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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Jessica Cox came to Esperero Canyon School today to speak to our 8th grade students about kindness and about turning adversity into accomplishment.   She is an amazing young woman who inspired all of those present in our library.  Jessica was born in Sierra Vista in 1993 without arms.  She holds a black belt in Taekwonko.  She is in the Guinness Book of  World Records as the first armless person in the world ever to have obtained a pilot’s license.  She earned the AOPA LIVE Pilots' Choice Award in 2010 as the Most Watched Female Aviator. The Filipino Women’s Network named her among 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the U.S..  She has been published in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. She received the The Filipino American Journal Award of Excellence and Outstanding Filipino Award, 2008. She recently was featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show.  She is also a graduate of the University of Arizona.

Ten Inspirational Quotes from Jessica Cox
10.  "FEAR means "False Evidence Appearing Real"
9.  "Be kind, always!"
8.  "Believe that you can do anything."
7.  "If you want do something, you are already 80% successful. Desire is 80% success."
6.  "When I went into the 8th grade, I decided not to wear my prosthetic arms.  When I got on the bus and the doors closed behind me, I knew I would never wear those arms again.  I felt strong and free."
5.  "There is a universal fear: the lack of confidence in yourself."
4.  "I live my life thru my feet."
3.  "My fiance bought me an engagement ankle bracelet.  I never take it off."
2.  "Persistence means never give up."
1.  "Never allow your fear to stand in the way of opportunity."

Thanks, Jessica, for your inspirational message.  Here are some quotes from our students about Jessica "She's so cool! "
"I felt inspired."
"I was so honored to meet her."
"I am so glad I met her because she is together."
"When is she coming back?"

Thanks to our dear Mrs. Patricia McCabe who connected us to Jessica.

Reflections on the Tragedy at Chardon High

On Tuesday morning, ECMS English Teacher Kirsten Pelot and a 6th grade student tracked me down in the parking lot doing my morning duty. They proposed a plan for our 6th grade students to write to the students at Chardon High School to express their sympathy for the victims of the tragic events of  February 27.  I was very touched by the request.  As I was reading the CNN blog, a 3rd student passed.  It makes no sense. My heart goes out to the victims and their families.  I am also wondering about how the school's students and staff are coping.  I understand that 3 teachers were responsible for intervening and stopping the shooter before he claimed even more victims. Such courage . . .

We continue our focus on building students' self-esteem.  This week, we have Jessica Cox, a motivational speaker, coming today to speak to students.  Jessica is a very accomplished person. She is talks about being positive in the face of adversity.  She pilots a plane inspite of having been born with no arms. We are looking very forward to listening to this amazing young woman.

Beauty and the Beast is opening this week at 7 pm in the MPR Thursday and Friday.  Ms. Higgins very aptly chose this musical.  I love the message that it sends to young people that true beauty comes from within.

I am going to be writing an article about school safety in the upcoming newsletter.  Our counselors will be contributing their thoughts as well.   We want to assure you that we are working very hard every day to make certain that our students are safe and happy here at ECMS.

Please call me if you have any concerns.  209-8100

Monday, February 20, 2012

Valentine's Day Thanks or Happiness is . . . chocolate mousse!

Just want to give a big shout out to our ECMS Student Council and sponsors, Ms. Holub and Ms. VandeWater.  Thanks for all you did to make our Valentine's Day luncheon a success.  The cafeteria was beautifully decorated with hearts and flowers!  Ms. Burke's art students made old fashioned Valentines that were personalized.  Ms. Maleski, our curriculum and technology guru, made a lovely playlist of appropriately themed music.  Thanks to our custodial staff for doing a lot of extra work to keep us going that day.

A special merci goes to Mr. Claude Chatelain, of Sodexo, who cooked the finest $3.00 French meal I've ever tasted!  It was delicious.  Even one of our fabulous grandparents who is a retired university professor of French thought it was quite a deal. Our cafeteria served so many meals!  I'm so happy that many of our students tried our French fare.  At the end, the mousse au chocolat was sold a la carte for $1.  Did you know that the grated carrot salad was made by hand with a grater that Mr. Chatelain's mom sent him from France?

I met so many wonderful parents and grandparents.  I must say that the 6th grade won the hospitality award for highest number of parents to attend.  Thanks to all of our students who sat with your parents and made them feel welcome and honored for Valentine's Day.  Even though it rained and hailed, we dined together in honor of love for family.  Our staff signed hundreds of Valentines so that every student would get a Valentine.

An added bonus to our day:  our ECMS Student Council raised over $600 selling roses to fund our Eagle Bells art project that Ms. Burke and her art students are spearheading to promote tolerance, kindness and Eagle pride.

