I wanted to let you know that I will be absent from the classroom this Thursday, September 15, Friday, Sept. 16, and Monday, Sept. 19. Last week, Debbie Manning, one of mentors and closest friends passed away after battling cancer. I will be flying to California to attend the memorial service on Saturday, September 17.
I would like to share a little about her just so you understand how special she was to me. In 1996, I did my student teaching with Debbie and we had an automatic connection. In the midst of doing my student teaching, I was hired at Dailey Elementary (in California) and worked alongside Debbie for the next 10 years. She mentored me professionally, demonstrated the importance of inquiring alongside children, and instilled in me a love for children's literature. It was at her insistence I move to South Carolina to work with Dr. Mills and the Center for Inquiry, as I earned my Ph.D. I would not be the person I am without her. The local paper in Fresno, CA wrote this article about her passing.
Unfortunately I am leaving during a busy week, having Opening Picnic on Thursday, and our first Friday gathering on Friday. So what does this mean for you? While I will not be at Opening Picnic, my classroom will be open. I will work with the kids to put together several centers in which students will share their work. On Friday, we are still scheduled to have our gathering. While our gathering may be a little short, I will be working with them so they can independently share their work (with the help of a few other adults). I apologize for any inconveniences, but I would never leave for this period of time unless if was important. Debbie was more than my mentor - she was family. How can you help? Please check in with your child each day. Ask them if they are doing their best, listening and helping out the substitute, and being a good friend to their classmates.
Here a few other notes:
1) The reading portion of MAP testing will be on Tuesday.
2) Our sleepover at EdVenture is Friday night, September 23 - 24.
3) We will be participating in CSI: Forensics in the Classroom on either Friday, September 30 or Monday, October 3 (still working on date with Ms. Whitecotton). A mock crime scene will be set up and students will have to use science (forensics) to solve the crime. This is an all day activity run by a former detective. I have been wanting to bring CSI: Forensics in the Classroom for quite some time, and know many other teachers who do this every year because students learn a lot and have great memories of the event. Here is the kicker - the price is $20 per student. This is not cheap, but I have heard from other teachers, including my wife (she teaches 4th grade), that it's worth the price. Permission slips have not gone out yet, so don't worry about payment. I am working with Mrs. Debeaugrine on doing a payment option that will cover this event, and a few other field trips we will do this year. More information will come soon.
Once again, thank you for your understanding during this time.