The Past and Present Today

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

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

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

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

 

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Running the Bull…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Motivational Musings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Up, Close, and Personal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it could be that possibility.

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

 

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

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

World Cup. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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–http://www.thecomicbookshop.com/–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a peaceful and productive week.
-Tabitha

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

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Turning the pages of civility…

Changing the power dynamic in any spotlighted profession is one of extreme adversity.  In our present time we have seen explosions of revelations in Hollywood with the Me Too Movement,  fair pay for women in all fields of acting, and lately, the grounds of a media specialist librarian has become a little more cautious ground to walk on.

Monthly displays and annual celebrations are a small part of what can draw patrons into a library – from March Madness, to National Novel Writing Month, to National Library Week, to a host of SO MANY MORE.

As a graduate student at Slippery Rock University – I received an amazing education, some professors there literally propelled me into levels of success I never knew awaited me, that follows me around forever.  What had been a lesson in retrospection also has been to expect the unexpected. As a graduate student, my thesis Opening the Windows of Time involved a passage from a Native American author, Sherman Alexie. which involved this quote – 

There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don’t wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices. And they can trap you in the in-between, between touching and becoming. But they’re not necessarily evil, unless you let them be.

What you have to do is keep moving, keep walking, in step with your skeletons. They ain’t ever going to leave you, so you don’t have to worry about that. Your past isn’t going to fall behind, and your future won’t get too far ahead. Sometimes, though, your skeletons will talk to you, tell you to sit down and take a rest, breathe a little. Maybe they’ll make you promises, tell you all the things you want to hear.

Sometimes your skeletons will dress up as beautiful Indian women and ask you to slow dance. Sometimes your skeletons will dress up as your best friend and offer you a drink, one more for the road. Sometimes your skeletons will look exactly like your parents and offer you gifts.
But, no matter what they do, keep walking, keep moving. And don’t wear a watch. Hell, Indians never need to wear a watch because your skeletons will always remind you about the time. See, it is always now. That’s what Indian time is. The past, the present, the future, all of it is wrapped up in the now. That’s how it is. We are trapped in the now.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Think what it meant to have Mr Alexie sit beside me at dinner during a visit to SRU and be able to discuss the origins of this quote, as well as discuss elements of my thesis, and meeting Alexie in the flesh.  It was priceless.

As a librarian always promoting his writing, as well as he Native American voice as a modern representation, it is pretty accurate to say Alexie has represented the Native American wandering in the modern age, and if you have ever delved into his older and most recent writings, mesmerizing is an understatement.

When news broke of several instances of improper conduct on his part, as a promoter and archivist of all things literary, it was a shock and quite devastating. It sometimes felt as waiting for someone to leap out and yell, “I told you so!” yet no one had until that very moment. How do you as an individual or promoting the best possible treatment if individuals retrace the steps of what you have been promoting?

I realized as difficult as a pill it is to swallow, as a media librarian specialist your modeling lies with the best possible path to dealing with obstacles.  The obstacles of the last year have involved name calling, slander, negative portrayals of individuals that others do not align or connect with, racial stereotypes, proper conduct when in public for individuals of all races, on and on – and this is just simply obstacles that deal with those in public offices.  While the cloud hangs heavy over individuals that you might have lauded due to their amazing work, the real work lies in showing individuals that are growing up in the ranks of schools into young adults of voting age, you deal with these setbacks, redial the controls of how you handle misconduct, and learn through the proper channels. no matter how difficult it is, to reset your temperance to treat those around you the best you possibly can, and use the negative, and obviously the positive examples as a guide through these murky waters.

Add to this personal experience with letdown an author that had acclaimed as much if not more attention – the author Junot Diaz. Again, over the last few years, Diaz would have been one name that no one would deny not knowing, even if nothing had been read by any individuals the name would still create discussion based on the writing that would cause you to sit up and pay attention.  When news broke of a similar situation concerning Diaz,

this occurring before the news about Sherman Alexie, I immediately thought of the controversy surrounding James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces , although the issue surrounding Diaz has made the impact much more disheartening as it affects so many individuals personally.  I had only picked up one Diaz, This is How You Lose Her, and as a avid book reader and Library Media Specialist, when it comes down to the end of the day, the main audience you look out for, despite your reading selections, are your patrons.  These in the form of adults, colleagues, parents, and students usually dictate the actions of what happens in and out of the library. 

