A talented colleague of mine from Mexico wrote the following:

“Had a profound, perspective changing evening yesterday. Those of you who tend to enjoy this type of introspective thought process (TJ Larum, Suzanne Grundyblum, Paula Roufs, Ellie Briana, Samantha Ayers and any others?), I would love to hear your thoughts and/or your five things.

These last two or so weeks, I have felt very “heavy,” for lack of a better way to describe it. I’m behind on tasks, I’ve missed appointments, nothing has seemed to go right, etc.

Yesterday, I was at an event with a choir I sing in and I mentioned this to a fellow member. He empathized with the statement and told me that I should try to think of 5 times (either in general or specific moments) when I have felt like I am either most proud of myself and/or being the best version of myself.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but I decided to start writing some down, which was a more difficult task than I had imagined. The result was a huge shift in perspective and a realization of what has, perhaps, been missing recently.

* When I have shown love without condition
* When I have listened without judgement
* When I have taken a risk even though I was afraid of what might come of it
* When I have actively seeked out being a friend to someone else without expectations
* When I am able to stay on top of necessary, yet sometimes mundane tasks (laundry, grading, dishes, etc.)

Thoughts? What are your five?”


The wording of his post just made me stop and realize how many of us do NOT stop to reflect on such things, and that is necessary for us to have a even more meaningful life, taking time to do things that connect our heart to our brain through reflecting. These are my five:

  • Seeing what people point out things they say I that sacrifice  too much, be it a portion of my day, week, month or year to send someone into the world; knowing who is better than me and sending them into the world to make the change against negativity and ugliness, when it comes to how people treat each other verbally and physically. I have been given the privilege of interacting with individuals and hopefully letting them know, in their darkest hour, they have the power to change everything for the better.  They changed mine. That is worth anything more than I could want in my own life. They make me better as a person by having the privilege of sharing the short time together.
  • Knowing I have received one of the best gifts ever from my parents and family before them.  A will to push through with even more vigor, energy, and channel any frustration and anger into producing even more opportunities.  Someone may run faster than me, may outperform me in the NOW, but I know I have a limitless poll of want that can outsupply anyone around me, an energy that is fueled by the motivation of those around me (colleagues, students, family, friends).  It is what keeps me going long after everyone else. It is my strength in my strongest and weakest hours.
  • The ability to see what everyone else does and says and thinks, and wanting to do something unlike anyone else.  That striving for finding something that does not exist keeps me hungry for always evolving, and wanting the same in those that are around me.  This insures that life will never be mundane and average, unless I want it to be.  Knowing we each possess a creativity that exceeds our capability, if we choose to tap into it.
  • The ability to come back to something, often when others think it is too far gone to recover to do, and always coming back to something and wanting to finish.  I do allow my to-do inventory to fill up higher than the Tower of Babel, but I have a determination to never let the end product go.
  • To be trusted to be confided in, approached, befriended, and allowed the opportunity to share my life in hopes of trusting to improve someone else’s.  That is a level of trust there are no definitions for.

I will tell you Rob, one of the toughest decisions I had to make was leaving a discovery I made when I thought I had my life planned out in front of me.  Then Mexico popped up. I realized in 6 years how crucial it is to see life through other’s eyes than your own.  Mexico taught me all over what family, friends, loyalty, and respect is when it comes to those around you, and those around me, turned out to be another were country and see in first hand instead of through a lens that was put in front of my eyes in the U.S..This was perhaps one of the GREATEST gifts many will never experience, how lucky are we?

Leaving Mexico in the summer and not saying so much to so many around me was – I just can’t tell you how hard. After carrying a large depression with me in a cold cold winter stuck inside after having left that behind me, what kept me up was the gifts given me in those 6 years in Mexico, everyone I ever met carried me through that rough rough transition period back.  I also realized, the amazing things I learned could and would be lost on those that could receive even more benefit from if I hoarded these gifts in Mexico and did not bring them back to those that never had the chance to know what I had learned, or see the new life I had from what Mexico gave me in six years.

The sometimes hardest thing to realize is how I carry what I learned with me every single day.  There is a lot of ugliness of words, actions and thoughts among people that are different than each other. I learned that as an individual, I do not have to live quietly with those stereotypes places on people who truly do not know, because they have never experienced anything except what they have always known.  That was me.  And now, I am viewing the state I left in different eyes, given the opportunity to model and teach what and how things are so different than the majority sometimes tries to convince you of, and now, have an  even larger body of family from my time in Mexico. 

