Old Time Shopping

I glance at my list as I crosse the threshhold into Ayers Variety and Hardware. It is my school’s dress rehearsal day for the musical and I am tasked with finding three more props – a kazoo, angel wings, and a chef’s hat. Naturally, my first stop is Ayers.

I walked to the back and started searching the two short toy aisels.
“Can I help you find something,” I hear.
” I need a kazoo.” I admit sheepishly.
“Right there,” the shopkeeper replies, pointing to the top row of items right in front of me and walks off to help another customer.
“Perfect!” and as I grabbed it, I notice the item to the right. A child’s fairy set – crown, wand and yes, WINGS!! I grab it. Now for item three. I was 99% sure I’d need to head to another store but what did I have to lose.

Leaving the toy area, I wandered over to the clothing section. The top shelf was filled with a variety of hats – cowboy , baseball caps broad-rimmed garden hats. Below the hats were aprons but no chef’s hat. Bummer.

I glanced at my phone to see the time. I still have one hour. Maybe the Party Store would have such a hat? Seeing the sales clerk, I ask, “Would you happen to have a chef’s hat?”

“Sure,” she replied matter-of-factly. She started walking toward the front of the store and turned down the kitchen aisle. “Here you go.” She pointed to a chef hat, in between the egg timers and spatulas. I nabbed it and headed to the cashier, feeling so successful.

At a time when prime blue arrow smile boxes are being delivered to houses daily, I am so grateful for my neighborhood variety store. Ayers is the best!

Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 at Kennedy Center

I was born in 1963, October.
I saw a play yesterday set in 1963, September.
It revolved around a real moment in history, the killing of four girls in Alabama.
The next month, August, 1963 was the March on Washington and the infamous King speech.
The month after my birth, November, 1963, was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What a mess…what a time…

Currently, 2019 also seems a messed-up time in my country.
Maybe times are always messed up.
Maybe that’s why seeing this play about another time can inspire.

The play ends with the call to “Stand Up”, a theme running through my Reading class right now. It’s another reminder for me about how, through story, we can learn and think and be inspired to a better world.

For more information about the making of the play and for tickets.
(show runs through 3/24.)

"Come have fun playing here while your learn."

Today the architects of my new school are visiting. They hope to capture through interviews and just watching, what we think about the space they designed for us.

What do I think? What should I say during my interview?

The building they created is quite unique. Along with just being brand new, it screams “Come have fun playing here while your learn.” This is loudly shouted when you leave my 2nd floor classroom and walk to the center of the 2nd floor and see THE SLIDE!

When I bring friends to see my school, they ask right away, “When do you use it?” And my reply is, “We just do.” The slide is just another way to get from the 2nd to the 1st floor. My class knows that it does take a little more time to wait your turn to go down. So it is a choice. Those that really want to get outside for recess to play tag, usually take the stairs. Others say it is worth the wait. All understand that the slide is just another fun way to move in our very unique building called our school. I have come to realize that the beauty of having this feature as a permanent part of the building is that it isn’t a reward. It just gets used because it screams, “Come have fun playing here while your learn.”

The building also is designed to allow for tons of natural light in the classrooms and the hallways. I’ve worked in other schools where I’ve had no windows at all in my classroom or just a few. Here the outside is brought in throughout the entire building. I can’t quote the science of why this is important but I can anecdotally share that I feel better in this building. I feel better because the building allows me to see the sky regularly as I have fun learning inside.



Finally, the building is designed with lots of open gathering spaces. I will admit that this is still something I am learning to figure out how to use well. As a teacher, I’m used to planning lessons and teaching them WITHIN the four walls given to me called my classroom. But this school is different. Now my students regularly spill-out into the hallway. Since the wall to the hallway of my classroom is glass, I can see them as they learn outside the four walls of my classroom. Fun chairs and stools dot the hallways, providing fun places to sit and work. Other spaces throughout the building provide spots to gather and collaborate. Many spaces, I will admit, I still need to explore with my students. And I will, as my mindset of what “my classroom” is, broadens. Really, my classroom at Discovery Elementary is THE ENTIRE school building, a building designed in my opinion as a place to PLAY while learning.



My new school, Discovery ES, truly screams, “Come have fun playing here while your learn.”
Thank you, VMDO Architects!!