Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Savannah, Georgia!

I'm going to post some recent beach pics. I will walk on the beach, unless it is very, very, very cold - say freezing or below! Our unusually cold temps have resulted in probems for some sea life. I saw the remains of a sea turtle wash up on shore this week, plus numerous starfish.

I'm relieved to have a mental and physical break from my teacher's aide job. It was fun to experience the anticipation of Christmas through the eyes of kindergartners! I say a little glitter on your clothes, your body, your hair, your food just makes everything more festive....:)

Pondering end of life and quality of life issues, as my mother-in-law is once again in the hospital with complications from MS. This has been going on since October. Before, though she was confined to bed pretty much, she could feed herself and carry on a conversation. Now you cannot understand her when she tries to speak, and she has oxygen, IVs, feeding tube and catheter. I'm praying for her comfort, and for mercy. This has been hard on my husband, his brother, and her husband. My family is in Virginia, and I didn't feel like trying to travel there. I've been busy this morning cooking, to send food to family members taking shifts at hospital. The ability to see, hear, taste and touch is a wondrous thing, as well as the ability to move around and experience life!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Balancing act

I'm trying to stay balanced right now - not fall down, literally and figuratively! Here I am in the month of December, working in a long term temp job helping a special needs kindergarten class. Every day we do a few exercises in class, to stretch and change activities. News flash! It ain't easy balancing on one leg holding the other when you are 50 years old!
In southern Georgia we are having an artic blast, with highs in the 40s this week. At least that constitutes an arctic blast to us. I did not walk on the beach last weekend, but did the weekend before, and took these pics.
I would probably need major meds to live further north, as I have felt sorta depressed last two weeks. I attribute this to ---end of life issues with my mother-in-law being so ill, a series of car repairs, a very tight budget, a son going to college. But enough whine...To put this all in perspective, my husband and I went to an art show featuring a student of his who is battling brain tumors. Now that's a REAL challenge! I just need a little more time in the sun...and another beach walk - whether it's 40 degrees or 60 degrees!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cool but cozy...

At last! Cool fall weather in southern Georgia! I made my first fire of the season last night, and my first "real" fire in about six years (not using fake logs). I forgot how wonderful wood smells and crackles...ahhh..Hubby and I watched Men Who Stare at Goats, which spoofed the psychic craze the army tried to get in on decades ago, and lots of laughs about army procedures and funding. Very strange movie but had cute guys in it as well (George Clooney and Ewan McGregor).

Changes in my employment life...I was offered a temp job as a teacher's aide in an inclusion kindergarten class. My contract ends in mid March, with possiblity of extending it. Don't know if I will do that. For $10 an hour I am CONSTANTLY busy with kids or taking instructions from the teacher. I love helping the kids though, especially the two in the room with Down's Syndrome, and one who is physically handicapped. However, there is one kid with behavior problems, and he is a challenge to keep up with...I also attended a meeting about a new private school that is starting up in the area for next year. If the school gets in enough students in the upper grades (4th,5th,6th) I will possibly have a teaching job for next year. Don't want to get my hopes up...

I am headed soon to the beach, for a brisk walk!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Holding steady....almost!

I haven't posted in about a month. I have been trying to grab every sub job I could, and was working away happily until a week ago Sunday, when I woke up SICK. I have had every symptom you can name, but the worst was the constant headaches, fevers and weakness. I'm sure I could have worked today but decided I wanted to wait another day or two. Tuesday is a hair appointment reschedule day (you know I am sick when I cancel a hair trim) so nothing is going to prevent me from achieving my goal of decent looking hair!

My walk on the beach a week ago is like a distant dream. I love the color of the sky this time of year, and the air was really cool! Only negative - I cut my toe on an oyster shell. Yes, I have walked this beach hundreds of times, and I know about the shells. Maybe it is a middle age thing....

