Friday, July 10, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
7 Principles Of An Eagle – Dr. Myles MonroeBy Kwee Lain
Eagles fly alone at high altitude and not with sparrows or other small birds. No other bird can got to the height of the eagle. Stay away from sparrows and ravens.
Eagles fly with Eagles
Eagles have strong vision. They have the ability to focus on something up to five kilometers away. When an eagle sites his prey, he narrows his focus on it and set out to get it. No matter the obstacles, the eagle will not move his focus from the prey until he grabs it.
Have a vision and remain focused no matter what the obstacle and you will succeed.
Eagles do not eat dead things. They feed only on fresh prey. Vultures eat dead animals, but eagles will not.
Be careful with what you feed your eyes and ears with, especially in movies and on TV. Steer clear of outdated and old information. Always do your research well.
Eagles love the storm. When clouds gather, the eagles get excited. The eagle uses the storm’s wind to lift it higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm, the eagles uses the raging storm to lift him above the
clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime, all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees.
We can use the storms of life to rise to greater heights. Achievers relish challenges and use them profitably.
The Eagle tests before it trusts. When a female eagle meets a male and they want to mate, she flies down to earth with the male pursuing her and she picks a twig. She flies back into the air with the male pursuing her.
Once she has reached a height high enough for her, she lets the twig fall to the ground and watches it as it falls. The male chases after the twig. The faster it falls, the faster he chases it. He has to catch it before it
falls to the ground. He then brings it back to the female eagle.
The female eagle grabs the twig and flies to a higher altitude and then drops the twig for the male to chase. This goes on for hours, with the height increasing until the female eagle is assured that the male eagle has mastered the art of catching the twig which shows commitment. Then and only then, will she allow him to mate with her.
Whether in private life or in business, one should test commitment of people intended for partnership.
When ready to lay eggs, the female and male eagle identify a place very high on a cliff where no predators can reach. The male flies to earth and picks thorns and lays them on the crevice of the cliff, then flies to earth again to collect twigs which he lays in the intended nest. He flies back to earth and picks thorns laying them on top of the twigs. He flies back to earth and picks soft grass to cover the thorns. When this first layering is complete the male eagle runs back to earth and picks more thorns, lays them on the nest; runs back to get grass it on top of the thorns, then plucks his feathers to complete the nest. The thorns on the outside of the nest protect it from possible intruders. Both male and female eagles participate in raising the eagle family. She lays the eggs and protects them; he builds the nest and hunts. During the time of training the young ones to fly, the mother eagle throws the eaglets out of the nest. Because they are scared, they jump into the nest again.
Next, she throws them out and then takes off the soft layers of the nest, leaving the thorns bare When the scared eaglets again jump into the nest, they are pricked by thorns. Shrieking and bleeding they jump out again this time wondering why the mother and father who love them so much are torturing them. Next, mother eagle pushes them off the cliff into the air. As they shriek in fear, father eagle flies out and catches them up on his back before they fall and brings them back to the cliff. This goes on for sometime until they start flapping their wings. They get excited at this newfound knowledge that they can fly.
The preparation of the nest teaches us to prepare for changes; The preparation for the family teaches us that active participation of both partners leads to success; The being pricked by the thorns tells us that sometimes being too comfortable where we are may result into our not experiencing life, not progressing and not learning at all. The thorns of life come to teach us that we need to grow, get out of the nest and live on. We may not know it but the seemingly comfortable and safe haven may have thorns.
The people who love us do not let us languish in sloth but push us hard to grow and prosper. Even in their seemingly bad actions they have good intentions for us.
When an Eagle grows old, his feathers become weak and cannot take him as fast as he should. When he feels weak and about to die, he retires to a place far away in the rocks. While there, he plucks out every feather on his body until he is completely bare. He stays in this hiding place until he has grown new feathers, then he can come out.
We occasionally need to shed off old habits & items that burden us without adding to our lives.
The best part of the week was a "Reunion" dinner was had a Litton's with the Gibsons, Hornes, Mathes', and Taylors. Wow, to think that some folks live their entire lives and never have a single true friend. How blessed we are to have many! I believe the seed was planted to take a mission trip to Nicaragua next summer. We'll see if that seed bears fruit or not.
Monday, 6/22, I met with ChildHelp's Hugh Nystrom. Hugh is the undesputed King of Puns and is the guy who knows everybody in town! We met for lunch at Pimentos and ran into Suzanne and her mom. Hugh is proving to be an invaluable asset to our Dream Team. He's also part of the 2009 Leadership Knoxville Class.
Our Dream Team meeting on Thursday was productive and inspiring. Anthony Ingram suggested I contact Grand Standifer at Compassion Coalition and now our team is booked to be on Grant's "Drive at Five" radio show on Joy 62. We're making progress, but it feels slow to me. I suppose because I'm preoccupied with finances. Most of our donors have stayed with us, but have cut back on their support. We're going to have to get creative this year. Of course, everytime I feel anxious I remind myself that it's not up to be to make this dream come true...not if I truly believe this is a vision that God has called us to share...then I feel the pressure diminish and excitement about HOW it's going to happen this year takes the place of my fear.
I met with John Dinkens again along with his friend and colleague, Nathan Zipper. I have to distinct feeling that this was another "divine appointment" on this journey. I love being with people who don't limit God and who have the courage to dream big dreams! Nathan suggested I check out "donorschoose.org" and offered to help set up a request for us. John, of course, contines to be as enthusiastic a supporter as we've ever had and has offered up his contacts to help spread the word about our mission. After we met, I jumped tables and joined Sherry, Angel and Suzanne for our Friday morning Panera session.
Saturday morning, I met my old friend, Bruce Bouldin, at the courts for a little butt-whooping. It was a blistering 95 degrees and I did well to stay on my feet. Bruce was merciful and allowed me the victory...this time. After tennis, we met at Wendy's to share the Reach Them dream along with the possibility of bringing the dream to Hickory, NC.
