Add one huge dose of Humanity First – Combine with Social Community Media Interests = One Amazing Pizza.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 12.51.11 AMWhat occurs when two businesses converge in one night to promote one another, knowing they are improving their immediate community?   This rarely occurs, unless you are Yelp and at Pixza on 162 Liverpool in Zona Rosa.

Out of say 169 restaurants now in four years from Washington D.C., to Chicago, to Detroit, so Chicago, to Mexico, there has been no restaurants that have blown me away, like this one.

I joined back in “Yelping” using my blog and experiences to help supplement many places i have been to and noticed a chance to visit a pizza place I never heard of through Yelp, why not?!  – WOW.

Without knowing ANYTHING, you notice the narrow but long establishment, very tricky from the outside to realize there is that much room, AND comfortable.  Add to this great tile, cool comfortable interior that does draw you into the end of the area to a great counter with great mouth watering pizza.  But the details catch your interest, the comments on the wall, the electronic tally clock on the wall, what’s that?…

Seriously, get this – when you buy five slices, one goes to someone homeless from Pixza – hence the electronic counter of deliveries made to a refuge,(Instituto de Asistencia e Integración Social en la Instrumentacion DEL Proyecto la Ruta)  and they did their FIRST major deliver TODAY- July 30th, 179 slices… Oh no, it does not stop there – the shelter receives the delivery  and yes, they have been recognized by the SECRETARY OF THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT (you can see the certificate on the wall) – but not just for that – no, when the individuals receive their food, they are expected to volunteer BACK, and in return, they earn bracelets, that after doing so much – they receive free services like haircuts, baths, and more – talk about a RECIPROCOL EFFECT!  THIS BUSINESS DID THIS AT THE BEGINNING of opening instead of developing this as they went along – I mean, WHOA!   Does that tell you a LITTLE about what this business set out to do in their community FROM THE VERY BEGINNING?

The pizza, the postres, holy mother of giving and appetite, wait until you see how topped these pizzas are – and you will see getting a slice of one of these is not just a slice of pizza, Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 12.50.57 AMit is a MEAL, and a chance to help someone get up and into an opportunity that could change their life, how often can you be a part of that just by ordering lunch or dinner?

Then I can’t even tell you how GOOD the playlist was here, here is a sample: Freedom, Stand By Me, The Mess Around, Staying Alive, Can’t Help Myself, Stop, in the Name of Love, Be My Little Baby, Superstitious, and that is just a START.  Not only do you just feel good by going here, you feel like a new person when you talk to Alexandro and find out how he graduated from Columbia University in Public Policy and brought this BACK to Mexico -and you realize, after seeing the wall of messages and slices bought given to the homeless in the store, how MANY people CAN make a difference  just because on ONE company – that encourages patrons, that works with YELP to make a difference.  Do the math, get every business in the WORLD to take this initiative from the very beginning,and do you know how fast change would occur?  Faster that broken promises by lousy/weak/ineffective politicians, potential presidential candidates that mean NOTHING behind the talk and threats, and businesses that have ceased to think of how they can help others which in turn will help them, and they don’t realize, they will prosper as a business because they have others lives as a concern FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

DELICIOUS servings of a CRAZY variety of pizza, and how refreshing to say this is a secondary element to a business that has decided to reach out and help people in their own community at the start? You HAVE to go here just to hear the stories of how this revolutionary little Pixza center, which uses NOTHING but 100% ingredients FROM MEXICO, and blue corn – has begun to change the way we see how businesses should model best practices and has become a LARGE factor in the future of business and community.   I can’t even begin to tell you what the postres look like, you will have to dive in to believe it while your heart expands and reaches out to those that can use your support.

In talking with the owner, Alexandro, just LOVED the fact he came back from Columbia University, where we sojourn every year to share so much talent and bring back talent to enhance what we have been hoping to do in reaching out to everyone through Repentino., and you could tell from his commitment, and the gracious time the waitress this night spent with me explaining this all as well, there is SO MUCH more behind this pizza than the 100% devotion to blue corn and Mexican-only ingredients.

The side wall is great as the individuals have left hundreds of inspirational quotes ; add into that the quotes from Carlos Fuentes, Gandhi, Aldous Huxley, The Beatles, Aristotle, Plato, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maxi Jazz, Friedrich Nietzsche, and James Sabines that are truly motivating in nature, you realize there ARE so many firsts here.  Truly being the first store to do so much for humanity and use local resources to “fuel”it all, the bracelet, the recognition from the Mexican Secretary, the extending opportunities to homeless to get off the street, it is OVERWHELMING.

When you step back and realize how amazing YELP is for being a social and community group to bring this to surface, you realize the potential social media and organizations actually have if they put their influence to help just ONE area of need, we have enough to easily change the world and with ingenuity and creativity could easily make a difference that would make other nations PALE thanks to the population sizes that are an advantage in Mexico and the United States.

This is an amazing model of how a combination of successes can still benefit the public at large, which gives you the best feeling without even the experiences of delicious food (and do NOT forget the postres  Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 12.50.22 AMthat came out of the kitchen that are mouthwatering.  There are so many enticements when you walk into Pixza, and the heart of it is how GOOD it feels to have the chance to give back.

