Tuesday, November 9, 2010

QR Codes have arrived!

They are everywhere! Recently while opening the Sunday paper I noticed Best Buy had them placed throughout their ad, QR Codes, you have seen them right? (I have put one just to the right of this post.) I thought I needed to find out more about those "little boxes".

The little square that with a simple scan of your smart phone can tell you more than everything you want to know about the product you are about to buy. You will easily be able to tell the sales clerk more than they know and wow them with your knowledge.

What is a QR Code? It's a matrix barcode. A QR or quick response code when scanned by a smart phone takes you to more information about the item on the page the code is found. It might take you to a website, an informational video, or text information about the product.

Many businesses are using them, and those that do certainly appreciate the tech knowledge of their customers. Using them will allow their organization a more receptive presence on the web, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Businesses use QR Codes in a number of ways. By simply putting one on your business card you give a customer access to your contact details and it's easy for you to be added to their contacts on their cell phone.

Add them to any print advertising, flyers, posters, and of course your website and they show product information, contact information, events, offers, details, and even coupons.

No matter how large or small any business could use QR Codes in a number of ways.

I was noticing the Target and Walmart holiday sale ads (nearly the size of a magazine) in this past Sunday paper. Loaded with QR Codes, I packed them for a Thanksgiving trip to my grandson's house. I can hardly wait to have him scan in the code with his mom's cell phone so we can read all about the toys he is wanting for Christmas. It will be loads of fun and even Grammie might learn something.

I know already the gift I want and can't wait to scan the QR Code of. The New Barbie with a video camera in her stomach. Yes, you upload her to YouTube, but I need to check the specs of the video camera Barbie is carrying around, and that QR Code can tell me everything I need to know.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Milken Family Foundation Awards Maize Educator

It doesn't surprise me that Kansas had a winner from the Milken Family Foundation 'Oscar of Teaching' awards announced recently.

One of 55 educators in the country, she was the only one from Kansas to be awarded the loftly title and gift. She also says that her job is the best job in the world. Something you would expect from one of the best in the country.

During a surprise assembly on Oct. 6 Jeanie Padron, a 4th grade teacher at Maize Central Elementary, found out she was one of the best in the country when she was awarded the national award and $25,000 to go along with it. "I am honored beyond honored" she said. She also added her reward was seeing the kids in her class grow from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

Every morning students in her class dance to get their bodies ready for the school day. It's a way to get kids excited about the knowledge they are about to receive at Maize Central Elementary, which sits right in the middle of Maize, Kansas. The classroom she has created is loaded with positive energy where students learn through the power of creative and physical activity.

She also keeps active professionally with additional duties at Maize Central, she announces the school's pep rallies and assemblies, serves on her district's Social Studies curriculum task force and is on the transition team of the Multi Tier Systems of Support (MTSS) leadership team.

Jeanie is another example of the great people we have working with our students in Kansas. I am very proud of her even though I don't know her personally, I know she sets the standard her colleagues throughout the state.

As for her winnings she plans to throw a pizza party for her class, buy some school supplies, take a trip to Hawaii and give some money to her mom who inspired her to become a teacher.

Congratulations Jeanie your Kansas educators are proud of you and what you do for kids!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Digital Jam 2010

Last Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, the ESSDACK staff had their first digital jam held in the Hutchinson ESSDACK office.

What started out to be a small group swelled to a gathering of nearly 50 people for the inaugural Jam organized by the ESSDACK staff.

The brain child of Kevin Honeycutt and our leader and director Mike Cook, the day's attendance included Superintendents, Principals, Assistant Principals, District Tech Coordinators and ESSDACK Ambassadors from central Kansas.

The day was spent exploring ways to use technology in the classroom, with the general theme of "Technology Rocks". There were six "concerts" or stations participants visited during the Jam including PD 360, Sing Snap, Wii game (data collecting and Wii fit) iPad tutorials, and second life in the classroom.

The interested group rotated around the room in 20 minute time periods in order to have a chance at the hands on learning experience before them. Chatter among the group led to many discussions about how to use technology in the classroom and the ideas where grabbed and taken back to individual districts with a renewed vigor in all attending.

After a lunch of Anchor Inn mexican food, the group ended the day with a boost of technology confidence by ESSDACK Specialist Kevin Honeycutt, an advocate of K-12 education. He came across with an example everyone in the room could understand. "A Quarterback doesn't throw the ball to the receiver where he is, he throws it to where he is going to be." Giving that as an example to the educators meaning we don't want to teach our students to be where they are today but where they need to be in the future.

