There is Nothing More…

…that you need. It is all right here.

Every day that goes by I learn something more by young people that I am lucky enough that surround me.

Be it Cross Country ( A personal love of mine), life as a teacher, librarians, paraeducator, parent, booster, a HUNDRED other roles, there are THOUSANDS of reasons to be too busy to treasure the countless moments that are MAGIC moments that are so easily missed with too many bad karma in politics, pandemic worries, and yes, a thousand more controversial reasons to miss priceless moments.

Advice – push all aside and make the things that weigh us down, there are a hundred sleepers – individuals who do indeed get weighed down by the thousands of reason to get weighed done- BUT, if you are risky and daring enough, you will shed those aspects that try to weigh you down, and you will feel, yes, but the more that tries to weigh you down, the more you can rise above it.

Excuses are many, true independent hearts are few.

I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by young, aspiring, and talented young future leaders – they are the future. Each of us can choose to talk, argue, and spend our time and watch the moments you could be spending with these individuals on the sidelines being just a spectator, or being an active part to push their possibilities forward. I choose the latter, and thank goodness so many around us choose the latter as well.

I have learned the hard way, there is no room for those that choose the back seat, positive approaches to improving what is around us and available, those that decide to take advantage of those opportunities, and be a part of them? That is what sets us apart for stagnation. Howe luck are we to witness such things each day? Beyond measure.

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Eat a Peach :)

Amid the 25 day push up challenge thanks to my former principal Mr. Clarence Davis, you would have noticed two posts ago I commented on the realizations that occur prepping for, during, and after the pushups themselves.

As the borders of coincidence are often shattered as I notice around me, this amazing podcast about this topic is AMAZING.

The novel Eat a Peach, by David Chang, sounds amazing and from the podcast, the topics of the loss of Anthony Bourdain, the amazing outlook looked at – check out the listen at 6:07 in this podcast –

AND reinforcing the fact that looking at mental illness, depression, and anxiety is

“someone as commonplace as someone using an inhaler to help breath better.”

This is an amazing look at how a chef, the restaurant business, and the food world itself is subject to the topic of mental illness, anxiety, and depression with a further look.

While I was always wondering when I would try to get back in shape, I was not planning on this challenge to do so, but yet, I also have realized along with my physical stamina affected positively, the ability to help myself and others with issues that affect us mentally, on a positive level, is a whole new level of health that is often considered taboo and should not be.

I bet this will be a terrific book – Eat a Peach

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An Invitation to Fellow Faculty During a Pandemic

WILD RAIDER FOLK!

HAPPY LABOR DAY holiday weekend! 🙂  I KNOW it is a holiday so DO take the holiday and provide an easing into the things you need to so – this is vital to be a successful Raider- trust me, I know!


I made my latest blog post just for you – so hope you like it 🙂

I received something from Raider Heather Kerrick, who works at the Woodbridge Early Childhood Education Center, and Phillis Wheatley Middle School, provided the attached resources that will be added to the current online resource page.

FYI- some of the attached resources are elementary skills, BUT – I have noticed – if you provide something elementary to students that can tackle, then adding the advanced concept seems to be received easier and with less frustration 🙂

Also, please remember -the WHS Library Media Center is a resource for YOU and the students.  Yes I try to balance novels, nonfiction, maps, artwork, technology, literature, rent the video camera and tripod, use the DVD’s, VHS player (believe it or not), DVD players, audio books, those huge rip away paper display boards and MORE for YOU as faculty AND for students.  If you have suggestions, PLEASE ask.  This is a resource to allow you to settle your mind, be able to plan and teach better, and receive support, it is NOT simply just for students – you are welcome ANYTIME – to just chat, to just clear your mind, to learn how to work through something, and how to plan something out, or needing a plan to do something, and well, anything you need  (Even posters and such 🙂  )

Please check out the links that exists next to my profile pic 🙂https://www.whsraiders.net/apps/staff/

or the library page itself: https://www.whsraiders.net/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=438829&type=d

and the WHS Library Media Center toolbox page itself:https://sites.google.com/view/wilc-extensions/home

It is exciting to see that faculty from other schools can work together to help each other – not just within our building.  I always feel that there is so much isolation from Kent and New Castle County to Sussex County, and there should not be. 

If we were collaborating / sharing all the time, no matter the type of school – the location of the school, and /or the level  we teach – and breaking down the walls of being afraid to ask – being geographically isolating due to stereotypes of being a “better district” than another, etc – things would be so much easier for all of us – but the cool thing is we have each other – and we have YOU!  so we are better already 🙂

Excited to have you as part of the team and hope by sharing and collaborating with those in and out of our own classes, we all grow and see how a disparaging pandemic can be an opportunity to help everyone grow!  🙂 

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What do YOU do with that?

Where does the past, when you do not expect it, lead you to a better tomorrow?

Few times I like to completely bare exactly how I feel – but there are moments when it was just the right thing to do.

In this very difficult time we find ourselves in that can bring so many to places of no return – often the past is the most important thing we have to remind ourselves, a better tomorrow depend on the pasts we all have had.

