Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Over and Over and Over.....

Quote from Song of Solomon

Today, I've been thinking about the value of doing some things over and over; It's called practice....

For instances, in order to get better with cycling up big hills, a person needs to ride hills over and over.

I hated cottage cheese; however, I needed to get creative about putting more protein into my diet, so I ate just a little cottage cheese over and over, and NOW, I am in love with cottage cheese.

There was a time when I would not read a book again. However, it seems that if it is a book where I want to get a deeper understanding or if I really want to fall in love with a book that I already love, then I must read it over and over.

This is my fourth or fifth year teaching Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, and every time that I read and teach this book, I fall more in love with it, and my teaching of this novel seems to get better. Every time that I teach it, I switch it up some, and every year it seems like I get more awesome ideas out of students than the year before.

So, this year, I decided to add a creative project to the teaching of Song of Solomon, and it is going so well. The students are pulling things out of this novel that I have never thought about, and I am definitely seeing a few things from a different perspective.

After class I was wondering if these are the smartest students that I have ever taught, or am I getting better at teaching this novel and creating activities that causes the students to soar.

Each year I have the option to teach whatever novel that I want to, and sometimes, I switch up, but I do believe that there is value in doing some things over and over and over....

If we keep doing Anything over and over; We must get better???

Or, I sure hope that we do. (sigh!)

By the way, one of my students was in Chipotle, and he noticed that a poem by Toni Morrison was on a Chipotle cup. He took a picture of the cup and sent it to me....

Well, I did a little research, and Toni Morrison and a few other writers are now writing for Chipotle. I am completely ecstatic that the literary world is colliding with popular culture, and my students are noticing it.

The student bringing in this cup with the writing of Toni Morrison on it confirms to me to continue to teach Song of Solomon over and over and over!

Happy Wednesday...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Twenty-Five Years Later, and I am Still Excited!

I joined The Tuskegee University Band twenty-five years ago....

This past weekend I celebrated my 20th anniversary of graduating from Tuskegee, and my 25th Anniversary of joining the Tuskegee Band.

I knew in the 7th grade that I was going to be a Marching Crimson Piper....

Now, a person doesn't just show up at Tuskegee and become a Marching Crimson Piper, there is a process that is called crabbing. Yep, there is a process which includes wearing a brown paper bag on our heads, running laps around the field on demand..... However, if a person can last until The Turkey Day Classic, which is the last game of the season, then he/she officially becomes A Marching Crimson Piper.

Well, I lasted, but there were many days when I thought that I won't...nothing really bad happened except Mr. Duncan, our band director, stopped the entire band during practice to ask me "What was wrong with my legs?" (I wanted to go into the ground.) After practice I cried and cried and cried, and called my moma to tell her that I was quitting the band. She said that it was my decision. I got my nerves up, went to talk to Mr. Duncan, and to make a long story short, I stayed in the band. And, I am soooooo happy that I did it for no other reason but to participate in the 2014 Alumni band, the year that Mr. Duncan would retire after 42 years of service to this great band and great University.

Me and Mr. Duncan 

Over three hundred former band members showed up to march in the band for Homecoming.  Band practice was completely amazing, and I could not contain my excitement. We laughed, danced, sang, hugged, talked trash etc. Mr. Duncan was moved to tears.

Former Band Members on the yard!
Now, you know that we had to take a picture
at "The Veil of Ignorance" on our way to band practice!

Old School Sax Players: My Section!
Natalie still got IT, and she had a ball!
The Band Room Was Packed!
Felicia, we were freshmen saxophones player in 1989!
Ina, Homegirl and former band member!

Saturday came, and things fell into place. The former band members marched into The Alumni Bowl with the current members. For me this was extra special, because I got to march with my nephew and niece: Breland and Shanta. Did I mention that My family is on its second generation of Tuskegee Graduates? Well, we are...

My Family

Now, let me explain to you about Tuskegee people... We LOVE our BAND! So, as we were approaching the stadium people were standing, waiting on us, and my happiness level went to the roof. When I saw the crowd, I starting jumping, hopping, turning, flipping, doing all of the moves that I use to do twenty-five years ago. When I saw my sisters, Oh Lord, I really went crazy. ( I am laughing really hard just thinking about it.)

