Friday, August 26, 2011

I value you.

Happy Friday!

Reporting live from the kitchen table. The students have had the last two days off - so coincidentally coinciding with the Zuni Festival - and we got released a little early from our professional development sessions today. So, I find myself at home a little before 3 on a Friday. Sweet. Sweet.
I plan to clean, explore the festival, love up Checkers, and create my detailed weekly LPs before jetting off to Pojoaque for most of the weekend. After this post, you may understand my need for a little vacation.

The work week itself went well! The batch of personal essays (with a first draft, peer comments, and a paragraph written about its style) about overcoming a challenge turned in by my squirrel nuts were GREAT. Highlights were essays about going to state in the discus, placing third in cross country, and the quest to successfully cook pancakes.
Tuesday I found out during Journalism that our technology - particularly our laptop carts - is impossible to deal with. So they had to handwrite their first drafts while I scurried about from library to front office to phone to the recalcitrant laptops. All but one refused even to log on. I hooked up the working comp to the projector I checked out, only to have it read neither my DVD nor the projector attachment. SO my juniors got to watch me Vanna White the "Avatar" trailer around the room. As I had a sub for my last two junior classes (more profdev yet!), I had to create something that was engaging yet easy to facilitate. So, I gave them an outline and told them to argue that "Avatar" is a better contemporary connection to the exploration narrative than the Mars Rover. I have yet to read the essays, but at first glance they seem encouraging.

Wednesday was quite the day. First of all, it was a 1/2 day - so our 54-minute classes were further truncated to 39 minutes. The sophomores were slapped on the wrists for not reading "The Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" and sent home with an adaptation assignment and a hefty chunk of reading in Fahrenheit 451. It was fun, however, because I used "The Edge of the Sea" as an excerpt on how to properly write a screenplay. I wrote "The Edge of the Sea" when abroad in Ireland, and it was delightful to have my Sinead read by Savannah, my Jimmy by Carlan.
Journalism was whipped a bit into shape by a voting on our paper's name, "The T-Bird Times," and by having to turn in a first draft of the gas leak article by the end of the period. Their assignment? Writing a first draft of an article of the Zuni Fair. One student asked if she could interview a carny. God, I hope she does!
I got a bit of a slap in the face when my 6th-hour juniors walked in and informed me that the sub had not, in fact, followed my meticulously-drawn-up notes. She had to show them the "Avatar" trailer twice and tell them where to find the Mars Rover piece in their books. That's it. Wanna know what she did instead? She had them sit quietly while she ignored all my directions and looked up "zuni jewelry." I know this detail because she left my computer frozen on that page. . .  so 6th and 7th hours were spent frenetically doing make up "Avatar"ing and such. But I still managed to fit in a mini-lesson on there / they're / their. (you wouldn't believe the number of errors attributed to this) I also read two outstanding paragraphs: one a beautifully-detailed vision from the perspective of a Zuni warrior, the other a hilarious parody from the view of one of Coronado's soldiers. "Since we've taught these Indians a new God and new government, I've had time to catch up on my artwork." Priceless. More priceless, however, were the giant grins from my anonymous authors 2nd hour.
When in doubt, read your kids' exceptional work out loud.  It's a beautiful celebratory moment.
So class = great. It was probably helped by the fact that I looked sort of like Sandra Cisneros:
Yes, those are parrot earrings.
My students lavishly complimented my "scarf / poncho / sarape." When they'd ask what exactly it was, I would frankly say, "You know, I think it's a table cloth. But I really wanted to wear it." 
That killed them :)

So Wednesday was also the Family Open House; so I bit the bullet and stayed through from 1-9. Yes, that did mean a 14-hour day at ye olde ZHS. It would've been a fine time - 

