Thursday, September 18, 2008

Substitute Teaching

Hey all!

Just thought I would take a moment to salute both myself and the substitute teachers that have gone before me. As many of you know, I began substitute teaching for the Elko county school district about 2 weeks ago. Since then I have come to realize both the joys and sorrows of this role. The best part of being a sub, is the chance to be "cool" sub...the sub that the kids want to see. The scary part of being the sub, is finding the happy median between being the "cool" sub, and being eating alive by noisy kids and attitude. I don't know if I have yet to be labeled "cool", or not, but I definitely have had to wobbled along the fine line. For example, I have already had the privilege of facing, what I will refer to as, the trouble students. Interestingly, when I began subbing I was most nervous about facing the boys, I have now learned that boys are nothing in comparison to the devilishly scary world of teenage girls. I can only pray that I was never so awful as some of the attitude that I have encountered.

Now that I've taken the time to rant about the darker side of subbing, I would like to share some of the finer moments that continue to make me smile. John giggled when I told him how happy I was when some sweet elementary students commented on how pretty they thought I was. Isn't it amazing how just a few little words, from a few very small little girls, can make one's ego sky rocket!

One of the neatest aspects of substitute teaching is the chance to experience many different levels of growth and development. I am lucky enough to be certified to teach at any level, kindergarten to high school. This has really allowed me to witness the variety of positive and negatives that each area can provide.

Although the extremes have occurred in the high school and elementary, I must admit I am beginning to truly appreciate the junior high. Junior high students are at the perfect age for teaching. They have learned many of the basics so it seems possible to carry on a real discussion with most of them. On the other hand they are just young enough that they haven't had the chance to develop a lot of high strung attitude like many high school students possess. They also seem to be still willing to learn, evening excited about the prospect of taking on new information. That, in itself, means so very much.

Overall, I've found the experience very rewarding. I can only hope that it continues to go as well as it has so far.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Angel Lake and Trip to Boise

Nearly a month ago now Amy, Brian, Leti and I ventured one saturday to Wells and up to Angel Lake. Leti is from Indiana and the new English as a Second Language teacher, a very helpful person for the students in my classroom who cannot speak English very well. I will mention Brian later in this post.
This is a picture of Gray Lake. As you can see, it is breathtaking. The lake gets very deep for its size and is nestled into a mountainside at around 10,000 feet elevation. Though the water is extremely cold, a quick swim is very refreshing.

We parked at the Angel Lake campground, which is more popular because one can drive to it, and hiked for about one hour to this more secluded area. On the hike up we met a truck driver from Nebraska on his way to California. He told us that times are tough for the trucker lifestyle--I sympathized.
After a dip, my friend Brian, who is from Seely Montana and teaches Biology and Health, and I journeyed up the mountain to its summit. It was a tough climb and we even ventured across a four or five foot crack (with a drop of about 200 feet). It was nerve racking but extremely fun. We summited just as the sun was disappearing below the horizon westward, and talk about beautiful. from 11,000 feet up one can see a long way in every direction.
On our journey down, guided only by the light of a full moon, Brian and I surfed the loose, rocky, slope and finally found ourselves at the lakeshore again. Needless to say, the girls were happy we were safe.
We topped off the exhaustive but excellent day with a bottle of merlot and pinot nestled beneath a towering aspen and watched the landscape of stars above and fire crackling at our feet. It was a great ending to a great day, and part of me fell in love with Nevada at that moment.

The following morning I awoke early and ventured onto the ridge looking to capture the beautiful morning digitally. I think you will agree that I succeeded. The pines to the right show how wonderful the mornings are here--cool and still.

Shifting gears, I'd like to tell you about our trip to Boise. The purpose of this little venture was to meet up with Amy's cousin Nicole and her husband Brian. As an added bonus, we got to see Madelyn and Sophia too, who each provided numerous laughs.

Amy and I decided to take off on the Friday of our four day weekend over Labor Day and at least make it half way to Twin Falls Idaho. What a quaint little town it is! Nearly twice as big as Brookings, Twin Falls has everything: plenty of shopping, restaurants, quiet neighborhoods, and the most impressive of all, the Snake River Canyon. I was able to get some interesting pictures of the bridge and the canyon (which has a very nice looking golf course running along the river I am hoping to get to sometime in the future).

