I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Monday, June 29, 2015

Just Do It

When en route to do good unto others (i.e. to get EmergenC, cough drops, and tissues for ailing ACE practicum teachers), it's quite ok to do good unto oneself too (i.e. to have a frozen custard treat at Ritter's).

And it's also understandable to rejoice in finding a Diet Coke bottle with your name on it:

All in all, it's been a full but good day. Onward to tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Seven Summers Later

Fr. Joe Corpora (the founder of my ACE school in Arizona) celebrated Mass tonight. As I sat there after Communion, I thought back to my first ACE summer 7 years ago, when I received the Body of Christ from Fr. Joe - it was in that moment that I truly felt connected to my school, that the whole living in intentional community and teaching students thing became real.

Seven summers ago? Really? Where has the time flown? How many kids have I taught, people have I met, things have I learned? It's safe to say that ACE has changed my life and that it (with all of its facets and its people) continues to shape who I am becoming right now.

As I looked out on all the staff and teachers at Mass tonight, I couldn't help but be amazed at how alive and thriving the program is. What an incredible family of which to be a part.

ACE Summer Year ???

A quick turn-around from Chicago it was - in from Boston and now out to Notre Dame. (It's good to be "home!") It's been three intense (time-wise) days of supervising/coaching ACE teachers in Practicum and helping out in a couple of their classes. It's been pretty neat to feel out this new role of "mentor teacher" at the summer school experience - nothing is really set in stone for what we are to do or how we are to carry it out, so Marisa and I have quite a bit of freedom.

But with that freedom comes a little frustration too - since there's no one who's walked in these shoes before (metaphorically speaking), we're not sure we're meeting expectations of all of the ACE faculty involved with Practicum (which is quite a few people). We want to do right by the program and right by the ACE teachers, so we've been striving for balance. We've also been flexible - Marisa and I planned to address consequences with a few activities today, but when the ACE teachers were being so thoughtful and asking so many meaty questions about creating their literacy block schedules, we knew we couldn't move on today to those consequence activities we had planned. (It's pretty amazing we both came to this decision/action independently and only found out afterwards that we'd followed our guts in the same manner. Hmm...must be a twin thing.)

Maybe in the coming days/weeks a little more light will be shed on our roles - Are we mainly coaching? Are we addressing questions/concerns about their schools/the fall? Are we spending time having them review and work on assignments?

We shall have to wait and see...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Adventures Never Cease

Here are some more pictures from the week thus far:

Trader Joe's (right behind my hotel):

Had the chance on Wednesday to run along the Charles River at sunrise:

Ice Cream at one of the best joints in Cambridge:

PB Cookies & Cream = my new favorite flavor:

Again, such interesting eating combos - enjoyed lunch in Harvard Yard on Thursday with my dried fig & port jam toasted sandwich (complete with toasted walnuts and brie cheese):

More ice cream...this time with ACE friends here in Boston:

Spent some time in Harvard Yard too...

And at the Gutman Library (Harvard Graduate School of Education):

Sunrise was absolutely beautiful from my hotel room:

So much learning and fun packed into these 5 short days - what an incredible experience! It will be hard to leave this place and these people on Friday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wicked Awesome

I admit I've been absent for a few days, but I've been attempting to get wicked smaht...

This summer, I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend Harvard University's Graduate School of Education summer Data Wise Institute. With "100 of my closest friends," I've been learning what it means to enter into a data mindset with a strong foundation based on an inquiry stance and as much data as you can get your hands on. The days have been long, and we've had some tough tasks, but it's been good work, and I am highly enjoying my time here...

The view from my room is beautiful, rain or shine (or sunrise or sunset):

I can go out with friends (or, in this case, a family whose daughter I taught in Arizona!) and still get my homework done (while watching the Stanley Cup Finals):

There are restaurants and cafes that offer menu options with food items I'd never dream of putting together (e.g. a sandwich with sweet potato, green apple, avocado, hummus, sprouts, sherry viniagrette on toasted wheat):

Flat Francis makes for an easy traveling buddy:

2.5 days to go...Better get some sleep so I'm ready to dive into more data (and go exploring during lunch) tomorrow...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer's Here!

