Thursday, November 17, 2005

Civil Rights II

In his new book, "The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America," Jonathan Kozol writes about his decision to become a teacher. Here is the first paragraph:

"I began to work among schoolchildren more than 40 years ago, in 1964, when I became a fourth grade teacher in the public schools of Boston, Massachusetts. I had never intended to become a teacher. I had attended Harvard College, where I studied English literature, then spent some years in France and England before coming back to Cambridge, where I planned to study for a graduate degree. In June of that year, three young activists for civil rights, the first contingent of a group of several hundred who had volunteered to venture into Mississippi to run summer freedom schools and organize adults to register to vote, disappeared in a rural area outside Philadelphia. The bodies were later discovered, buried in mud beneath a dam beside a cattle pond. As we ultimately learned, they had been killed by law enforcement officers and members of the Ku Klux Klan."

Civil Rights

Educational inequity is the civil rights issue of this generation. The schools that we (the Mississippi Teacher Corps) go into are high-need and almost completely African-American. They are also among the poorest districts in the poorest state in the nation. The students in these schools receive an inferior education because they are poor and black. Educational inequity is the civil rights issue of your generation.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Employees for growing, complex enterprise in a highly regulated industry. Must stay focused on core business despite disparate stakeholder demands, uncertain funding, critical labor shortages, and politically charged environment. Must be highly skilled at dealing with sensitive and divisive issues that may jeopardize relationships, health, and/or career. Must be able to withstand intense scrutiny of professional and personal life. Typical workday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., plus weekends. College education required. Pay significantly below market rate. Future of nation at stake.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Stages Redux

I asked some of our recent alumni what they thought of the stages post. Matt Alred, Class of 2003, sent in his own, modified version. Enjoy.

I think you got it down pretty good. Here is my run through of what I felt my fellow MTCer's went through. I don't think I really had nearly as much problems as most people. Probably due to over-inflated self-image, laziness, working with crazy people previously, and the innate ability to teach Russian blind monkeys sign langauge in Portuguese through video conferencing with no translators. I mean if you got it then you got it. but I had my days as well.

Stage One:
Anticipation/fantasy just like you said. but it only lasts for about three hours of the 1st day.

Stage two: survival four months, but in first year teacher time: two decades
part one: panic. Frantically attemping to stay a float.
part two: realization: You figure out that you are unable to fix it.
part three: dread: getting up becomes the worst part of the day.

stage three: apathy: days, weeks, months, years, entire careers
human nature tells you that if you can not be successful at something
then you are wasting your time. Days become mundane and repetitive.

dividing factor: some move past this point and many do not

stage four: stoicism: weeks... a month
sense of responsibilty kicks and and although you realize you cant
fix you see that you are the only person even around to try. you see
that from where they are anything is an improvement. So what if they
cant read, they can listen to me atleast. If I cant teach them math or
english I will just be a positive memory in their lives.

stage five: the turn around in a single moment
in the mindset of the stoic, moments when you are not getting
getting your teeth kicked in become elated. small steps start
to show a difference (in your head only) and you realize that you
are here greater purpose. To lead people toward something
better with complete disregard to where you are now. the
connection is hit with a little juice and you learn to deal and
roll and redeal.

Repeat stages 4 & 5 with an occasion splash of 3 and shake. do not stir. until concoction is complete

Monday, October 03, 2005


There are several distinct stages a first-year teacher goes through. Not all teachers go through each stage, and teachers go through each stage at different times but having now worked with three groups of first-year teachers in our program I've come to the conclusion that most of our teachers go through seven distinct stages at roughly the same time.

They are:

Stage One: Anticipation
June through August 15th

This is the summer and the first week or two of school. During the summer you are excited and anxious to start teaching. You are empowered by your motivation to teach, to work with kids, to make a difference. You are excited about living in a new place and you enjoy getting to know the rest of the Teacher Corps members. Once school starts the kids come and they are on their best behavior. The first few days are new and exciting. This lasts for a week. Then...

Stage Two: Survival
August through October

On average the survival stage lasts about two months. Teachers are overwhelmed the first few months with: grading; lesson planning; paperwork; coursework; living in a new place; working in a new place; meeting new coworkers; working for a new boss; finding your way around school; finding your way around town.

Oh, and standing in front of kids all day (who you don't know) and teaching, managing, and generally being responsible for them while they are with you. 70 hour work weeks become the norm. Situations that you didn't anticipate or weren't trained for occur. There is no time. You are completely overwhelmed and just try to keep your head above water.

Stage Three: Apathy
October through December

Apathy covers several things. After about two months you generally become apathetic about your students and your school. "Why do I have ninth graders who can't read? How did this happen? There is nothing I can do."

Or, "The students are so behind. There is nothing I can do."

Or, "Why is this school like this? Things are so disorganized. The bells don't ring on time. There are constant interruptions. There is nothing I can do."

Furthermore, it is at this point that things really get tough. You start to run out of lesson plans and have to stay up late or get up early just to stay one day ahead. Homecoming week happens and that is always a mess. The days get shorter and the weather gets colder. From the weather change and the stress you might get sick. Morale is low. You start to become apathetic about teaching and the Teacher Corps. "I can't do this. It's impossible to make a difference. I could be doing X. Why am I killing myself for kids that don't care about me in a place where I can't make a difference?"

This is your crucible. This is your test. If you make it through this phase you will make it.

The bad news: Apathy generally lasts through December. If a first-year is going to leave it is over Christmas break.

The good news: Apathy doesn't last. After Christmas break it starts to get easier. Things get better.

Stage Four: Comfort (A little bit)
January through March

After Christmas break you start to feel comfortable, a little bit. Several things happen. First, you go home for Christmas break and get recharged. You are with friends and family who love you. You eat. You rest. You start to reflect on some of the things that did go well, and also on some changes you can make.

Second, when you return you find that you have an idea of how the school works. You know who to talk to and where things are.

Third, the kids come back from break on good behavior. They start to become comfortable with you. You are now a known quantity.

You start to feel comfortable. This stage lasts through spring break. All along this stage there are little setbacks. Two steps forward, one step back. But the tide starts to turn.

Stage Five: Caring
April through May

This stage starts after spring break, when the school year starts to fly by. You start to realize that you care about these kids. You like them. You might even miss them over the summer. You can't believe the year is almost over. It all seems to have gone by so fast. This is your school now. These are your kids. You want them to be successful. You see the potential in so many.

