The Solution Finders: Thanking the Creative Educator

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What? My first participation in a blog tour ever! Woot. Total writer’s block. Ever have those times where you know what you want to say but you can’t quite get it onto paper in such a way that it carries the impact it should have? Yeah, I’m there.

This week kicks off the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity guided by the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. http://www.world-gifted.org/ Needless to say, I am very excited to participate in the blog tour because supporting gifted and talented children is a huge passion of mine.

So why, why, why am I having such a hard time writing a post? I think I want to get it right. I want to create a post that celebrates all it is to be gifted and creative. I think it is probably an impossible task and therefore my brain has gone on strike.

I have decided I will just use one story and maybe not try to encompass all of our educator experiences in one blog post. Maybe I will write stories throughout the year celebrating educators who inspire.

Let’s start with our most recent experience. My younger two girls had always homeschooled until last year. We had the opportunity to travel a great deal with my husband for work and we enjoyed loads of cool adventures. As they grew up, they wanted to go to school and stay home and “be normal.” We felt as though this was a reasonable request so we registered for public school and began a different sort of adventure. To say we were a bit skeptical about what we would experience is probably an understatement.

My younger girls didn’t want me to push for them to receive gifted services even though we knew both girls had met gifted benchmarks all of their lives. I try to respect these requests when I feel no harm will likely come out of it and the reasoning was logical. *Here is a good place to add the caveat that I have been an advocate for gifted education for almost ten years. I speak at conferences and sit on committees and created a support network for parents when my eldest daughter was struggling with school placement. On the form for “Parent’s work”, I simply wrote “stay at home Mom.” E-mailing teachers? Remove my signature line. We went into last school year completely incognito.

On meet the teacher day, I knew I instantly liked Mrs. Angela Wrigglesworth. Well, first, let’s just say she has the greatest “book character” type name ever. She and my youngest daughter began talking and had many favorite books in common. I was beginning to feel pretty positive about the year to come. Upon speaking further, we found out that she had also been Ms. Texas Wheelchair 2004. http://mswheelchairtexas.org/angela-wrigglesworth-ms-wheelchair-texas-2004/ By the end of that first meeting, I knew I was going to like Mrs. Wrigglesworth a lot.

Fast forward about two months and I am in love with Mrs. Wriggleworth. She sees each child as an individual and realizes their needs are all different and individually important. She encourages them to be their own person and to be unique. She is an example of setting and meeting your goals. I’m thinking,”Cool! Even if youngest doesn’t really learn anything from class, she will learn a lot from her teacher about life.” I went into this with low expectations of what she would learn so I wasn’t disappointed. As part of district protocol, she tests my youngest’s reading level and runs out of tests to give her to accurately assess her reading level. I receive a phone call from Mrs. Wrigglesworth and she says,”Mrs. Taylor, I have never had a child read at the level your daughter reads. I can only borrow books from the middle school but that won’t be the right level. I was thinking I would start a book club for your daughter and I. There are books she and I both want to read and this will help her have books on her level in class and someone to discuss them with.” I was elated. I didn’t even have to ask for help. I offered to purchase two copies of any book they were going to read and she could keep them, for the class, as a gift.

Why is Mrs. Wrigglesworth an inspiration? She had a problem and she came up with a creative solution.

Creativity comes in many forms. When a teacher uses creative solutions to help a gifted child a definitive message is sent to the child,”Your needs are important and I want to support you.” What a validating affirmation to the child and their parents. Bonds are formed and community grows. We all want to be part of a supportive and nurturing community.

I was not surprised when Angela Wrigglesworth was announced as our district’s elementary teacher of the year. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving.

Thank you, Angela Wrigglesworth, for being a creative and inspirational teacher.

I encourage you to thank a creative, inspirational teacher in the comments. Let’s have a year of highlighting creative teachers of the gifted and celebrate the wonderful impact they have on our lives.

Charitable Children

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I sit here and wonder how on earth I got roped into juicing lemons for fresh lemonade again. How do these things happen to me? Oh right, I love my kids and made a blanket statement of support*.

*Note to parents: watch those blanket statements of support because they always remember!

