The column that asks if somebody says they’re too far gone and they’re not on anything addictive except hopelessness, what do you do, and we’re not kidding and we are asking?
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
Google all columns at jackhummelblog
Indian Avenue School is doing its annual turkey giveaway Tuesday where teachers and administration donate the turkey sand all the fixin’s and they compile a list “of the worst of the worst” of the families of students and, instead of asking families to pick them up and create double poverty exposure with everybody gawking, the teachers deliver them to the homes of the families.
We covered it one year and were both impressed and affected that more could bot be done.
Know what we worried about most?
Are they able to cook everything they’re given? How do you know that delivery is a guarantee of everybody gathering around the dinner table on Thanksgiving?
Guess they call that over-thinking.
Anyway, Sterling Rainier called us today and asked us again to cover the occasion. We can tell you exactly what will happen, even though we can’t dredge up the actual story on the Internet.
The teachers will meet in the cafeteria and the chairman of the event will have a list of somewhere between 35 and 40 families and their addresses in the documented poorest neighborhood in the poorest city in the poorest county in New Jersey, and whoever compiled that information could have used the time better spent to actually going out and helping the neighborhood.
There will be a shopping bag full of goodies for each family and each teacher will take their part of the list — and most are women — go to their vehicles and go through the neighborhood making the deliveries.
There are ways through social programs that the school finds out who are the most needy.
We first met Indian Avenue School through the 2013 Teacher of the Year, Lara Blew.
And we want to know if Deanna Speranza-Murphy can relate to the following:
A little history
March 29, 2013
Where did Mrs. Blew come from?
The six third- and fourth-grade children in the classroom at Indian Avenue School pondered the question.
Kevin, Taheem, Bryan, Omar, Laura and Justice.
“Where there’s lots of water,” clued Lara Blew, the school’s Teacher of the Year. “Penn…”
“Pennsylvania!” the children shouted.
And did she go to college?
“Yes!” they said.
“Another Penn,” said Blew.
“Penn State!” they answered.
Lara Blew has been teaching special education at the Bridgeton school for eight years.
But Blew must teach individuals, not a class.
She has to prepare a lesson plan for each student.
“It can be frustrating,” she said. “It’s a great plan until it blows up. It doesn’t always go like you plan.”
She was recently out three days for her father’s death.
Justice said he didn’t miss her.
“He likes to give me a hard time,” smiled his teacher. “I came back to tears after those three days.”
The students already know that if they want to get a job they have to be able to sign their name.
They write persuasive essays.
“They keep the reader interested,” explained one student. “We write to Mrs. Lugardo and the principal.”
Gladys Lugardo-Hemple is the aide.
“We asked Mrs. Lugardo for a snack,” one said.
“Pretzels with peanut butter inside.”
The principal walked in.
“What’s happening?” asked Mrs. (Karen) Horwitz.
The whole school staff voted Mrs. Blew Teacher of the Year.
“She’s very devoted to her students,” said Horwitz of Blew. “She follows them even after they leave her.”
A student she had last year came beaming down the hall that morning holding a math paper.
“He got 100 on it,” Blew said. “He couldn’t wait to show me.”
“It absolutely has to start here,” said Horwitz. “I saw that when I taught in high school, how important it is.
“And we have the dedicated staff here to do it.
“Our kids have great potential.
“I hope you’re here to say some great things about our great teachers.”
Help spread the good news.
Lugardo has been with Blew for five years.
“Before, some of our kids didn’t have successes,” she said. “I told one child if he could write his name by the end of the year, it would be a success.”
This class is better, even though there are still different levels of success.
That’s where a different lesson plan for each child comes in.
“She does a great job of building confidence,” Horwitz said of Blew. “Mrs. Blew is admired by her colleagues for her devotion to her students. She is known for setting high expectations for her students and turning them around.
“Her peers see her as highly organized, persistent and caring.
“An area of strength is creating a positive classroom environment and helping students to develop feelings of self worth.
“Her evaluation reports over the past six years are exemplary. They indicate that she consistently performs at a distinguished level in many areas.”
Blew has served on several of the school’s decision-making and strategic planning committees, including the School Leadership Committee and the Health Alliance Committee.
The school also gets great support from parents.
It’s called a Parents Spirit Committee.
“We often have to have a translator,” said Horwitz. “But the turnout is tremendous.”
Students who are learning English are in bilingual classes while all students are learning Spanish in World Language classes.
The school is currently promoting our Second Language/Segundo Lenguaje program for families.
“Parents and guardians are invited to come out and ‘make and take’ bilingual books with text in both Spanish and English that they can read along with their children,” said Horwitz. “This is a great way to begin to learn a second language while helping students to become better readers.”
A week before school starts, the staff fans out across the community and knocks on doors.
The Parents Spirit Club does fundraisers.
They cut the cake at recognition dinners.
“Mrs. Blew is kind-hearted, nice and good,” said Taheem.
Whoa! Can’t say “good.”
“Marvelous,” “tremendous,” any big words.
On the wall outside the classroom are the “persuasive essays.”
Taheem has written Principal Horwitz about school safety.
