2017 Message – LAHPERD Strong!
LAHPERD STRONG! is my theme for the upcoming November 1-3 Convention. This year, we have all experienced much change, strength of character, creativity, resilience, and a willingness to work hard—very hard. This past August, we in the Baton Rouge area experienced the rains that would not let up for days and caused record flooding of many parts of Baton Rouge and in Livingston and Ascension Parishes. Affected by the same rains were parts of southwest Louisiana—Lafayette, Acadia, and Calcasieu parishes. Earlier in the year, the northern part of the state experienced flooding also. The flooding affected many homes and schools in our state, and we saw an unbelievable number of people—fondly named the Cajun Navy—come forward and help total strangers to get out of the flooded neighborhoods and to dry land. We saw many neighbors as well as total strangers help cut sheetrock, pull out soggy insulation, and gut houses. These unsung heroes also dragged out flood-ruined cherished belongings and brought food and water to those in need. We in LAHPERD received donations from colleagues around the county to help those who were affected by this devastation. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all who helped. The monetary donations were used to help purchase new equipment for those in need. This truly warmed our hearts.
After we got back to a little bit more normal routine, LAHPERD had a somewhat smaller fall workshop due to our hosting the Southern District conference in January, but we knew that before it happened. Brian Devore gave a wonderful workshop that reenergized those of us who attended.
After the fall workshop, we really got in “high gear” for the upcoming Southern District conference that LAHPERD was hosting very soon. There was still a multitude of things to do before the actual conference started. We had meetings, phone conferences, and many emails and text messages that were sent all hours of the day and into the night. Everyone who committed to a job did it, and then the big day arrived. The Southern District conference started. It was wonderful to see all the puzzle pieces fall into place for the BEST Southern District conference ever! The most talked about part of the conference was the Mardi Gras tableau that was magnificent. Kerrie Slaton did a fabulous job getting the Mardi Gras crew for the Mardi Gras night. Kathy Hill and her “Fun Committee” made sure that we all had an enjoyable time with beads and decorations galore! The presentation of the dukes who were our own Southern District members, Milton Wilder, Andrew Lewis, and Bill Dickens, with their princesses was a sight to behold. Then the presentation of the king and the queen of Mardi Gras was as majestic as anything that I had ever seen. All participants left with masks, horns, and beads to last them a life time—maybe! Again—LAHPERD STRONG! got the job done. My heartfelt thank you to all who gave of their time and talents for this great success.
Even with all of Southern District planning, life went on, and other things were happening. Michael Comeaux with LAHPERD members Lynn Williamson, Kathy Hill, JiJi Jonas, Kelly Simonton, Joanna Faerber, and Karen Simpson started working on revising our physical education state standards. They met regularly and worked very hard to bring them into alignment with the national standards. They are ready and will be presented during sessions at our LAHPERD Convention in November. This was a huge task. Many thanks to all of you.
We were contacted by BESE to help them with the physical education part of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Kathy Hill, JiJi Jonas, Lynn Williamson, and I met separately and with the undersecretary and others from the Louisiana Department of Education. We gave her our suggestions and were very happy that they were included in the Louisiana ESSA framework. The ESSA framework was voted on and has been sent to the U.S. Department of Education. Cha-ching again! LAHPERD STRONG! in action.
In April, JiJi Jonas, Joanna Faerber, and I attended SPEAK OUT Day in Washington, D.C. We met with Rep. Garret Graves and Sen. Bill Cassidy’s aide to discuss the importance of physical education in regard to the ESSA. The conversations were good, and we felt that our concerns were heard. We came back to Louisiana feeling as though our advocacy efforts were seen in a very positive light. This was yet another example of LAHPERD STRONG!
Please make plans to attend the LAHPERD Convention November 1-3, 2017. We will have many wonderful sessions that will deepen your knowledge base and let you bring great activities and information back to your students and jobs. We are planning to have several sessions to help our members implement the new state standards. Hope to see you then!
