Spiriting the Unexpected Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Assembling the Ensemble of Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Up, Down, or All Around?

That’s right, there were bonafide Hooverites and Hoovervilles in Annie. Hooverites and Hoovervilles in Annie.  I heard this so frequently from the practices and shows, it reminded me almost of Whoville in Dr. Seuss (turns out there were connections to Whoville and Hooverville!)  However, when you hear something so often, you tend to forget what it really represents, means, in the larger picture.  That is where individual characters came into play to remind everyone within in viewing distance, there is a bigger picture for all of us with the representation of the Hooverites and Warbuck’s Staff on stage.  

While there could be a debate if the Whoville and Hooverville idea from two different literary pieces are related, with the cast making up Warbucks’ Staff as well, you see at many turns in this production the contrasting lives that either have a life of security, a job, and regular pay they can count on or the other side of this production where there are so many that do not have any of those promises towards a better life. When we look at the cast who made up these two areas of the overall production, much can be viewed and contemplated when it comes to how this distinct division of upper and working class, can sometimes blur and those lines, at times, are not that obvious.

Hooverite – Alex N – Difficult to realize unless you were behind stage, but the change of roles between the Hooverite and Warbucks’s staff was rapid at times; add into this moving into the role of Cordell Hull-  there is this transition between social classes and financial levels with each character, it IS as if something was being compared as individuals like Alex adjust into very different roles as a character.  Alex did this so well, amid rushing back and turning into a completely different person between the various roles – her flexibility, versatility, and ability set the tone for moral lessons amidst a trying time in history overall.  Calm, confident, and persistent, it was not a surprise to see Alex on the stage as she seemed from the very beginning this was where she could and would be.  I felt the very confident and hold your head high demeanor she seemed to possessed certainly spread from one cast member and quickly spread to everyone during the course of the practice leading into the shows ending the week.  Ultimately, this would be one of the main strengths you were able to see behind the stage if you did not see from the very first one.

Shelby S– Having seen Shelby from last year’s variety show, as well as seen previously the positive and absolute appearance she brings to being in the public eye, Shelby certainly added to the overall production.  As being a center in the Hooverites, Mrs. Greer, AND Frances Perkins in Annie, (the first female cabinet member in the United States), it seened perfectly natural to see Shelby rotate through several roles throughout the production.  She has the quality tenacity, and energy on stage that seems to push forward the mix and confidence, as well as the will, to represent a variety of personalities – which she did very well in representing a  variety of social stations in Annie.  Not without a reason.  The blending of what individuals during Roosevelt’s New Deal deserved, were capable of, and needed as far as a mix of upper class, middle class, and lower class I felt was often ignored until programs were finally initiated to involve more of the country’s residents. You see the way of breaking through class distinctions with Annie’s scores and ideas.  Shelby does a very good job in showing individuals are the substance that matter more than a social station determine by others  considered around you, above you, and below you.  As a cast, the members never delineated between helping or not helping each other based on their role, they were all in it together and the variety of roles Shelby played help reinforce that fact.

Elizabeth T- Elizabeth might come off as a quiet and reserved individual when you first meet her.  However, from her characters of Hooverite and Warbuck’s student, to the emerging of humor and seriousness you witness behind stage, it is another story of a character that can offer a wide breadth of her own style, supporting many others along the way.  Again, I did not realize how much I would miss realizing the ability of each individual character in Annie without being behind stage.  You see students every day, get a vibe of who they are, and then when a stage performance presents itself, you see a new spotlight reaction of who that individual is, and usually a more personal and deeper conviction revealed of that individual  It is a gift to be able to see that change and transformation over a period of weeks, even days.  Elizabeth was always in the middle of supporting a another cast member while holding up her part of the plot each scene.  Her dress that almost would swallow her was one of many comedic highlights you would witness off stage, but her contribution to how an upper class role character is tied to what society would consider a middle or lower class character worked and emphasized the fact that as a whole, no matter what arena, we are in this together.

C.J. C- If you know C.J, there is just something always lingering on that smile that is on the verge of laughter and hilarity,  C.J. would carry this positive and optimistic vibe through every single scene and event, and you could sense this in all the cast as practices led into final shows.  From policeman, to Drake serving Warbucks with a sense of irony, it is difficult to even imagine a production of Annie without C.J.  From Drake, to Lt, Ward, to Ickes, to Fred McCracken, the transition for authority figure, to a dummy, to a faithful Batman like Butler, to someone playing protector, it is easy to see C.J’s easy going style melt social class distinctions and get to the heart of who a character really is as a person.  I would not really want to see a production without C.J a part, and seeing him here, there, everywhere across the stage and behind, it made the feel and content of Annie rewarding to say the least.

Tyree W- I have to put Tyree and C.J. pretty close together as far as how were willing to support so many individuals on the cast throughout the week.  Be it moving a bed off stage, downstage, way down the hall behind stage, to helping rearrange mic lines and a host of other rearrangements, to the general topics discussed off stage between scenes, the easy-going nature of Tyree just worked with the roles of so many Warbuck servants and Judge Brandeis as a contracting role.  It certainly helps settle the score of when government and law works towards an individual and contrasting when it works against an individual.  Tyree helped bring that idea and theme around on and off stage both.  Supporting so many, and willing to do so, left you with wondering when and where you would see him next!