I saw some feedback about a recent show that Oprah did on education. I didn't see the show, so I can't judge, but I do know our system is failing, despite federal and state fix it programs, and endless testing and accountability. Could I succinctly sum up the problems, as I see them, in a blog? that for another post!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is a pic of Tybee Lighthouse and restored lightkeeper's cottage - one of my favorite flag locations. I didn't post on Sept 11th but certainly have been thinking about it. Everyone remembers where they were at that time. I was teaching at a private school for learning differences. Soon after the first plane hit, a couple of military families came to pick up their kids. On my first break, I went to the director's office, where the only TV was. By then they were announcing the Pentagon attack. I assumed we were receiving multiple attacks, and that martial law would be declared. I also wondered if we'd be making a makeshift fallout shelter.I remember the day after was more significant for me. I started the day with a 2nd grade Language Arts class. We were told not to bring up the attack with the young kids, but if they brought up the subject, to let them talk. We started our day the usual way, with a three sentence paragraph and picture in our journals. Every child (ten in room) wrote about the attack, and each one drew a picture of the twin towers as the first plane hit. I had ten identical pictures, and the accuracy was stunning.

My thought for the times we live in - Christianity and Patriotism , when these become fanatical, are just a boot click away from Fascism.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Day in the Life of A Substitute Teacher

God, I am missing the beach! With public school starting this week, I haven't been out to walk. Since this weekend is Labor Day weekend, I may not get out much then either, due to crowds and traffic on our small coastal highway...beach withdrawal in process here....getting a bit light-headed and clammy just thinking about it.....I took these pics one evening last week. I love sandpipers! They seem to work so hard for the little morsels they get...kind of like how I feel as a sub teacher....
I get up each morning at 6am and turn on my computer, to see any computer job listings as well as waiting for the phone to ring. That means taking my cell phone with me everywhere in the am....Our system is only using certified teachers, but I would guess there are about 400 of them, all huddled over their computers in the morning, waiting to "peck" at a job. I did get a call Tuesday and went to an elementary school I haven't ever been to before. Thank goodness for Goole maps (can't afford GPS)!
The school has actually been razed to build a new school. It was a pile of rubble, with a maze of portables surrounding it. You could easilty get lost just going to the cafeteria. I was in a 1st grade room with only 14 students, but that number seemed multiplied by the end of the day. The teacher was also out on Monday, so this was the second day of school, with a second sub...don't you feel sorry for these little guys? I did! Most had no crayons and no pencils; not all had a lunch. I bring a number of things along on a sub job, but didn't have crayons. Also, there were no sub plans. Other teachers ran off stuff for me.
I took the class to breakfast about 9am, as instructed, along with all the 1st grades. We did not get back with our food until 10am. We were supposed to go to recess at 11:30, but another teacher told me to wait for her and she was late, so only 10 minutes of recess. Hey, I believe in recess! We then proceed to lunch, which is also late. The lunch monitor relieved me for about 20 minutes to scramble back to the room, use the restroom (holding for 5 hours - a personal record at age 50), and nibble some lunch. Sub teaching is great for weight loss!
We muddled through some lessons, but I could see I was losing them in the late afternoon. They were supposed to go to another teacher for 40 minutes, but she was a "no show." I have found that when resource teachers find out there is a sub, they tend to "disappear." Curses on her! The teacher I went to recess with kindly offered to watch my brood for about 15 minutes so I could gather my energy. My savior! By the end of the day, there was trash all over the floor, those who had crayons had busted most of them and tossed them on the floor, and a couple of books were torn, but hey, there were no tears or injuries. I survived another day in the life of a sub teacher!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shaken, not stirred....

On Friday the 13th, I decided to run errands in town. As I neared an intersection famous for accidents, I could see that I had the green light and people were lined up on both sides to turn left as well. The group facing me was waiting, which was good, then suddenly a white car pulled out in front of me. He made it but the motorcycle that came after him did not. I hit the cycle, mostly with my right bumper, and the cycle burst into flames. I pulled over, got out, and with wobbly knees and trembling hands looked frantically for a body as I tried to dial 911. The guy was walking around and o.k., thank goodness. I couldn't bear the thought that I might have been a factor in someone getting hurt or killed, even if it was unavoidable. I will never forget the sound of crunching metal on metal, or the image in my rearview mirror of a motorcycle in flames. In 33 years of driving, this is my first accident other than a minor fender bender. It is a very real reminder of how life can change in an instant. I'm still feeling a bit shaken, and hesitant to drive. Today I went back to do the beforementioned errands, but I was very nervous....

