"Thank you for helping me grow"

April 27, 2010

Just a few days have passed and the progress our grass has made is so awesome. The kids are thrilled and to watch their excitement each day when they come in to "check their grass" is priceless.  Just a few days ago, our grass looked like this. Rock on, little ones.....

Oh, and the "Thank you for helping me grow" title was actually written by a former 5 yr. old student to me on a painting as a "moving on to first grade" gift. Really? Tug on the heart strings a bit more, would ya?

Brooklyn weekends.

April 24, 2010

My weekends in BK, quite honestly could not be any better.  I absolutely adore my neighborhood (Fort Greene) and the people in it. There is such a mix of ages, races and styles.  Although I will say everyone is "cool." Its insane how many people are able to pull together outfits that say "I dont care" but look so damn good.  I love that!

My neighborhood alone, houses the most amazing flea market and farmers market.  We have a beautiful park (Fort Greene park) loads of restaurants, coffee shops and unique stores.

So, because I've been so out of touch with "Bits of my Weekend" introduced by Six in the City , I thought i'd start sharing my weekend with a few visuals as they happen. Here's some snippets of my Saturday...

Coffee Time: Jack's Coffee @ Rice

Farmers Market: Fort Greene

Flea Market: Brooklyn Flea

Earth Day, Yo!

April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!
Here's to hoping you all did your part today and even more so, to hoping what you did today becomes true to what you do everyday, because lets face it, this planet could use all the help it can get.
3 simple ways to take care of the earth the way she takes care of you:
 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Done. Done, and Done.
Earth Day theme song: Jack Johnson "The 3 R's

(OR plant some grass like my preschoolers :)

Coffee spotlight: Over the Rhine Coffee

April 21, 2010

As a native and lover of Cincinnati, when I found out about the Over the Rhine Coffee  bean blend (via  park+vine) my heart melted.  For those of you that don't know, Over the Rhine is a neighborhood located in the urban core of the city that has been plagued with a bad reputation and past years which have given the hoods rep credibility. BUT thankfully, now the neighborhood is on the rise and is attracting artists, hipsters, young families, socially conscious folks, etc, etc. Basically, I love OTR! So, when I found out that the Cincinnati band, coincidentally also named Over the Rhine (Awesome!) created it's own blend of delicious, organic, fair traded brew, I jumped at the chance to support!  I especially love that the description reads " specially blended for artists, writers, musicians, day dreamers, and night walkers! This fresh-roasted, organic, fair trade coffee bean blend is inspired by our love of good music, good conversation, good laughter, good living, and best kept secrets -- all of which are meant to be shared.This unique blend is fresh-roasted exclusively for Over the Rhine by La Terza Coffee ( formerly Chuck Roast Coffee) and is delivered to you as whole beans so you can grind them yourself." 

So start your mornings off right with a blend thats inspiring and yummy. Gotta love that....

Private school VS. Public school

April 19, 2010

I absolutely adore this North American map made by one of my preschoolers.  I wanted to share because after volunteering this past weekend at a NYC public elementary school, I realized just how talented and bright my students are. (I mean, look how beautifully each country is written!)  I was participating in the New York Cares photography explorers class, which aims to get kids interested in photography.  (Awesome!) We began class in a 2nd grade room.  As I was looking around I saw the above worksheet hanging in the classroom, only the countries were not labeled, things were misspelled and the penmanship just wasn't up to snuff. 2nd grade vs. preschool. That is just crazy to me!

  The children we were working with were super cute and excited to meet new volunteers. They were animated, articulate and eager to get outside to start shooting, however, these 9 year olds could not focus AT ALL.  I pride myself on being a pretty patient person ( I am a preschool teacher after all) but boy did I have trouble for the 2 hours I was with these kids.  I guess my problem was that I am used to dealing with 3, 4 and 5 yr olds who can stay engaged in an activity easily for 30-45 minutes, so why then, could these 4th graders not stay engaged for literally for 2 minutes?  The issue automatically brings the private school versus public school debate to mind.  The pubic school system often times is great, and yes there are a million public schools with amazing staff, students, administration, families etc. but then there are the others (and I know there are private schools that fall into the ladder also) who have mediocre teachers, unsupportive administration and uninvolved parents.  A student teacher ratio of 25 to 1 is just not acceptable.  I couldn't blame these kids for their behavior but it is so obvious, even being present for a couple hours that something isn't working.  It breaks my heart that this is the system these kids will go through for 18 years. What is the solution? More classrooms? Passionate teachers? More teachers? More money in the system? Who knows, but since more American children are in public schools than private, something needs to happen.  

What do you think?


April 14, 2010

Jamie Oliver's food revolution has got me excited. Very excited. When you really break it down, America as a whole has a serious problem.  68% of American adults are overweight.  1 person in 3 is obese (thats 72 million people) Need I say more?  If being over weight was healthy, then by all means, but it's not. At all.  After smoking, obesity is America's biggest cause of premature death.