Potential they might not even see in themselves.

Stage Six: Reflection

The school year is finished. You exhale. You reflect. You think about what went well and what you can change. You are amazed at your growth and at everything that happened in the past year. You start to think about what you will do differently next year. This leads to...

Stage Seven: Anticipation

Around July you start to anticipate the upcoming year. You plan activities. You think about lessons. You look forward to seeing your students. You're excited for school. You think back and are amazed at how far you have come.

The second year then becomes a progression towards mastery. As I've told many people, when you finish this program you can go anywhere in the country, to any school, and be successful.

Again, not everyone goes through all of these stages and not everyone goes through each stage at the same time. Some of our teachers will stay in the survival stage for awhile. Some in apathy for awhile. Some might be all the way to the caring stage right now.

But there is a general cycle that most people in our program go through. It may only be when you finish that you can step back and recognize it.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


One of the sad truths of teaching is that you will teach kids who die.

My second year teaching was the first time I crossed that unfortunate bridge. A young man named Pieter who was in my tenth-grade English class. He was play-fighting with his cousin and it escalated and his cousin stabbed him. The knife hit an artery and Pieter bled to death on his living room couch.

Of course this was in Africa, and if I start adding up all the kids I taught there who have passed away...

Greg Miles was a senior at Simmons High School my first-year in the Mississippi Teacher Corps, 2000-2001. He was shot to death two weeks ago in Nashville. Greg was a nice kid. He played wide-receiver on the football team. He had a beautiful smile. I had to confront him once about his behavior in the hallway but other than that he was a good kid.

No, let me put it this way, he wasn't a bad kid. He wasn't a nasty kid. He wasn't one that you would predict murder for by the age of 21. But as I tell our teachers, "These kids can slip and fall at moment."

As I sit back and think for a minute of all the people at Simmons who have passed away in the last five years I am amazed.

There was Mrs. Lucas, the lunch lady. She checked into the hospital on a Friday and was gone by Tuesday.

Coach Jimmie Williams, of a heart attack.

Two students: one from an asthma attack after a basketball game and an elementary student who was murdered by her step-father.

The cafeteria dishwasher who was shot to death over a drug deal.

That is just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting, or that I don't know of.

When I was growing up I knew two people my own age who passed away: Paul Post, in middle school. He was hit by a car, crossing the street after school. Procter Phelon, the summer after my 11th grade year. He died in a car accident.

In the past five years at Simmons five people who were in the building every day have died. Gone. And that's not counting the new-born babies of some of the students.

And it's not counting the students who graduated.

Like Greg.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Having taught in one of the poorest areas of the world as part of Peace Corps and in one of the poorest areas of the United States as part of Teacher Corps, I am somewhat familiar with the effects of poverty (although only from a distance as I grew up in an upper class household. In fact, I figured out that after 1989 the next time I stepped foot in a public school in America was my first day in the Teacher Corps.) Thus being somewhat familiar with the issues of poverty the aftermath of Katrina is, to me, about economics and poverty on every level, from the personal to the national.

On a personal level poor people had little means to leave New Orleans.

On a local level New Orleans didn't have the resources to deal with such a devastating storm because the city is one of the poorest in the nation.

On a state level Louisiana didn't have the necessary resources because the state is one of the poorest in the union.

On a national level FEMA didn't have enough resources because its budget had been cut.

No one, on any level, had enough resources. No one had enough money.

I read something the other day that shocked me. One in five children born in America is born into poverty. 20% of our children live below the poverty line. That is staggering to me. We are the richest country in the world and 20% of our children live below the poverty line. We are the richest country in the history of the world. And 20% of our children live below the poverty line.

Nanny 911

Flipping through the channels last night I stumbled on a show called Nanny 911. I'd never seen it before but I was amazed at three things in this week's episode:

1) That the mother didn't slap the hell out of her son.

2) That Nanny didn't slap the hell of the son.

3) How much of what Nanny does is directly related to classroom management. I wished I had taped it because his week's episode had everything to do with classroom management.

A quick overview: this week's family consisted of two married parents, two boys, and a daughter. The oldest boy, Brandon, is about five. As the show started he was kicking, punching, and screaming at his mother as she tried to get him ready for school. Apparently this is routine behavior.

Anyway, here comes Nanny. She institutes a consequence (the ever-loved "time-out") and immediately imposes it on any of the children who misbehave. They resist and it looks like the "time-out" is never going to work. Pretty soon Brandon has a tantrum with Nanny, and now he's kicking and punching her. I was waiting for Nanny to lose it and slap him but, to her credit, she never did. She does, however, not let him get out of the time-out, no matter how much further the situation escalates (at a certain point it seems like it would just be easier to let him stalk off).

After the time-out is finally instituted Nanny explains to Brandon that she cares about him, but that certain behaviors carry certain consequences and it is Brandon's choice as to what behavior he wants to exhibit. She also institutes a system of rewards for good or helpful behavior. By the end of the hour (and what must have been 20 minutes of commercials) both the systems of consequence and reward have taken effect and the entire dynamic of the family has changed.

How is it applicable to classroom management? Let me count the ways:

1) You must address bad behavior. Ignoring it will not solve it.
2) You must address bad behavior every time. Addressing it intermittently will not solve it.
3) You must remain calm. As Nanny says, "The behavior is bad, the child is not."
4) Ms. Monroe, this is just for you: Rewards are as effective as consequences.
5) Kids have to know you care.
6) It is the child's choice. Everything is framed by this notion.

Nanny 911. Who knew?

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I'm lucky (or maybe just old) in that having been Program Manager for more than two years and having been involved with Teacher Corps for more than five years I'm able to see the "big picture" of what Teacher Corps is accomplishing. Well, maybe the medium picture. I suppose Dr. Mullins, who has been with the program for 16 years, can speak to the big picture. But, by my quick estimation, I have known, taught with, advised, or recruited the last 150 teachers to have come through the program. I started in 2000 so I have known everyone from 1999 (the class ahead of mine) on. One of the things I've seen is that there are certain general trends during the two years that participants tend to go through (not all of the participants, but let's say 90%).

