Has anyone ever asked you to tell them what a movie or a book is about and you are literally stumped? It’s not that you don’t know what they are about but rather so much happens in them, there are so many twists and turns, that you have no idea where to begin. Well, that’s exactly how I feel sitting down to update you on what has happened since the last post. If I were explaining my very own movie, I would have to say something jumbled like this: There was a trip to Arizona, a birthday, canceled flights, recognition at the TASA Midwinter Conference, a ring, a robbery, a conversation with the commissioner of education, a feature story in a magazine, a public service announcement, and lots and lots of school work in between. See? A whirlwind is what it has been. This is what happens when you are two posts behind. I’ll try to divide this post into sections, (or should I say mini chapters) so that I don’t sound like I’m relaying that jumbled movie or book to you.
Let’s start with my platform and the work.
In January, I spent a week in Scottsdale, Arizona where I met the other state teachers of the year. In them, I saw so many of the great teachers I know and have worked with over the years. I learned that we all take representing you quite seriously and see our role as a tremendous responsibility. In Arizona, we met many past national and state teachers of the year and had a great week of working and learning about what our responsibilities are for 2014. We learned so much about the side of education that teachers rarely get to see. We learned that all too often teachers are not in the room when major legislation about education is being passed. I left Arizona a different person and a different teacher with a clearer mission. I plan to enlighten teachers about the importance of exercising their powerful voices. I don’t think I realized our power until I received this honor. Jeremy Wagner and I have kicked off the process by having a conversation with Michael Williams, commissioner of education, about ways teachers can be more plugged in to what is happening in Texas public education. That conversation went very well, and we are both excited about what will come of our ideas. Also, being honored in Arizona inspired me to look for ways to share the feeling of being honored. Therefore, I will be looking for awards that my colleagues qualify for. Then, I’ll nominate them so that they have a glimpse into what my honor feels like. Remember, for me this is about improving education for kids and sharing this honor with you. By the way, before I left Arizona, I tied a tiger ribbon in an orange tree there. I’m still taking ORANGE ALL OVER. Next month, we visit the White House. Whoot!
Perks and Recognition
My flight to Arizona began with a lady coming over the intercom and announcing that American Airlines was honored to have Monica Washington 2014 Texas teacher of the year on board. I took pictures with the pilot and the really nice flight attendant who has had the honor of being flight attendant of the year twice. That was a cool experience. I got a similar announcement on the plane coming home. While in Arizona, Katherine Bassett, executive director of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, gave me the honor of writing a blog post on the NNSTOY website that would sum up the experience of becoming a member of NNSTOY while in Arizona. http://www.nnstoy.org/category/stoy-blog Also, Jillian Howard and I were recognized at the TASA Midwinter Conference (on my birthday, Jan. 27th) and Jennifer Garrido, coordinator of the Texas teacher of the year program, introduced us to vendors and got us a few freebies. Thanks, Jennifer! Jill bought me a cool super teacher shirt that I love. Also, my husband Ricky and I were featured in the February Four States Living Magazine. Thanks so much, Suzy Turner and Robin Rogers! Finally, in faculty meeting, I was presented a state teacher of the year ring. I absolutely love it and will wear it with pride forever. Special thanks to my superintendent, Paul Norton and John Barbe of Graduate Sales.
Well, I will always remember my 39th birthday because I spent it stranded alone at the airport. I thought I was coming home late on my birthday, but NO! The strangers who were stranded with me serenaded me though. That was nice of them. In fact, I didn’t have much luck at all with flights during this time period. I spent days preparing to speak in Austin at the Educate Texas conference only to have that flight canceled too. Jeremy Wagner, 2013 TOY, has told me to avoid the airport whenever I’m speaking within the state. Yep, that Jeremy is a smart one! However, the thing that was even more frustrating than flight problems was having our house broken into and our belongings taken. Ricky and I are such givers that having something like that happen was infuriating. We are always trying to help people in need, and the last thing we ever thought would happen was to have our things stolen. No, the insurance won’t replace them because according to them, we didn’t lose enough. Nice. The next day after the robbery, Ricky had ankle surgery. All is well, but goodness! We were feeling pretty drained. We were so excited to make it to this spring break.
Throughout the craziness of life, it’s important to look for the humor in what MIGHT be funny later. I’ll end with this story. Once the flight home was canceled on my birthday, American Airlines finally found a hotel for each stranded person. I was the last person to get a room. I then realized that I had nothing. No toiletries. No brush. No eyeliner. No clothes to sleep in. I was dressed in my little birthday dress, tights, and boots. What I did have was the shirt that Jillian had given me earlier in the day. So, how did I go to bed on my birthday? Well, I was dressed in a super teacher shirt and tights. My dinner? An apple and a sorry bag of Fritos from earlier in the day. There I was stranded dressed as super teacher with my apple in hand. All I was missing was my cape. It was slightly amusing, but I wanted to go home. You know what though? We all need a super teacher shirt, a crown, and a cape. They do have magical powers. 🙂
I’ll let you know how the White House ceremony goes. My blog isn’t read as much anymore, but thanks to YOU for keeping up with me. Stay orange!