Again, add into this mix the repeated roles of individuals such as Alexander S, Kaleb P., Steven L., Alyssa A., Rachel B., Marissa K., Alex B., Rheya F., Anya G., and Sydney W.,  I loved the fact that there was never a feeling of a small cast trying to cover multiple roles.  Being able to represent so many different individuals and doing it well is so much different that another upon another individual coming on stage to simply move a play forward.  The role of Annie as well as many secondary stories occurring did in fact stick up for the fact that social class can not be a determining factor of one’s true worth. Be it government, employment, the lack of employment and host of other influences, that tag is not a real check of who an individual really and truly is. Each night casts members from The Hooverites and Warbucks’ staff went on to prove that. 



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Consciously Historical, or Historically Subsconscious – Annie Pulls Off Both.

It is funny, as I get older, and supposedly wiser (lol) – I find myself realizing more and more details I never connected together – (and maybe should have).  I recall the first historically-based musical I witnessed in December 2016, December 02 to be exact at ASF, the Radium Girls. 

I remember thinking “Two for one! Revisiting the past and also catching how major and minor characters in this musical manage to pull off a historical piece of time” – and I watched it that way every single night, still entertained.  To me, it seemed at times that I was watching the film knowing the “magic” that occurred behind the effects, but in the musical at least, I did not find it being “stripped” knowing it was done so well with the characters that delivered the historical context as well as the lines that made up the musical as well.  I guess that is the magic of it being a musical and having great actors. 

The ironic thing is with Annie, I never, EVER realized, despite the hints in all the songs, the references all throughout this historical period piece, how much historical reference there was -I focused so much on the audio and Annie’s story and watching how that story developed; at some point I really, unconsciously became unaware of the constant ties to how much historical was coming through the songs, the lines, the characters, until after the production was over!  My thoughts then led me to the countless musical numbers and moments that characters other than the main characters, helped that historical as well as drama-delivered message come across.  Something inside tells me the magic of a good, and even GREAT, production is the ability to still hear the numbers, and revisit what you witnessed and play it over in your head and want to talk about how powerful a piece a production is based on two, sometimes even three-story lines happening.  

The historical literally flew over my head as I was so focused on the moments the characters delivered on stage, and this led me to realize how amazingly rich some of the characters I mention tonight delivered and supported the seven actors and actresses mentioned in last night’s post.  I love how rich the production was when looking and revisit a second time, walking away with as much to learn as there is as much to be entertained by.  That is the awesome power of stage, a musical, and characters that can deliver.  Such as…

Molly – Alyssa A – There is MUCH also to be said about Alyssa.  I have to say, one of the most inviting and surprising moments was my FIRST musical since leaving Mexico city, and that was Miracle on 34th Street.  I prepared myself mentally saying, “This is NOT Mexico City, this is small town Delaware, and this will not be the same, however shocking it will be to you, so just ease into the transition back to a small town, small state.”  While this mental preparation/mantra was going through my head, I realized as soon as I saw and heard Alyssa, this was no ordinary individual on stage.  Her energy, direct eye contact, motions, emotions, and WILLINGNESS to bring the story to you individually, it hit me like a freight train in Miracle on 34th Street and caught me unexpected.  The same momentum Alyssa brought to that lead role she brought to the staged as an orphan and turned what not necessarily a lead character into the same qualities and talent she possessed in Miracle on 34th Street.  There is no doubt her story was powerful then, and she continued to show amazing strength and power as an orphan in Annie.  I kept recalling her active standouts in “It’s a Hardknock Life” but there is NO DOUBT her energy and stage presence does not “orphan” her ability on stage AT ALL.  Her ability as a puppeteer, hysterical mimic of Ms. Hannigan, a Hooverite, AND orphan not only show her flexibility AND ability, but her strength in voice (I can still her her in the key songs in Annie) do in fact neatly help “bury”any doubts of her ability, similar to the very laundry she is buried in the show. She carries herself so well, while at the same time uplifting those around her. 

Pepper – Alex B. – Resolute.  I am not sure why this word comes to mind with I think of the role of Pepper,  Ms. Pugh, and Alex but I think it is mainly because of what Alex brings to these characters.  Supporting her role as Mrs. Pugh and how the staff of Warbucks supports him, as well as providing alot of spunk that only Alex could bring?, it makes sense.  When I witnessed the talent on stage of Alex when it came to the Variety Show last year, heck yes.  She can do QUITE ANYTHING and surprise your socks off.  She did and does in Annie, and that resolute expression, determined expression you see on her face makes you realize, she will be able to get through anything she sets her mind to.  Love it.

Duffy – Avery K and Te’Neal G. – Certainly at first thought you might see characters in a production as “extra’s there for supporting the main characters and little else.  It was refreshing, exciting, and inspiring to see Avery and Te’Neal on stage and doing this OFF stage, and on stage putting their hope, energy, and obvious expressions that a better day does exist for all to see.  Not only supporting how many individuals during this time period did hope for a better tomorrow, today, when the topic of so many youth in very own towns as well as an international issue deal with the topic of being parentless, these two characters managed to turn a supporting position into a role that was necessary and integral to what else occurred on stage.  That is exciting to see any role taken seriously and brought to life – and usually can only be done with the right people. Avery and Te’Neal were the right people.

