“What’s the plan in the meantime?”

Lee School District looks to ‘summer school’

Published in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze Jan. 22, 2015 issue

The School District of Lee County has eliminated private tutoring after they opted not to renew a yearly contract. A fifth quarter option of additional instruction will be implemented this summer.

The concept of the extended learning proposal, the fifth quarter, was brought forth to the school board at the beginning of December during a briefing meeting.

The fifth quarter will be held for 25 days with 75 hours of instruction, which breaks down to four hours a day with two hours of reading instruction and an hour of math. It will also include breakfast and lunch.

According to information presented at the meeting, the students eligible for fifth quarter are those who score below proficiency at a level one or level two, based on mid-year STAR and Early STAR assessments. Students who score at a borderline three level may have the opportunity to participate in the fifth quarter through a recommendation by a teacher or administrator.

The program will be located at the nine lowest 300 list in Title I schools, which includes Bonita Springs Elementary, Colonial Elementary, Edgewood Elementary, Franklin Park Elementary, James Stephens, Lehigh Elementary, Manatee Elementary, Orange River Elementary, Ray V. Pottorf Elementary, Tortuga Preserve Elementary and West Zone 3rd Grade Reading Camp site at Patriot Elementary.

Board Member Cathleen Morgan said she has seen the numbers that the district put together about the after school tutoring. She said the fact that student gains did not meet expectations; she believes the fifth semester is the right decision because the district should get better gains with that tactic.

“The numbers didn’t show we were getting the bang for the buck,” Board Member Steve Teuber said about the learning gains.

He said the tutoring did not get discontinued; it just went from external to internal.

“We have to do what is best for our students and our taxpayers,” Teuber said.

Board Member Mary Fischer said she thinks the fifth quarter is a good idea.

“According to information we have from research and past practice, we know that when kids have support over the summer it helps them to maintain and continue their gain,” she said.

In addition, fifth quarter is really good for a lot of parents because the kids might otherwise be on their own during the day over the summer. With daily reinforcement and support, Fischer said it will allow the students to continue to progress.

“Our goal is to get the kids up to where they need to be,” she said. “These are the kids that really need the additional academic support.”

That additional support, Fischer said provides more success in that type of environment that improves their motivation and confidence level.

There is one concern however with the fifth quarter.

Fischer said her concern is for the children that are in the private tutoring program and are making progress.

“What’s the plan in the meantime between January and the beginning of June,” she asked. “What happens to those kids that are making progress and getting support?”

Many of the students received support after school, in their own environment and on the weekends, Fischer said, during their private tutoring. She said the students developed relationships with their tutors during that time.

“My concern is we must have some kind of plan for those children to maintain their progress between now and June. I would like to see us continue that tutoring until the end of the school year, so we don’t interrupt that positive progress,” Fischer said.

Board Member Pamela LaRiviere said she was torn with all kinds of feelings on the tutoring issue.

“I understand the power behind the fifth quarter as well,” she said during the meeting. “Maybe there will be something we can come up with in the meantime. I don’t know what that will be and how that will come. Maybe we can create something and think outside of the box and maybe someone will donate some money that will help pay for that.”

Superintendent Nancy Graham told the board members during the Jan. 13 meeting that the only reasoning for the timing of the cancelation of private tutoring is because of the January-to- January contract.

“We weren’t able to extend for another six months without going into another year,” she said. “We continue to have extensive instruction during the day. Superstars, which is a program we do, is still in place. The children that were using outside matters are able to get into that program without any issues.”

Laughter

Today was really needed, past due if you will.

Jason has been working nonstop and I seem to always have something to write or edit. Our schedules have been busy with only a little bit of time to spend together. That time is usually at the end of the day when we are both exhausted.

So, today was Jason’s first day off since we drove to Maryland for my nephews birthday party. After doing an interview early this afternoon for work, Jason asked if I wanted to go out to lunch. It’s been a long time since we treated ourselves. A long time since it was just the two of us out and about enjoying each others company.

As soon as we sat down at our old favorite place, one we frequented often in Fort Myers for a drink, wings or a burger, the laughter instantly began. Our waitress was laughing with us. That’s the thing about Jason you never know what he’s going to say.  I won’t lie, sometimes my jaw drops before the laughter begins.

I love how Jason makes me laugh. How he keeps a smile on my face. The mood is always light, always stress free, which is something I need from time to time.

This is the first time we have visited this restaurant of ours in Kingsport. After our experience, I’m sure we will return.

Today reminded me why I have grown to love having nothing planned ahead of time. Yes, I have grown to love this quality about him. I’m a planner, so it was hard to get used to.

Yesterday while I was at the gym he called and asked if I wanted to go hiking. This of course was not in the plans, and, my first reaction was no thank you. He chose to make plans to go hiking the day I worked out my legs and did the elliptical, ran and rode the bike.

My decision of course changed.

The hike was quite honestly difficult once we started because of the intensity of my workout. Because of this it was the first hike I got cranky. My frustration got the best of me because the soreness was already starting. But it got us out of the house and out in the woods. Out in the cool, often times really cold temperatures with Lucy by our side.
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I’m glad we went. I’m glad we got to see one of our favorite waterfalls once again. Laurel Falls.
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Throughout our lunch today we were both laughing. Old memories were brought up and new memories were made. It’s moments like these I treasure the most. It’s the simplest of gestures.  The smile,  the touch, the kindness that speaks volumes to me. It’s Jason knowing when we need to go out to lunch and have some time together.

The best part is the laughter continued when we got home. I love having Jason home for this reason. Our home comes alive, it comes alive with laughter and good times.

I cherish what we have together. I don’t know what I would do without him. He truly is my life, such an important part of my life. The best thing that ever happened to me.

