Monday, May 13, 2013

only one thing going on...

But it is a big one. Chris and I are buying my mother's house. To do such a thing we have to sell our current house. My mother does not live far, she lives in the City, in a slightly larger house with a more finished basement.

We have made nice improvements to the house we live in since we moved in. The back living room used to be panel walls with a weird, drafty sliding glass door. Chris took out the paneling and put up drywall and replaced the door with windows. He also added windows looking into the back yard, this helps a lot when watching the kids and/or yelling at them through those windows. He also replaced the water pipes. He has learned a lot and leaned on his friends a lot for knowledge and tools.

But getting the house ready to sell has challenged him at every turn. First, he replaced the bathroom floor which is slightly more complicated because one wants to make sure the fixtures are replaced perfectly to avoid leaks (plumber friends help).

He built a wall where a makeshift wall had been between the second bathroom and pantry were. Then he ripped up the sidewalk because some of the panels had been damaged by the snow of 2009. He replaced the entire sidewalk (with the help of our local cement vendor and a very good friend). It looks great.

He fixed a light that had not worked in years, he put up the gutters (dont ask), he replaced carpet with a hard floor in a well-travelled transition area.

He somehow got our kids to help him move all of our yard debris from 8 years of living here into a trailer and transported it away from our house. Finally, he has moved much of our stuff out of the house to my mother's basement. He has been superman. He still has to replace the kitchen floor and some stuff I cant remember.

ME? Oh, I have been continuing to make meals (unless I pick up dinner), watching the children, packing and trying to convince Chris to hire people to do the work he is doing (without much success). We have hired people to replace the roof (he would still be working on it if we had not hired someone) and to help with landscaping/clean up.

My mother had been well into the process of getting her house ready for sale with the help of a realtor. Since the realtor was not needed to complete the sale, we agreed to have her realtor sell our house. He is coming this week to inspect Chris' work and see if our house is ready for sale. We have lots to do before he comes, but we are a lot further along than the first time he came to visit.

Our house is a great house, in a wonderful neighborhood, we love it here.  We love the way the boys walk by themselves to their friends house right up the road. We love that when we go for a walk, we run into someone we know. We had no plans of leaving ever, but since we now have three children who continue to inexplicably grow, the idea of a bigger house is appealing, and since my mom was ready to sell hers, well it just seemed like a great deal.

My mom has lived in her house for 16 years. We had our rehearsal dinner party at her house, we have had countless holidays and meals at her house, my children have been at her house many days a week since they were born.  I studied for the bar exam when I couldnt stand the mess at Chris and his roommate's apartment anymore before we were married (since I passed it seems relevant). Now Chris and I will make more memories at the house, as our own home. How cool is that?

Friday, May 03, 2013

School Board recap 5/2

It has been a school board filled week. Friday and Saturday we had our retreat. Monday, I attended a VSBA (Virginia School Board Association) conference on the Evaluation of Superintendents. (Evaluation process has changed for principals, teachers and now will for superintendents. The change provides superintendent's evaluation to include student achievement data).

Wednesday night we met with City Council and PVCC to provide input to Piedmont on programming and collaborations. PVCC is a jewel in our community (as an alum, I am not at all biased). I did suggest Piedmont expand its nursing/radiography programs. The discussion was so helpful. I particularly appreciated Dr. Friedman's point that many in the nursing program are not coming out of high school, the average graduate is in her late twenties, early thirties. Since I had suggested perhaps putting a nursing program for high school students (a path to a nursing Associates degrees for high school students) at CHS, his point was a useful reminder. As a community I think we need to emphasize career paths that will allow our graduates/young people to get into the middle class. The three boards (City Council, PVCC's Board and the School Board) are focused on that goal.

Last night we had our School Board meeting. We adopted the Spanish textbook. Spanish in the elementary schools is one of the most exciting things happening in Charlottesville City Schools. I say that even though I question the expenditure in the budget every year. The program costs a lot. When the Board is looking at raising class sizes for core classes and Spanish and a million dollar deficit, Spanish is something I think logically should be on the table. Having said all of that, I am a believer in the program (can those two thoughts co-exist? yes). From kindergarten, our students take Spanish twice a week. In sixth grade, all students have to take Spanish 1 (starting next year) after six years of learning Spanish. To graduate with an advanced studies diploma, a student needs three credits of foreign language and after sixth grade the student will have one credit completed. The division understands that meeting the foreign language requirement is a barrier to many receiving advanced studies diploma, so training children from early on allows more students to be eligible for the advanced studies diploma. I have taken years of Spanish, I know how foreign language helps in the job market, I think this is a really valuable program. I am working to ensure that next year we do not have to discuss reducing our important programs in the budget process.

We also voted on a new visitor policy. This was the third month we discussed this policy. It is clear where we all stand, yet we still managed to have an interesting discussion on the subject. In this day and age, visitor policies draw a lot of scrutiny. I firmly believe that those wishing to do harm to our community will not be following the visitor policy, no matter what it says. I also believe that the visitor policy change is unnecessary. However, five of my fellow board members did want the change despite my brilliant arguments (ha!).  I hope this policy will provide the certainty to administrators and Resource Officers that the division seeks.

I continue to seek your input on issues related to the schools. I truly appreciate your comments/emails/phone calls. Thank you!

Also next week is Teacher Appreciation week, I hope you have a chance to show your appreciation to a teacher next week!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week 5/6/13 through 5/10/13

I can not express how grateful I am for teachers. Our society holds teachers to an impossible standard, yet many go above and beyond every single day. We have teachers who literally risk their lives for their class, those whose kind words inspire a child, and those many who challenge students with new material every day, all in addition to the bureacratic burdens placed on them every day.

I am not at all biased (ok I am). Every year (well before I even considered school board) we have had to sit with Andrew's teachers to discuss his anxiety and organizational issues. Every year, teachers accommodate him and he exceeds our wildest expectations for his performance. David's teachers have been flexible and accommodating of him and his peers as they ask a billion questions and allow them to explore topics further.

I know, I know not all teachers are amazing, extraordinary or even mediocre. I get it. I wont romanticize the profession but the profession has a lot of unfair press and not enough positive coverage for people who work so hard.
Thank you to teachers. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of our children. I appreciate the weekends you give over to grading and drafting lesson plans. I appreciate the evening phone calls to parents whose children did not attend school that day, I appreciate the "hall duty" you take seriously. I appreciate the smiles and hugs. I appreciate that you can keep order in a class of 23 seven year olds, then teach them math at the varying levels (how?). I appreciate that you keep granola bars in your desk for those children who come to you hungry. I appreciate how you seek ways to improve your skills. I appreciate that you show up for work every day and take seriously the profession of teaching. We could not do our job as policy makers or parents without your sincere efforts.  I could go on and on. And maybe I will sometime, but for now...

Thank you.