The First Half Debrief

‘Ok, everyone, see you next year!’

What a classic teacher joke. Like most of my jokes, it works every time. Of course, by ‘works’ I mean most of the kids roll their eyes while I chuckle to myself knowing it wasn’t very funny at all. It’s almost funnier that way. Really makes you think about all the times your dad ‘wasn’t funny’, huh, Hazel?

Sorry. Anyway…I’m fine.

So, as we round out 2019 and officially finish up the decade (and don’t give me any of this ‘there is no year zero so the decade actually ends next year’ garbage), along with our 90th birthday, it’s time for our now annual First Half Debrief! If you’re not familiar with the premise, our staff talks all things August-December, with a nod to the end of the calendar year while keeping an eye on the back half here at WCDS. We’ll talk laughs and learning, with lots of love and links (and apparently more alliteration than you can stomach). Speaking of that, be sure to click the links as you see em!

We’ll have a few more of these Debriefs throughout the rest of the year, with a true year in review capping graduation in May. You know, just before summer camps start…


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

Liz Hofreuter: A dream turned into a reality.

Joe Jividen: www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts (Can’t believe Joe made an Office reference right away)

Kristina Kramer: This year has been chock full of learning and growth.

Claire Norman: Work hard and be kind. That is all.

Stephanie Skadra: What an amazing start to the year! Where did the time go; how is it December!? Time flies when you’re having fun! (I hope this is Tweet length, I don’t do “the Twitter!”) (What’s the Twitter version of Finstagram?)

Brenda Deneen: First half went swimmingly! I think we’ve got this down pat. (Way to not speak too soon…)

Luke Hladek: That. Went. Fast.

2. What was your moment of the mid-year?

Liz: The first flashlight turning on in the first middle school exhibition.

Luke: I loved everything about the middle school exhibition, particularly the day I got to interview the students about the project and hear their feelings on this leap they’re taking with us. Oh and that Rapinoe pose was pretty sweet, but that was over the summer.

Kristina: Deep study of “character” with Tiger Rising and witnessing 4th graders think about life in a new way.

Claire: My moment of the mid-year was when I found out Linda, my co-teacher, was going to be going to Italy with me. (Wait. Like, Italy Italy?!)

Stephanie: I was beyond proud of our children at the EC holiday show! They were amazing. It was such a fun collaborative project among the teachers, and it all came together beautifully! What a moment!

Joe: Being cast in my second WCDS production. I’d like to thank the academy.

Brenda: When you said we were halfway through the year…

3. I’ve heard that kids say the ‘darndest’ things (the Art Linkletter one). What is your most quote-worthy line so far?  

Liz: “I’m 8. Are you 80?”

Joe: “Mr. Coach Jividen (<—literal direct quote) you’re good, but you’re not great.”
-or-
“Coach Joe is the strongest (manliest*) (handsomest*) (smartest*) (most accomplished*) male teacher at this school.” (*Assumed paraphrasing)

Becky Dodd:  Some children call me Mr. Dodd or Mrs. God depending on their speech development.  But this is the best. One rainy morning Taygen and her mom were riding to school. Taygen asked who made it rain. Her mom said God makes it rain. Taygen replies, “You’re kidding me? I love Mrs. God!” Meaning me.

Kristina: “You know I’m your favorite, right?” -Roman

Claire: Most quote-worthy line so far comes from Charlie Z. “Miss Claire, I don’t have any lungs anymore. The doctor took them out.”

Stephanie: “But Mr. Aladdin, I didn’t say ‘@#%!’”

Luke: Can I just complete that one? “…They thought I said ‘@#%!’ but I didn’t say ‘@#%!’. I don’t know why they would think I said ‘@#%!’ but I promise I’m telling the truth I would never say ‘@#%!'” -Anonymous

Mr. Coach Jividen opens the second Middle School Deep Dive, ‘Not So Far From the American Dream’

4. Who is your Mid-Year Most Valuable Player (MYMVP)? 

Liz: One? Get out. Impossible to choose one out of all the people pouring their hearts into learning – adults and children alike.

Kristina: I’m going out on a limb here (and nominate a student)… Alex Cooper. I love how his mind works.

Joe: MYVP- Hands down Carrie Ochap. We’d have never won the alumni basketball game without her ballin’!

Claire: I vote Carrie Ochap for her organization and always thinking one step ahead.

Stephanie: Miss Paula! She is a ROCK STAR and I don’t know how she does it!!

Brenda: Paula McClure’s seemingly effortless scheduling of subs.

