Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Gratitude is EVERYTHING!

Check out our Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week at Vero Beach Elementary.  While we encourage an entire week of spoiling, we firmly believe that EVERY day is a day to celebrate our amazing teachers and staff.

The #vbevibe is in full effect!!!

Check out this link here:   Teacher Appreciation Week 2017-2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's all about the TRIBE!


As we begin to plan ahead for next year, its overwhelmingly apparent that the people matter more than any program.  I have joked with staff that I become a "stalker" when hiring time comes.  I believe in the power of hiring and feel that, as Principal, it's the most important job I have.

We are so excited to introduce and welcome our newest TRIBE MEMBERS to the the world.  We know that when it comes down to teaching, what always matters most is relationships.  We are so thrilled to share our newest staff members who are grounded in love for children and high expectations for learning.

Friday, April 13, 2018


How do you create a transformation across an entire school? 
You commit to becoming a TRIBE of INNOVATION.

We are so lucky that we have a committed staff ready to embrace technology and do whatever it takes to build our school through connections with our families and the community.

This just documents that change taking place at VBE!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Readers being Leaders!!!!

Our amazing 5th grade students (and some special guests) helped support National Read Aloud Day at Vero Beach Elementary which takes place Feb.1st at schools across the nation.  We are so proud of our 5th grade leaders encouraging our younger students to be readers!

Check out the Flipgrids.

Click the link to see them all. VBE Reads

Feel free to leave a positive comment for the readers to see.

Also, please take a look at our Little Indian Updates to see how we are bridging the gap between our families and our school.  We are #strongertogether

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Who has time for that?

I was talking to an administrator colleague last week and I mentioned that I needed to create our February "Feel the Love" calendar, the response I got was, "That's great and all, but with upcoming testing and informals who has time for that."

It's not the first time I've heard this kind of response.

Teaching is hard. There’s no question that there are incredible barriers that stand in the way of educators being able to master sustainable growth for every single student. It can be draining, it can be emotionally exhausting, and it can bring even the strongest teacher to a decision to leave the profession entirely.  Our goal is to ease this burden of these ongoing barriers.  What can we do as administrators to keep our staff healthy and stable?

In my opinion, in today’s current educational climate of testing and accountability, we are obligated to find the time to shine light on our amazing educators and staff.  It’s not a question of “if” we will build a culture of affirmation and positivity, but “when and how.”  Here are the questions I ask myself often:

How am I showing my staff I appreciate the extra things they do each day to keep our school moving forward?

How do I utilize the data from the previous year to ensure that teacher burnout is minimized and we are building our culture around positivity, kindness, and progress as a tribe?

We commit to accountability, but as a leader am I also finding time to commit to celebrating our staff?

There isn’t a team more deserving than one that is leading the way of transformation of a once underperforming school.  However, when the staff takes on the challenge, with a smile on their face, they truly deserve a standing ovation!  Obviously, we can’t do that each day, so here’s a great list of things WE CAN do to promote the kind of climate and culture that will help our staff feel the love.  I can guarantee you that most of these ideas are stolen from amazing principals throughout our country, including those that participate in my VOXER PLN #principalsinaction and #momsasprincipals So many of these ideas also come from amazing chats that take place on Twitter, such as #kidsdeserveit #leadupchat and #piachat  
If you aren’t a part of a strong PLN I strongly encourage you to jump on in.

Pre-School Events

How are you building up the new teams that have been created and encouraging a climate and expectation of collaboration?  Have you tried a Summer Retreat?

At VBE we get together for a few hours to hit on our summer PD and create a challenge board for embroidered school polo shirts.  We continue the competition into the first week back and include the activities that aren’t always fun as part of a goosechase.  This is a super fun interactive scavenger hunt app that gives a great platform for the competition.  https://www.smore.com/bwf87  Here is the link to our theme UP, UP, to an A!!!  It also includes how we welcomed back our staff, our schedule, and an awesome "Flipgrid" resource we used so our staff could introduce themselves before the retreat, which ended up being a LOT of fun.


We have a coveted front parking space that is up for grabs each week. Staff simply nominates a colleague on twitter with the #VBEVIP and we select a weekly winner and announce them in our weekly Principals Press.


We love recognizing the incredible things our teachers are doing through our weekly newsletter.  It goes out to the entire staff and is our platform for ongoing PD and getting our message out each week.  BONUS- It has cut down tremendously on the number of emails our teachers receive too.  Here's an example Principals Press


At our monthly faculty meeting we begin with our Golden Arrow Awards.  It starts at the beginning of the year with 3 administrative nominees.  We write a certificate explaining why this person embodies our school VBE VIBE and they get to take a picture with the award and keep it for the entire month.  They then select the next winner.. and it gets passed around our campus, each month to three new winners!  We post the pictures right outside the staff lounge so the recognition continues all month long.

Claim it EXPLAIN it

We sometimes use this as a fun way to shine light on great displays, student work, or activities taking place in classrooms.  During a faculty meeting we simply share a picture of what we would like to showcase and the teacher then,“claims it and explains it” to the entire staff.  We usually follow this with a “Coke and a Compliment.”

