Sunday, April 29, 2012


What a crazy week! Week nothing... April was too full to manage well!

On top of everything, I tried to update firefox and lost it since I have an older mac. Nuts! All those bookmarks, gone. Oh well... first-world problem, as my students like to say.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Spring Break Bliss

I have always been a big Spring Break fan. I think students and teachers need this week more than any holiday time of the year, except Christmas break, of course. However, this year it has meant even more to me for several reasons.

First, I've been fighting a silly virus since December 26th. Before anyone rags on me about going to the doctor (because I never do that) I have been twice, and the second time he told me that there was really nothing anyone could do. Evidently this virus has hit Thurston County with a vengeance and is showing no signs of letting up!

Second, changing schools has been a lot of work. I don't mind the work, and I am loving the change, but I was quite ready for some rest. Traditionally I don't count the days left in school until after break but the last couple of years, I counted them out well beforehand. This year I didn't even think about the number of days left until it was time to prepare lesson plans for the week after break. I realized then that I needed to plan backwards. I don't know if anyone else does this, but as the year comes to an end, I recognize that there isn't enough time to do everything I'd like to do so I plan backwards. I literally plan the last week of classes and move backwards from that point. For me, it is the only way to guarantee that I can finish those end-of-the-year novel studies on time. And yes, I always end with a novel study. Brit Lit will do two next quarter: Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis and Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. We'll end with PP just because it's such fun. Honors American Lit will also do two studies: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig. We'll end with WS as it is more entertaining than Gatsby. It's been twelve years since I read Gatsby so I re-read it during break. Oh yes... lots to dig into with this book! My American Lit classes will also read Gatsby but will end the year with a short story unit that we will do in stations. I haven't figured it all out, but I want the year to end by doing fun things in literature, and these classes are less interested in working than the others, hence the gimmick of stations. All that aside, this has been a great third quarter, and I love being back in high school. Nothing is more fun than teaching students who want to learn more, think deeply, and pursue excellence.

Last, my brother's girlfriend died the 24th from brain cancer. It was an awful way to go into break, but her memorial service was the Saturday after the last day of class. Denice was an amazing woman who loved her children, my brother, and the Lord with all there was of her. She literally changed my brother's life. Fifteen or sixteen months ago, Denice moved into my brother's house with her then 15-year-old son. She was not Jeff's girlfriend at the time, just a friend faced with homelessness due to a traumatic medical crisis. Jeff lives alone in a huge, gorgeous 5000-square-foot house in the historic district of our capital city. When Denice started planning for her future without a home, Jeff offered her the right side of his house. During the following months, they slowly, thoroughly developed a love for each other that was tested like nothing I've seen in a long time. Jeff waited on her with compassion and gentleness that he has never shown to anyone before, other than our father when he was at the end of his life. As Denice took her final breaths, Jeff held her face in his hands and gently told her to move on to heaven. I was the one my brother turned to for help understanding how to face this end, deal with family members, and plan a memorial service. As he spoke at her service, I sat amazed at this brother of mine. He never speaks for anything. This was so far outside his comfort zone that it might as well have been in another universe of life. Denice's two children (21 and 17) and her 30-something stepdaughter were supposed to share but none were capable of doing it. That left Jeff to be the one who really made Denice live before our eyes. He was brilliant, and I was so proud of him. Spring Break allowed me to be available to help wrap up the details of a life well-lived and support the one who loved her so deeply.

And now... the last quarter awaits. Actually, we are already a full week into fourth quarter. There are 43 school days left; we have May 4th and Memorial Monday off and will end school with graduation on June 8th. I will be glad for my summer break to rest, take a class or two, and plan for the next year!