This morning, we joined the packed house at NorthStar for a little challenge for the men. After church, we had lunch at Lenny's with Tom, Chelcie, Delaney, Addie, Sam, Reed, Ed, Chris, and Justin. We ran into Mr. Roger and Emilee Bowles and the Hicks family. So much fun to live in a town where we see friends wherever we go!
My prayers and thoughts are with you on this day. How often I have thought of you, Claire, and Rose this week! I’ve driven past your house every day and each time I lifted you up to the Lord. I probably should have come in, but there were always so many cars...
Tom and I attended the Celebration of Life service today but we did not have the opportunity to get anywhere close to you due to all the people who love you and your family, and especially your special husband, Dale. Dale’s legacy will continue to be revealed to you in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of our special memories of time spent with you and Dale. First of all, our Sunday summer afternoons at the Gettysvue pool...how we enjoyed our laid-back conversations and laughs around the pool! Of all the things we miss about our Gettysvue days, we miss our time with “the Mayos” most of all!
Then there were the fourth of July parties out at the Slack’s lake house. Tell me, does it ever get better than that? Popsicles, children, good food, and lifelong friends- these are the things that make up “the good ol’ days.”
I’ve enclosed some pictures for you and your girls. Dale was the first person I called for help after scheduling “Mission Unstoppable,” our 8th grade service project for the Mission of Hope. Four out of the last five years, Dale worked all day in my classroom at West Valley, helping my students assemble the toys they’d purchased. Many times, he would have to “undo” their work and fix the toy before we could send it on to Appalachia. Dale was never there to draw attention to himself. He had a way of being there when he was needed, but he never took over. Dale patiently guided my students so they would learn to do it themselves. The loss of our Mission Unstoppable project was one of the reasons I struggled with decision to leave West Valley.
This fall, I am teaching in an inner-city elementary school. As you well know, the dream of Reach Them to Teach Them, has been my passion for the past four years. I want to see our city united; I want to see people in our town set aside our differences and come together. If people fully grasped the power of their influence in the lives of others, they would consider their influcence a privilege that comes with great responsibility. Dale wasn’t a teacher by profession, but he was a teacher in the way he lived his life. He led people to “discover” truths for themselves that were hidden in plain sight.
In the past three days we have heard (and told) many “Dale Mayo” stories. Just tonight, Mike Taylor shared with us how much it meant to him to have Dale show up in his hospital room with an office chair so Mike could work while he was fighting cancer.
I distinctly remember a message on our answering machine a few years ago from an “Alphonse Derongelo,” letting me know that a package had been dropped off on my back porch. It seemed that “Mr. Derongelo” had purchased several cases of student Bibles for the students who showed up at a summer Bible study I was having at my house.
Gerda, my heart breaks for your loss, but oh, my friend, how very blessed we’ve all been to have known your sweet husband! The only thing that can provide comfort for those of us who remain on this side of heaven is the decision to live our lives as evidence of having known Dale Mayo.
His quiet way of assessing a situation, of using what resources he had to meet a need, of never having met a stranger, of not being a “consumer,” his dry, intellectual sense of humor, the way he took joy in the simple pleasures of life...the world is forever different because he was here. Lives have been changed, hearts of been touched. Just today, several people accepted Christ into their lives for the first time. Even in death, he continues to point people toward Jesus.
I recently finished reading a book entitled, “Same Kinda Different as Me.” There is a passage in the book that speaks to loss. “Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin you can do, that’s when God takes over.” Please know that in the days ahead, you may be overcome with grief, you may cry out to God like you’ve never cried out to Him before. I know that this loss is too much for you to handle, but it’s not too much for God. Let Him carry you.
Friend, we love you. We love your family. We love spending time with you. We are looking forward to being with you again soon.
With much love and constant prayer for you,
Amy and Tom Crawford
We had a Reach Them to Teach Them Board Meeting on June 11th. Things are progressing pretty well. We certainly have a lot more structure and organization to our meetings. Part of me really misses the old days of just sharing ideas and thinking about "What if..." Our team is strong and I'm encouraged every time I head into a meeting to see that they have come back.
Sam and Addie attended Vacation Bible School with Natalie, Lauren, and Bennett at First Baptist Concord. It was quite a production and the kids had a blast. I enjoyed seeing Dr. Wilson and several old friends I hadn't seen in a while. Part of me got a little nostalgic for "traditional" Baptist Church, and another part of me got a little sad. What could happen in our city if the resources that were used to produce VBS were reallocated to be the hands of Jesus to hurting people in our city? Many children made professions of faith and the gospel message was clearly shared with them, so I guess I'm torn. My emotions are similar to how I feel about teaching in suburban schools vs. inner city. Where can I (we) have the greater impact? There is no clear, definitive answer.
I had a great time meeting with my old friend Steve. Not coincidentally our conversation did not center on Reach Them as I had planned, but rather we talked about what it means to truly seek God... not church, not organized religion, but truly, deeply, intimately seek God. I enjoy learning from people who aren't afraid to think for themselves, then research, seek, and discover. That kind of thing fascinates me.
Friday morning at Panera was one of the week's highlights as usual. Suzanne, Sherry, Phil, and Lisa were there and we enjoyed debating the problems of the universe. We had them all solved by 10:30! Whenever I have the opportunity to be with my special group of friends, I am always better for it. Also, it feels so good to laugh.
Chelcie arrived home from Nicaragua on Sunday, and Sunday afternoon we had our small group meeting at Ed's lake house. Chelcie shared her pictures and video from her adventure in Central America and I felt a distinct rip of separation between myself and my baby girl. I wouldn't be surprised if she felt called to teach in a Nicaraguan orphanage someday. She has such a heart for the people there.
Sam was enrolled in Camp Invention the week of June 15-19 at Lotts. He had a great time taking apart a radio and building a "Robot Computer" who would bring my laptop to me whenever I needed it. Tuesday, June 16th, I spoke at Tom's Kiwanis Club and was thrilled to hear that they immediately voted to allocate $500 to Reach Them to Teach Them for 2009.
