It Only Takes One: The Girl Who is Still Changing Me

There is a little girl in my class this year who has changed my world. She visits the hospital every month, or more, depending on her lungs. Before she comes to school she has to do physiotherapy and when she gets home she has to do it again. She takes salt tablets and creon pills (her enzymes don’t work like ours do) before eating. Every time she eats. She needs to wear face masks frequently to protect herself from germs. A common cold to a healthy young child is a sickness that could hospitalize her for months. Or worse…

Every day she comes to school in pain. Every day.

Are you picturing a sad little girl in your mind? I think I would. But let me tell you, this small, redheaded, beautiful child, is anything but sad. She makes having Cystic Fibrosis seem like so much fun that half of her classmates want to have it too. I wish those students could see the times when the nurse visits during school to change her PICC line and painful cries fill the classroom while the rest of her friends are outside playing. Yet, she worries more about the boy who is gluten intolerant in our class than she does about herself.

Yes, there are times she arrives at my classroom door crying because her stomach or head hurts even more than usual, or her body aches. But within minutes of those tougher than usual days she is smiling, laughing and telling me about something her little brother did that morning. She recently spent five days in the hospital and showed up Monday morning with her physio bag and the biggest smile on her face, so excited to tell me about her time in the hospital. Even though the week before I received a picture from her mum of her after surgery, looking like she had been hit by a bus. She wanted to tell me about her hospital room and how she woke up in the morning super confused because she thought it looked so much like her own bedroom. Never once did she mention how much it hurt. 

Her smile brings me and her classmates so much joy. She is a rockstar on the monkey bars. She is a gifted artist. Even as I write these words, tears are in my eyes when I think about her. I was terrified at the beginning of the year when this precious child was placed in my care, in my class. I am still scared. But I am also grateful.

Grateful that a five year old has taught me so much about joy, love, and how to live.

Has anyone changed your view point lately?


10 on 10- March

Take a trip back to the beginning of the month with me. I looked at the calendar, panicked. Is it the 10th yet? No, it’s only the 3rd. Phew. A few more days pass by… wait! Did I miss the 10th? No, it’s the 7th. And then before you know it, it’s the 13th. Oops.

So there you have it. I didn’t mean to miss posting 10 photos on the 10th. It just happened. Life happens sometimes, you know. Presenting at a conference happens (KORCOS), and the weekend happens, and math week happens.

The first 7 pictures are from my iPhone. I had the honor of helping my girl Judy celebrate her graduation from university. She had amazing ideas for treats and decor.

(I had eaten part of the cookie diploma before I got a picture… my bad.)

The next three show a little glimpse inside of my classroom this past month. I love my job.


I couldn’t complete a 10 on 10 post that I am posting on the 15th without giving a shout out to my one and only big sis. Happy Birthday, Amie! I love you to the moon and back.

I Love My Job

Sitting down with parents and telling them that their child is struggling academically might be the most difficult part of my job. I want every student in my classroom to succeed, doesn’t every teacher feel that way?

Yesterday, I had such a meeting about such a student and it was hard. It was a little terrifying. And it was draining. But after the parents initial not so good reaction to the idea that their child might have a learning disability they became more open to exploring options in helping their child. I have never been more appreciate of my principal’s presence and wisdom than I was in that meeting. I left work last night with a whirring brain and a feeling that I just wasn’t doing enough.

This morning I walked into work and was immediately beckoned by the librarian. She gushed about my students and how I must be doing something right in my class because they were talking about this and saying this and doing this during her library lessons. It was all centered around what love looks like and how we show love to others (this is February and Valentines Day- my favorite holiday- is right around the corner after all!). I hadn’t even reached my classroom yet and I felt so edified I was beaming.

Before the first bell rang I was in the teacher’s workroom when my co-worker stopped me to tell me how her son (who is in my class) demanded to come to school as soon as he woke up. It was 6:30 in the morning and he said, “Is Ms. Welton at school yet?” His mom’s response was, “No.” Then again at 7 a.m… “Is Ms. Welton at school yet?” Knowing that I often get to school relatively early his mom replied, “Yes, she probably is at school.” He said,”Then we have to go right now!”

The school day went on and nothing out of the ordinary happened. I gave one student a nickname the day before and today all of my students were begging for nicknames, most of them ending with the long “e” sound. Tommy, Soty, Danny, Annie… One student asked me to call him “Monkey” and I said I would try, but because it was so different from his actual name I might forget. Then he changed his mind and turned his name into a form with an “e” on the end too.

