Sunday, May 3, 2015


By Michele Corbat

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week.  All of us have memories of a special teacher who has made a positive impact on our lives. We have memories of teachers who have left a lasting impression. For me, there are many teachers who have set a great example.  Especially my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Ash.  She was my teacher when my sister died.  The kindness and love that she showed me and my family will never be forgotten. Her husband even built a beautiful podium for the school in my sister's memory.  She would give the biggest hugs exactly when they were needed.  Another teacher that showed me how much she believed in me was my 8th and 9th grade math teacher, Mrs. Brown.  I breezed through Algebra in 8th grade and then had Mrs. Brown again for Geometry in 9th grade.  To say that Geometry did not come easy to me is an understatement. Mrs. Brown tutored me and gave me confidence to persevere through each proof (she was teaching me how to develop a growth mindset).  Without these amazing teachers, I would not be the person I am today.

My children have also been fortunate to have teachers who have made a positive impact on their lives. The elementary teachers at Morrish Elementary and Swartz Creek Middle School have wiped away their tears when they were worried about getting on the wrong bus, given them a quarter for a bag of popcorn when I forgot to send them to school with change, laughed with them as they joked about drinking diet water, let them borrow the class read aloud to read ahead (with the promise of not spilling the beans to other students), let them shine as mimes signing the lyrics to songs, made positive phone calls to me letting me know how they are a blessing to the classroom community (these calls brought tears of joy to my eyes because someone else knows just how special my boys are), and attended their sporting events to cheer them on!  The list goes on and I hope that each teacher knows that I noticed how you treated my children as if they were your own.  

To top it off, I GET TO work with educators who are living their purpose.  Teachers, administrators and support staff in Swartz Creek Community Schools who support, guide and nurture children.  I have witnessed the compassion of educators across the district who have worked together to support students who are suffering sickness or loss.  Educators who have been there to listen, inspire, and empower children. Thank you to my colleagues for believing in children and giving of yourself so freely to support them.

Don't let this week go by without letting a teacher know just how very thankful you are for the difference he or she has made.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Letting Go of Control

 by Michele Corbat

Sometimes life gives us little, gentle reminders to teach us important lessons.  We can reflect on these little events and learn from them or we can ignore them and carry on.  Sometimes it takes great big events.  

About Me

During the past week, my life has been filled with a big event that is a great reminder for me.  I have one of the most Type A personalities anyone could have.  I like to plan ahead - weeks, months, and even years ahead.  I make lists.  I make lists about my lists. I delay deliver email messages to myself for the date and time that I will need the information.  My outlook calendar does not have a blank day. It includes meetings, reminders, and even my daily to-do lists.  According to a definition I found on the website

Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock. Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.
That fits me to a T!  Every moment of every day is filled with work and meeting deadlines.  

The Events

Last Wednesday, I woke up at 3 AM with sharp pains in my upper abdomen and chest.  I was nauseous and vomited once.  At first, I self-diagnosed that I had caught whatever my youngest son was experiencing. He had been vomiting for a couple of days.  After a few hours of trying to get comfortable, the pain did not go away and was unlike anything I had EVER experienced before.  I thought I could use mind over matter to wish it away so I could take my shower and get to school for a very important staff meeting (a teacher team was going to share out some highlights about their visit to a Leader In Me Lighthouse school).  After all, I had a schedule to keep.  It became obvious to me that there was no way I was going to make it to school that day and I sent out a Remind text to my team letting them know that the staff meeting was canceled.  

The pain in my chest worsened and I thought that I might be having a heart attack.  After a phone conversation with my parents, they both arrived at my house - my dad to stay with my sick son and my mom to drive me to a clinic.  On the way to the clinic, the pain intensified and my mom headed to the ER (she even ran a red light).  I was admitted to the hospital because my liver enzyme levels were extremely high and went through a series of tests to try to pinpoint the problem.  

There is A LOT of time to think while lying in a hospital bed.  My type A personality is strong and it went into overdrive about everything I was supposed to be doing at school - the post-observation conference with a teacher to reflect on practice, the parent meeting about a child with frequent absences to develop a plan to help improve attendance, the first-annual Grandparent's Day at my school, the student I promised to have lunch with to talk about how school is going and so much more.  My husband sat at my bedside and tried to reassure me that my focus needed to be on my health. But I talked him into bringing my laptop to the hospital so I could do some work (I had a BIG project due for my Ed.S. class and was only half-way finished).  I soon realized that I could not type at all with an IV stuck in my arm and gave up the idea of working.  

Finally, all of the test results were in and I met with my doctor Saturday morning.  The good news is that my heart, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas and kidneys all seem to be normal.  However, the MRI and CT scan both show a mass on my liver.  My doctor and the hepatologist determined that the next step is to schedule a liver biopsy.  Since my liver enzyme levels were coming down and the chances of having a biopsy over the weekend were nil, they sent me home.  I will schedule the biopsy tomorrow.

The Lesson

I have been home for a day and a half.  The IV is out of my arm and I could spend ALL of this time trying to get caught up on all of the deadlines that I missed.  But I haven't.  I played games with my boys, watched a movie with my husband and even took a nap. You see, a very close friend of mine sent me an email about control and an excerpt is here:
You and I have very little power and control over the most significant things in our lives. You and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. We don’t have a clue what will be on our plates next week or next month. We have little control over the principal people in our lives, little power over the situations in which we live, and almost no control over the locations of our lives. Honestly facing your lack of sovereignty over your own life produces either anxiety or relief. Anxiety is God- forgetting. It is the result of thinking that life is on your shoulders, that it is your job to figure it all out and keep things in order. It’s worrisome to think that your job in life is to work yourself into enough control over people, locations, and situations that you can rest assured that you will get what you think you need and accomplish what you think you need to accomplish. If you fall into this way of thinking, your life will be burdened with worry and your heart will be filled with dread. But there is a much better way. It is God- remembering. It rests in the relief that although it may not look like it, your life is under the careful control of One who defines wisdom, power, and love. In all of those moments when life is out of your control, it is not out of his control: “For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; . . . and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:34–35). You see, rest is not to be found in your control but in God’s absolute rule over everything. You will never be in a situation, location, or relationship that is not under his control.
The big events of the past week have served as a reminder to me that I am not in control.  As much as I think that I am or that I want to be, ultimately my life is under control by a greater power.  I don't know what is going to happen next.  I don't know what the results of my biopsy will show. But I do know that our lives are in God's control.  Today, I chose to let go and give it to God.