Dyslexia Awareness Month

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Dyslexia is very difficult to cope with. Some people think it’s just mixing up your b’s and d’s and m’s and w’s, but it’s not that. I don’t suffer from that. It’s a language processing disorder. It’s very common. Twenty percent of our school population has it, so someone you know has it. And currently kids with dyslexia don’t get the help they need, and that’s what I really want to get across, so that those kids don’t drop out of school and don’t fall behind. I have gone through the Wilson Reading System program outside of school. I graduated from it last year so I’ve overcome my dyslexia, but I still have little challenges, like left and right. I would love to be a tutor for the Wilson Reading System, but I also really want to be an orthodontist. That’s really my passion. I love science. I’m taking earth science right now and it’s so fun. I enjoy it a lot. I love braces. I mean, I don’t love them. But I would love to pursue that as a career and then maybe [tutor] on the side.

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Helping students find their strengths

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My whole career has been at Luxford. I even did my student teaching here and I got my job in 1975. I accepted it before I graduated from Norfolk State. It’s a wonderful job when you have the opportunity to help students grow and make the most of their life. You also help them to find their strengths and try to help them improve on areas of challenge.

Every year it brings something new. I think that’s what I enjoy the most. Just because I’ve been here so long, I don’t do the same thing over and over again. I look for ways to put a little more fire into the program.

I see [former students] in different places throughout the city. They now have their own families and they’re doing well. I was in Bed, Bath and Beyond a few weeks before school started. I was trying to figure out how I could get the most from my coupon. I saw this young lady and said, “Excuse me, Miss. Could you help me?” And she turned around and she looked at me. Then I was explaining about my coupon and what I wanted, and she just stood there and looked at me. Then she said, “Are you Ms. Hale?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “You were my PE teacher in elementary school!” She told me her name and I said, “Yes, and you have an older sister.” She said, “Oh, you remember! Remember how much fun we had with the parachute and those scooters?” And she kept going on and on and on. She said that with her nieces and nephews she has bought some of the same equipment and plays fun camps with her family and their kids at their family reunions. She said, “That was the best time of my life.”

That makes me feel good when you hear things like that and how it carries on, and they see how important health and physical education is. I tell the kids all the time. “This is the only body you’re going to have and you have to learn how to take care of it.” That’s why we start, even in kindergarten, talking about proper nutrition, getting enough sleep, getting enough exercise.

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Fun Science Experiments

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My favorite subjects in school are probably math and science. I like doing experiments because they’re really fun. We’ve done three of them already. We’ve done one with a dropper and we had to figure out how many drops we could get on a penny before it all spills off. I got 57, I think. Then we had an egg drop challenge where we had to get an egg in a glass without breaking the egg or the glass. And then we had to try to get a penny in a cup without dropping it in there. We had to use all the materials, too, to get the penny into the cup. We kind of made it like a piggy bank. We had a plastic knife, a penny, a cup and a piece of paper. So we cut a little slit in the paper and put it over the cup. Then the penny was beside it and we had a knife up there. So once all the materials were in place, we couldn’t move any of them. We could only move the knife and we got the penny in the cup.

I like working with our teachers. They inspire me.

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Naval architect

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I had a past interest in being a nuclear engineer, but then I started getting into architecture. For my sixth grade project we had to research people, and someone I just happened to come across was Frank Lloyd Wright who was a pretty innovative architect. So that got me into wanting to be an architect. I like designing buildings. But I also want to work for the Navy, so I was also thinking about a naval architect – designing ships and buildings, kind of like the Pentagon.

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Rooster Duck continued

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(2 of 2) You said you’re going to write “Rooster Duck” as a child author. What do you want to do when you get older?

When I grow up, I actually want to do three jobs. Being a baker, I know I would have to get up early and work late sometimes, but it would bring me joy because making cupcakes and making cakes and baking really brings me joy because other people might like them. One time I made a spring velvet cake, but it was actually a little bit dry. This was my flaw – I accidentally didn’t put enough milk in it. Although, it was very yummy. I want to be an author, too. And I want to be a MOM!

