Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Conventions, Museums & Yukon

After spending a week in the nation’s capital attending the National Scholastic Press Association convention, promoting my book and sightseeing, I suppose I’m ready to head back to the great Lone Star state and resume my classroom duties.

All in all, it was a successful trip—I got my nifty little national Dow Jones Newspaper Fund distinguished adviser award, ran willy nilly through Washington, D.C. touring the fabulous Newseum, pretty much all the war memorials, some art museums and the Lincoln Memorial just to name a few.

I saw Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, learned Grace “Sunshine” Coolidge had a pet raccoon and that there were more conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination than I remembered from my history lessons a gazillion years ago.

At the space museum, I discovered that my career as a flight attendant wouldn’t even have gotten off the ground in the ’60s (too old, too fat and married).

As if that wasn’t bad enough, at the National Museum of the Marine Corp, I realized the Marines probably would have booted me out of boot camp quicker than you can say, “Semper Fi.” I couldn’t lift the field pack, I completely bypassed the chin up bar, and sadly, I managed to kill three soldiers assigned to my unit in a simulated test.

None of which was good for my self of steam. Hails bails, the video drill sergeant even yelled at me. My husband, a former Marine, just shook his head and walked away.

I guess it’s a good thing I’m a teacher.

During part of our trip, we stayed with my BFF Jennifer in Annapolis (who btw also fared poorly, but better than me in the flight attendant/Marine thing). Now, you are probably wondering how any of this remotely connects to education. Well, hold your horses, Missy, we’re getting there. 

As I was saying, we stayed with my BFF and her really nice husband--and their not-so-nice, very, very, very psycho cat, Yukon.

Yukon doesn’t like anyone. Never has. Never will. In fact, she probably belongs to some SKTC--Secret Kitty Terrorist Cell. Forget the German Shepherd and the Chow, Yukon actually chased a pet sitter out of the house and reduced her to tears in the front yard. The dogs just watched.

In many ways Yukon reminds me of some of the challenges we face in public education. She’s resistant to change and believes if she turns her back and ignores something, it will go away. But if it doesn’t disappear, Yukon will resort to sabotage. This particular cat has nabbed car keys and hidden them, lurked in the shadows and conducted sneak attacks, and positioned herself to block entry points or any movement forward.

Hmmmm, see any similarities with that teacher down the hall or the one in that school across town, or that teacher at your committee meeting or the one you occasionally see at a professional gathering?

Now, I’m not saying that anyone stole my keys at the convention, or whacked me upside the head in the elevator or gave me the wrong directions to the bathroom.
No siree, Missy, nothing like that happened to me. But we all know Yukons in education. Hails bails, I’ve been like Yukon a time or two myself (not the stealing part or the whacking part--although I have felt like popping someone a time or to).

But Yukon got me thinking about things (and you know how I feel about things). I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, if we want to improve education, perhaps we need to run speedy quick past the Yukons in our paths and ignore their whining and swatting.
I think I can do that.

As long as I don’t have to carry one of those Marine Corp field packs or weigh under 135 pounds.


Anonymous said...

I was in Washington last week (don't you love it when your spouse has a conference and needs a traveling companion?) and absolutely loved the Newseum. Except for the fact that my knees were screaming from the 7.25 miles I walked on the Mall the day before, it was one of the highlights of my trip! The 9/11 and Berlin Wall displays were so moving.

In fact, the newspaper staff at the school were I teach got the half-dozen Newseum postcards I sent them just today! Black with white print: "Just the facts," "News Junkie," and my personal favorite, "Not tonight, dear...I'm on deadline!"

Congrats on the well-deserved award!!

askthehomediva said...

Thanks for the congrats! The Newseum and the Marine Corp Museum were my two favorites. Even my husband loved the Newseum. All in all, I thought it was a great conference and was so glad I took the extra days off to see even more.

Anonymous said...

Carol. . .Yukon is a student in my notorious 7th period class reincarnated in feline form. Welcome
back to the jungle. I'll do the "Happy Dance" for you in celebration
of your latest award! Mary Kay