A big thank you to all who attended the first Digital Jam! Thanks for taking the time to come and learn about possibilities in the classroom in 2010. See you all again soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Driving a New 2010 Camaro

I see Little Barlow nearly everyday. He's one of the interesting people I met and greet at my desk each day at ESSDACK. He is a great FedEx delivery man, quiet, to the point. He says hello ma'am, yes ma'am, and thank you ma'am to me when he stops in. Most days he is in and gone before others in the office even know he is here.

A man of few words, Little lets his service and commitment to his job speak for him.

He is always on time, always tells me how to finish an Express letter, answers any questions I might have, stacks boxes out of the way, and always keeps service to his customers number one.

Sometimes good things really do happen to good people. Little is one of the best and last Saturday night after a summer of keeping up with a summer promotion sponsored by Eagle Communications, KWBW, People's Bank and Midway Motors his quiet attention to detail and determination paid off.

The promotion gave away a beautiful 2010 Chevrolet Camero to Little and his family on the car lot of Midway Motors here in Hutchinson. The car is valued at over $26,000. After becoming one of the 100 finalists in the contest, he watched as ping pong balls were pulled out of an air machine eliminating people one by one. Out of the 100 finalists 95 showed up on Saturday to play the game. He was the last man with a ping pong ball still in the machine. THE WINNER!

I doubt if he will use the car for deliveries and I doubt when he comes in today he even talks about his winnings. That is just the kind of guy he is. It's good to see a good man come out the winner once in a while. In this case no one deserves it more and it's fun to actually know the winner of the big contest!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Technology Friend

Jane and I have been friends for a long, long time. My friend Jane was a great school teacher. She taught everything from preschool to grade 2. She was a fun teacher, a students friend. She never worried about the amount of her own money she spent in the classroom because she knew every kid was worth it.

Two years ago Jane decided to retire. A sad day for the kids in the school district, a sad day for the community.

At a time when children needed to learn technology and some teachers were running from it, Jane embraced it! She knew to keep up with her students and supply them with what they need to succeed she needed to learn it herself. I was constantly amazed at her questions about equipment she might need to transform the lives of little ones under her watch. She saw they had everything they needed, she took extra classes, she bought her own equipment, she read about technology and she really did love attending classes at ESSDACK learning it.

That is what makes her such a fun and special friend, mom, wife, daughter, aunt and grandmother to those around her. She uses her iPod for her calendar, she watches movies on the plane, she listens to music while driving the tractor, she takes trips and runs a flip video camera so she can put video on You Tube in minutes, she fills her Facebook page with photos,(did I mention she multitasks well)?

It was no surprise when she e-mailed last week she had her new iPad. I feel like the person who used to call me for technical assistance has passed me up! She has never been afraid to jump right in and learn something new. That is why she has been so good for me over the years, she has made me push myself.

Now that we are grandparents we have a whole new world to explore together. Grandkids that love technology. I gave my grandson his first laptop a month ago. He is three. He was on YouTube in seconds listening to Brad Paisley (one of his favorites). He watches music videos and knows the words by memory. He tapes himself singing and with the help of his mom has it on YouTube for grandma to enjoy! Like Jane I see my grandkids on skype a way of connecting families that wasn't there just a few years ago. For long distance grandmas there is nothing better!

I am sure Jane has taken off on her iPad already getting apps to make her life easier, learning more to make her a more interesting person. I know she will use it to it's full potential. If she doesn't know it she will learn it. Just to keep up with Harry and Connor!

In the mean time grandpa and I are headed to Best Buy, I think I need an iPad! Thanks Jane!

Friday, July 30, 2010

KASB Lands a Colorful Director

The Kansas Association of School Boards named a new director on July 1.

After serving 22 years in Kansas as a Superintendent, the past 13 at Emporia, Dr. John Heim takes the seat in Topeka to lead the Kansas School Board Organization. John is a colorful guy, if you know him you can't wait to see him coming through the door. If you don't know him..... well, as Martina McBride would say, "everyone who sees him always wants to know him." He is just that colorful of a guy.

Known to be a practical joker in person and on the phone, a recent newspaper article said he was only serious "when he was talking about kids and education". Not a bad quality for a lifelong advocate of education. The son of Max Heim, another longtime Kansas educator, John says he knows the state well having lived in Gorham, Clifton, Colby, Lawrence, Manhattan, Emporia, Olathe, Hutchinson, (back to) Lawrence, Bazine, Hays, Bunker Hill, (back to) Manhattan, Brookville, (back to)Lawrence, Leoti, El Dorado, (back to) Hutchinson, (back to) Emporia, and soon he will reside in Johnson County. He is quick to add his life is like the Hank Snow song "I'VE BEEN EVERYWHERE."

