Dakota’s Way – and No Other Way.

Rudy’s.  Having become a stop in Delaware that did not exist when I left for Mexico – the appearance of Rudy’s when I returned, it just matches the glimpses of humanity I was lucky enough to experience while in Mexico. What does Rudy’s Family Diner have to do with glimpses of humanity?  I am so glad you asked.

Years ago when I visited Rudy’s while still living in Mexico, and visiting the states, somewhere around 2015 or so, when visiting in Rudy’s, a then newly found restaurant, presented itself when I interviewed Angel,  Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 9.10.44 PMan amazing hostess that went into the beginning steps of how Rudy’s came to be.

Here we are in 2018 – and our host, Dakota, with my cousins – came across Dakota’s story.  His tale of being over 405 pounds two years ago, and standing in front of us at no more than 250 pounds, his story was profound.

“Always being the biggest person in the room, I decided to turn the bullying I received into a more positive spin, I became the happy bi guy in the room who was everyone’s friends.”  As I heard Dakota mention several times how he used the term bullying several times without being aware of it in the next few sentences, I thought of the hardship he faced and worked through when that occurred, striving to push that hurt down to the surface and be positive and friendly towards others in the midst of this emotional encounter over and over.

Dakota then went on to express how after two years, his doctor, who he avoided during this two year period where he lost over 200 pounds ON HOW OWN, no plans, no programs, no medicines, allowed him to present himself to his doctor who did not RECOGNIZE HIM. Either did his friends who remembered him as the biggest guy in the room, and then I pondered how he felt at that point.

His story (which is history)  just hit me in the middle of my consciousness. He told me of his uncle’s death at just under 39 years of age and he realized he was looking into his own death being 400+ pounds.  He relayed his story of how he just decided the painful 3 months of pain in eliminating soda, the 7 main meals he’s consume a day, AND HE WORKED in Dunkin’ Donuts across of what is now Rudy’s Diner AND a restaurant while doing this. Line cooks he worked with began cooking foods that would help him travel this journey, and EVERYONE he worked with began to pull him into a circle of support that 200 pounds later, with so many days and nights that HAD to be more than painful, turned into this grand slam payday we were talking about this very day.

His explanation about a bag of marbles in one hand, a bag in the other with glue all through the marbles.  He told me when you turn the bag of marbles with glue upside down, how everything just STICKS, he relayed the analogy to starches and carbs that he had been consuming, and then his journey to change his life so he could find those items that would not “stick” inside as the carbs and starches.  As simple an analogy that sounds nothing matches the passion that accompanied his eyes as he told this so very amazing story of Dakota’s.  He went on to talk about how the muscle mass he lost in record waves was the downside to the positive side of the amazing amount of weight he lost.  He then went on to tell us how he changed his diet so he only gained one pound while eating the foods that would restore his muscle in the high percentages with stripping out the fat and replacing the former lost muscle.

To hear Dakota’s story, you begin to think WHO HAS THE STRENGTH TO GO THROUGH SUCH A JOURNEY, day after day after day and survive this?  I then realized the hurt that Dakota must have felt while being designated the biggest funny guy in the room; the complete heart he has always had that has fueled his determination, passion, and soul that pushed Dakota not retain a revengeful heart years later, to be absolutely 100% positive to the very people that could have (and I am sure in some cases hurt him) inside, a person they did not see except as being the biggest man in the room.  His amazing journey of kindness in the midst of hatred, his amazing journey of hope when surrounded by despair, his amazing courage in the face of defeat – it just hit us sitting there in the middle of what we thought would be a pretty average lunch – which turned into being one of the most inspiring moments I can recall – yet connected to inspiring athletes I wish I had the words to pass on to from a Cross Country meet I referred to in the previous post.  All at Rudy’s Family Restaurant.  Make sure you let Dakota know when you are at Rudy’s  how resonating his journey, with the support of so many kind souls around him, is to so many others.   The right comments about others can be just as viral as the negative and that facts changes everything for those around us.

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Happy Trails to You…

Very – VERY proud of the young ladies and men on the Woodbridge High XC team – amid a invitational that hosts some of the best in the Delaware state, our runners ALL finished, even with alot of unplanned delays in the starts sometimes, enthusiasm. commitment, endurance – hilarity in the mix, and a beautiful backdrop for it all? – great to have one but you don’t see many that get a chance to experience it all.

We have many many areas for improvement and many many memories already to look back in a very young team – and we have MUCH to be thankful for. Thank you to the amazingly supportive parents (a beautiful tent, the constant support, the necessary bug spray, the contributions to the food bank) the committed and hard-working athletes (so much goes on behind the scenes that often is hard to connect to what happens until it happens on the course, but when the connection is made, everything changes), the supportive WHS community (excitement, comments, and enthusiasm for the start of a new team), as well as the community at large that keep cheering for the integrity and character of a newly forming team.

Many think XC is all abut the win and running and leave all else at the finish line. Years later looking back at the results of my first experiences along side greats like Coach Rob Perciful, Coach Vince and Jacqueline Rulon Morris, and now alongside Coach Havrilla, I realized, if you don’t have more than one aspect, the memories don’t mean as much.

