mountaineer woolgatherings

I wasn’t sure if Michael and I would be sending out a special card for Christmas this year.  I was thinking of just sending out the regular folded card with something witty and cute on the front to all our close family and friends.  Then, a friend told me about Shutterfly’s Christmas promotion for 2010.  I have never used Shutterfly before but have heard great things about it.  My sister-in-law  has made several picture album books with them that have looked great!  So, I thought – there couldn’t be too much involved to get 50 free cards!  After looking at the website and browsing the options for Christmas cards, I am SO EXCITED to make photo cards this year!  I think it is only fitting that we send one with a wedding portrait… our first Christmas as a married couple.  There are so many choices, from Christmas to Holiday to Religious and New Years.  The hard part is choosing which design to go with!  I really like the following…

My subconscious apparently likes red.  Any thoughts?

I am also really excited about making a photo calendar!  I have always thought those moms who create calendars for grandparents and aunts and uncles for presents must spend a lot of time on making them.  You know, choosing the pictures, making the layout, etc.  I was so amazed by Shutterfly’s photo calendars.  Several years down the road, when Michael and I decide to start a family, I will definitely use Shutterfly to create wonderful calendars for my family to enjoy.  Typically, calendars get thrown away after the year is over but what a keepsake!!!  You could always cut the pictures and make a collage or photo album of your own if you don’t want to keep the calendar.  How neat!!!

Thanks, Leah for sharing this!  I am excited!!!  If you are interested in the promotion, click here.

I am off to find pictures!!!

“you have a way of poking people in the eyes with your words.” — a quote from one of the many movies i’ve watched on netflix instant lately.  i am SO antsy!  i’m ready to move and i’ve got one week… can this week go by any faster?  i have been going to school the past couple weeks to get my classroom set up but i’m at a point where i’m at a loss of what to do next.  i figured i’d take a break for a few days.  i’ve packed up most of my apartment but there are still some things left to do.  maybe i’ll tackle that tomorrow…

for now, i’ll continue watching movies of all genres on netflix while michael goes to class and sleeps during the day.  thank goodness this is his last week of working 3rd shift.

i went to school today to begin setting up my classroom for the upcoming year.  i will have my own classroom and will be teaching 3rd grade (YAY!)  this past year i taught 2 different things and shared my materials between 2 rooms… a big pain!  with just a week before school started for students i had to set up my room last year in quite a hurry.  this year, i am not going to do that!  i had to purchase a few things for my classroom and am beginning to get excited about rearranging my room and making it feel more like a home.

i’ve moved my desk from one side of the room to the other and have placed the computer in a better place for myself.  i’ll need to acquire at least one, maybe two if possible, more computer for my students to use in the classroom.  i now have a “teacher space” and feel that my materials and “teacher books” are no longer in the way of my students.  i am combining bookshelves and plan on going through my books and putting them in appropriate genres for easier student access.  i have made a few lists (no surprise there) of things that need to be done, bulletin board ideas, miscellaneous things to take care of, classroom procedures, things to make, etc.

i am excited about getting textbooks!  that may sound strange to some of you but there is something about getting a class set of books to assign to students that makes me smile.  i picked up a copy of the school supply list for K-4th grade and began to get excited about my students filing in on the first day with book bags full of brand-new pencils and notebook paper.  i had a difficult time keeping up with pencils last year.  everyday a student, or two, or three would come in without a pencil.  rather than wasting time allowing the student to go get a pencil from their class i would “loan” them one.  however, the pencils weren’t always returned.  i read an idea online about having a basket at the front of the room for sharpened pencils and one for unsharpened/broken pencils.  students can borrow a pencil as long as they put it back in the unsharpened/broken basket.  if a student’s pencil breaks during class or badly needs to be sharpened they can place it in the unsharpened/broken basket and pick up a sharpened pencil.  this will result in little time being taken away from work and getting rid of the distracting pencil sharpener noise that, no doubt, takes at least 5 minutes because each student has to have the pencil with the sharpest point.

i plan on going back to school tomorrow to continue working.  it’s hard to believe there are just 3 weeks until school starts!  i have so much to do and i am so excited to get it done!

I recently have decided to try to get this blog up and running again.  I may not post every day but I will try my hardest to make a post as often as I can.  I started this one as a requirement for a graduate school course and thought ‘This will be great!  This time I’ll actually post, even after the course is complete!’ (reflecting on several attempts to start and continue writing in one of these things)  Needless to say, I once again, didn’t follow through, and made one post after that course.

