10.31.2012

Putting Character In Their Hands

Happy Halloween! 
Today I'm revved up because we have a winner for the 
Auto B Good interactive character activities on DVD-ROM that I wrote. Congratulations to Cori! Her name was randomly selected by the Gruener Generator from everybody's kind comments. I can't wait for her to test drive it and hear what she thinks. I looked it over today and I am 
very pleased with and proud of this product!

Photo of Auto B Good DVD-ROM
I went ahead and autographed it.

I'm also on a natural high because I learned a character song in sign language this summer from which I've taught our little super heroes how to sign the words growing character. The cool thing is that it has taken root and has kind of become our silent symbol when they see me in the hallways and during transition times. The word growing finds one hand acting like a seed coming up through the ground (your other hand); that seed sprouts into a C which is then slowly moved over to cover your heart. It is SUCH a sweet sight, to see these little hands signing those words.

Why not put character in their hands and watch what blooms!  

video

Thanks, Olivia and Brynn, for being our hand models. Tomorrow I'll literally be flying . . . to the National Character Education Partnership's Annual Forum in D.C. and I can't wait to sharpen my skills, soak in some new strategies and gather up some new tools for our 
character building.


10.30.2012

The Reality of Life

The reality of life - that it will come to an end - came crashing our way this past week when our daughter lost one of her elementary-school friends in an auto-pedestrian accident. 

Here's their SEARCH class in 2001; Dylan in grey, Kaitlyn in orange.

As she was processing and reflecting, 
she wrote this on her FB wall:
  
Life is too short sometimes. Rest in peace, Dylan. You were one of my longest childhood friends and even though we weren't close in high school, you always still were so nice and friendly, to everyone. You could make even the grumpiest teacher smile. We'll be praying for and supporting your family through this. 

Sometimes life IS too short; Dylan would have turned twenty on Sunday. It was painful to sit next to my daughter at his funeral yesterday and feel the unspeakable grief in her heart that I saw through the unbearable sorrow in her eyes. Words cannot adequately explain how hard it is to let go and 
say goodbye
especially to someone so young, whose adult life was just starting. 
And when those bagpipes started to play. . . 

What resonated through the pain, and flickered at the end of a long, dark tunnel is the gift that Dylan left behind, what brought all of us together to that jam-packed cathedral Saturday and connected us to that young man: kindness. Dylan was fun-loving, friendly and kind. He put so much life into his short nineteen and a half years with us and he did it always with that signature grin on his face. Right now I'm too sad to say much more, except to ask for prayers for his family; his dad Todd, his mom Carolyn, a teacher in our school district, and his brother Garrett, a senior at FHS. 

As I remember Dylan, I'd like to share this Amy Krouse Rosenthal video clip that asks - 
How do you want to be remembered?






10.29.2012

Break The Silence

The recent Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State has brought National attention to the issue of child abuse. Since we MUST protect our most precious resource - our children - I've decided to address the topic that's touchy for me because of something I've kept silent about for a very long time. It's just not a story that I like to share and it's certainly not unique. When I was about ten years old, a trusted neighbor took my hand and coaxed me touch him inside of his swim trunks while we were swimming in the lake at a family picnic.

Fortunately I knew enough to say no and was able to get myself out of that scary, unwanted-and-wrong-touch situation pretty quickly. The unfortunate part was that I did not tell anyone about it. He was a well-liked neighbor, after all, and I wasn't even certain whom I would tell or what I'd say. I knew that everything about the situation wasn't right, but my little ten-year-old self just didn't know what to do next. So I said nothing, and my silence meant I never got the counseling help that I needed to work through what had happened. I needed someone to tell me it wasn't my fault and that not all men were inappropriate and not to be trusted. What would follow for me were years of body-image problems, trust issues and addictive behaviors. 

Keeping quiet also meant that the perpetrator wouldn't suffer any consequences for his actions or get the therapy he needed to stop offending. I don't know how many other children he hurt over the years, but some thirty years later after he victimized his granddaughters, he was arrested and finally stopped. Oh, how I wish I'd have had known what to do, to not only say no and get out of harms way, but also to tell. Knowledge is power; that's why I firmly believe that we must educate our children to help them stay safe and break the silence.