I my years I STILL finding myself so serious at times and wanting more more more and better better better – and STILL need to pull myself back at times and go into a mode of letting it happen but slowly reinforcing the solidarity that comes with gratefulness – gratefulness for the athletes we have that bring enthusiasm, excitement, talent, energy, and a willingness to belong to something that enlarges and becomes larger than themselves.

We do have sit-down spaghetti dinners, we do laugh at silly car signs we use along the way to and from meets and gaining reactions of others, we do pack lunches and all contribute to those meals, and we do look back and wish at times we did more, and celebrate when some of us do more, but in the grander scheme of things, we are lucky to have the chance to do all of the above.  In a time when individuals switch schools for the competition of the win over the stakes of belonging and being patient to form a group that grows together, I am proud to be among athletes and a group that also believes in the latter.  The times I need to put that competitive push away to allow the other growing pains to work themselves out – they are bittersweet as I have learned over the years from perhaps some of the best instructors in the game.

We did see our top ladies grow and retain their competitive age, our middle and beginning ladies learn how competitive and see how the top athletes handle a course, and our middle boys learn what they need to continue to do to improve, and add all of those factors up, and you have a XC team that learns, grows, and succeeds together with the impressive support of parents, a school community, and state running community that no win could replace. Life is good.

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The Past and Present Today

It might have been over seven years ago, but it is still fresh in our memory – Dewey the library cat made it to ASF in Mexico City, travelled to the United States and each day shows how her tolerance to then one dog, Kinah, then as the brood grew to two dogs, then 2 cats, the finally a total of three dogs, Dewey exhibited patience, not all the time, and tolerance most times amid some days of total chaos and some days of complete bliss. I do believe Sarah Rude, was responsible at the time, an Econ instructor that happened to somehow come across Dewey.  Would like to rehear her process of discovery.  I will try to followup on that – so stay tuned.

The day that Dewey was brought to the library certainly was a kitten with no eyes open, wet from being rescued, and thanks to the extreme kindness of individuals around her, survived.  Elaine figured out how to bottle feed and set up students to come in and bottle feed Dewey, Dewey became quite comfortable in the library and thrived.

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Bottle fed from the scanner cradle, that helped juggle alot of things at the same time, and looking at this blog, it seems unreal Dewey was this small – ever.  Time and crazy events have surrounded her, and it reminds me of how many cats and dogs needed and still need homes, in Mexico as well as in the United States. 

I am excited to be a part of the Strut Your Mutt walk with our three canines, and realizing that what Best Friends does for animals is priceless.   I also realized it is a good lesson to help each of us advocate for organizations, legislation, events, and possibilities that will help care for all animals across the world increases, no matter dog, cat, bird, marine and so many more!

 

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Running the Bull…

It was 2010 – we were in a caravan of XC athletes from Seaford, DE, Cody, Steve, Jacques, Radmes (RANDY< LOL), Alex, Tynetta, Christian, Deanna, there were more I was sure but I do remember – Chinese Fire Drill, collision, braces stuck in my upper lip and still running the craziest Bull Run Race ever, (stories stories stories) – The Smith’s caravan of goodness making this trip memorable, and an amazing day of pain and awe as well, I was sure Hannah was with us as well.   it was Bull Run to the max:

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Then it was 2009 Mackenzie, Deanna, Macey, Alex, Jordan, Jacques, Cory, Tim, Jon, Cody, Randy, Jennifer, Chris

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This was just an amazing event and memory.  Yet, September 8th approaches and for the first time in maybe has it been 8 years?  We return to Killen’s Pond for the Lake Forest Invite. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 1.26.30 AM.png I can’t begin to tell you how much this brings back – ridiculous amount of memories and feelings that are difficult to put into words.  Yet, today, one of the first times since I left for Mexico over 7 years ago, I ran and sweated more than I can remember, and seeing the amazing young runners that are re establishing a team after at least 7 years at Woodbridge – and finding myself here?  It just came out like this today:

“It starts with reaching down deep and putting all you have on the course – and if others are your teammates, they will pick up anything you drop on the course along the way! “

There are so many gifts given from Coach Smith, Doakes, Perciful, Hood, and of course Morris, I feel that some things become full circle – at the most unexpected times.  I thought I would never return to the XC circuit again – and I can’t describe what it is like gaining running leges again on some quite familiar surroundings.  It is simply life.

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Motivational Musings

If I learned nothing but this, it has been the most valuable lesson. When I was at Seaford High, I had some of the best colleagues that surrounded me to remind me, every single day, that to keep an open mind and respect everyone around me is something more valuable than anything in life. The students I met in my courses reminded me that part of being a role model is to stand up for your nationality, your beliefs, but also respecting others in the process.
 
When I moved to Mexico, it was unexpected. Even more so was the reception. My colleagues, students, and what would become my family reminded me, that the individuals I have grown up with, in high school, in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, in Delaware, and especially in Mexico, how much I need to remember- I need at many many times to get out my own persona and ego and walk in other’s shoes and do something to look through other’s eyes. What was unexpected was the motivation to encourage others to be the very best they can be, and alongside doing that you can be motivated to promote your own country, along with other countries, and respect each other’s possibilities in the process.  I am lucky to have the same at Woodbridge High with exciting adventures in recreating the library, a sense of community with so many that do that already, recreating the love of XC, Repentino. and so much more.
 
