‘Recipes to CROW About’

‘Recipes to CROW About’

CROW set to launch first ever cookbook

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 29, 2015 issue

A unique fundraising effort that includes the public’s participation of an original idea created by one of CROW’s volunteers is in full swing.

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Cecilia Tweedy, head of the CROW cookbook committee and longtime volunteer, said the idea of creating a cookbook surfaced in February after brainstorming fundraising ideas. She said on a whim she created a proposal and shared it with the executive director of CROW, who told her to run with the cookbook idea.

The adventures of figuring out how to put a cookbook together began as she visited stores seeking information and ideas about what paper to use for the cookbook, as well as which printers to use.

“They were explaining things in a different language,” she said laughing. “I don’t understand bond and thickness, all of which I had samples of.”

With not fully grasping all the information that was shared, Tweedy decided to contact The Sanibel School and ask if she could meet with someone from the art department. The phone call put her in touch with Tylor Stewart and 10 fifth grade students.

Tweedy said Stewart and her students were writing an organic cookbook at the time because they have an organic garden at the school.

“I met with the children at the school and was honestly overwhelmed,” she said.

After arriving at the school, Tweedy was greeted by 10 kids with folders who introduced themselves through a handshake. She said after she explained her problem the kids opened their folders and one at a time asked three questions, some of which included what is your marketing plan and what size cookbook do you want to use.

“Throughout the whole process these 10 children, who have submitted 10 recipes, have been totally supportive of this book and of CROW,” Tweedy said. “They helped me choose the bond and the size of the cookbook. Incredible. Incredible.”

Since the children became supportive of CROW she asked how many had visited the facility, which resulted in about half of them raising their hand. On Feb. 19, the 10 children were led on a tour of the entire facility, which resulted in them becoming bigger ambassadors and supporters of CROW.

“Their power, plus the proposal got me going . . . got me on track and I knew where I had to go,” Tweedy said.

From there, she formed a committee of folks who volunteer at CROW who met on a weekly basis. On April 24, the committee felt they had a great handle on how the cookbook will look and what it will contain.

The philosophy of the cookbook is “healthy recipes written with clarity.”

“From the design of the cover to the separation of categories, to the dedication is just spectacular. It’s going to be a legacy for CROW, honestly,” Tweedy said. “It’s going to be really wonderful. We chose great colors and I think everybody is going to be really thrilled with it.”

The cookbook, which bares the name “Recipes to CROW About featuring Taste of the Island Restaurants,” will contain 250 recipes from such groups as the 27 restaurants who participate in Taste of the Islands, CROW volunteers and the general public.

The community can submit recipes by emailing them to crowrecipes@gmail.com. Tweedy said those interested should include the name of the recipe, ingredients and their name in the email. The committee is taste testing the recipes before they are formatted for the cookbook.

Those who wish to contribute are asked to send the recipes as soon as possible, so they can be formatted for the cookbook.

“I got 27 recipes from Facebook,” Tweedy said Thursday morning. “Most of which are from island people and volunteers.”

The cookbook is split into five categories – appetizers, main dishes, vegetarian dishes, soup and salad and dessert. Throughout the cookbook five inserts will be included providing helpful hints for cooking.

Tweedy said she hopes to launch the cookbook at Taste of the Islands.

“The profits will go towards CROW,” she said, adding “Not only are we going to produce a cookbook for $20, but it’s an eBook as well. You can take your cookbook anywhere you want.”

“Recipes to CROW About,” will also be available on Amazon.

“It will be a healthy contribution for CROW in terms of profit because we all have done the work,” Tweedy said.

‘Opt-out’ aftermath

‘Opt-out’ aftermath: School District looks to move forward

Published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze Aug. 28, 2014

With the Lee County School Board’s decision Wednesday to “opt out” of statewide assessment testing, personnel of the school district were left scrambling to formulate a plan Thursday morning.

“The plan in stone is to stop the high stake testing,” Boardmember Don Armstrong, who voted in favor of the measure, said Thursday morning. “This is about education and about giving our students the best education. When these tests don’t accurately measure how the kids are doing, that is an issue.”

He said the school board’s vote to “opt out of high stake testing,” gave the superintendent direction of how to formulate a plan to stop the testing in the best way possible.

