Monday, April 25, 2011

A Little Spring Storm

As I was sitting on my back porch blogging away, a little spring storm crept up on me...

I love storms.  The kids were at soccer, and Tom was at work, so I was looking rather foolish giggling and grinning and grabbing my camera, but it was worth it.  Now I have my little storm preserved here for my enjoyment anytime I need a little clean up. 

I'm Full!

John 10:10 (New International Version: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  To the full.  My life is full.  My days are full.  My tummy is full.  My mind is full.  My momma didn't raise no full.  Wait.  That doesn't fit.  My point is, though, that God has blessed my life so abundantly that it is so full I struggle to document the journey here in my little lion-chasing blog.

 Too many subjects compete for top billing.  Too many thoughts need to make their way to my blog canvas for clarity.  Once again, I'll seek to update with the hopes of adding clarity and depth at a later date.

Today is the Monday after Easter, 2011.  This Easter proved to be one of the most spiritual, God-focused holidays of my life for several reasons.  First, Chelcie, Tom, and I had the opportunity to attend Secret Church, a six-hour intense Bible study simulcast by David Blatt.  For now, let me just tell you that the time passed quickly as Chelcie and I frantically struggled to keep up with our note-taking.  MUCH to process!  I've spent about 3 hours de-briefing and I'm only about 1/4 of the way through my notes!  

Another reason that this Easter was special is because our internet was down.  No computer time while Chelcie and Drew were home.  We had our family together.  Just our family.  It was a rare and beautiful thing to be with those I love most in this life.  

My family.  My mom and dad.  My sisters.  My children.  My husband.  These are my people.  These who have chosen to love me and accept me as I am.  These are the people I choose to love as well.   How sad to never know the love of an earthly family.  How blessed I am to have a flawed, yet perfect one.  I asked God why He blessed me so much and He revealed to me that He pours His blessing out in my life so that He will draw me to Him. 

Church has taken on a new meaning for me.  It's not about finding a place to be seen, entertained, or even taught.  Church is a place to be the hands and "feet" of Jesus.  It's a place to grow and serve.  Church is a place to find spiritual food and refreshment for a thirsty soul.  Scott's sermon to a packed house on Easter Sunday morning was about feet.  In particular, the feet of Jesus.  The baby feet on which his mother, Mary, counted his ten little toes.  The feet that a precocious 12 year old walked into the temple to amaze and astound the rabbis and teachers there.  The feet that were pierced by nails and hung on the rugged, Roman cross as a atonement for the sin of mankind.  The feet the ascended into Heaven and will return again to claim His own.  His feet.  His beautiful, holy feet.  Contrast His feet with mine and I am ashamed.  My feet are calloused and ugly.  They are my least attractive feature.  The part of me of which I am most embarrassed and afraid that will repulse people.  My feet.  My sin.  His feet.  His love.  Oh God, I am so grateful, so unworthy, and so ashamed of my sin!  How could you do it?  How could you send Your precious, perfect, Holy Son to save me?   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finishing Strong!

It's finally Friday and we're ready for the weekend.  I've been introspective lately as I begin the process of "disengaging" from SMG.  I'm also trying to "engage" myself in the mindset of a middle school teacher again.  Before I abandon my "Champions" and my cozy, little Locker Room, I want to reflect on the lessons I've learned here - the things that I will take with me as I move back into my "comfort zone."  Bear with me as I type out my thoughts...

I never expected to care this much about other people's children.  I never expected the depth of despair and frustration I feel toward to process of "changing" the circumstances in the inner city.  The problems run deep and strong.  The walls of defensiveness  are thick.  Bringing change here must involve the entire community.  I believe I have made progress with several of my students, but I think most of them will revert back to what their environment requires of them - to fight, to be tough, to be funny.  Academic skills are not highly valued in general in their communities.  It's about being "cool."

One of my students told me yesterday that his big sister is dating a member of the "Bloods" gang.  Incredible that I am no longer shocked by the things I hear.  Something that HAS surprised me however, is how captivated they have been with the literature I've shared with them.  We've read about 15 novels together this year, but their favorites have been "The Watsons Go To Birmingham" and "Bud, Not Buddy."  I think they can truly relate to the families and characters in these books.  Just yesterday, I shared a story about a young girl who escaped from a gang.  They were enthralled.  They understood.  They've seen and heard so much more than their impressionable minds are capable of processing.  This concerns me greatly.  My children have lost their innocence and it's damaging more than just them.  It's a societal problem.  They struggle with empathy and personal choice.  When caught in the act of misconduct, it's "but HE was doing it too!"  The illusion of fairness is important for respect to be earned.  External controls dominate our school.  This has been a major concern since I arrived here.  How and when will my children learn about personal choice and SELF control if not in our school?

T-C-A-P-S! TCAPS are here, so let's do our best!

Brittany, "Coach" Crawford, and Nick

A little pre-TCAP review activity

Some of my favorite "tough" guys and one of my precious girls!

Scary notice in my hotel room in Greenville, SC - GO GIRL POWER!
I've been thinking of writing an update, but when so many things are happening that are blog worthy, I don't even know where to start.  There's no doubt this blog will be rambling and disjointed, but hopefully, will be further evidence of God's work in my life.

TCAP Week is here.  We've completed Day 2  with Days 3 and 4 yet to go.  I'm confident that my students have tried to do well on the test, but I'm realistic in that they simply do not have the background knowledge they need to be successful on the test.  When we started the year, I had one student who scored "proficient" in the third grade.  The rest of them scored "basic" or "below basic." As I prepare to leave SMG to return to WVMS, I can look back and say with certainty that my students DID learn.  They made progress.  The experience was much more difficult than I had anticipated, but I do not regret it, and I'm grateful for it.  I am a stronger teacher today because of the lessons I learned at SMG.  I intend to write a detailed reflection on the lessons I learned in a future blog post.

Since my last post, I visited the Ron Clark Academy with Windy and Suz - WOW! What an amazing place! I need to go back just to process what I saw the first time.  Actually got to spend time with Ron and Kim.  The most impressive part of the experience was the students, which is as it should be!

We completed our OBIYTC experience and have moved back into our Locker Room for the remainder of the year.  Overall, Melody and I both feel that it was a success and the students benefited from the experience.  We celebrated with a pizza party.  The big surprise was a visit from Brittany Baird and Nick Reveiz!  Brittany wrote a special TCAP cheer for us.  1-2...3-4!  T. C. A. P. S. Tcaps are here so let's do our best!  Eagle friends, it's time to soar, This is what we've been working for!  Reading, Writing, Mathematics, too. Yell it with us- Red, and Blue!  Red... and BLUE!   Red... and BLUE!