Let's remember the love of V-Day throughout the year.  We will do this again next year, by popular request.  Thanks to all of our wonderful staff who helped us by doing duty during lunch to ensure that everything went smoothly.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Family Valentine's Day


Last month,  Lori Iaconis, ECMS parent and FFO volunteer extraordinaire,  sent out a last minute request for gift card donations to the CFSD Gala of Schools.  In a matter of days, our Esperero parents came through to the tune of $1,000.  Talk about Eagle Pride . . . our parents are so incredibly generous.  Thank you, ECMS parents for, again, going above and beyond! Thanks to Anita Feder, Jeannine Pudwill, Trish McCabe, Lisa Millerd and all of our wonderful ECMS FFO volunteers.  It was a lovely evening and great to see everyone dressed up to honor the teaching profession.  Congratulations to our colleagues, Lindy Bowden of Canyon View Elementary and to Kristin Green of Manzanita who were CFSD teachers of the year, both such amazing women!

Cindy Janus, ECMS teacher, was honored for her distinguished teaching.  Read my previous blog to find out more about our wonderful Ms. Janus.


We began our BIRD OF THE MONTH campaign. Mr. Nick Glabicky, ECMS science teacher and avid birdwatcher is spearheading this event.  Every month, he will present (via Youtube) a bird to find in nature and one to identify by picture.  Students who correctly identify these birds will be entered in a drawing for Frost cards and birding accessories. Rachel Maleski wrote a grant to the FFO to fund the Frost cards.  We have invited our feeder schools to "bird" with us!

Bird watching is actually a great hobby that promotes being outdoors and conservation.  It's also great family fun.  Click on our Youtube channel icon and watch our videos on birdwatching.


On Saturday, January 28, Rachel Maleski, our curriculum technology coordinator, and I presented at the Reunion of Camp Snowball, the International Conference for Systems Thinking at the Marriott Starr Pass resort.  Our presentation consisted of a Pecha Kucha (powerpoint consists of 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide--a Japanese innovation that is also a pop culture phenomenon in Japan).  Please look at our presentation "Our Little School in the Desert" on our Youtube Channel and learn about our up and coming projects that support sustaining our school's beautiful environment.

U of A Project at Esperero:  Sustaining Our Environment

Speaking of environment, Dr. Ursula Schuch of the University of Arizona Agricultural Extension paid us a visit at ECMS.  Along with Orange Grove Middle School we are part of a grant that is seeking to help schools sustain the environment and establish urban pest control practices that are environmentally friendly.  Dr. Schuch, a horticulturist, walked the grounds with Ms. Castro and me, giving us tips on planting trees and maintaining our grounds.  It was fascinating.

We are in the early planning stages of a monthly grounds beautification project with parents and kids.  Ideally, we would like parents and kids to come to ECMS one Saturday per month to help us do some gardening.  Some ideas being tossed about include putting in a lizard garden and a cactus garden.  If you are interested in being part of this project (and it's in its infancy stages, at this point), please shoot me an email at  This is a project that will be guided by the information given to us by the U of A.  Everyone will have specifically assigned jobs.  Training will be provided.  Experience gardening would be helpful.


If you ask school administrators what days challenge us, Valentine's Day is high on the list. There can be a bit of frenzy with all of the hearts and an abundance of candy.  This year we want to focus on families during Valentine's Day.  We are holding a Valentine's Day lunch at Esperero Canyon for our parents/guardians and grandparents.  Who better to help us organize this feast than Monsieur Claude Chatelain, our Sodexo manager and native Parisian!  M. Chatelain has put together a wonderful menu of French favorites (yes, real French food).  Rachel Maleski, our technology guru, has compiled a wonderful playlist of seasonal songs that will be playing in the background.  Student Council will be decorating.  What better way to tell our parents we love them than with a rich mousse au chocolat?

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm offering the opportunity to share stories about heartwarming experiences with our parents.  ECMS parents and students can participate!  I'll put them on my blog.  Email them to me at Tell me if you want me to use your name or publish you anonymously.  Sharing stories is a great way of building community.

Here are examples from my own life (feel free to use my italicized sentence starters, or make up your own):

I knew my dad loved me when he drove in a blizzard to Denver to take me home for holiday break. My flight was cancelled and the Colorado Highway Patrol had closed a lot of roads: but, nevertheless dad managed, somehow! He turned up at my dorm and I was so happy and surprised to see him!

I knew my mom was cool when . . . she stayed up all night to make my Halloween costume when I was in 3rd grade.  I was a Pilgrim that year.  Twenty years later, my step daughter wore the same costume!

I knew my grandma was like no other when she gave me a fishing pole and a tackle box.  "It is very important for a girl to bait her own hook," is advice she gave that I have never forgotten.

Use some of my italicized stems or invent some new ones.  Submit your stories to


Happy Valentine's Day to all of our parents, kids, faculty and staff . . . .