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Proud 6th grade Science teacher at Resaca Middle School, LFCISD. My students and I are scientifically and technically engaged!

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In the Olympics, an athlete with significant achievements and milestones is allowed to be the last runner in the torch relay and given the honor of lighting the Olympic Cauldron. On occasion, the people chosen to light the Cauldron are not dignitaries, cultural figures, or famous at all.  Their invited participation, nevertheless, symbolizes Olympic ideals.

The torch is seen by millions as it makes its journey through thousands of miles.  It carries the flame, the very essence of the Olympic games.  Huge crowds turn out to cheer the start of the torch relay. Astonishing spirit from tens of thousands is sensed around the torch convoy. There is, however, a marked difference between the torchbearers and the spectators.  Spectators are unaware that the design of the torch often makes it a heavy carry for the runner.  They are unaware that sometimes the torch must be carried across water and only a skilled diver is able to hold aloft.  They are completely unaware of how long the relay journey can be.  All they will remember is how bright and spectacular the flame glowed through the routes and how it made its triumphant entry into an opening ceremony. 

Over the course of the route, it is not uncommon for the flame to be accidentally extinguished during the relay.  Sometimes – even deliberately.  Many factors can and often contribute to the sudden black out.  Gusts of wind, torrential rain, repeated below-zero measures, and the cries of protesters are a constant threat – not to the relay itself, but to the torch.  

Every so often, just like in The Olympics, our lives are marked by “memorable extinguishings.”  Long passageways inevitably create wind tunnels and no matter what we do – the impending glitch occurs.  The honor we felt as torchbearers – chosen among hundreds of athletes – quickly transitions into an eternal moment of self-consciousness and awkward experience.  At this trivial point, the runner meets the spectator once again.  Except no longer a spectator – now a caretaker, a flame protector.  Vision is impaired for only a moment – until someone from the crowd shares the flame.  You see, redemption is near when a close observation of a lit candle is made.  It reflects two flames.  The yellow one – highly visible, tall and glowing and the blue – much smaller, hotter, closer to the candle itself.  The former is prone to the extinguish because it is readily exposed.  The latter is protected, hidden, for it lies closer to the candle.  When both are abruptly extinguished, the flame of dreams moves through caretakers around and among us as we are charged to carry the torch with high regard.

Should the journey threaten to extinguish the flame – do not be discouraged. Been-couraged.  The torch is simply re-lit by caretakers around you and itwillcarry on.  For unbeknownst to you, the flame itself – the blue one - remains preserved – safely encased inside your heart.



Dedicated to Torchbearers

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

It’s been close to two months now.  Count-keeping has become inevitable.  The date displayed on my computer’s bottom right-hand corner says it is 5/8/2015. 

I hit the pavement two months ago, figuratively speaking.  My face had to have broken my fall because for weeks, the mirror reflected the injury. No matter which way I tried looking and how I tried hiding – the fractures, the cuts, and the bruises were ever-present.  Embattled beyond words.

I spent my days sitting on the curb staring at every wound and my nights fell victim to the constant play and rewind of thoughts, words and many tears. My professional life had been violently shoved into somber terrain.  The harmful blow caused a degree of internal injury that I had never experienced before.

It has taken me almost two months to go through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Loss & Grief. Just this week – this Monday – I wore my high heels again to work (yes, I teach in heels).  I wore my nice earrings – fixed my hair and included eye shadow in make-up routine. It may sound like too much information – but for the first time, I smiled into the same mirror that two months ago refused to show my true reflection.

[Disclaimer: I dress up for work – it empowers me to deliver a better lesson to my audience]

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I overheard a conversation today. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but given my profession, I was immediately drawn in.  My son and I were waiting for our late breakfast.  We took a sick day off today – due to South Texas weather, which I am publicly blaming, mind you. 

I am sitting directly behind a young couple with a small baby boy.  They are sporting NFL jerseys – Dallas Cowboys – guess they are still mourning their loss with you, Mr. Ruvalcaba.  As the young mother leaves the table for some condiments, I see him get on his phone and make a phone call.  The conversation will strike a familiar chord – as we were all there – in those exact GPS coordinates many moons ago.  (I landed a job with McDonalds at 17)

“Yes, Hi – was calling to see if you’re hiring? I called yesterday.”

(I can only guess what the other person is asking or suggesting based on his replies)

“No, I don’t have that kind of experience.”

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So I’m sitting down going through Twitter edfeed on a particular evening last fall.  “Twitter is a great PD tool.” My Principal had encouraged its use among staff and preached its worth from day one.  As any new teacher, in a brand new district – you are inclined to give things a shot.  A new classroom motions a thousand butterflies into your head and invites ten thousand into your stomach.  Armed with a glue gun and distinct wallpaper – I had committed myself, very early on, to making a difference in this campus.  I had never taught middle school before, but I kept telling myself, “how different could sixth grade be from fifth?” 

Back to TweetDeck.  I ran into a tweet from Verizon Foundation back in September.  “Win $20,000 for your school” were the twenty seven characters that stood out.  It had taken me a few weeks to figure out that my grade level was in need of some tech.  The winning team was to produce an app concept that would solve a problem in respective campus or community.  I thought about it for a good 5 minutes and plunged into the application process.  I had never sponsored anything before.  Not the cheerleading squad, nor a chess team, much less a national competition.  It sounded really good in my head, and yet I couldn’t get word out to my Principal for 3 weeks. I was a new hire, you see.  New hires are supposed to fly under the radar, listening and learning from veteran teachers - not spearheading such high-profile activities.  I did, however, feel a difference in this campus.  The air was different here.  The Administrative Team was different.  A wonderful, open-minded people whose strategy was to bring change by pushing the envelope (and prying the box open). 

Armed with a little more than my glue gun this time, I marched in.  His “Let’s do it!” became the locus point of where the pebble hit the water.  I sponsored 5 teams on this App Challenge (rookie undertaking), and one of my teams received a Best-In-Nation Award for producing an app that assists the visually-impaired in the navigation of a building.  Our campus received an invite from the White House in May and the completed app was presented to President Barack Obama at the White House National Science Fair.  One of my proudest moments as an educator was hearing POTUS pronounce “Resaca Middle School” as he commended my all-lady team during opening presidential remarks.  We also had the opportunity to speak with Google about our project and were invited to tour a few of their campuses in California this past June. 

I had no idea how pronouncing the words, “What do you think about Resaca participating in…” would change my life.  Newspapers and reporters will never be able to quantify the positive effects exerted onto a campus and a community due to the concentric circles rippling out.  What’s my takeaway?  Being fearless changes the direction immediately.  Being fearless sees an impact opportunity and seizes it.  We are all better professionals, better people - because of dreamers.  Thank you Verizon Foundation.  Thank you Gator Administration.  All past and forth-coming accolades are dedicated to you.  You saw something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself.

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