Season of Pure Joy

It has been truly amazing to reflect on this last year. The changes I have experienced in my attitude, disposition, and interactions with others have undergone a complete 360. I’m not the same person I was one year ago, which can probably be said for any one year period of my life. My appreciation for my current job and the routine I have created in the last few months are in stark contrast to my job and routine from last year. Not to mention my relationship with Jesus and my prayer life that have both exploded since beginning this new season. But let me provide a little more depth to what I’m talking about.
In my last post, I was just beginning my job as a Strategy Tutor for college athletes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it since it was my first experience working with college students in general. After working one-on-one with 4 individuals and in small group settings with several others for the last four months, I have come to the conclusion that I truly enjoy tutoring college students. It’s an amazing feeling being able to connect and build relationships as well as visually see the growth of each individual student over time. My hours picked up slightly towards the end of this semester, but I’m still avidly applying to additional part time jobs.
I picked up volunteering at one of the libraries on campus in October and I’ve been enjoying getting to know the librarians who work there and gaining experience in the daily happenings of an academic library environment. I’m hoping this experience will allow me to be a more desirable candidate for a library job (that doesn’t require a Master’s degree!) so that I might be eligible for library scholarships. There is potential for me to work on a project at the library next semester that would actually be paid rather than volunteer. I’m excited about having the extra 10-15 hours of work in addition to tutoring, but also leery since they haven’t decided what the pay will be. I’m hopeful, but not expectant.

 

Another activity I have picked up this semester is the practice of yoga. It has been an amazing experience! I had gone to a few classes in the past with my best friend and the poses really made a difference in lessening my back pain that resulted from a gymnastics accident I had back a few years ago. I really wanted to attend classes at one of the recreation centers on campus, but it was going to be a pretty big time commitment since I would have to ride the bus there. Parking passes for parking on campus are just way too expensive. I decided to try YouTube and see what was available. I came across these amazing videos for Yoga with Adriene. If you have never heard of her or tried yoga, her channel is the perfect place to start since she has a video for literally everyone. Everything from yoga for beginners, yoga for healing, yoga on the go, yoga for weight loss, and plenty of other categories! She has posted over 300 videos, so I’m sure there’s something desirable.

Yoga

 

Robert and I will be returning to WV again this year for Christmas! Super excited to attend my brother’s graduation at WVU and of course enjoy the holiday season with all my family and friends. I have decorated our apartment with tons of Christmas lights and I was able to put up my mini fiberoptic Christmas tree this year and I love it. Of course I’ve been jamming out to my Christmas music for a week now and definitely driving my husband crazy. Good thing he loves me a whole lot! Leave me comments and feedback below!

 

Blog#17

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MIA (Missing in All-areas-of-life)

Hello again! What a crazy year it turned out to be! After reading over my last post from November last year (yikes! It’s been awhile), I was completely unaware of what the year would hold for me. I definitely did not expect to be in that statistic about most teachers leaving the profession after 3-5 years, but here I am! Not wanting to have anything to do with elementary (or any grade level for that matter) schools, lesson plans, or children (as sad as it may sound). After barely making it through the 2016-2017 school year, I’m proud to say I stuck it out till the end with the help of my God-sent co-teacher and of course my ever encouraging husband. I won’t talk a ton about the year I’d rather forget, but I will instead focus on the good occurrences that resulted.

First of all, I made enough money for my husband and I to take a much needed cruise for our 2 year anniversary that was extraordinary. This was my husband’s first cruise and it was awesome to be able to share with him this luxury that I have grown to appreciate. My family was also able to go, so it was wonderful to have dinner with them each night, and still be able to spend time with my husband doing various excursions during the day.

The next opportunity we had was the option to actually have the summer off. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to be an anti-adult for 2 1/2 months, but still be able to support yourself. Doesn’t get much better than that! Summer was very fulfilling since we were able to focus on the aspects of life that truly matter: God, family, and friends.

I would have to say the most meaningful result of teaching this past year was how it grew my relationship with Jesus Christ. Throughout the course of the year I can tell you my walk was nonexistent and my prayer life was selfishly focused on the negatives of my situation. I always found myself asking God why he was making me go through this and if He even noticed how much I was struggling to finish out the year, much less keep it up as a career for 25+ years. I begged him to create an opportunity or open a door for me to leave sooner and get out because it was all I could take. I even found myself doubting His goodness and at some points His existence, which truly scared me.

