Summer is Fading

With the new “balanced-calendar” scheduling, teachers report back during the first full week of August, which leaves me with little over two weeks left before going back to work.

While it’s a bit disappointing, I’m fine with coming back to work.  Well, for the most part.  I’ll miss the idea of being able to sleep in (honestly, even during the summer, I still manage to wake up at around 6 o’clock or even 5 a.m.!) but I’m also looking forward to helping out with another class.  Last year’s class manage to come together for the most part and I was extremely proud of how they managed their growth during the course of the school year, both academically and as citizens of our community.  It was absolutely fantastic to see.  The challenge, of course, is to see if you can do it again.  That’s always a great motivator for me.

Anyway, to continue with the summer!

But first, another disappointment.

I was planning a little trip to Los Angeles to visit friends.  I was going to leave this week in fact.  I was excited by the opportunity to hang out with some of my oldest friends, taking in the sights and sounds of Southern California.  But sometimes, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . often get small chunks of rock thrown violently against the windshield of your car, enough to where is breaks the first layer of your windshield to cause a splinter pattern of cracked glass that’s beyond repair.  The only option is to replace the windshield and the replacement windshield isn’t coming to the glass installation company until later this week.

So much for the trip.

Anyway, on to some other, more positive things!

For this entire year, starting on January 1st, I’ve made it a goal of mine to take a picture for each day of 2014.  In retrospect, I should’ve been writing on this blog the entire time I was doing it, just to explain some of the things that happened to me as I was exploring Reno, Sparks, and both Nevada and California.  So I think I’ll do that.  Maybe not everyday, but on a day where there’s more to the picture, where the story behind it needs to be told.

For now, I’ll leave you with some favorites of the past week.  Hope you enjoy!  In case you’re wondering, I do have an Instagram as well as an account with 500px if you’d like to follow along.


From a scenic viewpoint at Lake Tahoe


Rose Garden at Idlewild Park in Reno


More from the viewpoint at Lake Tahoe









Tahoe Scenic Viewpoint

More from the scenic viewpoint at Tahoe

Summering. That’s a Verb, Right?

Last weekend was the annual Art Club Field Trip to the Nevada Museum of Art.  It was also the first time Room 55 Students had a lesson taught to them by one of the docents of the Art Museum.  Normally, I’d take the students through the museum itself and then have lunch at a local restaurant.  This time, however, the Nevada Museum of Art was kind enough to let us participate with the guided tour and time within their studio.  A big shout-out to the Nevada Museum of Art.


At the entrance of the Museum


If you’re a local or just a resident of Washoe County or the surrounding areas (Carson/Douglas . . . where you at!), I definitely recommend visiting the Museum.

Currently, the museum is showcasing two things:

  1. There is a collection on loan from the Haukohl Family who apparently own the largest collection of Baroque Pieces in the United States.  Very impressive collection.
  2. There was also a collection from Doris Duke’s home in Hawaii.  Now known as Shangri-La, it is a center for the study of Islamic Art and Culture.

Funny thing about that .  .  .

. . . I used to live in Hawaii and had no freakin’ clue this was there!  Of course, I was probably occupied with doing 10-Year-Old Boy stuff when I lived in Hawaii, but still!  Definitely a place I want to see if I manage to make it back to Hawaii 🙂


New Installation!

Anyway, I thought the visit went great.  It was awesome to see as many students come to the field trip during the summer, especially some of the students who haven’t been in my class for a few years!  However, once they’ve gone through the class, they do have that privilege of coming back on the trip, if I manage to stay in touch with them!



Some of the kids in front of the Blossom


Anyway, we finished our trip with the Art Lesson, which centered around creating mandalas using a heavier weighted foil paper.  There was also talk of geometry, especially defining asymmetrical design.  I was happy the students could define “symmetrical” and sort of arrive at the conclusion that “asymmetrical” mean it wasn’t.  As far as the embossing lesson itself, I’ve seen done before with embossing dragons (which I think I’ll do as a lesson next year) but this was a great application as well!

Naturally . . . I took some pics of the Art Project as well 🙂


For a simple project, there were some very intricate designs by the students 🙂











Lots of hard work went into this one 🙂


This one was creative, I thought 🙂


This was beautifully executed!

We finished the day at My Favorite Muffin and Bagel 🙂  In all, a very fun little excursion into the city.  I just hope the kiddos had some fun with it as well.

Now . . . it’s time to travel.  And I think I’ll write more on my “Photo a Day” deal 😉


Summer Continues :)

So this week, I had an opportunity to watch Neil Gaiman at The Warfield on Wednesday night.  This was a “bucket-list” item for me, as seeing one of my favorite authors read live is something I’ve always wanted to see.  A big thank you goes to my family who set this up for my birthday.