The trend that I'll write about today has to do with the seasons. October is a bear. So is February. For the first-years I always warn them about these two months; they are the cruelest. There are four reasons: The main reason is that these are the only two months with no break. Not even a day off. The weeks stretch out with no relief. Two, is that the newness (from the school year or from Christmas break) has worn off. Three, is that first-years by this point start to run out of lesson plans (if they haven't already). Four, is that the days are short. You come to school and it is dark out. You leave school and it is dark out. October is a bear. So is February.

Conversely, April and May absolutely fly by.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I started visiting some of the first years this week. I also had to give a talk at the Leland Lions Club so I made Hollandale my "base" for two nights. It was nice to see old friends, and especially former students.

Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite authors, has a great line about seeing Paris for the first time in a long time at the end of World War II. Something about coming around the bend and over a rise and there it is, the city I love more than any other. I guess that's how I feel about Hollandale. The place I love more than any other. My friends and family think it is a little strange that I should be so attached to a small Delta town. I don't know that I can explain it other than to say that I grew up in a small Vermont town. I like that anywhere I go I'll know someone. I like that I know every single street, and someone who lives on every single street.

But it is also more than that. Hollandale is where I did my best work. I felt more fulfilled there than anywhere.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The First Day

Being on break for a week I've realized that I'm like my dad: when I take a vacation it doesn't mean I don't work, it just means I work less. After going into the office for a few hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I had to force myself not to go in for the rest of the week. Of course, Sunday doesn't count, right?

I've been thinking about the first-years as of late. Some of them started teaching last week. The rest will start this week. I can't remember how I felt the night before my first day of teaching. That would have been in Engela, a small town five kilometers south of the Angolan border in mid-January of 1998. In Southern Africa that is the summertime so I'm sure it was hot and dry.

I do remember how I felt the night before my first day teaching in the Teacher Corps. That would have been early August of 2000 in Hollandale, Mississippi. I didn't sleep. I spent the previous weekend working on my room, getting it just right, going over rosters and names and my lesson plan. I'd always been told that what you did on the first day set the tone for the entire year, and you couldn't ever get it back.

School started in the gymnasium. The principal gathered the staff together before walking into the gym and said, "Don't let the kids go to the bathroom during classtime. They have five minutes between classes to use the restroom." Then we all walked into the gym. We were seated in chairs while all the kids looked us over from the bleachers. Mr. Liddell introduced the teachers (the old favorites got applause) and then called out the students by homeroom teacher. Each teacher dutifully led the students to his or her homeroom.

My homeroom got settled and I briefly introduced myself. Within five minutes Latoya Jackson (that is her real name, although all the kids called her 'Lil Bit' as in, she was a lil bit there) stood up and said, "I need to use the restroom."

"I'm sorry," I said, "but Mr. Liddell instructed us to not let students use the restroom during homeroom or class time. You have five minutes between bells to use it."

Without breaking a sweat Latoya said, "Well, my momma let's me go to the bathroom whenever I want," and walked out.

I thought, oh my God, I've just blown it. I've just set the tone for the entire year. All the kids watched Latoya walk out, and then turned back to me, waiting for my response.

I looked at them and said, "Does anyone else's mom let them use the bathroom whenever they want?"

The kids laughed and it turned out not to be the end of the world. Latoya mostly stayed in trouble and mostly didn't show up for homeroom. I taught her the next year in English III. She failed, but made it up during summer school. She graduated the following year. She is a sweet kid who acts loud so no one will make fun of her. She got pregnant her senior year. Sometimes I run into her when I go back to Hollandale. She always comes over to speak.

So, it turns out that what happens on the first day does not set the tone for the entire year.

However, I bet most of the first-years won't sleep the night before.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ninth Week... And then he rested

Well, the ninth and final week of MTC Summer Training is fninismo. It has been a busy summer and I haven't been this tired since I was coaching. I feel the same as I did when the season ended, like I was just trying to make it through the last day. Normally the summer isn't this demanding, but with the reunion, the problems with 502, and having to work with the TEAM day in and day out, in addition to running the Teacher Corps... well, I'm ready for a break. Which is just what I'll be doing. I'm taking a week off. Doing what? you ask. Nothing. No travel, no days by the beach or nights in the city. I'll be around Oxford, sleeping, reading, watching movies, exercising a little bit. Probably sneaking into the office every now and then to do a little work (no one's perfect). This will be the first vacation I've had since I took this job.

Ginny, our fabulous intern, had her last day on Friday. It was sad for all of us (Whitney, Germain, Dr. Mullins) to see her go. She had certainly become a part of our little Teacher Corps family. I talked to her father on Friday and said, "I can't believe she is only 20 years old." And I can't. With the amount of work she has done she has been an incredible help to me and to the Teacher Corps. I don't think I could have finished the summer without her.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I talk to Me-Me today. We talk sports. How will Monta Ellis do in the league? Who's better, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? It's good to talk to him and he sounds good. He thanked me for the books. We talk about everything except the giant pink elephant in the living room.

"How's Ricky?" I ask.

"He's good. We're playing in these little leagues they got over there," he says. "He'll be coming home next week."

Ricky and Jeremy, the starting backcourt on the first basketball team I coached in Mississippi. The starting backcourt on the 2001 State Champion Simmons Blue Devils.

"When do you go back?" I ask.

"Monday." Jeremy was the mischievous one, always cracking jokes, always pulling pranks. Ricky was the good soldier, always dependable. They were both in good shape that year because the previous summer they had done their basic training together in Lawton, Oklahoma.

"How long has it been?" I ask, forgetting when he left.

"Nine months," he says. He's been home for a week. Nine months and all he gets is two weeks.

I don't ask him anything else about Iraq. I never even say the word.

After we won the team stood at center court and took pictures and laughed and hugged and then Me-Me gathered everyone together and said, "On the count of three we run off the court," and we did, past all the waiting family members and friends. Ran right into the locker room. Together.

Me-Me's in the store and I can hear people calling his name. He's riding around Hollandale tonight with Larry Brown, his best friend. Larry was the center on the team.

"I stopped in Georgia and saw Prentez," he says. Tez was the shooter. He would hit threes from anywhere. Just let them rain down.

I still remember eating at Pizza Hut afterwards and the bus ride back to Hollandale. The championship game is played at the Coliseum in Jackson. The kids call it "The Big House." When you win a championship it doesn't hit you for weeks, even years. I realize now how special it was, how rare it is.