Too many times in my life I have seen, heard, felt, and experienced individuals that think only of one thing, themselves. I have also born witness to the fact that those people have so many ups and downs in their lives, they, to me seem pitiful, sad, alone, and stealing moments from others that deserve so much more.

As I find myself in the middle of a 25 pushup a day challenge for 25 days, it is QUITE easy to trivialize this into the social media square of a social media stint that is 1 of 30 000 we see in the social media frenzy we see today.

Yet, as I was working through my second day of 25 pushups and realizing how out of shape I was …

…I was taken back to a rainy, night, late, being called from a dear and troubled friend who needed someone to talk to, and as of late he kept repeating the mantra that he felt no reason for life as he was experiencing it, and my continued mantra reassuring him his life DID matter, despite the hurdle after hurdle experience he was facing – several days later I received a call in the wee hours of the AM from his parents informing me he had just committed suicide and that splitting, empty moment, still reappears to me on the rainiest of rainy nights. I still go back over and over wishing I had done many things differently and would have traded the self destructive relationship I was in at the time for moments that I felt would have mattered to change the paths that had unraveled at that moment in time.

Flashbacks of how devastated I was to realize my Father had suddenly disappeared from my life and all the things I had taken for granted and never had said, because we just became used to how we were around each other, never vocally putting into words certain sentiments – and the feeling that we would always have the time to say and do what we wanted. I distinctly remember at that point knowing I was already changed and inside felt as if I w as always simply drifting, not really ever knowing how to take what had happened and get past that second major loss. I also distinctly remember vowing to live a life that would easily symbolize two other’s lives, those representing my friend David, and for my Dad.

I distinctly remember a day in Mexico City, watching the Presidential election, hearing the words that put down, disgraced, and defamed individuals that had took me in as family, fed me when I often had little to nothing on the table as I learned my way, individuals that did not match the very description that was being painted by a future leader of a country a continent away. I was ashamed, I felt betrayed, I felt as if my life had it not been in the proper location, would have been at risk as being lumped into having those same sentiments as being a representative of a country that was putting down those in a country that had taken me in, embraced me, saved me, and looked out for me. I never have quite forgotten how those words, actions, and persona made me feel and know to this day I would have never realized that feeling had I not actually been in Mexico at the time.

12th grade- I distinctly remember being told by my Guidance counselor that it was a good thing that I was as in the situation that programs existed that would accept kids like me that were too poor to go onto college. I vaguely remember the way it made me feel, making me feel as if I had very little to offer for any type of bright and potential future. I had always not really taken school seriously and considered it nothing more than a large social experience, because I craved and loved being around people so much, and never had been reinforced from parents that school was the most important thing and everything else came after. It had always been about the people in our lives and then everything else came after. I would not realize until much later how that feeling and what would be a challenge to prove that guidance counselor wrong, and that would serve me well, and help me find my way amid a chaotic and unplanned path, and to this day it has served as my conscious compass.

The time my high school friend and I would often sit around the table in the evening, and believe it or not, with my Mom, and we would go round and round rehashing how he should not be so hard on himself because despite being “good enough” for someone who turned his affections aside, he had so much to offer anyone – he just could never accept it because the one person he longed to have kindness returned to, refused to acknowledge what we saw in him. He was, and still is, one of the funniest and smartest individuals I have ever met, he deserves the self esteem of a mountain.

I remember the last time I saw my brother and sisters before I lost them to cancer and also recall how amazingly timely it was that I had decided to return to the United States from Mexico, and not knowing this would unfold in front of me. If I would not have been able to see either of them when I did, I now feel I would not have been able to come to terms with the period I had found myself gone for the length of time I had been gone. The same year I had returned from Mexico, the very individual who had hired me in Mexico, and represented everything I was seen and loved about taking time to give everyone a moment, the long-standing individual who had come to represent everything I knew and felt about The American School Foundation, had passed away shortly after taking his absence from a position he had held for what had seemed the life of the school itself.

I could go on and one and not just tell my stories, but relate the life altering stories of students I met and knew relied on meals we found for them and their families, the heartaches of abuse, neglect, bullying, and so many more things that fill the world we find ourselves in now that truly tie themselves to the issues of depression, anxiety and mental illness. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see Dane’s (my rescued pitbull/boxer mix) eyes look into mine, and remember the night he came to me bloody, in a box, saved from a group of people kicking him trying to break his ribs, running him over for a car – a man who ran into the middle of this bunch and rescued him risking his own life, and driving three hours to my apartment in Mexico, and me 98% sure this poor shaking, bloody dog would not make it until the next day and now, years later, seeing him thrive and eat up any and all attention he could receive from everyone he met.

I am only on day 5 of the pushup challenge and see this realization of what can be, and yet what some people are satisfied with and stand by and do nothing but hurt, inflict negativity, continue to thrive on talking down others, holding grudges, bringing others down, refusing to meet each other in the middle, refusing to respect each other’s right to agree to disagree, and simply stain a life that could be so positive, and make it so negative.

With every piece of trash I pick up, every friend I take time out of my life to bring up, provide a good day for, and simply try to think of another, each of the above that have become a part of my past, that could have led to a continued state of depression, anxiety, and a prolonged state of mental illness, thank goodness did not thanks to the family, friends, students, colleagues, and so many more that believed I could get through some pretty dire moments I never saw myself getting through. Ever.

