Another life update…

Several things have changed at Woodson – just in the time since I have graduated from high school (which wasn’t thattt long ago)…

  • Updated flooring
  • A big, heavy mat that the football guys use to practice rolls and tackling
  • Security cameras and fobs to unlock the outside doors
  • An intercom system
  • A second portable building for pre-K/K
  • New bell sounds (including funky dance music played when school dismisses)
  • Tutorial periods built into every morning and afternoon
  • New teachers, staff members and students (many in different rooms, too)

…but so many things are the same…

  • People still proudly wear black and gold.
  • The building still looks much like it always has on the outside, since being built in 1928.
  • We still call the our gyms the Old Gym and New Gym (though this is the New Gym’s 20th anniversary!).
  • There are dogs that everyone knows and loves, and we give them treats but also have to chase them off the football field during games at times.
  • You can turn to anyone for anything, and they will help you (Thanks to Mrs. Briles for teaching advice, Mrs. Matthiews for candy and Mrs. Lester for markers!).
  • We’re still a little family – just with a few different members – that works super hard, whether we are serving chili at Homecoming, driving bus routes after school, taking money at sporting events, decorating for school functions, counselling kids about love and life, spending our weekends and evenings at extracurricular functions, grading homework, making copies and lesson plans or researching new ways to present the correct information to students.

I ❤ Woodson ISD

I have been around education my entire life. My dad started out as a math teacher and head football and basketball coach then worked his way up to being principal and, eventually, superintendent. My mom has taught sixth grade, as well as family and consumer sciences, health and physical education classes. Almost all of this has been done at Woodson ISD, my second home. I started kindergarten there in 1997, as the “new” gym was being built on campus (right behind my house, since my family still lives in the school-owned, two-story house they moved into in 1991). I remember crying in Mrs. Bellah’s fourth grade classroom when my favorite childhood cat died. When 9/11 happened, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bundy, tried to explain to us what was going on. I graduated from WHS in 2009, after years of basketball, academic events, breakups and makeups and being taught everything from literature and exponents to lessons on how to be the best I can be and to bloom where I was planted.

Hook ‘Em

The University of Texas at Austin was my next stop for learning; as an 18 year old, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I started out in business, to be generic, realized that was not for me, began writing for The Daily Texan (one of the oldest and winningest college newspapers) and transferred into the school of communication, to study magazine journalism.

Adulthood

After graduating a semester early, I wasn’t in a school setting – but I was still learning! From 2012 to 2015, I had some amazing moments (started my own freelance marketing/writing business, attended New York Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities like Ryan Gosling and made many fun memories with friends and family) and some growing moments (like a quarter-life crisis, where I didn’t get a dream job – even with a degree from UT – so had to work six jobs and live paycheck to paycheck).

Back To Woodson

I heard that journalism was a dying art, but I was determined to make a living writing…but in the meantime, as a backup, I decided to get a teaching certificate. It seemed neat to pass my passion for writing and reading on to others, especially since I wasn’t finding that full-time magazine job I wanted. When I completed my training, there happened to be an English opening at a high school near me in Austin, so I applied and made it to the second round. When I didn’t get that, though, I heard that Woodson had an opening. I joked that I should apply…and then I did. I interviewed with the principal and teachers and was presented in front of the board and got the job! My at-the-time boyfriend, Tommy, and I picked up, left our friends and beloved ATX and moved to a small town so I could teach in an even smaller town.

My Thoughts On Teaching

Pros:

  • You do get to pass your passions on to others.
  • Your work schedule is nice, with long holiday and summer breaks (You still have to plan lessons and attend trainings – but it’s better than a 9-5 every.single.day.ever.).
  • I got to help with basketball.
  • I was surrounded by other creative and caring individuals.

Cons:

  • Not everyone loves writing and reading, but some people seem to love complaining about not loving it, which makes trying to get them to learn nearly impossible.
  • Even if you’re super organized like me, the preparation never ends, since there are state standards to adhere to and essays to grade and full lessons to plan…and some kids rush through assignments and some days bring substitute teachers, so you need back-up lessons…and some schools, such as the small WHS, need one teacher covering many areas, meaning planning for four different English levels + journalism + high school theater + junior high theater.

As said, I’ve always been around education, so I heard my parents’ stories of students and classes and TAAS/TAKS/STAAR and extracurriculars and inservice. I never thought I’d end up teaching, but I was SO excited to give back to Woodson, to share my knowledge and to use my experience/creativity/organization in the classroom and beyond.

