Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fourth Grade is an interesting beast. If you don't say something just right, they won't listen and if you say it with the wrong tone, they'll laugh at you. These are all the things I found out in my first few weeks of co-teaching fourth grade. Now don't worry, things have gotten a lot better since then. You see, my Cooperating Teacher is magic. Have you ever tried learning magic? If you have, you know it doesn't come easily at first. It takes practice... lots and lots of practice. If I had a dollar for every time a fellow teacher said, "It just takes time...." well, I'd be making more than I make teaching. I get it. Keep working and the magic will come. The trouble is, I want to have all the magic right this second. I don't want to wait around! I am working hard to learn the tricks of the trade. No power struggles on my watch. Magic is hard to learn but I am learning it and that is enough to put a smile on my face.

All in all, fourth grade has been pretty amazing. Do I still want to teach Kindergarten, ABSOLUTELY. But, for now, I'll take my -in desperate need of deodorant- kiddos. Teaching an upper grade has been a wonderful challenge that is teaching me so many skills that are going to help me be an amazing teacher. Thank you to all of you who have never stopped believing in me and who have helped me get to where I am. I hope to inspire at least one person in my journey and help a kid or two along the way. The hard work is worth it.

Stay strong and keep moving forward.


The Honest Truth

Friday, July 1, 2016

During my last few semesters of undergrad, I met two incredible friends. Over time and and lots of difficult exams, we became great friends. Each of us were very different, but we got along despite that. One difference I want to focus on is our religious views. While I am Christian, another was Jewish, and the other was atheist. We never put each other down because we disagreed with each other, in fact we had engaging conversation about why the other believed what they did. We're all still great friends today.

The reason I tell you this story is to show the fact that people can be different and still be the best of friends. All it takes is respect and the ability to put your differences aside. My friends and I were not trying to get each other to change religions or saying the other was wrong. In fact, we wanted to learn more about each other's views. Embracing each other's differences only strengthened our friendship.

Like my friends and our differences in religion, I may be different than you. I'm gay. Some of you might be shocked and some of you might be thinking, it's about time. Hopefully you're still with me.

I am sure some of you want an explanation. I have been trying to come to terms with this for a very long time. I have always been afraid of losing those I love due to our differences in opinion. I am at a point in my life where I have researched the subject and am comfortable with myself and my relationship with God.

I hope you are able to see I am still the individual I was before you read this post. I am still a Christian, an Educator, and an Adventurer. If you are not okay with this piece of my life, that is fine. I am not asking you to change your core beliefs. Just like my friends from school, I hope we can respect each other, put our differences aside, and continue growing our relationship.

The Beauty of Together

Saturday, June 25, 2016

It is no secret that I love Disney World. Interventions have been in the works a time or two.
Give me a chance to explain myself, or at least hear me out on just one of the thousands of reasons I love Disney World so much.


Disney World brings people together. Families, friends, honeymooners... they all go to Disney World to spend time together. Together is not something we get to be a whole lot anymore. Disney allows us to forget about the stresses of reality and simply be a kid again. We can focus on what is truly important to us.

I want to take this a step further.
Disney World allows us to spend time with more than just those we know. When you enter Disney World, you enter a world full of diversity. People come from all over the world to enjoy the magic. So, not only do you get to spend time together with your loved ones, you also get to spend it together with an enormous amount of people who may be just like you or absolutely nothing like you, and what a beautiful thing that is. Let me put it this way:

At the end of the day (at whatever park you're at - I'm going to say Magic Kingdom because it's my favorite) at the Magic Kingdom, the streets become filled with people. Everyone gathers in one central location - right in front of Cinderella Castle. At this point, all people can think about is claiming the best spot to watch fireworks. Everyone is hot and tired and maybe a little grumpy. As soon as the lights dim and the music starts, something amazing happens. Every single person's attention is on the castle as Wishes begins and all their frustrations disappear. To me, this is the real magic of Disney. Watching thousands of people stand together to watch a beautiful display of fireworks set to a soundtrack that truly makes you believe all your dreams can come true.

Let me bring back that word, together. Everyone is together enjoying the magic. It doesn't matter where you come from, what race you are, what religion you are, what gender you identify with, what political party you side with, what your sexuality is, what language you speak, etc. During those 12 minutes we are one and what a beautiful thing that is. No labels, just a bunch of people enjoying the moment.

Hopefully you're still with me and you were able to understand why moments like this are important. Why keep putting each other down? If someone is different than you, that's okay. You won't change the world by being negative. Celebrate diversity and start each day with a smile. Above all, love.

Grad School

Monday, May 9, 2016

I sit here at my desk downing rice cakes (I don't think they're healthy when you scarf down 5 in a row) when I glance up at my calendar, only to realize I begin grad school classes in two weeks from today.