Tuesday's highlight was meeting my former "roommate" Jane Manning at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Always so good to share time with friends. This time, I had an ulterior motive...I need HELP with ideas for teaching fourth grade! She graciously agreed to lend a hand and cautioned me to set the rules and procedures at the beginning of the year, not "as I go."
Wednesday, June 17. Oh, what a tragic day! The world lost a great man today. Our good friend, Dale Mayo, died unexpectedly at his house. I met with John Dinkens at Panera Bread to share the Reach Them story, then was headed down to Webster's to meet with Angela Gonda when Miles Creasman called to let me know. The rest of the day was a blur. I spent most of the day reflecting on the kind of man Dale was and praying for Gerda, Claire, and Rose. I'm still reeling from the loss.
Thursday morning, I headed to Maryville and by 8:15 I was in Dr. Terry Simpson's office preparing to meet with Maryville City Schools' Director, Stephanie Thompson. Ms. Thompson was completely supportive and agreed to encourage the Maryville City Schools' Staff to attend Reach Them to Teach Them, 2009.
My first tour of my digs was given to me by Laurie Griffin on Thursday. Laurie was a gracious hostess and introduced me to everyone who happened to be there. Every person I met was exceptionally friendly and welcoming. All said they loved teaching there and couldn't imagine teaching at another school. The prospect of all the changes in my near future is still unsettling, but I have no regrets...especially since I have heard nothing from my former principal or asst. principal...Just when you think you matter...you find out you don't. Still stings a little but looking forward to what's ahead.
Friday's highlight was Sam's Camp Invention Presentation and, of course, my Panera breakfast. More later...this one's getting too long! :)
Friday, June 12, 2009
I met Phil, Suzanne, and Kevin at Panera Bread this morning and shared the news with them. I've prayed for God to open the door for Reach Them to Teach Them to penetrate Knoxville's inner-city and unite our city in our common love for our most important natural resource-our children. This decision was not made without careful thought, prayer and seeking the counsel of my wise friends. I only wish I had documented their words but the common theme has been, "Amy, you've got to go."
I discussed this with Tom, Suzanne, Phil, Scotty and Theresa prior to accepting the position. There are folks I respect and admire and each one said that this is the right move for me at this time. I also talked to Nancy Freidrich and when she said, "Amy, I have been here two and half years and I have never had a mother show up at my classroom door with a tray of cupcakes to celebrate a birthday, or to lend a hand to help with making copies..." I saw "my" children. It's not a matter of pity; it's a matter of empowerment. It's about setting uncompromising high standards and refusing to compromise them for excuses. I am so eager to love them. I'm praying that God will open the door beside me for Suzanne to come too. Where two or more are gathered...God, use me up for your glory...
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I had a wonderful $4 breakfast with Erica Pack at Webster's this morning, and I found myself overwhelmed with emotion...not for myself, but when I visualized the faces of the children who never hear anyone tell them, "I love you," "Your life has purpose," "You are fearfully and wonderfully made." No child should feel invisible. What could they do if they were given the tools to build their masterpieces? How can we, how can I equip them to change the world?
After meeting with Erica, I headed to Starbucks to meet with an old friend from college. This friend is dealing with the same sort of strugggle so many of us face...What does it mean to truly, authentically follow God? Intense conversation with a good listener and fellow learner.
Then to FBConcord to pick up the children from VBS. 2,000 kids...500+ volunteers...5 days...who knows how much time and money has been invested in this. I can't help but wonder what the return on investment is for this event. Is it worth it? One life changed forever? Twenty? Three hundred? How is value determined?
Reed and Rachel received some heart-breaking news last night. Today, they seem a little tentative, but curious, excited about some of the changes, and happy. I hope their parents continue to focus on their needs first.
Lots of folks to pray for and lots of pain around me. I am dealing with some very serious personal issues that I do not want to share here, but want to document for future reference. I know that God has a plan for me. How He will use my current situation for good, is something I cannot wait to see. Sometimes the pain is in proportion to the victory. This one should be good!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
1. Do I trust God enough to let go of my security to see how He will use me in uncharted territory?
2. Can I back up my words with my actions?
3. Do I believe that God is at work in my life, and that His plans are far superior to my own?
4. How powerful is my pride? I have taught at WV for six years. I'm the Dept. Chair, sponsor of National Junior Honor Society, data team, and have a favorable reputation in the community. Are these accomplishments MY accomplishments? OR can I lay these at the feet of my Savior and offer them up to Him as thanks and praise for allowing me the opportunity to serve HIM, not myself, to the best of my ability?
5. Will I allow fear into my mind, or trust that God is true to His word?
6. Will I allow myself to be free to serve Him wherever He calls me without a backwards glance into what might have been?
7. Will I be grateful to have been given the opportunity to pour my life into children who might not have another person who cares about them or tells them they matter?
8. Will I live with a "Kingdom"mindset, or will I look for what is easy and convenient for me?
9. Will I miss the comforts of the familiar...my classroom, my view of the mountains, my brand-new activboard, my big closet, my, my, my...nothing was ever mine. Nothing.
10. Will I claim and live Jeremiah 29:11?
I have already seen first-hand how this choice influences my children. I was upset, emotional, in tears this afternoon when Addie noticed and got worried about me. I explained to her that the thought of children who have no one who loves them, takes care of them, and teaches them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made- my heart breaks for them.
I explained that I want to use my God-given gifts to meet a need in our community, even if it means I leave WVMS.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Wednesday morning started early with an 8:30 meeting at the Knoxville News Sentinel with my new friend, Mary Lyle Hyatt and a young man who did great on his second day on the job. After this meeting, I drove across town to interview at Sarah Moore Green elementary school, but did not leave the interview feeling like that is where I need to be. Principal Yarbro was very kind and I enjoyed my time with her. I also had the opportunity to see Donna Howard for a few moments prior to the interview.