Luke: I have to go with IJ. Mr. Kay. The guy has been everywhere these last months and took the reins of our very first middle school deep dive and I’d be lying if I didn’t tear up when those lights starting turning on.

5. It’s Possible Here is quite the tagline and we sure love to use it. What has been possible here for you this year?

Liz: Peace in the middle of chaos.

Joe: The opportunity to team-teach and learn from some talented educators through our middle school, allowing me to grow personally and professionally.

Claire: This year, so far, has brought on many new opportunities for me. I cannot wait to travel to Italy (like, Italy Italy?!) to learn more about and fully immerse myself in the Reggio approach to education. I am also excited yet nervous to be the ISACS Teacher Representative as we prepare for our Self-Study.

Stephanie: It’s possible here… to direct the choir for Symphony on Ice. So blessed I got this opportunity!

Brenda: The commitment to staff fitness is unparalleled.

Luke: I tell this story a lot, but whenever I go to conferences I talk about the things we’re doing and people ask, ‘How did you manage to get approval for that?’ and I say, ‘Well, I walked into the office and said it out loud.’ That literally goes for deep dive projects and weird videos and professional development opportunities and everything in between.

6. What are you reading/watching/listening to in those earbuds (Luke)? We want your media recs! 

Joe: What am I not watching listening to reading etc? Righteous Gemstones, The Americans (again), Trailer Park Boys, The Office (Ever heard of it?), The Devil Next Door, Last Chance U, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Thanks Hulu), I should really get out more. Pods: The Pressbox (Thanks Hladek), Pardon my Take, Business Wars, and Every true-crime podcast that has ever aired. See Addendum* Reading: The Art of the Comeback, Midas Touch, The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received

Kristina: On Facebook, The Reading and Writing Strategies Community. This is a group of teachers sharing resources, thoughts, questions, answers.

Claire: I’ve been watching some fabulous kids shows. I highly recommend Masha and the Bear and Beat Bugs. (MASHA!)

Stephanie: Books – n/a 😂 Podcasts – n/a 😂
Movies – Rocketman, (Mr.) Aladdin, Laundromat, lots of Christmas movies
TV – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Righteous Gemstones, Silicon Valley, Peaky Blinders, Living with Yourself, Working Moms, Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Will and Grace, Shameless, Ballers.
(Maybe not as many family-friendly or educational shows you might expect…)

Liz: I just watch what Stephanie tells me. (Oh boy) My must read… Maybe Tomorrow? (this?)

Luke: I have a lot to recommend, but I’m currently (still) reading Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. It’s a bit of a tough one at times, but this ending to chapter 1 is something special. In truly exclusive news, I also listen to podcasts! Too many podcasts. But if I had to pick one to recommend two (three) of them: Revisionist History (I loved the Hallelujah ep.) and Radiolab. Oh and S-Town if you’re down for a wild story and…Ok I’ll stop. Last thing: 60 Second Classics on Instagram is a funny thing but I can’t remember how long it is. Oh and Focus Group from I Think You Should Leave is the funniest thing I’ve watched all year. Alright now I’ll stop.

7. Finish this sentence…’WCDS is at its best when…’

Liz: The day ends in Y.

Kristina: WCDS is at its best when we work together to tackle big issues in best practices.

Claire: WCDS is at its best when we all come together and have a good laugh.

Stephanie: When we all pull together and work as a team! I love to see our well-oiled machine on big days like Grandparents Day, holiday shows, Prospective Family Days, etc.

Luke: …someone has a big idea. It can be related to curriculum or the lunch room or Halloween or just, you know, life. We’re quite a bit more than a school, so if we can improve experiences and do things differently, let’s do it. It’s really something to be a part of. (end in a preposition much?)

Little Miss WCDS Faculty on Halloween 2019

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

Joe: Pouring a Blantons Gold (cheap) at the completion of the second middle school deep dive!

Kristina: The novel study with Holes and Poetry!

Claire: For the rest of the year, I am most looking forward to the time I will spend with my current students. It is a great class filled with big hearts, creative ideas, and lots of laughs.

Luke: I’m pretty interested to see how this outdoor, performative middle school exhibition looks at a venue downtown.

Brenda: May 22nd

Liz: Honestly? A second driver in the house. But a close second is whatever unexpected surprise arises.


And there you have it. The first half is in our wake and we’re on to bigger and better things in the days and months to come. From everyone here at WCDS, we wish you a relaxing and family-filled holiday break.

Thanks for always being there for us and we’ll see you again…next year. (nailed it)

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