I’m so glad we got to spend quality time together. Days like today rejuvenate me for what the week has in store for me.

I truly found the best man for me. He’s a keeper for sure.

Spontaneity

One of the many things that attracts me to Jason is his spontaneity.

The cherry blossom trees are starting to bloom around our house.

The cherry trees are starting to bloom around our house.

Monday afternoon while Jason was at work, I sent him a text telling him he had to get me out of the house on Tuesday, his day off. That’s one of the many beauties about being a freelance writer, I can take time off whenever I choose, as long as I hit my deadlines on time. With this said, it’s going to be hard to ever go back to a job where I have to clock in and out.

So, yesterday after waking up and doing a phone interview, setting up an in person interview for Thursday, the day was ours.

Yesterday was beyond perfect. We woke laughing, which carried on throughout the day. There was a lot of friendly banter going on back and forth as the morning continued. It was contagious, the laughter just kept going, everything was funny, everything made us both smile. I absolutely love days like that, which are quite often in our house.

Jason started searching the internet for things to do. He found a waterfall to visit along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we got dressed, hopped in the car and were on our way. It wasn’t until we reached North Carolina that Jason revealed all of our plans for the day. After stopping at the waterfall, we were going to take the Blue Ridge Parkway into Asheville, a city that I have been wanting to see in North Carolina.

IMG_1389As we were driving, my mind continued to wander. I love this journey we started now almost five years ago. Yesterday marked one month until we arrived in Tennessee. It’s really hard to fathom that as of May 1 it has been a year since we moved to Tennessee from Southwest Florida. I remember that last month, it was insane. Jason was working nonstop, I was working nonstop, all while fitting in as much time with friends and family before we left. I remember being in awe . . . Jason’s determination to put our plan into motion completely blew me away. I remember missing him like crazy because of his insane hours, his go to work super early, come home really late, kind of hours. But now looking back on all of that, I’m so glad he did what he did to make this dream a reality, that dream of experiencing another state.

Yes, this last year has been hard as we tried to establish ourselves in a new location. Controlling our finances has often times been stressful, but Jason has managed to keep me calm, constantly reminding me of all the positive. I have learned a great deal about myself, about Jason and about us as a couple as this past year has gone by. I tell Jason often thank you for showing me another world, thank you for taking me to so many beautiful places, so many incredible sites I will cherish for a lifetime.

Is it possible to fall in love with someone a little more every day? Is it possible to love your life this much?

So, as we drove through Tennessee into the mountains of North Carolina I was beyond happy as these memories flooded my mind. One of the things I enjoy about our trips is we allow each other to get lost in our thoughts. Often times we hold conversations, but other times we both enjoy each others company in silence with the occasional “hey look at that.”

We eventually made it to the Blue Ridge Parkway and it was absolutely breathtaking. Jason mentioned that it was hard-driving the road, while enjoying all the scenery. The mountain ridges were plenty and the sky was a beautiful blue. Unfortunately our travels on this road came to abrupt stop, only a few miles before we reached the waterfall. We learned that a wind storm came through the area a few ways before closing part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as a sinkhole that is still in the process of being fixed from a few months before. This of course ended our adventure on the parkway.

We were both bummed, but our journey continued, Jason took me to Asheville. This is where the spontaneity comes in, we drove to Asheville, took a ride downtown, had lunch, well almost dinner, and then drove back home to Kingsport.

It was so out of the blue, so unexpected, and I loved every minute of it!

Our trip to Asheville turned into planning for another day trip, so we could experience more of the sites and take in the area a little more.

Throughout the drive to North Carolina and back we saw nature at work. There were so many beautiful trees showing signs of spring along the journey. The farther we drove into North Carolina the deeper the pink flowers became on the trees. I could only sit there in awe as a smile spread across my face as I took in its beauty.

I’ve experienced every season now and I have to admit, I don’t know if I could live in a state again that didn’t show the seasons. Although I grew up in Illinois, I don’t remember the seasons as vividly as I do now since I was a young girl. I loved growing up in Florida. I loved having the beaches only minutes away and experiencing the nice warm weather almost year round. Now as an adult I have come to appreciate the changing of the seasons. I am much more in-tuned to nature and love experiencing how it changes from the summer, to fall, to winter and then to the spring. This is how I experienced my first seasons.

Here are a few more pictures of the beauty right outside our front door.

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A million little things

It’s crazy to think the man who now has my heart, stole a piece of it about 15 years ago.

The wonderful thing about this man is the many little things he does throughout the day. Those little things, which are done from near and from afar, mean more than I can ever put into words.

Yesterday the simple phone call before I  started my day was just what I needed … the little things. That meant a lot to me because he made some time while working to make that call.

I think the best foundation for a relationship builds upon a friendship, a strong friendship that blossoms into much more.

I remember the first time we met up after more than a decade of going our separate ways. We almost instantly eased into a conversation that became familiar, a comfortable banter that I didn’t realize I missed. A late lunch turned into endless hours of communication that went into the wee hours of the morning.

wpid-09f5590574aa2c440b0f9e707bec99e6.jpgA best friend I made many years ago was sitting before me once again. From that day forward it was rare that we didn’t find time to spend together.

Now almost four years later I couldn’t imagine my life without this incredible man who constantly looks out for me and always wants the best for me.

Jason continues to bless me with those tiny little moments that make me fall in love with him a little more every time.

It’s an incredible feeling to be loved. It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone know you so well that they pick up on certain gestures, facial expressions and your overall body language. Jason has spent so much time getting to know me that sometimes the conversations are not needed because he already understands my feelings.

I love the tiny moments for the simple fact that they move more mountains than the grand gestures that may not have had that much thought behind them.

I am so fortunate to have found this man once again. I am looking forward to what our future holds, especially as we plant our roots in a new location, Kingsport, TN.