26 September 2010

To everything there is a season

This was a topsy-turvey day. Started out with church, which was fabulous. The quickly moved on to the Soroptimist Club Fashion Show (thank you, Adrienne!). What a great event--women from all over getting together to raise scholarship money. The event was huge--at least 20 tables of 10 people filled the Signature Gardens. Good food and a silent auction. Saw tons of friends, made a lot of new acquaintances, and received at least 1-2 invitations to speak to various groups about Atala. Went with Erin and Yvonne, who are the two biggest social butterflies I know. Between the two of them, I think they knew everyone in the room!

Unfortunately that part of the afternoon had to be cut short so we could attend the funeral services of I. Stanley Levine. For those of you who don't know who this is, Stanley is the man behind many, many art projects in Miami (http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/09/23/1837863/man-of-the-arts-changed-south.html), including ArtSouth, where Atala is located. You might think a funeral would be sad time for everyone, the ceremony was uplifting, filled with humorous anecdotes, and really inspired everyone who attended. Beatriz joined us for the service, so it was very nice to have the group of us representing Atala. We saw many of our ArtSouth friends, as well as a number of people from the community. We are planning something very special to honor Stanley's memory with our children at Atala. Stay tuned for updates very soon.

Now I'm home and watching "Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief" for the second time in as many days. Then it's off to bed for the season premiere of "The Simpsons." :)

Spread your wings!

24 September 2010

So long...

It's been 10 days since I last posted. I can't believe it. It's been a whirlwind, and everything is awesome. The kids are loving school. The parents are fabulous. And the people with whom I work are amazing. Let's see where to begin...

Let's start at the end of my 10-day hiatus. Today was the first day of the first bake sale for the Upper Elementary kids (grades 3 and 4). Moms and dads from all over the school baked things to be sold in order for the students to earn money to take a big field trip to SeaCamp http://www.seacamp.org/. That in and of itself was super cool. The kids and Mrs. Morgan stood out by the playground for about 45 minutes selling the goods. In the end the kids raised $52.75! The cost per child is around $400, so this is a nice start to helping defray the costs of the trip. To top it off one of the parents who shall remain nameless but who happens to be Gio's dad bought a whole tray of brownies and then proceeded to have Gio pass them out to all the kids on the playground! How awesome is that?! That's the kind of Jimmy Stewart, small town, big family moment that just sticks with you forever.

On a personal note, Liam is having an awesome time playing his new electric guitar he got last weekend for his 9th birthday, and Livya is heaven over her new violin from the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. My kids are happy, I'm happy, and now I just need to get Colby and Livya finally over these nasty colds. We'll have a peaceful Saturday, decorate for Halloween, hit the P.A.T.C.H.E.S. Spaghetti Dinner (http://www.patchesppec.org/) and the relax and watch a movie. Sunday will be a bit hectic for me, but hopefully Colby and the kids can rest and hang out. I'll post more on Sunday after the fact.

Have a beautiful weekend and...

Spread your wings!

14 September 2010

So Happy

I'm so very, very happy that I am no longer bothered with all the red tape, egos, and insecurity that somehow shrouds so many people in academia. For some reason, some of my former colleagues feel the need to show everyone how important they are, how much they know, and how much power the wield. The things I've heard this week would make anyone simply laugh at how insignificant FIU, administration, and academic life can be. Keep it in perspective, folks.

Those who are at the heart of that  academic insecurity don't realize how insignificant life is without a purpose. Money is not a purpose. Power and fame are not purposes. My family, my kids, and my chosen family at Atala are my purpose. I know now that many of my former colleagues really didn't believe me when I said money doesn't mean anything to me. Sure, it's nice to have money, but unfortunately everyone I know who has a lot of money is a complete mess or completely self centered.

Atala has come so far in such a short time. All of that success stems from how strong we are as a group. One person can't do it alone. I know it sounds super cheezy (and Colby will cringe when he reads this), but it does take a village. Atala is strong because of the five women who have broken ground and moved it forward. It's even stronger because of the numerous parents, grandparents, partners, spouses, and children who believed in us enough to take that leap, too. We will be forever intwined, and that's an awesome thing to know. Tomorrow we will all receive our very first paychecks! They may not be a lot, but we made it. And we will continue to flourish. Let's celebrate our many collective achievements and offer a toast to everyone who made Atala a reality.

Spread your wings!

13 September 2010

Pay Day!

Had a fabulous day today. Accomplished so much in organizing and cleaning (you don't know how hard that last item is for me...). The biggest news is that I worked on our payroll today, and the good news is that we are all going to get paid. Three months ago, we didn't think it would happen for sure, but all is well. Wednesday we strike gold and will all go out to celebrate!

Spread your wings!

07 September 2010

Week 1

All that work this summer, and we finally opened. I have been joking for the last month that I couldn't wait until school opens so we can all relax. That actually held true this week. The anticipation was crazy, and finally this past week we all started to settle into our daily tasks.

I feel like Vin Diesel: days are flying fast and furiously!

The Preview: The Grand Opening was awesome! We had over 250 people show to help celebrate the school's opening. Mayor Bateman, Councilman Maldonado, Yvonne Knowles, Robert Barnes, Stanley Levine, and any number of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Montessori directors, friends, family, and neighbors showed up in support. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears (the good kind). Even the artist Romero Britto sent a congratulatory note and donated three of his new children's books! I've invited him down to campus in the spring--it would be wonderful for him to meet our children.

Day 1: the rain clouds opened and it poured 10 minutes before the children and parents were supposed to arrive. And then as if by some divine intervention, the clouds broke, the rain ceased, and we started school with only a handful of soggy feet.

The children are so happy they are chanting "Atala" and waking up early to get to school. Seriously, I know this sounds absurd, but I have had several parents tell me that their kids love school. Even my daughter Livya (age 4) is making up songs with lyrics like "Atala is a rock and roll school, it's so cool." Can't beat that!

We also have been recognized in the Miami Herald. The mention may be small, but we are very happy to have been one of two schools that represented Homestead: New school year means several new schools in Miami-Dade.

Week 2 is abuzz with fixing little things we didn't have time to do before we opened: hooking up the computer lab, downloading software, organizing pizza Fridays, and beginning the day-to-day activities in the classroom. The Labor Day three-day weekend was certainly a huge help. We all needed a little rest after working out tails off this summer!

Final note, I promise. In the last three weeks I have heard from any number of former students, colleagues, and friends all congratulating me on the new gig. I am speechless that there is so much support for leaving academia, jumping off, and taking a stand. I am so very, very happy to have made that decision and have had the love and support of Colby through it all. I'm sure it sounds cheezy, but it's true.

Spread your wings!