Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

Beautiful babies, learning how to ride a bike, baking grandma's favorite pie, earning a drivers license, that engagement ring, prayers before each meal, shoveling the snow for a neighbor, beautiful sunsets, a call from an old friend, surprise parties, a new puppy, A's on a report card, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, fishing with your pals, making the baseball team, washing the car for dad, learning how to tie your shoes, lemonade on the porch, that coach who really cares........oh yes!

May you and your family have many days
filled with joy in the coming year. 
I know every day is a gift.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

For Every Child

The things on this list
from a campaign sponsored by the
Broader, Bolder Approach to Education
are essential for our customers
all young people and their families.

That means each child.
Santa would never favor one
boy or girl over another.

Neither should we.  

Broader, Bolder Approach to Education

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You're Invited

Top 10 Reasons to Come to "Fine Arts Night"
 10.  The best time of a day is spent creating.                               
  Read to kids because it's the start of wonderful projects.
  8.   The janitor is the art teacher's best buddy.
  7.   There's never enough space to hang up every picture.
  6.   Art should be on the refrigerator once it "goes home."
  5.   More beauty's found in the imagination than anywhere.
  4.   Keep asking......because then the teacher will let us paint.
  3.   Great artists autograph their work.
  2.   Showing off art unabashedly, is a great thing!
  1.   We believe in our young artists.

Join us at Parkside on Thursday
November 20th from 6:00 to 7:30 P.M.  

Mrs. Rachel Tewell and pupils from 
Lawrenceville High School have helped
make this event even more special!

Refreshments will be served,
compliments of 
The Lawrence County Arts Council 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear Ed

November first had arrived, game day.  We spied crimson leaves clinging to tree branches,  knowing that they wouldn't last much longer.  It was the kind of Saturday where fall foliage becomes windswept, ending up somewhere in a smoky burn-pile.  

It was cold yet that sparkling cornflower sky was splendid.  Sharp winds swirled, zealously lifting the Indian banners that adorn the road from L.H.S. to Loeb Field.  The crisp red and white flags were quite a site, beckoning fans as they migrated to the sports complex for the 3:00 P.M. kick-off. 

Early in the week the locals began parking vehicles in a tight ring at the edge of the field.  Some were undoubtedly preparing for tail-gate parties, anxious to find a good location.  One family had different plan.  They secured a spot near the 50 yard line with a car, and it turned out to be a good move.  That spot was reserved for a proud 84 year-old who couldn't fathom missing The Tribe in their 2014 play-off bid.  Who could blame her?  Indeed the young man slated to start the game for L.H.S. as quarterback was her great, great grandson. 

 What does a small town football event look and feel  like?  It's a noisy, spirited, curious collection of so many individuals.   There's countless hours of preparation, of practice and planning with the young people who "take the stage" when the day finally arrives.   

Ed, the complex was alive with folks of all  ages.  Drawn together were kids and cousins, grandparents, friends. Fans mingled with the band or the cheerleaders.  Members of the media were everywhere.  What is it
about making a little history that creates
such a hullabaloo? Perhaps it's a journey of
pride and purpose, success none shall deny. 

Indeed, what fuels such excitement or
prepares us to stand a little taller......
while setting our sights a little higher?
I think parents or those who love kids are
the spark, those with unmistakable hopes
or  dreams.  When it's time to perform,
all eyes are on the young people.

Anticipation of what's possible when 
you give your best effort, it's a relentless 
challenge.  That chance for personal success,
indeed one that's shared with's 
brilliant!  It is that goal worth every shred of
time or effort necessary, in making it a reality.  

Yes, the Indians played for us that afternoon
wearing red and white "home" uniforms.  

They didn't disappoint themselves,
their coaches, or the many fans at the
sports complex.  Folks listening to the broadcast of the game on WAKO Radio
too, were jubilant.  More importantly
these young people earned "another
day"  with an additional opportunity to
advance in the IHSA football playoffs.