My son started dual enrollment for his senior year at the college across town yesterday. I was a bit more anxious than I normally would have been, in light of my recent accident. He loves the college scene, but does hate the traffic and commute. He will only have to go there 3 days a week, at least.

I went to sub teacher orientation last week, required for my district each year, and did my drug test. Next week I get my sub badge and the following week school, and hopefully jobs, start. No calls on permanent jobs from the ones I have applied for. Oh well. I really don't think public education will recover from the economic downturn. I believe we will move toward online learning for middle and high school, and have privatized public elementary in each state. I also believe the number of private schools will dwindle. Not trying to sound gloomy, just looking at the reality of it. I need to try for some online jobs....

Cool experience of the week: I saw my first manatee in the north channel near our beach a week ago. It was dusk and my husband and I saw what we thought at first was an alligator, then a log, then....I suddenly saw this big, smooth body with a cute manatee face (that perhaps only a mother could love) right in front of me, just two feet away in the shallow water. He slowly reversed and moved out to deeper water. We saw another manatee in the same spot last night. Perhaps they are territorial and this was the same one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mountains' Majesty

I am back from a week in the Blue Ridge Mountains with my husband, which included a visit with my family. We saw this deer on one Virginia trail and were able to walk by without scaring her. The house is my grandfather's family home, which sits on family property and includes a family cemetery. I love the pic of the other path because it looks like an enchanted forest. The word "verdant" really applies here! The sunset was in the North Carolina mountains. The blue ridges really did seem to go on forever.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer's "To Do" List...

I expected to see God walking out to address the world from behind this cloud...

    • We have decided to go into the mountains for a week, while our teenager remains at home; will we have a house to return to?

    • While making this decision to travel, I noticed a curious dripping, moldy spot outside our kitchen window, which seems to indicate a leak that will need to be fixed soon. Hope hubby doesn't change his mind on trip....

    • I have painted one room and one foyer area in the house and I am absolutely sick of house painting! So much for the bathrooms getting painted and the kitchen...

    • I have been getting inundated with teaching offers for next year --NOT! Resigned to another year of subbing...

    • On the positive side, I had a lovely lunch this week with teacher friends (several who have left the school I was at and, like me, prefer sanity to money.

    • I walked at the beach two evenings and saw gorgeous sunsets - no two are ever alike! I saw an unusual sky last night, one hour before sunset, with pinks and blues peeking from behind the clouds. My pics really don't do it justice.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Lazy, hazy days of summer....

    I'm in the midst of the summer "pull" - with urges to take morning or late evening walks (only times I can stand the heat), to drop by local fruit and veggie stands, to whittle away the afternoon in air-conditioned comfort reading, and to watch the beach sunsets. We had "marvelous" Fourth of July weather, with day temps only in the 80s, so my husband and I were a couple of walking fools. I took this pic of one lighthouse during a morning walk in the early July weather change (you can see the rougher tide), and one after sunset.
    Yes, I have crossed a few things off my "to do" list - going through storage boxes and files, and some inside painting of one room, plus the usual closet and garage cleanups. I have recycled endlessly at Goodwill...dropping off old clothes and electronics, then going inside to browse for bargains. Even my son is hooked on Goodwill. Which is great because we certainly live on a Goodwill budget....I'm grateful for these unscheduled days, when I can get up and decide what I want to do...teaching days will come soon enough. Love that southern coastal life (with a glass of chilled wine, beer or a margarita!)

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Looking toward the future...