July- Sydney W.- I have to admit seeing someone off stage and then on stage, sometimes can be shocking. This was the case with Sydney.  I would have never placed Sydney as someone able to perform in front of people, she seemed reserved, quiet, to herself.  On stage, BAM, the lightning has come into the building PEOPLE! I was so inspired getting to know Sydney from the life she brought to life – (is that possible?) on stage.  That she did as July being the quietest orphan and yet, if you pay attention to the details of what unfolds on stage, Sydney without a doubt belongs there.  That is the magic of the stage, and I found myself looking forward to her part and how she continued to make the orphans become a reality, when so many conveniently put the status of orphans in real life away in a corner of history.  Sydney continues to resurrect the power orphans play in this historical context, as well as this production itself.

Tessie – Rheya F. – AGAIN! – I question myself as a teacher when I see someone in a production and wonder, how had I NOT seen this student in school until NOW?  I love the way Rheya carries herself and commands her role, as well as knows SO MUCH about what is happening behind the scenes, on stage, and the commitment she dedicates to her role.  Her “Oh My Goodness I thought at first needed more oomph and by the progressive shows she did provide that oomph to match her ability on stage.  Add to this the mood swings that Tessie needs to have, and honestly, I simply want to see Rheya on stage again. Playing support to Annie as Cecille, Rhyea shows she is capable of much in two dimensions when it comes to bringing forth multiple needs.  I love seeing someone that seems to have much more substance than they imply and felt Rheya on stage – it will be exciting to see what she brings next and what she can being next.  

Kate – Anya G. – I am also am finding it interesting how the orphans metaphorically in Annie have become in reality a halfway house of talent for future shows at WHS. Kate being the shyest and quietest orphan, friendly with everyone, described Anya to a “T”.  On and off set this was Anya perfectly, and yet, you SAW this smile, this ability, and wantingness to do great things and a commitment to the overall orphan group, almost being a testing ground for answering the question, can you bring more to other roles? I believe Anya has a TON more to bring roles in the future, and without a shadow of a doubt, became to acquire who this young lady was due to her ability on stage in Annie.

Add to this the reappearance of Marissa K. and you do in fact realize the orphans in Anne represent the very diversity, strength, and ability that often maybe unknown talents that exist in a sea of individuals.  Marissa is able to bring this message through her roles and these individuals during the course of the run of Annie reminded the audience over and over, the true one major theme of Annie –

Face Annie

something in a very historical and emotional sense, all of the above and aforementioned characters did every night of this powerful, meaningful production of WHS’s Annie.  Stay tuned for seeing how the Hooverites, Warbucks’ Staff, and Ensemble (by the way! – Tuesday between 8:15 and 8:30 –



See what I did there?  Connections! – it is all about Connections, and I can’t say enough about the hidden pockets of connections this cast was able to bring out in WHS’s Annie.  Stay tuned, there is MUCH more to realize about what the WHS show Annie brings out in so many!

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Production Versus Independence.

I have been fortunate in my life to have been influenced with having difficult moments. I remember days I had to work harder than my average classmates when I knew others were having a much easier time, often swimming, vacationing, but anything but what I was doing which usually was a combination working on a paper route, weeding one of several customers that made up many landscaping spots, working a Turnpike toll booth shift, working a double or extra shift at Friedman’s grocery, later it was pulling summer school hours whether here or in Mexico.  Point is, it all paid off.  Only now, at the ripe age of 46, am I realizing that instilled in me a sense of discipline to weather through the rough times as they would come in like the tide and some obviously are rougher to ride out than others.  Watching the final show of Woodbridge’s Annie, I realized how amazing each individual has worked to create a sense of independence while also being able to create a sense of walking away with a feeling of supporting each other, two very opposite qualities but qualities not many people who participate in events of any discipline can carry with them.   

I have also had the opportunity, starting back in my first years of college to accompany a faculty member of the college I attended to Pittsburgh Public Theatre, due to her age and needing a driver, and it created an opportunity of interest I never knew, would grow.  Theatre and the stage did have the power to be personal, driving, motivating, personal.  Since those first years experiencing the stage, I have had the privilege of seeing some of the best productions behind stage, on stage, in front of the stage, above the stage, in this country, on other countries, in famous halls, high school stages, arenas, you name it. They each have had signature moments from beginning to end.  

Very few times did I think I would ever feel the emotions you can feel without seeing the full stage, the full show from the front.  From the very first night, of dress rehearsal and showtime, the feeling that was created among a cast that was given to the audience, and while not often covered, witnessed, or attended by as many to see such magic, that is when the magic occurs and you know few, if any group can achieve what happens on the stage, as well as off.  Until I am proven wrong, over 16 years of witnessing amazing productions from Canada to Mexico City, you know when you see that special magic occur, and when you do, there is a selfish part celebrating you and maybe not alot of others did get to see what you felt inside and out, day in and day out.  There were alot of reason why, and here are a few:

Annie – Gabriella M. –  Without a doubt, Gabriella has known the fact that the good and bad days coexist alongside each other.  However, one of the most difficult challenges seemed to be meeting a shy Amaya and making it seem as if they traveled this path of stage all along.  At first I am sure Gabriella felt it was the chicken that tied Amaya to her during practice and the play itself.  However, little she know I knew better.  Having seen Amaya rebound after events that would not normally let any canine be confident, from the struggles of being born literally on the road and in the back of my truck in Mexico, literally falling out of her mother Kinah on the steps., days of struggling with being alone during a hectic day schedule, losing Kinah, Amaya’s mother on Valentine’s Day, and adjusting to new additions all the time to a home fuller of newer strays all the time, to being uprooted and moved to a new country and a new situation again – Amaya can and was aloof for a reason.  Amaya needed to meet Gabriella and show me I needed to spend way more time with Amaya, Wriggley, and Dane; Amaya always was known for being a canine that pushed her trust back awhile until something proved her 10 steps back would not occur.  Amaya connected with Gabriella on many levels for the very reason Gabriella connected to Annie and in turn found herself amid a cast that indeed, cast the feeling of what holidays truly mean and give that back to the audience.  All you had to do was see the way Amaya ran to Gaby each evening, and you knew 🙂

Warbucks – Alexander S. – Transformations are unexpected, and to be honest, are one of the best gifts of the holiday, and have the potential to change everything.  The ease and flair that Alexander brought to the stage throughout this production also continued to reign through the relationships on stage and off stage among the whole cast.  The idea of Annie around Christmas – brilliant when you have a cast made up of individuals that are tied to how the audience feels and how the characters feel in front of that audience.  Alexander continued to maintain the consciousness of an actor, a father, as well as a student that sees the stage as a way to send emotions to the individuals that need a remind of what a season like Christmas does and can do for individuals.  Alexander maintained this responsibility every single day. Add to this the multiple responsibility of blending in as a Hooverite, the roles divided in his mind did not seem to take away from either of the roles he played, played as if he had no other role in the show.

Grace Farrell – Marissa K. – When Marissa was on stage in previous productions, she still maintained a sense of responsibility, a sense of belonging, a sense of entitlement to all that come to see the show, given be herself as an actress and character on the stage.  If one did not believe that, when you see Marissa outside of classes, you see she is exhausted at times.  This is due to the motivation and dedication to insure that she would not appear as a fraud, someone who embodied the role as a student, actress, as well as reinforcing the fact that being a spectacular team player is one that gives as much as one receives.  All you had to do was watch the show to see every single night Marissa, through Grace’s character, gave all you would need to know to see Annie as a vehicle for us all to celebrate holidays as a means to support and strengthen each other. One forgets unless noticing the details how Mariassa’s role as Rissa, a Hooverite, and one of the Boylan sisters emphasizes how in life there will be multiple tasks and roles, as well as expectations of us in life, and how we play that role defines our success.  well played Marissa.

Miss Hannigan – Genevieve M. – Abrasive, startling, unexpected, humorous, crucial to the overall plot.  Genevieve brought the same creativity and determination to the character of Miss Hannigan as she also brought to the role of Ronnie, one of the Boylan sisters. With the ability to switch roles and do so, so quickly – the success of both roles allowed you to have to really really scrutinize if you even were aware of Genevieve more than once at one time on stage in two different roles.  Her ability to shift the abrasiveness, hurt, and put-downs in a character such as strong as Miss Hannigan could not be pulled off by too many, but Genevieve pulled it off for every performance. 

Rooster- Kaleb P. –  There is a place and time for comedy as well as deception.  We often find out later, working through and past temptations us make us stronger in character.  Kaleb easily was able to make the most ludicrous motivations and character reality.  If you think of life as we have seen it the last few years, we have seen so much ludicrousness in the world around us.  Kaleb embodied the idea of deception, the ludicrous, the easy road to get what others work hard for, and he as an individual outside of the role of Rooter could not be more different,  He attacked a goal and role, and with the dedication you would only hope for in most individuals, he represents all of the above and more if you just sat down to analyze the role of Rooster, how it is represented, and what it means beyond the stage.  The clarity of his ability to pull off a role as Rooster – crystal.

Lily- Rachel B. – Being a partner in crime to another partner in crime is not easy – and yet falling intro stride with such a role – one has to delve right in and live it.  Rachel managed to do so, while filling the roles of a Hooverite and servant, apple server, and one of the Boylan sisters.  Being able to pull one role off, let another 3= more? – there is not much more one can say about being able to do so – but seeing Rachel on the stage was enough to bring home what this play took to reach in and pull you in.  The will to be triumphant, be it a dark side or the bright side, the will to succeed exists in all of us, and having such a strong character as Rachel only helped reinforce the overall themes that do reach out and make you know the holidays are here.

Roosevelt – Steven L. – Leadership, dominating, history, rebuilding, if you remember or had the chance to see Steven in Miracle on 34th Street, you saw the same characteristics and ability in the singing, voice, and command Steven took on that stage and brought even more command of his role on the stage of Annie.  His ability to foresee when help would be needed between scenes, from moving props to simply suggesting improvements to providing light-hearted atmosphere.  Steven provides insight into all he sees that can make a positive change, can make a change in anything at all, and it is obvious Steven not only presents a larger than life window where audiences can see what is possible by looking at what was our history, and where we can go from here based on our history.

