Wizards Unite: Harry Potter- Go

Rubeus Jackson

Pete Scamander

So I’m not a Pokémon person, but a few years back there was that Pokémon GO game that was crazy big. Well the Harry Potter franchise just finally came out with their own Pokémon Go type game. This game is very similar in that you’re hunting around looking for traces of dark magic and doing it in real time.

I’ve never really gotten into the video game world and definitely never got into any type of the cell phone game hype. The thing is, like Ron Weasley at any of the Hogwarts feasts, I’m literally about to gorge myself on every bit of information I can get my hands on when it comes to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

The best part of that is that Mike Dan is dropped at excited to get out there and help save the Wizarding community as I am. Playing a game like this lets parents engage actively as opposed to passively where you sit and watch TV. Yes, I realize you’re still holding a phone and that the dreaded “screen time” counter is running, but you’re outside and moving. It’s exciting and allows families to interact with the Harry Potter world as well. What better way to continue to develop my son’s love for the Wizarding World then to chase creatures around our neighborhood.

So far Jax and I have subdued a troll who was loose on the town green and rescued Hagrid who was trapped in Aragog’s massive spiderweb. We also were lucky enough to stop and capture a bunch of Cornish Pixies who were trying to destroy our man cave and honestly, we did a much better job than Professor Lockhart could ever do!

I am enjoying spending more time with Jax outside, but I have to admit, I’m not a super parent. I’m not always completely happy to come home after a 13 hour day and play a game. Honestly, the majority of my parent life is spent living the tired parent zone. So with this game, I really appreciate how it has motivated me to get outside with Jax even if I’m still in my shirt and tie after a long day.

I hate to say it, but as someone who was trying to avoid long periods of TV time and electronics the first couple years of Jackson’s life… it has just become convenient while trying to get ready in the morning to throw on the TV or iPad especially with two kids now. Putting together four lunches, getting everyone changed and then figuring out schedules for the day and just getting out the door is a project. Same goes for trying to unwind after work and school. Lately however, everyone has a newfound enthusiasm for getting outside to take Buster and Max for a walk. Give it a bit and Oliver is going to be out there wrangling up Fantastic Beasts too. He’s a beast himself so I won’t be too long before he realizes what’s going on.

This “game” has been out for less than 24 hours and Jax is already begging to play every walking second. Last night before bed he asked me, “how many minutes before we can play Harry Potter- Go again?!??” This morning in the car… “Dad, can I have your phone? Lets park. I want to look for creatures to catch!!!” And honestly, I’d rather that then dad can I have your phone to watch Paw Patrol.

… luckily I handed my phone over, because Jax was able to subdue a fully grown Mountain Troll and let’s face it, even Hermione couldn’t do that!!!

Father’s Day Perspective from a Father

I don’t praise myself too often, I am a relatively humble guy, but there are three things I’ve done right in my life and I’ll brag about them whenever I can.

  1. Marrying Stephanie (easy one… I lucked out here. Talk about marrying up!!!)
  2. Being Jackson’s dad (again, easy one. First born son and he’s as close to perfect as any child could ever be)
  3. Being Oliver’s dad (they say the second child is the hardest, but in this case I’d argue that the second child just as near perfect as the first).

There is not a day that goes by that I am not blessed to have these three in my life. Things are not always easy and don’t always go as planned. Work is stressful and there are always bills to pay. But there is one constant guiding light that can brighten any day… being a dad.

I work with children everyday of my life and it’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding to know that you have helped a child succeed. I am lucky because I get to do for a living. I enjoy knowing that others can count on me to support their children just like I would my own children. I consider it honor that parents would trust me with their most prized “possession” (not a great word choice, but the best I could do to convey the importance of one’s child). However much I love being an elementary school educator, I can honestly say there is NO BETTER job in life than being a father to these two little dudes.

Jackson and Oliver, thanks for making me a dad… I love you both very much!

Peggy Ann McKay, Jr

Sick

By Shel Silverstein

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more–that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut–my eyes are blue–
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke–
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is–what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play.

Great poem, fun to read, makes all the kids in your class laugh during a read aloud. Let’s break this poem down Common Core style.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.2
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.5
Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

By first read this poem utilizes a few common literary devises. The first and most obvious being hyperbole. This first rhetorical devise is used by an author as a way to evoke strong feelings through over exaggeration. This whole poem is riddled with these exaggerated phrases. for example;

“My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.”

In this section of this poem, hyperbole is used to exaggerate how her tongue is so swollen.

