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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's Cooking?

What's cooking at Heatly?

There's always something going on. I have no difficulty in discovering issues or activities to write about in this daily Blog. For instance, I could explain to you how our Board of Education is so dedicated that we were involved in an executive session last Thursday evening when all of a sudden the school lost power ( I don't mean the board's ability to govern the district, I mean the electricity went out as a result of a large fire not too far from the school). The first agenda item for the meeting was an acknowledgment of March as Music in Our Schools Month. The elementary chorus followed the adage - "the show must go on." With the soft glow of emergency lights in the gymnasium offering enough illumination to set an unusual atmosphere, the group performed admirably as they presented a wide range of musical selections. I used two flashlights for a well intentioned but rather poorly conducted light show spotlighting chorus members. They were great and their efforts were well received by an appreciative audience.

I enjoy the opportunity to interact with learners of all ages at Heatly. It's unusual for a superintendent to have an office within a school building. The fact that my office is on the main floor (second story) of the three story building places me in middle of things with respect to proximity to the K - 12 learners.

Although the process of constructing a budget has captivated much of my time, literally holding me hostage in my own office as I work to develop an economic plan in the wake of a 22% loss in state aid projected for next year, I have still been able to find time to escape and get involved in school activities. In addition to observing classrooms for teacher evaluation, I have had chances to be more actively involved. Two instances in particular come to mind.

During the recent February winter break (is there ever going to be a break from winter - yesterday was our fourth snow day!!) the student council sponsored a snow tubing excursion to West Mountain. That was a great relief from the confines of the office. My wife and I attended the event as chaperones in support of the student council advisor who organized the trip for a group of eighteen high school learners. It was very exciting, especially since it was an experience made even more interesting because two of those eighteen learners were encountering their first real winter. I am referring to the two junior high learners who moved here from Algeria earlier this school year. It was great to witness the fun they had as they raced down the snow covered mountain in their tubes. All eighteen participants from Heatly appeared to enjoy themselves. I can also attest that they all represented our school with the very best behavior. It was terrific!

More recently however, I was invited in to prepare crepes for a high school French class last Friday. While I can't speak French, I have long enjoyed savoring French food. Making crepes usually marks special occasions in our family and it's one of the few times I'm allowed to seize control of the kitchen. This is largely due to my lack of skill in making much else beside toast and cereal. I am not anticipating any offers to join the television food network channel. I can assure you that Bobby Flay won't be coming to Heatly for any competitive cooking event.

Just like people are advised to follow their heart when searching for meaning in their life, I follow my stomach when deciding my direction in the kitchen. Since my interest is inclined toward sweets, these crepes were dessert crepes. That's the only type I really make. I brought the crepe maker in after creating the special batter the night before. The members of the class were able to lather the crepe with Nutella and then choose from a variety of fruits (apple slices, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and bananas) to insert in the crepe before either sprinkling coconut flakes or sliced almonds over the folded crepes and finally covering the dessert with homemade whipped cream. Several did all of the above. They were polite, gracious, and diplomatic in their comments on the food. It was a pleasure to help out in the class and to also allow the teenagers to see me in a far different perspective than normal.

These are just two examples of opportunities that attracted me to Green Island. I was interested in exercising influence across all grade levels after serving as a principal at the three different separate levels of elementary, junior high/middle school, and high school. I wanted to put everything together. Most importantly, I wanted to pursue this goal with a district that was small enough to provide experiences to interact directly with the people we serve - kids between the ages of five and eighteen.

By the way, in closing, there were no reports of illness by anyone indulging in the crepes!!

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