    I took this pic last night, sitting at the channel. My husband and I watched dozens and dozens of dolphins jumping and swimming near shrimp boats that came in and anchored for the night in the channel. If you look closely you can see one mother dolphin with a young one surfacing.
    I watched Avatar two evenings ago, after we received it from Netflix. Great film obviously for the special effects, but also for the story. Humans have done so much to ruin this beautiful world of ours, through ignorance and greed, but I like to believe that we can salvage it.
    I've been thinking about the recent high school graduates, since my son has a number of friends who graduated this year. As a teacher and parent, my wish for young people is that they connect in a very real way with the natural world and people around them. That which you have heard, seen and experienced first hand becomes important to you, and worth fighting for.
    When I heard the comment made by the BP CEO about "wanting his life back," I understood that for him, the Gulf of Mexico and the people who live there don't really matter; probably, like many people, the natural world doesn't really matter to him in any concrete way. If you have stood at the ocean's edge, watching dolphins leap and pelicans dive, or wandered mossy, verdant paths through mountain forests, watching deer graze and chipmunks scamper, then those living things really, truly matter. I'm treasuring these days at home near the ocean, looking foward to a summer trip to the mountains, and hoping for a better future for our natural world.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Summer beach fun...hope it lasts

    I am "out" of school, in a sense. I finished one long term sub teacher job a week ago, and though the public schools have this week left, I am not shopping around for last minute, last week jobs! I'll stay poor but sane. I'd be a "dead sub walking," for sure! Waiting to get any nibbles on job applications, and I did have one interview last week, but didn't get it. My husband finally got his old teaching job back, but it will be funded by federal money. Hmm....hope the money is still there come August!
    Instead of doing dozens of jobs around the outside and inside of the house, I took myself to the beach this morning to walk, swim and read a trashy paperback. I left close to middle of the day, as temps heated up. I did restore some order in the universe by getting some groceries and dropping off a bunch of books at Goodwill. My son wanted to make a "teenager" living room out of the other small bedroom next to his, so we spent the weekend cleaning it out and finding a new place for the things in that room. He is excited to be doing dual enrollment for his senior year of high school. We still have a few details to work out over the summer.
    This morning was a low tide, and I love being in the ocean water when it is calm. As I paddled around, I couldn't help wondering how long it will be before the great oil spill makes it to the Atlantic coast. I've lived here most of my life, and yes, I have taken it for granted at times. To have that possibly taken away...not to mention the tremendous loss to people and's hoping and praying that our summer fun can last!

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Sunset, then sunrise....

    I haven't posted very much lately, but for a good reason! I've been working in a long term substitute teaching position at a school I worked at eight years ago. It's a private school geared to students with learning differences. They probably won't have a full-time job next year, but a part-time looks likely! My husband did receive a teaching contract from the public schools, but hasn't been placed in a job yet. His school's staff was "fired" under the No Child Left Behind criteria. The whole "fire the staff" thing is off base really. And I know you can't "fire" the students, though goodness knows they are not there by choice! Perhaps it is better to revamp leadership and the overall approach instead. One thing is for certain - our public schools have a very challenging population. I'd like to see more alternative schools. A high school student was raped in the hallway during classes this week. Of course details on the case are not available to the public, but whether the charge is legitimate or not, obviously students were engaging in activities not related to academics. I know there have also been You Tube videos of what goes on inside some classrooms. Actually, I think students with cell phones is a good idea. It brings public attention to problems in a way just talking about it doesn't. A picture IS worth a thousand words! Speaking of pics, I took this sunset pic this month. Our weekend evening beach walks help with teacher stress! Sunset....sunrise.....

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    What washes ashore, washes back out

    I had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend - just enjoying going out to eat (and drink a couple of well-deserved margaritas), and watching the sun set on the beach. My husband and I also went downtown to the market and bought fresh strawberries and tomatoes. I have a long term substitute teacher position for May, filling in for a teacher who is ill. Though I'd rather secure work under happier circumstances, I guess that is the role of a sub anyway. The job is no "walk in the park," as it is for middle schoolers with learning disabilities and/or behavioral challenges. Began to get very tired last week, so will slow things down this week. My husband teaches at a school where the entire staff was basically "fired," per the requirements of the No Child Left Behind legisation. He doesn't know, after 25 years in the system, if he has a job. I haven't had any offers either, and with teachers being laid off right and left, I'm not hopeful. Who would have thought so many teachers would be out of work? I say, what washes ashore, will wash back out eventually.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Every day is a new beginning and a new ending...

