Wednesday, April 10, 2013

RIASCD, PTA and reception at the Rhode Island Foundation.

This past week was a very busy one but very much enjoyed. On Thursday I had the honor to speak at the annual PTA Spring Convention Meeting. I was accompanied by my friend and colleague Peter Boland, who is now an officer of the PTA. It was so refreshing to see so many parents from all over the state so involved in education. Parent-teacher relationships is such an important key to the success of students. I shared with them my story and also my gratitude for their dedication.

Friday night I attended a reception to honor and highlight the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Vargus. He revealed his unauthorized status in recent articles he wrote for the New York Times Magazine and Time magazine. In September 2011, Rhode Island's Board of Governors for Higher Education approved a policy that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Rhode Island's colleges if they attended high school in the state for at least three years and graduated. The students must sign an affadavit stating they are pursuing legal status. The policy went into effect in 2012.

Saturday morning I delivered the keynote to pre-service teachers at the RIASCD 10th Annual Pre-Service Conference. I offer the following excerpt from my speech:

Relationships are the “stuff of humans”  We do not live in isolation; from birth we interact with others in our lives – parents, siblings, friends, teachers, neighbors, loved ones – and enmesh ourselves in a web of relationships that shape our persons and the trajectory of our lives. We live every day in the context of these relationships. It is because of these very relationships I speak of-- that led me to teaching.

There are three fundamental relationships that you need to nurture as an educator-- teacher-student, teacher-colleague, and teacher-parent/community.

Teachers link together students, other teachers, school administrators, families, and community members to foster the learning success and healthy development of their students.

The most important relationship perhaps is teacher-student. I recently read a study that showed that relationships with students were the most important source of enjoyment and motivation—for teachers. 







Sunday, February 24, 2013

Link to PBN interview

The link to the  PBN interview.,70619?print=1

Arizona Trip

 My first Teacher of the Year (TOY) trip to Arizona was transformational. Though this paragraph could never do justice to the experience I’ve had, I will share with you some of the highlights. My adventures began in the Boston airport. I was anxiously sitting at the gate, hoping that my husband wouldn’t “misplace” any of our children over the next week. A woman approached me asking, “Excuse me, are you Jessica Waters?”  Hesitantly, I said “yes”; she introduced herself as Kathy the Massachusetts TOY. It felt so good to finally meet another TOY. I curiously asked how she knew who I was. She chuckled, “You have all of your papers’ in that manila folder with a neat binder clip. You had to be a teacher.” Several times throughout the conference speakers referred to teachers as being part of a “tribe”. Even though we came from different districts, content areas, and grade levels and backgrounds, we are part of the 3.7 million teacher “tribe” that is dedicated to educating our students. Though there were only 54 teachers at the conference, we represent millions of educators that share the same beliefs.  Our tribe is strong in numbers and will stop at nothing to improve public elementary and secondary education in the United States. At the conference we had training on dealing with the media as well as tips on how to write effective speeches. We also worked on finding our platform and how to use our voices to advocate for our passion.  We listened to guest speakers from The Council of Chief State School Officers, Target, ING, and previous National Teachers of the Year. Every speech and workshop confirmed what I have always known—we should be proud of our public education system, and should continuously strive to enhance it. I look forward to the upcoming trip to Washington DC with renewed zeal.  

The Sarah from Teaching Channel!

They fed us like royalty



Add caption

Friends for a lifetime

Arizona is beautiful!

Botanical gardens

Mashed potato bar!

Monday, October 22, 2012

RIC celebration

My Aunt Beverly

President Carriuolo, Dr. Sidorkin, and RI History of RI

Wow what a busy two weeks it has been! Let me begin with a very special evening.  Last Tuesday night I was invited to RIC to speak to a group of pre-service teachers and to celebrate my accomplishments. It was so good to be back at my old stomping grounds--the very place I started this amazing journey.  In my years at RIC I had many great teachers but one teacher has been a true life changer, Paul Tiskus.  He pushed me to be the very best I could be and instilled in me the work ethic, determination, and critical thinking skills that are so important in my teaching.  President Nancy Carriuolo was so gracious to invite my family and friends to celebrate and the dean of education Sasha Sidorkin was also very hospitable. Colleagues and family celebrated the night with me.  This was a memorable night and I am lucky to have been invited.