Yes, the Indians made history on
November first.  They a handed a defeat
to the visiting Nokomis Redskins, an accomplishment marking the
first post-season win in over
a century of football at L.H.S.  

There's no better feeling than
to recognize it came about
as a result of teamwork.

The beauty of that Saturday afternoon
at Loeb Field? When a group of young
athletes came together, and acted as one.



Saturday, October 25, 2014


There can be strong progress in a child's learning when the teacher guiding pupils is inspired.  That boost of confidence in
the mind of an educator can translate into positive experiences with kids.  I know
this for sure:  things will get a lot better!  

Those genuine experiences with pupils
may not be plentiful early in the day. 
Indeed they may not even exist early
in the school year, or even in the
career of a young professional. 
You simply have to be patient.  

  Professionals seeking ideas to reach kids, improve the climate in class, or hone
their craft are facing real obstacles in
their learning community every day.

The answers one seeks to solve challenges
may be closer than you think.  Good suggestions abound in the minds and
hearts of other teachers--your colleagues.  

Reach out, listen, and learn from
others who have wisdom or insight
that provides you with suggestions,
insight-- indeed that necessary inspiration.  

Then take a "test drive" with your kids.

 Subsequently, you may discover fewer
potholes in your relationship with
youngsters and learning resumes.
That after all, is the proper focus

for youngsters in your classroom.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Can't Wait

The school year is still in its "tender stage."

I'm getting used to a new schedule but as
of right now, it doesn't feel too familiar.  

Hmm.....I still cannot remember
first names of all my customers!
That's a dilemma, so I just
ask the children to "remind" me
they prefer to be called at school.    

It's important to be positive, welcoming,
and observant with all kids in class.
Showing youngsters we really care, while
making these early days of the school
year go smoothly is so important. 

I'm not sure I have a handle on my game!

If as an adult learner I feel this way,
then what about the youngsters in my care?
What about the other professionals in
the building, who are all negotiating
this new school year as well? 

I know what "success" looks and feels like
for students in school, at least that's my
ultimate goal for our learning community.

So tomorrow morning, we'll start
a new week together....all of us.   
I may be nervous, but can remain calm
in classes.  I may be unsure, but can stay positive.  Surely the road to a respectful,
safe school experience isn't too far away. 

Why?  Because as adults we're capable of
understanding our roles, and
intelligent enough to communicate clearly.
We know that time plays an important
role in developing relationships with others. 
Let's aim toward important goals we've
laid out for our kids with confidence, because they're always watching.  Young people  constantly "read" the signals that
we as adults, put out there.  The parents and families of our students
are doing the same,
in this early part of a new school year.

So my customers and I will smile together
more often this week.  I'll get a better handle
on their names and more importantly, on
their needs!  Good things do take time.   
Our routines will be more comfortable,
and my pupils will grow more confident.   

I can't wait! 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thank You

A new school year's just beginning for
many, while a Tennessee educator's
embarking upon retirement,
after teaching for 41 years.   

Cole Elementary was her home and this new retiree is first grade educator Nancy Flexner.  

I know teachers are an essential link in
success stories for young people.  

Many who cared about Nancy made sure
that she'd be recognized for the important
impact this woman made for her pupils.
Those who could travel to Tennessee, community members, and colleagues at
Cole Elementary gathered secretly in her
classroom last May for a surprise "farewell."

Thank you, thank you Ms. Flexner.
Your example is extraordinary
and we all need that in our lives. 

Enjoy the celebration in the link above
but thanks-in-advance to all those who
are going to do a "Nancy Flexner"
this school year for their kids!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Effective Classroom Management

Be Clear
Deal Now, Not Later
Individual Expectations
High Student Expectations
Confidence "Plus!"

Connect with Linda Kardamis

Obstacles to Growth


Take a cue from the young.
Be eager, be willing to learn.  

