This girl has been my ride or die since 1992! The bond of sisterhood is true and is a hard relationship to understand unless you have a sister. Kellie and I are only 18 months apart in age and have been each other's cheerleaders, truth tellers, and literal punching bags, since day one. It was an obvious choice to make her my Maid of Honor, but as the months have gone by during this wedding hooplah, I have been overwhelmed with how thoughtful and on top of everything Kellie has been. She just gets what I am saying and is always on the same page as I am, so it makes handling the little details so much easier. I have always loved how she will stand up for me at all costs and will tell me the truth about anything, but with the best intentions. (don't get me wrong, she also makes fun of me like nobody's business - but she GETS to... she earned that right as a sister.) She has been my sidekick since she was the Skipper to my Barbie back in the 90's, the Miranda to my Lizzie during pre-teen catastrophes, the Lane to my Rory for high school drama, and now and forever the Monica to my Rachel... Love you KB!
...Because even though SHE was the one going through monumental life changes this year (like becoming a first time mother!) she never hesitated to check in and ask ME how I was doing. Lindsay and I became fast friends when we were both hired at our school the same year. Whether it's sharing students, as her kindergarteners are passed my way in first, or sharing shopping and fashion advice, Lindsay and I have a lot in common. She's always been a great friend, but this year she has been a rock for me at Beverly. (Even when she left for her maternity leave!) As if she didn't have enough on her plate, I asked her to be one of my bridesmaids, and of course she graciously accepted without batting an eyelash. She has been keeping me sane as she lets me bounce wedding ideas off of her, and she is the first person I go to when I feel like I just need to scream. ( I don't scream at her guys, she's too nice to ever be mad at, I just mean she lets me vent!) Thanks Lindsay for being there for me this year especially, I couldn't have survived teaching and wedding planning without you!
There's never a dull moment when Tracy is around. It doesn't matter how stressed I am or how "bleh" I feel, when Tracy comes in my classroom, it's a party. She always has great ideas and it seems like we are frequently on the same page when it comes to our creative personas. We clicked automatically when I joined her team at Beverly (Liz,our former principal, sure called it in her very first email to me when she said 'I think you and my First Grade Team Lead will be a perfect match') Tracy's go,go,go spirit is so motivating and her positive way of giving feedback makes it so easy for me to want to try new things. She makes my natural strengths stronger by being a support system for me, and in a year where I could have totally let my teaching career fall by the wayside while I planned my wedding, she inspired me to KEEP DOING MORE, including bringing my teaching blog back to life as well as developing a very exciting Project Based Learning unit that is currently in the works ( keep on the lookout for more info on that - we are extremely pumped about it! ) Thank you Tracy for never letting me be anything but my best, and thank you for making Beverly the most fun work environment a girl could ask for.
In the teaching profession, it's important to have that person that you can rely on to cover you when things don't go as planned. As a teacher, flexibility is key, as you never know what curve balls may be thrown your way. I have been fortunate to have the best teaching side-kick across the hall from me for the past couple of years. Jenna is always ready to step up and help out our team with any dilemma you could imagine. Whether it be last minute copies that need to be made, or even wardrobe malfunctions that need to be solved, Jenna covers it all, and would literally give you the shirt off of her back. (Yes, this has actually happened before, I was in need of a shirt and Jenna said "here take mine" - btw, she was wearing two shirts that day so it wasn't weird or anything.) The craziness of teaching, building a house, and wedding planning, had me in a constant whirlwind this year, and as if my life wasn't crazy enough, I decided to take on the role of being a social committee chairperson (which is super fun, and I am glad I am doing it, but needless to say, there is a lot on my plate.) I have never had to feel like I could not handle any of it though, because Jenna is always willing to volunteer her time, money, ideas, advice; anything that will be of help in any situation. Our team absolutely loves her eagerness to learn and try new things. She is willing to do what it takes for her students, and no matter how crazy an idea may sound, if she thinks it will help her class, she is going to do it. She doesn't hesitate to ask for help and is constantly trying to better herself for her students. In fact, I told my team earlier this year that I had an idea for the next school year that would be awesome for our kids, but would require a lot of planning ahead that may take up a big chunk of our summer. Jenna's response? "Cool! I will bring the snacks!" (Which will probably be chips and queso knowing Jenna) Needless to say, the four of us would not be the same without Ms. Kirkman, and I literally and figuratively have leaned on her a lot this year and am so, so thankful!