I kid, I kid. I help my girls juice lemons because they had a vision for charity work and their Dad and I try to support them in their charitable endeavors. I have learned a great deal about efficient juicing techniques in the last couple of years but mostly I learned a great parenting lesson: When your child finds a passion let go of the reins and watch in wonder. It seemed like such an easy, simple request: “Mom, we want to buy things for the SNAP wish list so we e-mailed our friends and we want to hold a lemonade stand.” SNAP is the Spay Neuter Assistance Program www.snapus.org and we had spent the day having Ms. Kitty spayed. Their Dad and I decided to just let them run with their idea. How did they want the stand to look? What sort of promotion for their event were they wanting to create? It was a rather epic brainstorming session with a group of seven and nine year old children with a passion and a message.

Fast forward two years and these lemonade stands are no small feat to put on! There have been shirts made and a fantastic lemonade stand cut from a beautiful AutoCAD creation. The lemonade must be made and there need to be cups, napkins, snacks, water, etc. and so on. Oh and don’t forget to procure some change. Dangit, how often do we get to an event and I am running to a bank for change!

The important experience was watching a group of young children make a real difference and reap the rewards of a job well done. They know how to create a cost projection; plan an event; speak in public and a host of other life lessons we would have been hard-pressed to teach them in a meaningful way otherwise.

We can’t always accommodate a child’s passion but if you have the opportunity, go along for the journey.

For more information on my daughters’ charitable work visit their page: https://www.facebook.com/lemonaidgirls

Going Live from Houston in 3….2…1….

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I’m going to kick off this blog with one of my favorite subjects: food. As a busy Mom to three girls; wife to an ever-globetrotting husband; caretaking human to three large dogs and three cats who aren’t clear of their species of origin…..well….I try to cook as little as possible. Mostly, I am lazy and I’m pretty sure other people are better cooks than I with the exception of mixing drinks and making coffee. I excel at coffee making and creative cocktails (We all have our talents. Ha!). I like to travel and try new things. Many moons ago, my girls and I started on our very own adventure called “Around the World in Houston.” I am a small town girl who is still on her big city adventure (yes, ten years later) so I get really excited about all the countries I can visit without ever leaving Texas. Adventures don’t have to be far away. Adventures can be just around the corner. I am always on the lookout for a great adventure and my girls will tell you I drag them with me as well as any friends brave enough to ride along.

Today, I am going to share with you one of my favorites. Cafe Pita is a small Bosnian restaurant in Houston. That’s right, Bosnian http://cafepita.weebly.com/ . Why did I start here? Well, this was a great way to teach myself and the girls some geography and a delicious reason to learn more about the culture and food. Bosnian is an easy introductory ethnic food for kids. The atmosphere is casual and the food will be familiar but different. In checking out Cafe Pita My first thought was,”Hmmm….I’m not entirely sure I know where Bosnia is located.” That’s the great thing about the internet, one stop shopping for all your information needs and some information you didn’t really want OR need. I will save you some time and give you a link to Virtual Tourist so you can explore Bosnia more closely: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Bosnia_and_Herzegovina/TravelGuide-Bosnia_and_Herzegovina.html . There are loads of great tourist and information sites so this isn’t the only information out there.

I haven’t been to Bosnia-Herzegovina but after eating at Cafe Pita it is high on my list of places to visit. The appetizer definitely highlighted the Mediterranean flavors of Bosnian food. We started with a Meza platter because it had a bit of everything and it was delicious. It is also served with perhaps the most heavenly bread I have ever eaten. It is similar to a pita but fluffier and a bit more sour tasting. Unique and amazing. A surefire entree is pljeskavice, pronounced ple-ska-vee-che. It is sort of like a hamburger but on the yummy bread and this amazing creamy cheese and red pepper dip. I would show you a picture but we dove in and devoured it before we remembered we were taking pictures. Yes, all three times. Oops. For dessert we opted for Bosnian coffee and it came in beautiful pots. They also have delicious Nutella crepes which are great to share and delicious with the coffee. No, I didn’t give the girls any coffee. It is my only edge these days. It could be caffeine is the branch I hold onto trying not to go off the cliff.

We also looked up some Bosnian music to see what it was like. Get your kid’s feet (and yours too!) moving to this fun Bosnian music video! 

If you have a Bosnian restaurant in your area check it out! If you don’t, the country has an interesting history and I am glad I know where it is on the map now. If you have favorite Bosnian dishes or music, please share them with me in the comments!