One of lessons I had always been taught on numerous occasions growing up, but never fully understood was how God grows us the most through trials. Would I take another teaching job in my county to see how much more God can grow me? Absolutely not, but in hindsight I am thankful for the trial because it pushed me to a point of reconciliation and true devotion.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4

Originally, I had planned to go back to school this fall for my Master’s in Library Science, so that I could become a librarian, while also working a part time job. I was accepted to a few schools/programs, however, the financial aid I was hoping for didn’t work out. The start of this semester has a lot of potential, despite not being able to begin taking classes.

I started working as a Strategy Tutor for student athletes at the University of Florida and so far I am loving every minute. I work with students by helping them stay on top of their classes through the use of organizational skills, calendars, assisting with assignments, and other strategies to keep them on track. The lack of hours has been disappointing since I was expecting significantly more, but I have hope that some of the other part time jobs I have applied for will come through, and my workload will pick up.

As for now, I am spending my extra time making up for my lack of attention in all other areas of life outside of work. Spending time in God’s Word and praying being my number one priority, with relationships coming in second. My relational goal for this semester is to keep up with friendships back home, while also making a greater attempt to foster relationships I have started here. So far, I am ecstatic at the outcome and my change of attitude definitely speaks volumes. I can already tell a difference in my husband’s reactions to the changes, as well as my general increase in productivity throughout each day.

It’s so good to be back, but with a new perspective. I have a good feeling about this year and how God is going to work through me to emphasize His glory. Thanks for reading! Leave comments below!

Blog#16

A God-Given Attitude

I want to start by apologizing for my lack of blog posts lately but, I actually have several legitimate excuses! Robert and I have been traveling every weekend (except last weekend) since mid October. We visited my parents while they were vacationing in Anna Maria Island, Florida, then we flew to WV the next weekend for less than 24 hours to attend a wedding, followed by a trip to Charlotte, NC to meet some friends halfway for a weekend of disc golf. All fun things of course, just busy busy busy!

The really big news that I’ve been adjusting to over the last couple of weeks is my job situation. My principal informed me that she wanted me to take over a fourth grade class, that was originally placed with a long-term sub. The sub had not taught in over a decade and felt that she could not keep up with the demands of today’s classroom, in addition to dealing with her health. Needless to say, I was not thrilled about the opportunity whatsoever and tried to fight the change, since I truly enjoy my Title I job.

After coming to terms with the fact that I basically had no choice if I wanted to keep a job, I had to focus on adjusting my attitude to the impending circumstances. After about three days of praying and asking God to help me have a positive mindset, I began making plans for the switch. I tried to negotiate the change until after Christmas, but my principal insisted that it needed to happen after Thanksgiving break. In retrospect, it worked out better for me to redesign the classroom over Thanksgiving since we already had plans to stay here; now Christmas break would have been harder to manage since we already have plans to travel home for a week and SC for the second week.

My last day with my Title I students was November 10 and I spent the following week observing the other fourth grade teachers as well as the class I would be taking over to begin building relationships with the students. A parent letter was sent home the Monday before Thanksgiving break and the students were informed about the coming changes. My administration has been very supportive in providing me a stipend to purchase some supplies for my classroom, which has been very helpful since I declined the original $250 that is offered to teachers at the beginning of the year because I would not be purchasing anything in my Title I position. (If I had accepted it and not used it, the $250 would have come out of my paycheck; hence why I declined the money.)

I have spent 8 hours of every day this week (except Turkey day!) working in my classroom, cleaning, rearranging furniture, planning, printing, laminating, copying, planning, taping, hanging, organizing, and of course more planning! I have provided some before and after pictures of the classroom, so please make sure to check them out! I’m so proud of the way it turned out, and I hope the students will be able to thrive in this environment.

Before:

 

 

After:

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll get back to you soon!

Last, but not least, I’ve had an exciting week working hard on my classroom, but still getting to spend time with my second family. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Blog#15

Smooth Sailing

I am getting ready to start my eighth week of school at Newberry Elementary and everything is going great! My Kindergarten class will be starting Intervention this week, so I will officially have all my classes. My other classes are going very well. I have had only a few minor issues with student behavior, but nothing I haven’t been able to handle. I had a First Year Teacher Training last week and I had to miss a day of school, but it was helpful to learn more about what is expected of the classroom teachers. They trained us on how to enter grades into the online grade book, how to easily access Florida standards, lesson objectives, online activities, assessments, and more through our teacher portal on Canvas. They also gave a short tutorial on the different websites that Alachua County pays for through Edutone. Edutone is like the one stop shop for all the websites we use in school, but you only have to put in one password and then just click on the icon for the website and it will automatically sign you in to any of their websites (i.e. Brainpop, Discovery Education, PBSKids, etc.).