Saturday night my husband, daughter, and I attended a fundraiser celebrating the 40th anniversary of the DaVinci Center. The DaVinci center located in Providence is a neighborhood, multi-purpose, social agency servicing all ages in the North End.  They have many programs including: dropout prevention, GED classes, CCRI credit classes, CNA classes, and many more.  The president and founder John Deluca is a true inspiration working relentlessly with youth in the community. My husband is a product of this center and is a true success story now the Chief Accounting Officer at State Street Global Bank--just a kid from Charles street. The keynote speaker was Mr. Ray DiPasquale, President of CCRI. He pointed out that of all current 9th grade students only 70/100 will graduate from a four year college.  He applauded community centers as a gateway for teens and adults to earn a college degree.
Chris Waters and John DeLuca

Mackenzie and Chris Waters

Coming up:
Tonight I had an interview with Providence Business News so look out for that.
On November 6th I will speak to the Adult Basic Education class at Bristol Community College in Attleboro.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

DR. Deasy--inspirational leader

Today I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Dr. Deasy speak.  Dr Deasy is the superintendent of the second largest school district in the country, LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District.) He leads thousands of teachers, administrators and staff serving a diverse population of more than 980,000 students from newborn to age 24.  He faces problems that I could not even dream up.  He works relentlessly to ensure that ALL youth is given an equal opportunity to succeed.  He deals with a population of youth where 80% live in poverty and 30,000 are homeless.  The graduation rate is only 64% up from 48% last year.  The students collectively speak 107 languages. He wants these students to be able to live the American dream--have somewhere to live and a decent pay after graduation.  I was very inspired by Dr Deasy's work.  Whether in LAUSD or Providence RI, our goal is the same--prepare students for post secondary education or the work force.  To be part of this mission you must have an ALL kid agenda not a SOME kid agenda.  Cheers to Dr. Deasy and his amazing work!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Here's to Brighter Futures for RI Children

 Today I was a guest speaker at the 8th annual Brighter Futures Award Ceremony honoring Commissioner Deborah Gist hosted by Family Service of RI.  This was my first speech since being honored RI Teacher of the Year.  The topic given to me was "excellence in the classroom". I owe a lot to several colleagues for helping me craft an excellent speech. Thank you John Butler, Pat Hawkridge, Shayna Fox, and Carrie Appel.
Everyone at the luncheon was extremely friendly and made me feel so comfortable. Stephen Hug, Senior Vice President at Family Service of RI did a great job keeping me informed and was so thankful. I sat with Patrice Wood who is a charming, beautiful, and graceful women she was so warm and it is evident she truly cares about education and children of RI. She could tell I was so nervous and she suggested I get on stage and "feel it out" which helped me immensely.  I also sat with Betsy Shimberg who calmed my nerves and was delightful company.  I was so nervous about today but when I got on stage surprisingly I really enjoyed speaking especially about a topic that is so meaningful to me--excellence in the classroom. It was so endearing to see so many people that are truly vested in RI children having access to a brighter future. Today I conquered the fear of public speaking to more than 500 people and look forward to the next challenge.  On October 16th I will be speaking to pre-service teachers at RIC followed by a reception. Stay tuned.....

 I will post pictures when they become available.

Monday, October 1, 2012

RI 2013 Teacher of the Year: Two Weeks Later

Wow! I cant believe it has been almost two weeks since I was named 2013 RI Teacher of the Year. On Wednesday September 19th my life forever changed.  However, the long road that led to that night is where the real victory lies (stay tuned for the whole story).  Lets go back to that night for a moment. I remember being on stage overwhelmed with emotions.  I was humbled and proud at the same time.  Humbled because I know that there are hundreds of teachers that could be standing in that same spot. Hundreds of teachers who dedicate their lives to educate the students of RI.  Teachers who are relentless and who make a real difference. Proud because I came so close so many times to being just part of a statistic that plagues this country -- a high school dropout.  Since that night I have been overwhelmed with people supporting and congratulating me.  I feel blessed to have such amazing people in my life.  Yesterday I received a letter from a complete stranger.  While reading the letter I burst into tears.  You see the letter was from a women who let fear get in the way of her dreams.  I cried because I have felt that fear many times and still feel it now. I will push fear to the back seat once again and do my best to represent Rhode Island's most precious commodity--teachers. Stay tuned.......