Grad school.
Those words are still peculiar to me.. at least when I am saying them in regards to me.
Just 8 short months ago I was confused and in the dark about what to do with my life; and suddenly, here I am registered for 7 classes between now and December. Once I start, I don't stop until next summer.

(10 weeks of summer classes, 4 days a week, 4.5 hours each.
16 weeks of fall classes, 3 days a week, about 3 hours each.
16 weeks of a spring class, once a week, while student teaching.)

Assistant Teacher + (above equation) = Teacher

I cannot wait to be a full-time teacher. Teaching as a Permanent Sub in Kindergarten has taught me so much. I am still learning more and more every day and falling more and more in love with teaching. I know the year ahead will be tough but so rewarding. I plan to do my best to change the life of every student that walks into my classroom.

Once employed as a teacher, I will have 12 more hours of online course work. My goal is to complete this by Spring 2018 when I will graduate with my Masters Degree. (That's also really weird to say)

Thank you to all who have supported me in this journey. So many of you have helped guide me to this point in my life. I hope to change lives and have a positive impact on my students, just like so many people have done for me.

Losing Myself There to Find Myself Here

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Life has a tendency to throw a curve ball our way from time to time.
I like to think of these as opportunities to grow but that is easier said than done.
It is easy to become negative and distraught when we face unexpected difficulties and that my friends, is exactly what happened to me.

A few months ago I embarked on what was supposed to be a 9 month journey in Sydney, Australia.
Clearly, I am not there. I am here, living happily in Charlotte, North Carolina. So, what happened?

To answer that question I am going to start way back in the early months of 2015. Somewhere around that time I decided to continue my career as an Outdoor Educator at YMCA Camp Hanes. When I returned to camp I had no idea I would be put in a role that would really allow me to grow. As the only returning OE from the previous season, I was faced with the challenge to lead. Being a leader is honestly something I have struggled with in the past. By the end of the season my skills had grown a tremendous amount, allowing me to land the position of Climber Leader for the summer months.

In this position I was able to use my new found confidence to lead counselors through a summer of camp. This was hands down the hardest work I have ever done. I truly enjoyed getting to help counselors create an incredible camp experience for their kids. While I am thankful for the work I was able to do, I felt that something was missing. As I reviewed the summer's happenings I realized that in this leadership role I was working much more with counselors than campers. I took a good look at the career path I was on and came to understand that if I continued at camp, I would continue to have less direct time working with kids.

Even with this new realization, I was still headed off to Australia to work at camp. I brushed it off by telling myself it will be fine because it is Australia and I have always wanted to travel. I stuck to my original plans and before I knew it I was on another continent. While there, everything seemed to fall apart at a rapid pace. I never felt at home. I felt like something was wrong, like something was missing. I realized I had put myself in a position that was exactly what I had just decided I wanted to move away from. I felt lost and confused. It felt as though my entire life was falling apart. It was as though the rug had been yanked out from under my feet and I was lying there with no sense of direction. To put it simply, I had completely lost myself.

Deciding to return home was a decision that brought on a lot of self blame. What would people think of me? I barely lasted a week and to the outside world it looked as if it were all sunshine and rainbows. It was an incredibly difficult situation I had found myself in and navigating my way through it seemed impossible. I made it home. I was a mess. I managed to pull together a tentative plan that got me to Charlotte, NC. I quickly came to the conclusion that teaching may be a better career path for me. I landed a job and found an apartment. A little while later I accepted another position as a Teacher Assistant in first grade. This job has truly allowed me to see that I absolutely do want to teach.

My life has been a constant continuance of planning since I got back. It has been stressful but each day gets a little bit easier as I make progress towards my future. I now have a clear pathway towards my future endeavors. I plan to attend UNCC and obtain my teaching certificate and masters degree in elementary education.

I have once again found myself. I have a career goal, I have a future. I am also living out a dream I have always had. I am living in a large city, something I have dreamed of since I was a kid. While the constant planning continues, I am starting to be able to enjoy living in Charlotte. I can honestly say I am happy here. I cannot say I saw this change coming but I am glad it did.

Like I said before, I like to think of the obstacles in our life as opportunities to grow. I feel as though I have done just that. As much as it pains me to say this, I have grown up. Now do not get the wrong idea, my life motto is still, "never grow up" but I am learning how to implement that lifestyle even with my newfound responsibilities. I feel as though everything that has happened in my life up to this point has truly prepared me for the journey I am about to begin. I am excited and ready to move forward with my life.

As I move towards tomorrow, I am putting the past to rest. I do not regret going to or leaving Australia. It was an incredible experience and I am finally learning the life lessons the trip had in store for me. Sometimes we must lose ourself to find ourself. While the last few months have been incredibly tough, I am so thankful for the bumps along the way. I am standing strong now. I am ready for life's next big journey. I will never grow up and I will do my best to always have fun no matter what curve balls life throws at me.

I am strong. I am brave. I am courageous. I am enough.
It is time to live out my dreams and I will go through whatever challenges I must to do so.


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