I never realized how amazing the students and colleagues that surrounded me in Mexico were, teachers and students from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, South America, the Middle East, Europe, the Far East, and so many other places – and this letter this morning – solidified how lucky I have been to have had you influence me in so many ways I never knew existed – your embrace and encouragement are priceless and always help me Pay it Forward.

“Hey Harry Brake, my bro, my favorite teacher of all time, the Cristiano Ronaldo of teachers (lol jk):

I wanted to say a few things before I start college tomorrow. First of all, I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for meeting you! You’re one of the best individuals on this planet, I am serious haha. You have always filled me with positive energy and I am really thankful for that. Most importantly, you have showed me to work collectively (shoutout to Repentino) and to evaluate myself whenever I need to. This is skill that will help me throughout life, I have no doubt.
I apologize if we haven’t spoken much since you left Mexico. The truth is that I am not much of a Facebook, or email guy for that matter HAHA. But trust me, I think about you and the experiences we shared every now and then. My favorite memories with you are the trip to New York (March 2016) and the trip to Las Estacas (September 2016). Those have been some of the best moments in my life, honestly. 
I am starting a new journey at ITAM very soon. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I am sure that the things you taught me will come in handy. I am glad to say that you have been a role model for me.
I truly wish you the best for the future. You can count on me whenever you need to. After all Batman needs Robin, occasionally at least. We have to go for tacos when you come back to Mexico!”
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Powerful Memories

New York.  From the very first trip we made going to New York, I think it might have been with Mrs. Austin-Richardson’s class when I was teaching at Seaford actually, I was inspired.  I remember thinking, we are going to New York. We should create a project, and remember on that trip, we did recordings of individuals in New York about various topics. I never knew what that would lead to.

For years, while an educator at Seaford, we began attending workshops in New York at the CSPA Conference as an Aloha Yearbook staff, to gather ideas on the latest trends, practices and approaches to designing a yearbook, ad it was just amazing.  Amazing to be among such an atmosphere of learning, be amid the city, simply BE.  We began to tack on side missions while there, finding cool places to check out, individuals to interview and whoa. did things occur after that.

Taking a whole city for granted is unfortunate, and when the events of 911 occurred, of course everyone was in shock.  I remember finding myself as a Middle School, Language Arts Teacher in Lusby, Maryland, and students I was not quite familiar with, burst into the room and rambled something about a plane, a building, and we began to see the events that truly seemed as a movie, unreal, not happening.  Every one of us has a memory of where we were when this occurred and the feeling we could probably attach a hundred emotions to at one time.

I think this could be part of the attraction to New York that I was not aware of when it came to becoming a pilgrimage from those years on 2011 forward.  Whether I realized it or not, I felt I could give something back, even if it was in the form of projects we listened to and archived.

I recall the year after 911 when we visited the site, and the smell of concrete and dust permeated every step we made. The interviews we listened to when people broke down about the event because no one had ever truly straight out asked them about this event.

The fire station right beside the 911 site that firefighters took us into, showed the memorial to firefighters that never returned from the rubble, the damaged door from one of the first trucks excavated from the site and returned to the station, the flag that was flown in Afghanistan in memory of those fighting from that very station.

The interviews from so many years past are hidden away in my storage among cd’s that contain those recordings and still will remain a project to recapture these and preserve them, from the many amazing experiences we found ourselves in each year we traveled to New York.  We started a project that we just have not returned to.

Still one of the most amazing moments to me, was being able to visit New York from Mexico City, and still attend the CSPA Conferences on behalf of Repentino. magazine, and still include interviews and extended stops in New York that made a week long adventure within New York.  The first year we did, we were amazed to meet with Mr. Michael Arad, architect of the memorial at 911, as he has attended ASF in Mexico City, and at the time, counselor Chris Hill – then counselor, enabled that meeting to happen.  The small Repentino. staff,303386_10150610857256003_1517789571_n the first Repentino Staff, to attend CSPA found out so much about the 911 memorial thanks to Mr. Arad (page 31 of the FOCUS issue)

That original interview we did remains somewhere as well, and will be amazing to find after located. I remember still this day the panic I went through as I thought we would not make the appointment to meet, and then seeing him stand with an ipad held high as we made our way to his ipad standing in the middle of the memorial.  Yet the impact of he events, despite that cold day, we just realized what we were seeing for the first time.408529_10150610858781003_808494576_n

All of these memories come back to me as I work my way through the book, Battle for Ground Zero, and inform me of the battles that occurred during the planning phases of what is now Ground Zero.  it is shocking to not know the amazing feuds that existed for what is now the site that holds so much for so many.  Being able to go to this area tomorrow, with Math/Science Upward Bound, it is just so solemn and I feel as I hold in my hand so many years of experiences that I was lucky enough to have experienced with students that are now all over the world. We each hold a part of an experience that not only was New York as an adventure, but the lesson of what happens when tragedy hits a city that becomes a nation, that becomes a world event.  

