Saturday, August 30, 2014

Celebrating with a FREE Book Giveaway!

I have a new teaching position at a new school. To celebrate, I am having a free book giveaway.  I will be giving away one copy of each of my books. 

To read more about a book, you can check out their websites - 

Entering is as easy as 1-2-3!  

1. Send an email to me at 
2. In the subject line put "Free Giveaway"
3. In the body of the email, list the book title(s) you want to try to win.

The contest will run from now until September 12, 2014.  Winners will be picked at random on September 13, 2014 and announced on this blog.  I will send an email to let you know you won! 

I hope you will join in the fun and...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes! Meet 21 month old Bryce!

Bryce Nowakowski and his family are from Chicago.  His grandparents are Mike and Debbie Aniol from Aniol's Hardware in Hegewisch. It's nice to be able to help one of our own.  

Bryce...a Superhero who needs our prayers and support!

Like any child, Bryce deserves a happy and healthy life.  He was a success story of a little guy born with a rare congenital heart defect (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome) who had already completed two of the three needed surgeries to reconstruct his heart. He was happy.  His family was happy… and extremely proud to say the least.
However, on April 5th, things drastically changed.  With only signs of a stomach bug, he was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital for an assessment.  Upon review, the team found a very large clot in his heart, which over the next few weeks proved too large to dissolve. He experienced multiple heart attacks with resuscitations during this time and on April 18th our little “Superman” was officially listed for transplant.  There have been many ups and downs, and with other complications there has been some injury to his brain in addition to irreversible damage to his arm and hands.
This has been a journey that no parent should have to experience but Jeannine and Brian have been by Bryce’s side every step of the way… never leaving... waiting... hoping... praying for some good news.       
He has shown us all what bravery, tenacity and strength truly is – and he is our own little superhero. 

Update: On July 30, 2014 Bryce received his new heart!  He has a long road ahead of him, but as his family says,  "at least now we are on the road".
To read more about Bryce, his story, and how you can help, click here

If you can, please help spread the word about Bryce by sharing this post. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wages and Benefits X 120 Days

This happened last week, and I waited to post this hoping the local media would pick up the story, but knowing they probably would not.

A grievance was filed back in 2012 by a CPS school because substitute teachers were not provided when needed.  Over a two year period, it was documented that a substitute teacher was NOT put in a classroom 120 times.  This school has approximately 25 teachers, so over a two year period a teacher was absent (or sent to professional development) 4 or 5 times.

During these times, students were sometimes put in other classrooms thereby interrupting learning for both groups of students.  Sometimes Special Education teachers were put in these rooms thereby making it impossible for them to work with their own students.  Other times, non-teachers were put in charge of those classrooms. (I know as a teacher that when I am not able to be in class, I leave meticulous, detailed plans. The idea being that a substitute teacher will be in the room implementing those lessons, so there is no "loss of learning" for the day.  I also know students...if they think that the work doesn't matter, they won't do it.) To traipse kids from one room to another with no rhyme or reason makes for a very "noneducational" day.

The outcome: 
A grievance was filed and now, two years later, the case went to arbitration.  In the matter of the Chicago Teachers Union vs. The Board of Education the arbitrator found in favor of the Union and the teachers of Taylor School.

What did they win?

  • A Cadre substitute will be appointed to Taylor School for future absences
  • Retroactively, the Board of Ed. has to compensate Taylor School in the amount of compensation for one Cadre Substitute (wages and benefits) times 120 days.  The money is to be used for student education programs as voted on by the Taylor School Professional Problems Committee.
If the Board of Education followed the Contract Agreement to begin with, this would have not been an issue!

Here are two links if you want to read more details about this and the full ruling from the arbitrator.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Memories are made of...Cherries!

If my grandpa were alive today, he'd be in his mid-90s.  I can still imagine him on his farm taking a swim in his pool!  Unfortunately he died in 1991, but many memories I have of him are as if they just happened.  This of my grandpa's birthday always reminds of this topic...CHERRIES!

Whenever my grandparents were given a box of Fannie May candy, Grandpa and I used to compete to see who could find the chocolate covered cherry first.  I especially loved the two-pound box of candy because we were guaranteed one chocolate covered cherry on each level of candy.  Whoever would find the chocolate covered cherries first would quickly pop them in their mouth and savor the flavor.  Grandpa quite often won and after years of competing he showed me a Fannie May secret.  The chocolate covered cherries had a fancy "C" dripped in chocolate on their top. wonder I very seldom won! 

Maraschino Cherries were also a kiddy favorite and whenever we'd be out for dinner and the grown-ups would have an adult beverage, I'd often have a Kiddie Cocktail!  Grandpa always made sure the waitress put extra Maraschino Cherries in my drink. 

I returned the favor on Grandpa's birthday.  For a couple of years in a row, my sister baked a cake for my grandma's birthday and I baked one for Grandpa's. I have never been a culinary master (to say the least), but I was able to read the directions on the box cake mix and buy already-made frosting.  With our love of cherries, I decided that a Cherry Chip Cake would be the perfect way to go.  Once the cake was baked I added a special surprise before putting on the frosting....I surreptitiously poked holes in the sides of the cake and ever-so-carefully filled in those holes with Maraschino Cherries, (without the stems, of course). If a few cherries were a good idea then LOTS of cherries were even better. I then frosted the cake and looked lovely.  But the taste...well, I remember when the cake was finally cut, some places were a little more moist (read soggy) because of the juice from the cherries, but overall the cake was edible.  I know it would never win a prize in a bake-off, but grandpa enjoyed it (the thought of it, anyway) which is all that really mattered!  

What are some of your special memories?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nothing to see here...

A person takes the Principal's Eligibility Test to become a Chicago Public School principal not once, but twice in one year and FAILS both times.  Under the "old" rules that person would not be eligible to retake the test for three years.  But alas, this is the Chicago Public Schools, so when the outcome isn't what is wanted, the rules are simply changed.  (Too many students are failing...lower the standards!  Too many students are getting into trouble...lower the standards and make it impossible for teachers to actually have discipline in their rooms!)

Now, a "new" rule was established by the  Board of Education on July 23rd of this year that the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools (Barbara Byrd Bennett aka Triple B) could appoint an Interim Principal without that person having passed the eligibility assessment as long as the person is extremely qualified to serve the needs of the school (or school system as I see it).

Who is this newly hired principal?  Catherine Sugrue -the sister  to Alderman Patrick O'Connor, Rahm's City Council floor leader.

Who hires the members of the Board of Education?  Rahm Emanuel

According to the Chicago Tribune article, what is Ms. Sugrue's claim to fame within CPS? 
She was the Director of School Transition for the 50 schools that were closed last year, worked in the office of "new schools" which help create charter schools, and was a vice-president at a company that manages charter schools for Chicago.

Click HERE for full story from the Chicago Tribune