Back to the Classroom!

It’s been more than 7 years since I have been in a classroom teaching, but here I go again! Starting this Fall, actually starting way back in May, I will be the new 3 year old teacher at Annunciation Strong Start Early Learning Academy! Many of you know this all ready, but I’m posting more-so because of all the work I forgot there was to teaching!

I have a feeling non-teachers think that we just show up in a classroom and have everything at our fingertips. Or it’s all inside secret manuals that tell us what needs to be done each day in order to have a successful year. While there are manuals out there, that is not always the best way to prepare for your students to ensure their success in your class. It goes way beyond that to make an interesting, inspiring, engaging classroom environment and most of the time – you don’t even know who is in your class yet!!

For the past two months I have been thrust back into reading through State Standards, thinking up activities, going on Pinterest (A LOT!!! Thank GOD for Pinterest!!), selecting themes for the ENTIRE year, writing lesson plans, planning an organizational structure, planning classroom management, shopping for things I think I’ll need, and going through all our girls’ toys in our basement (and garage sales) to see what we can use in our room.

The classroom I’m going into is brand new and had to be built from scratch. There was no walking into a ready-made room and only have to follow what someone else had done. I’ve had to construct my own curriculum for teaching this class and it has been so much fun! This is what I went to school for and I am so extremely thankful that these people have faith in my ability to succeed. I honestly have felt like I was back in college with all the construction I’ve been doing for this class.

At the same time, I am really nervous! When you walk into a room that has all ready been successful, you may find things you want to change but have the opportunity to keep the things that are all ready in place that work. Here, it will be trial and error until we get it right. I have a wonderful aide who will be working with me and I am sure that together we will have many successes, I just hope it’s a short road to get there! Plus, it’s somehow already August!! There’s only a month and a few days until it is really here and I will be teaching again!

I know I’ve been doing a lot of work so far to prepare for the upcoming school year, but I hope I’ve done enough to truly be ready. This is the very first school experience many of these little ones will have had and I want it to be a positive one. Only time will tell, however and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

New year, new role at the East Aurora Co-op

As was recently announced to our membership, I have taken on the EACM logorole of President of the Board of Directors of the East Aurora Cooperative Market.  While it’s certainly not what I expected to have happen when joining the Board last year, I’m looking forward to guiding the group through the next few critical months as we move from finalizing our financing, through construction, to finally having an open store we can all be proud of and enjoy shopping in.  Outgoing President, Mary Aiken, has done a tremendous job in leading the co-op through the capital campaign process and we are all grateful for the countless hours she invested in making sure this project is successful.

If you happen to be considering running for one of three Board seats up for election this year, there are two Meet the Board events coming up that are opportunities to come and ask questions and find out what being a Board member entails:

  • Aurora Brew Works 191 Main Street, East Aurora Tuesday, January 27 from 6:00-8:00 pm
  • Taste 634 Main Street, East Aurora Wednesday, February 4 from 6:00-8:00 pm

Kindly RSVP to We hope to see you there!

For further questions or more information, including a Board Member Candidate Packet and Application, contact us at  Completed applications are due by February 27, 2015.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the East Aurora Co-op.  I’m excited about the challenges it will bring and the rewards we all will reap when the doors open later this year!

The 2014 Christmas Card

Happy holidays to everyone!  2014 was a family and fun-filled year.  Amanda’s parents took the whole family on a trip to the Outer Banks (counterclockwise from top left – photos 1, 5, & 6).  We made a quick stop in Lancaster, PA and Hershey on the way home (photo 8).  My sister (photo 2) and my brother (photo 3) both got married, and the latter got us to Las Vegas for the first time.  There was the annual Watkins Glen camping trip (photos 4 & 7) and my parents like to drive down and hike the gorge with us.  We also squeezed in a fall trip to Letchworth (center) between all the school activities, dancing, Girl Scouts, and other stuff that keeps us busy.

Christmas Card 2014

Happy holidays from us, and have a great 2015!

EA Co-op – Last Call!

For several months the East Aurora Cooperative Market has beenEACM logo working to raise funds via our capital campaign.  This fundraising effort is a critical step in moving forward with construction of the market as it shows to our outside lenders that we have committed member-owners who will shop at the market and make it successful.  So far we’ve raised in excess of $625,000 and are well on our way to our goal of $875,000, but we are running out of time.  While our membership ranks now are about 950 strong, we still have yet to hear from almost 1/3.

A couple things will be happening over the next few weeks.  First, we are holding two events where you can come to learn more about the co-op, become a member, and/or make a contribution to the capital campaign.  The first event is tomorrow at Craft Tap House from 6pm-8pm.  I’ll be there, so stop in and say hi and we can talk co-op! The second event is next Thursday at Salut Wine & Spirits, also from 6pm-8pm.  So whether you prefer beer or wine, we have you covered!  Swing by our Facebook page and let us know you’re coming, or just stop in if you decide at the last minute.

We will also be ramping up our outreach calls to members we haven’t heard from yet.  Remember – if you can’t participate, that’s ok!  We still need to know though so we can focus on getting in touch with those who may be willing to contribute.  If you haven’t made contact yet – please do so by calling Sheila Conboy (716-912-0672), Mike Benzin (716-316-1090) or send an email to

Our deadline to hit our goal is November 15th.  Shortly after that we will hold a member meeting to discuss what comes next.  It’s our sincere hope that we will be talking about the beginning of construction and not the process of returning campaign funds because we didn’t make it.  It’s up to you to help make it happen, so let’s wrap this campaign up and take a big step forward towards getting those doors open!

Derek and Amanda got married. Moved to the country. Had a couple of kids.