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Howdy Doody 2

For the Love of Valentine’s Day

Day 44 My Five Hundred Words Challenge.

Prompt:

It’s Valentine’s Day.
Maybe you think this is a manufactured Hallmark holiday, or you might really believe in the magic of love.
Romantic love is the big cliché for today. So let’s talk about a different kind of love, instead. A love that isn’t all Cupid and conversation hearts.
 Write about a time when love meant stepping out of your comfort zone, making a hard choice, or offering up a sacrifice.

As my blogging friends know, I’ve been writing my first romance/comedy novel since November.   Rewrite number five brings me to this episode that my friend Tonia Hurst suggested that I share with you today for Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day knows no gender in love.  In kindergarten you learn that valentines are for everyone in the room.

Three friends, Trixie, Ann, and Sarah, went to Sarah’s condo for the weekend, where a series of misadventures struck. One disaster landed Sarah in the hospital, and brought Trixie’s new love, Nick, to visit from Southern California.   Today Trixie arises at 6:30 am, leaves the love of her life sleeping in HIS room, and drives 15 miles to the hospital to see her friend.

I don’t know that I would have picked this as a romantic moment, but you can decide for yourself.

Characters:

Trixie:  unmarried friend in love with Nick

Sarah:  widowed friend always on the go, collapsed and had to go to the emergency room

Howdy Doody:  The nickname given to the nephrologist (kidney doctor) called in by the emergency room physician to run tests on Sarah.

Howdy Doody 3
Dr. Howdy Doody

Chapter Thirty-four

After Howdy Doody left, Sarah leaned back in the bed and adjusted the pillows.  Trixie walked up to Sarah’s bed, and sat down.

“Can you believe Howdy Doody getting in my face like that?  I’m bushed after that encounter.   He sure thinks he can push his weight around.”

“You sure gave us a scare, Sarah.  No wonder you were tired!  Sounds as though he’s targeting the sodas.  What a cutie.  I wonder if he is married.”

Howdy Doody 2

“Trixie, you enjoy playing Cupid now that he’s shot you in the heart.  Yeah, Sandstrom’s definitely my type.  He’s at least six feet five inches tall, and I’m only five feet tall when I stand perfectly straight.”

Sun streamed in the hospital room window making patterns on the bed.  Sarah traced them unconsciously as she talked.

“I recognize sarcasm when I hear it.  I think he’s perfect.”

“I need to research.  Can you find me a computer to use?”

“Sure, I’ll send my computer with the twins if they stop by.  You can call me and let me know when they are coming, or better yet, I’ll just leave it on the table.  Where are they?  Did they go out for some breakfast?”

“No, they went back to the condo to sleep.   How was your night?  Did you and Ann have dinner after you left?”

Sarah didn’t know that Ann had left.  Sarah wanted to discuss many things with Trixie, but her breakfast arrived, and she hadn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday.

“It is Sunday, right?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, at least you don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

Trixie was glad she had made it to the room in time to talk to the nephrologist.  Now she wasn’t as concerned that Sarah was not going to make it.  Sarah controlled her life. If Trixie had to bet on any of them living forever, it would be Sarah.

“This breakfast is awful, Trix.  Buy me a cinnamon roll and a decent cup of coffee.”

Old West Cinnamon Rolls, Pismo Beach
Old West Cinnamon Rolls, Pismo Beach

“Is there a better way to say that?  Have you ever heard of the word please, or better yet, would you please?  But the long answer is no.  Don’t draw me into your schemes for bringing you contraband.  I need to shove off.  Remember Nick is at the condo.  He’s not expecting the girls.  No telling what’s happened there.”

“Good idea, Trixie.  Hurry back, though.  I understand now when I hear nursing home residents yelling to get out.  I can’t believe I have to be camped out here when it’s seventy-five degrees and sunny outside.”

“Ok, I’ll touch bases with you later today, Sarah.”  Trixie told her.

“You know, don’t come back today.  Enjoy your time with Nick.  I’ll be fine.  Send the girls back as soon as they wake up.”

Sarah waved to her friend then settled back against the pillows and closed her eyes.  She was still pretty tired, and right this minute rest seemed to be the perfect prescription.

