Tag Archives: school chaplain

Get motivated

This was one of those mornings when I wasn’t ready to jump out of bed. I seem to be having more of those lately. There was work to be done, though, so I shook off the drowsies and got busy. 

Cats fed (the important stuff first), hair washed, and yards watered. I got my cup of coffee and sat on the porch, watching the sprinkler and reading email and Facebook on my phone. Snapped this picture:


And decided I would like to sit on the porch all day. 

Ran errands. Addressed birthday cards. Made lunch. Reviewed all the projects for tomorrow night’s transformative climate communities meeting where we actually start deciding which projects will get funding. There are 38 projects and most are very good. Just wish there was money for all of them. 

I’m telling a wonderful story to first graders this week, “Let’s go, Hugo,” set in Paris and the Eiffel Tower. 

I made an Eiffel Tower for each classroom to keep with the hope that it will encourage the children to want to know more about Paris. 

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This is what normal looks like here

The heat has finally left us after 53 days over 100 degrees, 15 of which were 105 degrees or higher. I am finally able to work in the backyard, even in the afternoon as it’s only 81 degrees today. Lovely.  The local wildfires have all been contained, and with a big thunderstorm that blew through last week, the air has been cleaned, too. We are feeling more “normal.”

It was a super busy week. We spent the first part in San Mateo with our kids. It gave us the chance to take the grandkids to school and meet their teachers and see their classrooms. We took them to dinner for some of their favorite food-pizza–with enough left over for school lunch the next day. Because we did not participate in Vacation Bible School at the church where our daughter serves (she was on sabbatical), we hadn’t seen some of the members in a long time. We were able to catch up at two different events that we attended. These are people we’ve known for almost 15 years so it’s always a joy to see them.

I returned to Fresno to continue with my school chaplain duties, and Terry went to help out at the agency where he volunteers his skills that helps others find jobs. I also attended a city sponsored neighborhood revitalization meeting that was held at Columbia, the school where I serve as school chaplain. The idea for these meetings is to get the residents involved with the care and welfare of their neighborhoods, to give them a voice. Many of the parents were frightened to speak out because of immigration issues. We did our best to convince them that they would not be deported because they report code violations. We also talked about reporting crimes, another area where they fear retaliation.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will chair the deacon’s meeting at church. A topic of discussion will be to simplify our memorial/funeral service policy from a multipage booklet to a one page paper. Terry will sing in the choir and stay after for rehearsal. After a summer without a music director, a replacement is in place to put the singers through their paces.

Next week looks to be much busier than last. More community meetings and a lunch date with an old friend. But, we will be in town the whole week, and it will continue to be in the 80s, weather-wise. Back to normal.

This is so cool

Today, at lunch in the cafeteria, I saw Aiden, whom I was pretty sure had drawn this picture:


There were two Aidens last year so I wanted to check and see if I had the right one.  I showed him the picture, on my phone, and he immediately said,

“I drew that for you.”

“I know you did, Aiden, and I liked it so much that I used it for my Facebook profile.”

I then showed him my Facebook page and how I had used his drawing of me, red hair, bag of tricks, and a book.

“That is so cool,” was his response. He beamed.

Good news to make one’s heart glad

In chatting with the cafeteria manager at Columbia today, a girl’s name was brought up. Eloise (not her real name) is now in fifth grade and finds me when I’m on campus so she can get a sticker or a coloring page. When I first met Eloise, she was in second grade. The years pass quickly was how we started on this conversation.

I relayed the story of how I met Eloise, even though she was beyond the first grade classrooms where I was starting to tell stories. I had coloring pages that I handed out to all grades, and Eloise took one when I was handing them out on the playground. She somehow got two and tried to give one back to me.

“No, you keep it and give it to a friend,” I said.

“I don’t have any friends,” this little girl with all sorts of health issues replied.

My heart broke. I told her to keep it anyway and maybe she could make a new friend. I prayed all the way home that this child would make a friend.

The next week, Eloise again found me on the playground and this time she wasn’t alone but had a little girl with her.

“This is my friend, May,” she said. I gave them both coloring pages.

In telling this story to the cafeteria manager, she broke out laughing.