With about 30 minutes to spare before my lunch date, I dropped by Panera to check email and ran into Janice Halliday. She always has an encouraging word and a smile! I love that lady! Then it was off to Pimentos on Bearden Hill to sit at the feet of Hallerin Hill and learn the lessons his father taught him. Brickies have to have sticky to be functional and beautiful. The mortar between the bricks is the sticky. All successful people and organizations have plenty of sticky! Hallerin encouraged me to pursue Christian record producers in order to have a compilation album of "celebrity" songs honoring teachers who made a difference in their lives. Definitely something to "dream big" about...
Thursday and Friday were spent at UT-C with Drew and Billy Miller. More details later, but my baby boy is registered and ready for college in August! YIKES! Time literally flies!
Friday, May 29, 2009
We played games, sang songs, ate candy, pizza, hotdogs and drank lemonade, fruit punch, and diet Dr. Pepper. Chelcie painted faces and Drew juggled. The crowd was impressed and momma was proud of her brood.
Fortunately for Sam, his buddy, Reed, was able to hang out with him for the duration of the party. Reed's presence was a great way to keep Sam from feeling left out or annoying the girls. Matt was also an additional "guest" at the party, as he has a tendency to show up whenever the mood strikes him. Of course, we never know the impact we're having on Matt's life.
Addie had a blast and was a very well-mannered hostess. I was proud of the way she made her guests feel included and involved. Tom had chef duty and charred several of the hotdogs, so he financed a pizza run to Little Ceasar's for something that "didn't have any black on it."
James Keener came to pick up Kloee, but ending up doing quite a bit of "male bonding" with Tom as they discussed camping as an option for family fun.
Britt stayed around to hang with the boys and we took a journey down "memory lane" from the good ol' days when Farragut was awesome...before the "yankees" took over.
All in all, I believe it was a pretty good day. Pictures to follow as soon as I can locate my thingy...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can now steer your team
any direction you choose!
You’re not on your own
We want to help out
So you won’t get frustrated,
Mad, or burned-out.
You’ll have options galore
There’ll be so much to choose
There’s no way you can lose.
If you choose not to join us,
If you choose not to play,
What will happen from there
Oh my Dear, I can’t say!
Peer pressure is tough
So don’t stray off course
There are folks here to help you-
So don’t live with remorse-
Regretting and questioning
What might have been-
Your teachers, your parents and lots of your friends
Are here to give guidance, direction,
So you should avoid being taken to court! (GASP!)
Out there things can happen
And frequently do
Our teachers and students are depending on you.
You’re brainy, you’re wise
You are totally cool
And people like you
are needed in school.
SO, when things start to happen,
Don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Keep your standards high
‘Cause that’s what you do.
Oh! The places you’ll go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
Who soar to great heights!
You WILL make a difference
When you try to succeed.
And student success, well,
That’s something we need.
But sometimes, they don’t.
Because sometimes, they won’t.
I’m sorry to say so, but sadly it’s true
Can happen to you
You can get all hung up
In a prickle-ly perch
And your grades might fall some,
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
With an unpleasant bump
And chances are, then,
That you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump
You’re not in for much fun
is not easily done
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked
Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darked.
Our Honor Society can show you the way
With leaders a’plenty with so much to say!
You’re the best of the best
We’ve searched far and wide
There’s nowhere in the school
That leaders can hide.
So…head back to your classes
Dream BIG and make plans It’s time for our audience to give you a hand.
You’re inducted tonight
You’re quite a success
The standards are high
We won’t settle for less
We have a great group,
We’ll have so much fun
But more important than that
There is work to be done!
There are students who need us
At the top of our game
Our teachers depend on us for their fame
The others are looking to us for what’s cool
We set the standard for an excellent school!
There’s safety in numbers
Together we’re stronger
So hang with my story
Just a little bit longer
Being alone whether you like it or not
Is something that students
Feel quite a lot
So whether you’re in Grade Seven or Eight,
Your hard work has paid off
And we know that you’re great!!
So start to set goals and,
Intend to go far
And solve all the world’s problems
Whatever they are!
There will be bumps in the road
We’ll occasionally falter
Like when your new girlfriend
Shows up in a halter! (GASP!)
Congratulations, Bravo, You’re so fine
As our NJHS Class of
Two thousand…and Nine!
With my apologies to the master...Dr. Seuss!
Amy K. Crawford
Sadly, my homeroom did not rise to my expectations this year as I had two athletic and talented young men decide to draw attention to themselves by losing on purpose (skipping during the track events...got the picture?). Let's just say that I was not amused in the least! In my six years of teaching 8th grade, I've never had a homeroom demonstrate such an extreme lack of sportsmanship and classlessness. If it hadn't been for the rest of my kids who sincerely tried, albeit reluctantly due to the stress of peer pressure, I would have march every one of them back into the classroom and they could LISTEN to the other classes having fun while they sat in silence. Yes, I was ticked in a major, major way. It's a shame too, because I loved those kids. Their behavior there at the end put a damper on the end of the year, and made for an awkward goodbye for the ones that acted like jerks. They tell me such is expected from middle schoolers, but I always expect more from mine.
Yesterday, I managed to get checked out on time, but have stacks and stacks of paperwork to organize once school starts in the fall. I need at least three days to get 'er done. Lunch was fun with Lisa, Kevin, Sherry, and Vickie. We went to Jason's Deli. I really love the folks I get to work with every day. I need to remind myself and them of how special they are to me.
Our principal recognized me at our end of the year staff meeting- this time, in a good way. The staff applauded for me and I started to feel the weight of speaking on behalf of teachers. We were told we'd have some classes of 35 kids next year. It seems like the expectations get higher and our working conditions get tougher. Eventually, something's gotta give! It would be nice for our teachers to be on the receiving end of a little sincere postive encouragement and recognition for a job well done, but it truly feels more oppresive..."This is what we're going to do, and it really doesn't matter what you have to say about it." This we know, but it would be nice to feel that our concerns have been heard.
Sam, Addie, Chelcie and I have been taking Marley for swims at Carl Cowan Park. She loves the water, but is still too unpredictable to make it a relaxing excursion. She needs that kind of exercise and freedom to run.