Sarah 1

Girls on Fire visits the editor this weekend, and expects to come home with a few band aids, but hopes to avoid major surgery.  Depending on the damages I’ll need to rebuild, this romantic comedy should be ready soon.

So do you agree with Tonia, that this has some merit for Valentine’s Day to fit this prompt?

Daily Prompt: Silver Linings

Extreme bad times give birth to silver linings.  Disasters and tragedy can bring out the best in people.  Right now we think of those in Oklahoma who are suffering with the ugly effects of tornadoes.  They need to see beyond their present circumstances and know that there will be a silver lining, or they might give up hope.  It makes those of us who are not touched by those tragedies to give gratefully to help those in need.

Blogging friend Darla Welchel posted this picture on FB
Blogging friend Darla Welchel posted this picture on FB of her property in OK.

People in tragic times:

  • draw together to help each other,
  • demonstrate supernatural strength
  • alter the world – moving, building anew, seek solutions to prevent the same problems from recurring.
  • develop empathy
  • develop personal flexibility and resilience
  • break down cultural barriers

The bigger the tragedy, the shinier the silver lining needs to be.  I’m not sure it always makes up for the tragedy, but people go on.  The choice is either you go on or you don’t.  The choice is yours.  I am reading non-fiction book, The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan, about the people who stayed in the Dust Bowl states when over 300,000 fled to California alone.  According to him, the high plains never fully recovered, although much of it being returned to its original grass covering.  Farmers now have connected with soil conservation districts to manage the land as a single ecological unit.  Some of the individuals he followed lived to be around 100 years old.

Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas at a different time in history.
Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas at a different time in history.

The biggest tragedy I can think of was the Holocaust.  Had I been born in Nazi Germany at that time, I would not have survived it even though I was a blond, blue-eyed, non-Jewish child because I was born with a harelip.

Me, Great-Grandma Martha, Grandma Golda, and Mom Peggy.
Me, Great-Grandma Martha, Grandma Golda, and Mom Peggy.  I think they would have been upset to lose me over a simple lip disaster!  :)  

There were many that were targeted for destruction during that period of history.  The most tragic of the tragic were the Jews who were destroyed simply because they were Jews.  My friend was four years old when they came to her little town in Poland.  Nazi “punks” killed her mother and grandparents before they even left town because they were old or infirm.  “Why waste time getting them well if they were targeted for extermination anyway?” my friend tells students.  Two of her uncles were caught trying to smuggle valuables in a loaf of bread.  They were shot when the loaf of bread broke on the cobblestones revealing trinkets of jewelry.  The rest of her family:  father, aunt, 2 brothers, and a sister, went to the camps, different ones, of course.  Her sister died in Auschwitz, and the rest survived, and came to America.  Now in her late seventies, my friend tells her story in schools to let children today know that there is hope, a silver lining in any situation.

Students see that my friend survived the worst horror they can imagine.  Life has a silver lining.
Students see that my friend survived a horror worse than any they can imagine. Life has a silver lining.

Children don’t have the background experiences to know that they can live through tough times.  We don’t always know what internal and external disasters they harbor and endure.

My friend's intensity speaks to students, and helps them believe in a silver lining.
My friend’s intensity speaks to students, and helps them believe in a silver lining.

Some students don’t know that if a kid teases them or brutalizes them, it will pass, or they can find ways to deal with it besides shooting up a school.  Children whose parents beat them, or do drugs or alcohol may not realize they can survive even if they are taken to a foster home and are raped their first night there.  My friend gives them hope.  Through her life, they see the silver lining.

We don't know who might be the next Oklahoma City bomber.  We need to teach them ALL that there is a silver lining beyond their personal tragedy.
We don’t know who might be the next Oklahoma City bomber. We need to teach them ALL that there is a silver lining beyond their personal tragedy.

Silver linings don’t make everything all right.  There are still consequences that follow any disaster.  My friend does not know what her mother looks like.  She has never even seen a picture.  They were all destroyed.  It still makes her sad.  She goes into an emotional tailspin every time a disaster hits anywhere and flashes back to her times in the camps.  Nonetheless, she lives another day and shows others that they, too, can survive.  She was married and raised two successful children.  She worked in the entertainment industry until she retired. She took a 90 minute yoga class with her friend and me the day after she spoke in this class.  She impacts thousands of young lives yearly.  She impacted my life permanently.  She lives in the silver lining of her life.