What I noticed was in simply looking at these seven roles of the four-day show Annie, there are many reasons why Annie was more than just any ordinary high school production, and most of they story was what occurs off the stage as well as on.  Not every individual gets a chance to realize this, and yet, this is worthy of spending time to reveal the specifics that made this production such a heart-warming experience.  Yet, there are 17+ reasons, these reasons being the most talented actors and actresses that put amazing emotions on their sleeves and giving this experience everything they had, for themselves but for the chance to also give back to those that surround them every day.  That in itself is worth mentioning the time and results of who they are, on stage as well as in real life.  The next post will bring the awesome contributions of Alyssa A., Alex B., Avery K., Te’Neal G., Sydney W., Rheya F., Anya G., brought through such an unexpected and powerful message that came through the production Annie.  It is highly ironic that by each of these young actresses and actors being so independent in their roles, how interdependent they became in supporting each other.  That in itself changes how everyone can and should look at this holiday season.  Stay tuned for round two’s post tomorrow, and thank you cast of Annie for teaching so many so many complicated, yet simple things about life in a story we all know well, but thanks to you, not well enough.


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“Flurry” of Activity Predicted at WHS and beyond.

Opportunity I have found often falls short of words versus action.  I always think of the phrase  “A mover and a shaker” and somewhere in my DNA obtained the characteristics of wanting to make better the possibilities that some leave unattended.  What I have seen around me is that the more individuals that will step up and take hold on one or two aspects that can change the world around us, then a community of “movers and shakers” can change so much around us.

Author Tabitha Lord/Teacher of the year Jennifer Fisher  In October Woodbridge was host to science fiction writer/ author Tabitha Lord, who came to speak to students about her first novel Horizon, which Teacher of the Year for WHS High, Ms. Jennifer Fisher incorporated into her English curriculum, drew students into the idea of world building, themes of the Holocaust, and a modern science fiction approach to issues present in our world today.  Look at that above for a minute.  That long sentence, long chain of events is the results of one individual, influencing another and another enabling the energy and talent of peaking interest in another that resulted in the peaking of interest in MANY others.

Colleges opening what is possible and doing so in a library – It made perfect sense and worked brilliantly.  The opportunity to bring college visits into the school library changed so much.  Not only seeing new arrivals, bringing attention to what the library transforms into through passing past new displays, the idea of furthering education and hosted in a library advanced so much more information on other topics.  Wesley, University of Delaware, Penn State, and over 15 more colleges, from DE, PA, VA, and MD, and more utilizing capabilities of the Smart Board, and using this opportunity for 20+ students coming into the library to also sneak looks at the 3d printer, graphic novels, and tons more exhibits, this is a moving and shaking moment waiting to come thanks to the participation of guidance counselors, career counselors, and admission counselors from colleges that ultimately can add to the career section of the library with their information as well as opening windows of opportunity beyond the typical benefits of colleges and what they have to offer. it was exciting to see the Guidance Counselors involved in making this happen and changing the face of how the library serves the student body.

Advocating and Empowering through FIERCE and La Red. Having the amazing group FIERCE from Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia coming to discuss the worth of self-esteem, strength, and health to women – especially in a time when women are STILL stereotyped into traditional roles in a nontraditional world, this was powerful.  Having teacher Ms. Kotowski jump right in and tie to a Women’s Empowerment Group to show the possibilities open to grow in their local community, it was a success. With Coaches such as Ms. Bell, Mr. Walker, Mr. Perry, Mr. Daws, as well as all coaches and Athletic Trainer Carmen Chona encouraging attendance, you begin to see how members from all over the school can encourage healthy gains. Having the Bay Health group and the WHS nurse also share their stories, opportunities, and resources to tie further connections together.

I can’t relay how strong the new Cross Country Team at WHS is with a supportive coach and parent staff,  how strong the start to a new student literary international magazine titled The Riff is, how strong Repentino. was in Mexico, how strong the Student Government Junior Class and a hundred more examples of how strong so much more is due to the women that are given opportunities & confidence while also being encouraged and realized by the men around them.  Add to this the exceptional connection the La Red, who also came to WHS to connect to the powerful values FIERCE presented, and exhibiting the local services that tie into the larger picture FIERCE presented. It showed how the local community has a HUGE role in empowering younger and future members of our community. 

Battle of the Bands. This is exciting. Once done for over four years, bringing back an event that brings members of the community together, it is difficult starting over, but you lean so much about it in the process.  By beginning to bring artists together from out of state and in state, and connecting with local businesses, the web of working together, empowering the art of creativity, music, and community, and so much more begins to unfold – exciting things happening to be the return of Battle of the Bands in January 2019. Working with the Greenwood community and VFW for the second part of the Battle of the Bands in the summer, leading also to a potential game competition as another community event (card games, board game, video game competition) keeps the creative juices flowing to involving a wider spectrum of individuals working together.

Delaware House Representative Danny Short speaking right before elections – It was powerful and informative to have Mr. Short present and taking inquiries and presenting processes right before election to give students insights into the power of voting and having a voice, despite the challenges that exist as well as the power students hold, no matter their views, to be active, empowered, and involved.  This was a definite highlight in having English teacher Mr. Weiler and involving his students in the rhetoric that the whole idea of voting has in an individual.

Actively involved in the Community – Creating book page wreaths, making snowflakes, wrapping gifts, representing your school at Salisbury Barnes & Noble and working with the manager of Barnes & Noble, participating in the Bridgeville parade, creating 5k’s through the ROTC for the community, building the food drive for needy individuals, working with the local public Greenwood Library/ librarian to enhance community opportunities, working with the local Greenwood VFW to do the same and bringing the VFW into the school to show what is possible, simply taking every step an organization, group, or event takes and asking how this one aspect of this help and reach out into the community – that is the difference between something occurring within a school (as in this case)  versus a school being a bacon to tie other schools and aspects of the community together.  I would want to work in a school that does the latter. 

