Classrooms Exist Around Us

Imagine Longwood Gardens , 1,100 acres, and visiting a garden that seems to to triple that, but is only 130 acres, This will give you an idea of the overwhelming immensity and beauty that is the Huntington. Stepping off the bus you are hit with green weverywhere, a combination of flowers, trees, soil, bushes, ivy, shrubs, landscaping that simply is not familiar and this carries so much weight alone, in discovering something new. Peaking your interest, a bell ringer say in a lesson.

What draws you in further is the arrangement and depth of the whole layout.  Imagine a Lord of the Rings set, where you can actually dive into paths, lose yourself in meditation, smells, and discoveries of education that want you to come back, and seeing individuals of all ages drawn in from amazing layouts of educational materials, fauna, flora, and the outdoors having everything to do with this. 

If this same approach, was given in detail to lessons involving students and education, the whole idea of education and a little of Montessori changes, and stimulation of wanting more of an education is revealed.  To do this, educators, not just teachers, need more time to enhance the material that will do just that, draw learners in.  I thought this every step of the way as I walked and admired the beauty I came to know as Huntington.  The borders did not exist in many cases, the blurring of growth and mad made structures became lost, you sense the metaphor here, correct?  When the blurring of learning and fascination. interest occur, a heightened sense of wonder results.

As soon as I came onto the grounds from the bus, and aside from the painting-like views of trees, shrubs, flowers, what drew me in was the need for quenching my thirst after being what seemed forever on a bus from the airport.  I immediately was drawn in to the Red Car café,

and probably had what was the best Chai tea latte I can remember, and the whole café just oozed welcome. 

It was delicious and a wonderful welcome to Huntington.  The first thought I had was immediately of parks like Parque Mexico and Parque Espana in Mexico City, were growth and parks, and businesses, and streets sometimes can get lost in each other.  So was the landscape here.

Seeing the mountains of Los Angeles framing the landscape of paths that wandered every direction you could imagine, the amazing waterfalls and fountains providing the soundtrack of your walk, this was a living classroom.  Strewn throughout the campus were amazing sculptures, the indoor Conservatory spaces teemed with fish, sprouts, interactive portals of learning, makeshift classrooms, kiosks that blended into the landscape.  Libraries and classrooms mimicking this model would far out scale any learning environment that exists.

The style of the types of fountains, garden beds, and new types of plants amazed me and then, there was the children’s garden…and amazing bushes that seems straight out of Alice in Wonderland. I could have stayed all day in the Children’s Garden and so seemingly could the adults.  I think the more elementary style skills combined with high school level constructs makes overall learning that much more appealing.

The ability to see the misting systems in place, the tunnels, the structures, the shadows, the secrets of the Japanese and Chinese gardens, the models of the overall grounds on display, the amazing restaurants planted in the middle of the gardens (Jade Court café), how to craft a garden displays, and….the library…

I was lucky enough to stumble across Ms Wong, the docent in the exapanisve and amazing Japanse Garden – who explained the amazing library that existed, allowing members to try their hand on mimicking traditional writing on rice paper, seeing and interacting with the traditional instruments and learning some amazing insights – such as the fact that the wooden architcture seens around windows, trees, etc.. serves as an aeshetic border – framing a work of art. Looking at the curved nature of the roofs to imitate an expression of art as well as functionality, understanding that every rock placed was placed after careful inspection of its size, shape, etc, and the infusion of education and skill in all aspects of music, the alphabet, and much much more.

From the Japanese House, to the Tea House, to the Bonsai collection, to the Zen Court, all nine acres of the Japanese garden was breathtaking, and only one garden amid many as I took in the educational possiblities of the Huntington. We are lucky to have similar areas like Newton Woods, and the Vince Morris Nature Trail at Chapel Branch, all parts of our Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy. Similar to the breathtaking discoveries found each step of the way at the Huntington, the similar discoveriers and A HA! moments occur when you personnaly will the opportunity to slow down, and take what is in frm around you.

The possiblities that existed from this outdoor classroom set the tone for the Humanities Conference what is possible in communities, and what Humanities means in the form of eduction, opporrtunity, and community. This was absolutely fitting and stunning to see the breadth, scope, and depth of so many exciting, living, eclectic avenues for learning contained in an environmental classroom – which is the connection I thought all along about what the Delaware Humanities and the environments around us can do together. Motivate, educate, learn, and create are just a few paths we can all walk on and contintue to discover partnerships together in meeting needs, understanding changing ecosystems, and facilitating growth in education and improving our environment around us.

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Original sodafountain beverages, crabcakes, Scrapple fries, nostalgic, traditional farming tools, historical artifacts from the past, peach ice cream, why, we must be in Delaware!

You would be 100% percent correct, sitting at the crossroad of Rural America and individuals from major cities where they call their office, it was an honor to be present at the ribbon cutting of the Crossroads exhibit at the Greater Harrington Historical Society.

As Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long arrived, and Delaware Humanities Executive Director Michele Anstine, Carol Harsh from the Museum on Main Street Program connection with this exhibit, former student and now Delaware Humanities Community Program officer, Danielle Levredge, Harrington legend and Greater Harrington Historical Society curator, Doug Poore, the mayor, police chief, Harrington board members, and MORE, all under one roof as the Cross Roads exhibit opened the first time this evening – one major theme was evident – Rural crossroads lead to major highways of culture that we find all around us in cities miles away from these amazing Rural destinations.

You absolutely do NOT want to miss this exhibit for the next three months at the Greater Harrington Historical Society. On coming back from Los Angeles and seeing Carol Harsh’s workshop on the Museum on Main Street Forum I had no idea how impactful and meaningful exhibits such as Crossroads could reflect what many people take for granted when it comes to Delaware.

It was familiar and welcoming to see a familiar face from the conference such as Ms. Harsh’s, encouraging to see former students like Danielle Levredge take projects that we tackled at high school and turn them into real life changes – and yet, this is what small town rural creativty does, changes, grows, and still retains a sense of history.

As I took this exhibit all in this evening, enjoying the amazing taste of an original Old Fashioned Sods Drinks – originally from Burton’s Sports Shop- and taking in the amazing artifacts, this was everything the temporary exhibit Crossroads was meant to give back to visitors, keep what is a town’s legacy, and show a path forward of what the future will hold for community amid its changes.

Being a part of Delaware Humnaities, and coming back from the National Humanities Conference, I beagn to see, thanks to the CrossRoads opening exhibit, how all roads do indeed come through rural american stories. Do not hesitate for one minute. but visit this great exhibit thanks to Delaware Humanities, The Greater Harrington Historical Society Museum, The Smithsonian, and so many more- exhibits like this provide an opportunity for the value of stories, rural America, to be represented in its full light.

An interesting comments was made- that someone was grateful that this event put Harrington on the map. The response was Harrington was already on the map, it was just letting others be aware and surprised what is within that map that evades the overall glance most people will see. Absolute. This exhibit is one small example of how this is possible, and how change occurs in the perimter of retianing a rural community history.

Don’t miss it!

The next few days you will see posts that come from the Humanities Conference, as the previous post, that show paths to tie communities to the growth, while retaining the value of those locations n the first place.

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Popping In Our Communities

On the way to the initial start of the Humanities Conference, this instantly caught my eye on some of the side streets of Los Angeles- and a street loaded with art, creativity, and adventure. I love the idea also, that supporting pop-up ideas can lead to amazing streets of inspriaton in our communities.

Pop Ups. A WHOLE street devoted to young, entreprenuers that encouraged new, creative ideas- now well established businesses, and here were some of them:

Throw Clay Pottery Studio ( I LOVED THIS)

Chayil Maison Lashes, facials and more

The Art Room

Studio House One

Tocaya Organic

and I loved this mural “You are a Godess living in a City of Angels.”

Creativity and enrtreprenurship should not be separate entities in our communities, I hope we can follow some of these models of pop-ups and encourage young entrepreneurs to be staples in our community.

On the way, I heard this name and did some investigation – Liz Gerber connected to engineering-

I do believe from the top down (communiy leaders to youth) much can be done to change the dynamic of success and dreams in youth in our communities 🙂

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Precursor to Sponging- Energy of Motion

Sounds…unusual right? I wondered what most students felt entering a situation where they know, a heavy load of information was coming their way, and how they prepared for this? Sleep, rest, increased activity, dread? I, for one was a little of “All of the above.”

As the Energy of Motion Humanities Conference and Los Angeles, California loomed closer, I wondered about my Energy of Motion.

Was I INSANE for participating in a conference that I was still unsure what my effective contribution to the Delaware Humanities was and would be? It seemed those around me were more sure about my ability to contribute than I was, so that, and the fact that an intense schedule waited my destination all weighed on me: (Alot of running around grabbing papers, reorganizing documents, I could feel the pressure and nervousness building leading up to me departure preparation).

Checking on limits and allowances of bags, I was able to get all my packing to one backpack, one small computer carry on, and buried in the backpack a small on the shoulder bag for walking around. I was unsure what I would be able to carry on, but ending up checking the backpack for a minimal $75.00, and hoped the checked bag would not put my schedule out of whack when I arrived, it was a tight one.

November 8 2022 – Leave for BWI for a 9:59 PM flight on Spirit to Las Vegas, 7 hour-ish overlay (what the heck will I do for that long? – I KNOW, it is Las Vegas, but trust me, lady luck and me, no history at all)

-Plane Delayed to 9:40 PM – arrive at BWI- at 8:10 PM (Tuesday) – Boarding plane and have a 1 hour delay due to bad weather in Las Vegas, lift off finally after an hour, slept the whole time. OUT. Wondering how the time change will impact me.