He comes in to this job as a supporter for local school districts. The man who will lead them in the next few years will serve as a common voice for State Boards of Education in the state of Kansas.

School Board members are local volunteers who meet one or two nights a month and do so without being paid......Heim says "They do it because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes it's gratifying and sometimes it's painful, in the past two years it has been more painful," he noted.
I have to admit since I have gone off of my local school board I sleep much better on Monday nights. However, a couple of my co-workers are still out there facing the everyday problems that will help our Kansas students succeed during Monday night school board meetings.

According to Heim every school district needs the following-good teachers in the classroom, support staff to help show a positive voice to the community, Administrators, and School Board Members.

Why would anyone serve on their local board of education? Because they are serious about kids and education and oh yeah, because it's the right thing to do!

Thanks for your direction Dr. Heim. Kansas School Boards welcome you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

These Apple Guys are Golden

A group from Apple was at ESSDACK last week for the two day summer conference "Apple Technology Seminars for Education."

Attending were 45 of the best "server jockeys" Kansas has to offer. I am talking about the tech guys who keep technology running in our schools. Learning more than they knew, and meeting comrades they will be able to collaborate with in the future are just two of the reasons they traveled to Hutchinson to learn more from Apple.

Just a few days after Apple released the new iPhone 4, tech guys in attendance chattered about the device and how they would love to get their hands on one. One attendee pulled his new one out of his pocket and began demonstrating the new toy to the aaaahs of tech brothers standing near by. It's so much fun to see people thrilled to investigate new technology.

When Apple talks people listen. They have taken off in the education world with their one to one laptop programs, iPods in the classroom, and the new iPad has classroom games like Geometry Wars Touch", that will impress you with virtual sticks created where you place your fingers, and "Words with Friends" a scrabble style, multi-player crossword game. The company knew it was time to hit the classroom with new innovative items students need. It's time to welcome Apple into your classroom.

The Apple guys holding the session here were lead by Adam Shepard a great representative who watched registration flow, visited with attendees, saw breakout sessions were on time and made sure his server guys were well fed. His help included Bret Siegel, Jeff Oshsner, and Brent Hayward some of the best Apple has to offer. They studied Introduction To Snow Leopard Server, Advanced Snow Leopard Server, Imaging and Deployment - Intermediate to Advanced, Apple Remote Desktop, Windows Integration and Podcast Producer to name a few.

From here they loaded cords and supplies and headed to their next stop St. Louis, Mo. where they will do it all again to a new group of techies yearning to learn. Technology in Education from the laptop on the child's classroom desk, to the servers that run them, to the companies that build them, all fit in education now and in the future. Thanks Apple Guys it was great having you, see you next summer!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ESSDACK serves up McAlister's to Happy Math Teachers!

Many times when people visit ESSDACK for meetings or workshops there is a requirement for food to be served. That is what we are noted for here at ESSDACK, chocolate bars and hot cookies at 2pm in the afternoon. (Oh, and of course the Educational Professional Development!) Sometimes there is a need for a lunch for those attending.

Recently the IMU Math Grant attendees were at our facility for two weeks, requiring meals each day they were here. What a fun group of people! But it's always a challenge to try and satisfy a group of eaters. Some are picky, some are grateful, all are satisfied after they are fed.

One of the choices during the two week training was a delivery from McAlister's Deli in West Wichita, Kansas. It was probably the most talked about meal of the entire two weeks. I called McAlister's and was greeted on the phone by a nice fellow by the name of Mike. What a helpful voice on the phone! Mike answered many questions I had about the catering menu I was reading from and suggested some items my group might be interested in for their lunch.

The item I picked to feed a group of 50 people was the Spud Max Bar. Baked potatoes with all the trimmings. Ham, turkey, cheese, sour cream, butter, green onions, bacon and olives were delivered with huge, hot baked potatoes for the math teachers lunch. You could tell as they passed through the lunch line they were impressed. They asked where the food was from and when I told them they said they were for sure going to eat at McAlister's on their next trip to Wichita.

McAlister's is a deli located in Wichita, Kansas. Hutchinson where our office is located is 40 miles from their door BUT the delivery to Hutchinson was FREE! I couldn't believe it! What customer service! What were they thinking? Hutchinson establishments charge a fee for delivery from right here in town.