However, here are some things people don’t realize…

  • People can be lazy and rude. Yes, different personalities and interests and people are what make our diverse world so neat. In a school setting, though, a certain level of effort and respect is expected. I know perfection is impossible – from anyone, in anything – but I was surprised at how many students seemed to not care about failing grades or bad attitudes. I know school can be challenging, and balancing activities + homework + life can be a lot; I was in this exact classroom not that long ago, though, and while several people failed tests and got d-hall (myself included, at times!), there was that level of effort/respect. We knew that we came to school to learn and work and study, so there was no point in complaining – just get it done! We joined the extracurricular activities we were interested in, and we showed up to practices and games, ready to work there, too, resulting in state championship football games and competitions/trips at Galveston and gold medals, blue ribbons and pride. This year’s volleyball team made it to the playoffs, and that’s the first time that any of these high school students have done that in anything; there are many factors that could play into this (tougher competition, changes in coaching staff, fewer players, etc.), but I have to wonder about the effort + success correlation.
  • Teaching is a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize the amount of behind-the-scenes details that go into this job – even someone like me, who saw Mom grade papers after the bell rang and had to wait on Dad to get home from practice/games/board meetings. The lovely STAAR test alone leads to certain things having to be taught to certain grades at certain times, all to try and pass this one test that keeps changing and getting harder. On top of that, there are normal concepts that each subject brings – such as making sure students understand fractions, commas, cells and the history of our country – and you have to find the textbook and worksheets and accompanying texts/papers and quizzes that go along with all of that. Finally, we are also responsible for instilling these young people with deeper lessons; there isn’t a state-issued list somewhere that says this, but a. students are sometimes with teachers more than their parents and b. at Woodson ISD specifically, we’re all taught character traits – like determination, honesty, punctuality and respect – and to “be the best we can be” (our school motto:).
  • Last but not least, Woodson’s population is only 296. There are less than 50 students in high school, and these students share a building with every grade, down to pre-K. Many of these kids are also bussed in from Graham and Breckenridge, as parents like having their children in more one-on-one settings and able to participate in more than one activity. As mentioned, with a smaller school and staff, your English teacher is also your UIL and OAP director and assistant basketball coach, and your principal and superintendent teach classes and coach teams, on top of all of their other responsibilities. This is how it’s always been, and for many years, Woodson had the same staff members, who were familiar with their jobs/roles and became family. Over the years, retirement and graduating children have brought in new, younger teachers – teachers who like starting out in smaller settings. Changes are going to happen in any school, and people move for numerous reasons. It can be said that Woodson is at a disadvantage, since we’re small and in the middle of nowhere and don’t have baseball. But we do have…
    • Exciting six-man football (State runners-up in 2008. State semi-finalists in 1980 & 2001. Quarterfinal champions & state runners-up in 1978 & 2007. Regional champions in 2006 & 2009. Bi- district champions in 1993, 1994, 1995 & 2000. District champions in 1957, 1960, 1967, 1973 & 1996. The boys’ teams saw success under Coach Gordon Thomas from 1992-2002, and under Coach Reece Walker from 2002-2008.)
    • A staff that hustles and cares (Do you know these people? You probably do, ha. They’re amazing.)
    • History (such as the town being named after J.O. Wood and his son, an impactful tornado, a railroad and a Japanese balloon bomb)
    • Awesome community members (and many are graduates of Woodson AND started booming businesses here – like Jones Trailer, BJB Transport and the Woodson Inn – where other current and ex-students work)
    • A high reputation (Woodson ISD was started by passionate people who hired other upstanding faculty members…members who helped make all the positive things mentioned in this very long piece possible…winning games and building a new gym and earning awards/praises from the state/surrounding schools and sending kiddos off to state competitions/top universities/high-paying jobs…and then possibly having them come back to spread some of that goodness around (i.e. Ashlee Sullivan, Kim Miller, Nanci Baxley, Melissa Vickers and Richard Sullivan).

Life Now

I don’t owe an explanation of why I came here, how I feel about it or what I will be doing now; but, as a writer, I wanted/needed to get all of this out. My now-husband, Tommy, is working to get job back in Austin – since we miss it terribly! – and my last day as a teacher at WHS was May 23. He actually fell in love with teaching when we were here, passed his content test with flying colors, spent the last year teaching at Olney and would love to be passing on his smarts to an ATX school. Since I started my own biz in 2012, I’ve kept that going on the side, and now it’s grown so much that I can write and tweet and blog and pitch publications all day, every day.