I simply wish more people would use social media, use their day, use their time off, use their holidays, use their pasts to pass along., pay forward kindnesses that will stay with those around them and bring others up and push them into a better tomorrow, rather than taking the energy, time, and initiative to bring others down that they might not see eye to eye with, or agree with, or consider below their station in life.

What do YOU do with these life changing moments and the chance to improve someone else’s life, instead of always looking how to make a better day, life, year, moment for yourself? One of the largest discoveries I have made in the life is to live as if I have no more days left, and as I have been trying to live the life of at least two others, if not more, I have found my life has been positive and better thanks to the time I have taken for others along the way.

In a time when it is too easy to be divisive, isolating, vengeful, and selfish, the time to consider those effects on others, other than yourself, and realize the very real aspects of mental illness, anxiety, and depression will lead each of us along very different paths. What will YOU do with that realization? Tear down the world and those around you or choose to bring others up and change the world around us for the better? As for me- I have some pushups to do – and am grateful for the chance to recall how I have been able to make it this far in my life thanks to the sacrifices so many have been willing to give for me.

Day #5 of the 25 pushup challenge, here I come…and the person I challenge tonight is…well you will just have to check it out on my – yep you got it, Facebook page 🙂 Here’s to bettering the world around us for thinking of others along the way, in a time we need it most.

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Thank you!

Receiving emails and calls from students in personal crisis – full of anxiety, concerns and worries at all hours, well…

I know I get criticism sometimes for having too many candles burning at the same time, but this is the thing. Many forget that being an educator means there are times you need to have an open line at all times because some students need that open line- and of course, sometimes people shut those doors at 2:45, but life doesn’t – I always considered that the difference between a teacher and an educator. Life doesn’t allow a cleanly clipped end time for those worries and concerns to fall into a neat, timed period.


Never feel you cannot continue to reach out to me anytime – yes I get stressed, yes I always add a list of things to do larger than is realistic within a day – SOMETIMES – but through it all – the reason I am able to have the success in a profession that is challenging most days and not for the weak of heart – and often as transparent as the time willing to be spent in that same profession – is because of YOU. Hang in there, because know, even through the toughest of times, the phone line/email is open and you always have an ally. You have made some of my hardest days so easy with hilarity, laughter, and optimism.


You keep me going forward on days sometimes I do not feel I can do anything – and along the way, I have had some amazing supporters of my philosophy despite its craziness – it all comes back and helps you move forward on some of those rough days – thank you!

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Garbage In, Garbage Out, a Community Reflection.

Walking along Woodland Road, the stretch from in front of Invista, past Chapel Branch Nature Trail, until the road ends in the Woodland Ferry area, you might not see the space off to the side of the road.  I am more an avid watcher of these areas from trying to keep the litter and garbage off this stretch of road as well as the Chapel Branch Nature And Vince Morris Trail.

Today, unfortunately, over four bags of garbage were strewn all over plants in the front of the parking  lot, beer bottles, cups, and garbage thrown all along the sides of the streams, and people took time to carve the usual obscene messages about their body parts that they probably wish they had.

In my mind I wonder, is this the reflection they want others to think of Delaware when they visit such nature trails?  Is this what they want younger children to see as they are out and about nature?  What further cemented this thought in my mind was the condoms that are strewn all over the nature and I thought, “Trust me, if you are this less intelligent to not know how to clean up after yourself, let alone know how to properly dispose of garbage, you think you have the smarts for using a condom?  Good luck with that buddy…”

What is a further kicker is you have individuals such as Mr Beiser, 91 years old picking up garbage from those who are trashier than the garbage left behind, individuals who take ATVS’s and gouge out native plants and trails, and take posts and benches restored by local youth organizations and raise anything of value that is valuable, now during Covid, to ruin.

I understand there are  some pretty disgusting people in this world, butit deflates me even more that we have some of the trashiest, ugliest, foulest people in our community that leave this reflection of what represents our community, whether we like it or not.  Further, every three days I fill up at least 3 garbage bags that are whiskey bottles, beer cans, soda cans, family packs of McDonald’s food wrappings, Dunkin Donuts bags, Arby’s sauce packets, and lots and lots of Wawa bags.  Mainly these establishments.  I  have no desire AT ALL to frequent these establishments after seeing how much of their garbage is thrown out of the car,  garbage people who consume and think it is okay to open the window, throw as far as you can into anything green and growing outside of your vehicle. I understand that the establishments have no control of the garbage people who litter and what they do with their trash, however, it WOULD be nice, as community members to use their presence to air advertisements and requests to dispose of their garbage in the proper place, and not ruin the natural environments around us – to reflect those who treasure these areas.

Yes, every other day, three to four garbage bags, those that care will continue to clean up after people who are as sick as the Covid that surrounds us, those that do not realize their garbage becomes our garbage just because they see this as the best way. It seems logical we have so many endangered species, animals, wildlife, forest, and environment when this type of attitude is the most dominant when you are present in nature trails, but it is disheartening to see how this reflects us as a state when it is being said every day, despite attempts to clean our own backyards up.  I am one that believes we are lucky to have this state of Delaware, the natural spaces we are lucky enough to have amid such a pandemic as we are in, and do indeed hope that those that continue to destroy the last remaining resources we have and can enjoy, and are restored by our youth, will have enough intellect from now until they age, that they can do better, for their state, for future generations, for their community.   One can only hope. 