Looking back I relish whatever motivated me to want to do something more than be a tourist when we went and travelled to New York, otherwise, I would not have these memories felt, shaded, and expressed with so many talented young  (then students) now members of society.  Despite the worst that occurs in the world even today, that fact that hope exists and should and can be passed on? That is the reason everyone should be excited about a tomorrow. I am wondering how I will feel tomorrow as I return tomorrow with so much that has changed since these journeys we have made through so many years to New York.

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“The eye is that of a poet who has decided to interrogate beauty and try to capture it in the splendor of light.”

It happens every summer – necessity pushes me forward to seek out employment over the summer and catch up on the year’s expenses and then that experience becomes so rewarding, it sticks.  Necessity certainly fueled my need to “catch up” the first summer of a major move from Mexico to the United States, and I stumbled luckily, thanks to some influential and experienced friends, into Upward Bound.

I mainly had always been familiar with Upward Bound and Talent Search from a teacher-inside the-school position, starting when I was an English educator in Seaford, DE.  Beyond the occasional pull outs and weekly appointments, I literally realized I knew very little about the program.

What I DID begin to realize is this is a program that infuses the expectations of success on students from the very beginning, from balancing knowledge about maintaining a personal checking/savings account, to managing the options for financial security when thinking about education beyond high school, understanding the role and importance of being an involved member of society when it comes to non-profit organizations, discovering the strength of an environmentally strong community, connecting with individuals that have strong ties to inner city and rural programs, developing paths where science, math, technology, engineering, art, communication, and expression all meet and can benefit the community, these are only SOME of the aspects that enable students to strive for success in their lives.

Building in a system that congratulates students on their attendance, grade point average, as well as acquiring new information and applying it to the world around them, Upward Bound certainly does provide a path for students to aim up, but also out, exposing students to REAL community aspects and not just experiencing these in a textbook, but interacting with these elements on a daily basis.  This daily intervention of education that involves the community on such a rapid schedule, is the real deal, the realty of why being educated today can go hand in hand with the world as it operates today.  

I realized on a trip with students to Shriner’s Hospital and Mutter Museum, there is still so much more I do not know and am familiar with, and being able to learn alongside students was the best way to soak in information and figure out together, students alongside students, how to apply these new paths of info to have it last longer than the visit itself.  

Add to the the amazing ceremonies of math and Science and Classic Upward Bound students (two totally different programs) – and you see the pride, determination, challenges and motivation that many of the students might not be receiving in areas outside of this program.  I realized this program has allowed alumni of Upward Bound, as well as future scientists biologists, engineers, and countless other professions to actually be a part of a profession those students take to heart, care about, and with this program HAVE the chance to grab the opportunity to move into what they have dreamed about. 

Yes, it is summer, yes most individuals are vacationing and NOT working, and yet, that was the beauty in seeing students attending and sacrificing those opportunities for the opportunities that will ultimately decide a better future.  That speaks volumes and I would have to say I am not sure I would see that motivation in the regular school day without Upward Bound opening the window, so that can see what lies more than one day out for each of them.

As instructors, despite being the summer, there were some concrete ways to show how you take extensions of the past years and apply them to the world around us.  Math, Science, English teachers combined to create a murder mystery scenario, using actual DNA samples and fingerprinting to show how the forensics path involved STEAM and STEM objectives, while taking the aspects students learn in high school and explaining how these areas impact a future career – vaidating the why and how using hands-on projects every day.

Being able to tap into students I knew from Mexico, to not only help judge and comment on a career photography competition from within Upward Bound, but showing that our past should be connected to what we are doing in the present, is a powerful tool.  Every step of the way, it was exciting to see how relationships formed from education contributed to PBL projects of the present.  Mohamed Zaki (Tony) – who visited American School Foundation in Mexico City Google live on Air’ed with us to discuss the idea of realities in another country such as Egypt, (as well as answering ?’s from students and that is found here)  Alina from Mexico City chatted with us from India, describing the experiences she’s had from Mexico City to volunteering in India, to studying at Yale,

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alumni from ASF Mexico City, studied the events of Upward Bound students for the past year to create a soundtrack for the banquet occurring here in Delaware,

Educator Paul Allison enabled students to be involved with a Current Talk course that enabled students to explore how to be effective when opinions differ, in a positive and not hateful way. Students would have a chance to turn their issue posters into shared commentary among other students with LRNG. Ms Grice’s career photography competition connected individuals from Korea, the U.S., Mexico, Egypt to name a FEW, and connected their voices in comments about what made the contributing 12 photography students’ images moving.  Add to this the generous contribution of Louis Cotto-Vasallo’s photographic book for the top three winners of the contest –

 

Taking on the challenges of virtual reality  with James Wheatley to take students to Mexico City and show the myths of the country heard through media and seeing the virtual realityScreen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.51.03 PM through the lens, priceless. Students utilizing donated books from Bethany Beach Books, the title Unwind from Neal Schusterman, and discovering connections to social topics that need a voice.  Creating the medium of ‘Zines to show youth have a creative tool in reaching the masses and educating and informing.   This is only a peek into what occurred in the summer weeks at Upward Bound. 