Plane lifting off – arrive in Las Vegas

(EST around 1:30 AM – hunker down to catch up on much needed back log of emails, assigned work for my grad class, before I know it, 4 hours left to take off to LAX. Slept slept slept. Was able to mentally organize the way to get to my hotel area, and a set reservation for a library Botanical garden tour by 12:15 ON PAPER – we will see 🙂 YES- I tried $5.00 on the slot machines, not anything to write home about, because nothing….:) Finally a food place opened and a grabbed a $12.00 chai latte and breakfast sandwich, first meal since I left the day before from my house- it carried me through – amazingly aok in that area – but we would see how that pans out.

I was still amazed at the airport with the backdrop of the Las Vegas valley/mountains in vierw of the incoming and departing planes, amazing amazing view.

Take off from LAS to head to LAX, leaving at 8:53 AM day (Wednesday) – again, sleeping and OUT like a light- no problem.

Arriving in LAX around 9:52 AM, inherently I knew I had to try and get to the Biltomore/Westin Hotel in LA before 12:15 noon, EST, for a tour I had managed to sign up for headed to the The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, (I had no real idea what this was) but I worried of course about checked bag retrieval, transit to a metro I did not know, transferring lines, etc.. – but I welcomed the light of Los Angeles as I arrived – a good sign? I thought so!

Checked bag came down the chute within half an hour, I asked an attendant where to catch the metro to the Green line ($7.80 by metro, $95.00 to $120.00 by taxi/Uber, etc, I was all about the metro!) – found the airport shuttle from LAX to what would be a destination to Willowbrook/RosaPark, ending the Green line, transfer to Blue Line, end at 7th Street/Metro Center-bam a BING! – and the hotel area and tour pickup, a 6 minute walk- hmmmm, this seems tooooo easy?

On the airport transit – a gentleman with a thick Russian/Ukranian/Slavian? accent asked me if this went to Washington Street – in my head I was….but wait! I looked down and there on my sheet,

yep- Washington! – I explained the need to transfer, etc and an individual nearby, who worked in some capacity- although he was tired, also helped confirm the directions I had were indeed, right on and believe it or not, it all matched.

We exited at the start of the Green Line metro, maneuvered getting a TAP metro card with a great 2 day rate of $3.80 for unlimited trips, and we caught the metro in the direction we needed to go – (manipulating the New York and DC. metro must have helped a ton!) A post thought, I never have regretted the experiences of taking a metro versus Uber/taxi/other. I know the reservations, danger, delays, etc but never have I ever failed to get the best sense of a city than through the metro- I LOVE public transportation and wish more people did as well. End of THAT speech 🙂

We chatted and this poor guy told me about how he had missed his flight as he has missed confirmation of his Visa renewal, therefore missed his flight and now he as back in L.A (he has been here previously! He mentioned he thought this was bad luck as he had missed his flight, missed the email and was BACK in L.A. His original destination was Vancouver, Canada, but now he was thinking of heading to Yosemite National Park area to ward off what he felt was bad luck or an omen to head somewhere different. I loved the fact he was able to have choices despite his missed flight of where he was going and when, I want that choice too! All the while, we made it to his stop and I was arriving at my last stop. The next to last stop, an individual stepped on the metro, selling items, including a VERY large TASER he demonstrated.

My European friend and I discussed the areas in Mexico that were dangerous, were not, etc and the exiting metro sales entrepreneur mentioned more deaths in L.A. happened than in Mexico. This I believed was the case when I travelled to Chicago one year while I was housed in Mexico for a 6 year period, and yep, I missed Mexico alot.

Overall, my status of sleep/different in EST to California time was GREAT, a little tired but I would take it compared to what it could be, I felt lucky but alot of this “luck” was the openness and help of those around me as well. As I came off my exit at Metro Center, I easily used my Android phone to locate the nearest hotel I needed to get to, the Westin where our bus would be picking us up at 12:15 to head to the Huntington. I was able to check my backpack, at the concierge, even though this was just the hotel I was using for the tour pickup, and then planned to see how I fared after this whirlwind of arrival an flights, and transfers, to my hotel destination, the Biltmore.

Meeting Brett Connor from the CA Humanities was like welcoming me to a new country, I had made it through what seemed a myriad of obstacles and possible to go wrongs, and I was here. Relief swet over me. As I boarded the tour bus an met indivduals from the Humanities Councils from Hawaii and Vermont, and CT. I thought…

How can we as leaders, educators, individuals in our communities prep, prepare and support students for having and maintaining this “Energy of Motion” before events of anticipated storing of information? How can we ease them into a mode they are receptive for acquiring new informaton, without it simply being a ritual of waste that will disappear in say, a week or so, but personal, and meaningful? It seemed the personal nature of meeting individuals and having earnest conversations with others along the way, “sponging the details” that mattered to me as a learner along the way, was an answer appearing that allowed me to clear every obstacle I could think of before the adventure. I hope this would be the path forward for a destination I knew nothing about yet – and wow, was I surprised 🙂

Also, the word Humanities. I had often heard conversations that people did not quite grasp the full meaning of what Humanities mean and mean to a community. the support the word can lend to areas such as Science, Math, Art, and in-depth opportunities, so I was interested to hear and find out what the expectation were of this word, on the view of students, educators, leaders, communities and more.