Sexual abuse statistics are staggering; in more than 90% of child abuse cases, it's a family member or close friend who makes inappropriate physical contact or advances. At our school, we've brought in outside programs like WHO (We Help Ourselves) and SKATE (Safe Kids Are Taught Early). Our DARE officer also touches on stranger danger and safety in his classes. And now I'm excited that this new Starshine Workshop product
Healthy Touch, Good Boundaries, Safe Kids
is also available to give our students concrete strategies about what to do if they're caught in an uncomfortable situation like mine. 


From the Rising Star Education website - StarShine Workshop: Healthy Touch, Good Boundaries, Safe Kids is an introductory video geared to opening up discussion for 2nd-5th grade students by teaching kids healthy touch and how it is different from wrong touch. It also teaches kids about good boundaries and "No, Go, Tell" as a response to situations that make them feel uncomfortable. Approved by child psychologists and educators, this program also features a parent/teacher video which tells likely warning signs of child sexual abuse and teaches the proper response to these signs. The program addresses all of the suggested topics in Erin’s Law, a bill that is aiming to mandate age-appropriate sexual abuse education for children.


This tool pragmatically addresses the tough topic with sensitivity and clarity. In the video, two likable young adults, Rachel and Paul, work with a class and teach them to differentiate between healthy touch (hugs, kisses from someone you know), bad touch (hitting, kicking), and wrong touch (unwanted contact in private areas) through discussion and role play. They also make a distinction between good secrets vs. bad secrets. They put the students into a Circle of Comfort to categorize the people in their lives and practice how to behave should certain issues arise. They give participants a clear-cut empowerment strategy that kids can use to maintain good boundaries:

No, Go, Tell

This product includes an accompanying parent/teacher video of an interview with a child psychologist that'll teach the warning signs of sexual abuse, discuss appropriate responses for when a child reports, and provide some follow-up activities and exercises to open up dialogue that'll help keep our children safe. There are also three interactive scenarios that allow students to decide what they'd do. I did notice that they all involve male aggressors, so I'd actually write a fourth with my students and challenge them to come up with a situation in which it's a female predator.
Click {here} to see a video clip trailer.


Healthy Touch, Good Boundaries, Safe Kids will be on the market starting November 1st, 2012; it can be pre-ordered {here} now.  

NOTE:  I was not compensated for this review and endorsement.



10.28.2012

Spontaneous Sweetness

Today I'm excited because we have another winner of The Giant King; congratulations Susanna! Your name was drawn by the Gruener Generator from the reflections left on last Friday's PPBF post. We'll be in touch to get that book on its way to you. 

Didn't win this time? Don't forget that you have a chance to win a copy of the Auto B Good SMART-Board compatible digital workbook I helped write this summer by commenting on yesterday's post {here} before Tuesday the 30th at 6 pm central.

And are you ready for some Sunday Sweetner? I'm still on a sugar high because of the sweetest treat I got this week, this little box atop my desk on Wednesday with a handwritten post-it note:

Photo of Super Hero Cookies

Inside the gift box, I found these SUPER sugar cookies! Since I have several children named Sam on my campus and I couldn't really guess which one had done that for me, I had to wait until my mystery hero revealed herself. When she did come by, she had the sweetest smile!


That SMILE is Sam's Super Power!
Her mom told me that this first grader had decided all on her own (and quite out of the blue) that she wanted to share some of their coveted super hero cookies with me. She told her mom, "I want to give Mrs. Gruener some birthday cookies because she teaches us about having good character." It doesn't get much sweeter than that, and the fact that it connected to our Character Week Theme sent me soaring! So here's what I know: in true 
pay-it-forward fashion, this spontaneous surprise makes me want to bake something yummy and share the deliciousness with someone else. 
I wonder who might like a Rum Cake ...


Finally, it's the last Sunday of the month, and you know what that means? I'm guest posting for Michelle at Making It As A Middle School Teacher - look at the AdOrAbLe graphic she made for my visits! So why not leap on over to read my sportsmanship spot called Boo Who? now!


10.27.2012

Auto B Good Giveaway

Today I'm celebrating the end of Character Counts! week by sharing good news about a new product on the market that's near and dear to my heart... 
Enter Auto B Good!

I helped edit the book series a few years back.

