Saturday, May 30, 2009

Creativity is the Result of Good Work Habits!

“Being creative is not a once-in-a while sort of thing. It is an everyday thing, a job with its own routines. That’s why writers, for example, like to establish a routine for themselves. The most productive ones get started early in the morning and not yet polluted by other people’s words. They might set a goal – 1,500 words or stay at their desk until noon – but the real secret is that they do this everyday. They do not waver. This is no different for any creative individual whether it’s a painter finding his way to the easel or a medical researcher returning to the laboratory. The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration (perhaps more).And it is available to everyone. If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is a result of good work habits. They are the nuts and bolts of dreaming.” Being creative is when the phones aren’t ringing and their minds are rested After a while, it becomes a habit.

Twyla Tharp, American Dancer and Choreographer

SOURCE: “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life!" By Twyla Tharp, Simon & Schuster, 2003

Friday, May 29, 2009

ELMS Student Wins County Tennis Tournament, Again!

This past weekend, three ELMS students participated in the 9th Annual Lacy-Graves Memorial Tennis Tournament. Ajay and Jay participated in the doubles competition and Max competed in the singles competition. Again this year, Max won all of his grade-level matches and is the county champion for 7th graders! Way to go Max!

Below is a picture of the very talented Ajay, Jay and Max and me presenting them with their awards! Congratulations guys and thanks for making ELMS proud!

Monday, May 25, 2009

ELMS Wins Healthy School Recognition

Ms. Lee Ann Sanna, Ms. Carol Jones and me being awarded the 2009 Healthy School Innovation Award from
Dr. Beilenson, State Delegates Bates and Miller and Board of Education member Dr. Siddiqui

In April 2007, Howard County launched the Healthy Howard Initiative, a six-phase initiative that encourages institutions including restaurants, schools, workplaces, and recreation programs to incorporate healthy activities and healthy products into the lives of County residents. Healthy Howard is strengthened by participation and collaboration with the public and private sectors.

Recognizing that schools are an integral part of our children’s development as well as an invaluable asset to parents and the community, Healthy Schools was developed to recognize schools that have displayed extraordinary commitment in the areas of Nutrition, Physical Activity, Mental Health, Safety and Environmental Health. In May 2008, twelve elementary schools (11 public and 1 private) were recognized as Healthy Schools, this year ELMS was one of 10 middle schools highlighted for being a Healthy School and the winner of the nutrition category. (Source: Howard County Health Dept. Website)

I would like to congratulate Ms. Lee Ann Sanna, the ELMS Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, for creating the lessons on nutrition that were the reason we won this award. I would also like to thank Ms. Carol Jones for helping to create the nomination packet for our school. Did I mention we were the first middle school in Howard County to win this award? ELMS Pride!

Tips for the Last Days of School

Here at ELMS, we have 19 days of school remaining. From my perspective, finishing a school year in a positive manner is as important as how we begin a new school year. Here is what I shared with my staff:

As we prepare for the last 19 days of this school year, you may want to keep the following in mind:

1. Sometimes we complain that we don't have enough time to teach the areas of our content that we love due to the ever growing amount of assessments and accountability. This is sadly true. However, during the last few days of school, you might consider teaching those topics in your content that you know are most interesting and fun.

2. It is important to encourage students to finish the year well. Consider allowing students who need to bring up their grades opportunities to redeem themselves.

3. Celebrate how far they have come! If you have samples of work from the first unit or two, share them with your classes so that they can see how far they have come as a result of being in your class.

4. Let them see themselves! If you have pictures taken through out the year, use iPhoto to create a slideshow for your classes to see.

5. Keep your sense of humor!

6. Finally, (believe it or not) saying goodbye at the end of the school year can be tough for some of our kids. A lot of our students have formed strong attachments to each of you. "A child spends a big chunk of his life with their teachers, some of whom may have protected her and helped her meet challenges," says Susan Isaacs Kohl. "Kids also cling to their teachers because they're worried about what will be expected of them in the next grade." The process of saying goodbye to students is as important as the way we meet them on the first day of class.

What other advice do you have to share about closing the year in a positive manner?

Amazing Talents Shared!

Below are some pictures taken at our recent Enrichment Fair. 6th, 7th and 8th graders had an opportunity to showcase some of the amazing projects they have created this year for their parents and other visitors to our school. Enjoy!

The EYES have it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Outstanding Technology Leader Award Video

Congratulations to
Ms. Geordie Paulus
for receiving the
2009 Maryland Outstanding Technology Leader in Education Award

Below is a video highlighting some of her accomplishments that have made her so successful in her role as the ELMS Technology Support Teacher.

The video below was played right before Geordie received her award. The award was presented to her last month at the annual MICCA Conference held in the Baltimore Convention Center.

Click Here to see the video:


Congratulations to Ms. Johnson and Ms. Harden!

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Howard County Special Education Citizens Advisory Board's Celebration of Outstanding Achievements by HCPSS staff members. This year, ELMS had two outstanding teachers recognized and honored for their dedication and commitment to one of our students in our Academic Life Skills program. Ms. Johnson and Ms. Harden were both nominated by this student's parents as a tribute to the excellent program these teachers have created.

Way to Go Katie and Steph!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Elementary Peer Leadership Conference

Energetic, smart, friendly, engaging...
Our future looks bright to me!

This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of sharing some lessons I have learned over the last several years about leadership with some outstanding elementary school student leaders. Again this year, I was invited to conduct a leadership workshop at the annual Howard County Elementary Peer Leadership Conference. As I worked with each group of leaders, I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and genuine interest shown by all of the student leaders as they worked together to gain knowledge and learn new leadership skills from each participant.

During my two sessions, I shared what I consider are the six most important leadership traits that all leaders should have. They are the ability to be:

Visionary, Intelligent, Inspirational, Caring, always displaying a Learning Attitude, and Honest!

I also shared with the student leaders what I consider are the three most important roles a leader plays: Director, Assistant, and loudest Applauder. As I told them, the art of leadership is knowing which role to play at exactly the right time.

I want to thank Ms. Bello for inviting me to present again this year! I had a lot of fun interacting with the students from Longfellow, Manor Woods, Swansfield and Veterans Elementary schools. Working with 4th and 5th graders is always GREAT!

Thanks Lisa Boarman for the pics!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Elmo's World Sung at ELMS!

Each year, our sixth graders are taught to sing the ELMO Song as a way to build school spirit, have some fun and to unite our students together as a class. Below is a clip of our talented sixth graders singing ELMO's famous tune. Thanks to Ms. Flynn for providing this clip for me to share.

Just another exciting day at ELMS....Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009


In a recent article at Edutopia, education consultant Ben Johnson wondered: "What does a teacher asking questions to a class expect the class to learn from the questioning process?" In less than week, Johnson's frank discussion has drawn more than 50 comments, mostly from classroom teachers. A great think piece exploring Johnson's contention that teachers ask far too many "useless" questions of students. Click here to read the article and comments:

An excerpt from

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Prince Honored as Mother of the Year!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all of the other wonderful moms I know!

I am thrilled to announce that my wife was just honored as the 2009 Mother of the Year (well sort of...). Without a doubt, she is most deserving of this honor for not only doing a great job raising our two kids, but for putting up with me, as well. ; )

Below is the link to the whole story! Congratulations to my wife! ; )

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ramsey's Tips for Parents: How to Help Your Child Stay Out of Trouble

According to veteran educator and author Robert Ramsey, the following tips are his recommendations for helping parents to keep their children out of trouble.

  • Talk together as a family daily.
  • Talk openly about the values you live by.
  • Show your child how mature people solve disputes without violence.
  • Monitor your child's friendships.
    • Peer Pressure is good if your child has the right peers
  • Network with other parents.
    • Work together to keep track of what your kids are doing when you are not around
  • Spend time in your child's school by serving as a chaperon or volunteer.
  • Celebrate successes (great and small) at school.
  • Talk to your child's teachers often.
  • Watch your own behavior.
    • Kids react more to how you live your life than how you tell them to live theirs
  • Model Patience and sticking to a task.
  • Show interest in your child's school life.
  • Help your child get involved in after school activities
  • Help develop your child's interests and strengths.

Source: How to Say the Right Thing Every Time: Communicating Well With Students, Staff, Parents and the Public, 2nd Edition.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Preposition Song

Two Elkridge Landing Middle School students share what they have learned recently about prepositions. Thanks to Ms. Joseph and Ms. Paulus for helping these very talented students share their expertise with the world.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Father's Advice

“My father always said to me,
‘Remember, whatever game you play,
90 % of success is from the shoulders up.’
You don’t have to be the biggest and
the strongest. Having natural ability
can even be a detriment if you take it for
granted. Your dedication has to be 100%.
It won’t happen if you’re doing it
because someone said you ought to.
You have to have that burning desire.”

Arnold Palmer