Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dropping SAT scores, Bubble Maps & Irony

And so it goes on the education front…SAT scores have plummeted to their lowest levels in more than two decades with Texas students faring even worse. Theories, of course, abound as to what caused the drop.

Interestingly enough, in an article that appeared in The Dallas Morning News, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency, said the lower scores this year were at least partly the result of testing policies in two dozen school districts — including Dallas and Fort Worth — where all upperclassmen now must take the SAT each year.

Ya, think?

As anecdotal evidence of that, I'd like to share a little ditty a school teacher friend of mine shared as she slogged through grading English papers. In a Bubble Map, a student wrote that the character Pap in Huck Finn is "alliterate."

As my teacher friend so aptly put it, "Oh, the irony!"

Yes, indeed.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

School's Back, Count Downs Begin & Twitches Abated

A full of week of school has gone by and all my teacher friends are still busy scurrying about as they try to rustle up extra textbooks… learn upwards of 100 new names… figure out how to juggle 39 kiddos in a classroom…or try and get back into the rhythm of bells and 20 minute lunches.

Some have already launched into the countdown towards the Labor Day holiday. Others, I suspect, have secretly begun the countdown towards next summer.

And then there are those who recently joined the retired teacher brigade who felt a pang or two when school started without them (as evident by their Facebook posts).

I, on the other hand, entering Year 3 in the no school zone remain pang-less. For the most part, I'm still enjoying my (ad)venture in real estate. Even though I supposedly am master of my own schedule, I find that is rarely true. Clients can be as needy as school children, but without the classroom walls, bell-to-bell schedule and big yellow buses.

Whatever first day of school twitches I get are easily remedied by going to help by daughter set up her classroom at the start of the school year. But if that doesn't do the trick, I find myself in the nearest office supply store standing in the back-to-school aisle.

After all, you can never have enough #2 pencils, can you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

After Months In Writing Remission… I'm Back

And so it begins again… another school year ready to kick off and a blog that's grown a bit dusty, sitting idle for months.

Who knew I'd have so little time to devote to writing, ranting and waxing poetic when I retired and launched my great (ad)venture in real estate?

Alright, alright, alright, I'll admit that I've ranted a lot. It just never transferred into actual writing. In fact, most of my ranting has been peppered all along the North Dallas toll road, Interstate 35 and thoroughfares throughout North Texas in general. And, the truth be told, those rants weren't exactly PG fare either.

Such is my life.

So finally after months in writing remission, I'm taking tiny baby blogging steps again, so I'll keep it short.

This was the first summer I spent without attending/working at a high school journalism workshop. Even after I retired from teaching, I still dutifully participated at a summer high school publications workshop.

But not this summer. No siree, Missy.

This summer I boldly declared my independence from all things counterproductive and resigned from the workshop (for reasons better left in the "if-you-can't-say-anything-nice-don't-say-it-at-all category). Instead, I flew off on my first European trip ever–to Italy.

And, sadly (or happily depending upon your perspective), I did not miss the workshop.

No siree, Missy, not one bit.

Such a revelation actually surprised me. In ways I had never realized before, the distance was quite liberating. There is something rather confining and restricting about not letting go, about not letting others step up, about not moving on. Talk about an epiphany.

And then there's something rather remarkable that occurs when distance brings clarity, especially from half a world away. I was sitting with friends at a little Italian cafe waving to school kids whizzing through the piazza on their bicycles as they journeyed home. That experience brought more joy than a summer full of workshops.

I guess you had to be there--or not there--to understand.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Day at the Movies

One of the perks of my (ad)venture in real estate is that I can arrange my own calendar.

Instead of waiting, I can actually go to a matinee and watch a movie when it first comes out and eat a buttery bucket of popcorn for lunch (don't judge me).

Such was the case a few days ago when my husband and I went to see American Sniper, the movie about former Navy Seal Chris Kyle, America's deadliest sniper. 
Chris Kyle visiting MHS in February of 2012

Almost a year prior to this death, Kyle came to Midlothian High School (where I was teaching at the time) to share his experiences and discuss his book at a teacher in-service. Kyle was invited as a guest speaker because he had a special connection to Midlothian. He had once attended MHS and lived in Midlothian with his wife and children. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to meet and thank Chris Kyle and his wife, Taya, that day.

I enjoyed the book and the movie–although the word "enjoyed" seems so ill-fitting and out of place. Both the book and the movie helped put into perspective the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make for us and the toll their tours make. 

Days after seeing American Sniper, the movie still haunts me and leaves me with a sadness that a true American hero is gone. (Kyle was killed Feb. 2, 2013 by a former Marine he was trying to help.) 

As we approach the anniversary of Chris Kyle's death, remember those who sacrifice so much for our freedom.