What Does National Library Week and School Library Month look, sound and feel like in the “Ideal” Setting?

Let’s just jump on in, now remember, this is today, ONE DAY, only from 7:45 AM to 12:45 Pm, after that more great things occurred that are hard to retain because, well, I can only hold onto so much without lunch.

Here we go:

School Library Month and National Library Week Observations that make being a Media Specialist Librarian the best job, and one of the most important jobs for those that are serious about the success of their schooL;
 
1) Walked into school and 8:00 and 6 seniors ask if they can use the project area/ Smart Board to practice their speeches for their Senior Project (hint – that is like every librarian’s dream to be asked to use a project area for exactly what you hope it would be used for ) fast forward to 45 minutes later, and all seniors, a few freshmen, sophomores, are in the audience providing feedback, laughing, giving each other a hard time, but also constantly giving feedback like “Do something with your hands, and not in your pockets!, don’t rock back and forth!, look at us – you are talking to us, remember? Do NOT say Um, uh, or like AGAIN!, PLEASE do not read to us word for word from the slides!) You have to love the fact that students were laughing, LOVING this process even though they had been stressing out about this for 7+ months, and students from varying levels were willing to sit and critique, and rotate and evaluate their peers, 9th – 12th grade. Impressive to say the least to see how far they have come and where senior project has led them.
 
2) Students overhearing me asking the students to please double side and add 4 notecards per page when printing out their notes because we can’t keep wasting paper like it grows on trees (they laughed) and student brings back a ream of paper for me before lunch and said, ” I overheard you needed paper so I brought you back some to replenish the paper used earlier…”
 
3) Meeting with UDLib and an amazing Career Counseling setting aside time – despite makeup testing today he was conducting – to listen to the new FREE Delaware links to test prep, science and Math curriculum aids, Ebooks, and amazing singular databases all academic teachers can use to save their lesson and curriculum planning time – an amazing experience.
 
4) An amazing freshmen giving a tour to the guest representative for EduLib through the wings where students run a farm, a chicken house, a florist shop, and a Structures area and helping connect this EduLib representative with other teachers…
 
5) Seeing vocational structures students put together their senior projects and to take time to brag on a new project they have taken on their own – (in this case a student chatted me up for 20 minutes about a 1967 moped he rescued from the garbage, and the owner’s manual he found on line and put in a binder – and the excitement he had on attempting to restore this as his now current project)
 
6) Having over 25 students throughout the course of the day bombard the library on opinions of their product summary, the length and content of their project synopsis, as well as the “Do you have a binder?”, “Do you have page dividers?”, but realize the need the library is filling for them to be successful.
 
7) Having students stop at the desk and excited to share their idea for a Student Government poster for elections and their decision to run together and running possible ideas past the Media Specialist Librarian…
 
8) Being invited to a student’s family birthday party
 
9) Having one of the most talented artists stop by and share their illustrations and idea to create a “passport” that all students could have and use at the May 5th Comicon at Greenwood Library as they go from station to station
 
10) Students coming asking, if the Red Apple Grant field trip to Delaware was going to happen, asking me to call RIGHT NOW PLEASE to see if we could nail down the YES to the bus on that day, the YES to from the museum, and after doing so finding out the students were more at ease knowing they had a chance to to the Delaware Art Museum…
 
11) Producing new faculty id badge holders for an upcoming celebration for staff, creating custom made trophies in the 3D Printer for one of many upcoming 5k run and walks and students rushing the printer asking, when can we begin our projects using the 3d Printer, (yes, even the students who usually have no interest at all in school).
 
12) Student seeing the phone ring every 5 minutes to the Library Media Center and planting herself by the phone, answering, relaying messages to me, answers relayed back for her to relay to the caller…after 35 minutes of this, she walking away saying, “I could so do this job, I am going to take your job one day Mr B as librarian…” with a smile on her face and a huge smile on mine… 
 

13) Hearing a story of visiting teacher/tutor – “Schools and libraries are so different.  I went to Y#@Y@))@, and the librarian was absent, and the students simply pulled out a television and watched SpongeBob SquarePants the whole time.  Another administrator came into the library with a checklist and clipboard, I was sure that this would fo down differently.  Nope.  Happy the students were “busy”, stated “At least they are not tearing the place apart” and left.  This is so much different than walking into a library where students are playing chess, practicing presentations, on the computers asking you questions about Google Slides, piecing puzzles together, and brainstorming ideas across the country with you, the phone ringing off the hook in the background.”  You realize as a person there was a reason you put so much time into being different than the typical library = satisfaction with the craziness that occurs within the confines of your space.

14) A spunky, crazy but talented young student, who had a run in with you as a librarian earlier in the year and had a referral, working on her senior project, spying you, – and spitting out “Sir!  Does this look too short for the summary of my product?” Paper right in front of my eyes as if I am taking a eye test, her watching me read every single word out loud, me giving a few lines that can add to the length and detail of her summary, her grabbing, running to her station, making adjustments, running in the next lab and grabbing her finished product, smiling, laughing, speeding past you with a “Thank you SIR!” and what just happened?

Is it lunch time yet?