I didn’t stop because I just wanted to do the work to get by and get a good grade in that course.  I stopped, thanks to what I like to call ‘life’.  My graduate school career continued, consisting of 3 classes a semester (with triple the amount of work than 4 classes in my undergraduate), a full time graduate assistantship spread across 2 different departments in the education building, comprehensive exams, the Praxis II exam for further certification, resume preparation, job searching, interviewing, and a minimal social life.  After a fast-paced 2 years in the Reading Education program I graduated with a Master’s degree, a huge accomplishment that I am very glad I decided to tackle right after getting my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education.

I graduated in May and worked a summer job at Beech Mountain Club.  I loved the job and the people I worked with but wasn’t crazy about the 30 minute ride home down the dark, hairpin mountain curves every night at 11:00 or 12:00.  While working I did extensive job searching and sent my resume to a countless amount of schools to show my interest and desire to find any available teaching position here in the High Country (although my heart truly wanted to teach in Boone).  I went on one interview and drove myself crazy wondering when I would hear about the decision (even though I was visiting my, at the time, soon-to-be in-laws and basking in the Virginia sun by their pool).  A friend checked my mail and low-and-behold, the news was disheartening.  I knew it was just one interview but it was getting extremely close to the beginning of the upcoming school year and I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to find a job.  In my mind, knowing all along that God would lead me to the path I was meant to follow.  Now, for those of you that know me, patience is not a virtue that I am blessed to possess.  This made it hard for me to accept that, in due time, I would be called for a position that was perfect for me.

Several weeks later, I received a call from a principal in Watauga County.  He wanted me to come interview for an interim position for the 2009-2010 school year.  The full-time position consisted of two half-time positions.  One: Intervention Specialist (aka-Reading Specialist) and Two: 4th grade teacher (without a homeroom, teaching one or two subjects).  As you can imagine, I was very eager to accept the opportunity for an interview.  The position was perfect-the best of both worlds-and was right up my alley.  I have always wanted to teach grades 3-5 and loved teaching 4th when I was a student teacher.  I was also anxious to use the skills I gained from my Master’s program to help struggling readers.  If I remember correctly, the call was early in the week and the interview was that Friday.  Just a few days to prepare and figure out how to ‘WOW’ the interview committee.

With just a week and a half before school started for students, Friday morning arrived, 8 am-the first out of many to interview.  With knees shaking and palms sweating, I walked to the conference room at the County Office.  5 people waited to see what I would do next.  ‘Keep eye contact and shake their hands’ was the first thought that went through my racing mind.  I cannot remember what questions were asked or how many there were.  I know I did make them laugh at one point and wondered: ‘Are they laughing at me or with me?’ I soon realized they were laughing with me and my worries were put at ease.  I left the interview feeling as good about it as I thought I should.  I knew it went well and felt like I said all the right things but I still knew there were several people behind me that could have ‘WOW-ed’ them more.  I made the trip home, reflecting on what I could have added to make myself stand out more.  Realizing that ‘it was what it was’ and that I couldn’t do anything more about it, I quit thinking.  I learned my lesson from the first interview and told myself I wouldn’t put myself through the anticipating torture I did last time.

I arrived at the cabin I was renting for a couple weeks in between apartment leases and ate some lunch and vegged in front of the TV.  At some point I must have fallen asleep because I was awoken by a telephone ring.  Thinking it was either Michael, my fiance at the time, or one of my parents, I answered it, still half-asleep.  A man asked “Ms. Shook?”  “This is she,” was my reply.  “Hi, it’s Mr. Faulkner, from Parkway School.”  My heart began to jump out of my chest and my stomach twisted itself into a smorgasbord of knots.  I don’t remember the full conversation, but I do remember being offered the position.  I was suddenly consumed by an overwhelming happiness.  I immediately accepted the position and proceeded to listen for “further instruction” before my ILT (Initially Licensed Teacher) training and teacher workdays began.

After wrapping up the conversation, I didn’t care that my new boss probably thought I sounded like a man first thing in the morning after my nap.  I immediately called Michael to tell him the good news.  Having a conversation proved to be somewhat difficult because I was jumping up and down and screaming with joy.  I spread the news to my family and began to breathe.  I knew that, although the job was only guaranteed for one year, all my hard work in 6 years of college paid off.  I had been hired and had a full-time job.  I was ecstatic as I went to ILT Orientation and set up my 2 classrooms (1 for each 1/2 position) for the Open House the night before the first day of school.  I couldn’t wait to meet the faculty and staff at Parkway and my students and begin what would end up being an amazing first year of teaching.

So here it is, the summer after my first year of teaching and I am blessed!  Despite the many, many days we missed due to snow and ice (what is, undoubtedly the norm for winter here in Boone) and frustrations of getting in all the material to our lessons that needed to be covered for the End-of-Grade tests, all of my students made growth and I couldn’t be more proud of them!  Their hard work paid off and boy did we have a blast in the classroom!  I’ve started a file of funny things students say and I am sure I will enjoy re-reading them as years pass.  I’ve also ingrained great lessons into my memory and highlighted them in my plan book with bold print and made notes where lessons need changes.

