Posted on September 23, 2011 by Jennifer Wolfe
Question of the week: What is one of your favorite quotes and WHY?Please read my post “A Deadly Difference” to see mine!
Posted on September 23, 2011 by Jennifer Wolfe
When I first started teaching I worked in a rough neighborhood. It was completely different from where I grew up-no long, winding bike paths, well manicured little league fields, or bountiful Farmer’s Markets. There was no nearby college, rich with cultural opportunities, nor any kids hanging out at the public library. Instead, there was concrete, apartments, iron gates and bars on windows. There were grassy areas devoid of dogs on leashes or children on swings. It was different, and I was a bit intimidated.
The 25 mile commute each day from the bubble of a community I grew up in took me from a place where crime wasn’t something we worried about. We hardly ever locked our doors, and if we broke curfew (or any other teenage rule) someone always saw us and informed our parents. We knew everyone at school, and there was no escaping a reputation that siblings had left behind. We went to school from kindergarten through graduation among children we played in sandboxes with-some might have called it utopia. Until one day…
May 4, 1983:
Thong Hy Huynh was a new kid in town. His family had recently immigrated from Vietnam, hoping for a better life. He was quiet-in fact, so quiet that I never even met him. I never knew his name until the day he was killed on campus.
On that day, life in our idyllic little town changed forever. One minute we were walking to Home Ec during our senior year, preparing for another period of delightful cooking instruction. The next minute, total chaos erupted just around the corner from our classroom. People were screaming and a huge crowd hovered near the art room. For a moment I thought it must be just another fight-not that fighting was an everyday occurrence. But the teacher’s grave expressions and composed panic told me this was more-much more.
Thong was different. He didn’t speak English fluently, and had seen horrors in his native country we can only imagine. At that moment on May 4, he was defending a friend who was being tormented by a red haired, light skinned bully. Words were exchanged, and before anyone knew it Thong was down, stabbed and bleeding to death.
Eight years after his death, I remember what I felt when I began teaching in my new community. I felt different. I was out of my comfort zone. I felt scared and insecure. But after a few weeks, I felt myself relaxing. I felt the love and trust of my students and their parents as they realized my care was genuine, and my passion for teaching began to override my fears of being ‘different’.
I don’t think it was until then, years after Thong died, that I really realized what Maya Angelou was saying. And now, when my daughter walks past his memorial plaque at the high school I hope she understands. Actually, I know she understands. Because what I learned from Thong and my students is a part of me, and the message flows from my heart and actions into my children at home and at school. We ARE more alike than we know, and being different is what makes life such a beautiful experience.
Posted on September 21, 2011 by Jennifer Wolfe
Thank you! What fun for mamawolfe to receive such a cool award! Blogging is a reward in itself, but to be honored as a Liebster Blog is icing on the cake!
The word Liebster means beloved in German–and a show of love and support is what this award is all about. The idea is to bring attention to new blogs with less than 200 followers.
I must begin by acknowledging my blogging buddy, Michael Ann. This amazing blogger runs TWO very cool blogs – Thinking In My Head
and The Big Green Bowl
. This woman can actually THINK and BAKE at the same time! And her thinking and her baking come out perfectly! Please do yourself a favor and visit Thinking In My Head
for great ideas to ponder while you’re creating delicious goodies from her recipes on The Big Green Bowl
The rules of winning this award are the following:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award
by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top picks and let them know
by leaving a comment at their blog.
3. Post the Award on your blog.
4. Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people on the Internet! These bloggers and I all belong to VoiceBoks
-a great social media connection for bloggers. Check it out, and check out these fun blogs!
Posted on September 17, 2011 by Jennifer Wolfe
Sometimes as I’m moving around in my day, an image gets stuck in my head that I can’t shake. Sometimes it conjures up a memory, a feeling, or provides an impulse to do something. Often, though, I just see something that I want to capture in my mind for no particular reason-it just speaks to me. I’d like to offer these images up for ‘thought contributions’-as a way to generate a community of ideas together.
This week, the image in my mind is of my son, born twelve years ago this weekend. He came early-very early-entering this world exactly when he thought he should. From that moment he has taught me to trust and have faith that all things happen as they are supposed to.
|the first year
To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure I could handle two kids. His older sister, 3 years old at his birth, had seemed to complete our family. It took some deep thinking before I convinced myself to have another. Now, I can’t imagine how I ever thought twice. This kind, gentle soul has blessed me with a multitude of gifts that I never imagined I would receive, and with an infinite amount of joy and love. Now, twelve years later, he still has the same large round head and deep dark eyes that gaze on the world with amazing thoughtfulness and humility.
These are the lessons my son is teaching me. What wisdom have you gained from a child?
Posted on September 16, 2011 by Jennifer Wolfe
Every day I’m in the business of learning. It’s what I trained for, it’s what I get paid for, and it’s turned into one of my life’s passions. The interesting thing is that over 20 years of teaching, I’ve spent more time teaching other people than spending time focusing on directly teaching myself a new skill.
I’m not a big fan of taking classes-wow, that’s funny for a teacher to say! I’ve never been a jazzercise-boot camp-training team kind of exerciser. I haven’t unleashed my inner artist in a clay studio or au-plein air painting group. I can’t imagine making time to learn how to do all those household repairs that I pay someone else to do (although maybe I should!). I love gardening but have never attended a rose pruning clinic or composting seminar. Cooking, baking, writing – all things I love to do, but never have I registered for a class. College doesn’t count-I’m talking about learning just for the sake of learning, no ultimate goal or ulterior motive.
Learning, for me, has become something done by osmosis…something that I often don’t even notice until it’s over. And sometimes that’s a really good thing. But sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out. Maybe I should find a cello teacher. Or go back to the yoga studio and really commit to learning the practice. Perhaps I should take a writing retreat and consciously try to improve my craft.
Or maybe, just maybe, I should simply learn how to be present in the everyday. To take in the lessons that are all around me~lessons from my husband, my students, my children. Maybe if I really show up for this class, the teacher might just surprise me with her lesson plan.