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Pushing Success Through the Arts – A Silent but Powerful Message

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 3.58.46 AM Yes. It is here, the Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo exhibition at Belles Artres.  This exhibition, if given a chance, when you soak in the amazing art around you, you realize there is a message at every turn to every visitor, all these years later – to every single visitor.  There was a little bit of work involved though, as well is any part of the above to achieve a satisfying end result.  Opposed to thinking I’d walk right up and get the ticket, I saw long lines on either side of Belles Artres, thinking (that can’t be good!).  If you try to go in and get in line for tickets, they ask you to go back out and stand outside to wait to get Inside, lol, then you make your way to the ticket office.  While standing waiting to get in, I heard that tickets were unavailable unless for tomorrow’s exhibit, none for the current day. (This exhibit must be pretty popular!)

I stood my ground, and yep – made it to the ticket window and one WAS available to come back at 8:30 – and I was thinking, I THINK the museum closes at 6:00 PM but just happened, I picked the late night for it to be open YES!  I said he, he said you are sure – 8:30!?!  and I was like YES!  (thinking night might be kind of cool!) and yeah!  TO not make the chance of being in Centro all a loss (it wasn’t actually) I grabbed a chance to go through the Historical Postal Office nearby, and as always, taken in by its glamour, brass, the efficiency that all seemed to occur (reassuring myself my package, sent my USPS would arrive a-okay!) – and took in showcases of the postal service I missed hanging on the other side of the hallway.

After then going on to see the Museo Nacional de San Carlos, some amazing timing in seeing Salsa competitions, and just taking in the amazing ties to the Davinci exhibits at Belles Artres, examining the periods of art and standouts that inspired Mexican artists during those periods, it just dawned on me.  (Actually while taking in the exhibits at Belles Artres).

If you listen, take your time, and just observe, I believe the individuals we consider the classics, from Frida, to Diego, to da Vinci, all had certainly a higher purpose and talent during their time.  I also believe, based on the works they took on, they hoped this would reach beyond their lifetime, and I think even more than just observing.  In taking in the sketches that seemed as if they has just been done with the strokes and shadows, the murals that come alive in the nightlight at Belles Artres, the silence and hallowed air as you take in classics from Europe, Mexico, and all over the world, there is a feeling, at least I feel, that encourages and motivates us to use their exhibits left behind and push us to what we are best at.

Don’t take me wrong, I am grateful to have these exhibits in the first place to relish, but it should never, ever fail us to use their talents and remember, each of us have talents that should be exercised in celebration of what we can each to, be it singing, famous directing of orchestras, helping others through various paths, illustrations, writing,connecting people with each other to better the world around us, as you know, the talents each individual possesses is as diverse as the places you can find remnants of Michelangelo and da Vinci. If we surround us with individuals that are always pushing the limits of their own abilities, then it becomes natural for us to do so, and I feel the same will occur among colleagues, students, and adults.

The wasted time ruminating on what you wish you could do could be replaced with what hasn’t been tried yet, and if this was implemented with everyone having a conviction to do this, think of the ways we could end problems in India, Haiti, and all over the world. It is important that art is recognized as a part of the Core in Core Curriculum, in doing so, you tap into another tool that allows you to be supported in reaching out to individuals and allowing them to succeed. In my 19 1/2 years involved with education, I have yet to see how art has failed to allow me to reach every student, in some aspect, be it to be motivated, be it to successful in a talent they never had the chance to explore, or be it to make a connection to something they are familiar with to acquire something they are not familiar with.  Sure, seeing amazing exhibits this summer has been part of the enjoyment of taking in your surroundings, but also, the renewal to reinvigorate ideas through the mediums provided to use, from these classics?  Priceless in may ways for us to be able to grow as learners constantly.  I recalled a quote that Lucio Ocejo put on an Art Fair poster, “Art is not a Luxury.”  We see evidence of this is in the successes of artists of the future as well as the artists that have given us a future.            

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Films, In the Past – No Matter When, they Stick with You!

Yes, these are dated films but films just the same worth mentioning that still manage to pull your…

…Focus Will Smith. There is something you need to say about the smoothness and coolness Will Smith brings to any situation on the screen.  Yet, I would love to still track down this soundtrack, I think it exudes the same personal Will Smith and Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street) bring to the screen.  This honestly is not one of the best movies Will Smith has ever starred in, but Will Smith being Will Smith, his name became the true reason any money was probably earned from this film.  Adrian Martinez as Farhad well, is my favorite, it reminded me of a Bruce Willis in the Moonlighting television series for some reason, he is HYSTERICAL.  The settings as well are a dream come true but again, these perks help make the movie better than below average, moments exist that are memorable, but the actors and actresses become the real draw overall.