 

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Midsummer Night’s Dream as You Have Never Dreamed Before…

Wow. When I heard the National Theatre of Londonwas showing Midsummer Night’s Dream, after viewing a slew of amazing performances the last few weeks – I started viewing a few nights ago, was AMAZING at how the changes made to this traditional production came into its own with choreography, dance, genders and race, and so much more.

 

HURRY ! You ONLY have until this time to see this version for FREE!

The Bridge Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is streaming from 7pm UK time on Thursday 25 June, until 7pm UK time on Thursday 2 July 2020.

Magical, yes. Hard to believe and almost a dream yes. Although I took two days to view to take this production in, the presentation as well as the presence of such talent and the aspects of mystical elements – there is SO MUCH HERE that cannot be put into words and this cast made a complete visual, interlayered tale, frame within frame tale.

BETTER YET, JUST recently, after viewing this you should see the reunion of the cast that JUST occurred HERE!

Gwendoline Christie (GAME OF THRONES!) was AMAZING and a huge reason to see this and then yet EVERYONE – EVERYONE was HUGE in this!

Paul Adeyefa Demetrius

Paul Adeyefa

Hammed Animashaun Bottom

Hammed Animashaun

Charlotte Atkinson Moth

Charlotte Atkinson

Tessa Bonham Jones Helena

Tessa Bonham Jones

Adam Cunis Understudy

Adam Cunis

Oliver Chris Oberon / Theseus

Oliver Chris

Gwendoline Christie Titania / Hippolyta

Gwendoline Christie

Jermaine Freeman Flute

Jermaine Freeman

Isis Hainsworth Hermia

Isis Hainsworth

Chipo Kureya Peaseblossom

Chipo Kureya

Francis Lovehall Starveling

Francis Lovehall

Kevin McMonagle Egeus

Kevin McMonagle

Ami Metcalf Snout

Ami Metcalf

Jamie-Rose Monk Snug

Jamie-Rose Monk

Felicity Montagu Quince

Felicity Montagu

David Moorst Puck / Philostrate

David Moorst

Lennin Nelson-McClure Mustardseed

Lennin Nelson-McClure

Philippa Quinn Understudy

Philippa Quinn

Rachel Tolzman Bedbug

Rachel Tolzman

Jay Webb Cobweb

Jay Webb

Kit Young Lysander

Kit Young

AND THE AWARDS!

Hammed Animashaun

  • WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play
  • Critics Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance
  • Ian Charleson Award (nomination)

Bunny Christie

  • Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Design

Isis Hainsworth

  • Ian Charleson Award (nomination)

Kit Young

  • Ian Charleson Award (nomination)

Mousetrap Award for Best Play 2020

This was a HUGE bright spot when our days are filled with so much that can bring you down, this production will bring you up up up and see what is possible, in dream, reality, and hilarity!

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not Go Gentle Into that Good Night

IMG_3101Yes, years ago Ms. Debra Ramon have a speech to the graduating Class of The American School Foundation in Mexico City in 2016.  It reached every soul and heart string in the audience as much hatred in words was strewn towards those outside of the United States.  As Americans it was difficult to be proud of being an American in another country when comments of hatred, vengeance, isolation, and division were being passed to the public as carelessly as words of love and generosity could have been.  Years later, I have seen those young ladies and gentlemen from Mexico, The United States, Colombia, Brazil, China, South Korea, Japan, and many more countries do nothing but present the best of what can be done in the face of such negative affronts of communication and turning action into change, and positive change as that.  It has been an honor to have been in the audience on the other side of the United States, as a faculty member at ASF in Mexico City and now see them graduating from college and pursuing the missions of peace, positive change, and dedication to creating a better world out of one surrounded by hate.  They never decided to to “Go gentle into that Good Night.”

3:00 AM?  Many that know me know I often wake up in the middle of night and send out messages when many are sound asleep.  There is much now, and then, that have kept me up late at night, and often, too tired during the day and need to find some respite in sleep. Many will say the year 2020 will do that to you.

Here we are in 2020 – and wow what a 2020. We could go on and one about how woeful we are in such turmoil, how much to blame are others for the predicament we are in, because there is plenty of that to go around.  Yet, having the honor of being a Class Advisor this side of the United States at Woodbridge High, and reading name after name of potential changers of our future, from Night to Day, it is often hard to concentrate on the names in front of me when I see so much potential in those names.  There is little difference in these young men and women I see in front of me though many would yell, scream, and shout that there is all the world of difference based on appearances and origin. 

For once, if we set aside appearances and origin, and realize that this side of the United States, or another side of the United States, America extends beyond a boundary we often make in our minds and restrict to our actions.  The largest message that needs to be instilled is the fact that these young men and women of 2020, more than graduating in a year influenced by a pandemic and racial conflict, have been handed a microscope and events that rely on their shoulders to make right.  These young men and women see themselves as barely getting by high school, or hitting all the right grades and words to land them spots at coveted locations they see as marking the success box on their checklist handed down to them from those that see money, position, power as the essential marks of such success.  We have seen that money, position,  and power often can lead to greed, unfair advantage and a desecration of equality across a country, as well as across ethnic and racial backgrounds.  Who will remind and encourage this class of 2020 that they are the light that can invade this darkest of darkest nights?  