I was so pleased with McAlister's I ordered another lunch from them. This time three Club Sandwich Trays with wraps, croissants and chips another crowd pleaser! At the time of that order Mike informed me the delivery price was going to be starting in July. Sometimes things are just to good to last. I will probably use them for more deliveries even with the charge applied. When you get good good food delivered to your office door and employees like Mike to help you, that my friends, is priceless!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Color my World

Let me tell you about my great daughter in law. She is amazing!

Why just last weekend when she was here visiting. My mere mention of ..."I have been thinking of changing the color of the entryway," and she was on her feet!

"What color were you thinking?" she asked as her hand drifted across the entryway wall feeling for slight imperfections she would like to correct. I told her something earthy and warm. I am usually a light wall person (which I prefer in my home) who decorates with her colorful personality!

Within minutes she was loaded up for a trip to Home Depot with fabrics of our freshly picked colors in hand. She loves that place! Did I mention she has a degree in design from Kansas State? Not a degree in decorating, (which would be fine) but a degree in DESIGN! That means she moves walls!

The next few hours were a blur as I tried to quiet the grandkids while daughter in law Kristi performed magic on our home's entryway. The colors picked out go marvelous with my paintings and are just what I was wanting to change up the look. The front door now is a beautiful "Shy Violet" color that without her vision I would never have thought of.

Matching paint intrigues me, but I'm not really sure why it excites Kristi so much! Beautiful new colors that that she imagines (as long as they are in the color family) are sure to brighten many of my walls in the future.

I was thinking of moving on down the hall to the bedrooms.... popped corn or fresh tangerine?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Night to Remember

Recalling how the evening of April 23, 2010 all came about is reflecting on a journey I always wanted to happen. Since my age is way past 9 years old, it's time to pass it to another much younger generation.

I am glad to be a performer, able to sing and play for people who probably have better things to do but sit and listen just because they like music. However entering the role of mentor to a young lady, my niece, has lead me down a path of supporting youth and seeing them do what seems at times impossible.

Alycen, my niece, has a talent. She may not know how talented she is (and that's fine) because she is only 9 years old and in the 3rd grade. But last Saturday night Alycen became the pride of Nickerson, Kansas and also the pride of her Aunt Pam.

Alycen performed the National Anthem in Wichita's Koch Arena to a packed house of concert attendee's at the Annual KFDI Listener Appreciation Concert. She opened the show for Josh Turner.... that's right... the Long Black Train guy with the deep distinctive voice! Also appearing was female recording artist Emily West.

I am a big fan of the Brian and Kellie Morning Show on KFDI and listen each morning on the way to work. I heard the ad about entering a contest where the winner would perform the National Anthem at their annual concert. Knowing that Alycen had performed the Anthem at local basketball games, State baseball tournaments, and Rodeos and adding to that her unique flair for performing, my mind began to wonder while driving. I knew she could do it. BUT this was a big venue, much larger than she had tackled in the past.

After a quick e-mail to Alycen's mom, it wasn't long before I had a call asking me which video to send in for the contest! YES! Alycen was going to be in the running! I think the radio station fell for her right from the start because they called her to come to the station to meet the crew there. She was given a tour, an interview, and also got to record herself singing in the recording booth. She had a great time meeting everyone and went on and on about how nice everyone there was!

Her radio interview ran early on a Monday morning, I was barely awake but heard the steady young voice of 9 year old Alycen answer questions with ease and perfection. She talked about her dancing and singing and how she was pretty used to it and also how she enjoyed it. (Aunt Pam was proud already.) It was an easy choice for the radio station, Alycen was the "Tween" they had been searching for to sing the National Anthem at their concert.

The days leading up to the performance went fast. The sold out concert, had family members scrambling to get tickets to see Alycen perform. Her mom ordered her new sparkly red dress online and made a trip to Shelper's for her new "cowgirl" boots. Mom made great choices! ....Her dad paid the bill! The boots were dressed up with rhinestones and her red dress and long blonde hair looked pristine on stage.

When she was introduced the crowd went wild. Her mom and dad, brothers Ben and Sam, and other family members and friends sat proud in their seats! Alycen performed with grace and composure, she smiled and waved to the audience at the end with the style of a great and humble showman. The crowd, who obviously loved her, went wild again!

After performing she was able to visit with Josh Turner, get photos taken with him and capture an autograph for future memories. That's big for a 9 year old.

It was a great night, a night to remember for our family for a long, long, time. Today she is back in her desk in the 3rd grade at Nickerson Elementary. Her classmates and teachers will hear stories but have no idea what a fun weekend she had performing to a packed house of 10,000 country music fans. Thanks Alycen for making the weekend so much fun. Aunt Pam is so proud of you! Until the next time.........

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Love that Wordle!