Any of life's tragedies has a silver lining.
Any of life’s tragedies has a silver lining.

Do you need to know there is a silver lining behind your cloud?  Do you have a silver lining experience to tell?

Kiwanis Roundup for Hunger

Can you believe that I could get somewhere – anywhere at 6:15 a.m.?Good, that means you know me pretty well.  I got there at 6:25 a.m., complete with camera, but my disk had no space AND no pictures.  What’s up with that?  I learned how to format my disk today because of it.  Needless to say, I was a little late to my assigned post, but I got there.  It turned out that many people came to help, so I didn’t have much to do, but enjoy the day. 

Marsha and Connie
Marsha and Connie

My very good friend Connie from Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) showed up, and we walked the path slowly, relishing the chance to catch up .

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The day was off to a lovely start.  The temperature was cool enough that I appreciated my coat for a while, then quickly shed it, as we strolled into last place.  Altogether 73 runners and walkers participated in this fund raiser.  All the proceeds from the event go to the Woodlake Food Pantry.   It’s a real privilege to be part of a community organization that gives so much back to the community.

How was your Saturday?  What is your favorite charitable organization or fundraising activity?

Need Faith In the Future? Interview Today’s Students

Want more hope?  Today I got a major shot of hope when I interviewed seniors from Woodlake High School about the portfolios they do as a graduation requirement.

My partner, Nancy, and me waited for our first interviewee.
My partner, Nancy, and I waited for our first interviewee.

I should have illegally taken pictures of them as I was grading them this week, but rats, I just now thought of it.  Meeting these students in person brightened my day today.

the first round of interviewees
Here is the first round of interviewees.  I told them how professional and nice they looked.  Somebody called out and said I looked beautiful.  Wow, that made my day!!!!

Students begin working on the portfolios long before they have the interview.  They start their freshman year collecting evidence of class and extra curricular work that they are particularly proud of doing.

Woodlake Memorial Building across from the High School made a welcoming location in which to interview.
Woodlake Memorial Building across from the High School made a welcoming location in which to interview.

They participate in extracurricular activities and reflect on what they accomplished.  They include their grades, and for some their grades were meaningless in 9th grade, but by 12th grade they realize what a mistake they made by not paying attention to them.

My friend, Joy, was also there interviewing.
My friend, Joy, was also there interviewing.

I thought Sally had deliberately given me the cream of the crop, student-wise, but apparently every there thought the same thing, so there must be something about the activity that brought out the best in all of us, but particularly the students.  First of all, they were all dressed up better than I have ever seen high school students anywhere except at Mock Trial, where all the students look like attorneys.  I know that we shouldn’t judge students for how they look, but let me tell you what that means for them to dress up.

We took over the Veterans; Memorial building for our interviews.
Veterans’ Memorial building auditorium off a central courtyard

Tulare County is the poorest, or nearly the poorest, of the 58 counties in the large, and once prosperous state of California.  The last time I researched TC had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, lowest test scores, and lowest voting records.  Needless to say, these students don’t all have abundant resources to purchase fancy clothes.  I’m not sure how they put together their outfits, but this event was important enough for them to all make an effort to look spectacular.

Community members like Diane Pearcy, who has worked with the Woodlake Foundation for years, give of their time to interview students.
Community members like Diane Pearcy, who has worked with the Woodlake Foundation for years, give of their time to interview students.

