Friday, August 30, 2013

When Christmas Feels Like Home

Take a look at this adorable dog. I know that expression. It's happiness! I feel it, too, grinning as much as he is because I have just this very day received my first shipment of my children's picture book, When Christmas Feels Like Home.

I had seen the pdf. I had browsed through a friend's copy that arrived earlier than expected. But holding my own copy in my hands - priceless. Wait, maybe that's satisfaction I see in that picture.

This happy pooch is a featured part of almost every page in the book. Its personality is a story line in itself from the front cover to the final page with all the simplicity of the manger on Christmas morning. That image, I'll tease you with. The entire book leads up to it, to that moment when the main character, Eduardo, feels like he is finally at this wonderful place called "home."

Thank you, Carolina Farias, for the magnificant illustrations. They are beyond my expectations.

Catch of the day,


Monday, August 26, 2013

Off to Kindergarten

My younger granddaughter is off and running (literally) to a new part of her life, kindergarten. She's happy and I'm happy for her. When my daughter-in-law gets over the meloncholy of her baby going to school, she'll be happy, too. That might take five minutes because she has plans to meet other mommies at Starbucks!

There was no kindergarten at Pilot Mountain School during most of its existence, or even for the most part in the whole state of public education in North Carolina. Local units, especially city systems, funded kindergarten starting in the late fifties, but the state didn't catch on to the value of early childhood education until the seventies, 1972 in Burke County.


Beginning in 1969 there was a federally funded kindergarten there on the campus. It began the last year the school served first through eighth grades. It continued for two years after that when the school system realigned and it became a junior high with seventh and eighth grades only. Imagine being in a kindergarten class on the first day of school, walking in the halls with wanna-be teenagers and nothing between.

But it worked. The principal made sure it did. The teachers made sure it did. And the older students became mentors, dropping by the room to sit and read with the younger children, to buddy with them, all before the technique became a "modern" concept.

These children in 1971 didn't know how the world would change by the first day of kindergarten for their own future children. All they cared about was love. Security. Feeling wanted and needed. And getting home.

Maybe kindergarten hasn't changed all that much after all.

Reagan Griffith, have a wonderful first day of school!

Catch of the day,


Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Flight

Fifty states in the union and North Carolina ranks fifty-first in teacher salaries. (District of Columbia in case you wondered.) That’s not a statistic to brag about or to attract twenty-first century thinkers who create jobs who bring up the economic level who…you get the picture.

Let’s look back a few years to 1957, in an article by Lynn Nisbet of the Raleigh Bureau of the News-Herald when Governor Luther Hodges stated that in the previous decade the average teacher salaries went from 28th place to 39th. He insisted the budget was as high as the state should go in paying teachers and that the local counties should assume any additional pay. School improvement would have to come from them, not the state.
He did “deplore the loss of competent teachers to other states.”
He did “fear the scale would slip further down the comparative ladder unless the communities assumed a larger share of the school costs.”
He did “know this idea is not popular and might not get votes.”
He did “distribute a memorandum comparing North Carolina’s per capita income, average teacher salaries, and the part paid by the state with data from five other states.”
He did “point out that their state teacher salaries were lower, but local units supplemented funds.”
He did “claim that in North Carolina, the local contribution averaged a mere $148.”
His goal to make the local units more accountable was across the board unpopular, to say the least. The more wealthy city systems cried foul because it increased their budgets, although it did relieve them from shouldering the expenses of poorer areas. The rural county systems had even less resources to draw from and could never compete for teachers under this plan.

Teacher flight had begun.
That was then. This is now. From 39th to 51st? Governor Hodges would be appalled.
Catch of the day,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Legislative Repeats

One of the History 101 lessons learned is the undeniable fact that the study of history leads civilization to not repeat the mistakes of the past…if said civilization only would listen. One of the advantages of looking back into that past is determining what worked, what didn’t.
Case in point – the 2013 North Carolina General Assembly, along with Governor Pat McCrory, has drastically (if there’s a word on the continuum more drastic than drastically, feel free to insert here) cut funding to the public school systems across the state.
Nothing new.

An editorial by Glen Alpine educator Zeb Dickson submitted to the Morganton News-Herald January 29, 1957 explains it all:

In 1957 North Carolina Legislature will have to do something about raising the salaries of North Carolina teachers. The present critical situation…is a direct result of a short sighted policy on the part of the North Carolina legislature over the past 20 years.

It all started back in 1934 when our Legislature thought they could sacrifice the welfare of the children of the state of North Carolinas and pay us out of a depression by cutting teacher salaries to the bone. Our educational system has never fully recovered from that blow.

Check out the history. Please.

Catch of the day,