Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall is here!

( A picture from my balcony looking at the woods behind my apartment complex)

The weather has been cooling, the leaves are changing colors (see, we do have fall here in Texas!) and some weird things have been happening. There were 2 earthquakes in the DFW area last night! I went to bed at like 10 because I was exhausted so I didn't feel anything, but I'm not near the center so I don't know if I would have anyway. Earthquakes are kind of fun to experience. My first one was in August while I was in San Diego visiting my dad. It was close to a 5.0 and was pretty interesting to experience the world shaking! It's loud too, which is also weird.

The kids were absolutely nuts today. Not only is it Halloween, but it's Red Ribbon Week, and we had an assembly, AND my 6th graders won a party for raising the most money for MADD. Today was a beating. I am so glad that Halloween is on a Friday this year. I think that should be the rule.. last Friday of October, not necessarily October 31st. I can't imagine what they'd be like tomorrow! Oh wait, yest I can.

Had an appointment with the doctor on Monday after last Friday's incident, she ran some bloodwork and it all came back normal, but I have been having trouble with dizzyness so I'll be heading back there this coming Monday for a follow-up. I'll probably end up getting stuck again. Yay.

My birthday is this weekend so I'll be celebrating with friends on Saturday and family on Sunday! I'm a little bummed that my deal with my friends didn't turn out better. Over 30 people invited and only about 8-10 are coming! Makes me feel somewhat unappreciated :( Oh well. I'll be the big 2-5 on Sunday. That freaks me out a little to be honest with you. I'm soon going to be closer to 30 than to 20. Ugh. Well, I'm off to get acquainted with my sofa and TiVo. No trick or treaters for me!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Working myself... death? Haha no, but it appears that way sometimes. During 6th period on Friday my body thought it would be a good time to go completely haywire. My kiddos were taking a test and I was sitting at my desk putting grades in my gradebook when I started having heart palpatations, got really dizzy and had "tunnel vision"... knowing something was wrong I flagged down a teacher outside of her room to watch my kids and made it to the secretary's office before passing out in the middle of the hall. Sweet. The nurse thought it was blood sugar related, but my glucose levels were all in the normal range. So at the advice of my aunt (an MD) I made an appointment with my doctor today. She took some (ok, a lot of) blood to run tests and is recommending an MRI if the bloodwork doesn't tell us anything. I've already missed one day to the stomach flu, two days to my grandfather's death and now half a day for this appointment. If I have to go back in for test results AND an MRI, I'm going to be hitting cold/flu season at school with only 10 sick days. Now that may seem like plenty, but let me tell you... 2 years ago I was nearly hospitalized with the flu that had me out of school for almost 3 weeks. Up until the only time I had ever been sick was with pneumonia when I was 8. No strep, no flu, NOTHING! So I figured I didn't need a flu shot. Heh. I've been first in line the last two years now to get mine. Won't be doing that again!!!!

This is a shoutout to all teachers who work, rain, shine, cold or flu. If you keep working, I'll keep working! ;)

In other news, we started a mock school poll this week for our 6th graders. They voted today on their ballots, will learn about the issues (with no names attached to who approves/disapproves) then will vote again based on their position on the issues. Should be interesting to see how the first vote (i.e their parents opinions) compare to the second vote. Our team (the White Team, relax it's a patriotic theme, one red, one white, one blue) went out as a group to vote. We got the workers to get a picture of all of us at the voting booths as well as outside by the signs so we can blow it up and hang it in the hall to show our students that we all went and voted. We all wore white too... we are such dorks. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It just takes one teacher to change a life....

OK, so I am returning from my evening rehearsal and man am I beat!!! For those of you who may not know, I play for the symphony in the city that I live in. It is amazing work and I love every minute of it... but it got me thinking about my "career" as a music student and how my clarinet teacher influenced me more than any of my other teachers.

I started the clarinet when I was 10 years old. My 6th grade band instructor just happened to be a very well-respected clarinet player, so I learned from a great man. He followed us up to junior high and was my instructor for 7th, 8th and 9th grade and in that time I learned more from him than I think any of my other teachers. He was a homely guy, nerdy one might say but he was so passionate about his job. He lived to teach music to students. Anyone outside of the band would see him and make fun of him for his walk, his comb-over, his personality or any other thing they might see as "not cool" but I tell you what, he had more students backing him up than I think I have ever seen before. If someone talked bad about Mr. B, they got jumped. I don't doubt that he knew that outside of our band hall (where over 1/3 of the student body came through day to day) that he was seen as a geek, but he didn't care. He was who he was and taught us to be who we were. To be proud of what we were capable of, to push ourselves to improve but not to have unrealistic expectations. I never enjoyed band more than I did those 3 years in junior high with him and my friends. I continued with band for most of high school and some of college, but never enjoyed it as much as I did then. It's a testament to him and how he instilled that passion into me. I never was a fantastic player, but I was good and it was because of him.

Thanks to Facebook, we have all been able to keep in touch one way or the other and 2 years ago we all found out that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; one of the deadliest types of cancer. He fought a hard battle and died in February. During those 2 years, through the power of e-mail and Facebook, we were able to reach over 500 of his former students, spread the word and ask for prayers, letters... ANYTHING to let him know we were thinking of him. From what I heard, he received over 200 letters of appreciation... including one from myself. I am so glad I had the opportunity to tell him how much he influenced my life and how he continues to be an example of the type of teacher I want to be.

