“TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE DISTANCE LEARNING”

T’was the night before Distance Learning, students asleep, their lunches set out.

Then there were teachers who were ready although with some doubt.

Their outfits were hung by the closet with care.

In hopes that the Zoom App was ready when they were there;

The students were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Google Classroom danced in their heads;

And teachers in ‘PJs, and I in my shorts,

Just settled down after finishing reports,

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,

Everyone sprang from the bed to see what’s the matter.

Away to the window we flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon shown a shadow on the still of the yards

We yawned and we shuttered over ethernet cards .

When what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a memory of a normal school day so distant and clear.

We cried and we sobbed as we packed up our laptop bags

We were exhausted and beat, time to wave the white flags.

We spoke not a word, but went straight to sleep,

We laid down with questions, but spoke not a peep.

Yes, we were sad that distance learning was coming so fast,

But we knew it was time to move on from the past.

While we wanted to take time and move on real slow,

We realized our students were ready to go.

So now as we sleep, we wish them the best.

And all we can hope is all these students and parents can get some real rest.

Dear Students, and my own two boys…
I’M READY IF YOU ARE!!!
-Mr. Fragola/Dad

Educators… MOUNT UP!!!

As the reality of homeschooling, home offices and quarantines sets in it’s easy to forget what we’ve left behind. On Friday, I walked the silent halls of my Elementary School. I was alone, everyone had left for the day… maybe for the year.

There were no colorful backpacks hanging on their hooks, or any voices of students working together on a rigorous task. Students’ chairs were turned upside down on their desks and the SMART boards were dark.

However, school was in session. Teachers were hard at work. They’re preparing for a completely new way of teaching the children they love so much. They’ve had no time to prepare for this. These educators,the ones I work with everyday, took what public education has been for centuries and flipped it upside down and inside out. The school district I work in has taken on the task with determination.

Washington, DC didn’t tell us what to do. The state didn’t tell us what to do. It was the public educators. The ones in the trenches. We are going to “war” with traditional teaching and also with the “virus” that has become a world wide pandemic. And… there is no one… not one staff that I would rather go to war with than my staff at Huntington.

There’s little we can do, us educators on the front lines. The teachers, principals and central office staff members want nothing more than to be on the front lines. We want to visit our families and help serve grab and go meals. But, we know there are people on the front lines already… the nurses, doctors and medical professionals who need us to stay back and help from afar.

So that’s what we do. We do what we can from afar. I’ve been lucky enough to have the platform to do that. From this blog I’ve been able to reach out to so many of my school families. I decided last week to do a live read aloud each night to help keep some sort of connection to my students.

The funny thing is I was hoping to reach a few students, maybe even a few from my last school… but then something happened. Hundreds, thousands of people tuned in. Channel 8 News asked for an interview and Chronicles of a New Dad and Jax were lighting up the 6:00 news.

It become a family affair, a way for a community to gather (or at least I see it that way). I feel that it helps me do “my part.” While I joke about another 15 minutes of fame, the message is clear… educators are doing their part to keep their students engaged and in the end, as a society, that’s all we can ask.

Coronavirus scare: Teachers, administrators, and students turn to social media for traditions like storytime

Interview with a Five a Year Old

Found this “challenge” online. Ask you child these questions and document exactly what they say. So here’s my interview with Jackson (age 5.9).

Kindergarten 19-20 school year

1. What is something daddy always says to you? Be nice and kind and a good listener

2. What makes you happy? All the love you give me

3. What makes you sad? When someone isn’t nice to me.

4. What makes you laugh? When someone, like, walks across the road and they’re was a big bouncy house next to him and he used his jets to fly him into the bouncy house.

5. How old are you? Five but I’m going to be six on April 27.

6. How old is Mommy? 22, ummm. 37. She’s an old lady… I don’t know.

7. How old is Daddy? 40

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go inside our pool, I like to go underwater.

9. Who is your best friend? You and mommy. And my brother. His name is Oliver. But not one of my classmates named _____. Because he farts all the time.

10. What do you want to be when you grow up? Policeman

11. What are you really good at? Playing baseball, throwing and catching the ball.

12. What are you not very good at? I’m not good at going to bed.

13. What did you do today? I went to school. (What did you do at school?). Uhhhhh I don’t want to talk about it!!!

14. What is your favorite food? Bananas, apples, strawberries and blueberries… (when’s the last time you ate any of those?) I think Monday (NOPE)

15. What is your favorite song? It’s Raining Tacos

16. What do you want for your birthday this year? I want to get lots of presents.

17. What is your favorite animal? A giraffe. I love snuggling my giraffe

18. What is love? Hmmm…I don’t know. Hugs?

20. Where do you live? I live in a house, geez you know that.

19. What does daddy and mommy do for work? Dad is a principal, and mom goes to work and works with her office people.

Big Boy Bed

So our littlest one is ready to move into his own bed. It was a sad day. I had some tears thinking about both my boys growing up so fast. But, Ollie has been climbing out of his crib Bear Grylls’ style for a few weeks. It was time to make the move to his “big boy bed.” Everyone was excited for this day to come. Except now, instead of rolling over and falling asleep, all evening long he’s up, he’s down, he’s up, he’s down… at this point I’m willing to build him a new crib from scratch.

And then, to top it all off… the next day he’s a basket case because he’s so exhausted.