While being a mom and being a baker, I can make fresh loaves of bread and I can send my oldest to the store. I’m planning on working near my dad because he works at a cell phone store and he might still be there when I grow up. So I’m thinking maybe I can be around him because I mean, I did grow up around him.

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Author of Rooster Duck

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(1 of 2) While I’m a kid, this is one of my goals for school, I want to be an author – like a child author – and write about this superhero me and my dad made up when I was little called “Rooster Duck.” Rooster Duck has this sidekick named Sally, and Sally got attacked by this robot cat. It’s a pink robot cat. Sally got this special jewel from the pink robot cat, and I don’t know how he sneaks it on her. Like it’s a little tiara, maybe. She thought it was from one of her friends from when she was little, because there was a pink robot cat when she was little. But it was actually an evil villain, and he tried to mess with Rooster Duck. She turns into something like Pickling Panda or Racing Rabbit. The villain who did this is Hamstar! We got the idea when me and my dad were at Walmart and we were thinking about hamsters and guitars for music. Then we decided Hamstar would be our evil villain! And he sings really bad songs like, “Rooster Duck is bad. I’m the best villain in the world.” I know this is a really weird sidekick, but the evil sidekick to Hamstar is Evil Tuna. It’s a can of tuna with googly eyes, an evil cape and a smiley face. It’s not really alive. But Hamstar, whenever he gets trapped, I mean whenever Rooster Duck and Sally get trapped – sorry, it’s a lot of characters to remember – Evil Tuna has this little rope by him and he goes like this…

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My brother inspires me

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I like to craft a lot and draw. In the classroom, I made a tiny hover board and a tiny backpack. I used cardboard, string and pen. I like drawing people and I like drawing houses. Sometimes I mess up and I just erase it and draw over.

I like art because my brother taught me, and I like drawing my family. I have my own notebook in my classroom, and I drew my mom in that notebook. My brother inspires me with drawing. He teaches me how to draw and he draws really great art. My brother’s best friend loves art, too, and I love drawing with them.

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Product of VBCPS

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I am a product of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I was a student here in elementary, middle and high school. I graduated from Salem in 1996. I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Cooperative Office Education program at Salem, so I was a COE student and I worked in the Office of Programs for Exceptional Children for two years. After I graduated high school I applied for a job as a secretary at Rosemont Elementary School. I got to work with my kindergarten teacher. It was a full circle moment for me. It was pretty awesome. I worked with summer school at Tallwood High School and transferred to Tallwood the next year. I left Tallwood in 2000 because Bruce Phelps, who was the student activities coordinator at Tallwood, came to central administration to work in Student Activities. He had an opening, and I loved working with Mr. Phelps. It was a great opportunity for me to move, be closer to home and to advance. I worked in Student Activities for four years, and I went on to be the director’s secretary in Student Leadership in 2004 and worked there for 15 years. I came to School Leadership last summer to be the executive office associate to the chief schools officer. It’s definitely been a great opportunity to work with Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

What’s next? You’ve advanced through the years. Is there anything else you would like to do?

Honestly, I would really like to go back to school. There were some educational goals I didn’t meet just because my family life didn’t take me in that direction. My son is a junior this year. He’ll graduate from high school next year, so maybe we’ll both go to college at the same time in the fall of 2018.

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Swimming in the flood

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When I’m not at school I like to play outside. I swam in the flood. It was like up to my knees. A couple of people on my road, we just jumped in the water.

And what do you like about school?

I like when my teacher gives us candy. We got a doughnut the other day for “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” At Krispy Kreme doughnuts, if you dressed like a pirate you got a dozen doughnuts. One of my classmates’ moms dressed up and brought in doughnuts.

Teaching Together

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This is my 33rd year teaching art at the beach, and this year is very special because I have the opportunity to teach with my daughter, Caitlin! While I have years of experience, Cait brings fresh ideas and new energy to our program. We enjoy collaborating and working as a team to provide a great art experience for students.

And I feel like I grew up here, between visiting my Mom and volunteering in her classroom. I am so excited to job share with her doing something we love!