“That prayer sure worked. Eloise has more friends than anyone now. We have to try to keep her in her seat at lunch because she and her friends are up chatting with each other all through lunch period. They run out of time to eat.”

Oh, Lord, thank you.

More “class” pictures

When we had our first school chaplain’s meeting last week, we had “school” pictures taken. There are 26 chaplains now, but not everyone could make it to this first meeting. This is the set of pictures that was taken last week and posted to Facebook:

The oldest chaplain, 82 years old, has retired. Last year, she lost her mother and her husband and felt that she needed to step away. I’m going to miss MaryLou because she always inspired me to be better, to do better.

In another connection, the fellow in the second row, second from the left, worked with me 42 years ago at an agriculture publishing company. Harry stayed with farm journalism while I went on to a couple of other careers. This will be his first year as school chaplain. It will be my fourth year.

Doing the best I can for now

This has been a week of staying close to home. I’m not much in the mood to be out in public, rather making comfort food at home–bean soup, carnitas, green chile enchiladas, cinnamon rolls–and enjoying my house and yard.

I drove across town on Monday for the first day of school. The principal had said it would be nice to have another adult on campus. The kids were glad to see me. I handed out star erasers, pencils, stickers, and lots of hugs. Two downtown district administrators were on campus for the first couple of hours. They, like me, adding more adult supervision to the early-morning chaos of first day. After watching me greet and talk with many of the kids and parents, one of these administrators asked how long I had been at Columbia.

“I’m starting my fourth year.”

“I can see you’ve built a lot of relationships. Do you go to other schools?”

“No, just Columbia. Each chaplain is assigned to one school.”

“You should be at more schools. It would help the kids.”

“This is a volunteer position. I’m making an impact here. It’s the best I can do for now.”

Lunch with the bigger kids

Today I got to school in time to see the first/second graders going into the cafeteria. The plan had been to arrive after they were already inside the cafeteria, but there has been some changes made in the way the kids gain entrance to the cafeteria so everything was behind schedule.

This probably came about after a week’s visit from downtown administration to see how things were working on the campus. Three teachers on special assignment were kept busy last week writing notes on their clipboards as they followed the students from playground to cafeteria. One of the teachers complained to me about how badly the kids were behaving and yet I thought they were doing better than usual. She wrote down my comments, too!

Today, only five students were allowed to enter at one time, rather than the line snaking from outside to inside. It does keep the disruptions down, but it eats up huge amounts of time when the kids aren’t in a continuous line, moving forward.

I could tell that the cafeteria manager was nervous about getting the cafeteria cleaned for the next group of students, the third/fourth grade. This was the group with whom I planned to eat lunch. Of course, again, all the kids wanted to sit with me, at the table I had selected. This created a bit of a bottleneck because one of the administrators made the kids move to their respective places. I felt so bad because I was happy to see these students (they were my first set of first graders to whom I read books), and they wanted so badly to see me and tell me things about what is going on in their lives. Many of them will be moving at the end of the school year and will go to different schools next year.

I handed out 10 boxes of crayons, 20 pencils, numerous erasers, stickers, and 75 coloring pages to this group. I had nothing left to give the fifth/sixth graders when they arrived at the cafeteria for lunch. Fortunately, the oldest group wasn’t made to come in five at a time so they actually had plenty of time to eat lunch.

I sat with the class I had helped with a writing project and for whom I had arranged the guest speakers. They were happy to see me, and one of the girls who always goes out of her way to say hello to me, sat across from me and chatted about how much the class had improved since the first of the year. I dug around and found a special sticker for her in my “bag of tricks.” This will be the last time I see them as next year they will all go on to middle school.

As I went back through the office to check out, there stood one of the third graders with her mother. I had not seen her at lunch (she too always makes the point to come say hello to me) and I realized her mother was turning in a doctor’s note for her absence. I gave the little girl a big hug and dug around my bag and found one more sticker to give her.

The girl’s mother was in conversation with the school secretary about seeing the teacher and completing a contract. The little girl is too ill to finish the school year and will need to do the remainder of her work at home. She has strep throat and impetigo. Let me remind you, I gave this little girl a big hug when I first saw her. Pray for me.