Monday, April 21, 2008

Good News!

1. State speech was this past Saturday. I had one student take 3rd place in Extemporaneous Speaking, and one take 11th place in Great Speeches. This is very exciting for us, as it's our highest finish yet (we are a young school, after all :-)). I'm very proud, and it couldn't have happened to a better student.

2. Last week, our literary arts magazine debuted its third issue (the first one under my supervision). Because our budget was cut, we gave free copies only to the authors/artists in the magazine, the communication and arts teachers, and the administration (including the superintendent and school board...gotta get that funding back :-)). The rest we are selling for $1 (it cost .84 to print each one). In only 2 days of selling, we have already sold over 50 (and we only printed 125!). We are very pleased. We will be selling them during the intermissions of the play this weekend as well, so we hope to sell out.

3. Because of my affiliation with speech and lit mag, and because earlier this year I attempted (unsuccessfully) to get a Poetry Out Loud! competition going at our school, I have become known as the "poetry person" at school. When a rep from Barnes and Noble came to school a couple of weeks ago to talk about a poetry contest they were having, the principal sent her right to me. They are of course celebrating National Poetry Month (April...what are YOU doing to celebrate today?), and are having a big poetry night. WELL, out of nearly 300 submissions, one of our five entries won! And another got honorable mention! They get to read them aloud next week with the poet who judged them. Very cool.

I'm so proud of my students today. You don't get this feeling from many jobs :-).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Click here

You need sound activated (for those of you who read my blog at work):

Thursday, April 17, 2008

For Heather

From the rooftops we will yell: Heather passed the Bar!!!!!

An offical lawyer, with a degree, a license, and a job. Three years well-spent, my friend. We (and by we, I mean everyone) are SOOOO proud of you. Coffee and cake at Starbucks tonight in celebration.

Much love.

Scale of indecision

You know how I'm trying to decide one way or the other about when to tell the authorities I'm not going to run speech next year? Well, one minute I'm decided, the next, I'm again flipped. I hate it. I had some disappointing and confusing news (someone younger and less experienced than me is going to be our department head next year; not that I want to be the head, but it's a little weird) that makes me want to wait as long as possible. Purposely slight them. But then one of my speechers sends me a picture of how cute and wonderful they all are, and I am back to wanting to do what's best for them. I mean...look at these faces...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Master Conspiracy Assessment

You may or may not remember that my APT (alternate plan thesis, as I lovingly call it) was a condemnation of the Bush Administration's communication of the "results" of the education plan he rhetorically dubbed No Child Left Behind back in 2001 before he ruined our country. One of the main themes of this "law" (okay, so it IS a real law, but it's such a joke, the quotation marks are valid) is testing. Testing in all grade levels except K and 12. Testing four subject areas only (reading, writing, math, and new this year, science) in a standardized test by state. A fabulous way to assess our schools and teachers, right? (If you can't read the sarcasm, read this: NO it is NOT a fabulous or even great or good way to assess anything but a student's ability to take standardized tests.)

I digress.

I sit here before a room of twenty-four juniors who are slaving away on their yearly "exam" as I type. Math, for the 11th-graders. In other rooms, reading for 10th and writing for 9th. It is not a timed test; it includes more than just multiple choice. But I watch some of these kids sigh and hem and haw and look around the room thinking, "Is this really this hard? Or am I just stupid?" We try to help them understand how important this test is not only to them, but to our school as well. This, so they will try their very hardest. But the pressure certainly can't help: "Not only do you need to pass this in order to graduate, but our school needs you to do well so we don't lose funding and/or control of our school." No worries, kiddo.

I try to be as positive as possible when I proctor, expressing none of the angst I share with you now. I smile and assure them they can have all the time they need and to PLEASE review your answers. I supply pencils and kleenex and neon orange stickers to seal each portion of the test as they finish it and an escort to the restroom (to ensure test security, of course). But I want to supply them with love and pats on the back and messages that say, "I know you're an artist and that talent will lead you later in life, but right now your ability to divide mixed fractions is what matters. You are important in all of your skills. Be strong and diligent in these menial tasks now, then you can be whomever you want to be later and people will still care!"