Giving yourself time can be bad sometimes because dread can creep in, true.  But coming back to these five things as you so importantly brought up today – will keep you coming back to the table and reinventing yourself thanks to the people that helped reinvent you along the way.


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Working for Living…

Taxes came back today – that was the fastest I ever received a return – Spring 2019 semester paid off, some bills paid off, next paycheck will jump ahead to getting my storage out of storage from Mexico and finally, each month will be about saving a little more than I did from the previous paycheck…
I can’t tell you how many cans of tuna, slices of PB & J, learning how to get 2 weeks of gas back and forth from school with my SUV, getting by on 80.00 of groceries for 2 1/2 weeks, all the while putting in over 50 hours a weeks at school – school loan debt is ridiculous and when you do not qualify for discounts despite working sometimes 2 – 3 jobs, financially starving for months to get ahead, and picking up jobs like judging for Columbia, tutoring, working all summer JUST to get BY – and to be able to do this from going to college – there definitely needs to be a fix for people that are earnest and work around the clock and still are pushed down down down every time they turn around. 
I hope in the next say, 9 years, politicians and leaders will find someone that can look through the eyes of a student when making decisions instead of looking through the eyes of someone that can’t see because so much money is already there in their pockets. 
Thanks to my cousins, Aunt and Uncle, and friends
and especially my friends in Mexico who made me realize how strong I am- making me stronger than I thought I was before leaving for Mexico…
who stood beside me and encouraged me when I would not go out for WEEKS trying to save it all to just make my school loan payment.  It has taken me  three Master’s Degrees (third one started now), tons of double duty jobs to get to a level where I can even have a chance to help my family, pay my school loan, and the rest of the bills after. 
It is amazing to finally see a point where I now can budget and have enough $ left over to SAVE – and thank goodness I am only 46 – amazing.  MANY many needs for better programs to support those willing to put the time in and work – but there has to be better incentives for those willing to do so.  Not everyone is a go to college degree individual and that opportunity needs to be available to EVERYONE wanting to pursue a career they are good at, are trained in, and ENJOY, else sticking in a position for 30+ years is just a waiting game and not having your heart in it. 
I still remember the countless days I would be out, on paper routes, mowing lawns all summer, picking weeds out of cracks of sidewalks from the pickiest customers of landscaping, working the PA Turnpike, sometimes a double shift, juggling the job at Friedman’s and the lawn business on the side – and wondered – this working 24/7 around the clock JUST SUCKS! lol but even at the end of those days, I realized how little some people appreciated the “things” they received, the money they were often given, and the way they treated others because of it, and I realized, I am a better person because of the work ethic I had to grow into and grow up it. 
Heck, I am more than thankful for that way of growing up today.  
As a teacher, I want to see better opportunities for young (and some not so young) colleagues of mine to go on and have the memories, the travel, the friends from all over the world and be able to separate themselves from the often ridiculous hurdles put in their way to simply want to TEACH. NOT to fill out forms, not to be in debt for the rest of their lives, but to be as much as a celebrity (since they help most of the celebrities get where they are) and have the constant sacrifices they put in day in, day out, night in, night out, for years on end to make other’s lives better. 
There is much light at the end of the tunnels of work – but those of us that can, need to demand for a better for us that are talented enough to prepare so many future generations for…the future.
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Heavy Weight in the Stacks We Choose…

Hour 33, Day Two of 24in48… and what does 24in48 reading marathon mean so far?

For sure despite wanting to roll through a stack of books, I had to find a way to remain connected to 24in48 without accomplishing a stack of finishers, BUT I am planning on making progress with some picks I did start and I WILL FINISH ONE!  Books I love that I have started – A Few Red Drops – The Chicago Race Riot non-fiction by Claire Hartfield – is AMAZING and a read everyone should delve into.  I think it amazing to find out from various authors – via historical perspective, of cites we come to know as tourists.  It is scary how many relative incidents can be pulled out and pointed to, today as well and contemplated amidst events in the last 2 years or so as well.

Secondly – The Journey Home – My Life in Pinstripes by Jorge Posada was a book I would not go out and get myself (those are the best gifts!) and yet it is an account of how a family life and lessons learned shaped his life playing in New York; sometimes you get a book not well written by an athlete and this one DEFINITELY is –wow.  Success marked his personal and professional life for many deep seeded values he was instilled with.

