Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest writer Dr. Andrew Hill on the Waterloo Schools Financial Situation

I am very excited to bring you our Guest Writer, Dr. Andrew Hill, Ed.D.

Dr. Hill is currently in his second year serving as Superintendent at Waterloo Local Schools. He began teaching a variety of subjects to seventh and eighth grade students at Rosemary Cathedral Academy in Toledo, Ohio. Dr. Hill became Principal of St. Francis de Sales High School in Toledo for 3 years before moving to Principal for Crestwood Middle School for another 3 years. Andy Hill holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from the University of Toledo and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ.

Dear Residents of Atwater and Randolph Townships,
As we continue to struggle through our current financial situation our district is striving to do our best to maintain the quality of education our community has become accustomed to. In addition to the many initiatives you can find detailed in our district five-year plan, we continue to look for outside sources of validation on the preparation our students are receiving. In addition to our second straight year of being rated “Excellent” or higher by the State of Ohio on our state report card, we also found out good news in reviewing two reports released by the Ohio Board of Reagents . Waterloo graduates who move onto college in Ohio fare very well in comparison to their peers on average in the State of Ohio and Portage County when it comes to the percentage of students who have to take remedial coursework in English and/or Math (you can find more information on this on my website at (http://www.viking.portage.k12.oh.us/pow/cgi-bin/file_list_page.pl?id=andy_hill&category=General; click onto the presentation from the November 10, 2011 Board of Education meeting).

There are also a number of opportunities for you and other community members to become involved in district level committees or to attend different meetings to learn more about our district. We continue to find ways and offer opportunities to actively engage you because we believe that the more community involvement we have, the more we can pull on the expertise of our community, and the better we will be as a district. Many of the opportunities are the direct result of ideas shared by you at our public forum meetings last school year.

Upcoming meetings include:
The Waterloo Grant Committee will meet on Monday, December 5th at 6:00 p.m. in my office. The purpose of this committee is to identify areas our district can pursue grants in along with community members with expertise who are able to assist. The Waterloo Volunteer Committee will meet on Tuesday, December 6th at 3:00 p.m. in the high school media center. The purpose of this committee is to help identify areas where our district can responsibly utilize the services of community volunteers. Our second annual "State of our Schools" address is scheduled for Monday, December 12th at 7:00 p.m. in our ES/MS Cafetorium. Please join us for this event or watch it live or as a recording on U-Stream (a link can be found on our district homepage at www.viking.portage.k12.oh.us).

If you are unable to join a committee or attend other meetings, please follow us on the various avenues that we utilize to fill you on happenings within our district; you will find access to these on our district website (they include: Facebook, Twitter, U-Stream, and an e-mail distribution list).

I would like to clarify a few misconceptions that I am hearing in regards to the upcoming levy request our Board of Education has placed on the ballot for March of 2012. The request will be for 7.95 mills, which is larger than the request that recently failed (5.0 mills). This increase in millage amount is due to the loss of one (1) calendar year in collections; if we had passed in November of 2011 collections would have begun in January of 2012, if we pass in March of 2012 collections will not begin until January of 2013. As a result, a larger millage amount is needed to get us through a similar period of time. The reason that our Board of Education passed the first resolution for the March ballot request prior to the November election is because the State of Ohio requires that two (2) resolutions be passed by the Board of Education and the necessary work completed by the County Auditor (between resolution one (1) and two (2)) prior to December 7th. Our Board of Education did not have two (2) regular meetings scheduled between the election in November and December 7th, so a decision was made to pass the first resolution in case it was needed, so a special Board of Education meeting would not have to be held. If we would have been successful on November 8th, the second resolution would have never been recommended to the Board of Education; unfortunately, this second resolution did have to be recommended and was approved on November 10th.

In addition to the $1,000,000 our district reduced from our operating budget this year, we continue to explore areas where we can save more. But, we are at the point where further reductions will take us to state minimum standards, leading to increased class sizes and fewer elective courses, which ultimately will have a negative impact on the quality of education our district can provide our students. Our pledge to you is that we will continue to strive to do our best; we hope that our financial situation will resolve itself soon so our district can remain under local control while continuing to offer a first class education to our students both in and out of the classroom.

Thank you for your continued support of our district. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at 330-947-2664 or at ahill@viking.portage.k12.oh.us.


Andrew J. Hill, Ed.D.

While I totally understand that in these economic times it is difficult to support more taxes coming out of our incomes, it is vital that we as a community get informed on the situation at hand before it escalates.  Please make time to check out http://www.waterloostimeisnow.com/ and sites listed in Dr. Hill's letter above.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Motivation Monday

Hi Everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and long elaborated weekend. My kids are still off from school and return tomorrow.