 

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Anthology of Pop Culture and Life – Ready Player One

Ready Player One – 3D and packed to the hilt with film’s version of Easter Eggs – yep, Steven Spielberg certainly went over the top for the film Ready Player One.

Aside from the countless icons of pop culture crammed into one film, which must have been a scavenger hunt, aka treat and dream for Spielberg to create – much else comes out along the way.  Yes there is a direct feel to Tron for one in this film (get this, I have NEVER seen TRON yet in my life, so need to add that to the To Do list) but there are more indirect, not see “feels” that come out of the film.

Most would think it a real bummer, that you go to a 3D movie, and forget the grab the 3D glasses, right?  Never happened to me except to this film.  I was sitting there, pretty sure I saw 3D on my ticket when I purchased it from Fandango, and sure enough, no glasses bucket or offer and now the movie was starting.  Not the best ideal way to see a 3D movie, but I lived, and I realized something. it is good in life to also keep things real sometimes, so if I could feel and get something outside of just seeing it for 3D, that might be one heck of a film.

It was.

When the initial screen started rolling, i noticed the word DUNE productions on the screen, and from what I knew of the film, I felt that maybe that seemed to fit.  Yep, that’s right, I have never saw Dune either (stop shaking your head, I know, lots to add but that is part of the fun of not seeing EVERYTHING!) . In this case, I am super excited to NOT have read the book first – allowing me to now dive in and see what the content has to offer after seeing the movie.  It seems there is alot more waiting me – which is exciting based on the barrage of allusions in Ready Player One.

When I look at these trailers from say Dune, Tron, and The Last Starfighter, wow – we are spoiled today from the effects on screen for sure. The Last Starfighter memories  brought it home for me.  The whole theme of this film, when I first read it in a paperback, then saw on the screen.  That stuck with me.  Remembering many of the references in Ready Player One were even more impactful to connecting them to the movie theatre where I witnessed the first showing of these in a theatre, and that brought a reality to these Easter Eggs Spielberg planted even more realistic throughout the film, no 3D required.

The inclusion of the riddles, and the use of Back to the Future transportation, LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED. The realistic similarity to Waterworld and  “The Stacks” was very close and similar, the soundtracks that provided sweeping heroic overtures, as well as retro back to the 80’s themes that even remind you and connect you between heroics like Pirates of the Caribbean to the nostalgic tunes found in Guardians of the Galaxy – and of course the memories of all the above-mentioned films.

It was disconcerting to see so many people into the game while life around them just seemed to disintegrate, become bland and void of all the beauty of traveling and seeing amazing animals, wonders of the earth and more.  Seeing so many entranced by the Virtual Reality viewers reminded me of the first time I saw those viewers in coordination with ipads, thanks to Google at the American School Foundation, it was amazing to watch others travel through their eyes using technology.  Amazing.

Real world realizations – the exhilaration of technology is undeniable.  Yet, I am lucky enough to realize, the mix is more important than anything else.  it is so easy to “check out” of the world with so many conflicts, disasters, and back tracking events occur, which reinforces the fact that now more than any other time, individuals need to “check in” to making the world a better place and stand up for the things we love that are in the real word.  For example, education works when you mix the real world to the what can be using technology, when one more than the other wins, it seems there is no true balance or winner.  The virtual Easter Eggs that Spielberg hid throughout Ready Player One seem to also remind us that the literal scavenger hunt for easter eggs, in real life is also worth the experience.  I feel deep within the vaults of Steven Spielberg’s life,  Spielberg made sure to capitalize on the fact that technology is amazing, but so are the real aspects of life you can’t pull out of technology and should be preserved as well. There are many reactions to Ready Player One.

Sure, I can’t forget the feeling I had when I unearthed my Atari 2600 in Mexico (after having it repaired in Mexico) and seeing it back to use after all that time for the Lock in at the American School Foundation.  It was indescribable to see games I had not played since I was ten or so right there on the big screen – I mean – INCREDIBLE! When I reverse my memory back to the time I played those with so many individuals – even better – the technology today – of course no comparison but I would never want to trade the experiences I had when i obtained my first computer – the TRS- 80 from Radio Shack and of course the experiences I had with Atari. 

I am grateful for April 1st being a combination of April Fools, Easter, my father’s birthday, and family memories had that will never disappear.  This keeps me rooted and I had no idea this would do so when I was 10, 12, or even 16.  I believe Ready Player One does the same thing, takes every viewer on a voyage and allows them to visit the inner halls of life and memory and emerge with great surprises, realizations and gift, just in time for Easter.

As per tradition, I always place the memoir my Dad in fact left for our family – the physical and what it represents on April 1 to me.  We each have some dynamic memories that keep us in a reality check no matter how fantastical the world becomes around us.

The Rings Around Us-

 

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Leading with the “I” – Inactively – Doesn’t Work.

March 2, 2018 at Woodbridge High School brought the Professional Development Day “Everyone Leads” to our School District, and I have to admit, I am still getting used to seeing everyone in the School District so many times when we had not as much chance to do so in such a large institution at the American School Foundation in Mexico City.  Yet, when we did in Mexico, I realized how amazing, dynamic, and stocked with potential the district itself was – and I realized that today again.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 4.07.02 AM

One of the best parts was seeing our inner lobby packed with booths representing each school, ECC, Elementary, Middle, and High, and with the tokens, and contests waiting for each school’s faculty, it added some lightness to being in school during a Professional Development Day.