I loved being back at Woodson, and I look forward to continuing to give back to this amazing community, no matter where I end up or what I am doing. Thank YOU for helping to make Woodson so amazing, thank YOU for making the past two years so eventful, and thank YOU for taking even a tiny bit of inspiration from this and realizing that life is short, so we must bloom where we are planted and be the best we can be!

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just 10 things

  1. WOODSON, TEXAS: I’m from this town of 296, where my dad is the superintendent of the one school, which my brother and I started going to in kindergarten; we both graduated from WHS – and I only had seven people in my class. My mom was my sixth grade teacher and still teaches there – and I teach there now, too. No, we didn’t ride horses to school (I don’t even own a pair of boots.), but yes, I love this safe and comfortable home.
  2. WRITING: I remember asking my parents to buy me a tablet to write stories in when I was so young that some of my peers couldn’t even write complete sentences yet. English was always my favorite class in school, and I created my school’s newspaper and started contributing to my county’s weekly paper. I went on to major in journalism and write for publications like Austin Home, New York Resident and Us Weekly and cover events such as SXSW and New York Fashion Week. See where I’m currently writing via my online portfolio!
  3. AUSTIN, TEXAS: I attended the University of Texas at Austin and can still hardly believe I graduated from such an esteemed school. Though I’m away from ATX right now, I’ll be back, because I love it all: Alamo Drafthouse, Cathedral of Junk, Spiderhouse, Greenbelt, The Domain, Kerby Lane, Toy Joy, SoCo, the Veloway – See a complete list of my faves here😉
  4. MOVIES: I’ve always said my favorites are “A Walk to Remember the Titans”, combining two that I love. My family and I loveee going to the theater (mainly for popcorn and previews, amiright?), and if a movie can freak me out (in a scary or mind-blowing way (like “Predestination”…WaTcH!), I love it even more.
  5. FASHION: I always joked that when I die, I want to be cremated and spread around a mall, because I can’t get enough of new trends, window displays, glossy magazines, fashion blogs, “Project Runway”, fashion boards on Pinterest and buying new accessories/outfits!
  6. TRAVEL: I am used to making 28-hour drives to different states and have visited over half of them – and maybe a third of the baseball parks in the U.S. The only places I’ve visited internationally are Cologne, Germany, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (loved both…can’t wait to see morrre).
  7. CATS: I’ve probably owned about 75 cats, but right now, my husband and I are happily raising Catalina Crookshanks. I’ve also adopted a polar bear, and penguins = mine and Tommy’s spirit animals. Fourth fave animal = unicorn;)
  8. GLITTER: Everything is better with glitter (just look at this blog title and/or ask Ke$ha;)
  9. LOVE: I really really really do try to show love to all – why wouldn’t you? We’re all stuck on this rock together, so be nice/spread peace! Thankfully, it’s super easy to love my loved, because gawww, they’re amazing…like tooooo good to me.
  10. LIFE: Speaking of being on this rock together, remember that it’s all about balance and perspective and blooming where you’re planted and being the best you can be and breathing and finding your passion/sharing it with others and being you and laughing until you cry!
    • Balance: You will have amazing moments of triumph and happiness, as well as horrible moments of stress and sadness. Through it all, you can eat chocolate when you’re sad and happy and dream about the future while still making the most of the present. Everything in moderation, with your head on straight.
    • Perspective: When those sad moments occur, try try try to find the silver lining. Know that everyone deals with loss. And when you’re overjoyed, know that there’s a time for everything, and even good things must come to an end. ALSO, I say these mantras over and over, but I just decided to change this one to “bird’s-eye view”, so that they all start with “B”!
    • Bloom Where You’re Planted: How many times have I blogged about this? My high school English teacher drilled this into my brain, and now, I have it hung in my house and sneak it into my English lessons. You are where you are. Will you always be there? Probably not – since we’re always in a state of motion, with moves and career changes and marriage and etc. So wherever you are and wherever you end up, do your best in that very place.
      • ALSO, I’ve written a good deal about this state of motion: I used to say that life was all about waiting – We wait in lines and drive-thrus. We wait for our alarms to go off, our coffee to brew…for work to start and then be over…then wait until it’s time for dinner, bed and it all to start again.
      • Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that it’s all about change, too; my bff and I feel like we’re always…well…waiting for the next big thing! As we wait and move forward, we encounter these big life events, such as graduating college, finding a full-time gig, getting married, buying a house and having kids. I guess it isss exciting that there’s always something to look forward to…It just seems like the in-between (the “upside-down” I – and other “Stranger Things” fans – may call it) time is just…there – and this time of limbo just flies by!
      • So enjoy those little moments that do make you laugh until you cry, which can be filled with things as simple as going for a walk, stretching as you get out of bed, cuddling with your cat and this.
    • Be The  Best You Can Be: The Woodson ISD motto is a good one, and it’s simple (So why do we complicate things?): Be the best human you can be. Do your very best at every single thing you do. Period. Yay.