When I first saw an episode of the clever character escapades of the cars from Auto B Good at a character conference up in Dallas many years ago, it was love at first sight. I'd been searching for a product that we could use to show during lunch on Feature Film Fridays, and this was it! Three of these ten-minute clips gave our kids engaging food for thought to strengthen their character muscles during their thirty-minute lunch. So you can imagine my delight when I was invited to join the Auto B Good team as an author and script 120 of the 180 enrichment activities for Character Counts! Edition this past summer. I spent the months of June and July using my English major to create at the computer and now, the DVD-ROM is ready to go. 
Click {here} for a sample clip and click the graphic below for more information on the SMART-Board ready enrichment printables:



Since I wrote many of the LA and character exercises and have a comp copy or two coming my way, I'm giving one away! Just leave a comment on this post between now and Tuesday, October 30th at 6 pm central, then check back on Halloween when we announce the winning entry, randomly selected from all of your comments and reflections.

Sing it with me: 
You ought to know . . . you Auto B Good!

This giveaway is now closed; thank you to all of you for your kind reflections and words of affirmation!



10.26.2012

PPBF: You Are The Best Medicine

Today's Picture Perfect Book Friday Pick perfectly complements October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I think you're gonna fall in love!

Title: You Are The Best Medicine
Author: Julie Aigner Clark
Illustrator: Jana Christy
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishing 
Date: 9-7-2010
Suitable for ages: 4 and up 
Theme: cancer, hope, optimism, courage
Brief synopsis: What can a child do to be the medicine his or her mom needs when she's going through treatments for cancer? This poignant tale offers up ways that children can nurture during tough times.
Opening page: When I tell you I have cancer, I will be sad. I will be sad because I am sick, but I will be happy because it is not a sickness that you can catch from me and so you can still kiss me and hug me and love me. 

Resources:  The book's website {here
Books That Heal Kids blog, including a review about this book and other that target cancer here {here}
You Tube Book Trailer:



Why I like this book: This tough topic is so beautifully handled by an author who herself has survived breast cancer not once, but twice! It offers great depth in that it offers concrete ways that a child can be there for his or her loved one with a cuddle, a smile, optimism and hope. The soothing illustrations add a dimension of comfort and sensitivity. I recently gave a copy to my friend whose daughter is valiantly battling the breast cancer bandit. Even if you don't have a personal connection to someone with cancer, you'll find food for thought woven through the pages of this jewel. Find out from your students what this mom and her daughter want, feel, and need, from one another and from friends and family; it'll undoubtedly open up a great conversation about support, empathy, and love.

Check out this book; it will be a treasured gift. Then link up with Susanna Hill's Picture Perfect Book Friday {here}.



10.25.2012

Hometown Heroes A Hit



Role models from Friendswood High School too numerous to count showed up bright and early yesterday to lead our Red Ribbon Week Character Pep Rally. The drum line and the pep band played for us, the cheerleaders led cheers for us, and the drill team danced for us. They all signed autographs and gave character high fives! They joined our character campaign by signing our pledge poster ...



... and they launched us into our day through their character victory tunnels. Several leaders took the mic to give us pep talks about making healthy choices; the quarterback of the football team encouraged us to promise to always use character as our super power, which led beautifully into a recitation of our 
Character Pledge for them:

video

What a way to start our day! 

Click {here} to see the AmAzInG moments that our character cam caught at this unforgettable annual event led by our esteemed
Hometown Heroes.

A few of our first graders from Carolyn Lowe's class shared these reflections (corrected for spelling but not content):

*Drug free is good to be! We had a pep rally to remind us to be drug free.  The cheerleaders came to do cheers. Their cheers remind me to be drug free. The Wranglerettes also came to remind us to be drug free. The cheerleaders and the Wranglerettes are my hometown heroes.
*Yesterday I remembered to be drug free. We saw cheerleaders. They cheered for a drug free day. I love the cheerleaders and I want to be a cheerleader when I grow up! And I want to be drug free!
*When we were at the pep rally, I got autographs from the cheerleaders. I was very very happy when I got their autograph too. They are cool because they are drug free.
*It is good to be drug free. Yesterday we had a pep rally. Our Hometown Heroes came. The band played songs. The band kids were cool. I will be drug free too. I want to be in a band. I want to be drug free.
*We want to be drug free. We had a pep rally. The cheerleaders came to remind us to be drug free. I don't want to drink drugs. The cheerleaders and the football players and the band members reminded me to be drug free.
*It is drug free week. Jordan Wood he is the best football player I know. Jordan Wood he is very great. Jordan Wood he is the best quarterback. He is number 8. He is drug free and I am drug free.
*I always want to be drug free. The school had a pep rally to remind us to be drug free. Cheerleaders came. A lot of Hometown Heroes came too. I love the band. The band played songs. The cheerleaders were very pretty. I remember to be drug free!!! I love the Hometown Heroes!
*I want to be drug free. We had a pep rally. It was fun. I really liked that football players. He was awesome. He taught me to be drug free.