As always you saw the overall leadership plan from Donna Hall implemented by Kylie Cross one of the first individuals there – getting tables, packages all ready with the maintenance along with our own Kent Chase and Kelley Thompson, and you started to get the first taste of the sentiment “rolling up your sleeves and jumping in.”  I will come back to this but realized, it is one thing to present an idea, but another to walk the walk, talk the talk, and actually jump in and be a leader by example.  That takes guts, determination, and just “ooompf” this is often lost on the delegation part, but the follow through is what makes a leader, at least what I have experienced through the 46 years in this world.

Often some of the most important activity is what you don’t see as well.  The tech setup for so many presentations, connectivity, lab use, Chrome Books and more, amazing.  Out IT was on it and above it – they ROCKED the day as well.  Add to that the well the maintenance prepared, maintained, and restored the school to remaining to look like an absolute mansion, and you have another case of how these amazing groups keeps an event running seamlessly without what seems effort, with a WHOLE lot of effort into everything.

Opening with keynote Dr. Jackie Wilson, while it is always difficult to start in the AM, Dr. Wilson took us through a geographical journey of her own life to where she has come to in Delaware today.  I distinctly remember creating Life Maps in English as a prep to the biographical essay, and making sure the students remembered that they played a role in their writing.  They had voice.  They had a history that often is forgotten in the scheme of so many thins to do, to get done, hurdles to jump over, and when you look back on your life even 10 years later, you wish you would have taken more time to stop and remember what got you to this point.  You realize this later.  I was lucky enough to reflect on all the crazy moments that have brought me here today, and am grateful for all of those moments, good and bad, and the chance to reflect on that in lieu of Ms. Wilson’s experiences and how these personal and life-long experiences brought her to present a testimony to the power of leading, following, and education.

Moving into my first session, I was lucky enough to attend Ms. Jennifer Fisher’s session Writing Across the Curriculum.  Now when you first see this you might think “Oh my gosh, seriously? First thing a typical PD workshop on something PD’ish? 

Anything but.  There is a reason she was nominated for Teacher of the Year this year, and this is a HUGE clue.

Her walk through PBL Learning – it is, was, and has always been the gospel.  I have ALWAYS believed, said, and preached, the difference between and educator and teacher is what you do with that title.  DO.  Absolutely Do.  Putting an idea of what the students need to learn in their hands and have them ACTIVELY involved with every single concept within a unit.  Have students be first hand creators of lessons you bring to the classroom and 1000 other aspects I have admired in educators that have influenced me became real again – from Mr. Neutrelle in Butler Junior High, to Penny Austin-Richardson at Seaford High, to amazing leaders that jump in like Teruhi Yohioka, Hugo Cabrera Basurto, Paloma Fuentes, Kristin Dixie, Melinda Duryea, Dr. Joseph McCarren, Natalie Dorfeld, Kimberly Miller, and countless more educators that simply jump in and show the human side to teaching, by DOING – Ms Fisher easily became a representative of this with her co presenters.  I thought – Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a Betsy Devos that represented education by showing weekly pulling up your sleeves and DOING rather than random appearing behind a podium?  Even a president?  Some of our Leaders could be MUCH more effective and have a voice from taking a lesson from educators and parents that surround us.  take a look at Lisa Blunt Rochester.  Phone casts where people can join, newsletters, updates, calling you PERSONALLY on the phone when you contact her, and that is just in a week!  LOL – that is my type of transparent legislator that represents all that education should be day in and day out.

In ending this workshop, we had over 10 amazing ideas in front of us that could be implemented and involve students and faculty, and parents, and community, and (you get the idea) – and that is what education is about, everyone leading in their own way and producing an understanding from DOING.  Doing. Doing.  Delegating AND DOING.  Not a hard concept, but harder to DO for some.  The site www.bie.org is a definite resource for starting this approach to education and making a difference.

I was privileged to be asked to present alongside Ryan Curl and Shannon Cathcart about Google and the human side of it as well.  Yes there is a human side my friends. Despite Ryan being an Eagles fan and me a Pittsburgh native, (that turned out well bringing PA Championship back to the Superbowl era, thanks Eagles, you rocked!) and Shannon nervous and thinking she was not a presenter (turns out she was!) – I realized that we can present the amazing levels of collaboration that Google enables, but unless there is follow through individually with those concepts, and a way to connect the possibility of collaboration with those IDEAS, that is all they are, ideas and they go nowhere without a willingness to offer more beyond the ideas.

With the session Everybody Loves Everybody, just simply classic.  I didn’t think first at how much this matters being in the gym but oh. Wow.  I should have never stuffed myself with lunch the way I did. (HOLY COW – the lunch was AMAZING by the way, pulled pork sandwiches, dessert that was AMAZING, iced tea that hit the spot, and – a hundred other reasons why this caterer should be always used! – (I will find out more on who this was and let ya know) – Thanks to Pam Gordy of “My turn to cook, catering”  302-875-7907 myturntocook@yahoo.com  – but I digress –

The physical activity that was exerted bringing individuals we did not know together for one common aim was – enlightening, and Super fun.  Often the simple ice breakers are okay but result in groans when mentally you have to think about that happening . Physically jumping into an activity, and having to as others depend on you, helps bypass the preconceptions you have of what the term icebreaker means then changes that to overall collaborative FUN.  I realized a few key things :

1) HAVE FUN and that should be the basis of every single unit of instruction (that usually does NOT include worksheets). 

