Thursday, February 20, 2014


I haven't written in almost a year but felt my experience yesterday required an update!  I was traveling from Phoenix to Minneapolis yesterday, February 19, on U.S. Airways.  I was in Arizona for both business and pleasure and was traveling with my three young children. When I booked our flight, I was not able to choose seats but instead was assigned them.  Unfortunately, all four of us were spread out in the plane--rows 8, 9, 12, & 16.   After receiving our seat assignments, I called the airline twice expressing my concern about our seats and they informed me that we would have to talk to the attendant when we checked in.

When we arrived at the airport, we checked our bag and I asked the attendant about our seats.  She said I would need to talk to someone at the gate.  Of course when we arrived at the gate, the flight was full and the attendant told me there was nothing she could do.  She suggested I talk to the flight crew to see if they could help.

At this point, I had a couple very nervous children and I was trying to formulate a plan in my head of how I was going to help them cope if we weren't able to sit together.  If anyone has traveled with children, you know that the ages of the children are required when booking.  My question is how can they expect a 4, 7, and 9 year old to sit in the middle of strangers for three hours?

When we boarded, the flight attendants were very helpful in trying to look for someone to switch seats with us.  The plane was starting to fill up and they were having no luck.  After moving from seat to seat trying to stay together, I delivered all three of the children to their own seat.  As I did, one started to cry and I literally didn't know what to do.  People were trying to board and of course there is no extra space to just "hang out" and wait.

A couple passengers sitting next to the younger two children were trying their hardest to comfort them.  At this point, I was just hoping to find two people to switch spots so that I could sit with the younger one and the two older kids could at least sit together.  Again, no luck!  At this point, I am starting to tear up thinking that we may be getting off the plane because I was not going to make my children to go through this.

Just as the plane was almost full, a gentlemen with a pink checkered dress shirt saw my son crying and asked someone what was going on.  He then offered the four seats of his group so that we could sit together.  I felt such relief and gathered my children and moved to our new seats.  I thanked the man several times before moving toward the back of the plane.

The plane ride was great and my children loved it.  After we landed, I had hoped to thank the man and his group again but we were in the very back of the plane and had to wait for everyone to exit.  After getting off we headed to the baggage claim.  When we arrived, my son saw the man and went up to thank him.  The man knelt down and told him "any time buddy".  He then rubbed the top of his head as they talked.  As he came back another man that had helped comfort the children came over and asked if I needed any help getting our luggage to the car.  Another women and her husband also offered to help and give us a ride if necessary.

I have traveled all over the world throughout my life and am truly thankful to all those that helped my family yesterday.  The lesson my children and I learned is that there are still some pretty great people out there who are willing to help strangers.

As education plays the political game of highs and lows, how well our kids do on standardized tests and implementing the common core seems a little less important.  We need to focus on creating compassionate, kind students who will become upstanding citizens of our communities.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

#EdCampMadWI Take Aways

I had the honor of attending EdCamp Madison yesterday in Sun Prairie, WI.  For those of you that haven't heard or attended an EdCamp, I strongly encourage you to do so!  I want to thank the organizers for all their hard work and dedication to this incredible learning experience.

Jess Henze @jhenze44
Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp
Emily Dittmar @MsDittmar
Kaye Henrickson @MiddleLevelEd

My takeaways:

Michael McCabe, @Teach4aLiving,  facilitated the most unique EdCamp session that I have ever attended.  "Blowing up the System: Carnegie" offered up great ideas, discussion, and definitely gave me ammo on how to "Shake Sh** Up"!

Emily Dittmar, @MsDittmar, ran the raffle like a pro! She is so full of positive energy and motivation that I wish I had 1/2 of.

Phill Klamm, @phillklamm, gave me the best laugh of the day!  I will never think of "church camp" the same ever again.

Melissa Emler, @MelissaEmler, brought an excellent group of colleagues to share in the EdCamp experience.  She is a rural K-12 principal who continues to push the limits to get the best for her staff and students.

