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Kyle


Kyle represents so many teachers in the world. She wants her students to excel academically and personally. Yet Kyle is different in many ways. Her unyielding grasp on her own sense of self, as well as her unwavering and highly attuned social justice orientation leap out before her in everything that she does, especially when she teaches.  However, her in-depth content knowledge, as well as her adept teaching pedagogy arekyle pic1 only a portion of the story. For Kyle, her social justice orientation is the fuel for supporting students whom the system has otherwise given up on, to excel.

This focus on social justice, particularly in schools, particularly in the area of mathematics has been explored at length by educators and activists such as Robert Moses in his book, The Algebra Project. In this book, Bob Moses indicates (and backs up the fact) that mathematics, Algebra in particular is a filter for continued student success, not only in mathematics but in college and the workforce. For this reason, it is vitally important to have teachers like Kyle, teachers that understand the intersection of mathematics and issues of social justice.

For Kyle, these issues are not only apparent professionally and personally for her within the walls of her own classroom, they are also part of her experience as a parent, particularly of boy, specifically of a bi-racial boy. Like many of us who juggle professional and personal around issues of education and social justice, Kyle experiences these same joys and dilemmas, which some may say are heightened by her experiences in a large urban school and in her home as a white woman with bi-racial children.

I am intrigued by how Kyle navigates her world at school as a teacher, at home as a parent and in the school community for her young son as a teacher and a parent.  Kyle and I are embarking on a journey together to peel back the issues as she sees them and document her experiences (and others) in order to not only tell her story but to draw connections to the stories that so many of us share.
Stay tuned. We’re excited.

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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

87


2962_1130400576505_5081376_n[1]My grandmother (my Nanie) is 87 today and that’s pretty darn awesome. That’s old, even by today’s standard of people living longer. Her mother (my Big Ma) was 102 before she left this world, so I’m praying that my grandmother remains in her right mind and good health for another 20+ years.  I love having her around and can’t imagine life without her. I love her so much.

My grandmother is full of humor and love and compassion.  Last week, I ‘caught’ her playing in the elevator with her friend as they delivered flyers to the people in her building even though the stories were on. I heard the laughing and giggling through the elevator walls and then got sucked into their delivery route up and down on the elevator greeting everyone in their path. If I’m not mistaken, my Nanie even took away someone’s activities flyer and put it on another door (on a completely different floor, no less) because so and so “doesn’t need the flyer anyway”. LOL, seriously, did she just do that !!

The other day, I hung out with her before (or after) Steve Harvey (I can’t remember which) and she actually started gossiping (which actually doesn’t happen often). Wow, I thought–this is going to be good. It was good and she made sure to say, “my source” before every little nugget that she let’s fly around the room. She even asked me to ask one of the preachers if he was married-just wondering–she said. lol. seriously, Nanie.

In thinking about my 45 years against her 87, I hope to be as uncomplaining, fun, nice and easy going as she is …when I’m …..well, actually right now…today. That’s a good goal and she is a terrific model.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in life freestyle

 

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Wah-la Wallenda


I watched with awe with 13 million people all over the world as Nik Wallenda, in his blue Discovery Channel tee- shirt and relaxed jeans, slid– footstep by footstep for 1400 feet across the Little Colorado River Gorge in Navajo Country.  His only accoutrement was the 43 pound pole balanced in his hands like a huge bird and as we quickly learned, his faith in God.

While the global community sat in their homes, stood in bars, and crouched next to their radios, Nik kept moving, one elk-skinned shoe after the other on the 2 inch steel cable.  My own body was upright, tense and still; head shaking, eyebrows furrowed, watching and thinking, ‘He is crazy’, ‘He is selfish’.  As I continued to watch, it seemed as though Nik’s body nor his spirit mirrored my own. As I hoped that I would not see this stranger fall from the sky,  I heard him say, ” Wow, what a sight!”, as he looked down into the gorge.