I can only speak for myself but, the only way I have found to bounce back after formally lauding the writing of an author that has not been the author you thought has been this:

  1. The writing is the writing but as a Library Media Specialist I am unwilling to simply sweep deeds under the carpet and act as if the author is more important than the message.  Yes I had promoted an author that has shocked me with revelations of characteristics unbecoming of someone I want to put on a pedestal.  It is vital to point out, unbiased, how we deal with this so those we model literature and suggestions for have a path to follow when this occurs.
  2. There are authors that are also deserving of leading patrons to the more optimistic path.  Recently we had the pleasure of having author, Tabitha Lord, one of the few female science fiction writers that would take the time, hour upon hours, to talk with students and light excitement from within about their writing, provide avenues of where life can lead them with positive influences surrounding them, and believing in their own talents.  
  3. DO SOMETHING instead of silently wallow in someone that turned out to be a shocking disappointment in some fashion.  Their writing still has something to say, maybe even abut the situation they found themself in.  Also, what is stopping you as a Media Specialist from creatng a mini course on how to guide these precarious waters of interepretation? I have been fortunate enough to have been allowed to create a course that allows individuals to find resources that are reputable, to address questions that individuals have the tenendency today to fued on, but never come to the table to discuss.  Learning to disagree peaacefully, find unbias resources to back up issues and opinions (without slandering), shying from fake news (which has been around always), and finding information without putting down, without negativity is a challenge when so many individuals in the spotlight do today.  Yet, this is a chance to market the traits of a Media Specialist Librarian and show how these murky, negative waters can be navigated into more positive oasis areas.  

Certainly I wish I could see the future and know if a wrong turn or a cataclysmic event is about to occur, dont we wall.  However, in the light of shocking, suprising, and often what can be negative discourse, individuals have the opportunity to take advantage of positons that are often taken for granted (I point to School Media Specialists), and show what power such a position does have to benefit socoiety as a whole.  Turning the page is a way to show that you can deal with shocking and embarassing actions of those you were unaware they were involved with – but using that knowledge to better society turns out to be the best read book of them all.

I would like to hear from other instructors and Media Specialists to see how they feel about dealing with authors that were lauded, but now have redemtion to the public due to past actions.  Do you still study their past writing the same?  Different?  At all? I would like to hear your views on this – thanks for being amazing in a field that is often considered a lesser known and appreciated asset to education, but in reality is one of the most powerful depending on what you decide to do with it.  Next post will discuss the amazing effects we had of Tabitha Lord, Science fiction writer, coming to our School and inspiring so many.  There are many different pages to turn, and leading others to turn the most inspiring is a day to day lesson, every day.

 

 

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THE Difference.

“Due to inclement weather, the 2018 WHS Graduation will be inside.”  Ms. Short, the guru and master of planning what would be a HUGE successful gradation greeted us in the AM on June 3rd.

Surreal.  The voice starting the day just reminded me of what the day would hold.  I had seen the stage and chairs all arranged in the middle of the WHS stadium and it still didn’t register that I was not in Mexico at this year’s graduation class, but going to be going to the Baccalaureate and graduation ceremony of Woodbridge High School – the 49th graduating class.  Yet, get THIS connection.  Aisli Alondra Torres-AisliLanderos  – coming up to me in the library in our Independent Study “Mr. Brake – I want you to introduce me at graduation. if this occurs that I am salutatorian”  Seriously, I was about 10 seconds from a dropped heartbeat and just froze.  “What? Um, what?”  I remember the first time I was asked to capped Camila, Alice and a host of still AMAZING students in Mexico City and every single time – even when I am not capping and simply watching the ceremony, it is an honor to see students that have become a part of you walk across that stage and we all know, is bittersweet to see them go. 

A country away ANOTHER MAJORLY AMAZING student, Lisa Yu was ASF’s Salutatorian, and still a student I was lucky enough to have some amazing moments and can never forget.  Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 12.12.18 AM  Yes there are weeks and days that you are like “HOW MUCH LONGER” but things change so crazy fast – every single time I was privileged to be asked to cap in Mexico.  A country away, an amazing graduation was occurring with MANY AMAZING students in Mexico City – and missed completely as well    (This is powerful).

I simply said “Yes Aisli, of course!” having no idea what I was going to do but get this impressive fact – Aisli was the FIRST to graduate from her family and she taught herself everything in English from the start and thankfully for the amazing educators that pushed and encouraged her, she has turned out to be one of the most successful young ladies I have had the privilege of being in school with, (and as you know, the young ladies and gentlemen from ASF in Mexico City and Seaford have turned out to be total rock stars).  I remember when Aisli took the photo wishing Mexico good luck during the initial earthquakes, as well as helping push out a card of thanks and hope to Mexico – and saw the same determination, intelligence, and work ethic I was lucky enough to be surrounded by every single day in Mexico – and I can’t put into words how much her request meant to me seeing her in just one year achieve what most could not in 12 years – words will not, cannot do her justice.

