and Bri have to check out the magnets." 
 (Look closely on the fridge and you'll see some vintage baby pics.)

When Mommy arrives, Bri's tired of sitting, but can't resist the lure of a good book.

"Well, why do you think I'm pushing?  I'm out of gas!"

"Yes, I know it's unusual to be able to palm a ball at my age."

"But when you're ONE, you're ready for anything
the world has to offer!"
And that's the truth!

Next blog: Evan and Claire

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Girl Scouts Answer the Call of the Nature Trail

Tuesday evening, I was delighted to lead the Girl Scouts of Troop 681 (Eureka / Farm Life) on a walk on the Sandhills Farm Life Nature Trail.  I wore my lucky rattlesnake shirt-- and we saw no snakes!  Does that mean it really was lucky?

Shortly after 6 p.m. nine enthusiastic scouts and their leaders Tracy and Erin met me in front of Farm Life School.  I had a few things to show them before we ever got to the nature trail.  First were these two giant fungi on an oak tree by the front parking lot.  My point was that you don't have to go on a nature trail to see interesting and unusual things.

To further illustrate that point, I led them past this plant in the school garden.  See that small brownish object smack in the center of the picture?  It's an egg sac.  Much harder to see is the green spider that is attempting to cradle that huge egg sac.  The spider itself is very well camouflaged.  I compared this to the story of "Charlotte's Web," which all the girls were familiar with.

One more thing to do.  I needed some resin for my bird call so it would "chirp" properly and perhaps start some bird conversations.  I showed the girls how some dried-up resin on pine trees served the purpose extremely well.  Then we talked to a mockingbird that flitted from branch to branch in the oak tree above us.  I'm sure he wasn't jealous of my "song," but he surely was curious.  Just a few steps away, on a different pine tree, I pointed out the remains (exoskeleton) of a cicada.  I knew there would be at least one:  I've been finding them there for thirty years.  We talked about the fascinating life cycle of the cicada, then headed toward the trail.

One of our first stops was the massive poplar tree, "Jack, Will, and Tom."  One tree, three names.  Each girl took a turn at the classic view straight up.

In case you're wondering, this is what the girls saw!  Cool!

Yes, we're a bunch of "tree huggers," but that's not all we are!"

"Wow-- that tree's tall all the way to the top!"

"Okay, Mr. Loyd, will ya hurry an snap the picture so we can move on?"
Young Emy was probably the first of this group to ever walk the nature trail.  The photo below is from 2008 and was a nature walk at my big retirement party.  Emy, who was months from starting kindergarten, is second in the line.  And I think she's almost forgiven me for retiring!

Dusk was falling, so it's hard to see the stream and Big Rock behind the girls.  They really wanted to climb on it, but we just couldn't risk the mud.

No, the picture's not blurry.  There was a small earthquake while we were there.  No big deal.

Since Big Rock was pretty well blocked by those smiling girls, here's a picture of it I had previously taken.

Everything you've seen so far is on school property.  But the old bridge, constructed by third graders 26 years ago, now leads off school property, and we will no longer maintain it.  However, since we had three brave adults and nine adventurous scouts, we had to cross over and explore some distance down the stream.  We turned around at a spot two of the young ladies remembered as Horseshoe Bend.  When they were in Mrs. Dumas's class last year they went there with me and the class named it.

With all the world environmental problems these days, we learned that we have some local crises to deal with.  We observed erosion on the trail and discussed how we hope to resolve the issue.  We encountered evil Kudzu, and I explained its devious plot to take over the world-- starting with our school

And last, but not least, we stopped to lend our support to Old Man Poplar, an aged tree which is already leaning on a sturdy white oak tree.  How much longer can it stand before age or a storm bring it down?  We do not know.  But I assured the girls that every time they venture to the nature trail, they will new things, not just from season to season, but even day to day.  Any time is a great time for classes or families to discover this wonderful resource for our school and our community. 
The trail is in great shape for a fall walk.  Mrs. McFadyen has already taken her fifth graders down there this year.  Mrs. Dumas and Mrs. Cameron have invited me to take their second graders next week.  All children would enjoy this experience.  And I believe all adults would, too!  Why not find out one day soon?