In solidarity with back-to-school students around the US., here’s my obligatory piece on what I did this summer and one thing I learned from each experience. (In bullet form, so I won’t bore you with too much detail!)
- Visited Family: We flew to Florida to see brother Matt and lovely wife Lori. I loved walking on Madeira Beach. We also drove to Vermont from NC to see the kids, their significant others, and THE grandson before I left for the UK (please be sure to read #6, which made that trip moot – FUN, but moot.) I also drove to WV after my summer job ended to say goodbye to my mom, who introduced me to everyone we met in the entire state as a Fulbright recipient. (Which led to a speaking invitation upon my return, so…YAY!) What I learned: From my grandson- he said, “Good job, Pépé!” Cheering people on when trying new things makes hearts feel warm. There was even more driving and flying, some of which was a surprise. (Again, see #6 )
- Kenan Fellowship: I was chosen, fortunately, as a Kenan Fellow Award recipient by NC State University’s Kenan Institute and Ply Gem. This Program for Teacher Leadership choses educators from around the state to work with local industries and bring their learning into the classroom. What I Learned: Interviewing CAN be fun when you are relaxed, prepared, and qualified. With the award came an excellent professional development experience…see next point.
- Kenan Fellow Professional Development at Cullowhee: Held at NCCAT Cullowhee, a week of workshops and meetings, polishing teaching skills. The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching is truly one of the best things about the state. If you care about education, this is a great place to donate! They show teachers respect. The mountains of NC are beautiful and offers whitewater rafting, which we tried. I made it to the last rapid without falling out – and only didn’t then because a quick thinking teacher grabbed my lifejacket and saved me from the watery depths. What I learned: Great teachers love sharing their amazing ideas and do it well. After learning about project based learning, connected with tech, and understanding learning styles, it was time to dive into my corporate work. On to PLY GEM at #4…
- Ply Gem – My Kenan Fellow internship at Ply Gem, a leader in external building material products was an amazing experience. First of all a big thanks to Lee Clark-Sellers and her team who included me from the start, assigning me two interesting projects at their Insight Center – the R&D portion of their company. What I learned: Combining a team of engineers from different disciplines in product innovation takes cooperation for the project to succeed, which helps inform they way I structure project learning in my classroom. ALSO; The projects I worked on with the impact of humidity, along with reflectivity in roofing will become learning units for students.
- Extreme Weather – Another professional development NCCAT workshop, this time at the Ocracoke campus was provided to the Beulah P. Whichard scholarship. She was a respected educator and her son created this funding in her honor and memory. My father, a meteorologist, would be so proud of this connection to weather, as well as the honor of the award. What I learned: Creating interdisciplinary units weaving science and English with historical weather events can be a challenge, but its an enjoyable one. I’m excited to share my ideas for student learning in a future post, as I like the complexity of it, as well as the practicality. It was while I was at Ocracoke a life-changing event occurred….see #6
- The BIG Move – While I was in Ocracoke, my husband was flown for an interview with an international chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, with a branch in Vermont. He was quickly offered the job of plant controller and a week later we were flying to find a home there. The day after we returned from VT to NC, the movers arrived! WHEW! That was the quickest move I’ve seen. They were eager to have him start right away and he was so fortunate in getting an offer from such an amazing corporation. And anyone who knows me KNOWS I adore chocolate. Now we are in the same state as our children, their partners, and my favorite (only) grandson.
- Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Award – This particular adventure will continue throughout the fall term into January as I research education at the University of Nottingham in England. As I sit 3,000 miles across the sea from my family, friends, and students, I am still in disbelief I was chosen. It’s real, though. I hear it in the church bells ringing across the square, in the lilt of the voices, in the clicking of my heels on the cobblestones. These sounds remind me of what I’ve learned: Dreams do come true.