The past three weeks have been like the finale of a Fourth of July fireworks display. I've always had multiple events and/or projects going on at once. Sometimes, I wonder why I do it to myself, or why things seem to gravitate in my direction. Now I know why. No words can describe the amount of multitasking you suddenly acquire when you become teacher of the year. If you aren't someone who can concentrate on seemingly hundreds of "to dos" on a list that grows by the minute, you become one fast...and I am eternally grateful for every responsibility, task, and hurdle that has been put in my way in the past eleven years, because without that kind of "boot camp," I wouldn't be prepared for this.
...And, although it's a lot to absorb and navigate, I do feel prepared. It's still surreal that I'm here, but I've accepted that this was meant to happen - and I hope I can do some amazing things with it.
So what's been up? Well, three weeks ago (unbelievable it's been that long), I was actually having a fairly normal school week. I was back in the classroom with my students, just being Mrs. Sponaugle. Then Tuesday evening the phone rang. Richard Belisle from the Herald-Mail (a newspaper in Hagerstown, Maryland, that covers our bordering Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia) was calling to arrange a time to not only interview me, but also my students and see my classroom. He wanted to know if he could come Thursday or Friday, so of course I said Thursday (because if you have ever been in a school on a Friday you perfectly understand why). As soon as I hung up, I gasped.
Thursday was Halloween - and if you have ever been in a school on Halloween, you also perfectly understand why.
I'm human. I'm a teacher, with flaws and positives like everyone else. So the immediate thought of having a reporter AND photographer come to my classroom on the most sugar-infested, crazy behavior inducing holiday of the year was a little, shall we say, spooky. However, it all went just fine. In fact, I think it took the focus off of "What are going to dress up as tonight?" and put it on to "Did he take your picture? Did he ask you a question? He took MY PICTURE!! He asked me LOTS of questions!!" My students loved getting to talk to a reporter and being photographed. Although not every picture or quote they gave made it in the paper (we had to have a discussion about how writing a newspaper article and editing works), they clearly enjoyed being celebrities. You can read the article at this link.
The following Thursday, we had a special visit from Michael Funkhouser, the 2013 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Michael is an instructional coach at East Hardy High School. I appreciate that he took time to come up to our school on a rainy day to meet with my class and let them ask him questions. They all remarked what a very nice man he was after he left - and I would have to agree. He is a wonderful, sincere person - and it's pretty remarkable when a classroom of ten-year-olds picks that up in a matter of minutes.
It's strange being out of the classroom so much. In past years, I am hardly ever out - and then, it's only been for school business with two or three exceptions. Being a teacher is part of my identity, my daily routine. I'm getting ready to leave for the Stonewall Resort in Walkersville to work on the instructional criteria for English Language Arts, then next Thursday and Friday I'm at the West Virginia Reading Conference. Those are things I had planned to take on before this happened, but it's very much a preview of what's to come. I have wonderful, capable people who can step up and take over for me, but "fading" out of my role at Tomahawk, although temporary, makes me a little sad. I mean, I love teaching there - and suddenly I'm everyone's teacher, with a much larger classroom. Which means my role in my own classroom, my little spot on Earth, takes a back seat.
Now, I'm the special visitor.