Monday, January 28, 2013

Don't get shot.

      It is something a good friend of mine used to say anytime we parted. After he passed away just thinking about it made me miss him. Not "bye" or "see you later", but "Don't get shot." Cause it is a crazy ass world out there, there you never know what could happen, so stay safe and don't get shot. Anyway it was years after my friend passed before I could comfortably repeat the sentiment. Now every Friday, every time the bell rings to release my high schoolers for the weekend I say goodbye with something along these lines, "Behave yourselves, make good choices, have fun, make your mamma proud and don't get shot." They always giggle. I guess it is kind of a way of telling them to live life to the fullest. On Monday I tell them that I am glad to see them and I'm glad that they survived the weekend.  Recent events have me reconsidering my words.
      Last year a kid got shot breaking into one of our middle schools. Over Christmas break the stepmother of one of my students was shot and killed. The week after that one of our students was shot as a gas station was being robbed. She is still in the hospital. Besides the gun violence there has also been two tragic car accidents. One killed one of my former students and the other left a hole in our schools library and a young man in the hospital. Both car accidents involved drunk drivers. Pointless violence, pointless tragedy and all of it so preventable.
      I keep seeing in the news that in light of the recent shootings people want concealed weapons to be carried in schools. Some even feel that teachers should be carrying weapons.  I will explain why that is a horrible idea in a second, but let me explain something else first. More people carrying more weapons will only lead to more paranoia, anger and violence. I really feel that more people carrying more weapons is really just like putting a band-aid on a scrape. I believe we would be better serving each other if we worked harder to prevent the scrape in the first place. I know you might be thinking I'm naive, that there is simply too much crazy out there in the world. The violence I am aware of.  The second paragraph of this post is just a tiny bit of what the world holds.
      As I was saying, it seems to me that preventative measures would be more effective than reactive measures. Reaching out to peers that seem overly burdened, defending people when they are bullied, befriending those that seem lonely, and helping people get professional help when they need more than we can provide. Not just prayer is needed, but action. I'm sorry, but I cannot believe that the world we live in is so stuck in a downward spiral that the only hope is an arms race between "us" and "them." There are  too many good things that happen everyday.  My babies deserve to live in a world where people work together instead of attacking each other. You never know when someone might be in need of a friend, so open your eyes and ears, pray for guidance, and reach out to the people around you.
       By the way, if you have ever taught or know any teachers you understand that it is one of the most stressful careers out there. We plan, organize, teach, parent, counsel, administer, mediate, explain, accommodate, regroup, re-teach, report and reply and that is all within the first two hours of the workday. I have seen teachers snap and verbally attack students, throw things like toddlers, and walk out of the classroom because they have lost their composure. Not all teachers are that immature, but a person under that much stress is not someone that needs to be carrying a weapon. We have two fully capable police officers on our campus. Defending us and our students is their job. Teachers have enough to worry about.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost!
That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble -
needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed
and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache
which is why I seek God’s name

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority
I only know I’m loved

      I first read this poem about four years ago, around the time I was getting serious about my Christian education. The humility conveyed in the words really spoke to me. It is an aspect of Christianity that we could all benefit from. 
      Side note, When I origionaly read this poem it was attributed to Maya Angelou. She is an awesome woman, but this poem was actually written by Carol Wimmer. Click on her name to see her site. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

and she's off


Little Miss. PJ is up on all fours and it looks like she will be crawling soon. It is amazing how quickly they grow. It seems like yesterday she was still in my tummy.

Pretty soon she will be running around like little Mr. PJ and probably chasing him. Maybe she will be able to keep up with him better than we can. 

We took these two to a park today, fed the ducks and walked on the track. It was a beautiful day and some great quality time. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