Lastly, I made a vow to dive into books that I know nothing about and answer – or try to find out- why are they in our high school library? – if not obvious.  The Wheel on the School addresses these points made – “…We can’t think much when we don’t know much! From now until tomorrow morning when you come to school again, will you do that?  Will you wonder why and wonder why?”…all centered about why storks stopped coming to a village of Shora in Holland.  Taking place in Holland, this novel by Meindert DeJong to me, seems to be a hidden treasure that while geared towards children, has a more important message to adults and all individuals, that they need to stop and wonder why and then try to work together to make something happen that would be good for the world around them – this simple, elementary approach to the story carries a much heavier Adult theme if readers take time to view it that way, which today applies to preserving on the verge of extinction animals, wildlife, issues of food and water shortages, preserving our climate in the midst of recycling, waste, and ecosystem issues, political, social, historical divides and quarrels, and about 100 other issues that COULD be solved if we agreed that we disagree, but our biggest goal is to solve for our generation and for future generations.

Yes, I am not content that I have not started and will finish with a stack of 20 books this 24in48 episode, but am thankful for other reasons for this January 2019’s 24in48!

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The “Little Things” Have Something Bigger to Say

Blogs are amazing. I mean, take the chance to check in, write what you seem, experience, and realize – record it in time, and then when you come back to years later, you can revisit that moment and recollect where you are at this moment in time, pretty priceless.

Whirlwind weekend speaking of reflecting, but without going into details that ruin the chance for a future conversation starter – in one day I jumped right into the 24in48 hours reading marathon, trekked to Takoma Park, Maryland, with cousins in tow we headed to Cumberland, MD to grab a Penske rental, a little further in La Valle, MD, grabbing a pics 1.PNGpreserved marlin, a couch, an amazing historical story battleship in glass case, thanks to dear friends of my cousins, trekked back to Takoma Park, MD, unloaded, truck, reloaded truck, headed back to Delaware, unloaded tons of “fill in the house” items, and jump back on the 24in48 reading marathon and found it WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!! 

hour 24 2.PNG

LOL – I was thinking…what the……*&$*()~#!#!+@)~  LOLLLL

What others consider little things, but what you as a person desire and consider huge is priceless….for me, I never had time to sit down and write, and reflect, etc – and one of the largest things Mexico ever taught me was to take time out to do that, take time to read, write, reflect and do the things personally, that add a complete picture to your life.  Those kind of lessons are priceless.  

National Novel Writing Month and participating and see your name and an excerpt of what you wrote announced on a live YouTube sit in that people watch because they love to write, winning during the 18th hour of 24in48 reading marathon, finding out you get to participate in the Delaware Association for School Libraries, helping lead community events that people like coming to, participating in, etc these are not Emmy award winning events and yet, they often are felt more inside at the heart that the big time showlight events we see on tv, because they mean something more inside to us – that is the key.

Notoriety for the sake of being noticed is temporary, but being noticed by yourself for the very things you intrinsically find valuable, taking the time to find and search out those very things you find valuable…a better life awaits as a result.

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Still Clamoring in the Room of Requirement…

Going back to school – after a vacation – let me tell you- harder than most think.  I think I found the key to getting past that feeling of dread.  It worked today heading back to work after a well-needed Christmas break.  Setting up a 12:00 – 7:30 PM 20lb frozen turkey turkey for the after- Christmas, Christmas party – it made the whole aura of returning – well amazing, easier, and actually something to look forward to  – not necessarily LAST NIGHT during the cooking and this morning with loading the vehicle and unloading vehicle before anyone was at school but then…it just unfolded into the Necessary Room of Requirement…



…not the same as Harry Potter, but magical just the same.  The smell of food, the exchange of presents, the food, the time to simply sit down and stuff ourselves and be able to celebrate each other in the library.  I wanted to be no other place with none other than the students coming back from holiday thanking I am around them – .this american life and in that place – it was the best way to start 2019. It felt more right that I thought it would be.

Which brings me to these three acts of This American Life – not endearing to me because they have to do with libraries, but the stories they tell about the people within them.

“Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.

  I could say more, but nothing more needs to be said if you listen to these three stories, I still am wanting to listen all over again.  So much to say about these three stories and SO GLAD someone spent the time to do this segment, and let these stories speak to you.  Find a quiet place, and play this episode,

and let these dreams, memories, and recollections surround you and celebrate the moments they churn up in your mind as well 🙂

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What You See/Expect is Not All That There is to See/Expect

Shriner’s Hospital.  I was struck by the latest commercial – this is a great one:

and this came to hit home this past year.   I was lucky enough to witness the many many opportunities that Shriner’s Hospital offer as a chaperone for the Upward Bound program this summer – and Shriner’s showed the opportunities in careers for those graduating in the culinary field, medical field, X Ray field and more, aside from the magic that is worked in the carpentry and mechanical shop that design cool and trendy tools that help children walk, reach and more.  Aside from what I knew Shriner’s was known for – in helping so many individuals, children and adults alike.  Add to this repertoire the nurses we talked with and why they chose to work at Shriner’s versus a higher paid position at a comparable medical facility, but they in fact did get to travel abroad to share care to other countries as well, not just isolating the good work they are a part of in the Shriner’s Hospital alone – in this case Philadelphia.