Insurgent –  Despite not having read this series yet (it’s on my LONG summer list!) – I love, LOVE – Shailene Woodley, and coming off of the film The Fault in Our Stars, at first it is hard to get used to her playing a dominant, barnstorming barrel to physical strength (after being an emotional center of strength from John Green’s novel-based film) but she is AWEsome and I love her.  Add Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Theo James, and Ansel Elgort (WHAT?!   The Fault in Our Stars – TWO!?  I am CONFUSED!  LOL).  Miles Teller is an awesome bad/good character as well.  This was action packed – and the lovely Zoe Kravitz (Yes!   Lenny’s DAUGHTER!) and Ashley Judd all make this star-studded but alongside a GREAT screenplay.  It will leave you waiting for the next in the series, Allegiant.


San Andreas – Despite the stereotype of knowing The Rock is in a film and expecting a action thriller, alot of factors made this film a surprise to me.  One- the recent disasters in the world brought the reality of the impact of such a tragedy into the realistic sphere.  Two- the theme of family, supporting each other, similar to the themes stressed in The Fast and Furious  made this very refreshing as an underlying emphasis. Three- the effects will have you jumping, amazing, and this is not even a horror film.  Four – despite being in the right place at the right time so many times it is unrealistic, the scientific aspect as well as the awesomeness of a female heroine found in Alexandra Daddario, again, this film will surprise you in a great way.

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Exposure to Success, Creativity, and An Educator as a Profession is the Key to Success; A New Outlook.

Education – it’s funny – every time teachers get together and say they do not want to talk shop – well, the ones that truly care are invested do just that – talk shop.  It’s inevitable, if your heart and soul remains into education so does your conversation eventually no matter how hard you try.

Tons of stereotypes about education and teaching:

Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.  –From Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.

Summers off, must be nice.

You get to leave the problems of students at school and go home with no additional worries.

Teaching is not really a professions, hence not a professional salary is deserved.

Getting done by 3PM and weekends off?  Easy ride.

These are some of the most popular stereotypes.  You know that individual that might work in the same office, or on the same floor, or neat the same cubicle as you – that doesn’t measure to the amount of time you put in on extra jobs, overtime, and workload you take home?  Welcome to education world.

No matter what stereotypes exist, the best knowledge is diving in and experiencing the educational world, even for a small portion of the time, to find out the truth.  After student teaching in Pittsburgh at Oliver High School, (skipping the chance to go to Ireland – probably the best decision I ever made), working in a emotional/physical rehabilitation center for recovering students, public schools, middle schools, high schools across MD, DE, PA, major rural areas, major urban areas, community colleges, serving as a student assistant at university, working sometimes two jobs outside of school to make it occur, every single experience I worked through, sweat over, and pushed for, involved someone I looked up to that did it that much harder then myself.  In education.  Not for the above stereotypes for the below realities:

Very few can actually be an educator, LET ALONE a teacher.  Teaching is actually – counseling, advising, creating, guiding, mentoring, role modeling, and encouraging.

There are NEVER summers off.  If you are lucky enough to enjoy a few weeks off, where do you think the preparation for the new year occurs?  The time given at the start of the school year is BARELY enough time to get a classroom prepared, let alone curriculum, common core goals that need matched, updated reading materials, materials for the teacher to become updated with changes in legislation, as well as mapping out where extra plans to insure continuing educational credits are maintained to stay qualified as a teacher that fits into the changing roles and expectations of the state to in fact teach.  Even when teachers go to the beach or a hideaway, their brains are planning the above to at least be able to do so in a comfortable setting.

Problems are rarely left at school as there is not enough time on a timed schedule to fully handle and resolve issues in a school day, hence homework, additional plans to enrich students on a different learning level and balancing the lessons to match all needs from hands on, to those who memorize, to those that need to picture concepts, to the students that have been unable to match their grade level and needs supplementary assistance, there is NEVER enough time in a whole day to BARELY keep up.

I have never met an unprofessional teacher that truly impacts those around her or him.  yes, as I mentioned, there are tons of teachers that still push papers and have resolved not to meet the standards of what a teacher needs to do, I value the administrators that do not mind getting their hands dirty STILL, or have been former teachers and have not lost that memory of what needs are essential without acquiring the administrative big and forgetting what teachers truly need – yet for those many that do their job, as you know in any profession, ANY, there are those that do not.  Do not let those that do not influence the way you see others that ARE as professional.  TRUE teachers, TRUE educators ARE professional and they need to be compared to those that are NOT doing their job.  Hence, the professionals need to be recognized, not just on Teacher Day or Education Week, but that anonymous note every month that shows you as a parent, as an admin, as a board member, as a legislator, know something specific they do that changes those around them. 

Physically, contracts mostly, (mostly) indicate a time around 3PM as finish, yet, what is not taken into account is the time needed in the AM to arrive before the rush begins to set a class in motion with the proper materials, objectives, copies, homework to be sorted, reports to be readies, resources to be arranged, as well as relying on no emotional, academic, professional, and personal incidents will occur outside the scheduled school day!  HA!  I have been in education now since 1998, I honestly can seem those that guided me and then myself, I rarely can remember a day that goes by where a day ends at 3PM – maybe for the official schedule but planning, reorganizing, checking for accuracy, revision, correction, just to name a FEW, usually ends, if you’re lucky, by 9:00 PM.