I get off the phone with Me-Me. I got his number from Jasper, our MVP that year.

I call Rich because he's the only one who would understand. Me-Me was his favorite student. He's asleep, his ten-day old baby daughter lying on his chest. I leave Me-Me's number with his wife Julie. I feel restless. With no one else to talk to I sit down and write about it. "Blog it out," as the first-years say.

I worry about Me-Me and Ricky, and the other kids I taught and coached who are over there. What will happen to them? What will it do to them?

In 2004 another Simmons High team won the state championship. The seniors on that team were freshman when we won. I stand by the court and wait for them with a gathering crowd of family and friends. They take pictures and smile. Then they huddle together and run off the court. They run right by us and into the locker room. Together.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Eighth Week

Week number eight is done and there is but one more week of summer training for the Teacher Corps Class of 2005.

The Team finished on Wednesday morning with individual meetings with all first-years. While there were some concerns with inconsistency among evaluators for the most part I think things went well. The eight days of working with the Team does several things for our first-year teachers:

1) It emulates the practice of lesson planning every day and teaching every day.
2) It gives them immediate feedback from veteran teachers for eight straight days. As teachers they will probably never again get this type of intense, comprehensive feedback.
3) They get to learn from watching each other teach.
4) They get to work with a veteran teacher in their subject-area.

Wednesday afternoon was the start of the end-of-summer workshops. The workshops are always enjoyable because they are so varied and there is no homework. The workshops so far:

1) Teacher Certification
2) "Lalee's Kin." A documentary that aired on HBO about a poor, black woman in the Mississippi Delta and her extended family.
3) Reggie Barnes. The former Superintendent of West Tallehatchie (and featured in the aforementioned film) gives his no holds barred take on anything and everything related to teaching in the Delta.
4) Delta Blues. The Delta is the birthplace of blues music.
5) MTC Film. A Year in the Mississippi Teacher Corps.
6) Sunflower County Freedom Project.
7) MTC Veterans. Presentations, role-plays, and a panel discussion.
8) Extreme classroom management situations. Role-play and discussion.
9) Subject area with MTC Vets.
10) Basic self-defense.
11) Freedom Day with SCFP.

Here are the workshops planned for the upcoming week:

1) Susan Glisson. William Winter Institute.
2) Delta Students Panel.
3) Computer resources for first-year teachers.
4) Delta Administrators Panel.
5) Ole Miss football and the tradition of "groving."
6) Gospel music with the Jones Sisters.
7) Book Club with Dr. Mullins.
8) Continuation of extreme classroom management situations. Presentations, role-plays, discussion.

We will have our end-of-summer social on Thursday evening and that will be it...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Seventh Week

We had the first-ever MTC Reunion this weekend. All the events went well. On Friday afternoon we had a town-hall meeting for alumni and first-years. One of the topics was: what should the goal(s) of MTC be? It was clear from the (at times heated) debate that different people have different ideas of what MTC is, and what MTC should be. It is a good starting point for Germain, Dr. Mullins, Dr. Burnham, and myself as this discussion is one we intend to continue throughout the year. Currently MTC has three goals (you can find them on the website) but both Germain and I feel that we need to revisit these.

Governor Winter was the keynote speaker on Saturday evening and he was fantastic. He is one of the best speakers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His speech focused on the impact that one teacher can have. My sense is that it was meaningful to the 50+ alumni and the 20+ first-years in the audience.

Reunion planning took a lot of time but it paid off in that everything seemed to run smoothly. This week is the start of the MTC workshops so I jump right from Reunion planning into workshop planning...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sixth Week

The sixth week was quiet for the first-years (until Thursday afternoon anyway) and busy for the staff. Tuesday was packed with meetings as I had: a meeting with the Team to finalize everything for the next day; a Reunion planning meeting; a presentation by Ginny to Dr. Mullins, Dr. Burnham, and Germain; a presentation by me to the same people; and a model lesson to teach to the first-year English teachers. I'll write about each:

The Team:

The Team teachers are settling in. The first day (Wednesday) was difficult because the first-years are so gun-shy about the evaluation form we use. This really stems from the misalignment between 500 and 502 from last month. We've fixed the problem for next year but the Team wasn't expecting so much (justifiable) concern and stress with the form.

The Team works with the first-years for two days and then for the next 8 days the first-years teach a 40 minute lesson every day in front of some of their peers and a Team teacher. That started on Friday so Thursday night I'm sure the first-years were up late designing and practicing lessons for the next day.


Reunion planning is still going well. Ginny, Whitney and I walked through Johnson Commons Ballroom, where the Reunion will be held, and the classrooms in Bondurant Hall, where the older kids will be. Whitney keeps saying that she is going to get an ulcer. I guess there are few things more nerve-wracking than being responsible for other people's children.

We've got about 50 alumni, 20 special guests, and 20 spouses or significant others confirmed to attend. Five days...

Ginny's Presentation:

One of Ginny's projects this summer was to interview school administrators and see how MTC compares to other first-year teachers. Ginny presented the findings to the bosses. It went very well and Ginny did a great job. You can view her powerpoint presentation for yourself by clicking here.

My Presentation:

I have been Program Coordinator for exactly two years (I started on July 1st, 2003). I put together a presentation to look at the growth MTC has made in those two years. You can view it as a self-navigating QuickTime film here or as a PDF document here.

My English Lesson:

Because we have no English teacher as part of the Team I taught a model English lesson for the first-year English teachers. It was neat to dust off an old lesson plan and my "teacher persona" for a minute. As always, the key to an effective lesson is organization.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Team

The first-years have a long holiday weekend with Friday, Monday, and Tuesday off. When they return on Wednesday they will start EDSE 501, with the group of instructors we have affectionately dubbed "The Team." The Team is a group of five veteran high school teachers who will critique all of the first-years for eight straight days of lessons. This provides a lot of opportunity for growth and feedback.

This year the Team is comprised of:

Virge Cornelius: A NYC native and Smith and Harvard grad who has somehow made her way down here. She teaches math at Lafayette High School, and also teaches MTC in the fall with "Advanced Methods of Teaching Mathematics."

Judy Youngblood: She has been with MTC from the very beginning. A veteran science teacher who taught in the Oxford School District for 25+ years.

