Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making a Difference

This post could, just as easily, be called "A Series of Things," but fulfilling that title would require way more reading than any of you want to be a part of.

I am on Cloud 9 right now.  I am on Cloud 9 because while waiting for lunch today, Marcos Ospina (former student, about to start 8th grade in the fall) facebooked me asking if we (his family and I) could meet for dinner tonight, they'd be passing through O-town.  I said of course!  This is a great family, one of the (many) reasons that I miss the community at Fireside ES.  It was so great to see them!  They inspired this post.  Them, and a question that I was asked during my interview earlier today.

The question was, "Would you rather be liked or respected by your students?"  Of course the answer is respected.  Although, I was kinda proud of my answer, as I'd never put a lot of thought in to it.  I instantly said respected, and I it's because respect doesn't always follow affection, but affection always follows respect.  I say that now unequivocally.  During the interview, I pointed out that it can be years later, and we may never know as educators, but the students who respect us always like us later... even though it's sometimes years later.  We hope that when that happens, they come back and let us know, but we also know they might not.

Catching up with the Ospina family was wonderful.  I realised (even while I was doing it) that I was talking more than listening, but it was awesome!  We reflected on old times, and things that had happened back in the day.  Pictures were taken, and laughs were had, by all.  Advice was given, and then immediately contradicted when stories were told to the contrary.  At the end of the night, hugs were passed about, and sentiments shared, when Marcos said (I believe in jest) that one of the great strengths I have as a teacher is that the students don't complain about me to their parents.  I laughed, as we all did, but the Ann poignantly and seriously confirmed that, but elaborated for a parent's perspective:  Kids in my class want to come to school.  Marcos is a high-achieving, talented kiddo, so it is one thing to get him, and kids of his "ilk" interested, but Ann told me that their neighbor, who was also in Marcos' class, ALSO loved coming to school when he was in my class.  This particular student is a struggler.  Great attitude (most of the time), but really had some serious difficulty in class.  He love coming to class.  That's two kids that are two totally different learners who both loved coming to my class.

If we're being honest (and I can do that easily behind the cover of a typed blog!) I am getting a bit emotional reflecting on this.  It's a great emotional though.  I had never been explicitly told, "My kid never liked coming to school until you were his/her teacher."  Now, this wasn't about her kid, but when Ann mentioned that about the other kiddo, that meant something.  I know how scary of a place school can be when you struggle, how much you dread having to go there.  This young man looked forward to being in my classroom each day.

As a teacher, we want to make a difference.  Every day we deliver instruction that sometimes is a striking success and sometimes is abject failure.  Every day we are charged with the care and education of one of (cheesy/trite forthcoming) what is truly America's greatest natural resource.  It's rare (I think) to have the feedback be so immediate.  Yeah, it's over two years later, but it set my heart aloft.  I've been floating since she said that to me.  I've never doubted my choice to teach.  Now I never will.

When you like a person without respecting them, that affection is fleeting.  When your affection is born from respect, that affection is lasting deep.

Today, I learned I have truly made a difference, even if it was only in the lives of those two families.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gratitude List June 2012 (aka Holy Cow, Ty Posted Twice in a Week!)

I'll be honest, again, that I stole the Gratitude List idea from Lotus, and have to start by thanking her for the idea!  Today is a wonderful time to do this, and I'll start with a thank you to Lotus not only for the idea, but her continued friendship... even if I am her least favorite best friend!

I have been told that I owe David Day Harbaugh the IV the highest debt of gratitude for the amazing birthday present that I got to take advantage of twice!  Once when I received it, and once today when I drove in circles at PPIR!  David found this on LivingSocial (I think... right Dave?) and then got ahold of Jay and Whitney, Alana, Jeff and Abby, Debbie, Alex and Chris, Brian and Heather, RJ and Carrie, Mary and Brian, and Todd and Allyson who all pitched toward this.  I am SO grateful to all of you.  It was the most amazing experience of my life thus far.  I ACTUALLY DROVE A RACE CAR!  And these are legit cars that were used on one of the two national touring series (Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series).  They are obviously de-tuned so us idiots don't kill ourselves or one another. The in-car video is available here  Seriously guys, thank you so much.  I am blessed to have such amazing friends, and hope that I am as good of a friend to all of you as you have been to me through the years.  I am in awe and humbled by this gesture, and hope that I can show my appreciation appropriately!

I am so grateful to Markeya Dubbs for all the things (Imagine my fist in the air like the meme).  You are amazing, and such a blessing in my life.