I think I love Wordle!

Hearing the world itself is interesting enough but to think it's a catch phrase to introduce new words in the classroom is amazing! Another step towards no more boring learning!

If you haven't used Wordle you really should check it out. They are "beautiful cloud words."
I have watched tech savvy educators use it for a while now. I am amazed at the ways they have found to use it in class!

I can see it used in the classroom for spelling word lists, class rosters, bus rosters, word definitions and so many other things. It seems like it would make learning new words much more fun for students that's why technology-minded educators use it on a daily basis.

I have found after surveying a few teachers they use it daily for student birthday cards, to summarize chapters, to introduce kids at the beginning of the year or their first day in a new classroom. One even mentioned character descriptions such as a good teammate, a good friend, all about me, words for fun, all about our classroom. Or to introduce a unit, what will they be studying? What will they learn? Introduce a new book? Predict what it's about? Not to mention using it to find themes, threads, in speeches, text, etc.

Imagine making a wordle and passing it out as the weekly spelling word list! It might take the "boring" word out of the weekly spelling test!

WOW, there is so much to this word program I better keep looking I might find out more than I already have and I was pulled in by the catch phrase "Wordle" what a great non-boring word!

Things that mean a lot to me!

Some of the things that mean a lot to me are listed
to the right. Family members who always have something to say and keep me interested in their many activities daily.

Through their travels I feel like I see the world, pictures e-mailed make me feel like I am there seeing the adventures with them.

Today the spring snow storm is letting us see the NCAA tournament at our house. Normally we would be out at an event not able to be home.

We received an e-mailed picture this morning from the middle son who is in Las Vegas during the NCAA tournament, he said the weather was bad there too and attached a picture of his group at the pool enjoying themselves!

The oldest son in Texas was out on the lake early to do his bass fishing and sent pictures!

Technology keeps our family together even though we are states apart. We use it daily and thank friends who answer tough questions when I ask them about it. I T guys are the greatest! The next best thing to technology its self when it works!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Would YOU make a good Ambassador?

Have you ever thought of yourself as being a spokesperson for something you really believed in or felt passionate about? Something you knew from past history you could relay the message of the person or business and know you could depend on the credibility to always be there?
Those are traits of a true Ambassador!

ESSDACK is looking for a few good educators! Educators with an undying passion for education and student learning. These people would need to be employed by an ESSDACK member district, recognized as educational leaders, and be familiar with the ESSDACK organization and what makes it special.

An ESSDACK Ambassador would be the contact for their school building and educate fellow teachers about the opportunities offered to educators by ESSDACK. They would be the "eyes and ears" of ESSDACK during their daily travels. We can't be everywhere, even though we would like to be! That is where the ESSDACK ambassador will help out!

Participating in past events held by ESSDACK qualifies you to be a part of this new program. Volunteering alongside ESSDACK employees during special events would be common place, social networking, which engages ongoing conversations with community and consumers is a must!

The benefits? Mash-ups with ESSDACK groups during the school year, being a sounding board for new ideas, and the chance to shape the direction of ESSDACK to mention a few.

If this new program sounds intriguing to you and you would like to embrace a new chapter in your educational career, call the ESSDACK office at 620-663-9566, e-mail pamm@essdack.org or check soon for an online application on the ESSDACK website.

ESSDACK Ambassadors will give area educators and patrons a "human being" to connect with rather than the traditional newsletters, e-mails websites and brochures.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

State Tournament Time!

It's State Tournament Time in Kansas!

For the 1st time in 16 years the home team Nickerson Panthers Basketball team and their head coach Ryan Duft will head to Salina to compete in the class 4A state tournament. They will be accompanied by a few hundred fans in blue and gold, accompanied by signs and streamers that will decorate their cars on the parking lot and the streets of little Nickerson, Kansas (Population 1256).

In a small town THIS IS A BIG THING! Parents grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, church members, the whole town is talking about the games everywhere you go. They have a right to be proud of their team. If your team has never been to the state tournament you don't know the feeling and you won't be having the time of your life this week. If you are a true basketball fan that loves to watch good basketball you will be joining in the fun at a state tournament location near you.

This is fun! This is exciting! When tournament week rolls around you can expect the unexpected. Like the pride of Burrton, Kansas....Alex Santiago..... who today is known as Amazin' Alex. He scored a record high 53 points in a boys state playoff game during the Burrton Chargers game last night against Hanover. After scoring 17 in the first half, he lit up the place with 36 points in the 2nd half to reach the record. Alex did his best but Hanover defeated Burrton 85-66 at the final buzzer. On a radio talk show this morning Alex said he would give up all the points and the record just to have won the game. According to his Superintendent "he is just that kind of kid." Here's to celebrating Alex, his accomplishment will remain in the record books even though his team's season has come to an end.