A true educator, strives beyond being just a teacher – and most humble teachers know this.  Hence this video honors those that truly symbolize why teaching is perhaps one of the highest professions one can have – despite the stereotypes and despite the payscales that do not always and rarely indicate this –

I love the question and scenario when individuals around a table ask, What do you make? to a teacher – this reply still seems to sum it up with the energy of what educators do day in and day out.  This is AMAZING.  This is an educator.

I was VERY excited to see :  Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act, with Music and Arts as Core Subjects, Intact 

There is one thing that is a standard and one thing that is absolute.  From the very first day I learned at Slippery Rock University – when I first finally faced the fact that the literature and the interest in reading should be directed to education, I began as an elementary teacher.  I LOVED – L O V E D the fact that when I began in elementary education that instilled this basic fact – behind every concept, behind every facet of learning, there is creativity and art.  I stopped in this journey I remember at my largest fear, largest obstacle, a class that took the concepts of Math and Math theory.  I know that many students always had this class as an obstacle, and even with A “C” I was excelling in this course – but inside, it was not enough.  After repeating this course after receiving a C, I just needed to know, if I wanted to be a teacher, I was showing success through a grade higher than a C.  I decided at that point to change to secondary education.

This was a proper change that fit my talents, but I would not figure this out – going back years later and playing the role of elementary educator in a secondary teacher, not discounting how to make every single lesson can involve an element of creativity, that is not usual in that lesson.  Yes, that takes constantly monitoring and changing lessons yearly, yes that means using ways of hands on involvement, be it changing the desks every day so a new format mirrors how the real world changes, yes that involved patience in taking one lesson that does not work and be daring, bold, and willing to change a lesson on the turn of a dime, even within the same class.

The decision the Senate has made is not anything that teachers have never known.  We as educators need to pull students to the center of realizing, there is an ART to every discipline, yes there is an art to math, yes there is an art to Science, yes there is a creativity to Civics, and the emphasis on upholding the creative side of education, here in Music and Arts, as a single example, reemphasizes the importance of reaching into a creative side and having everyone recognize this, no matter the discipline, to be successful.

As I reach towards museums, institutes, workshops, conventions, conferences, and other organizational events – this is not, or hasn’t or isn’t ever to continue to create a long resume, vitae or insure security of my future, though I feel it does that too. It is to continually allow my mind as an educator to grow, take the experiences I have obtained to this point and stretch them even further.

The ONLY reason I am successful today in my goals, projects, and aims, focuses back to the amazing teachers that took their time to mentor me, show me how they construct a successful classroom, lend time to create institutes where we can lay out what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what will work, and allow teachers from sometimes all over the world, sometimes just in neighboring districts, to share, and grow.  Add on to that that long long years of amazing students who trusted me, who trusted these ideas and allowed me to experience them alongside the antiquated way of teaching, and these very students who let me reach out to them in class, out of class, through clubs, through risk taking and creating new clubs, through arranging desks and standards in ways that were not meant initially, this is where the true art and creativity lead to success.

I remember when I first started in teacher Education wishing there were so many more courses on Classroom Management. I felt I spent so much time on essential courses that instilled in me the regimen, the structure, the guidelines for being an educator in the profession, but felt lacking in the management side of classroom behaviors.  Looking back, I see the choices I made to be in Pittsburgh as a student teacher, to be in various opportunities outside of the classroom (Intern with the Pittsburgh Pirates, student assistant for an English College class, Writing Center volunteer) – things at times seemed to have nothing to do with actual teaching, well they did.  The discipline I learned from experiences that seemed to had nothing to do with actual instruction? – in fact they did.  The creativity and real-life values, approaches, and strategies I witnessed in professionals, could and did apply to the very lessons I began to adapt in the classroom.  The students realized I believed in them, and they would rise to the challenge.

I can’t emphasize enough this integral truth – if you do everything you do believing in the success of your students based on the very genuine mentors around you, excluding these that wish to place stereotypes open you, and you create your own world that is made up of these very students you believe in? – the world opens up to you.

I am grateful every single day for the students, instructor, parents, administrators, and colleagues that gave so much of themselves to pass that trait onto me, THEY in fact were the ones that allowed me to go on and continue to reach for dreams.

Being a Media Specialist and Librarian is perhaps THE BEST occupation in the world.  As a former English teacher, I now have a little more freedom to reach out to teachers and try to constantly provide resources to them where as an English teacher I found I could only focus on my task at hand, being an English teacher.  AND LET ME STATE – there is nothing wrong with that, I LOVED THAT WORLD (Still do!). I needed to try and give back to those that gave so much to me, and now, I am finding  place where I can try and make sense of the technology, resources, and strategies and try to free up some time for those very teachers, just as I needed guidance and help to free up more time to be more effective.