It makes me sad. Is there another way to say it?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


This picture is a fluke of the most fortunate, hilarious kind. Sometime in the not-so-distant past I donated some money to a democratic PAC who came a knockin' on my door. Real nice girl. We talked for awhile. So, anyway, I received an invitation in the mail to participate in their fundraiser "Bowling for Victory" which was being held at our local lanes. We love to bowl, I thought. So, we put together our team of five (me, Pat, brother and sister-in-law Darin and Carol Ann, and brother Brian), and got out our checkbooks and our mad bowling skills for an afternoon of fun. Little did we know, politicos don't have mad bowling skills. And even bowling not as well as we usually do, we frickin' won the thing. It wasn't a tournament, just highest team score wins, but out of fifty teams, we had the highest score. Because it was a fundraiser, there was of course no cash prize, but it sure made us feel pretty cool to put a used bowling pin with a plaque on our shelf. It shall rotate between our three houses.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weight; Wait

Oh, my heart. Oh, my mind. Oh, my butt. Yes, all are relevant. This week has been a whirlwind of emotions I am both plagued by and rejoicing in. One syllable, many meanings: wayt.

Weight: Last week I joined WeightWatchers. I am attending meetings and everything. So far, it is two things, difficult and exciting. I struggle not to eat the ingredients as I cook the meal. I resist the temptation to dive into the bowl of M&M's in the staff lounge. I tick points off in my head through the day, remembering that even a glass of milk is not negligible. Fiber One with skim organic milk=4 points; coffee with 2 tbsp. half and half=1 point...and it's only 9:30 AM. But also, I revel in my self-control. I CAN only eat 3 Girl Scout Samoas (6 points); I don't have to eat a whole row. I am satisfied eating one cup of beef stew (5 points); I don't have to have seconds. Less than a week and I am proud, and I haven't even seen results yet. Ask me in a month if I feel the same, but so far, so good.

Wait: I have decided not to be the head speech coach at my school any more. The reasons are many and I have debated with myself for many months. I am not cut out for managerial tasks, discipline responsibility, and frustrating menial tasks. I coach because I love speech and kids and know how important this activity is. I am demoting myself to assistant coach. Work with the kids, enjoy the kids, teach them well, laugh and rejoice with them. But, no one of importance knows yet. I am waiting. Or not waiting. I am undecided. I am up for tenure this year. If I wait until I'm tenured, I'm assured I won't lose my job because of it. If I tell them now, I give them the opportunity to find the best, which is what the kids deserve. Is this a time to be selfish with a struggling economy? Or the time to be selfless for the kids I adore?

Weight: Because they deserve the best. Last night we had our section tournament. We did amazing, taking 3rd place (with only 23 kids) and are sending 2 to state. BUT (isn't there always a but?) we should be sending 3 to state. One of my students took 3rd place but was disqualified for a rule violation. A rule I enforce. But as a freshman who only kind of remembers all the rules we went over months ago, I feel this was my lack of "with-it-ness"; I should have reiterated ALL the rules before the section tournament. These kids need a GREAT head coach, they have such potential. (Of the 12 in finals, only 1 was a senior; 4 were freshman.) I am only a good head coach. I want better for them, and my heart is heavy knowing I might prevent this from happening intentionally.

Wait: Life, on the upside, outside of speech and my big butt, is fabulous. I have realized recently (or maybe just more every day) how distinctly perfect my husband is. We are, if you'll excuse my bragging, ridiculously happy. Life together every single day is thrilling. I love being married. And so, we wait. This state of being important to each other more than anything or anyone else (like, say, babies), will go on and on. Will there be a bigger house and another dog and okay, babies, in our future? Darn tootin'. But not now. This is too sweet. This is too perfect. We are so blessed.