“Dr. Graham is meeting with staff now and is working on a plan,” he said Thursday morning. “We set that in motion. She (Graham) has to formulate the plan to execute it. It’s her job.”

Board Member Mary Fischer, who also voted in favor, said she felt the decision to “opt out” was a statement.

“I have asked the superintendent to bring us a recommendation with some clarity of exactly what opting out of standard mandated testing means and what those tests are,” she said. “We will be approving a new strategic plan that will give us a road map. We will still be teaching the standard. The superintendent will bring forward a plan for assessment.”

Steve Teuber, who is running against Armstrong, said his heart is very heavy due to the decision three of the five board members made Wednesday night.

In addition to Armstrong and Fischer, and Tom Scott voted for the motion.

“While all of this is happening we are spending money we didn’t have,” he said. “Now we are taking all these resources going into reaction mode. What is happening to education and instruction right now? What do you think the advantageous affect is happening in Lee County? Those are the types of things these three didn’t think about.”

Tueber also said by the board taking action Wednesday night, no alternative plan was provided.

“What option is the state going to have,” he asked. “What happens if the state doesn’t give an answer for six months? The potential consequences for this move are humungous. I would not have done it this way.”

Tueber said there is nothing to support from the action taken at the board meeting.

“We don’t have a plan to get behind to support,” he said. “We don’t know what to do next until the state responds.”

Tueber said although the teachers will continue to teach the children of Lee County, he questioned how long before that has an impact on them.

“You don’t know what you are going to test,” he said. “You are going to end up losing a portion of our kids’ education to figure it out. I don’t think it has to be that way. I think it is a tipping point. It is going to make a decision.”

Incoming board member Pam LaRivere said she would have liked to have seen the board vote on each of the pieces separately because there was a blanket statement made for opting out of all mandated test taking. She said if the tests are looked at individually, it would have provided an opportunity to look at the reasons believed they were not necessary pieces.

“We have to have a plan. We need to provide something to the state,” she said. “Now the district is going to have to work very quickly to come up with a plan.”

According to information released by the Lee County School District, there are numerous potential effects of the district opting out of statewide assessments.

Some of the effects on students include: graduation requirements cannot be completed due to Florida Statutes requiring students passing 10th grade FCAT, or ELA Assessment, and algebra 1 end of course exam; course completion credit may not be obtained for end of course exams, which is 30 percent of their grade; third grade retention could not be appropriately administered because it is based on statewide standardized assessment and Lee County could not comply with Opportunity Scholarships.

The decision also affects employees, schools, the school district and funding.

Instructional personnel and school administrator evaluations would be affected because their performances are based on student growth, which is assessed by statewide assessments. Performance pay would also be affected, as well as funding because schools would not receive recognition dollars for letter grade improvements.

As far as schools, incomplete school grades would be issued because 95 percent of students have to participate in statewide assessments, according to information provided by the school district. Charter schools would also feel the effects of opting out of testing. The school district is required to provide test administration services and cost payments for the required student assessments.

Lee County could not be an “academically high performing district” and state funds, discretionary grant funds and discretionary lottery funds would be withheld.

Tueber said the school board could have addressed the problem of excessive testing in a different manner due to there being three different issues: standardized testing, Common Core and excessive testing.

Teuber said 60 percent of “excessive testing” is done from the county level, which he believes is what everyone is complaining about.

As far as Common Core, he said there are four carts to a train: the first is standards, the second is how you teach the standards, the third is how you evaluate what is taught and the final is how the teachers are evaluated on the first three.

Teuber said the standards are the same standards that Florida has had for the past five years. He said there is a only a 7 percent material difference between FCAT and Common Core.

Last year, Teuber said, a bill was passed in the state of Florida that provided control over all curriculums at a district level. He said the school board should have formed committees that looked into every piece of curriculum to see what is acceptable. Once that step is taken, it narrows down the curriculum and produces your very own Lee County curriculum, he said.

“Now you have a test,” Teuber said. “Now you go to the state and say we are not doing it because we are not teaching your Common Core crap. That’s when you take the battle to them. That is a good eight months to a year down the road.”