Wednesday was the last day of the school year...for the kiddos. (We teachers still have work to do with a few meetings and cleaning of our classrooms over the next two days.)

It's been a good year, but it's also been one of those years that really takes a lot out of you. I truly believe and hope that the challenges I faced this year have made me a better, more understanding, more patient teacher. I'm looking forward to some professional development, time on ND's campus, and R&R with my family this summer so that I'll come back in August refreshed and eager to take on year 8!

Here are a few photos I'll leave you with this morning:

The squirrel worked so hard to get the apple core up the tree...

But then he dropped it...again...

Flowers from my student

The sure way to a teacher's heart = books + coffee

...and candy...and cute dog cards

Looking forward to enjoying these treats!

Beach, anyone?

student's artwork turned into greeting cards - beautiful!

Love the creativity - she personalized the style of the letter for each teacher's subject area!

Handwritten notes FTW

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Beautiful Things Not My Own

1) A beautiful song entitled "The Silence of God" came across my Feedly reader this morning. It's so peaceful and ripe for meaningful meditation.

2) This week, Fr. Mike (of UMD) had an incredible homily that focused on three things we can do to ensure that Mass matters: 1) Embrace our priesthood by offering sacrifice too; 2) Live out in your life what you profess in Mass; 3) Be willing to change because God wants to transform us. I'm not going to go into much detail, for Fr. Mike is far more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. But the bottom line is that Mass matters, just like setting time aside to practice something in order to get better at it or to get to know someone more. Just listen, trust me.

3) Apparently Bishop Lynch (Diocese of St. Petersburg) & Archbishop Cupich (Archdiocese of Chicago) are putting regional food on the line in a bet on who will win the Stanley Cup - LOVE it!

So sorry that I have no original content this evening - what can one do the eve before the last day of school, right?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Set Things Straight...Now

"I'm sorry for getting upset with you the other day in class. Please forgive me. - Miss Foyle"

A simple, short note on a post-it - that's it. I'm not sure if I needed to ask for forgiveness or not (she hadn't followed directions I'd repeated about 10 times), but that's not really the point.

As we reach the final days of school before summer vacation, I believe it is so important to end on a positive note. Therefore, if there's anything left unsaid or anything the students want to do that's left unfinished, the time to do it is NOW. The kiddos will remember what happened most recently as they walk out those school doors this week, and they'll remember how their teachers made them feel (again, most recently, I'm pretty sure). And since the overall year was a positive experience, why not make an extra effort to imprint that experience in their memories?

Here's another example:
Students have had the opportunity throughout most of the school year to do Genius Hour presentations for the last 10-15 minutes of class, depending on how much time we are able to give on any given day. Last week, one of my students presented on a summer camp experience. He was in the middle of sharing some trinkets and treasures from camp when we had to cut him short due to the class's end. (He had presented for about 10 minutes.)
Later that week, I gave a couple of other students 15 minutes to present, so the student (whose time had been cut short) told me he was upset (and we're talking about a kid who NEVER appears to be upset) because he had less time and didn't finish while these other students had more time (and ended with time to spare). I wasn't sure what to do, so I thought about it for a time that day before realizing that I needed to make time this final week of school so he can get his final 5 minutes to share. After all of his GH presentations this year, I don't want him to walk away with a sour memory of the experience. When I told him he can have five more minutes next week, he was very grateful and acted like I'd given him a million bucks. Therefore, I feel like that was the right thing to do.

By no means am I saying we should be giving in to students right and left. All I'm saying is that sometimes you need to set things straight before it's too late. (I hope all my rambling has made sense!)

To all my teacher friends, summer is almost (or, perhaps already for some) here! Stay strong through the finish line...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

It's Simple

It's easy
to get caught up
in the


that we forget
to look for the little things,
beautiful in their own
simple ways.

solo flower blooming in my driveway

But it is in these moments
of recognition
that we remember
there is so much more
than just

There is so much more
than just

Thank you,
for simple joys and beauty.
Help us to treasure all things
and people,
and small,
as precious gifts,
for we are caretakers
of this Earth,
and in future generations.