Sunday, November 25, 2012


Every year at Thanksgiving dinner, my family goes around and says one thing we're thankful for.  It's always a huge challenge to come up with one single thing.  How do I come up with the one thing I'm most thankful for? I don't.  I came up with twelve things that I'm especially thankful for this year.  Some are the same from year to year, but there are a few that are new editions to the list...

1. My parents.  I couldn't make it without their love and support.  They mean the world to me.  I cannot express how thankful I am for them. 
2. Andrew and Ben- They're turning out to be amazing men and I am so glad to have them as my brothers.  They make me a better sister and a better person.  I am so proud of the men they are becoming and I know they are going to do great things (and already have).  They are a constant source of inspiration and motivation, especially when serving my male students.
3. Anna - I wouldn't have survived JMU without her.  She knows how to be girly and excited with me over stuff, but she also keeps me grounded and brings me back to reality when I need it.  She's best friend.  
4. Karen- When she moved into our apartment senior year, I wasn't sure what to expect, but she turned out to be one of my best friends.  She can make me laugh whenever I need her to and whenever I have a crazy story, she's the one I go to. 
5. Mike-  He makes me super happy and I kind of like him :)
6.  My education-  Over the past year and a half, I've realized how lucky I am to have received such a great public education.  I've seen the disparities between urban and suburban education.  It's so unfair and definitely something I want to help make a difference in.
7. JMU- Everyone says that college is the best four years of your life and I can definitely say that's true for me.  It was a life changing experience and probably the best decision I have ever made.
8.  City Year Boston-  If college is the best four years of your life, then City Year was the best single year of my life. That experience helped me grow as an educator, a friend, and a person.  
9. Holly Moulton- I served in her classroom last year and I learned so much from her.  She was an incredible mentor and an amazing teacher.  I couldn't have asked for a better partner teacher last year. 
10.  My twenty first graders-  They were seven, but they served as a constant source of joy and inspiration last year (and this year). I am so proud of the progress that they all made last year.  They are some of the funniest, cutest, and toughest kids I know and they deserve everything possible.  
11.  Jadanies, Jahnelle, and Michael-  My three middle school course coaching students.  At the beginning of the year, I was super intimidated by middle schoolers, but they made (almost) every afternoon the best part of the day. I learned to love and embrace sass and attitude. I taught them math and ELA, but they taught me so much more.  
12.  The fact that I have a job, a roof over my head, and food in my belly.  It's something my students worry about everyday and I'm glad I don't have to worry about it. Ever. 

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ― John F. Kennedy

Sunday, November 18, 2012

life size jenga!

This week, senior corps and staff were at a facilitation training on Tuesday and Thursday, so I was only in class on Wednesday.  It was definitely an easy week, which I appreciated.   I'm excited to take everything that we learned back to the classroom and to the corps for Friday trainings, though.  There were a ton of great techniques that they showed us.

Anyways, yesterday, the room mates, Jacqui and I went to a brewery that was having a two year anniversary party.  I'm not a beer drinker, but even I found a beer that I liked.  The best part of it all, though, were the games they had.  There was corn hole, foose ball, and best of all, life size jenga.  We played one game of jenga that lasted over an hour and, by the end, was taller than Adrienne and I.  Unfortunately, it was my block that made the tower crumble.

I'm  super excited for Thanksgiving and to go home. I am leaving on Wednesday after a short day at work and I couldn't be more excited! I'm ready to be home with my family.  I. Can't. Wait!

The tower is as tall as we are!

So happy the tower survived my block removal (that time!).

hahahahah joe!

Quinci hard at work.

My emotion every time a block was removed.

Tower down.

slowly but surely

The room mates supporting Quinci

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DC Weekend

I got back around 11pm last night after a fantastic weekend in DC. Shoutout to Karen and Sara for welcoming with open arms and entertaining me all weekend.

Friday night, I left work and went straight to the airport.  My flight landed at eight thirty and Karen was there waiting to pick me up.  I felt bad because Karen lives in Baltimore and I flew in and out of Reagan, so it was kind of a hike.  We drove home and then proceeded to talk until like one in the morning.  Such girls. :)  It's funny because I talk to Karen all of the time, but it was so nice to have her sitting across from me. 

Saturday, we went into Baltimore and met Caitlin for lunch and just hung out by the inner harbor. I absolutely love the inner harbor and it was the perfect fall day. It definitely made me miss the mid-Atlantic.  We came back and had crabs with Karen's parents and then went to Karen's friend's apartment back downtown.  We hung out a little bit before going out downtown.  It was SO much fun.  I haven't been out like that since I left Boston and I miss it.  We stayed out until like two, got pizza as we headed home and then passed out.  I absolutely loved it. 

Sunday, we drove to DC and sat at a Starbucks for a while as we waited for my friend Sara.  It felt really nice to be back in a major city.  I could definitely see myself living in DC.  I think I just love the city and having everything right there.  Plus, there are a million people around and always something to do. I loved it.  Sara met us around two and took me to her house to drop off my stuff.  Afterwards, we walked around the city and caught up. I haven't seen her in over a year and, like Karen, even though I talk to her pretty regularly, it was so nice to be with her in person. We cooked dinner at her house and watched a movie before going to bed.  