There are two separate buildings and it worries him.
On the way out of the building, the principal’s office is full of grownups.
“They’re the parents,” said Lugardo. “Mrs. Horwitz is keeping in touch.”
Some things have changed. Mrs. Blew has moved on and the principal is elsewhere in the district.
But the turkey giveaway is still going on Tuesday.
It wouldn’t be a gratifying week without hearing from CBK.
“First, I wanted to wish you and your readers a very Happy Thanksgiving! I know you really aren’t into this kind of thing, but here I go anyway.
“The tree downtown, by the gazebo, it is supposedly the Holiday Tree for the City and it is just such a sad specimen.
“I just passed it running errands and it looks like it might be dead or at least very sparse on the bottom.
“It is just … sad. I am sure that those that contributed the tree were as generous as they could be, but I would have been happy to kick in $25.-$30 to make a really spectacular statement.
“Perhaps if there was a drop box or something located in the downtown.
“Why doesn’t anyone in the City seem to want to go big? It is perhaps the saddest most depressing Holiday Tree I’ve ever seen in a town. It just reinforces that ‘less than’ attitude that most residents seem to have.
“Why is this?
“It seems that the only aspiration that the City leadership and Council have is Code Blue. While a very noble cause, it shouldn’t be the only goal.
“Thanks for your time.”
“Check out the Pocket Park in downtown Bridgeton.
“Today (Nov.18), our Bridgeton Youth on Main Street students and volunteers decorated the Pocket Park and gazebo. Looks nice!
“Thanks to Kevin Hickman and his crew, as well.”
— Bridgeton Main Street
POCKET PARK TREE AND VOLUNTEERS
CBK, we want you to hook up with four people — Bridgeton Main Street (BMS) Board of Directors President Debbi Boykin-Greenberg, BMS Director Steve Paul, Library Director Courtenay Reece and all-around city supporter Jorge Romero.
Call 856-453-8130 and set up a meeting. Luckily, all four should be there since the Sheppard House is a pop-up library right now..
You won’t be revealed.
It may be that the size of the tree enables it to be decorated without the help of Streets & Roads or Fire Department equipment.
But we’re willing to help fund a 90-foot tree hauled through town, with bucket decorating at the pocket park, if can so pull off.
You can also call for more information or to order tickets at 856-453-8130.
Advance tickets ($3 each) now available. Tickets can be used any night of the Festival. Reserved Parking is available, too, but limited spaces left. Call 856-453-1675 for tickets to be mailed to you.
“Happy Thanksgiving to all.
“Remember when stores were closed on a holiday?”
— Jane Hemighaus,
last connection to Owens-Illinois and prettiest girl in town in 1968
Did Owens have a big tree, Jane?
“Is there any place my sons and I can volunteer to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate?”
— Eddie Williams
Here is the man himself.
“Just wanted to let you know that we at Indian Avenue School are doing our annual Thanksgiving outreach tomorrow, Nov.22.
“We will be delivering 35 Thanksgiving baskets to families from our school. Please feel free to come by at 8:30 tomorrow morning if you would like.”
— Sterling Rainier
That makes it official.
Why Sam Feinstein should sometimes stay in the car.
“You know that Sam and I will be at Aunt Betty’s. We’ll even put money in the kettle, but I sure hope no cans of dog food are thrown at Sammy.
“God bless Shep for his service to our country.”
— Karen Cox,
referring to a photo of Shep dog food on Bridgeton Community Bulletin Board, which the good doctor invented and is now probably 10,000 strong.
“Shep loves ringing bells, especially the one inside Aunt Betty’s in Greenwich on the counter.
“OK, Shep, since you agreed to ring the bell, I am agreeing to give you my tips. Come on and ring the bell.
— Reva Christian
When you don’t know where you’re going, call this girl at 856-521-0734.
MELISSA HELMBRECHT KAPPELER
Someone will walk side by side with you to help solve your problem.
This should be attended by everyone in Cumberland County. EVERYONE!
But why registration? Why not come one, come all?
“Here I am worried about getting shot at a red light and instead I almost got run over by a courteous, law-abiding citizen.
“I was at the back of my patrol Tahoe, getting equipment to process a stolen vehicle and this guy pulls around me and does a bunch of K turns to straighten his pickup in his driveway.
“He leans out a little and I say, ‘Sir, I could move for u.’
“He says, ‘Nah, it’s OK, I didn’t want to bother you.’
“I look back at my equipment. Suddenly, I hear him scream. I look over to see him backing up right at me which causes me to scream at an octave I didn’t even know was possible and leap to the side of my vehicle.
“By the time he realized he had it in reverse instead of drive and was hitting the gas, he stopped in the middle of the road! My heart took a minute to come out of my throat!”
— Gina Collini,
New Castle County’s finest
former CRHS hockey goalie
— In case you think all the volunteer giving is a waste:
“For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”
— Deuteronomy 15:11
YOU CAN BOOK IT: Don’t pretend you know our town unless you’ve been connected to it for at least five years, because that’s what we were told in 1968 when you were still a twinkle.