You meet a lot exceptional athletes, coaches and fans during tournament week. You find out all sorts of things you probably didn't need to know to be a better person, or employee, but you can find something that will make you a more interesting person.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year includes Madness

March Madness has begun. High school basketball is heating up in area schools. This is the time of year coaches and students have looked forward to since the first of November when they began the winter basketball season with high hopes.

If you are a high school basketball fan you know what I am talking about. Tuesday and Friday nights from November through February are spent on the road or at home with your team. The dates go on the calendar early so you are sure not to miss an inbound pass or a whistle of any game.

I have often wondered what makes a good basketball fan. Is it watching your son or daughter; grandson or granddaughter; nieces or nephews; reliving your own high school sports career; support of high school athletes in your community or just a love for the game.

Our community is blessed with long-time sports fans who have attended sporting events for years. I enjoy seeing them at every game and even look to their area of the gym to see if they are there for the evening.

Where would our schools be without fan support for our students? What fun would it be for our kids to play in an empty gym with no cheering fans to back them? I look forward to the fan "Madness" even if it's not March. But there is nothing quite like sub-state playoff time. The fans, the players, the coaches, the cheerleaders all seem to be at seasons peak and ready to knock off their competitors showing their style and passion for the game.

The young coaches we have today work to put the best team on the court. I love to see their competitive nature, something that must go along with coaching for a person to be any good at it. Along with great coaches come great games and I have been able to see many of them while at my public address announcing job at the local high school. I have met some of the greatest fans, coaches and players in the area and the state while they show an example of what their years of practicing basketball has prepared them for.... and that is March Madness.

There is no bigger way to get attention paid to your school than through sports. A good team gets your school noticed, more than noticed, it get's you on the 10 o'clock news, Catch it Kansas, Internet, Newspapers, Twitter, Facebook and more.

This year as in the past I will faithfully cheer for my Panther girls and boys and coaches Lynn Vick and Ryan Duft to compete with the heart of a champion as they begin their sub-state play. The hours of entertainment they have given me over they years has often been a conversation starter as we go over play after play on the way home from the game and on the phone with long distance fans who want to be filled in about the panthers and how their performance was that night.

The coaches and players are ready for March. Parents, grandparents, fans, cheerleaders, athletic directors, principals, concession stand workers, ticket takers and custodians are ready too. Get to the games when you can, you never know what you might miss! If you can't make it in person listen on the radio. Cheer for your team, support your students, teachers, administrators and show school pride. It will be fun being part of MARCH MADNESS! You might have something to talk about until the season starts again in November!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Passionate Fan

My husband has been a sportswriter for 35 years. Our three boys were raised traveling to games that dad was assigned on weekends for years.

They grew up missing Saturday birthday parties and school events to attend Big 8 and then Big 12 football and basketball games. Their friends thought they were lucky, sometimes the boys weren't so sure. While dad was working on his stories long after the game was over. Mom was on the parking lot teaching them how to throw a spiral. At midnight we would start the 3-5 hour drive home talking sports the whole way.

The history of being a sports fan has been instilled in all three of the boys. Now grandpa is working on his grandson also! You see, being passionate about your team is a good thing. It builds character, it's a great hobby, it's great conversation with friends, when they loose it's seeing how they might do things differently the next time, keeping the faith.

Our youngest was among the faithful at the recent KSU/KU game to cheer for his Wildcats. Preparing for the game started early in the week hoping to be randomly picked with a low number for his wait in line. Learning on Thursday before the game that he would get the ultimate number, a number that might land him a spot on the front row, he headed to Kinkos with his jump drive in hand. There he had them print the poster sized picture of ESPN's Dick Vitale that would surely get him on TV and maybe even ESPN sportscenter (his favorite show).

He was up early and took part in ESPN's College Gameday that was held on campus. Total attendance was 8,159 the largest crowd ever for gameday. Did you know, K-State became one of only 15 schools that has hosted gameday for both football and basketball that morning?

Leaving the stadium he made calls to his brothers in Texas and Wichita to report in, and stood in line with a few of his newest and closest friends for 5 hours before game time.

The time came to enter Bramlage and he was on his way to the front row to take his spot, an outing that sports historians in our family will relive for years. Dick Vitale entered courtside and came up to him to see the poster picture of himself. He gladly signed and dated the picture and chatted about the beard that was placed on his face to promote the play of Wildcat Jacob Pullen. You see a real sports fan who has attended hundreds of games in his short 19 years knows how to get on national television, his plan worked well.

