Monthly Archives: February 2008

Just Processing…

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the-crew.jpgroro-and-i.jpgpizza-crew.jpgLately, I feel that I really need to take a time out to think about all the things my mind and heart are trying to learn from my students.  Does that make any sense?  I will try to explain but feel myself about to get caught up in random ramblings rather than anything of importance or clarity….we shall see!

So, this weekend was jam-packed of students.  I’m talking jam-packed (I’m trying to think of a good analogy here but nothing’s coming to mind).  I, and two other dear co-workers/friends, took ten students to Shakey’s pizza on Friday afternoon for passing all of their classes with above a 2.0 and S’s and E’s in work habits and cooperation!  This was an on-going promise throughout the semester and I didn’t realize half of my students would qualify (some couldn’t make the trip)!  I was so impressed and we had a great time (I even swindled the guy down to under $100 for the whole party…persistence pays off!)  As I went to drop my group of students off, I made sure to leave them literally at their door in the hands of their parents.  I mean, really, am I gonna throw a teenager on the streets in South Central at 7pm?!  I think not.  Anyways, one student had a really big problem with this.  She didn’t want me walking her to the door because “her mom is chunty”…whatever that means (watch, it’s probably something really inappropriate I’ve just written forever on this post…).  Luckily, I found a parking spot not too far away from her house and was able to lock the remaining two students in the car and walk her up.  It turns out that her and her mom are living in a one bedroom trailer that someone might hitch to the end of their truck to take on a camping trip.  And it is placed, without wheels, in the front yard of someone else’s home.  No wonder she didn’t want me to walk up while the other students would watch.  My heart broke a little leaving here there and realizing I would have never known her circumstances otherwise because she presents herself so differently at school.  As I re-read that, I am not even sure what I am trying to say.  But maybe you know what I mean?

Saturday I picked up a student at 8am to go to a track clinic put on by Malachi Davis at Santa Monica High School.  This is my now-famous student, Ladejeisha.  She has never been formally trained in her running before but loves running and truly has the athletic build of a runner (she’s somehow now convinced me to form a ‘running’ club afterschool on Wednesdays…she knows how to get things done!).  I was so proud of her being thrown in the midst of high school runners and doing just fine.  I even left her there to go work out, get ready, and pick up three students from last year.  We drove out to get her (and all of the gear she got there!)…she told me how she had been trying to read the signs along the school’s wall and had met a bunch of the other athletes.  The five of us then drove to Pasadena to watch a step show put on by a Historically Black College Expo that was going on.  And it lasted 3 1/2 hours.  Seriously.  By then, it was 7:30 and I still wanted to take them to dinner at a decent place.  So, after a trip to Island’s, it was 10pm before I got them home!  Ooops! 

Then comes Sunday morning…I get up at 6:30 to pick up my mentee, Rosalyn.  She was chosen to lead her Leadership group’s presentation of their Business Plan for a student store on their school’s campus.  I was truly impressed, inspired, and in awe of their performance.  They were the only group of all 9th graders and Rosalyn was even told by a seasoned judge that, “she was the best speaker he had ever heard and she needed to hone that skill”.  I mean, seriously, this girl is going places!  If she wants to.  I am proud to be a part of her life.  They ended up “losing” that day…meaning they didn’t bring home the $1,000 prize.  The grand prize, along with three others, went to Santa Monica High School.  Which is a little frustrating on my part knowing all of the resources that are there.  However, like I told Rosalyn, you don’t want to win just because of where you live.  Watching their reactions was an interesting experience as well.  I was proud they kept on their front and were able to clap for the recipients, but I could see the tears stinging their eyes.  Rosalyn let loose afterwards, but at least it was around her group rather an in public.  It’s all about the when and where, folks!  That day wrapped up around 5pm.  See what I mean about jam-packed?

Today, a student stayed in during 3rd period to discuss his father with me.  His dad is elderly and Leo is the only one at home with him. Leo’s dad has been having a lot of problems with his eyes and Leo has spent the last five days at home taking care of his dad, bringing him to eye appointments (via bus and taxi), and trying to organize further appointments.  He is 13 years old and is reading at the 3rd grade level and is put in a position where he is essentially the sole care-provider for his aging father.  Leo just kept saying, “I’m just so tired. I’m just so tired”.  He is having to cook, clean, bring his laundry to his mom’s house since his dad’s place doesn’t have facilities, coordinate times with the “care taker” he has at times…but who doesn’t always have transportation herself.  I just can’t imagine being in this position as a 7th grader.  I remember seeing my dad on crutches when I was younger and hiding behind a couch just staring at him because it was so weird to see my dad: someone who was supposed to be invincible and protect me, be in a debilitating position.  But, something tells me this is just the beginning of it for Leo.  And my heart goes out to him.  And the rest of my students and all of the people in this world today who have the weight of the world upon their shoulders and are just trying to make it by.  God bless them.  Truly and immensely.  I don’t know if I could do it, but I sure am glad that each one of them are because I am learning more every day through their example.

