Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Quarter....Of A Century?

Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. Twenty five years ago, I was born. Somehow, that should seem more impressive than it really is, but I know that my 25th birthay is really the beginning of it all. So in honor of the occasion, I've created a birthday timeline (in true teacher fashion)!

October 27, 1985 I was born at a Naval Hospital in Groton, Connecticutt, at the submarine base. Dad was in Yokosuka, Japan when I was born. As soon as the doctors' released me, Mom bravely traveled all the way to Hawaii with a two and a half week old infant. I hope that if presented with that opportunity, I, too, could be that brave. Dad and I graced the cover of the Honolulu Advertiser when his boat pulled in to Pearl Harbor. My first public debut... I hope that I am always as humble as I was that day.

October 27, 1987 This year, on my second birthday, I am not the only member in my family. My younger brother, Tony, has been along for a few months, and I am learning to share. What could've been hard turned in to be a great blessing, as he has always been a friend and trustworthy brother. We move from Hawaii to Washington state... our first move as brother and sister. I hope that I am always worthy of my brother!

October 27, 1989 This year, as a four year, I get to begin my life long love of school. My brother had to watch and wish that he, too, could attend school. I eagerly got up to attend school. I hope that I will always face each day with such enthusiasm and excitement.

October 27, 1991 This year, I learned the fun of celebrating birthdays a real student... in kindergarten at Navy Hale Keiki School in Honolulu, Hawaii. My teacher, Mrs. Dickson, was my favorite person EVER. To this day, I will never forget standing on a desk, giving my speech as a presidential candidate, and voting (for myself!) in a 'real' voting booth. I hope that I will always be that inspiration as a teacher, and that I, as a woman, will remember the individuals who have touched my life.

October 27, 1993 For my birthday this year, I get to celebrate as a Yank in Australia. When Dad took a job as an exchange officer in the Royal Australian Navy, we got to tag along for the ride...down under! Australia will always be a place of adventure, excitement, and our first real exploration. During our two years, we had some of the most incredible experiences that a child could ever have-snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, camping with kangaroos, watching News Year at the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and picking up some great Australian twang. I hope that as a parent someday, that I can provide opportunities for my future children, and that they may make such a lasting impression on them.

October 27, 1995 Back in the States, Mom and Dad were often asked if I was adopted, thanks to my lovely Aussie voice. Fourth and fifth grade marked distinct changes in my life, as I started to develop interests that have stayed with me today-music, softball, and a passion for reading. I hope that over the years, I will continue to take time for the things that I love.

October 27, 1997 My middle school years saw my birthday celebrated in Hawaii again....although, this time, perhaps with more style and distinction, as my Mom took me and my girlfriends to 'high tea' at Mauna Loa Hotel. While I'm sure that my middle school years were not always easy on my parents, I learned much about myself. I learned that I cared more for genuine people, and that loyalty in friends is an important trait. I hope that as I continue to make my way through life, I can maintain those standards and expectations about friendships.

October 27, 1999 My first birthday in Yokosuka, Japan was celebrated in my favorite birthday style: family dinner and slumber party with my friends. This was the year that I discovered Rich and Melissa Short, our youth group leaders in Japan. They had a lasting impact on who I am as a Christian, and my perspectives on faith and service. I cannot thank them enough for their influence and love during our three years together in Japan. I hope that I will always make my faith a priority, and service an important part of life.

October 27, 2001 This was the birthday weeks after the terrorist attack on the United States (9-11). This event had such a pointed impact on my life, as we were still living on a Naval base in Yokosuka, Japan. My high school was shut down for a week, and we didn't leave the house for a few days. The commissary (our groccery store, for civilians) was closed for 10 days, and when it finally reopened, we waited in line for four hours to buy some milk and eggs. The entire military part of the base deployed the day after 9-11, and my heart felt for the seniors that I knew, whose mothers and fathers were deployed (almost indefinitely)... they missed homecoming, prom, graduation. Life for us at that time was uncertain, scary, and yet, pulled people together in ways that was inspirational. The things of life that had seemed problematic prior to 9-11 were put into perspective. I hope that we all remember the sacrifices of those who died on 9-11, their families, our service men and women,their families, and those who have and continue to sacrifice for the greater good of our nation. We can never thank you enough.