Last week I had the opportunity to sub in a third grade classroom. It went exceptionally well since it was the day that students were participating in trunk-or-treat and had the potential to be rowdy. We also had our Spirit Week a few weeks ago the week of high school homecoming. This coming week is Red Ribbon Week, or bullying awareness week, so everyone is wearing red tomorrow and each day there will be some sort of event or project. Each classroom teacher is working with their students to create either a scarecrow or a pumpkin design (depending on the grade level). Friday is our character parade where students can dress up as a book character and participate in the parade. Should be a fun-filled week!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to fly home for the weekend and visit my parents and attend a friend’s wedding. I had a wonderful time, even though I missed my husband very much! It was great to spend time with my best friend and enjoy a little bit of WV Fall. This coming weekend Robert and I are looking forward to joining my parents down in Anna Maria Island, Florida for a little weekend getaway. The following weekend, he and I will be making a quick trip home for another wedding, followed by another weekend trip to Charlotte, North Carolina with some friends.

Overall, things are going very well this year and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the blessings that God has provided for us. So many exciting events to look forward to and all the while, I can enjoy every minute leading up to it. Thanks for reading and make sure to post a comment!

Blog#14

Blessed Beyond Words

God is so good! He had a plan all along. I knew He had a plan all along. I knew not what it was or when it would become part of my present. I remained hopeful that His timing would be perfect. I was, however, very discouraged with teaching and the many encounters I had with children last year, leading me to believe God’s plan was not for me to work with children. After a wonderful summer having little contact with munchkins, I returned to Florida with an open mind, an open heart, and a patient attitude for whatever God may have in store for me. I decided not to take the first job that came along, but instead to pray and truly seek God’s will for my job this year.

On August 22, I had my skills assessment with Gleim Publishing as a proofreader, which as many of you know from my last post did not seem like quite the right place for me. I received a voicemail on August 30 requesting to set up an interview. Truthfully, I was procrastinating setting up the interview since I wasn’t all that excited about working there. A few hours later I received another voicemail from Newberry Elementary School, also requesting to set up an interview. I was so excited to finally hear from a school (and not just another email telling me the position I applied for had been filled!) that I immediately returned the call.

I talked with the assistant principal and we set up an interview for the following morning to see if I would be a good fit for their Title I position. The next day I interviewed with the principal, assistant principal, and the lead Title I teacher. I felt very confident during the interview and afterward they agreed to give me a tour of their school per my request. The lead Title I teacher shared that they were highly considering me for the position. She also introduced me to many of the faculty members that we ran into during the tour. Just being in a school like that again was so exciting!

After getting home, I reluctantly returned the call to Gleim and let them know that I did not want to schedule an interview because I was being considered for another job. They proceeded to tell me that if the job didn’t work out, they would still be interested in scheduling an interview with me because they were very interested in having me as part of their team. Later that day I received another voicemail from the Alachua County Board Office regarding an instructional position. I mistakenly assumed they were calling to set up an interview for another position I had applied for within the county. When I returned the call the following day, they informed me that the principal of Newberry Elementary wanted to offer me the Title I job!

So of course I said yes! I had quite a lengthy process of drug testing, fingerprinting, paper signing, and orientation to complete (not to mention it was the day before hurricane Hermine touched down on land! So most businesses were closed on Friday), but to my surprise I was able to start at Newberry the following Wednesday. Only one week after my interview! I had been told that I would have about 2-3 days to plan and then I would be given students on a daily basis, but I started with a group of 4th graders on my second day. Wednesdays are shortened days for all Alachua County Schools, so I spent my first day becoming familiar with my schedule, moving some furniture in the room, as well as becoming familiar with the computer program my students will be using to improve their Reading and Math skills.

I feel very spoiled to have this teaching job. Last week was the first week they started pulling students for Title I Intervention and I only had one class of 4th graders. Title I implements a slow integration of students week by week, so next week I will have 3rd and 4th graders (one class of each grade level for 45 minutes). The following week I will have 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, and so on until Kindergarten. Total I will have 5 classes of students in a typical day with 6-7 students in each class to monitor on the computer program.

