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February 2009

January 2009 entries

Another Fishy Funeral

 I suspect that Gabrielle may believe in reincarnation.  Tonight, one of the kids' fish died.  As I pulled it out of the tank and started the processional to the toilet, Gabrielle said, "Oh my . . . poor fishy."  Aidan said, "He died, Gabrielle."  She waved goodbye to the fish in the tank and as I flushed it, she said, "Don't worry, you'll be back." 

Aidan, on the other hand, seems to be more of a realist: "No, he won't, Gabrielle.  He's gone just like my two Nemos and the other fish that got icked."


Super Fun at Super Jump

Today after school, we decided to check out the new Super Jump place in Williamsport (www.mysuperjump.com).  It was really fun!  It is basically an indoor playarea with inflatable Moonbounce/slides, etc.  It was reasonably priced and provided us two hours of much needed run-around-and-play time that we so desperately miss in the winter months.  Thanks to "Miss Hoskins" for the photos!!

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Exiled

I went to the Wellness Center tonight with a friend of mine.  I returned home around 9:15 p.m. to discover that I had been exiled from my own bedroom.  Next to Michael was a snoring Gabrielle, sprawled out like the princess she is.  Next to her was a comatose Aidan, probably dreaming of taking his new haircut to school.

So I have a dilemma here.  Do I move the sleeping children to their respective beds or do I just sleep in Aidan's room?  Hmm.  Tough call.  It is now 11 p.m. and I've been working on my online class and prepping for tomorrow's discussion of Elie Wiesel's Night.  Aidan usually comes to our bed at 3 a.m. anyway, so . . . yeah, I'll just sleep in his bed.  And I will bet that the dog will attempt to squeeze his boxer butt into the twin bed with me.  Sheesh.  No rest for the weary, right?


Engineering at Its Finest

The other day, a student decided that his iced tea would be best served cold throughout the day . . . so he created an outdoor, suspended refrigerator in a classroom in Montoursville High School.  The identity of the teacher is not revealed in this post so as to protect the innocent.

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In Defense of the Public School Teacher

This week is "Catholic Schools Week" in the Diocese of Scranton.  While I understand why parents would want to send their children to a place where they learn not only academics but also their faith, part of me gets a little weary of hearing how much better Catholic education is than public education.  I hear the same arguments: the Catholic school teachers truly care about their students; they go to Mass with them; they provide individualized attention. 

I think I speak for many public school teachers when I say, "SO DO WE."  For example, my day started off by having a one-on-one chat with a student who is considering leaving school, encouraging him to persevere (how Paulian can I get here? -- "In a race, all runners run.  Run in such a way as to get the prize." ) and stay enrolled.  And it ended by getting an email from a student in which he connected the novel I distributed today in class to one of his favorite songs:

"I thought this was kind of cool. The metal band Slayer made a song called Angel of Death that is about Auschwitz and the atrocities of the Holocaust. I know the title is a bit offensive, but they chose it because that was the nickname of one of the "doctors" that worked at Auschwitz; they talk about him in the song too. The song talks about some things that the book has talked about so far, like how the Jews were treated like cattle. Its pretty gruesome. But I thought I'd just let you know about that. Thanks Mrs Connor!"

I could, honestly, go on and on.  But . . .don't be misled.  I am not saying that I am unique as a public school teacher.  I know of many of my esteemed colleagues who go out of their way for the kid who doesn't fit in, the kid who is failing, the kid who is falling into self-destructive habits. I am proud to find myself among such educators at Montoursville Area High School.  And guess what -- I go to Mass with lots of my students, too. 


Do you know what your Personal Legend is?

I read a book given to me by a dear friend over the weekend.  While not a new release, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is both timely and universal.  The story is about an Andalusian  shepherd boy who follows a recurring dream of finding his treasure near the Great Pyramids.  He follows his heart to Africa and then to Eygpt, where he meets the alchemist, who mentors him in his quest to follow his Personal Legend.

Along the way, he meets people who teach him about life in unique ways.  A camel driver tells him, "We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it's our life or our possessions and property.  But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand" (Coelho 76).  He also meets a man who tells him that though it is an obligation for him, as a Muslim, to make a pilgrimmage to Mecca, he knows he will never do it because he believes that once his Personal Legend is fulfilled, he will have no reason to live.  Another explains that he fulfilled his Personal Legend and felt immense freedom because he could die a complete man.

As the boy Santiago (more often than not referred to as "the boy" to stress the universal message of this tale) crosses the desert, he sinks into the quiet stillness of his heart and learns that it is afraid to suffer.  The alchemist advises him, "Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity" (Coelho 130).

The boy also learns about matters of love and the alchemist sagaciously says, "When we love, we strive to be better than we are" (Coehlo 151).  Essentially, because we are a part of the Soul of the World, when we connect with one another in love, we are bettering the world. 

Clearly, there is much to take away from The Alchemist.  It's not easy to follow one's dreams, to listen to one's heart, especially in a day and age when the status quo rules and so many expectations are placed upon us from various sources.  But, this book makes us think.  It made me consider what exactly is my Personal Legend (still working on that rough draft) and it encouraged me to reflect on the decisions I make in my life -- am I being the best teacher I can be?  The best mother I can be?  Am I taking care of myself spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally?  These are things that, unfortunately, far too many of us cease to consider as we get older. 

Santiago's heart tells him that hearts never stop speaking, they just get quieter.  Eventually they even start to hope that we don't listen to them so that we aren't filled with sorrow at the realization that we never sought our Personal Legend.  So take a moment (or two) today and think about this concept.  Are you fulfilling your Personal Legend?  If not, what keeps you from doing so?  Is it worth the sacrifice?


45 Candles

Last night, I attended a Mass for the unborn souls that have been killed by the process of abortion at St. Ann's Church in Williamsport.  Before Mass began, the priest, Father Paul, asked the congregation to come to the back of the Church to carry forth a candle into the sanctuary.  As it turned out, there were 45 candles and roughly 45 people.  We processed into the Church and placed the candles on a small table near the altar.

Each candle represented 1 million babies that have been aborted since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the U.S.

Father gave a moving sermon, sharing with us a personal story about a friend who became pregnant in college.  The young woman decided, through the love and support of her parents, to have the baby and give it to a family who would care for the child in a way that she was not able to at the time.

I think one of my favorite parts of the homily was when Father Paul reminded us that our faith came to us through an unplanned teen pregnancy.  We don't often think of it that way, but Mary certainly didn't plan to be pregnant out of wedlock in a time when she could have been killed for such an offense.  Unlike Mary, our unplanned teen pregnancies are the result of bad decisions on our part.  Like Father's friend, we need to seek out how God might work through even our mistakes.

Today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion.  Remember those 45 candles, those 45 millions babies, and pray for an end to abortion.

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