Earthquake drill and "Reclaim Alaska"

Friday, March 28, 2014
I never fully appreciated the lengths at which the administration protected (with ferocity) the instructional time within the classroom.  This school year has made me grateful, more than I can even articulate, the professionalism demonstrated by colleagues in my previous schools.

Next week the students will be taking their standardized tests and high school exit exams.  This, in and of itself, not new at all.  In Texas it was the TAKS test, in Arizona the dreaded AIMS test and Terra Nova.  In Alaska, the underclassmen 7,8,9th grades take the SBA's (Standard Based Assessment).  This will attempt to demonstrate whether or not the students are on par with the other students around the state.  The sophomores take the HSGQE (High School General Qualifying Exam).  This exam differs from the SBA's in that, it determines if students have the bare minimum education in order to receive a diploma - far easier than the TAKS or the AIMS tests.

I consider myself an expert at helping students prepare for testing both by giving them review of content (reading and writing) and sharing tips that will help them with general test-taking as well as test-taking anxiety.  The time prior to AIMS and TAKS was precious - a final "push" to make sure we had done EVERYTHING possible to shore-up success in our students.  I always viewed this very similar to a football game at the end of the week - athletes practice during the week, give their best, get ready, and then on Friday show just how hard they've worked.

This week prior to testing next week we have been bombarded with "random crap" and I have just about hit my "random crap" allotment allowance for year.  Case in point.  This morning to commemorate the 1964 great Alaskan Earthquake, we spent 10 minutes today (technically only 3 minutes) practicing "duck and cover".  We were issued this in our mailboxes.

Our admin has zero spelling and grammar skills.

As I said before what was supposed to be 3 minutes turned into about 15-20.  The juniors (the class that I had during the earthquake "reenactment") took 3 minutes to discuss how stupid this is, another 3 to complain that they wouldn't fit under the desks, 3-4 laughing their heads off while they were under the desk and then another 15 to get settled after it was all done. {{Sigh}}.

Finally following all that in the morning, we had "Reclaim Alaska".  This is supposed to be a grassroots effort to curb the drug use on the island. *If I actually spent some time giving the drug use stats here jaws would DROP!  They have started this organization to discuss the problem - and at present, all that is being done is discussion.  The meetings are 2-3 hours long and time out of class.  The students even say "I know not to use drugs - we don't need group therapy for 3 hours to discuss it!"  They are so far beyond done with it.

Again, this is turned into a "wee bit of a rant" but I would like to know how to review and get my students ready for 4 days of testing, stress the importance of doing well, get their buy-in, when it is clear that the administration and community do not.


Freezin' my St. Paddys off!

Friday, March 14, 2014
Kiss me, I'm IRISH!  I am so excited that this Monday we get to celebrate a favorite holiday St. Pat's! Wahoo.  I'm sure that I've mentioned (at least to all of those who actually read the blog) that I am a Celt-o-phile.  All things Irish, that's my motto.  In fact for those of you who don't know, the very handle I used to meet my husband was Irish Eyes.

My Celtic heritage is a cause for celebration.  The last time we were in anchorage we bought a beautiful corned beef that has been mocking me from the freezer every time I look at it.  I seriously cannot wait!  This year for our St. Paddy's feast I will be attempting an Irish soda bread as well - more on that to follow.

I know more than a few posts have been dedicated to the weather here, so I'm sorry if another one is coming at you.  However, this week the winds have shifted and the weather is coming from the north, which means it is Arctic weather - also known as freakin' freezin'!  Shocking, right...cold in Alaska!?

Our daily weather here keeps me at a slight level of chilled...being the desert rat that I am, I can TOTALLY handle the dry bitter cold, even negative temps.  Here the cold has been given an altogether new meaning.  I now understand what my Mom, my Aunt, and my Gram all felt.  I was sweltering while the three of them (whenever in my presence) were popsicles and truly hilarious.

I distinctly remember a visit from my Mom and Aunt, I believe it was in Salt Lake (many moons ago) where they were both in flannel pajamas, underneath my down comforter from Germany, and huddled together like two sad little orphans, while watching television.  My grandmother on another note wore long johns almost every day of her life including the summer! Cray, cray!
So now, after many years I yield.  Our temperature the past few days has reached a high of 17 degrees accompanied with a wind that literally has taken my breath away.