I am going to try to stick with a themed blog day so that I can be inspiring to myself as well as all of you! So I have chosen to go with Motivation Monday so that hopefully I am able to motivate myself, along with you.

My motivation this week: Christmas items as well as cleaning house. I so want to get things in order. I feel like my house and my Holidays are out of whack right now, and so I feel that it's time to start getting things in order so that my house and my Holidays are much less stressful. I have friends who seem like they were born organized and right on top of things, while some of them are just like me, living by the seat of their pants.

I want to start with a list of items I need so I can hopefully focus on what I need to get done. Slow and steady will help get me through, but in order to get everything I need done this week I REALLY need to focus!

So In order to do this- Lists are in order. Kids chore lists need to be completed. I need to get away from this Blessed computer.

So before making my to- do list... let's start with a Ta-da list.

1. Thanksgiving dinner went smoothly, and hence it is behind us with lots of memories.
2. The front porch has been cleaned up; front of the house decorated; 2/4 wreaths up; Tree up and decorated; Christmas decorations out.
3. We have went grocery shopping; and plenty of decisions to make for dinner tonight (which I am still contemplating, but considering meatloaf and tomorrow crockpot lasagna)
4. We have the three kids dentist appointments done and out of the way.
5. Fireman is having a really rotten day. Starting with waking up to his van not starting, jumping it to get to work, getting in his truck to get 2 hours away and having it broken down and towed to now finally figuring out how to get to Brookpark from where he is to get a loaner when they have 2 or 3 loaners there but the company does not want to rent from there (and there's a 3-4 hour wait for another driver to come through to grab him)but as soon as he gets things figured out with his company he will be on his way back to the yard and hopefully home.
6. I have wash in the washer and dryer that I need to flip and fold, starting the next load.
7. I have survived the weekend - Well, so far (until the kids return back to school tomorrow!)
8. Lil Bear is laying down giving me time to map out what I am going to be accomplishing for today!
9. I am still sane. (Yet to be discovered by anyone other than me)
10. Did I mention I have my control journal I am hoping to go to in order to keep me on task? Oh and I do know where my timer is too!

Oh and before I finish, I do have to mention I found wall deco art that I actually love. "The best things in life aren't things" - Every time I pass by that on my wall I smile! I am hoping that it will help offer me support while cleaning and decluttering this week.

Feel free to have your own "motivation Monday" and leave me your link in the comments!

Friday, November 25, 2011

And the winner of the Free Software Giveaway finally announced!

The winner for the My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software goes to Jennifer! As soon as I get the information regarding your software I will be forwarding that to you Jennifer! Congratulations!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Free from My Memories to my readers!

My Memories has created some layouts and quickpages for me to share with all of my readers! They can be used in any Scrapbooking software and will only be up for download for a limited time. Please click HERE to get download today!

All I can say is that since becoming acquainted with this company they have so much to offer their customers. They really try to keep people interested so that all of those scrapbooks can get finished. That really means something to me, maybe if you check them out you may be impressed too?

I am offering a coupon code : STMMMS87972

If you use this code and click on the button below it will get you a $10.00 gift "card", and $10.00 off the My Memories software!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Memories Suite Version 2 Software Review and GIVEAWAY!

Yes you heard it straight! It's my first review and GIVEAWAY!

I was so excited to download this software. While waiting I decided to look at all of the positives and negatives to Digital Scrapbooking software.

1. I can save into different formats, including having it made into a book. Designs can be stored on a computer or CD.
2. Everything is on the computer so there is less clutter, nothing to pull out and put away.
3. No extra tools, paper that you can only use one time. No punches, scraps of paper laying around.
4. You can keep reusing the paper and all of the embellishments.
5. Embellishments can be used in a book and not damage the book
6. Special items can be scanned, saved as a photo, then added to a page and sized to be a better fit for your page.
7. Instead of printing photos that lay around and take years to scrap, you can decide if you want to print an entire book instead of a photo.
8. Did I mention less CLUTTER???
9. The kids HAVE to do their chores because I am sitting and scrapping all.day.long.
10. I actually get to sit and do something I want and enjoy to do.
11. It gives me a reason to get the camera out and get pictures of crazy stuff just to play with my Digital Software.
12. While I am taking a picture, I am actually planning a page design in my head and praying my drooling does not effect the camera.