I have cheered for many ball games in my lifetime and each day there is one more to cheer for. I enjoy the passion of a true sports fan, the thrill of being at the big game, the excitement of being live for a college gameday show, and watching the family enjoy their own version of sportscenter after the game.

Thanks Jordan, you were trained well, your gameday events were thrilling, fun, exciting and memorable for mom and dad too! We enjoyed every minute of it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

O Brother Where Art Thou?

I live in a small town, population 1256. Only 3 blocks from my brothers home and 3 blocks from his family business on main street. It's still really hard to find the time to visit, and at our age we should be doing just that!

I get my groceries from him on Saturday each week. He is usually cutting meat or sacking groceries for someone and the chance to talk doesn't happen. It's amazing really, that living so close doesn't help when we try to get together. There just isn't enough time in the day!

Yesterday at work I answered another routine phone call, or what I thought was a routine phone call when the voice on the end of the line said "Hey Pam, why don't you meet me over at LoneStar for lunch?" I jump at the chance to go to lunch with him when I get it so I said "Sure"! What a great time we had visiting and an added bonus my sister- in-law met up with us also. I don't get to see or talk to her nearly enough.

While he enjoyed his steak, she enjoyed salmon, and I enjoyed the greatest salad in town we chatted about things going on in our kids and grandkids lives, what they had done over the past week, and people we knew. I loved hearing all about what was going on with them and where they had been. What a fun lunch it was.

Technology can connect people and ideas but there is nothing like communication face to face. One thing I will thank my mom and dad for everyday is the gift of a brother and two sisters that inspire me everyday. And the nieces and nephews and their family activities are an added bonus!

When it was time for us all to leave and head back to work he even paid the bill! Thanks brother!
O brother can't wait until we do it again!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Hero but no happy ending

What to you say to a die hard Minnesota Vikings fan after a game like last night?

Tied at the end of regulation both teams had stars in their eyes. Until the famed Quarterback Brett Favre who had right on passes most of the night threw an interception near the end of the game not getting his team in position for the needed field goal for the win.

He has been and still is a hero in NFL history. Last night it wasn't meant to be.

The Saints showed no mercy and kept physically pounding Favre. At one point, it appeared Favre was injured and might not return. Four times, the Vikings committed a turnover.

It was vintage Favre. Like a Western gunslinger, Favre picked himself up off the turf and kept firing back. The game was tied at 7, 14, 21 and 28.

In the Wild West, the gunslinger sometimes runs out of bullets. In this case, it was Favre who fired a blank on his final pass.

The worst part was the Vikings never got the ball back in overtime. It was a helpless feeling seeing the Saints march upfield.

Favre, walked gingerly off the field. But he held his head high. He'd given it his best shot.

So what do you say to a friend who cheers for her team and sits nervously for each game to start? A friend who knew after 30 plus years her team had a chance and watched as time ticked off the clock to end their season one game to soon.

Well, my friend Judy, I will tell you here's to next year! Here's to the love of sports we both share, here's to the journey we will take watching all the games again in pursuit of the big game, here's to your passion for the game. I have loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You are all MY Teacher of the Year!

Earlier this week, Karen M. Tritt, the 2010 Kansas Teacher of the Year, was presented the keys to a 2010 Chrysler Sebring at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka by Brandon Williams, area manager of operations for Topeka, Lawrence and Leavenworth Enterprise-Rent-a-Car.
The Enterprise Foundation is providing a six-month lease through Enterprise Rent-a-Car to the state’s top educator. In addition to the lease, Tritt will received $1500 in ethanol gasoline from the Kansas Corn Commission.
A Spanish teacher at Shawnee Mission West High School, Shawnee Mission USD 512, Mrs. Tritt earned the state’s top honor in November from a field of 91 candidates. The award will keep her traveling throughout the state.
During the first half of her reign as the 2010 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Tritt is expected to log more than 20,000 miles as she represents Kansas teachers at conferences, conventions, and in discussions with the state’s policymakers. The Kansas Interim Commissioner of Education Dr. Diane DeBacker and Deputy Commissioner Dale M. Dennis were on hand to present the award.

I don't know Ms. Tritt, but I am sure as Kansas Educators go she is amazing with her students and will be a good representative for the state of Kansas.

All educators in my book are considered "Educator of the Year". I have met many as a former school board member and still meet them daily at my job here at the Receptionist's Desk! Please know that in the days of budget cuts and downsizing the respect we have for you is still ever present. Thanks for all you do for Kansas Kids! Congratulations to you ALL we couldn't run a school with out you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Staff Mashup

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when I heard about this event!

