Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What a Difference it Could Make...


Thanks for all the responses from the last post. It is humbling and a bit intimidating to know that people actually read these musing that I write. This time I am banking a bit that someone out there will read this. If you have been following along on our new chapter of this journey you know that this year I am teaching Juarez High School in Pilsen, Chicago.

I love my kids and we are actually blessed to have quite a few resources. However, for the past 6 weeks I have been writing in chalk, on a chalkboard. Yes, you read that correctly. Both of the classrooms that I teach in have old school chalkboards. Although being covered in chalk at the end of the day is a bit wearysome, it is managable. However, my breaking point is that my kids can't read the board. Because of the setup of the room only the top 1/3 of the board is viewable from the back of the room and the board erases so poorly that you can't read the new writing because of the old. There is a great website where teachers can dream and submit projects as a wish list and then donors can come online and donate to specific projects. I posted my first project this week. It is to purchase an interactive wireless device that would eliminate all need to write on the chalk board and is portable to both classrooms I teach in. It would all me to write notes on this interactive device and have them appear on the LCD projector. I would be able to save notes, mark up websites, etc. I would be able to hand the device to a student and from their seat they would be able to manipulate things on the projector at the front of the room. It is very similiar to an interactive chalkboard, just wireless, smaller and less expensive. However, less expensive still means $900 after shipping and processing fees. The Bill Gates foundation has funded 1/2 the project which leaves us needing $457.

It would be amazing to show my kids that the hard work they are putting in is being supported by people that they have never met. They are being thought of (and dare I say it even prayed for) by people who care about them and their future. I love my kids and wish them the very best. If you are in a position that you can finanically help with this pipe dream that would be amazing, if not we cherish your prayers. The following link will lead you to my project where you can donate (if you wish and are so able):

Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring for Matt and I so well. We are blessed by our amazing friends and family.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Learning, Living, Loving

It's hard to believe that midterm is already upon us, marked by grades being due increased stress and fatigue. Matt's first papers are due this week (two in two days). The air is getting cooler and snow fell yesterday. It's October and we are officially settled into the school year.

This weekend marked our first real trip home to Iowa since we moved back in late July/early August, I am sorry that we did not get to see many of you and we are making plans already for our next trip when we will see many more friends and family. It was a refreshing and renewing weekend. Home cooking. Time spent with both sets of parents. A crazy movie with Dad. Church and shrimp with Grandpa and family and of course a bit of driving to a fro.

It is wonderful to share about our new life in Chicago with friends and family back home. I am humbled and honored by the interest and care that our friends and family take in our new adventure but sometimes it is also difficult to put into words. Its hard to remember that my reality is now different from that of many of my friends and family and to be able to put into wordss and paint a picture of what I hold so dear.

When I'm asked "Your kids are 'inner city' right..." I don't know how to answer, because although my head says yes, my heart says no they are: Manuel, Bre'Sha, Richard, they are my kids not a label. When I talk about security guards and students wearing IDs in the hall I'm afraid that my listener sees a picture of an unwelcoming dangerous place, not a learning community that is a family striving to thrive in our environment. When I'm frustrated I hesitate to share because I want you to hear the joys not just the struggles. I want you to know the joy I have to go to school each day and be able to be with my kids. When we drove back to Chicago today we were coming home.

A dear friend of ours came to visit us a couple of weeks back and we were talking and they were wrestling with some life issues and what is their next step and they asked the question "What business do I have moving to a place like Pilsen (the neighborhood I teach in)?" and I have really been wrestling with that question since it was asked. Why am I here? What is my role as a caucasian teacher in a Latino neighborhood and a predominantly Latino school? Why am I here? and I continue to land at: We are here to learn, we are here to give our very best and we are here here because right now this is where God's got us.