I also realized how amazing it is that the graduating class of 2018 was mentally tough in so many cases I witnessed, and devoted to pushing and helping each other succeed – sometimes with lives that defied the imagination to rise above and graduate.  Countless students I was so lucky to have come into contact with, within one single year, and it felt like six years of appreciating the talents, determination, bravery and courage they brought to the finish line.  Add onto that the fact that you have so many educators I remembered pulling late nights, early days, extenuating attempts to make sure they pulled their graduates towards the ultimate goal SO MANY COUNTLESS TIMES – this whole mixed one year but feeling like six and seeing this all happening and being able to be among these amazing graduates? I was not worthy, very simply put.

Getting it together and dressed up and  out the door – I made it to the Union United Methodist Church for the Baccalaureate Service –

the rain was pouring – the cold was everywhere – and what an experience of warmth inside.

As I was sitting in the pew, taking in the views of the soon to be graduates in the front, younger WHS students in the side ready to put on a special performance, two ladies from behind me tapped me on the shoulder and complimented that I had such nice looking grey hair.  It was such a nice compliment but you know me, GREY HAIR?  AGH!  I always freak out when people notice that my once dark head is not well, less than that for sure – it was hysterical.  We sat and between those ladies and the man beside me, we discussed the genes in our families and having hair opposed to not having hair, HYSTERICAL.

The total service was pretty unable-to-be-captured in words. It was AWESOME to see admin Heath Chasanov, Kent Chase, board member Walter P. Gilefski,  and even former colleague Math Teacher Sean Knowles in the church celebrating the service among WHS graduates, it was truly surreal.

Amazing songs were sung – and pretty awesome favorites, “How Great Thou Art” and certainly one of my all time favorites – “I’ll Fly Away.”  but there was so so much more.  Watching the WHS ensemble sing “For Good” – supported by WHS’s own Ms Workman and Ms. Jones – seeing the emotions open from the students during this – there simply cannot be no words that could capture this, there were NONE.

Sitting beside me about halfway through the service, a young man sat beside me that just seemed to remind me of someone and only later, as I made my out to say hello and see you soon to graduates as they ate in the annex of the church, I say a really great student Garret beside this same man sitting beside me and turned out, it was his BROTHER!!!!! GET OUT!!!!! – I mean the frequency of the coincidences that occurred and that did occur already – at some point my head just shut down and let them roll over me.

During this Baccalaureate Service, the amazing poise, spirit, and energy of Myra, Morgan, Tatum, Tanner, Brooke, Hunter, Morgan (#2) and alumni Shawn – just take a look at this star cast in the bulletin) – I was reminded in seeing and hearing each of them how lucky I was to be there celebrating them.

Despite the crazy, wicked weather that had descended on the WHS 49th Graduating Class of 2018, for all the above reasons (and the ceremony had not even started) – I felt I was with the colleagues and students I had been privileged enough already to share their amazing days with, as I saw so much of their qualities in these amazing students among me for today’s ceremony.

Fast Forward to Woodbridge High School, and heading to the library, everything just simply began and it as a blur.  I remember how I felt, kind of in a coma state when I was walking through the graduation ceremony, and so much happened to me that unexpected day and here I was, stomach in knots and just wondering, how will this all unfold? and I was pretty worked up but I tried to push that down to a place of ignoring it (and folks, I was not graduating).

Robes began to be put on, sashes, colors, students poured in and the reality that this was our last true gig together seeped in all along the way. I did not expect the number of attendees.  The auditorium held 750 – but 300 seats had been set up in the cafeteria and HAD to be close to 100 standing among the the chairs and then it hit me, over 1000 people and – OVER 1000 PEOPLE – HARRY!  WHAT THE HECK!  I worried – will I be able to truly represent my portion of what Aisli and this class has been able to tackle and get through – is that even possible?  I was so lucky to have Mr Weiler as the introduction to the Valedictorian, Kathlin Dinh (amazing young lady)  and I knew I could crash and burn and his eloquence would easily bring a rhythm of success to the event. I remember so many snippets –

including the infamous WHS lip dub: 

Mr. Weiler capitalizing on the fact that Salutatorian was my complete NEMESIS for the evening – seeing the board members donning robes, seeing so many State Troopers, faculty, admin, students, friends supporting this event and making this occur – you want to talk about overwhelming – and I thought I saw HUGE events in Mexico at ASF’s graduations, yes I did and this just felt like we were in the middle of it ALL. The one thing never doubted was the amazing journey so many of these students had made and I was truly humbled by being able to see their last year and make it a complete success thanks to the support of so many, that same support we discussed that Mr. Weiler gave his students the day after this graduation with the “This I Believe” speeches.  I love how things become full circle and how easily they can be missed.