Yet, the biggest surprise was to come – when I encountered a group called FIERCE.  I was intrigued that this program targeted young women and opened them up to the information that they need in today’s age – what they are capable of as women challenged in many various areas, as well as health, physical, and social – it sounded pretty awesome.

Over the next few weeks, I tossed the idea and despite the program being within a fifteen mile radius of the Philadelphia area, and not receiving the grant I wanted to facilitate the choice of bringing them outside that circle I wrote to the Shriner’s.  Thank yo Mark Bulson – he facilitated the go ahead. Thanks to Ms. Kotowski, she laid the plans to happen with out administrator Mr. Chase and Ms. Thompson.  Thanks to our Bay Health staff (Andrea Smith, Suzanne Chafin, Joanna White) nurse Dawn Ellis who had personal experience with BayHealth, our Technical crew members, our PE Trainer Chona Carmen, the WHS coaches, WHS teachers, a GREAT cafeteria staff, led by Terri Hartzell, and that was just the tip of what happened.  We managed to get this elite team of experts to WHS to visit:

Dr. Corinna Franklin, Dr. Bethany Lipa, Dr. Heather Russel, Melissa Cramer – Physician Assistant, Courtney Mullen – Physical Therapist, Mike Szymendera – Dietician

and the thought to involve local, within the area sources of help to compliment these services also hit me, and thank goodness, thanks to the help of Greenwood Librarian Donna Carter, La Red CAME to the school December 6th as well! and thanks to 

Gaby Perez, Lorina Sellers, Pamela White, Juanita Morales, Brian Rodriguez

from La Red- let me just tell you briefly and this says it all.  Several students asked to speak with the counselor Brian Rodriguez about various issues related to social/personal needs and broke down in tears needing to hear from even more support teams how and what they need to do to cope.  It was amazing to see how the call for help being provided from new faces could indeed reach them and direct them to the resources we do have in school already, and allowing these students to hear from a different voice, what they need to do (often this is all it takes, a fresh message and face to realize that is around them that can help!) – in fact – that was what was happening to me in seeing the impact of the FIERCE team and La Red together this day!

Also add to the day a senior was able to enhance their senior research project by interviewing one of the attending surgeons from Shriner’s, and the fact that a roomful of young ladies received a lot of info and accessories that opened their awareness of how strong and power they hold with the right proper health and view, a positive one of how THEY Themselves can hold themselves to a higher standard, and not relying on others alone to do that.

What would have happened if this would not have happened? One of the most powerful impacts of this visit was the way students views the individuals that work at the High School ; students were able to see the talents that instructors, coaches, nurses, Health professionals all serve in AND out of the classroom in providing resources that not only affect their academic needs, but their social, personal, and mental states to be as healthy as possible. Seeing such a need, and connecting our school with community resources that many do not realize exist, is part of the overall educating process. Putting out students in touch with these resources in one of many steps towards seeing what is not known or expected and being able to do so more in the future.  We were so lucky and privileged to have Shriner’s FIERCE team and La Red to be on hand to also show that to so many in need as well.

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Resolutions of Opportunity & Impact- What Changes Everything.

A year in perspective, many changes and ups and downs for all of us.  In seeing myself relocated a lot of changes in a new school district for the first time, and in the states when that was not at all in the long-term plan (so much of that walks alongside the whole resolution plan made by so many in the new year!) – I realized so much is not checked personally, not examined and evaluated accurately unless a situation forces you to look within.  Sure, we all try to make resolutions that will somehow make our lives better in the new year.  Yet…

… I have discovered the best resolutions that appeared throughout 2018 were from the movements I continued to try and improve elements of my community, that being the community of school, town, county, state.  I was extremely lucky to be surrounded by colleagues, friends, and professionals in Mexico City that helped me want to create, develop, implement ideas I never even had existed or could become reality.  They came to reality due to the ability, energy, and belief that “new” could mean meaningful in the actions we do and how we apply ourselves to develop something new, to improve the community around us.

