Sunday, October 26, 2008

Salmon and apples and grades, oh my!

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, 33 short stories by seventh graders

Last night was the school's annual salmon dinner dance. We volunteer teachers went in style and one of the people we know here in town had purchased a table for us, which was really generous of them. We had an amazing time with the people who bought our table and it was a lot of fun to dance and just see people. A lot of parents were there, and the food was great. They raised a lot of money for the school, and we raised 17,000 dollars specifically to buy computers for the classrooms. This will be a godsend to my class, as we currently have a ridiculous system where I save things on my laptop and then sign in as a different user, save them to the server, and then open them on the one computer that turns on. This takes an average of 15 minutes, because word documents take about 7 minutes to open on the computer. Needless to say, I am happy about the new computers. I just wonder when we'll be getting them.

Yesterday I went on a vocational discernment retreat in Toppenish, which is about 45 minutes away. Parts of it were really good. We had some time to pray and just be alone, which isn't something I get very much of these days. It seemed like most of the other people on the retreat were a lot farther along in discernment than I was. They were at the exploring religious communities stage, while I feel like I'm still kind of floundering around trying to figure out why I'm in Yakima and what God wants me to do with my life. It was still really good to come back to thinking about that a little more. I've kind of put it on the back burner since starting on the West Coast.

Grades are due this week. Pray that I get them done.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A good thing about living in Washington

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Short stories from 7th graders

I got my ballot in the mail the other day. All Washington ballots are mail-in ballots, so I have to wade through a bit of paper-work before I mail it in. The thing I'm excited about is the way that Washington doesn't make you register with a political party to vote in a primary. The rule is that you can only vote in one, but it can be either major party and it doesn't register you for that party. I've never been able to vote in a primary before, because I've always had a problem with the whole system. This is my happy moment voting wise. And it only took four years at Rutgers to make me a semi-liberalish person. I still don't like to label it.

My students are convinced that I'm the least patriotic person ever. I won't let them talk about politics in my religion class because I am a strong believer in the separation of Church and State, and I don't want to waste time arguing politics with 12 year olds in a class where I'm supposed to be teaching religion. But today in my literature class, Iraq came up, and I said something about destroying their country and one of my kids asked me, in all seriousness, "Miss Appert, are you proud at all to be American?" I tried to explain to them that disagreeing with a war has nothing to do not loving one's country, but eventually we gave it up and moved on with the class.

A funny Yakima moment. We were making lists of sounds of Autumn, and without realizing it, we compiled the following list on the board.
Sounds of Fall

I think I laughed for a good fifteen minutes about it. Only in Yakima are gunshots the first sounds that come to mind when brainstorming about fall.

Off to eat and then to trivia!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Autumn is my favorite

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, The Blue Sword, 33 Middle School short stories

This has been a rough week, making it two in a row that have drained me of pretty much all my energy. I'm trying to come up with ways to relieve the stress, and the best one I've come up with yet is to take a walk around my mountainous neighborhood. This also serves the purpose of allowing me to make phone calls, as I have no reception in my house. I'm worried about what to do when it starts getting cold, but I think I'll just bundle up and keep walking. I'm making up several different routes to walk, which is good, because it keeps things interesting. Also, the hills make it relatively good exercise.

I have an absolute mountain of correcting to do this weekend, so I currently have a pot of coffee being made and laundry being done as I settle in for the long haul this morning. Steve and I may go apple picking this afternoon when he's done with school meetings, which would be fun. We're the only ones in town this weekend and I don't really feel like just sitting around. So I'm hoping to go apple picking and then come home and make a pie and some hot apple cider. There's a beautiful orchard only two miles from our house, so we may go there....the joys of living in the middle of nowhere.

Kristin and I have been rewriting the words to Taylor Swift's song "Love Story" all week. We wrote "Work Story", which involves the struggles of two young teachers waiting for payday, and "PACE story" which involves the prospects for Steve's romantic future. Needless to say, he was not amused. But it is pretty silly, and we've been having a good time. The teachers at school think we're crazy.