However, at about 4.30pm, the librarian came to talk to me. She told me that I should "be careful with that sign on my door." The sign she was referring to, of course, was my "Safe Zone" sign. (that, by the way, has been up since the first day I got my room.) It promises that I am an ally towards all people: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual, and questioning. Furthermore, it says I have resources - if I don't have something, I know who to refer them to. It ends with "I value you."
CLEARLY, this is politically-oriented. Dangerous. Incendiary. Probably obscene.
Fortunately, when I showed her that it's just a Safe Space - that I want my kids to feel loved and safe at school - we had a productive conversation. She told me about all the graphic novels in our library. I think we made peace. 
Then the vice principal showed up. Direct quote:
Ms. ______: Yeah, you need to take this down.
Ms. Hudson (me) : With all due respect, Vice Principal _____, why?
She couldn't say. Suffice it to say we had an offensive (to me) but very reserved / controlled conversation. She said - of course! - she had no problem with "it," with "them," but these things should not be in writing. I politely argued that if they were not, our kids would not know they were true. She conceded; she said that people would "be offended" but she couldn't see anything wrong with it. She said it was not what she expected from what "people" had said; but she said I absolutely needed to pass it by Principal H__. Also, I had to get our principal's approval of ANY letters I send home.
You can imagine I was feeling rather safe, having been reported for gay propaganda in my second week of teaching.
After she left, I broke down. Sad Sandra Cisneros running crying down the hall! Fortunately, my fellow TFA-er and friend, Mr. S., took me in a big hug and made me feel like I was in a "safe space" again. I took a big breath, went back to my room, and wrote Principal H____ a letter (he wasn't in his office). I delivered it. Then, I put on Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" as loud as it would. And hell, I decorated:

I may be an "urban disease," but at least I have the coolest-looking room in the school.

But the rest of Wednesday was great! Actually. I met 11 families of students and they were all lovely people. Their kids are fun variations of them.
That evening my principal came and talked me. He told me I was "fine," and that I hadn't done a thing wrong. If he could have any complaint - and he "had to look" for something amiss - it would be to mention other factors: race, ethnicity, etc. I said, "Absolutely, Sir!"
Once I can approach my door without arousing suspicion, I'll take a picture of my door: next to my safe spaces is a pink star. It says: "all races. . . all religions . . . all backgrounds. . . all opinions . . . all dreams! I value you"

Thursday, Bigoted America struck again. This time, unfortunately, it was my chair that came. I choose not to delve fully into the unpleasantries of the conversation. I will say that she claimed that the "single-sex" relationships were quite well-accepted in our community (wrong, at least at ZHS) - but that those relationships were different. "In Zuni culture, friends can kiss each other and it doesn't mean anything. They don't - do - anything!" By putting up a sign, I am introducing a new, "urban," concept to these "naive" kids. 
She conflated it with the recent introduction of GANGS to Zuni. 
Me = "I'm sorry Ms. _____, but are you comparing gang violence to love?"
Her = (shouting) NO!
She said that I would create a situation of intolerance in the school my sign. Because I have it, kids will start saying that "there are faggots in our school and they go to Ms. Hudson's room." 
I think that was about the point where I started crying. And I mean crying. Like, snot, tears, sobs that racked my entire body. I felt actually poisoned, actually hurt by her words.
She tried to comfort me, saying she wasn't trying to upset me; she just wanted to let me know that the administration would be offended. Then she tried to touch me. I was shaking so badly she stopped that. I told her - again, with "all due respect" - that I'm glad she was trying to help but that I needed her to leave me alone. 
She said no. 
I said, "Please leave. Your words hurt me more than you can imagine."
She left. I closed my door, turned off the light, and made my own safe space. 
I spent the day in sessions, trying to blanket myself with other TFA-ers. To be frank, I felt wildly unsafe. 
That afternoon, my principal visited me again. An exhausted, defeated feeling came over me. Then, he said that he wasn't sure if it was appropriate, but if he could he would like to apologize for the way people have been speaking to me. 
What a man.
He said that it's just new to them - he's been having a heck of a time explaining to them that it's a part of a lot of health curricula in the country, that safe spaces are a growing trend in the US. He said that we just needed to have "thick skin" about the whole thing. If anything happened again, I was to tell him. Until then, he told everyone that if they had a problem, they could come speak to him.
I thanked him; I apologized for causing such a problem. 
Principal H_____ = What? Don't apologize. This is in no way your fault.


Epilogue (to this heinously-long post):

Last night, I walked next to the ZHS float in the Zuni Festival Night Parade. I, along with a few faculty and more than a few rowdy kids, walked down 53. We threw candy, we cheered; we were hemmed in by two traditional dance groups. It was like the C'ville Christmas parade meets a powwow. Unreal.
At one point, I heard, "Hudson!"
It was several of my students. They cheered wildly and one said, "I already finished my essay!" I said, "Awesome!" She said, "I'm going to text you." (in response to my no-more-excuses-I-gave-you-my-number-so-call-me convo) I said, "Please do!" 
Also great was meeting Shanice's mom and giving candy to Savannah & Emily E. The former was wearing a box she had painted like a panda. Go figure. 

