Thursday, December 23, 2010

How I've used some of my free time.

Free time?! Yeah... I said it. Oooo Oooo!

The boys and I played in some paint.

This is how we write stuff....

And this....

Charitable Giving

My Uncle was kind enough to help. (I love that my family supports this type of stuff - note his hair.)


Spicy Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Biscuits for 10

Not pictured:
Family Hugs
Prayers for my Grandma who taught me how to crochet on Thanksgiving (she has internal bleeding and had two heart attacks Tuesday)
Christmas Tree Decorating

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I. Miss. ______.

I miss my family (for only 2 more days!).

I miss Harbin (not particularly in the winter).

I miss days where I do only what I want (however, I love my job to death).

I miss my previous roommates (although I enjoy walking around naked).

I miss the Colts winning (and the Pats losing).

I miss traveling around and being a waif (it's nice to know where all my things are... or have things for that matter).

I miss...

Having things to miss far exceeds having nothing good to remember.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pump, pump, pump it up.

Tuesday I was asked to plan a pep rally for today (it's Thursday). I'm not sure if you've ever planned a pep rally, (I hadn't), but I was quite sure it would take more than 40 hours to put one together. Particularly when the coordinator has a 3 hour final and a basketball game to attend the night before. I scrambled to call basketball moms, acquire equipment from middle schools, and choreograph something for the dance girls - all while getting my grades in and holding IEP meetings.

The Agenda:

11:40 - Welcome from Ms. Hering

11:41 - Webster High School Band
*Sobre Todo
*Victory March
*Battle Cry - cheerleaders throw bleacher cushions to the crowd

11:47 - Cheer Squad Competition Cheer and Stunting

11:50 - Dance Team Whip my Hair

11:53 - Introduce Men's and Women's Basketball teams with spirit line of cheer/dance members
(For the music we used the Women's Basketball Coach's rap song about T-Dub and our teams.)

12:03 - Kiss the Player
(A senior basketball player was selected to be blind folded have a cheerleader kiss him on the cheek. He completely hammed it up by putting on chap-stick... little did he know I had his mother hide in the back and come out to give him a kiss instead.)

12:06 - Relay Races between grades for the Spirit Stick
(The seniors won due to the juniors inability to remain on their scooters, and the freshmen and sophomore's stage fright.)

12:16 - Principal's Address

12:18 - Close - Webster High School Band
*Alma Mater

My principal informed me that this was a huge improvement over what usually occurs at pep rallies , (despite the fact that I felt I could have done significantly better), and said he would put in for an activities coordinator position - which I would be offered. (Extra money, sweet!)

Honestly, that was not the best part of it all. Besides the roaring laughter and genuine enjoyment the students seemed to get from all of this, I received the following text from a colleague:

"Hey I want to congratulate you on the great job you did today and the job you have done with the cheer and dance squad. Today was the first day that I actually felt like the students here at (high school name) are proud of their class mates and to be (school mascot)s. I think that is a reflection and result of the energy and passion you bring to (school name) and the student body."

Totally worth every ounce of exhaustion.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You raise me up.

One of my colleagues just stopped me in the hall:

"Ms. Hering, I would just love to pick your brain sometime. My students have a lot of needs and as a first-year counselor... well especially with my special needs students I just need ideas. I was talking with Mrs. ____ and she said ' You know who has it going on? She's young but she always seems to have great ideas. Ms. Hering.' "

On Monday one of my Geometry classes informed me of this:

"Mr. ___ is actually teaching. He says ' we have to teach like Ms. Hering now if we want to keep our jobs.' "

Some days I never, EVER want this to end. God is lifting me up today and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to impact my students and those around me who impact students.

Final Countdown:

1 day until the TFA holiday party and observatory star party.

2 days until dance competition in Oklahoma City with my girls.

5 days until my Stats final that I MUST get a B on to not retake the class, (at the graduate level if I have anything lower than a B I'm required to retake the course.)

8 days until I know for certain if I'm shaving my head (my students need to raise $220 more dollars).

11 days until I see my family!

20 days until I play a show with my little brother and cousin.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Everything looks perfect from far away.

I am never bored because - no matter how creative I like to pretend I am - I could never make this stuff up.

One of my students was using dip in my class - IN MY CLASS. I made them spit it out, finish taking notes, and get the homework before I let them get a drink of water. Then I sent them to the office where they received a $100 fine. This student's uncle also got into a fight with their aunt after parent night due to his alluding to my appearance being the reason this student was successful in math.

