Saturday, June 18, 2016

First Run

There's a little bit more overlap between the kids' time at camp and the end of my school year. In fact, there's about five days where they're at camp and I'm not working. Yesterday afternoon was the first such occasion. I used the time to check something off my long-run to-do list. I ran around Lake Galena at Peace Valley Park.

I actually made the almost-six-mile trek despite a spring that's seen me fallen out of my best shape. I would've done this run pretty easily in the fall. Yesterday I labored over the last mile or so.

But I did encounter a group of newly minted graduates picnicing early on in my run, and of course I stopped at their table to quiz them to see if they could give me the appropriate definition of investment. I was more than a little gratified when I ran by them again near the end of my route as they walked around the lake: It was proof I had actually run all the way around the lake.

After the run I had time to address a chore or two on the chore cloud Sherry left me.

I have the whole summer to address these tasks. I requested that she not put it in list form or priority order. I kind of like it. Though I note that she has room to add many more between now and the end of August.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Two Unrelated Pieces of Writing

For my final lunch of the year at school, Sherry placed what seemed to be a note in my lunchbox. I was wrong. It was an essay, Sam had written at school. I offer it below, unedited, so readers can appreciate his prose unvarnished.

Actually, Sam does love him quite a bit. But Sam's description of the cat is pretty objective. 
Another piece of writing is one I cannot copy here. Near the end of the school year I received a letter from a graduating student thanking me for things in a more heartfelt way than I'm used to seeing. Generally, the students I teach are grateful and verbalize their appreciation, but this student's letter was deeper than I normally see. In it, she validated a lot of what I implicitly try to do every day: show students that I like them, nudge them into a position to excel, counsel them when developments for the future seem daunting. I didn't realize I had done such a good job with this student in that regard. I value greatly the way her letter affirmed what I'm trying to do as a teacher, a father, and a Christian.

I had a nice exchange with my son's fourth-grade teacher at the end of the year, and in it she said: "I love each one of them for who they are and praise and push them differently." Those are the words of a teacher who gets the students she teaches and who gets what this profession is all about. Maybe, just maybe, in a way that makes sense to a high school student, that's what I did for the young woman who wrote me such a powerful letter.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Closing Up Shop

Before I begin the part of the year in which I'm almost exclusively a dad, I wanted to share a few good images from my classroom, images I had to take down today.
How I like to explain the two-party system of politics.

This year's doodle wall.
The finest pieces of art from the doodle wall.
The blatantly political post-its.

Summer Trip #1: Knoebels Park, Elysburg

Five families converged on Knoebels Grove last Sunday and it was fantastic.

Upon riding my old favorite coaster, The Phoenix.
Knoebels was an annual destination for my family when I was younger. It was the site of my grandfather's company picnic, and aside from my fondness for the park's first coaster, I also warmly remember it as the park Mom and Dad would trust my brother, cousin, and I to roam as we wished on those July afternoons.

In a somewhat bittersweet development, I found that Twister is a better roller coaster than The Phoenix. I timed it: Twister takes you on a 2-and-a-half minute ride, which is ridiculously long by coaster standards.

The kids' favorite ride was the Flume, which actually is a pretty decent ride. 
I cannot help but put on my economics teacher cap when I go to amusement parks. I find the pay-as-you ride system at Knoebels counter-intuitively effective. I think the system rations people's riding habits and therefore lines aren't as long. One actually makes decisions about whether or not a particular ride warrants surrendering the necessary tickets. In the end, it makes for a more enjoyable day.

Knoebels' setting also makes it possible to imagine, just briefly, that you're simply in the woods at a park, not necessarily an amusement park.

Oh, and the food isn't outrageously expensive.

A bit overpriced, but not egregious.
I spent most of the day with Sam. Sherry was most often with Caroline. Sometimes we were with friends on our rides, but sometimes we had to split in acknowledgment of the different levels of risk aversion our kids were experiencing. Good way to begin the summer.