Welcome to the big boy bed dilemma. Being all by themselves with no sides, it’s like floating in outer space… with nothing to do again you. That can feel very scary, It’s been a tough go of it so far. Jax made the transition quickly, but we knew the that the typical toddler is going to get out of bed. The typical toddler is going to play in their room and that the typical toddler is going to have a mini toddler party in there.

We were prepared for those… what we weren’t prepared for was the wandering. The fact that he let himself out of the room and showed up in our bedroom… just staring at us… was shocking and possibly scared me for life. It’s unnerving to wake up with a tiny human crawling silently around your floor. He’s at least at the point where he now is going directly into the bathroom and peeing (which is hilarious to hear from a dark hallway… “I went pee pee in the potty… I want a tookie!!!” (Yes we bribed with food).

For now though, he loves his big boy bed. He still wants to read his books in his chair, but it’s been nice being able to lay down next to him as he falls asleep… even if it’s only for a few hours until he’s up creeping around the house!

A Decade to Remember

As 2019 its door and the start of a new decade opens, it’s a time to reflect and look forward to the amazing things on the horizon. As far decades go… the 2010s were as Larry David would say, “pretty, pretty, pretty good.” And considering this last one was my fourth… I know a good decade when I see one. But really… four decades… that is pretty crazy. I’m now 40 – as in 40 years old.

This decade saw so many ups and downs, So many gains and so many losses. However, all of the losses make the gains so much more exuberant. I became a dad and also an uncle (which is like being a dad, except you can just send the little tyke home when you are done playing with them!!!)

This decade was pretty nuts… I “went viral” as is the popular phrase these days for my Harry Potter Cupboard Under the Stairs that i build for the boys… so that in of itself is pretty indicative of what this decade was like!

If I had to summarize the last ten years in a sentence or two it would read something like this… I fell more deeply in love with my beautiful wife then I ever imagined possible. I lost my person, my grandfather, but I gained two of the most amazing little boys anyone could ever ask for. (ohh… and I won a Super Bowl)!

The decade started out with me taking the career path I always envisioned, as I took my first administrative job as an assistant principal, which I later parlayed itself into becoming a principal, including turning that first building around from a “Tier 3 Schools” in need of improvement to a “Tier 1 School of High Distinction, High Achievement and High Growth” in under three years. I’m proud of what was accomplished and I’m proud of the amazing students that worked so hard every day.

As I said earlier, there were losses. I lost my last two grandparents. Pop, left us the day after Thanksgiving in 2016. Jackson still talks about him, and unfortunately Oliver will only know him through the stories that are still told at the dinner table like folk tales. Steph lost her father, which was one of the hardest to explain to our little ones.

I was able to walk in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (four times). I caught wide receiver Jordy Nelson during a Lambeau Leap and visited Broadway a few times.

Stephanie and I moved into our dream house in an amazing community with some of the greatest neighbors anyone could ever ask for. Our children love all their new friends and we are so lucky to have amazing people around us everyday.

There is no better part of the last ten years than that of bringing into this world two of the most amazing little boys that have ever lived. Jackson and Oliver have made Stephanie’s and my life so much more than we could have ever asked for all those years ago. They have changed my life. They make every moment of my life better, more important and most of worth living.

To Stephanie,

It hasn’t always been perfect… but two decades have gone by with you and my hope is that the next many decades are spent by your side. Our boys are lucky to have you as their mother, their protector and their best friend.

2010 ➡️ 2020

The One-Armed Blogger

Tonight was one of those nights where you just are happy to be close to your family. It was a long day here, but it was comforting to be able to relax a little with my oldest son before bed.

Can you still blog with only one arm?

While reading with him however, he fell asleep mid book. My arm is now trapped under him. I feel like I’m going to have to gnaw it off to escape. In case this is the last blog I write please know it’s been fun while it lasted.

The Big-Boy-Bed Game

We made the switch to the big boy bed for big boy Ollie this weekend. It’s always a blessing and a curse when you make that switch. It was more a blessing for Jax as he actually slept better with out the crib front on. Oliver not so much.

Cue the curse

The first attempt was a success… I got him changed and he laid himself down with a. Big smile and he was out like a light. But, that was it. That was the highlight of our transition. From here on out it became a cruel and unusual punishment for mom and dad. That early nap wasn’t a sign of things to come, it was a fluke… there was a flaw in the plan. We didn’t take into account that Oliver is just so much smarter than us. He lured us into a false sense of security and we fell for it.

Bottom line, he won’t stay in the damn bed. We put him in he slid out, walked down the hall and let himself in our room. Over and over and OVER again.

He did laundry:

He wandered aimlessly around saying he won’t go to “sweep” and that he is a dinosaur:

He even pulled up a quiet seat in the bathroom in hopes no one would notice him:

It was a game of wills and in the end a toddler will almost always win. But this kid better recognize he’s dealing with two pros, two seasoned veterans of the toddler nonsense. When you come at these two parents you better come hard because we don’t mess around…

Case in point: toddler gets out of his bed every fifteen seconds… no problem… Front of the old crib gets zip tied back on and then wedge a a large rocking chair to keep it from moving for the night.

Just like in Coach Herm Edward’s locker room, in this house, “You play to win the game!”

And in the end… the way end (like 10:25pm- three hours after we first put him to bed) he fell asleep in his old crib, zip ties and all, and we won… Sort of.