Dover Shores: Thanks for the Memories

On May 31, the last dismissal bell of the school year will signal the end of an era for  Dover Shores Elementary. Soon the buildings of Dover Shores  will be demolished to make way for new construction. As the fateful day approaches it is met with mixed emotions by students, parents, and staff.

Certainly everyone will benefit from an updated facility.  The school, located in Orlando and built in 1960, shows many signs of wear and tear. But there has always been something special about this place. It exhibits a character all its own.

I taught third grade at Dover Shores for seven years and still return weekly as a volunteer. I love the outdoor open concept of this quaint school. Walkways connect the various sections of campus. Beautiful oak trees provide shady areas for parents to meet their child for lunch.

IMG_9127I spoke with Mrs. Jessica Green, who attended Dover Shores as a child, and returned as a teacher in 2005.  When I asked Mrs. Green if anything about education has remained the same, she smiled and said, “until now, only the buildings of Dover Shores.”

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Next year DSE students and staff will be housed at the neighboring campus of Englewood Elementary. In August of 2018 they  return to a new facility where all grade levels and administrative offices are under one roof.  “I’ll miss the outdoor concept,” Mrs. Green stated, “but we need upgraded technology and better air conditioning.” She plans to stay in education and enjoys seeing her students’ confidence and abilities grow during each school year.

IMG_9125Mrs. Green is one example of the many fine teachers at Dover Shores. Principal, Dr. Randall Hart, values the commitment of his staff who continue to be relationship driven and put the needs of students first. “Forty percent of the instructional staff has taught at this school for ten years or longer,” Dr. Hart commented. He believes a community built on caring for one another helps retain teachers year after year.

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Mr. Bob Bragg taught at Dover Shores for thirty-four years until retiring in 2013. Recently he organized a small library to help others remember the history of the school. Actress Delta Burke,  St. Louis pitcher Cody Allen, and Paul Wilson of the NY Mets are among many successful Americans educated at Dover Shores. The historical information he collected will be preserved in the new building.  Mr.  Bragg saw many changes take place during his long career. When asked what he enjoyed most he responded, “teaching cursive handwriting.”

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Parents have contributed much to the success of the school. Every year for the past thirty years Dover Shores received the Golden School Award.  Each year DSE volunteers log over 8,000 hours of service.  PTA President Mrs. Michella Johnson, and Vice President Mr. Paul Messermith, are pictured as they prepare for staff appreciation week.  Mrs. Johnson has a favorite memory of helping kindergartners on field day. She encouraged a child to overcome the fear of participating in a new game.

A parent designed and painted the kid friendly murals on the exterior walls of various buildings. A sea life mural welcomes students to the second grade “pod.”

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Second grade classrooms extend off a central garden patio, in continuation of the outdoor theme.

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Fifth grade student, Isabella Johnson,  attended Dover Shores since kindergarten. “I feel sad about the school being torn down because my great uncle helped build it,” Isabella shared. She has special memories of her school as a place where the “teachers are always nice and help the kids understand.”

 

 

A Church Built on the Rock

On the first full day of our Nova Scotia vacation we stepped onto the balcony of our bed and breakfast eager to view famous Peggy’s Cove. Except for a beacon from the lighthouse, visibility was poor.  Nova Scotia is known for variable weather. A thick fog rolled in overnight from the Atlantic Ocean. Hoping the fog would lift, my husband and I ventured out to explore the area.  The first landmark we encountered was St. John’s Anglican Church. An open door to the chapel intrigued us. Once inside, we were greeted by a volunteer from the parish who told us people of the cove have worshipped here since 1885.

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The paintings displayed in the chapel impressed me.  Our volunteer guide explained their importance. The first, Storm and Turbulence, features a group of terrified fisherman clinging to the sides of their boat during a terrible storm. One man points across a raging sea. The second painting, Calm and Serenity, depicts Jesus Christ walking on the water with his arm outstretched toward the fishermen. Like the biblical message of Matthew 14:25, the mural communicates the supernatural power of Christ to calm our fears.  The artist, William deGarthe lived in Peggy’s Cove for years. His work relates the dangers of life at sea and the faith of local fishermen. The deGarthe Museum in the village houses many of his works.

