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. ❤

70+ English Resources!

I have only been teaching for a year and a half, but over that time, I researched numerous sites, attended several workshops and built up a huge list of resources; I teach English I-IV, journalism and theater arts…and if you do, too, here’s some assistance!

Below, you will find over 70 links to websites full of assignments, projects, worksheets and more!

I also sell lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers and have a Pinterest board dedicated to all this creative/hard work we put in! Follow me! Tell me what awesome links I left out! We’re all in this together…(cue High School Musical dance;)!

ENGLISH

General Lesson Plans (with some linked directly to my fave page on the site!)

http://www.varsitytutors.com/englishteacher

Grammar

Writing
Reading
Vocab
Worksheets/Quizzes
STAAR (resources, practice, details, info)
ACT
JOURNALISM
THEATER ARTS

What Should You Be When You Grow Up?

1. When you were a child, you could be found playing with:

A. Sporting equipment

B. Dolls

C. Sticks

D. Crayons

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2. In middle school, you were known as the kid that:

A. Won every game

B. Wore makeup early

C. Never bathed

D. Was always reading

 

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3. Your first love was:

A. A sports team

B. A total hottie

C. Ew, gross, no!

D. A secret

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4. When graduating, you wanted to be remembered for:

A. MVP records

B. Your looks

C. Anything

D. The sets you designed for plays

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5. If you could’ve picked any college major, it would have been:

A. Skipping school and heading for the pros

B. Something that will allow me to model on the side

C. Whatever is easiest

D. A major that would’ve let me truly express myself

college-student_choosing-major1

 

 

 

 

6. Your biggest accomplishment so far is:

A. That state championship in high school

B. Finding true love

C. Still being alive

D. Landing a job you’re passionate about

dream-job

 

 

 

 

7. Speaking of seven, our final question, who do you consider lucky:

A. Lebron James

B. Kim Kardashian

C. No one – luck is dumb

D. Me, of course!

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If you answered mostly…

A: It may be too late to join the NFL (maybe!), but why not consider getting your personal trainer certification or teaching Little League? Your love of the game will come across as helpful in these situation – when you do find time to squeeze them in around your season tickets!

B: You’re known for your looks, but remember to stay modest! You could definitely try modeling – or at least attempt getting famous on social media, by sharing your outfits and design through blog posts and Instagram photos.

C: You don’t really know what you want – and that’s okay. By picking up new hobbies, hanging out at new places and trying new things in general, you could discover a whole new passion!

D: It will do you good to stay in a position that keeps your creative juices flowing, whether you’re writing novels, painting for fun or teaching/volunteering at a local theater!

A long piece of #inspiration and #motivation to help you #live #life

~by the lovely and wise Catherine Schwenkler~

here’s to the dreamers

and to the twenty-somethings

who set out into the world

to use their skills and passion

who lie awake o’ nights

so much to do — where to start?

here’s to feeling overwhelmed,

because they care

getting up every morning

and doing it all over again

trying things out and trying again

here’s to being open to possibilities

here’s to thinking outside the box

here’s to tossing OUT the box.

here’s to living authentically

happily

messily, with lots of twists

arriving in places that aren’t even in the realm of our imagination right now

let’s be idealistic thirty – forty fifty- and ninety- somethings together!

forealz.

forealz.

The piece below was written by Marina Keegan ’12 

The best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us, and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

We’re in this together. Let’s make something happen to this world.

...wherever I may be...

…wherever I may be…

In 1997, Glamour magazine published a story titled “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.” The list, written by Pamela Redmond Satran, was so popular that women started emailing it around, misattributing it to various female luminaries including Maya Angelou and Hillary Clinton. Noting what a phenomenon it had become, the editors of Glamour created a book around it, featuring essays from (mostly) famous women on each of the items on the list. The book, released today, includes meditations from Katie Couric on work and love, Portia de Rossi on accepting your body, and one from the list’s original author, who is also a Huffington Post blogger, on how to live alone.

By 30, you should have …

1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.

2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.

3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.

4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.

5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.

