Christmas comes to Apopka

ap 1The most beloved  holiday comes to the pleasant little Orange County city.

Unlike the charm of Winter Park, which has the history of Leu Gardens to remember the yesteryear Christmases, or the commercial 21st century look of Altamonte Springs, its neighbor east, Apopka retains a small town charm. People sat on porches and waved as I tried to get shots in the rain on Christmas eve. Others joined us in the Kit Land Nelson Park.

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ap kitKit Land Nelson Park, except vertical left, which was a great pole tree done by a resident.

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My favorite part was City Hall, in which some of the lights were out, which gave a strange asymmetry to the placement of the figures.

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Away we go!

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When I was hired they said, “you’re in the old wing, but we are beginning our new school. You can watch out of your window and see it being built. In a way they were only a little wrong, you would have had to see past the green nylon barrier that has become a standard over the chainlink fence.

Weeks are spent moving dirt to make way for the slab foundation, but also the walls. Wood is carefully laid out, and cutout for the windows just seem to be somewhat sidewalk type framework, but it is not, it is the poured wall which will be pulled up by crane and set into position. This is the second time I have seen this done, and it is amazing to watch.

I had seen the crane the day before, and that terrible spray smell that I remembered from my old school. At the end of the day, I took a walk outside and while some were sitting watching kids trapse along the bridge of the little playground, there it was the construction going on. The cranes lifting up the concrete wall

new construct men new construct swings

So after months of us sitting around waiting for the groundbreaking to begin, it all came together today as the walls began to rise on a beautiful clear day, the last day, before our Christmas break. Glad to see it begin, wish I could be there for the whole put together next week!

Pajama Night

miller and chambers endWorking hard, working after school, working evenings, for love not pay.

pj tortor

pj blincoe

pj guerrier

pj mont

pj gonzalez

pj maise

When people knock teachers for having too much free time, I wonder what they really know about schools today. Far from 9 to 5, I watch two administrators at a parade on Saturday, a music production on Monday night and then tonight a gathering in the library for children and adults. I see fellow teachers in the parking lots long after 5. I love this bunch, they work as hard as all teachers and admin really do.

internAnd our wonderful intern, here at night, really working for the love, for they aren’t even paid any salary.

The 2014 Apopka Christmas Parade

flip miller vazquezWhat could be more happy for the holidays!

Christmas is coming to Apopka, and so is the parade. I never remember a parade in the old community I came from. There were the bronze horses with wreaths around their neck, but not a bona fide parade! This was a happy event, with fancy cars and floats and fun!

DSC_0015 parade beginsThe Parade begins

DSC_0038 mayor joe kilshiemerOur Mayor, Joe Kilsheimer and Mrs. Kilsheimer

DSC_0065 Sertoman Rob ManleySertoman Recipient, Robbie Manley

DSC_0092 miss apopkaLovely Miss Apopka, Sarah Davis

DSC_0097 US Representative John Mica 2U.S. Representative John Mica



DSC_0174 homecoming queen

DSC_0183  home king2014 Apopka High Homecoming Queen, Lavonda Pope and Homecoming King, Sebastian Slagel.


DSC_0324 ap high band

DSC_0347 ap band 2Apopka High Marching Band

DSC_0358 antique cars

DSC_0363 antique cars2Antique cars!!!

DSC_0369 bubblesBubbles!!

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DSC_0388 mc2Mac!

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DSC_0463kidzdance 3Kidzdance!

DSC_0486 sunglasses

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DSC_0496 bearSights and sounds

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DSC_0527 jennings

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parade myrnna oliviera2Apopka Elementary National Honor Society


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flags at end

DSC_0789 last shotAnd that is a parade—Apoka style!

Inspiration between 24 hours

susan mary compositeDr. Mary Palmer and Susan Rosoff in a discussion at the Orlando Museum of Art

Sometimes you can get bowled over by the inspiration that people bring to the table. Within 24 hours, I was hit twice. First in the Orlando Museum of Art by Dr. Mary Palmer and Susan Rosoff, with their workshop on their book, Teaching Through the ARTS: WRITING. They used the museum as a workshop resource, we have talked a lot about arts integration, but these ideas really work.

I have had the pleasure of doing these workshops a few times. This time, I was knocked out how well, Susan’s old workplace, seemed to be the perfect backdrop for all the things they were getting out. A big thanks to Jude Mohler and Christina Owens.

mm portraitsMarc Mero was the other source of inspiration for my students, the way the dynamic duo at the OMA was to me. 

Marc Mero, has a large life story to tell. Students were given a dose of reality, from someone who hasn’t always walked  along the straight and narrow. Coming out of being poor, Mero, worked himself up twice to champion status. The first lost attempt was with boxing, which escaped him by chance. The second with the WWF, brought him money and success. Unfortunately, he slid of the wagon a few times, including losing almost all members of his immediate family.

Many in the audience were shaken, some without Kleenex, as his story resonated for the young and impressionable. As we all know, it is never to early to talk to kids about substance abuse and bullying. But it wasn’t just a sermon, his positive attitude became inspiration for the adults, as well as the kids.

mm blog compositeThere were several non-dry eyes in the house

Thanks to Corey Fairbanks Mazda funding the visit, and the PTA for coming up with it.