Covert Ops

Nowadays I have to be careful, because if I am not, my classes morph into girl-talk and chillin’ with the homies.  My sons and daughters are very good at leading me into these delightful occasions, partly because I may be focusing on something else and partly because I find it necessary to let them invade my ‘professional demeanor’ these last few days and bond with them. Oh heck, they can learn about what adverbs modify next year!

It starts off innocently enough. I’m grading papers and two come over to watch. ‘Ms. Ashley whose paper is that?’  They whisper, they pretend to be so interested in what I’m doing.

Then one more comes over.

Then three more.

Suddenly I’m surrounded by all these little faces intently ‘pretending’ to watch me grade papers.  Then they start leaning over my desk, pulling out papers, playing with rulers and talking about me in Marshallese. I know this because I hear ‘Ms. Ashley’ in the middle of their cheerful chirping. Then I am distracted, stop grading, and ask,

‘What are you saying about me in front of me, huh? I know you’re talking about me…’

and one pipes up, ‘Ms. Ashley Faith says you are so beauoootiful’.

Now how can I tell them to sit down and stop talking and stop leaning on my desk because I need to work?

Then one grabs my ear, ‘Youkuluk! Ms. Ashley!’

Apparently, the upper rim of my ear is uniquely smashed over.  It is, but I’ve never really noticed it much. My mother always told me I had cute elf ears.  It’s amazing what good words over a child can do for their self-esteem. (take note)  People can say other things about my looks and I may believe them. But they can’t say anything about my ears…’cause my momma said…….

Now they are pulling my earrings out of my pierced ear…I’m about half way finished grading;  good for me!

“Everyone get back in your seats and finish your homework…this is homework club afterall!”

Three leave my table but it’s really just a ploy to make me think they are doing what I’m asking. I’m appeased for the moment – they give their signals – the three make their way stealthily back up to my desk.

Did another one just blow in on my right?  Am I surrounded?

Now four of my babies are pulling on both my ears, “Lalle, lalle! Ms. Ashley’s ear!” …which is look at Ms. Ashley’s ear…I smile but they haven’t got me yet, another graded paper finished, pencil still moving…

One of my girls, Jelly, so cute and sweet but tough as nails when she needs to be, is sitting directly in front of me on the opposite side of my table. I can’t go anywhere that she isn’t making sure she is in front of me.  I pull my chair up to the wrong place in front of the class and she will switch seats.

“This isn’t your seat Jelly…get in your seat. Over there.”

My seat is in front of you, Ms. Ashley.”

……I melt…..

Wait, what is that….ouwww!  “Hey, that’s my ear!” I cry out while Faith is inadvertently giving me another piercing through my earlobe.

…giggles….

What is that on my foot…I don’t want to know…keep grading! Stay focused, don’t let them get the best of you!

Therizo: “Ms. Ashley, can I pierce the top of my ear?”

“Yes you can.”

Faith: “How about here Ms. Ashley?” Pointing to her lip.

“Sure.”  I say, with a bit of trepidation.

“Jesus doesn’t care if you pierce your ears or you lips. He’ll love you anyway. But there are some decisions that are wiser than others.”

They look at me….I think it sank in.  But then….

“How about here!?”  Therizo pinches her tongue.

“No! No way not your tongue, that’s not good!”

“My nose?”

It took a few minutes until I realized………I had been duped! They had me!!  My pencil wasn’t moving. I had stopped grading and was surrounded by ear-pulling, lobe-piercing strategists!

One of my sons – you remember, the one that blew in on my right? – is inquiring about his grade.  I cup my hands around his cute little cheeks and commend him on such a great spelling grade!!  “You have improved so much and I’m so proud of you Setlinton.”  He gushes…

What is that on my foot??…..Oh yes, my girl who is called to be in front of me at all times has placed her foot on top of my foot and is just resting it there….how sweet a gesture…

“Ms. Ashley, can we play with your ball?”

“Yes, after you finish your homework you can come get it.”