Bringing back the ability, energy, and belief that I witnessed by so many around me, and applying it to opportunities that did not yet exist but could emerge, it motivated me to see how much a community can grow, morph, and change if you have the commitment and belief of those around you.  Prior to moving back to the states after 6 years, the tumultuous events to make that happen, and that did happen, so much.  From politics, to changes in public school legislation, personal changes, financial changes, and so much more, it was a daunting change – but one important lesson kept revealing itself.

No matter the hits/hurdles/ setbacks that increased on a personal level, repeatedly sometimes and back to back (I know you know what I am talking about), the increasing opportunities that occurred in my professional world made me wonder when the former would catch up with the latter.  It was depressing at times and I often found myself depressed and my first cold, winter and inside dealing with these issues didn’t help.  I also realized the amazing experiences I had in Mexico due to amazing people, the amazing family and friends and colleagues I had surround me BEFORE I left Mexico, I was fully equipped to hang on through the toughest of times, I had in the past, thanks to the friends, family, and colleagues (yes, at some point students had become my colleagues as well) to weather through those and soon both would catch up to each other.

I had not run in a race since I left the states, I had gained weight others could not see in the first year I returned, and felt awful due to the extra weight, lack of exercise I was not getting and had in Mexico, and it had also affected me mentally.  Add to that being behind the odds due to a blown engine, a new house and adjusting to countless costs of renting a vehicle, new home, extra costs hidden into getting back on track (there is a whole set of nuances being in the states when out of the country from so long, cultural and financial). Yet, there was one MAJOR realization along the way.

Despite the thought that those above us dictate the direction of the future, this year we have seen this vein of thought come through the channels of politics and the Me Too Movement, what REALLY is true is change that does not matter if individuals have the heart to make a change and every time, individuals can make the positive change that can override the majority.  Positive wins over negative every time.  The majority thought is superiority wins over everything.  Not so.  If that was the case I would not even have half of the accomplishments I have seen, thanks to those around me that motivated me.

I am the type of person that the more I get pushed back, the more negativity, I need top call it a day after so much, but after a short recovery period, I am just PLAIN angry.  I channel that frustration into creating new events, plans, ideas and implement even more than I am usually capable of.  I fuel my anger into projects and to do’s.  Luckily, I have those around me that support that plan, and they believe the impossible can be made possible.

The world, the  country, ours and others, education, community, and ourselves can be changed for the better and can roll over any authority that bangs back and tries to rule the day with negativity, pushback and detrimental methods.  Patience. and faith.

I look forward to these realizations and “move-forwards” to make the past two years part of a new year full of moving forward.  Thanks to brand new students to a high school in 9th grade, they ran for the first time on a XC team that made me run, and in turn, shed pounds and gained endurance that I had not had in seven years.  The XC team did that for me, as well as an inspiration coach that took the challenge to bring XC back to the school district.  That was one isolated example.

I had family that supported my move back in the way of furniture, moving things in, moving things out, dealing with transportation needs when my truck was down and out, support from students, friends, colleagues from Mexico, from Delaware before I moved away, and with teams like the above – anyone that is considered ‘above” you in position or authority that you feel can make your energy and ideas moot, the key is pushing that aside.  I was doubly lucky to have schoiol adminstrators that bought into positive changes, creative ideas, and rventuring into the new – and we were off to the races in my school district.  This sounds strange, but my dog and cat rescues from Mexico, always weathered anything that would often cause crazy behaviors in the short time that they occurred in 2 years, and all they wanted through all that is to be with me and people, they rolled with every change.  I felt I needed to take their lead and do the same.

I witnessed and witness state legislation that nixes the national level decisions that can cripple environment, politics, international relations, and more, showing, INDIVIDUALS MATTER.  You have to believe your energy, your possibility, your moment matters but you also need to gather those around you that believe your dream, and that one dream, goes from YOUR dream to OUR dream.  That changes everything.

I owe everything I achieve to those that continue to believe in the dreams I have and make them reality – pushing through obstacles that come our way, some thrown in our path and some that fall in our path. I could not shake the last Northern Male Rhino in existence to die.  I realized how far we have to go to preserve that which cannot be replaced by items like money, greed, authority, wealth, position cannot replace.  I remember being a young boy in the Carnegie Museum looking at stuffed versions of the Dodo Bird, and wished I could have seen that in real-time.  Not a preserved version.  I want that for our world, the world to be preserved and positive steps forward that preserve the beauty that is possible, not the monetary first and foremost.  Each of us have that power, voice to make a positive change to all around us rather than lament the hits that inevitably, will keep coming.