Amidst the hair pulling and teeth grinding from stress, I didn’t just have teaching and lesson plans to think about.  I was also planning a wedding.  Michael proposed in February last year and the date was set for June 20, 2010.  With snow make-up days approaching the wedding date, my stress level rose and I juggled two very time consuming things pretty well if I may say so.  Michael and I got married on the most gorgeous Sunday of 2010 and couldn’t have had a more perfect day.  The ceremony, reception, food, and company were all superb.  It went by so fast but I do have memories that will last forever.  We went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon and had the time of our lives.  We took a 2 day trip to visit the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.  Although we got stuck on the elevator at Hoover Dam we had a great time and have already planned to go back at some point.  Our honeymoon couldn’t have been better.  It was hot but we loved the heat without the humidity.  You can’t go to Vegas and not gamble, so we did participate in that but we are happy to say that we didn’t lose all of our money.  We returned to North Carolina with some left!

Now that we are back in Boone, we have begun to adjust to being married.  It is definitely a big change for both of us but we couldn’t be happier.  Michael is working his tail off full-time on the third shift to help with the remodel of our Wal-Mart store while taking summer classes at Appalachian.  He is very tired and is eager to graduate so he doesn’t have to juggle so much.  Due to his shift at work I don’t get to see him but for a few hours in between sleep and work during the week.  We cherish our time together then and on the 2 days of the weekend we have and look forward to the many days to come as a married couple.

As for me, I have been watching the show, Lost and have been hooked from the beginning.  I turned my cable off in my apartment, knowing I would be living in Michael’s when we got back from Vegas and have also enjoyed watching things instantly from our Netflix membership.  I did copious amounts of laundry (both mine and my husband’s) to determine what could be donated before we began packing up to move.  We are moving to a townhome at the beginning of August and couldn’t be more excited.  We are ready to move out of the “student housing scene” and are looking forward to what we hope will end up being a place we can call home for a few years without having to move again.  We’ve designated my apartment as the “storage unit” so it is easier to move from there.  I have begun packing my large amount of “stuff” into various boxes and have taken the opportunity to donate quite a bit and throw some things away.  I spend a little time every day doing this but I have to admit, I have enjoyed summer cleaning, despite the battle wounds from fights with cardboard boxes.

I am waiting to hear what exactly I will be teaching next year, but I at least know I have a job.  This has brought me quite a bit of comfort lately in an otherwise hectic and pessimistic job market.  Who knows when our economy will fully recover, or if it ever will, but for now, I can breathe.  I am fortunate.  Fortunate and blessed.  Blessed for all the experiences that make me ‘me’.  Blessed to know the people I know.  Blessed to have the friends and family that I have.  Blessed to have an incredibly supportive man in my life, who I can now call my husband.  Blessed to not only have a job, but the job i was meant to have.

Blessed to know that I am blessed…

i know i’ve laughed with some of you about my organizational skills. it’s my last semester of graduate school, then off to the real world. i’ve got new things to do and i’m excited about them! i’m nervous about job interviews, but i’ve been told by several professors they would be happy to write recommendations (and that was voluntary… i didn’t even ask them to!) so i’m psyched about that. i’ve had only 1 class so far this semester and it’s been snowing like crazy. i’m working my assistantship again this semester but i’m working in the LRE and Doc Program (10 hours at both) and substitute teaching again in watauga county on thursdays and fridays. needless to say, i’m busy busy. 2 of my three classes are in hickory this semester. my first one in hickory is product tonight with dr. trathen. i’ve never had him but have heard he’s amazing. kathleen and meghan (from our class last semester) are in that class with me so we’re carpooling. yay! i don’t even know if any of you are checking this but i figured i should update it in case people do read it and we can keep in touch this way. i hope you all are doing well! and good luck this semester!

yes, i know i’ve chosen a new theme and yes, i know it’s a christmas theme, but what can i say? i’m a sucker for christmas. not the materialistic part of christmas-the way it effects everyone around me, in turn, making me happy. so, if you think i’m nuts for using a christmas theme when it’s not quite december (or even thanksgiving for that matter) then i guess i’m crazy…but a good kind of crazy! 🙂

i can’t believe re 5130 will be over in one class period. i’ve truly enjoyed learning about the different types of literature to use in my classroom. although i have no clue what grade i will be teaching next year i am so excited to have options in each genre we talked about. i can’t wait to do a multigenre project with my students and write poetry! i am truly shocked that this semester has gone by so fast. i looked foward to tuesdays each week. i appreciate all the feedback and encouragement i’ve received from you all. thank you for a great semester!

🙂