Armstrong said although the board has had discussion after discussion about high stake testing, they were not getting anywhere.

“It is time to take action,” he said. “This doesn’t mean education stops in the county. All we are doing is stopping the state mandated testing. These kids still have to go to school. They still have a curriculum . . . still have to learn how to read, write, add, multiple, subtract, and divide. The only difference is you are not going to be tested to death.”

Fischer said the board had a look at the tests and a pairing down of the number of tests given, which collects a lot of data that is not necessarily used to measure the growth of students and their continued skill building.

The amount of money spent district wide for the state testing also raises some concerns for Armstrong. He said, conservatively, $11.2 million is spent annually on testing.

Armstrong said high stake testing has unnecessary stress and pressure and takes away from active teaching.

“Educating them does not mean giving them a test for two months straight,” he said.

Armstrong said it was time to take a stance against high stake testing and take their education system back from Tallahassee.

“Remember the Boston Tea Party?” he asked. “They threw all the tea into the river. We got the Caloosahatchee River down here. I think that is a good place for the Common Core and high stake testing. I would rather ship it back to Tallahassee and say thanks, but no thanks.”

Armstrong said there still needs to be some type of testing for assessment. He believes that can be accomplished through a beginning of the year, middle of the year and end of year exam. By having all three exams, Armstrong said it gages the students at the beginning of the year, how much they have obtained in the middle of the year and the progress they have made at the end of the year.

Fischer agrees that the school district needs assessment. She said she thinks the district needs to use tests that are norm, validated and reliable and provide them with good information.

“We will move forward and our kids will be involved in learning activities and hopefully our teachers will feel freer to challenge the curriculum,” she said.

Search training to keep schools safe

At times it’s a little scary to learn about the new ways individuals are hiding weapons. The Washington County Department of Education has partnered with the Sheriff’s Office for the past three years to give its administrators the tools needed to do proper searches while the students are on campus.

Workshop provides search training to help keep schools safe

Published Feb. 4, 2014 in the Herald & Tribune

The Washington County Department of Education is partnering with the Sheriff’s Office to provide its staff with the correct training on how to search students.

“We feel like that is one area that schools should cover — the  proper searching of students in the school setting,” Assistant Director of Schools for Attendance and Discipline James Murphy said.

Murphy said the Supreme Court has maintained that students do not shed their constitutional rights when on a school campus.

In order to have a safe environment, however, students can be searched under reasonable suspicion, Murphy said. That is a lower standard set by the courts than what is generally accepted on the streets, he added, which requires a search warrant or probable cause.

All administrators for Washington County schools are required to have search training.

“We keep a list of new administrators coming in and we make sure, periodically, that every administrator in the school system has had this training,” Murphy said.

A two-hour search workshop was held on Jan. 23 for 38 school employees at Asbury Optional High School in Johnson City.

“Some schools have not had a change since their administrators had the course. We didn’t require them to come,” he said. “But we did ask every school to send someone.”

Some schools sent guidance counselors and teachers, Murphy added.  School Resource Officers also participated in the training.

Every Washington County school has a resource officer assigned, with some officers assigned to two or three schools, Murphy said.

During the training, participants are given a list of the type of school searches that could be done, as well as a list of forbidden searches on school campuses. Examples were then provided through role play.

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said the search workshop shows staff how to do a pat down safely in the different quadrants of the body, as well as how to protect themselves. He said two people should always be present during a pat down.

Another part of the training focuses on types of weapons, as well as the styles of clothing used to hide them. “We try to cover every scenario that we have run into,” Graybeal said.

In one exercise, 37 weapons, both guns and knives, were hidden for participants to find. That exercise is important, Graybeal said, because some weapons can look as innocent as a pen.

Since some of the clothing also have pouches to hide guns, he said they showed how to look for weapons in that scenario.

Murphy said there are essentially two school searches that are done.

“A good legal school search would be divided into two major areas, which is the jacket search with pockets turned out and the other search, which is rarely ever done, would be a pat down,” he said.

The most common search, Murphy said is a jacket and pocket search.

“We don’t encourage pat downs. Pat downs are not necessary unless there is a real substantial fear that the student has a weapon,” he said.

