Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Technology and education.  We're trying to work on Twitter.  There's a lot of frustration in the room, but we're slowly progressing.  (sigh)

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's been over a year since I posted anything, but I've been reading my sister's blog and I thought I should put my tribute to our parents here:

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” – Alexander Pope

I didn’t want this day to pass without a few words of tribute. I hate to embarrass Mom, but after 50 years with Dad, she should have built up a tolerance for embarrassment. It’s a good time for joking, but I’d like to make a few serious comments about this marriage. Over the years, Mom and Dad have sought love with compromise, exercised commitment with determination, and shown kindness with hospitality.

Dad lived through his parents’ divorce which includes all the grief and loss of a death in the family. And when each of his parents moved on to form new families, he showed a persistence and stamina in loving them both that included driving many miles to be with both families, compromising on holiday celebrations, and nearly splitting himself in half to ensure that Deana and I got the benefit of knowing both sides and sharing that love.

Mom, on the other hand lost one parent at a very young and impressionable age. She had her whole family unit scrambled. It was years before she had a place that felt like a home and perhaps that’s why she is the best person I’ve ever known for quietly doing whatever it takes to make others feel welcome and at home.

These two people united to make a commitment with determination. They were determined to give their children an easier home life than they had. Deana and I had that. We had camping trips complete with bickering, laughing, and singing. We had family vacations that included dogs as family members, deviled ham, Vienna sausages, and Snappy Toms that we actually liked, dinnertimes around a table that saw the best and worst of each one of us, and Sunday mornings where we’d wake up to the smell of pancakes and bacon down in the kitchen and watch football all day, betting on the games. Only in hindsight do we see how hard they worked to make things so easy for us. Their house has always been a true home.

That brings me to my last point. My parents have always shown kindness through hospitality. We’re buying them this one meal, but they’ve been feeding us for years. In fact they’ve been feeding everyone who happens to drop by for years. Their house has always been the place to be. People gather there naturally. It’s not about stuff. I had a friend with a pool table and a swimming pool and I always wanted those things. He, like everyone else, wanted to hang out at our house. I love the house, but it’s not special. It’s the whole feeling you get there that can only be attributed to the couple who chose to make it the comforting place it is. It’s about generosity, friendship, and fellowship.

So. These two have always been my heroes for seeking love with compromise, exercising commitment with determination, and showing kindness through hospitality. I want this day to be wonderful and memorable for them as they have created and contributed to so many happy memories for us. Some might call them “unsung heroes,” but I refuse to leave my heroes unsung. So I have taken “their song” and used a few pieces of their true story to write them a new song to celebrate this occasion. It’s called “I Choose You For Life.”

The song was based on Elvis Presley's ""Can't Help Falling in Love." I think it went well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

So it all begins again, new faces, new classes, and a lot of the same old thing. It's a mix of exciting newness and energy as well as some dread for repeating problems. There's always hope for improvement.
Fall approaches and a chill comes into the air that makes everything seem a bit more alive. Friday night football games and marching band shows, parades and Kids' Day in the town square, hot chocolate, falling leaves, and a warm fire. There's a lot to enjoy here

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New school year. I haven't blogged for awhile and I'm hoping to get back to it. The excitement of the new year is upon us and classes start tomorrow. We've already got ideas for Homecoming.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Okay, so I haven't posted anything for two months. Christmas and speech season kind of take me out of the blogging thing. However, my thoughts are still churning.
It's January and in my class the new semester means Shakespeare. Something about it is like coming home. The ego part of it is that I understand it better than anyone in the room, so I know that I really can explain and answer questions. The heart part of it is that there really is something about this guy's writing that reaches across the centuries and continues to live and thrive. Romeo & Juliet is probably the best thing that I teach to freshmen. So, the journey begins again. It's ironic that I never had it in 9th grade and that I didn't like Julius Caesar in 10th grade. It took MacBeth in Albrecht's World Lit. class to get me going. Short and sudden; the opposite of Hamlet. The drama continues with a new set of faces.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Grandpa's Legacy

Yesterday at school was on of my favorite lessons, where I read an essay about my grandfather and sing a song that goes with it. It's interesting that when I have really unruly classes I feel like not taking the risk of singing to them. After all, some of those kids might take the opportunity to do other things while my attention is on my performance. It wasn't like that, however. Somehow, many students respect the risk I'm taking. They don't all show it, but some are surprised that I would write that or perform it. They see me differently and I think that's important. So many students see teachers as random boring adults who are only there to yell at them and try to get them to do things they don't want to do. It's good for them to see teachers as real people who are also living out significant stories. If it bridges the empathy gap even just a little, then it's a powerfully important lesson. It's not just entertainment; they see that I was a child, that I loved my grandfather, that I used his diamond ring as a symbol in my own life, and that I take the inspiration of how he faced death and apply it to my own life. That may be too deep for some of my students, but on some level, they feel a universal truth. We all take inspiration from the people we love and we find ways to honor their memories when they are gone and we are still here.

My dad has a framed drawing of Grandpa with the quotation, "A smile never hurt nobody." Grandpa has been gone for many years, but he is well remembered in Dad's picture and in my essay which I read to my class every year. It's a powerful magical spell, especially if it inspires students to pay tribute to those they love as well. Let the ripples and waves go out from there, hopefully making the world a little bit nicer. Like Grandpa said, "A smile never hurt nobody."