Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Stroll Begins

I made the first leg of my summer  strolls across the Roanoke area.  Today, just to get things working properly again,  I took the Northside/Countryside 3.687 mile jaunt.  My body was rusty and to be honest the chaffing  was almost unbearable,  but I persevered.

I plan on walking each day this week and then pop down to Emerald Isle for some fishing and beach strolling.  Perhaps 20-25 miles are in the works.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Today was the last day of a difficult school year.  Change is always hard, but when you group change with increased expectations and altered variables, you form something formidable.  My year has been intense and way too fast-paced.  At times I felt as if I was the Coyote spinning my heels while chasing the Road Runner.

Then Ted (not his real name) entered my life.

He came to my Math class from parts unknown in time for the last nine weeks of the school year.  He immediately impressed me with his ability to relate to adults and with his academic potential, but he was seriously behind his peers.  I surmised that he simply had never been in a position where he could excel academically.

In late April, I brought in several trays of tomato seedlings.  Each Math student in my class was allowed to adopt one and then spend two weeks talking to it, breathing on it, and measuring it. Our experiment proved that when kids talk to tomatoes, plant growth is stunted- except for Ted's plant.

At the end of the experiment, the children were allowed to adopt their plant or choose another from my vast collection of tomato seedlings and take them home to plant. Ted traded his plant  in for a cool variety called, Black Zebra.

A couple of weeks later, Ted brought his Black Zebra back in to school.  He was so proud of its growth.  He wanted to show it to me and wanted my advice on how to keep it healthy and growing.  A week later, Ted brought the Zebra in again.  Once again,  I gave him some advice.  When the kids saw his plant,  they were in awe.  It was beautiful in its expanded pot.

I thought of Ted this morning as I was going in to work.  Yesterday,  he asked me what he needed to do with his plant to keep it healthy.  I told him that it needed some excellent potting soil and needed to be moved to a larger container-like a 5-gallon bucket.  You see, Ted lives in Section-8 housing.  He's on an upper floor in his apartment complex.  So this morning,  I decided to bring Ted a bag of my best potting soil (Big Lots Pro-Mix $5.00...seriously).

To my surprise,  Ted brought his tomato in once again to show me.  He carried it on his crowded bus and made sure it was safe.  When he brought it to me this morning,  he was beaming.  It truly is an outstanding plant- full, green...very healthy.  This gave me an opportunity to talk to him about long-term care.  For example, I showed him where the "suckers" are and how to take them off.  He was blown away when I told him that the tomato suckers could be rooted to form new plants that would also produce tomatoes.

My neighbor teacher suggested that he get some support for the tomato.  So we worked on that project.  Honestly,  helping Ted with his tomato meant the world to me.  It validated what I've always believed about teaching.

Teaching is NOT a single assessment on a random day in May.  Rather,  it's the live connection you make with each  individual student on a daily basis.    If you aren't doing aren't  teaching.

My prayer is that Ted takes the sense of accomplishment,  knowledge, and joy  he gained from our tomato project and parlay that into something positive for himself in the future.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Aren't We All?

School is winding down.  There is just too much to do.  So much that my brain can't get around it all.