I look forward to a 2019 that realizes these realizations, (yes I did that) and use the past two years to blend with the accomplishments possible in a 2019. Not to put away the past year or two, but to use it to advanatges for all of us.  We are more important than the common thought that there is nothing more we can do – our communities, world, relationships with each other are more important. 

Let’s do this.



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Twelve Hours in a Bookstore, Pages Turning…

The last two days were exactly that, 10:00AM – 10:00PM on hand wrapping gifts and filling time when that did not occur.  Sunday, completely different looking day.  Arriving at 10:00 AM, and by 11:00 AM, I was surrounded by gifts needing wrapping, a line of individuals waiting to have gifts wrapped and wondering WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED since LAST NIGHT? The next time I looked down at my watch, 1:L17 PM – Seriously, how can that happen?  

In the course of those four hours that truly disappeared, I had met Darlene and Bob Jones, a retired husband and wife that were so easy to talk to and get to know them quite well.  It was a pleasure wrapping their mountain of gifts with the good conversation that was to be had.  It was great to just have a conversation about their grandson, their life in retirement, and just aspects in general.  I guess wrapping gifts paves the way for that.

A second man that worked for the Post Office, chatted with me as I wrapped his gifts and we discussed the misconceptions regarding that occupation versus the reality.   I relayed my holiday break experience at one time when I was in Edinboro realizing the seasonal position I maintained at UPS while studying school and in awe of how the misconception of what a job entails and the reality clash.  He stated, “When I have the job that people think I have, then I will let them know!” and we chuckled much.

Before you knew it, 2:00 PM came through, and my relief came and even though I felt so much better than yesterday’s relief time (Thank you Jady and Sydney!) – it still felt amazing to be able to get a change of scenery.  I do have to spend some time explaining how successful we have been this year as a Junior class due to the motivations of the students themselves.  As in any group, you always try to measure and outweigh the individuals that are there for the minimum,  versus the individuals that should not get burned out and be motivated to keep moving the group forward.  Indya and Jasmine are two of those individuals.  I remember last year a slew of events that barely were pulled off and we had some reliable members as well thank goodness in the resources of Rachel who really came through, and we were lucky enough to have a great collaboration with the then freshmen class to simply make things happen.

Indya and Jasmine continue to come to the table and expect others around them to do the same based on their commitment to move the Class of 2020 forward, and that is exactly what it takes.  Their commitment to planning at meetings in the morning that are way to early to think about anything, their follow through with fundraisers that continue to bring in at times hundreds, even thousands, make an impact overall of where the group will be headed.  At Apple Scrapple, had it not been for Rachel and family, Indya, Anthony, and Jasmine, we would not even be halfway where we are now, not even close.  It showed so much selflessness to come in on a day that was so close to holidays, allow me to see a portion of a football game I would obviously due to the long day, and return refreshed and able to do the best I possibly could.  Extra duties we do while being a guest at the store, straightening the magazine racks, directing customers to the correct area, wishing people happy holidays as they entered, and more left a great feeling 20181223_174824 (1)working with a company that in turn supports us every year.  Yet, without the energy and willingness to push forward when you have an off day (Saturday), when you have team players like Indya and Jasmine, it is priceless to see them be able to turn the group around at the turn of a dime based on their ability, motivation, and optimism. Certainly it makes the long hours in as well as the road to what the future holds a little bit brighter to see, their involvement just in one day in a span of hours brought the Class of 2020 on track to rebound from one bad dad, to an amazing one.  What matters in the success of any group, is the willingness of a group to contribute a little at a time and all combined, one huge masterpiece.  

While on my break, even more conversations that tied ourselves to individuals occurred.  While sitting down for lunch, a couple beside me began a conversation with how their ties to graduating from the former high school in Bridgeville, and the antics that he put on while a student at the high school.  During the lunch, we visited connections that did not contain itself to just Woodbridge.  We discussed a sad event to a young lady from Seaford that is remembered by a concrete bench at the Seaford High School, a sad event that tied a tragedy to a very sad event, and I just marveled.  Marveled at the connections that go beyond the borders of specific school districts within one state, and go to the very people that make the borders of one state.  it is such a shame during the holidays to not peel through the layers of meeting people on the pretense of shopping and make it to the layers that reveals stories, connections, and relationships you discover that do indeed go beyond the surface.  We are very lucky in the state of Delaware to have this open door open to us and the offer and opportunity just needs to be taken to full realize these experiences, and enrich the life you can and do find along the eastern shore.  I found it amazing how many times I found this myself, being in Salisbury and meeting so many individuals that connected to Woodbridge almost 40 minutes away, but yet individuals all day that were right along each of us where we lived. 