Grab opportunities, making
those FAILURES a friend.  For
when we feel like "throwing in the
towel,"it's wise to remember why
we held on for so long in the first place!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Just a Little Jump

Saturday while some were working, cleaning
the house, shopping, babysitting, or even mowing a lawn and feeling like any of the above was mundane, Travis Mills was
jumping out of an airplane.  

This in and of itself isn't too spectacular
unless you stop to consider that this
gentleman has no limbs, save for the
artificial ones this veteran's learned to use through lengthy months of rehabilitation.  

His personal history reveals that 
Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills along with
a team from the 82nd Airborne were
on assignment in Afghanistan,
substantiating reports related to
verification of explosive devices. 

It was during his third tour of duty
back in April, 2012.  Just a typical day
for this team except
that when Travis
dropped a backpack on the ground,
the sudden impact was enough to
detonate explosives buried below.

As anyone can imagine, the event changed
this young man's life dramatically.

"Was I complaining about
anything on Saturday afternoon?  

One thing is clear:  Travis has been
emphatic about
"getting on with his life."
So on August 9th, he was in Maine to raise  awareness and funds for a veteran center
to be located at Fort Kent.  

Incidentally Travis invited the
wife of Maine Governor Paul LePage, to
join him at his parachute adventure. 

"Bravo Travis, bravo!"

It's well known that First Lady Ann LaPage
is interested in supporting veterans.  When
the two first met, Mrs. LaPage discovered
that Travis is also passionate about
creating a camp that will benefit
wounded veterans and their families.

      Who could say no?      
Ann admitted that while petrified of
heights, she had to honor his request

"Challenges are not insurmountable."
Watch the two teasing one another 
at Fort Hood, during the recent event:

We initially learn from one another in
very small ways, moments of time that
may seem insignificant at first glance. 

It's only from positions of enlightenment
that we act upon our understandings,
make decisions, and solve problems. 
Yet the process all begins with learning
from others, one simple step at a time.  

I believe this is true with people
of every age, and in all walks of life.  

Perhaps recognizing this, you and I can be
more proactive in supporting kids. 
We'll recognize that everyone continues to
learn and flourish when given the time,
opportunity, and proper nurturing.  

Thank you Travis Mills,
you are a hero that gives me pause.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

If You Are a Teacher

This video makes me think.

Created over a dozen years ago
for a teacher preparation course, 
it contains a message that's as
significant today as it was then.  

As professionals, do we mirror these actors?  

Do we support each other, and continual growth within our learning community?  

Are there parents in our school who
   want their children to be "left behind?"

It's about the kids and learning opportunities.  
So let us take on the many challenges
together, for it is within us to succeed.  
After all, we all take on that
responsibility of "being teachers"

because someone is always watching.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


If ever you get the opportunity to be in the company of those who truly love family and nurture each and every member, pay close attention.  

Lessons learned from them are insights you'll want to emulate.  For each moment you "drink in" their specific and routine manner of dealing with the sweet and sour moments in life, it's unique wisdom. 

St. Francisville, Illinois is the place Mr. William C. Padgett has called "home" for over 80 years.  He and his wife Phyllis married there in 1952, and chose to raise seven children within that community.  Known to most people as Bill, the many endeavors he tackled included establishing and oil producing and drilling company, serving as both an alderman and mayor, and helping create and serve on the township Fire Department as a fireman and trustee for over 40 years.   

To many he cut a familiar figure when we saw either he or Phyllis at events and programs at
St. Francisville Elementary School.  I became a member of that staff right out of college, employed as a second grade teacher. 

Initially unfamiliar with all the new families and faces, I learned that this tall, quiet man was the father of several children.  At the time two of his youngsters, Rod and Amie were both in the upper grades of the school.  Later I discovered that he and Phyllis were the grandparents of two siblings I had in my room:  Gabe and Valarie.  Indeed Rachel, his youngest child was also one of my second grade students. 