Not every portfolio was error free or extensive, but as we interviewed each student for about 15 minutes their passions and enthusiasm shone. I have to tell you about Edgar (name changed).  His grades were less than stellar, and he told us that one of his weaknesses was to back away from activities at which he doesn’t experience success.  Who doesn’t do that?  Edgar’s parents, like many in the area, both speak Spanish.   As a result, Edgar didn’t excel at English, and school in general.  Therefore he didn’t like it, and consequently didn’t work very hard to improve his grades.  A vicious cycle, wouldn’t you say? But when Edgar started talking about what he loved, farm labor contracting, you would have thought that he was at the top of his class.  This young man works daily with his father, who has a farm labor contracting business.  In spite of his deceptively low grades, his English was impeccable, although he apologized unnecessarily for “not knowing big words.”  He has already PASSED all the state or county tests he needs to get his license, and he looks forward to working with his father in his business full-time.  He told us that his father is his “best friend.”  How many of you dads wouldn’t give your right arm to have your son say that, and want to follow in your footsteps, and work in your business with you?  I was downright jealous of his relationship with his father. Edgar realized his weaknesses, but he also recognized his strengths.  When his uncle, a forklift driver, did not show up for work, Edgar, the supervisor of a group of workers, had to decide what to do.  He knew the basics of forklift driving, but hadn’t put it into practice.  He made the decision to drive the forklift to meet the deadline, and succeeded.  Looking only at test scores and transcripts one might discard the value of this young man.  Giving him the chance to interview and tell us what HE knew convinced me that Edgar has what it takes to be a successful citizen.  He is able to learn and make important decisions, avoid pitfalls, and I know he will be a contributing member of a dynamic society. Edgar was just one student.  One of our interviewees battled cancer at age 12, another had kidney failure at about the same age, and now has to watch his diet very carefully.  One young man told us that he had wanted to quit the football team because the 5 hour daily practices were taking their toll.  He told his coach, and somehow his coach persuaded him to stay on the team.  Later that year, the coach lost his baby.  This young man said, “If I had dropped out, I would have missed the opportunity to be part of that experience.  We became a family that year, and I am so glad I didn’t miss it.”  I wanted to cry.  I had chills on my arms. One girl told us that she was the youngest in her family and no one wanted her to go to college or even cared that she graduate from high school, but she is determined to make something of herself.  Another young man wanted to be a role model for his 6 brothers and sisters as their oldest brother. His cousin led the way and encouraged him to stay in school and go to college.  He wants to learn so that he can contribute to solving the water shortage problem.  Another girl who served on the newspaper staff, looked like Lesley Carter of the Bucket List blog, and had ambitions that would have made Lesley proud.  With approximately a 4.2 GPA and participation in every play, every sport, and just about every activity offered at Woodlake, this young woman battled shyness with the determination of a soldier on the front line of the battlefield.  I think she might be the president some day.

Community members volunteer eagerly for this role.
Community members volunteer eagerly for this role.  Woodlake Kiwanis, particularly  Linda LaFleur, Sally Pace, and Janet McCoy provided breakfast for the volunteers.

Are these kids just unusual or are they the norm?  Are there any other kids in other communities that would knock your socks off if you sat down in a formal setting and interviewed them about their goals?  Or are the rest of the nation’s kids today just not able to step up to the challenges of the future?  What do you think?

Wicked Weekend in Oz for History Gals

Some people got to family reunions.  Some go to class reunions?  Other people meet in different ways and click, and then start to do things together in a group.  Do you travel with a group of people?  Do you plan for months and all look forward for weeks and even months for just a few short days or hours together?  Before this group of women came into my life, I never had this experience with more than another couple.  I have to say it is life-changing to have, not just close friends, but people who plan and do things together.  So if you don’t have this in your life, I fully recommend it.

The History Gals Ozzed out over the Wicked weekend in Orange County, CA last weekend.  In addition to seeing Wicked, which I had never seen, we went to see the new Wizard of Oz movie, Oz, the Great and Powerful.

WickedB Traditions are developing.  What traditions do you have when you meet friends

  • A theme for the weekend’s activities
  • Gifts for everyone from everyone.
  • Lots of food
  • Girlie beauty activities
  • Plenty of stories and giggles

What do you give the gals just want to have a good time, and it’s all about the uniqueness of the situation?  Months ahead of time Leslie told us that she had some special things planned for our Wicked weekend.   I couldn’t imagine what she was doing, but the last time we got together, she made each of us a fantastic book out of many of our pictures of our trips for the last year.  So I worried and felt excited at the same time.  Not a particularly creative gifter, I asked my friend Mary what I should get.  She suggested red Isotoner slippers.  V suggested that I wait till I get there to buy anything.  So I took their advice.