Kaye Henrickson, @MiddleLevelEd, showed once again that she is Wonder Women who can juggle several projects at one time.

Chad Lehman, @imcguy, inspires me because even though he is outside of the K-12 classroom, he continues to stay connected and in-tune with what is happening.

Chad Kafka, @chadkafka, once again shared his LOVE for everything Chrome and created an unforgettable hashtag that of course revolved around his awesomeness!

Tammy Lind, @Taml17, shared her passion for Twitter with several Twitter newbies.  I also admire how she can always bring something positive out of every situation she is in.

Melissa J Pientok, @mpientok, is a collegue and also was my travel partner for the day.  It was great to discuss ways we can improve our district to better meet the needs of students and staff.

Tim Nielsen, @teach1tech, shared some very exciting news with me today and I am SO very happy for him.  I know that Tim is going to do great things to come and I am honored to call him a friend.

Stacci Barganz, @BarganzS, can take some pretty good pictures but seemed to always find me when I was eating!

Julie Jensen, @JulieJensen8, did an excellent job at her first EdCamp by welcoming attendees as they came.  She even had some cool stickers to give away!

Pernille Ripp, @pernilleripp, shared her passion and expertise in blogging.  Pernille is one of those teachers that you would kill to have teach your kids.  She also looks fantastic for having twins! #SoJealous

Jena Sherry, @Jena_Sherry, is a person that once you get her name straight, Gina? or Jenna?, will be your friend for life.  Jena is always sharing and making connections to better herself as an educator.

John Pederson, @ijohnpederson, once again, even though not physically present in the building, added his "wisdom" to the conversation.

Tom Whitford, @twhitford, proved once again he has a heart of gold.  He not only designed the original #WiAmgos t-shirt, he has now created a sequel and personally delivered it.

Stuart Ciske, PhD, @sjciske, is my inside connection at DPI.  I am glad we got to visit and that I got to personally than him for all his help.

Jay Posick, @posickj, sat by me at lunch and watched me "CRUSH" a taco, rice, and soda in 7 minutes and 3 seconds.  I know he was impressed!

Brian Scheibach, @bscheibach, opened my eyes to RtI options at the Middle and High School levels.  I also learned how lucky the CESA 5 schools are to have him as a resource.

Thank you to everyone for inspiring me and joining in the conversation.  I am looking for to #EdCampMKE on May 11, at South Milwaukee High School.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Midwest Google Summit

I had the privilege of attending the Midwest Google Summit in Wisconsin Dells on November 12 and 13.  A team of four represented our district at this event.  This was my second year at the Summit and again I came away with many new ideas, tips, and tricks.  I want to highlight just a few of those for you.

1. YouTube Change
You can now post videos with copyrighted music on YouTube.  The catch however is that in doing so, you give YouTube permission to post adds on your video.

2. Google Docs Comments
If you type @ and an email address in your comments, your comments on that google doc will be sent to the email address.

3.  Inserting an Image into a Google Form
Yes you can insert an image into a Form.  Check this resource for help!

4. Jam with Chrome
This site allows you to play live music with your friends online.

5. Command > Shift > T 
Ever have a kid click out of a tab (in Chrome) when you walk by?  Now you can get that tab back quickly by a simple Command > Shift > T.

6. Google Search Posters
This site offers FREE posters that you can print to help kids become better users of Google products.

7.  Taking the Background Out of an Image
On a Mac, Use the Preview Menu & the Instant Alpha button to take out the background of an image.
Step By Step Instructions Here

Here is the entire resource page from all the presentations.

If you haven't attended a Google Summit, I would highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

AWSA Annual Convention

I had the opportunity last week to attend the AWSA Annual Convention in Green Bay, WI.  I attended the conference and also presented at it.  I presented, Overcoming the Barriers to Technology Integration with Michael Lichucki.
There was some good information presented at the conference.  All the handouts from the sessions can be found at