Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week One is in "Da Books!"

It's 7:52 on Saturday morning, and to be honest, I'm surprised I'm awake!  I thought I'd probably sleep through the entire weekend due to the exhaustion I'm experiencing!

The first week back at school is always tiring, but be it my advanced age, or the change in grade levels and schools (again), I'm pretty whipped!

I have returned to West Valley with a new appreciation for my colleagues, students, parents, facilities, and opportunities.  I've learned that there is no "perfect" school and no matter where I go, there will be aggravations, frustrations, and things that try to steal my joy.  The key to being grateful is to look at the good things instead of focusing my energy on the negatives.

The principal surprised me this week by asking(?) me and Mr. Burnette to take on the 2011-2012 yearbook!  Let's just say my world was temporarily rocked!  Fortunately, I was able to step out of the project to focus on learning a new curriculum and get re-acclimated to middle school.  Whew - THAT was a close one!

My former students have been heavy on my mind this week.  I pray for them by name as they cross my mind, and I visualize their faces as they move on to fifth grade and acclimate themselves to a whole new school experience.  Mamie sent me a sweet message through School Fusion.  Here's her message as she wrote it and my response:

MAMIE  to "Coach" Amy Crawford   (Aug 18, 2011 4:52 PM)

"Coach" Amy Crawford to MAMIE    (Aug 18, 2011 5:22 PM)
Hi Mamie!

Oh my goodness - I miss you soooooo much! I have thought about you every day since school started. I hope you are working super hard. I'm so proud of you and I want you to keep in touch with me. You can send me an email anytime and I will always try to write you back as soon as I can. I'm teaching 7th grade now and I like it a lot, but I miss MY CHAMPIONS and our Locker Room. Please tell everyone at SMG I said hello. Thank you for your sweet message!


My prayer continues to be that I don't settle into my new digs and forget...I try to keep my SMG memories fresh in my mind so that they don't fade from my mind.  I continue to tell people who ask that my experience there was one of the most challenging experiences I've ever had!  I'm grateful for the opportunity and I love my Champions.  My fear is that I'll forget the underlying lessons I learned.  Lessons like how important it is to try to understand the life experiences of others in order to understand their motivation.  
My new "Champions" at WVMS are a fabulous group of 7th graders.  I can tell already that they will keep me challenged!  They are enthusiastic, energetic, and incredibly bright!  I feel like I'm teaching in the ocean because they are truly like sponges that are just eager and ready to soak up whatever information I have to share with them.
Having my precocious Addie right down the hall in sixth grade is such a treat!  We enjoy driving to school together and spending time in my classroom after school.  I'm seeing her in a whole new way.  She's no longer a dependent, little girl.  She's becoming such a confident, beautiful young lady!  I'm so proud of her!

With Sam 2 miles away at Lotts, and being able to drive him to school is a joy!  I feel like I've been so far removed from my family and their lives that being with them again is an appreciated blessing.  It feels like I am "home" again.

Drew moved back to Chattanooga yesterday and once again I'm struck by what a wonderful son he is.  My mom mentioned to me that she has never heard him say anything negative about anybody else...EVER!  What a testimony!  I wish she could say that about me, but I fall far short.  Drew is also appreciative of the "little things" that he has.  He doesn't complain.  I could, and SHOULD, learn a lot from him!  

Chelcie has had a very rough week.  She's had to deal with tuition issues.  She's struggled with getting her schedule to work out the way she needed, and it's been a huge source of stress for her.  I've kept her in my prayers and fought the urge to come to her rescue as she stretches herself beyond what she thought she could do.  I remember how hard it was to cross over into adulthood and how I resisted the tough stuff too.  Goodness knows in times of crisis, I still want to go "home."

Katie and Mom have jumped right in and helped out with the kids.  Katie even picked up Addie at school yesterday and took her to the doctor for her first check-up in over 3 years!  She had to have shots, but got the all clear to run cross country for WVMS.  

Mom let Sam hang out with her yesterday even though she is carrying a heavy load herself with her brother being critically ill, Aunt Donna had a heart attack, and Nina is ninety years old and under tremendous stress as she worries about the health of two of her three "children."  

Life is a challenging ride, but there are amazing blessings everywhere!  I choose to look for the blessings this week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This Facebook Post Made My Week

Tonight, a teacher in your neighborhood is excitedly preparing for your child's upcoming school year, buying supplies, revising lesson plans, and hoping to share their love of learning with your child. In the minute it takes you to read this -- while you watch TV or surf the Web -- teachers all over the world are using their "free time" to invest in your child's literacy, well-being, prosperity, and future. Re-post if you appreciate a teacher! (This is for you Amy Crawford)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First Week Back

What an eventful first week back at school!  No one could get into the building because the floors were being re-tiled.  This made the challenge of getting my room ready even more challenging, but ready or not, here they come on Monday!

I just have enough time to hit the highlights of the week in the hopes of remembering details to embellish my experiences at a later date.

Monday was a great day!  Just waking up and knowing that I didn't have to drive for 25 minute just to get to the school was a huge relief.  Even the smell of West Valley, every school has a distinctive smell, ya know, was a comfort to me.  It just felt like home.

Tom, Jackie, Ali, Livvy, Ashtyn, Addie, and Sam helped move all my bookcases, file cabinets, boxes of books, etc. into my classroom in 95 degree heat!  Hot, hard work that only true friends and family who love me would do for me.

Tuesday afternoon I had a Dream Team meeting and although everyone across Knox Co Schools was SLAMMED with work to do, we had a great turn-out and got many things accomplished. 

A neighbor had a tragedy in her family and Mom, Lori, and I made dinner for her that Mom delivered for us.  

Wednesday's great news was that I was allowed to make an announcement for Reach Them to Teach Them to all the middle and high school Reading and Language Arts teachers, Russell Biven was our kick-off speaker, and then I had a second meeting with the folks from Food City!

What a special connection we had!  They enjoyed hearing my story and felt that they would be able to help build our dream.  Chris Harper with Youth Transitions may also benefit from our meeting.  I definitely feel like Food City is a strong contender for our title sponsorship position.  One of the biggest takeaways was the Vice President of the Knoxville area asked me to speak for 30-45 minutes in Abingdon, VA to all of their store managers about the power of influence they have in the lives of young people.  There will be 300+ people there!  They also shared the name of a powerful young speaker that we could contact about sharing her story with Reach Them.

Touching on the highlights only is tough here, but I'll control myself...

Thursday was an all day work day.  I left school at 6:30.  Friday was a BIG DAY for Addie.  She had her first trial run-thru as a middle schooler!  She survived...THRIVED, actually.  She had a blast!  We also made a quick run to A.L. Lotts with Sam so he could meet his new 4th grade teacher, Mr. Pickwell.  It's Mr. Pickwell's first year and he's going to be great!  The traffic and huge throng of parents stood in sharp contrast to last year's open school at SMG.  What a difference! 

I find myself thinking of my SMG kids and fellow teachers and when I do, I pray for them.  I do not want to ever forget them or my experiences there.  Yes, where I am now is radically different, but I left a piece of my heart in my Locker Room and in the hallways of SMGMTA.