The big time, how would I handle it? My frame of mind was not the best, but I decided on the plane that this was no time to be miserable and shy. I had started to gain some confidence and "own" my title right before I left and I was determined to force myself to be outgoing and power through any issues I might have. I made a new BFF on the way home from the airport when Katy from Minnesota and I were squished next to each other in the van. After a few wisecracks, I knew we would be fast friends. In the van were also Pat from South Dakota, Brenda,from North Dakota and Adam from Massachusetts. From the time I landed at the airport, I was Jeanne from Jersey. More than just a place, it's an attitude. I was the outgoing, personable, character I always wanted to be, but were to shy to become in my own life. Don't get me wrong, I definitely have a strong character, and I can be very outspoken, but I guess I had become so comfortable at school that I had lost some of my oomph.
|With Tyronna from NC|
|With Cara from Alaska|
|Hanging out after hours with Katy and Bethany|
|Dave and Katy|
|Our teacher homeroom - by region|
I had to Skype in to my kids on Wednesday, the first day of our meetings. My kids were stressing over their upcoming finals the next day and they needed to be reassured and tell me they loved me. Honestly, I needed to hear it too, but it added to my already growing guilt. By the time I finished with them I was late to the first session and of course every chair in the room was filled except the one right up front. This did not add to my mood.
We had SMART technology training on that first day, and we all had to come up with a notebook page describing ourselves. I wasn't scared because I had nothing to lose. I found out that day that there were some definite characters amongst our group. Some just had the ability to command a room. They had presence, charisma, and in many cases, a wicked sense of humor. The more I got to know these people, the more I liked them. The more I talked to them, the more I found out that many of them were going through the same things as me. It was refreshing not to have to deal with "mean girl syndrome" and the other petty crap back home. We genuinely supported each other and when you got us together in groups, the energy was palpable. I am telling you, if given the power, the room of us could fix everything that is wrong with education.
We went to the Texas Book Depository for a dinner one night and were given scholarships from the University of Phoenix to give to a deserving student. I was just trying to stop myself from ugly crying. Giving someone the gift of an education can change their lives and give them options they never knew they had. What an opportunity!
Our final night's dinner was a little fancier than usual and so I decided to bust out the gold dress and sparkly shoes. A little old school Hollywood glam never fails. I felt like a different person by this time who was newly energized, full of ideas, and ready to take over the world (of education anyway). I also knew that I had a new family, a support system that would cheer me on in my TOY activities and encourage me to make a difference. Thank goodness I met them when I did.