A friend of mine kindly suggested that I invest in comfortable shoes last year. It was my first year in first grade and I wasn't sure exactly what she was talking about. I smiled, said ok, and then went about my day. At 2:45 that afternoon, I TOTALLY understood what she was talking about. My feet were killing me.
One of the biggest differences between teaching kindergarten and first grade is the amount of standing time on the hard concrete floors. I spent most of my kindergarten time on the floor at eye level with students or sitting at a small group table. Not so in first grade.
Over time, your feet kind of get used to it I guess. Or, you just are so super busy all day that you forget about the pain...kind of like the need to go to the bathroom (another thing I learned about being in first grade- not many bathroom breaks.) Your feet lose that toughness over the summer, having spent many days barefoot in the sand, lake, and pool, in the air while hanging in a hammock, under the covers in bed all day, or soaking in the tub because you have time for more than a three minute shower.
It's been a great first week back. I love my new room, my sweet little first grade students, and new coworkers. I am excited about the year to come. Only complaint- my feet hurt!
24 hours from now, I will be standing at my classroom door ready to put on a smile and meet my new students and their families. We will have so much to talk about, things to share, and questions to ask. One of the many things I am excited to talk to them about is the solar eclipse.
Here in the Belton/Honea Path community, we are in the path of totality. Although the path of the eclipse (amazing) will cross the whole country, we will be perfectly located for maximal viewing. Everyone around here already has their special glasses ready for the heavenly sight. I will be in my backyard with my husband and two daughters. We will lay in the hammock and stare up in to the sky to watch all the actions, with safety eclipse glasses on of course. No need to damage the eyes folks!
Is this really that rare of an event? It depends on your perspective. Eclipses happen every year or two, but they are only usually viewable from places you and I would never be able to go to. For us to be able to see this spectacle in our own backyard is very rare.
I hope that this event brings families together, spending time being amazed at the light show our creator decided to entertain us with. I also hope that there are young children (girls especially) that look up at the visible corona of the sun in the darkness tomorrow afternoon and become inspired. Inspired to learn more about space. Inspired to think of the possiblities of what lies beyond that moon and sun. I wonder how many future rocket scientists will say that they decided on their career when they just happened to find themselves in the path of totality on August 21, 2017. Just something to think about...
"Military Brat." This is a term used to describe children of service members. I am a military brat because my father was a Major in the United States Air Force. Most brats have traveled many places and been exposed to a wide variety of cultures, religions, ethnicities, etc. I am proud to say that I have been fortunate enough to have experienced all of the above. I believe it is what made me the person I am today.
When people ask me where I am from, the answer is complicated. I usually say "everywhere." I feel as if I have been everywhere. However, I was born in an especially awesome place. Guam. What's funny to me is that over the past 39 years, after people find out where I was born, 99% of people will have no clue what or where Guam is.
That's not the case anymore. With continued threats from North Korea, my tiny birthplace has become worldwide news. The amazing native Chamorro people, immigrants, and military personnel on this Pacific island face an enormous threat of nuclear proportions. I know that they will be safe. The systems in place are solid and can handle the current threat, but it makes me sad. It saddens me that the reason people are learning about my birthplace is because of an unhinged dictator in the region.
I want those of you who don't know about Guam, to know this...It is an American territory. 30% of those who reside there are military personnel. The Guamanians residing there are American citizens. The island is more than a strategic location in the Pacific and a base for submarines and bombers. It is BEAUTIFUL! The deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, is located there. The water is crystal clear. There are beaches, and mountains formed from extinct volcano. Waterfalls and wildlife are abundant. I have been to the Caribbean, Hawaii, and many other exotic locations. In my opinion, they can't compare to the beauty of my island home.
I am far from my beautiful birthplace right now, well removed from the imminent threat that Guamanians face, but my heart is with the people of Guam. I pray that tensions will deescalate and that the world will seek to know this Marianna island as more than a target of North Korea. The island is full of history, culture, ethnicities, amazing food, and more. My dream is to go back one day with my children to teach them about the beauty of Guam. I am proud to be a Guamanian!
New year, new classroom, new students...fall is a time for new beginnings in the life of a teacher. This is my favorite time of the year. Just as our kids get excited as summer break comes nearer, I get excited for the start of school. I still get butterflies after 18 years.
I get to start fresh every year. Looking around at all of the boxes and furniture stacked from floor to ceiling in a freshly waxed and painted room, I imagine all the possibilities. For a while, I just sit and think. What will my students be like this year? What relationships will I build with their families this year? What impact will I make in their lives?
In that solitary time in my empty classroom, I pray. I pray for each child and family that I have yet to meet. I pray to be the best teacher and mentor I can be. I know that eyes will be watching and ears will be listening and I want them to see HIM in me. I know I can't profess my faith openly to my students, but I can live it in front of them.
For all of those who think teachers have "summers off," please know that teachers have spent every moment possible in their classroom this summer preparing for the year ahead. I have spent countless hours in room 122 being a mover, interior designer, manager, janitor, painter, organizer, creator, web explorer, and yes..a teacher. I have done my best to make this environment a warm and friendly place before your child even walks through the door. All this, not for pay, but because I care. After 18 years, I still passionately care.
I am greatly looking forward to a year of new beginnings, new friendships, new insights, new technology, new readers, new writers, new memories, and more! Here's to a great new year everybody!