Sunday, May 29, 2011

The class of 2011

It happens every spring... but this spring, it happened to me.

My 18-year old son graduated from high school. Of course, he is not alone. Hundreds of other seniors graduated with him on May 25th and thousands more will graduate between then and the end of June.

Just like so many other kids, his elementary, middle and high school years were a challenge. Classes and studying and tests and papers and projects were not a "piece of cake" for him, but he never gave up.  He did the work, learned the lessons and passed the tests.

Now,  the baby that I strapped into a car seat is reminding me to fasten my seat belt when I am the passenger in the car and he is driving. That little boy I held on my lap now helps me up from a chair.

What's next for him? Maybe college, maybe a job, but whatever he decides to do, I will be right behind him cheering.

I threatened to cry at the graduation from the time I read his name in the program to the minute he walked out of the hall.  His younger brother was in charge of the Kleenex.  Surprisingly, I did not cry ( well maybe a tear or two as he walked across the stage). I was focused on taking the video so we could see it over and over.

Congratulations, J-B!!! You did it!!!

BTW: I did finally cry. I am crying now as I write this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Leaf Day!

For many years, I have conducted totally non-scientific research into the best sign of impending summer: Leaf Day.

What is that? You Ask!!

Every spring we have days of beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures. However, here in Milwaukee we don't have more than one of those kind of days in a row.  The next day, like today, it is back to highs in the 40's and 50's, gray skies with a threat of rain or worse and sometimes too much wind. But on those rare warm, sunny days the buds on the trees appear which signals that the leaves are not far behind.

However, since our "spring" weather is so inconsistent (read: lousy) the trees don't know exactly when to open those buds into leaves. It does happen, but you can never predict when and you usually don't realize the leaves have actually opened until after it happens. There is no fanfare for this, no warning sounds no official news release telling us what day and time to look up.

But, I'm getting closer and I believe that TODAY is Leaf Day!!!

Yes, the sun was out yesterday... the temperatures were great and the buds opened into leaves overnight. This does not happen to all trees at the same time. You are going to look at all the trees you pass today and say "ah ha! Joanne was wrong! There is a tree with only buds. There is a tree with no leaves at all."
I don't pretend to have this theory totally nailed- down and of course different species of different trees open at different times.  But take a look at the trees around you, today.  Leaves! Where they there last night?

From now on you too will be watching for Leaf Day. Let me know what your research uncovers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

There but for the Grace of God...

In the late 1970's I worked at WGN-TV in Chicago after having co-anchored the first full half- hour, early- morning newscast in Milwaukee called "The Morning Scene". At WGN I was a television/radio reporter, writer, radio producer and fill-in weather person for Harry Volkman.

A couple of life- changing events took place during that time. The biggest was my mother's diagnosis of lung cancer and my decision to take a leave of absence from WGN to come back to Milwaukee to care for her. Mind you, this was before the Family Medical Leave Act. When I told my news director I had to go home for my mother, he said " how long will you be gone?" I said, "as long as she needs me."

Caring for my dying mother was the hardest job I have ever had.  And you know me, I never say "ever". But, I would not have walked away from it for anything. It changed my life.

The other event that set a direction for my life during that time, was an interview I had with an executive of WLS-TV in Chicago. He may have heard about the Milwaukee morning show where I anchored, edited (film at the time), produced, did the weather and did interviews and generally filled time with a memorable man: Pete Wilson.

It was a lunch interview at a place in Evanston, Illinois. We talked about what I had done, what I thought of Chicago and the program for which he was interviewing young women.  It was a daily talk- show with some news tossed in. Since I worked in Chicago and went to college in Evanston (Northwestern U.- Go Wildcats!)
I was familiar with the city and how news operated there.

It sounded like a good show and I left the meeting hoping to be considered as the host. I did not get the job and came home to work for two- decades plus at WITI- TV6/ SIX IS NEWS/FOX 6.

The interview was for a show called "A.M. Chicago". The host they hired was another young woman from Milwaukee.  If I had gotten the job... who knows?

The other young woman's name is Oprah Winfrey.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"My" classrooms... memories of my schools

Only a few people know this... I am extremely sentimental. I'm not sure why... maybe it's because I love history and studying what happened "before" to understand what is happening now. Anyway, in talking to Bobby Tanzilo of "On" at the Press Club Newsmaker luncheon of the future of Milwaukee, we agreed that there is a lot of history in every MPS building that has yet to be explored.

My personal history in MPS was in Keefe Avenue School, E.L.Philipp and Rufus King High School. Learning was lots of fun to me. Every subject (except math) was interesting. Now, don't go thinking I was a bookworm or brainiac or one of the smart kids... NOT.

I was an ordinary student, with ordinary grades but I remember loving the places in which I learned.

Here is a random list of things I remember from my years in MPS classrooms:

Giant windows that let in lots of sunlight and warmth (if the teacher did not pull down the shades)
Pulling down the shades for the teacher.
Drafts that came in around the glass of those windows on winter days.
Creaky hardwood floors.
Desks that were bolted to the floor.
Always sitting in the back of the room because the teachers assigned our desks alphabetically and I was a "W".
Daydreaming about the pictures and maps the teachers put on the walls around the room.
A giant chart of the periodic table of elements that I never really learned, but thought it looked cool because you could list everything that made up the whole world in a chart.
Radiators that sometimes clanked
Milk sitting on radiators (need I say more?)
Going up the "up" stairs and down the "down" stairs in high school ( a rule that has been abandoned, but I believe should be revived!!)
The fireplace in the kindergarten room at Philipp (part of what made it an historic site)
The beauty of the old approach to Keefe Avenue School on a warm spring day.
The little park across the street from Keefe Avenue School where an ice rink was created in winter.
The Little Theatre (RKHS grads know what I mean)

Whew, that's a lot. But I felt my schools were more than places to learn the three "R's", they were a second home.  I really liked my school buildings after school, when the crowds had left and I could roam the halls alone and peek into rooms and even run without a hall monitor yelling.