In touring the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso yesterday, I realized how educators see museums differently.  With the exhibit of Islamic Art, I realized how essential diversity, creativity, and art is to education.  It’s also funny how the educator’s brain never quite turns off, you see exhibits, you see opportunities to create a lesson, an idea, an approach based on everything you come into contact with.  There are still so many times I feel those that see unrelated tasks to the curriculum are more related to succeeding than ever before.  You see the results in students from the beginning to the end of the year.  When the majority of history in education has relied so heavily on test scores to measure success, it is so vital, as an educator, to show how community involvement, creativity, ingenuity, and enthusiasm can also meet those very traditionally hallowed test scores, and these qualities will stick with students far longer than the specific questions, measures, and memorization to simply score higher on a state test.   The need for students to be held to standards of success, ingenuity, community involvement, is an investment in the world’s future, and sits on a much higher scale than test scores that will be left behind in the wake of a student’s future.

Bravo Senate as a move in the right direction.  As educators, we need to continually shift movements towards the success of using what the arts, the environment, what each other, and what institutes can be created to renew, refresh, and celebrate the status of what an education means.  I know that Presidential candidate Trump advocates for a wall to improve the status and growth of the United States. As an educator who has the privilege of working in Mexico, I am GRATEFUL for the education I was provided and supplied with from the United States, and am even MORE GRATEFUL for the experiences that living in another country provide.  To continue to grow as a nation, as well as students, and as educators, collaboration among other countries needs to occur, not border, not walls, and not restrictions.  The ingenuity that occurs in students can help resolve issues that occur in Greece, in immigration in scarcity of rebuilding in Haiti, in relief efforts in Nepal, by encouraging collaboration rather than restricting it, success results.

Welcome to the world of Real Life Education.

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Being a Part of the Excitement is Part of the Game of Learning.

What?  Seriously?  Teaching and learning at the same time?  I have found so many times that being an educator involves challenging yourself everyday to avid burnout  – this involves always trying and engaging in what is new out there.  After listening to the recent webinar from Follett’s Teaching 21st Century Skills in Today’s Library – It’s Not Only in the Classroom!

a huge strategy for tackling a new year in 2015-2106 is getting invigorated and setting up new ways to learn alongside students.  Here are some notes from this webinar, and this is just the first half of the notes!  Second half will be posted here eventually!  :)

Follett – Teaching 21st Century Skills in Today’s Library – It’s Not Only in the Classroom!


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A Lesson In Integrity – On and Off Stage – The Athletic Excellence & Sportsmanship Gala 2015

There is so much magic in moments.  Many moments that contain that magic happen behind the scenes and maybe that is part of the magic.  As a coach, I opened a whole new door of learning to myself and how I would pass that transition out of school to my athletes on the Cross Country Team.  There were so many carry over’s from the class and real life that would be incorporated into the long runs, the stretching sessions, the early morning on buses and the late nights returning and yet, I never felt alone.  There was something truly magical in the moments that we just shared together as a team.  When it came to open the windows along with the doors to the public to show everyone where our heart, spirit, and motivation came, it is even more special.  For me, there was magic when I could smell the pine, losing myself in the run, and finding so many people so close to me right there at the finish line.  This was just in Delaware.

In Mexico, as we began the May 28th Athletic Excellence & Sportmanship Gala, I honestly had this barrel of emotion.  I missed so badly the moments I kept close to my heart on that Cross Country course or Track & Field course, yet I was 100% grateful for the moments I was given here in Mexico to play a part in rousing the crowd by shaking some fur, providing supplies to help yet another group of students, to literally being made to feel a part of so many moments, whether it be as a spectator, a cameraman, a helper, and countless other moments  – the Bear Boosters, the Athletic Coaches and Staff (EVERYONE), and especially the athletes themselves, when they did not even try were going out of their way to make me feel a part of an experience that truly is (not was) but IS STILL unforgettable.

I sat there ready to take video and pictures and felt this onrush of emotion just honored to have been asked to be a part, especially the days I was grouchy, complaining, and just overall moody, and everyone still put up with me and invited me into their world.  I realized when I coached and realized it this very night, a new definition of family was defined and continued to be shaped by all the experiences and involvements of the aforementioned.  Teruhi and Hugo manned some of the worst conditions when the electricity went down, and another realization – even through the MOST frustrating times, the times when you are exhausted, tired, moody, and feel completely negative, their is an unspoken faith when you have strong individuals around you to continue to move forward, be in on the field, on the stage, in the pool, in the locker room, in the light and sound booth, at the beginning of a season or at the end, the person beside you pushing you forward provides one of those very moments that you will retain in your heart for infinity.

I saw this very feeling every time an athlete made it to the stage and was recognized for the season highlights and contributions.  Sports certainly can get a bad rap when you look in the world at the athletes versus teachers, pay, respect etc, however, I also have seen the flip side of this.  As an AP/Honors, Remedial/ Yearbook, and Rehabilitation Center English teacher in many various locations, I always found Sports as a conversation that often did not require a word.  Yet, it let me share something with others that I normally never would have been able to previously.  It often led individuals to succeed in areas off their athletic turf as well, and truly those individuals that serve as educators and not merely teachers, understand how the moments outside of the classroom can define the moments within.