I soon recognized that Bill Padgett was ready, willing and able to lend a hand if you needed help with a project.  So was Phyllis and other members of their family.  I vividly remember he and his son Tom running plows and shoveling sidewalks around St. Francisville Elementary whenever wintry weather blanketed town with ice and snow.  If class was "in" they were on-the-job before dawn, during many frigid mornings.  

When the St. Francisville parent group known as C.A.R.E.  organized anything for school, the Padgetts volunteered to help.   No task was too mundane...... were it baking treats, taking tickets, or cleaning up in the gym after a ball game.  If there was a musical program or a Spelling Bee that was important, the Padgetts were in attendance.  I know the example Bill set for his family is an essential ingredient in the personal goals they've all established for themselves.   

There's no secret to the power of honest work, fair dealings with others, and pride in your community.  He understood that it's possible to make a positive difference for others despite the challenges that often thwart the efforts of all of us, one time or another.  Throughout the years and among his acquaintances, so many people would tell you they were were genuinely effected by or thankful for Bill's belief in them.....for his support.  For many, an inspiring and tenacious spirit stands out as one of the Mr. Padgett's unmistakable gifts.

I recall one spring many years ago, a colleague at the school unexpectedly lost her husband.  As a close-knit staff, everyone in our learning community wanted to show support for the widow.  However the timing of her husband's visitation and funeral was right in the middle of the afternoon, on a school day.  Apparently there was some discussion among the C.A.R.E. group members and they offered their assistance.  

Of course there was no question, no hesitation.  Bill and Phyllis were among the volunteers who agreed to step into classrooms, enabling any teacher wishing to leave the building for the visitation to do just that.  It was a good faith gesture that speaks to me even these many years later.  

Did you know the Padgett children surprised their parents with this "early" Christmas gift several years ago?  I understand they both loved it and visitors to their home can see it displayed prominently on the front lawn.  Indeed Bill along with his soul mate and bride Phyllis celebrated 62 years of marriage just this year, on Sunday July 6th. 

His beloved family lost him just days ago on July 10th, which happened to be Bill's birthday.  What I'll fondly remember about the man is that while he was dreaming, working, and organizing things, life offered its own "push-and pull."  The circumstances surrounding his efforts on behalf of family, friends, and community didn't always turn out as Bill would have envisioned......yet the tall gentleman from St. Francisville didn't flinch. 

He used each twist and turn that life granted him to grow, strengthen his character, and steadily move forward.  Those of us witnessing individuals such as he are forever blessed by their spirit and unique example.  Above all, Bill loved and nurtured each member of his family.  I'll  treasure that above all else when I remember him.  Thank you Mr. Padgett.    

Monday, July 7, 2014


 Parents and educators:

"Make an effort
to encourage and
in the lives of our young people."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Memories

WRITE FOR LIFE      ~Thursday June 26, 2014

Growing things from the rich, rich earth
My generational symmetry resounds.
From grandma's Victory Garden in wartime
Her fenced-in rows of pumpkins and corn
To relish upon a table, and share with many more.
From dad's backyard plot on Seventh Street
Staked peppers, rhubarb, and green beans
To relish upon a table, and share with many more.
For now in my summery plot of dark rich soil
You'll find herbs, tomatoes, and flowers galore
To relish upon a table, and share with many more.
~Rose West

I recall that both my grandmother and her son, my father were excellent cooks who also spent hours in the garden.  They proudly cultivated beautiful and delicious produce. As much as the two of them loved digging in the dirt, they relished sharing or giving the vegetables away to friends.

Why not introduce the craft and history of
Victory Gardens with children?  It may just
be the beginning of  new, satisfying traditions! 


Sunday, June 22, 2014

One for the Ages

101-year-old Cardinals fan Rosemary Depler  threw out the first pitch at Busch Stadium
on Friday June 20th for her birthday.


