Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Week at a Time These Days!

Well, it looks like this year is going to be a good one at West Valley as I just found out my schedule calls for five straight accelerated reading classes. All available 8th grade teachers met with our WVMS administration on Monday morning to hear that the "rumor" is true. There will be no more 8th grade teams at WVMS as we are moving into a high school format. I will still be Reading Dept. Chair this year and serve on the data team. I will also sponsor National Junior Honor Society. Apart from these commitments, I must try to limit my obligations to allow the time I need to work with Reach Them to Teach Them, 4 Market Square, but most importantly, my family! This will be Drew's senior year! Sam world will be significantly broadened as he will learn to read this year in first grade. Chelcie, of course, heads off to college and will likely need "Mom" more than she thinks she will. Addie enters third grade-hard to believe that my last year teaching 3rd grade was the year she was born!

Before our 8th grade meeting, we had a great group for the Panera Breakfast Club this week. I sure hope we can keep meeting because it does so much for my morale!

Tuesday was a very busy, eventful day! I wish I had more pictures to document the day, but alas, no camera was handy, so you'll just have to take my word for it! Laurie Macnair and I had lunch with Gina Byrd at the Chop House. The highlight of lunch was running into one of my favorite students, Connor Thompson, who was working as a host. He was glad to see me and gave me a big hug! Man, I love that kid and I pray for him whenever he crosses my mind. I'm afraid the ladies will get him off track and he'll find himself distracted. He's just one of those kids that I hope to hear good things about as the years pass. Our lunch itself was great! Laurie was able to share the dream with Gina and I managed to hold back most of my tears. In the end, Gina was signed up and Comcast was committed to sponsoring teachers. The beginning of what I hope to see as a long, mutually beneficial relationship.

At 3:00, I headed over to the Sarah Simpson Building for a little skit practice for the Mentoring Institute. At 4:00, I headed toward the airport to pick up Guy Doud, but first, I ran by the Target in Maryville to pick up a clean sweater to wear to Seasons at 7:00. Guy's plane arrived on time, and we headed to the Crowne Plaza to drop off his luggage and get him checked in. All went smoothly, and we had just enough time to make it across town to Seasons for dinner. Rick and Lidelle, Scott and Melissa, Ed, Anderson and Deron, Dean and Beth, and Tom and I were treated to an incredible dinner. Deron was the perfect host. He provided appetizers that were scrumptious, dessert trays that included all the desserts on the menu. He took care of Guy's check entirely and discounted the rest of the checks by 50%! We were all impressed and satisfied beyond our expectations. Sadly, the evening did not end as well.

As we all stood to leave, Guy lost his balance and attempted to brace himself against a chair. Well, the chair slipped, so Guy leaned against the table and the table gave way under his weight. The table leg broke off and the table, Guy, all the dishes and glasses tumbled to the floor! Broken glass was everywhere! Scott, Tom, Rick, and Ed immediately rushed to help Guy off the floor! Guy's arm was dripping blood. Deron called for a waiter who had been trained as a combat medic in the military. The server helped us apply pressure and stop the bleeding and recommended that we take Guy to the emergency room. Meanwhile, Guy tells us that he cannot go to the hospital. He assures us that he's fine and refuses to allow us to take him because he doesn't have insurance. Rick volunteers to pay for the emergency room bill for Guy. I let Guy know that it's okay to go because someone has agreed to help, but he still insists on not going to the hospital. Ed calls his dad and agrees to take a look at Guy's injury. Ed, Tom, Guy and I show up at Dr. Knowling's house about 10:30 and he graciously cleans, disinfects, and tapes his arm and provides medicine and band-aids to see him through the next few days.

Then I take Guy to his hotel downtown and head, at last, for home. Tuesday was an exceptionally long day!

I picked up Guy on Wednesday morning at 8:15 and we head over to the Sarah Simpson Building. Guy tells me his bandage leaked during the night, but he taped it up and again tells me that he's sore but okay. If his speech was any indication, he was better than okay! The crowd of over 250 teachers were blown away by him! He spoke for over 2 hours and held the entire crowd spellbound. He kicked off the Mentoring Institute in a very powerful way! After he spoke, he signed about 80 books, talked to teachers, posed for pictures and shook hands with his "fans." Finally, we were able to head out for lunch at Ruby Tuesday. While there, Guy shares that his situation has not improved and he's desperate for help. My heart breaks, but I know there is little I can do to help. With 3 hours until his plane leaves for Texas, we decide to drive around Cades Cove. Guy is exhausted and dozes on and off. I am worried about him because I've watched him take many doses of Vicadin painkillers. The mountains were beautiful as always and we enjoyed chatting about the state of education today. I got him to the airport in time to catch his flight to Texas. He is choked up because he doesn't want to leave again, but off he goes to inspire more teachers. I head for home, but not for long! Tom and I are due to meet Dean and Beth at the airport at 7:00 for a quick trip to Indianapolis to bowl with Jeff Gordon. Our flight was extremely pleasant and we made it to our destination in about an hour and a half! Sure beats driving! We grabbed a quick dinner at Rick's Cafe on the water near the airport. Dean celebrated his "birthday" with a free dessert. We got checked into our hotel and fell exhausted in bed about 11:30!

Thursday was the BIG DAY! We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and Tom and I had a deep discussion about cuss words and how we live like God is smaller than He is. Dean and Beth took a tour of Riley Children's Hospital and Dean met with some doctors to find out how is sister died many years ago at 12 years of age. When they returned from their tour, we drove to downtown Indianapolis and had an enjoyable lunch outside at a downtown restaurant. Then we headed back to the hotel for a short nap before heading the bowling alley for the BIG EVENT!

The Jeff Gordon Bowling Tournament was a blast! We had a great time bowling with big name NASCAR celebrities. Unfortunately, we don't know much about NASCAR, but Tom asked a lot of questions and we learned a lot. I'm actually interested in watching a race or two now. I'll have the add the names of our celebrities later because I don't the program with me. Trust me though, they were the NICEST, most humble, gracious people! I liked all of them, well, except for little miss espn NASCAR reporter. She was obviously into promoting herself and climbing up the ladder. Since we couldn't help her, she was rather patronizing, so we just let her do her thing (flirting with Casey Mears. Kinda made me jealous 'cause he was super cute!). The bowling event raised over $250 thousand for the hospital due in a large part to Dean and American Book Company. The man loves kids! After bowling, we went to Texas Roadhouse for another tasty meal, then back to the hotel for some log sawing!

Friday morning. Breakfast at 8. Penquin Book Deal at 9. Airplane at 10, but not before a close call as Dean drove down a one way road the WRONG way! Our flight back to Knoxville was only an hour and two minutes long. Once we landed and swapped hugs and thank yous, Tom and I drove up Alcoa Highway to have lunch with the Ulster Project kids before they head back to Ireland today. We ate with Scott and Tina Harness and laughed a lot! Good people. After lunch, we headed home to unload and relax. Our next big adventure was dinner and Moe's with Ed, Olivia, Delaney, Chelcie, Tom, Addie, and Sam. Ben Shires made a special guest appearance and it was great to touch base with him before he heads off to college at UT. From there, we went to WestLake for the last ever MUDPIT as the finale of ROC the House. The kids had so much fun! They even had a fire truck there to hose them down after their time in the "PIT." Could you even imagine more fun than that?

Addie heads to the beach with Grandmom, Papaw, and Lori tomorrow. She could be gone for a week! Lori will pick her up at 7 in the morning! That's my update for now. I'm tired. Tomorrow's another adventure!

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