Search This Blog

Sunday, October 31, 2010

But I've Got The Papers To Prove It!

One of the arguments brought against the garden at Ingalls brought against the farm was that disreputable people were working in the fields and other illegalities were occurring. To prove this  papers were being waved around to try and convince  members of the LSC that their complaints were legitimate.

Unfortunately this proves nothing. I have learned you can say anything you want but it doesn't make it true. A lot of papers get produced in court but they don't really mean much unless a judge's signature is on the bottom of the page.

After all Kleenex tissues are somebody's paperwork.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Rat Story?

If you are reading this you took the bait. Actually I want to take a break from that disgustingg story to talk about "Innovative Schools". In the northeast here we are supposed to be on the cutting edge of education. Here is a story from my old hometown, Clarksburg, WV, population around 17,000.

For all the talk about the back woods culture, my old county is looking at two new Innovation School proposals.

Who's backward now?

Let's Solve Our Own Problems

Considering the fact that we had a log and contentious LSC meeting Thursday night with real concerns about rats, gangs, and gangs of rats at Ingalls School why is the Item choosing to run a story about another city and  whether or not certain relationships between teachers and students are appropriate? Is this a diversionary tactic? Is someone feeling heat

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Comes Early!

I spent the morning scaring the kids at Ford School as the mad, zombie, “volunteer” librarian. But they were not as scare as I was at the LSC meeting last night.

The real scary thing was  Lynn City Councilmen Trahant and Cyr believe that the primary reason for the rat infestation in their neighborhoods was the garden at Ingalls School.

The thought that these men help run our city’s government is truly frightening. Refusing to use reasonable thought and scientific data in reaching their conclusions calls into question their judgment.

Luckily LSC member John Ford beat back hordes of vermin keeping them away from the garden at Ingalls, Armed with photographs and a report from Boston Inspectional Services showing the true cause of the rodent explosion, uncovered trash cans, litter, and just plain garbage.

Fortunately for the kids and all of the social benefits provided through The Food Project, the LSC
was not fooled by the faulty, inflammatory logic of the some of the adjoining neighbors.

In order to give these homeowners some degree of respect, LSC member Maria Carrasco did ask that more investigation be done. I hope this works but I will let you know something I have learned from my numerous appearances in probate court, “You can’t reason with unreasonable people”.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

The Food Project will be out in force at tonight's LSC meeting. Actually the fireworks are scheduled to start before the regular meeting at the subcommittee meeting before the meeting. The FP wants to get their lease renewed for their garden at Ingalls School (Don't you just love that name, it makes me think of Santa Claus).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Smell A Rat!

Rumor has it  that there is concern that part of the "rat" problem at Ingalls School is due to the location of a garden on the land leased to the Food Project. Since my daughter walks by Ingalls everyday on her way to Marshall, I called the school Monday to investigate. I asked for the principal who wasn't immediately available cause she as off doing principal stuff. I mentioned to the secretary the nature of the call was that I understood they had a rat problem. She vigorously denied it and demanded to know who told me. Not willing to answer her inquiries, I figured I'd let it die and address it if it came up in tomorrow night's LSC meeting.

I did try and warn David Gass, co-chair of the Highlands Coalition, Inc., since we have the International Garden at Ford School. David adamantly stressed that the problem was no rats at all but vandalism from the local youth. Then he proceeded to try and school me on how rats are not attracted to vegetables. I thanked him for the education but I reminded him that I grew up in WV. I had a little experience with gardens. I've even helped make haystacks but that's another story.

I was at a MBTA committee meeting in Boston this afternoon when I started getting a flood of e mails confirming my suspiscions. So I thought I would address this now instead of waiting for the LSC meeting.

In reality, David is right vegetables don't attract rats. Maybe if they had a bunny infestation at Ingalls they would have an argument We don't have his problem at Ford's garden. Part of the credit goes to the Highland Coalition's efforts to place white trash buckets affixed to the telephone poles all along Rockaway St. All of this confusion could have been avoided if Ingalls had a fully stocked and staff library. Then the kids could read E. B.White's classic, "Charlotte's Web" and see the the rat goes to the trash and not the garden.

Anyway I'll be at the meeting tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Standing Room Only, Almost

Right next door to the library where I volunteer as Ford School's librarian sits a class of Special Ed kids  of 5 or 6 crammed into a room that in better days probably served as a storage room. Given the nature of any kid, let alone an individual who needs more individualized instruction, this is a recipe for disaster.

I feel guilty I have not wrote about it before but there is just so much. Luckily I got to see Jessica McLaughlin,the Supervisor of Special Ed., dropped by the class to observe.

We didn't talk about her plans for the class because I'm just a volunteer librarian, we talked about how well my son is doing at Pickering. Anyway I have to give credit to Jessica for being out in front o this issue. Let's just hope she and the rest of the professionals come up with a plan to help.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dance The Night Away!

My daughter just had her first dance at Marshall. How dare she grow up! Next thing you know I  will going to graduations and signing up for shuffleboard tournaments. Where does the time go?