I can list every single ASF sport and remember moments from every single sport that put a smile on my face, I was lucky to have been there to remember such events.  The magic of our ASF Athletes is the very best have this unbelievable selfless heart that keeps pushing and pushing for success, and you feel like exploding with pride when you see it happen on and off the field.  So many names roll through my head – Payton Alley, Coach Velarde, Izabel Guzman, Dominque, Coach Powell, Mrs. Alley, Lynette Rivera, Lisa, Robert Wilson, Carson, Nicolas, Ricardo, Juan, Andres, countless coaches, Papa Bear (Mr. Gomez)  himself, the sports support staff, COUNTLESS names and one universal truth remains –

If you did not make it to at least one game for each sport then of course you have no idea what you are missing.  However, when you do witness at least one of every sport for the whole school year, a whole new definition and relationship forms with the athletes you see and when they become students, something totally magically begins to develop.  This “magic” is the sheer maturity, motivation, and spirit that these athletes carry with them every, and the individuals in the form of the coaches and support staff that spend COUNTLESS hours on the fields before we even THINK about waking up let alone at night we each have been long asleep.  That part is not involved with money and could never be compensated, but the athletes and students they have created as a result – priceless.

The parents have never ceased to amaze me, there could be literally five people at an event and with the right support from individual parents? – it feels as if there are no seats left in the house.  The amazing contributions of the drummers at the football games, Papa Bear being the voice of motivation at various times, the Bear Boosters always being an essential part of bringing so many people together, the magic of creating the feeling of a team, with so many individuals? – there is no award available that can truly celebrate these successes.

The faces of individuals that became the backbone of this whole magical aura? – they simply were laying the stepping stones for the future to carry on this for so many people.  Was I honored to be in such a ceremony? – Honored does not even carry a weight to how heavy the sentimentality was at this ceremony – Mrs. Alley and the whole Athletic Teams went on to mention me as a thanks for the contributions Repentino. made on Super Saturdays – I was blown out of my seat.  Truly, not only did their assistance get Repentino. in a stable position, but planted an interest in how Repentino. created a Sports Journalism branch for the 2015-2106 season and is training individuals to do pre, mid, and post game interviews so more people will get to know the athletes, know the matches, and know the experiences – and not just at the end of the year.  All of this OPPORTUNITY – has and is a way that we become more entrenched with the level of how much each athlete gives of themselves in so many areas, not just at a desk or the results of a test.

If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it with much conviction or passion.”

~ Mia Hamm

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.”

– Knute Rockne

“The body can achieve what the mind can conceive.”

– Coach Doakes

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No Joke, New Acquaintances Every Day

“A man walks into a bar…”   You’ve heard it a thousand times as a opener for jokes.  Walking along Alvaro Obregon a few weeks ago, with the dogs and a friend leaving for the states, we came across a set of ladies asking about the dogs.  Seeming more state-side than Mexican we learned this was Liz Ball, from Stir Bartending Company in Washington D.C..  The irony of meeting individuals from areas you are familiar with in the states, and meeting them in Mexico is so frequent, but the surprise never becomes old.  One of the best things about Mexico City is you can be anywhere, summer, in the fall or Spring, and still come across people that you share similarities with, and usually while walking through the city.

Once in Plaza Cabrera, we came across students from the U.K. and began to offer tips of the best places to visit before they would leave.  A few months back it was a young lady with her fiance, and we spent a few amounts of time exploring the various options of  restaurants, mercados, and sites you can take in over a weekend.  During the Sunday biking event in Reforma it was someone from Columbia and we swapped pictures of dogs.  The casual conversation, the impromptu friendships that occur happen so regularly, it seems a part of Mexico City, and overall creates this home of friends and acquaintances that occur on a daily basis.  When I think about it, that is another aspect of Mexico City that defies what the tabloids define Mexico as, and perhaps which is why Mexico is one of the best kept secrets to those that feel otherwise.  It also makes it amazing when you travel to places in the states and begin to have a network of people you have met in Mexico to catch up with!

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The Rediscovery of Clarice Smith, the American Art Museum, Cub Camp, Brain Pop, Discoveries on Both Sides

Turkey Pond

Turkey Pond by Andrew Wyeth

Several years ago, as an AP English educator, as well as a Introductory level English teacher in Delaware, after receiving a scholarship and attending a dynamic Institute by the name of The Clarice Smith Institute, I learned that art as a foundation in my English classes helped ease the understanding of literary concepts such as metaphor, analogy, and more.  It worked, the students dug the visual and therefore those not initially strong in English became interested.  This was more than any educator could hope for.

Years later, I never imagined this would occur all over, with the advent of Cub Camp at ASF, Reading and Writing, and the inclusion of a week of Being an Artist and being introduced to a variety of concepts and terms, as well as artists to induce reading and writing and peak interests, and yet it occurred.  I have to say one of the best moments was as we were scrolling through information on several artists, the students recognizing pieces by Picasso, Cubist art, as well as pieces that are connected to Van Gogh.  The familiarity allowed the interest to be peaked and continue on to other artists that students, (yes, from 4-6 years old!) would at least gain some new vocabulary and information about.

