Yes, I have seemingly slacked on what has been a 2014 year of posts, with my goal of reaching a total of 25000 views for the 2014 year. However, I am always up for a challenge, and more than meeting the goals have made for myself, as usually, life presents some amazing coincidences, or maybe not coincidences at all…
When being asked to check out the book Unwind by the author Neal Shusterman, I figured this was just one more book to add to my list. Well luckily, it fast-forwarded to my reading list. I instantly thought of The Giver, but then, realized, in between the pages, held like invisible ink, were the very motives that make the word a better place. Realization.
Yes, sometimes it takes a book, a movie, a film, and even mores, individuals to make you take a step back and appreciate what you have,t hat you have had all along, and often without realization. Such is the case with Unwind.
Aside from the amazing setbacks and lives full of degradation that individuals face in Unwind, there is a personal sort of “Hurrah!” when it all comes together for the very individuals that deserved a true fairy tale conclusion all along. You have to read this to truly get this realization, yet, in avoiding the spoilers, there are some very real success stories you need to be reminded of or at least called attention to.
Similar to falling on this great story by accident, and aside from a book sometimes being a salvation, memory is sometimes the second strongest motivator, if not the strongest. The other day, unknowingly again, I took a compact disc I received as a gift from ASF in Mexico City, and placed it as one cd in the 300 capable cd player I have since almost 20 yard ago – (that is insignificant, but I am still in war that they made a Sony 300 cd player that HOLDS 300 cd’s, can random play anything you want among those 300 cds, as well that is still works and it in my apartment in Mexico City. What can I say, I am easily amused or have a low threshold for “impressiv-ity” sometimes). –
Yet what happened next was wholly unexpected. The music that poured out caught my unaware. These were the very moments, sounds, and talents that truly made up ASF within a single year. Maybe this is the same as in other schools, yet. you sometimes go long stretches without hearing day to day victories of what happens in some classrooms, and yet in one rush, see the result. The day to day details are what stick with you,just like that awesome plate of oatmeal on a cold morning (if you don’t like oatmeal sorry). The unknown practices of solos, jazz band, choir, bells, guitars, and the drama room are a crime for people not to see what happens day to day, yet it is impossible for each of us to see how the talents rise and get better day to day, we would be better people to have that power to see how individuals gain more confidence and get better day to day, and that applies in all classrooms. In one CD, you hear the voices, talents, aspirations, and history of an ASF in 2014-2015 that will be hard to match.
From the dedication of the FAC, to the amazing knock you off your feet production of Les Miserables, to the Open Mic stints that let others realize their talents and go on to do something even ore confident in other areas, from the hilarity of on stage production, to the moment you had tears realizing this would never happen again all together – the history of our year could be FELT – F E L T throughout he sounds, with lead to the individuals, that can change how you view successes.
I was thunderstruck and as speechless as when I was reading Ben Shusterman’s Unwind in realizing, how amazingly grateful and lucky I have been this year. This was certainly urged on by what I was hearing and reading, and yet there is SO MUCH MORE. Listening to the bell, guitar, and choir concert, relishing the Gold Award certificate from Columbia University
achieved by our ASF Repentino. staff, seeing the talents pour from the hours of practice behind the choral and band rooms, remembering the 3 minute snippet talks I have had over the course of a year with students wanting to give up on some of the most amazing talents, seeing remnants my former XC (Cross Country) celebrating in Seaford and keeping the spirit of Vince Morris alive, witnessing a last day before break breakfast with my freshmen advocacy, seeing the ASF Football team spend a year practicing and achieving a defeatless and perfect winning season with a Championship (observing from a bear suit with pride!), remembering the time I was in a residential treatment center and reacted to giving the Heimlich to a student who then went back to breathing, simply being surrounded by so many individuals throughout my life that made me feel so amazing, so lucky, and pushed me to do things I never thought I would experience – I am realizing Christmas and the holidays in a whole new light.