October 27, 2003 As a senior in high school, life was certainly looking up. My family had moved to Charleston, South Carolina right before my junior year of high school. The first year there was certainly a year of culture shock, as I learned to appreciate y'all, sweet tea, rainbows, and the finer points of Southern life. I joined the high school band, and marching band consummed my life--in a good way. I had a group of people with whom I shared things in common with, and we pursued perfection as a marching band and a symphonic band. I was beginning to stress and worry about which college was the right place for me, and my list of 10 or so colleges was imprinted on my brain. But, I had friends who were wonderful, mentors (thank you, Debbie and Dave) who provided me with insight, and parents and family who were always there to celebrate the high points in the life of a high school senior. I hope that I will always cherish the momentous occasions in life, whether they are mine or belong to the people in my life.

October 27, 2004 This year, I spent my birthday as a collegiate freshman, and a new member of Sigma Sigma Sigma. After finishing rush/recruitment only a few days prior to my birthday, my emotions were still high, but I was (and still am, to this day) thankful for the immediate love and support given to me by my sorority sisters at Presbyterian College. My decision to stay in the South ultimately was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My four years at Presbyterian College gave me greater confidence in myself, further developed my leadership skills, honed my intellectual capacity, and refined me into (well, almost) a Southern lady. I hope that I will always treasure the years and individuals from Presbyterian College, and the imprints that each has made on my life, including creating and refining my fashion sense! As I jokingly tell people, I am a GIRL REFINED in the South!

October 27, 2006 Another birthday spent in a foreign country.... this time, as an exchange student at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland. My wonderful friends threw me (and another friend) a joint costume birthday party at One Golf Place... to this day, one of the best parties that I have ever been to. Definitely worthy of a 21st birthday. Even though I was already legal to drink the UK, it was still a momentous occasion. To make things even better, a couple days later, my parents arrived in Scotland to spend a week roadtripping amongst the Scottish heather. They treated me to an intimate French restaurant, and the largest sparkler on my chocolate dessert. Seeing them halfway through my study abroad experience was just the touch of home that I needed. To this day, I am thankful for our trip through Scotland together, and the time we had. It was my first trip with them without my brother, which was certainly odd, but it was still a blast. I hope that I will always appreciate home, and my wonderful parents.

October 27, 2008 As a recent college graduate, this birthday was spent recovering from the upheaval of the previous six months. My relatively short stint in the United States Navy left me with a bum knee, and a ridiculously short haircut. So, I entered into the foray of politics, and took a job on Capitol Hill working as a staff assistant for Congressman Gresham Barrett, from SC's 3rd District. My year on the Hill taught me an appreciate for the grunts of government work, and a distinct desire to avoid a political career. The highlights of my days were borrowing books from the Library of Congress and giving tours of the Capitol to constituents and groups of school children. I hope that I will always treasure the people who work hard, and often receive little or no credit for their work. I hope that I will always know what it feels like to be employed, even if its a job that I am unhappy in.

October 27, 2009 This birthday marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I began my Masters of Education only a few months prior, and a long term substitute teaching position. Finally, all of my strengths and interests began to merge, and I woke up every day excited to go to work. Love was also an important part of this birthday, as only days after my birthday, Edmund proposed in Annapolis, MD. We excited entered our engagement, and began making plans for our future together. I can only imagine the mixed emotions that our parents had this year, as they watch us leave our childhood behind, and truly enter into the adult world, as we look forward to our marriage this spring. I hope that I always live my life with such passion and love.

My brother and I touring the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, MA

My wonderful parents!

Engagement night! <3
October 27, 2010 This year, as I approach my 25th birthday, I'm looking at all of the blessings in my life. I'm employed as a full-time first grade teacher at a private Catholic school. I'm thankful to have a job that I love, a boss who is supportive, and coworkers who I enjoy working with. My children are a complete enjoyment, and at times, present a challenge. I look foward to helping them succeed throughout this school year. I am almost finished with my graduate degree, and am only two months away from having my second diploma in hand. I am thankful for the support that my parents have given me, as I took a leap of faith to move home, begin a brand new career, and plan for a wedding. I don't know how people make it through life without parents who are loving and supportive. I am so thankful for them and their love. I am thankful that my brother graduated and was commissioned at the Naval Academy this spring. He's in the midst of his flight training to be a Naval aviator, and I am so proud of him and his progress. I miss him while he is in the flat lands of Oklahoma, but am still very proud! As Edmund and I approach our wedding date, I am increasingly thankful for the love of this wonderful man, and I am excited for the adventures that our marriage will bring. And lastly, I am mindful of the woman that I have become.... perhaps one who enjoys clothes and fashion a little too much, one who is, at times, childish (especially with my love of all things Disney), and still a perfectionist. But I know that deep inside, my desire to positively touch the lives of those around me will stand strong, my hard work, and my love of family are important qualities that make me who I am. To all those who have had a hand in making me the woman that I am, and the woman that I will become, thank you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Got The Laryngitis....