From the above plus 5 more guests/groups that took time to participate in WHS in the last three months, having interviews with individuals from each of these and more groups by students (yes, they are in process and coming out soon!) – it is one thing I think to have lots of activity and involving students, that is vital and important for sure.  Yet, the more powerful aspect is taking these events and involving other schools, involving other parts of the community, other schools, other towns, other neighborhoods and working together and tearing down walls that divide and prevent participation and empowerment on a much larger scale. Choral being involved in community musical events, plays that should go beyond the immediate school community to bring in holiday sentiment, agricultural pathways that work alongside agricultural endeavors of the state, and SO MUCH MORE.

Being able to take an idea, and multiple those ideas to events within one year, and involve other areas outside the walls of a school – now that is powerful.  It is awesome to see the amazing collaboration that occurs within a school, but unless it spreads and connects to real world applications and influences, there is much wasted energy that can indeed improve the world around us despite what individuals “in power” do and decide.  Students and young people begin to realize the real power of change when power is given to them to mold, create, and grow – that is the true power of an educator, a library, a community.  

There is so much more schools and libraries and librarians can do to show and lead the path of what education REALLY is, CAN be, and CONTINUES to do to change the world around us and make it a better one.  it is exciting to see so many investors that have started this wider perspective of what is possible, and exciting to see how many more will step up and also make that change.  It is up to us to make something happen, not just to talk about it.

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Hard Times Come Around No More.

Annie.   I never had the pleasure to see the musical done on stage by any school.  I had been absorbing the American School Foundation’s Art Center Upper School  productions in Mexico City for so long, it was a routine I looked forward to from the hundreds of photos and posts that individualized the amazing and breathtaking events of each night’s production.

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However, this time around would be quite different.  Different home, different production, different surroundings.  I found myself surrounded by a completely new crew of actors, technicians, managers, directors, musicians, and Amaya was even in on this one 🙂   I found myself from the last few days of rehearsal to this very first production night counting my blessings to be witness to the confidence, talent, and satisfaction of knowing there are champions of the stage in places that you would not expect.  That was certainly the case this very evening.

Ms. Jones and Ms. Workman both emphasized how powerful a talent each of the performers had this evening to show all in the audience the next four days what this production team had to show, give, and represent.  I realized so often you have to look beyond the very words and lyrics sometimes and focus on the details – and the details of movement, expression, and the very heart of an individual reveals how strong of a presentation is possible. 48263106_10155847503401003_720369550020837376_o

Relying on 100% audio of a play while accompanying Amaya when she wasn’t one stage :),  I was able to piece together the whole production in audio and witness the productions behind the scenes, which allowed me to see the changes, the movements, the panic at times, but the sheer determination to slide from one scene to the next, and seeing the WHOLE TEAM do this for the sake of getting one message across – We are a team and we present one production as a team and we dig deep within ourselves to give the parts of ourselves to those that wish to share that with us in one evening.  Share and share they did.  

I loved this first night  – the belief and the caring of how each individual did, wanting to make every detail of attire, wordage, movement, and scene changing perfect for everyone else?  it is exciting that Woodbridge has come away with a second State Championship in three years, and we are still riding that exciting wave. Tonight, I was lucky enough to also see the stage warriors and champions that devoted each other, to each other, to bring their emotions, expressions, and love to so many others on a single stage.  You come to realize how lucky you are when you are completely surrounded by individuals that put so much of themselves into allowing others to feel that as well.

As I came home with Amaya, settled in and heard James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma’s Hard Times Come No More, everything seemed so right, so fitting into place as it should.  That is a heavy load to bear and represent, and yet, the members of Woodbridge’s Annie pulled it off perfectly from the support and love of what they do,  to show this basic elements can outpace any production anywhere when you support each other and share that with so many others.  No matter what difficulties come, it is easy to see such a tight knit school of performers can overcome anything – and give that glimpse of hope for a better tomorrow to anyone with in their reach. 

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Seasons of Who You Are.

As the days move into the Christmas 2018 season, those who were lucky enough to meet, laugh, and talk with Mr. Paul Williams share one common investment, the opportunity he gave for many to change their life.  This might sound a little drastic, exaggerated, overstated, but if you truly allowed yourself time to capture the moments Mr. Williams shared, you know this to be true.

Being completely off guard and normally not able to be considered for a librarian position at ASF as I was not finished with my in-progress degree, many, many aspects should have never allowed me to be able to accept such a positon.

Being able to receive a position at The American School Foundation in Mexico changed my life.  In all ways.  The way I view others, the way I accept others, the way I taught, the way I learned what sacrifice is, was, and continues to be, and I became a completely different person.  This will always, always stay with me, and allowed me to meet individuals that continued to change my life through the entire 6 year period at ASF.  I met people visited places, and realized so many different aspects about myself, other countries from the outside of the United States, and respected myself and others so much more than I ever had before, there is no way you can even mention the word priceless to describe that gift.

The evenings of the newest play or musical, the Christmas parties, the holiday sweaters, the end of year parties, the Krispy Kreme hats and welcome after a loooong lock in, children that would come up and hug Mr. Williams, the patience he kept when the ASF bear happened to sit on his lap, the representation of simply being a human being that shared himself with so many people.  

