Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cone of Concern

We’re in the cone of concern in one update, and out of the cone of concern in the next.  Get your food supplies, clear the yard of debris, and don’t forget to gas up the vehicle.  Check, check, and check.  What’s your homeowner’s insurance say about weather damage?  Now is the perfect time to read up on the small print.  Did we cover it all?  Not even close, there’s still the matter of windows, pets, and games in case of power outage.

There’s so much to worry about when you’re an adult.  I’ve been a lifelong Florida resident, and at no time in those previous years did I worry so much about being prepared.  Part of my inattention to hurricane preparedness has to do with my lack awareness (read youth) and the other reason is my lack of family obligations.  Those two reasons are out the window now, and I’ve been feeling the effects of the cone of concern these last few days.

I recall experiencing hurricane Andrew 20 years ago.  I was seven years old at the time and I didn’t have any worries about Andrew.  As a matter of fact, I recall enjoying that night as several of my family members stayed together and there wasn’t any school the next day.  We watched T.V. until the power went out and then board games until we fell asleep.  The next day I helped clean up outside the house and we were much more fortunate than those who took the brunt of that storm.

Since Andrew I’ve been through the hurricanes of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Most notable were the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, when I at Florida Atlantic University numerous class days were cancelled and power was out for an equal amount of time.  I was living life as a young adult at the time, not much holding me down other than what could fit into my truck.  In fact, I recall a great road trip in 2005 to Gainesville, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville that was a direct result of hurricane Wilma.  When south Florida lost power, a buddy and I hoped in the car and were welcomed in by friends in those cities.

Much has changed since those days.  To pick up and leave now requires a full on mobilization, with two adults, two kids under the age of four, and three dogs to worry about.  Not to mention the house, vehicles, and other sentimental valuables that makes up my family’s collective memory.  A hurricane in years past meant worrying about where the ubiquitous hurricane party was at.  Now a hurricane, or even tropical depression, means no less than gathering all the supplies on our list.

I’m not complaining at all, I know my family and I have been graced by God many times over during hurricane seasons past.  I’m just realizing the differences in life that come with having more responsibilities.  It also makes me feel good to know that I’m doing everything needed to fulfill those responsibilities.  Be safe out there and take all those warnings seriously, no matter what the cone of concern says.

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Filed under General Interest, life, reflection

A New School Year Means…

Around the country, schools are either in the first weeks of a new academic year or anxiously awaiting their students’ arrival.  It’s an exciting and nervous time for everyone involved, from the child just beginning kindergarten to the senior wondering what’s next.  Parents and teachers too are experiencing various levels of anticipation as each looks forward to what’s ahead.  This is a great time of year for people around the country, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’m beginning this school year with a mix of emotions as I’m going to be in both the shoes of a parent and teacher.  Right now I’m feeling the calm before the party (I like positive euphemisms), the pre-jitters are in effect as I type.  The school that I teach at begins the school year on this coming Monday, and I find myself wrapped up in the idea of the positive impact that a teacher can have in a child’s life.  I’m sure we all recall our favorite teacher, the one who made learning exciting and relevant.  I seek to be that teacher, the one who has high expectations of students and does everything possible to get them to reach them.

I believe that teaching is one of the most honorable professions any society, especially as it is the only profession that truly influences every other.  I also recognize that it isn’t easy to be a teacher, especially considering that you can do everything possible and due to circumstances beyond your classroom, a child can still not succeed.  In those situations the profession can feel gloomy, filled with the air of hopelessness.  It pains me to think about a possible moment in the future when I have a student who has all the ability and potential in the world, but does not succeed because of choices and decisions made by adults at home.

I enter this new journey in my life with my eyes open to all possibilities, but my focus is on my ability to foster learning in my classroom.  My approach to everyday is centered on two words: Faith and Attitude.  I believe that I’ve been given all that I need to succeed, and those things that are beyond my reach are the in hands of my Creator.  I approach each day with the belief that my attitude enhances opportunities and proves negativity negligible.  I’m all in with my effort each day and I pray that I’m in a position to stir up learning in young people.

But I also believe I’m not alone in my feelings, there are many other teachers out there who feel exactly like I do.  If you’re one of those parents that will be putting your child on the bus soon, then feel comfort in knowing that teachers care just as much as you.  If you are one of those teachers out there wondering what your students will be like, then know that they need you to bring your best effort each day.  Take it from me, a person that is both a teacher and a parent, no matter what role you play in a child’s life always consider it the most important thing you are doing.  We are in this together, and that’s the only way we can ever succeed.

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Filed under education, life, Native American

Dreaming About Teaching

A few nights ago I was dreaming about teaching. It was a vivid dream and it had me waking up with a wave of excitement. In the dream it was the first day of school, my students were coming into my room and I was teaching them history. This is easily the best dream I’ve had in a while.

I started down the path towards becoming a professional educator about a year ago. The genesis of my journey was my job at the Miami Dade College (MDC) Single Stop Program. I arrived at MDC via the national service program AmeriCorps VISTA with the purpose of fulfilling a passion of working with at risk communities. That passion was definitely nurtured by the many opportunities the Single Stop program offered, and by far my greatest memory, aside from meeting and helping many students, is the staff at the program.

One of the opportunities I had was going into classrooms across three separate MDC campuses and speak with students about the Single Stop program and its benefits to them. Over the course of my year at MDC I became familiar with several of the professors, having visited their classrooms numerous times. The experience of being the classroom, combined with several conversations I had with different professors, opened my eyes towards the possibility of becoming a teacher. Thus when my AmeriCorps year ended in January of this year, I began teaching at MDC as well as Broward College.

I taught Public Speaking and Intro to Communication during the spring semester and LOVED IT! The material, the students, and the learning process were a revelation to me. I became enthralled with it all, but I also found myself feeling like I didn’t have enough time with the students. I would only see them twice a week, but I felt a nudge inside telling me that I wanted more. Before the semester was finished I decided that I wanted to teach grade level students, and so I set to work determining what would have to be done to do it.

Becoming a teacher in Florida for people who did not graduate college with a teaching degree is not an easy process. If you want to know more about it click here. I’ve passed my General Knowledge test and I’m enrolling in the Educator Preparation Institute at Broward College to fulfill other requirements listed in my Florida Department of Education Statement of Status letter. There are also two more exams, the subject area and professional, which I must pass before earning my professional license. There’s a lot to accomplish, but I believe that great things begin with a dream and determination. I’ve had the determination, and now I’ve had the dream!

Blog Note: It’s been a while since my last posting. This has occurred for several reasons, the first being that internet connectivity on the Big Cypress reservation is tenuous at best. When a storm comes rolling through, as happens often during the summer months, you can expect the internet to be down for day, if not more. The second is that I took my honeymoon during the month of May, and a family trip to Oklahoma during the month of June. These two trips were both tremendous for what I was able to see and experience, but also for the amount of energy and time they took up. The third reason was my volunteering during July at a summer camp in Moore Haven, FL. This was a part of the Summer Food Service Program I wrote about before. The last and most significant reason is that my family, at the end of May, took in a five month old foster child. I’ll elaborate on this more later, but I’ll say now that taking in this child has been a rewarding time for my family. He is a wonderful boy, full of life and laughter. It has also been an adjustment for all of us, my wife, my son, and I. Diapers, formula, teething, sleepless nights, and even a trip to the ER, these last few months have been chock full of newness for us all.

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Filed under americorps VISTA, education