That graduating class of ASF in Mexico years ago had much more common with this graduating class in the United States, and not just at Woodbridge High, but also every public school IN the United States.  We witnessed an amazing coming together of Delaware public schools when our beloved Troy Hayes was stricken too short by our standards in life.  Yet, his life never was in vain, as we saw that his life brought together hundreds, if not thousands of individuals together in one state and beyond state borders.  If there ever was a need to carry that momentum forward and have that life, and so many hundreds about thousands we have lost this past 2019-2020 year to so many pandemic, racial, and hateful events, we need to help remind this Class of 2020 they are not graduating into a hateful, ugly, unfair year.  They are being born into a chance to make the changes tat current leaders cannot make due to their blindness into this dark, darkest of nights. 

Congratulations Class of 2020, you are certainly the light that can change the face of the world, we are depending on it.

 

Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

 

 

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Bringing Back the Appreciation of Life Through Frankenstein

As the National Theatre in London streams this week Frankenstein– different meanings reveal themselves in a strange world we find ourselves in currently.

Having see this show in the Lunario in Mexico City, I vaguely remember why this was one production I could not find a review for.  While I had some many eye opening and positive moments in our lives,we all have moments we look back on and see as very difficult times in our lives as well.  I recall in one period, despite seeing this brilliant version of Frankenstein, this was a period in my days where I had many bad days and somehow the review I so often made sure to publicize slipped under the radar.  Yet, it seemed it was all for a purpose. In seeing Benedict Cimberbatch’s introduction to that spectacular production by Nick Dear, we are lucky enough to see the tie to a current day pandemic. 

The brilliant truths that Frankenstein’s creation, played painstakingly by Jonny Lee Miller, comes across hauntingly brings parallels today as we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic.  Learning human nature’s tendency for lies, assimilating to a culture that has so much knowledge of how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate, how to lie.  It is shocking still to see a creation that Dr. Frankenstein never thought to name  and to realize the Pandora’s box of qualities that his creation has picked up on human nature.  To me, it is a vital lesson that for all the hatred in the world, there is that much more need for counter measures.  Ironically enough, in a live online Open Mic last night, in a zoom with over 30 people, some comments came flooding in that were so negative about the looks, the race, the beliefs, the words of some of the performers, that is the ugliness we see with the risks that come with using technology such as zoom, the ugliness of putting down others does have a chance to sneak in.  Yet, with every comment, positive comments by all of us in the audience were thrown back and guess what?  The individuals departed  and instead of countering ugliness in thought for more ugliness in thought, positive one this time. 

We have much to change in the light of so much darkness, but a willingness and patience to counter ugliness with beauty, negatives with positives, if we can prevail in taking the higher ground when adverse conditions present themselves, it pushes us forward through a ugly muck and fog that often we cannot see through at times.  But in unison, with support and simply a higher respect for life and each other, things have the chance to create a better future.  In every moment that Frankenstein’s live acquires more knowledge, we see more growth in what is possible in life as we know it.

 or

 

Jonny Lee Miller drives the slow progression of Frankentstein’s creation forward in the best possible way I have ever seem and you find yourself holding your breath constantly. The pride and vanity that takes over played as Dr. Frankenstein by Benedict Cumberbatch, while not the only thing that drives this plot, keeps the plot burning and burning.  The setting and use of light to represent life and death is brilliantly used, and often the tools used to tie machine and human together are brilliant.  Every single support cast characters carries their weight and responsibility as an integral part of the one reminder throughout the whole production, the value of live that can be so taken for granted and yet so essential to not let yourself take every moment for granted.  What a powerful lesson in the appropriate time as we find ourselves living in today.

This is so BRILLIANT and powerful – you can see Benedict Cumberbatch play the creature  OR   Jonny Lee Miller play the creature – and the ability to see this in TWO different characters and yet – the same idea of life, and how taken for granted by creature – or as a master of life- oh what discussions can come of this brilliant variation on the ultimate story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

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The Media and Library Looking Glass

After spending several weeks with the pandemic as muse, this topic and the article a friend found today is so so relevant!

Here is my paper:

Breaking Barriers, Restructuring the Educational Infrastructure Within a Social Technological Librarianship Framework

Introduction

Recently Delaware held their student National History Day competition, with Breaking Barriers as a theme.  In thinking on this topic, it was not obvious which barriers could and would be broken, when advocating for the position of a certified Library Media Specialist in every school.  Despite the misconceptions by many that certified school Library Media Specialists hold a non-essential role in learning institutions, the current pandemic crisis has revealed the need for this position all along. With the advent of Coronavirus in 2020, fissures in the health infrastructure have become obvious in trying to deal with a pandemic largely impossible to predict the effects of its impact.  One of the secondary issues that has emerged has been strengths and weaknesses in the educational system infrastructure across the United States.  It can be argued that the immediate need for online instruction on such a large scale has brought into focus just how essential the role of a certified Library Media Specialist is.  At the same time, excuses, opportunities, and infractions wear away individuals’ technology rights erode away in such an emergency for information.  Who best to prepare a future designated for technology than certified School Library Media Specialist who have the ability to interact with students on a daily basis, and help guide their needs from various disciplines through technological and digital citizenship responsibilities that will promote the future of the country?