2) I was OUT OF SHAPE and needed to do something about that PRONTO. 

3) Being a part of a group, laughing, and DOING made the difference in how you see everything, each other, and the future.  

If this workshop did not seal the deal on making sure every lesson, every single lesson within a unit will be effective if it takes in the whole person (physically, collaboratively, letting each person lead at least once, and so much more) – then nothing would.  Kudos to Ian Daws and the workshop leaders of Everybody loves Everybody  that made this workshop happen.  We need a yearly faculty competition, be it kickball, soccer, or SOMETHING, lol.

Of course, meeting back in the auditorium at the end of the day on the note from Superintendent Heath Chasanov and addressing the upcoming school violence protest, walkout, and upcoming events around this issue, the reminder that the world crashes in and forces you to act was real.  Yet, there was a silver lining.  Receiving a WHS golf umbrella was AMAZING as a gift (perfect timing that day –  – I love large umbrellas and yeah, the one I purchased at U of D and could not get back to Mexico (cough, Tammy Pham – are we gong to see that umbrella this week?  But speaking of a lady that worked her opportunities to the bones and became successful after leaving Seaford – she ROCKED the opportunity as a DOER!)  reminded me, we definitely can be protected from the criticisms of standing up and DOING things by buying into making a change by DOING – and banding together to do so.  

Change is definitely in the wind on so many fronts my people that are ruled, governed, and criticized by individuals who criticize but do nothing.  Inactivity and criticism from individuals that criticize, govern, and rule and DO nothing?  They produce nothing.  The movers and shakers that are not afraid to confront the mundane, the norm, the consensus, that cause much of noise and back up that noice with action, they might not at first, but they will change everything in time.  Thank goodness.  I am blessed to see an amazing colleague and former WHS alumni, Kelli Duncan wade through a sea of students every day that clamor for success.  Despite being faced with a power tower of papers, she walks out, addresses students one on one, and in return receives a sea of students that ask her advice, tips, and keys for passing in areas of (my hardest subject – Math) and gives them hope.  Heck, she has enough to do without giving the time she needs to get items done and yet, that motion of being visible and offering a chance of hope to get through the struggle at hand motivates students to push on. I see this every day and reminds me, a Media Specialist Librarian uses their desk to contain the things that can be done every minute of the day – possibilities, and so that means so far from neat you cannot imagine.  My students remind me of this every day, but the desk is a symbol of where you are as an educator, and willing to be, for the students that surround that desk.  if you stay behind that desk and decide that is the best part of education, you are missing the WHOLE POINT and experience of what education needs to bring to those affected by it.

I look back and remember the jump into WHS this year in the middle of – get ready for it – Senior Project. HUGE LEARNING CURVE, but it helped me find out what the needs of students are in a hurry, HUGE asset. Okay let out the groans and let me fast forward to 4 months later.  All that scrambling, struggling, frustration etc, I watched every single student GROW within 5 months and figuring out how to work things out from that senior project, POWERFUL and connected once you figure out a topic students internalize, work out frustrations through, and truly mimic real life as close as you can possibly get, I realized as an educator and Media Specialist Librarian how valuable a senior project is and can tie so many learning strides together for students.  Heck, I have seen it happen through the IB Program, through the amazing paths Penny-Austin Richardson led to discovery for so many students, and this is yet one more example of how a project, becoming real, can actually educator rather than lecture.  HUGE DIFFERENCE.  After 16 years of being in education you tend to see things and learn things – most people can’t handle 5 years or even one in a classroom, I think educators should be involved more in decisions than those that do not spend more than 5 hours, days, or minutes in a classroom, don’t you?

That one letter of “I” means everything, when it comes to Doing and Leading.  From local 5k’s that will happen and have happened, to events that spread out from your local public library and connect with schools, to collaborating with educators and students in another country and embracing the differences that together make a country great and do not cause division, to simply devoting an hour a day to changing someone else’s world and making a little better, 1:00 AM, 5:00 PM, Lunch time at school, those moments when the buzzer goes off in the morning, each of us have a chance to change everything, and you put us together, we realize that “Everyone Leads” if motivated to do so.

 

 

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Dazzle with DASL

I had mentioned it once before, bit it is amazing to see what your own state has to offer when you allow yourself time to re-examine surroundings you have been around for so long, but – it really makes a difference when you slow yourself down to allow a new perspective.

Take DASL – Delaware Association of School Librarians – you would automatically ASSUME I would be aware of this being a Media Specialist Librarian AND in Delaware, you know what they say about assuming right?  

This particular night, March 26th, the meeting for DASL was held in Middletown’s Appoquinimink Library –  and had many bits of helpful info.

Let’s dig in:

The PrepareDE presentation was VERY informative.

