Where do I even begin to describe the wonder that is Washington week? We were treated like royalty, met some of the most amazing people, and most important, our STOY family was together again. It was like coming home to a family of 53 people who understood you and knew exactly what you have been going through. We are not all alike, far from it in fact, but the one thing we do share is a passion for education. It was amazing to think that before this, we had only spent 5 days together in Dallas, but I know already that I have made some friends for life. They inspire me, cheer me on, provide wisdom, and are the most incredible people I have ever met.
The Willard Hotel was simply magnificent, a block from the White House, and historic to boot. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. finalized his I Have a Dream speech there and I certainly felt like I was a part of history while I was in DC. The staff was so polite we certainly felt like honored guests.
Most of us arrived on Friday or Saturday to do some work for Pearson and Jumpstart's Read for the Record. We did an audio recording of the book Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, and then taped an intro, outro and PSA. It should have been easy to memorize a few lines and deliver them on camera, but I will admit that with my recent schedule, my excitement at the upcoming week, and inability to focus did not lend itself to the best recording. I heard the same thing from many other STOYs and as a group, we must have baffled the crew as to how we were the STOY for our state when we couldn't memorize a few lines.
Sunday, the weather was dreadful, but we were rolling in style. Target provided us with the coolest buses ever. We were off to the Newseum to check out the sights, but not before Target provided us with some swag for our week. The camera got a lot of use! I wore my Target shirt with pride, with my khaki's (inside joke for STOYs) of course.
I had the opportunity to bring a guest, and since my mom would not be arriving until Tuesday, I invited a former student, Vania, to come hang out and meet some incredible teachers. I was very proud to have her with me and I think she might have been a little inspired by the people she met. It was a great afternoon.
|With Birdie from Mississippi and friend.|
We then hopped on our cool bus for a tour of DC. Of course, before we got on the bus we got bags of snacks for our stay.
|Two of my favorite STOYs. Katy and Josh|
The bus tour took us to the Kennedy Center, which is breathtaking. I would love to go and see an opera there someday, and have added it to my list of things to do.
One of the very cool things about this trip were the random people, unconnected with the program, who kept walking up to me and thanking me for being a teacher and doing such a good job. I admit that I was a little shocked. It is not often enough that we hear people say thank you and it does make a difference. Wouldn't it be something if more people felt that way and actually spoke up on behalf of teachers? Thank you, people of DC, your kindness touched my heart.
Monday took us to the Smithsonian Castle (I always wanted to go inside) where we were treated to a morning of behind the scenes information.
When we got back to the castle, we shared what we learned and reported out. Then it was time to get searched by the Secret Service and load the bus again to go to the US Naval Observatory to visit Dr. Jill Biden.
My group went to the American Art Museum and even got to go inside the conservation studio to watch work in progress.
When we left for the VP's house, we had a police escort with sirens blaring. We didn't even stop for any red lights. Talk about feeling like a rock star.
Dr. Biden was wonderful. We were all a bit nervous, but she is also a teacher, so she gets it and immediately put us at ease. We got a warm reception, and the food was great. In fact, I have never seen grilled cheese, chicken salad and deviled eggs make people so happy.
|Withe 2010 NJ TOY MaryAnn|
We had the evening free and I didn't quite know how things were going to get any better. Then we heard about an outing to a jazz club called Bohemian Caverns. A group of us hopped on the metro and were treated to some good food and some great jazz. It was the best shrimp and grits I have ever had.
Time to start a new posting. Tuesday was a day I will never forget!