Last evening I attended an annual Hanukkah party at the home of my colleagues Ron and Naomi - it is always a wonderful event and not just because Ron makes the best latkes I have ever tasted. It is a gathering of good friends - many of whom work here at Saint Michael's College and some of whom are their neighbors. It is a luxury at this time of year to be able to gather socially with friends and colleagues and while we attemptto keep the conversation away from our students and/or our teaching, it is inevitable that we talk about the semester. For me the highlight (in addition to the latkes :)) was the shared reading of a children's story by most of us gathered there - after the lighting of the candles on their menorah by Ron and a couple of the children who were there, we all gathered in the living room for the reading of a children's story and as Naomi so wisely pointed out - "most children's stories are really for adults" Ron and Naomi's son Ari is our assistant men's basketball coach and someone I admire and respect greatly. I have also known him for most of his life and to see what a wonderful young man he has become is also one of those "perks" of working at SMC.
This IS exam week and while students all stress over our exams they often don't realize that we want them to do as well as they want to do themselves. Grading is perhaps the one thing that most of us don't like - while it is a necessary evil it is always difficult to gradestudents on what they have learned over the course of a semester. Perhaps I am jaded as I no longer have underclass students in any of my classes since I teach all upper-level courses but having watched my students grow and mature over a semester it is hard to place a letter grade on their accomplishments. With 16 students out in the community for my Practicum course, I am getting their site supervisors' evaluations and am pleased to see that my evaluations or these young people is reinforced by the comments and observations of their site supervisors. I asked my Theories class to provide me with a final paper in which they spell out the five most important things that they have learned over this semester about the field of counseling. Those papers are amazing as their insights into their own growth is very rewarding after a difficult and intense semester together. The final papers for Sports Psychology have also been submitted and now I am going to be reading their journal entries - I was NOT aware until three of them approached me that my assignment to "submit journal responses to all of the articles I post in eCollege" meant that they had to complete 32 responses - hummmm somehow I had simply lost track of the reality that I had, over the course of this semester, posted 32 different articles which pertained to the connection between sports and psychology. I quickly apologized and told them that they only needed to do 10. They were very grateful and those (few) who had already done many more were even more grateful when I told them that THEY would all get extra credit if they had already completed more than the NOW required 10. Being flexible in this age of technology is essential. :)
On Friday as I was driving from my home to campus I drove past the back of the Burlington Airport and watched as the soldiers of our Vermont National Guard filed out of the hanger into a waiting 747 which was to take them to Indiana for some final training prior to their deployment to Afghanistan. 1,500 Vermont men and women will NOT be home for the holidays with their families - they will either already be in Afghanistan or on their way - so once again, I ask that we all please keep all of our soldiers and their families and all of our veterans and their families in our thoughts and prayers at this time of year.
Take good care - enjoy Christmas or Hanukkah and be well - my posts to this blog will most likely resume in January