The second literary device used by Shel Silverstein is a more basic one… the simile, in which one thing in the poem compares to something else. A perfect example of this is, “My tonsils are as big as rocks.” We’ve all had a sore throat, but not as bad as Peggy Ann McKay… who’s throat is so bad it feels like her tonsils are the size of boulders when she swallows.

The third literary device Mr. Silverstein used to support Peggy’s complaints in this poem was rhyme scheme. Rhyme scheme is a poet’s purposeful pattern of lines that rhyme with the following lines. The rhyme and meter, helps to make a poem musical.

“My neck is stiff, my spine is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.”

The analysis above looks at what makes this poem so enjoyable, easy to read and listen to and most of all humorous. Humorous, that is, unless you’re Oliver (or his parents for that matter). We use this poem more for a check list to diagnose our littlest guy than we do for a good laugh.

I’m not sure what happened over the last six months; I don’t know if he needs to be put in a bubble or what, but he is a giant walking germ. We’ve gone from a cough and fever to a cold, to a virus, to the dreaded toddler pneumonia.

Poor Ollie’s tired all day, but he can’t fall asleep,

His head is hot, and he’s curled up in a big heap.

I’m pretty sure there’s something in his ear,

I don’t even think he can hear.

Shel Silverstein I’m not (clearly from the stanza above), but I’m pretty sure we are raising the second coming of Peggy Ann Mckay. Let’s just hope he feels better this weekend…

Wait… You say today is… Saturday? Crap, he’s still not okay!

Oliver’s First Fourth Day of Daycare

Lately, Oliver has been floating all over the face of the earth. Just a Nomad living a nomad’s life.

Daycare to daycare.

Teacher to teacher.

Cot to cot.

… until today. Until the day he finally found a place to call home and a cot to call his own. (Don’t get me wrong where he was previously was amazing. They treated him like family. They communicated more than I could ever have imagined and he loved it there). But now… he’s home. He’s the little Italian boy… in the little Italian daycare.

Listen, this ain’t our first rodeo… we’ve been here before. We’ve done the first day of day care thing before. We have this down like clockwork. – Lay out his clothes, pack his lunch, lay out all his extra clothes, bottles, cups, bowls… all packed and ready for transport.

Forms were filled out. Emergency contact list had been updated. We were set… all we needed to do was get the little guy there, drop him off and head to work. All seemed to go according to plan until it was time to leave. The cries filled the room. Panic set in and guilt gripped our hearts. It’s what every parent who drops their child care off at daycare for the first time goes through… and it’s terrible.

The teachers tell you everything is ok and that he’ll be fine… hell I’ve said that to a thousand parents on the first day of school for years. It hurts just as bad each time. But it does get better and it did get better. Ollie turned out to be the star student.

His best subject: NAPPING!

⭐️ A Star Is Born ⭐️

The time has finally come. That time that every parent fears: their child’s school performance/play. I’ve seen so many of them as a teacher and principal and they, from that side are amazing. An opportunity to see 300 students whom you work with each day, who’ve you’ve seen grow abs improve each day, put it all together and show off their growth.  

Growth mindset, that’s what it’s all about as an educator. But as a parent. We want to see the end product. We want to see an end product from start to finish and then get the heck out of there. I don’t want to watch everyone else’s kids spin around in circles, or cry on stage. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. You feel bad for the teachers who have to don the kindergarten Three Little Pigs costume and be the only ones up on the stage to know the lyrics and Dane moves. There’s the parents who are standing just off to the side yelling stage directions to their child who they feel should be acting on the next Nick Jr. Hit show and you as the parent who’s just happy your kid hasn’t run off stage and peed in the bushes.  

Then there is the fact that you’ve worked a full day and have nothing in your stomach but a granola bar and three cups of coffee. All you want is every performance to last just long enough to snap a few pictures to stick on Instagram and time it so perfectly that it looks like your child knew every part of the play. Then you can set it as your profile picture on Facebook so it looks like you have the next Robert Deniro on your hands. The worst part though… the transition time in between class performances. Class A runs around the stage, the poor teachers looking like Rocky chasing that chicken. They might as well be herding cats. Poor Class B is having kids who are screaming and crying dragged onto stage so their parents can clap and wave. It’s painful to watch as 17 hours pass in between songs when all the audience wants is a smooths and quick transition like when Netflix only makes you only wait five seconds to watch the next episode. No time wasted, no one hurt, one class off… the next one on… everyone’s happy.  