The day ended in a flurry of students going to after school activities, getting picked up, or catching the bus. I am still at work, over 3 hours later typing up notes from my meeting yesterday, tweaking tomorrows lesson plans, and catching up on Facebook.

That’s when it hit me. Well, I was actually writing a post-it note on one of my student’s desks to remind him to do something in the morning… when it hit me.

I really love my job.

And that is such a blessing.

memoirs of my 27th birthday.

May 18th, 2012

I honestly, and wholeheartedly, wanted to write a post yesterday. Being that yesterday marked the start of my 27th year on earth (or I mean, the end of my 27th year? I just really confused myself… you turn one after you have been alive a whole year— so now I have been alive 27 years, so it’s the end, right?), anyway… I am now 27.

An account of my day, to remember years down the road, as this is the closest thing I have to a journal:

I walked to work decked out in mascara (a rarity) and iron curled hair (that deflated within the hour-why doesn’t hair spray work?), sporting a lovely flowered dress. You have to look good on your birthday, you know? As I went to open my classroom door a balloon almost hit me in the face, I looked up and eight colorful balloons had been taped to my door (surrounding my “welcome to second grade” poster). Smiling I walked across my room, and saw a post-it note stuck on my computer screen that read, “Play as often as possible”, opened in my internet browser was New Kids on the Block’s version of “Happy Birthday” (which I had never heard before— so, so great!). Then (I am actually noticing everything one step at a time, since I am not the most observant person in the world) I see the gift bag. Nailholic Magazine (yes-such a thing exists!), bedazzlement nail kit, and the BIGGEST heart-shaped reeses peanut butter cup I have ever seen! I turn around-stunned- and see that I have completely missed the happy birthday banner taped underneath my whiteboard/smartboard, decorated with balloons on either side. I head over to the person responsible— the third grade teacher and great friend Joëlle. She had to have rolled into school EARLY to surprise me— knowing I arrive at work anywhere from 7-7:30! (She normally gets to work at 7:45ish).

Just when I start to recover one of my students walks in with a life-size balloon PERSON. My obvious teacher replacement for the day, as no one should work on their birthday— right? Pictures posted below 🙂 Another student’s mom walks in with a home-made strawberry tart. I think I gained at least ten pounds yesterday. A student from last year (as if she remembered my birthday!) shows up with a box wrapped in PURPLE (best color) and gave me a collection of lip gloss, the extra sparkly one is my favorite. Today another one of my student’s from last year made sure to give me a gift (of CHOCOLATE) when he realized my birthday was the day before… being a teacher on your birthday is THE BEST JOB. In the past I have worked on several of my birthdays— you just don’t get the same love in the restaurant business, haha.

Jee Young and Dyanne make sure to stop by with warm hugs to start my already insane day. Elaine hands me “present number one”; a giant cookie, chocolate mini-muffins, and a beautifully written card telling me how great I am. As the day gets started Adrienne shows up and hands me breakfast (what?!), chocolate chip pancakes— start drooling, they were delish.

It’s not even nine o-clock yet. I walk back into my classroom to grab my water (my kids were over in Elaine’s room rehearsing for our upcoming musical) and there is the most interesting looking “cake” sitting on my desk. Kit Kats forming a circle, held up by a peanut butter concoction, and the center is filled with m & m’s (like I said, ten pounds). Two cards are on my desk from my “birthday buddy”— at work among the teachers, we have secret birthday buddies, only I had a feeling I was going to guess who mine was! Not only was there this ridiculously good tasting “cake”, there was also a beautiful bracelet.

I start receiving anonymous e-mails from a birthday buddy email account. How creative is that? Definitely the give-away though, since my friend (and co-worker) Steph and I are obsessed with watching movie trailers in our free time— she kept me supplied with emails throughout the day linked to trailers of movies I haven’t seen yet, as well as old classics that never die. Steph went above and beyond the call of birthday buddy!

One of my student’s driver shows up (yes, a lot of them have their own “drivers”) in the middle of the day to bring me flowers. Then, Jee Young stops by as the school day is winding down to hand me her “gift number one” (receiving gifts in installments is seriously great!), she discovered an Etsy site where you can custom order stationary (and she talks about it here— check it out!).