    Pic on the left was taken on the beach this morning, and pic on the right was taken yesterday evening. I just have miscellaneous things to report today, and I'll start with the best...
    We just received notice that my son won two writing contests - a local writing contest sponsored by the Jewish Federation regarding lessons learned from the Holocaust, and a national writing contest sponsored by the Colonial Dames of America. I'm so proud of him! He really is quite a writer, and a great person!
    We had a "staycation" for spring break, and my parents came for a few days. It is a long drive for them but I think everyone had a good time. Right before Easter my husband and I ate a lunch out with the in-laws. This event was marred by the fact that they gave my son a hard time, via a phone call at 9am Easter Sunday to his cell, about not coming. Mind you, this child has faithfully visited my mother-in-law regularly for years, and just happened to have a job lined up helping a friend. I've been putting up with this kind of attitude for years, but I get steamed when an innocent teenager gets caught in their guilt trips/traps.
    The news about teaching jobs in our city and state is not good. Hopefully we will know by June if my husband has a contract; not holding out much hope for myself. The bottom line? A number of teachers won't get one. Time to fill out that McDonald's application....
    I'm thankful we are together as a family, and that we have beautiful surroundings to destress in. I try to remember that each day is a new beginning and a new ending.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Seizing the day in a strange new economical world...

    I have had this week off from substitute teaching, along with my high school age son and teacher husband. We are having a "staycation," but I am not suffering, with lots of nature walks. I took this pic several days ago on a 4 mile hike.

    I've still not heard of any full-time teacher openings in the public or private sector within driving distance of my home, and my husband's school is being reorganized and "reprincipaled," (cute term, don' cha think?) so he is not sure what job he will get, or even if there will be a job, period. Teacher layoffs across the nation are becoming commonplace. It is a strange new world when education is valued so little.

    Hmm...what else can I do with my education degree that I haven't already tried? I've done the nonprofit thing, the teacher age 49 too late to train for a new career?

    I'm trying to enjoy these beautiful April days, one a time, thankful that I can put one foot in front of the other to get outside, and that I can at least make some money as a substitute.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Lessons from a dog

    This is Wigley Jack, enjoying a sunny, warm spot perched atop a tree stump in our backyard, just this past weekend. He is now eleven years old, and has had a multitude of health problems over the past year, the most serious of which was dental surgery in June to remove eleven teeth (there's that same number again!). We have just found out he has kidney stones or a tumor or something like that, and have made the difficult decision to stop xrays, tests and procedures, and let him enjoy his final days, weeks or months. We feel this is the kindest thing, and also the only choice considering our tight budget. We have spent about $3,000 above normal vet expenses this year, and just can't afford any more.

    I've been reflecting on life with Wigley, who has been a stalwart friend through good times and is what dogs can teach you ...
    1. Dogs greet each day the same, with a certain amount of enthusiasm. They don't know if they are going on a vet visit or a special, extra long walk with treats at the end. They never stress about the future, beyond the next meal or arrival home of family members.
    2. Dogs love unconditionally - they don't keep a tally of grievances in their heads. They forgive almost anything, and move on from that moment.
    3. Dogs love the simple things - a good bowl of kibble, a stroll around the neighborhood, a roll in some soft grass, chasing a squirrel from the bird feeder.
    4. Dogs, even an active Jack Russell in this case, will lay uncomplaining by your side when you are sick or recovering from surgery, and never whine because you can't do anything "fun."
    5. Dogs make you feel better when you are down, without requiring an explanation from you.
    6. Dogs teach you not to be a compulsive house cleaner - what's a little hair, dirt, slobber, throwup among buddies?
    7. Dogs trust...I mean REALLY a way most humans can't.