I arrived first, and couldn't check in, so I waited here for Leslie.
I arrived first, and couldn’t check in, so I waited here for Leslie.

Les and I were the only ones who stayed in a hotel.  The Wyndham with a remodeled bar only five days old, was quite nice and very reasonable.

I appreciated these slow-moving critters entertaining us with their stretching necks.
I appreciated these slow-moving critters entertaining us with their stretching necks.

We ended up with an executive suite that had a beautiful view of the courtyard turtles.

Turtles

Because Les and I got to our chosen destination the night before, we had extra time to spend celebrating.  While we waited for our names to come up at Maggiano’s in South Coast Plaza, we walked over to Sears.  Almost the second we walked in, these red shoes jumped off the shelf and into our cart.  I still didn’t know what Leslie had planned, but the shoes were on sale, and while I was off buying them, she was off doing some other green or red scouting.4 Red ShoesB

I have been to South Coast Plaza, but never to Maggiano’s.  I had chicken picata, but what I really loved was the Chocolate Marshmallow Torte, which we split, and I finished my half for breakfast the next morning.  I didn’t know until tonight, but when you buy a torte, you support Make-A Wish.  Go to their website, it’s really cool!

Chocolate Marshmallow Torte

This was a weekend of firsts for me.  I had never been to a Mac make-up store.  The place was jammed with women and girls in every stage of madeupness.  They didn’t have enough artists to create a green look for all of us at the same time.  All we told them was that we needed to be green for the weekend.  Leslie probably came out the most green, but she started out with the greenest shirt.

Leslie came out looking stunning!
Leslie came out looking stunning!

Debbie’s was a little more muted, but I came out rather neonish, but I bought the look, and I don’t mind being a little green once in a while. The process was lots of fun!

IMG_1432

The Mac make-up people make up 80-90% of Hollywood productions.  The make-up comes in all colors, and includes body make-up.The Wicked Witch of the West wore Mac body make-up.  Probably Bronze Lady in San Diego sported Mac make-up, too!!!  That took up most of the day.

China Girl was my favorite character.

We ate our evening meal after the movie, Oz, the Great and Powerful, which was cute, but I won’t spoil it for you.  I will only say that the perspective was entirely different than the Wicked perspective.  I spoiled my appetite like I always do when I go to movies – with the largest order of popcorn!  No, I didn’t eat it all!  We went to Cafe Tu Tu Tango for tapas since no one was super hungry.  Tapas, if you didn’t know, are Spanish appetizers.  I am fairly uncultured, so I didn’t know that until recently.  I rely on my younger friends to educate me.

A Day In Paradise photo. How many of us WOULD be brave enough to try this?

This tapas cafe featured  belly and tango dancers who entertained us, and even drew out some of the audience to participate with them.  I was thankful that they didn’t stop at our table. Unlike my friend Sylvia, I couldn’t have stood and belly danced on demand, although I have a fairly bouncy belly.

After that demonstration, we drove to the Crystal Cathedral, when a group from our church in Oregon had visited the epic day they were inserting the first glass into it.  I learned this weekend that it now belongs to the Catholic church.  I can’t tell you all the other things I learned this weekend!!!  All I can say is that for someone as old and well-educated as I am, I sure don’t know much!!!  And that doesn’t count all the things that I used to know, but forgot!!!  So…I’m excited – so much to learn!!!  Guess I’d better get busy! :)

National History Day – California – Tulare County a Huge Success

This was my first year in the past twelve years NOT to coordinate Tulare County’s History Day event.  The job now falls on my dear friend, Joy Soares, who took my place as the History Consultant at the County Office.  She has enough energy and ideas for three people, and indeed more than three people kept very busy bringing this exciting day to fruition.

Joy Soares dressed in 1940s style including a black line drawn up her leg.  Styling, Joy!
Joy Soares dressed in 1940s style including a black line drawn up her leg. Styling, Joy!

My job in all of this was to represent two volunteer organizations, San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies (SJVCSS), and Tulare County Historical Society (TCHS).  Both organizations had booths, and both gave scholarships to students.  This was the first year we named any of the donations from these organizations.