10.24.2012

Crusading For Character

Character Week hump day seemed the perfect time to share this character clip with you. While I don't know these caped crusaders personally, I wish I did; they must bring SO much excitement and fun to their campus. I think you'll agree that their creative parody is a 'TeRRiFiCC' way to bring the six pillars of character to life. EnJOY!



10.23.2012

Our Character Candidate

Yesterday's Red Ribbon/Character Counts! Week theme at our school,
  Voting For a Drug-Free Future,
coupled with the upcoming election sparked this idea for a bulletin board:


What values are important to your school family in a character candidate? Encourage your little citizens to write their response to this sentence starter:  
Our character candidate _____________. 

10.22.2012

Celebrating Character With Books That Teach

Happy Red Ribbon Character Week!  
I am SO jazzed about my character book giveaway at school this week that I can hardly stand it. Each day on our campus, faculty and staff can put in to win a hardcover copy of a book with a character theme - yay! Five lucky school family members will each add a tool to their arsenal from this reading round up:


Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein. It was the smile that was felt around the world . . . and this gem will teach your students about the power of one small act of kindness to change the world. You'll want on your shelves if it's not already there because it will also generate a discussion about stakeholders and connections!


No super hero theme would be complete without a super hero book, right? Enter Zero the Hero by Joan Holub. This book spotlights the life of a Zero, who feels like a nothing, until he gets his chance to add value to his friends and ends up saving the day. This one is perfect for character integration into a math lesson!

Mossy by Jan Brett will be a fun addition to the collection for a science teacher because it's got a nature-center theme woven in. Mossy the turtle is picked up and taken to a new home in a museum, but will she ever get to go back to where she belongs? There's something so magical about a Jan Brett book .....


My fourth choice is called The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool. A boy with a gift spins clouds into thread, just like his mother taught him. But what'll happen when the King sees the boy's talent and demands stuff that he doesn't really need? Will the King ever understand that enough is enough?

Our last title to give away is the Laurie Friedman book called Thanksgiving Rules. I chose a seasonal book because it's got an underlying theme about togetherness and gratitude. In the end, Percy expresses his appreciation for the Thanksgiving Buffet with kid-friendly, appropriate affection. I can see this one as a writing prompt springboard!



I can't wait to see who will get to add these titles to their character collections!


10.21.2012

Something Good Sunday

Today I'm excited because Jennifer over at Rowdy in First Grade is hosting a Tell Me Something Good party and I'm linking up and sharing good news. I love this idea because it parallels what we do at school, not only with our kiddos but also with one another. We start every faculty meeting with good news and affirmations. Click the graphic below to join in the fun!


Good news item #1:  We have TWO winners of The Giant King book and CD from author Kathleen T. Pelley. They are Jenny and Delighted. Congrats! I wish I had a copy to give to all of you because I know that they will both be blessed by this royal tale

Good news item #2:  Kaitlyn called from UT this week to say that she'd finished a grueling two weeks of midterms and studio work (with a band road-trip sandwiched in the middle), that she'd done well (yay!), and that she was going to take a long nap. Before I could say sweet dreams, she shared that her professor had liked one of her projects so much that they were keeping it as a model. There was so much joy in my college-kid's voice as she shared that good news with me. Teachers are positively influential! 

Good news item #3:  Our Friendswood High School Mighty Mustang Marching Band has been competing with this year's show and has brought home Grand Champion the past two weekends. These dedicated, hard-working students manage eight hours of practice every week in addition to the work that they do at home and in their classes. In their first competition, they came in eleventh place and didn't even make the finals. Disappointing? Sure. Discouraging? A bit. But that didn't stop these driven musicians. They just picked themselves up, applied the changes suggested by the judges, cleaned up their execution, and marched it more convincingly the next time.

Yesterday, Jacob surprised us with one of those changes . . . they're experimenting with him playing a trumpet solo this week during their exit from the field and, instead of telling us, he just let us experience it along with everyone else in the crowd. Talk about a goose-bumps moment. And now, grab some coffee or tea, turn up your speakers, and prepare to be WOWed by the emotional pageantry of 
All The World's A Stage:

video


And good news #4: We have officially begun our 
2012 Red Ribbon Character Week and it's gonna be SUPER
What will your school family do to celebrate 
healthy choices this week?


10.20.2012

Got Feelings?