    Have you told the dog in your life how much you love him/her today?:)

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Clones- No light at the end of this tunnel

    I just saw a thought-provoking, stylish movie (think 2001 A Space Odyssey meets Matrix) about the use of human clones, called Moon. In the movie, clones of one man were used for three years at time, one after the other, to oversee a mining operation on the moon. Each clone thought at the end of three years he was heading home to a young wife, who had actually already died of old age. Even though they were clones, each varied in temperament a bit, and finally one clone started to figure the situation out, and due to an error by the computer, another clone was activated before the other had died, and together the two clones work to send one of them back to Earth.

    In an odd way this sort of parallels an education issue that has been on my mind. We are so focused on creating an educational system solely based on test scores that we are simply working to create "Stepford" children, later adults, or "clones" to enter the work force. What about creativity and individuality? Wasn't the success of our country based on the efforts of some to "buck" the system? I am substitute teaching at different schools in our city, and right now I am spending a lot of time at a private school that educates students who learn differently. Some students have ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, OCD, or some degree of autism. A fellow teacher I used to work with asked me if I thought that such diagnoses were on the rise. Yes, I do agree. The question is: is it because we want to "weed out" those who don't fit our test factory school system, or is it due to environmental/modern life issues, or both?
    I believe there will be no light at the end of this educational tunnel, unless we set aside our testing data and graphs!

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Following my path....

    This past Tuesday I received a random call from a public school which had a 5th grade job opening, and on Wednesday I interviewed. Now I've had a job application online for 3 years....this is the second interview I've had. The job sounded like the sort I am good at - starting with low achieving students late in the year. Bottom line - I didn't get the job - got a rejection email on Saturday morning. The premise of the job was disturbing (but at the time, I'm not going to question it - it IS a teaching job!!). The principal was taking 4 students from each of the 5th grade homerooms and placing them with this new teacher. They would not be told ahead of time. All of the students failed portions of the state's testing, and the purpose of starting this new classroom is to bring up test scores this year. However, the test is less than two months away. A tall order to ask students to leave friends, bond with a new teacher, and improve their scores. Still, I felt I was a good candidate, and it hurts to be passed over. I am trying to follow the path that God has placed before me, wherever it leads. I am grateful that I am getting enough sub jobs to make my raggedy budget! I especially like getting to know the students I see every Friday at the private school for students who learn "differently." I like to think I teach differently!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Hanging together on Valentine's Day

    My husband and I took a Valentine's Day walk on the beach yesterday afternoon. Even the shore birds seemed to appreciate the sun, either lazily floating on the calm, low tide, or sitting and standing clustered facing into the sun. The 50 something temps were eased by the strong sun, with not a wisp of a cloud to challenge it. I just finished reading an interesting book - Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup, who lost her first husband in a car accident, became an ordained chaplain, and remarried. She says that while 50% of marriages end in divorce, 100% end period, meaning that all of our lives are going to END. So I start off my work week - 3 days of being a gifted teacher sub at a public school, and 1 day at my regular part-time Friday teaching gig - trying to remember to appreciate each day, most moments if not these are finite by definition.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Dropping out....

    The local paper ran an article yesterday about the state of Georgia possibly raising the dropout age from 16 to 17. For many, I know the gut reaction is, "Great, keep them in school and off the street!" But I believe this will have a detrimental effect on our already floundering local system, leading to more chaos in the classroom, more budget woes, and more student flight to online learning and private schooling. I grew up in this system, taught in this system for six years, have a husband teaching in this sytem, and have a son in high school in this system. I know whereof I speak! I commend our board superintendent for advising caution, and I applaud the board reps who are against the change.

    Our high schools are largely "run" by the miscreants, in the sense that they drive most policy decisions, school climate and academic opportunities. Should everyone have the same resources and opportunities? OF COURSE! But students who WANT to be in school and students who DO NOT WANT to be in school need very different approaches. Forcing a student to stay in school will not improve the outcome.