Certainly if the PBL approach to these themes were presented day in and day out, these approaches to education were widespread, every student in every school would be bringing the ideas inside the classrooms – into their own communities and their energy would not be stopped – and would be contagious among community leaders and other educators to change as well.  Some of these colleagues do already teach like this day in and day out, which gives me the enthusiasm to push this approach more and more.  I would have to say, students such as those I found myself surrounded by in Upward Bound? – it was no longer a summer duty, it was a summer privilege to figure out new ways to learn alongside students and place a new stamp on what education can be.

Take all this into consideration and then try to put into a category the true poets who see this transformation in students and press on to make sure this happens every single summer – Ms Rebecca Evaristo, Ms. Cheryl Miller, Ms. Megan, Mr. Connor, Mr Billy, Ms. Lois, Ms. Cenicola, Ms. Davis, the whole Talent search team, Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 9.13.13 AMand you have individuals that change students’ lives every single day, and create a future that never existed before.  I have never, hands-down, seen such a program that took students that felt they had no future, and nothing but dead-ends, and surrounded them with the ability to change their future for dreams they’ve had all along, and follow the students as they do just that.

I would say the true poets that continue to interrogate beauty are those individuals above, along with the willing educators, that have allowed this program to continue, that allow the additions for Delaware’s future to increase exponentially.  When you have a collection of former students and adults from other countries willing to discuss via Google hang out on air, on their time, key issues that need to be questioned amid the mainstream media, when you have teachers and organizational members from Toastmasters, local museums and organizations like The Shriner’s organization willing to open their doors and spend time to validate how they impact their communities, when you have individuals willing to validate photography at the drop of a dime, when you have these same individuals willing to pay tribute to these students as they have reached another amazing year of accomplishment, you have a community of possibility for positive change.  Despite what the government, media, and local and international politicians say, express, or translate, these very individuals that are provided dreams learn nothing can break or deter the enthusiasm and possibility of one’s voice an activism.  That alone will enable change that communities need to become more positive and influential.

Surrounding yourself with individuals that believe positive change can occur, and believe this starts with youth and occurs alongside the very individuals who want a better future in the form of educators, this opportunity is one that can not be validated enough.  Kudos to Ms. Evaristo and Ms. Miller how know how much this opportunity will sow the opportunity for a better future for all of us.  One year, of many, seems to have the ability to change the whole future for so many.

 

 

 

 

 

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Up, Close, and Personal

In education, you realize, every opportunity is a teachable moment, and that certainly does not reside only with students.  That is if you are an educator that truly cares about education.  You have to be willing to accept the educational moments as well and run with them if you expect others to do the same.

Steel Case.  Awhile ago, one of the grants I was exploring and writing for was a company I was unfamiliar with, that being Steelcase.

Later, Was was called to followup with Steelcase and possibly talk with them.  I noticed they were located in Pennsylvania, near King of Prussia, the east side of Pennsylvania. I thought why not? 

When I made it to Corporate Interiors headquarters, I found an amazing design in a building, and took several snapshots.  As I walked into the suite of , it as easy to see, as I would learn later, there were several various options that made Steelcase who they were.  From Audio Visual sides of things, to education, to design and 3D design, to so much more, it was exciting to learn how so many components were under one roof, as well as Industrial Design having the option of many various designers and providers to create designs that truly were futuristic.  

Through the sit down discussions we had, it was motivating to have individuals from all various backgrounds and facets of the design world involved.  There was so much that makes you realize how diverse education is and can be – 

The room we started in was welcoming right away due to the fact that there was a Welcome Woodbridge screen

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with our homepage right on there!  What I learned while in there was the way rooms such as this could be so quiet due to the seals that were on the doors as they closed.  In addition the versatility of the table, with controls on both end that allowed input for almost any form of communication/media transfer to occur – awesome.  Built into the table you had all the adapters and connections needed to facilitate any form of conferencing and software out there.  Add to this the microphones that were made for a conference call that would come down from the ceiling, and of course, add the paneling of the room that could be replaced and moved around easily to accommodate screens and monitors of all types as could be moved from one time to another as the design of the room changes.  Only upon leaving did I notice the custom shaped table fit the room design as well and realized how rooms can be fit to all types of technology experiences to enhance the education that occurs in those rooms and among other people.

When we walked out of the conference room it was really we easy to hear the noise, which was not much, but sounded like much when you noticed there was no noise in the conference room (lol), and wow – the seal that were used completely silenced that conference room!

Also, being shown how transmitters in the ceiling allowed voices to be heard clearly among individuals and conversations muted out around the room, not silencing them but allowing you to concentrate on the conversation happening in front of you – really showed how technology helped focus on all conversations and specifically one among many,  

Also, the monitors and wall screens that were shown not only showed the capabilities of how announcements specifically for the library could literally run across each screen, across the wall, to allow specific event within a contained area to be noticed more for a specific area.  Add to this the monitors that existed outside room that could tell you this specific area was taken, reserved, from what time to what time, as well as being linked to a main scheduling point so all the lab/room monitors could be up to date with specific reservations – I was thinking of all the long methods I had used to reserve, account for, and maintain spaces when they were being reserved.

Wiring for electric was pretty amazing as was the models for wiring that involved wi-fi and internet.  From mobile units that could serve as power towers around the room, to beneath the floor constructions so space was made tor wiring to rung beneath the floor everyone walked on ( and being able to see a cutaway section of what that looked like in the floor) all showed how intelligence is used to streamline the best possible space for a learning environment.

