Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Salon #2 - Balancing Personal and Professional

This week has been a doozy...not a negative doozy...or a positive doozy...just a doozy.  We started with Winter Storm Warnings all weekend last weekend to which all the children in our Southern Mississippi school districts listened while panting and drooling.  The safest course of action in our area, which is better known for hurricanes than snow, was to cancel school on Monday, so that's exactly what happened.  Once the cancellation was official, my 6 year old (and even my teenagers) ran around like crazy people gathering mittens, boots, scarfs, etc...things we only usually get to use one day out of an entire year (if we're lucky).  Unfortunately, the precipitation moved in late Sunday night/early Monday morning, and much to my children's chagrin was only nasty slushy ice :p 
I wish you could have seen my youngest who jumped out of her bed at 6 a.m. and looked out the window hoping to see snow.
And the tears that followed :(

The rest of the week was pretty normal until Thursday and Friday...I traveled to the MS State Dept. of Education as a member of our state's Literacy Team (community college/adolescent literacy representative) to help write the draft of Mississppi's new Literacy Plan.  Our draft is due to the U.S. Dept. of Ed on Feb. 1, and we really made some serious progress.  I'm proud of what we've done and am honored to be a part of the process.   MS consistently ranks near or at the bottom in many, if not all, of the educational comparisons in the U.S.  I believe with this plan we are really and truly going to make a difference in the lives of the children in our state.  I will also continue to be involved as the transition/implementation takes place. 
Isn't that cool???

I have a couple more trips coming up to help other schools, community colleges this time, as they try to ramp up their students' literacy experiences.  This part of my work is actually my passion...there is an incredible misconception in the world today that literacy instruction ends once children learn to read.  I promise you don't want me to get into all the reasons that this misconception is completely false.  Of course, most of the readers of this post (as readers) will probably completely get what it is I'm trying to say.  But, you would be stunned at the number of people who don't get it at all.  Even within other content areas, students need continued support as they work to learn the "languages" of those other areas.  You don't read and comprehend a science text or lab report the same as a close reading of a literature text or read and comprehend an algebra problem (and yes, you do read these) the same as a historical timeline.  As text difficulty continues to increase, so should the amount of guidance that students receive within each of their classes...and not just in an extra English or reading class.
See, I told you that you didn't want me to get started.

My first trip is to KY...I could almost make this trip within 24 hours...but to keep my sanity I'm spending one night in a small community very similar to my own.  I'll be working more with this school in the future via long term professional development, so I'm looking forward to getting to know the admin and faculty that will be involved in their project.
My 2nd trip, however, is to San Francisco...I have no earthly idea how many times I've been to SF and Oakland in the last 5 years.  For 3 years straight I was there every other month working for the Lumina Foundation on another literacy project.  As cool as SF is and as much as I have enjoyed visiting over the is a long way from home.  My upcoming trip (still 2 1/2 weeks away) is 6 days :(  And I am already anxious about it.  It's not the work; the work is fabulous...a group of people with the same passion as mine...who pay me to go out into the world and sing my song :)
I'm just a big ole baby, I guess.
My name is Peppermint, and I am a homeaholic.

On the personal reading side of things I'm responding really well to my new reading/blogging schedule.  I've got myself under just enough reading guidelines and challenges to keep me focused...and that is exactly what I intended :)
I seem to be on a roll with Ebooks and may finish that challenge in a couple of months! Yikes!
I finally had the guts to DNF Traveling with Pomegrantes and select another audiobook in its place, South of Broad by Pat Conroy.  My mom gave me My Reading Life by Pat Conroy as part of my Christmas loot, so I decided to read something by him before I read something about him.
My reviews of Little Men and Four to Score are almost complete...very different books indeed.  The Stephanie Plum mysteries are such fast reads that I may hold off on posting my Four to Score review until I'm finished with the 5th book.  We'll see.
I'm struggling a little with Christy Jordan's cookbook, Southern Plate...I'm reading/cooking from it as an Okra far I'm just not impressed...does this ever happen to you?  What the heck do I do...just not write a review? or write a review and explain why I wasn't impressed?? HELP!
A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollenstonecraft is giving me a run for my money...I'm really into it, but I find myself reading certain parts over and over again, and I just about decided last night that she is saying some of the same things over and over again. The perspectives of all the other members of the Feminist Classics Book Club are also mind stretching, and there are members who've even provided even more background documents for our perusal as we try to get inside MW's mind as she was writing this seminal feminist publication before the word "feminist" was actually even a word.
This next week will be another doozy as I prepare my own students for their beginning of the semester assignments and psyche myself up to travel.

Better go put my "big girl britches"on :):)


  1. Oh my, I'm tired just reading about all you have going on.
    First, let me say kudos to you for making a difference in your community and the education community as a whole. Our kids (all ages) need more people like you who truly care.
    Now, let's talk about your crazy reading. I can't read more than one book at a time. Well, I can, but I don't care for it. I mostly read fluff. I like it and I am at the age that I do what I like.. most of the time. I do read things on time management and just overall self help kinds of things. In my "job" as a more senior Army wife, I like to know what I'm doing and brush up on my management skills while I'm helping others. So, sometimes I read fluff while I'm reading self help, but the self help usually suffers for it.
    I said all that to say, I don't do well reading more than one book at a time.
    I'm a home body too. Good luck with all these trips.

  2. One of my "life goals" was always to teach someone how to read. I guess that was accomplished with my kids, but I always admired those who worked in the literacy field.

    Safe travels with all of your trips!

  3. It's nothing be ashamed of, if you have to post a negative review. I think explaining why is always a good tactic. I'd much rather read a negative review that explains why than a bunch of "I loved this!" reviews.

    Wollstonecraft is a thought provoking and sometimes difficult to read author, but well worth it! Amazing to think of how progressive her ideas were then.

  4. What interesting and valuable work you do! This is such an important topic and it's great to see you making real progress. But I'm a huge homebody and can't bear to be away for even a night, so my heart goes out to you with all that travelling. As for reviewing negatively, don't worry about it. I'll bet you find, if you just stay true to your own feelings, you'll end up with a very fair and varied review. It's good to know why a book didn't work for you, because these thihgs are always personal and some other reader could come along and think, oh that's fine, that wouldn't bother me. So you are never really doing anyone a disservice!

  5. Wow, I need a nap just hearing about your past and future schedule. I need to find the guts to DNF a few books myself, good for you.