In just four weeks I have seen students advance in the willingness to write and produce writing, despite possibly being weak in writing, yet persisting due to an interest tied to that very writing, in this case, art and artists.  What I as an educator found appealing was I was learning along with them, as I scrolled through the various names and examples of art – again priceless.  Yes I have learned so much during this simply four wee period of summer school, on an academic and on a personal level, and hoe the exposure to such topics as Frida Kahlo, and various other artist’s style will persist to encourage questions, inquiry, and knowledge to be sought out by students both from ASF and outside of ASF.  I am impressed with with content once I sat down and examined what was discussed in just one session Week 4 Tuesday,

as well as the interest students showed from the aura of Frida Kahlo to the interest of how Dr. Suess came to be.  I am finding the mini discoveries along the way make each day larger discoveries of ourselves.

Immersing myself in the Modern Art Museum in Mexico as well as the Tamayo Museum this week intensified the urge to create creativity in Reading and Writing for our summer camp classes, and when it came right down to it, wouldn’t it be great of education from all corners of the globe had the same approach?

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Sometimes Doing Is Undoing and Sometimes Undoing Is Doing – Francis Alys : Art Inducing Creativity

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.45.55 AMIn visiting the Tamayo Museum today, on an amazing Mexican Sunday full of sunshine, families, and endless possibilities, the same could be said of Francis Aly’s exhibit.  Often many people see Art as an end, the ultimate source of creative expression.  In seeing Francis Alys’ exhibit, one realizes, this is just the beginning.  In seeing his exhibits, Reel-Unreel, Tornado, (A Story of Deception) and Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, it is true, a broader sense of reflection and opinion rests in what normally would be a resting spot of expression.

I often like to attend museums and take it all on and I usually end up thinking and forming an opinion about half of what I had seen.  It was interesting to delve into the exhibits and not leave until a formation of realization set in.  How does one do this?  Simply by examining word for word the accompanying texts provided, the background setting of the individual works, being exposed to the accompanying films, literally immersing oneself into any underlying messages that might not be evident on surface.

As we enter the last week of Summer Camp at ASF, our past themes of Our Cultures, Our City, and Being an Author push us to test the limits of understanding and knowledge in this final week of Being an Artist.  Yes, there is a separate course titled Art at ASF.  Yet, one realizes through exhibits as this that the art of expression lies in the availability to often present information on a higher level than the students that are exposed to various art.  In doing so the expression that is revealed through another form, say writing and reading, remains another form that is shaken out from a higher level of information.

If there is one thing I have learned from ASF Summer Camp, is the connection to teaching on a higher level than necessary produces some extraordinary results, and the attendees of ASF Summer Camp have been the exceptional example.  In the course of three weeks have created their own novels for NanoWrimo, gone on to explore and rediscover sounds that make up their city they often take for granted, and recognize the characteristics of other cultures that define their similarities and differences.

Using the auditory, the visual, the kinesthetic, children begin at an early age to understand life is more complex, more interesting and more meaningful that what face value presents to them if they look in the right places.  One of the most powerful aspects of being an educator is challenging the borders that have been presented to us and redefine them as the world evolves and changes.  There are so many things to compare and challenge these definitions that produce meaning.  Presently, I have been blessed with a literary magazine staff in Repentino. that produced themes of starting afresh with the theme of Repentino. (All of a Sudden), Out of Place, Kaleidoscope, and Demons, ironically a progression of a series that often is the path many discover in themselves through many new adventures. Yet let’s go back further –

In Delaware, as an educator, students believed in my new approach of taking art and using art to enhance, motivate, and generate writing and expression.  They took what we learned in the classroom and created grants, projects, and community outreach programs that occurred outside the classroom.  As a result they accumulated awards from every facet of the word outside the classroom, grants to pursue extensions of their learning, recognition from the Governors of Delaware for four years, as well as success in being entrepreneurs to carry them into the furthest reaches on their education beyond high school.  Awards became the incentive, but a deeper meaning than awards emerged.

Going even further back, as an educator learning the ropes in the classroom, as an individual I learned so much from dipping into as many diverse situations as possible with educators from many diverse backgrounds – The National Writing Project, The Clarice-Smith Institute, The Reynolds Journalism Institute, an intern with the Pittsburgh Pirates, studying the Holocaust at the University of Delaware, even the AP Institutes I attended on the Eastern Shore enhanced how I saw WHAT could be brought to students, and I am so much the better for those experiences.  Being able to put yourself out on a limb and push boundaries, I have found these are the role modeling students need to see and witness to be able to accurately navigate the waters of a changing world.

I am grateful for being able to have some amazing colleagues, amazing students, and amazing experiences, often many that were unpaid and that were priceless, that helped shape a youthful creativity that goes beyond the restrictive guidelines of what defines how many see a typical teacher.  Francis Alys’ exhibit goes deeper than skin deep then you get the advantage of dipping into several artists that define variations of Latin American voices that changed how individuals see art as well follow Alys’ exhibit – again, expressions that bend how we see life in general.