Wilma Logan: One of the best teachers I've ever had the pleasure of working with. She teaches US History at Lafayette.

Gloria Smith: Our second math teacher, and all-around organizer. Without Gloria keeping track of everything we would all be in trouble. She teaches with Mrs. Logan and Virge at Lafayette.

Allison Litten: One of the weaknesses of the Team (in fact the only weakness, in my opinion) is that none of the Team teachers have experience teaching as part of the MTC. In the last two years we have brought in a MTC vet to fill this role. This year it is Allison Litten, French teacher extraordinaire, who taught for three years at Brookhaven High School as part of the almighty MTC Class of 2000. Although Allison is a Williams College graduate we are still excited about having here down here this summer.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Fifth Week

The fifth week is done. It was a low-key week as the first-years had both Monday and Friday off and the second-years are gone for the summer.

This was the last week of EDSE 500, which is the first class that participants in our program take. This year the class was taught by Ms. Ann Monroe for the first time (but hopefully not the last). I didn't know Ann when Germain recommended her several months ago. She traveled down to Belzoni with Germain and I in the Spring to visit some of our teachers and we had a good time. I thought she would do well with the class, as did Germain. We were both wrong. Ann was outstanding. She basically built the class from scratch (after incorporating some general themes that Germain and I wanted covered). She generated an enormous amount of material (you can see her powerpoints on our website) and covered all the basics of lesson planning and classroom management, which is not an easy task when you consider how broad those two topics are. We do evaluations of all teachers and classes and the students loved Ann as well. Germain and I met this week and our hope is for Ann to co-teach the fall class with Germain and to teach all of the first-year classes next summer.

The last class for Ann was on Thursday afternoon and I told the first-years that in the same way they are starting to trust what we're doing with the program and buy into the Teacher Corps, Ann has as well. I think we've got her hooked on this program, its goals, and the quality of students in the program. As I told Ann, "How often in life do you get to be a part of building something that is the best?"

We had another student speaker this week: Jasmine from Hollandale. I coached her older sister and knew Jasmine a little bit when I taught in Hollandale. She was in Oxford visiting her sister for the week so I had her come and talk to the first-years. As when Ashley spoke several weeks ago, the first-years were completely engaged. So much of the program focuses on the kids, and how to be a good teacher to these kids, and yet until they start teaching in the fall they rarely, if ever, get a chance to talk with students from the schools that we go into. Jasmine did a great job. She talked about how her father (who was the school counselor when I taught at Simmons) and her three older sisters (all of whom graduated from college) have inspired her.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fourth Week

The fourth week is finished. The second-years have completed their summer coursework and I'm sure they are happy to enjoy the time off. They've been going non-stop since end of May last year, a process the first-years are just starting. Most are planning to go home for a little while and a few are planning to stay in MS. A couple will be coming to the Reunion in mid-July.

Unfortunately it wasn't the best week for Teacher Corps. There were scheduling problems for the second-years and organizational problems in EDSE 502 (Classroom Observations) for the first-years. These things happen from time to time but having gone through the program myself, and knowing both how busy everyone is and how disorganized their districts can be, I always hate for any organizational problems to come from our side. The teachers have enough to worry about as it is. In EDSE 502 one of the professors misunderstood the grading scale on the evaluation form we were using for formal observations. I believe we now have everything worked out, but at the same time I always like for everything to run smooth with the Teacher Corps.

The second-years had a mad dash to the finish line on Friday. They had two finals as well as some other work to do so they were quite busy. Their second and last final was on Friday at 2:00. We had our usual group lunch at 11:30, this time at Two-Stick. Two-Stick is the one and only sushi place in Oxford. Instead of mixing and mingling all of the second-years were gathered around one of the high, wooden tables with their food and textbooks taking up equal space.

On Thursday afternoon we had two workshops. Dr. Mullins did a "History of the Teacher Corps" presentation for the first-years. We videotaped and audio recorded the presentation and we hope to have both up on the website this week. This is the fourth presentation Dr. Mullins has done for the first-years. Previously he did a "Walking Tour of Ole Miss," a "History of Education in the Mississippi Delta," and a "History of Education in Jackson." The first-years loved all of them (and a few of the second-years attended as well), as Dr. Mullins is a such good speaker. These sessions are a precursor to what I hope next summer will be a weekly lecture series with Dr. Mullins. For those who aren't lucky enough to be here we will videotape everything and put it up on the web. We are planning to create a special "Dr. Mullins' Web Page" on our site.

The second workshop was on college admissions. This was for the second-years as over the next two or three years many of the students they teach will begin the application process. We had a speaker from undergraduate admissions, one from athletic compliance, and one of my former basketball players, Tambria. Tam is currently an undergraduate at Ole Miss and she talked about making that transition from Hollandale to Oxford, and from Simmons High School to Ole Miss. The best speakers are always the students. Tam is the second student speaker we have had this summer. The first was Ashley , a rising junior at Simmons High. Both of them did an excellent job of explaining how towns in the Delta are still segregated by race, and they also shared their thoughts on good and bad teachers. The general consensus of a good teacher is that he or she is firm but caring.

Reunion planning is going well. Ginny (our summer intern from UNC-Chapel Hill) and I met with the catering service to review menu options. When I mentioned that former Governor William Winter was the keynote speaker the caterer became much more interested. We will continue planning for the Reunion this week. It is only 19 days away...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Third Week

The third week is down. Things went well. The first-years have gotten into the rhythm of teaching and class. I've informally observed about one-third of them and, for the most part, I've been happy with where they are at this early stage of their teaching careers. Their official observations, with Dr. Rowland and Dr. Sullivan, will begin this week.

For the first-years July will be a slower pace than June and then August, when they start teaching, will make all of this look like vacation. It is impossible to describe how physically exhausting teaching is, especially during your first year when you have to generate all of your lesson plans and other materials from scratch. As we tell each incoming class we will prepare you as much as possible. Does this mean you will be fully prepared? Nope. Nothing can, because there are so many factors we can't emulate: six periods of teaching a day; disorganized schools and administrators; 30 kids in a class; overbearing parents; parents who are never there; and so many other things. All we can say is that there have been many in your shoes before you (including myself and Germain) so we know what it is like.