A collective “Yes!” goes up from the military strategists.

“I carry your bag for you….”

“Hey, bring that back, I’m not finished yet!”  Am I grading? Have I lost this war?

Mark the page at the top, write the comment…..no more papers!

“Finished!!”

Titus: “O K let’s go!”  He had been hounding me that I feared the girls in class and that’s why I kept giving them all the A’s.

“Do you mean favored?”  I ask.

“Yes, you fearvored all the girls and gave them A’s!  That’s not good Ms. Ashley.”

“Nooo, they STUDIED!”

Titus: Big smile. “O K.”

Jelly’s foot comes off my foot, little fingers let go of my ears, questions stop coming like machine-gun bullets, the strategists have disbanded, chairs put back into place, (some) papers folded neatly and placed into backpacks, windows shut, lights out, door locked and closed………………………

…..they make it all worth it.


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Gem School Awarded $91K Grant from Embassy of Japan

It is official, Ebeye Gem Christian School has been awarded $91,000 from the Embassy of Japan to be used toward the building of three additional classrooms for the school.  On average, construction costs for one classroom runs about $38K due to labor costs, logistics of shipping construction materials to an island, and the cost of materials in general.  Construction will begin the second week of June, just after the school’s end of year graduation activities.

Here’s a short excerpt from The Marshall Islands Journal April 15, 2011 issue, written by Isaac Marty:

Japan recently held three Grassroots Grants ceremonies for Ebeye and Rairok schools, and Aur Atoll Local Government at the Japan  Embassy last month. For Ebeye, an agreement was signed for a $91,767 grassroots grant to build a three-classroom building in Ebeye for one of the private schools known as the Gem Christian School…officials from Ebeye that were at the ceremony were vice principal Noble Ned, Abita Joram, Kiton Loibwij, Tim Ned, Joel Clinton and Abring Jilly.

Gem School is a rapidly growing educational facility with over 170 students running grades K-5.   Next fall we will be adding a sixth grade and the classrooms are greatly needed to increase our capacity to hold this many students.

Currently we are holding four classes in the three classrooms pictured above due to limited space.

The island of Ebeye is so overcrowded that most children do not attend school at all due to lack of space in the school system.  Sometimes, due to lack of teachers and volunteers, there are schools where the students show up in class with no one to teach them.  It’s a dire situation and nations like Japan are doing what they can to assist Ebeye in their pursuit of a better life.  I personally find this admirable, as Japan is going through their own national crisis right now.

According to the article, Japan’s government has funded nine grassroots projects this year (April 2010-March 2011), and the total contribution to Republic of the Marshall Islands educational system at large is $811, 560.

Those of us here at Gem are incredibly thankful to God and to the Embassy of Japan for their monetary support. It is a blessing to us and to the children of Ebeye.

Food Pyramids and Earthquakes

It’s all in a day’s work at Gem School.  My third graders worked so hard on their food pyramid that I had to share it with everyone.  So here it is..

Isn’t it beautiful :)  It brings tears to my eyes.  I love their handwriting.  I’m so proud of my babies.

We’ve also been taking time to talk about all the events that took place in Japan surrounding the earthquake and how the tsunami could travel all the way to Ebeye through the water.  They got a mini education on ocean geography, wave formation and plate tectonics!  We watched a video on YouTube of the earthquake from inside a store in Japan. They had never seen anything like that before because Ebeye never has earthquakes. We pray for Japan almost daily and they are very much into knowing how the people are doing.  If I accidentally forget to pray about Japan, they quickly remind me. I love my kids.

They have worked hard all year-round but especially the third quarter. So we are celebrating by hitting the beach this Saturday with a barbecue and party.  They are all excited about it – and so are we!  I’ll post some pics of the time we spend hanging out and having fun next week.

Pastor Hone and Mrs. Gracie have returned from ministering in the states.  It’s good to have them back.  And they always bring back goodies to share.  I especially love the chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii.  What a blessing!