Again, I met a sprinkling of information and ties to Woodbridge in the remaining time until 10:00 PM.  It was a crazy length of time to put in right before the holidays, hard to get there and a long trek, and a long day to sidle with over twelve hours each day.  I did still realize working each day the information and conversations we had during those two days of conversation while wrapping gifts, creating wreaths, and straightening /helping those around us, it was worth it.  Hard to image this from the beginning, and jumping right in did have its priceless benefits at the end of the experience.  The trick is find those individuals and involve them, that can also bring you along to the trek and that have the foresight of where you can go, not being there yet!


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Spiriting the Unexpected Spirit.

Two days until Christmas, (yesterday), so now one less,  unreal. I did some things right this year, I thought, as I thought as I drove to an obligation I was committed to, today, for my Junior class.  The day well actually started really bleah, 20 minutes late and no sign indicating we would be on location today, a tiny table with two seats, and it just felt like it was going to be not the productive day I hoped for. 

I improvised in making a nice display for our donation box to hold the different styles of wrapping paper to be offered, as well as a homemade sign stating who would be the group today offering wrapping as a service. 

The oddest thing happened though, despite setting up a yearbook displaying out school, and with the sign stating our school was giving the wrapping service today, people glanced over, some reading the sign, some not, and the look they gave was not disgust, but felt like it was due to so many looks that seemed to say, “You’re in the way, why are you here?”  Hard to explain, but that is exactly the feelings and looks sent over to me were feeling after about 2-3 hours the same thing, looks that were just downright make you feel bad.  There was the occasional browse through the yearbook of Woodbridge but with the obliviousness that we were there to gather donations as a measure of our success of being there at all – and of course the seconds, to minutes, to hours CRAWLED.

That fact in itself made me feel bad.  I did the only thing I could think of, I wanted to create a distraction.  I brought in the frame to construct book wreaths, and simply started making them right there.  I thought if I am going to be there / (here!) from open to close, I was going to work constructively.  Needless to say, the work progressed.  The most amazing thing occurred. Pages came out and began to turn themselves into book wreaths.

Individuals came over like moths to a flame.  I had more conversations about what I was doing, where I learned this from, had I seen this at Longwood Gardens, and over five more hours of conversations, looks that were not disdainful, intimidating, and more smiles than I had received the first half of the day.  Two and a half wreaths later, many many conversations later, and people in the store all knowing who I was, what I was doing there, and what I was doing, the realization dawned on me. The assessment I had been using as successful for the day, money, the only assessment I was providing, did not include assessments that interested others that would pull them in. 


How many times have me done this in and out of the classroom? 

I always provided myself as being an educator and not just a teacher, trying to tip into  into realms of the unknown and creative, and here I was educating people on what I was doing, without having to teach them how to do it – and it worked.  It worked so well, that we received $5.00 donation for an 11 hour day.  That is a little depressing when you look at the stats on that one, hours versus receipt, yet, what you can not measure is the number of people that actually interacted with us, associated Woodbridge High with something creative, social, and interactive, worth more than $500.00 for the day.

What powered to the front and center was the fact that meeting halfway, more than halfway to create assessments, create assessments, create a way to evaluate that is not often a preferred method, yet achieves another objective that is more powerful in a variety of other ways.  Take this story into consideration that the week before, our students were live and active among hundreds of individuals in the very same store and a HUGE success thanks to those online and those that came into the store that used our vouchers to contribute to our WHS school – a huge success. We are waiting on the exact numbers but even without exact numbers, we were congratulated by the one supervising manager that acknowledged that many schools just plop down papers and site there, and expect goodness to come to them.  I realized I did the same with the wreaths yesterday, and resorted to a way to better bring individuals to me for conversation and interest, a characteristic much more powerful than a monetary amount attributes success to.

The connections to education, to success in life, how you view when life serves you sour grapes and really not sour grapes as well but a serving much different than expected, but not a failure or a negative result at all.  What was humorous was as I was sometimes needing a break and walked around the store, I found the Librarian Media Specialist in me straightening items in disarray from the public, looking for lost and misplaced items and replacing them back in their order, and thinking I know the location of some of the items even more then the employees I feel at this point.  I am sure the clerks who might have seen this occur thing I am ADD and need to be there to fill out the need to put things back in an order.

