Monday, May 28, 2007

For Goodness Sake

The weeks after TAKS, my class did a unit of study on the Holocaust. We did the butterfly project, watched age appropriate videos, discussed the times, and read Number the Stars. My kids loved it because it was new and shocking. I loved it because my kids were engaged and actually learning. They could see the dangers of bullying, ignorance, and passiveness. At the end of our unit, we talked about Anne Frank - her predicament, her life, and her attitude. She was courageous, optimistic, and inspirational. She was in the worst of times and held on the belief in the basic goodness of people. She had hope in her fellow man and, in the end, was giving beyond belief. She looked upon her world with hope and confidence that she would be proved right. She was.

It seems, lately, that the question of people's goodness and upbringing keep popping up at random times. Call me Pollyanna, but I have faith in the generations to come. There is always the bad apple but there is so much more good than bad. We can choose to focus on the bad and shake our heads or chose to look towards our bright stars. We can give up on those that need us most or we can see the potential in them and push them to be better than they are. I chose the latter. I may end my days with hands full of my own hair but I chose to not give up. There is too much beauty in this world to say that the future generations are doomed.

Here are some quotes from Anne. If she can truly hold these ideals while people were seeking her life, I hope that we can humble ourselves to seek the good in those around us.

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Response to Darla

Last night I read Darla's blog about students destroying the campus. It made my heart hurt. I was so sad that I couldn't even think of how to respond. As I tried to this morning, it turned into a blog.

Part of me thinks vandalism is a phase but we had to fight it this year in fourth grade. However, I have to disagree with Cryssy. It will not downward spiral from here. The hope that I have is that children (and even adults), are like dogs....we can all be trained. As humans we are innately selfish but we can learn to think beyond ourselves. The about the Greatest Command. We have to be told to love other people because it does not come naturally for us. It takes time and lots of frustrating work but we can teach people how to behave and respect. I have parents come talk to me about their children and they are trying so hard to work with their kids behaviourally and academically. One thing that they constantly say is, "I was difficult in school/at home when I was their age but I am different now. I know what my parents and teachers went through. They were right, I do understand now." I think until we break the selfishness of adolescence, destruction will be a problem but they will learn that there is another way. Maybe for their kids but also for themselves. Some may take involving the law but they will learn. This is one of the lessons that I have finally learned as a teacher this year. No matter how hard it may be for us, we can teach a child how to behave. We may want to pull our hair out at times but we can do it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Their Shoes...

One of my favorite classes in college was Child Development. Apparently, I am very interested in why we are the way that we are. The big question swings asking "nature, nurture, or a combination of the two?" Just as in all things, the pendulum swings. I'm even interested in the biology of our make up. I am reading a book right now called The Female Brain which discusses the neurological changes that women go through at various stages in life and how if affects her attitude and emotions. It's a bit heavy at times but I'm really enjoying it.

"So what brings this up?" you may ask. Tonight I was sitting at my desk grading papers and listening to my iTunes. Back to back, the following artists come up: Michael Buble, Willie Nelson, The Weepies, Tegan and Sara, and Rocco DeLuca. At that moment, I stopped grading and thought, "Where did that come from!?" We all know that Mom and Dad did not instill a love for Michael Buble's style let alone anything by Willie Nelson. I think that Papaw was a country music fan but I don't remember listening to the radio with him. Does taste in music skip a generation? While I can attribute some of my outstanding taste in music to my folks, I am lost as to where the rest of it came from. In fact, I'm confident that they have never heard of most of the artists in my Nano.

I guess this is one of those nature and nurture things....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Next Year

Yesterday, my principal told me that Teaching and Learning are wanting to get training lined up for this summer. They were concerned that money would be spent training employees who would then move. I was asked to let her know ASAP (today) about my plans for next year. This morning I let her know that I would be back for another year.

I know this may sound very contradictory to what I have been blogging about but when it came down to it, I don't want to leave me school. I am part of an amazing team, the training is unbeatable, and I believe in the curriculum. I am being set up for promotion here. I feel like this is where I need to be. I am very peaceful right now.

