Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I am very proud of all of the students I teach at my small school. However, last year I was particularly pleased with the progress of one in particular, a shy fifth-grader named Ahmed Ali. When I first came to the school, Ahmed Ali was one of the lowest-performing students. He never raised his hand to answer questions and would often stare blankly at the wall or absentmindedly doodle on the pages of his school book during lessons. He, along with several other weak students, had pretty much been written off by most of the other teachers who would openly call him "stupid" and "very bad". Even my more sensitive coworkers expressed skepticism of his ability to ever improve.
Nevertheless I tried to encourage Ahmed Ali whenever I could. I would call on him to answer questions in class, even when he hadn't raised his hand, gently correct his mistakes, and praise him on the (unfortunately few) occasions he would answer a question correctly. Yet at the end of the first semester he still ended up with a final grade of a meager 34%.
Undeterred, I redoubled my efforts once the second semester began. I not only looked for ways to better Ahmed Ali's grasp of English but also for opportunities to make him a more active and responsible member of our class. He along with all of the students was at one point our Student of the Week (a concept my counterparts and I introduced to the school), charged with making sure all of his classmates were prepared and quiet for class each day. His face lit up when tasked with leading the other boys, which he excelled at. I would ask him to help me with special projects such as designing posters for our room; he particularly liked drawing a small picture of himself as part of a poster about ordinal numbers. I also congratulated him for his excellent efforts on assignments like our alphabet handwriting charts (a side project I created where each student had to completehandwriting charts for all the letters of the alphabet, their progress charted on a classroom poster to encourage friendly competition).
Before long, Ahmed Ali began to show more signs of improvement. He started raising his hand and participating during lessons, coming to me outside of class to ask for help, and he seemed to be in higher spirits throughout the day. When we had our second semester mid-term exam, Ahmed Ali scored a mark of 55%, a vast improvement over his previous exam. We were so proud of his accomplishment that my counterpart and I wrote a note home to his parents (an unusual step at our school) praising Ahmed Ali for his hard work and encouraging more of the same. He continued to show improvement throughout the remainder of the semester, and I was very happy to find that Ahmed Ali's final grade for the second semester was 68%, exactly double his score in the first semester.
Was it worth it? Two years of my life and thousands of taxpayers' dollars to help Ahmed Ali and his handful of classmates at a tiny school nestled in the mountains of northern Jordan? It's not an easy question to answer until you've experienced it for yourself. For my own part, I consider it an honor to have served in the Peace Corps and I would do it all again in a heartbeat….though maybe without the centipedes next time.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Isn't it too cute and funny? In late summer of 2002, Stan decided he would let his hair and beard grow out all scraggly so he could be a werewolf for Halloween, which he did. He looked great too. But the morning after he shaved, and went for a haircut. That weekend we got all gussied up and went out for a nice dinner, and I took his picture to remember him by.
The thing was, he looked so different to me. I kept telling him, "You sound just like yourself!" and he'd say, "I am myself!" When I emailed this photo to a friend he said he thought Stan looked like a bishop! Eh?
I am so pleased with her getting this attention, and this chance to show the world what she holds inside herself. Perhaps this will teach all of us to pause a beat before we determine what someone is like. I hope I do. I pray we all will.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Yep -- I'm a Wheel Watcher. I don't know why, but I love to watch and play along. I'm also a big fan of Pat Sajak (but not like that wierd SNL guy!). I wish I was brave enough to try out for the show. I think it would be a blast.
When AJ was a baby, still little enough that he was dashing around in his walker, he used to watch Wheel of Fortune with me. I think he liked all the colors and noises. He was also just starting to talk and would perk up when he heard something he understood. One time a contenstant asked for the letter D, to which Pat replied, "Yes, there are two D's"
AJ threw up his hands and started yelling "Doo Dees, Doo Dees!" thinking, perhaps that Pat was asking him if he needed his diaper changed or something. It really cracked me up.
So ... do any of you have any guilty pleasures??????
Friday, April 17, 2009
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men;
But different folk have different views,
I know a person small ---
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She send 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes ---
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
1) go to your 6th folder
2) go to your 6th picture
3) blog about it
4) tag 6 people
So here goes:
This picture was taken of Stan and I about two and a half years ago. His cousin's oldest son was married in their front yard (they live over off Constitution in that area zoned for horses between Powers and Murray). It was a hot October day, and I was feeling pretty good because I'd just lost 50 pounds. That's what I always think when I see this picture--but when I look at it I can't see any difference. It was a fun wedding. His other cousins were out from California along with his aunt and uncle (his father's brother). His aunt got a little tipsy and let the beans spill that the bride was preggers. We had a good time that day!
Anyway, if you want to play tag with me, and Tara and everyone else--go for it!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Since the 1950s Hannah has lived in the zoo, lovingly tended for by Sam. As it becomes clear that Sam's ability to care for her is growing to a close, and the quality of Hannah's life is compromised, the people that surround her rally to help this sweet, gentle creature who needs their help.
The characterizations are true to life and full of color. It almost makes you wish that you could be there to help Hannah yourself. The novel also helps you to see that love comes in all shapes, sizes and species. This book will live in my heart for a long time.
Inspired by the story of Shirley the Elephant which is one of the most touching tales I've ever heard, Hammond has written a poignant novel about love, devotion and doing the greater good. Well written, it captured my attention and made me want more. If you pick up this book you won't be disappointed!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. My Father and I will come to you and abide with you.”
Friday, April 10, 2009
Dean Koontz, Novelist
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The food was amazing and plentiful and delicious. The women were funny, smart, interesting and we met and talked and ate and talked and talked and talked. I had such a good time!
Then she had all the items for us to make a special Easter lesson to take home and share with our families this weekend. What a thoughtful gesture! Even my 17 and 19 year old boys are excited for Sunday evening when we can open up the colored eggs she gave us with their messages and symbols of this precious holiday.
I have always believed there is nothing better than being in the company of good women, and today affirmed that for me. Thank you Kristeen, I love you!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Brother Uchtdorf, who is one of my favorites, reminded us that this life is not a sprint race. It is a race of endurance. A good thing to keep in mind when we are hard on ourselves for not being completely perfect in every way (nods to Mary Poppins!) I always say I may not be a show horse, but I can go the distance. He reminded me that is probably what is more important.
I am so grateful that we have this time, twice a year, to reevaluate ourselves, and to sit at the feet (so to speak) of these men who counsel us and teach us and feed our souls to help us keep going -- sort of a spiritual pit stop. I needed it. Now I can't wait for Easter!