Few individuals in my life have ever pushed me every day to get up on my worst, and even best days and keep going when it seems impossible.  The window that Mr. Williams provided me was life changing, and the individuals I met thereafter continued to be the gifts he provided to me as a result of being accepted into an amazing ASF community.  There was no other matter of fact realizations about Mr. Williams, accept he gave his all when he could, which was almost every time you ran into him.  My heart aches for the loss of Mr. Williams, as it does for the hundreds upon hundreds of individuals that feel the same way, and my heart rejoices for the gifts he visibly has given those hundred upon hundreds of individuals at the same time. Without a doubt, Mr. Paul Williams provided each of us a season of renewal and sense of responsibility to give back the very way we would like to be given, the very way he gave to each of us.  Mr. Paul Williams, you love and the season of who we are will always be visible no matter where we find ourselves.  Thank you for that eternal gift.

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“We Shouldn’t Worry About What We Can’t Control.”

When you hear the phrase “Filling the shoes”, you often think of one individual that could be responsible for the outset of many down the road action.  As #Giving Tuesday arrives, I realized, that in discussing Coach Vince Morris and the legacy he gave to so many individuals, it takes a community to fill shoes the size he wore. 

When you encounter something, as well as a gift that motivates you, exists to motivate those around you, and motivates you and so many others into the future, that is an individual that will change things for the better.

Coach Morris did that day in and day out.  As you have the chance to give others that gift they often do not realize they possess,

I hope you can help pass that motivation on further by voting each day as an organization such as the Nanticoke river Watershed Conservancy works to preserve and create that legacy with so many community partners moving forward in the community around them.  Your single dollar donation on #GivingDay is another way you can help promote events and participate aside from your participation in current 5k’s that promote so much! http://nanticokeconservancy.org/


“Who will fill those shoes?”  I remember that call for a call that no one wanted to hear the call for – a day that I never could actually visualize that would be a Cross Country without a Coach Morris.  Coach Perciful made that call to a throng of individuals that had been touched by Coach Morris in more ways than I could run, walk, or count on any given day.  Indeed, the very winds that swept through Chapel Branch held a magic that no one would ever know unless you had been a part of Chapel Branch in some way, shape or form.

I often thought myself overly crazy when I found myself arriving at Chapel Branch around 4:30 AM when a 5k that was slated for 8:45 AM allowed over 4 hours for preparation.  Not one single time was I too tired as I arose at that hour as if on automatic pilot every single time, always having an internal clock it seemed that told me that was the appropriate time, moving among the paths setting up markers hours before the need, catching the sun rise over so many a part of a trail where I could still hear Coach Morris yelling around a bend, never actually having to see, but believing the voice that always was tied to Chapel Branch, and ultimately to Coach Morris.

There is a magic to being given a gift of inheritance.  Anyone lucky enough to have been given an inheritance of commitment, dedication, and perseverance under Coach Morris at Chapel Branch may or may not realize this, but that commitment was an inheritance we received from the day we agreed with Coach Morris philosophy to never, ever, give up.  Ms. Morris lived the same philosophy and passes this on to this day, as does Coach Morris everytime someone steps into Chapel Branch. 

Can you still hear that calling?  Many still do.

“”Coach Vince Morris was probably the strongest and smartest person I’ve ever known” stated one runner under Coach Morris, a sentiment so many young ladies and men grew up realizing into their adult lives.  This was a gift often not realized until years after the gift had been given.

“Ice Cream, Wallet!”, “Always try to better yourself”, “Pain is weakness leaving the body”, “High Knees!”, “Stop clenching your fist…stop clenching your fist, thats it…your running with balls in your hands”, “Did you give it your all??? If so you should be proud if not, you better do better”, “Look up!”, “The best running form is a kid running on the playground” ; a badminton king and known as Bo by some, his well rehearsed and personal slogans never, ever fell short of raising the level of commitments in our hearts.

Every May of the year was meant to celebrate the Hero that Coach Morris managed to bring out in all of us and celebrate the same qualities we found in Dr. Betts, through the Vince Morris and Dr. Betts 5k Walk/Run. 

Tomorrow’s Giving Tuesday helps keep that fire alive at Chapel Branch and keep filling those shoes that Coach Morris, and later Coach Perciful, and even further Dr. Betts would model of us and show how to fill.  Coach Morris still remains with so many, in so many ways, and no matter the direction of the wind at Chapel Branch, as soon as you see the trees, hear the trees, and smell that familiar pine from Chapel, you know you are home. 

The Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate that generosity encourage from Coach Morris into a legacy today.   From creating public awareness events like the Benevolence Night at DogFish Head, establishing local 5k’s to raise awareness, receiving support of local establishments that shared Coach Morris’ belief that we are as strong individually as we are together, we continue to reach audiences with the purposes Coach Morris believed in all his life.  We  look to you to help support that continued legacy of passing motivation to generation after generation, as has been done all these years.

“The time you have spent thus far in your life has helped to shape the person you are today. You were put on this earth with only so many heartbeats. How you choose to use your remaining heartbeats will define who you are, and who you hope to become. Look back at this time in your life with a sense of achievement, and pride and know you have accomplished things that many people only dream of. Go forward in life with a sense of hope and enthusiasm striving to make things better than the way you found them. Live your life on your own terms never, never wasting a moment of your precious time.” – V. Morris


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A Living, Breathing, Entity.