Today I'm excited because I'm guest posting over at the Character Educator and Pam Dyson, a Play Therapist from the Show-Me State, has stopped by for a guest post at the Corner. Pam has shown me a thing or two since we've connected in cyberspace. Welcome, Pam!
*************

Tools to Help Children with Emotional Identification
by Pam Dyson


Most children are visual learners and they often struggle with being able to identify emotions.  When we provide children with objects that represent their emotions it makes them concrete and helps them make sense of their feelings.

Part of what I love about being a play therapist is the ability to be creative in finding new tools to help children explore and express feelings. I’m also a budget friendly therapist so the items I buy need to be affordable. For that reason I love dollar stores and bargain bins at discount stores.

During a recent trip to Target I found these colorful maracas in the dollar spot aisle. With the help of a permanent marker I added some simple facial expressions to each maraca. Children can pick up a maraca, identify the feeling, and shake it to demonstrate the intensity of that feeling. I also provide them with brief scenarios to which they can respond with how they might feel in that situation and then shake the respective maraca. The more intense the feeling the more the maraca is shaken.


photo of feeling maracas

If you don’t have maracas you could use bells. I found four bells in graduated sizes and attached a small ribbon loop to each one. When a child is sharing a feeling they’re having they can shake the bell that reflects how big or small that feeling is for them.

photo of feeling bells

A number scale can be used in a similar way. I’ve been using one with my clients for five years. It’s simplistic enough for a young child to understand yet adults find it to be a helpful tool when trying to explain the depth of their feelings. If a child is telling me their friend wouldn’t play with them and they felt sad I would ask them to show me how sad they felt with zero being not sad at all and ten being super sad. If the number was eight we could discuss things the child could do to move the scale to a number where they wouldn’t be so sad anymore. The number scale not only gauges emotional intensity, it also provides opportunities for brainstorming coping skills.

photo of feelings number scale

When children are given opportunities to explore and express their feelings they become more self-aware and self-assured. They learn how to manage their emotions, develop frustration tolerance and have healthy interactions with their world. What tools do you use to help them better understand their feelings?


Author Bio: Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT, is a child development expert, parenting coach, licensed professional counselor, nationally certified counselor and registered play therapist. In addition to her private practice in Ballwin, MO, she serves as a mental health consultant, provides licensure supervision and appears regularly on KMOV’s Great Day St. Louis.

As the founder and director of the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training, Pam is a sought after trainer, facilitating play therapy workshops across the U.S. As an adjunct professor she teaches a graduate course in play therapy at Lindenwood University. She is a graduate of the 2012 Leadership Academy Class of the Association for Play Therapy (APT) and most recently served as a member of the APT Technology Task Force, exploring applications of emerging technologies in play therapy instruction, practice and supervision.

Visit Pam online at You Tube, on her blog, at her Pinterest page, or on Facebook


Oh, and don't forget to leave a comment on yesterday's post (by 10/28 at 10 am) for your chance to win a copy of 
Kathleen T. Pelley's The Giant King!  


10.19.2012

PPBF: The Giant King (& Giveaway)

It's another PPBF at Susanna Hill's blog and I've got another
 picture perfect choice for you!

photo of the Giant King book cover
Title: The Giant King
Author: Kathleen T. Pelley
Illustrator: Maurie J. Manning
Publisher: Child & Family Press
Date: 2003
Fiction
Suitable for ages: 6 and up
Themes: kindness, dignity
Brief Synopsis: A carpenter's son, who carves "not what is, but what could be," suggests that the townspeople treat the Giant (whom they're afraid of) like a King rather than like a beast so that he'll behave like one. 
Opening Page: Long ago in Scotland, there once lived a carpenter's son called Rabbie. Every day, Rabbie worked alongside his father, learning how to make tables and chests and cradles that rocked as smooth and gentle as a summer's breeze.

Resources: Visit the author's page {here}
Want to make Kindness Crowns? Download the Educator's Guide{here}
Learn about Global Dignity Day {here}

Why I like this book: I just love it when the problem in a book is solved by a child because it's incredibly empowering for children to know that they've got a voice and someone is listening. Plus, there's SO much enrichment and extension in this character jewel! 

How I would use it: Find out from students what students think the word dignity means. Then look it up in a dictionary.


Dignity: The state of quality of being worthy of honor or respect

In this tale, a Giant is terrorizing a town until young Rabbie suggests that the Giant acts like a monster because they treat him like one. Though the people scoff and sneer at his intriguing idea that just might change things for the better, the King orders his people to do what the wise young boy says. And guess what?
 