If I have learned nothing else this week, I know that I am more determined than ever to be a present, active, committed teacher. My kids will succeed because they are excellent and they are safe.
I value them.

-- this post dedicated to Forbes' 11th most influential woman and to Equal. Sometimes I miss you more than I can say.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

magetra cancellata / vittata?

I thought to share the glory of my personal favorite backyard buddy:

She looks fearsome, I know, but she's a herbivore - and we aren't a bad lot, really! (credits to My favorite part of this rather anatomically-bizarre critter is its ambulation. They bustle-waddle-stilt at an improbable and highly-precarious speed. It makes sense why Gallup-ites call them "Football Beetles." Other names have been Red and Black Blister Beetles and Sunday Water-Haulers.
Per the last name, maybe I can conscript them to water our little garden .  . . ?
Off to plan and prep and read.
Over and out!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2 observations, 5 days, 6 hours, 278 pages


I felt obligated to prove that I have survived this first week - and if I dare say, I may have flourished.

Flourished, we must remember, IS a variable term in the desert. Far away are the lands of peaches pulling their green-mahogany branches into Koranic half-bows. Far away the fat tomatoes. Gone are the days of tossed beans to the soil producing a rabid patch of climbers and apaches and pintos and little black turtles. 

But we do have a small line of royal burgundies that, despite the sluicing rain and scorching sun and red dirt made in two layers of dust and hard, have continued to grow. We have our summer squash already getting their adolescent fuzz and spade shaped (if not sized) leaves. This is their Three-Sisters land, after all.

And that is how my week has gone. I have grown, sent my tendrils on strange new earth - set my voice to new vocal rigor. 

It is sore from raising it in enthusiasm and passion in class discussion: 
Me = So, if that's what being in a museum means, what does the title "Museum Indians" mean?
Student = That Indians are in the past. They aren't around any more.
Me = Right. Now, is that true?
Class = (upset) No.
Me = Of course it's not - but that's the title, right? So let's look in the story. What character disproves this meaning of the title "Museum Indians"?
One or two murmurs = her mom.
Me = Her MOM! Is her mother in a class case?
Class = no.
Me = Is her mother dead?
Class = No!
Me = Is she small and timid?
Class = No!
Me = No! She speaks her mind. What else is she?
Class = proud. . . powerful . . . tall.
Me = Right! She is a tall, proud, powerful Dakota woman who wrestles with the Chicago police! Am I right?
(Class nods and I launch into a description of the word "Irony" and how it matches the situation)

It is sore from raising it (less often) in sharp disapproval.
Me = Class. My number one rule is Respect and right now you are disrespecting me.
(A phrase that can silence a room of my juniors when talking over my homework assignment.)


My JUNIORS are respectful, brilliant, and honorable people. I have 5 parents (at least) of my 56. Contrary to popular belief, who points a gross punitory finger towards the "irresponsibility" and "shortsightedness" of teen parents, I find my parents (generally) to have  a heightened awareness and maturity. 
In case you were wondering, the dramatizations of the Native creation myths went okay. 2nd period's all-boy "Navajo" group was INCREDIBLE. There was the cawing cry of the god approaching, feathers and cut-outs of corn and a Sunflower Natural Foods Store bag (mine) standing in for a sacred buckskin. In the performance quality of the well-rehearsed, they lay the items down and circled the creation in unison. They got a 98%. . . as for the rest of the groups, well, there were a couple As, some Bs, some Cs, and one steady F. 
I tell my kids I'll work as hard as possible. If they meet me halfway, there is NO reason they shouldn't have an A+ in the class. If they don't try, that's the sourest kind of failure.

And the discussion we were supposed to have comparing their assigned story with the creation story? Didn't happen. When I assigned as homework that someone tell them the Zuni creation story, a student raised his hand 3rd hour. He's a bit of a clown, but a very proud Zuni young man - the only one I've heard speaking Zuni. He very candidly told me, "We can't tell Zuni stories until wintertime - until Sha'lako. Otherwise we'll get bit by snakes."

What can I say? I don't want my kids to get bitten by snakes! So that discussion will have to wait until December - maybe we'll take a hiatus from Civil War lit to read Frazier's Sue Anne Big Crow and discuss how their old pueblo is, in their tradition, the centre of the entire world.

