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Posted by on in General

Family Celebration Weekend, on a snowy Saturday afternoon in Sunriver, Oregon.

Obviously I need an organizing consultant, but Marie Kondo isn't available. I have been cleaning out and sorting for quite awhile, my clutter, my life. The wise words by Tony Wagner really hit home this week as I juggled some major life decisions and the fact that in only a few days I reach the not desired status of being widowed seven years. My what's next, what I thought I knew was on overload.

I had a bunch of blips in the last couple weeks, some stuff not in my control, others, my fault. In fact, I made a mess of a few things I may or may not tell you about. It would take some courage to share. And you know I always talk with you, plain talk from my head, heart and soul. And I love to laugh with you, we all need to laugh more. There are so many funny things when we can look at ourselves and not take everything so darn seriously.

As I sit here writing to you, fairly large snowflakes are falling, drifting down on puffy, finely laced little snow feet. I know parts of our country are at the moment, inundated with snow, but in Eugene snow has been sparse, only seeming endless days of cloudy, bitter cold weather, damp, gloomy, biting to the bone. So my kids decided it was time for a break, snow, yes, time to play! For me, this meant time to read, nap, and reflect on some very big changes and transitions in my life again. This is common to everyone, pretty much, we just don't see it, probably.

Mini-Vacation Break for Milestone Birthdays. Two forties, one eight, mine, not telling.

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Posted by on in General

The Soviet Union’s jump-start to space exploration, with the launching of Sputnik in 1957, left egg on America’s face and galvanized the Space Race that would last between the two nations well into the next decade. 

I was just two years old in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy announced, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”  A few years later, I was beginning my elementary school days, and, at the same time, the nation was ramping up its efforts to improve science education in order to produce the best science minds for taking on the president’s goal.

As the Apollo mission reached a fevered pitch in the late sixties, I was finally having science added to my daily lessons.  Truthfully, most of the lessons simply involved reading a text and filling out worksheets, but I was in heaven!  I loved science!  I loved learning about atoms and cells and pulleys and levers and electricity and biology.  I ran to the library and checked out all the books I could find about rocket ships and future plans for inhabiting the moon.  I begged my mother for money (from an already overstretched bank account) and bought my own books about the moon from Scholastic. 

I followed the race to the moon in the newspaper and clipped articles for a scrapbook that now, fifty years later, is yellowed and faded.  I wanted to be an astronaut, despite the fact that I could barely make it through a ride in the family station wagon without getting carsick.

Along with other boys and girls my age, I stayed up late on July 20, 1969 and rejoiced as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon’s surface. A few years later, we held our breath and prayed in the middle of class as the astronauts of Apollo 13 had to abort their mission and figure out a way to stay alive in order to return safely to Earth. Throughout junior high school and high school, we watched four more Apollo lunar modules land on the moon.  The country moved on to Skylab and space shuttles which still had the power of stopping science fanatics like me in our tracks to watch launchings and landings and, sadly, a few disastrous mishaps.

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Posted by on in General

sunrise

The black fog arrived early this year. In years past, it had begun swirling above my head some time in May. But here it was, a month before Spring Break, and it was already hovering over me with its tendrils reaching menacingly toward my skull. In but a few moments, it had invaded my brain, darkened my heart, and smothered my soul.

It was only February.

Anxiety awoke me nightly and filled me with self-doubt, worry, and fear. Adrenaline coursed through my bloodstream, jolting every single cell from its slumber. My pulse raced and despair left me exhausted and sweating despite the fact that I was rendered motionless, unable to flee.

Every thought in my head was about school:

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Posted by on in General

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What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—and then run?

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

Authentic teaching is magical balance. A good teacher knows how to reveal the essence of our existence so that we are moved to compassion, so that we respond with kindness and humanity even in the face of adversity, so that we are aware of the beautiful now, while our eyes are wide open to the potential of tomorrow.

How do we find this magical balance and inspire students in an age of uncertainty? This has been an intense year for all of us. I wonder a lot about the long-term impact of world events on our individual and collective well-being. How will social, political and environmental upheaval influence how we approach teaching for the future?

My work with teachers this week gave me joy but also concern. I was reminded how vulnerable teachers are in our collective struggle, loss and disappointment. I admire how teachers continue to find humor in any situation and courageously inject honesty at unexpected moments.

I met a kind teacher who does outstanding work. Sadly, she faces an overcrowded class of special education students every day without any support in the classroom. This is not unusual. Still, I get impatient. I want to embolden teachers like her to advocate for themselves, to challenge the conditions of their schools and classrooms, to believe in the possibility of a balanced, healthy life and professional working conditions.

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