Furniture also that was made within this company (it is exciting that every single item is made in-house, so this also shows the design and functionality as being used is practical) was comfortable and simply reminded me of goals like Ikea, creative, space-saving, very new design that takes a space and literally conserves space instead of just taking up space. From chairs that allowed the maximum structure for getting work done, to being ergonomic in feel and work style, to being fully mobile and adjustable – the amazing methods I saw to allow spaces to be flipped from one moment to another was a lesson in showing how education itself is constantly changing, and how a room can easily fit into that ideal of constantly shifting knowledge.

Also being able to see how 3D works into this scenario, not only as part of the design of a specific learning area, but also having the capability for Industrial Design to tour your existing learning facility, note the needs of a space and then be able to show the proposed ideas in 3D virtual reality to be able to take a “walk” through several scenarios, provides a taste of what education, technology, and engineering all have to do with education today as it is still evolving.  

Mentioning how possibilities could exist where students could visit Steelcase/Corporate Interiors and see how aspects of STEM and STEAM can be incorporated into educational design was exciting.  I think it is vital to continue to how students how aspects of education can be so aligned with corporate, engineering, and design in working with existing companies today, that could create a larger understanding of concepts that can’t be fully realized in a classroom alone.

After the tour, with so many features more presented, from an OWL that can detect the voices that are speaking and follow with the appropriate image upon detecting voice, to the puck devices that are found in tables that hold a variety of adapter connections for a variety of computers, to the audio and visual creation that enhance stereo, individual, and conference-style meetings, to portable rooms that can be used for recording AND moved, to walls that can create a new room and be taken down and located in another position to create new rooms for various needs, to taking in the countless styles of furniture for every possible function imaginable, it seemed this was a imagineers school for educators, as well as for students.

One of the most electric moments was the mention of how many students have an opportunity to reach out to companies and visit them, while in school, just as if they were opening their eyes to the type of campus or college the envision.  In doing so, they begin to see the facets of the work force that is not described on a job description,  They see what is possible, they see that truly their talents can be utilized in ways that are not written on any job descriptions, yet, but they could be.  The idea from Steelcase that students could visit their office and see how designers impact education in their setting was a powerful idea, an idea educators should be directly involved with to led student to areas they may or may not be interested in. Waiting until they get into their first year of college to do so, too late.  They should be exploring possibilities and ideas alongside seeing how and where the talents they possess can be applied in the best scenario for them.  This does not necessarily mean a four-year college, but could also involve artistic approaches to education found in the trade/technical field, as well as in a hundred different places that often do not fall into the category of the four year college and beyond. 

But it could be that possibility.

That is the beauty of education, together, educators and students can find a path that both works for them, and discover what can be done that isn’t, and what can’t be done, can be done. It takes a vested interest in the student, the field of education, and wherever that might take both, and not being prescribed – as the world today doesn’t seem to exactly follow a for-sure definite pattern of certainty.  I do believe companies like Steelcase and educators that believe in infinite possibilities, and that guide students that way, will indeed personalize education and possibilities that we can only dream about, but begin at glimpse at today.

 

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World Cup, Elections, Pinche Gringo, The Comic Book Store, Cultural Studies, Opening Opportunities.

Wow.  What a welcome onrush of exciting events recently to counteract so much dread, negativity, and what sometimes seems one sided- banging your head off the wall sanity at times.

World Cup. 

Wow.  Never would I have thought I wold have cared and I am SO SO excited I was able to have so many close friends like Javier, Mocte, Julien, and so many more that got me into futball and created a love of the game as I did when in Mexico.  The respect shown when I was what seemed to be the only American in the stadium watching the U.S. team play Mexico almost 6 years ago? – That never left me from the first time I went to the last time I went and – watching the World Cup first in Mexico and now from the states – it is – I never realized how addicted I would become and knowing the players I have become familiar with and – it was DRIVING ME CRAZY that the 10:00 match between Mexico and Brazil was on at 10:00 AM today – how students and I vocalized how excited we were, nervous, how we monitored out phones for the updates, how yes, devastated we were to see the final outcome today but the amazing energy futball brings to so much, not just countries, nationalities, but so much more when you have the opportunity to know the world a bit more through positive means such as sports, competition and getting to know Flopping (LOL) and just so much more. A priceless gift I was lucky enough to receive while in Mexico and that endears me to changing my view about certain sports I used to pay attention to.  Mexico you rocked today and Brazil you rocked a but more so VERY excited to see what happens from this point out, even though I was so hoping Mexico would play a crucial part.

Elections in Mexico. Wow.  I vaguely remember being in a new country of Mexico when elections were held and Enrique Peña Nieto was elected and learning the in and outs of Mexico history, and then latching onto almost anything I could get my hands onto, to learn about the history and sources of so much concern, disappointments, and possibilities that sit with the people of Mexico when it came to elections.  Yes, I do remember as well, Andrés Manuel López Obrador running for President when I first arrived in Mexico and now, elected as President.  I am privileged to have been in a country like Mexico to appreciate how much the citizens of another country take to heart elections and the results outside of a country I have always lived in.  It changed me forever and garnered a deeper respect of how incredibly large and yet how incredibly similar individuals are when it comes down to basic expectations and desires.  An exciting exciting time in seeing this second election and being tuned into the details for so long.