P.S. – Happy six-year dating anniversary to my husband, Thomas Wayne Baze. ❤

I am a teacher.

Halfway through my first year of teaching, in the midst of preparing for the STAAR test and directing a one-act play and planning a wedding, I did a little research, to make myself feel a little better, and to learn from others who have been/are in my shoes…

 

Juice Boxes & Crayolas – a cute teaching blog – points out the following facts…

Support system = needed item (and thankfully I have great people I can vent to/lean on!)

Outlet = a creative, de-stressing way to leave the day behind you (and when I have time to blog or read or watch Bravo, it’s a great de-stressor!)

Boundaries = things that must be set, in all areas of your life, especially as a teacher, when it comes to how you interact with kids and when you leave work each day (these have been interesting/different, since I’m teaching in a town of 296…at a K-12 school with 150 kids…from which I graduated…meaning I teach people I went to school with and have known since they were conceived…and teach with some of my old teachers…and my parents)

All those little creatures = precious babies (even if they’re not pure angels all the time…love ’em all anyway!)

Celebrate the small stuff – and the big stuff!

A First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide taught me that…

Nothing is perfect (so know that not every lesson, test, day, activity will be 100 percent amazing)

No is a word that should be in your vocab (even though it’s hard at a small school, when we’re expected to chip in everywhere)

Not everyone learns the same way (so make sure you’re not centering lessons towards one type of learner, one type of student or one human being)

Raid the supply closet (especially since bratty little teens will raid your closets, leaving you with zero pens come Spring Break)

Track memories (because it will all fly by, and you’ll want to look back and remember who gave you that cute little “I Heart My Teacher” sign)

Fake it (until you make it or until you look like you’re making it enough to get through eight periods, six weeks and/or August through May)

Vent (often. to trusted people. and then suck it up and get on with life again.)

Connect with your kiddos (so that they’ll want to learn more often and so that you can learn about/from them)

Love, Teach – a blog I think I’m now obsessed with – got really real…

…stating facts on how many students this teacher has, what type of students they are, how early this teacher gets to work, how his school deals with discipline and how “even though I love my job and work harder at it than I’ve ever worked for anything, the loudest voice in my head is the one that is constantly saying you’re not doing enough. I hear it all the time.”

 

It has NOT sunk in that I live in Graham, Texas, not Austin, and teach at my old high school – that I teach at all! I majored in journalism and dreamed of being a writer, so I’m glad I still get to write at times (even if it is just sappy, weird blogging). I thought education would be a good back-up career, and I thought that, someday, it would be nice to raise a family in Small Town, America. Now, I’m here, though, and I love the joys of teaching: when I have a kid tell me he gets it, watching students work hard in class so they can work even harder in multiple extra-curricular activities, seeing them take something they know/love and combine it with an assignment, showing that they truly understand and enlightening us all! The cons are…difficult…and I know the first year is the toughest, working in a small school means I’m not just an English teacher but 80 other things, and some kids just do not want to learn or listen, and when punishments nor failing scares them…what can you do?

I, personally, can…

  1. learn from my mistakes
  2. keep being the best I can be (our school motto!)
  3. bloom where I am (what my high school English teacher still tells me to this day)
  4. get creative in finding new ways to get sh!t done
  5. and remember that I’m young, life is short, possibilities are endless, and anything is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

anniversaries&hamster wheels

Today marks my five-year anniversary of graduating high school, and while I know that’s still way less than a 25- or 50-year celebration, it’s weird for me, since I swear that just yesterday, I was forcing my brother to play Barbies with me, getting braces, going to my first prom and wearing that number 10 jersey.