Three tables for three organizations.  Tulare Treasures, TCHS, and SJVCSS
Three tables for three organizations. Tulare Treasures, TCHS, and SJVCSS  See me manning the tables?  OK I’m a little ghostly, but there’s my coat.    800 ISO picture – much better!

Two individuals from TCHS were especially instrumental in bringing TCHS and History Day together, Stan Barnes and Madeline Franz.  When I first started coordinating History Day, the Fresno County Historical Society actively supported the Fresno County event, and I didn’t even know who the Tulare County Historical Society was or how to find them.  Then Sharon Doughty created a website, and I made a phone call.  That next year Madeline Franz judged for our event.  The next year she brought friends, Don MacMillian, Terry Ommen, and Stan Barnes.

Madeline is a kick.  You'd love her.  Her daughter is sitting next to her.
Madeline is a kick. You’d love her. Her daughter is sitting next to her.  You can see Terry Ommen behind her with his arm up like he is taking a picture.  He was. 

Stan was particularly taken with the project, and insisted that the Society donate money as long as it didn’t get swallowed in a “black hole.”  The society also contributed a large amount to a group of students from Kingsburg, CA who were going to National History Day in Washington, D.C.  What an opportunity for students who had never been out of Tulare County!  TCHS bought tee shirts one year so that when our students went to state they all dressed alike one night and really stood out in the crowd of thousands of students.  This year was the first year that the Society specified scholarship amounts, and named the scholarships.  Unfortunately, Stan Barnes passed away just a few weeks ago, so did not see what the scholarship named for him will do for students.  His daughter attended the awards ceremony.

Stan Barnes' daughter is at the ceremony to present the scholarship with President, Jill Brown.
Stan Barnes’ daughter is at the ceremony to present the scholarship with President, Jill Brown.  Stan’s daughter is the smiling blond woman looking towards me.  The blond in the background was my boss at TCOE when I retired.  Jill Brown is not wearing brown, but yellow.

Madeline also participated in the awards ceremony, bringing her family with her.  TCHS President, Jill Brown presented both awards.

Seating was tight, so I had a hard time getting in to get the right angle on the picture.  I still need a lot of work as a professional photographer!
Seating was tight, so I had a hard time getting in to get the right angle on the picture. I still need a lot of work as a professional photographer!  Someone was not extremely excited to be there for the presentation part.  This is Madeline’s family.

SJVCSS is the local affiliate council of the California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) It is a professional organization for social studies teachers, administrators, and professors, and really is NON-profit.  Each year since I started as coordinator the organization gave $50 to History Day, and I used it to purchase things we needed for the event.  This year we upped it to $100 and created an Exhibit Scholarship in the name of Marvin Awbrey, Father of History Day.  Marvin is from Fresno County, just north of us.  He IS the Father of History Day in California, the man who brought it to Fresno County, then the state.  He also served as the judge captain of the Exhibits Category for many years.  At the awards ceremony yesterday, I made a presentation speech, and Marvin gave the scholarship to a deserving exhibit designer, Mr. Wilson.

By this time, I had learned to bring folks where I want them, not take a snapshot!  I learn SO slowly!  :)
By this time, I had learned to bring folks where I want them, not take a snapshot! I learn SO slowly! :)

I will write a more professional article that has student names and a little less silliness for the Los Tulares, the TCHS quarterly magazine available to members.   My blogging friends have to put up with all my foibles, bad photography, and antics.  It is SO fun to be retired and be able to be silly.  There is something to be said for that second childhood!

Here are some other photos if you are a parent or an interested bystander that just loves HD.

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John Muir Visits the Tulare County Historical Society During the 2013 Annual Meeting

Yesterday at the Tulare County Historical Society Annual Meeting Frank Helling, a 30-year veteran as John Muir, with his hand carved cane in his Scottish accent told the crowd  “Everywhere we step is holy land.”  Of course he never hiked around the world,  he “san-tared” (sauntered) about because hiking is too much like work.