So now it is time to house/apartment hunt. I am looking forward to that quite a bit. I have about 7 days left of school and then about two weeks of training in June. It will fly by but I am excited about it.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I think that it is really interesting the things that people are bothered or creeped out by. Frogs, bugs, feet, etc etc etc. Today I realized what mine are. I only have two but they are pretty strange. I will admit that:
  1. I really don't like very big statues of people. Think Statue of Liberty (NYC -151 feet or 305 feet if you include the base), Christ Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro - 125 feet), Sam Houston (Huntsville - 69 feet)... People are not supposed to be that big! God did not intend us to be more than a few feet tall. Your nose should not be the size of a large infant! While the site of the Statue of Liberty was very cool, it was also incredibly creepy. I didn't actually spend much time looking at her. The thought of someone's eye being the same height that I am is not impressive - it is wrong!
  2. Octopuses are not interesting - they are gross! Did you know that they can "pour" themselves into a bottle through a hole in the lid the size of a quarter? They can change their color and texture in the blink of an eye. They can be as small as your thumb or as big as 20 feet long. Every sucker on their tentacles can taste everything they touch. They can learn things (like opening jars) just by watching others almost like the Borg (that's right Dad - I made an educated Star Trek reference). This is not fascinating, it is disturbing! There is a reason that it is depicted as a sea monster in so many bad horror movies!

What weird things disturb you?

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Ten years ago, I was counting down the days until summer break between my junior and senior year of high school. I remember looking ahead and thinking about the future - what it would be like, where I would be, who I would be. Some has come to be just as planned (teaching), while others are so different. I thought my story would be a lot like my parents: meet my husband in college, get married after graduating, be finished having kids by the time I was thirty. In some ways, I am SO thankful that I have been wrong. I have been taken places and had experiences that I couldn't have if my plan had worked out. I can definitely take care of myself. On the other hand, well...some days it can be a little heartbreaking. For some reason, tonight seems to be one of those nights. I think it is because of the whole job search thing. I'm so confused right now. I spent hours every night for two weeks filling out applications and now I'm not too sure that I want to leave my school. I got a call today that a school in San Antonio is interested in talking to me. I have to call back tomorrow to get more information. I feel very conflicted about it....

I think that I am just really ready for stability. A good school district, a place to put down roots, to be part of a community of people in my stage of life seeking out the same things.

Sorry to be a rambling Debbie Downer....

Saturday, May 12, 2007


There are three weeks left of school for me. The kids finish on June 1 and teacher work day is June 4. I have been so caught up in everything that still has to be finished that it seems 6 years away for me - until tonight.

Going a little stir crazy, I went to Target to pick something up. As I walked in, all impulse buying tendencies went into full alert. The very first aisle was filled with picnic accessories. This may not sound like a very big deal but ... sitting on the bottom row was something that I have always wanted but never bought - A picnic basket with gingham cloth lining. Not the fancy kind with plates, utensils, and other silly paraphernalia but just a simple, brown, square basket. It had a hinged lid and two handle that came up from the sides and to meet in the middle. There were two to chose from - red gingham or blue gingham. They weren't expensive ($15). As I looked up, I saw matching picnic blankets, reusable plastic food containers, and other things needed for a picnic. My $15 impulse buy quickly became a much more expensive purchase in my mind so I waited.

Now I know that you are thinking, "It's a picnic basket, big deal". To me it is. Not only is this something that I have wanted for a VERY long time but in that instant, it hit me. It isn't "Three weeks to dredge through before summer" but "Only three week until summer - WOO HOO!" I look at that picnic basket and I see a little bit of freedom. Time to go on a picnic and sit by the river reading a book. How wonderful! At the park in town, there is a bridge across the river to a little island. There are beautiful trees, ducks, and small "rapids" that I would love to just sit and enjoy. I don't have Darla, or Daniel, or Caleb's eye for photography but it would be fun to play a little bit down there. Jeff and Alissa were talking about a couple of places that I haven't seen yet but in three weeks, I can.

I can't wait!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Blessing

I can't remember where I heard it but someone once stated that their biggest dislike for contemporary Christian music was the individualism that it reflects. At first, I was a bit defensive about that opinion because I have been deeply moved by so many songs contemporary Christian music has produced. Yet, as I listened to it, I found the statement to be rather true. The word "I" was so pronounced and distinctive that it couldn't be ignored. That statement stuck with me and, lately, I have been thinking about individual vs corporate worship quite a bit. Do our praise songs reflect the common goal of our worship or are we more focused on our individual relationships with God? While I know that both are important, I too have noticed the emphasis placed on the individual rather than the body. My ears have been keenly attentive towards finding songs that show unity of spirit in worship. A couple of weeks ago, I found a new song by John Waller called "The Blessing". From the first time I heard it, I have felt that this should be a mission statement for the church. It stirred a place deep inside of me. I wish that I knew how to display an audio clip but for now, here are the lyrics. May we truly be a blessing to those around and after us.