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A responsibility I take seriously

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What motivates me as a teacher? Definitely my students, taking them from one place to another no matter the subject or how small that progression might be. That motivates me each day. To take work home at night because I’m watching these children blossom and I feel like they need me – that’s what really keeps me going. Having that responsibility is so important to me and I take it seriously.

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Parking Lot Divas

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We’re the Parking Lot Divas. You have to know what you’re doing out here. It’s something different every day. You have to be ready and be spontaneous. It’s never a dull moment.

We have to have a spirit of fun. We try to put a smile on everybody’s face as we’re shepherding children into the school.

And my long underwear is my best friend in the winter. We’re like the Postal Service. Rain, sleet, snow – we’re out here.

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Help people achieve their dreams

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When I grow up I want to start my own publishing company and, with the income from that, I want to help families that don’t have a lot of money send their kids to college. A lot of people are smart and have a lot of potential, they just don’t have the finances to help them get there. I think it will help a lot of people achieve their dreams. I love reading and writing, so I thought I could help people get their books published and help them achieve their dreams. Then, with that income, I can help other people go to college to achieve their dreams.

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Makes someone’s dreams come true

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I’m going to study media, arts and design in college. Movies have always been a big part of my life. I’ve been writing stories and have had a wild imagination as long as I can remember. You can have a movie that takes someone’s wildest dreams and things that seem absolutely impossible and you can make that a reality. To be able to do that is just incredible to me. So, I want to make movies so I can make someone’s dreams come true.

I’m more partial to writing and directing than acting. I’m a behind-the-camera type of person. I enjoy screenwriting and editing. But I want to bring something to life – something that people remember.

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After school rush

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I’m married. I have three children: one in high school; one in middle school; one in elementary school. I’m a Girl Scout leader. I love teaching kindergarten. Not everybody likes their job but I love my job. I am very good with children and better with small children. When I go home I’m rushing kids to cheerleading and I’m rushing kids to chess and I’m rushing kids to dance. I play softball with my husband and I’m in a book club because I read constantly. That’s what drives me.

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I love teamwork

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I’ve been here at Corporate Landing for 16 years. I worked at Kempsville Junior High for 18 years. I worked for two years at Holland Elementary. They all add up.

I love what I do. I love teamwork – working with the custodial staff and teachers. I like to be around kids and help lead them in the right direction. It’s just nice to see kids come back and say, ‘I really appreciate what you told me over the years as far as what to do and what not to do.’ I love that. I really do.

When I’m not at work I like to jog, play basketball, help at my church and hang out with my grandkids. I have 13. I also have two great grands. My wife and I have been married for 35 years. We have three kids. They’re all grown and doing well. I really appreciate that.

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Provide an opportunity

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I just love Bettie F. kids. They are awesome! They want to learn. Sometimes our kids aren’t compliant all the time. Sometimes our parents aren’t able to be involved. Sometimes our kids haven’t been through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel or even to the beach. My kids don’t come with cello practice every afternoon and they don’t come from chess club. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take this blank slate and paint a beautiful portrait with these kids. It doesn’t mean these kids are any less gifted than other students; they just haven’t had an opportunity. And we have to provide these kids with an opportunity. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I need kids who are energetic and charismatic like me. I love that! These kids and I have conversations that we would never have at other schools. When my mother came here to visit, she asked me, “What’s with all the hugging?” I said, “Ma, they hug all the time. They hug all the time.”

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25th Year Together

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This is our 25th year together! It’s Lisa’s 30th year and my 25th year, all here at Kempsville. She always says, “I’ve known Maxine longer than I’ve known my husband.” We’ve been here so long we’re now teaching children of former students. And some of our volunteers were volunteers as parents and now they volunteer as grandparents.

We’ve been teaching partners in the library since the beginning. We see each other as partners and that’s how we’ve been able to stay together so long. We have fun together and love what we do!

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Blue Angels Flight

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I can say [to my students], “I flew with him, on Blue Angel No. 7, I went on that plane.” I think about the relevance. We talk about this in class. Engineering, STEM design, the science and math behind everything we’re doing. And to be able to come here and touch it and see it and talk to people who do this every day, I can imagine the conversations when we get back to school about wanting to be pilots when they grow up.

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