July 15, 2012
I’ve all but abandoned this blog as the pressures of school and life have overwhelmed me this year, but I’m halfway through summer break and feeling reflective again. My husband and I just returned from an 8-day road trip through California, visiting friends from previous lifetimes and soaking up the magnificent views of the Pacific.
People have asked me about my favorite part of the trip, but my favorite part was simply our itinerary. We spent a couple of days in San Francisco, courtesy of my ever-generous in-laws, a couple of days in Carmel with great old family friends, a few exciting days in L.A. with college soccer buddies of my husband’s, and family a short visit in San Gabriel with my favorite old neighbors. The wonderful people we got to spend time with and the variety of places we visited was my favorite “part” of the trip. It is good to love and be loved, even far from home.
Since we have been back we’ve been thrust into church life as much as ever– a funeral and a 65th wedding anniversary celebration have kept us occupied our first 2 days home. As we try to adjust to the time change and to being back in our “real world,” I’m starting to think about next year and my new school. I’m very excited to be teaching closer to home and in my area of expertise– English, finally! I’ll be with middle schoolers and while the curriculum is a little more rigid than I would like, I’m interested to see what it’s like to teach assigned books, grammar, vocabulary, and a specific writing technique. I think the thing I’m most worried about is trying to plan out a year-long syllabus before I even meet my students. Darn those private school parents and their intrusive expectations!
For now, I’m trying to take the to-do list a line at a time, starting with church first thing tomorrow morning. Then, bring on the planning!
November 15, 2011
It’s been almost 12 weeks since my last post… that should give you some idea of how exhaustingly busy my life has been. My husband and I are immersed in the most challenging, most consuming, and– at least for me– the most fulfilling work we’ve ever done. I’m loving teaching, even if I devote way too many hours to planning, grading, and worrying over my students. We finally reached the end of the trimester and today was the last day of exams. Tomorrow we start mini-terms– 5 days of teaching whatever our little hearts desire, and students sign up for anything that catches their eyes. I’m teaching Gothic Lit and Slam Poetry for the next few days. I’m really excited about introducing a group of middle schoolers to the world of Gothic poetry and short stories and seeing what catches on.
I’m even more excited about finally getting to use slam poetry and hip hop theater in the classroom with a group of high schoolers. I’ve even got the slam poetry team from Davidson College coming to do a writing workshop with us– it’s gonna be awesome. All I want to do is go at this with all the energy and confidence I have, and pray that my students will approach the class with open minds. My greatest fear in this area is always that people with more diverse backgrounds, from whence hip hop comes, will look at me as a silly white girl co-opting their culture. I mean, look at me– I just said “whence.” Can a girl with a Eurocentric, Shakespeare-driven, Renaissance-art-loving background really embrace the language, stories and struggles of urban minorities? I don’t claim to understand it, I just think it’s important to read those stories and hear those voices and acknowledge those issues. I love that people use art to express themselves– it can be such a powerful medium and can allow for conversations that politics would kill. I don’t know if I’ll start with this poem, but it’s one I keep coming back to…
September 27, 2011
I’ve already written about my teacher, Dan Dalke. I think of him often, and try to bring the same excitement into my classroom every day that he brought to his. I teach in North Carolina, but this year the sophomore class trip is to Atlanta, my home city. I’ve been in charge of planning our visits to various tourist attractions, but the one that stands out for me more than anything else is the GA Aquarium.
Besides teaching me marine biology, Dan taught me to care about the world, the oceans, the environment… he taught me the excitement of learning something new and unexpected. Who imagines that they’ll learn or care about fish in high school? Certainly not me. I loved English and history, and science only ranked a little above math. However, when Dan walked in with those flippers and that cape, I was sold. Nothing like a nerd who knows what he loves and isn’t afraid to show it. That’s the kind of nerd I aspire to be.
So Dan, this trip is for you. My mother has agreed to help me chaperone, and we will say a little prayer for you in front of the big tank. Whale sharks and 16-year-olds beware!