2016 Message – We Are Family
We Are Family!! This is the theme that has been chosen for the 2017 Shape America Southern District conference that will be held in Baton Rouge, January 10-13, and it is my theme for LAHPERD’s 2017 Convention. I write this as I prepare for my weekly Sunday family dinner. I can smell the brisket baking and know that it will be consumed quickly as it is a family favorite.
Family has always been important to me. My mom and dad had five children in six years. I am the middle child and the middle daughter. We had fun times, sad times, everyday times, and fun-play times usually associated with holidays. There were times when I felt totally lost in the confusion of family with an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister. I was also incredibly shy. My mom put me in a dance class when I was three, and over the years, this helped me to overcome my shyness, and I learned how to step out and shine. With the confidence that I developed dancing on stage, this led me to try out for the LSU Golden Girls during the spring of my senior year in high school. My older brother was the lead snare drummer, and he actually encouraged me to try-out. There were 77 girls vying for six openings on the Golden Girl line. The tryouts were grueling, but in the end, my name was called, and I was a Golden Girl. The Golden Girls quickly became my other family. During football season, we learned dances for the field and for the stands. We ate lunches and dinners together so that we could practice dances for the weekly tryouts. We looked in horror at the pages of marching instructions for a half-time show that we had to memorize. We practiced daily and Saturday mornings in the heat and the rain, then retreated to the music building bathrooms with our bagged lunches and Coke to make the transformations into the Golden Girls for the football game. We shared stories, make-up and hair tips, and tears just like real families. But we all made it and still visit yearly at the Annual Fall Reunion of the LSU Golden Band from Tigerland.
I married and had three children. Now grown, they in turn have married and had children. I have eight grandchildren whom I love with all my heart and soul and would do anything for any of them—within reason. There have been tears along the way, some difficult times and some good times, and I wouldn’t trade any of it because all of these family experiences have added to my training for life. My brothers and sisters have been there to help along the way as I have been for them when they needed me. These are the ones who will be at my house later today to break bread and enjoy plenty of conversation while the grandbabies play in the yard.
I talk about family because LAHPERD is also my family. The conventions helped me as a new teacher to be able to see and participate in different sessions. I was exposed to the vendors who had a plethora of equipment—more than I ever knew existed in my beginning years! I started meeting people who would change my life forever. I even started presenting sessions; I never thought that I could present a session—again my shyness popping up. I was asked to be vice-president of dance and just knew that I could never do that. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know any of these people, and I was so busy with school and rearing three children by myself—again that shyness thing popped up. I never had any desire to be in the decision-making positions of this or any organization at first. Then my dad had a conversation with me that got me thinking differently. My dad was a doctor. He was involved with his local, state, and national organizations. He held many different positions in each of the different levels. One day I asked him why he did this because some of what he had to do didn’t look like fun. He agreed that it wasn’t fun but was necessary for an organization to be run efficiently and effectively. He also told me that if an organization was worth my membership, it was worth my effort to give back and make it better. With this thought in mind, I implore all of our members to get involved. Take that leap of faith and decide to be a chair or chair-elect. Why not try vice-president-elect of a division (general, dance, physical education, health, or sport and leisure). We have great people in these positions who will guide and help you if you would like to give a position a try. I have developed many wonderful and lasting friendships in LAHPERD and look forward to the future.
SHAPE America’s Southern District Conference will be here before you know it. They are our extended family, and we are planning a huge family reunion for many people, most whom you have never met, but they are family. Please let your principals know that we will have a one-day workshop October 10. Yes, it is a Monday. Please let your principals also know that you are planning to attend the SHAPE America Southern District Conference, January 10-13, 2017. Start now! Please volunteer to help in one way or the other. Submit a program proposal, help to work registration, or volunteer to do something else. We are going to need many of our family to step up and help to make this a huge success, which I know that it will be. And remember—We Are Family!