Our guide told us six families founded Peggy’s Cove in 1811. Lured by the rich fishing grounds of nearby St. Margaret Bay, these early settlers battled storms, fog, and jagged rocks to eek out a living from the sea.  Some say the village was named for the bay, I prefer the romantic legend about a shipwreck with a lone survivor named Peggy. The young woman fell in love and later married the man who rescued her.  People would come from miles around to listen to “Peggy of the Cove” tell stories.  “Peggy of the Cove” later became Peggy’s Cove.

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Besides their times of trouble on the water, the fishermen experienced hardships on land. The village sits on granite bedrock. Gardening is futile. Drilling is impossible.  For years the community obtained water through a process of collecting rainwater and purifying it with ultraviolet light. Even so, this water is not considered safe for drinking. We were advised to drink bottled water during our stay.

Due to these conditions, the population of Peggy’s Cove has decreased. Consequently, St. John’s Church has also declined in membership.  When faced with the possibility of closing the church, the few remaining members realized the unique opportunity of their location. Thousands of tourists come to the cove during the summer months to photograph the famous lighthouse and tour the quaint fishing village.

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Volunteers decided to open the chapel on weekdays to minister to tourists. Visitors are welcome to share their prayer requests. I felt led to submit a written request along with my  email address. A few weeks ago I received an email from one of the church leaders who thanked me for my visit and asked if I needed additional prayer support. According to his note, over four thousand visitors from all over the world signed the St. John registry in 2016. The tiny congregation is amazed at the way God is blessing their efforts.

St. John’s Anglican Church is a testimony to a statement Jesus made in Matthew 16:18.  “On this rock, I will build my church.”  You can connect with them through Facebook at Friends of Peggy’s Cove Church.

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A Historic Amusement

How do you feel about April Fools’ Day? Some people relish this opportunity to play tricks on others. My feeble attempts to trick others never seem to work. Maybe my tricks aren’t creative enough, or tricking people is out of my character.

When I taught school the children usually told the same falsehoods to one another. “You’re shoes are untied.” Or “A spider is crawling up your back!” If a person was caught off guard and flinched, the joker felt he or she had succeeded. They would jeer “April Fools ” and everyone laughed, except the “fool.”

How did  April Fools’ Day begin? After researching the subject, I learned that it may have originated with the Hilaria festival of the Romans.  They celebrated the first day of the year which exceeded the night. The festival honored Cybele, mother of the gods. It was a time of rejoicing. No one was allowed to show any expressions of sorrow.  The Romans considered it a good day to marry or be born. Share that with anyone you know with a birthday on April first.

The English promoted their own theory during the 1700’s.  For some, April first commemorated the day Noah sent out the first dove to look for land. The dove returned and did not bring back any proof  the water receded. This started the tradition of tricking people by sending them on “fools errands”.

Not suprising, the media has also participated in April Fools’ jokes. In 1957 the BBC featured an article about Swiss farmers picking crops of spaghetti. It resulted in a flood of requests for spaghetti plants.  By the way, did you know donuts come from seeds that look like little cheerios?

April Fools’ Day can be a stress reliever if the humor is harmless and doesn’t focus on ridiculing others. What’s your opinion?  Leave a comment.

 

 

 

The Mystique of a New Year

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New year, new you. How often have I heard that phrase? The magazines for sale at the grocery checkout claim anyone can lose ten pounds in one week. I’d like to lose the fat, lose the flab, and get the body I’ve always wanted. Maybe 2017 is the year I will reach my ideal weight. The new year arrives with hope, motivation, and maybe change.

In the past, I’ve made resolutions. My resolutions are usually about some kind of self improvement. I’ve heard some people pray and ask God for a “word for the year.” I admit I was skeptical about this. What makes January 1 so special?  God can speak to us in a variety of ways, according to his timing.  But praying seemed better than resolving.  Praying might lead to the right resolution.  I don’t usually get this personal or spiritual with my posts, but I want to share a prayer I wrote in my journal on January 1, 2017.