Cultural Studies, Current Talk, wow.  The opportunity to take experiences that were new to me and how I transitioned through learning SO MUCH about myself by taking myself out of a country I was born and raised in and then seeing that homeland from the outside –

I realized every single moment – how much I appreciated being able to do that, being able to appreciate individuals who I only learned about from the radio and television, and the reality changed me to the core and helped me challenge so much I simply took for granted, and continue to reflect on with so much happening around us.  In presenting so many amazing perspectives that differ from my own, and being able to discuss these views with students from so many different countries, the awareness that a lack of sitting down and finding ways to discuss opposite points of view rather than spewing inaccuracies, hatred, negativity, animosity and so much more – it is SO REFRESHING to be able to communicate with younger generations how there is a MUCH better way to solve problems than we have been doing for the last 15 or so years – and being able to dissect so many past and current difficulties and come together on those topics – I am truly fortunate to know individuals such as Dan Defossey

that owns Pinche Gringo and is a huge impetus, and example, of the change we discuss and  for the possible, positive change that can occur within another country- and show – all it takes it ALOT of hard work and MUCH initiative to want to be a beacon of change to allow change to occur.  I am so excited to how younger generations have the energy to make some MAJOR changes in how we can come together to change our own futures but those of others, positively, but simply staying in the race and with patience, and kindness, and not negativity.  

When bringing up this about the things we DO NOT HEAR on the radio, television, etc about other countries, the impact I had experience firs-hand on how so many individuals from different learned about each other’s traditions and belief over Thanksgiving dinners, World Cup matches, and election time at Pinche Gringo, the conversation allowed itself to grow and experience how much education depends on diversity.  

It is so ironic to see as a media Specialist Librarian, and hear the remark that there has been such a push in the last many years to lay off librarians because they are not deemed as vital and an asset in the educational system as other positions and then hearing an

 

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outcry for resources and individuals to help steer younger populations from discerning between fake news and real news. HYSTERICAL.  What did you think would happen by deeming individuals that go to school to get Master’s in education and learn how to use technology for the purpose of fining unbiased, neutral, factual information

(while many are sure the only things librarians do are sit behind a desk and die to shelve books),

LOL and to my chagrin, some librarians have used this position as that and that alone, (SUCH a WASTE). The opportunity to belong to groups of individuals that see this different IS the change that can impact so many more.  It is exciting to see the chance to have these discussions with so many young people who will be voting this year, next year, the year after and seeing that there is a way to have a more educated, positive, and connected relationship with so many people, so many cultures, so many countries, and that there is the chance to improve – it is refreshing once you find the opportunity to be able to advance this reality and pass it on to others.

Graphic Novels. Sounds silly but let e tell you.  WOW.  When Donna Carter suggested having a Comic Con at Greenwood Library I thought yeah, cool!  What ensued was amazing.  I was able to witness the generosity of what it means when people genuinely interested in education will do cool things to make a difference.  Sarah  and  Titus from The Comic Book Shop in Wilmington –

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–http://www.thecomicbookshop.com/–

AMAZING.  They made these two baskets of AMAZING gifts to provide for the Comic Con at Greenwood Public Library,  and whether they were aware or not, this went to benefit the mini Comic Con we held at the Woodbridge High School TOO – not possible without the amazing generosity and foresight of what would interest youth, and how they could provide for not just one, but multiple chances at attracting youth.  The day I drove to Wilmington with my three canines, Sarah welcomed the dogs, watered them with fresh water, showered me with AMAZING donations and a basket

Basket.jpg that was like – you could see a MILE AWAY how much thought and effort went into something as taken for granted as graphic novels can be for youth.  

It Worked. It drew so many in based on these events at Greenwood Public Library and Woodbridge High, youth that would have never participated in such an event had it not been for using an educational tool as graphic novels and comics to inspire, excite, and cause enthusiasm on MULTIPLE levels.  Funny, this resembles willing to know more about something you know nothing about and willing to extend your time to get to know the unknown, and make a difference.  We are learning every day how this occurs in opportunities to teach and discuss with youth in courses like Cultural Studies, Current Talk, motivating teachers to buck the crazy illusion that dittos and formats that have not worked for years are not the way that inspire students today, finding opportunities where discussion, thoughtful discourse, positive ACTION (not just rhetoric-  blah blah blah) and being a mover and a shaker among adults, students, and future leaders WILL be the factor that turns so much negativity around.

That’s alot to realize in a day, but realizing what the impacts of individuals and organizations such as Upward Bound led by Cheryl Miller and Becky Everisto, companies like Dan Defossey and Pinche Gringo that are making a difference across countries, companies like The Comic Book Shop

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 10.51.03 PM.pngthat can use a medium to impact change in the community and schools – priceless.  It is totally fine there are large populations not buying into making a difference, because there are so many more ways that individuals like these will make the world a better place, day by day that truly see the light.  Kudos to these and all the heroes that show the difference is not division, but finding ways to show that humanity is the true party, not decided by walls, borders, political parties, issues, race, religion or beliefs, but by supporting and believing in each other through action.  It doesn’t get any better than seeing and being involved with individuals that believe in humanity and not just one particular type of human being.

