Monday, March 31, 2014

March Madness, Part 3: The End of the Beginning

That sonic thud you heard the week before last was me coming to a screeching halt.

I crashed. Not the Prius, but physically. It happens every year, because I tend to load myself down with anything and everything I can shove into my schedule, and then I pay for it. Spring is a new, fresh start, and is more than welcome this year after the Winter with No End in Sight...and I'm hoping, after recharging and taking care of myself, that I'm geared up for the next few months. At least, I hope I'm ready for April, which is looking to have a lot of travel across the state and beyond.

I feel like it is also the end of the beginning of this journey. This role is no longer new. The shock and awe of being the teacher of the year, while still humbling, has diminished. It's who I am, kind of like an extra appendage that I just had to learn how to use properly (if that makes no sense please take into consideration that it's 11:45 at night and I've just driven 4 1/2 hours home from Charleston. I get a free pass.). I've spoken to schools, community groups, teachers, and students; I don't so much as flinch when someone asks me to stand up and say a few words.  I have found my "groove" regarding my platform and issues of interest. Best of all, I have developed a rhythm and routine to what, how, and when I prepare for travel. I can have clothes picked out, equipment charged and packed, snacks, water, and fuel in an hour. I have adapted  to and embraced this journey.

The last part of the month had me slowing down a bit, or more so me going in slower motion. I held a workshop at Shepherd University on grant writing and Web 2.0 tools (albeit for a very small audience...I'll spare my dignity and not share how few people showed up). While I didn't tape any more interviews (yet) for Be the DifferenceWV, I did finish editing and uploading all of the ones I recorded in March. I also helped present awards at the RESA 8 Regional Social Studies Fair (I had planned on judging as well, but by Saturday morning my body was screaming for a break - or at least some sleep). On Sunday, my church family, Otterbein United Methodist, recognized me during the church service and with a reception afterwards.
The super cute flyer I was so excited to give "all" my audience for my workshop...things happen :-S

Regional Social Studies Fair...A Tomahawk student is going to the state competition!

Thank you, OUMC, for my beautiful cake and reception!

Back Creek Valley Elementary Interview with Erin Butler

From church I headed to Charleston for the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards. I was honored as a recipient last year and was given the opportunity to speak to this year's teachers receiving the award. The Arch Coal foundation recognizes 12 teachers in West Virginia each year for their accomplishments in the classroom. I was especially proud of the two teachers from Berkeley County receiving the award, Sonya Shockey and Candi Smith - you can watch both of their interviews for Be the DifferenceWV in Hedgesville High School's and Tuscarora Elementary's episodes.
We meet again, Clay Center...

With Sonya and Candi

Speaking to the recipients

After I spoke at the award ceremony at the Clay Center (hard to believe I was just there in October...), I went to the University of Charleston to speak to their student teachers. I was warmly received and I am extremely thankful to Dr. Lockhart for organizing this event and the following reception. I love speaking to and working with beginning teachers; if "this" was supposed to happen for any reason at all, it is because there are young people preparing for this profession that I was destined to meet. I feel like I have found a second calling working with students in this capacity.
University of Charleson

Speaking to the student teachers in Riggleman Hall

Gorgeous view of the Capitol from the school!

Photo-op with some of the student teachers and Dr. Lockhart (bottom right)

Now I am home, my heart is full, and my car is approaching the 4,000 mile mark. Maybe I didn't crash this month, after all, just skidded a little out of control. This time next month, I will be in Washington, D.C., preparing to meet the President of the United States. Mike Funkhouser, the 2013 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, just sent me a "gentle reminder" e-mail to take care of myself and enjoy the journey. He's right. You can't do everything, all the time, for everyone. I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience this state and its people through the lens of a teacher - and when it's over, I need to have the energy and the joy to share this adventure with others. Everything happens for a reason and a purpose that is yet unseen. In October, I felt like I was living someone else's life. It's almost April, and I can confirm that this crazy, rewarding, and life changing journey belongs to me, at least for the time being. This is for real, but it's not forever.

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