I find that my best memories are those that come from bragging about those that push me forward. Yet, I can count the many times I was told by others, I am in the wrong profession, I am not fit to be this type of professional, I make too many jokes to be a librarian, (all through my grad school posts to readings by my colleagues during college!), I ALWAYS, ALWAYS had my share of being cut back down, and been given second doubts n what others thought of me, disapproved of my methods, as well as criticisms, sometimes negativity, and yet – part of being stronger, more effective, and successful and arming yourself with those very aspects, and making them produce positive effects for those around you. This sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Taking an army of dubs and negativity and working through it?
Yet, when the impossible is handed to you, and you struggle through it, on the other side – there is a strength you could not possibly get from 1000 armies, vitamins, or supplements, nada.For every person it is different. For me, being surrounded my an amazing freshmen advocacy eating waffles with fruit, whipped cream, and every other concoction imaginable? PRICELESS. It helped me relive the spaghetti dinners we had as a XC family in Seaford, in helped bring back the lost days of Easter and jello eggs with my family in PA, it lead me to relish the successes of an amazing student Repentino. staff that despite all kinds of opposition rise to the challenge to reach out to others and include them in their successes, pushing me through the late nights of Aloha yearbook planning and prep that drew us together over cold pizza, Chuck Hudson, and bringing out a product that had personality and a voice, to the hallowed nights of the production Les Miserables, and tears welling up as I took as many pictures as I possibly could to capture these magic moments of unity, success, breathtaking moments that would be just like Billy Joel’s song would emphasize, “This is the Time to Remember…” –
It is so important to recognize all of these moments, which in itself and compared to the grande scheme of life, tiny little drops of time, that if you are acute enough, will take, gather and sort and use to continue to support and motivate those around you and in the process, you learn alot more about yourself than ever imagined. It is truly a two way street improving yourself and those that depend on motivation when they are weak, and hence, the idea of being an educator and not just a teacher emerges. Truly the phrase Pay it Forward never meant so much as when it actually is given o as many people as you can come into contact with. I feel I have been constantly paid, both when I was conscious and not conscious of it, and there is never a day that I feel I am not lucky to have had amazing individuals around me to reward me with their talents and friendship.
What it comes down to is FEELING these gifts, and truly from Unwind, an amazing celebration of accomplishment through ASF’s cd, to a year full of individuals rising above expectation and each of us realizing the best Christmas gift has been having those individuals in our lives, you realize nothing wrapped can possibly take the place of these moments we have been apart of. You realize, individuals, both good and bad at times, have something to make everything around us better, and that is a treasure trove of realization right there.
In a year of tragedy in Mexico, a year of expression and crying out of justice, a year full of talent that will be moving beyond high school and into college, from ECC to Lower School , from Lower School to Middle School, from Middle School to Upper School, from Butler, PA, to Seaford, DE to any other state in the U.S., to areas outside of the U.S. and all things international, there is SO much potential to change things around, starting with the angle life you have the power to motivate, empower, and celebrate. THAT is what Christmas is about, where we have come from, the very origin of individuals that have made it possible for us to be where we are now. My lists are longer than any Santa list possible, the people that have influenced me and allowed me to go on to other things have included teachers, my family, students, their parents, governing officials, coaches, mentors, colleagues, college friends, high school friends, new friends, authors, movies, and so so so may more I can’t even put it into words, just the way I feel Christmas, and in Christmas itself, are the very aspects we celebrate during Thanksgiving and CHRISTMAS, and need to feel all year round.
Truly, anything successful in life has come from the very people I have mentioned above, so when anyone comes to me and is generous enough to tell me they think things I do are amazing, I realize INSTANTLY, it is because of someone else that believed in me to do something, that what resembles my talent, my success is really thanks to this so very long line of accomplices (laughing) that initially believed in me.
As I sit here and run through not only the cd of these ASF talents and memories, I am pulled back to the whole of my life, the individuals from beginning to end, that continue to amaze me from their singing, they playing, their creativity, their passion. Ironically, I find this also on the negativity handed to me through the various moments in my life, and what has been done with that same negativity, and I smile. I realize we are all tested in some form, sometimes verbally, sometimes in actions, and yet, if we take that very aspect of life and make it something not intended, what results is something beautiful. That is where I find all of you, the very individuals that have changed my life. I would say that Christmas and Thanksgiving could not have been any better as a result.