A Thank You Note

Dear Mrs. C.,

You should know I’m still a teacher, Mrs. C.  I think you had something to do with that.  You should know I’m generous with my students.  I expect a lot, but I listen to them.  I care about them.  You should know you modeled that for me.  Among other things.  Like patience.  Like passion.

I remember how we used to eat lunch together, you at your desk, me at the one next to yours up in front of the rows of desks.  I was freezing, and you were always hot.  I wore long underwear every day under my clothes, and you kept the room set at 60.  But now, when I look back on the months we spent together in your classroom, I don’t remember the cold.  So many of my memories of living in Northern PA are steeped in a chill that made me long to live somewhere warmer, but not from 7 until 3 when you were my mentor and I was your student teacher.  I had soup every day that fall.  I can barely eat cans of chicken and wild rice, creamy tomato now, maybe one every six months or so.  I don’t miss Progresso in my life.  I do miss you.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a teacher, what it means to be a teacher, a good teacher, a great teacher.  I want to be great in the classroom.  I’m working on it.  Every class.  Each lesson plan.  I’ll keep at it.  For you.  For my students.  For my future students.

I hope you know how much you meant to me.  I was a newlywed, a recent college grad, and six hours away from my family.  I needed a strong, kind woman in my life.  And you were so much more.



Still Surviving Spring Semester (as the end grows near)

Right now, I have four and a half weeks of classes remaining in my second semester.  Exciting?  Yes.  Scary?  Yes.  While I know the middle of May will arrive and I will look back on this crazy time (fondly), that distant day seems hard to fathom right now.  So I thought it might be helpful for me to post about what I’ve done so far and what remains to be done in and out of the classroom.  I will post about Sid-tastic’s standing, too.  This has been her first semester of life, after all.

For Teaching

1.  22 classes taught.  Only 8 to go.

2.  2 of 3 papers assigned and graded.  Only 1 more paper and the portfolio to go.

3.  Student conferences – check.

For School Work

1.  5 of 7 fiction submissions (roughly 100 pages).  Another is due on Friday, and the last one will be due in two more weeks.

2.  2 of 3 rhetoric project class presentations (roughly 8 pages of writing and 1 Prezi).  The final one is due the last day of class.  Then, I also have to write a final paper.

3.  10 weeks of rhetoric readings, which includes 6 books and at least a dozen articles and selections of text that range from 12-40 pages each.  We have one more book-length assignment to go (Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows), and still plenty of other readings.  But I really enjoy these readings.  They make me think.  A lot.

4.  A prose poem draft.  I will probably submit this on Friday.

5.  Initial work on 2 revised pieces for my final fiction portfolio.  My final porfolio will probably be around 75 pages of fiction.  I’ve still got a long way to go.

6.  Register for summer and fall classes.

At Home

1.  Riley’s birthday party.  I’ve started to buy candy, we’ve reserved the place, and we’ve sent out invites.  Now we still need more candy, game stuff, decorations, snacks, cake, and drinks.  I do have a list, though.  At least Mom, Dad, Alli, and CE will be in town to help!!  Can’t wait!!

2. Upcoming doctor’s appointments for Riley and Sidney in April.

3.  Upcoming doctor’s appointment for me.

4.  House work.  We have been keeping up with the daily grind (or at least catching up on the weekends), but I am looking forward to doing some major catch-up in May (like going through closets, clothes, etc.).

5.  Cars.  Just got the RAV an oil change, but now the Tib needs one, and both cars are desperate for baths!  The plan is to take care of that this weekend!

Sidney, Sidney, Sidney

1.  Sleeping through the night (at least for the past three nights in a row).

2.  Rolling over from back to front.  Just happened this morning for the first time.  So exciting!

3.  Smiling and babbling up a storm.

4.  Hair growth?  Maybe?  Not really?  Hopefully one day.

5.  Gaining weight?  Absolutely.  She may catch Adrian before too long!  More pictures to come soon.

There.  That doesn’t look too bad, right?  It helps that I love what I do and my schedule and the material I’m working on.

Time to get back to it!

Girls Overnight Leadership Development

Sidney just started sleeping eight hours in a row.  Eight hours!  And yet we both gave that up for a full night up (Well, I was up the whole night…she was up in parts…).  Why?  What could possibly compel a mother of an infant to sacrifice a whole night of sleep?

In a word, GOLD.

GOLD stands for Girls Overnight Leadership Development, and it is a program I have been a part of on and off since I was in eighth grade.  The event involves preparing eighth grade girls for the social and mental and physical transitions they make when they enter high school in a fun and engaging girls’ only atmosphere.  The night is part presentations, part sleepover, and all about developing strong young women.  This year, two amazing seniors at Oak Hall School planned the night, while I supervised from afar.  Then this past weekend, the whole crew headed down to Gainesville, Florida for the event and to visit friends in the area.

For the night, we had a terrific cast of junior and senior leaders – and a great group of eighth grade girls who participated in the program.  Our speakers talked about healthy eating habits, drugs and alcohol, self-defense, and empowerment.  I even learned how to handle an attacker based on his weapon and position!  Many thanks to all the people involved who helped to make the night work and go so smoothly.  What a big success this year’s program was.  Alex and Caitlyn, your hard work and effort made the night smooth, meaningful, exciting, and fun – our best GOLD at Oak Hall yet!  Well done, ladies.  Well done. GOLD leaders – you rocked it out as discussion leaders, small group leaders, and theme room planners.  Way to go!!  A total group effort.  (And, yes, I miss you already.)

We had more food than we’ve ever had for the night: cake, cupcakes, chips, pizza, club wraps, and more!  But of course, we all needed the constant rush of sugar to keep us going all night.

After the speakers, the eighth graders enjoyed different theme rooms and activities: the rave cave, tie-die, dancing, cookie decorating, friendship bracelets, face-painting and horoscopes, movies, and a photo shoot.  My favorite this year was the spa room, complete with a homemade hand sugar scrub and soothing lemon tea and music.  Sidney enjoyed the cozy atmosphere, too.     .

The final portion of the night involved a panel discussion with the high school girls answering anonymous questions from the eighth graders, Pilates, breakfast, and the chance to share nice remarks about each other.  During this time, Sidney hung out with the girls, and I cleaned like crazy.  Think vacuuming and trip after trip to the dumpster!

By about 7:30, all the girls were gone and the school was transformed back into a school.  But the magic lingered.  It lingers still.  As I told the girls at GOLD, I believe in the program. Having been an eighth grader in a similar program, I still remember the night-long fun I had and how much I learned back then.  The event is powerful for eighth graders and the high school leaders who get the chance to be role models.  It is powerful for me every year, as it reminds me of the lessons I want my daughters to learn and how tough it is to be a girl in our world today.  It is powerful for me because I get to be a part of a team of girls working together to make each other better.

I hope all of the girls had as much fun as I did.  I hope they all got as much out of the night as I did.  I hope the program continues to grow and touch the lives of more girls every year.  One of my dreams is to see GOLD expand and take place at more schools.  I hope to see that happen some day.

I am already looking forward to next year!