practically impractical

i’ve known since february that i would be concluding my position as site coordinator of the after school program in june, but have been quiet, not wanting to give the impression i would be phoning it in for the rest of the year. with under a month to go, i feel good about the program’s status, which began with nothing, not even a kickball or an extension cord, and is now a fully functioning program that is measurably helping students. the past few months have been a blur of academic enrichment: a tie dye chemistry unit, an incan agriculture terrarium, humanely raised farm animals who came for a visit. coming up, ceramics with a side of emotional awareness, fish printing, and of course, more science. i began posting a blog for my program, cvhafterschool.wordpress.com and as you might imagine, i do not pose as a conventional schooling advocate there. i pepper each post with words like kinesthetic and sensory diet hoping in some small way to open someone’s mind to thinking outside the box in education.

in spite of my certainty that i have had a positive impact on at least a handful of young people, i have also struggled to keep my spirits up in the public school setting. i knew at the outset that it wasn’t where my, um, unique blend of talents could be best utilized. luckily, joyfully, i have found the place where they can! i am going to be officially employed by our living school beginning in june to facilitate the summer program, and continue my role there as science teacher in the fall, with the added twist of standing in as head teacher several days a week. this will free up our actual head teacher more to do the administrative work necessary to move this amazing school onward and upward towards the goal of being in a free-standing facility as soon as fall 2015, the year we grow to include grades K-6. as underqualified as i feel to be “head” anything, i am also completely in love with this job, and if i do say so myself, i happen to have accumulated a highly specialized skill set that i couldn’t have planned better if i had planned for it. up until recently i never did plan to be a teacher, but if i had a conventional education degree, my new boss would not have considered that an asset. i am glad to be taking such a large role in actually building this school in which i so ardently believe, and it’s nice to know how much i am believed in, in turn, for the hodgepodge of strengths i am able to contribute. wanted: progressive-minded nurturing kid-person with skills in non-violent communication, yoga, arts and crafts, sewing, gardening, scientific inquiry. multi-tasker. must be able to play the guitar and tell firsthand stories about farming and sailing the high seas. photography and writing skills a plus…..

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one of my ols students made this world map while i was teaching about the moon phases the other day…

i know there are many ways to be the change one wants to see in the world, and in education, one way is to work from within “the system”. but that doesn’t seem like the best way for me. changing the system from within feels to me like performing surgery on a metastasized malignancy from the inside; whereas being a part of a team effort to build a thriving educational setting from the ground up feels empowering and, well, plausible.

at night, i put rich to sleep with the blah blah blah of my process around these matters. he and i have been spending our third year together in our usual ways. driving through the valley of hazelnuts and hawks to visit our pancakes, or to buy me a new serger for my birthday. babysitting our granddaughters, a feat he would not attempt without me; lulling a one year old back to sleep after midnight falls squarely in my department in the division of labor. on the way home, stopping at a favorite bakery where he chooses three desserts, the exact three i would have chosen if i knew how to indulge. he is teaching me. watching chick flicks he rents with titles like “the big wedding” (he swears it is only for my benefit since i won’t watch violence, but i am just as fervent in my belief that he is obsessed with engagement and marriage, only he won’t admit it). laying down to sleep again, making each other laugh. i recently played the fleetwood mac reunion cd i’ve had since college, and realized i need to put some of those songs on the next lovebird mix cd, because “i wanna be with you everywhere” and “you make loving fun” are both good ways to sum up our relationship. before drifting off, i perform my blah blah blah ing, at his request, because according to him my voice is soothing. briefly i inhabit a horrible dream involving some shady music lessons with an ex-girlfriend and a hot mud bath into which i was not invited, and wake up to retell it to him, realizing its absurdity when it occurs to me that 1) rich and music lessons- never gonna happen and 2) not invite me?! he would never pass up the opportunity to throw me in a hot mud bath. p.s. do hot mud baths even exist? he laughs with me, ever so gentle with my insecurity that only rears its head in dreamland because it has no reason to surface in real life.

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cretaegus monogyna or hawthorn, of a red-flowered variety

i put on my purple shoes, and walk out into another day. buying myself a pair of purple shoes was almost like indulging in something impractical, except that judging by the empty space where the heels should be on my previous pair of shoes, this purchase was a year overdue, and also, purple is a neutral color in my wardrobe. plus, they were the only ones in my size at the sale price.

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speaking of practicality, rich announced to me one day that i am practically his fiance (which happened to come up over the utterly unromantic topic of the child support my coparent is absurdly attempting to collect.) ever since then, the word “practically” launches us into fiance banter every time, which usually ends up with him shaking his head and trying to give me a blank look saying, “i don’t know what you’re talking about.” (save the act for community theater, buddy.) at the intersection where we emerge from our wilderness home onto the coastal highway, there is a state park that is slated to have a campground installed. this is a recent development, and we were discussing the merits of tent sites and yurts, when i chimed in that yurts will be perfect for all of our family and friends to stay in when they come for our wedding.

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“well, that’ll be a long engagement then!” he said, before he could catch himself. i pointed out that not knowing the time frame of yurt installation and having even less knowledge, if possible, of the timeline of our becoming engaged, i was unable to form an opinion on the engagement duration, but by that time he was back to, “i have no idea what you’re talking about.”

when i’ve tried to engage him (yuk yuk) in a discussion of where we should go on our honeymoon, he alternates between feigning ignorance and making suggestions along a (thoroughly unacceptable) skydiving theme- “honey, our song could be fly like an eagle”, “we’d be just like two hawks”, “it would be so romantic- putting our ultimate trust in each other as i pull the cord on your parachute and you pull mine…”

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or, he suggests, we could just go to pittsburgh for a steelers game. huck it, chuck it, football.

i don’t know what he’s talking about.

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2 comments to practically impractical

  • A Mom of 5 friend!

    I love it!! I have been missing you and these fabulously fun to read posts!! And a camping wedding sounds like just the ticket!!

  • LB

    “i happen to have accumulated a highly specialized skill set that i couldn’t have planned better”- the perfect sentence to describe my current situation. I’m so happy for you and all the good things coming your way :) The kids at OLS are so lucky to have you! p.s. I have never stayed in a yurt so I feel like my first time should be at your wedding ;-)

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