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Faithful…

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fca-girls.jpgSo, the theme of this past weekend ended up being “Faithful” (hence the name of the title, naturally).  Really, though, I was in awe of God’s faithfulness, of friends’ faithfulness, etc.  (Really no ‘etc.’ needed here as really that’s all I was referring to…but nonetheless!).  It truly was a beautiful weekend that was much needed!  I started out by meeting my friend Bekah in Yorba Linda to carpool down to Temecula for a Women’s Retreat.  It was amazing to sit back and watch the Holy Spirit at work and truly lead that retreat.  Pretty powerful when you let Him do His thing.  So, throughout that time, “faithful” kept repeating in my heart.  So many things that He’s been faithful through. 

After the Retreat, we drove back up to catch Steph’s game vs. Vanguard.  Steph did really well despite tough loss, but good playing by another FCA friend, Jess Richter.  We actually convinced Kristen to drive down from The ‘Bu, if you will (Malibu, that is) after the game, which was also really encouraging to see her being faithful with her plan to be more social and find more balance in her personal and professional life. 

Sunday, the four of us did a mini-roadtrip to San Diego to catch up with good ol’ J-Jax and were even joined by Lisa at the beach!  I finally got to experience The Flood and afterwards we headed to BJ’s to celebrate Jamie’s big 2-5 and were joined by Marlena, her friend Scott, and another Bekah!  It truly was amazing to sit around and laugh, fellowship, talk, and listen to these girls.  And to think the only reason we’re all together is through God’s work in FCA.  His faithfulness.

Even further, though, as people in their life have opened up and shared with me things I am reminded of God’s faithfulness.  Even though many things in my life have not happened “in time” according to my schedule or plans, He continues to be faithful in my life.  I declare that I will continue to be faithfully obedient to Him in mine! 

Upon returning home, I was able to spend some quality time with my sister and have spent the day enjoying some down time.  I better get in gear though as the week gets under way and I have big things to do!  (Follow Him, of course!)  I will wait patiently and with anticipation as I figure out where He is leading me for next year!!

Teachable Moments

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ab8533time-spent-teaching-posters.jpgMany of you have probably heard about my student, Ladejeisha (pronounce La-de-ja with about ten too many vowels…many of us wonder why they don’t have spell checks in hospitals these days).  This girl truly is inspirational.  She came in this year reading at the kindergarten level on her best days.  She struggled with word-site recognition and couldn’t write either.  It’s really a shame that she’s been passed along through the system without question.  Anyways, Ladejeisha has come and met with me daily to improve her reading skills.  She practices and practices.  I’ve read books aloud and recorded them on tape so that she will have something to read/listen to over break.  And she actually listens!  And returns the recorder! 

One day last week I was reading her English homework to her.  About half way through she stopped me and said, “Ms. H, do you think you could maybe let me read some myself?  When you just read it to me I’m not getting better.”  WOW!  What an advocate for herself.  Anyways, this girl is extremely intelligent.  Her illiteracy is frustrating to her and myself.  She can hold a respectable conversation with all adults and is engaged in her classes.  She has higher level thinking skills that are way above many of my other students.  And she has a determination and perseverance that is absolutely motivational.

However, a few weeks ago we were about to do our Repeated Partner Reading.  One student asked why she always got to be my partner.  Ladejeisha replied, “Because I’m retarded and can’t read.”  I immediately corrected her with the “r” word and she said, “Well, okay, I couldn’t read at the beginning of the year and I still have a really hard time”.  Here she was saying this in front of the entire class.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  So, that same student, the class clown, took it all in for a moment and reassuringly told her, “That’s okay.  I’m not good at math….here, watch, we’ll have a competition on the board.”  Everyone started letting her know what they weren’t good at so that she wouldn’t feel bad about her struggle.  I mean, seriously, who would have thought middle school students would be handling it this way?  I was so happy!  I really almost cried.

 Anyways, yesterday I took a sick day (the first time ever during my three years of teaching that I’ve ever been sick!).  During that day, I found myself thinking about Ladejeisha (It could have been when I was getting frustrated trying to beat Donkey Kong).  I mean, really, if I were bad at something for thirteen years I find it hard to believe I would still be attempting to do it.  She even told me a few weeks ago she knew she was getting better because she was able to read street signs.  Anyways, we re-took the San Diego Quick today (a short assessment to roughly estimate grade level: the one where she was at an instructional level of pre-primer).  She is up to an instructional level of 2.5!!  She’s improved by three grade levels in the past six months…and I guarantee you, I will see her get up to the fifth grade level by the end of this summer!  How awesome is that?!? 