Last night, after parent teacher conferences we went home, I put on my PJ's and crawled under my blankets and shivered. Period. Layed there and shivered.  Then I layed and shivered some more.  I had long sleeve pajamas, long johns, and a heavy quilt on top of me and still I shivered.  I was shivering so badly by the time Fisherman got into bed he thought I was having a seizure (well maybe).  He plunked into bed and said in his mocking tone "I don't know why you're so cold".  Maybe that is how I sounded to my Mom and Aunt all those years ago when I said "It is not cold...I can't believe you're still so cold".  Well, I have learned my lesson.  I. AM. COLD.  Bone-chilling, arse-kickin' COLD!  I longingly look forward to going home this afternoon/evening, having some tea, putting on my homemade wool socks, and getting under my covers.

A squall, a shout out, and EARTHQUAKE!!!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
This morning we woke up to winter - I'm guessing Mother Nature is back off her meds and allowed the cold, blowing snow, and bitter cold to jump up and bite me this morning.  I looked outside as I was getting up and it was starting to snow with just a slight breeze.  By the time the sun came up there was a FULL ON squall complete with ground winds (which make things look even colder) slithering on the pavement.


 Last night we (or I) was J-O-L-T-E-D out of bed by a CRASH and then a BANG not to mention the violent shaking of the bed (let's keep it PG folks).  I asked {{shrieked}} to Fisherman "what was that" - he, already in his coma replied..."Babe, it is just the wind." Wind? Peshaw!  I asked him "are you sure?I think it was an earthquake!"   It WAS a full on earthquake, 3.7 to be exact.

When I came into breakfast this morning I was greeted with the usual salutation of "Good morning, did you sleep well?'  I grunted something along the lines of "yeah, sort of...(remember human speech early in the morning - like razor blades in my brain)".  He then concedes to me, "Babes, you were right it was an earthquake last night, the epicenter was right here in Sand Point"!  I was thinking "duh".  I may have balance issues, trip over my own feet...often, and walk around in a daze until about 10:00am, but I can feel an earthquake. Helllllo!

   Lastly, as I have been questioning my life's work, wondering what, if any, difference I have made in the lives of students - I was pleasantly surprised by the shout out of two former students who are doing MAH-VELOUS things with their lives.  Diera and Gloria are students that I had, well Diera anyway, but I claim Gloria by association (having had her sister in my senate).  These two lovely women are traveling the world and rockin' the U.K.  Gloria recently finished her undergraduate work at Baker University and is now on staff at Harlaxton in the U.K.  Diera is globe-trotting this semester and they met up at the Harlaxton Manor.  Both girls are social media gurus giving me an awesome "shout out" on Diera's VLOG, so I thought I would do the same.  Without further adieu...I give you Diera and Gloria:


Sending love, shout-outs, and shakes,


Monday, March 10, 2014
I came to the realization last night that Fisherman and I are collectively a couple without a home. Since we were married last summer and having moved to the island, we have "stuff" scattered in 3 states - New Mexico, Montana, and here in Alaska. I have begun the packing process for our exodus off this rock and in doing so want to ship some of my teaching materials out of here, knowing there will not be room on the truck. I started boxing some items up to take to the post office and realized last night...I have no idea where to ship these items TO.  UGH, {{hyperventilation}}!

I then began my Sunday self-reflection and realized that Fisherman thinks of Montana as home, I think of Farmington as home, but we collectively do not call any place our home.  I became almost frantic.  I get like this...I see a small little issue, chew on it for a long while, and then stick the nasty wad of gunk straight into my hair.  Fisherman's pet peeve is that I analyze every little thing TO DEATH and then analyze it again to find some other hidden meaning.  I have tried to convey to him that this is not solely a technique that I use, but women in general do not have an off switch.  Our brains are constantly in motion, constantly multi-tasking, and we are riddled with worry.

It scares me more than I can say that I do not have any plans beyond May 18th.  I am scared to death that I will not be able to get a job beyond this island.  I don't have a home.  In fact, lying in bed last night I was just turning this around in my head for another evolution when I asked Fisherman..."where do I belong?" and his sweet, comforting response was "you belong with me".  I felt better for the moment and was finally able to close my eyes and sleep.

Moving on to the next item for concern,

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