Classroom dialogue. Apply an overly sweet tone when you read my quotes. I approach every situation like that - which makes me, (wrongfully), feel like I can say exactly what I want without remorse.

*screaming* "I'm an atheist and I don't give a F__"
"Wait, what does that have to do with Algebra?"
*screaming* "All my life people try to teach me things and I can do it on my own."
"(Student name), but this answer isn't correct. I can teach you this if you let me."
"You just do this for the money."
"I actually took a pay cut to be here."
*mumbling* "F__ you, I know my rights. The Bill of Rights says I can choose to get an education if I want to. It's my right." *stands with knuckles on desk until referred to dean's office*

"What would you do if I showed up to your door with a bottle of wine?"
"Disgusting. I'd pretend I'm not home and sneak out the back door."
"What if it's champagne though?!"

"I don't want you to hit me Ms. Hering."
"Awe! I'd never hit you!" "/
"The only thing she hits is her boyfriend."

Walking between buildings:
"Hey, he 18."
"Excuse me?"
"I said he 18. He tryin' to holler at you."
"Come here boys."
"What? He wont tell nobody."
"Repulsive. I am a teacher and you will approach me in an appropriate manner. Do we need to go talk to (principal's name)?" *opens door for students to enter school*
"Ugh my knee hurts" *holds knee, walks in and looks down*
"I'm sure that's not all that hurts. Have a great day!"

"I like your panty hose, Ms. Hering. You actually match today."

"Ms. Hering, you toooo tiiiight man. You needa getchu a boyfriend. Loosen you up."
"We are not discussing the state of my vagina in this classroom. "

I don't let students use the restroom during my class. Period. One student even asked the principal about it during an assembly with around 500 students:
"What if your teacher NEVER lets you use the bathroom in class?" *looks directly at Ms. Hering*
"Boo. Hoo."
I love my administration and I tell them so.

However; when 75% of my class looked distraught one day, (we're on block scheduling), this is what ensued:
"If you eff this up, we will never, EVER use the bathroom again during class."
"Ms. Hering, I bet yooz a G."

"Why you look like that Ms. Hering?"
"I'm sick today."
"Whatchu got?"
"I think it's food poisoning. So I'm not contagious."
"Pregnant people be throwin' up a lot too." *phone vibrates* "Oooo that cho baby daddy?"

"If you net $5,000 a week then..."
"You sell drugs."

Despite all of the learning that appears to not happen in my classroom: my Geometry class is further along than one of the general ed classes AND at a 72% mastery, my fellow Algebra teacher sarcastically said "it's going to be great when your kids do better on the EOIs than mine," and my Math of Finance class has raised almost $200 on their own through advertising and sales techniques, (and there are only 2 students that frequent that class).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dank an Sie, Darling, Dank an Sie

I'm very grateful to live where I do and spend time with my family this Thanksgiving! Last year and the year prior I wasn't able to be with my family, yet it's phenomenal how people come together and bond over holidays, no matter their circumstances. I still feel gratitude for the void I didn't feel the last two years.

I have a wife of 6 1/2 years. Her name is Ro and she is my soul-mate, (for those who are perplexed, 'wife' is my term for my best friend from college. I only feel the need to clarify because my cheer moms question my sexuality. Who doesn't have a husband by age 24 in Tulsa, OK?) No matter how far apart we are I know that we are always connected. I would - and have - moved across the country for her. Last year I spent Thanksgiving with Ro and my in-laws at the most Martha Stuart-esk meal I've ever attended. There were perfectly cut turkeys on the cherry pie instead of lattice, apple butter pumpkin pie, perfectly prepared turkey and sides and immaculately displayed everything coupled with excellent wine. Her family took me in and conversed with me as if I were their own, including the eccentric grandma, (I didn't even have to miss my own!)

Two years ago I spent Thanksgiving in a country that doesn't celebrate the holiday. There were no Pilgrims in China who feasted with the Natives. At least, not in this sense. I made pumpkin pie for my favorite class - an incredibly intelligent group of 5th grade students (we had just learned a rhyme that incorporated pumpkins and pie and they had never heard of the food). All of my students brought little bags to take home tiny pieces for their parents to try.

Cherry was not impressed. Pumpkin spice was quite foreign to her. My mother had mailed me many of the ingredients I would need to prepare this.

