Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Year 12

 Year 12 of teaching and time for an update on some facts: (from the original blog post Why do I teach?)

 I have taught close to 1300 students in the past 11 years.  I have had 3 students die - JW, JR and MC - three male students (two from cancer, one in car accident) and think of each of them often. These three young men remind me just how short life really is..A student recently released from state prison for a gang shoot out - came to see me to apologize for letting me down.  I have had 2 students live in half-way houses because their own families kicked them out and they had no where else to go. One of those students was accepted to Stockton, with a scholarship and interrupted my class to share his acceptance letter with me.  I have had 1 student, that I know of, who not only went to school, but worked to pay the rent for the apartment he and his family lived in. I have had many who have lost parents - some both parents.  I have students who go on to play collegiate sports, and one who is now playing in the Majors. I have students who take on leadership roles at the college level - running SGA, Orientation groups, etc.  I have students who after ten years still come up to me and say, "Hello, Miss C." I have several students who when are home make plans to meet up with me. I still  have a student who works for the FBI, one on Obama's campaign, several in the financial world of NYC and probably too many to count who work at McDonald's.  I have been lucky enough to work with amazing student leaders who year after year leave lasting impressions on me. On most days I have not just been their teacher - but their cheerleader, mentor, advisor, counselor, possibly even parent. I have cried many tears with my students but thankfully laughed more!

Why do I teach?!?!?  You must be kidding me - why wouldn't I?  I have been privileged to walk into many of my students life and although I may not know the impact I have made on their life...I know for certain that they have made an impact on mine.  I love what I do and no amount of negativity will change that because as my favorite slam poet/teacher Taylor Mali says: "I make a god damn difference, what about you?"

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Just last week I had what I would consider a somehwhat serious health scare.  By Monday, I had gone to the doctor who agreed something was just not right and wrote me a script to have some tests done.  I did some crying and a lot of soul searching.  I had plans at the end of last week to head to NC for a college reunion and though I doubted if I wanted to go, I sucked it up and went.  I spent the week up to NC reflecting on my life - what I had accomplished, and what more I wanted to still accomplish.  I didn't see how a weekend in NC would fit in with scheduled tests the Monday after.

Once in NC surrounded by friends, my worries about this health scare and the coming up tests were diminished.  I felt my heart literally being lifted up and it is very true that a weekend away was just what I needed to renew my confidence and optimism that I would be ok.  Through conversations with others I discovered most of us have our challenges - some much worse and some better than mine.  And somehow all of this eased the worry.  And when I left NC, I felt more than ready to tackle any challenge this life was going to throw at me.

Luckily, my test results came back normal, though I do have to follow up with another appointment.  What I do know for certain is that my perspective changed over the course of the weekend - whether from the fresh air and sunshine, or the laughter and love of old friends, I will never be certain, but because of it, I am able to continue my favorite mantra: Life is Good!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

True Life...

Confession: I was, and will probably always be, a sorority girl. 

Whewww...I said it.  As I am approaching my ten year college reunion, I am quickly reminded of my amazing four years at Elon College University (though it will always be College to me!).  And the majority of those memories are all centered around one thing: Sigma Kappa.

 Come be a Sigma, Sigma Kappa.
Come be a Sigma Kappa girl.
We are the Sigma, Sigma Kappas.
We wear the Sigma Kappa pearls!

I wonder if I didn't go to school in the South if I would really be a sorority girl...because in the South --- girls are born and raised to become part of their mother's and grandmother's legacy and become initiated into the sisterhood bonds of sorority life.  And though I didn't wear pearls, though a lot of my sisters did, I, too, became initiated into the sisterhood bonds of sorority life.

I loved wearing my letters on Wednesdays, and my I <3 Sigma Kappa button daily.  I wasn't a big fan of our ritual whites, but I absolutely loved my badge.  I loved decorating mugs for my roommates, making posters for my little's door and shopping around Valentine's day buying all the violet and maroon heart themed things.  I lived with sorority sisters for three years at college --- and yes, girls do fight, argue and scream, but we also laughed, cried and laughed again.  During my junior and senior year, I lived with Jamie and Moe, Maureen.  And god, did we have our fights. Doors slamming, arguing at all hours of the night and fights that seemed like they would never end. But the fights are not what stands out in my mind --- I just remember spending almost every hour of my life with these girls. I don't think there was much I didn't do without one or both of them. And though we have grown apart, I know that forever and always, we will always have that bond...

(Yes, now would be when I should break out into either, "We laughed, until we had to cry, and we loved right down to our last goodbye..." or maybe " Sigma Kappa is for me, it's everything I am, everything I long to be...dah-dah..." I have way too much time of my hands at 7 am!)