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Intricately Connected

Quietly coming into the Lewes Historical Society’s main room where author James Kirchick was just starting to answer questions on his book, Secret City, The History of GAY Washington, the conversation and information that was bouncing around the room was amazing. Let’s consider the fact that when you are perusing the 2022 Lewes History Book Festival billing and you see this book, you might be offended, turned off, or instantly think “That’s not for me…”. This happens so often with so many instances (some to be shared today) that I do not think many people realize the fences they are building around themselves that are shutting off opportunities for learning.

Example, the details that were offered up by James Kirchick through is book as AMAZINGLY fascinating, and the vocabulary he researches and presents is beyond what any textbook could provide in history, BEYOND the subject of being Gay. Concepts such as The Lavender Scare … (seriously, have you ever heard of this? I NEVER EVER have heard of this and this is a moment in history that is – HISTORY- my thought on any topic is – whether you agree or disagree with any concept, you as an American an living in a democratic world, should exercise the right to be AWARE of any and all education and concept, because in some countries that right is not even on the table – having the RIGHT to know about a topic is not the same as having to agree about a topic).

…the rivalry between the CIA and FBI, the idea of how many moral panics have existed in history such as the Lavender Scare (Salem Witch Trials, Japanese Internment, McCarthyism, fake news vs what is real) and the actual lives ruined in greater number from some unsuspecting scares than others, and more delving into the governmental aspects of a citizen’s view, and blending the two. It was fabulous, unexpected, and engaging to the point of not being able to hear enough. A huge takeaway point is transferable across many ideas – despite the county you live in, in Delaware, despite preconceptions you might have of a word, location, town, the only way you learn and begin to drop the tendency to avoid all of those based on the preconceptions, is to dive in and then amazingly, unexpected treasures begin to appear, Such was the case with catching the pieces of James Kirchick’s book presentation, a gift not expected. But why was I coming to this reading area in the first place?

Thomas Elton Brown, Ph.D’s book, Where Menhaden Was King, seemed intriguing to me, Every year at the Lewes History Book Festival (the ONLY Festival in Delaware, and most states, devoted to History) brings an onslaught of topics that would intrigue lovers of information since 2015. Every year I choose one session without a doubt that I can add to my All Delaware section of my high school library. This one seemed to be the ticket, Where Menhaden Was King. Hailing from a position at the Archives, and accompanied and introduced by Trina Brown-Hicks, I was not disappointed.

One thing I have discovered from the authors willing to attend and present at the Lewes History Book Festival is the opportunity to have a perspective change, to the information that you are allowing as an individual to come before you. In talking with my cousin the other day, we were discussing the difference between adding more water to an existing fish aquarium, versus a direct water change and how minerals being added and added over time can change the density of the water and the quality of the water, and from the outset, many people would not see the difference. I saw the exact same thing happening in my observations of what happens at the Lewes History Festival. One can simply add and add information, but it is not the same as unpacking what you have gathered and added versus unloading some of that information and replenishing with new information, sounds the same, but it is not. You can walk away with a new way of looking at the areas you may have taken for granted or had preconceptions about since a young age. I would love to see individuals that have never attended the Lewes History Book Festival and see what they can add to the conversations as well- and if you allow it, geographic areas, populations of people, preconceptions about political, social, environmental topics can bring people together rather than pull people apart, despite agreeing or disagreeing. That is is beauty of the ideal of democracy (more on that later).

From inside the factory, to boats, to the impact of the Menhaden on the Lewes we know today, to equal rights, to the unknown stories that should be told about Lewes’ Otis Smith , I felt this was an exciting acquisition and addition to the History Book Festival. It was exciting to see the discussion, and seeing people attending that worked in fisheries from all locations and that have founds themselves here in Delaware. We are richer for the diversity that comes to Delaware and the knowledge we have through the fishing, water industries, and rediscovering beginnings of the first state. In essence, being a new board member of the Delaware Humanities allows me to see events, social interactions, and experiences in a different light as well, and allowing myself to consider the impacts of events and experiences on learning more and more. Having the profession of librarian allows me to organize how these experience are able to impact communities, as well as individuals and be able to be used to increasingly bring people together that previously have not been.

Back to that word Democracy as well, I have learned over the years the meaning many people attach to a word is not exactly the one single meaning of a word. Let’s look at what we have talked about so far – consider these words – Gay, Democracy, Librarian, Lewes, Kent County, Sussex County, New Castle County, chicken industry, Delaware, rural v urban, white collar, blue collar – just a few. ANY of those words I have heard 100 conversations about them, and heard so many different stances on those words, it is worth THAT being a book. And yet, some of the preconceptions tied to those words are often not middle of the word, but convincing to a person until – something strong enough comes along to allow a space for reconsidering how you see that word.