It’s really starting to warm up here…it’s been HOT.  Not much wind and the rain, which had been steadily blowing in once a day, has been avoiding us for three days now.  This year has truly been a blessing in regards to the weather; mostly rainy, cool winds, overcast skies and cool evenings. Cool meaning lower eighties, but believe me, that’s comfortable weather here.  I thank the Lord for it.

See you next week!

Cool Stuff Happenin’ at Gem

Here  are some pics from our previous Education Week activities.  Just some random shots of us playing concentration and having a good time with our kids.  I know every second counts for me, as I am likely not to see them again.  Perhaps on Facebook we can superficially keep in touch but really, it just won’t be the same.  I’ve developed such a love for them in my heart that it will really take the grace of God to help me not to… kidnap them all!

Here’s Jon playing the concentration game.  He was really good at it!  Well, until we realized that some of the kids were more than happy to offer their help when they had the matching card!  But it’s all in a days work with the kiddies.

We had a visit from Kwajalein High School students last week who donated several boxes of items, including a volleyball kit for the school.

There were boxes of folders, binders, artist pencils, pens notebooks and plastic sleeves to name a few.  The kids received all with joy and excitement.  It’s so much fun working with these precious little people :)

The third quarter is coming to a close at the end of next week.  One more 43 day stretch with my babies and it’s done.  Gotta work, work, work so we can finish strong!  But we’ll leave plenty of time for playing too :-)

A Little Art Inspiration

I love children’s art!  I always have.   When I give the kids time to create I get inspired by their work; so free, vibrant and whimsical.  Children’s art is pure.  They inspire me to create more myself and so, here is a small collection of my kids art and my own rough sketches.

And the work they’ve inspired in me:

Hooray for Crayola and copy paper!  Not much to choose from in terms of variety but the inspiration is what counts.  Thanks 4th Grade :)

Here Comes the Ocean

The ocean decided to make her way over the flood wall, past our doorstep and beyond to flood the campus.  I’ve never seen it rise so high and roll so far inland.  When I mentioned it to Noble, he said the same thing.  It was about 2-3 inches deep in places and around 25 yards onto our campus.  The school’s boat looks like it could float right up to the door.

It made for an interesting picture though :)

Some updates: Memorial Day went great and the kids had lots of fun.  It was hot and sunny so all of us got quite the burn.  Laura and Jon both ran in the adult teacher’s race and Laura won 3rd place!  She got some pretty good mullah for that too.  Way to go Laura!

We are busy prepping for Educational Week next week.  Spelling B’s, parades, games at Beach Park and we will be dedicating one of our morning assemblies to a creative game of life-size ‘educational concentration’.  Our school was chosen to lead the morning festivities at the Ebeye gym where all the schools on the island will be convening.  We are going to do a banner dance and sing For God So Loved the World.

I’ll be in touch…wrapping up February and heading into March…only good things in store!

February!

Where has January gone?  It snuck by me in a flurry of after-holidays-acclamations, tests, report cards and parent conferences. February is teeming up to be a quite busy month.  We have Kwajalein Memorial Day week next week in which the kids will be racing at Beach Park and conferences will take place on Wednesday.  We have a PTA meeting tomorrow night about all the particulars of the daily routines.  And Jon is helping to make the float for the parade.

At the end of February is Education Week and an island-wide spelling-b for the kids.  Last year they were not able to put the event together and so Education Week entailed one outdoors meeting in the afternoon and it was over.  So we will also be busily planning for activities that week.  I’m sure I am about  to turn my head and it will be March.

The rains are back and consistent. I love it, really, because rain affords us showers and the convenience of faucet water.  Praise God for the rain!  Not to mention it conceals that burning equator sun.

Time for sleep.  We’ve got a big day tomorrow planning for the week and keeping our regular class schedules.  I’ll let you know how everything goes!

The young fellow on the right caught himself an octopus. As he was passing by, I asked for a quick snapshot, totally amazed at what I was seeing.