September 20, 2011
I only hope she goes on to become a teacher, y’all. I know this video is long, clocking in at over 9 minutes, but this high school valedictorian’s speech is an incredible indictment of our education system today. For those teachers out there busting their butts to answer the ever-present “Why are we studying this?” question, both for themselves and for their students, I hope you feel vindicated by this speech.
In other teacher news, I am seriously missing New York and its professional development opportunities for educators. Coming up the first weekend of October is the Preemptive Education Workshop put on by Michael Cirelli and crew from Urban Word NYC. I went to this last year and it’s an awesome opportunity to hear from multi-talented youth, speakers, and educators who working to make sure that every voice is heard and valued in our education system today. There are awesome ideas about incorporating hip hop, poetry, and multiculturalism into the classroom. And to make things extra exciting, Toni Blackman is gonna be there. If you’re around, go be inspired!
September 14, 2011
One of my NYC friends posted this status on Facebook yesterday in regards to North Carolina’s proposed Amendment One: “As grief and anger over my home state of NC build, I hear the voice of Union’s own James Cone saying, “What are you angry about? What are you willing to risk everything for? What is worth maybe even your life?” I believe that righteous anger can fuel revolution or turn into ‘woe is me’ depression. Which will it be NC, which will it be?”
We can do better than this. I don’t usually repeat the statuses of others, but this is too important not to. People are people and human rights are human rights. How many years did it take us to figure this out about race and religion? And we’re still way behind on equality in those arenas. Let’s not repeat history.
I’m teaching my 7th and 8th graders about South Africa and apartheid right now, and my 10th graders are about to begin their study of the slave trade. Though these are much more brutal and violent violations of human rights, the hatred of others that they were based on and that they fostered is still very palpable in today’s world. I can’t help but think that after centuries of injustice and baseless persecution, we are still denying people basic rights– in this case, the right to choose a partner. Marriage is something most people take so much for granted that divorce and second and third marriages are the norm now. I’m certainly not condeming anyone there– the point is we have the freedom and the choice to marry and divorce as many times as we want. How on earth can we deny that right to gay people?
I’ll tell you what though y’all– gay protestors and activists sure do have a good sense of humor. Protest signs from here.
September 10, 2011
In the last 10 days or so, I’ve had the privilege of spending time with four generations of my family. Last weekend I was holding my baby nephew, and today I was looking through almost two centuries worth of family photos with my grandmother. My grandmother has always been careful to record and catalog every family event, using photographs, newspaper articles, birthday cards, postcards, letters, announcements, invitations, and so on. What has resulted is a large collections of photo albums rich with memories. I always love looking through them and reliving the moments I remember and pouring with fascination over the moments that happened decades before my time. I used my new iPhone to snap a quick picture of one of my favorite photographs in that house:
I’m not sure what event my grandparents are at in this photo, but I love how happy they seem to be🙂 All this family history makes me think of an awesome article in Garden & Gun Magazine that my mother read to us last weekend and I read to my grandmother last night– it’s about southern women in all their glorious strengths and weaknesses. Enjoy the article here!
September 8, 2011
Time certainly flies at the beginning of the school year! I’m 4-5 weeks into teaching History, Social Studies and Economics at my new school in North Carolina, and I’m having SUCH a great time. True, I’m commuting at least 2 hours a day and working my butt off, but my students and colleagues are worth all the extra hours I put in. I feel valued and appreciated in a way that I haven’t felt in a job before, and I also feel committed to the job in a way I haven’t before. I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be– the hours I spend preparing for school are research hours that I might do for fun on a Friday night, being the nerd that I am, because I’m that interested in and passionate about the subjects. I only hope the kids are learning from me a fraction of what I’m learning myself.