These students are chosen for intervention based on the previous year’s test scores and they are identified as the lowest performing students in the 25th quartile of their grade level. Since Wednesdays are shortened, I won’t be monitoring my usual classes, but will have the opportunity to pull individual students to work on areas of Reading or Math where they need some extra help. I share the computer lab with another Title I teacher, so in total we have 12-14 students. This makes it easy to cover classes if one of us is sick or takes time off, we don’t have to cancel our classes, but instead they will be covered by the other teacher. We don’t have to worry about making sub plans or getting a sub either! Since the program is all online, I don’t have to write any lesson plans. Isn’t God so good??

I’m considering asking the teachers if they ever need anything copied, laminated, cut out, etc. that I am more than willing to help! I won’t have a ton of free time while I’m at school, but I will definitely have more time than a general classroom teacher would for sure! After being in the school for only 3 days, I have already noticed the caring and supportive atmosphere of the teachers and administration. On Friday last week one of the substitute teachers cancelled at the last minute, so they put me in a Kindergarten class for the day since I only had one intervention class (which could easily be covered by the other teacher!). I was a little nervous at first, but my lead Title I teacher came by twice, as well as the assistant principal, to make sure everything was going smoothly.

I have also been automatically enrolled in a teacher mentoring program where I will be supported and mentored to ensure my first year of teaching is successful. My Title I coworkers have been amazing so far and are open and willing to help me with anything. I am so blessed to have such an amazing job. Oh yeah! I also have off all major holidays (even summer! Yes I consider that a holiday all it’s own!) and all the UF holidays that Robert has off of school. Did I mention the benefits?? I think I can handle having to leave by 6:30 AM and having a 25 minute commute since everything else is so perfect. I know I will have bad days here and there, but I’m very hopeful that overall it’s going to be a great year!

Blog#13

Florida: Year No. 2

Hello again! I took a nice long break from writing over the summer and let me just tell you, it was a wonderful ‘vacation’ since we had been away from home for so long. We had a great time on the Momentum Retreat and enjoyed a beautiful wedding in Pennsylvania, while catching up with some of our friends. Following that trip, we left the next day for Virginia Beach to celebrate our one year anniversary! I’m amazed that a year has already flown by with my amazing man. We had a wonderful time on our dinner cruise, visiting Ocean Breeze Waterpark, and simply enjoying some relaxing time on the beach.

We had 2 bonfires over the summer as well where we had a great turn out both times! The most memorable trip from this summer would definitely be my first missions trip . The young adults from my church took a bus down to Southern, WV where they had been affected by a flood. We were able to help the residents by tearing out the walls and flooring of their homes down to the studs so that professionals could come in and replace everything that had rotted and molded. One of the houses Robert and I worked in had flood waters up to the roof and the house had been completely underwater.

It was truly an eye-opening experience as we were able to meet some of the homeowners and talk with them about what happened the night of the flood and everything they went through to survive. Some other events that happened over summer were visiting the drive-in movie theater to see Ice Age: Collision Course and The Secret Life of Pets with some really awesome ladies (and one gent). Robert and I also got to take a ride on my uncle’s boat on the Potomac River and do some tubing. Personally, I just like laying out on the boat and enjoying the nice breeze, but water sports are fun too.

Robert had his 23rd birthday and we celebrated by going to Flip Over Gymnastics where he learned how to do a back flip! He was so excited. We also went to Old Town in Winchester with my family for dinner at El Centro Mexican Restaurant. He got to wear the sombrero and the staff sang to him and put ice cream on his nose. It was so funny. One of the last events we enjoyed before heading back was a late night out at Applebee’s with our young adult church group. I was so thankful for my pastor’s daughter, Elianna, who sang karaoke with me. We all had a great time.

Last, but not least, Robert and I had the privilege of finding out the gender of my best friends baby! She will be having a little girl named Elizabeth Marie in January. I am so excited for her and I really hope I get to be there when she is born.

On August 19, we hit the road for Gainesville, Florida, decided to take interstate 81 most of the way, but regretted that decision shortly into the trip. After running into not one, not two, but three different accidents before getting onto interstate 77 near Charlotte, NC, we will be taking the I-95 route from now on. Oh…and I almost forgot to mention our one little mishap before we even left WV…well…my little mishap. Robert had tied down his bike to the roof rack of the Escape and I accidentally drove under our car port and bent the fork pretty bad and knocked the tire off. I called him right away and told him what happened to his bike, but I probably freaked him out on the phone since I was hysterical. Hopefully we can get it fixed soon. I still feel terrible about messing up his nice bike.