June Carter (played by Reese Witherspoon) said, "I gotta tell you, I can't sing tonight. I got the laryngitis".

Well, I gotta tell you. I got it, too.

I actually got kicked out of school today because of it. :-9 They (my grade partner, aide, reading teacher, and principal) ganged up on me and sent me home. I didn't want to go home. I like being at school. So, at 10:00am, I found myself on my way home.

Thankfully, I managed to get an appointment at my doctor's office to check for strep (since it's been going around the school). Negative on that one. No strep for me. Official diagnosis=laryngitis.

I will admit, though, that it has been quite challenging the last few days trying to teach with little to no voice. And, it was fairly entertaining (okay, okay, horrifying) to hear me attempting to get the weekly spelling test today. 

Anyways, all in all, it was a fairly good week at school. Science has gone very well this week. My kiddos LOVED their science projects.... I wish I could have shared all of their comments about watching the food coloring and water mix move up a celery stalk. My girls were so funny-most of them mixed their food coloring to make pink or purple coloring. The boys stuck with blues and greens. We had an interesting conversation about why the green food coloring didn't show up. I had a few very very disappointed boys... But, they enjoyed completing the project, and learned how water moves through plants.

This week was the first week that we had a student star of the week in the classroom. Ryan was my first star. He did an awesome job! He got completely into his role. Over the weekend, he got to take home our class mascot, "Dottie" the girafee. He journaled and drew pictures about what he and Dottie did together over the weekend. Throughout the week, Ryan kept Dottie on his desk and at the reading rug. Throughout the course of the week, Ryan's mom came in and hand lunch with him at school, he brought in a creation to share with the class, pictures, filled out his star of the week papers, and the class made a book for him. Ryan also brought in his favorite book, which, coincidentally, was written by his mom. Check it out at .  Ryan also got to be "teacher" for about 20 minutes. It was a blast!

At my visit to the doctor's, she told me that I can go to the Navy football game tomorrow---as long as I promise not to yell or stress my voice. I'm excited! But, it's going to be a challenge to contain myself. Pray that my voice is back by Monday.... I hate to miss more school.

Have a great weekend yall!! Happy football fall!!! :-D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Science and Literacy Workshop

Friday was a state-wide inservice day for the kiddos got a day off and we learned how to be better teachers. Three of us from my school signed up for a workshop called BLAST--Bringing Literacy and Science Together. Truthfully, we choose it because it, a.) looked interesting, b.) was free, and c.) included lunch. Haha!

Dr. O'Leary (left) and one of the teachers practicing the mirrored movement homework assignment.

By far, it was the most interesting inservice. The lady who taught it had her PhD, and was still teaching. This year was her 50th year teaching elementary school. She was a riot! I don't think that I have laughed quite so hard at an educational experience. The workshop was held at a private school in Delaware, and it was in their "Lower School Library". Coolest library. Look at the picture of their reading area, with a built in arena. I wanted to go curl up there and listen to story time!!

Basically, the premise of the program (which she developed as a part of her PhD program) was to take children's stories and look for two things in theme.
1. a life lesson or moral to share with the children
2. a science lesson

She took 15 stories, including "The Fisherman and His Wife", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Snow White", "Stone Soup", and more, and turned them into hands on science lessons. Each science lesson involves a kit for the students. The kits were super easy. They were in a large ziploc bag with all the contents inside. The science plate was a paper plate and all the activities were designed to be cheap, simple, and easy to teach.

The science kits--look how simple and easy they were!

I loved the overall premise of her program that students can and are scientists and that science should be fun. She talked about how each child's reward is to take their kit home and to use it at school. She said that never once has she had major problems in her classroom because the students want to do their science experiments. If a student chooses not to behave appropriate, she simply asks them if they want to retire.
The whole retirement premise was such a cool approach to classroom discipline. At the beginning of the year, she discusses with her students what good workers do, and how good workers don't fall down on their job. If they do, they then get retired from their job and go home with a pink slip. She gives each student the opportunity to decide if they want to retire, and if they do, she removes their hands on kit, and they learn the material by observing the rest of the class. She then sends home a 'pink slip' to the parents telling them that their child had chosen not to be a good worker in science class and would not be receiving their science kit for that week. Simple, easy, effective.