Overall, I still have strides and plateaus to encounter and deal with in returning to the states following six years in another country.  That shocks me much, and I find myself wanting to discover my own meaning in corners of a country I was born into, and yet still finding difficulty having to find the meaning within me as I interpret so much around myself within my control as well as that not part of my control.  The similarities of myself with students and their needs to have an individual reach beyond the familiar ways to assess that are comfortable, and move to those methods that are often uncomfortable that make others comfortable STILL, after all these years is a learning process after all these years.  I am grateful for the students that buy into the alternative to create a successful path forward.  Realizations as this are perhaps the best gifts one can receive on a holiday, and having the opportunity to do so.

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Assembling the Ensemble of Art

48263106_10155847503401003_720369550020837376_oCertainly if you did not notice the number of posts, that even five, six, or seven is not enough to acknowledge the details that you really, truly, could walk away with and from, if you paid close enough attention to. I have realized this years later, in coming back to art I would see in museums in Mexico and a voice saying, ‘Why not go back?  Check out if you might have missed something just for the fun of it” and sure enough, there always is more.  

That was so satisfying with WHS’s production of Annie, there was always more worth going back for and more that escaped the first witness.  In looking at the star packed Ensemble, you might not have heard in the last few posts mention of Billy E. – but have NO FEAR!  There was plenty to remark on with these two characters –

 Asst. dog Catcher – Billy E. – Let me tell you, you would not want anyone else to play the Dog Catcher and Asst. Dog Catcher EXCEPT for Kaleb and Billy.  These two are characters of emotion and expression in their own right – and as low key as Billy might seem to be, his humor and quirky reactions are priceless.  First he is a dog catcher, then personifying Santa Claus, then a Marine (fitting) and amid the changes of all the scenes – amid helping every single person and many assistance moments needed with moving props on and off, and supporting the presence of Amaya and making her feel part of the cast – Billy’s role was a welcome site each night.  It was enlightening to see his concern with the details of his costumes every time he began to approach the stage and sure enough, the care he did pay to details made their way to every moment he added to Annie each night of practice and performance.

When you add all this amazing level of independence, interdependence, elevation of the themes of respect, charity, hope, discovery, perseverance, to name some of the many themes there for the taking, anyone that has been part of a stage crew or technical crew knows, the tech is the mech that keeps it all going.  Mid South Audio was supportive and solid, and you knew the show would go on thanks to their influence.  Tammy Williamson insuring the best would always be in the spotlight, Carson Williamson and Alonzo Dixon supporting the characters and Tammy’s lead, Tori Szabo-Block, Jaycie Kerrick, all making sure backstage activities happen and facilitate the great show everyone witnessed, Josh Dickson and Darren Todd insuring an Annie set was created from the very beginning along with Macree Workman, the solid advice and building design advice from Craig Malloy, the solid support from day one from Sharon Workman, Slaye Workman, Butch Lord, Dawn Lord, and you KNOW you have to say, the pit and talents of the Annie Musicians:

Stacey Hartman, Terry Stewart, Kevin van Syckle, Derek Dillman, Jillian Laasko, Erica Stine, Arthur Henry, Kaitlyn Gretencord, and Joshua Getka, yes.  Absolutely yes, witrh the music that was able to time itself with the emotions and themes that needed to reach the audience, and you have a production NOT AFRAID to reach above the stage and into the audience on many levels.

As if you needed to know, the direction, advice, suggestions, and expertise of Jolene Workman and Danielle Jones? – There are words you can often give to guide the right emotions, lines, vocal directives and more, that is needed but certainly the WAY those all comes across end in the results you receive.  The analogies, the awesome ways that these two motivate the cast and total crew before, during, AND AFTER – there is a reason why there is magic on and off the stage, and nothing more needs to be said when you see that magic that occurs from beginning, during, and after.

annie 1.JPGThere was one final test that was sure fire the minute I walked among the cast.  The sense that humans have yet to master as much as the canine.  the second my canines came amidst this cast, Wriggley, Dane, (Who can forget Dane’s walk on and YES I am IT runway stint?!) and Amaya, they did not want to leave.  They were a little shy which is always their case but without hesitation, all three canines and the rest of the practices Amaya, knew miles away when she was getting close and after a few days needed to be around the cast.  Her sense of what was happening before, during, and on the set was DOG GONE right ON – and the way the cast welcomed her into the middle of all the action – it was pure magic.  Believe it or not, there is MUCH more to say about WHS’s Annie production, and most will simply have to be content that the cast of Annie was able to bring the true emotions and feelings of the holiday to so many individuals.  That becomes the true magic of the gifts Annie gave to everyone. 




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