Full-Swinging Summer.

Y’all, it is THE END OF JUNE. How did that happen?!

YIKES.

YIKES.

I knew my planner looked crazy busy for the month of June, but I didn’t expect it to fly by as quickly as it did.

My babies took their EOGs the first two days in June, and the end result was about 50% passing. We got the scores back the next day after all students finished taking their tests, and there were definitely some surprises on the score sheet. It’s a little disheartening looking at a paper with your kids’ names on it with numbers next to each name, trying to quantify the brilliance of each child.

How foolish.

Despite these subpar test scores, I could not be any more proud of my kids. They worked their little tails off this year, and they accepted the challenges that I strategically placed in front of them. They all didn’t pass their EOG tests, but you know what? Every kid made progress. This cohort is batting 1.000, and every child made progress from day one in third grade. Some kids didn’t make much growth, but a little can go a long way. Most of the kids I had grew at least a year’s worth, and I had a couple grow about two years’ worth.

I hold those flimsy test score sheets in my hand, and those numbers pale in comparison to the actual amount that my kids actually grew — as students, as learners, as little human beings.

After EOGs, it was time for the last week of school and for a handful of teachers to head east to Ocracoke for a little curricular research and development at NCCAT (if you read this regularly, you may recall that I was there in January presenting about early literacy practices and integrating content area into literacy instruction). Needless to say, the weather was beautiful and a lot got accomplished being away from the home base of FPG.

What a place for a sunset.

What a place for a sunset.

After a week at NCCAT, it was time not for summer break and sleeping in, but rather the beginning of my Kenan Fellowship with NC State.

In case I haven’t posted about this, my Kenan Fellowship is with the NC Science Festival and Morehead Planetarium. My first week was very different than the work I am used to — normally, I’m up running around entertaining and educating the young minds of America, but instead I spent full days in front of a computer screen.

My honest thoughts: If this is research, this SUCKS.

I’m very much a doer when it comes to learning things, and sitting at a computer for six to eight hours a day is NOT my style. Fortunately, I’m efficient, so I finished a lot of work my first week there. It feels good being productive and doing something to promote science education outside of a classroom.

As soon as that first week of externship greatness ended, it was time to head to Cullowhee, NC with my fellow Fellows for a week at NCCAT in the mountains. We had a packed schedule full of professional advancement sessions and white water rafting.

Yep, that’s right. I said it. White. Water. Rafting.

I’ve never been white water rafting before this trip, and my apprehensiveness only grew as I sat in the outdoor classroom, eyes glued to a television screen flashing images of people falling into the river.

As we drifted and paddled down the Nantahala, I thought of something one of my students said earlier this year. We were doing a little character study using some Kevin Henkes books and we had just finished reading Sheila Rae, the Brave when we had our discussion about what bravery actually means. Many students were using the term “brave” synonymously with “fearless,” but this intuitive child spoke up and stated that brave and fearless weren’t the same — being brave is when you do something you’re afraid of, but being fearless means you do something that is scary to others but you aren’t afraid of it.

How poignant and simple.

I thought that as we started our river journey, and I couldn’t be happier that I was brave that day. My crew made it down the river with no casualties (PRAISE), our guide was amazing and beyond knowledgable about our trek, and I set fear aside and jumped into the VERY cold Nantahala with a new VERY dear friend of mine.

That week at NCCAT I learned about technology tools to use in my classroom and how to apply those same tools, but the most rewarding thing about the week was the relationships I made. I met people who think the way I do, who are passionate the way I am, who want to inspire change not only for their students but for other educators in the state as well. How refreshing to not be seen as the super intense nerd who is obsessed with creating engaging activities for kids. It’s amazing what a group of zealous, like-minded educators can do when they’re all in the same room.

As soon as I returned from the mountains, it was time to shower and get ready for the FABULOUS wedding of one of my best friends, Carmen, to another dear friend, Michael (known affectionately as #CarMichaelBetts2014). It was an evening of tears, overflowing joy, and hardcore dance moves.

Oh, and I “caught” the bouquet. [Note: This is a loose term, as the bouquet ever so eloquently plopped RIGHT at my feet when Carmen tossed it back.]

I got back late and was happy to sleep in a real bed (because y’all let me tell you, those Western frat house beds were BRICKS covered in paper), and then wasted no time in preparing for the move to a new building, a new apartment, a new year of life with a sweet roommate, Aviv! I really hate packing and moving, and I openly admit that I did a VERY poor job prepping my stuff and organizing before moving on Sunday, and I’m kind of paying for it now.

I couldn’t have made this move possible without the help of my mom — SHE IS THE BEST. She came up and helped me clean and move the rest of my stuff while I was at work today, and for that I’m beyond thankful. This move also made possible by my fantastic dad and wonderfully strong brother — y’all are the best movers this side of the Mississippi, I’m certain of it!

Despite the hectic nature of moving and purging and organizing and living in boxes for a bit, I’m happy to be in my new place, and I can’t wait for Aviv to get back from Israel so I can share that space with her!

Basically, I feel so humbled to have the opportunity to work with such passionate, pleasant people, and I’m grateful for the relationships I am able to cultivate during the summer season. It’s nice having more free time during summer months, and I love taking any extra chance I get to build and grow in my relationships with people.

Now, here I sit at Caribou Coffee (my apartment is sans internet for the time being), watching the sun set and contemplating the infinite possibilities flight has to offer the world, all while listening to some electronic acoustica music.

It’s a beautiful life, friends. Look for more steady updates in the weeks ahead! Happy end of June — I pray the start to your July is absolutely sparkling.

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