I had no idea this organization existed, let alone searched for licensed, qualified individuals to help in times of disaster AND could provide training for those involved.  It was refreshing to see that librarians were also requested and yet, made sense due to the contacts, organizational networking, and other skills that librarians could in fact bring to a shelter table!  The use of distraction kits for children they discussed, to be created, is amazing, awesome in thinking ahead for preparedness, and after seeing the tragedy occur in Mexico City, this hit home directly.

Volunteering makes sense and is comforting to know such forward thinking is in the works.

When the second presentation regarding UDLIB occurred, I learned ALOT. Even though I relied on UDLIB as a mainstay when I arrived on the job in Delaware, knowing alot of unknowns about this state-funded service:

UDLIB Search can be a link placed on your schoology pages to allow teachers to use the videos, databases, as well as citation, lesson plans, and levels of reading difficulty for EVERY article you find (levels 1-3 at anytime) to be accessed quickly and more efficiently.  I KNOW as a former English teacher for over 13 years, there are unexplored tools there, I could have easily saved HOURS on – even knowing the Common Core Standards that go with specific lesson direction that would have helped focus my lessons TEN FOLD!

The fact that these resources can be made at school AND at home, be presented for student use at elementary to senior project levels, to also allowing UDLIB staff to come and do PD’s on how to manipulate these resources is PRICELESS to help make a year less stressful (as well as creative for the students).

Also being able to create index card graphic organizers for specific papers is crucial, as well as being able to show students how to highlight and send those very notes to their email, Google drive, and even send the article too – this reintroduces a higher level of research for preparing students for a college-style regimen of research.

I presented last and hoped to show individuals the access to a book database we created and be able to swap texts that other schools need for texts we could use in our library as well.  Additionally, giving students a sample of our Raider’s Den

 

also helped see if we can collaborate with other schools for events that we would like to bring other partners in with.

A take away from this meeting was realizing that the numbers attending are not as powerful as a handful on individuals that are willing to roll up there sleeves and move and shake hypotheticals into action.  I feel libraries and librarians are way overdue to do, just that!

 

 

 

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BP Can Be More Than an Acronym, It Can be the Change Each of Us Realizes

What do you think of when you hear BP?  At one time, it would have represented one of the largest oil and fuel companies we have come to know.  Much has occurred since then amid oil spills, what appears as perceived greed for part of the wealth associated with large corporations and such. 

If you have been anywhere near a movie theatre, BP would have become to be known as Black Panther.  I headed to the theatre this weekend, settled in, and forgot the where Black Panther left off from the film Captain America, and if you wait until the credits are done in this film, you will be treated with even more additions to come (GLAD I WAITED!!) BP, thanks to Black Panther, has come to be known as Beauty and Power. 

You see plenty of examples of Beauty and Power in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, from the sweeping landscape of a country labeled third country, to the strength that comes from the country of Wakanda used for good and not for advantage, to the realization, despite the push back from media and political aims that unity is better than division, Black Panther is a powerful film.  The virtues can extend beyond the theatre if you allow them.

In realizing the beauty of Wakanda presented under the shroud of a county thought to be desolate, I thought of how many more examples of this exists.  Through the lens of the media one would think Mexico was a maze of destruction, drugs, violence and doom.  Quite the opposite is the reality.  These element exists, as in any country, but to more more of a degree than many cities you might find here in the United States.  As I witnessed the beauty of Wakanda on screen, I realized the beauty I was lucky enough to experience in Mexico, and how much beauty remains in other countries we only see through media?  As well as here int he United States.  There is is substitute except for being in those countries and experiencing it from behind the lens.  Sounds complicated, expensive and out of reach. I thought that about Mexico, and the results outweigh the costs I created in my head.   The beauty of a country, unrealized, outside of your own, changes you as a person for the better.

The sense of being separate from someone across the other side of the world is nonsense.  it is time the idea of division, me against you, power over equality, in fact can and will end when individuals from all over the world do rise above media, politics, and social issues that seem they can be resolved by one area, opposed to all coming together to discuss, organize and empower each other, rather than point fingers. 

At this point, the above pretty much describes the exhilaration you feel during Black Panther.  I would say it is long overdue to have a film, push the buttons for positive change in individuals, through popular culture, rather than focusing on media and news that again, seeks to divide and disperse a sense of doom.

The amazing use of technology, effects, as well as transformations perceived when a different reality exists all play a large part in what Black Panther represents. “What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.”  An awesome quote from Black Panther that doesn’t really belong solely to the screen.  Another realization I came to was seeing and realizing that some of the villains did not put up as much a fight as I thought they would.  They did at first and then surprisingly were taken down faster than I thought would occur.  In a sense, I also realized what is made to seem as a one way track decisions that are irreversible, is not always the case as we are led to believe.  I like this realization.

