Friday, March 25, 2016

Best kids' party ever

The munchkin beating on what’s left of her Peppa Pig piñata.
The best kid’s birthday party

               The munchkin beating on what's left of her Peppa Pig  piñata. 
Happens in the street. Yes, the street. In Mexico, that is. And it’s the party our munchkin has chosen for her birthday.
Tables are set up for the cake and food and gifts. Chairs line the sidewalk and curb. The piñata is strung up over the street. Everyone comes—kids, parents, grandparents.
Chicken or pasta salad is served on tostadas, agua de jamaica (made from hibiscus petals) is the favored drink.
The kids play, everyone eats, and then it’s time to sing as the children from youngest to oldest take turns trying to break the piñata. Usually it’s up to one of the teens in the crowd to administer the final blow so the kids can scramble for the candy that tumbles out.
Group photos are taken and candles lit, Feliz Cumpleanos sung to the birthday child, and cake served.
Several hours later, replete and happy, the kids go home with their parents, toting their goodie bags.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Time travel in our own town

Since moving to Victoria, we’ve been exploring our new city and recently discovered yet another treasure – Point Ellice House. This National Heritage Site, overlooking the waters of Victoria’s scenic Gorge Waterway, exudes the peace and charm of a former time.

Peter and Caroline O'Reilly moved into the Point Ellice House in time for the birth of their daughter Kathleen December 31. 1867.  

The house remained in the family's possession for 108 years.

What makes this “museum” truly unique is that in 1975, three generations later, O’Reilly’s grandson, John, and his wife, Inez, sold the house and all its contents to the Province of British Columbia. The family left behind everything – furniture, clothing, toys, tea services, a harp, writing desks, board games, kitchen utensils, and more  – giving us a rare opportunity to see one of North America’s largest collections of Victoriana in its original Victorian home.

On seeing the parlor, my granddaughter said, “This must be the playroom!” Chess set, piano, harp, toys, tea sets ... definitely the playroom.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Finding David

Since I’ve been in leadership positions, I’ve learned that there are four ways you can get lucky when it comes to staffing your school.

One is connections:

  • You hear from colleagues about good teachers.
  • You wait (timing is everything – you learned this working in personnel).
  • You phone your staffing consultant, tell him you need a teacher and ask if you can interview so and so.
  • Five minutes into the interview you know you want the person and you are antsy as hell waiting for your assistant principal to finish asking his questions so you can offer K the job.

Another is seeing in action:

  • You have watched the person when they have been supply teaching in your school.
  • You wait (timing is everything – you learned this working in personnel).
  • You call your staffing consultant as ask if you can please have M for the maternity leave position that must be filled now.

Yet another is interviewing:

  • You call your staffing consultant and ask for candidates.
  • You interview the individual and after a few minutes you send him packing when he tells you he doesn’t think he would want to teach at your school because he couldn’t further his career doing so with the kind of kids you have (yes, this is a poor part of the city, but we love our students and know how wonderful they are).
  • You call your staffing consultant again, give him a report on the interview, and ask for another applicant.
  • You interview and are more than pleased to offer G the job.

And then there is the “given” category:

  • You get a call from the superintendent’s office telling you that you can’t advertise the position because they have someone for you.
  • You stifle a massive groan and hold your head in your hands as an instant migraine develops and wonder what you could possibly have done to upset the superintendent (You worked in personnel—you  know how these “givens” work).
  • You get a call from the giving principal telling you about the individual.
  • You know better than to trust this particular giver so you make some calls of your own.

Within a few minutes of meeting the individual and a few days of working with him, you know that someone up there loves you because you now have David, who will prove to be an absolute gem as your new assistant principal.