Monday, my flight didn't leave until 7:45, so we had all day together.  We went to the News-eum, which is the coolest museum ever!  I had never been before, so I was fascinated.  I thought the coolest exhibit was the September 11th exhibit because they had all of the newspapers from around the world from September 12th, as well as the radio tower from atop the World Trade Center. It was so cool.  They had also updated it so they had all of the tweets and newspaper articles from the election.  So freaking cool. The whole museum was awesome, especially the events that I can remember.  I could have spent the entire day there, but we had to go so I could catch my flight.  

I loved every minute of this weekend.  Catching up with good friends, life in a major city, it all felt so right.  I miss it already and am counting down the days until Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for my friends and all of the memories we have together.  
The inner harbor in Baltimore in the fall
1036 reunion!  Anna we missed you!
Obama on top of a Paris map.  What more could I ask for?
LOVE the Obamas!
Atop the News-eum with a beautiful view of our capital
Love the @TheFix tweet.  Love Sasha and Malia!
Merms! love you so much! 

homecoming and the fair!

This was supposed to be published two weeks ago, but for some reason, I never pressed submit.  Whooops!

The weekend is only halfway done and the weekend has been super exciting.  Last night was Jackson's homecoming football game which ended the whole week of homecoming festivities.   City Year has been dressing up all week to follow the themed days (Monday was "Think Pink", Tuesday was "Twin Day" etc) and we wanted to continue showing our support by going to the game.  We got permission to leave the office early so we could tailgate with some of the faculty before the game. I've never tailgated a high school football game, but I guess there's a first time for everything!

My team had each volunteered to bring a different dish, so we were well prepared for this tailgate. When we showed up, though, we were put to shame by the other people there.  There was pulled pork, chicken, burgers, the list goes on and on. There was also ladder ball and corn hole, just to top it all off.  We tailgated for about a half hour before the parade showed up.  The parade was hilarious.  Each of the winners for each grade for homecoming court was riding on top of a fancy sports car and the band and ROTC was marching down the street.  It was so funny to see my students in ROTC and band because they were so serious and focused! Now that I know they can, I'm definitely going to use that as motivation in class!  hahahaha think of it as blackmail....  :)

After the parade, we tailgated a little bit more before heading into the game. Jackson scored the first touchdown, but after that, it was pretty much downhill from there.  The students were a ton of fun to watch at the game, though, which made it all worthwhile. I was surprised at how well behaved they were when they don't have to sit still and pay attention.  They were also hilarious when they would interact with us.  We'd say hello and they would do a double take since we weren't in our uniforms. Some of them would come hang out with us for a little bit, but others would be really shy and run their friends.  It was so funny and cute.  Even though the actual game wasn't that great, it was a lot of fun.  The halftime show by the band was great and there was even a Conga line! It was pretty impressive, especially considering the band is mainly freshmen who just started playing this past August!  We left not that long after halftime, but it was such a great Saturday night.

Today,  Adrienne and I decided to venture out into Jacksonville and go to the fair!  The students had been talking about it all week, so we wanted to go check it out.  It was definitely an experience!  It was a lot of fun, but I can see how it would be a high schooler's dream come true!   There was a dog show  that we watched, tons of rides to go on, and TONS  of food to eat.  We didn't have any tickets, so we didn't go on any of the rides, but we did watch the dog show which was great and see a ton of animals.  We got funnel cakes and soda like little kids and called it a day.  It was a great afternoon!

The day was topped off by a monumental win by Notre Dame!  While it wasn't the best game in the world, the Irish came back to tie it up and ultimately win in triple overtime.  It was so exciting! Oh and to top it all off, I found out that Manti Te'o's brother helped move Mike out yesterday.  How cool?

Anyways, have a great rest of the weekend!  Only six days until I'm reuniting with Karen and Sara and frolicking around the DC/Baltimore area! CANNOT WAIT!!

The CSX team serving at Andrew Jackson High School
funnel cake! Yum!
Room mates (minus Quinci!)
The girls of Springfield
Tailgating before the game
trunk life :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dear President Obama....

Last night, as we were watching the results come in from each state, Joe, Adrienne and I were imagining what today would be like if each candidate won.  Considering 94% of my students are African-American and almost all of them are considered "low-income," the vast majority of them were big Obama fans. Regardless of who won or lost, we predicted a wild day ahead of us. 