There is no doubt from Parkland students in Florida, to constituents all over the U.S., to the Me Too Movement, and beyond changing the face of way politics operate.  To countries outside the U.S. standing up for the ability to bring back greatness to their own country, while organizing with other countries, a film like Black Panther, while entertainment, and a high profile level at that, entertains the notion that positive change is possible,  Beauty and power can in fact work alongside each other, however, they not not have to be stereotypical, biased, always be responsible adults, or set boundaries to do so.  If anything, boundaries for positive change are available and actually open to possibility rather than closing.  it is just time to continue to spread the true message of hope that counters the “fake news” that has a tendency to latch onto countries, individuals, as well as whole countries.  An entertainment film like Black Panther that also sends a message for change in other arena is a most welcome change in the last few months.  There does seem to be hope in numbers, in beauty (not determined by media, and power in numbers.

 

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Leaping Forward – Possibilities Opposed to the Limitations

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 7.13.42 PMAs I watched this ParaOlympics Open Ceremony today (from days past) – that phrase “The fact we can be limited by our creativity, possibilities opposed to the limitations is what this is all about…” the hour ahead can be a metaphor for what we decide to do with our time.  My thoughts go to watching the Paralympics in Korea, and think of all the amazing students I have grown up with from Korea, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Holland, and so many more countries and the things they have achieved.  

What each of us can achieve if we want to.  With an hour forward it seems we can also make a commitment forward that we might have missed in falling back.

Take these examples –

I was simply doing some basic maintenance on the truck today, and thought about how much actual mileage I have obtained from my 1997 Mountaineer, from the countless Cross Country (XC!) meets, to trips from Delaware to Mexico several times, and then realized how exciting and heart beating moments I had on those images I could never forget.    Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 7.57.34 PMToday I talked to Andres Jannou, artist and owner of Walking Dog in Mexico (soon to be in Argentina) who had headed out from Mexico City and has been driving, final destination Colombia.  Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Veracruz, Panama Canal – and so much more, his afghan Natalie is having the time of her life, and I remember the trip Hangover, Suzy, Dewey, Dane, Wriggley, Amaya, and yes, Kinah’s ashes,  made from Mexico City to Delaware and the amazing things along the way we felt, saw, and experienced.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream a dream you dream together, is reality.” – John Lennon

Luisa Segura surprised me one day as I was in the states (just returned).  She left Mexico to simply work in a restaurant to get experience.  I thought, what a spur of the moment, without warning decision that changes our lives.  I asked her some questions about this experience to just work for free and find a restaurant that would allow her to do so:

In what ways do you see and feel Mexico in New York City?

I see New York as a minute everything just happens, there no track of time. Everybody is just doing their job. And I think Mexico has a little bit of this flash by during the day by day.
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What was the scariest moment taking off on an adventure like this in New York?

The scariest moment was the day before traveling a lot of what ifs were taking place in my head. I really don’t know how I managed all these new challenges in a minute of time, managing to be on time at work and getting used to the subway.

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What is one discovery you made about New York most people might not know, or might not discover about New York?

New Yorkers can be very friendly and definitely NY toughens you up, and there’s so many places and streets you can walk through at night and feel the social life.

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What is the most unexpected event that occurred to you while in New York?

Taking decisions on what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to accomplish certain activities.

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What is one thing that you find resembling New York in Mexico?

The movement inside the food and drink industries, you just see people walk in and nobody leaves, until the place closes up. 

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What surprised you the most on this trip to New York?

The ability of being alone, making friends, hanging out, making sure I always was sure of what I was doing. And being able to be alone.

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How do you see food preparation in a different light after this experience?

The industry I can say it’s rather mesmerizing by this I mean I think I did a lot of work and this was the challenging part, because I had never been inside a working kitchen. But I think I enjoy it more than before.

~

In what way have you grown after this experience, that you didn’t realize you needed to grow  into?

I think I have grown in a mature and responsible person.  
I think each of us has so much potential to do something extraordinary.  For ourselves, and for the world we find ourselves in.  The courage that paralympians show that matches if not exceeds the courage shown in the Olympics we just witnessed, – astounding.  When those that are able-bodied have less courage by far than the paralympians – it is a lesson we should all live by – and live every single day.

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What Does the Word Legend and E (from Education) Have in Common?

Phil Livingston. Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.30.46 AM

Period.  A few things you should know.

Never an administrator.   Redefined the role of a substitute.  Proof a government agency officer could be one of the BEST educators.  ever.

What does it take to inspire students?  Stories and reaching across the desk and not remaining behind a desk.  

I was lucky enough to see this in action and still hear stories of this after I was in absence of seeing Phil Livingston in actions.  Except for a famous hot air ballon story.  All you need to do is ask those who were touched by him.  There are hundreds.

In a world caught up in climbing a ladder of status, how to be “top dog” through violence, guns, politics, power – Phil Livingston showed day in, day out, the real power that nothing could top, was an utmost attention given to EDUCATION, and yielding education on an equilibrium to ALL – not to a specific school, not to a specific socio-economic class, but to all.  Instead of climbing a ladder, he provided a ladder for everyone to reach heights that they did not know they could climb.