My Speech – with some critiquing from another amazing student in Mexico City – Bessy Hernandez adding some extra’s that would make it resonate – and I felt I was walking two worlds at one graduation.  So hard to explain.  The speech morphing, changing every minute came and went like a blur, with so much on your mind that you can’t push down, I stumbled on the word Salutatorian of course, and did not follow exactly my speech

(as nervousness tends to do) — I did plant the Hand Mud that all the students had played with every single day in the library (look at that silver thing in the pictures) –

Mr Weiler was great, Kathlin as Valedictorian and Aisli as Salutatorian were 100% inspirational but as I looked at the WHS graduating class of 2018 and saw so many AMAZING students that inspired me in one short year, that seemed a lifetime, I also saw something so powerful.  I saw every student I had been lucky enough to come into contact with in my educational career, I saw every colleague that worked, supported and guided me from the very beginning and made me who I am today, EVERYONE, and realized that these students were seeing those people in their lives too.  Add onto that when you see the very people that are part of your school, there that day you are seeing it come to fruition, there again are no words and just emotion remain.  It is a spiritual experience of the highest degree if there ever was one, and we are all lucky to feel that thanks to the hundreds, maybe thousands, of family, friends, students, colleagues, and more that let you marl this moment in time, this very moment thanks to all the moments they gave of themselves for this very moment right now.  

Aisli’s Speech spoke to the determination, emotion, and utter strength that defines the true American Dream and power that so many people deserve and show as  their success, that are often not credited, but tonight their due credit was due for sure.  Mr. Weiler’s amazing allusion to art and symbolism of the art Kathlin made as a student and inspirational individual, to Mr. Chasanov’s moving reminder that these are songs, daughters, and family we also remembered making this amazing journey that would lead to so many others.

I want to say there are few days as great as this one I can recall, but I can say that is not exactly true.  EVERY SINGLE play production, graduation, Open Mic, and event that occurred in Mexico, Woodbridge, Seaford, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, that occurred with the amazing names of students and colleagues I have referred to here – all made this day and future days always feel that personal.  In a time in our world where there are so many individuals that disparage differences, as well as disparage each other, it is heartfelt that so many young individuals will be able to change that negativity and narrow view that is so rampant – and create many more days like this for so many more people.

Aside from these amazing students THIS Graduating class that made this year a personal one, these amazing individuals showed the WHS graduating class they were there for them this whole time:

The WHS Board Members for making sure students knew they were seen on their special day:  Mr. Breeding, Mr Rudy, Mr. Gilefski, Mr McCarron, 

The WHS admin and faculty that made this event occur: Mr. Chasanov, Mr. Prillaman, Dr. Long, Dr. Hall, Mr Chase, Ms. Thompson, Ms. Short, Ms. Margaret Workman, Ms. Little, Ms. Feeley, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Martin, Mr. Weiler, Ms. Gephardt (with amazing new baby), Mr. Emert, Mr. Faulkner, Ms. Reardon, Ms. Jones, Ms. Jolene Workman, Ms. Sharp, Mr. Bell, Ms Webb, Dr. Cole, Ms. Stiles, Ms. Zanowic, Mr. John Davis and every single one of his amazing Custodial SUPER TEAM

You might have missed it but – the AMAZING stature the WHS ROTC gave in the form of standing at attention for the graduates on behalf of SGT Stafford and Davis – as well as the ROTC members were a major touch of class for the night- and beyond.

Add to this Ms Lynn Schofer and Mr. Todd Dudek in capturing these moments, the amazing State Troopers that managed a crowd I think hardly anyone could imagine, 

can you see how such an immediate list of individuals supported such an event that has lasted over 12 years to make this goal, and this is just ONE NIGHT.  I kept being reminded those years Aisli had labelled herself “dumb” because she felt left behind and yet how determined she was to change her future – (and certainly not even CLOSE, not in the same ballpark, let alone COUNTRY to being DUMB) and how so many supported her to do so.  How Kathlin fought for the very right to insure she would succeed on behalf of her family from Vietnam, and what an incredible treasure she became to so many.   Multiply that by the individuals that did the same in this class, so many names, from Tatum, Morgan, Myra, Jayden, Darshil, Kristen, Alexis, Alyssa, Heather, Cassidy, Sofia, David, Jeremy, Yasmine, and I am not even close to so many that made such a n impact in such a short time-  and you have an evening that is in its own category.  Is life good?  Better than I could ever imagine, even on my bad days, thanks to the highest caliber of these individuals around me.  These individuals are ALL the DIFFERENCE. 

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