I talked to Sara last night, which was incredibly therapeutic. I miss being able to see her every day. And we're both such grown-ups now, with jobs and lives that are so separate from each other right now. It's weird.

Well I'm off to eat and start the mountain of grading that awaits me.

Much love,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Fated Day has come

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, looking for a copy of some of the books my kids are reading these days

It was bound to happen. One can only live in the middle of nowhere for so long before things are bound to get messy. It's just that I thought I was immune...I had held off for so long, carefully avoided the danger...

I actually enjoy listening to certain Country Music songs.

It's appalling, I know. I understand if you are reading this and have to stop in disgust, carefully shut your web browser and never read this blog again.

Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but it's been a rough week and I've been missing home a lot. Each time I set down another root in Yakima, another thing that ties me to this place and these people, it gets a little harder for me to imagine what this experience is going to do to the rest of my life. My students and their families are already asking me to stay for a third year, even though I'm only committed to two. I'm finding a parish, looking for a spiritual director, going on a retreat in the diocese. I go to small town football games and know half the people there. Kids smile and wave when they see me in the store. And now I listen to some of the same music too. Pretty soon I'll start saying pop and tennis shoes.

I had to video myself teaching this week, and it was an interesting thing. I'm only a third of the way through the video and already my voice is driving me crazy. I'm also realizing that my class is not nearly as disciplined as I thought it was. Ack. Maybe my supervisor was right and I'm really a bad classroom manager.

On a more cheerful note, my roommates and I went out to trivia night at one of the bars in town and we totally won! It came down to a tie-breaker question and we won first place! My dad and Kristin would have been so proud of me. I almost single handedly matched 15 presidents to the terms they served, and some of them were really random: Pierce and Tyler and Harrison. And one of my roommates teaches history and he didn't know them all. I was ridiculously pleased with myself. And now we have a 35$ gift certificate to said pub. We're planning to go back every week now.

I am buried under work to do right now, but I'll try to update again soon.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall is here

Currently Reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, Spirituality at Work, The Twilight Series

The cold is coming...I actually can feel it in my bones. I'm freezing almost all the time, and I need to figure out a way to stay warm at school, buy an extra blanket for my bed and invest in some sweaters. It's only the beginning of October, so this doesn't bode well for the winter. Apparently last year the snow started in October and went pretty much straight through until April. Those of you who know me well know that I do NOT deal well with the cold, not even a little bit. I'm anticipating being thoroughly miserable for the next six or seven months and wishing that I had been placed in Portland.

I'm putting this up as a disclaimer: if I ever talk about students, I will never use names. This is to protect their privacy.

That being said, I had a moment on Friday that made me remember why I teach at a Catholic School. The parish was having Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel on Friday, so I took my two seventh grade religion classes over for about a half hour each. I prepped them pretty thoroughly for the behavior I expected of them in the chapel, and told them that there were no allowances made for bad behavior. I gave them each a bible study sheet and we trooped over together. They were soooooooo good, and I was so proud of them. One of them finished early on his bible study and went to pray before the Eucharist. Afterwards he asked me if this was okay, saying "I just wanted to go closer." This was moment number one that warmed my frigid fall weather heart. The second came at the end of the period. We were back in homeroom and the kids were getting their clothes for PE, which was the next class they had. One student was hanging back after the others and looked like he had something to say. I asked him if he had a question or something. "Miss Appert," he said, "I don't know why, but when we were there, I just felt really happy." I almost teared up. it was the first time I felt like anything we did in Religion class had any impact on them. Of course it wasn't me at all, but the Eucharist. Nonetheless, it's the most exciting thing that's happened here yet.

I think God knew I needed some encouragement on the spiritual front. I'm still really struggling out here, but there are bright spots here and there. I've had some really good conversations with one of my roommates about relationships with God and the like, and though he still doesn't really see the need for having one, it's still good to have someone to talk about that kind of stuff with.

I'm hoping to go on retreat here in a couple of weeks. I miss the Catholic Student association and Br. Ken and Fr. Kevin and Fr. Peter sooooooooooooo much.

I'm doing well, trying to keep warm. I miss you all. Much love!