–really, he can notice the beauty in this stressful state?? hmmm

Then it happened, quickly and effortlessly–a calm,  “Thank you Jesus” and a host of other accolades that seemed be not to be said for him, but for God. There it was again, “Lord calm the wind. Calm the cable. Relax me.”–that was a call to God to help –all this while moving forward- as if he had to, was willed to. It was as if he expected with confidence that God was going to do the very thing he asked him to do. At the end of his walk, while I was still tense, Nik Wallenda skipped the last few feet across the cable.

I have thought about this image often in the last few days.  What if we all just kept moving forward, praising God, asking for help and noticing the beauty even in challenging situations.  So with an unfurrowed brow, I say, “Lord relax me. Calm the wind and  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  …and since I worry obsessively at times,  I will have to just stop , crouch down and wait for the waves that I have caused to dissipate, then start again all the while knowing that I will make it across the beautiful gorge of my life while praising God even as  people support me, cheer me on, and even sit on the edge of their seats and watch.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in life freestyle

 

Why I love Richmond.


Why I Love Richmond.

Seems apropos to re-start my blogging (which I left for 6 months or so when I discovered that people from work were…well…reading my blog) with a focused account of Why I Love Richmond !

I’ve spent a little more than a year readjusting to life in The South after living in the Northeast for 27th years. I’m back home in Richmond, Virginia with roughly 69 square miles, the population averages 205,000 with 50% Black, 44% White, 6% Latino (that’s a huge change)

  • 1/3 of the population has a bachelor’s degree of higher (which is probably why people call me Doctor at every given opportunity)
  • 13,000 Veterans (although students do not get a day off from school for Veteran’s Day)
  • mean travel time to work is 21 minutes (my commute is 10)
  • home ownership rate is less than 1/2 (yup)
  • 3rd best city for industry however, the median household income $38K with 1/4 of the population living below the poverty line (lots to talk about here)
  • 20% of the population smokes tobacco (yup…Phillip Morris is a big industry)
  • 11% of the populations has with diabetes, 1/4 -high blood pressure and 1/3 – high cholesterol levels)
  • right on the fall line of the James River, there are lots of river-based activities here, hiking trails, museums, theaters and restaurants
  • Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and all their contemporaries used Richmond for important historical events and there is a lot of amazing architecture here
  • the humid, subtropical cliimate is framed rolling hills, beaches and mountains
  • AND the people are super friendly     

The first question that people usually ask me after “why did you move back here?” is “Do you like it down here?” When I respond, “yes” they go on, “Better than New York and Boston”. I respond, “yes”.  I always…ALWAYS get a quizzical look after my affirmative responses, which makes me think …‘wait, am I missing something’.  As I thought about why I like living here, it became apparent to me that I had to put it on paper–maybe to prove it to myself. This topic strand will serve as notes to myself on why I love living in Richmond. Sometimes, I will use love to describe things that I really love about living here. Sometimes, it will mean love with a question mark (imagine your voice going up at the end) and sometimes love will purely be used as an oxymoron-as in, I really don’t love it. For starters, here’s a list of stuff that I really do love:

  1. Larry is here. My dad is here. My grandma is here.
  2. There is a line dance for every song, literally.
  3. You can have a pig roast-just because–and throw in a fried turkey for Thanksgiving too.
  4. You have be in the midst of a very foul mood and the nice lady in the grocery store will call you ladybug and instantly you feel better
  5. Walton’s Mountain and papa’s Secret Family Recipe –‘nuf said

There’s more but I’ll stop here…Happy Thanksgiving       

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51760.html

http://www.vdh.state.va.us/ofhs/prevention/tucp/documents/2012/pdf/Data/TobaccoIndicators/Tobacco%20Indicators_Richmond%20City.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond,_Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Today will be better


I have had a hard year and that ain’t no lie.

I stepped out on faith and then didn’t trust. I led with confidence and then let 25-year-old insecurities erupt like a volcano over and over and over again. I lost my sense of purposefulness and struggled to get it back.

