Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Arrival in D.C.!

I just got to Washington, D.C. for the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education. The Doubletree hotel is really nice, but what's even nicer are the thoughtful gifts I received when I got here.

I tried to snap an artful picture of them arranged neatly on the hotel room table. To the left is a letter from Harriet Sanford, the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. Then, you'll see a lovely NEA pen, a chocolate replica of the capital dome, edged in gold candy and a calculator (sorry, the calculator is somehow blended in with the table color! It's a nice calculator, but you can't see it)!

There is a complete packet of information for me which outlines the exciting week all the ATE winners will be having, which starts at 8:30, in the morning, at the Hishorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

We have a packed-full day which will outline the Value of International Travel, how to use 21st Century skills to document the China experience this June, a presentation about Chinese cultural history and information about an online course on China.

The Pearson Foundation will discuss our video projects and we'll finish the day with dinner, sponsored by the Pearson Foundation (Thank you!)

The folder thoughtfully contains a personal notebook and a magnificent book produced by E.F. called "Breaking down barriers." E.F. is one of our China trip sponsors.

I just had another cultural experience as my toes nearly became frostbitten as I walked with newly manicured nails down Rhode Island Avenue, N.W. I was able to get a late appointment at the Blu Nail Salon (Folks - I will need this for the Gala - I will have exposed toes!), but since the place closed at 7:00 p.m., they sent me packing with bare feet in a gift of bright green beach sandals.

What a sight I was flip flopping down the street, as it started to lightly snow.

"Don't touch anything, not for one hour!" said the owner as he gently, but firmly closed the door.

Surely he cannot be referring to a keyboard! :) I have to do that!

I just looked down to check out the manicurist's work. She assured me that short nails are all the rage, but I cannot help but think that I am sporting crimson stubs.

Such is life and I have more important matters to attend to!

The hotel is filled with ATE winners from all around the country and I can't wait to meet them. I got into an elevator conversation about my toes with a very pleasant woman and only saw her NEA Foundation folder as the door was closing!

I'm sure we'll recognize each other tomorrow, though I will be cleaned up in business casual attire!

Phew! I'm happy to have arrived, to have gotten a flight which was uneventful and am delighted to be here in my hotel room surrounded by these informative and thoughtfully selected items!

I taught all of my classes today with my suitcase in the front of the room last period. We had full instruction, but the kids could tell that I was excited and nervous about the experience.

A couple of classes asked to see my dress so I popped opened my suitcase and showed it to them, amid a chorus of "ouuuusss" and "ahhhhs." I want to involve my students as much as possible because they are the reason I am here!

"Estoy nerviosa," I told them. I am nervous, but in the way you get before a really big thing in your life.

I am so incredibly honored to be here. I am fully aware that there are thousands upon thousands of teachers across this great nation who could be here.

Life has put me in this position of representation and I never forget my colleagues out there in classrooms all around the country, working for the good of children. I want to shout out their names, one by one and celebrate each lesson, each project that emerges from the creativity of a professional who cares about kids.

I'm particularly thinking of my friends at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey. You are the ones who first selected me as the Teacher of the Year from our building. Being chosen by one's peers is the highest honor imaginable. So many of my colleagues have told me that they are happy that all of this is happening to me because I am a "real teacher." Thank you!

So here's a shout out from Washington, D.C.! I'm thinking of you!

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