"Soda"lighted Attendance Initiative

    • We are super appreciative of our teachers that come to work every single day for our students.  To show them the love we recognize them quarterly with a surprise soda delivery of their favorite carbonated beverage!

Warrior Wampum Drawings

    • We are a PBS school and have wampums that our students earn for showing our VIBE expectations.  We shower our teachers with the same kind of love.  They earn WARRIOR WAMPUM and four times a year we do a celebration and give out amazing prizes for our staff.  #staffdeservesit

Coke and Compliment
Just a super fun way of spreading love.  You give a Coke to someone and share a compliment about them.  That person then does the same for another colleague.  Great way to get in the mindset for an after-school activity.

Phone Calls Home
Phone calls home to the staff members family.  Nope.  Not kidding.  This is a great way to let someone that the staff member chooses hear the incredible things they are doing on campus.  This also helps the family member understand why they are coming home so exhausted each day!

Some Themed Monthly activities
First Semester
https://www.smore.com/bwf87  Here is the link to our theme UP, UP, to an A!!!  It also includes how we welcomed back our staff, our schedule, and an awesome "Flipgrid"resource we used so our staff could introduce themselves before the retreat, which ended up being a LOT of fun.
This is a great time to begin a school wide book study slow chat.  We utilized twitter and collaborated with schools from across the country with the #kdislowchat for the book #kidsdeserveit The book is filled with incredible real-world application opportunities to get your staff excited about making school engaging every single day for kiddos.  Check it out on twitter.
Winter Time
#elfhunt   We hid 8 elves around the campus the day prior to winter break.  Our teacher LOST their minds hunting down elves throughout the day.  A great way to diffuse some of the holiday stress.

12 Day Countdown to Christmas Break-  Check the link here for our 12 day countdown.   https://www.smore.com/f7qe6
Second Semester
Feel the Love February Calendar Challenge (Thank you Jessica Gomez)

Feel the Love Fridays in February

Monday, January 1, 2018

I Almost Gave Up...

They say the second year is harder than the first when you’re a Principal.
Coming into a turn-around school I thought, there is no way that’s true.

January 11th is officially my two year “work” anniversary at Vero Beach Elementary and I have to admit, this year has been rough.  We made incredible gains, but I was hyper focused on what progress still needed to be made.   Our tribe worked SO hard to bring our school up two letter grades in one year, but I couldn't help but dwell on the barriers that still existed.   I don’t know if that will ever get easy to accept.  Whether it’s homelessness, mental health concerns, or just trying to ensure basic needs are met, it’s hard to not get personally invested in every single situation.  Each of these situations involves a child. A kiddo that deserves our very best.  I  lost a lot of  sleep and in some cases, I feel like I lost a little piece of the “spunk” I had.

I write this not to vent, but to provide hope for those of you currently going through a rut.  Keep pushing through, the spunk is never lost!  Sometimes you just have to look outside yourself.

It’s been hard.
There’s been doubt, a lot of self doubt.
There’s been broken promises, mostly in my part for being present and “there” for my family.
There’s been #failforwards and constant reminders that I can (and shouldn’t) do this alone.
There’s been been times when my need for control stifled others growth.

The reality is-
I almost gave up.

I let my self doubt take over.

I had to ask myself one of the hardest questions about my purpose recently that can be like a kick to the gut:
Was I doing what’s needed for kids, or was I doing things to make myself look good?

I got some great advice from my Superintendent who told me to focus on “less.”
He gave me permission to unplug, disconnect, and reflect.  It couldn’t have come at a better time.  It saved me.

Through the struggle and challenge... I found that the one thing I needed most of all was to push aside the “I” and focus on the TRIBE!!!  This is why my #oneword2018 is.... SYNERGY!

By involving those around me in the process, I’ve found happiness and was reassured that this journey is meaningful and necessary to continue our path to success!  I refuse to be another adult that abandons what’s right for kids. The fight is too important.

The change came when...

I asked for help.
I asked for forgiveness.
I forgave others.
I asked for the leaders around me to share their strengths.

By embracing my tribe, both family and work I’ve found what was missing, my purpose!

This year I will focus on Synergy!  Collectively we are stronger together.  With this, our tribe will be unstoppable!

Watch out for #VBE2018
WE have only just begun!

Friday, November 3, 2017

That VIBE!

We are ALL in!

It's the time of the year where we can already start seeing the progress and growth of our TRIBE!  We have devoted ourselves this year to improving instruction and increasing family engagement.  All data shows we are on our way!

Today we devoted our Grade Chair Meeting to doing something a little unconventional.  Inspired by the Jimmy Fallon school instrument skit we decided to perform our VBE VIBE song written by our amazing music and band director, Helen Newhouse.  Sometimes the growth of our school shows in the smiles on our students faces, sometimes it's determined by data from testing, but today it was measured by the opportunity we had to spend time together doing something FUN for our staff and kiddos!

While we are urgent, we are also in a place to have FUN! 

That's what the #vbevibe is all about!!!  Making school engaging, relevant, and inspiring.

How have you shown that #vbevibe today?