The Blessing by John Waller

Let it be said of us
While we walked among the living
Let it be said of us
By the ones we leave behind
Let it be said of us
That we lived to be a blessing for life

Let it be said of us
That we gave to reach the dying
Let it be said of us
By the fruit we leave behind
Let it be said of us
That our legacy is blessing for life

This day
You set life,
You set death right before us,
This day
Every blessing and curse is a choice now
And we will choose to be a blessing for life

Let it be said of us
That our hearts belonged to Jesus
Let it be said of us
That we spoke the words of life
Let it be said of us
That our heritage is blessing for life


Cause blessing and curses are choice now
Will we build up, tear down, the moment of truth is now


For your Kingdom,
For our Children,
For the sake of every nation

We will choose to be a blessing for life

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Drum Roll Please.....

I had this on the list of things to blog about but I wasn't sure when it would happen. Kind of appropriate that it hit the day after yesterday's post. TAKS results are in. Kids and parents don't know yet but we do. Here is how they look for my class: Reading - 90%, Math - 95%, and Writing - 100%! We laughed, cried, and stood in awe of what our students accomplished. I could not be any prouder than I am right now. Everyone is ready for next year so we can raise scores again and increase the number of kids commended. I had several tell me that I shouldn't leave. Kind of heart twisting. For now, I'll not worry about it but celebrate instead! The stress and hard work paid off in the end!

Monday, May 07, 2007


The first blog from my weekend of cleaning is actually about the weekend. On Saturday, I went to the North East ISD job fair in San Antonio. Imagine 43 tables set up on a basketball court with about 300 people milling between them. Yep, it was crowded. Those with claustrophobia would have died. I got to 17 of the 43 elementary schools with an average wait time of 25 - 45 minutes between tables. To be perfectly honest, it was VERY discouraging. Just about every table said they didn't have openings yet but they might get more over the summer. Most hiring is done in July and August. This is not helpful to someone who only has until July 16 to get out of her current contract. Grrr.... I was reminded once again how political getting a teaching position is. It is all about who you know and how they can sell you. Going at it alone is very difficult.

As I waited in one of many lines, I got to thinking about my kids and my coworkers. I really love them all. The women are such hard workers with a true heart for their students. They are my mini-family. We are up on best practices and are held to a high standard. I am the teacher that I am today because of this district. I am challenged because they pull the best from me. Professionally, I am making a good name for myself here and am respected. There is room for growth and promotion for me here. My decision to move is not one related to work. It is an attempt to make a better life for me. Ms. LaMore is very happy where she is but Dana is not. While I am thankful for Southern Hills, I am looking for a church with a more active singles group and more opportunities to study and serve. My closest friends are moving in about a month so I am NOT looking forward to that. I am ready to make some settling moves in my life. I want to make a home somewhere and start planting roots. I'm ready for permanence but there are aspects of that life style not readily available for me in San Marcos.

I guess I find myself in a struggle. Leaving San Marcos CISD will be so much harder than I originally anticipated. Where is the line that separates Ms. LaMore from Dana? How can I make both happy when the decision to leave takes me from a GREAT district but staying means losing out on every other aspect of my life? I know that the answer to that question should be easy but for some reason, it's not.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Trouble with a Racing Mind

The past two days have been spent in sorting, cleaning, organizing, and straightening. When I get in the cleaning zone, I just go until it is time to go somewhere or sleep. That is where I am right now. The whole time that I am busy with my hands, my mind jumps all over the place. Therefore, I have spent the past two days with all kinds of epiphanies and thoughts. Just wanted to let you know that this will be a full week of blogs. Really - I have five things to talk about. I thought one a day would be better than one massive one filled with this and that. Some are serious and sweet while others are just random thoughts. Hope you have a great week!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Office

Quite possibly the funniest minute and a half of television!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


After two weeks and hours of work, I am finished filling out applications for next year. There are 10 applications out spanning from South Texas to North Austin. I am anxious but trying not to be. I can see pros and cons to any area God places me, so right now I am just waiting and praying. It is now up to Him. Please keep this time in your prayers. I tend to get antsy and take things into my own hands when things are in the "gray".