I am grateful to my parents, Marcia and Gene.  I am grateful for the guidance through the years, and the fact that they were wonderful role models.  Some day, when I am married and raising a family, the lessons (both intentional and otherwise) that you've taught me will guide my life as a husband and father.  If I am half the father that Dad has been, then my life will have been a success.  I love you both!

Thank you to all of my Omaha friends and family.  You've been integral in making the move away from home easy, and helped make Omaha feel like home.  This thank you extends to all of my co-workers at the various jobs in O-town.  Thank you!

I am grateful to God.  Yeap, I am.  I am grateful for all the opportunities He has given me, all the people I am blessed to have in my life, and the His faith in me because the challenges and obstacles He puts out there are nothing more than He knows I can handle!

Umm...  I feel like there were a lot more thank yous that needed to go out, but maybe not.  Oh, I am definitely grateful to any of you who choose to read this.  Thanks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Year Later

*Glances around shamefully*  So, it's been way WAY too long since I last blogged.  I'm sorry loyal reader(s). I hope this one is funny, informative, entertaining, and not too long.  Guys, the second to last paragraph is very important for you to read.  Girls, skip it.

I have put this one off for no particular reason, but it just happens to fall on the day of the anniversary of my move to Omaha.  So, here's the thing, this is a somewhat remarkable day for me.  My Colorado people will tell you that, outside of David Day Harbaugh the Eye Vee, I was the least likely person to move from Colorado.  I was kinda the prototypical Colorado guy.  I like outside.  I love my mountains.  I have the most amazing group of friends a man in his 30s could hope for.  (Side track, I meant to say HAD, but my fingers typed have.  That tells you something).  The opportunity to help the College of St. Mary volleyball program return to NAIA prominence was too much for me to pass up, thus I moved to Nebraska.  Like we've already talked about, it was an easier move than I'd expected it to be, and a year later, I STILL really dig Omaha!

I won't give you the run down of what's happened since I moved here.  It's been hella crazy.  Many of you know the details, but I still love it here!  I will catch you up on some happenings since my last post, however.  I am currently looking for full-time teaching in the fall, but just (kinda) fell into a chance to work with former Husker great Calvin Jones in multiple different capacities for his companies.  Right now it looks like I will be helping him sell both his Forever a Husker gear, as well as space on his new website, Menupedia.  It's a long story, but those of you who remember my issues last year with trying to land a job with him, he has actually offered me something this year, not "let's keep in touch".  It's not full time, but hell, I'd be working with a Husker... actually many Huskers, most likely!  His vision for the company is pretty solid, so I kinda like the idea.
I ran a 10k by myself on Memorial Day.  It took me 53 (52.. hell if I remember) minutes.  Felt great.
Keya and I attended our first wedding as a couple.  It. Was...awful...  Wait, I'll redact that.  It was tedious.  As hell.  Holy Jebus.  Okay, so let me break this down for you.  There was NO ALCOHOL OR DANCING! Now, I won't bore everyone with the details of the wedding.  Actually, the ceremony was good, but after that...  Not so much.  I know the bride and groom won't read this, but I don't want this to be an indictment because I am so grateful to have been one of the few who shared in their day, but... BUT...  People who are the bride and groom, understand that the people who are there are SO happy for you, but we need activities.  Yes, booze is necessary!  Not to sound like an alcoholic, but the reason a LOT of people come to weddings is the excuse to get a little loose!  We literally spent the two hours post-ceremony sitting.  Yeah.

*Girls, I understand you skipped directly to this paragraph, before you read anything else.  Why can't you follow rules?  I am already re-thinking typing this.*  Gentlemen, this paragraph is for you.  Girls are right.  We should share our feelings.  Ugh, this hurts just to type.  I'll give you the story.  I was in Wood River with Keya and her family, and she could tell that I was down.  She badgered me (verb win) into telling her what was going on.  I finally told her.  I felt better.  Okay, that's really all that happened, and and the verb badger makes her sound meaner than she actually was.  I just liked that verb.  Now, for the record, I am sharing with her more than I've ever shared with a woman.  It's ridiculous how easy I find her to talk to.  Those of you who HAVEN'T picked up on it, I'm beyond twitterpated with this woman.  She's amazing.  Anyway, guys, it's really worth actually sharing... from time to time... I felt much, much better. It was kind of a revelation for me.  Stupid girls, knowing more about human relationships than us.

Okay girls, welcome back.  Yes, I'm pretending you didn't read the paragraph you weren't supposed to.  Anyway, we come to the end of this blog.  Thanks, again, for reading all!  Happy summer!  Stay cool and safe!