That fact came up a few times in their diagnostic essays - addressing Ian Frazier's quote. Also some spoke elegantly about the landscape of their home - the heroism of the cowboys and the Indians, the red mesas and the people who provide for their community and their country. Some spoke even more movingly about the ruin of their home: Uranium mining, the construction of roads and cities, the terrible droughts, the arrival of the white people who did not know how to make this land sustain itself.
Though I put in two 15-hour days getting the essays graded, it was absolutely a worthwhile and humbling experience.

My sophomores are a bunch of squirrel nuts whom I love. Monday through Thursday were marked by indolence, lack of attention, and impossibly large discrepancies. Some of my pre-AP-ers are exceptional. Some struggled to write a comprehensible paragraph. This said, Friday was marked by receiving a passel of excellent reflections. If any of you were curious as to the outcome to "Skunk Dreams," I am shocked. "Skunk Dreams" is a philosophical survey of the dream state and the connection of Place to Self; compared to "The Leap," a fun magical realistic piece by Erdrich in their reader, I thought old Skunky didn't stand a chance when I asked them to write me a page about which they liked better and why. 
Boy was I wrong. They LOVED "Skunk Dreams." And I'd like to share a few excerpts from my favorite responses:

First, the most technically-impressive essay I've seen. I gave her a ++, and you'll see why: 
"When I had read 'Skunk Dreams' by Louise Erdrich, what I had liked best about it was when in the beginning she was talking about how we don't know about other people's dreams or even about our own.  I had liked how she said 'If dreams are an actual dimension, as some assert, then the usual rules of life by which we abide do not apply' because I like to think of our dreams as another dimension we slip into when we sleep. It's as if our minds are in an in between stage, where they can move from one dimension to another. . . . [description of why she liked "Skunk Dreams" better]
"I believe I can relate to how she misses her homeland greatly. I know I would certainly start missing the mountains behind my house, the trees that line the edge of the fence in front of of my house, the clear skies that seem to go on forever."

An excerpt from a weaker writer - but a spunky one at that :) :
". . . What I found really interesting was how the skunk just laid down beside her and went to sleep while she laid there and looked at the moon. I think many teens would like this story especially girls. She's a girl growing up, trying to figure life out, while experiencing feelings and problems like how some of us girls are. = ) "

And finally, a Public Service Announcement from a great, practically-minded girl:
[about "The Leap"] "The part that was boring to me was where they kept launching themselves in midair. If this story was non-fiction, I probably would've like it a little bit more. If I were to talk to the author about this story, I'd tell Erdrich that pregnant women can't be doing flips and launching themselves in midair. I mean, won't it be dangerous for the baby??"

My JOURNALISM kids need a good dose of adrenaline. They were stuck in my class largely because of a lack of an extra elective. BUT we're making progress. My 2nd / 3rd grade reader has been illustrating what he watches in the news, I had some excellent lede sentences on Friday, and we're readying ourselves to interview our principal on the gas leak this coming Monday. All the same, when I pull their sticks from the mud, I reckon you'll hear that damp squelch anywhere. Forget the "shot" heard around the world!

I must curl up with a mug of tea and my lesson planning book for my week to come - think explorers (Cárdenas & de la Vaca), Mars, and nudibranchs for the juniors, Fahrenheit 451 and Desai for sophomores, and some interviewing, workshopping, and more In The Plains, Pronghorns Can Be Curious (Impact, Timeliness, Prominence, Proximity, Conflict, Bizarre / unusual, and Currency) for journalism.

But I wanted to make a note about Dialogue Journals:
If you are remotely involved with English / gradeschool education, do them. I don't feel like it's my right right to make a laundry list of the topics covered - it trivializes something that has been, in many cases, a big serious trust thing. If you're curious as to the nature of the entries, think a mix between school time summaries and Freedom Writers
They're incredible.

If you read this far, KUDOS! I must be off to plan and work ad infinitum. I should have some more fun pix once I further glam up my room; until then, let my face suffice of photographic proof of survival:

I know I look a little goofy. It happens. Here's a better one:

Over and out, Friends!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

it's really happening. . .

Save for another gas leak (cross fingers!), we're on for tomorrow.