I would love to think, (as I currently do think, lol) the Lewes History Book Festival allows the space for people to see that words as exampled above, carry MANY different avenues of exploration and knowledge, and do not stand necessarily for a single path of thought according to one person. As a Delaware Humanities Board Member, as a Delaware Association for School Librarians member, as a Cross Country Coach, as a Certified English Educator and Librarian, as a citizen of the United States, I am grateful for being able to live in a Democratic country that allows me to discover events in history that individuals that have differing beliefs and lifestyles, that do live in differing counties, that DO different occupations, that DO believe in coming together to strengthen the state we live in. To me, that is Democracy if I was to take and isolate one of the many terms above, and there is still room to learn about Socialism, Communism, 100 different other -isms, but the bottom line is being a Delawarean, a true Delawarean, and even larger, a Democratic individual in the United States, is to be open to new experiences and have the ability to add more “water to the tank.” (non partisan please!)

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Allowing yourself time to let thoughts, experiences, frustrations, and more simply rise to the top of your mind, but actually having someone to share those frustrations with on a deeper level – there are no words.

Today was our first cross country invitational – at Killen’s Pond for 2022. I was excited because with the idea of cross country, few people can get past what is most important and life valuable with this sport – it is not the competition of your time and everyone else’s time, it is not the chance to be a star and let everyone know and believe it or not, it is not going from meet to meet competing with yourself for that holier than thou time (although that IS addicting) that make cross country more spiritual than any sport I know.

I have been lucky enough to have conversations with one of the best cross country athletes in the high school realm currently, and have been able to do this for the past three years. This individual has the school, has the times, has the proof of their devotion to being one of the best to touch any cross country field, and I have been lucky enough to have conversations in snippets when we come together as teams – and we do so secretly, without advertising this happening, to process what we experience – and I am that much luckier to be able to hear and compare from this individual as an athlete and runner, and this individual gets to hear the coaches’ perspective, and it has been, pretty darn awesome. Some amazing takeaways we have hashed out over several years-

Regrets are amazing. Between the reasons people miss meets and miss opportunities that allow them to gel with others at every chance before leaving the high school sport of XC, we marvel at this. We agreed on a phrase, your team is where you are more than not. Meaning, this individual comes from a VERY VERY competitive and LARGE XC school that churns out runners like a factory – and XC is almost a religion. Obviously, this feeling of why you run XC seems to come from being the best than most on the XC course. We agreed and laughed at what REALLY makes a XC team is the people that come out like a ritual and know others will do better by something that can contribute to the runners on their team. The devotion to others, we marveled, more than self, pays back to your own success more than anyone, or groups, that come from more than generous talented teams, and what is important is who is there for you more often that not, we laughed at what the definition of team really is when you look around and see who around you, who is cheering you on, and who is there for you on show days AND off days.

This individual comes again, from a large, talented, competitive school and hearing how they envied when we, who often have 5-6 reliables at every single meet for the season, and less during the whims of what sometimes is considered “extra” early or later in the season, we agreed, XC is XC, half time is half time, being there all the time and being there when the winds allow it sends a feeling of worth, or uselessness and frustration through others on a team. This athlete felt bad about what seemed talking bad about the team they were on that usually pushes past almost many other teams and yet, they felt what they were missing was what happens when you have chances to really connect and take in what makes XC probably the best sport ever-

Commercial break – what makes it the best sport ever? The mix of being able to take in amazing scenery and views, being able to trade pain for momentary lapses of time that make you laugh, sometimes cry, but being able to embrace what is outdoors and make it a part of your own experience, and letting those that miss it go for their high targeted goals (this athlete kept mentioning that term, LOVED IT) – while putting time in with individuals that really “get” the value of making something personal from XC and not making it a stepping stone. How many times do students, athletes, and more let the amazing experiences of a sport slip by for the sake of the glorious record, competitive edge that is contagious around others, and for the second of adding a line on a resume? Few and those few are the unhappiest- ironic, isn’t it?

Back to this amazing realization too – I vented a frustration alot last year and moreso this year of how much work some sports do and how little others do. Works in the context of outside of working on your self, how many teams, athletes, sports work on the relationships, the physical terrain that defines their sport, the physical aspects of where they train every day. Odd, this person REGRETTED not doing more outside of training, training, training in their sport and nothing else related to their sport. I laughed SO SO loud, and said LET ME TELL YOU….We have had to solicit help from past parents, individuals in other school districts, (And in weird places in our own too!) , coaches and parents of athletes in DIFFERENT SPORTS!, just to try and put together let’s say, new features to our course, to the experiences we have that stand out in the form of banquets, finding money for those things on shoe shoe string budgets (forget the shoe strings just shoes!) – that was a great joke this athlete made, 1 for them! – and yet, doing the countless sweat, labor, and hustles we do, we walked away appreciating the small numbers, the successful events we do constantly, the sport takes on totally new meaning. TOTALLY new meaning.