Fueled by the passion to inspire technology in her staff, Centre USD 397 school district superintendent, Jerri Kemble was excited about the idea of a Mashup on Martin Luther King Day for her staff.

Add to that TEEN Network's Brandi Hendrix technology connections and you have the schedule of a technology training day set for teachers in Centre, Peabody, Hillsboro, Marion, and Herington on Monday, January 18.

The day will include break out sessions from presenters such as Judy Beam from USD 361 Anthony - Harper, Glenn Wiebe, from ESSDACK, and Dyane Smokorowski from USD 385 Andover. A SKYPE presentation from Marco Torres will also be a feature, you can check out his website at http://homepage.mac.com/torres21/TEST/.

The districts will pay a fee for their entire staff to attend the day long event held at Marion High School, the fun beings at 8:30 am. Lunch will be provided, it will be cooked and served by the five superintendents of the districts in attendance.

It takes great people to put together an inservice that will benefit their educators in the technology area and also the collaboration area. The feedback from other educators that day might be just as important to their district as the presentations.

Great educators are lead by great administrators. Their continued enthusiasm to inspire and instruct their teachers everyday takes a load of persistence that has to be adjusted when daily challenges arrive. Thanks to their aggressive thinking the future is bright for our students.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vera Yoder is one dedicated educator

Today I want to tell you about Vera Yoder.
Vera recently celebrated her 80th birthday with her husband, Dale, five children and several of her grandchildren during lunch at the Inman Elementary School Cafeteria.
She wanted to eat with the kids. She even said she would rather eat with them and her family there in the cafeteria than in the biggest, fanciest restaurant.
Vera enjoys every minute she spends at Inman Elementary.
Did I mention at 80 years old she is employed there as a full time para? She knows it's rare that she is still in the classroom but after trying retirement in 1992 she found that volunteering wasn't for her. She wanted more time with kids.
Vera attended Hesston College and graduated with a teaching degree from Goshen College and taught Home Economics at Windom High School to begin her education career. That is where Vera met her husband Dale. Even beyond her teaching years she has put in 30 plus years as either an aide or para.
Computers may be the biggest thing that has changed in the classroom over the years but Vera says all the kids really need is encouragement, affirmation and love.
She said that she is most satisfied in her job while being with the kids and teachers. She doesn't like to sit around with old people.
A great student advocate, a great Kansas educator, Vera says she will be back next year if she still feels this good.
Maybe we can all learn about the excitement of learning from Vera, maybe we should jump on board, after all who wants to sit around with old people?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On-line Safety and Cyberbullying Training

Teachers are a tough group. Even with sub zero temperatures today in Kansas, even when their own schools are out for snow day, they still show up for training from ESSDACK's Kevin Honeycutt. Most of these teachers are not local, some have driven miles on snow to get here, but they know with a snow day you don't learn nearly as much as you do when you spend time with Kevin.

Kevin is presenting grade level 7-12 Training of Trainers for Cyberbullying and On-Line Safety.
We are glad to have them. They will spend two full days here to obtain the tools needed to go out on their own and present at schools.

Another case of great Kansas teachers training themselves to help our children obtain with a solid education.

Monday, January 4, 2010

From The Receptionist Desk

I am, for the first time trying the world of blogging. Twitter, I am used to, this territory I am not.

The information you read here you could live without, but maybe it will help conversation at the work place about interesting people doing interesting things in our Kansas Schools. In particular the people who make our schools great.

Maybe you have asked yourself during the course of the day "I wonder how that happened? I wonder who is setting up this new technology? I wonder who had that idea?" when you walk into a school building. Most of the things we think "just happen" are ideas from innovative and tireless staff members who went the extra mile to help their students and staff on their own time to make their schools better everyday.

I was reading with interest about such a teacher recently from Sterling High School in Sterling, Kansas. Brian Richter, a history teacher and coach at the school, is preserving history. He was wanting to watch his old high school football game tapes to relive some good times and He knew there would be others wanting the same thing. Richter created a film room in his garage and has learned to transfer super 8 and 16 millimeter movies to his computer. He enhances the film and transmits it to DVD. His talent has escaped the boundaries of Sterling and is now gathering state wide attention.

Footage can be sent to him on film or VCR tapes and he will send back a complimentary DVD for no charge. Duplicates can be purchased through his website www.oldschoolyou.com.

Brian was also the 2006 Kansas Economics Teacher of the Year. He is great educator that helps make Kansas schools great!