IMG_8714.JPGSeptember 01, 2018.  Basically a new school year started and as a new teacher or Library Media Specialist, the task is exciting and daunting at the beginning of a year.  Maybe both at the same time – however, that makes the task none the less important.  Looking back even now in November, and hearing seniors ALREADY talk about “senior-it-is” (LOL, that COULD go both ways, couldn’t it, senior it is AND senioritis, lol) – I see now the periodic injections to hedge off feelings of burnout, anger and unsettled feelings about events in the country, you owe it to yourself and owe it to the country you live in to fix that problem to be your best self for others, and of course, for yourself.

This past year has seen the most activity I have seen in the roles and cementing the values of what an educator is.  So many students and adults that may or may not be present, vacate the responsibilities that youth need so badly, direction, motivation, interests directed towards healthy target areas, discipline, advice, and on and on, so much are put on educators and educators, and, actually ANYONE in education are asked to simply “do their job” when ANYONE in educations knows, the minute, no, the second, you walk in the door, you start applying yourself in jobs that definitely are above and beyond the typical contract asked of anyone in education, and only those involved day-to-day in education truly realize this.   Why?  To make a better tomorrow, so it is easy to see the need for a realignment of the role educators of all areas play in a youth’s life, as well as the importance placed on that vocation from many different areas of the public.

In lieu in looking back on September this year, I remember one of the most inspiring events that addressed the above need for reminding all involved in education, why they need to stay the course.  Of course I often have heard of the Library of Congress, yet, I assumed, long-aisle, dusty rows of recorded, printed information available, and of course eyes on-line but getting lost doing so.  The 2018 National Book Festival was truly a career-changing experience.  You realized if you really vested into this event, that here was a mini model of what education should be, all disciplines, all areas of study, contributing for a better today and tomorrow.  Using the fact that literacy can indeed be used for positive action, finding solutions instead of blame, and solving problems instead of simply instigating them.  After accidentally going to the Jefferson Building location of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. (yeah, you could tell I was new at this – and guided my colleagues along the same mistake, BUT- WE DID check out the Neptune Fountain!) – Neptune Fountain.JPGand once we got back on track, we hit the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (just so you know for 2019’s event already in motion!) and just wow.  The masses of individuals attending – and amazing to celebrate literacy and for me, wanting to see how some pretty powerful people have put the power of democracy into motion and more than just mere words.

Our first attending session was as good as you would ever hope it to be, Amy Tan. IMG_8690.JPG I was blown away with how down to earth, how practical, how STRONG she was as an immigrant, author, and now a teacher to so many people hearing this visit based on her experiences.  I could go into details, but why do I need to NOW THAT IT IS ON THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS for you to SEE!

But you need to truly get a sense of the length of time it too to get in, let alone the mass numbers this area held to see Ms. Tan – IMG_8695.JPGand truly, what you are seeing is only one SIDE of a double, maybe triple room that held I could not even guess how many individual.  This was one of the best author talks I ever witnesses and was so cool how many current issues were actually approached as well through her talk and interview.  

After this incredible session, we contemplated where to next?  Yet, we decided to stay and see the next amazing opportunity, that of seeing Madeline Albright. I realized one truly does not know the contributions made by some many women in the United States, as well as immigrants that have helped shape and mold the ideas of what being American is.  it was invigorating to hear so many international topics tied with domestic topics and how this aligned with who we are as Americans as well.  This is an awesome session you do not want to miss hearing.  She was FABULOUS.  After two back to back sessions of such magnitude, what could be better?  Oh wait, it got much better.  

As we made our way out of what had become an amphitheatre, we made our way downstairs to where individual booths were to see how much stash we could gather and bring back to our schools.  On our way there, no kidding, in the open we came across a live interview with none other than the author of Educated, Tara Westover – I stopped after having JUST finished this book and was like “NO WAY!  That is her!”  Stop and read the book, it is amazing and to simply see her right in front of me after soaking in the road she had traveled to be where she was now WOW ( I am trying not to give spoilers away here! )

After we gawked for a bit, we made our way to the vendors area to only find out author IMG_8707.JPGJason Reynolds was speaking yet from All American Boys! What?!  YES! So of course, we had to see that interview and let me tell you, the way he connected with children, adults, and everyone in between?  That was why Jason Reynolds has become the enlightening and relatable author he is.  His bit on connecting media found in former cassette tapes and how it symbolizes culture and interconnectedness among people today – brilliant.  You will want to listen to that audio for sure – again, brilliant.

We did finally make it to the vendors, and loved seeing how every single state’s library was represented, and yes, we found Delaware’s, and Washington D.C’s, and Pennsylvania’s and found if we could show our library card, we received a gift – and to ADD to that, the scavenger hunt maps that youth had where they could get a stamp, as in a passport, from visiting every state library booth – it was fulfilling to see how education, the world, politics, social justice, and 10 other genres were woven into the fabric of individuals that were willing to show, what education could be.

We did find the vendors as well,  took in the stylistic art that woven in education, and imagined what IMG_8713.JPG we would haveIMG_8710.JPG doneIMG_8708.JPG if we 

had actually planned out the trip with speakers 

before heading out?  2019 is already in the works, and if I could suggest the ultimate trip – check out the amazing interviews here from this amazing event,  and add this to your priorities next year.  this event just was one on many amazing possibilities that show how schools, classrooms, libraries, novels, and more can be living, breathing entities in everyday life!




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