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."