Sherry Storms treated us to lunch at Webster's today in honor of Katrina's 16th birthday! Yummy!
Sherry, Katrina, and I went for a long walk on Memorial Day then the entire Crawford family (that's right, ALL of us) went to the park for an impromtu picnic. We got a load of chicken from Kroger and ate by the parking lot before a huge storm blew in. Drew and I had fun playing tennis as he CLAIMS he can beat me now, but I contend that age and experience will still trump youth and athleticism. We have a rain delay on our "to be continued" tennis match.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Addie's "real" birthday was an event filled day for me and I knew I wouldn't be available to celebrate appropriately on her very special day, so we opted to celebrate with an early morning breakfast at Krispy Kreme!
We had party hats and all! I was able to spend some time with her on her ninth birthday before spending all day at school, then speaking at the New Teacher Celebration, then off to the Knoxville Fellows Graduation...it was ten o'clock before I got home. Sometimes being a "working mother" totally stinks!
Monday, May 25, 2009
To Our Son, Andrew Thomas Crawford
on his graduation from Bearden High School
May 15, 2009
On February 10, 1991, God blessed our family with you. Because you were a modest baby, we could not find out if you were a boy or a girl prior to your birth, so when the doctor declared, “It’s a Boy!” we were overcome with joy! With your birth, we knew that our family was now all we could ever hope for! We had a beautiful, healthy daughter, and now we completed our family with a gorgeous, healthy son.
As you grew, we soon realized that you were given many indescribable gifts. The first one we noticed was your independence. You were content to play by yourself. Not that you were anti-social; you enjoyed your friends, but you didn’t need someone to entertain you; you could find things to do on your own.
Another early emergent gift was your artistic talent. Your pre-school teacher commented that she had never seen a child your age (18 months) with advanced fine-motor skills. You used to draw little circles all over your paper! By third grade, your creativity came through in obvious ways. I remember a specific assignment in which you had to imagine yourself as “one inch tall.” Your teacher took your picture and then you cut it out and had to place yourself in a setting emphasizing your diminutive size. You choose to inhabit the inside of your desk. I remember being in awe of your attention to detail and unique perspective.
This was the year we welcomed your little sister into our family and you were a fabulous big brother from Day 1! When Addie was born, you took up residence in a green vinyl reclining chair in our hospital room. Even though she cried and screamed constantly, you were a tolerant brother and she always seemed to settle down when you held her. I think she sensed your calm spirit and felt safe.
It was around this time that you discovered music. You could sing every word of any ‘NSync song! You also went on your first date with Coby Eldridge to see “NSync in concert.
When Sam was born, a little pressure was taken off of you as the only boy in the family. You now had someone with whom to bond. Lucky for Sam to have a big brother he adores!
In middle school, you discovered running. I remember when you started running cross country. You were pretty good from day one, but “pretty good” was not satisfactory to you, so you went to work! The summer between seventh and eighth grade you trained hard and pushed yourself to improve, and improve you did! So much so that when you ran cross country in eighth grade, you won the most improved award!
The four years of high school have been a blur! You continued to develop your skills in track, cross country, and art. You added video production to your repetoire, and again, we were amazed by your ability to capture angles and images that tell the story perfectly. Your love of music was a perfect complement to this gift as you chose songs that enhanced the story told by your pictures.
You became a pyro-maniac and a skateboard/bicycle daredevil! There is nothing you wouldn’t try! Although I had a feeling that you were risking your life every time you walked out of the house, not knowing the details until I saw the video, was a bit of a comfort for me.
Now, here you are ready to use what you’ve learned over the past eighteen years to figure out who you are and what your place in this world will be. I want you to know that I love you and I am immensely proud of you. When I step back and look at the man you’ve become, I can’t help but miss that little boy who used to declare, “You’re never to old to hug your Momma!” But I must admit that you are a man of character. People enjoy being around you for your quick wit, sense of adventure and easy-going personality.
I want you to know that someone in this world will be praying for you every single day. You can always come to me if you need anything and I will do my best to help you. You’ll always have a place to call “home.”
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I’m certain your first year brought with it many “surprises,” that perhaps your college methods courses could never have prepared you for...Be sure to document your memories while they’re fresh in your mind. You’ll enjoy looking back on this year as “the good ol’ days!” Before you know it, you’ll be speaking to first year teachers, starting out your speech with, “In MY day...and we LIKED IT!”
Oh yes, and LABEL your class photos! Names, grade, school and year! Even though to many of you it seems that you could never forget those incredible kids...Trust me, years in the classroom take their toll on a memory...Let’s see...where WAS I? :) Yes. Here it is.
8.8.88. August 8, 1988 was a life-changing day for me. I accepted my first teaching job with Knox County Schools. My formal education at Carson-Newman College was excellent, however it could not have prepared me for what being a teacher would require of me. Had I known that in the years that followed I would be challenged beyond my perceived limits; that I would experience elation, frustration, satisfaction, and heartbreak each and every year, would I have chosen this profession? Or perhaps a more accurate question- would this profession have chosen me?
One way to describe me would be to say that I am hard-headed and soft-hearted...and over time, I must confess to being “thick-skinned” as well! I have to be! If your first year has not met up with your expectations, take courage and hang in there!
My first year teaching, I was placed in a classroom with 17 boys and 9 girls, 10 of these were considered “Special Ed” students. In order to establish some degree of control, the school used an incentive in the cafeteria called the “Happy Apple Award.” The cafeteria monitors would award the best behaved class in the for the day the “Happy Apple Award.” The “Happy Apple” was a lovely red wooden, apple-shaped necklace that the deserving teacher was privileged to wear with pride the rest of the school day, much to the envy of the other teachers, I might add. My class won that Happy Apple so seldom that first year, that I took to wearing it all day at school, and because I was so incredibly proud of my students, I wore it home in the afternoon, and even out to restaurants with my husband in the evenings! I can even remember the rare occasions when I won it on a Friday and proudly displayed my “Happy Apple” necklace at church on Sunday morning! Then there was the day just four years ago, when I went to the office to check “my box” at school. You know this is the cardboard box where you received important information about Scholastic Book Orders, inservice opportunities, overdue library notices, and at my school, plastic spiders have been known to frequent teachers’ boxes. Can you imagine how I felt the day I sauntered up the hall, reached into my box and found a white, business sized envelope with my name written on the outside?