So, when I hear about a school closing, I feel a personal loss (MPS closed Philipp and I cried). I know the fiscal reasons, but there is more to a school than dollars and cents. There are memories and sometimes, love.

If you have any memories, please share them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What IS the future of Milwaukee??

So, I'm sitting in one of Milwaukee's public libraries to write this (don't ask why, you don't want to know) and looking around the room.  It is filled with mostly middle and high school- aged kids fooling around on computers. But some have books and, of course, cell phones, and most of them seem to be reading and learning. 

Milwaukee kids want to learn. Even if they hate school or can't read on grade level, they want to learn things and use what they learn to make money so they can buy things (like more cell phones, iPads, laptops and athletic shoes).

So, it was good to hear Milwaukee's leaders at the Milwaukee Press Club's Newsmaker luncheon at Marquette University, this afternoon, all focus on education as the key to our future. Now all we have to figure out is how to get the "right" knowledge into kids heads, encourage them to look for ways to productively use that knowledge and convince the employers who need the workforce, that city kids CAN do the job. Even if the job in not in the City of Milwaukee.

Mayor Tom Barrett asked how do we "create hope in the lives of young people?" MPS superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton said the children are "listening, they are watching what we do".
Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee said Milwaukee has always been a city of innovation... from "buggy whips to solar water heaters".

The rest of the nation used to look to Milwaukee as the hotbed of educational innovation... now it just looks like educational/ governmental infighting.

Tim Sheehy of the MMAC said we need a city-wide common "report card" on all the kids in all the schools... public, private, choice and charter to show us how our students are measuring- up and where we need to put our educational resources.

And, brand- new Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele hit the nail on the head when he said we must believe we have a great community and find ways to collaborate and cooperate.

The future of Milwaukee is, and always has been, in the hands of its children. There are "leaders" out there waiting to be educated and encouraged.  Maybe I am looking at one or two right here in the library.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The "Bling" in Pewaukee

Volunteering is something I've done for years, but who wants to volunteer when you are out of work???
The folks at Waukesha County Technical College thought it was such a good idea, they had a day or workshops about it a couple weeks ago.

So, I went to see what I could learn, and made a new friend. 

I met Abby Lorenz who was organizing a spring fashion show, :"Spring Bling" at the Country Inn just off I-94.
Turns out we shared a history in broadcasting and she invited me to the luncheon and join the volunteer crew to put on the show. So, I went out early and helped with raffle tickets, banquet hall decoration and ended- up being a "greeter" of sorts, talking to lots of people who were loyal viewers.

Two colleagues of mine, Katrina and Miles were there from FOX6's "Real Milwaukee" show ( the same name I used, ironically for a series of features I did at FOX6 between medical and education reporting) and the new guy, Tony helped model some of the men's clothing.

The important part was that it was a fund-raiser for the Pewaukee Area Arts Council... supporting the arts in Waukesha County... and a way for several local businesses to showcase their products.

It also reminded me that volunteering can be fun and it helps you focus on what's really important... giving to others.

Too preachy?  Sorry, I just got in the mood!!!
Happy Saturday!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

We are not alone!!

I titled this blog page "The New 'Normal' " because a friend who is also looking for the next chapter in her career (aka: job) said that to me when we shared notes on how to navigate this period.

Since then, I've found that the phrase is being used all over the place and that it has different meanings for different circumstances.  For instance:

Sunday, Mar. 06, 2011

The new normal in higher ed

Two-year, technical schools have booming enrollment, busted budgets

 Or, how about this one...

The Job Seeker Blog

RSS Feed for This PostCurrent Article

Is job hopping the new normal? 


or even this one...

Market Developments

How can jewelers adapt to the 'new normal'?


or, this one... from the Well Rounded Mama

April 13, 2011

The First Day of the New Normal

Yesterday was the first day.  The first full day of Jason being back at work and me being home with the kiddos with nothing on the to-do list...

So, my new "normal" is not like others, but many of us are trying to negotiate the many changes in our worlds that are making us become people we didn't used to be. (whoa, was any of that grammatically correct??)

Anyway, I had one of my busiest days in my new "normal" on Thursday. I thought I was back at work, rushing from assignment to office to air... instead my calendar looked like this:

10:00 am- meeting of the 40+ job seekers discussion and support group. Lots of people with talent, experience and a work- ethic that can't be questioned just waiting for the phone to ring. Heard about an event today at Waukesha County Technical College on the value of volunteering while out of work, so...

12:30 pm -  took a ride to W.C.T.C. to check it out. Only one booth was set up and I met Abby Lorenz of the Pewaukee Area Arts Council. She convinced me to come to their fashion show/luncheon on May 5 and help out.  Why not?

2:00 pm - went to the bank to see how the reserves are holding-up.

6:00pm - attended the Willie D. Davis Scholarship Fund Dinner at the Hyatt. I was one of the judges for the 25 high school students who recieved $2,000 each.  This is the 20th year of the fund that has benefited hundreds of students who wanted to go to college. I saw lots of people I have not seen since the new "normal" began and had lots of nice chats.

10:00 pm - Got home to find that my son had not gotten the job he was looking forward to, so we talked about not giving- up on his search (and mine) and how to go out and look for something else.

This is my new "normal"... how about yours??