I look at my kiddos, past and present and I hope that somewhere I have made an impact on their lives. I try to show my passion of teaching math through our daily interactions but as a teacher you may never know how much you have changed someone's life. I have to remember how much Mr. B influenced mine and know that even if I never find out, I am making a difference.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Candidates: From an Educational Standpoint

Now I am not one who normally strikes up a conversation about politics because I live in Texas and my views on things definitely place me in the minority and I often find myself criticized and having to justify my beliefs... I don't like to knowingly put myself in that situation. I shouldn't have to justify my opinions and beliefs to someone else. They are MY opinions, not yours.

Being in education has brought me a welcome reprise from the intense conservative nature of the last 8 years of my life (i.e. private school/university, Dubya, my entire family) but with the election this year, it has brought out the instinctive need to question and debate the positions of the two candidates. I was introduced to an article from the NEA by a friend and thought it gave interesting insight to what the upcoming 4 years of education might be like with either candidate.

But with the economy the way it is, I see education getting the short straw again and being put on the back burner while the banks, lenders, and corporations are dealt with to try to stabilize the country and world. I completely understand the need to do this and agree that the economy needs to be issue #1, but I can't help but wonder how long we will have to go on auto-pilot.

That being said, the recent death of my grandfather has left my aunt as the sole proprietor of his business it has made me wonder if God is calling me to step up and return to the company. I used to work for him during the summers, but when I left for college and returned with a career I dismissed my involvement. My grandpa started this company in 1972 and it has been extremely successful since then, with the help of his business partners and the added help of his oldest daughter who is now the only owner. I love my job as a teacher and really can't see myself doing anything else, but the system worries me. It's all politics. There is little value in the words and suggestions of the teachers and administrators; it's all about funding and test scores. Teaching is a field that requires a lot of passion in order to continue to come back year after year, knowing that your voice won't be heard, your work will go unnoticed and more and more is being asked of you. It's a tough position to be in.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I know it's been a while since I posted anything school related, and I promise I'll get back to the main reason I started this blog way back when, but right now I want to take a personal turn. My grandpa died last Friday and it has thrown me for a loop more than I thought anything ever could. I have never had to grieve for someone I have loved as much as him. His funeral was today and it just cemented the fact that he was probably one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my entire life. At one point, my step-aunt was up on the stage talking about her memories and funny stories and I was so impressed as to how she was holding it all together... until she mentioned his hugs. My grandpa was the greatest hugger in the world, but I thought I was the only one who thought this. Right after he died, I walked out of his ICU room and one of the first things I thought about what how I was never going to get another bear hug from him. Even when he was his sickest, he still crushed me with his hugs. I remember the last hug I got from him... I can still feel his strength. The service was beautiful, full of songs, verses and stories I will remember forever. My cousin made this video for the memorial and I know it doesn't mean much to anyone else, but I am sharing it with the world. The song in the video will forever remind me of him.

Dwight E. Wright

6/30/29 - 10/3/08

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Many happy returns!

So I am officially back from Europe! :) I have tons of pictures but due to the desired anonymity of this blog... I won't be posting them. Sorry! I leave again this Friday for 2 weeks on the West Coast. Can't wait!

In the meantime, I'm actually going to blog! This is somewhat school related, but not really.

OK. now before you go thinking that I am a complete lunatic, don't bother. I already know I am. So I am practically counting the days til the Breaking Dawn premiere... I will be at Barnes and Noble to get my book at midnight, don't you worry! I re-read Twilight and New Moon while overseas, and have now re-started Eclipse so that I am ready to go on August 2nd. I successfully converted one of my friends while on the trip, too. I let her borrow Twilight and she texted me yesterday that she was going out to buy the next one and had already watched the trailer for Twilight, which comes out December 12th. I too will be there.. probably at midnight if I have nothing better to do that evening!

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, it's not surprising. It has run like wildfire through my school, mainly because the books are geared towards teen readers (like Harry Potter) but is definitely not just for teenagers! It started off as a recommendation in the 7th grade by our Language Arts/Reading teachers, and turned into an all out elbow-throwing, eye-gouging fight at the school library to check out any copy, or pouncing on the one set N.L. had to go around. I finished the first book in like 10 hours (TAKS field testing that day, LOL) and pounced on the other two as quickly as I could! Up until then, I hadn't even heard of Stephenie Meyer or the entire Twilight series, and the first was published in 2005 with each sequel coming a year later. That being said, everyone has a certain picture of what characters look like based on the writing... and the casting of the movie and my views of the characters are way off in some places... and it's kind of annoying!

The only person I think they got spot on is Bella, played by Kristen Stewart. I'm starting to get on board with who they cast as Edward, but only because of what I've seen in the trailers.

As for the rest of the Cullens, the only person I really agree with on casting is Alice. Esme is pretty close, but in my opinion the casting of all the males is awful. Granted this is just by looking at photos, and their chemistry in the movie could be completely different, but it kind of ticks me off! I ran across a casting list that would have been amazing (sans the choice for Bella) if it had been implemented, but alas, much more goes into casting than just wishing for it to be! Oh well!

If I've scared you off with my ranting, sorry. LOL. If not.. go buy the book! I don't really recommend it for guys, but it is definitely a book for any girl/woman ages 12 and up! OK, stepping off my soapbox and going to go take a shower!