Oh, boy.
I've got (I think) a super fun week planned for the pequeñitos. Clearly deriding the nonhelp of the system-given daily LP Template (which I filled out nonetheless!), my calendar for the week looks like this:

Within those squinched syllables (not unlike Blackberry Eating, non?) are some grade-A short stories and essays for dissection and adoration, Native creation stories that my kids will dramatize and then juxtapose with the Zuni creation story, and plans for my journalism class' first story: The Gas Leak at Zuni High :)

I'm waiting for some pinto beans to finish cooking, so I'll share some sweet serendipity before bed: 

Knowing the caliber of Louise Erdrich, I sought to find an essay of hers to accompany / contrast with her delightful short story "Leap." Then, on a link on Google, some Erdrichite had enthused, "Oh, I recommend the wonderful essay 'Skunk...' by Louise Erdrich. It's in the 1994 Best American Essays." I scanned the page, and then double-took. Paused. Then walked slowly out my car and grabbed a blue book from the top of my spoils from yesterday's Goodwill trip. Yup. You got it. Of all the books in the Goodwill - of ALL the Best American Essays - I had happened to nab the 1994 edition.
So my kids are going to read "Skunk Dreams." And they're gonna like it :)

Wish me luck?
Over and out ~

Friday, August 12, 2011

what a gas!

Just a brief note from this slow, hummingbird-thrummed day.

It began with the morning water of the tiny garden:
(but look at those little royal burgundy beans go! . . . also, soon I'll take proper pictures - it's been photobooth so far)

Then, I headed to my gas-capped but still unsafe building. Determined to make something of my weekend, I made a catalogue of all the books in our English dep't Book Room. There are 121 different books within that have at least enough copies to do book circles - most have enough for class or grade sets. 
Huzzah! Full-year curriculum planning can commence for the weekend!

The lovely L. has arrived for the weekend, so I'll pop off. I'll leave you with a few photos of the room: the new "news section," the identity Big Goal, and the coolest door in the school (given that no one else has decorated their door, it's not saying much, but still)
Over and out!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rez Time

At Zuni High, we're starting behind the rest of the district and much of the state.

Okay, wait wait! Before you say "oh, gosh, Teach For America, I've had enough of your bell-tolling-nay-saying-deatwatch-beetle-scratching melodrama," hear me out.

I arrived prepped and primed for the first day with my four classes of Junior English, one of Sophomore pre-AP, and one of Journalism. I had my gads of copies (I have roughly 90 students total), my classroom was decorated to the nines, and I didn't look so shabby either. The only perceivable downside was the fact that they're currently roofing, so it sounds like a Viking bowling tournament above my head.

Then, as I was allocating my dialogue journals (SO excited for these!) to the proper shelf based on period, I  started to detecting an odd odor. "Qué vida!" I thought. Not only did I have a cacophonous classroom (even without kids), but now it was odoriferous as well. But really. It smelled like a putrefying swamp. Determined to persevere, I continued reviewing my notes for the "First Day" lecture / info session.

Then a science teacher jogged by.
Me: Huh --?
Him: Evacuate the building!!!
Me: Huh??

Then the fire alarm went off. So I gathered a notebook and my keys, and did exactly that.

The verdict? A major gas leak had sprung when the roofers (whose daytime job is actually demolition), attempted to bodily tear off one of the swamp coolers. So we were left to shepherd our students and wait.

Our principal, really a stellar guy - he kept in good spirits throughout this fiasco, if that tells you anything - called everyone and their guinea pig and told us the news: we would begin our school year on Friday, not today.

So when I said that we at Zuni began behind, I meant it: we're literally beginning behind the rest of the district.

A more sobering update is that we don't have school tomorrow either - it turns out that the gas leak, while capped, revealed that the entire gas line is shoddy, suspect, and susceptible to the same sort of damage if the roofing continues. While this is good for curriculum planning (I'll go make a list of our book room books tomorrow morning), it means that I'll see my kids on Monday at the earliest.

If I had had ONE day with them, I would have assigned them homework, at least. If I had had a month or two (and if I'd built proper culture), I feel we could have an outside-of-school class meeting or discussion or something! But as it is, not even knowing their faces or their names outside the roster, I'm relatively helpless.

