The ‘First Half Debrief’

If you look around the web as much as I tend to do, you’re seeing quite a few Year in Review pieces. These articles have always been odd things to read an educator, since we’re only nearing the half way point and really just rounding into form. Most of us have measured our years from September to June our whole lives, so be on the lookout for a series of true Year in Review pieces a little closer to graduation.

For now, let’s do a First Half Year in Review Debrief (more clever name TBDASAP). We’re talking with the WCDS staff about the ups and downs and ups again here at the school, and what we’re looking forward to in 2019.

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1. Give me your tweet-length review of the first half of the year.

Liz Hofreuter: Finding joy every day. Being present every moment. Learning from it all.

Bridget Rutherford: #superbusysingleparentlife Enthusiastic group of 17 girls all vying for their time to talk, share, and participate is great problem to work on and I would rather have that than a bunch of unmotivated dull children.

Michael McDonaldWhile we got off to an amazing start to the year, the announcement of opening a middle school by our board members really gave the school even more energy.

Claire NormanLife is short. Time is fast. No replay. No rewind. Enjoy every moment as it comes.

Stephanie SkadraThis year has gone by so quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Elizabeth Hladek: “Guys let’s end the debate right now. It’s ‘we will, we will, rock you…not rock ya” *hits play button on Queen* (I know this isn’t a standard review of the year but it sums up what a fun class we have!)

Carly Wilson: The first half of the year has been an incredible learning experience and a true blessing.

Julie Cartwright: The year is half over? WHHHHAAAATTT? Shoot. I’ve got a lot to do.

Luke Hladek: Deep dives and top tens and one historic vote.

2. What was your moment of the year so far?

Liz: The board vote to open middle school.

Michael: The announcement of the middle school!

Stephanie: PFD, PFD, PFD!

Bridget: When Liz has brought a guest to tour the school and the 5th graders explained a variety of aspects of our classroom. The children proudly spoke about all we offer at WCDS and it reminds me of how special our day to day really is…and that they really are listening to me.

Claire: My moment of the year thus far was presenting with my fabulous co teacher at the ISACS conference in Detroit, Michigan. Also my daughter turning 1 year young!

Renee McFadden: A definite high point was teaching (sort of) Evan Jones to pump on the swings.  He was so excited! “I’m doing it!”

Elizabeth: We were told that a few children in our group “have never done/ will never do” a variety of things. (*Yet*) With time we’ve watched these once insurmountable goals become reality for many of them. With plenty of love and patience children will surprise you.

3. What was the most unintentionally funny moment of the year so far? 

Bridget: It was intentional, but the 5th grade class picture makes me smile quite a bit. Love that I have a great team of four guys to work with.

Claire: While at recess one day Caleb Demarest pulled out a piece of an old cereal bar out of his coat pocket. He showed it with glee to his mom and myself (we were on duty) and proceeded to take a bite. After the best icky face and a shake of his head, he spit it out on the ground and ran off to play with his friends. It was what I needed at that moment and it was priceless childhood innocence.

Stephanie: There are so many laughs on a daily basis, I can’t decide. I love working at WCDS…the laughter is part of what makes that place awesome!

Elizabeth: The case of mysterious underwear bandit. Or…any time a teacher sits down to enjoy their perfectly prepared lunch and a child approaches and sneezes/coughs on it.

Luke: ‘Mr H, will you push me on the swings?’ ‘Sure, buddy. Just watch that puddle when you pull your legs ba…’

Alan Nguyan giving his best accidental superhero pose on the playground
Alan Nguyan giving his best accidental superhero pose on the playground

4. The unsung hero of the year so far? 

Liz: Liz Hladek

Elizabeth: Liz – not me Liz – the much more important Liz.

Michael: Miss H for the deep dive schedules which allow the students to really get the most bang for their buck

Bridget: Julie Cartwright.

Luke: Yeah, Julie Cartwright went out of town for like four days earlier this year and I’m still recovering emotionally.