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Oh Lord, a World Building Space Force at Woodbridge? It Happened?

That it did.  Tabitha Lord that is.  On May 7th Tabitha DID visit Delaware for the first time – and spent generous amounts of time at Greenwood Public Library‘s reading group, as well as an open night of discussion, adding to the visits of hours at the Woodbridge High Media Center with several groups.  From individual discussions, to group discussions, to gathering a class set of Horizon for study on how Holocaust, discrimination, and other civil issues come out of Science Fiction to….okay yes. there was much to unpack.  Yet. so many distinct aspects of this author’s visit remain behind.

 

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“I can’t believe a science fiction author of her interest came to little ‘ol Delaware!”

This particular quote stuck with me on so many levels.  I had just returned from Mexico City, a country and city that changed me in so many ways, including realizing how large an international city like Mexico City was in relation to departing from Delaware.  Coming back to a smaller state/town situation to many sounded like, seemed like, a concession.  You could look at it that way after having such an international eye-opening experience, as well as events in an international setting compared to a domestic one, then take the amazing temperament of how I was treated by so many Mexican citizens, and okay THAT is a different post and has been for some time now.  YET, I realized it takes a huge international perspective to appreciate a small town / state opportunity.  I felt the same way when I heard this student say this above – so many students do not REALIZE what is possible and when they do, when they have someone willing to take the time to show how any situation, small, large, international, local, far, near, once a risk is taken and students are encouraged, pushed into a new level of confidence, and shown how much opportunity that is available based on the wide horizon of their imagination, then that “huge international perspective to appreciate a small town / state opportunity ” occurs.  

Students and myself, have been blessed to have the courage to reach out and have the opportunity to have had major experiences with some pretty amazing artists of all walks of life, Neal Shusterman, Scott Westerfeld, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justine LarbalestierAdi Alsaid, Louis Cotto, Dr. Robert Snyder, David Lida, Oscar Ivan Hernandez Carvallo, Eric Smith, Zoraida Cordova, Osseily Hanna, and as of late Tabitha Lord, to name a FEW – and students have fueled that excitement and created many events that were literally dreams, and turned them into reality.

Tabitha Lord jumped right in to Greenwood Library’s book discussion club and her influence and mere presence initiated some amazing conversation about an author and book I never read, but it was an amazing night.  Donna Carter once again swooped in to have an amazing Greenwood Library staff facilitate an evening of conversation and literary merit that is one of the unsuspecting evenings you wish you COULD have predicted.  Add to all this the random writer that visited Greenwood Library to ask simply stylistic questions about writing, to the onslaught of so many students during a day that had so many, SO MANY fruitful questions, ideas, and thoughts that Ms. Lord brought out – and you have the amazing creativity that comes out of being a Media Specialist Librarian, an educator (not just a teacher), an author, an aspiring artists, an aspiring game designer, science fiction entrepreneur, and it no longer matters how large or small an area you are from.  Never did matter.  What matters is what fuels your heart, your mind, and your creativity.

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We STILL have audio excerpts we have not unpacked yet from Ms. Lord’s visit (stay tuned!) but as we move and present these excerpts that link back to the inspiration Ms. Lord left behind, she left perhaps one of the most priceless gifts not found in any book, written on any page, or heard . by any author.  In writing about so much that has to do with world exploration, Ms. Lord planted so many paths that can lead to worlds no one has seen yet.  From becoming an author late in life, with a family already established, the talent, vision, and energy Ms. Lord brought to Delaware was one of the most inspiring and generous gifts given in the life of an author.  Being able to see inside the life of publishing a work, and seeing what motivates someone to push forward in anything they deem as personal, motivating, and POSSIBLE? – we need more of these inspiring moments no matter where we find ourselves – internationally, locally, the sky is the limit.  In this case, it became reaching for the stars and beyond thanks to Ms Tabitha Lord!

Check below for her Monday Musings blog post about her visit to Delaware (I will let you wonder where some of the best crab cakes were . 🙂 )

“I’m in Delaware doing some bookish activities this week – a few library visits, book clubs, and meetings with high school students. As I get to travel and meet people from all over, I’m struck by the fact that everyone has a story. Everyone. And each story is uniquely molded by their individual life experiences. 

I probably think about things this way because I’m a storyteller. I’m always listening. I’m always wondering what brought this person to this place at this moment in time. What motivates them? What are their dreams? Their fears?

Every person I meet has a full, messy, rich life they are trying to navigate. Holding this perspective makes me feel connected to them – at home, even when I’m away from home. From the yoga instructor I practiced with this morning, to the international teacher who invited me on this particular adventure, to the Starbuck’s barista who enthusiastically chatted with me about the virtues of cold brew, I connect with them. I want to hear their stories, because our stories matter. Through them, we can learn to see from another’s perspective.  

Wishing you a peaceful and productive week.
-Tabitha

p.s. Here’s a pretty picture from Rehoboth Beach, where I had the best crab cakes last night! “

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