 A resident of Peoria Illinois, she's cheered
for all eleven of the St. Louis Cardinals'
World Series Championships. 


The Philadelphia Phillies ended up defeating the Cardinals that night, but the real winners are Rosemary & the St. Louis organization.

#The First Pitch:  Cardinal Sam
Freeman caught her under-handed throw.

Happy Birthday Rosemary!




Saturday, May 31, 2014

Engage Them

Having fun and appreciating new
experiences together is a recipe for success!

Remember.....a bright, meaningful
future won't be the result of
the same thinking that got us
here, to this very moment.

Teach questioning, inquiry, and
problem solving with "grit." Young people
deserve these opportunities so let's do this! 

We can enable children to see
things in new ways.  That's
how meaningful changes occur.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Discover Birds in the Yard

Photo compliments of Ryan Roush

Birds in the Yard
I need to somehow get bird-lover extraordinaire
Sharon Sorenson, together with midwest
artist-photographer Mr. Ryan Roush!

She writes my favorite column in the
Evansville Courier and Press newspaper
and he takes the most spectacular pictures!

Monday, March 31, 2014


     As life unfolds we’re all on unique journeys.  And when you pause to reflect upon memories, some remain indelibly etched in the mind.  Via acquaintances and over time, some of your own unique history resurfaces.  While reliving memories can be painful, often they will bring us comfort and solace.  We might look upon that opportunity as a reawakening, a gift of sorts.  

“Replaying” such memories brings such sweetness to the spirit.  We become not only servants of the past but conduits to mysteries of the future.  
I believe in celebrating life and love so join me in sharing a journey, with the Bishops.

The community of Olney, Illinois was once my residence where Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bishop lived
as well.  At the time he served the community as a County Companies insurance agent, with clients across Richland County and beyond.  In fact, when my husband and I purchased our first place, we took out a homeowner’s policy with his firm.  Gradually Mr. Bishop moved onto corporate management and became Vice President of Country Companies, which is now known as Country Financial.   To numerous friends and acquaintances he was known simply as Skip.   To paraphrase author Zig Ziglar:  “Motivation needs to be a part of your own life for you to be effective in conveying it to other people.”  Those words sum up Skip Bishop’s talents perfectly.  He possessed the demeanor, passion, and drive for coaching and mentoring others.      

His bride Susie is a wife, mother, grandmother, and educator extraordinaire.  She was Skip’s soul mate and the two of them are a duo in every sense of the word.  The couple married in the mid 1960’s while he was beginning studies at S.I.U.   Indeed they both graduated from Southern Illinois University, she with degrees in both elementary and special education. 

I first met Mrs. Bishop at the local park where I worked during the summer as the pool manager.  She was routinely there bringing youngsters to practice or helping at swim meets.  Susie’s energy and friendly smile were contagious and I heard of the wonderful difference she made for youngsters attending schools that were a part of The East Richland Community Unit #1.  Today Mrs. Bishop’s students continue to reap the benefits of her love and devotion as members of a community of learners she took under her wing.  

Whether it was negotiating college, friendships, or their respective careers the duo always made family a priority.  Skip and Susie truly embodied the motto “Love is the bridge between you and everything.”  The Bishops forged a lasting legacy that started with two young lovers from southern Illinois, their progeny, and a passion for helping raise decent human beings.   

Although we never spoke with one another that particular day, I first caught sight of Mr. Bishop during a sultry July weekend at the pool.  He came rushing into an area that was reserved for spectators of the young people involved in an Olney Tigershark invitational swim meet.   

While I cannot recall the teams involved, the excitement and anticipation among the coaches and fans was electric.  The competition’s final event, a freestyle relay pitting the oldest age-group of boys turned out to be the deciding factor in which team would take home the first place trophy.  Susie had been volunteering poolside throughout the afternoon and evening, timing events.  Skip arrived at the midway point of the invitational but the broad smiles he exchanged with his son the moment they spied one another on the deck were unforgettable. Loosening his tie and rolling up white shirt sleeves, Skip turned “cheerleader” and spent the rest of the evening offering encouragement to the Olney swimmers. 