But I digress, please excuse me. Actually the dance is a good idea. It gives are kids something fun to do and it builds good memories revolving around our schools. I mean we own the buildings 24 hours a day so why not maximize our utilization.

Now I am not naive enough to think some bad things never happen at these events but we are more likely to promote positive behavior in these supervised settings than if we leave the recreation planning to whomever is hanging out on the street corner.

We need more scheduled activities for our kids and the schools should be at the center of it. After all, isn't there a federal mandate insisting that our schools have a greater responsibility in our kid's lives.

Marshall deserves props for this.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pride In Your School Begins With Pride In Yourself

Pride In Your School Begins With Pride In Yourself

I was coming back from the mall this afternoon and my daughter voiced a concern that really started me thinking.Her complaint was that her school, Marshall Middle School, has no chorus, drama club, or other creative outlet.

Perhaps she is wrong. I doubt it because she doesn't miss a chance to be the center of attention. Guess what? EVERY kid needs to have a chance to be the center of attention. The creative arts provide the opportunity for every one involved to build on their self esteem. Feelings of self-worth insulate our children from maladaptive behaviors.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Somewhere Over The Rainbow You'll Find Gold

I was in the cafeteria at Lynn English last night at my daughter's cheerleading practice looking up and what did I see? Hanging from the beams in the ceilings were flags from country's all over the world.

My heart was warmed by this overt attempt to instill pride in the student's identity.  At the same time, having a wide variety helps reinforce the idea that we can all peacefully coexist. A rainbow is a beautiful thing and a sign that there is a pot of gold waiting if we just follow it to the end.

That just makes it all the more confusing to me that I have received no response to my suggestion of having the students at Ford School paint wooden plaques or signs or whatever, then have the students in the carpentry class at Lynn Tech place them under the windows facing the International Garden at Ford. It would be a great art project for the students, the Tech kids would get to contribute to a positive project, and a sense of pride would be built with very little construction costs.

It would be a small price to pay for all that self worth. There is your gold..

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Now Serving Your Increasing Waist Size

Unfortunately the numbers add up. With close to 90% of our students on free or reduced lunch and over a third of them considered obese, the Lynn School system has a large degree of responsibility for this problem.

Since usually both breakfast and lunch are provided this accounts for a major portion of the food ingested. The prepackaged fare that is provided contributes significantly to this problem. Doesn't anybody cook anymore. All of the chemicals and additives are just preserving our problems.

We need to start cooking and also serve up some tasty education. The Healthy Harvest Festival at the Ford School last week was a good start.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We Need "Terrific Kids"!

As I have stated before, self esteem is a very imortat trait to build character trait to build in our students. It gives them the strength necessary to defend themselves against peer pressure and external influences. Failure to have self esteem for the RIGHT reasons can lead to a further deterioration of our society.

When I was in West Virginia about seventeen years ago and working at the Elkins Mountain School and a member of Kiwanas, I implemented their "Terrific Kids" program at that school. It had never been implemented in a similar setting before. EMS was a behavioral treatment center for adolescent boys, ages 13-17. Because of the age and setting, it required a little tweaking but it was a success.

I don't know if the program still exists but it would be worth exploring. Not only would it involve getting community leaders cooperating with our school system, the cost would be minimal. The returns - PRICELESS!

Total Recall

Thursday night my daughter's East Lynn Pop Warner Cheerleading squad performed with squads at a pep rally. It was held in the gym of East Lynn High School. There was lots of cheering, music, and lots of excitement. People should be able to have schools at the center of their fondest memories.

Luckily Thursday night's LSC meeting was cancelled so I didn't have to miss either.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Come To The Early Show

Got to watch a Museum of Science presentation at the Ford School today. It was a great thing to see the kids get so excited about science. The presenter did an excellent job of getting the kids interested in electromagnetism. I think he had another session with other kids but I could only sit through one. I had library things to do you know. Most of tomorrow's jobs will be in the sciences, so it's good to start early exposing to the concepts.

Heathy Bodies Mean Healthy Minds!

Last night at the Ford School there was a cornucopia of excitement with the symbiotic pairing of a parent-teacher night with the Highlands Coalition, Inc.'s Healthy Harvest. Close to 700 people attended this Open House where they got to learn both what is going on with their child academically and socially what is going on in their community.

The Highlands Coalition, Inc. put a strong focus on a healthy lifestyle beginning with a healthy dose of vegetables from their award winning International Garden (They captured seven ribbons at this year's Topsfield Fair) and ranging to flu shots provided by Lynn Health Dept. The importance of this healthy lifestyle was underscored by Sen. Tom McGee who was in attendance.

Tours were given of the garden to all interested parents, dignitaries, and other guests in attendance. I was fortunate enough to be able to take my tour with LSC member Rick Starbard who was in attendance. We got to see how all of this growth blends seamlessly into the curriculum. Also present was LSC member John Ford. Unfortunately Dr. Latham, although invited, was not present to witness this outpouring of community interest.

