Fighting for Public School Students

I am the parent of two children in public schools.

I am an educator.

I am a graduate of public schools.

It is because of the first three lines of this post that I add on that I am also a public school advocate.

 Public School Parent Advocacy

For too many years I have watched as money hungry individuals with NO educational background rip the public education system to shreds. Let’s be honest, they don’t care about your children, my children, or anyone else. Their reform movement is backed by companies and individuals that are seeking to tap into the educational market for PROFIT. In the process of doing this they are pointing fingers at teachers.

The losers in this game are all of the children in not only New York State, but the entire country. The politicians want you to believe that if you don’t stand up for educational reform you don’t care about children. Who would want to disagree with that statement and be called out? Many don’t and have sat back and watched everything crumble before our eyes.

I have been vocal on my blog and within advocacy groups in New York State. In doing this, I may never teach again. I have learned to accept that because my children and their right to a proper public education are worth more to me. My kids and every other child deserve the kind of amazing public school education that I had as a child.

Sure, we had standardized testing when I was in school. The difference then and now is that it was not the focus. It was not what everyone eats, sleeps, and breathes day in and day out. I was more than a score and a data point to my district and state. My teachers were able to think outside of the box and be authentic. They were able to use their years of experience to give us the information that we needed to be successful in the world. They taught us in a variety of ways how to problem solve, be creative, and so much more. Now teachers often have scripted lesson plans written by individuals with no teaching experience from modules that are not developmentally appropriate. These modules have sucked the life out of learning, especially in English Language Arts.

As a students I was able to focus on my love for science, take amazing art classes, and complete college courses while in high school. Now budget cuts from the state and unfunded mandates are killing schools. Classrooms are filled with students in tears, teachers that are powerless, and dreams being dashed.

We must stop this insanity now. We owe it to our children to support their teachers and get the focus back on teaching and learning in the classrooms. In recent days teachers are stepping up and risking their jobs to stand up for their students. A teacher in Long Island has refused to administer the NYS exams to her students. Then last night an amazing local teacher made this statement to her board of education. The video is ten minutes long, but I beg you to sit and watch it. It will move you and haunt you. Once you see what the New York State Department of Education is doing to our children you will be angry.

Now I ask you to join me in REFUSING the NYS exams in grades 3-8. My child is more than a score and so if yours.

It's Me

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Five Apps to Help You Focus

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

This year, I am working on adding focus in my life. To do this, I am using any tools that may help me in my day to day. That means getting rid of clutter on my smartphone and homing in on apps that assist me in getting work done so I have more time with my family.

Social Media Focus Tools

My smartphone allows me to be connected no matter where I am. If I am waiting outside of school for the boys, I am able to check in on social media. When waiting at the doctor’s office, I can write a blog post. While sitting at the library letting the kids select books, I can create images for my business and share them in multiple ways. Here are five apps that I am using almost daily to bring more focus into my life in 2015.

Hootsuite – Social Media Management

This app is something that I must explore more. For too long, I have simply used it for keeping tabs on Twitter. As I try to simply life and keep more focus, I know that there is a lot more that Hootsuite can do for me. Technically, I could be using it for Facebook and LinkedIn. The free version of Hootsuite allows you to connect up to three social network accounts. It can even track analytics to assist you in scheduling at the best time of day. While I may not be utilizing all that the app has to offer, it still helps me. I am able to check Tweets that come to me, Direct Messages, and focus on specific hashtags like #VZWBuzz, and lists that I have created with Twitter friends.

Hootsuite App for Android

JustUnfollow

Recently, ColoradoMom wrote Take Back Your Twitter Feed. Her post got me thinking about my cluttered Twitter feed. Sure I had my lists that I used most of the time, but what was going on with everyone that I followed? Over the last few weeks, I have been working to focus on my Twitter life. I miss the good old days and I pledged that I was going to get it under control. Emily mentioned using the website JustUnfollow.com, but I found the app version of this fantastic tool. While waiting for my oldest son to get out of middle school, I can sit inside my car and check in. I am able to monitor my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I can see who has unfollowed me, what accounts are inactive that I follow, and who has recently followed me. This is still a work in progress, but so far it has been helping me to get more active on Twitter and to reconnect with people.

Just Unfollow App for Android

Google Drive

For some reason, I never really paid much attention to Google Drive. Since our son started middle school, it became an easy way for TechyDad and I to share documents. When I started my Jamberry business, I saw another resource at my finger tips. I could save images to Google Drive and be able to download them to my phone at any time to send to a customer. Of course, Google Drive also allows me to save screen captures from my phone to quickly transfer to my computer for editing and use within blog posts like this. I love that I can share folders or keep them to myself. I am also able to further organize documents, photos, and more within specific folders.

Google Drive app

PicsArt Photo Studio

I have written about PicsArt before, but so much has been added to this app over time that it simply is a powerhouse for productivity. PicsArt allows me to make collages, watermark photos, edit pictures, and so much more. With additional fonts, backgrounds, and clipart, it is becoming a favorite to use for Instagram, blog posts (see above), and advertising.

PicsArt App for Android

These are a few additional items that I have recently made using PicsArt:

PicsArt Creations

WordPress

Thanks to the WordPress app, I can technically blog here, there, and anywhere. I just click on the icon and begin typing away on my smartphone if an idea pops in my head. This is huge because you just never know when and where something will come up and if there is time to stop and get it down, it is better than simply taking notes. While I prefer to blog using Windows Live Writer because of how I can arrange items, the WordPress app means that I can write, add in photos I create on PicsArt or another app on my phone and save the draft. Then, when I get home to my laptop, I am able to pull up the saved post and make any small adjustments needed to images and no-follow links if it is a sponsored post.

