Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reliving Your Childhood?

I was watching a show on the Travel Channel called the Toy Hunter.  A guy named Jordan Hembrough travels across the globe in search of rare vintage toys to sell at the New York Comic Con, which is a big toy show swap meet.  It amazed me at how many middle aged guys and some gals had huge collections of toys.  They have them on display in cases and stored on shelves.  It looks almost like an organized hoarder.  One guy summed it up very well.  It is what I believe all of them are doing.  He said, “I am trying to get all of the toys that my parents couldn’t afford to get me when I was a kid.” 

In a way, I think most of us are kind of like that one way or another.  I made me think about the stuff I do and collect.  First of all, there are our multiple family trips to Disney World.  When I was a kid, my parents took me once when I was three years old.  I barely remembered it, but enough that I wanted to go back.  The second time I went to Disney was on my honeymoon.  By that time they had three parks that you could visit.  They had added Epcot and what was called MGM studios, now called Hollywood Studios.  When my wife and I had our two daughters we began going every year when my youngest was two and half.  They are now 11 and 15.  We have created many wonderful memories.  I believe I have relived some of my childhood through my daughters as I watched them experience the different things at Disney World.  I know my mother is reading this and I just want to say I had a good childhood.  We had many great trips and vacations.  However, we never went back to Disney.    

As a child I played with plastic army men and dressed up in my father’s Air Force uniforms by the hours.  I also attempted to build plastic models that always ended up looking hideous.  Today, I guess I am still playing army by collecting military memorabilia.  During the summer, I always set up a “modeling table” and put together 4 or 5 plastic models from May to August.  They aren’t professional, but I am proud of them.  I mainly put together military planes and vehicles that I display with my military collection.  Again, I am doing something that I always wanted to do as a kid, but didn’t have the patience to do it.

Lastly, I was always fascinated with the Star Wars movies.  Sure enough, I have a small collection of figures and spaceships.  I even have a few figures that I didn’t have as a kid, but always wanted.  Now that Disney owns the rights to Star Wars, it is almost a match made in heaven for me.

What has this got to do with education?  In your classroom this fall, go in with new enthusiasm.   Take in what I have written here and go relive your childhood with your students.  Be the teacher you never had, but wish you had.  Do the activities you wish your teacher would have done with your class.  Make learning fun and exciting the way you would have wanted it to be when you were a student in whatever grade you teach.  Show your creativity and encourage your students to be creative.  Be the best that you can be and be passionate about the difference you make everyday.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mister Rogers, A Man Ahead of His Time

 I grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood.  I absolutely loved him as a kid.  He always made me feel like a person and not a child.  I loved the trolley and his land of make believe.  I enjoyed the puppets and characters on his show.  My favorites were King Friday and Lady Elaine.  As I became a teenager, I began to think he was corny and eventually stopped watching.  However, that is probably when I should have embraced his lessons most of all.  We all go through that stage where the things we did when we were smaller seem silly.  Mister Rogers was anything but silly.

It wasn't until I got older that I understood that he did the voices for almost all of his characters.  I began to see the contributions he made to society outside of his show.  He had great advice for everyone and was someone who genuinely wanted to make this world a better place.  I believe he is truly an American Hero.

I recently read a post on Facebook about Mr. Rogers.  It had a link that led to a site that had several quotes by him.  As I read several of the quotes, I realized that his philosophy of how children learn and mine weren't too far apart.  For example, here is one that stood out.  "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood."  Wow, that is right on.  Education, in the past has totally gone in the wrong direction.  We have fewer recesses and less opportunities for kids to explore the things that they are interested in.  Adults "play" on their free time.  That is when they find time to learn about things they are most interested in.  Why wouldn't children learn in the same way?

Here is one more quote I read that is right up my alley.  "When we treat children's play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that's to be found in the creative spirit. It's the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”  This statement proves that this type of learning encourages creativity.  Creativity is so needed in our schools today.  We are no longer living in the 1950's where we are training our students to work in a factory on an assembly line.  We need to prepare them for the 21st Century.  Our classrooms need to be a playground where teachers and students can unleash their creative spirits.

Thank you Mister Rogers for this reminder.  Lets take these words and put them into action.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and for me the day is bittersweet.  The sweet part is that I am the father of two wonderful daughters.  They are 15 and 11.  They have brought so much joy to my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It is so exciting seeing them mature into nice young ladies.  I have always heard that you kids grow up so fast and now I completely understand.  It seems just like yesterday that we brought each one of them home from the hospital and had that first sleepless night checking on them every two minutes.  I absolutely love being a dad and I strive to be a good one.

The bitter part is that my dad passed away in December of 1999.  Let me just say, if I can be half the man he was, then I would be doing great.  He truly was the best man that I have ever known.  If you could have a role model and a hero, he was it. 

When I was very young I remember sitting on his lap in the front passenger seat on long trips.  This was way before the seatbelt and car seat laws.  Looking back, I guess it wasn’t very safe, but everyone did it.  We would play the games while traveling, such as the ABC game where you have to find all of the letters of the alphabet in order on the road signs as you passed them.  He would always take the time to play with my older brother and I whether it was a game of Horse basketball in the back yard or helping us set up a model train set.

As I got older, he supported me in my sports.  I played football and was a part of the wrestling team in high school.  He would buy equipment and shoes.  He took the time and would come to practices and all of the games and meets.  I never really felt like we did without too much.  Dad was always there to give a helping hand.  Even with school projects.  I remember one science project in particular that he made wooden bird feeders and helped me paint them different colors.  We wanted to test to see if the birds preferred a particular color of bird feeder.

As I went through college he helped me get a nice job where the hours worked perfectly for my schoolwork load.  I drove school mail vans from noon to 4:00 each day.  My dad worked for the school corporation where I am employed now.  He was the supervisor of Media Services, ran the school textbook store, was in charge of AV repair, the professional materials center, and internal school mail.  He was always looking out for me.  He was always there for me.

I followed in his footsteps and majored in education to become a teacher.  He started as an industrial arts teacher at a school where I had the pleasure of working for one year.  The funny thing is, I taught in the exact room that he taught in.  In had been converted into a fourth grade classroom by the time I got there.  It interesting the way things work out.

As I got married and got started in real life, he was still there for me.  I guess you could say that I was pretty relaxed those first few years.  I always felt like, if things got bad, dad would be there.  My wife and I had our first child none too soon.  My father got to spend a year and half with her before he passed.  I have never seen him any happier than when he was with his granddaughter.  She was the apple of his eye.  I am only sad that he didn’t get to meet my youngest daughter and my two nephews.  He would have been out of his skin crazy with four grandchildren to play with.

He taught me many things, like how to treat your wife.  Both my mother and father were great examples of what a marriage should be like.  He taught me about Jesus and how to pray.  He taught me how to be honest and know right from wrong.  He taught me to have character and integrity.  He taught me how to have a good work ethic.  He taught me how to treat others.  While at the funeral home, during the visitation, people were backed out of the door for three solid hours.  I never heard one negative comment about my dad.  I never new how many lives he had touched as people came through and went on and one about how he helped them in one way or another. 

When you lose a love one, people always say that it will just take time.  Well this December it will be 13 years that I have been without him.  I sure don’t miss him any less today then I did that first year that he was gone.  That whole time healing thing is a farce.  I know that he is in a better place and one day I will see him again.  Until then, I still love him and miss him greatly!