The Best Band In The Land!
Doing what I do or did!

So, I injured my knee in a small biking mishap, and the foolishness of Homecoming did not make it any better.....(Homecoming will wear a person out.)

I sent my sisters a text and asked: "I can cycle 100 miles, teach Toni Morrison to classes back to back, run a marathon, but Homecoming still gets me..How do you train for Homecoming?" My People, Homecoming is not for the faint of heart at all.

I can't stop laughing.....

Eventually the game ended; however, the joy and memories of participating in the 2014 TU alumni band will last forever.

Here are a few more pictures from the weekend:

Roommate for the weekend!
The Dean of The English Department, Dr. Burns. I loved
her so much is happy that she is still at Tuskegee as the Dean.

Sisters! Skegee Family..
Random Photo that I just love: We love our school.

Sisters and a childhood friend, Penny
Student guide of our tour of Booker T. Washington's house.
My Dear Friends!
On the porch of Booker T. Washington's House
The halftime show!
Shanta getting ready to do her thing!
The grave site of Booker T. Washington.
I had to honor the man who
went from being a slave to building history!

Tuskegee has soooo many traditions and the band is one of them. I am extremely happy that I had the opportunity to march in "The Best Band in the Land."

Tuskegee is "The Pride of the Swift Growing South!!"

25 Years Later, and I am still excited...

Monday, October 27, 2014

One of the Many Reasons Why I Love High School Students!

Today, a few of my seniors walked into the classroom with their heads shaved into a Mohawk, and the center was dyed blond...Some type of high school football thing!!

I am about that high school life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cyclocross Race #3 and #4: DCCX

Day 1 of DCCX was completely fun...

The Friday before the race, the course was open for people to ride, and there were free cyclocross clinics. Of course, I attended the clinic and pre-rode the course. I had a lot of fun, and this made me completely excited about DCCX.

Coworkers and friends also pre-rode the course on Friday!

Saturday, I got to the race early and rode the course, and I was super excited that quite a few of my friends and fellow cyclocross racers were there, and I was going to race with my teammate Patty:

The ladies of veloworks!
Shanna: bad A@# cross racer!
Fellow racers: Emily and her husband!
Fellow racers and teammates: Sean and Tom
Tina and Brian: Teammates who came out to support!
Greg after his race!
A new fan!

My people, I got to the starting line, and I was not to nervous. The whistle was blown, and we took off. This course was extremely fun but difficulty and after the first lap, I was worn out. However, I kept on pedaling. After the second lap, I was pulled from the race, because the winner was on my tail.. I had completed two laps and the winner was completing her third lap. I was happy and sad at the same time. I wanted to complete three laps, but I did not have much gas left in my tank.(YIKES!)

The race environment turned into a festive environment with food trucks and BEER. Yep, there was lots of beer. I stayed at the races until around 6, because I wanted to support my coworker and friend, Rob, in his first race ever of any kind, and he was completely awesome:

Rob in his first race!

After Rob's race, I went home to rest and to get ready to do DCCX all over again....

Today, the course ran the other way, and I really needed to pre-ride the course. However, I was fearful to pre-ride the race, because I did not want to tire my legs out. (Bad mistake!)

I am happy that I read this word from Joel Osteen before the race:
"The race is not for the swift nor for the strong but for those who endure to the end." You don't have to finish first; you're not competing with anyone else. Just finish your course. Keep your fire burning.
The whistle was blown, and I made quite a few mistakes early on, because I did not pre-ride the course. My body was completely exhausted after the second lap, and I actually pulled off of the course, laid on my back for a few minutes, and continued the last lap. (I needed to catch my breathe!) AND, there was no way that I was going to get a DNF (Did not finish) next to my name.

Anyway, my teammate, Lydia, raced with me today, and quite a few fellow racers and supporters were at the races. Soooooo, everything is all right with the world.

Lydia and me!
My people!

Happy Sunday, My People!

I can't wait until the next race....

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