In viewing school districts where certified School Librarian Media Specialists are utilized, the resources and transition to online instruction is a smoother process, and the role of a certified school librarian media specialist serves as an avenue to inform, protect, and diversify interests into all disciplines, on behalf of the student and educator.  Eben Moglin, Director-Counsel and Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center, stated we (society) need to put the question back into people’s minds, referring to sparking a questioning public in place of a constantly accepting and unaware public.  As Public Librarian Donna Carter verified, “We need to encourage people to be questioning sponges so that they can see how everything is connected using the virtual as a tool to feed and inspire the reality.”  Certified school Library Media Specialists do this every day, and often it is easy to take for granted the resources needed until a crisis in fact takes place.  The opportunity to open a public’s eyes to tenets of a growing technological world can be broken down through the resource of a school Library Media Specialist, and the time to address these needs in education is now. The issues that often overlooked due to a lack of awareness are those most pertinent to a technological future and are able to be tackled by a certified School Library Media Specialist.

 

Privacy

“As with so many areas of our lives, the virus is forcing us to confront difficult questions about our priorities… So, might the public be willing to trade one kind of freedom – the right to privacy – for another – the right to leave their homes and return to work? As with so many areas of our lives, the virus is forcing us to confront difficult questions about our priorities” (Rory Cellan-Jones).  The choice to have tracing via cell phones to ensure social distancing is certainly a topic that is controversial and has become a talking point now more than ever,  similar to patron’s public records being protected under in libraries.  The State of Delaware’s Code Title 29. of the State Government § 10002 provides for the privacy of patron’s library records, and with the justification for various governmental access to user’s information, the certified Library Media Specialist is more than ever a physical firewall of protection; a simple example of priavy protected and yet the privacy at stake in a larger sense grows every day. Delving into research and information to provide the education and awareness of these rights that extend beyond the walls of the library, during a pandemic as well as in non-pandemic times, privacy is compromised without awareness.

It seems that teachers, due to mandated testing, have a weakened ability to think “out of the box” from being handed curriculum that lists questions, desired answers that resemble cookie cutter learning.  This also is parallel to individuals relying on local providers for connectivity if the only provider has been the dominant voice to supposedly provide the privacy needed.  Students can’t learn to think outside of the box because the test is the box, the holy grail. They learn that there is only one right answer. Don’t think for yourself. The same parallel relates to Eben Moglin’s challenged too put the question back in people’s minds.  We need opportunities for alternatives, freedom to not be “boxed in” by the giants of technological service, but giants of choice in technological service and be aware of how privacy is compromised. Educational systems need to be as flexible as the choices available, as the ability to gain awareness of privacy when using fast resources like Zoom in today’s urgent and fast food society of technology.  Certainly in this time it is a good sign as Madeline Will’s article points out, “For now, in states where the decision has been left up to the districts, principals are trying to support their teachers the best they can.” It is difficult to gauge the amount of privacy being sacrificed and protected in a time of immediate need. However, it must also be more widely known that the certified Library Media Specialist has been trained for moments of need.

 It seems difficult to imagine educators and/or administrators having the time available to be aware of all changes in these regulations as well as time to disseminate rights to those immediately affected as developments occur.  Looking to a post-pandemic future, how and to what extent will future generations be educated on the privacy rights created to combat coronavirus, as well as those protections kept in place that could violate potential infractions on crossing the line of prevention and freedom infractions?  Additionally, options for personal servers, personal cloud storage that does not have to rely on big companies, and the inability to have alternatives to choose from, all require educating patrons. Introducing students to potential forums where ideas are not just presented, but allowing students to be an active participant, is a step higher in Maslow’s hierarchy of learning. There is no more legitimate advocate to do so than the certified school Library Media Specialist.

 

 

Communities

In reading Paul Kilduff-Taylor’s article “Playing With Toys While People are Dying”, obviously a comparable scenario formed in my mind related to the current pandemic.  Communities of learners have changed drastically, with so many attempts to reach out to address concerns of engaging learners in an online format.  Similar to gaming, the struggle is real when it comes to creating a meaningful reason for students to attend online courses when education as we know it, as well as expectations, are being created seemingly on the fly in an unprecedented time. 

Also referred to in Kilduff-Taylor’s article, the opportunity of using gaming to bring individuals together is present.  It is quite possible and desiring to use the needs of addressing summer slide (not Spring, Summer, and Fall slide) in student’s regression of education, and being much more critical of strategies that will create internal meaning to draw students to an online forum to want to peak their interest in continuing their education remotely.  Reaching out to include special needs, disability obstacles, and even easily distracted students through gaming and interactive programming to tie education to those very areas of interest seems quite a feasible approach and could be used to draw in individuals to a new perspective of what education can look like.  It would seem building gaming communities also has the capability of building new types of learning communities online. While many rely on libraries as their only source of internet access, when public libraries close down due to such a pandemic, it is quite essential for individuals to be able to access the library online, as certified Library Media Specialist have been working on alongside public librarians, long before an impending pandemic.