Frank Helling as John Muir
Frank Helling as John Muir

At one point Muir had to find employment.  Although he wasn’t a shepherd, he was hired to keep tabs on Shepherd Billy, a lazy bloke.   Billy rarely never bathed so  his clothes became a natural walking history museum, growing thicker by the day with new additions such as pine needles, tree sap, or whatever else he wiped on them.  Another employer wanted him to run a saw mill, but Muir had vowed never to cut a living tree again, but didn’t mind taking the already fallen trees to the saw mill.

Muir recounted the many famous people his path had crossed except for Louise Jackson’s mother who was 13 when she met him.  Sixty-eight year old Ralph Waldo Emerson came to see him in 1871 and remarked about the Sequoia Redwoods, “These trees have a talent for being tall.”  Muir quipped back,   “You’re a Sequoia yourself, get acquainted with the brethren.”

Muir, the Big Tree Advocate, upon returning to  Yosemite after one of his many travels,  found the trees being cut down, and cried out “Repent the Kingdom of Sequoia is at hand!”  He got lost in the “artificial canyons” (hallways) of a San Francisco hotel when he met with his editor, Johnson.  His friend changed his writing , and removed many repetitions of the word, glorious, telling Muir, “That’s called editing.”

Muir kept his audience humorously spell-bound for probably close to an hour.  I don’t know I lost track of time.

We will soon have a new TCHS website.  We meet with the designer, Louise Jackson’s daughter, Laile on Wednesday.  I’ve been honored to serve on that committee for the past year, so I can’t wait to see what she has to show us.  :)  Websites, websites, websites!!!  :)

Cats

I’ve been running you all over Running P Ranch, but I saved the best for last, the cats.  You already met Margaret Sanger in the first post.

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger

Margaret followed us everywhere.  Not a single person commented on the human Margaret’s contribution to history, so I thought you should know what a rich background from which these cats derived their names.  Margaret Sanger died before I was old enough to be sexually active, but she changed the world of sex for women my age and younger.  Many have argued whether the world is better for the change, but forever changed it is!!

Margaret Sanger

“Sanger’s efforts contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which legalized contraception in the United States. Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics, but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement.”  Wikipedia

Margaret kept tabs on everything!
Margaret kept tabs on everything!
I wouldn't mess with Margaret!!  :)
I wouldn’t mess with Margaret!!  

Sacagawea wasn’t quite so ubiquitous.  She came out when we were almost ready to go home.

Sacagawea
Sacagawea

 

Sacagawea is calling for back-up.
Sacagawea is calling for back-up.

 

Pardon me for always using Wikipedia, but it also is ubiquitous.  “The National American Woman Suffrage Association of the early twentieth century adopted her as a symbol of women’s worth and independence, erecting several statues and plaques in her memory, and doing much to spread the story of her accomplishments.”[1]  As I read excerpts from the diary of Lewis and Clark, I understood how she was so valuable to the party.  “However, her greatest value to the mission may have been simply her presence during the arduous journey, which showed their peaceful intent. While traveling through what is now Franklin County, Washington, Clark noted, “The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter,” and, “the wife of Shabono our interpeter we find reconsiles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.”[6]Sac. kept her distance, but she beckoned a third friend to the party, Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

Rosa was the prim and proper one.  No one would accuse her of sitting meekly in the back of the bus, however.

“On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, including Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, and Claudette Colvin nine months before Parks. NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience.

Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.”  Wikipedia again.

No way, Margaret.  You stay back there.
No way, Margaret. You stay back there.

Rosa the cat didn’t take a back seat to anyone, even Margaret Sanger.

Back....
Back….

So, do you think the cats were well named?

Who cares?
Who cares?

Scardy Kitty isn’t convinced that cats need uppity historic names.  He’s proud of his name!!  What do you think?

Travel Theme: Circles

Definition: A circle is the locus of all points equidistant from a central point.

Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack, dreamed up a theme that made my mind go in circles trying to think of when I have ever photographed circles.  But sure enough, when I looked through my pictures, I found circles had snuck into my collection unwittingly.

Circles1

Members of the California Council for Social Studies checked out the hotel in Burlingame where we will hold our annual conference in March, 2013.  Circles abounded in this travel site.  Most obviously the tables are round, the best kind for facilitating conversation between a group of five or six people.  You probably noticed the floor before I did.  The carpet designer loved circles.