On a happier note, Robert’s first day of school went well yesterday and I had my first interview for a job with Gleim Publications. The company publishes textbooks, audiobooks, and provides online courses in aviation and accounting. Pretty random I thought, but anyway I applied to be a proofreader and what I thought was going to be an interview was simply a skills assessment. I took several different tests including a speed typing test, 2 scanning-for-errors test (one was for computer programming type errors and the other was for printing errors), a spelling test, and a fill in the blank test. Needless to say, it took me three hours and my fingernails were purple…not because I painted them…I was just that cold.

When I left Gleim, I wasn’t feeling like it was the right place for me. They’re supposed to call me in the next week or so to schedule an actual interview, so we’ll see how that goes. I also applied to several other places including Cabana Beach (our apartment complex),  a tutor for Sylvan Learning Center, a pool technician (cleaning and testing pools), Alachua County Public Schools, and many others that I can’t even remember at this point. Praying that one of them will be an open door and a more positive job experience than what I went through last year.

Robert and I have definitely missed making and eating dinners together. In WV, I typically work until at least 7 pm or later, so It’s hard for us to eat dinner together unless we eat late. We’ve made dinner for the last 3 nights! Saturday night we made burgers, Sunday night I made chicken in the crockpot with an asian style with a side of salad and baked potatoes, and Monday night I decided to get fancy and made a version of shrimp scampi. I say ‘a version’ because we really didn’t have enough shrimp, so I added some broccoli and the noodles were angel hair and not linguini, but it turned out pretty tasty! Tonight was definitely a left-overs kind of night to eat some more of all that good food!

So I just ate the most amazing cinnamon roll. Did I mention that I made it homemade?? Well, I did. I’m pretty proud of myself. I was craving a cinnamon roll, so I found a recipe online to make it from scratch. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I just ate at least 400 calories…so much for working out…yesterday…Haha. Doesn’t it look amazing??

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Well, I think this has been a long enough blog post. I will be sure to keep you updated on the job situation. Don’t forget to leave me comments! Thanks for reading!

Blog#12

Country Roads, Take Me Home…

I am super excited to be coming home to WV on Monday! There are so many wonderful things I am looking forward to this summer. I will be lifeguarding again beginning Memorial Day weekend. I’ll be working at the same pool as last year, but I will also be working as the assistant manager for a pool in Winchester. I’m so thankful that I have a job for the summer that I truly enjoy and look forward to going to work every day. Definitely a huge contrast to what I’ve experienced for the last 9 months, but all that is behind me.

There is so much going on just in the first few weeks that we will be back! The Momentum Retreat is definitely an event I look forward to every year. The atmosphere of friends and acquaintances is something you just have to experience for yourself. Plus, the environment of the camp we attend is absolutely breath-taking. It has a gorgeous lake where you can canoe, plenty of acreage to take walks and hikes, a swimming pool, and of course the wonderful view of the mountains. I always look forward to the wacky team-building games that Pastor Brad plans for us, the campfires and stories, S’mores, Mrs. Patty’s to-die-for home cookin’ and even the lack of cell reception, which really makes for a pleasant experience.

Some friends of ours are getting married in June, so it will be nostalgic attending another wedding of a friend from my childhood. That same weekend happens to be our one year anniversary! I cannot believe how quickly it has flown by! I feel like it was just yesterday when I was walked down the aisle to have my best friend become my husband. We have had quite a year together and I’m so thankful I was able to spend it with him (and many, many more!) I have planned a four day getaway for us at Virginia Beach to celebrate where we can enjoy a dinner cruise, a waterpark and of course the beach! I am very much looking forward to this trip!

I’m also looking forward to the River party our friend Bre has every summer. An afternoon full of swimming in the river, riding in the boat, being pulled on inner tubes, tons of food, games, and fellowshipping with all our closest friends. There’s nothing more you could ask for! And this is just the beginning of summer…I’m sure there will be many more exciting activities going on as the summer progresses.

Robert and I plan on returning to Florida around mid-August so that we have time to get settled before Robert starts back to school. As for me, I will be job hunting again. Except this time, I’m anxious to try something new and different. I know God has a plan for me and I am still learning to trust and lean on him, especially when I want to be in control. Please continue to pray for me that I would follow His good and perfect will and be open to whatever He may have in store for me this coming Fall.

Thanks for reading! Please post any comments, questions, advice, favorite summer memories in the comments section.

Blog#11