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Can You Go Home Again?

Traveling along the West Coast, I have relived many memories.  Nothing has been as reminiscent as my stay on Ft. Lewis this past week.  Ft. Lewis in Lakewood, Washington was my home for almost three years from age 15 - 17.  I lived so many firsts on the fort, and much of who I am today came from my experiences there.  Even my becoming a History teacher came from my influences at Lakes High School, the high school serving the post.

When we first arrived on post this week, I thought my hopes of going home again were going to be shattered.  I drove around to all of my old hangouts, only to find such change.  Life had gone on without me there, and the changes were very evident.  The post commissary and PX were much larger and in new locations, the Burger King where I worked my first taxed job was an empty shell with a newer version sitting perpendicular, and the housing where I lived looked as though it had seen much better days.

 Driving off post to find my old high school did not help the situation.  I found the location, but the remaining part of the building now housed the district offices, and my school rival, Clover Park High School was sitting in grand presence right next door.  I was later informed that my old stomping ground was rebuilt just a few miles away, but to me, it was just gone.

And then there was my real home; the place I lived most of my hours while my step-father was stationed on Lewis... the skating rink.  It was where I spent my Friday and Saturday nights, showing my skills (and flirting with guys!), and I worked as a skate guard on weekend afternoons to pay for my entry and my black leather, high top speed and trick skates with the metallic blue strings and pom-poms that I just had to have.

The rink has been remodeled, and that was evident from the moment we pulled into the parking lot.  Even more upsetting, it was Friday night at 7 p.m. and I could not hear the music blaring or see the lines stretched around the turnstiles and out the door.  What had happened?  Time...

With my husband's urging, I went on in and requested a pair of speed skates.  As I tied them on, I asked questions of the counter worker about the evolution of the rink.  Where were the teens?  Why were there children here on a Friday night?  Where was the loud music and the crowds of GIs speeding and whistling around the outside edge of the wooden floor?  She couldn't answer my questions, but she found someone who could.

The older gentleman explained that he took over for Cliff, the master of everything roller skate, when Cliff retired in 1999.  Then, it was still a popular place for the teens, including all of the town rats that came in for Friday nights.  But then it all changed in 2001... September 11th.

Fort Lewis is an active, and very large, military post.  In the mid-80s, I remember going on lock down when Qaddafi threatened the United States.  Our buses were stopped at the gates each day, and we had to present our IDs to the MPs who stepped on board each bus, carrying their rifles as they approached.  But that ended quickly, and life was back to normal.  September 11th was a different story.

After the attacks on the twin towers in NYC, the post was closed to all outsiders, including the neighboring teens who came in those Friday nights.  And the soldiers?  They were more concerned with preparing for deployment than they were skating in circles as the strobe lights rolled around.   The rink died.

So last Friday night, I skated, and the new old guy was kind enough to put on some 80s tracks so I could relive my youth for just a few minutes.  And to my surprise, I stayed upright, made a few turns, performed a few tricks, and impressed my husband, who didn't know me way back then, just a little bit with my skating skills!

So, what is the lesson here?  You can go home again, but history is important.  Current events turn into the recent past, and those circumstances turn into history.  It changes what is familiar to us, and creates something new for the next generations to live and then remember.  Had I not become a History teacher, and taught this very lesson to my students for years, after learning it myself from Mr. Hurt at the original Lakes High School here in Washington in the late 1980s, I might not have understood what happened to my home from way back when.  I might have cried, felt the loss of my old friend, and mourned what I no longer had.  Instead, I circled the rink just a few more times, knowing I can go home again, through my memories, any time I want!

We could all travel anywhere IF...

 I remember how, as a child,  I loved to escape my small world through reading.  I traveled back in time to do chores with Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I lived on a farm with Charlotte and Wilbur out in the barn.  I visited other continents through non-fiction books, and learned all about the mountains and oceans I hoped to someday see for myself through the picture books and National Geographic Magazines I found sitting on end tables in doctor's offices.  But most importantly, once I became old enough to ride my bike beyond the end of the driveway, I found my local library!

As the Internet took over our world in my young adulthood, I saw the value of books begin to deteriorate in the eyes of the younger generations.  Thanks to Google, Yahoo, and AOL search, you no longer needed to immerse yourself in the written imagery to travel the world; you could simply find a live street cam or take a virtual tour, thanks to someone else's effort in recording their personal experiences.

The youngest generation does not even seem to be utilizing the search engines, but are growing up playing video games with detailed graphics and enhanced sound, but never learn the power of their own minds.  They do not get to experience being so lost in a book that they can't put it down until they reach the end.  Or reading that last book in the series and spending weeks going over in their minds what could be or should be for the characters in the future. 

