Sunday, June 10, 2018

Wow, 13 Years!

While it hasn't quite hit me just yet, I have completed not only my 13th year in education but last as an employee of the Clark County School District in Las Vegas.  My entire career thus far has been in CCSD, with three high schools, one middle school, one behavioral junior and senior high school, hundreds of colleagues and thousands of students.  I have grown from a fresh from college and brand new to Nevada 23-year-old to a seasoned veteran teacher with so much more to learn and do.  I have completed a Master's in Education, an Educational Specialist in School Leadership, and have embarked on a Master's in Special Education.  I have taught American Government, United States HIstory, US History - Honors, AP US History, Physical Education, and served as a school technology coach and a dean of students.  I coached football, baseball, and volleyball, advised a ski and snowboard club, and chaperoned countless academic and senior trips.  I am very proud of what I have done so far, but it is far from over.  

How does one really narrow this down?  Tough thoughts...
I can also say that none of this would have been possible without some really amazing people that I have had in my life over the past 13 years.  Countless teachers and professors helped steer me to this profession, and many, many of my colleagues and supervisors helped guide and mold me into the educator that I am today.  While I could probably write a book about all of the teachers, professors, coworkers, supervisors, etc. that had an influence on me, I want to take some time to recognize five people that really mean a lot to me.  While my time in CCSD may be over, I hope that our relationships, professional and as friends, continue over the four hundred plus miles between us.  

Alison Levy
When I began my first year teaching back in 2005, Alison was the social studies teacher in the room next to me.  She was also assigned to me as my mentor, to make sure I knew what the procedures of the school were going to be, to check in to make sure I wasn't losing my mind, and to guide me through the hell that the first year of teaching can be.  Alison was more than a mentor; she became one of my best friends and introduced me to her husband, Mike, who is also one of my best friends.  Alison is somebody that shares a love of history with me, so we could always geek out on that.  She also loves to travel, stopping at historical landmarks, and maybe more importantly, the best food venues.  Because of Alison, I became a better teacher, learned more about history, and probably gained more weight than I should have, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  

Jayme Rawson
Jayme and I first met my first year as well.  As an English teacher, Jayme was nowhere near my classroom, but as somebody that has an unbelievable passion for students and teaching, she was somebody that wanted to make sure that all first-year teachers, not just me, were succeeding.  She also has an eclectic taste in music and knows her random facts and history, things that are right up my alley.  Jayme left to teach at another school after my third year, but we were reunited a couple of years later when we had classrooms next to each other and worked as English and social studies curriculum partners, working with the same group of students in our classes.  We have had lots of happy moments, we've seen each other cry, and we have been there for one another to yell, scream, and curse when we just need a moment to let it out.  My children refer to her as Auntie Jayme, and while we don't see each other nearly as much as we should, we joke that we will probably see each other more now that I am moving because she is in Reno often enough to visit family.  

Tina Statucki
Tina was my supervisor for many years.  When I met her, I was not in a very great place in my life.  I had recently lost my brother and I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue teaching because of some frustrations coming from my previous school.  Tina and I have a very similar view on education: set high expectations and stick to them, because even if your expectations aren't fully met, you will get much better quality results than if the bar is set low.  I always knew that Tina would have my back and if I wanted to try something new, she would be the first to see me, success or fail, and offer her thoughts on how it went and how to improve.  Tina is also the one that really turned me on to educational technology, as she was one of the first to embrace Google Apps for Education, sharing her love for edtech with me and turning me into the monster that I am today with tech.  She has become like an older sister to me, and while I am moving, I know I'll still be able to see her, as she happens to have family in Reno.  

Lucas Leavitt
Lucas is somebody that I have looked up to for a long time.  When a young athlete is coming up through the ranks, a common question for them is, "Who do you try to model your game after?"  If I am the young athlete, Lucas is the man I am trying to model my game after.  His passion for education and young people, his knowledge of technology, both pedagogically and technically, and his leadership skills are things that I envy and strive for on a daily basis.  On top of that, his sense of humor is something that legends are made of; I never fail to laugh continuously whenever we get together.  Not sure if I'll be able to convince him road trip it to Reno, being his Runnin' Rebel blood turns redder in the presence of the Wolfpack... 

Ron Kamman
I only got to work with Ron for a short time, but the time that I got with him was unforgettable.  Ron was my supervisor when I was working as a technology coach.  Ron was relatively tech-savvy, but definitely had some areas in which he wasn't as knowledgeable.  The site-based technician and I worked with Ron on a daily basis to give him an idea of the daily ins and outs of the school's network, hardware, software, teacher/student needs, etc.  But Ron was more than somebody that I simply reported to and received direction;  Ron was a great inspiration to me as a leader.  I had completed my degree and district training in school leadership and Ron allowed me to annoy him constantly with questions about his role as an administrator, allowed me to sit in on his conferences with students, showed me the ropes of inputting data into the district system, how to write observation notes and evaluations, and so much more.  When I left that position to become a dean, I was better prepared because of Ron.  That job didn't pan out because of the time commitment, but nobody can do anything but tell you about it.  I know that someday, I may return to administration and will be prepared and ready because of Ron's leadership.  

Of course, I must give credit to my amazing wife, Mary.  She has been by my side for nearly 14 years, with our 10 year anniversary coming up on June 21. She has stood by me through the good and the bad and supported me in countless ways.  I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years bring us and the adventures of her experiences in grad school and beyond.  

There are so many more that I could recognize, but once again, it would fill a book.  For every educator, administrator, support staff, etc. that I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with over the past 13 years, I cannot thank you enough.  I cannot wait to begin my next chapter, knowing that there will be more amazing people to further mold this lump of clay.  

Until next time...