Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week Before Washington, Part One: Morgantown, Wesleyan, and Senator Rockefeller

I will be on the road to D.C. in less than three hours - and I'm not out of bed yet. Well, I was up, but gravity, more likely fatigue, pulled me back down for a few more hours. Fortunately, I only live about 90 minutes from the D.C. metro area, so as long as I'm there by 3:45 for the opening events, my body can remain in standby mode for a little bit longer.

I did not know if I could pull last week off. I was scheduled to go to West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown on Monday and Marshall University (5 1/2 hours away) Wednesday and Thursday. Knowing that I had a big week planned for the end of April, I knew this was going to be hours of driving and a lot of "on time" speaking, walking, navigating...there's so much that goes into appearances and presenting. I love it, more than I ever thought I would, but it's not like I just show up and say a few words. The amount of planning rivals what you do to prepare for students each day in the classroom - if not, do I dare say, more. No two events are the same. You are also the "main event," well with some exceptions like the one I'm going to tell you about, but for the most part, people are gathered together, going out of their way, because you've there. It's a lot of pressure to look and sound good, if not awesome. Factor in that coming from Martinsburg, I have at least three hours of driving to what I hope the GPS is the right location...and the GPS has NO CLUE where to find a parking spot. Ever.

On Monday, I made an extra stop before I went to WVU to Children's Hospital at Ruby Memorial. There are many children who would love to be in school with their classmates but can't for health reasons. I felt compelled to stop by and share Berkeley with the patients in the pediatric wing. Although I did not get to visit with as many kids as I would have hoped, I will remember each of the children I visited with forever. I'm glad I stopped by.
Berkeley waiting patiently in the activity center at Children's

That afternoon I spoke to the student teachers in Sara Aronin's class at WVU on classroom management. That has become my most requested workshop, even before anyone knew it had a kickin' 80s theme (I am an 80s child, after all). I enjoyed meeting with her students, and it's been exciting to have had the chance to influence so many future teachers this year.
Allen Hall

With Sara Aronin's student teachers!

Some of my classroom management goodies from my workshop

Right before I presented at WVU, I received a phone call from Senator Rockefeller's Martinsburg office. Where would I be tomorrow afternoon? Driving to Huntington. Would I be able to stop at West Virginia Wesleyan College to hear Senator Rockefeller interviewed by Ted Koppel and possibly meet him afterwards?


It meant driving in (another) wild and crazy rain storm and leaving home for my trip to Huntington at 9:30 am (when I had gotten home from Morgantown about 12 hours earlier), but how many times does this happen? This year is about being flexible and going with the flow (and going without sleep). Senator Jay Rockefeller is the former president of Wesleyan and also the former governor of West Virginia, in addition to his 50 years of service in the Senate. He is retiring this year from Congress. Some things, you just don't pass up, regardless of weather or lack of sleep.

Senator Rockefeller's "Welcome Home to Wesleyan" event was held in the Virginia Law Performing Arts Center, where I spoke to Wesleyan students back in February (Senator Rockefeller  understandably drew a much larger crowd). Ted Koppel interviewed him about his life in politics and views on public policy. I was very moved by what he had to say about the his reasons for going into public service and him message to the next generation about serving their state and county. Here are some of my favorite remarks made during the interview by Senator Rockefeller:
Senator Rockefeller and Ted Koppel

- On the people in West Virginia living in poverty: "They're pushing a rock with two hands." His analogy was that when one hand is taken off the rock, it rolls backward and you start over once again.
- "Commit yourself to making other people's lives better."
- "Get outside of your comfort zone. Understand what the rest of your country is like."
- On making promises to improve or change situations as a political figure: "If you put your neck on the chopping block and say you're going to get something done, you can have a lot of fun."
- "Public service is anything you do for others." He spoke about other professions that improve and serve the lives of the public.

Afterward, I did get to briefly meet Senator Rockefeller. I'm honored to have met someone who has spent his life working to improve the lives of West Virginians. You can read more about Senator Rockefeller's visit at this link at WOWKTV in Charleston and this link from WV Public Broadcasting.
Being introduced to Senator Rockefeller

I did a quick walk around the Wesleyan campus before I continued on my way to Huntington, as the last time I was in Buckhannon it was buried under five inches of snow (I pretty much drifted down through Main Street into the campus that day...). I stopped at Wesley Chapel, the largest worship space in West Virginia (it seats 1,800 people). It was good to be somewhere peaceful - for a moment - in the midst of all the traveling and changes occurring right now in my life.
The sun came out for a few hours!

Wesley Chapel


12 Apostles

Statue of John Wesley 

Back view of chapel

From there it was on to Huntington to spend two days at Marshall University - which I will have to share with you in another post, because I leave for D.C. in an hour and 45 minutes! Must get up!

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