Anyone that knows me knows I HATE asking for help from ANYONE, it KILLS ME. Yet, this athlete confidante told me from a student perspective, being asked to do something instead of always having everything handed to them – made all the difference in the world in their experience running Cross Country. That made me look at my won frustrations and appreciations for people that have put in their own time, weekends, holidays, hard work and sweat, for such a small team every year that often, gets left off the radar in alot of things. Yet we both argued together, is getting recognized for what you DID or DO better than the feeling you have inside of knowing the harder work you might be putting in, more than someone else, in ways other than training? The latter is more attractive you just do not realize it until much, much later.

You take ALL the above and apply this to real situations, it all applies. EVERY SINGLE TIME, I am on Atlanta Road, someone stays on my bumper where I cannot see their bumper, until they fly past me at 90 miles and hours, and ironically, we always end up behind or car behind car with each other at the next intersection – my comparison was hurry hurry hurry or fame fame fame get that amazing be better than anyone else and then – poof! – what next? is that worth dying because you had to be going 10 miles faster than me on a back road, comparatively, was it worth missing the beauty of the whole sport of XC to be so focused on beating someone else all the time, was it worth it to make sure your time is one of the largest in the states to make the most noise, get the most awards, and walk away with being legend more season than others- we both agreed- there are so many EXCELLENT XC runners that will never, and do not get, the TRUE essence of what XC is based on what happens behind the scenes, when people are not looking when numbers are taken out of the whole experience (odd thing to say) and then taking all this and applying this to real life- alot applies in all directions.

For the past three years these are some of the good, brief, and detailed reflections we have had about views from a coach and an athletes, and they are some of the best moments I have felt and reflected on when it comes to XC. It came to a head today with some of the topics we discussed today, and reminded me of some amazing things that occurred today on our team:

Ryan hunkered down to one of the hardest spots on today’s course and offered TWICE to place himself in places where he had to walk to push on, and cheer on one of our other runners who was running an official 5k for the FIRST TIME. It made a HUGE difference, a HUGE different in the other runner’s time, it was a HUGE glory moment for XC in my book.

Funny thing is , Matthew has no idea how much of a leader/captain, etc. he is and he is SO much so this. He just does not realize it so many times, and it is so interesting to see from afar, how much he still has to work on, and yet, how much strength he has he is unaware of.

Having the laughter and optimistic views that Irene, Matthew, and Brent brought to the course today was one of the most memorable first meets I have had in years, weird, but absolutely true, it was just – perfect. They did nothing special, but the struggles they have had over the weeks in training, and then seeing things just happen on their behalf today – it just was awesome. Many times Brent simply said, or thought, not possible and boy, he made what he thought impossible, possible today. That speaks volumes without saying a word.

Being able to have a super cool support factor in our corner from an exchange student from Germany, it also just made the whole day more pleasant than normal. She is such a cool addition to WHS, and her easy going, agreeable and interesting take on things around her just seemed to really bring out what I have always liked about XC. Lea made it an even better day for everyone just be her very nature.

Being able to lay out frustrations, anxieties, and just wishes and recommendations I wish some athletes would just “get” is a difficult task sometimes when you have a coaching staff that is just somehow off kilter. I am lucky that Coach Syerra soaks alot of that in and is able to provide a back and forth where we can later laugh at some of the craziest, most frustrating aspects of XC and yet lay them down and find ways to move past them. That is a huge key. And the unseen HOURS of labor and work that Coach Syerra and Coach Gary and his wife have put in, to just have HILLS

and trails and trees disappear or appear, forms and guidelines restructured, the countless hours neighbors, workouts changed, adapted, squeezing the harsh realities of life given to everyone on a daily basis amid all these goals, former parents of past XC runners, friends of our coaches, and more have put in SILENTLY, without a large proportion of the public knowing – it would flabbergast you as it it flabbergasts me every single day.

All of this touches the iceberg about how much recognition and support the sport of XC does get in shadows of others and yet, there is a drive in XC members that you will never find in any others. Aside from the many frustrations and roadblocks we come across on many a path – there are these shortcuts that our maintenance, administration, and community in the public do come to our aide with that show repeatedly, being first, being the fastest, being better than everyone else is a short burning match to the flame of recognizing your sport has the ability to build an internal feeling of growth and appreciation.

I am privileged to have these outstanding reflections from a school experience of one person to the opposite of everything our school is in numbers of athletes available for XC, contrasting money given to every sport, for facilities, the internal drive for running in general and so much more, and it has brought some amazing laughs and realizations together, and it KILLS me to not say thanks to a specific name, but, there are things more important than the name, record, and resume recognition as we keep coming back to, and it makes it even more rewarding to know we come from different spectrums and have these realizations.