I trust Him, I trust Him not…

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lovemelovemenot.jpgAs I walked up from the beach today, I overheard a conversation between a couple.  I had noticed them as I trekked upwards: he was kinda looking off into the distance appearing really apathetic and she was staring at him almost longingly.  As I walked past them, and in between my own gasps for breath, I heard her pleading with him, “If only you would let yourself trust me…”.  I wasn’t able to hear his response.  I decided stopping and staring would not only be blatantly obvious, but also extremely rude (yes, I can monitor myself at times!).  But, I find it hard to believe he really had anything to say in response to that.  I mean, really, what is there to say?

Instantly I started analyzing relationships.  I felt frustrated that she felt the need to practically beg him to trust her; although it’s possible she had done nothing to betray his trust (of course, I also realize there is a chance she has).  I wondered why we spend so much of our time in relationships attempting to build trust with the other.  I mean, why can’t we go into each relationship with a blind trust?  Why do we allow people who have betrayed our trust impede our future relationships?

Then, I had a thought.  One that seemed directly from the Lord…He just repeated what the girl had been saying: “If only you would let yourself trust Me.”  I had spent the time at the beach trying to come to terms and make sense of some big things going on in my life lately.  I felt the need to get some quality alone time with the Lord to get some answers.  But, really, why am I in such desperate need of answers?  Why do I let the decision about next year dominate my thoughts?  Why am I anxious about work, my weight, my commitments, and life in general?  All of these worries are direct reflections of the fact I am not putting all of my trust in Him.  I am attempting to take things upon myself and that is where the stress comes in.  I cannot handle it all.  The beauty is, He can.  Now, if only I can allow myself to trust Him unapologetically.  Completely.  Entirely.  Totally.  Thoroughly. 

See, being nosey can have its positives afterall!

Choices, choices…

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choices.jpgUltimately, I know this decision is up to the Lord and the doors He opens for me in this life.  However, something that has been dominating my thoughts as of late has been where to go next year.  There are several options which is actually pretty exciting.  Each of them has their respective pros and cons.  But, I would love to hear what you have to think about each one of them…or add ideas yourself!

  • Stay at Gompers:  We are being taken over by the Superintendent and really there’s nowhere to go but up! 
  • Go back to Denton: I am applying to the Women’s Program through Denton Bible Church.  I would love, love, love for God to open this door!
  • Move to Orange County: Try to find a teaching job and potentially move in with my friend, Bekah.
  • Move to the Northridge Area: Try to find a teaching job (potentially at a private Christian school teaching and coaching).
  • Go to Nicaragua: Just go live, be free, follow whatever God calls me to, etc.
  • ANYWHERE!  Really, I’m up for input here as I eagerly await to see where the Lord has called me for next year.

This really is a cool time in my life with no commitments.  Obviously, a tough decision with all the fun options!  But, never in my life will I be at a point with no commited relationship, no kids, no commitments, etc.  I can’t wait to see what happens!  (Although, of course, I’m attempting to do this patiently!)

Much Better…

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manhattanbeachblogportal-743289.jpgSo today has been a beautiful day!  Although this week has been full of many ups and downs, I feel I am ending the week on a much more positive note.  My students are absolutely precious.  They have been saying things all day that have made me smile (although I am getting slightly aggravated they seem to be missing the main point of silent reading time).  Regardless, it’s interesting what a different perspective I have now that I have pretty much accepted the fact I won’t be here next year.  It’s looking like all but one of my students will be eligible to “walk the stage” in June (granted, they will all continue to be socially promoted)…which is a huge improvement!!  Now, if they can only keep it up for the next 18 weeks!  Thanks to a friend’s blog, I’ve also decided to embark on the endeavor of “New Month’s Resolutions” rather than New Year’s…because, really, 366 days is a long time!  And, consistency is my main concern in many aspects of my life.  So, for this month….my resolutions are to eat healthier, pray fervently for my “Fab Five”, and…I feel there was one more.  I can’t think of it now, though, so it must not be that important.  So I’ll stick with those for now.  Since I made my fourth period participate in a 5 + 2 experience today, I will also do the same here:

 Things I am grateful for:

1. That I have gotten to spend the week with my friend Jenn

2. That I saw Sonia, Sha’Rae, Noah, and Sue last night!

3. That I am feeling better about life in general

4. That my sister is also feeling better

5. That my students keep me laughing, entertained, and inspired

Things I am looking forward to:

1. Spending time at the beach this afternoon

2. Having some quality “me” time this weekend to process through some things!