Books take us places that nothing else can.  They take us into our own imaginations.  They open doors for us that no one and nothing else can open.  We do not only join the characters on their own paths, but we create our own journey in their time and place, walking along with them.  Reading changes who we are, and transforms us into what we can be.

Add to that, the value of reading from the academic standpoint.  Everything we do in the academic world requires a sound hold of the basic reading skills.  Reading is everywhere in everything we do. 

As we travel from town to town, the first place we typically look for is the library.  It is our place to relax, our place to explore, and our place to think.  But sadly, many of the towns we visit no longer have libraries.  The buildings stand as shells of what they once were.  Starbucks and Panaras have taken over the corners, and internet access has replaced those books on the tables in waiting areas. 

Yet today, we saw something I had never seen before as we drove through a Portland suburb...

It was amazing, and it started my imagination flowing.  What if they were on every street corner?  What if every child had access to one of these outside their apartment building or at their bus stop? 

Just imagine how the world could change... maybe we can find a book that will tell us how! 

Happy Reading!

What Will You Find at a Teacher Job Fair?

Over 1000 teachers are attending the Oregon Teacher Job Fair in Portland this week.  They are each visiting with over 150 school districts from across the country and beyond, each hoping to find that perfect fit.  As they search for that ideal classroom setting, they will also find us there to help them find the perfect resources to teach the new student populations they will meet this fall!

Below are the great TeachersPayTeachers sellers who have so generously contributed great games and other classroom resources to be given away to the teachers at the Job Fair in the goodie bags we will distribute!

Do you want these great resources for your classroom?  Visit each seller's store to see what incredible freebies they have available for you over the next few days! 

Super Secondary Sellers
Visit Michele Luck's Social Studies for interactive Social Studies and ELA resources.
At Science Stuff you will find everything you need for the middle & high school science class.

Mrs. Orman's Classroom has everything you need for the ELA classroom, especially for Hunger Games!
The Tutor House can set you up with everything for your tutor business or fun for your classroom!
4mulaFun with bring fun and excitement to your middle and high school Math class!
Addie Williams has everything you can imagine for the Science, Social Studies and ELA classroom!
In Arlene Manemann's store you can find resources for ELA, Math, Social Studies and more!
Math resources galore can be found at 4 the Love of Math!
Desktop Learning Adventures for Math & Literacy offers differentiated activities and more!
Literature Guides, ELA games, and much more can be found at Different Drummer Secondary Resources.
Let the HappyEdugator provide you with the engaging ELA resources you need!
Aspire to Inspire your students with these creative teaching resources!
Let Miss Math Dork make your classroom cool with her fun and engaging resources!
With help from Misty Miller, you can bring fun and excitement into your classroom!
In the Open Classroom you will find everything you need for Secondary Language Arts.
Science in the City has the resources you need to help your students investigate their world.
Put some heart in your Math class by visiting Teaching Math by Hart!
 Mary Carr
Lindsay Perro
 Kristin Lee
 Charlene Tess

Excellent Elementary Sellers

Christine Maxwell
Marcy Prager
Rainbow City Learning
Selma Dawani Learning Fundamentals & Educational Therapy
The Teaching Files
Outstanding Sellers for All Grade Levels

I Am Bullyproof Music will help you beat bullying at any grade level.
Visit Subplanners to help you set up your classroom while you are away!

And be sure to shop these sellers' stores on TpT this week for great sales of up to 10% off at checkout!  Sales will run at the discretion of each individual seller.

Happy Teaching!

A Different View

Campgrounds are very different from your typical neighborhood or apartment complex.  You find people in them that you would never meet otherwise, and this is a good thing!

As we traveled and stayed in the different campgrounds, we met up with many different couples, singles, and families, often finding something in common with them, despite our many differences.  Our commonalities spark conversations, while the differences keep us talking.  Fortunately for us, we are open to the idea that others may be different, in thought and action, and therefore, they have the right to live as they do until they begin to infringe on my rights or the safety and well-being of others.

That said, we had great neighbors in California that owned farms on which they legally grew "medical" cannabis.  While I would never be lighting up with them, I learned a lot from them about gems and rocks that we could find along the beaches we planned to visit.

While in Pennsylvania, we encountered a dead-ringer for the Fonz, and he rode off on his motorcycle in his leather jacket after talking to us for a long time about his experiences in Vietnam.

Down in Florida we made lifelong friends who had a special needs son.  He was filled with joy, and when we took them to Disney for a day, his excitement filled us all with more joy than we could ever imagine.