I don’t know if you are like me, but there is such a high degree of anticipation in the heart-pounding moments just prior to breaking the seal on an envelope like that. It could be a letter from an irate parent. (Doncha just hate those?) Maybe it’s a parent asking me to PLEASE be sure to email her immediately if Little Susie doesn’t wear her new glasses in my class. Then again, it could be an incredible offer from a modeling agency who could like me to start a new fashion trend for America’s teachers. Maybe it’s an invitation to meet with the governor asking for my input on how best to inform teachers that the state has decided to triple their salaries...The possibilities are endless!
Well, eventually, my daydreaming subsided and I did break the seal. Just imagine my shock when inside I found a Cashier’s check made out to me for three thousand dollars!! Seed money for a dream that God has given me to remind and inspire teachers of the incredible privilege we have to forever impact the lives of young people- The start of Reach Them to Teach Them...But, my career has not been filled entirely with “success stories.” I’ve had a few dark days as well. Like the time I was sent home for being “inappropriately dressed” How humiliating is THAT?! I remember driving home crying my eyes out because I just KNEW my career was over. I know you’re thinking, ‘What were you wearing?!’ I’ll tell you later...
I’ve had angry parents scream at me because they thought I misgraded a paper, (turned out the little ‘angel’ had erased all the misspelled words on her spelling test and corrected them prior to showing the test to Dad- Like he REALLY believed I couldn’t spell B-E-A-N-S)!
Friends, we must remember that parents respond with passion when they believe that their child has been treated unfairly. Once I had a dad tell me that his 8 year old couldn’t hit a baseball because I had destroyed his self-esteem to the point of impacting his athletic ability. I didn’t have the heart to tell this hot-headed daddy that more than likely, the athletic issues were genetic! ... I’ve “lost” a child on a field trip...What? We eventually found him...
I remember one of my first evaluations with the director of elementary schools...I wanted my third graders to be relaxed and ready to “show their stuff” when she arrived, so I decided to read aloud to help them, and myself, relax. Well...I chose to read a well-known story by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Little Match Girl.” Remember what I said about being “soft-hearted”? Well, as I read the story of a poor little barefooted girl selling matches in the snow-covered streets of the city...striking matches to keep warm and seeing visions of a table spread with delicious food...then her Grandmother reaches out her hand to invite her to the banquet...it was just too much for me! I lost it! I was covered in snot, mascara and Kleenex when who should arrive to evaluate me? Yep. My supervisor. We made eye contact across the room. My view of her was quite blurred with tears and as I laughed to cover my embarrassment, spit came flying out of my mouth and hit one of my students on the cheek! The children are safe with me...yes, ma’am! No psychological imbalance here! But that wasn’t the worst evaluation I had...
There was one time when I had ‘em ready! I’d bribed and threatened my kids prior to the observation with my principal...They KNEW my expectations were high...Well, apparently, one of them was so excited his “digestive system” must have malfunctioned and right in the middle of my lesson, he passed gas. LOUDLY! To my shock and amazement, no one reacted. Literally, not a single child snickered, shifted positions, or called attention to it! I began to think I had imagined the whole thing and continued with the lesson.
Afterwards, I met with my principal and he said that he had never seen a class so well-behaved. He continued by stating that he’d observed a lot of classrooms over his 30 year career, and had witnessed a lot of unusual things happen...(I began to get nervous here), but he had NEVER witnessed a classroom full of 8 year olds maintain control when one of them “pooted!” To this day, this remains as one of my proudest moments in my classroom!
Yes, years in the classroom bring great stories you can use to entertain your friends and family.
Another day that stands out in my memory is the day I shared a poem from Dr. Guy Doud’s book, Molder of Dreams, with my eighth grade Reading classes. The poem, entitled Please Hear What I’m Not Saying,” examined the practice of wearing masks to hide who we really are from the outside world. I’d like to share it with you now.
Please Hear What I'm Not Saying
Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask,
a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.
As my students and I explored the idea that every person risks rejection, fear, and ridicule when we remove our masks, we forged an unbreakable bond, and after many years of teaching, I finally understood the difference between teaching my subject and teaching my subjects. I’d like to encourage you to be brave enough to “remove your mask” and allow your students to see the beautiful, fallible, sensitive, intelligent, vulnerable person behind the label “Teacher.”
Be “real” with them, and they will trust you, love you, and perform for you beyond your wildest expectations.
Kids are like dogs. They can smell a phony. If you mess up, own up. We all make mistakes. It’s not fatal. There is life after being sent home for “being inappropriately dressed.”
The intentional cultivation of a positive relationship between yourself and your students, is essential to your effectiveness in classroom regardless of your grade level, subject matter, or years of experience. In spite of all the external efforts to impact student learning, the classroom door eventually closes and the teacher and students are ultimately left to their own devices.
As is often the case with well-intentioned, hard-working teachers, time and energy are invested in developing lessons instead of students, in creating savvy test-takers rather than life-long learners. As educators, we must always be mindful of the “big picture.”
I consider it a privilege and a calling from God to teach in our public schools. I am not the only one. Whenever I have an opportunity to talk with teachers about why they chose the profession in the first place, I almost always hear that they wanted to make a difference. Never have I heard a teacher say that he/she chose education to teach children how to diagram a sentence!
My experience in the classroom has taught me that children thrive when caring, responsible adults take an interest in their lives. One of the most successful “strategies” I’ve used with my students is simple, yet I attribute much of my students’ academic gains to this practice.
I write a letter to my students at the beginning of each grading period and require my students to respond to my letter. I assure them that I will not pick their responses apart, taking off points for misspelled words, grammatical mistakes, etc. I stress the importance of content. Each student must respond to questions I ask, and elaborate as much as they feel comfortable about anything they’d like to share with me. I’ve learned more about my students in the five minutes it takes me to read their letters than I would learn having them in my classroom all year.