Lord, you are Holy.  You are worthy. Thank you for abundant life. It’s a new year Lord. A new year makes for a new beginning.  I pray that I will be open to your word…open to your spirit…open to you. I pray for your will to be done in my life. May I step out of your way, Lord.  Father, some people hear a word which is their word for the year. Is this possible? Is it real? I look to you Lord. Do you have a word for me?

I stopped writing, closed my eyes and waited.  My spirit heard the word, “Go.” You’ve got to be kidding, I thought, “Go?” I wrote it down and waited again. Nothing.

I thanked the Lord for the word, and closed my journal.

My mind was filled with questions. Will this year be a year of travel? Will it be a year for  new experiences? Will I be challenged to step out of my comfort zone? To “Go” means to leave the place you are. “Go” can apply to the physical or spiritual realm. It can mean leaving the fears and failures of the past behind.

The word “Go” is a lot like God, mysterious.

There’s a problem with resolutions. They can be limiting. God’s vision for us is much bigger than our own.  A new year brings an opportunity to be open to his vision, his leading. The question remains, will I have the faith to follow?

Friends, I’m excited to see what opportunities God will bring in 2017.  I believe “Go” means more than going on a diet. At least I hope so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Look for in a President?

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Have you decided which presidential candidate you will vote for on election day?  What qualities do you think make a good president?  I examined each candidate according to my own criteria to make my decision.

First, a good president needs to care. He or she must listen to the people he or she serves.  Second, a good president should be trustworthy. Someone you can count on to fulfill the duties of the job. Our president must be a good communicator, since they speak on behalf of our nation. America needs a strong leader who can take appropriate action if our country is threatened.  Temperament is also important. Our president must be able to handle the pressures of the office under stress. As top executive, the president needs to choose competent people for his staff. He or she must be a good delegator of responsibility.  Since our nation is head over heels in debt, we need a leader who will not waste taxpayer dollars. Finally, the best presidents are those who have overcome challenges in their past. They are fighters who do not give up easily.

After considering all of the above qualities, I believe my dog, Buddy, would make a terrific president.

img_5145Buddy cares. He listens to my problems after a bad day.  He can be trusted to come when I call his name. Buddy is a great communicator. He whines when he’s sad and wags his tail like crazy when he’s happy.

Buddy barks whenever he feels threatened. He’s never bitten anyone, but he has the capability to. As far as temperament goes, he’s sweet and calm.

Buddy is a great delegator of responsibility.  When he’s hungry, I feed him. I even pick up his poop for him.

Buddy would never put up with wasteful government spending. He makes sure every crumb I drop is put to good use.

As many of my friends know, Buddy has overcome challenges. In 2013 he suffered from paralysis in his hind legs due to a herniated disc. After surgery, and physical therapy he regained his ability to walk. Buddy is a fighter.

Buddy is my candidate for president. Oh,  I forgot, he’s not on the ballot this year.

Write in?

 

 

The Song Remains the Same

Music is a strong influence in my life. I had a discussion last night about the music of my generation. The years between 1965 and 1980 were  a renaissance of amazing music. I’m sure you boomers agree. I grew up with the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Steve Winwood, Buddy Miles, John Mayall, Frank Zappa, and of course who could forget Donavan.

I started listening to music on a little transistor radio that I slept with. I was very upset if I fell asleep and the batteries died! I played 45 rpm records in my bedroom. We could listen to one song and then we had to start it again. Albums were great. We could listen to five or six songs in a row. When the album ended we would start it again. We drove our parents crazy!

Then we transitioned to cassette tapes that got eaten a lot in the tape player. It was a great relief when cd’s came out. At least they were a little harder to destroy. And we could load up five or six c.d.’s in the disc player and just let them play on and on. Progress.

Yesterday I heard that Prince died. I wasn’t really into Prince, but I know what it is to lose your favorite musician. Their music stays with us. Their songs bring back memories and experiences we want to relive. Long after they are gone, their songs remain the same. Preserved for all time in a changing world.

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