An exercise involving a backpack was also held during the workshop to show how to proceed once it is laid down on a table.

The importance of noticing the out-of-the-ordinary is also stressed. If someone shows up wearing a coat during the summer months, Graybeal said, it should be investigated.

The workshop, he said, is about showing school staff what is out there and how to look for certain items.

“It’s a good course, it’s very informative of what to look for and how to look for it,” Graybeal said. “It was a good day for us, a good informative day.”

Murphy said the workshop also included instruction on verbal judo by Dr. Ginger Christian. The technique teaches true listening, hearing what a person is saying and diffusing the anger.

“Occasionally in the school system, we have parents who are upset, sometimes upset by someone else,” Murphy said.

“We need to learn how to listen to them and address their concerns without becoming emotionally involved.”

Graybeal said the workshops are held upon the schools’ request.

He said the WCSO appreciates the opportunity to work with the Washington County schools to help them stay safe.

‘One purpose, One mission, One passion’

Here is a feel good story that I wrote for the Herald & Tribune about teachers in the Washington County Department of Education receiving grants totalling $20,000. A special ceremony was held for them last week, which gave them all an opportunity to share how they will utilize the grant money in their classroom to further the education of their students.  

Innovative teachers receive Quest awards

Published Jan. 21, 2014 in the Herald & Tribune

Seven grants totalling $20,000 were given to teachers of the Washington County Department of Education last week during a special ceremony sponsored by the Quest Foundation.

Quest Foundation President James Harlan told the recipients that it was a privilege to be there on behalf of the foundation.

“We have just one purpose, one mission, one passion, that is to enhance education and learning in Washington County schools,” Harlan said. “We do that at the classroom level.”

The Quest Foundation has made grants to 21 classrooms in 10 schools over the last three years for more than $64,000. Last Wednesday, it added another $20,000 to the foundation’s grant total.

“The last three years have been a journey for Quest,” Harlan said. “Over $84,000 has been put back in our schools to start that lifetime of learning.”

He went on to say that it is rewarding to put that amount of money back in classrooms.

“That’s the kind of good news that makes this community, this city, a place where it is fun to live,” Harlan said. “We live in a very generous area. We care about other people and care about children.”

The foundation provides grant money for programs and materials that are otherwise unavailable to Washington County teachers. Harlan said the board looks for innovative ideas to enhance preschool to 12th-grade curriculum with a focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Harlan said for most educators at the ceremony, being a teacher was all they ever wanted to do.

“Education is the thing that fundamentally differentiates the United States from the rest of the world,” he said. “We have, in the United States, a lot of things against us in terms of being competitive in the world. One thing that levels the playing field is education. That starts right here in Washington County.”

Harlan recalled a fond memory of when he was in third grade and a teacher who sparked his interest and made learning fun.

“Learning to read is fundamental to what these teachers are communicating to their students and what becomes a lifetime of learning,” he said.

Grant recipients included: Robert St. John and David Yates from David Crockett High School who received $1,774 for their project “Where No One Has Gone Before.”

The grant money will help the teachers purchase an aerial photography system that will be integrated between the media and CAD department, as well as the biology department.

Cindy McAvoy, a 6th- grade math teacher at Lamar School, received $1,709 for her project “Parents as Learning Partners – Partnerships Today that Create Success Tomorrow.”

McAvoy said many parents have shared their concern about wanting to help their children with their math, but the parents do not know how. Thanks to the grant, she will now be able to offer a workshop that provides ideas and ways for parents to support their children.

Rachel Horn and Mike Taylor of Daniel Boone High School received $3,600 for their project “Improving Student Learning with 21st Century Data-Collection Technology.” The teachers teach AP physics and physical science.

Horn said the grant will allow them to buy lab equipment for students to craft data in real time during their experiments in physics.

Twana McKinney and the David Crockett High School science department received $4,727 for the project “Technology and Common Core.”

McKinney said they will also receive equipment that will provide real-time data for students to use as evidence for reference in writing skills.

Penny Elliot Lowe, a 5th-grade math teacher at Ridgeview Elementary, received $4,500 for her project “Addressing the Learning Gap in Mathematics using iPads.”