WordPress app for Android

What are some of your favorite apps that help you to focus on important tasks with your smartphone? I would love to know, so please share in the comments below.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Winter Weather Sweater Nails

It’s no secret that I love fiber arts. I have been knitting since I was in elementary school. Crocheting is new in the scheme of things, but I have not looked back since I started two years ago. There is just something special about putting a handmade hat on your head, scarf around your neck, or blanket across your cold legs.

The last week or so, Mother Nature has reminded us that winter is here to stay in New York. It has been COLD. Of course, the temperature is the perfect time to pick up yarn to knit or crochet. It also inspired my latest manicure with Jamberry wraps.

Jamberry Stitched Away wraps

Yes, my hands have beautiful knit sweaters on them and I am in love. Seeing the purple and yarn look makes me smile.

Stitched Away manicure for the winter

Now, I just need to make them warm enough so they feel like sweaters are on them. So far technology has not made them quite that sophisticated…YET.

Valentine’s Day is just a month away and I am already planning how my nails will be ready to celebrate. I do believe that Love Spell will be my choice, but who knows what I will select when the time comes.Jamberry for Valentines Day

How will you be keeping warm the rest of the winter? I would love to know if you have plans for Valentine’s Day or will be dressing up for nails for the fun. Message me if you are interested in trying a sample, want to host a party (you earn FREE wraps), or place an order.

It's Me

Disclosure: I am a Jamberry Independent Consultant and paid for my own starter kit to sell these products. If people purchase items from me, I will earn money for my business.

 

January Jamberry Hostess Deal

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Focus on Giving Thanks

Focus is huge for me this year.  I want to focus on many specific things for my family, my advocacy work, my blog, my business, and more. However, before I am able to do any of this, I want to continue to focus on me. When I feel better about myself and my actions, everything else goes more smoothly. As you get older, you realize that if you continue to push yourself to the back of the priority list, everything else will suffer along the way. I am still learning to make me, myself, and I a part of the list (no less the top of the list), so I admit I am not expert. There is definitely a learning curve with bumps along the way.

Pay it forward with a thank you

Over the last year, I have tried to help myself to achieve less stress and not overreact about everything that crops up in life. This is HARD for someone that likes to be in control and has a Type A personality. With help from friends reminding me to breathe, I have learned to step back, wait a few minutes, collect my thoughts, and then respond. This has been huge when it works. In addition to this, I have seen that when I make others smile and happy it makes me feel better.

Something I learned in 2014 that I hope to carry over this year is the need to give thanks. It is not simply acceptable just to say a quick thanks, or acknowledge someone on Thanksgiving. We must work on letting others know when they do something amazing, are extra nice to you, or help you to stop a crisis from happening. Too many times, we are quick to use the phone to call to complain to an individual when we are upset. This day and age, email communications make it almost instantaneous even if nobody is around to answer the phone. Of course, this often means emotions are running high and word choices may not be the best.

I admit it, I am guilty of this just like most people. Playing defense is hard, especially when you are wearing your parenting hat. The mama bear in me immediately comes out and I can feel my blood pressure rising. It feels like a personal attack and it is too easy to fire off something in which the tone may not be interpreted properly.

My suggestion, hold back for a while and think about making someone else feel better in that moment. Use that pent up energy and emotion to let another individual know why they matter and how they have helped you, your business, your family, or something else.

Some ideas on when you could give another person with a surprise thank you:

–  If your child comes home from school happy, email their teacher to let them know how excited they were to learn about X, Y, and Z. Let go of differences you have about curriculum, testing, and anything else. Think of the teacher working with kids all day. Give them a nod so they know you are aware of what is happening and how happy your child is.

– Contact your local municipality to let them know if someone went out of their way and helped you. Get names and pay it forward.

– Give the crossing guard that is there every day in the extreme cold getting the kids safely around traffic a note and small gift card for some hot chocolate or coffee.

– When you see someone having a rough day, reach out to them. Let them know you are there. Follow up with an email or text the next day to see how they are doing and let them know you are thinking of them.

– Bring in a special treat to someone that has been especially helpful recently. Let them know it did not go unnoticed and that you are glad that they were there for you that time.

– As a parent of a child with an IEP, it is easy to be critical of the system. When things click and go well for your child, send encouraging notes to teachers, staff, CSE members, the superintendent, and School Board members. They need to know about the positive items taking place. This has been a huge focus of mine since September. The transition for my son to middle school went very well thanks to all of those involved.

Now it’s your turn, how will you pay it forward with a thank you? Please keep me posted because it also makes me smile to know that others are participating in similar ways.

It's Me

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Focusing Beyond the Squirrels of Life

I have not posted on my blog all year!

*GASP*

Well, it’s time to change that.

Happy New Year from The Angel Forever

The new year has started with a bang. Spending time with the boys before they went back to school. Getting back into the swing of things with school. Plus there were meetings, writing, working on my Jamberry business, and more.

This year, I have promised myself that I am going to get refocused on my blog. Last year, I spent a lot of time on other writing projects that kept me away from here. I know that changed the tone here. I want to get it back to where it was and more! Thanks to a blogging challenge with TypeAParent,  I am ready, willing, and able to get to work and make it happen.

Goal for TypeAChallenge

“Squirrels” take note,  you are toast. This year, I am going to kick you to that curb and wear blinders to maintain focus on my family, blog, advocacy, and business.

What are your immediate goals for 2015?

It's Me

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