After spending five hours in Twin Falls we decided to make the short, two hour trip and stay in Boise for the night. Driving into the sunset with the windows rolled down, we jammed out to an "oldies weekend" on the radio onward to Boise.

I must say that, aside from being Boise State Broncos fanatics, the people of Boise were very nice. The city pleasantly surprised us. It felt like a place one would like to settle into someday. Though very segregated, the community seemed very welcoming tucked along the rolling hills of Idaho.

Our first excursion was to the local park, and let me just say that the people of Boise know how to bike, run, jog, play frisbee, whatever. Anything outside will be done by these people. The parks were fantastic and the idea that one can get around the city on a bicycle is very appealing to me.
At the park Sophia got a little wet in the fountain, Brian and I watched a man flyfishing serenely in the river, and we all got a little workout on the jungle gym with the girls. There was a bagpipe "troop" I guess one could call it marching along playing "Amazing Grace" and other popular bagpipe tunes, which was neat to watch and hear.

During the afternoon we traveled to Roaring Springs waterpark, and for those of you in South Dakota, WWW doesn't have anything on this place. It was a blast. Perhaps the funniest thing to happen there was when Amy and I were left in charge of Maddie and Sophie in the wave pool, while Nicole and Brian hit some slides. Everything started out great, Sophie, with a life vest on was clutched to a small tube I was holding, and Maddie was in Amy's arms securely. Then the waves started. I felt as though I were on the ocean. It was fun for about ten seconds and then both girls lost it and started screaming. I was trying to get Sophie out of the tube but she wouldn't let go and I kept getting mauled by ten foot waves. Needless to say, we were out of the wavepool quickly and spent the next twenty minutes rocking and crying until Nicole and Brian returned. Overall, however, the day was a blast.
The next morning Brian and I hit the closest golf course while the girls went to the zoo. It was a great chance to kick back and relax with Brian and I actually hit my driver well, making me want to play more now. When we met back up the girls needed naps and Amy and I hit the malls. Around supper time Nicole and Brian and the girls met up with us at the Cheesecake Factory. The meals were all excellent, but Sophie's Macaroni and Cheese was phenomenal. I will be ordering that dish next time, despite the confused expression on the waitress' face.

Monday morning came that weekend just as it does any other weekend, and sadly we had to part ways. Poor Nicole and Brian had a few hours added to their trip due to traffic but we all made it home safely and I hope to enjoy Boise again sometime.

Well, that's it for this little novel. I hope you all can come out and experience Nevada sometime in the near future, but don't fret, Amy and I will be home as soon as we can be for Christmas. Take care all, and give a call once in a while okay? John and Amy

Monday, September 8, 2008

Life in Full Swing!

Hey all!

Well our lives are officially in full swing now. John has several weeks of teaching under his belt and I have begun my work as a substitute teacher. I must admit I'm excited to be out of the house for at least part of the day and my first few days have gone by with very few problems. I'm very thankful for that.

A week ago we met up with Nichole, Brian, and their girls in Boise, Idaho for the long Labor day weekend. We had such a wonderful time that we began planning a trip up to see them in Washington before their big move back to the midwest. We were able to see a lot of the fun attractions that Boise has to offer, and get to spend some quality time with some of our favorite people! I couldn't believe how much Sophie and Maddie had changed since I saw them a few short months ago in South Dakota. It really was amazing!

Day-to-day life is pretty easy going around here. Now that I'm substitute teaching, John and I are both at the school from 7 to about 3. I have also been asked to work in the high school office Wednesday mornings which will be a nice break from substituting and also allow me to hopefully get the upper hand on some subbing opportunities! Other than work we also spend quite a bit of time at play. We have been lucky enough to make some wonderful friends here who have many of the same interests as we do. John has joined a fantasy football team, we're in the planning stages of a book and wine club, and we get together at least once a week for a game or two. We couldn't ask for much more.

It is so hard to believe that we have been here for a month and a half. It seems crazy. We feel so blessed to have been able to still stay in close contact with family and friends. Meeting up with Nichole, Brian, and the girls, was such a blessing; especially for me. Having some quality family time definitely has helped me with the transition. We are so excited to have some of you visit. John's brother Dylan and a few of our friends are possibly planning a trip to visit and my mom will be heading west in October. We can't wait to show each and everyone of you our new home and community.

We miss you all!