Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Saying goodbye and moving forward...

It has been a long 8 days...

Saying Goodbye

A shock came to our community on July 4 when we suddenly lost, Bob Horan, the most dedicated and passionate superintendent you may ever meet. We are a small school district (less than 1000 students) and on any given day at our elementary school, you could find Bob reading to first graders, observing an author Skype, playing with bots or just walking through the hallways.  He was a big fan of STEAM so I will do my best to devote some time to STEAM in the coming years in his memory.

Here's Bob with Chris Grabenstein at our school in January.

National Tragedy

While we were mourning Bob, the events that unraveled in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas hit me hard.  I feel hopeless and wish there was something I can do to make things better.  I'm worried for my children, my family and my students.  The best I can do is advocate, read and share books and poetry that can make a difference.  I appreciate this post with a #BlackLivesMatter booklist for teens:

I also want to share Kwame Alexander's interview on NPR on Sunday.  He always gives me hope:

While running late last week, I listened to an old podcast on This American Life.  It was so relevant to today, I feel like I want you all to listen to it, too. W. Kamau Bell's part is Act II and about 18 minutes into the podcast.

The link is here:

Then I actually went to W. Kamau Bell's website to view his blog and the post mentioned in his story was right there.  Here it is:

Blog post from January 2015

You may or may not know, that I am a big fan of Sean Qualls and Selina Alko and the book referenced in the stories.  I just hate that it all has to come down to this. Way over a year has passed since this story was aired, I hope things have changed, although with the events of the past week, I am just not so sure...

Looking Ahead

Only days after Bob's passing, we were scheduled to share our Towers Falling project ideas with our Board of Education.  Needless to say, it has been put on hold for a little bit.  However, we still moved forward in our planning and are hopeful that we will be able to commit to an end date soon.

So on Monday, with support from our principal and Director of Curriculum, we continued to plan this project that takes a tragedy and turns it into an amazing inquiry, project based cross curricular year long study on heroes, patriotism, history, memories and resilience based on Jewell Parker Rhodes, Towers Falling. Two months to the day before the 15th anniversary of September 11, my fifth grade collaborating teacher, Mr. Reischer, and my fabulous volunteer couple, Mr. and Mrs. Warland and I drove down to NYC to visit the 9/11 Memorial and get some face time with Little Brown.  We didn't know what to expect and it turned out to be a way more incredible trip than we ever imagined.

The steps that lead many folks to freedom.

We learned that our students may be captivated by just seeing a firetruck.  We were in awe by how it was destroyed.

The saved column.

The beautiful education room.  

Mrs. Warland, Mr. Reischer and Jennifer, the amazing educator who we are thankful spent so much time with us.
On a side note, we even met up with my friend and inspiring librarian, MaryAnn Scheuer, who was visiting New York from California.  She was able to sit in and participate while we met with Jennifer and we hope to collaborate with her students, too, as part of some cross-country component. Everything just keeps getting better and better...

The footprint of the South Tower.

The Warlands in front of the Survivor Tree.  An incredible story:

Since it was the day before the release of Towers Falling, we only had the arc.
The book's cover now matches the color of the sky.

If all goes as planned, students will be able to experience this state of the art conference room at Little Brown...
...with views of Radio City!

I posted this collage on Instagram.
It was just so wonderful to meet and spend time with the team from Little Brown.

This project fills me with excitement and hope.  We will push ahead with the enthusiasm and passion of our late superintendent and the nearly 3000 people who were killed on September 11, 2001.  We will move forward in this life changing and unforgettable project.  Thank you Jewell Parker Rhodes and the folks at Little Brown and the educators from the 9/11 Memorial for challenging and pushing us forward to help bring this project to fruition for the students and families of Schodack. We are excited to share all the details soon with administrators and the Board.

Want to read or listen to more?  Here are a few more links:

  • Jewell was on NPR last week discussing Towers Falling.  Here's the link for the interview:

  • Here's another article about Towers Falling--even Mr. Reischer is interviewed.  Although, it says we will be visiting in September which is not the case.

1 comment:

  1. We live in "interesting" times. Our choice is to succumb or choose "meliora" (ever better). In the ways that we touch children, we need to follow the directive of the preamble to our Constitution: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union... It is a gift to work with Stacey Rattner. Together we strive to help our students gain the insight and the backbone needed to make our selves ever better striving toward a more perfect union.