"That which is loved will reveal its loveliness . . . "

Consider The Law of Attraction. According to Wikipedia: The law of attraction is essentially a belief or theory that "like attracts like" and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results. Apply the Law of Attraction to the Giant. He was banished by the townspeople because he was scary to them. Rabbie simply surmised that if they were to treat him like royalty instead of like something repulsive, then the Giant would act more Kingly.

Discuss the book with your students. Brainstorm which of their actions are worthy of honor or respect and show dignity. Contrast those with behaviors that are not. Encourage them to give concrete examples of how dignity looks, sounds, and feels at school, in the bathroom, at recess, in the cafeteria, in the hallways, at their house. Document their examples on an anchor chart like this:


dignity tree map
  
Bonus Giveaway:  Author Kathleen T. Pelley (whom I'm blessed to have become friends with) has kindly agreed to give a copy of The Giant King and its award-winning audio CD to two lucky readers. Just leave your thoughts about this book and your email address between now and Sunday (Ocotber 28) at 10 am central for your chance to win. We will randomly select two names from the royal reflections we receive.

Congrats to Jenny and Delighted! 

Oops - I was thinking the 21st but wrote the 28th. Since I had the wrong date, I am opening this contest back up and will give ONE more copy away. Feel free to continue to comment all week and I'll draw another name from all the comments (minus the two who've already won) next Sunday. Thanks, Patient Dreamer, for catching the error and helping me make it right!

NOW this giveaway is officially closed; congratulations to Susanna, who has a copy of this treasure coming her way as well.

  

10.18.2012

A Journey That Matters

I'm SO engaged and entertained by these CBS Scott Pelley pieces on the news . . . he always finds these unsung heroes and sings their praises publicly . . . but this one just seemed extraordinary to me! 



It's Michael Josephson from the Josephson Institute of Ethics who suggests that we think about what we want people to say at our funeral, and live life backward. Journey now with Woody, a community angel. Woody fell victim to this disease in early August and lost his battle on the 5th, but it appears that he totally lived life backward and, in doing so, left behind an amazing legacy of love!



10.17.2012

Super Homework

Guess what we did to kick off our upcoming Red Ribbon Character Week? We gave our parents an assignment! We asked them to tell us in words and/or pictures what their child's super power is. My friend Terri helped me with the bulletin board to display their super homework:




The homework sheets, designed by my amazing webmaster Jane Ann, are based on our new character Ts:


Click {here} for a copy. We think they turned out SUPER!








Bring on National Red Ribbon/Character Counts! Week 'cause our 
super heroes are super excited
How will your school family celebrate healthy choices?


10.16.2012

It Takes A Village


So last week on Thursday, our son Jacob was selected as the Houston Chronicle Student of the Week and there was a nice piece about him in the paper. Before I'd even seen it, I opened up my inbox to this email from a substitute teacher he'd had in fifth grade:


Barbara, I just saw article in today's neighborhood section of the Houston Chronicle about Jacob and his accomplishments. I know you are so proud of him. I remember how outstanding he was 7 years ago when I was his fifth grade teacher's long term sub. I am so happy for him and for you that his talent and achievements are being recognized. Tell him Ms. K from 5th grade said congrats!!

Shortly afterward, I got another email, this one from a band mom we know: 

Wow!! Congratulations! What a great write up in the paper. I will save my copy for you. You must be so proud.

Another from a community member: Barbara, How proud you must be of this young man. Way to go!!

And another from a teacher at our sister school: Barbara, thought you'd like an extra copy. You must be very proud! Jacob is a very handsome, accomplished young man - like his mom. 

And one more, from a friend, whose son is also a National Merit Semi-Finalist: Awesome article - congratulations. You must be so proud! Glad to see such a bright, talented boy get recognized. 

Then when I got home I found this, a copy of the paper in my plant, probably from a neighbor:


And many more copies have since come our way, all with congratulatory words expressing happiness for us and our son. It's such a gift, that people would stop to write a note and send us their papers so we can forward them to our friends and family in Wisconsin. But even more heartwarming is that each of these thoughtful stakeholders has helped us bring up our boy. None of what we've done has happened in isolation; it truly does take a village to raise a child, and, in our case, we've been abundantly blessed to live in an incredible town. Through their kind words, these caring and compassionate villagers have reminded me how important it is to take the time to affirm one another, to be there cheering each other on, and to celebrate good news together.


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