The Bishop’s son was on the relay foursome involved in that final race.  Dad’s enthusiasm reached a fever-pitch as he whistled and yelled “Go Pauly, bring this one home!” Clapping and cheering heartily, he radiated nothing but confidence that a Tigershark would touch the wall ahead of all the others.  Indeed the Olney boys did grab that first place win.     

For this husband and wife, supporting a group of youngsters on a sultry summer day was very simply the right thing to do.  For them nurturing children and their talents was a given, a routine.  Success isn’t always a guarantee but as parents Skip and Susie could help cultivate positive attitudes in kids and support their dreams. 

Several years later Skip Bishop and I crossed paths once again.    That evening he did speak briefly with me, but the circumstances were radically different.  It was Valentine’s Day, a Friday exactly twenty-three years ago.  My husband and I’d planned a weekend trip to St. Louis and arranged to board our cats with a local veterinarian so I was hurrying home to get them delivered to the doctor’s office.  Driving toward our home on Elliott I was surprised to see barricades blocking the street.  I was annoyed because not only was a heavy snow beginning to fall but the vet's office would soon be closing; it was nearly 5:00 P.M.  Suddenly a picture of utter horror unfolded before my eyes, the reason why the police asked me to pull the car over.  Our family home was burning, fully engulfed in flames. 

The one hundred year old brick residence where we resided along with my husband’s parents was actually empty that day.  The two of us were away working at our respective jobs and his parents were both at the local hospital.  His mother Joyce had recently undergone surgery for a knee replacement and her husband Charles was in the long-term care unit as his wife was recuperating.  Toward 3:00 P.M. that afternoon a lady walking her dog past the house noticed the roof beginning to collapse, and bricks crumbling due to the intense heat.  She called the fire department immediately.  

Whether it was because that our house was in an historic section of town or my husband was mayor, the curious group of onlookers was swelling and growing minute by the minute, just beyond the yellow tape surrounding the property.  The scene was a horrible circus.  

Stunned and heart pounding, I found it impossible to take my eyes off the roaring flames coming out of huge gaping holes in the roof and walls of what was once our lovely home.  High winds were hampering efforts to extinguish the blaze, water was freezing as it spewed from  hoses, and the wind was howling.  And whether it was out of respect, fear, or ignorance, no one uttered a single word to me.  It was a nightmare.   

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.  Turning around I saw Skip Bishop, handing me a cup of hot coffee.  He spoke but a few words.  Yet they were ones that were simple enough for me to absorb in my frantic state of mind:  “I’m so sorry.  Please know that you’ll be okay.

I’ve never forgotten his presence at that moment, nor the significance of his gesture on a February night twenty-three years ago.  The way that both Skip Bishop and his wife Susie live their lives and nurture relationships with others is quite simple:   whatever tasks you undertake, accomplish them with compassion and commitment. Your actions shall speak for themselves, long after the lesson is over and the day is done. 

 One way to make a significant difference for others is helping to instill pride and willing spirit in a child.  Why?  Because someone is always watching, learning, and in turn can be able to help others someday.     

His beloved family lost Mr. Bishop on March 15, 2014.  In the spirit of thankfulness for his unmistakable gifts, let us all strive to do what is right.  Determine to step forward with an optimistic, faithful, and a “can-do,” attitude that Skip and Susie exude for others.  

In fact every March I’m going to send $23.00 to the Skipper Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund, as a way of ensuring that simple acts and lessons of love and faithfulness will thrive in his honor.  

Join me and mail your contribution to Mrs. Paul (Susie) Bishop in care of P.O. Box 13, Olney, Illinois 62450.  This fund established in Skip's memory is to be awarded to a Gallatin County High School graduating senior from his hometown, Equality, Illinois.