Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa Party!

The pre-party started in our classroom as we gathered around with our snacks to watch an edited-for-children version of "The Elf". (Memorable quote from Buddy the elf: "Sounds like somebody needs to sing a Christmas Carol!")

We were honored to have two volunteers as our guests:

Melanie Graetz (seen here with Corey), a student at NC State from Greensboro, has been volunteering at Frankie Lemmon since October. She wants "to see what this school is all about" after long talks with friends who are also special education teachers.

Shelby Potts (in photo, left), a graduate student from Appalachian State, has been "shadowing" speech therapist Sharon Hanvey as an intern every day while on Christmas break. Hoping to be a speech therapist herself someday, Shelby follows Sharon's footsteps as she goes through her paces.

Around 11 o'clock, we marched up to the fellowship hall with the other two classes. Already present were the staff and dozens of parents and relatives, with cameras ready! Executive Director Janet Sellers bid us welcome and kicked off the main event: Santa and his big bag of Christmas gifts. She told us to enjoy ourselves. Which we did!…

Slideshow photos by Peggy Walters

P.S.  Voting is now officially closed in IKEA's Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest . We'll have to wait until January 17 to find out if our own Melissa Matthews (mother of Aiden, a child with Down syndrome) will get to spend a year (and $100,000) helping others at Frankie Lemmon. (See my December 7 blog: "The Polls are Open".) Melissa was still in the lead as the polls were closed. Thanks for your participation!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Bells, Songs, and Flying Caterpillars

How Dustin makes Caterpillars fly
Occupational therapist Vicki Demaster specializes in developing skills in the areas of visual perception, fine motor, gross motor, cognitive and social skills. For example: What's the difference between a sheep and a rooster? Does a square peg fit into a triangular hole? How do you thread a needle? And most importantly—how does Dustin make a caterpillar fly?

Holiday Bells and Song:

And how does Melissa Raley spread all that joy? Melissa and her talented musicians—all from the nearby Underwood Gifted and Talented Magnet Elementary School—honored us with a special Christmas concert today. Melissa has been teaching there since the Magnet Program began in 1981. She is eligible to retire but says she is still having too much fun in the classroom to consider it! Today she brought her fun to the children of Hayes Barton Baptist Church and to my Frankie Lemmon friends. To you and your wonderful music makers, a big THANK YOU, Melissa!


To Miss Forbis and Miss White and all my friends in the class of four-year-olds, Thank you VERY MUCH for the wonderful wreath and card. (The wreath is designed around a circle of little handprints.)

Reminder: Last week to vote!
If you think our own Melissa Matthews should spend a year (and $100,000) helping the Frankie Lemmon School, then click here to vote for her today and every day through December 23rd. Every time you vote, IKEA also donates $1 to Save the Children.

And a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Polls are Open!

What would you do if you had the chance to spend $100,000 on helping others—and could take a year doing it? Who would you help? How would you help them? What if all you had to do to get the money was state your case to IKEA®, the world's largest furniture retailer, better than thousands of others? Well Melissa Matthews, mother of Aiden, a child with Down syndrome at Frankie Lemmon, has almost done just that. I say almost, because her field of worthy competitors in IKEA®'s annual Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest has been reduced to five finalists—and she is one of them! And now she needs YOU to help her over the top. Melissa states her case:

"When I was 28 years old, I gave birth to my second son, who has Down syndrome. Having been a kindergarten teacher and reading specialist before my boys were born, I worried about Aidan's transition to school literally from the day the ultrasound tech noted soft markers for Down syndrome. I will never forget the first day I visited Frankie Lemmon School in Raleigh, NC.

“I saw children with intellectual disabilities, some who doctors said may never talk, not only talking and playing like their typical peers, but reading, working on computers, and playing musical instruments as well!”

The Polls Are Open
It's up to YOU! If you think Melissa should spend a year (and $100,000) helping the Frankie Lemmon School, then vote for her today! From now until midnight December 23rd, you can vote as often as once per day. And every time you vote, IKEA® will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. Program. What a deal—a win-win for everyone!

Here's how:
1. Go to Ikea's website at: IKEA
2. Under "Life, Improved", Click on "Vote now". This takes you to The Life Improvement Project.
3. On the right you'll see a rotating display of five videos. Out of thousands of applicants who want to "build a better tomorrow", only these five finalists remain. Melissa's video is labeled Special Technology for Special Kids!
4. Under the videos, click on "See All Videos".
5. Then click on Melissa's video. (As of December 6, she was in 1st place!)
6. When her page comes up, click on "Submit vote" and follow the directions.

Go ahead ... you can do it ... vote now and vote often! Meanwhile, we'll play some Christmas music.

A Final Note

In the animated movie Toy Story 2, Woody the cowboy puppet has to decide: does he go to a museum where he can live forever and never be loved again, or does he go home to his friends, including that wacky puppet space ranger Buzz Lightyear, where he can be loved but may not last another day. Woody decides on the more perilous of the two. As for myself, I will NOT live in a museum! "To infinity ... and beyond!"

Speaking of friends, I think I can hear them now!