As far as the experience itself, it was a fascinating show, filled with music, laughter, and art, but for me, hearing Gaiman read live was a rather interesting experience.  Not to mention the classic beauty of The Warfield itself.


For the first time, aside from watching YouTube videos which clearly doesn’t replicate the ambiance of setting (especially in the case for The Warfield), the “flow” was truly felt (I’m a big fan of “flow”).  Neil was there to read his story The Truth is in a Cave in the Black Mountains, accompanied by FourPlay, a very talented string quartet, and Eddie Campbell, a very talented artist (known for his Bacchus comic) who helped illustrate the tale.


During the show, it was apparent that Neil had a subtle charisma, if there is such a thing, that radiated through the audience.  Many people were thoroughly engaged and at certain points in the performance, it was eerily quiet as everyone seemed perched on a precipice, waiting for each word of Neil’s as a life-line.  It was amazing to watch and to be a part of, without a doubt.  Throughout the night, it was like peering into the thought process of how an author visualizes his own work, which to me, was invaluable.  It was all parts funny, sad, dramatic, and beautiful.  With FourPlay (also a very funny source for a few bits earlier in the show – they played the Doctor Who theme!)  also enhancing the artwork by Eddie Campbell which was being shown on the big-screen behind Neil, it was an immersive experience as well.

The rest of the trip to San Francisco was just spent trying find a few good spots for pictures 🙂  Are a few of them I took as well.

IMG_4607 IMG_4595 IMG_4584


I’ll write later about the Art Club Field Trip as well 🙂

Summer is Here

I’m regretting the fact that I stopped writing on this blog somewhere in September.  I wish I could have kept posting in terms of the progress of the classroom and how it ended up as we closed on the 2013 – 2014 school year.

I’ll definitely miss this group.

They were “maddening” as I once mentioned, not focused, and didn’t understand the concept of perseverance.  To a certain extent, they still haven’t mastered these skills.  But, they are so much better than they were at the beginning of the year.  

There was a point, when we got back from Winter Break, where I asked the classroom “to become legendary.”  I meant that in the sense of not only achieving a great deal academically, but more importantly, learning to become better students and people along the way.  “Level 5” is something we mention constantly in the classroom, a philosophy that states “I am considerate of others.”

With that in mind, this classroom was legendary.

I already have a number of great memories created out the of the everyday grind of the 2013 – 2014 school year, but I’ll just write about the two that are standing out in my mind at this point.

1)  The students decided to throw a surprise birthday party for me, once they learned the date of my birthday.  Working in coordination with my colleagues and the school counselor, they ended up pulling it off 🙂  I thought that was an incredibly thoughtful gesture on their part and it made me extremely proud that they whole class could come together for something like that.

2)  There is a girl in my class who wants to become an astronaut and the exchange we had at the end of the year will be something I remember.  It reminded me that we, as teachers, have a great impact in the lives of our students, and if we are wise in how we use this impact, we can definitely change the lives of the children of the communities we work in.  I told this girl, as she left for the year (though I’ll see her, hopefully, on our summer Art Club field trip) that if she “ever launches, I’ll be there.  Just work hard and if you become an astronaut, I promise I’ll be there when you go up.”  The smile she gave told me all I needed to know.  And there will be nothing to stop me from fulfilling that promise, when she goes up 🙂

With that, we’ll see if I can keep this up for next year.  It’s interesting to re-read some of the things I wrote at the beginning of the year and to see the classroom as they grew and matured into the class I was hoping they would be.

That was legendary 🙂

Categories: classroom, Education, Teaching

Coulson Lives! (And Shepherd Book and Charles Gunn)

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

I knew there was an advanced screening of Agents of SHIELD during ComicCon this summer and some of the first reviews were very positive.  That, of course, led to some anticipation on my part for tonight.

So here’s a quick review, which hopefully, will be spoiler-free.

I definitely like seeing a familiar character, like Coulson, given an opportunity in a different role, this time as the “alpha.”  Coulson is leading his own hand-selected team, post-Avengers, as a sort of investigative arm for SHIELD.  Clark Gregg definitely inhabits the role with confidence, especially after reprising it within the Marvel Universe.  However, especially with the set-up at the beginning of the show, the writers have given Coulson a little mystery, which no doubt, will be a recurring theme throughout the series.

Honestly, I didn’t know how to feel about that.  I wondered if this mystery behind Coulson would be enough for people to invest in the character.  I know I’m going to keep watching to see how they’ll tie up this “loose end,” but I’m curious to see how they’ll keep building on this question throughout the series to keep other viewers interested.  So this question is, Coulson lives, but why?