      The end of a grading period is coming up fast. Generally before it arrives I like to give my students an itemized progress report a few days before I have to turn in grades. I tell them if they get it signed by their parents I will give them a bonus 100 daily grade. Usually by this time they have so many grades in the grade book this extra one will really only boost their average by a few points. So giving them this really serves two purposes. This is how I explain it to them, I am only human so there may be a mistake in my grade book. I ask them to check what I have and see if they have anything I missed in their grade book. It is like having them double check my bookkeeping. Secondly when they see their grades, the ones that are failing will usually be motivated to attend tutorials and get their grades back up.
     So yesterday I gave out the reports and explained to my kids why. One of them (that was failing) shouted out, "Wow Mrs. Thanks a lot!" At first I thought he was being sarcastic with me, but then he asked why can't all teachers be this nice and help them out. This got me thinking about a couple of things. One of those is how we are commanded by God to serve one another and as teachers we are public servants. Galatians 5:13 states, "My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love." Sometimes teaching can be depressing and frustrating and we have to remember the purpose we are serving. This student was asking about those teachers that take out their frustration on the kids.
      In a way this students gratitude reminded that we should be thankful for the opportunity to educate. No doubt schools are full of pressure and stress. There are too many administrators and teachers that operate under a "gotcha" type system where they focus on trying to catch people doing wrong. I was reading about this recently in a business management book.  It was explaining about how by focusing on the negative we create a paranoid environment where people are afraid and don't perform at their best. Not exactly what I would describe as an optimal learning environment. If we remember our purpose as servants then we seek out the best ways to serve and create the most productive environment. I am grateful I have students that help me remember that.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Learning the Language

 Our two year old talks more and more each day. He knows so many words now that we can no longer keep a running list of his vocabulary in our heads. He is constantly surprising us with his observations, remarks and demands.  As we drove through a neighborhood with large open yards he informed us that , "They have a big grass." We use the term "like a big boy" to encourage good behavior. As in, "Flush the potty like a big boy." He uses it to describe whatever he is doing, "I found your car like a big boy." "I can watch TV like a big boy. " " I can splash like a big boy!" He also picked up on the word help really quickly and every once in awhile we get a request that sounds like this, "You wanna help me get some ice cream?" It blows my mind how quickly he is learning and able to use new words. If we explain some thing new to him he says, "oh" and then repeats what we said. Within five minutes he is using that new word or phrase on his own. Our baby girl is five months old, so all we get out of her are baby sqawks. She sounds like a little dinosaur and we love hearing her.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Public vs. Private

     I teach at a public high school. Two years ago there were budget cuts by the state that resulted in twenty jobs being lost on my campus. A good friend of mine ended up at an all boys Christian private school. He invited us to an event (fundraiser) that they hosted for Epiphany last night. It was a fun excuse to get dressed up, go out and spend time with friends outside of school. There was food and music. It was pretty entertaining.
     We ended up sitting at a big table with the following people: myself, my husband who is a plumber, two friends that also teach public school, one of their spouses that works at an group home for kids, and an orthopedic surgeon and his homemaker wife. The majority of people in attendance were parents of students at this school. I'm thinking this one surgeon probably makes more money then the rest of us at the table combined. So they start asking us questions about what it is like to be at a public school. What is our average class size? This year about 26, but last year was worse. This private school has a 10 to 1 student teacher ratio. They want to know how bad is the bullying on our campus. We explain that even though our kids are in a rough area of town they really look out for each other. Our campus is in a neighborhood plagued by poverty, there are active gangs in the area, and a small percentage of our students don't speak english, a larger percentage don't have two parents at home.
      The wife of the surgeon asks if we are afraid to be there. No, we love being there. The husband starts trying to justify their decision to spend $20,000 a year to send their kids to private schools. The students are all motivated, they get more direct instruction, yadaa,yadda, yadda. I'm thinking, look man, you don't have to explain anything to me. All parents want the best for their kids. Not all parents can afford to send their kids to private schools. Not all parents have time to help their kids do homework or go to athletic events. Some parents didn't graduate from high school themselves and they don't know how to help their kids get a good education. I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to have a quality education no matter what their background.  Everyone should have a chance to better themselves and their family. That is why I teach public school. It is a challenge sometimes, I like to say it is a new adventure everyday. Seeing those kids graduate makes it worthwhile.

Friday, January 4, 2013


      As we learn and grow we constantly try to define who we are. We tend to use past experiences to illustrate our self descriptions. As in, "Because of this I am that." We want to be able to say definitively, "This is who I am." Our life experiences are what made us, what rendered us. Alas we are not static. Everyday we are alive we grow and change. In an endless loop we are rendered and renewed. In starting this blog I was inspired by two pieces of scripture.

     And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
 Found that one in a study Bible and immediately tried to find something to write it on. There was a verse a day calender next to me and when I ripped off the page for today to write on the back of it. The verse was oddly  appropriate.

      Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are to become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

      While I am a wife, mother, teacher and christian, I am also human. My life is full of adventure. There is the path I intend to take, the mistakes I make and the learning that happens everyday. My goal is to share some of the fun with you through this blog. Enjoy!