I’d like to introduce you to some of my students. You may recognize them. Perhaps they were in your classroom this year as well.
Meet Andrew. Andrew is a remarkable young man. Andrew is fourteen years old with bright blue eyes that sparkle behind his thick glasses. Because he is slightly overweight, he is extra-sensitive to conversations about athletics and physical appearance. Sadly, middle school is a testing ground for cruel comments. Andrew has been on the receiving end of far more than his fair share of them.
He slips into my classroom and chooses a seat on the back row, hoping to remain “invisible,” his goal being not to call attention to himself. He is virtually invisible by eighth grade, and he’s come to accept this as his lot in life. He even seems to enjoy it.
Andrew is the sort of boy that his teachers run into years later and they cannot recall his name. He is failing every class, not because he doesn’t know the material, but because he’s simply given up hope and doesn’t turn in his work. But… there’s so much more to Andrew than meets the eye. He’s an amazing artist. Andrew is incredibly gifted when comes to creating masterpieces. Andrew can use words as deftly as he uses media to invoke feeling and passion in the mind of his reader. Allow me to share a poem he wrote in class...”I’m the Piece that Never Fits.”
I am the piece that never fits
I wonder why people hate me for who I am
I hear the cry of loneliness that comes from me
I see my sad, strange, different self in the mirror
I want someone on my side
I am the piece that never fits
I pretend that words can never hurt me
I feel the urge to run away from myself
I touch the wet tear from my eye rolling down my face
I worry my future will be me, myself, and I
I cry because I am the cheese; everyone is the mouse
I am the piece that never fits
I understand that no one likes me
I say that there is no place for people like me in the World
I dream of a place where I actually fit in
I try to make new friends,
And I hope to, but still,
I am the piece that never fits.
Next, there’s Maggie. When Maggie was five years old, she was severely burned in a tragic house fire that claimed the life of her best friend. Maggie wears the scars from that day on her face, arms and body as she endures the torment of being “different” in a middle school setting. The stress brought on the family by the fire and the death of someone else’s child was too much for Maggie’s mom and dad. They divorced shortly thereafter. Her mother remarried and just gave birth to a new baby.
Maggie has very few friends although she has a beautiful smile that she generously shares with all who show an interest in her. She enjoys dancing, although the costumes she wears reveal the scars of a night she would like to forget. I wonder if her teacher this year knows this about her.
Finally, I’d like you to meet Violet. I know Violet is a child who would be near and dear to your heart if you should ever have the privilege of meeting her! As part of a school assignment last year, Violet wrote a letter to her “future” child. May I share it?
Child, where I come from has not been easy. When I was six years old and under, my mom was so great. She would stay home and cook and clean and play games with me and my brother Rex like a normal family. Then one day, I don’t know when my mother put men and drugs in front of her kids. She would not get home until late, or just would not come home at all. My brother was two and half years older than me, so he would wake me up for school and get me ready. A couple of years later, I moved in with my Granny who is a wonderful woman. She keep us for about four years, but she died on Christmas Eve and that’s when my dad went crazy and left us. So we went to move in with our aunt, who we also call Granny for about until I was twelve then my brother go crazy and she put us up for adoption and those were the worst days of my life. I went from home after home and school. This one woman found me, and I used to hate her so bad, and she never let me see my family, but only on holidays and special days. I grew to like her and the other children in the household, but she always treat her birth children better than the foster ones, but I grew use to it. Now, I’m in 8th grade writing you this letter to let you that I will be better to you and you do not have to be ashamed and do not make fun of others because everyone has something wrong with them or one of their love ones. Nobody is perfect, Babe. You will not have to live the way I did. You will have the best of the best, my child, and the children that I am going to adopt. You will be a great child to do wonderful things in your life, long as you know “to do the impossible, you have to think and speak the impossible.”
Andrew, Maggie and Violet were students in my class. There are so many more stories like those I’ve shared. My heart breaks for these children. I’ve seen kids so starved for attention, that a smile opens the door to their over-burdened hearts. The pain, disappointment, rejection, and fear they have experienced in their lives seem too much for young hearts to bear. However, I’ve had a front row seat to watch what can happen when a caring, responsible adult steps into their lives.
Making a difference in the lives of kids doesn’t take a lot of money. We don’t need new programs. It doesn’t take a new charity or a new foundation. Honestly, all it takes is for us to see the need and use what we have to meet the need. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a handshake or a hug. The one thing it does take, is time. But, it is time well spent because any time “lost” is actually invested and brings returns far more valuable than one can imagine.
I currently teach 8th grade at West Valley Middle School. Middle School. America’s gauntlet for adolescents. Middle school is the testing ground for cruel comments, peer pressure, failure, and self-preservation. Middle school is where kids who struggle find that being “bad” is preferable to being “dumb.” What fertile soil for planting seeds of self-confidence and identity in the lives of kids!
My students will always be special to me, but they are not unique. Young people like Andrew, Maggie, and Violet sit in every classroom, in every school, in every city. In fact, I was one of those students myself. I’d be willing to bet that some of you were too. In spite of everything God has blessed me with today, I can still hear the laughter of those who made fun of me as a child.
My name is Amy Crawford. My husband, Tom, and I have been married for almost 23 years. We have four children. Our daughter, Chelcie, just completed her freshman year at UT, determined to follow her dream to be a teacher in an inner-city elementary school. My older son, Drew, graduates from Bearden High School this Friday, then heads off to UT-C to pursue his dream of.... well, we’ll just just have to wait to see what he decides to do! Addison is finishing up third grade at Lotts, already determined to be a first grade teacher like “Mrs. Hudson” when she grows up! (I know, I know...) Then there’s my baby, Sam. My seven year old Sam has learned to read this year! He’s been handed the keys that will unlock his successful future, and I can’t wait to see what he becomes.