1. What do you do with all of the photos, pages, books, etc. that I already have?
2. You don't actually have to pull everything out just to work on some pages.
3. You don't have the real deal in your hands until you choose the book should be printed.
4. You are still sitting at the computer while your Husband is shaking his head and trying to figure out how you can multitask scrapbooking, answering people on face book and being involved in a conversation with others in chat.
5. Be prepared to lose sleep. This is an addicting habit. When you sleep you are creating pages in your dreams without even being involved with the program at the current time.
6. I wasn't sure what the cons would be before hand, therefore I ended up having to think of them afterwards!
7. You have to set a timer when you sit down to scrap or you just may forget you have to pick up your kids from school.
8. Laundry? Oh yeah, I put that in... Oh wait... I didn't?

When I received the download from My Memories Suite software, the download went very smoothly. I have dealt with other software programs that was kind of difficult to use and I really did not have a full scrapbooking feature on it; so after I got the download installed and opened it for the first time I realize that it is much better than the other software I have used in the past.

Who reads the instruction book? Ha, I immediately started playing around with the program. At first I thought it was confusing (well, you know, that instruction manual was handy with the program, the user just did not want to use it!). However I did find after playing with the program for about an hour how to get along inside the program just fine. After creating a couple of pages, I quickly got bored with the contents, so I went to their Digital Scrapbook store and started finding a TON of papers, embellishments, quick pages that could be easily downloaded and used in My Memories Suite. Now we are talking! Oh, and some were free as well.

Just playing around trying to figure out where certain things were in the program and how to use a quickpage (they usually download into the embellishments BTW), I found many tutorials online to go over tips and hints on how to use the product if you are not a open the program and tom-fool-around-with-it-kind-of-gal.

 I also found out through playing around with the program that I could create calendars, DVD's, interactive slideshows for the computer, download into an i-pod format, print my creations on my printer and through a printing service (though I haven't tried it to find out the cost of printing the book). They can also be saved as a .jpeg and used on social sites just like a photo.

I also love the quick drop feature on the right side of the page. After I figured out how it worked I was zooming through pages. I even created some pages for another friend of mine so that she could see how digital scrapbook software works.

I found a ton of other freebie Digital Packs too, but I really think that the software paper packs available from My Memories are beautiful and decently priced as well.

So I am so excited to show you what I have done since getting the scrapbook software! I even went so far as to get it all ready for the website!

One thing I have found with this software is that if you are uploading to a social network (other than just 1 page at at time, like the above) that you need to save the video to your computer and then use a converter in order to transfer it to a format that can be read. I hope if they redesign the program in the future that they can add in different types of formats to save it into so that we don't have to save through a 3rd party source. But, what can I say? Resourceful me found a free converter program and it was uploaded and running on YouTube quickly after the conversion from a .mov file to an .avi.

My Memories also has a blog that keeps you up and moving on creating. You can visit their blog here. They are always keeping their face book page hopping with really cool enticing giveaways and speed scraps and other scrappie's showing off their work so you can get some really cool ideas! I have found other product sites that usually do something once in a while to keep your interest peaked, but I have to say that if you like My Memories face book page they will keep you plenty busy.  Oh and there are all sorts of things hidden in there - just search, especially through the posts.  And it's not always just their posts!
After I agreed to host this review and giveaway, I entered into an affiliate program so that I can offer you an awesome deal- If you click on the widget on the right side of my blog to purchase their digital scrapbooking software and enter STMMMS87972 for the coupon and you will receive $10.00 off your purchase of My Memories Suite Version 2 AND a $10.00 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - a $20.00 Value!  My Memories Suite is normally $39.97

And now to go forth with the giveaway!

WIN! Here’s your chance to win the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software. To enter, you must be 18 and this event is open world wide since the winner will receive a code to download.

 Please visit MyMemories.com and tell us in a comment below what your favorite digital paper pack or layout is as well as your email address.

You can earn one additional entry for each of the following – leave a comment below to let us know you did along with your email
(1) follow My Memories on Facebook.  Please leave me your name as shown on your Face Book Account in your comment.
(2)Follow My Memories on  Twitter .  Please leave me your Twitter name in your comments 
(3)Follow me on Twitter. Please leave me your Twitter name in your comments
(4)Tweet about the contest using the hashtag #MyMemories and please copy what was tweeted, 
(5) Follow me on Google Friend Connect.

Entries must be received by Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM. One winner will be picked via random.org and notified via email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond to claim their winnings!  After I get my winner's response I will post on this blog who the winner is!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the Digital Software for testing and review purposes and in no way compensated for my review.

Best Luck to all!