Up was down and down was up. Even though I was making progress, I was still drifting on self-doubt, confusion and longing-feelings I haven’t had in many, many years.

I got on my knees, turned the pages, looked at my life and I decided to dig deep.

I got into the water, floated on my back, looked at the sky and I decided to tap back in.

I decided to get stronger and snatch my power back. To reclaim me for myself.

An 11 year old said to me, “you have a smiling face” and that ain’t no lie.

I know that next year will be better. Tomorrow will be better. Today will be better. I will be better because I am fighting for it the whole way.

Namaste

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in life freestyle

 

Ant Lion


I walk too fast. talk too fast. drive to fast. I typically have multiple tasks going on at the same time (right now I’m writing and cooking simultaneously :/ ). I finish my boyfriend, Larry’s sentences as if I really know what he’s about to say (I don’t). When we are out together he often asks, “Hollee, did you see that?”, “Did you notice…?” (I don’t).

I’m typically in a rush – good ole’ New York City rush. Sure, I get a lot done and I’ve done a lot over the years but maybe, just maybe (no,definitely) it is time to slow waaaay down and just listen, observe, sit and wait.The ant lion sits and waits.

The ant lion digs its funnel underground and then waits patiently for the vibrations of an unsuspecting insect.  It achieves by waiting. The only reason I know about the ant lion at all is because my father noticed the almost imperceivable funnels around the foundation of his house.  He showed them to me along with the print out of his research about this creature. I was amazed at both. (I never would have noticed the funnels in the soil and I instantly realized that I am missing a lot of stuff.)   

How does one hone observation skills so acutely that even the smallest thing is noticed (the proverbial princess and the pea). Better yet, how does one become more patient and just feel comfortable waiting.

I rarely wait. Sensing my hamster-on-the-wheel, got to have it all now mentality Larry asked me to stop, sit down, think and pray and I did –and I need to do it more often. I want to slow myself down so much so that I can  just wait and perceive changes in the atmosphere, changes in direction, moves of the spirit. It’s by slowing down (being still even) that I will be elevated beyond anything that I’ve experienced before. It’s by slowing down, listening, observing, waiting and praying that I will understand and achieve the purpose that God has for me.

I’m done cooking and I’m done writing for tonight.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in life freestyle

 

Ant Lion


I walk too fast. talk too fast. drive to fast. I typically have multiple tasks going on at the same time (right now I’m writing and cooking simultaneously :/ ). I finish my boyfriend, Larry’s sentences as if I really know what he’s about to say (I don’t). When we are out together he often asks, “Hollee, did you see that?”, “Did you notice…?” (I don’t).

I’m typically in a rush – good ole’ New York City rush. Sure, I get a lot done and I’ve done a lot over the years but maybe, just maybe (no,definitely) it is time to slow waaaay down and just listen, observe, sit and wait.

  The ant lion sits and waits. The ant lion digs its funnel      underground and then waits patiently for the vibrations of an unsuspecting insect.  It achieves by waiting. The only reason I know about the ant lion at all is because my father noticed the almost imperceivable funnels around the foundation of his house.  He showed them to me along with the print out of his research about this creature. I was amazed at both. (I never would have noticed the funnels in the soil and I instantly realized that I am missing a lot of stuff.)

How does one hone observation skills so acutely that even the smallest thing is noticed (the proverbial princess and the pea). Better yet, how does one become more patient and just feel comfortable waiting.

I rarely wait. Sensing my hamster-on-the-wheel, got to have it all now mentality Larry asked me to stop, sit down, think and pray and I did –and I need to do it more often. I want to slow myself down so much so that I can  just wait and perceive changes in the atmosphere, changes in direction, moves of the spirit. It’s by slowing down (being still even) that I will be elevated beyond anything that I’ve experienced before. It’s by slowing down, listening, observing, waiting and praying that I will understand and achieve the purpose that God has for me.

I’m done cooking and I’m done writing for tonight.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in life freestyle