Holding my half-eaten strawberry tart in one hand, and my nearly demolished kit kat cake in the other, I start to head for home… then have to turn back because I forgot to print stuff out for small group. I end up ditching, er finishing the dishes and leaving half an hour later with my bouquet of flowers instead.

Leading small group on my birthday was another huge blessing. Yoonjung hosted it at her amazing apartment in Itaewon. She cooked us dinner and we ate it on her terrace, overlooking the city and watching the night steal across the sky— gifting us with the glow of every building and car. It was so calm, and quiet— we all felt like we had escaped Seoul and were in San Francisco! Ashley snapped pics for me all night as I DIDN’T BRING MY CAMERA (who am I? I always have my camera). Kristin showed up with cake, PURPLE cake. We laughed, we ate, we read our Bible, we ate some more, we prayed, we grew. Three and a half hours later I panicked because it felt like only thirty minutes had gone by and I needed to catch the subway home.

My birthday ended with my nose buried in a book one of my student’s recommended me to read (The Lightning Thief) during library time today, he can’t even read it yet, he just told me his brother loved it.

What’s on the agenda for tomorrow? Oh, yeah. My birthday PARTY. Hahahaha, I am incredibly blessed. I might start crying (but I am on my period so that would totally be acceptable— and the is not TMI, since this is my journal, hehe).


I accidentally started eating the kit kat cake before I took a picture!

“I want to experience the speed again.”

I find the best writing my students produce is usually on their own time. Every weekend they come back to class with a journal full of their thoughts, and one of my favorite activities is to read about what they have to say. You might be thinking, “Really Melody, you teach eight-year-olds, is what they have to say really that interesting?” Well, the answer is YES!

Recently one of my student’s went skiing, and she wrote a journal entry about it. There was one line that really stood out to me:

“I want to experience the speed again.”

Come on now! Can’t you just picture her at the top of the hill, coming down, cold wind whipping her hair all around… a smile on her frozen face? All of that with one simple line: “I want to experience the speed again.”

Me too girl, me too.

Writing can change people… you know? So, write stuff down!

back to school jitters

“Ms. Welton, are you pregnant?”

Guess I shouldn’t have worn this outfit on the first day of school. I turned to the side to show my new second grade student that no, I was not pregnant, and yes, I have a small waist. She gave an understanding nod and blamed it on the skirt.

At the end of the day one of my student’s mother came to introduce herself to me. She told me her son wanted to be in my class (what? SO COOL) and his exact words were, “I want to have Ms. Welton as my teacher. She is scary, but funny!” hmmm… I am not exactly sure when I interacted with this kid last year. But he pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Basically, it was an exhausting, but exciting day.  The second time around is completely different that the first. I see my students from last year head to the third grade classrooms and my heart hurts. I want them back! But I know I will fall in love with my students this year and think the same thing again this time next year. How do teachers do it? My heart is going to keep expanding until it eventually explodes. Really.


knock-knock jokes?

Last week I had a bit of a mis-communication with one of my students. It was pretty rough. He ended up being so upset that he opted to sit on the bleachers during recess instead of playing soccer. I mean, the kids really love soccer.

I joined him at the bleachers along with his best friend J2. “Why don’t you tell J1 (creative I know, but both their names start with J!) some jokes to cheer him up?” I suggested to J2.

He happily obliged. Only… I didn’t really get any of his jokes. J1 didn’t think they were funny. I then asked J2 if he knew any knock-knock jokes. His face lit up, “Yeah!”

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Basketball who?” “Basket ball you!”

okay…. I am trying to wrap my mind around that one when, “Knock-knock.”  “Who’s there?”  “Gold.” “Gold who?” “Do you have gold shoes?”

Well, you gotta give it to the boy for trying. J2 looked down at J1 (who had his hood up and head down). “Still not funny?”

Friends. They are so priceless.

For those who want to hear more (I wrote them down in my iPhone):

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Easter.” “Easter who?” “Easter bunny broke an egg on your head.”

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Eggs.” “Eggs who?” “Eggs for breakfast.”

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Juice.” “Juice who?” “Juice in your pants.”

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Sneakers.” “Sneakers who?” “Let’s where sneakers on our hands!”

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Lollipop.” “Lollipop who?” “We have lollipop face.”

“Knock-knock.”   “Who’s there?” “Coffee.” “Coffee who?” “Let’s eat coffee.”

I didn’t even write all of them down. J1 never laughed. I don’t think J2 has ever actually heard a knock-knock joke…