I couldn't stay up and watch the results, but I set an alarm for 2am just so I could check and see.  I was elated to see the CNN update that popped up on my phone announcing the good news.  When I headed to school, I was ready for anything. The kids were super excited and came running into class announcing to everyone and anyone that he had won.  One student just shook his entire body and yelled "FOOOOOOOOD STAMPSSSSSS" for everyone to hear.  It was hilarious.  In all of our classes, we watched President Obama's acceptance speech. I'm not going to lie, the first time I watched it, I teared up when he spoke of Sasha, Malia and Michelle, but so did some of my students. The discussion that followed the speech was almost just as inspiring and motivating.  It was so cool to see the students so passionate and interested in something. They were asking all sorts of questions about the electoral college and how the election process worked.  It made me hopeful for the next election, when these students will exercise their right to vote for the first time. 

As I was watching the speech for the fourth time during 4th block, I was thinking about the next four years. Here's what I came up with....

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations! I'm so excited that you're serving another four years as my president and the president of our country.  I have supported you over the past four years and have been proud of what you have done for our country. As I watched your speech today, the sense of hope and patriotism that I felt four years ago was rekindled.  I hope that you remember what you promised while you were campaigning when you take office.   Your promises resonated with me.  There were so many aspects of my life that I could see being impacted by what you are setting out to do. 

I work in an inner city school where 94% of my students are African American and almost all of them are considered low income.  Their families depend on food stamps and don't receive health care through their job.  They'll need as many scholarships and financial aid as they can get if and when they decide to go to college.  This being said, these students are some of the most inspiring, intelligent and toughest people I've ever met.  They deserve the same opportunities I had growing up in a white middle class neighborhood.  I hope your promises about education, health care and welfare become more than just promises and become reality. 

I'm also a woman.  I believe I deserve the same pay as a male doing the same work as I am. I believe that I should have the right to choose.  I don't believe that someone else should be making decisions about my body.  I hope that you keep women like your wife and your daughters in mind as you influence decisions about women.

You should also know that there someone I care about deeply who is serving our country.  He left for a six month deployment on a submarine the day before you were re-elected.  I hope that, when you are making decisions about when and where to send troops, you think of them as people and not just as troops.  I hope you not only consider the impact they'll have overseas, but also the impact having them overseas has on their families and friends in the United States. I am so proud of our troops for what they are doing and can't wait for each of them to return home safely.

Last, I hope that you continue to support gay rights.  I have two uncles who are lucky enough to have found each other.  The fact that they can't marry in some states baffles me.  I care about them so much and believe they deserve the same rights as my married parents. I feel like it's unfair to deny them benefits based on their gender.  It's the same as denying someone benefits based on the color of their skin.  I have faith that you will continue creating opportunities for people like my uncles.

Thank you for your dedication and service to our country.  I am so proud to be an American and to have you as my president. I know that the next four years will be challenging for you and your administration, but I believe in you and support you whole heartedly. Congratulations again on a successful campaign.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Santa Train and Election Day

It's been a pretty eventful week so far, which has been really nice.  Yesterday was a tough day because Mike left for deployment.  Luckily, I had a long day with a lot of things to keep me preoccupied. The kids were pretty good today.  I was really tired and they could tell.  They have no problem telling you when you look tired, are having a bad hair day, etc.   Heaven forbid you tell them they aren't looking 100%, though. They'd probably never talk to you again.  After school, we went to CSX to help stuff a train full of toys for kids in the Appalachian Mountains.  All of the toys we were loading were in different colored duffel bags based on age and gender and we were just hanging them on these huge hooks on the walls of the train.  They would dump huge boxes of these duffel bags onto the train and we'd hang fifteen bags on each hook.  It was like four hours of an assembly line type deal. It was pretty fun.  After we were done, we went out to dinner with the people from CSX and a few people from City Year's  HQ that were here for the service project.  It was a lot of fun.  I realized how small of a world it was when there was a CSX employee who lives here in Jacksonville who went to JMU!! So exciting! As if that wasn't enough, she is from the same small town in West Virginia where I went to camp for six years. Not only that, but a  woman from HQ in Boston knew of the camp and had a friend who's daughter went there.  The camp literally has 200 campers all summer, so it's super small in this tiny West Virginia town.  Such a weird, but cool coincidence!  I was super excited about it all. Anyways, dinner was a ton of fun and made it worth it to be "working" for 15 hours.  

I was at the office today since it was Tuesday.  I had a decent amount of work to do, but by mid afternoon, I was done with basically all of it.  Joe was there in the afternoon and all of the staff left for meetings and such, so it was very relaxed.  We stalked a few future corps members on Facebook and did some random things around the office, but it was very laid back.  I went to yoga for the first time in almost two weeks and it felt so good.  We're now sitting at home watching the election news and anxiously awaiting the results. I'm so glad that I have room mates who agree with my political views.  It makes this whole voting season immensely easier. I also am excited that Virginia is a swing state. It's so exciting knowing that my vote actually counts, even if it was mailed in two weeks early. Regardless of who you voted for, I hope you voted.  We are so lucky to live in a country where we have a say in how our country is run.  Some people are not as fortunate.  I hope that, regardless of the weather, how long the lines were and despite the long to-do list you had, you waited in line and cast your vote because it is truly an honor and a privilege.

Happy election day!

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” 
― Barack Obama