Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thoughts on CT

I am in the office this morning because I wanted to send a message to some of my students.  My Practicum class has 15 seniors who are out in the community working 8 - 10 hours a week at a variety of sites.  They are an amazing group of young people and as you will see from my email to them this morning, I just wanted to share some thoughts with them about the tragic events in Newtown, CT yesterday:

Good morning everyone - no, I am not in the office this Saturday morning checking on your Journal entries -

I have however been thinking a lot about all of you since the tragic news from Newtown, CT has filled our lives. I seldom wish that the semester goes beyond our ending time but found myself wishing that we were still in session yesterday so that we could all gather and talk about the events that unfolded yesterday and to LISTEN to each other as we all struggle to make sense of the senseless. I posted something on Facebook last night that I have, unfortunately posted too many times over the past couple of years and that was that it IS ALRIGHT to NOT follow every minute detail of such a horrendous human tragedy - it is so easy to become so caught up in the emotions of the event that we are literally unable to function. Those of us who have chosen this profession dedicate our lives to helping others so find it incomprehensible that anyone would choose to hurt and/or destroy others - WE try to make sense out of something that makes NO SENSE now and will, most likely, never make any sense. We all want an answer to the question WHY yet know at some level that that too has an inadequate response.

Watching the President of the United States tearing up during his statement to the nation yesterday is unprecedented - I have never seen something like that in all of my years yet he spoke for all of us when he said that we have broken hearts. He spoke, not only as our President, but as a father - WE don't have to be fathers (nor Presidents) to have similar emotions. Those of you who work in schools or who work with young people, especially will be impacted beyond what your peers are - WE all ask "what would we do?" if we were ever confronted by similar situations in a classroom or our school. Ever since Virginia Tech, I have had a "plan" for protecting YOU should anything like that happen here on our campus in our classroom. Reports are that the principal, a teacher and the school psychologist were among those killed. At a time when "some" have chosen to denigrate teaching and "some" have chosen to speak negatively of the impact that teachers today have and at a time when "some" want to cut down the number of teachers in our schools, to cut back on mental health services for young people and who want to cut funding for education across the country, these people in Newtown, CT only wanted to protect their students.

Please take good care of yourselves, talk with your family and friends about what YOU are feeling about all of this and, while I KNOW that you tire of my telling you what a difference each of YOU make in your setting, be it with senior citizens, on a telephone hotline, working with those addicted to drugs, helping others deal with pain, listening to someone who is mentally ill OR working with incarcerated/protected youth OR working with kids in schools - YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE........ please don't forget that.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

AN amazing speaker and Classes are over for the semester BUT......

Yes, classes are over for the semester BUT it IS Saturday morning and I AM in the office grading papers and reviewing journal entries for all of my classes.  I took this picture (see below) the other late afternoon as I was leaving here and heading over to the Ross Sports Center to watch our women's basketball game - Cara Deroy and Kayla Carnell are on the team and in my classes so it is always fun to see them in action on the basketball court.  This afternoon, after more grading and journal readings, I will head to McCarthy Art Center to listen to Mallory Hyland who is also in one of my classes and who is a member of a vocal group that is presenting their concert.  Tonight I MAY head back to Ross to listen to the very funny comedian from the Daily Show - John Hodgman (remember him from the PC v Apple commercials - he was the PC man). Busy times with finals beginning on Monday morning.  I continue to be amazed at just how fast semesters are flying by these days. 
There is always so much for US to do and for our students to do.  This past Wednesday we had an amazing speaker.  "Dr. Chloe Schwenke is the Senior Advisor for LGBT Policy (global) and the Senior Advisor on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance(Africa) at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is a senior political appointment by the Obama Administration." She is also an amazing speaker and a warm and genuine human being who gave a riveting talk to a good sized crowd before joining some of us for a nice dinner with a small group from campus.  She spoke in classes, spent time with our students in the Center for Women and Gender and as my students said, "blew them away." As one of three transgendered people in the Obama Administration, her presentation, sponsored by our Common Ground helped all of us who met her open our minds - even, if for some, it was just a little bit, our minds WERE opened as she is just such an honest and genuine and spiritual person who cares so deeply about others and puts her "talk" into a "walk" through her efforts for the Obama Administration.  Thank you Chloe for sharing your insights with us.
Back to the grading - please take good care, be well and, as always, PLEASE keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers as WE all enter the Christmas season and THEY are still dealing with the sometimes daily reality of war.