The master box of kits.... doesn't take up much space.
Anyways, these kits are super super easy. I love that she had the students assembly line fill them the day before they are passed out. She said that this often piques their interest, and they can't wait for the next science class to open up their kits. She does one kit a week. The kits are leveled and build upon the previous years skills but still utilize the same stories, so that way the kids learn and look deeper at each area, rather than having such a large focus area. Some schools (she said) order a master set of the kits and the teachers can then look at them for inspiration.

Some of the lessons were completely cool. We did one lesson with a spoon and looking at your image. Did you know that the image is backwards if the spoon is facing one way and just distorted if you're looking at the spoon a different way...because of the concave and convex properties? My first graders would think that that is the coolest thing! We also did another thing with a mirror, holding it up to the edge of your lined paper, and looking only into the mirror, trying to write your name. Man, that was really really challenging.

I'm really excited about the things that I learned from Dr. O'Leary. We hadn't started our first science unit yet so I think I'm going to try to incorporate some things from the workshop. Since we alternate a science unit with a social studies unit, the kids won't know that there's anything new. Personally, I think that works well for my little guys because that way they can focus on that subject, rather than stretching them through both science and social studies. I can't wait to try this but I know that it's initally going to take a lot of work. I think it's really going to be a lot of fun for the kids (and, ok, yes, for me too!!!).

Oh, on a completely unrelated educational note, my birthday's coming up in a couple of weeks. Time for my yearly reflection. Also, wedding planning is also in full mode. Lots to do in 5 and a half months!! Yippee!!Hope yall are having a great weekend! :-D

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Medicating Children for ADHD

Today was my first parent-teacher conference of the school year. All in all, it went suprisingly well. I was prepared for it to be a horrible experience. The parents were very open to our discussion about their child. We discussed how their child is so creative.... he has such a great sense of imagery and vivid detail. And his sense of humor...boy oh boy! He loves to laugh at stories and jokes! But, this little boy really struggles to focus and pay attention at school and socially. I was concerned and wanted to discuss it with them. Turns out, it's not the first time that this issue had been brought to their attention. We came up with a strategy to help this little boy, but I was struck by how open they were about their dislike of medicating children or even diagnosing children with ADHD.

It really made me wonder how many people feel this way....

Personally, I think that today's society is quick to medicate as a the 'quick fix' solution that can fix anything. I don't always think that its the right choice, especially when it completely dramatically alters the child's personality. However, I do believe that there are children out there who legitimately need the medication to make them successfully. The American Pediatric Association says that ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed childhood disease. That completely blew my mind.

Even after being in the classroom for less than two years, I can see the students where it makes all the difference in the world... and the ones who maybe need something else (can I suggest discipline at home?!).


Monday, October 4, 2010

National Book Festival

So, the last weekend in September is the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. My fiance and I drove down and went to it. It was a lot of fun, but boy oh boy---it was so CROWDED!!! I'm not really a big fan of crowds, so that part of it was just not fun. But, it was cute to see some of the displays.

I was really impressed with all of the hands-on and interactive activities that the festival had set up for children. They had a huge amount of authors there to speak, but we didn't get a chance to see any of the authors that I had hoped (Mem Fox, Laura Bush)...but such is life.

 These cute signs were at the Target tent...which was super cozy with pillows, small chairs, sofas, etc.

 This was a quick picture of the Target tent!
Me---very excited to be at the book festival!!!

With my favorite character---the Cat in the Hat!

The bookmark of the festival... designed by a 6th grade student!

But, it was an enjoyable experience--and I got one FREE book (Clifford Visits Washington). I was hoping that there'd be a little bit more swag, but.... it was still pretty neat.

We made a weekend out of it, and had some fun yummy meals in Old Town Alexandria, VA. :)

Coming back from our mini-vacation was certainly hard, but my kiddos were pretty good last week! We had a lot of opportunities to get together with our 5th grade prayer partners, and do some fun cooperative activities. I'll post pictures once I get them off of my Blackberry.

This week, I'm excited about starting our new science unit as well as preparing for fall! So many neat things to do in the fall with students... anyone have any favorites?
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