Concert Master,   awarded the  2015 Friend of Seaford Education Award :

“Mr. Phil Livingston was awarded the 2015 Friend of Seaford Education Award at the November 16, 2015 School Board Meeting. Mr. Livingston actively supports the students and district as a whole throughout our schools and in our community. He can be seen standing along the fence at our home football games and other athletic events, cheering on the team. He is present at most, if not all, of our musical concerts, drama performances and NJROTC events. This year, to showcase our Seaford High School Culinary Program he arranged for the Culinary Program students to provide the pre-show meal for the performers at the Seaford Community Concert. Mr. Livingston, and his wife, have also extended their generosity and sponsored several students in our district when there has been a need. To meet Mr. Livingston, is to have met a caring gentleman who brightens the day for many students and staff and to know someone who is a true friend of Seaford Education. It is with great pleasure that we honor Mr. Phil Livingston as the 2015 Friend of Seaford Education.”

photographer and pilot, sailor and  Commodore of the 220-member yacht club in Blades, Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.39.10 AM

a former special agent with the FBI, 

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.45.32 AM

firing a cannon to start of Woodland Festival,

and over 10 other aspects he embodied and supported, he lived what education has the power to do every single day.  Motivate, challenge the popular thought in any discussion, express free thought, and do more than be a voice.  Being present in every aspect of everyone’s life – and inspire them to greatness.  What if we had just 10 Phil Livinsgton’s in every school community – would the state change?  Yes.  Would communities change? Yes.  Would we change?  Most definitely.  Look at the hundreds of individuals that have changed already and “made it” thanks to someone that served as a substitute, but could not be replaced – ever/ . Ironic isn’t it?  Please share your stories in the comments below in honor of what you remember Mr. Phil Livingston gave you.

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Celebrate Happiness

I loved the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.  LOVED.  And here is why:

1- There is no main goal on target for division or divisive motives.  We see that in rhetoric from leaders in our country, to our states, to other countries, from what seems to be our country as of late, it wears on you.  Even the moments where we did see it from our country at times, it was pushed back and what was brought forth was the characters of athletes, celebrating diversity, amid competition.  This is what united is about, and letting flaws in individuals come out, and it is OKAY.  Recognizing defeat, competing without blame, rising about rhetoric that blames, points fingers, acts superior, and propels anger and hate –  finally felt I could escape that and relish the moments of individuals, among each other.  That is what a truer sense of united is.

2- Walking the walk.  ANY POLITICIAN, has a problem walking the walk, but easily can talk the talk. I am more of an action kind of person.  I like how Ashley Wagner puts her struggles before her and shows what it takes to be an athlete, and ‘the harder we fall, the stronger we rise’ has never ben truer than in the U.S.A. with the ‘freedom to move’ sentiment applying not just to Olympics, but with so many issues  – from immigration to school violence, to so much.  So while the politics is nice outside of the Olympics and agreeing to cause cause walls, it is hopeful to know a generation can make a shift to move to better days if we are hear and make the shift to individuals that are ready top uplift our possibilities, and not fall to wasting, blaming, and finger pointing.

Ice 1.png

3- The music struck me at first.  Then the characteristics of beauty, hope, and heroes, joy, miracles, the magic of the Winter Games came through Toyota”s commercial.  I thought, if I could feel the way I feel about our country, at the moment when I was witnessing that breathtaking record of snowboarding, figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating yes, even curling, then anything is possible.  I believe that yes, businesses are making money off commercials, but what if we held businesses to a higher standard and part of that profit making, as forced by lobbyists, helps the environment, protect the environment while promoting HEALTHY businesses that give back to our environment, push for stricter regulations to protect our youth in communities and schools, and do not consider the almighty dollar as the highest God?  What if we looked at each other, and instead of seeing nationality, we saw ways to harness our diversity to bring up our country with more diversity being a part?  We have a responsibility to ban business that puts business before country, before environment, before people.  I loved that the 2018 Winter Games celebrated that.

Ice 2

4- The power of the Olympics to set aside issues that have split countries, and to find a meeting ground so that the feeling of unity is truly an agenda in the meeting places, town halls, Congresses and capital buildings, is real.  Being caught up in the issue of being on one side and others being on another side just simply, goes in circles.  It causes anger, is feeds into nothing being achieved, loss of identity, loss of individuals from all backgrounds that can be a resource to fighting the power of crime for all individuals that take advantage of that split in races, cultures, and politics.  I hope the amazing aspects of the Winter Games, the feeling of saying something you do not mean and being able to come back and correct it without stones being thrown, the general feeling of acceptance spill over into not only the upcoming ParaOlympic Games, but reinforced by the youth that are finding their voices for change, positive change in the upcoming elections, by the senior citizens and middle class that want all individuals to be recognized for making the United States a great country instead of a divided nation, and coming down off the anger podium and standing behind a podium of compromise, change and a breath of fresh air. 

It is truly time to Celebrate Happiness among all races, all nations, all individuals and see that each individual country grows, is protected, as well as their citizens and show what the U in the United States stands for.

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Students Rise to the Challenge – and Prepare for Change

There are SO MANY topics in the last few months worthy of discussion and as many know – sources of exhaustion in trying to dissect bit by bit the importance of such a movement.  Bit by bit, several posts will attempt to bring some importances to light.