But just like that, I was off in Bevo Squarepants to Austin, majoring in business, switching to journalism, getting published in the country’s oldest college outlet, getting my first tattoo, interning in NYC, graduating with a college degree, receiving my first raise and living in – already – six different ATX locations.

And while I have loved every minute of all of these stages of life, I did need to speak about one thing: the hamster wheel of life.

When you’re a baby, you have a routine of sleeping, eating, burping, pooping and repeating, and though some of those tasks may change, we – for the most part – keep up routines, with going to school or work, going to the gym or happy hour, picking up groceries or kids, cooking, showering, sleeping…

It’s hard to not get caught up in all these tiny duties, and I’m a big believer in stepping back daily, to view your big picture, as well as the world’s big photo. That’s why you’re going to stop reading for a bit to watch this video:

This is Water on YouTube

See, we must remember that this is water: Even when we’re in annoying lines at the grocery store and even when we don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, we must remember that someone is facing a bigger battle, bills have to be paid, there are positives in every situation and – my fave – we have to bloom where we are planted.

As I’ve probably mentioned, I have tricks for getting through; even though I’m blessed beyond words, we all have “those days,” which is when I post inspirational quotes on Instagram (mostly for myself), do an extra dose of stretching/yoga/praying/meditation or indulge on cookie dough and/or Starbucks.

Recently, though, I was reminded that my high school English teacher/role model always said “bloom where you’re planted,” but I guess I forgot? I even have it written on a sticky note on my desk! I got too caught up in making these annoying, tiny duties feel better, when I should, first and foremost, be focusing on how to grow within the situations.

Sooooo….wrap-up/takeaway: Whatever you’re going through, even if it is just a long grocery store line, remember to stay grounded, keep things in perspective, give it your all and BLOOM!

Bloom

tight thursday: things i’ve learned

I don’t really like people.

Okay, that sounds harsh, but I guess when you grow up with only a handful of other people, enjoy quiet activities, surround yourself with people who also do the low-key thing…but then again…I’d kill for New York, I love the hustle and bustle of the mall and I think it’s really neat that there are tons of different stories and paths and memories out there…

I’ve got it; I don’t really like TALKING TO people. I can definitely mill around a store by you or scrunch up next to on the sub, but if our convo goes beyond, “Where’d you get that bag?” or “Please stop pinching my arm,” then I’m probably going to start sweating and stammering.

I did fine in speech classes always come out of interviews on top. And my parents’ friends always used to marvel at how maturely I could chit-chat with them.

It’s all an act, though. Fake it ’til you make it. As long as they can’t hear your heart pounding and feel your clammy palms, you’re golden.

Now, however, my job forces me to do customer service, which means I must answer a phone and take orders and help these strangers figure out their lives (or at least figure out which Bloom product they want).

After my first call, my boss looked at my face and was laughing. He said I sounded fine, though. Yay, again, for apparently glorious acting.

Later on in the job, I had to run to the bank for him once. So I’m strolling though downtown Austin – something I do NOT do enough (There IS more to DT ATX than just Sixth?!) – with all these other young, successful people, and I realized as I was talking to the bank teller that a.I wasn’t nervous and b.I really liked my present situation.

Rewind two years back: I needed a distraction in life, so I randomly decided to start volunteering at a hospice. I have no idea how this happened or why I thought it’d be a good thing, but this is where I met Homer.

I was paired with several people that semester, but my last one was Homer. The first day we met, I had just found out I would be interning in NYC for the summer, so he told me stories of traveling overseas when he served in the Army and of all his vacations with his wife. While Homer was wild and crazy, even at the age of 73, his wife was more reserved and laid-back, and I remember him telling me she particularly didn’t care for the busy Big Apple – especially the subway system.

When I finally reached the city, I thought of her on my commute to work sometimes. Then, one day at work, the company I had been volunteering through – Angel Heart Hospice – called and told me that Homer had passed away. Though I only visited with him once a week for a little over a month, I still cried for that man and for his gentle wife.

So, the moral of the story is that I guess I do like people!

The thing is, maybe I’m just picky, and I’ll only admit and accept and not completely freak out if I’m good with the circumstance.

Or maybe my insecurities will always cause me to freak out…but maybe I’ve also been lucky enough to be paired with awesome companions (of all types) and bosses and classmates…So, thanks!:)<3

tight thursday shows how much i admire my loved ones