I could do without the stress of leading Yearbook, but maybe I just haven’t hit my stride there yet. I often regret that my lack of athletic background prevents me from coaching, because that seems to be the natural extracurricular partner for teaching. However, Yearbook with its photos and written articles certainly jive with my photography and English background, so I guess I shouldn’t complain that much🙂
Our little NC town has lived up to its teeny status of having almost nothing in town and being pretty far away from everywhere. There are a couple of friend buffet restaurants, a Food Lion, and a handful of churches, but that’s about it. I don’t spend much of my time there, but I will say our church could not possibly be more warm and welcoming. We actually got an old-fashioned “pounding” at my first Wednesday Night Supper! The church members each brought us a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of cornmeal, etc.– as well as more paper goods than we could even count. I think it’s safe to safe we won’t run out of paper towels or toilet paper for the rest of the year.
From my quiet town to wherever you are… good night!
August 14, 2011
Today I went to the memorial service of the most passionate, engaging teacher I’ve ever had. Though he died about 6 weeks ago, I haven’t been able to write about it because it was such a painful loss, but I wanted to honor him today. My husband and I drove to Atlanta for a service with his family, friends, and my high school community. A teacher of marine biology at my high school for 10 years, this man had a passion for all things aquatic that was so infectious that you couldn’t help but be excited about brain coral and seahorses and tank life. I’ll never forget him flopping into class the first day wearing goggles, fins and a cape, and carrying a trident. He LOVED what he did and he managed to convince everyone around him that ocean currents and marine animal research was essential to our education.
Aside from that, he was an amazing friend and supporter. He went to my family’s church for a time, and remained quite close to us for many years. He was a loving father and loyal friend. For the last 6 years, he fought a terrible battle with cancer, that left us scarred almost as much as it did him. Today at the service, we heard stories of this man praying for us, loving us, and trying to be the best man he could for us, not for himself. There were hundreds of people that came to recognize and honor his influence on our lives– a true testament to his legacy. Many of us felt his pain and suffering for years, and though we are grateful for the peace he has found, we mourn the loss of a man that touched our lives in a way few other people have. His enthusiasm and love of teaching are what inspired me to become a teacher, and I’m sure many of his other former students could say the same. He died way too young, leaving behind a young son and daughter, but he lived and loved more than enough for a lifetime. It is us who didn’t have enough time to love and live with him.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou are with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
July 30, 2011
Well hey there– it’s been awhile! Things have been crazy in this time of transition, and I’ve put the blog on hold for a bit until my life settles into a routine in a couple weeks. I’m in the midst of packing and finishing my Masters, and also trying to prepare for my new teaching job! I’m at a great school that I’m really excited about, and I’m teaching a little outside of my comfort zone, but it should be a great challenge.
A couple weeks ago I got to visit my family in Atlanta, meet my new nephew, and visit my husband in our new town. I got to see the parsonage and the church and hear him preach his first sermon. The congregation is small but SO friendly, and I think we’ll do well there. We celebrated our first anniversary that weekend as well, by unpacking our books! Well, at least half our books🙂 We ate the top tier of our wedding cake (which was actually delicious!) and drank champagne and had an awesome, newlyweds-in-a-new-house-and-a-new-town time.
It’s a beautiful day in New York City and I’m just trying to cram in as much city life as I can before I leave. It will be hard to go from a population of 8 million to one of 5,000, but it will certainly be an adventure and a totally new experience. So here’s to you, New York– the home of my first year of marriage, the place where I earned the degree that put me on the road to a career I’m passionate about, the lifelong friends that made my husband and I feel welcome from day one, and all the incredible memories and experiences of living in the Big Apple. I will truly miss you.
July 2, 2011
After the somber tone of my last few posts, I decided we needed to lighten the mood a bit🙂 My husband moved into our parsonage a few days ago, and though I haven’t seen it yet, he’s been sending me pictures! I think the best part is the fact that there’s a dishwasher.
Oh, and the wallpaper.
Which makes me of Portlandia– “Put a bird on it!” But seriously, here are the real photos:
And finally, the church!
I guess this is starting to be real… I get to go see everything next weekend, when I fly down south for his first sermon and to meet my new nephew!