Julie: Paula McClure* (*Not Bridget or Luke)

Carly: In second grade I would say the unsung heroes are Kaelyn and Evan W.  They have hearts of gold and always go out of their way to show kindness and stick up for the underdog.

Stephanie: Brenda

Claire: The unsung hero of the year so far (for me) has to be Brenda.

5. Miss H always says ‘Learn something new’. What’d you learn this first half?

Liz: How to start a leaf blower.

Bridget: I’m learning how to teach social emotional learning to a bunch of emotionally charged girls. It gets better each week… or so I think.

Renee: I’m learning how to help my 8th grader with Algebra.

Michael: I learned that being in and out of three to four classrooms a day is always going to be challenging, but is also a great way to learn something new every day.

Claire: I learned this first half of the year that things can change unexpectedly in an instant and that no matter how much you feel panicked or nervous about it, it always works out for the best.

Stephanie: Like Miss H said, take some time out of PS. This has helped me so much. I learned that talking things off my plate is important for me.

Elizabeth: To join in the play more often when a child asks. The emails can wait.

Carly: I learned that closing circle truly makes a difference in our classroom.  The kids look forward to it and gather themselves everyday. It is just as important for them to debrief as it is for us!

6. How do you feel about the weather so far this year?

Liz: Did I miss the fall?

Bridget: I’m not pleased with the amount of rain and lack of sun lately. I do, however, like wearing my fuzzy pants and slippers at home on cold nights so I guess it’s ok.

Stephanie: Ugh – is it going to stop raining?!?!

Elizabeth: Ugh – the humidity…my hair. Right Mrs. Dodd?

Julie: Lots of rain and stuff but I have water in my well!  So it’s all good!

Renee: Super looking forward to all the sucky rain *turning into snow. (*1 in of rain = ~13 in of snow)

Carly: Wishing it was sunny and 75 every day!

Michael: It seems as if we had three months of summer and then boom it was 20 degrees.

Claire: I don’t mind the weather as long as I am dressed appropriately for it.

Luke: I’ve yelled at Jeff Oechslein on Twitter a bunch of times. He has yet to find it funny.

7. We’re not afraid of failure here, right? Give me your best fail. 

Liz: Once they become lessons I forget they were failures.

Bridget: The yearbook was my biggest fail of the year. Just knowing that the original due date was July and I finished it in November…

Claire: My best fail thus far, because I know there will be more, was watching (in slow motion) Adelaide fall face first into the mud while hunting for the perfect Christmas tree. She didn’t cry but I saw it coming as she tried to walk on the uneven ground. My brain just wasn’t thinking fast enough for me to prevent it. Nonetheless, she got up up with a dirt filled mouth and face and yet there was a smile. So maybe not a fail on my part…

Stephanie: SEL lessons. I really wanted to schedule it in every week and haven’t been good at it…yet!

Elizabeth: Dismissing ALL the lunch tables to clean up at once, holy soup floor!

Luke: Oh boy. This is a safe space, right? I have about 20 half finished videos clogging up my computer right now. (Also this blog was scheduled to post like four days ago…)

3rd graders enjoying a nibble of snow in aftercare
3rd graders enjoying a nibble of snow in aftercare

8. What are you looking forward to most for the Second Half Debrief?

Bridget: Having my hubby home. <3

Michael: Watching fourth grade continue to evolve into the future leaders of the school.

Claire: The thing I am looking forward to the most for the rest of the year is really guiding our current SK class into a world of new discoveries and openness in their learning…to not be afraid to try something new even if it might scare them a bit.

Elizabeth: Many more “can’t do this….yets” happening!

Luke: Seeing where this middle school venture takes us…and taking JoJoV on the road!

Julie: Plowing ahead with the middle school!

Liz: Creating a thing from a vision.


Here’s to an incredible first half and a second half for the books. From all of us at Wheeling Country Day School, we wish you a wonderful and relaxing holiday break. Thank you for all your continued support. See you in 2019!

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