Whats worse is that our children are victims of obesity which is beyond preventable. (big boned, my butt!) 23 million American children are obese or overweight.  80% of these children will be obese their entire lives which means that today's children are predicted to be the first to die at a younger age than their parents  due to obesity related bad health.  This breaks my heart.  It is in our hands to prevent such "disease"- can you even call it that?  We, the adults, role models need to show our kids how to be healthy.  It is unrealistic to expect your children to eat healthy when you don't.  Its an awful cycle that we need to break NOW.

Now something possibly even scarier - school meals.  The problem is that schools don't have proper funding and training.  The nice folks who are providing our kids with lunch everyday are making lunches that are cheap, easy to make and can be made quickly.  They also want the kids to eat (what 8 yr. old doesn't want to eat french fries?)  Which equates to processed, unhealthy foods. For example, we want the kids to drink milk at school right? Sounds good.  Well, strawberry and chocolate milk isn't cutting it!  Listen to this; From the National Dairy Council- Flavoured milk contains 4 teaspoons of added sugar (thats 60 EXTRA calories) per "milk" serving and I'm not sure if you know that having a sugar addiction is a legitimate problem.  So, if we are shoving sugar in our kids mouths to get them to eat/drink we've begun the cycle on sugar addiction. Having a sweet tooth at such a young age isn't acceptable.  An easy solution- EAT FRUIT instead! Fruit is sweet and common sense says healthy.  Obviously it is hard to eliminate all sugars from a child's diet but it can be done.  Here are some great tips on how to do just that.

Click here for more facts via Jamie Oliver's sources.

We, American adults, have the power to turn our nation into a much healthier one if we are determined, which by God we should be.  The facts and statistics are scary beside the fact that don't you just feel better about yourself, inside and out when you're healthy? I know I do.

Oh, and if you haven't already signed the Food Revolution petition, please do.

Holy cuteness

April 12, 2010

I know, I'm 2 years late on this collection but its really not about that.  This is strictly about me being in love with this little man and the beauty of these shots.  The fedora and suspenders are too much :) Thank you, Ben Sherman for this cuteness....2 years ago.....

A word of praise

You might remember my school spotlight featuring The New School Montessori.  Well, I had the pleasure of observing and touring the school while I was in Cincinnati this past week thanks to Director, Eric Dustman. (Sorry I've been away so long, Im sure you have all been dying for new Coffee posts :)  As I said in my earlier post about the school, the campus is just beautiful (honestly) and the philosophy is inspiring.  The old school motto of "knowledge is power" has recently been changed to "feed the mind, open the heart".  I absolutely adore this!  Is there a better message to send to our kids today? I think not. Oh, and the school is housed in an old mansion built by a furniture maker from Cincinnati.  So, several of the classrooms have the most amazing, ornate fireplaces (not working of course) and molding imaginable.  I mean, can I live in this school?! One of my favorite things about the school - Everyday the kids bring a piece of fruit to school for the community fruit bowl.  The 9-12 aged students clean the fruit everyday for the rest of the school. Then, at lunch time each child gets to choose a fruit to enjoy as part of their lunch.  This is the most amazing example of community a school could possibly exemplify.  Love, love love!  Thank you for sharing your school AND thoughts with me....

"A" is for App.

April 1, 2010

I stumbled across this months issue of Fast Company and was fascinated with what I saw on the cover.  I consider myself to be pretty tech savvy and am lucky enough to teach in a classroom that allows for exploration via the computer and internet.  I know there are still many schools that do not have computers in every classroom; what a disservice! Today's kids are growing up in a world filled with technology, whose parents i'm sure pay their bills online, communicate with business associates AND friends via email, have questions answered by wikipedia, webmd, google etc.  How can we not provide our students with a tool that will help them become both successful students and adults?

This article highlights a few tools kids across the country are using including the TeacherMate.  TeacherMate is a handheld computer, containing loads of full color flash educational games, recording audio and playback.  The teachers are then linked up with each child's system and is able to track progress through her own laptop.  She can also increase or decrease skills and levels via her laptop.  Pretty cool right?  The kids teacher says she has never seen such reading growth amongst a group of children in such a short amount time and has the TeacherMate to thank.

In Birmingham, Alabama the XO is another type of computer being used within the schools.  Every student at Robert E. Lee Elementary is given their own XO laptop.  Jordan, 9 is quoted saying "....I like to create my own stuff, like multiplication games and vocabulary words.  When you do vocabulary, you see the word and you've got to find the definition.  I learned "hallelujah" this week.  It means a word of praise. But I don't know how to spell it yet."

The tech tools we give our kids are only going to help with their education. So get a sturdy case for you iphone, download some educational apps and let 'em have at it.  Today is a new day people, jump on the tech train!  For the full article, click here.

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