The writing diagnostic - replete with an Ian Frazier quote ("I'm afraid of people thinking, 'There's nothing out there anyway, so let's ruin it.' There's an idea of the Plains as the middle of nowhere, something to be contemptuous of. But it's really a heroic place.") for the juniors, a John McPhee story for the 10th grade pre-AP (the must-read "The Silk Parachute"), and a photograph of the Chilean riots for my journalism students to mock up an article - will have to wait. "Museum Indians" (Susan Power) and "Sole of Summer" (class culture assignment where kids trace their foot and decorate it with summer memories) will have to wait. And most importantly, I believe, the sense of urgency must wait. It's a tough thing, and I'm not sure how to phrase it, but I know it behooves me to talk about the fact that they NEED to take the SAT this year. They NEED to catch up - their NMSBA (state test) proficiency level is at 27%. And as part of this, they NEED to start (or continue!) finding ways to relate to a curriculum and a canon that largely portrays people that are nothing like them. I'm just anxious to begin our study of "Identity in America."


But shall I take a brief step back? I think I shall.

My name's Ms. Lix, and I'm a 2011 Teach For America corps member working in the Zuni Pueblo. When absolutely elated about my transfer to the NM region (and that's another story), I often spoke with my friends at college about my excitement (and ignorance) about living "on the rez." In college, I was a drama major, the "Chicken Lady" of our school farm, the chair of our queer-identified campus group, and an RA: my life was theatre, farming, rainbows, and ResLife. In other words, a far cry from rural NW New Mexico.

Anywho, one day when I was voicing these thoughts with a good friend, she looked at me earnestly and said: "Well, it'll be ResLife to Rez Life, huh?" Finding this one of the wittier things in recent memory, I promised her that if I made a blog, that's what it would be titled. So, voilá! - ResLife to Rez Life.


If you're familiar with the TFA model, you'll know I've spent all summer preparing for teacherhood. The first week was Induction at the wonderful El Rancho in Gallup; the next seven weeks, at the hellmouth Phoenix. While the city itself is a preposterous (we're talking inconceivably, without precedent bad) waste of resources and the clime intended for saguaros, gila monsters, and little else, I enjoyed very much teaching 3rd grade to a group of "College-Bound Coyotes" at an Imagine Charter school. Institute - as the "teacher bootcamp" is called - was exhausting, overwhelming, but a very human thing. Also, I was exceedingly blessed with a grade-A awesome group of people: New MexiCorps, my roommate (who's now my housemate!!!), my school team, my COLLAB (whom I co-taught with), and my kids. The latter were certainly a challenge, but that made the victories with them all the better. Meaning, reading Gooseberry Park with them and having them cling to every last word was an exceptionally validating experience.
It was at Institute that I was hired by the Zuni Public School District; so, after a weeklong visit to Pojoaque and Colorado to visit loved ones and pick up my kitty Checkers and a week of Orientation back at El Rancho, I moved down to Zuni.

And that's how I find myself here - in a lovely little trailer near the old pueblo and next to the most popular park in town (we're talking c. 50 kids playing basketball on a smallish court nightly). Emily and I have planted a little garden, so we've the bean and squash and lettuce and chard and beet babies just poking their heads out of the soil. Checkers has eaten every spider in the house, a visit from my mother put us much at ease and put leftovers in the fridge, and we've scavenged a big ole dog house to use as a chicken coop. 

All sorts of beginnings. It's funny to think how many more people have been catalogued away in my brain that two weeks ago, I didn't know existed. (Let alone the entire summer!) The kind neighbors, the crazy / cool teachers at ZHS, our next-door Dachshund who growls and carries around stones. The first time I witnessed this, my next door neighbor reprimanded her, saying "Tina! We are NOT playing rocks right now!"
Oh, yeah. Her name's Tina.

I reckon I better be off to read more of the Unit One selections in my Prentice Hall textbook. So far I've read and enjoyed the short stories in the collection. ("Tepeyac" by Sandra Cisneros, "Games at Twilight" by Anita Desai, and "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich, to name my favorites. "Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs and "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" by Jack Finney were also quite enjoyable)

It's a beautiful place. It's already firmly earned the title of "Home."

Now, to firmly earn the title of "Teacher."

(the classroom)
(The numbers are SAT goals, along with [barely visible] boxes that show colleges with their median scores. The board underneath the "700" is the Shout Out board and is bordered by pictures from the La Manchan lagunas in Spain)

(I've been temporarily robbed of my bookcases, but the classroom library will be under these two posters. The lefthand poster says "like chicks? we do!" and is on its third life. In its first life, it was a sign advertising taking care of the baby chicks at the Farm; in its second life, it was used as décor in the "Gay"sement of our house last year; and currently, it is adorned with women writers: Cather, Austen, Morrison, Walker, Hurston, Power, Woolf, Cisneros, and Sappho.)