In Oregon, we met up with  couple we realized will be on the exact same Alaskan cruise we are taking in May.  They were bikers who roared out of the park each morning to ride the mountains until sunset, and while I would never straddle a bike and go 70 MPH over asphalt (or any other surface), they were the most gracious of people and invited us to share a ride to the cruise ship when we got to their hometown just outside Seattle.

In Florida and again in San Diego, we met up with both homeschoolers and unschoolers.  These families engaged their children in real life lessons, and also addressed core fundamentals while traveling the country.  More importantly, the children learned that possessions were not as important as finding joy in what you have, inside and out.  While I would be the first one to "teach" these parents the importance of a solid education for all children, they taught me lessons!

Traveling the country has taught us many lessons.  But the most important lessons we have learned in our adventure is to look beyond the peeling paint on the old trailer, and see the incredible resources within.  You never know what you might find!

Happy Teaching!

A New Age of Exploration!

As we are traveling up the West Coast, it has been a new "Age of Exploration" for me!  I had no idea when we planned this little adventure that I would see such diversity and experience so many different landscapes as we took the 1200 mile trek.

I lived in Seattle, Washington back in the late 1980s, and I had traveled down I-5 on our move from Seattle to El Paso, Texas.  I remember being surprised at the mountains and deserts we encountered as we drove, but I was too young and too unaware to really see everything on our path.

This trip has been eye opening and filled with wondrous experiences.  I have walked beautiful beaches, collected sea glass, seashells, and agate, and listened to the waves rush in all along the coast.  But beyond the typical beach experience, there is so much more.

In San Diego, we stayed up in the mountains of Yamul, and had to drive a very scary cliff-hanging road to reach the shore each day.  Between LA and San Francisco, we climbed sand dunes and then slid down the other sides as we walked the mile from our campground to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.  In northern California, we were surrounded by the great Redwoods, and could look for what seemed like miles trying to spot the treetops.

And now we are on the Oregon Coast where huge rocks sit along the coast, and rocky jets dart out into the ocean, allowing you to walk on top of the water as you search for signs of the migrating whales. 

Despite my having taught Geography for many years, I am in awe everyday that there is so much more out here for me to learn!  I can't even imagine what it was like for those explorers 500 years ago as they encountered these same areas and were amazed at all there was to examine and conquer ahead of them!

Happy Teaching!

Life Lessons

I was a child of the 70s and a teen of the 80s.  Valley talk was the trend, even in my southern Ohio suburb.  We learned that "totally" was an exclamation, and that "Grody to the maximum!" was a complete explanation.  To add a bit more of a twist, my freshman principal was Mr. Grody.  Oh, teachers, just imagine the jokes...

Each day, Mr. Grody ended the announcements with his "quote of the day," an inspirational saying that was meant to motivate us to do our best in the classroom that day.  Most of his quotes were commonplace, or were expressions we had heard our entire lives from our parents, grandparents, and even on television.  Then came this one:

"If you want to make an impression on the sands of time..."

I remember sitting up straighter in my seat, waiting to hear the end of this one.  It sounded like it was going to be profound.  It was going to be a life lesson I could live by.  And then he finished:

"Wear work boots."

What?  Wear work boots?  How lame!  Where did he get this crap from?  What was he thinking?  That was just silly! 

Or was it?  I am now 44, almost 45 years old, and I still remember that quote from 30 years ago!  And I think of it often, especially when life makes that lesson oh so real!

It wasn't the message I was waiting to hear.  It wasn't about breaking down barriers, or forging new paths, or even starting a revolution (I was very much a little revolutionary!).  But it was about something much more important... You must work, and work hard, for what matters most to you in life.  We don't make significant lasting life impressions by sitting still.  We make them by doing.

I taught with this in mind.  I worked hard, and I taught my students to do the same.  Class was not about a quick lesson; it was about learning what was important, no matter how long that lesson took us to learn.

What will be your impression in the sands of time?

Happy Teaching!


The Beauty of Our Nation

As we travel the United States, we are in awe at the beauty and majesty of our nation.  So far, we have traveled from home in Central Kentucky to Southeast Pennsylvania to Central Florida, across the South from Florida to California, and now we are headed up the West Coast. 

We have driven through deserts, across plains, up (and down) steep graded mountains, along jetty coasts, and through deep dividing valleys.  Our travels have allowed us to see the natural beauty of our country, and to experience life in a way few ever get to enjoy.  It has also helped me to relax, and I am slowly learning to "stop and smell the roses!"

Still, the teacher in me comes out every day.  I see lessons for my students everywhere.  Even more amazing, I see lessons I never could have taught before.  I see the interdisciplinary nature of our world, and I now better understand the regional differences I have taught about for so long!

And now that I've traveled this far, I can't wait to see the rest.  Just imagine what else I will learn as we go!

Happy Teaching!