    At my son's school, students who don't care about their education often trash the cafeteria and hallways, and partake and sell drugs in some restrooms. At school assemblies, they yell and almost riot. The boy's restrooms have no doors or toilet paper (sound like another institution? prison maybe?). He is fortunate in that he qualifies for AP classes, with great teachers and students. However, he still has to survive inside the school building. Due to changes we made to his schedule earlier this year, he was in a lower level English class for about two weeks, until thankfully a spot opened up in an AP class. The students threw books in the room and took his paper to copy answers all around the room. As a teacher, I talked about just doing your work, trying to connect with peers, etc. He remarked, "well, all the white students talk about beating up gay people, and all the black students talk about how much they hate whites. I don't think I can connect with those two mentalities."

    My husband teaches in the system at a middle school. The alternative schools have a revolving door, with students coming back and forth, causing chaos in the regular school when they return. I strongly believe in alternative settings, but you need adequate resources and you need to keep students there for the year, possibly permanently. Three strikes and you're out is not a bad idea. I taught at a private institution that had resident students who have gone through the foster care system and were in danger of incarceration, and day students who had either been kicked out of public or private schools. Class sizes were small, and teachers had training to meet the needs of the student population. Everyone was in the same boat, so to speak. I like to say I saw miracles happen, but those miracles often took several years.

    I challenge churches and civic groups to step up and help our young people - don't put it all on our already taxed school system. I challenge every board member to visit the schools they serve on a daily basis, and drop in unannounced in classrooms, lunchrooms and yes, even restrooms. Not to spy but to get a good sense of what teachers and administrators are dealing with. This is not the year to step up the dropout age; not until everyone can step up and admit we have a huge problem that needs fixing.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Feeding the soul and spirit

    I obviously have more free time this week! No substitute jobs lined up. Since the weather here in Georgia has been much colder and wetter than I ever remember (yes, I know, at least we are not dealing with snow), I took two hours to wander on the beach. There is nothing like feeling the morning sun on your face, and a cool breeze in your hair!

    Minding our manners and our selves...

    I just finished up a week and a half substitute teaching at a school I taught at previously, a private one that educates students with learning differences. I really, really love working with students who really need individualized help!

    While certainly many students had trouble with anger control and anxiety, I was so impressed with the social skills they are learning! Some middle schoolers introduced themselves and shook my hand! Actually, of the three private schools I have worked at, all three emphasized manners (and two served special populations). The private school that was general acadmics for pre-K through 8th grade has always stressed "minding your manners."

    However, all around me I see so many students and adults who have left basic civility by the wayside. I hope and pray that manners will not be engulfed by a caveman mentality and washed out to sea!

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Twisting and turning with the flow

    I'm so happy to see blue sky this morning, even if the temps are in the 40s right now. I'm heading to the grocery first, then later a walk at a federal park near where I live (which also has some beach area as well). I start another sub job on Wednesday, to continue through next week.

    A friend and former colleague buried her husband yesterday; he succumbed to pancreatic cancer late last week. He was diagnosed last spring, and fought the good fight with surgery and chemo. Certainly this has led to a lot of parallels, as my husband started with health problems last spring; his situation had a happier ending, at least for now. I am reminded and humbled by the knowledge that life is a precious gift, and none of us know the number of our days.

    Like this photo of the tide meandering through channels on the sandbar, our lives take unexpected twists and turns.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Changing days, changing tides

    I have been sub teaching for two weeks, with more jobs lined up. I am so appreciative now of having a paycheck! Most importantly, I felt that I was using my training and talents. Those two weeks, incidentally, were two of the coldest I ever remember experiencing in the deep south! We are back to more seasonable weather, with a high today in the 60s. Since it was Sunday, my husband and I took a beach walk (of course!). I like to think of nature as God's sanctuary. I never really felt close to God in a church (the exception being a couple of one of a kind experiences in churches in Europe.) I do feel an overwhelming sense of peace and fulfillment in a natural setting. Just as there are days/times of inclement weather, there are days of sunshine and warmth!