Lynn City Councilman Paul Crowley present David Gass of the Highlands Coaliion, Inc. with an award on behalf of the city to the Highlands Coalition. The award was a token of appreciation for all the benefit the garden and the Highlands Coalition has been to the community. City Councilmen  Collucci and Crighton were also in attendance.

 Mayor Kennedy where were you? Since you chair the LSC your presence at such an important community and school festivity was sorely missed.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When A Plan Comes Together

Had a meeting at Pickering today. It was a review of my son's IEP. What was planned back in June as a scheduled tweak session turned out to be a love fest. My son's plan is working wonderfully and I give plenty of props to the staff at Pickering.

Inclusion works but the troubling thing is that most people don't have the time to advocate like me. Hopefully the powers that be will learn from his success.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Teacher Talks Trash And Wins Award!

It is nice to see our students benefiting from some creative teaching and it is great to see our teachers taking a leadership role in providing quality education. This is particularly exciting to see it happening in the sciences where tomorrow's jobs will be.  Check out this article.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Proud To Be Partial!

Time for me to be a proud parent. I know it's not good objective journalism but that's okay, I'm not a journalist.

Progress reports came out Friday and my daughter got all "A's" except for 1 "B+" at Marshall, while my son got  3 "A's and the rest "B+'s" at Pickering. I have the opportunity to move now but I am so happy with the educational progress my kids are making I will probably stay put

Friday, October 8, 2010

Can We Breathe Easier Yet?

Is somebody listening? The last two days I have come home from volunteering at the Ford School library and I have noticed a North Shore Builders van parked outside

On Top Of Our Game!

I was impressed last night by Dr. Porrcaro's presentation about "inclusion" at Pickering last night. It was an update on the inclusion strategies at Lynn Schools. A new strategy is beginning to be implemented at the middle school level after having success at the elementary and high school levels. I is nice to see Lynn out in front of at least some part of our kid's education.

I have more to say but I have some business to take care of first, so until later.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lost And Found?

HELP! The Parent Advisory Council (or Committee, whatever) is missing. I mean I'm a pretty active and vocal parent and they aren't reaching out to me to solicit my input, Mayor Kennedy had David Ellis contact me when I was advocating for services for my autistic son.

My two contacts with him were full of enthusiasm and promises that have remained unfulfilled. Confidential Special Ed records of my daughter were given to him after it seem to me that he wanted them to champion her cause to have her unique needs met. There was loots of talk about Special Ed. law, rights, and legal strategy. The need to keep moves secret was essential. This was months ago and I haven't heard from him. More on this later, I have to go to a meeting at Pickering now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm Waiting But I Can't Read The Prayer!

I picked up my son after chorus practice on Monday at Pickering Middle School and I asked the principal, Mr. Murphy about the library since it is a pet peeve of mine. He was clearly nice but couched his response a football fan could appreciate.

I think his words were something like "we're building (or rebuilding) it up". I know he can only work with the resources he is given. But guess what? My son and his classmates aren't going to be around to get to use the finished product. They are in school now and are judged by the MCAS on their current knowledge, I know money is tight, but "Priorities People!". It all starts with reading.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Loss Of The Libraries Costs More Than We Save!

Normally I wouldn't write a poem for this blog, that's my other one, "The Poetry Beneath", but this is an issue I feel strongly about and after all this IS my blog. I was so moved watching kids check out books today at Ford where I volunteer.

Library Fines

The library is no
laughing matter.
Without librarians our
education only gets sadder.

Books are written
necessarily to be read.
Without reading, learning
surely must be dead.

Bring back the librarians
to give our kids a chance.
Without them how can
our MCAS scores advance?

Monday, October 4, 2010

After All, There Is Mold On Cheese, Right?

Trust me, it's safe. All we have to have is complete confidence in the Lynn Department of Health's impartiality in overseeing the heath and welfare of all the city's residents equally. The state environmental agency just refers everything to them. Independent testing is discouraged and expensive.

Maybe we don't really have to fear backroom politics. After all, not all mold is created equal unlike the citizens of Lynn. At the very least we deserve better communication and direction.

Can We Afford Not To?

At the recent LSC meeting, member Rick Starbard pushed forward the effort to examine the feasibility of providing driver's education in the high schools. This seems to me to be a win-win type of program. Many students would have the opportunity to actually "learn" about driving from professionals that otherwise not be able to afford private lessons and with better educated drivers the roads would be safer and our auto insurance rates would go down. Call me a dreamer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What's In Your Harvest?

On Wed. October 6th, the Highlands Coalition will be putting on a Healthy Harvest Festival at Ford School. It will be a celebration of the International Garden's bountiful growth of vegetables and and initiatives for making the Highlands community more responsible for their own health. There will also be music and other entertainment (I can proudly say that both of my kids will be singing). David Gass should be congratulated on his efforts for being a leader on this project.

While outside the building everyone will reap the benefits of nature's glory, inside mold festers in the classrooms and in other dark corners of the building. My freshman Biology taught me that mold and other microorganisms reproduce much faster than cabbage and carrots.  The only thing we will reap from this indoor explosion of growth is a cornucopia of respiratory illnesses.