Read Across America



Who was hanging around our school all week? Why Dr. Seuss, of course! The school I work in celebrated Read Across America Day yesterday. Most of the time schools acknowledge it on March 2nd, to honor Dr. Seuss’s birthday. We celebrated early, a week before vacation, for some fun for the kids because it’s Winter Carnival week for the middle and high school. As the middle and high school seeped with a carnival enthusiasm, why not include the elementary children in the wacky antics?

Everyone knows Dr.Seuss books, like Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham or Hop on Pop. I’ve worked in a school/preschool setting for 17 years now and I’ve never encountered any children disliking his books!  They’re fun! They’re creative! Zany characters jump off the page, making children smile. The words rhyme, while entertaining kids of all ages, and teaches the rhythm of language.

Read Across America started on Monday with Grinchy Green day. Teachers and students dressed in varying shades of green sweaters, shirts, socks and even scarves to mark the occasion. I had a perfect ensemble of a green sweater and a vivid lime green scarf wrapped around my neck. Tuesday was Foxy Sox day, a day to sport crazy and funky socks. In my travels, I spied socks bearing foxes, vibrant striped tights, camouflage socks and pink and purple glittery colors flashing around the school. Then Wacky Wednesday arrived with a sea of backwards shirts and cockeyed hats while unmatching socks and shoes paraded the halls. Some Kindergarteners and First graders wore stiff gel in their hair, to make it wacky.

One day the fifth graders visited the elementary classes for book buddies. Each fifth grader read Dr. Seuss books to a younger child and some of the blossoming younger students read a page as well. Laughter and genuine conversations about the book hung in the air. It was apparent that this activity was valuable to all and that we should do it more often like once a week or once every two weeks!



Thursday was the special day of Read Across America events, starting with a monthly Community Meeting. Our elementary school has this meeting every month in the morning. Kindergarten through fifth grade sit in the huge gym and kids take turns running the meeting, even able to use a microphone. We all say the pledge of allegiance first. Then it varies by month. Sometimes a class will read a Reader’s Theater or perform a skit. Sometimes the Principal gives awards for Honor roll and we all clap for every student, with the hope others will join the group next quarter. Usually there is an organized game for all to play with the mixed grades. It’s great to watch the older kids helping their younger peers. Most of the time the music teachers create a hype with a fun sing song or dance, generating a contagious excitement as kids bust a move, laugh and prove that we do have fun in school!

This Read Across America meeting was special. Everyone was wearing red and white stripes for Dr. Seuss’s the Cat in the Hat. Honor roll students were called up and given their awards and teachers took pictures for the newspaper. Our Title One teacher organized the festivities and came up with the brilliant idea of making paper chains, one chain per book that a student read. We broke up into groups and the children each made their own mini chains, some with five and others had fifteen chain links and hooked them together ceremoniously. Excitement was in the air, as all the groups attached their colorful chains together and it spanned the monstrous gym. Kids held on to them and paraded around proudly! Last, we hung them up in our hall, to symbolize all the books we had read collectively. What a beautiful rainbow gallery we will walk through the next few weeks!

Later in the afternoon, we divided all the kids with mixed grades into groups for activities. Every group was led by a teacher and covered a unique theme. There were groups reading about bugs and dug for bugs in dry coffee grounds, one group read about cars and made cars and roads. Another group read Rainbow Fish and had a painting project, while another read Harold and the Purple Crayon and made purple yarn mobiles and painted the foyer windows with bright happy pictures. Closing our joyous day, all the groups had a little treat of blue jello with a couple of gummy fish.

All in all the children and adults had an exciting week with all the activities. It was amazing to see all the excitement and love for books! All week classes read the rhythmic Dr.Seuss classics and cemented the fantastic idea that reading is fun! Want to make a huge investment? Read to your children, grandchildren,  nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors!


All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️





The Smile Project 😀


The Smile Project

I haven’t always smiled. When I was a young child, I mastered the scowl pretty well. If you questioned my mom, she would say I was special and an emotional child. It’s not that my life wasn’t great but inside, I felt lost and sad. It took me a very long time to know myself and what makes me truly happy. If I could change anything in those lost but not forgotten years, I would take my high school teacher’s encouragement to smile more often.

My younger sister, Barb, gave me sage advice a few years ago that has stayed in my heart. She spoke of the necessity to always wake up with a smile, even if you don’t really feel it inside. Her reasoning is that if you keep doing this eventually it will come naturally and you’ll feel the happiness. Barb accounted the times when she proudly marched through the motions at work with a smile. She worked in a chaotic hospital doctor’s practice and there were times she just didn’t feel like smiling constantly, yet she persevered with a positive attitude.

When I first heard this, I pondered the notion deeply. I wasn’t confident that a manufactured fake smile beat a genuine frown, because anything fake isn’t real and true. Would I overcome the dreadful blues one day and plaster on a gritty grin ,when inside I would be boiling with other emotions? How would I generate a smile during the toughest day of my period? Could I smile when deadlocked in a chain of heaping grocery carts on a hectic afternoon? The answer is yes….absolutely and I’ll tell you that it works!

After my deep conversation with my sister, I decided to go through my days and simply observe smiling people. Most of the time we go through the motions of life, too busy to notice details such as a smile. The first day of strict observations, I noticed how beautiful people were while sporting a smile. A warm, loving feeling filled my insides, overflowing of kindness for others. It’s amazing how a toothy grin  leads to not only goodness, but fosters a human connection. We are all in this together and if we just smile and stay positive, we can accomplish great things.

This project continues everyday at home, in public venues and at work. I smile and hug my husband when he comes home tired from work and listen to my sons with a warm expression. In public I’ve noticed how strangers reciprocate a grin back and even sometimes chat a little. On a extremely busy day picture me in the crowded grocery line with cramped carts lining the check out area. The store employees rush around and attend to customers ,while baggers bag in sync with the cashier’s scanning and managers nonchalantly walk through the chaos. Disgruntled, impatient shoppers cuss about the line and how they should’ve come on this excursion another day. The frustrated middle-aged cashier with chestnut brown long wavy hair, didn’t seemed thrilled with her day. Once I reached her and hurriedly placed my stash of groceries on the conveyor belt, I felt the need to cheer her up. I smiled and freely passed on positive vibes. She immediately smiled back and relayed to me that it had been a stressful day. After I paid my bill and proceeded through the line, I sincerely wished her well with the rest of the day. I also hoped the older couple behind me would treat her kindly.

There have been times that I’ve forgotten this advice and strayed from this, but I started living it again a few months ago. My true intention is to continue doing this with God’s help. This small town wife and mom feels as if she’s made a difference! It’s been a wonderful journey and challenge to smile and spread goodwill to all people I may encounter. I’ve made acquaintances in the grocery store, reached out to people at work who I wouldn’t have before and targeted just about anyone who I have eye contact with! The smile project has developed into not only an act of goodwill but has fostered my self-esteem and overall well being. It feels as good as helping a friend in need or taking care of my family.

The next step in this profound journey is to spread the great news! A beautiful beam will change your day and your outlook on life. Instead of viewing everything with a cloudy negative vision, flex those facial muscles and stay strong with a positive purpose. When a friend or family member is down and in need, pass on the smile and you will reap endless rewards! Smile inside and out, knowing in your heart that whatever obstacle or happy milestone you reach, you’re prepared with a smile.

All my best,

Heart and Soul ❤️