As a product of Knox County schools myself, I have a vested interest in doing everything I can to ensure that every child knows that he is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that his life has purpose and meaning. The future of my children and so many others are in your hands. Teachers, be mindful of the words you say and the manner in which you say them. You are writing on their hearts in permanent marker.
I’d like to close with a quote from Mother Teresa, that I believe speaks to the critical role we play in the lives of each and every one of our students:
"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." Thank you.
Today was Mother's Day and the kids "did good!" Sam's picture is absolutely precious! Addie drew a portrait for me and explained the dark hair by informing me that Mrs. Savage made them outline everything in black.
Last week was great! I didn't get sick so I took full advantage of my week off. I had lunch at Seasons with Dean (and Tom), breakfast with Erica at Websters, lunch with Suzanne, lunch with Tom, and breakfast with Melissa Wells and Sherry Storms. Yeah, I went a little overboard on the eating out last week, but I enjoyed it.
The rain as been unbelievable! It rained every single day last week. Torrential downpour is a more accurage description! Last Tuesday, I performed our "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" commercial for the Lead Mentor meeting and I think it was well received! Rodney Russell stole the show as the "Cat in the Hat!" So much fun to part of a team that has a sense of humor.
I wrote a speech for the New Teacher Celebration for this Tuesday and am praying that it goes well. I'm battling with myself right now on whether I should just read it, or if I should try to use an outline and speak from the heart. Yeah, I know, I should speak from the heart, but I'm afraid I'll forget something and being that it's one of my first times speaking on a professional level, I want it to be great! I'll post the speech and the Mentoring commercial here so I'll have a record of it. Feel free to comment if you happen to read this.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Friday was Science Festival Day and all went well in spite of the downpour of rain that caused us to move everything inside instead of out. I always enjoy watching our school come together in the effort to reach our kids.
Saturday was spent at the soccer field in the rain! I'm sad that I don't have any pictures to document exactly how drenched we were because I was afraid my camera would break! Girl Power lost to a boys' team, but soundly beat the girls' team they played later in the day. Addie, Sam, Chelcie and I also watched "Radio" and cuddled on the couch. Tom and I had our usual "date night" at LaPaz then we browsed the bookstore while Ed kept the kids entertained at his house.
Sunday morning. More rain. This is getting old. Addie spent the night with Olivia at Ed's so she went to church at 11, but we headed out the door for the early service. Tom had to show houses all day, so the rest of us stayed home and cleaned house...sorta.
The BIG NEWS of the day was the announcement that a 15 year old student at West Valley was the first suspected patient with the H1N1 virus (Swine flu). It's been all over the news and people seem to be over-reacting in a huge way! Our superintendent canceled school for the entire week! No NJHS Induction Ceremony or 8th grade celebration! We'll have to see if these activities get rescheduled. Lots of money, time, and effort has been put into these last few weeks of school. It's a weird feeling to have a national news story about "us."
Easter services at NorthStar with "Cardboard Testimonies" followed by a Calhoun's catered lunch at Lori's house. The kids had a ball hiding eggs and playing with their cousins.
Reach Them continues to progress, but we lost our Chick-fil-A sponsorship and that hurt, but Dean stepped up and pledged his support. We're in the process of working with Cathy Ackermann to enlist their connections and expertise in the marketing dept. I hope this works out as I believe it will enable us to expedite the process of going to the "next level." With Chattanooga in the works, I'd like to get an action plan on paper as soon as possible!
Anderson resigned from our Board, and seems to be pulling out of her life and reinventing herself. I think this is sad b/c she was such an asset to our team. Without her, there's an empty space.
Drew is preparing for graduation. He had his first (I hope) run-in with "the law" last week at West Valley. I think he was embarrassed and scared. Fortunately, he already knew that he'd made a mistake and did what he could to make it right. I'm so proud of that boy! I wish I could find a way to let him know.
Tom has made plans to go to Guatemala on a mission trip the first week in June. Chelcie is headed to Nicaragua and later in the summer, to Oregon. Sam is attending Camp Invention at Lotts and the two younger kids are both attending the UT soccer camp. Sounds like an expensive summer and it stresses me to no end! With Drew and Chelcie in college now, I want to prioritize our finances and take care of the "have to's" before we take care of the "want to's." I'll try to post some April pix in light of my neglectful blog posts.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Drew's first marathon completed in 3 hours and 32 minutes! He had quite a fan club show up to support and encourage him. We were all very proud of him. He said the wind was cold, and the toughest part was right about mile #20 as he ran across the South Knoxville bridge. He hit the proverbial "wall" as he ran the 3 mile route through Island Home, but then Sam Shaunessy jumped out the "pace car" and ran the last 3 miles with him. Sam was gracious enough to allow Drew to run "solo" into Neyland Stadium to enjoy his moment. I am amazed by that kid! Way to go, Drew!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
So much to update, so little time! Spring Break 2009 has come and gone already and we're sliding intot summer! We've sprung forward into daylight's savings time and the weather has been in the 70's a couple of days. Ah, spring! I'm so glad you're here at last!
A momma dove has built a nest in a basket on our back porch. I've enjoyed watching her watch me. She's so protective of her eggs (there are 3 of them)! I learn a lot by watching her...am I as protective of my family as she is of hers, or do I take them for granted? Am I always standing guard, ready to put myself between my family and anything that would dare to harm them? ...including television, music, and the internet?
My baby boy is now officially seven years old. Seven. I can't even believe it. I remember determining before he was born that since he was to be our last child, I would cherish every moment with him. I just turned around for a minute, and now he's seven. Because his birthday fell right in the middle of spring break, we opted to postpone his birthday party. Of course, we had to celebrate his "real" birthday, so the kids and I packed up the car and headed to Cades Cove with the Packs. The pictures I will post later will bear witness to fun that we had. Brandon and Sam get along famously, as do Addie and Sydney. Erica puts up with me too, so it was a great day! We capped off the day with dinner at Wasabi with Drew, the Packs, Grandmom and Papaw, Addie, Sam, and Tom. Great meal...usual after effect, but that's TMI, no doubt! More later....