In moving back to the United States from Mexico, as an American shielded from the controversy somewhat being in another country, as a consensus, Americans also realized this did not take away from being an American, just in how far the controversies reached you inside seemed to be numbed a bit.  I know with the recent earthquake (again) – many Americans sounded off saying believe it or not, they’d risk going through another earthquake than another school shooting – it pains your heart to go through the yet again repeated cycle of a school shooting and today, opinions, stances, back and forth just kept a repeated, frustrated reaction to school shootings in the present news – BUT

the continual emphasis and pressure that young people – and the potential – to force change among politicians of all levels, from the highest to the lowest levels – are on the horizon as these students turning 18, will make a MAJOR impact in a new election.

Certainly a walk out of school in protest on a certain day is controversial, as two days of ideas and opinions brings the hazards of being ineligible to wanting chance, for the sake of a system that has been broken for years – what to do?  Remarkably, the youth of Florida have taken the reins and are organizing, across the whole country, using social media to impact a change with a March planned in Washington.

After just TWO days of so many possibilities being tossed back and forth on Facebook. solutions, and opinions, and sharing those examples with youth wanting to make a change, young people began to realize how out of hand this topic was and could be – and began to make connection to reinforce the need for a more widespread movement for change – youth initiated.

From the recent release 8 days before this Florida tragedy, (unbeknownst that 8 days later another school shooting would occur in Florida) by Rhiannon Navin,

What is rewarding is seeing youth being give the freedoms from parents that recognize, simply being is not enough.  Not questioning what can be, being still and compliant and not questioning better ways to improve this world can and is unacceptable. Empowering youth to create better methods, better ideas, and being more open-minded is the reality of who the United States always has been, and this is just one lone topic.  Can you imagine how many ready to turn 18 voters can make a difference?  World changing.  Along the way, adults begin to learn youth begin to help guide adults along this tangled path of open mindedness in making positive change, declining from the heated and hated themes of debate, and bring all views to the table for transparency -making change by being open-minded.  

Much exists to how parents can work hand in hand with youth in helping them mold a better, more hopeful and positive future.  HUGE KUDOS to the President (and I have not had many Kudos to hand out) for the opportunity for these very powerful youth to meet and do just that, transparency that can result in action after so many needless deaths already in the United States.  As David Hogg, one of the leading students asking for a change finally after no visible change over the last 2 years stated:

“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s “ Meet the Press.

It is exciting to have students find positive solutions to change.  Goodness knows the world needs it and the adults in politics have not found ways at all.  Adults across the country are willing to go to controversial rallies, vote, but not be visible enough in their individual communities to walk the walk and back up their talk.  Those that are, are so few, and with young people seeing themselves as vehicles for change, they in fact can make so much that is invisible (funding by rich businesses to rich politicians and lobbyists, I’ll rub your back and you rub mine for the bottom dollar, alot of political rhetoric that goes no where but blaming blaming blaming) – it is refreshing in this one instance for sure, how positive outcomes, transparent outcomes can result FINALLY.

I was well aware of “bring your child to work day.”  I am beginning to think once a week, children need to be brought to all legislative offices as an intern to be the true voices of their communities that those, with the threat of being voted out of office, will seriously consider the agenda items that bring the United States of America together, not agendas that cause division for the sake of retaining an office and salary.  it is very exciting to see the reasons for hope come from some very empowered, brave youth that do not hold back the fact that change is on the horizon.  Even when it comes amid the face of such tragedy.  Lets just hope the adults will learn from this lesson as well, and those adults that can in fact make a change amid the temptation of position, clout, and salaries.

I think a lesson exists here for so many educators, forms, paper, and the same old way of teaching students to pass their current grade is not enough – being able to provide all sides of an issue, all consequences of action, and MAKING EDUCATION CONNECTED TO THE REAL WORLD and not about jumping through piles of assignments without a realistic connection – or for the sake of passing a state/national test, that is not enough.  It does not prepare students of today for what awaits them.  Making every discipline’s focus tightly tied to elements of what awaits them in the real world? – This fights division, close mindedness, prejudice, bigotry, isolationism, insular focuses, and ready to pressure those that represent us to avoid the same pitfalls and truly become more like the name of this great country and what this country can be with all peoples, all countries, the UNITED States of America.  Excited to see youth create one of the most vital hands-on projects in the wake of such a heart breaking tragedy within the last week.

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Valentine’s Day is About Those That Moved us.

1553399_10152028546966003_9007594769221778873_oKeyshawn Purnell was one of the most soulful human beings I every found myself beside.  I have said it a few times and I will say it again – very few times in life do you come across someone that is willing to give their all and not ask for even the tiniest of gratitude back.  Keyshawn was one of those individuals indeed. 

When I moved back to Seaford, I unloaded my storage unit, I also came across a sealed case of shirts that were designed in memory of Keyshawn during a Memorial 5k we held for him.  This is one way I’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day – anyone that can add to the amazing legacy of kindness Keyshawn left behind – I ask you to contribute to this blog post what you remember most about what Keyshawn gave you, and others as you remember it.  His one legendary gift was to leap and stretch and run far beyond anyone’s expectations, and the same can be said of the way he gave those invisible gifts of kindness, without end.  Share your most favorite gift, in honor of Keyshawn and Valentine’s Day, and each shirt will go out to you in return, I can think of no better way to have those shirts represent what we always knew about Keyshawn, now and forever.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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