Apopka Art & Jazz Festival 2015

jazz1Giving kids a chance to perform in front of a live audience is what it is all about

The Sixth Apopka Art and Jazz Festival was placed earlier on the calendar this year from what I have heard. It is usually later. A firm email came out citing next year, no matter what, it would be held April 1. Central Florida weather from late November to mid-March can be unpredictable, sometimes nasty cold. While the cold was terrible, the drizzle and dampness is not conducive to art displays, or putting kids out to perform in costume. The Festival is held at the Amphitheater, which is a pretty open space, subject to wind.

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The Apopka Amphitheater is a large open structure which adjoining a small lake. There is a lot of open space surrounding it, which pitches up, perhaps a larger water area at one time. The surrounding area is spare around, but very Florida pleasant, which means green, but open. The area north of Orlando is not so Florida flat, so you have more rolling plain.



jazz blue girls

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There had to be about 25 messages, some large, clogging up my email during the last few days. Luckily, I could always follow them, even in my nervousness about trying to get art work together and get all the info right for the show.  Because of testing, and other things, the festival was scheduled for what turned out to be one of the strangest days of the season. We were supposed to get heavy rain, and high winds.

happy birthdayDedicated principal, shows up, even though it is her birthday.

jazz 15 dedicated jteacherDedicated middle school teacher setting up work.

thandiweArtwork blew away at first, table crashed over. At one point I thought my display was going to be lifted up and blown away. One paper quilt ripped before I could get it up. One hung in there for the whole show, without much incident, but a lot of clanging.

People came and went, but not a lot, I wished more kids would have showed up, but the weather, which had started so rainy, must have turned a lot of people off. By the afternoon it was sunny and not cold at all. The poor girls in blue dresses (above) in chorus had been wearing sweatshirts over their sparkly dresses.

jazz iohn and surviving quiltJohn, my assistant, removes wood from the surviving quilt, as we took the show down.

Things like this are a lot of work, but the kids who either perform, or those who have work displayed, get a big kick out it!

homePretty area as you walk around the lake, the water Cezanne blue.


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!

new construct composite

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!!

DSC_0379 mc1

DSC_0388 mc2Mac!

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DSC_0463kidzdance 3Kidzdance!

DSC_0486 sunglasses

DSC_0487 2 kids

DSC_0496 bearSights and sounds

DSC_0506 ap nhs 2

DSC_0527 jennings

DSC_0529 flip

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parade myrnna oliviera2Apopka Elementary National Honor Society


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DSC_0736 second last

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.

A New World

obstacle courseAs part of an assignment of the Element of Line, students create an obstacle course of yarn for the next class.

Finding a new world is always exciting and disconcerting. When I left my old school, I left a certain amount of security. I was know there and had formed relationships both with admin, students and other teachers. Here, I began all over, not really knowing anyone. Here, having only a vague idea of whom my students might be. Here, being redefined by new students and events. It is disconcerting, but always exciting, nevertheless.

I’d rather take the time to write a blog, than be on Facebook. Facebook often becomes a bunch of gossip, or cold. A place where people sort of interact, but repetitiously.  In school, every day is new, no day ever is duplicated, even when it has a familiar feel. In school, we are always moving towards the last day, even on the first day. There are so many variables, we never really know what detours upon the road we go. But even the detours force us to interact, to become more flexible, more interested, more.

My experience with my new school began in June, when I knew I needed to detour from the direction my path was going. I knew, as much as I loved my old school, I wanted smaller. I knew as used to the kids as I was, I wanted more teaching time with students. I knew as comfortable as I was, I was no longer comfortable being there.

As I cleaned out my room, which became an art disaster area during the last quarter, I began to respond to schools that advertised for teachers.  Most of the other teachers had finished up a week before. I got a call from one school, and the interview was not what I wanted. I got a another call at home, I responded that evening to the AP at home.

The interview took place two days later. It ended with the principal asking, “How soon can you give me an answer on taking this job?”

Apopka is a Native American word for "Potato eating place"