However, there’s always that one child. The show-stealer, the ray of light, the savior. You know right away that they are meant to be on that stage… to bring entertainment to the masses. To bring joy and happiness to the masses as soon he/she takes the stage. It usually happens after a lull in the show. Maybe a few classes performed a nursery rhyme or too… maybe they just stood still and smiled. But then it happens… a child comes from the clouds and struts his stuff right to center stage. You can tell from that twinkle in their eyes that something special is about to happen. Then you hear the intro. The beat drops like your at an old school Notorious BIG concert. It’s the Lion King… you instantaneously know that child is going to put on a show like no other. “I just can’t wait to be king…” the perfect metaphor for what is about to go down. The king of the Pre-School Play is about to dominate the make shift stage in the center of the parking lot. 

… and that’s just what happens. It just so happens that the new king of the stage was my little boy. Jackson “Fred Astaire” Fragola. It started off slowly, and I could hear the crowd starting to chat amongst themselves. Then it happened, Jax sensing the crowd was in need of something to cheer for, stepped forward and put on a show for the ages. 


The slow clap to get the crowd going, followed by the slow spin into the toe-tap (trip over his own feet) was stunning. The crowd began to buzz and you could see the adrenaline coursing through our new star’s veins. Our savior was here. The clouds parted. The bass seemed to get louder and the energy in the crowd was equal to a stadium full of tween girls at a Justin Bieber concert. 

A few more moves brought ohhhs and ahhhs… and then it happened. The half turn, the look-back smile… and the then… THE RUMP SHAKER! It was over, right then and there. He had officially taken over. The crowd lost their collective minds. It was pandemonium… 

…And then… just as quickly as it started, it all came to an end. With Jazz Hands and a smile… it was at that moment a true star was born. 

Wanted: Miracle Worker

For those of you who read regularly, or at least have some sort of personal connection to Jackson, then you know that we have been seeking/receiving services for him the past year or so (mostly for his speech delay/issues, which as an aside have improved immensely over the past year).

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten into detail about Jackson and his “talking,” but tomorrow is a huge step in his process of meeting age appropriate developmental milestones as far as communication. Tomorrow we meet with our towns speech and language program for a battery of assessments that will help us identify what might be a road block in his communication development and also narrow down the specific areas of weakness that need to be addressed.  

I’ve been an educator for close to 18 years both as a teacher and now as a principal. I’ve been part of more evaluations, progress monitoring check-ins and initial identification meetings than most people will in their life time. But this time I’m not doing the evaluations of hearing the results as a leader of an educational system… I’m the helpless parent who has to watch his son be assessed by people who know nothing about him other than his name. I have to sit back and let someone else’s educational and developmental knowledge do the diagnosis and listen to someone else tell me what is best for my child. 

I’m not OK with that, yes I know I have the ability and expertise to collaborate when determining the direction for his individualized education plan. But in all reality I can’t be there in this situation for him… I can’t help him tomorrow when he is being tested by someone he doesn’t know… and I definitely can’t control what the results say.  

I’m nervous and anxious and I don’t really know if I’m going to be ok. I’m not sure if this whole thing is ok. I’ve seen a lot of children with needs, both minor and significant needs receive the support they need through an amazing educator. I’ve seen public school teachers work miracles. I just hope one of those miracle workers comes across my son and works wonders for him too. 

The Value of Student Work 

Entering a new school is something so extremely challenging. “Students First” is a motto that has been at the forefront of my career in education. Effective educators are dedicated individuals, dedicated to one thing first and foremost… their students. Excellent educators are able to effectively build a positive and safe school environment; however, the main goal is to create a learning environment of effective teaching that meets individual students’ needs in order to help them become lifelong learners that are self-motivated and value the effort it takes to be successful.

I have worked tirelessly throughout my entire career to create a positive school culture. I know that entering a new building the first task will be to make sure that I can contribute to that positive culture and climate. As a school leader I know that I will face many challenges in a new building, but supporting a welcoming and positive school culture goes a long way in helping to bridging the gap between the already established school community and myself, “the new guy.”

It will be imperative for me to help create an environment where the entire school community shares the same set of norms, values, and expectations in order to support the emotional, physical and academic well-being of our students.For me this starts with making sure that our students feel that “this is their school.” The best way to foster that belief is by creating an environment where students’ work is valued, appreciated and rewarded through display in the school itself. When I walk through my son’s daycare it feels like a place for kids, by kids (and not just because there are numerous toddlers running a muck). There is art work, (scribbles and master-pieces, writings and photos of children working and having fun posted everywhere). The work depicts the students effort, not just something that shows that they are “smart,” but shows that their hard work, effort and process is valued as well.

This is the type of environment I want to be part of as an educator. An environment that values effort and process, not just the product that is being created by our students. I am excited to begin my new journey as a school principal tomorrow. A journey that will start with a model of what we will value… The work of our children. I’m excited to display some beautiful paintings done by my son.

That is until my new students create their own…