My journey to shoot for the moon.

Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Wow! Three Years Pass

I’ve been unsettled, the last couple of weeks. I’m not really sure why this feeling has settled in, perhaps it is a minor mid-life crisis. Perhaps it is due to the political climate or that I mindfully took this summer off from coursework. It could be that I’ve been fighting allergies and have had steroids in my system. But whatever it is, I’ve been thinking about writing again.

My last blog post was 3 years ago. A lot has happened since then. Here is a brief update –

My husband, Chris, lost his long battle with Stage IV Lung Cancer on March 21, 2018. I’ll write more about that in a future post, but the boys and I are settled into a new normal and I think that we are doing well.

I am now working as a Learning Specialist at a school in Denver Public Schools. I’m excited to be starting my third year at my school. Overall, I love my job, my co-workers, and my administration. As with any teaching job, I adore some of my students and some of my students challenge me to be the best teacher/person I can possibly be. Some of these challenges have been emotionally painful and life-changing. I am truly humbled and grateful for the opportunities I have had working with these kids and young adults (grades 6 -12).

I bought a house last summer, adopted two kittens, and have been attempting to garden. I love my house and have had a number of adventures in homeownership. The kittens are the first that I’ve ever had and that has been an experience!

I lost my dad in November of 2018, after watching him slowly deteriorate both physically and mentally. While it has been difficult, at times, ultimately, he was tired. Both my brother and I flew into North Carolina to see him before he passed. He was in Hospice care. We had some good conversations with him with both laughter and tears. He died a couple of days after my brother and I flew to our respective homes. Mom is managing things well. More about all of this later.

In December, 2018, our dog, Kirby, crossed the rainbow bridge. She lived a long and wonderful life (about 18 years).

My youngest son graduated from high school and earned his Associates Degree (in Science) in May.

Of course, this is a brief update and I hope to write more. So much has happened over the last several years. However, I can probably sum it up as being in survival mode; putting one foot in front of the other and making it from day to day. I finally feel as if I can take a deep breath and plan versus react to what is going on around me. Hence, the need to write.

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Holocaust Survivor – Osi Sladek

Before the end of the school year, I had the privilege of hearing Osi Sladek speak.  Osi Sladek is a survivor of the Holocaust.  He was born in 1935, in Czechoslovakia.  As a child, he spent several years hiding from the Nazis in the mountains.  He wasn’t a particularly elegant speaker, although he was passionate.  He was soft-spoken and seemed to think carefully before he responded. (more…)

Making Sundaes in English Class

One of the lessons I wanted my Freshmen to learn was that words mean something.  They already knew that, of course they did.  But, I wanted them to truly understand that when the put words on the page they really did have meaning.  After brainstorming with a colleague, I decided to have the students write the steps of making an ice cream sundae.  I explained that I wanted them to be as specific as possible. (more…)

Teaching Romeo and Juliet

When I was in college, I took Chaucer because I didn’t want to have to deal with Shakespeare.  I didn’t like Shakespeare.  Generally speaking, I hated Shakespeare.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Taming of the Shrew with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, but that was a movie not the written version.   Little did I know that I would end up teaching Shakespeare.  Specifically, teaching Romeo and Juliet to high school students. (more…)

G*d In Our Schools?

One of the things that has me perplexed is that people are claiming that if G*d was in our schools, then Sandy Hook would never happened.

Thinking about this, you can take it two ways.  First, if G*d was allowed in schools then the shooter would have had a religious foundation and never would have brought a gun into the school with the intent to kill.  The second way you can take it is that if G*d was allowed in schools, he would have protected the children and teachers from the shooter.  This second thought is outrageous and worthy of its own post. (more…)

Hanging Tough

I know.  It’s been a really long time.  I guess I didn’t realize how little time I would have to myself after teaching all day.  I should have known, but I didn’t.

The past couple of weeks has been particularly rough.  I was not prepared for the impact of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Veteran teachers were prepared (although you can never really be prepared for tragedy) emotionally.  Some of them had been through tragedies before and were, at least, aware of the emotional impact. (more…)

Why I Won’t Shop At Wal-Mart Anymore

I used to visit Wal-Mart once a week.  It was a great place to get everything I needed.  The prices were low, the generic items were generally good and when I found items on clearance, they were very, very inexpensive.

However, I will not shop at Wal-Mart anymore.  It isn’t because of their Customer Service (although sometimes it has been awful).  It isn’t because the prices or items have changed.  And it isn’t because there isn’t one close.

It is because of politics.  I’m not talking about National politics; I’m talking about Local politics.  Douglas County, Colorado politics – more specifically Douglas County School District politics.  The Douglas County School Board offered vouchers to private school students last year.  The School District allowed students to apply for the vouchers and private schools (in and out of the district) could “register” to accept the vouchers.  The students were awarded the vouchers and could attend any “registered” school of their choice.  The majority of the “registered” schools were religious schools.  These vouchers took money intended for the neighborhood public schools and funneled it to private schools.  Most of these private schools were religiously based.

The ACLU, DCFT (Douglas County Federation of Teachers) and a citizen’s group (Taxpayers for Education) took the School District to court and the courts ruled that the vouchers were illegal.  Currently, the Douglas County School Board and Administration are appealing this court ruling.  To fund this appeal, donations have been accepted.  There have been several groups across the country have donated large sums of money to fund the defense of this illegal program and the Walton Foundation has made a large donation.

What the Walton Foundation has to do with the Douglas County School District is beyond me.  Except they are pushing an agenda which includes “Educational Reform.”  The Douglas County School District wasn’t in need of reform.  It has been a leader in innovation in education and collaboration between the DCFT and the School Board.  Well, that is, until this year when the Board of Education decided to allow the Collective Bargaining Agreement expire and cut all ties with the DCFT.

The Walton Foundation, by financially contributing to the legal defense of the voucher program, has shown their support for the School Board.  The School Board that does not respect teachers.  The School Board that has spouted their political agenda and beliefs, even though the School Board is supposed to be non-partisan.  The School Board that wants to privatize public education.

Four members of the School Board are up for re-election in Nov. 2013 and until then there is really no way that I can show how I feel about the School Board and their policies.  The policies that, over the last 40 years, have built a public school system that, I believe, was one of the best in the country.  The current School Board does not understand that by attacking the Union and teachers that they are attacking the infrastructure that has, historically, done what is best for kids.  That is what teaching is about (although teachers deserve to be fairly compensated for their work).

I realize that the attack on the DCFT is in-line with the political climate.  Unions are bad.  Unions are the cause of all evil.  Unions protect inferior workers.  All of this is not true of the DCFT AND this was a system that was working beautifully.  Why destroy something that is working?  Why destroy something that was so inherently good?

The Walton Foundation supports this Board of Education, and I do not.  Therefore, I will not support the Walton Foundation.  I will no longer shop at Wal-Mart.  While I realize that overall the money I spent at Wal-Mart is inconsequential to their financial portfolio, perhaps if others join me…I can dream, can’t I?  And at the very least, I feel that I am making a difference.  Oh, wait!  I’m a teacher.  I make a difference every day.  I wish that the School Board and the Walton Foundation respected that.

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