In the current pandemic, the Library Media Specialist has the ability to serve as liason, negotiator, and mediator of all things involving a balance of resources, tools, and sifting through those appropriate for specific end results.  Time is a new commodity that is weighed much more now than pre pandemic times, and having the ability of a certified Library Media Specialist to help provide tools to maximize personal time, research time, and planning time, for both faculty and students, now is more essential than ever as Kilduff-Taylor mentions:

I think the issue is mostly about time. Preserving valuable personal time for thought and direct action; actively deciding how to use money instead of just automatically allowing it to flow towards convenience or luxury; spending more time with your family or as part of a community; perhaps even taking a concerted period away from games to work on something of greater social importance: these are all possibilities for many of us. Indeed, I’ve seen many developers do these things in recent months. That doesn’t mean you can’t throw yourself body-and-soul at one project temporarily, or be dedicated, but it does mean that — at some point — you need perspective.

Being able to rely on an academic resourced facilitator such as a certified Library Media Specialist to help steer through COUNTLESS links, applications, resources being added every second, is truly an essential element to a new era of online and technological education. Filtering, discernment, and contemplation are needed amid a crisis and when pressure to acquire access immediately to avoid being left behind is a key pressure.  Choosing crucial and non-overwhelming levels of resources/tools to preserve new learning communities such as RSS, Snapchat, and Tik Tok are just scratching the surface of what at first seems appealing, but in the long run might have detrimental effects.  These mediums as alluded to by Mehan Garber, have introduced themselves in a new reality of less social gathering off line than online.  It is ironic during the current pandemic, a true cognitive surplus might be occurring due to limited opportunities to do much else. “Cognitive Surplus, in other words — the book, and the concept it’s named for — pivots on paradox: The more abundant our media, the less specific value we’ll place on it, and, therefore, the more generally valuable it will become (Garber).  

As new gathering locations in a social isolation period, the challenge is to reinforce technology as a path to renewed opportunities and possibilities, and not a crutch is ever developing. By being proactive in tackling these issues and providing insights into these trends before classrooms feel these changes, the certified Librarian Media Specialist serves as a lighthouse providing foresight and solutions in creating and stabilizing existing learning strategies in a pandemic area.

Obviously, wanting to be a part of a continuing online education system is not the sole issue, the percentage of individuals that do not lack access, budgeting to cover basic needs before worrying about online expectations is just as real a dilemma.  Building a healthy community relies on advocates that can research the positives, the negatives, and offer alternatives to the seemingly best offers that might not be the most beneficial in the long run. It is vital now more than ever, individuals have a path to receiving the best education interface, not necessarily the most popular provider or only alternative seemingly present. Who else to best serve in this capacity, to serve an ever-growing population of digital residents in need.

 

Digital Divide

This is a big problem – tech was meant to be the great equalizer but access gaps to both devices and connectivity are huge and the media companies that hold de facto monopolies are a big part of it

“Agreed. We live in rural Sussex County. Our only choice is Wifi via a big provider. Two weeks into the stay at home order, X*X*X*X* increase our Wifi speed. Last week, they throttled it. We can, of course, pay another $60 a month for greater speed. I plan to shop around for better deals and then reach out to X*X*X*X*

We are on X*X*X*X* – they provide services free or low cost to those experiencing hardship but the fine print is that they only do that if you’ve never ever been a customer of theirs.  I do have an X*X cellular plan. They upped my bill by $40 this months for no real reason except that they can

We don’t have access to X*X*X*X* out here on the farm.
I just found it intriguing that for two weeks our internet speed was super.
We can see a cell phone tower a mile from our farm.
I’m pretty sure at this point that it’s a matter of money with X*X*X*X*.  . I will switch to another company if I am not satisfied with their response
”  (Esham, GearUp).

The above is a conversation between just two parents of students in a local school district, that are dealing with the needs for their students, both at college and high school.  If anything, the current pandemic has allowed an opportunity for the weaknesses in education to be revealed, and a need for them to be addressed.  As the largest providers are stepping forward to offer temporary fixes for internet access, the question lingers in the realm of what long-term solutions will be provided?  Prior to only dominant companies being available to offer services in remote areas, often alternatives were non-existent or not known at all.  

“About 19 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, which the Federal Communication Commission defines as offering a minimum of 25 megabits per second download speeds and 3mbps upload speeds. Those who do have broadband access often find it’s too expensive, unreliable, or has prohibitive data caps that make it unusable for modern needs” (Rogers). 

The true trap fall is, without a guide to lead individuals in making the best possible choice in light of the fewest possible alternatives, access if often impossible.  Certified Library Media Specialists represent and can advocate for the community, both in school and when it comes to education, informed decisions, organization, and implementation of ideas that can benefit individuals as well as many at large.