As I left the Tamayo Museum, I appreciate the one exhibit that entailed a single paint can that allowed two differing colors of paints to trail from the wall, to the floor to the outside of the Tamayo.  I loved the fact that as I followed the paint trail down the outside stairs, to the sidewalk, outside the park, how oblivious the average person was to what I was following.  No one that was unaware of this exhibit would have any reason to see the parallel lines of paint at their feet and yet, there was a metaphor here.  I marvelled at how often we have some unusual, unique experience right in front of that often can shape how we see the things around us, and fail to act on it. Our job as educators?  – escape the mundane and latch onto the views that hover right outside our streams of consciousness, that is the new level of education and experience, not degrees, not the selfishness of having a good time and maintaining the normal curriculum, but taking these and pushing the boundaries for ourselves and for students to learn the same lesson.  Hence, the difference between a teacher and an educator.

Respecting Francis Alys and his delving into issues of immigration, diaspora, Afghanistan and the affects on its children, expression, and art, the conceptions we have of everyday occurrences (Seeing Alys literally dive INTO a Mexican tornado – the hair stood up on my whole body!) – and so much more – it would be worth seeing this exhibit on a variety of levels.  I am excited to explore the many more countless experiences that await me this summer to grow as a librarian, a Media Specialist, an educator, and as a person.

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Unexpected Moments of Beauty, Expression, and Meaning?

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 2.56.51 AMI realize now, many things I should have done, seen, or somewhere I should have been already – yet, often there seems to be a reason why the wait was so long.  For example, I have been in Mexico and never been to a beach in four years – why?  NO IDEA,  but I feel the reason will be that much stronger and clearer when it happens.   I have never, ever, seen West Side Story, ever.  Live or on video, Ever.  June 1st, I realized why.

You are well aware of when all odds are against you, correct?  Let me paint  brief picture – taking hours in a taxi when it would hopefully take minutes, hundreds of pesos versus single digits for a fare, sending packages that cost double instead of half, an obvious waste of money that sends you into frustration with the extra time you spend to earning it, running to the Auditorio Nacional with five minutes to spare, having the heavens dump every ounce of rain on you in the meantime, to find you had over 2o minutes to spare, this is all just for starters, sitting in the wrong section of the Auditorio to find a couple anxiously awaiting their seat, on and and one, sometimes the hits keep coming and seem to have no end.

With Alondra de la Parra directing Jerome Robbins and Authur Laurent’s West Side Story June 1st, and despite knowing I had purchased a pretty hefty ticket, I had no idea how all these events could and would be wiped away in one event that absorbed all the problems of the week, and just released them.  And yet it occurred.

The sheer depth and size of the Auditorio National is breathtaking enough, (you’re right, I have never been in there before) – but I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to see I was in the very front row – the stun factor took several minutes)-  Perhaps one of the best moments all evening was viewing the reel of West Side Story, the original, on the huge screen coordinated with Alondra de la Parra conducting the orchestra to match the movie seamlessly.  The silhouette of the strings seeped into the screen of West Side Story, and resembled a work of art in it’s view from where I sat.   The music just seemed to natually emanate from the video, only on such a more powerful scale, but then you feel, you literally FEEL the depth and volume of the orchestra, and amid it all, Alondra de la Parra throwing such energy into the direction the whole time, this whole night was magic and it was easy to get caught up in the emotions of recognition, depth of feeling, and beauty on the stage.

Seeing the originality of the choreography, the actors, (Natalie Wood!), the immediate reaction when I recognized songs that had come from Into the Woods and just other places, that I had no idea previously came from West Side Story? – I was so excited to locate the places I had heard these while at the same seeing them develop in front of me on screen and under Ms de la Parra’s direction.  I know in my heart of hearts, I would have never truly appreciated the beauty that I received had I viewed West Side Story before this on film – this was such a rapture of emotion and power captured in artists of the past and a director and orchestra of the present, I found little in words that could celebrate this feeling of talent on all fronts.

I loved – LOVED the fact that Alondra de la Parra does little characteristic-like additions all around to enhance the experience – hence – during intermission asking the audience to Tweet their favorite score up to that point in the production (I have to say mine was America), and at the end, Ms. de la Parra opened up the pit as a salsa dance floor and invited the audience to dance to their jazzed up salsa/synco beat piece that pumped right through your veins.  Leonard Bernstein was a genius, and to see his work in full force through Alondra de la Parra? – priceless.  Her energy and passion for her immediate direction was again flashed through everyone in the audience.

I was fortunate enough when Repentino.’s founder, Camila de la Parra, invited me to a dinner celebrating her graduation.  I had no idea the deep connections within her family of Mane de la Para and Alondra de la Parra, and yet, there we were, all dining, laughing, and talking under one roof.  I would never, and will never forget how amazingly talented, personable, and beautiful they were in the relationships of family, their experiences that revealed their joking nature, and the down to earth contributions they make from their hearts.  Seeing Alondra de la Parra on stage was a magic moment in connecting what I had witnessed previously in her person individually, and I appreciate the humbleness and the talents of this family Camila always maintained but never bragging, each member letting their talents speak for themselves. Walking away after midnight on this July 1st production of West Side Story, I had not only witnessed a first for myself, but realized how many first’s I have yet to experience in the beauty I have come to know as Mexico.  I am not sure anything else could ever be wanted in life!

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