Overall, I thought the show had a nice premise, especially built off of the success of the Avengers.

But that’s what worries me a bit . . . that it was just . . . nice.

I know the show just started and only taking a single snapshot wouldn’t do it justice, especially being a fan of Whedon’s.  That’s why  I know I’ll keep giving it a shot, just because of Whedon’s track record, especially on TV.  His shows, whether he’s producing or directing, deserve a shot.

I still miss Firefly.  And I think this show does have potential.

Speaking of Firefly, it was nice seeing Ron Glass and then watching J. August Richards (Angel) show up as a “catalyst” for the plot.  It seems interesting to me how often the Whedon crew “goes to the well,” so to speak, for some of the roles they need to cast.  I know Ron Glass will be a recurring character so seeing “Shepherd Book” alive and well put a smile on my face.

Anyway, I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat waiting for the next episode, but I know I’ll definitely tune in.

Now, since I’m missing Firefly, here’s a little video!

Quick Post

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

A little tired this evening . . . put in a few 12 – 13 hour days at work.  That’s not adding the other hours I’m putting in at home.

Still, it’s getting better 🙂

I’m feeling more at ease and a flow is coming naturally.  I can feel it . . . the class is getting there.  They’re so close it’s somewhat maddening that they’re not there yet.  But that’s okay, I can wait 🙂

Anyway, I just saw this video as well and for some reason, it just made me smile.  I like the philosophy behind it, as well as the optimism that bleeds through as well.  If I ever make it back to New York for a visit, I’m definitely going to get a shoe shine!

Time Marches . . .

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Today was the first day it actually felt like the season was starting to turn.  There was a chill in the evening that seem to herald the coming of Fall, which I definitely welcome.  Of course, if I was feeling that “chill in the evening,” it just meant I was leaving work after a long day.

With the Fall coming nearer, it just means that time marches on.  And things are starting to look better . . .

Earlier in the year, it seemed as if the class were taking “one step forward, two steps back” as I tried to adjust the students to working at a fifth grade level, at least for Room 55.  It was maddening, frustrating and very tiring as I came home very exhausted, collapsing into bed just hours after getting home, just to get enough rest for the next day.

Last week, it seemed as if we had moved on to “two steps forward, two steps back.”

Now, it seems as if we’re in “two steps forward, one step back” mode, at least in terms of our work ethic and behavior.  I just can’t wait until the class gets to “two steps forward . . .”

That’s when they’ll understand the potential they have is only unlocked by how hard and focused they work.  That’s when I’m sure, we’ll all have some fun.  It’s starting to get there now, after 5 weeks of school!

Anyway,  onto some other topics:

1)  I did manage to get away two Saturdays ago.  It wasn’t very far, so the “trip” wasn’t as exciting as I’d hope it’d be.  I actually managed to drive up (for a brief moment) to Nevada City.  Honestly, walking up and down the historical district of Nevada City reminded me of Virginia City . . . just with a different environment.  Not dusty and arid, but lush and vibrant.  One’s not necessarily better than the other, but it was nice to get out of the state for a bit.

Next trip, I’ll take some pictures!

2)  Time marches . . . so new television shows to see, current ones to catch up to, and old television shows to say goodbye.

  • How I Met Your Mother – Their last season so we’re meeting the Mother and watching a wedding.  We’ll see if they can send this show out on a high note.  Might have to write about the first episode . . . maybe.
  • New Girl – I’ve watched this show off and on and every time I’ve watched, I’ve enjoyed it.  I know Season 2 has just been released on Netflix, so maybe I’ll catch up sometime during the Fall.
  • Agents of Shield – Joss Whedon.  I’ll see what happens, just because, well . . . Joss Whedon.
  • Longmire – A friend is constantly recommending this to me so I’ll have to watch it eventually.  I’m sure I’ll get to this sometime during the Fall, or maybe even the Winter.  We’ll see.

3)  Dr. Who 50th.

I’m trying to figure out how to watch this.  Honestly, I haven’t really looked into the options so I’ll start within the next few days to see what I can do.  Obviously, I’m excited by the announced cast already, though I guess there’s still a few “possibilities” open for casting.

All I know is that the 10th and 11th Doctors are in.  Definitely curious to see the dynamic play between David Tennant and Matt Smith.  Both Doctors, I felt, were superb and Matt definitely grew on me as a Doctor, like Tennant did after Eccleston.  I’m also curious, as everyone else is, with John Hurt and the “Doctor” he’s playing.

Oh, so much to write about!

Anyway . . . a video, as always 🙂  For some reason, this scene has been sticking constantly in my mind.

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