Not enough is said about the "man behind the teacher". A teacher's significant other has to be understanding and willing to take the backlash of a stress-filled day when patience has been running thin. Poor, poor, Cory has had to deal with too many moody evenings (usually around the months of October, February, and May, those testing months, amiright?!) when I finally get home and am able to let my frustration out. I am sometimes surprised that my future husband (like future, as in, tomorrow!! Yay!!!) has not run for the hills. Whether it be the endless stories about students and co-workers that he only knows the names of, or the ridiculous shenanigans he has to witness, and sometimes film *cough Jingle Jams cough* , Cory just goes with the flow and embraces my crazy. I would not have been able to get through ANY year teaching, much less this year, without him. I love how he always knows the right thing to say. He knows when to agree with my venting fits, even though I know he could care less about PDH hours and CMIT paperwork, and he always gives good advice when I need some unbiased answers to a problem I am facing. Teaching is such an emotional profession, and I am so glad I have found someone who rides the emotional rollercoaster with me, and doesn't make me feel like I should get off and ride a different ride. He supports me, he lifts me up, he tells others how impressive I am (even though he's lying- jk) and he greets me with a hug and a smile at the end of every crazy day.
A first grader's favorite thing to say is "STOP!" but it comes out in a long whiny shrill that rings above the voices in the classroom. It is the same every year - two kids get into a little tizzy and one of them yells "StoOoOoP!!!!!!" at the top of their lungs. This is why I am always so grateful when the "Kelso's Choices" counselor lesson makes its way to the first grade hall, complete with a poster to hang and refer to. This word is still heard throughout the year, but Kelso does help a tad!
Meet Kendall. She's a spunky, adorable, almost seven year old and she likes the word "prechis" (precious). She said "it's so nice to be cute" and she sure is! I have a shirt that says "Throw Kindness Like It's Confetti" which I made with my Silhouette (Yay!!). Kendall found a shirt while out shopping and told her mom that she had to by it since it was a "Ms. Stephens Shirt"
This girl. She has blown my mind this year! She is a self starter, motivated learner, and is always having mindful moments with herself to give herself a little pep talk! She even has a plan to open a boutique when she gets older, complete with a plan for the type of clothes she will sell, the type of client she is marketing to, a,d a business plan for how to expand her stores. I mean WOW. and she has stuck to it too. She taught herself how to get on Google Drive and share documents with me, and she does this often. She sent me a random "Have a good day" powerpoint slide one day - and it came right at the best time to remind me why I do what I do. She even made herself a behavior chart and asked me to print it out so that she could work on some things throughout the day. When I asked my class what their favorite words were she said "mustache - because who doesn't like a funny mustache?!" and chuckled to herself. I just love her spirit - and I just had to share her with you.
If you follow The Caffeinated Counselor , then you have met Lily before. She is one of a kind, and really should have a series of children's books written with her as the star! (She does kind of remind me of Kevin Henke's Lilly as a matter of fact.) She is actually quite brilliant, but sometimes gets all mixed up in that head of hers with "what-ifs" of glorious proportions. I was interested to hear what her favorite words were, but to be honest, I was initially let down when she responded with the word "line". "Why line?" I asked, and she said "Well Ms. Stephens....lines are everywhere, I mean you can find them EVERYWHERE...of course it's my favorite!" and her assurance was all I needed. I mean she is right....they are everywhere...and her commitment convinced me that this word should be in my top five!
I cannot tell you how many of my first graders wrote "love" as one of their favorite words. It never ceases to amaze me how innocent and caring kiddos are in these first few years of school, and this innocence is what makes me come back to First Grade year after year. It takes love to push through the whining, tattling, and messy classrooms, and that is exactly what keeps me going. I love my little ones and I am so fortunate to have their examples of innocence in my classroom each day to bring me back to life. Sometimes you get wrapped up in the little "adult" things, and forget to just stop and feel the love.
Some reasons why First Graders like the word "love":
I'm just an Elementary Nerd sharing my excitement for the classroom!
Blogs to check out: