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Wednesday, 7/25 Home and Happy, tired!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hi all,

We had a nice, but very active and very short trip on pretty intense heat. It was awesome. We got to St. Louis early Sunday morning and after we located our hotel, we went off to find the Gateway Arch. It was a busy, busy place. We got tickets to ride the tram to the top and then spent a couple of hours checking out the museum. I didn't realize a lot about the Arch. I didn't realize it was a creation to celebrate Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase. The museum is full of information about Lewis and Clark, and that period of time during the US expansion. However, for everyone, it was also a waiting place for that ride to the top of the Arch. They took us to a pretty tiny car that held five people and we rode to the top in what felt a lot like a ferris wheel. When we got out, we were at the top. You cannot really stand straight up and it is definitely an arch that you are standing in. The view is amazing in every way. There was a Cardinal baseball game in Busch Stadium and all of the red that people were wearing made quite a sight. We could see roof top swimming pools and the historic courthouse. On the other side, we could see the Mississippi River, a few barges, the highway that looked amazing, and more. It was simply phenomenal. I took a ton of photos, when I get them all downloaded, I will share some of them here.

On Monday, we spent the entire day at the St. Louis Zoo. We didn't have time to see everything and we didn't even see any of the shows or presentations. I am sure that out of everything--the reptile house, the apes, gorillas, and monkeys, the birds, etc... Our favorite display was the penguin habitat. First of all, it was cold, cold, cold int here for obvious reasons and since there were temps of over 108 at the zoo that day, that was a pleasant change for a short while. Those critters were so fascinating and "cute." I realize they were wild animals and I totally resisted the strong urge to break the rules and pet one of them. They we=ould jump in the pools and swim, swim, swim. They played and had a ton of fun together, chasing each other around. the King Penguins stood up there so triumphantly, stately, and tall, as if they were overseeing the others. The smaller breeds were the active ones. The little rockhoppers were splashing people as they dove in and flitted about. It was absolutely amazing to watch. After some 7-8 hours on our feet, we also went to a nearby mall to please Marissa's 16 year old need to go shopping. Hmm, maybe I am getting old when I don't give much for shopping any more. It is a functional necessity in my mind, not entertainment, lol.

On Tuesday, we went to see Grant's Farm. That was also an amazing time. It started with a tram ride to show off the Busch property that had once belonged to former President (and Genreal) Ulysses S. Grant. It is a wonderful, low-key place that does have a wonderful home on it, but the property is a lot about being a home to amazing wildlife, some imported to the premises. Animals are all around from the sweet goats in the petting zoo to the big, wild animals from zebras to elephants and all. Another big part of the farm was their main dining area that brought our church's Oktoberfest celebrations to everyone's mind. We heard those polkas and they had brats and other things on their menus--yummy snow cones were my favorite. My husband and son enjoyed a couple of beers--which were all free at the Busch family farm and estate. When we returned to the car, we went to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. They are simply majestic and handsome horses. They are valued, cherished animals there. I couldn't help but to think that all animals deserved to be cared for and loved in such a way.

travel time was around an hour each way and we stopped many times which was good for me and even better for the three people who were in the back seat. We had some great food--a couple of St. Louis foods: toasted ravioli and thin crust St. Louis pizza, both items that I really enjoyed a great deal. ?We brought a few servings of the ravioli home with us, but they sure didn't last long. I am surprised that they cannot be found around here or anywhere else I have ever eaten. I guess that is what makes them a "local favorite."

I have told my children that the sign of a good trip is that when you leave you are both sorry to go and you can think of things that you wanted to do that you just didn't have time to do... That describes our time in St. Louis. I want to go back, maybe when it is some 10-15 degrees cooler and maybe to take some of the other kids with us. Micah, Marissa, and Miles came along but the others all couldn't get off of work. I can recommend it greatly and I promise that we got in a lot more exercise in those three days than I usually get in. (I learned how to sweat until I was soaked all the way through!!) I am so glad that we went, it was a welcome change of scenery in many ways.

Gentle hugs,
Sylvia

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_LINDA 7/26/2012 7:05PM

    Wow! Sounds absolutely fabulous! I am a little surprised they would allow people to actually be IN with the penguins so that you could touch one if you wanted to. The only display I have ever seen was glass enclosed to view, but you were outside in the heat. I always thought they would keep people and animals well separated so as to not stress them.
So many things to do and see in St. Louis, never realized! Americans are so good at providing well planned and showy tourist attractions for the whole family!
I hope you can upload your photos without any trouble, looking forward to seeing them!
That is amazing you could spend that much time on your feet without experiencing major pain! I don't think I could handle it really. Well done!!
Hope you are having a nice relaxing, rest and recovery day!
{{{gentle hugs}}}
Linda

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MORTICIAADDAMS 7/26/2012 6:51PM

    Yep, you should go back and see the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Art Museum, The Science Center, etc. I go over there about once every two months or so. I go to the metroeast area a lot more often. You need to try some Ted Drew ice cream too - a concrete.

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CHERRY666 7/26/2012 9:06AM

    Wow! Sounds like you had a fantastic time.

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BUSYGRANNY5 7/26/2012 8:18AM

    Glad you had a good trip to St. Louis, one of my favorite places to visit!! Enjoy the rest of your week!!!

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Wednesday, 7/18 Uneventful Day

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hi all,

I spent yesterday and today emptying out about 50 baskets of books from children at our program and my son's program who quit attending. I am sorry that that happened, but it gave me a bit of a jumpstart on a lot of physical labor I will be doing on Friday. I still have about 30 active book baskets in my classroom and I have almost all of the contents of my walk in closet all over my room. I pulled out all of the center activities I have so that the two aides I have had during the program could choose what they wanted to do with their groups. I also have about 50 big books stacked on my floor. It will take me all day on Friday when they have their "celebration" day to get it done. I hope that my helpers can lend a hand because that physical stuff really is hard on me.

I have been playing mediator between several of my kids all evening and it has stressed me out. I am sure all of the bickering is directly related to high heat and humidity, but I fail to see what it solves. It is one of those things of parenting that is never fun. Grr-rr

We have decided to go visit St. Louis for a few days. It will be fun, there are so many interesting and fun things to do there. It is about a 5.5 hour drive from here, so that is a nice little jaunt. I am sure we will see the
arch and their famous zoo. My husband is interested in Grant's Farm too. I suspect it will be a lot of walking and I am thankful for all of the injections that are making me feel better. I think my biggest challenge will be careful eating, although I may have to break down and enjoy some wonderful cuisine. emoticon

Have a good evening and a restful sleep, one and all!

Gentle hugs,
Sylvia

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 7/24/2012 11:44AM

    So many kids any more are lazy and don't want anything to do with anything intellectual, like reading. They play sports, video games, watch T.V. and movies and little else. Never go outside. When I was a boy scout parent at camp I noticed how the most intelligent children were eager to participate in all of the activities and learn new things while some of the other children amused themselves by sneaking off to the bathroom and flooding it for fun. I wondered what their parents were like - they were the only parents who never showed up at all. They used camp as a cheap baby-sitter.

this heat is getting to everyone. I'm sick of it.

St. Louis is wonderful . I was there last week. Traffic there right now is challenging as it is down to one lane on the interstate in places.

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_LINDA 7/19/2012 7:58PM

    Make sure you get anyone and everyone you can to help with the books, do not be afraid to ask. You have family who can help if nothing else.
So glad you are going to enjoy a trip to St. Louis. i wouldn't be happy with that long a drive -would be having trouble walking after that much eat time. I don't know how you feel about riding in a car, but I don't find it comfortable at all. That was the hardest part of my long trip to B.C, all the hours of driving -I was grateful for the overnight stop in Calgary.
The heat and humidity is enough to get on anyone's nerves, hope the kids settle down, or just put your foot down and tell them enough already!
Hope you have a great weekend! Have some fun for me!
{{{gentle hugs}}}
Linda

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Monday, 7/16 I am doing it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hi all,

What is this "it" that I am referring to? I can tell you that "it" is important and satisfying to me. I can tell you that "it" is probably better than ever in my entire life. "It" is something that I can be proud of and feel comfort in.

I spent today being true to myself and the commitments I made to me over the weekend. I am so glad that I can give myself the gift of reliability and self-respect. I can honor myself and who I am. For a woman who was formerly known for being "fat" and without any redeeming qualities, I have come a long way. emoticon

Let me explain my day. I started out with my morning wake-up call. I slept better last night than I have in many. Yesterday, we went to church and a very good sermon that reminded me to look inward and consider my values helped me to dismiss some of the struggles and pain in my life. After church, we ran an errand and picked up fresh fruits and veggies, ice, water, whole grain bread and some nice ham, roast beef, and turkey for a picnic at a local lake. It was a sunshiny, hot and beautiful day. My son bought a nice rubber boat that he inflated and we decided to go for a ride.

There was a day when you wouldn't have drug my 363 pounds anyway near a rubber boat or a canoe or anything else that someone would have to row. Even with my twisted body held together by a fair number of metal rods, I was able to get into this boat and off we went. It was a hoot. My son hated the way I row and soon took the paddles away from me. Hmm, I thought for a first time that I did okay--he insisted that I was working against him. I kind of liked changing directions from time to time. emoticon Anyway, the tricky part came when it was time to get out because it was slimy and slippery on the dock and those metal rods keep me from bending much. My husband and son didn't even work up a sweat or grunt pulling me to my feet and I didn't feel guilty for inflicting all of my weight on them. emoticon

Anyway, we went from our funny boating excursion to the lake for some swimming. I wore my new swim suit, a halter style suit with a soft turquoise bodice, and a belted skirt. I haven't ever owned anything quite so, uh, dare I say sexy? It fit me nicely and felt like a million bucks. There were a lot of people there but I never felt like I was being looked at or criticized for my appearance. Do you know why? The answer is simple--it's because I looked GOOD! emoticon All of the fresh air and good food and time with my family was good for me and helped me to rest peacefully last night.

Back to this morning... I got myself ready for work along with my sweet reading bunny, Lola, and my school supplies that included 3 bags of new books to use for my children who deserved a gift for their wise decision-making and choices. I got to work, enjoyed some fresh raspberries and watermelon--and I started on a letter documenting the issues I have had at work. I wrote and edited for two hours, highlighting my values and expectations for the program and I took responsibility for the anger I displayed on Friday. Even that was fairly new territory for me. The former Sylvia would have never put herself in that position because she (I) never wanted to stick out in a group of people. I never thought I had the right to do that. I really had no self-esteem for much of my life. Anyway, the letter is good and is waiting for some editing and I will submit it to the right people.

I went on to do my work today and had a good time with the children. I have children reading who might not have gotten to this place for weeks after school came back into session. I have several groups of children writing stories that I expect to have finished by the end of the program. I even got a couple of kids to read who typically challenge me on reasons for reading. It was a good day for this teacher because my students were doing what I asked. I think they appreciate knowing that I have specific expectations for them and will support them, but I will not allow bad behavior or lack of cooperation. I think my students need that sort of direction. emoticon emoticon

After work, my husband and I went to the doctor for a follow-up to the car accident last week. My husband tried to get out of the appointment in many ways, but I held firm. Unfortunately, I had to go in with my doctor before his doctor came into the room. I think he downplayed the issues--she found his blood pressure to be high which wasn't a surprise to me because he hasn't taken his meds in a long time. I had my first weigh in since May 25th today. I know that I have been tempting fate by not running to the scale and keeping a tight reign on myself. I haven't really been trying to lose weight while I have been juggling the results of surgeries and procedures and at least 13 steroid injections and epidurals in that time frame. However, I had lost .8 pound. I have maintained successfully without pushing me for perfection. I have arrived, I am eating the way I am supposed to for maintaining my 140 plus pound weight loss. I do want to lose another 25ish pounds to get to a healthy BMI with my recent height and I think I am about ready to focus on losing again. (It would also be best for that new hip I need in the coming year.)I was pleased--oh and my BP was 120/82. That is as good as it can get after the high stress life I have been living recently. emoticon

Anyway, I have proven a great deal to myself about me this week and it is only Monday. I celebrated bty going to the water park with my husband and my youngest son. I even "de-armed" a couple of bullies of an exercise bar that they pilfered to use as a weapon on their friends or family. The police officer on duty came and got a second one as well.

emoticonYAY, me!! emoticonI can do it--wait-- emoticonNOPE, emoticon I am doing it now and it makes me feel good.

Gentle hugs,
Sylvia

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WALKZWDOGZ 7/17/2012 4:57PM

    emoticon emoticon You deserve a huge round of applause!

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MORTICIAADDAMS 7/17/2012 10:57AM

    I am so glad you got out on the boat and went swimming. I know your students will benefit from your honesty regarding your desire that they get the best. You are doing so well. Maintaining your weight even during these stressful times.

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_LINDA 7/17/2012 2:46AM

    It was wonderful to hear this postivie, upbeat blog! So glad things are turning around for you! Its ABSOLUTELY, FANTASTIC, GREAT to hear you finally realize and be proud of how very far you have come, physically and emotionally. You ARE important, you DO matter and you ARE making a difference shaping young minds. It doesn't get any better than that! You rock! Pound enough heads around and maybe they will finally wake up and listen and realize what a valuable asset you are to the teaching program! You go girl!
{{{gentle hugs}}}
Linda

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DLDMIL 7/17/2012 12:21AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Saturday 7/14 Decision time and moving on

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hi there,

I don't think I have had such a difficult week as this one that is coming to an end today. In order to give myself a reason for what I have been through, I must have a place to go with all of it. That is the only way that I am going to be able to heal and live my life the way I choose with the values I need.

I am going to write letters to members of our park board and explain things I have witnessed and dealt with--one of these people is a friend of mine, we went to grad school together and I teach with her daughter. Another is a principal in our school district and the thrid has a reputation of being an educator. Two of them are officers on this 5 member board. I believe that we do not have to throw the baby out with the bath water, but that they need to begin such a program with certain expectations and understandings of their staff. I think that there should always be an adult with some experience at a site serving children and that the adults are to understand that they are there as supervisors, not the kids' friends. (The kids' friends should be kids and the adults should be mentors and caregivers.) I am also going to expand my opinions to the people who I am responsible to and that will include the funders of the program. I hate to take on something new, but it is reasonable to me that a certified professional be in charge of the site. It has seemed like a case of the "inmates running the asylum," to borrow an old phrase from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I believe staff members who are lying should not be rewarded for that type of immoral behavior and that maybe the one in charge needs to be replaced by someone competent and capable. I believe that I am able to explain this eloquently enough not to sound as angry as I feel when I consider that the kids were rewarded with candy for not participating in the reading activities.

I am also going to take the idea of my hip replacement in stride. Replacing my knees was one of the best medical decisions I have made. I am nervous because this is my right hip and it was my right leg that had the RSD. However, my pain doc and ortho are aware of my history and I will ask them all of the questions about possibly recharging that evil condition and what preventative things can be done. I am aware that replacing a hip is ten times easier than a knee and I've done that three times, so I can handle this. I can also get back to work on losing the weight I want to lose to match this 5'7" height that I am still not accepting well. It would make a replacement procedure go a lot more easy on me.

As for the accident, I cannot do anything about it as far as changing it or making it go away. I can just practice some breathing and distracting activities when I am in the car for a while. My knee looks awful, but it is superficial bruising at this point. My left hand is better, my shoulder is worse and will need some attention. I see the doc Monday night and I'm guessing we will start with x-rays. Good grief, I will soon glow in the dark, lol.

As for other things, I just returned from the pool and I can swim better than I have in a long time. Kicking was easier than it has been and my back is amazing right now. My pain doc did me a wonderful service with these trigger point injections and although they were not fun, I am wondering how much better it will be after we complete the sequence. Again, if the x-rays aren't going to make me glow in the dark, I wonder what the percentage of injection medication to my regular tissue might be. Maybe I am more medication than organic right now, lol. I don't mind if I can move and function at a higher level than ever.

My husband and I are looking for a short three day getaway with our youngest son for the end of next week. I cannot get into my classroom for a few days after the park program ends and it might give us both a bit of a break. The other kids cannot get away from their jobs and summer commitments, and they will like having the run of the place. It may be the blessing that we all can use. We haven't told Micah yet because he will drive us crazy as we try to figure out our plans. We had to rule out the badlands because they are too far away. We have been considering St. Louis, the Lake of the Ozarks, Pigeon Forge, TN, Omaha,,, something a bit touristy but not too crazy, somewhere new to us. It's kind of fun to be sneaking around with him and making plans.

Anyway, I think the end of this week and some time for reason and healing are in order after having a week like I have had. I am expecting to be myself again very soon, I am recuperating.

If you have any ideas of places around Illinois that might be a good mini-vacation location, let me know.

Gentle hugs,
Sylvia

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 7/14/2012 11:17PM

    I think you are doing the right thing about telling the proper authorities about the problems with the summer program. Children can still have fun without being taught bad habits.

I would not worry about what will happen in the future regarding your hip. You will deal with it with grace like you always do when the time comes.

The weekend sounds great. There are so many fun things to do in St. Louis and a lot of it is free. My son and a friend spent part of a week there and wished they had more time. The zoo is fantastic, the botanical garden - especially the butterfly house - they went insane over it, the art museum, the science center, Citygarden, museum of transportation, the arch if you aren't afraid of heights or claustrophobic, the riverboat tour, the Hill, Forest Park. There are local must try specialties - Ted Drews concretes. Toasted ravioli. st Louis thin crust pizza, BBQ pork steaks, slingers. gooey butter cake. Wonderful places to eat. I like Zias but ask the locals.

Lake of the Ozarks is fantastic too.

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_LINDA 7/14/2012 8:02PM

    Good for you making these choices to take some action and inform all the people who need to know what is going on at the park with these children. That will be great for your peace of mind..
Love to hear you are feeling better physically and could do more in the pool!
I am very happy to hear you and your husband will be going on a three day get away -to make it easy, go to your state's web page and simply look at the list of attractions to see what appeals to you that you have not seen before. Look forward to hearing all about your adventures!
{{{gentle hugs}}}
Linda

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DETERMINEDJANET 7/14/2012 5:55PM

    What a good place for you to be today Sylvia. Solid choices to assist yourself in moving forward and some praises to go along with them!

emoticon

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Friday, 7/13 Doing What I Must

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hi All,

I blew up today. Oh my, I finally let loose some of the frustration that the people in the park program have been giving me as i have been trying to teach. I was doing a daily read aloud for the older children in grades 3 on up. The staff would come in and interrupt my work, undermine my control over the group by making jokes and conversation with the kids, bringing in pizza and eating in front of them, letting a specific kid move back into the group when I moved him, playing basketball as I read in the gym...and the list goes on. I finally gave up and when I went to get my kids, I asked for only the kids who planned to sit and cooperate. That left me with 6 out of about 25-30 who came. Today, I had a guest reader (My son Mitchell) and when I went to call for my kids, nobody would respond to me. They were loud and yelling, goofing off. After 5--yes, F-I-V-E requests for my readers, I finally hit the ceiling. I told the children that they were the oldest children who should be well-behaved role models, especially when there is a guest. I took the 6 children who did get in line and we left. I found out later that the remainder of the group who stayed behind were all given candy. After Mitchell was done with a wonderful story about the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, he left and one of the park workers came and told me off. "The children want to know if they are in trouble," was her opening comment and she went on to tell me that it was my fault that they didn't know I was having a guest reader and I asked her why should they need special information to behave in a respectful manner and listen to an adult. I also pointed out that her staff has repeatedly got in the way of my lessons, canceling reading without even giving me a bit of forewarning. I let her know that I was done trying to deal with them because there is only one week of the program left and quite honestly, I didn't care about her or the rest of the staff, I was there to help the children continue reading during the summer and to possibly show growth.

I was so angry that I wanted to scream out of the windows. I have been trying to work with all of this going on from about the third day. The behavior problems that I experienced with a specific kid who I caught in the building almost an hour before they were supposed to be there was blown off instead of being treated as gross misbehavior. I tried to explain to them that this situation was a major liability to the school district--he was running around the gym. Any injury would put my school district in a bad place and we can't afford that. He lied and said he was in the bathroom and they pretty much accepted that as acceptable. Nobody ever believed me and I saw him there. Finally, he was bullying a couple of other kids. He actually beat a child up outdoors after the program and that child's mother pulled him out of the program. I couldn't get anyone to listen to the fact that this child was a bully--but three days later, after I refused to let him come to my groups and interfere with lessons any longer, they finally gave him a day off from the program. He told one of my aides that he didn't care. His mom wasn't home when he left for school and when she got home, he would tell her that he was sick. I tried to call and let her know about that, but he was answering her phone. I suspect he got away with that as well.

I haven't been able to manage these young people working for the park program. They have had total problems managing their large group and have resorted to screaming, making the kids put their heads down for over 30 minute periods, and blowing whistles indoors over and over again. I tried to provide ways to handle such things. I offered to use my reading lessons to enrich their programming, such as special reading activities to go along with the Fourth of July, but they never communicated any plans to me. I bought them donuts and tried very hard to be a part of things and finally had to stick to providing reading lessons for the 115 children enrolled that dropped to about 40 a day. I believe that their inexperience and lack of planning caused the drop in attendance as well.

I am in a tough position because I can influence a number of things considering I am the one who influenced that these programs work together. If I tell one of the major funders the truth that he has been asking me for, the funding could be lost. I don't want that to happen, but I don't think they are getting what they are paying for either. I have to be careful with what I do next--I need to make sure that there is appropriate supervision for the staff of these programs to allow the true plan--academic enrichment imbedded within their activities--to occur. I don't want the program to disappear because of a few rotten apples, I want administrators to make them better. It is important that I also share all of the many positives that have went on. I have a soon to be first grader who was a non-reader, making daily gains and feeling pretty proud of himself when he originally wouldn't look at books or teachers. I have a pre-schooler doing nice one to one correspondence when he reads a meaningful text. At least 35 children read 3 or more books/chapters every day that I am allowed to see them. I have also trained my two aides in reading support that is helping them with their own work in their college teacher education program. I have a lot of positive stories, so I have done nothing but good. Those are important facts and anecdotes for the funding sources to have. After I share that, I can address the issues at hand.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
I sure hope my anger isn't the result of the many steroid injections I have had lately. My back and hips are both doing far better than they have for months with this medical treatment. I am covered with bruises, especially on my legs. My right knee is still sore and so is my left shoulder. Both my husband and I see our PCP on Monday at 4.

My therapist just encouraged me to talk. He said that healing takes time and he offered me some valuable insight. I learned from him that the car that hit us was a very expensive one. The other car owner's insurance has contacted us and Mitchell, and they are being very kind at this point in time. I am hanging in there.

Talk to you all more later--as always, your kindness is awesome!
Gentle hugs,
Sylvia

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_LINDA 7/14/2012 4:11PM

    You are trying so hard to do some good and your co workers are just getting in your way :(( Its very understandable that you have had quite enough. You have every right to get mad. I honestly don't know how you have managed to put up with crap like this for so very long. I am guessing most people would quit if their issues were ignored or belittled. Its only your love of teaching children that is keeping you going there I suspect. This really needs to be heard and addressed. I hope you can find someone with clout willing to listen.
Hope you can enjoy your weekend with less pain..
{{{gentle hugs}}}
Linda

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DETERMINEDJANET 7/14/2012 2:16PM

    Hugs!!! Unfortunately respect is a lost art with so many these days. I would have been frustrated too.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 7/14/2012 1:52PM

    Oh my! The children sound like they suffer from poor parenting and supervision. The staff as well. LOL. To be honest, Sylvia, I think the funder of the program should know what is going on so he/she can set some limits on how his money will be used. It should not be used to teach children bad manners and disrespect for authority.

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RORYLYONS 7/14/2012 2:07AM

    Sending emoticon have a fabulous weekend.

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MAMAWALMART 7/14/2012 1:45AM

    emoticon
Here is a well needed hug. Sounds you are doing the best you can with the situation you have been handed. If one child gains from your work, it makes it worth the time.
God Bless and Keep Smiling
emoticon
Karen

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