The first-years and the second-years seem to have really connected. There has been great turnout for all official and unofficial activities. This past week there was a game of ultimate frisbee, basketball (including the controversial player switch), a group movie night to see "Cinderella Man" and lunch at Newks. For those of you who haven't been to Oxford recently (or at all) Newks is a recently opened restaurant that serves pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and soup. It is fantastic and they have a nice deck that we reserved for Teacher Corps. Everyone stayed for about 2 hours and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

Over the weekend many of the first-years went to their communities to spend the weekend with a second-year or alum who teaches in the same community. This is the first year that we have tried this (we are calling it "A Weekend with the Second-Years") so we should know how well it worked out on Monday. I'm sure the first-years will also be blogging about anything interesting that happened.

Ginny, our intern, continues to do a fantastic job. This past week she started working on two major projects. The first is finding contact info for our pre-1997 alumni. From 1997 on (once everyone generally started getting an email address) we have just about everyone's info. But from 1990-1996 we have very little contact info for alumni. Of the 200 alumni I would estimate we have some contact info for about 40 of them. To find these older alumni Ginny is pulling the original applications, checking their undergraduate institution, and then contacting that institution to see if they have current contact information. Her second major project is to contact administrators at all of the schools where we placed first-year teachers this past year. Over the phone she does a short survey of how our teachers compare to traditional-route first-year teachers. Once compiled this data should give us one more angle with which to asses our initial summer training and our program as a whole.

This is the last week of class for the second-years. I still don't think they realize how fast the program will go from here. To put it in perspective, after Friday the second-years will meet only six more times; five Saturdays in the fall and one in the spring. After those six meetings they will almost certainly never be together as an entire group again.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Good to Great

For anyone who's interested in the direction of the Mississippi Teacher Corps I recommend the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. It is an empirical study of companies that made the difficult transition from a successful company to an enduringly great one. In my humble opinion that is the crossroads at which we currently stand with the Mississippi Teacher Corps. MTC is the best alternate-route teaching program in the country. What makes us the best? I'm glad you asked. Let us count the ways:

1) Benefits. We offer more benefits than any other program. Full scholarship for a Master's. $1,000 stipend for the initial summer training. Teacher certification. Job placement. Free textbooks. Numerous socials and events. Free housing during the summer. Free housing during weekend classes. Closed classes; only MTC members allowed. Courses tailored specifically to MTC. Staff and faculty that are either experienced K-12 teachers or MTC alumni. Full pay and benefits from your school district. Wonderful group of like-minded, high-achieving people.

2) Support. Because we only accept 30 people each year there is a lot of individual support. I visit every teacher (first and second-years) at least once during the school year. Other faculty and staff visit. We have a retired principal who visits everyone twice during the first year. Individual meetings with both co-directors. Phone calls. Notes. We do it all.

3) Competitiveness. With the exception of Harvard University (10%) we are the most competitive academic or teaching program in the country with an 11% acceptance rate.

4) Satisfaction rate. We do an anonymous evaluation (one of many) at the end of the program. The last question asks participants to rate their satisfaction level with the program. Since we started assessing this (with the Class of 2002) 100% have indicated they were "Satisfied" with the program. Of that 100%, 90% indicated they were "Very satisfied."

5) Impact. The best and most important for last: The average increase in the passing rate on state-tests by students taught by first-year MTC teachers is 38%. Read the last sentence again. That is a staggering number that indicates the effect MTC is having on student learning. Please keep in mind that 90% of the districts we go into have more than 92% of their students on free and reduced lunch (meaning that more than 92% of the students are coming from households below the poverty line).

Two years ago the goal Dr. Mullins, Germain and I had was to make this the best alternate-route teaching program in the country. We've now achieved that goal which means that, other than outright failure, we are in the most precarious position a program, organization, or company can find itself in: that of being satisfied with where we are. So where do we go from here. Simple. The goal now is to be the best teacher-training program in the country, bar none.

The most important factor in any goal is that it is achievable. This goal is achievable for three reasons:

1) Small size. The first reason is that we are a small program. Because we only take 30 people each year we can take the absolute best of the best, people who are outstanding academic students, who are committed to service, and who have experience working with kids from a critical-needs type background. Because it is such a small group we offer more support than any other program.

2) Continuous feedback. Because we are a two-year program we can offer continuous evaluation and feedback to our teachers. We have implemented formal or informal observations more than 12 times during the first summer, at least three times during the first fall, and at least once during the second fall. Because of this continuous feedback our teachers know and work on their weaknesses to become master teachers. The way I've begun to think about MTC is as a residency program. After medical school doctors do a two-year residency. Well, this is our two-year residency program. And our residents are placed in some of the most challenging schools in the country.

3) Challenging schools. The schools where we place teachers are challenging. Most of the schools are classified Level 2 or lower (The State Department of Education ranks schools from Level 1 to Level 5 with Level 5 being the best and Level 1 being in imminent danger of takeover by the state). Although we always hope our teachers stay at their schools past the two-year commitment, no matter where they go they will succeed because they have been successful in some of the most challenging schools in the country.

For these three reasons we can achieve the goal of becoming the best teacher-training program in the country. Will we achieve this goal? I don't know. But we can, and from this point on that is what we should strive for. I give us five years.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Second Week

The second week is in the books. Although it feels like we just started the first-years are one-quarter through the summer training and the second-years are halfway. For the first-years there is so much to cover. Ann is just about finished going over the basics of lesson planning, learning styles, assessment, etc. This week she will start with classroom management. As our alumni know, management is the key. Once you have that down you can teach the students whatever you want, but management is the base. Without it it doesn't matter how good you are at the other aspects of teaching.

The first-years have settled into the groove of student teaching in the morning and class in the afternoon. I've observed about one-third of the first-years student teaching. Overall I've been happy. A lot of the "veteran" teachers that MTC is in with are brand new themselves and have never taught before. This is good for MTC because they are more than happy to let our teachers do all of the teaching. While this creates a lot of work for our teachers in the short term, in the long term it is better that they start teaching in front of the whole class right away. The worst thing that the veteran teachers can do (besides not letting our teachers teach at all) is break the class into small groups and have each MTC teacher work with a group of four or five kids. This is not helpful because it is nothing like what our teachers will do in the fall.