 

Conclusion

Stereotypes recently held regarding the role of a school Librarian Media Specialist surfaced to reality with the need of immediate resources needed on behalf of educators in a crisis period, as well as the transparency of issues that affect technology and education on a daily basis.  Issues such as privacy, appropriate resources for appropriate disciplines, and security issues continue to surface today as educators finding themselves in districts without school librarians, faced to tackle these issues and more amid a staggering list of to do’s related to student welfare. “Between 2009 and 2016, more than 9,000 full-time equivalent school library positions were eliminated in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s about a 15 percent reduction in the country’s total number of school librarian positions (Golden).  Inefficiency without certified School Librarian Media Specialists has become more visible on an educational platform, and unlike years of advocacy for the value and necessity of certified school librarian media specialist in schools, it has taken a single year crisis for this value to be realized amid many categories of concern that face education in the technological age.   

Issues worthy of attention and discussion but usually swept under the public educational platform are that of intellectual freedom, data collection, social media impacts, and anonymity, many of the freedoms protected lost or abused due to the lack of time or education give to make beneficial decisions about.  All of these focus areas are important to the growth of a technological rich, well-educated society.  Eben Moglimn was correct when he stated “Legends are future about the story we do not know yet, when the world is a screen, we need to train people to ask the questions.”  The question is who will be left in an educational setting that has become our home, do that will advocate like the certified Library Media Specialist unless deemed essential?

Works Cited

Carter, Donna.  Personal Interview.  27 May 2020.

“Eben Moglen on Facebook, Google and Government Surveillance.” YouTube, yasssunews

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJCczbSF-B8#t=28m26s.

Esham, Lucille. Digital Divide Post. Facebook, 22 April, 2020. 10:11AM,

https://www.facebook.com/groups/122712235024223/.  Viewed 22 April 2020.

Garber, Megan.  ”Clay Shirky’s “Cognitive Surplus”: Is creating and sharing always a more

moral choice than consuming?” Nieman Lab.  https://www.niemanlab.org/2010/06/clay-

shirkys-cognitive-surplus-is-creating-and-sharing-always-a-more-moral-choice-than-

consuming/.  Accessed 01 April, 2020.

GearUp.  Digital Divide Post. Facebook, 22 April 2020. 10:15 AM.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/122712235024223/.  Viewed 22 April 2020.

Golden, Hallie.  “The Decline and Evolution of the School Librarian”   City Lab.

https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/09/school-libraries-books-literacy-librarian-

jobs-education/597316/.  Accessed 20 April 2020.

Jones, Rory Cellan.  “Coronavirus: Privacy in a Pandemic.”  Technology.  BBC News.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52135916. Accessed 2 April. 2020.

Kilduff-Taylor, Paul. “Playing With Toys While People are Dying.” Medium.

https://medium.com/@mode7games/playing-with-toys-while-people-are-dying-

f8ed35ef8b25. Accessed 5 March 2020.

Mill, Madeline.  “Should Teachers Be Evaluated During Coronavirus School Shutdowns?

Education Week.  https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/04/20/should-teachers-be-evaluated-during-coronavirus-

            school.html?cmp=eml-enl-tu-news1&M=59534513&U=748936&UUID=14bcbfa3541169acda4973e0c2cf87e8.

Accessed 20, April 2020.

Moglen, Eben.  “Eben Moglen on Facebook, Google and Government Surveillance

on Facebook, Google and Government Surveillance.” YouTube, uploaded by yasssunews,

1 June 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJCczbSF-B8#t=28m26s.

Rogers, Kaleigh. “Rural America Is Building Its Own Internet Because No One Else Will”

Motherboard.  Tech by Vice.  https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/paax9n/rural-america-is-

building-its-own-internet-because-no-one-else-will.  Accessed 20 April 2020.

State of Delaware. “The official Website of the State of Delaware.”

https://delcode.delaware.gov/title29/c100/.  Accessed 23 April 2020.

 

Sources referenced:

Chandler, Simon.  “How Smart Cities Are Protecting Against Coronavirus But Threatening

Privacy.”  Forbes.   https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/2020/04/23/trump-suggests

-injecting-coronavirus-patients-with-light-or-disinfectants-contradicting-experts

/#200f2d144088.  Accessed 13 April 2020.

FreedomBox Forum.  https://discuss.freedombox.org/.  Accessed  22 April 2020.

Moglen, Eben.  “Eben Moglen – Libre Planet 2017” Youtube, uploaded by pinochska.

10 September 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx1s7Mo3sac.

National History Day.   https://www.nhd.org/breaking-barriers-history
https://www.nhd.org/affiliate/delaware.  Accessed 1 April 2020.

Nield, Davis.  “Why RSS Still Beats Facebook and Twitter for Tracking News.” Field

Guide. Gizmodo.  https://gizmodo.com/why-rss-feeds-still-beat-facebook-and-twitter-for-

track-1800722740.  Accessed 17 April

and the link !

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/29/847732012/medical-historian-says-pandemics-reveal-a-lot-about-societies?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews&fbclid=IwAR0df_PtupTpDvo05oMKrLFsMuekqAYkhGz97sHZ6-AavLANsuFMEK0re_M&fbclid=IwAR1e9w54W4exq52ZLOxS7XMFqFU0BnKdj2anuE3d92A-ayBx7enIk3iCaEI

 

 

 

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