Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ode to Joy (Beethoven)

June 16-23

Just when my visit to the White House was beginning to seem like just a dream, I got this in the mail on Monday.  It was right after this picture was taken that my mind blanked out and I can't remember what was said until I was walking away and managed to gain control of the awe that had rendered me temporarily speechless and without a functioning brain.  I still can't stop staring at this picture.

It was a slow week, mostly spent in my pink cubicle at the DOE.  However, since my sabbatical was only the duration of my school contract, this week I packed up and moved out of the DOE.  This doesn't mean that my job is done... far from it.  In fact, I will be working straight through the summer.  It just means I don't have to report to Trenton anymore.  In reflection, it is a shame that the sabbatical is only six months, (although it was closer to five for me because I tried to hang in with my students until the end of the semester) because learning how things operate and the new language of bureaucracy and policy making takes time. Not to mention it seems like everything takes six months to get accomplished.  Just as I have learned how things operate, it is time to go.  If the TOY had a full year sabbatical they would actually be able to dive in and tackle a particular project. 

Before I received my picture with POTUS, I had an interview for an article being written for the NJ Council for the Humanities newsletter about a Civil War project I am working on with my students and the Burlington County Historical Society.  Since the NJCH gave me my first award, I have a special affinity for them, and I am at heart a humanities girl.  If you are asking what are humanities, the humanities encompass subjects that help us to explain and understand the human experience.  I like to think of it as the view of who we are as human beings from 30,000 feet.  Art, history, literature, law, religion, archaeology and languages are all encompassed by the humanities.  It helps us to critically think, understand, and  hopefully become a little more accepting of the things which makes us unique. 

I spent the week preparing for a teacher institute that I would be presenting a session in this July and by Thursday I had packed up the cubicle and moved out.  It didn't help that it was 100 degrees that day and I almost melted between the building and my car.  Whew!

By Friday, the hectic schedule was back.  I started the day with media training for the new crop of 2012-13 County TOYs.  This exemplary group of educators have done some amazing things in their schools and I am looking forward to seeing what they will do this year.  I was supposed to give them a look at what it is really like being the STOY, so I gave them a copy of my calendar.  27 speeches, 13,000 miles on the car, 5 committees/panels, 52 meetings, 9 media interviews, 10 conferences etc. and that only takes us to the end of June!  In short, this position is not just some ceremonial thing where you shake hands and kiss babies.  There is a lot of work involved.   One of the bonuses of the day was that I got to see my former student who is interning with Classroom Close up.  So proud! 

As soon as I was done with the CTOYs I had to scoot up to NJPSA for a meeting about the Common Core and some upcoming PD opportunities.  It was a productive meeting and I am looking forward to working with this dynamic organization that is trying to deliver cohesive and comprehensive information that will be beneficial to teachers. 

My last meeting of the day was with NJCTY, the group which comprises CTOYs from the last two years.  We have been doing some great things around the state with our message of positive communication for education, but it appears we have come to a crossroads and have several choices to make about the future of the organization.  Right now, we are in desperate need of organizations that will promote teacher leadership on a state level.  Teachers leading teachers is the only way we are going to combat the negativity facing educators today. 

I ended the week at a graduation party for one of my colleagues. A few people from work were there and people keep asking me if I am coming back to school in September, which I thought was strange. My reply... of course I am!  I think that people have the wrong idea of what I have been doing because it was always my intention to go back to my classroom in September.  People also seem to think that I am making tons of money with everything I am doing.  Let me just say that other than earning my regular salary (being paid while I am on sabbatical by ETS- Thanks!) I have made no money beyond my salary (which is also stuck because my district has been without a contract for a year now)  and will earn no money this summer for the two months I will be working, but I consider it my moral duty to do this job to the best of my ability and that means working all summer and even doing this at the same time I am teaching when September comes.  I have not been paid for any of the 27 speeches, appearances, or writing I have done.  I am actually not allowed to accept any money as long as I am the STOY, and this is not a job that simply runs from 9-5 Monday to Friday.  It is just like teaching, you do the job until the job is done, and that requires far more than punching a time clock.

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