Sunday, February 21, 2010

Enjoying the "fruits of our labor" -

I returned late Friday evening from a 7 day trip out West where I visited with four of my former students. I flew into San Francisco where Bob King ('84)met me at the airport and then the next day we drove up to Incline Village, NV to the home of our friends Davis/Ann Clark. Davis and Ann are former students from Pontiac Catholic High School in Pontiac, Michigan and I have known them since they were my students in 1975. We spent a wonderful time snowshoeing and skiing in Lake Tahoe. Ann is a high school art teacher in Incline Village and Davis is the IT person at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe. I have had the pleasure of going into Ann's school and presenting to her classes and to the entire school on issues of hazing, bullying, alcohol and drugs. It is always such a joy to see former students who are now to actively involved in their communities. Davis is the IT person who speaks "English" and not technobabble so he is much appreciated by those he works with at the Hyatt - again it is good to see how people greet him as he walks through that beautiful resort hotel. He has also been a coach and a substitute teacher and since Incline Village is such a small community, whenever we are together they are both greeted by many of their current/former students. Bob works in corporate America and was a work-study in the Student Resource Center when he was a student at SMC. He is currently working at the person in charge of all video-conferencing for a global financial corporation but has never lost that sense of the Catholic nature of SMC and his personality shines through in everything that he does. Bob is also VERY creative as he showed us when, after a day of skiing at Diamond Peak (ten minutes from DAvis/Ann's home) he created a You Tube video of MY adventures on the slopes. It seems that these three have somehow forgotten that I AM 66 and so when they convinced me that I really could navigate Crystal at Diamond Peak, I foolishly believed them. It was quite a challenge and while I survived, Bob's video camera caught some interesting footage which he turned into a very funny You Tube video - I have to admit that I NEVER thought I would be on You Tube....... If you want a good laugh simply go to You Tube and put in Dave Landers Hallelujah - let me know what you think....... After Bob returned to San Francisco another former student, Craig Farnum '99 drove up to Incline and hung out with us before driving me back to Reno with him where the next day I went with him into his high school and presented to the leadership class. Craig is the Lead Counselor and at 33 is one of the youngest Lead Counselors in the State of Nevada. Craig was a psychology major at SMC and a Spanish minor and he has made quite an impact on the people he works with. The students clearly love him and two of his fellow counselors AND his principal took the time to tell me how much they value him as a colleague. One of the senior students in the leadership class mentioned that she has always wanted to study Psychology but wasn't sure about exactly what she could do with that major - she is interested in a "job like Mr. Farnum" and after we talked I invited her to become part of my Practicum class when "Mr. Farnum Skypes into my class to talk with my college senior psychology students - - again, it is nice to be able to "enjoy the fruits of our labor" as I was able to see four people who are making a difference in our world but whom I have known for so many years. I tell students that if you decide to go into education or counseling you had better understand the concept of "delayed gratification" as it can sometimes take many years for us to actually see the "fruits of our labor."
Now that I am back, I have just completed grading the first papers from my Sports Psychology class. They are pretty good and I look forward to more of their critical thought and analysis on the many topics we are exploring in class. Men & Masculinities meets tomorrow night and after class I will be hosting the first of 5 dinners at my home. I have 6 students for dinner right after class on Mondays and while I cook, they talk and just enjoy being off campus and having someone else cook. I have, in the past, had to throw them out around 11 because I need my sleep. It was also interesting to note that when I mentioned hosting dinners at my house to the 30 students at Craig's school they were amazed - this is something they had no idea that college faculty do. I know that this is NOT unusual here at SMC and I look forward every year to having these dinners.

On this past Wednesday, in Lansing, Michigan, Louis Stamatakos was honored with the Silver Star, the third highest award that our government can give someone. I had Lou as a professor in my earlier graduate school days at Michigan State University where I received my Masters Degree. My brother-in-law Jim Wall also had Lou as a professor and they have maintained a wonderful friendship for many, many years. Jim alerted me to the fact that Lou, while never discussing this with friends and family, had, at the age of 20 saved an entire airplane which was flying over Nazi Germany during World War II - two bombs became entangled inside the plane and had they hit the sides of the plane, all would have been lost. Now, 65 years later - 65 years after the fact, Louis Stamatakos was honored this past week with the awarding of the Silver Star for untangling the bombs and saving the lives of all on-board. My best to Lou and his family on this long overdue honor.

As our men and women fight in two wars I hope that WE don't wait 65 years to keep them in our thoughts and prayers and to honor their service to our country and to us.........

take care and be well.


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