6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age — and some money set aside to help fund it.

8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account — all of which nobody has access to but you.

9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.

10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.

11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

13. The belief that you deserve it.

14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.

15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

(so far, so good!!!)
By 30, you should know …

1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.

2. How you feel about having kids.

3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.

4. When to try harder and when to walk away.

5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.

6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.

7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.

8. Where to go — be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat — when your soul needs soothing.

9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.

10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.

11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.

12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.

13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.

14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.

15. Why they say life begins at 30

(know I should at least work on #9, ha)

ExACTLY

ExACTLY

And finally, a great Thought Catalog piece.

I know I talk crap on being a twentysomething but I’m only half-kidding. In actuality, there’s no age I’d rather be. (Besides maybe seven years old because they don’t do anything besides eat ice cream and poop themselves. That sounds like an ideal life to be completely honest.)

Being in your twenties is all about discovering which things hurt you and what makes you feel good. You go in blindly, practically pricking yourself with a dull blade, and then you walk out with tougher skin. One day you’ll stop pricking yourself altogether. Maybe. I don’t know. How would I? I’m just a twentysomething, remember?

This is what your twenties are for — to feel and see as much as you can, to take advantage of not being tied down to anything and anyone and to go balls to the wall with everything that you do. You’re a raw nerve. You hate getting upset over little things, about being constantly unraveled by ignored text messages, parents, grades, and friends, but you have to remember something: you don’t know yourself entirely yet. Before the age of 20, you were mostly under your parents care, a reflection of what was going on around you. You didn’t have the option to make your own choices. You were merely living the life someone set out for you.  Being in your twenties allows you to start carving out the life you want for yourself. Everything is on your terms now which seems daunting but is actually liberating. For the first time in your life you’re the boss.

It’s important to talk about why your twenties are great because it seems like we spend so much of our time wanting to be somewhere else other than where we are. Think about it. Why the hell are we in such a hurry to live some boring grown up adult life that we saw at a Crate & Barrel? Because once we do get there, we’re stuck for a long time. The novelty’s going to wear off, we’re going to get married and have babies, and everything will be amazing but don’t think for a second that you won’t be nostalgic for this time. Don’t think for a second that you’re not going to miss those nights you spent putting on your make up, changing five million times, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes out your apartment window, and going to some silly party, a party that feels like all the others you’ve been to but still has the right to feel special. You will miss all of this. This is a luxury. It’s going to leave us eventually so you better freaking enjoy it. You better enjoy every lame ass party, every awkward kiss, every 5 AM hangover, every drug experience, every crappy apartment, because one day it will all be gone and you’ll just be left with the pictures and the bruises and nothing else. Youth is fu**ing magic. Don’t you get it? Look at your skin! Touch it. Look at your smooth legs and stomach. Grab it. When you’re older, you’ll want all of this again so bad. You’ll possibly spend so much money to get some semblance of it back. Now it’s yours for free.

We’re not stuck. Even if it feels like we are, it’s not true. We’re the opposite of stuck. As twentysomethings, we’re constantly moving — apartments, relationship, cities, jobs. Anything is possible. People are ready for you. They want to hear what you have to say. They look at you and are curious about what words are going to come out of your mouth. You’re the new generation. What do you have to say? Don’t bite your tongue. One day you’ll be pushed aside for a younger “fresher” perspective so you better get it out now. Make a mark. Make a stain. Make something.

I want to remember the fear, I want to remember the promise, I want to remember the nights I wanted to curl up in a ball, I want to remember the people I’m not supposed to remember, I want to remember not knowing myself, I want to remember the moment I started to feel safe and like this life I’m leading is really mine. I’m going to be scared, I’m going to bruise my knees and not know how they got there, I’m going to try to fruitlessly forge a connection with someone who won’t ever get it, I’m going to lose the person that means the most to me and find my way back to them. I’m going to be a twentysomething because that’s what I am and all I know how to be.  And you should too. You should love every single moment of this hot mess of a decade. Chances are you’ll miss it before you even get to say “I’m 30.”