Monday, August 14, 2017

CAPS Year Nine

Tomorrow, I get to meet a new group of Teacher Ed students and their parents.  Each year I wonder

 how I will ever relay to them the enriching activities we will be doing all year.  It seems that we always hit the ground running, and when have a chance to breathe, we are surprised at all of the
experiences we have had.

That's what I love about the CAPS experience.  Each day brings the possibility of something new.  Some of our best projects have come out of last minute ideas or business partner requests.  If I had turned them down because of my place in the year's curriculum, the students would never have had those memories.

I started with the CAPS crew nine years ago.  I have seen other members of our founding team leave CAPS and have seen others come on board.  Each year is different and yet just as interesting as the one before.

As I reflect back, I think of some of our most exciting projects.  Arcademics ( was a great partner.  After working on a project with two of our Teacher Ed students and a Filmmaking student, they hired all three students who worked for them through their college careers.  The Teacher Ed students would create math lessons, and the Filmmaking student would put them into video form and then send them to Arcademics for review before they were added to their children's educational games website.

We also have had great projects with Sprint, AMC, TapTeach, BrainPOP, Microsoft, other schools and districts, and many, many others.  The students are learning not only the traditional classroom management and pedagogy but are also learning very professional skills as they make their way through the processes needed to complete these projects.

This year, we are working with Real World Scholars and need to have our product idea ready to launch on September 5.  The students will be researching and building their presentation The Gig Gang Theory for Greenbush Educator Technology Conferences in Girard and Eudora, Kansas, as well as for the Regional Educators Rising Conference at Mid America Nazarene University.

And sounds like we are once again hitting the ground running.  To our alumni, we wish you a fantastic year of teaching or a fantastic year at college.  To our returning and new CAPS Teacher Education students, I will see you soon!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Candy Boxes

Yesterday, I attended the funeral for a friend, teacher, and former colleague.  Faye Smith was someone that you would not forget once you met her.  She had a broad smile, a great laugh, and an infectious love for life and people.

As I listened to her sons each speak about their mother and also heard from another former colleague who gave an overview of Smitty's career, I was humbled by her impact on those with whom she came in contact. I knew of some of the fun antics...the raisin costume and leading other staff in the fun of a pep assembly and the way she had to make everyone laugh and have a good time, but I learned new things about this remarkable person.

I didn't realize that she had been the first African American female teacher in the district or that she had been the first female to finish her teaching responsibilities while pregnant or that she got her ESOL certification or that she went back to get a second Masters degree in special education.  My goodness what this vivacious woman had gone through and had achieved.  All in all, she had a ferocious love of teaching and education, and it showed through everything she did to make sure she could reach as many students as possible.

The real thing that was so amazing, however, on top of everything else was her love for making people feel valuable and loved.  She gave out small candy boxes to people all of the time, just "a little something," to make them happy.  Her sons and her colleagues talked of her giving these boxes to friends, students, waiters and waitresses, everyone and anyone.  She was even known to bring them for all of her retired co-teachers group who met (at her direction) once a month to keep in touch and share their lives and would proceed to give the boxes to not only her friends, but everyone around including the restaurant workers.  At the funeral yesterday, there was a table at the back of the chapel, and it was covered in little, decorative boxes of all colors, designs, and shapes.  All were filled with chocolate treats. We were asked to take a box from the table as a last message from Faye.

The box I took was one that caught my eye first.  If you visit my Teacher Education lab at CAPS, you
will see it on a shelf...a constant reminder of Faye and what she taught me and everyone about doing just a little bit extra out of your way to make people feel special and to spread kindness.

Thank you, Faye.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Teacher's Legacy

Today I experienced something that only strengthened my thoughts about why people enter the teaching profession.  My dad is a career teacher and administrator.  His greatest love of all was music, and he led concert bands and marching bands for years.  He traveled to parades and national football championships to do half-time shows and took his bands to the Rose Bowl Parade. In all of the years that he has worked in various school systems and institutions of higher education, he has impacted so many students and families.  Of course I've always known that and respected my dad so much for the relationships he has built over time, but how do teachers know, unless students come back to tell them, what kind of influence their efforts had on the lives of those students?

The other day, on Facebook, a former student reached out to some of her former instructors with a quote about something to the effect of how teachers are not just teachers but lifelong connections, and her comments and the fact that she took the time to include my name in that list of former teachers energized me.  At that moment, I knew what I needed to do for my dad's 80th birthday.  Twice retired but still substituting, he could never give up this passion that he has within him.

I used the power of social media to make some strategic contacts who I knew could reach out to others in their "groups" to disseminate a request:  write a note, memory, or wish to send to my dad to celebrate his 80th mark!  Word traveled quickly, and in a few weeks time, I had well over 100 texts, notes, emails, cards, pictures, and more sent to me to be included in a scrapbook that I constructed and planned to present to him on his birthday.

Today was the day.  Before I pulled the thick, heavy collection of memories out of the decorative bag, I told my dad, "you know... sometimes people just need to know what impact they have had on the
lives of others."  He was taken by surprise, and as he opened the book and began to turn the pages, all he could say was "oh my, oh my."  Imagine the warmth I felt when I saw the emotions in my dad's face as he looked over note after note.  I cannot think of a better gift that I could have given.

My dad took the book home, and I know that he will have hours of reading and remembering people who found it in their hearts to take the time to send a long letter or just a simple "happy birthday." I watched him connecting with them once again, if just for a moment, through shared experiences.

My dad will know that he impacted the lives of many.