Ann is doing a great job with EDSE 500. One of the best things about MTC is that we have great people working with us, both the participants in the program and the faculty who teach the classes. Ann has brought a lot of energy and creativity to the class and has them doing a lot of hands-on work that they seem to enjoy. It is impossible to cover everything our teachers need in such a short amount of time but, like Don Schillinger before her, Ann has done a great job of breaking down the first year of teaching to the essentials and then teaching those.

On Friday morning we broke the second-years into small groups. One group met with Dr. Mullins, one with Germain, and one with me. We talked about challenges and successes of the past year. In my group the general theme was balance: balance between work and home; balance between our optimism and other teachers' pessimism; balance between challenges and successes. One trend I've noticed about MTC teachers is that they are incredibly hard on themselves, morso than anyone else is.

The second-years are enjoying both of their classes: Ed. Research and Ed. Law. As many of our alumni will attest Ed. Research has not been a helpful class in years past. This year we have a new instructor, Dr. K.B. Melear, teaching the course and things seem to be going well. KB and I were able to sit down in the spring and plan out the course so that it would cover the required objectives and be useful to MTC. KB changed a lot of the coursework to make it relevant and then went to bat for us with the department chairs. Class seems to be going well and KB told me that everyday he looks forward to teaching the course because MTC teachers are such engaged students. That being said all classes are evaluated at the end of each semester so we will see how the scores and comments compare to years past.

Ed. Law is also going well. It is always one of our highest rated courses. Next year Ed. Law will be moved to the first spring semester, after Dr. Mullins' class, and the computer class will be moved to the second summer semester. We feel it is more helpful to have the computer class in the summer because of time and technology constraints for our teachers during the school year. We are still trying to find a way to get laptops for the teachers so if anyone has any ideas...

On Thursday afternoon the second-years beat the first-years in our weekly challenge. This week it was volleyball. We had a great turnout and games going on two sand courts. Next week is basketball. On Friday we had a group lunch with the first and second-years and faculty and staff at Taylor Grocery. Taylor Grocery is about 15 miles outside of Oxford, in the middle of nowhere. Some of the first-years were a little apprehensive (as I was the first time I went) as the place is country as hell, but a good time was had by all. Dr. Mullins, his son Andrew, Dr. Melear, and Ann were all able to make it. When I was not rearranging the seating I had a good conversation with Andrew, who is starting at Ole Miss in the fall.

Some of the first-years asked about t-shirts. Since the Class of 2002 we have given MTC t-shirts to all the participants, but not until January. The shirts have to be earned. Although I wasn't contemplating giving the shirts earlier the second-years insisted that they not be given until January when I asked their opinion.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

On Corporal Punishment...

The first-years had a good dialogue (verbal and written) on corporal punishment this week. It started with a debate in EDSE 500 and then carried over in some of the blogs. More and more uses for the blogs are becoming apparent; uses that Ann, Germain, and I hadn't even thought of. Ann says her new favorite phrase in class is, "Blog it out." When there is no time for a continued debate Ann will tell them to "Blog it out..."

The debate over corporal punishment is one that every first-year MTC group has. I'm sure all of our alumni remember their heated arguments during the summer about it. Each year most of the incoming class is opposed to corporal punishment (I remember being surprised that corporal punishment was still legal in the U.S.) and each year some people change their views as the year goes on. For others, their opposition only becomes more resolute. It is rare that MTC teachers use corporal punishment but when a student is referred to the office that student will likely be paddled by an administrator. In most districts corporal punishment has been used for years. Whether for or against corporal punishment the key is finding an effective consequence for students that choose to break class rules. Ann and I have been discussing various consequences (as well as having our own spirited debate on the pros and cons of corporal punishment). One of the keys is creating an environment in your classroom where there are rewards for positive behavior. Rewards for positive group behavior are the most effective because then the class creates a self-policing environment. Once you reach this point most discipline problems melt away. However, getting the culture of the class to reach this point in a school environment where there is not much organization or culture of positive rewards is the trick. It takes a lot of time, effort, and creative thinking. That, of course, is the benefit of corporal punishment; it requires very little time or creative thinking.

Some people worried in their blogs (and verbally to me) about hurt feelings. This is how I explained it to the first-years: MTC is like one big family. We sit around the dinner table (in this case the dinner table is the classroom and the internet) and have heated arguments but at the end of the day we are all family. Even though we may disagree on certain issues we all support and care about one another. Over the course of the next two years this group will become the closest of friends and colleagues. They will become family. That is something I see a lot of in the second-years. I don't know if they realize right now how rare it is, in your professional life, to be part of such a close-knit group that cares for one another, that holds the same collective values of service, and that is a high-achieving, intelligent, capable collection of people. You don't find that often and only afterwards do you realize how special and unique it is.

Friday, June 03, 2005

First Week

The first week of summer training has finished and I'm exhausted. This is always one of the busiest weeks of the year for me. The first-years started on Tuesday morning and the second-years started on Thursday morning so we had a lot going on.

On Tuesday morning it was nice to finally meet the first-years after talking and emailing with them for so long. We had one that didn't show up. No calls, no emails, just didn't show. Dr. Mullins called him and the guy said he had changed his mind. I couldn't believe it. The final number is 28 first-years, our largest class ever. And our youngest with the average age being 24.

We had orientation for two days with the first-years. Joe Sweeney (a second-year) and I both did Powerpoint presentations which you can view at under "Powerpoint." Joe's presentation was great and the second-years really seemed to appreciate his insights. Dr. Mullins and Germain both did excellent presentations as well. Dr. Mullins talked about the history of education in the Delta and Germain focused on being an effective teacher.

By Thursday afternoon (the first official day of student teaching in the mornings and class in the afternoon) one of the first-years raised his hand and said, "I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment." All of the MTC alumni out there know the feeling. The biggest reason is that we are going from 0-60 in a snap. We have eight weeks to prepare these teachers and time is precious. They student teach in the morning and take EDSE 500 "Foundations of Education" in the afternoon. By Friday morning some of them were already responsible for their own students as many of the "veteran" teachers at the summer schools are actually first year teachers as well. In the long run this will help our teachers but in the short run it is tough. It is the very first step on a long journey. And that journey is a rewarding one. Again, the MTC alumni know what I am talking about.

