Sunday, July 31, 2016

One for Three.

I had three goals for myself this weekend. 

#1 Go to the Dailey Method (my fav place to work out which I RARELY go to!)
#2 Blog (I've been storing up a million stories for months now)
#3 Catch up on the Bachelorette before the season finale tomorrow

I usually have about 10 things I want to accomplish each weekend but I'm tired of disappointing myself so I figured 3 would be safe. WRONG. Seriously, what's wrong with me!?

I have all of 20 minutes before I need to get ready for the Adele concert tonight (rough life, I know) and that's not NEARLY long enough for a blog post BUT..... I've gotta just drop some pics in here of how awesome the first two weeks of school have been at Penngrove. Hopefully I'll squeeze some time in soon to blog about our school theme this year: Power of One, but for now, just know that our year is off to a tremendous start! Energy is high, positivity is out of this world, new and old team members are working together like rockstars, and our students are loving every second. I am beyond lucky to spend my days with the 389 little panthers whom I love to pieces, the incredible staff who go above and beyond on a daily basis, and the parent community who supports us in the best of ways over and over again.

2016-17, let's do this! #itsgoingtobegreat #oneforthree #powerofone 

Power of One! Team Penn!
Kinder team having fun! 
When the BFF brings you coffee on day 1!
Our newly updated outdoor learning area!
Awesome classroom details
The night before school starts....
Putting the Supt. and Asst. Supt to work delivering lunch buckets w/ my BFF!
A visit from Jen K.! What?!
How was your first day Ollie?!
Thanks Derb! xo
"I brought this sign in because it explains me. I'm happy every hour!" YESSSSSS!
Awesome family photo wall coming together!
Love hanging out w/ our kiddos outside of school #batterup
Our Cal Ripken All Stars!
Team building
Marshmallow Challenge - school wide!
Happy birthday celebrations already!
Late night karaoke at school...
Soaking it up. Roni Habib shared his magic with Team Penn!
Mindfulness, Happiness, Play.
Sweet moment with Mrs. Law
New rugs!
Surprise visit from mom!
Stealing my teacher's kids :) Look at that shirt....
Having fun launching the Fadeji 2016 Campaign!
Look at the skirt on this little one! SO awesome!
Super grateful to this team for helping me with the crazy parking lot!
Snuck in a little PD time to help this awesome admin team in Placerville get up and rolling for the 16/17 school year!

And super late to the concert now.....Hello......get it?! Ha! So lame. Alright weekend almost over, one for three, I'll take it. 

Friday, February 19, 2016


I was searching for a really deep title for this post. Like way too deep. And then I Googled, "song titles with emotion in the title" and there it was. Mariah Carey. "Emotions". 1991. Oh man, I loved 1991. 

It's been awhile since I pulled one of these nights. I'm totally going to regret this when my alarm goes off at 5:30am tomorrow. Like REALLY regret it. Ugh. "These nights" mean I get home from a long day and realize that I can't sleep until I get my email under control because it's weighing me down like the box of Thin Mints I ate last week. Seriously, email is a huge problem for me. I just can't conquer it. Drives me crazy. Tonight I did okay though. I went from 288 emails to 56 in about two hours so that rocks. I'll sleep well if I ever get there. 

This past Sunday when the world was celebrating Valentine's Day - I was having a mini life crisis.  Through a series of circumstances I came to a few realizations about myself, about this job that I've given my whole heart to, about the people around me who keep me grounded and about what I need in order to be my best self. It was a really hard day. I don't have those very often, maybe only a once or twice a year, so when I experience them, it's pretty intense. Emotions.

My "resting happy place" is being crazy busy, doing a million things at once and pouring into others as much as possible. For some reason, I feel like I could give, give, give for a lifetime and never run dry of that energy. Sunday was a different story. For the first time in awhile I realized even my superhero size reservoir of love had dried up. And on Valentine's Day?! Come on Fadeji. 

Much like roller coaster ride, this school year has hit me with turns, loops and upside down moments that I wasn't expecting. The highs have been so incredibly high. Heights I have never experienced before. And the lows, although super short-lived thankfully, have been pretty dang low. I have a somewhat high tolerance (or maybe threshold is a better word) for these twists and turns. But I guess even for me, these unexpected emotions can build up. 

During the past couple months, I've probably had more conversations with CPS (Child Protective Services) and local law enforcement agencies than in the previous three years as a principal combined. It's heartbreaking. Yet, I find myself hugging my students a little tighter, leaning into my friends a little harder, and letting the tears fall a little easier. 

One of the best parts of this year has been reconnecting with some of my former students who helped shape me into the teacher and leader I want so desperately to be. Dillan, who  was in my 2nd grade class and is now an 8th grader, comes to Penngrove most Fridays to volunteer in classrooms.  She is a natural with our students and watching her build relationships with them is so neat. And it's full of emotions to watch that unfold.
Dill leads a 5th grade math intervention group

Dill and me grabbing a latte!

And then there is Sarwah. I met Sarwah in 2007 when she was in my 3rd grade class in Mobile, Alabama. There was something about her that struck me back then. Something that told me we would be in each other's lives for a long time. Looking back on it now, I can see little hints of why and how we would still be so connected all these years later, and it makes me smile that I somehow lucked out with her on my attendance sheet 9 years ago. This past summer, Sarwah tragically and suddenly lost her dad. Since then, the two of us have been in pretty constant communication. Sarwah spent all of last week with me here in Cali - soaking up the rays with her BFF who tagged along for the ride. The three of us laughed, cried, shared, dreamt, hugged, the list goes on. One night as I was tucking Sarwah in, I told her that if my whole career and life path was intended only so that our lives would intersect, it would be more than worth it and I would choose that path a million times over. Serious emotions.

