May 22, 2012

Oh, Brothers

Levi most assuredly loves his brother, but it is definitely in his two-and-a-half-year-old way. That means, he likes to love on his terms. Like this:

Note how tightly he is holding Shields' hand.

And when Shields tries to reciprocate in his five-and-a-half-month-old way, Levi does not take to him very kindly. Like this:

But that's fine for Shields because he is just as content with his foot as he is with his brother.

However, I do draw the line at using your brother as a dumping site. 

May 21, 2012

The Room with a View

For most of March and April, the view out of Levi's room looked like this:

I just love that dogwood tree, and sometimes it just didn't seem fair that such a wee person had such a stunning view while I am sleeping in the basement. But when I get to look at this wee person's sweet face, I get quite a stunning view, too. 

So, it's all even in the end.

May 8, 2012

Thank You

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, something I learned via Facebook. In my mind, being a teacher is a lot like being a nurse. It's a very noble profession in our culture. We think of teachers as kind-hearted, inspiring folks who want to make a difference. Any many of them do.

Of course, like nurses, there are also bad teachers. Some realized long ago they cannot change anything and therefore stopped trying. Some treat their second experience in the classroom as an extension of their own experience as students and perpetuate divisive, childish behavior. Some are too stuck in their ways to care about whether or not they are effective. Some abuse their position to harass students (and decorate their classrooms with University of Florida colors).

And then there are some teachers who are just good teachers. They want students to understand the material, try to communicate the importance of the subject matter, and stick with students until they get it. It's those teachers that I want to thank, right now, by name.

Mrs. Riggan - My first grade teacher encouraged me to work hard and applauded my success. She also perceived that perfectionism threatened to choke my talent, even at age 6. I remember sobbing with frustration because I couldn't trace my R's just right, and when I admitted to her that I had failed to complete my worksheet in the allotted time (and ought to have missed recess as punishment), she looked at my paper and said, "Megan, you erase too much." She helped me finish the worksheet with less erasing and encouraged me to enjoy recess.

Ms. Klose - My eighth grade English teacher who seemed so cool because she had attended Rutgers and had a New Jersey accent (seriously). She gave us creative writing assignments and encouraged us to connect classical music with our emotions. No one else in the class seemed to enjoy these assignments, but I did, and they lit my imagination.

Mr. Burk - My band director in middle school. In reality, our rag tag band probably wasn't that great, but Mr. Burk treated us like we were absolutely amazing. He took us to competitions in Orlando every year, and when we did well, he beamed with pride for us. 

Dr. Zellefrow - My 9th grade history teacher. She had a doctorate and chose to teach 15 year olds. That in itself is awesome.

Mrs. Fleming - My Algebra II teacher wanted me to get it. Math was not my strength, but I did try. Mrs. Fleming saw that, and she patiently helped me in her tutoring sessions. While she was rigid and monotone in front of the class, in tutoring she displayed uncharacteristic warmth and enthusiasm.

Mr. Whittacre - Mr. Whittacre taught the 9th and 10th grade band, but because of the nature of marching band, he taught many musicians all the way through high school. He retired at the end of my senior year, and as a retirement gift, I encouraged my classmates to write down memories of Mr. Whittacre that I compiled into a scrapbook for him. The other band directors were astounded that a student would come up with this idea, but to me it seemed clear that after years of teaching, Mr. Whittacre deserved it.

 My 11th and 12th grade math teacher - Sadly, I have forgotten this woman's name. She was upbeat, patient, and eager to help us see the connection between calculus and the rest of the world. Her class was not my first choice for my senior year, but in the end, I was very glad I took it.

Ms. Meute - Ms. Meute taught AP British Literature, and she and Deb Hall are the two main reasons I studied English at Grove City. Never had I seen a teacher with such unbridled enthusiasm for the material, and I loved it. She was one of the first people to make me feel that it was OK to love literature, and I have loved it ever since. 

Mrs. Hall - Coach Deb Hall was the coach of my 9th grade (UNDEFEATED) volleyball team. Because of her day job as a guidance counselor, she was an amazing coach. She utilized the team's assets in creative ways, but I have never felt so loved by someone who was yelling at me. And when I told her I wanted to major in communication at Grove City, she said, "Don't do that!!" "But I want to be a journalist," I said. "Every dumb jock who wants to be a sportscaster is going to major in communication," she explained. "If you want to write, at least major in English. But don't do communication!" So English it was...until I added communication. It was a great choice.

Dr. Dan(n) Brown - Most of my Grove City College professors were outstanding, so it's not that some were head and shoulders above others. But Dr. Brown taught so many of my classes, especially toward the end of my time at GCC, and he did a great job of balancing teaching with mentoring. He added an extra "n" to his nickname to help distinguish himself from the author of The DaVinci Code. He could get off topic in ways that led him to share from his personal experiences in grad school. He could tease students in a way that never felt like an abuse of power, and while he could be casual, he never abdicated control of the classroom to the students. And perhaps most importantly, he clearly articulated the value of studies in communication. He saw his job as a communication professor as preparing students for the workforce, certainly, but also helping them connect their faith and their learning. He wanted us to learn, and then act on what we learned. And not just be dumb jock sportscasters.

To all these teachers and the many more who encouraged and applauded me (and gave me A's), thanks. Your job is not easy, but you made a difference for me.

What about you? Who was/were the teacher(s) who you still appreciate today?