Celebrity of the Week

Okay, I admit it.  When I first heard about Celebrity of the Week in my son’s class I thought, ho hum.  By second grade, kids are over that stuff aren’t they?  But no, my second grader,  has waited all year for the honor.  I guess I wasn’t really listening when his teacher, Lori Talbot explained the ritual.  (And I was probably half-thinking, how does this fit in with best practices?)

Now it’s here and…well, wow.

Each day is something special for the Celeb.  Monday he’ll share a poster he created that tells about him.  Tuesday he’ll share his favorite book.  And today, as Lori says, “Wednesday, is the day Mom and Dad get to brag all about him and what makes him his wonderful self.”

Here’s the letter my husband wrote to our little guy.

Dear Ari,

Your name means Lion.  You have the strength, grace and confidence of a lion.  When you make up your mind to do something you don’t let anything get in your way.  You’re lightning fast too!  No one is going to throw you out when you play baseball.  

Ari, you care about everyone and everything.  You feel everyone’s feelings and try to make others feel better.   And you’re the best hugger!  And back scratcher!  Not too hard, not too light…just right!

You’re already a published writer!  You’ve written many picture books and even sold them every year at your summer book stand.  If your readers are lucky, you might even autograph a book!

You’re a master builder.  Legos, Hero Factory, pillow forts.  And as for finding your way out of mazes, well let’s just say that “You’re the man!”

If anybody needs to be cheered up?  You’ll make up a joke.  Or a game.  Your funny ideas will have everybody rolling on the floor laughing. 

If Star Wars was real, you would be a Jedi Knight in training.  And then probably Luke Skywalker’s Padawan!  You have the goodness of all the Jedi Knights combined.  You can probably even use ‘The Force’ to open doors.  

Ari, we have never met anyone who did not fall in love with you the first time they met you.  You’re the best thing that ever happened to us and we love you more than anything.  

Love, Mommy and Daddy

If Ari can read that aloud without tears, I’ll be surprised.  (I couldn’t.)

Thursday–he’s really looking forward to Thursday.  He gets to have lunch with Mrs. Talbot.

And Friday, he’ll receive his fan letters from the rest of the kids.

Did I say ho hum?  I take that back.  Anyone who showers this much love on her students is anything but.  As one principal said to me recently, “You can’t measure heart.” But you can feel it, and it’s alive and well in Lori Talbot’s second grade class.

Friendship Squeeze

My favorite part of today was, at the end of writing time, when a second grader asked me, “Can we do the Friendship Squeeze?”  We all joined hands, then one person sent a squeeze to the person sitting next to her, then she sent it to the next person, until the energy of friendship had been passed around the circle.

I wonder what would happen if we could, each and everyone of us, circle the globe and do the friendship squeeze?

After Sandy…

Today’s blog was written by third grade teacher, Cindy Piano, of Bogota, NJ.

Today was our first day back after the storm.  I gathered the kids together and we talked about the storm itself but mostly about “What we did after the storm.”  We brain-stormed and made lists of things we did. (played, learned new games, played outside, ATE lots of food, ran out of books to read and library was not open)  Then, we decided to write to our pen pals at Bixby {a nearby school}  (One asked if the hurricane happened at Bixby too!)  They decided to write about the hurricane, describing it  the best they could, wind, creaky house, trees bending, etc.  Some had fires right outside their houses at the transformers!  Then they wrote about what they did during the week when there was no electricity.  After they finish they will share with partners and talk all about their experiences.

It was very scary for them and I thought it was a good way to really get out some of their feelings and be able to share and write at the same time.

The Seashell

I just attended a welcome-back-to-school meeting that touched my heart.  The principal, Brian Bizzoco, gave each teacher the following poem with a carefully wrapped seashell.  This note was attached.

You are probably wondering why you have been given a seashell.  It is a gift to you to help you reflect on another gift you are about to receive–your students.  Let’s take a few minutes to consider what the shell can tell us about them.  

The Seashell

(Adapted from Mary Madden’s ‘Gifts’)

Maybe your shell is fragile, delicate, and easily broken.

So are some of your students, so we shall handle

them kindly and with care.

Maybe your shell looks beautiful.

Each student in your class has a special beauty.

Discover it and help others to notice it and appreciate it.

Maybe you noticed that your shell has pieces chipped away or broken off.

Some students have had difficult experiences that have chipped away their

positive self-image and broken their spirit.  We help to rebuild their self-image

and rekindle their enthusiasm.

The shell you have in your hand is unique.

It was carried to shore by the ocean just for you.

What will you do with it now that it is yours?

Each student in your class is unique, too.

Each one is in your hands now.

What will you do with them, now that they are yours?


Brian reminded teachers that each one has unique gifts to offer and encouraged them to express their gifts. I have no doubt that Brian will help his teachers (and students) flourish.  Wouldn’t you love to work where this kind of thinking and feeling is encouraged?


The teachers at the Greater Brunswick Charter School in New Brunswick, NJ sure know how to appreciate each other.  They post these little thank-yous in their staff room.  What a great pick-me-up!  I say thank you to all of them for welcoming me this year.

Friendship Soup

In Cindy Piano’s third grade class, Friendship Soup is cooking.  The students plan, then each one brings an ingredient.  Then they get busy mixing and measuring.  Slicing and stirring.  The smell of soup fills the halls of Steen Elementary School in Bogota, New Jersey.  By lunch time, soup is on.  Cindy does this with her classes every year.  The kids love it!  They talk about it and write about it and make up stories about Friendship Soup.  Wouldn’t some taste good right now?