In the past 10 years, some of my sorority sisters have reminded me that there truly is a sisterhood bond - from driving up from VA and MD to surprise me for my 30th birthday, to surprising me on the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale.  I have seen several of my sorority sisters get married - in MA, Long Island, MD and Orlando.  I have met their children, their boyfriends and even their dogs.  We have come together yearly in NC to "just get together".  And though we don't talk all the time, I know I can call any one of them and things would just pick up from where we left off.

And though my letters are put away, I can't help but get excited at the fact that in two weeks I will be reunited with some of my sorority sisters...some of which have become life-long friends and some I haven't seen in many years.  I know that there will be at least one go round of some Sigma Kappa chants, and of course the "remember when" conversations.  (And yes, Elizabeth, there will be Biscuitville!).  And I can't help but think, "should I be making mugs for this?" :)

EK <3,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Will Not Forget - a rant

I was sitting on hall duty, outside the library at the corner of A wing and D wing.  It was my eleventh day of teaching.  From that corner I was able to see all the way down A wing into the guidance office and all the way down D wing to the beginning of E wing. A student, one of mine, was walking towards me --- I was proud I already knew this student's name (Blake).  He said, "a plane crashed into the World Trade Center."  I said, "Blake, I am sure a plane did not crash into the World Trade Center."  He then explained, he was in guidance and everyone was listening to a radio.  I still dismissed it --- a plane crashed into the World Trade Center?  How is it even possible?  And if it was possible, it was just a plane crash...

That day the school was kept quiet.  We were told not to put the television on. We were told very little.  Most of us probably had no idea what was going ont until we got home.  Our kids leave for lunch, they came back with stories.  "Two planes...crashed...gone..."  Nonsense...they are just 15 year old kids - rumors, gossip, heresay.  I was 22 years old.

I was glued to the television, station after station the same scene over and over again.  I sobbed.  How could this happen?  How...

We spoke about it gingerly in school --- not knowing who had closer ties to the event.  I had my students write...I wrote.  I cried again.

Fast forward to Thursday, September 8th 2011.  I was at school looking for something in my desk and came across a notebook --- and in it- randomly was something I wrote on September 11th 2002.  How odd to find it this week --- how chilling it was to read it.

I still cry when seeing images of that day or hearing stories of that day -- because at 22 the world that I once knew was forever changed. And now at 32 reflecting on the 10 year mark of that day I wonder what else will happen in my lifetime that will forever change my view of the world.

My current students were 5-6 years old when this event happened.  I am struggling with deciding what would be a fitting tribute in the classroom.  More importantly, do they even care? So as I sit here this morning, thinking about what I will say and do on Monday...I am certain that I will never, ever forget.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Life is Good

I went over to the beach today to soak up some sun and to see if Irene did much damage.  I cruised on over in Jeepy, with the top down and music blaring.

On my drive over to the beach, the worry and anxiousness started to take over.  "Turn around, don't go to the beach.  Go back to school. Did you remember to....?"  And I almost listened to my thoughts...but as soon as my feet hit the sand (on the boardwalk, not on the beach because of the storm) I relaxed.  I eagerly walked up a slight incline of sand and stopped for the moment ---- the beach stretched before me.  People were sprinkled here and there, surfers bobbed in the water awaiting the next best wave, sand pipers were scurrying about at the water's edge... yes, it was that pristine.

I sunk into my chair and let the sun take away my worry.  "Oh, yes, the perfect beach day!"  I pulled out my newest and last summer read, "The Happiness Project".  It is a memoir of the author's own personal "happiness project".  The premise of the book caught my attention --- though happy, could one be happier?  But to be honest, I find it drags on and on all about her own agendas and plans, very little pertaining to anything I can apply to my own life.  (There is a "How to start your own happiness project" in the back of the book, but I am trying desperately to forge ahead to see if the "a-ha" moment lies within, but I am about to just skip to the end, and read the "how to".)  

So back to my pristine beach day, I walk along the water's edge and I am taking in all the salt air I can (because some of you know, salt air does wonders for your soul!)  and it occurs to me, "LIFE IS GOOD!"  I did, at one point, want to exclaim it aloud, but I do have some sense of decorum.  As I walked, I kept on repeating it, "Life is good!, Life is good!"  --- and I felt it.  I felt refreshed and renewed.  And I thought about some of the things that truly make me happy:

So here you go, my own happiness project not following any guidelines left by a self-centered author:

Marcie's Happiness Project (or things that make me want to scream, "Life is Good!")

wet puppy dog noses
listening to a special little girl play the piano
autumn leaves (not in my backyard)
September school supply shopping (nerd, at heart!)
the first day of school (with the students) (and yes, I am serious!)
a glass of wine (or two, ok, or three)
laughing until my stomach aches
children who call me "Aunt"
blue pens
my parent's health
gerber daisies
inspirational quotes (Emerson and Thoreau would be my utmost favs!)
cruising in the jeep with the top down
the warmth of the sun on my face
sand beneath my toes
& salt air on my skin

Ah, yes, Life is Good! 
:) Marcie

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is a teacher?