Today at work, as that dang email InBox filled up, I ignored it. The school newsletter went out a week late, I forgot to sign up for a meeting with my new Superintendent, I didn't return all my phone calls. I'm resting in the fact that I simply can't do it all every day. You know what I did do though? I spent every second I could with my students. Today, I must have high-fived or hugged at least 200 kids, some of whom need a whole lot more than I can give them. But I'll never stop trying. I won't slow down. And my reservoir is completely filled up again. My game face is on.  And that's a dangerous combination for this girl. Especially when Mariah is playing. Roller coasters? Love 'em. Bring it. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Unexpected Gifts

Let the fun begin!
For about a year now, Bill Selak and I have been talking about him coming to visit Penngrove. I LOVE having visitors on campus. There is just something incredibly meaningful about connecting the numerous conversations that take place via Twitter, Voxer, etc., with a good old fashion visit. I’ve had the opportunity for some of the educators whom I admire the most to visit my campus over the past couple of years. Whether it’s a quick check-in, or an all day adventure, there is just something about my friends being at Penn that is extremely humbling, exciting, and encouraging. Last week, having Bill at Penngrove was absolutely full of unexpected gifts.

While I was busy doing the morning assembly, meeting with our amazing PTA President, and prepping for the Penn News, Bill was en route in the pouring rain for what would be a three-hour drive for him. Yikes. I had the Panther VP (Video Production) Crew in my office when Bill arrived and they had been anticipating his arrival maybe more so than I had!

As we toured around campus, I told Bill from the get go, “If you see anything that needs immediate fixing, or that I’m doing that could be done in a more efficient, better way, please tell me immediately so you don’t forget!” And there began a day of learning, ideas, dreaming, and sharing. After being on campus only two hours, walking and talking as we were in and out of 14 classrooms, Bill gave me a bazillion unexpected gifts. I’ll share just a few that stuck out to me.

Mr. Selak teaches 5th graders about
  • The Boomerang App which takes awesome video
  • A shortcut in Gmail to compose an email (I still haven’t finished this one)
  • The chance to watch him teach students about and then, a student he was working with taught the entire class about it!
  • A brand new theme song for our PennNews recorded via Garage Band on my laptop (which I didn’t even have installed on my Mac prior to Bill’s arrival)
  • A lighting lesson in our green room
  • Tons of advice and thoughts about EdCamp and Unconferences
  • Coffee tips (milk goes first people)
  • A reminder about all the loose hanging cords that need to be tidied up all over campus
  • A thought-provoking conversation about computer labs
  • An addition to my Amazon shopping cart with a new mic
  • Raspberry STEM knowledge
  • One of my fav Selak fun fact: he doesn’t like pickles (which came with his roast beef sandwich), which totally rocked for me because it was all I ate for lunch!
  • Encouragement that spray painted sidewalks are awesome!
  • Being able to observe a student who has been having a really difficult year, tour Bill around his 1st grade classroom like he was the king of the school.
  • Silly banter in the hallway as students approached Bill asking, “Are you really famous?” (the answer we gave them: “Heck yah! EduFamous!”)
  • A Google Hangout with Amber Teamann who I have wanted to “meet” FOREVER!
  • Tons of support and encouragement as we hosted our first ever unconference with teachers from 5 different elementary schools in our district
  • A little periscope action during a random dance party in the middle of the raffle at our afternoon PD.
Mr. Selak gets a tour from a 1st grader

Multi-tasking! Bill gives Amber Teamann a tour of my office
via GHO while I schedule rainy day recess and chat w/ Mrs. Olufs!
A special interview after a lighting lesson.
Right?!?!?! Our education community is just so incredibly giving. Giving of their time, resources, energy, ideas, and sacrifices for the benefit of our students. I would have LOVED to have had Bill at Penngrove for an entire school day so we could really dive deeper. We didn't get to quite a few “big topics” I had been looking forward to talking about. However, in just a few short hours, Bill left me with so many unexpected gifts that I wasn’t expecting in the first place and that I will definitely cherish.

Joe doing his thing: telling stories.
I know this blog post is about Bill’s visit last week and the specifics that took place but really, I think that his visit was a culmination of the gratitude that I’ve felt for so long towards those who have come to Penngrove and given a piece of themselves to our students and staff. One of my favorite days last school year was when I sat on the carpet in Room 3 watching my favorite Superintendent in the whole world, share a story with a group of six year olds. To be given the gift of watching a friend whom I look up to in so many ways interact with the students I do life with every day…was absolutely life changing. Thanks Sanfelippo.

As educators, we invest our lives in our students at our own schools, in our own cities, in our own districts, in our own counties and in our own states. But when we take the time to visit other schools, to discover what others are doing, to provide feedback and suggestions along the way, we have the power to leave unexpected gifts everywhere we go. And that my friends, is a gift you can’t wrap, ship, buy, or earn. It’s the gift of time. The gift of friendship. The gift of belief in one another. It’s exactly what we all need a little more of these days. Give. Risk. Learn. Trust.

Jen and Joe came to hang out during the first few days of school this year. So meaningful.