Tonight, it's going to be me, Brad, and NYC via Ryan Seacrest's Rockin' New Year's Eve. The way I see it, the upcoming year is going to be one big celebration of sorts, so I can take the night off. It feels comforting just to be home with familiar things, and I know the upcoming year will often take me away from them. So I choose to wrap up this year in peace. When the clock turns to 12:00 in a few hours, I'll officially embark on my year, and the past two and-a-half months have prepared me for what's ahead.
December found me on a one-person mission to visit the rest of the schools in Martinsburg for Be the Difference WV. I don't want to abandon this project or my commitment to making it to all of the schools in Berkeley County this year, and I knew this month would be my "window" to record as many interviews as possible. I made it to every school in Martinsburg except one, leaving just the schools in the southern part of the county for the second semester. For those of you that haven't been to Berkeley County, we are small in square miles but exploding in term of population. Just 75 miles from Washington, D.C., many families relocate to our area of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia so they can still commute to their jobs in the metro area. That means a lot of students, and a lot of schools. I still have about ten more schools to cover in our county, and hope to be including those from around the state in the very near future.
|With Melany Delong at Burke Street Elementary|
I did two radio interviews - one with Cecelia Mason for West Virginia Public Radio, and another with Marsha Chwalik for the Panhandle Spotlite on WEPM 1340 and WLTF 97.5. Marsha - who is a former English teacher for Berkeley County Schools - also had me record some intros ("This is Erin Sponaugle, and your listening to 97.5, W-L-T-F") for some of Prettyman Broadcasting's stations, so be listening for them in the upcoming year! What's ironic is that Cecilia Mason, who is the Eastern Panhandle Bureau Chief for WVPR, was a guest speaker for one of my journalism courses at Shepherd before I changed majors - and she remembered me! Funny how things come full circle :-)
|With Marsha at Prettyman Broadcasting|
Another part of Education day that I took part in was touring our county's beautiful new Spring Mills High School. At 250,000 square feet, it is projected to become the largest high school in West Virginia. The structure and technology in this facility are astounding, and it's exciting to see what our students will have access to as they are prepared for the future.
|Spring Mills High School at night|
I ended the day interviewing two teachers for Be the Difference WV at Winchester Avenue Elementary, a school in downtown Martinsburg that opened its doors in 1920. Looking at the portraits of the former principals lining the hallways as I left that day, I reflected on the variety of teachers and facilities we have in our area to serve our students and community. Whether it's a technical school preparing students to assume a vocation, a state-of-the-art facility introducing high school students to the tools of tomorrow, or a small, urban school with a lot of history and devotion to setting the foundation for our youngest pupils, the commonality all have is the future. What goes on within our walls, wherever we teach, is just prelude for what is to come for our students.
My month concluded with a personal trip to Austin, Texas, to celebrate the wedding of one of Brad's track and field teammates from Wheeling Jesuit University. It was great to see Jason and visit the capital of the Lonestar State. Within the next month, I will have traveled to two more state capitals - Charleston, for the State of the State address, and Phoenix, for the first meeting of all the state teachers of the year.
|With Brad at the reception|
We fit in some time to visit the capitol building before we left. It's the largest state capitol in the United States and taller than the federal capitol building in Washington, D.C. There are also four floors of 700,000 square feet of office space below ground!
|Guess Who :-)|
|Star at center of Rotunda is eight feet!|
|Delegates chamber - tree has an ornament from each delegate's district|