Moms on the Loose: Pam & Carol meet DFER

Diane Ravitch’s headline said it all. Two Moms Terrify DFER, Students First. If someone had asked you to describe the pair of women standing in bemusement at the corner of First and Tryon on Tuesday afternoon, I doubt that “terrifying” would have come to mind. True, our pencils were quite large, but they were made…

Pam & Carol’s Excellent DNC Adventure

When the Democratic National Convention rolled into town 10 years ago, Carol Sawyer and I decided to do a little lobbying. We were involved in MecklenburgACTS, a local school advocacy organization dedicated to the idea that all students, regardless of background, deserved a rich and equitable education. Back then we spent a lot of time…

Polyphemus cats!

In past years, we’ve raised Luna moths at Shamrock. This year, after the discovery of a mated Polyphemus pair here in Plaza Midwood, we may switch to Polyphemus. Like Lunas, Polyphemous moths are some of the biggest moths around. They don’t look much like Lunas, but their caterpillars follow the same growth patterns. So if…

Adventures in Bureaucracy: Bradford Pears

The crazed, broken trunks of dying Bradford pear trees emerge from the ground at awkward angles, like wraiths struggling to rise from ancient graves. I’m standing at the corner of Anne Street and Country Club Drive, looking through the trees at the bustling construction site where the new Shamrock Gardens Elementary is slowly taking form….

New projects ahead

2020 was quite a year for Shamrock. First, of course, came the pandemic. Then staff and students were moved (virtually at first) to Lincoln Heights, while bulldozers descended on our school. A brand-new Shamrock should be ready to welcome students in the fall of 2022. It’s hard to say good-by to a beloved building, a…

CMS Eats @ Home: Ordering and Donation

Thanks to all the Shamrock families who have donated and delivered “CMS Eats at Home” meal bundles to OurBridge for Kids. Our families have played a big role in helping OurBridge deliver more than 2,000 meal bundles to families who needed them – and helping CMS food service workers keep their jobs. Great work, everyone….

August & September: Monarchs, Fritillaries and more, oh my!

As the days get hotter, butterfly activity intensifies. It’s a great time for outdoor explorations. I went over to Shamrock on Monday, and the gardens were teeming with all sorts of creatures. With kids away, the insects play. Visit if you can! You can find every butterfly featured in our Shamrock calendar in some form…

July: Luna Moths

July was indeed a month for Luna Moths, with lots of folks in Charlotte and environs raising caterpillars at home. Kids gave them names like Melody, Moonpie, Creeper, Zombie and Steve. Fun. The caterpillars came to us courtesy of Mia and Ana, two of the lady Lunas who grew up in Shamrock classrooms during the…

June: Eastern Black Swallowtails

We started our Shamrock butterfly program by raising Eastern Black Swallowtails. Butterfly eggs can be hard to spot. But Eastern Blacks lay round, bright yellow eggs that stand out clearly. Plant parsley, fennel or another host plant in your yard or in a pot, and you’ll probably get some. Young Eastern Black caterpillars are black…

May: Skippers

As summer arrives, small, active Skipper butterflies descend on gardens across Charlotte. Their thick bodies, big eyes and narrow wings make them look like moths. But they have the club-shaped antennae that mark a butterfly. They get their name from their habit of “skipping” from flower to flower. About 70 different species of Skippers live…