So when you think no one truly realizes what you are thinking, experiencing, feeling, and trying to get across to others over an extended period of time, think again. Life is more about who shows up to your side, when they show up to your side, why they show up to your side, and how they make a difference.

I am lucky enough to have found all of these, the frustrating and the inspiring in key individuals in this sport. And a glorious day as well in today made it a perfect backdrop for all the above. 🙂 This teaches me daily to reshape what it means to be a coach, what it means to be a colleague, what it means to be a person who looks out for other people and set aside my frustrations.

Passing, passing, passing, it is so important to consider who and why you are passing, and what you are passing that defines each of us, on and off the course!

P.S. Dane whispered to me that today might have been the best day he ever had remember. That says alot too 🙂

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On the Move in Connected Areas

With the past blog post highlighting how the World On the Move exhibit would have an amazing home here in Delaware, at the ALA Conference there were attendees who shared their similar events of displays that reached out and connected individuals to very important social issues worth being aware of.

Letters to Sala was an important topic that has had many exhibits created and recreated to inform here in the United States. Below are some of the exhibits that have sprung up as a result of the Holocaust, the issue of war brides, and recollecting and reorganizing history:

New York


Scranton, New York

New Jersey


Additionally, the exhibit of one educator’s high school tied elements of an Unessay contest featured in Cleveland, Ohio, led to a spectacular Superman exhibit:

Ties to Cleveland Ohio and the Superman Comic

What many might not be aware of is that the Library of Congress has one of the LARGEST collections in the world of graphic novels/cartoons/ comics in the world– definitely worth checking out:

Exhibition and LOC

World of Comics

Largest Collection in the World of Comics

Stay tuned for another look at a resource-packed workshop from the American Library Association Conference 2022, coming your way!

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What keeps you up at night.

Okay so I know. It is 12:58 and your’re going to say it. I never sleep. Hear me out.

I do, sometimes. But as of late, it is important, despite the layer upon layer of backlogged posts, topics to talk about, and more that keep piling up, amid the heavy heavy loads that pile up around us and sometimes the tasks and chores we take on, some we do not – but there is always some beams of light that we HAVE to stop and take notice to realize there are some magical things happening every minute, and if we do not stop ourselves to take them in, we will miss so much due to the work we have created for ourselves, and for the work we have allowed to take up so much of our lives. It is also important to let you see inside some of the moments that you might not know exist.

Many of you know, or might know, I am passionate about librarians and libraries, but the moments I have witnessed in those very places that have launched some of the most amazing young people to places they never knew they could go- those places are worth fighting for and the people to make them possible. Here are two examples worth telling, this is what keeps me up at night 🙂

First, over the course of six weeks, as you know, I am involved in a program called Upward Bound – and I have to share a secret with you. when you say you are going to go on several trips, let alone a three night trip over the summer, with teenagers, during summer break, the usual eye rolls, sighs, and “God Bless You!” are emitted, and I have to be 100% truthful, I was not sure I really made the right decision over the summer.

I DID. It is easy to look at this whole scenario of working and spending time with those younger than I as a service to them, as a job, as a duty, as an obligation. Yet, the summer was not any of those in the least. Each one of the Upward Bound students, there is no differentiation between programs when they are together, and they are a force to be reckoned with. What many fail to realize, is they gave up their summer, and also the very very hard work they put in to climb to heights that many take for granted every day, outside of summer and during the regular year. Every day. Every week. Every weekend. Every summer. The moments we spent at colleges, in classes, in labs, on site at work study locations, and seeing the refreshing moments they deserved at Hershey Park and meals in a restaurant, and being able to see them TOGETHER, there was no better moment I thought or didn’t think I would experience.

It is always amazing to be around young people, but seeing students willing to take criticism, willing to give criticism, willing to open their vulnerabilities and fears to be exposed and take risks, and to take those elements and turn them into victories and steps of success, and finally enjoy their lives at the sake of compromising, learning, and again exposing their weaknesses to make way for strengths – they are superwomen and men, not teenagers when they emerge from the accomplishments you will see the next few posts. I will be delving into the works they created over the next few posts/weeks, and see how they expressed their experiences, strengths, and beliefs through mediums like Youth Voices and the creation of Zines, just to name a few ways. You are going to love it as I loved every moments I was with them. This keeps coming back and keeping me up at night in the best possible way.

A second glimpse of true magic sometimes comes in the quietest forms. I have to tell you about this one young lady that changes things without saying a word. We have a young lady named Irene on our Cross Country team that just gives you a feeling of hope, faith, and optimism from her truly pure heart. I say this because of her gentle nature of running on the trail, her pure approach to all things living, her unrelenting, unforgiving of her self at times, and when you are around such a magical moment, and a person who brings such pureness to a sport, you never forget, ever. Irene brings this raw pureness and faith to a sport that often gets overlooked, often is underestimated of what goes in to the sport – and in such a decisive time in our communities and lives, this sounds corny, but this is so true – Irene, when you watch her run, you sense a calm, reassuring moment no matter the odds. Irene, without raising a voice, moves ahead on others running, not just in her time, but in her confidence, faith, and demeanor. You feel this as well when her family is present and supports the same sentiments, and all this without a word dropped ever. When you have someone this special, this powerful in just her presence, you know nothing else matters, numbers that outnumber you mean nothing when you have someone such as the strength that Irene brings to any team, sport, or group you are lucky enough to be in with her around. Complaints pale when you have someone that is willing to push through difficult times and never blink, but just push forward. Irene pushes us all forward, and to be in the presence of such an incredible person, how luck are we to be as coaches, teachers, and witnesses to such powerful moments?