Currently,  teachers have come under fire.  We are over paid and under worked according to our biggest critics.  We take for granted all that we are given - our "Cadillac benefits" as our state's governor likes to call them.  We are compared to private sector workers, who scream and yell, "It's not fair."  And all of sudden, teachers are not respected individuals, but a mass of greedy, over paid loafers looking for a free ride. 

I must admit, I definitely felt the brunt of the attacks this year. I doubted everything I ever thought about myself - including my career choice.  Why didn't I know I was considered a public servant?  Why didn't I know I was so hated?  I mean after all, I made MY decision to major in education.  I went to college, studied and passed for 4 years.  I CHOSE my major, to reflect the career I WANTED.  And of all of sudden I am the target?  Do we all not choose to live the life we have imagined? (thank you, Henry David Thoreau!)  I went into teaching knowing what I was getting into.  Didn't those entering the private sector know the same thing?  I mean, they, too, had the same choice I had, right?  No, I may not pay a lot for my benefits...however, I think my salary compared to my counterpart in the private sector (with a BA degree, and 10 years of service) may be quite smaller.  This I know is true:  a transmission builder at a privately owned transmission shop makes quite a bit more than I...And I am starting to think that the garbage collectors (those who just drive a truck) in my town also may have a bigger salary...but yet I am to be hated? I could understand if we were to draw straws to "see" what career we would get how this could all be unfair - but because I  made a decision that you, too, had the choice to make...

But here is the thing - teachers don't enter this field because of money. I knew I would never be a millionaire (though trust me, there are days I wish I was!)   I teach because it is what I have wanted to do since I was 6.  I teach because I know that I can make a difference in people's lives --- in stranger's lives.  Not my children's life or my family's life --- but in complete and utter stranger's lives. I teach because I care. I teach because there is a sense of responsibility and pride that comes along with it. I teach because I know I can make a difference in a student's life- whether big or small.
I am about to start my 11th year of teaching and these are the facts:  I have taught over 1200 (1260 is my actual estimation) students in the past 11 years.  I have had 3 students die - JW, JR and MC - three male students (two from cancer, one in car accident) and think of each of them often.  I have 1student in jail for shooting and killing a person - who came to my English class during his lunch period to get extra help and notes before his afternoon English class.  I have had 2 students live in half-way houses because their own families have kicked them out and they have no where else to go. I have had 1 student, that I know of, who not only went to school, but worked to pay the rent for the apartment he and his family lived in. I have had many who have lost parents - some both parents.  I have written numerous letters of recommendation, and then wrote follow up letters when they did not get into their first choice. I have written 2 letters to judges as a "character witness" for two individuals who had trouble with the law.  I have several that I have stayed in contact with - whether I go and support them when they play a collegiate sport, or I go to pick up because a parent is battling cancer.  I have students whose parents are incarcerated.  I have students who after ten years still come up to me and say, "Hello, Miss C."  I have a student who works for the FBI, the White House and probably too many to count who work at McDonald's.  :)

Why do I teach?!?!?  You must be kidding me - why wouldn't I?  I have been privileged to walk into many of my students life and although I may not know the impact I have made on their life...I know for certain that all 1260 of them have made an impact on mine.  I love what I do and no amount of negativity will change that because as my favorite slam poet/teacher Taylor Mali says: "I make a god damn difference, what about you?"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How old is too old...

Listen, I know I am not getting any younger, 33 is right around the corner, but how old is too old to date? 

I have been on eharmony for a month, (two months left, thank god) and I just recently decided to up my age range.  It was set for 29-36, and now I set it up to 42.   So I logged on this morning and had about 14 matches --- all within the 40-42 range.  40?!?!?  What am I thinking?  I am just 32, ok almost 33 -- can I really possibly have anything in common with a 40 year old? 

For a long time I always thought that by 40 one would be married with children. Sadly, that goal is getting a tad bit harder for me to meet. But maybe I still expect others to be married with children by this age? Thinking back on it, my grandparents died very young - in their 50s and to me they were "old" when I was 5 years old. And I think that may have a lot with my opinion on age.

My next problem is why are there 14 single 40-42 men and none in the 33-36 range?  Is it that the 30 something males are still "living life" and it isn't until 40 that they are ready to settle down, when they realize they are half-way to 80 and still single?  Then should I be "living life" too?!?! Because sadly, I am not. I am ready to settle down now - at 32.  I want children by 35, not 45.

Age is just a number, I know I can say it --- but sadly, I do not believe it. A lot of events in our lives are based on age:
5 -  you start school
16 - driving permit
17 - LICENSE!!!
18 - legally an adult - fight for our country, still unable to buy alcohol
21 - finally, a legal drink.
40 - over the hill....

Which then brings me back to actually dating a man who is 40+...I am sure that once I get over the initial shock of age, I may discover that a 40+ man is Mr. Right for me.  Or I may discover, what I already believe, he is just too old for me!