She said she did not have an iPad until last year and was amazed with what it could do. Lowe said she saw many opportunities for using the iPad in the classroom.

“(I can) use the iPads as another way to have a deep engagement with what we are doing in mathematics,” she said, adding that students can develop their own math presentations.

Kristie Payne, a third- grade teacher at Fall Branch Elementary, received $1,689 for her project “I want to be a Mathematician.”

She said the grant will fund iPads for her students, which will allow them the opportunity to develop key mathematical concepts through the use of technology. Payne said there are many apps that help students take concrete mathematical applications and apply them abstractly.

Jackie Mumpower, a 3rd- grade teacher at Ridgeview Elementary, received $2,000 for her project “Transforming 21st Century Education through Laptops.”

She said her students will use the laptops to create PowerPoint presentations. Harlan said the amount of grants they are not able to fully fund is the reason the foundation continues to raise money.

Storytelling town

I am now working in the storytelling capital of the world, Jonesborough, Tenn. One of my assignements at the end of October was to write about a new afterschool class that is taking place, “Story to Performance.”

Jules is teaching the youngsters what a story is . . .

It was really cute to see the kids turn their interviews into plays that included all kinds of props from the classroom. It’s a great class, one which the kids all said they enjoyed.

Students Learning through story

Published in the Herald & Tribune Nov. 12, 2013

Students from the afterschool “Story to Performance” class at Jonesborough Elementary School are putting together a radio show that feature stories and music they have created.

They will perform the play for the community at the McKinney center at Booker T. Washington School later this month.

Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts Outreach Program Director Jules Corriere began working with six students, ages 6 to 12, in the new “Story to Performance” pilot class in September.

The class was made possible through a two-year, $17,000 youth endowment grant program from the East Tennessee Foundation in Knoxville.

Last year the grant money went towards training staff. This year, the afterschool program was implemented.

“The project that we are doing is in association with EPIC Revolutions, an anti bullying program,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “It’s a character building program.”

Leaders decided to use story as a basis to help enhance self-confidence and self-esteem in the children.

“Being a storytelling town, we are tuned into the fact that the use of story can be a great vehicle to engage kids in community building and relationship building,” Browning said.

“Story to Performance” is held once a week for an hour at Jonesborough Elementary School.

The class involves special guests on occasion from the local Storytelling Guild, as well as many hands-on opportunities for the kids to learn the knack of storytelling.

“What’s amazing is the growth I have seen in all of these kids and the empowerment they are feeling and exhibiting,” Corriere said.

During one class session late last month, the students shared the stories they learned through interviews they conducted with individuals older than them. They dis so using such methods as poetry, skits and pictures they created on story boards.

Rhett Carver, 10 and his sister Ella, 8, made their homework assignment come alive through a performance that told a story of their father when he was younger.

In order to enhance the story, Rhett took charge as the director.
“I like to direct,” Rhett said.

What started out as a simple production, eventually included props found around the classroom and sounds of drums created by the students banging on objects to enhance the overall message of the story.

“We are teaching the kids what a story is – the important elements, how to tell a story and how to turn it into a performance piece,” Corriere said.

It seems to be working.

Jasmine Speer, 12, said her love of storytelling has expanded over the years and her interest in becoming an actress has intensified.

“I think it’s fun,” she said of storytelling. “It’s interesting and expands my knowledge of the world.”

Aisling Hagan, 12, has taken her love of writing and put it to use to create a family newsletter.

Now, Hagan also has a 30-40 second bit on the radio show “A Night with the Yarn Exchange,” providing her with writing and editing experience.

The students’ own production, “Junior Yarnspinners,” will be in the format of a radio show featuring real stories with real people, comedy skits and music written by students.

They will perform it on Thursday, NOv. 21, from 7-7:30 p.m. at the McKinney cente.r The public is invited to attend.

“The show will engage other community members  of different ages,” Corriere said. “It has provided the kids with all kinds of help and guidance.”

Browning said the town has established a mechanism that will allow them to continue the program even after the grant money is used.

“I am hoping to have a lot more students and engage a lot more students for the spring semester,” Corriere said. “I’ve had direct talks with some of the counselors and vice principal to see what students would be encouraged with this, would benefit from it.”