Ironically, isn’t it wonderful how from different parts of experiences and lives students from this amazing strong Upward Bound summer and someone as quiet, yet powerful as Irene have so much alike? Instead of a summer consumed, I was lucky enough to have a summer and continuing Fall replenished – and there are more stories of these on a small but mighty XC, powerful, yet inspirational Upward Bound team, and I hope you are as excited as I am to hear stories not yet told.

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Something More to Carry…

While some of the WHS XC (Cross Country) students were helping with a construction project yesterday – the conversation among students and coaches was how students wished they would receive more deep dives into the curriculum. We asked about their experiences as students from all schools attended to date. Some stated they heard about the signing of the constitution 100 times, yet have not heard very often about the details that surrounded events in the revolution, during the revolution, or individuals they never knew in the revolution, they are interested in the weird, out of the books, hard to find details on curriculum details, the things they will carry with themselves outside of school.

School Librarians present in all schools can present this, and I feel the Upward Bound Program this summer also provided the time to to do this – this is an amazing program for giving the students steps, so they realized they can achieve, succeed, and thrive more than they ever expected- they become new individuals when giving fresh perspectives.

Lots to discuss on the above topics, so stay tuned, but here is a sneak preview into some of the aspects that came out of the Upward Bound Program this summer, at Georgetown Del Tech (Art, Science, Math, Workstudy, Foreign Languages (German), college visits) and more. A HUGE asset to students and the state of Delaware for enhancing the information that students WANT to discover from what can be sometimes a cookie cutter curriculum. We are better than that, students and parents want better than that, school librarians are only one of 100 ways to start on that path, and communication among school librarians, administrators, teachers, public libraries, paraprofessionals, parents, The Delaware Education Association, the Delaware Department of Education, local agencies for Librarianship, need to occur more on a higher level.

Bringing the details alive is an art of education, not a unnecessary aspect and asking why your school does not have a school librarian, to connect what occurs in school to community leaders, events, businesses, and more, to enhance their education is a start. Write to your DASL (Delaware Association for School Libraries) leadership team to find out how as simple as sending an email, can start this process!

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Escaping from Normality

Kudos are in order. As Classic Upward Bound headed out in the wee hours of the morning for Lancaster, Pennsylvania on college tours to Franklin and Marshall, to Lebanon Valley College, and ultimately to Hershey Park’s escape room, one single event defined everyone as a group.
No, it was not the question asked of tour guides at the colleges, no, it was not the discovering what everyone’s “feel” was for the campus they were experiencing – it was their ingenuity and generosity when put under pressure, and in an escape room situation.

The seniors at times, knowing the answer to riddles, puzzles, and ciphering cryptic message, stood aside to let others give everyone their opinion, ideas, suggestions. Freshmen who came into the escape room and who felt no one wanted to listen to them or that they themselves might not have anything to contribute, found places where every single member contributed to getting out of that escape room – be it using a laser and strategically targeting onto a mirror, that revealed a message across the room, helped shift letters representing other letters to reveal YET another message, using magnets to guide a key from between walls sight unseen, to countless other on the cuff moments, the seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen team in my escape room team were simply AMAZING.

If you thought the above sentence was quite along sentence and knocking your breath out, you know now how it felt to see everyone work together to use talents they did not exist to work together – pretty darn great. It was awesome to see them all come together and see HOW they did is, the style they did so, and seeing each one of them step up to the plate.

Escaping from being considered average is sometimes difficult for the average high school student to see in themselves, being anything other than average is not usually a recognized trait they see in themselves. It does wonders to point out the intelligence, guts to put one self out even if an idea might not be right, let alone just be willing to be themselves and let them know they are GREAT as what they do. I feel they do not hear enough how wonderful they are in aspects they never even realize about themselves. The hardest part is paying attention sometimes when so much is happening to recognize the great moments they do succeed, and often in things that many might consider insignificant – but are really not.

All these realizations from a very talented group of individuals that I feel, underestimate their abilities to change much around them. I saw it happening simply from one very intense, long, challenging, voyage from one state to another. But the exchanges they became involved in made a story of how much they were and are capable of in a variety of situations. Sounds cliche, but the many way Upward Bound students show they are Upward Bound was proven today – looking forward to Hershey Park tomorrow with a very talented group of students!

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