Mid-way through that journey are the second-years, having just completed their first year teaching and enjoying the laid back atmosphere of the second summer which involves only morning classes. I had three of the second-years (Eric Matte and Matt and Dan Bauers) do study sessions for the first-years that still need to take the Praxis II (a standardized test required for teacher certification). I set them up at three different tables and then anticipated having to introduce everyone and lay out the parameters of the session. Nope. The three of them are teachers now and once they sat down and started I didn't have to do a thing. It was wonderful to see and I told them Friday morning, "I remember a year ago when you were green as hell." I was so impressed that I pulled Germain out of the break room so he could watch.

When I started this job two years ago the goal Germain and I had was to make this the best alternate-route teaching program in the country. We both feel that we have achieved this now. Germain and I are both harsh critics and we feel confidant that we are the best. More importantly we have statistical evidence to back this up (see the Powerpoints). In years past I would sit in on a lot of the workshops and classes because important things were missed. Now, I don't feel that I have to spend as much time with the first-years because everything is running smoothly. If I need something (a presentation; help with a social; workshop ideas) I just ask the second-years and it gets done. No checking up or following up required. I know once they volunteer it is as good as done. And that is a nice feeling.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

First Years

I've met several of the first-year teachers over the course of the weekend. Keila Foster came in on Friday and I was able to spend some time with her and her family. Dave Molina stopped by the School of Education on Saturday and we had a nice, wide-ranging conversation talking about everything from parking at Amherst College to the latest trends in folk music. This evening I went over to Brown Hall, where the guys are staying, and was able to meet with eight of the first-years. They had a lot of good questions, and it is always neat to meet people face-to-face after talking and emailing with them for months.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Graduation Redux

I went down to Hollandale this weekend to attend Simmons High School's graduation. Simmons is the school where I taught while I was in Teacher Corps, from 2000-2002. I had planned to teach there in 2003 when Germain offered me this job. It was a hard decision and it still hurts to go back and see the kids and know that I could be there. Simmons is losing its entire English department this year (granted, it is only three teachers). I enjoy my work with the Teacher Corps but I miss the day-to-day reward of working with kids.

I didn't teach any of the kids graduating (only 26) but I coached a few of them in basketball. I probably wouldn't have gone except Rich Dimmack, who was in the Corps at Simmons, came down to attend. He taught all the kids both in ninth and tenth grade so they were happy to see him. We had a great time driving around, talking with friends, kids, and parents. Many of the kids I taught have moved to Memphis, Atlanta, or Texas.

Highlights included seeing Brandy Howard and Stephanie Swint. Brandy just finished her Sophomore year at Mississippi State as a premed major. Stephanie just completed her Junior year at State. They were two of my favorite and best students. Stephanie will be in Oxford this summer taking classes at Ole Miss so hopefully I'll be able to arrange for her to work part-time with Teacher Corps. It is rewarding to see students that I taught doing well in college.

Rich and I also stopped by to see the mother of one of our favorite students, Jeremy Smith. Jeremy was a senior during our first year at Simmons. Rich taught him and I coached him in basketball. He is a tough kid who excels in trash-talking (think Mouse in the movie "Devil in a Blue Dress"). He is now over in Iraq. We talked to his mom and she showed us photos he had taken. There are about ten students that I taught who are in Iraq or Afghanistan right now. One of the many things I learned teaching in Hollandale is that when the US goes to war it is the poor black, white, and Latino kids who go.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Graduation for the University of Mississippi was yesterday. Whitney Webb (former MTC Coordinator and current head of the Mississippi Teacher Fellowship Program), Germain McConnell (former MTC Coordinator and current assistant dean of the School of Education as well as co-director of MTC) and I were in charge of the graduation ceremony for the School of Education. Everything went well. We moved the ceremony to the Indoor Practice facility because of rain. The time from the start of the procession to the dismissal of students took 57 minutes. And that was with more than 400 students.

The Teacher Corps Class of 2003 (that's the year they entered. I know, I know, it's weird that we designate classes by their entrance year and not their exit year) was part of the graduation. We had 15 (out of 20) who finished. 9 were at graduation and 7 showed up for the MTC reception afterwards. It was nice to meet the parents, spouses, and siblings. Dr. Mullins (co-director of MTC), Dr. Burnham (Dean of the SOE), Germain, and I all said a few words. I thanked the parents for trusting Teacher Corps and Mississippi with their children and also for instilling in their children the values that led them to pursue a program like MTC.

Richard Campbell was there with his wife Trea (who I finally got to meet after talking and emailing with her several times) and his five children who were all perfectly behaved. Sarah Alford was with her mom, sister, and friend. Sarah and her mom had gone to the general ceremony in the morning when it was pouring rain. Clint Blacker came with his parents and sister. Matt Alred was with his mom. She entertained me and Germain with several stories of Matt and his two brothers. Ryan DeFour's parents were there, and they predicated that Ryan would return to Mississippi at some point (he is from Michigan). Lan DePriest and his wife Karen, his parents, and his in-laws were there. Ashly Hood came with her father, sister, and baby. Ashly went to Ole Miss for undergrad as well and her father was wearing an Ole Miss polo shirt he refers to as his "$14,000 shirt."

The reception was catered by Panini. We had a finger sandwiches (not so good), broccoli salad (excellent) and assorted deserts, among other things.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Here we go...

We'll be asking the 1st Years to start keeping a blog so Ann and I felt that it was only fair to keep them as well. Ann is the instructor for EDSE 500 which is the first class our incoming teachers take. I am the Program Manager of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, a two-year program based at the University of Mississippi (

It is both a busy and exciting time for the Teacher Corps. Currently we have 30 people coming into the program this summer. Our start date is Tuesday, May 31st but we will have several people showing up a few days later for various reasons. There is also a chance that we may add one more person to the group which would give us 31. I believe previously the largest group we ever had was 25.

Ann and I and the other instructors have been meeting and planning for this upcoming summer. The first summer is an intense period because we have eight weeks to train people with no education background to be effective teachers. Ann and I have basically stripped the training down to two essential parts: planning lessons and classroom management. As a beginning teacher these are the two most important tools.

The 2nd Years will also be here taking classes in June and I know they are looking forward to meeting the incoming group. One of the best things about Teacher Corps is the group camaraderie and support.

One more interesting note: I just spell checked this entry and blogger's spell check does not recognize the word "blog."