Most of my friends in Harbin, China were not from countries that celebrated Thanksgiving, yet three of my Australian friends shut down their bar for a day and hosted a feast that fed 25 people complete with turkey, (I've yet to figure out how they acquired a turkey), mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and yams. In true Australian fashion it quickly became a party with ridiculous antics.

What I gather from all of this: as long as you have love you have all the makings of an exquisite holiday - and I'm blessed to never have to go without love.

Monday, November 22, 2010


It is disgusting. I NEVER feel sorry for myself or entitled to things. I used to read Holocaust literature per chance I ever began to waiver from the previous statement. My favorite:

Passion of Ravensbrück (English)

He steps out from the others.
He stands in the square silence.
The prison garb, the convict's skull
blink like a projection.

He is horribly alone.
His pores are visible.
Everything about him is so gigantic,
everything is so tiny.

And this is all.
The rest -
the rest was simply
that he forgot to cry out
before he collapsed.

Now, all I have to do is look around my classroom for a similar experience. One of my student's knuckles were bloody the other day. "Did you punch something, (student name)?" I asked lightheartedly, trying to engage a typically quiet student in conversation."Yes, my dad" they responded. "He hit my mom in front of me."

My group home students... I watched one get berated with all kinds of profanity and tackled to the cement by a group home leader. They limped around school the next day and I called to report excessive force. Another had a 2" by 2" chunk of hair ripped out of their head.

"Ms. Hering, you my mom?" "Ms. Hering, can I go home with you?"

"You know, I'm never at my house and I don't even have a T.V. Trust me, it's no fun there."

Gang hazing means one of my student's arms are entirely yellow with infection and covered in gashes and cuts. It doesn't make me sad that they sit there suffering silently. I merely marvel at the ignorance and acceptance of the situation.

One of my projects - a 19-year-old Algebra 1 student - came to class completely defiant. Slowly they began to work in class and became one of my best: finishing work early, helping others, leading games, and even bringing me candy on Halloween :]

Two weeks later they jumped a faculty member after school. One of my friends actually. I took pictures of my colleague's face for the police and took them to the hospital. And my project went to jail.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's ok. Don't get to the point. I am going to live forever.


Gratitude can't begin to describe what I feel towards my lovely and talented assistant coaches. Today we had camp for the cheer squad and dance team simultaneously (as I am still attempting to perfect my self-spawning super hero technique). My competition cheer coach handles my occasionally foul-mouthed girls and guys with grace. Yes, I said guys. I now have 17 girls and 3 boys on my co-ed squad. I enjoy breaking down gender norms; we're the only co-ed team in the district. When I became head coach there were 11 girls. 2 quit because I literally ran them off. Note: I never asked them to do anything I wasn't doing myself.

I actually cried watching the dance girls perform to Feeling Good today. (I tried to avoid it but then they hugged me and I couldn't help it.) This is the first dance team my high school has had in years and the girls have progressed so much, especially without any sort of formal training, (dance classes are expensive). We are so lucky to have such a talented choreography coach.

My Friday meeting with my dissertation mentor, the CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, was such an excellent and engaging conversation. He made me phone interview with him before he would agree to be my mentor. I felt more of an adrenaline rush making that phone call than I did doing this:

(hurling myself from 10,000 feet a few weeks ago)

I now have - here comes the boring part - connections to Switzerland health care models, the creator of Health Savings Accounts, economic perspectives on health care spending, a greater direction for research ideas, consumer focus on destination health services, and a restored sense of enthusiasm for my research. He ended our conversation with "I'm excited to read what you end up writing." I need to take more time to internalize and dissect our conversation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I feel selfish...

... and I feel the need to justify having a blog. Why am I taking time away from things I should be doing to write? I'm going to avoid rambling about how I think this could assist me in keeping track of my life.

I actually just had to stop writing this for the last 10 minutes to talk to a cheer mom. I'm typically pulled in 3 directions at any given moment. I write during grad school classes sometimes. That's when my thoughts are most engaged and coherent; or it's just the time in my week that I'd consider my "down" time.

I Teach For America. I teach because my students are 5 or more grade levels behind on their math skills. I teach special education and I am in charge of 22 students files. I coach the cheer squad. I coach the dance team. I am getting my MBA in International Business. My masochism has run rampant.

My job is a bipolar roller coaster. Everything whooshes by so quickly. The ups are really high and the lows create such a sense of pressure. Diving between each peak and valley gives a feeling of complete lack of control. I'm almost hoping this blog provides a sense, (or illusion), of awareness. I'd say control instead of awareness but I'm not dumb.