Circles 2In this picture we are not distracted by the roundness of the tables, so our eyes can focus on the circles in the carpet.  In this case we might almost overlook the round lights in the ceiling.  As a teacher I notice that the large circles, and some of the small circles form Venn Diagrams.  I loved using Venn Diagrams to compare concepts.  Venns are used in many occupational circles, but briefly this is how teachers use them in reading a text, for example.  Characteristics of item A are listed in Circle A on the left, and characteristics of Item B are listed in Circle B on the right.  The characteristics that the items have in common are listed in the intersection.   This makes it very easy to then write a comparison paragraph or essay.  (I veered off the straight path.  Sorry I had to include an instructional strategy.)

Circles3This shot gives a different perspective of the pattern in the second picture.  Ailsa must have been along when the designer chose the carpet for this hotel.  The carpet theme was definitely circles throughout the hotel, but there were slight variations in the patterns from room to room.  I wonder what the psychological effect circles have on conference goers, and vacationers.

Circles4

The carpet in the final conference room we examined has a different circular pattern.  This room is dominated by rectangular tables, podium, walls and lights.  The carpet mirrors that business-like rectangular flavor with definite  horizontal lines crossing the length of the room which were softened with some bolder, thicker circles than we found in the larger, more social foyer.

As this circular subject develops, I gravitated to the social aspect of circles:

  • circles of friends
  • round table discussions
  • circular conversations (which are VERY frustrating to me!)
  • circles for concept mapping capturing the ideas in our brains.

I wondered if there were specific psychological effects of circles that designers know about and employ to try and motivate us subconsciously.

Oh I do love the internet.  In the process of my search I came across a WordPress site devoted just to circles, Psychology of Circles.  Unfortunately the author only posted 9 articles during two months in 2009, and the one I wanted to read was only promised.  “Power Circles in Advertising” was never written.  Maybe his or her mind was just going in circles like mine, and couldn’t focus.  There are definitely disadvantages to circles!

Not satisfied, I entered the word circles, and found a company called Circles with this description, “Circles is the leading global provider of concierge, events and customized rewards.  … Our mission is to make life better and that pays dividends all around.”  There must be something to the use of circles in the hotel business!!!  I found another article describing how agitated certain animals became when they encountered crop circles.  No wonder most hotels with circular themed carpets don’t allow animals!

FAQs from Wikipedia

  • The circle is the shape with the largest area for a given length of perimeter.
  • The circle is a highly symmetric shape: every line through the centre forms a line of reflection symmetry and it has rotational symmetry around the centre for every angle.
  • A circle’s circumference and radius are proportional.

The human eye is drawn to a circle, which is perfectly proportional.  People are drawn to other people whose faces are proportional and symmetrical.   Cartoonists draw rounder, bigger eyes to make their characters mor appealing.  Are we more trusting of the circular shape?

It seems that very little has been written about the psychological effect of circles on humans.  I thought I’d hit the jackpot when CSU Stanislaus, but this list was the extent of their article:

  • Connection, community, wholeness, endurance, movement, safety, perfection
  • Refers to the feminine: warmth, comfort, sensuality, and love.

I was disappointed, but the truth is if someone is looking for a new topic for their doctoral thesis, here it is!!!

Have I come full circle?  Or is my circle yet unclosed?  I think the latter.  How does the circle affect you?

Putting Your Field Trips on Steroids – Legally!

 

One of the best experiences of my teaching career was the Teacher Institute in Colonial Williamsburg.  I wanted to bottle it up and bring it home, and recreate and refashion it so that we could produce similar experiences for people on the West Coast.

Organizers packed the week with themes of experiences, most of them reproducible except for the location.

Before we arrived we had to read a couple of books about Colonial Williamsburg, and the PEOPLE who lived there.  Whenever you spend the time and money to take kids on vacations or field trips, you should prepare them in some way.  That’s half the fun of going. Assigning your students books or articles to read, watching videos together, then having them discuss and write about what they are learning will put the steroids into the field trip – without making it illegal!!  Students will be constantly comparing what they read with what they learn when they visit.  They will be able to ask questions.

Once we arrived in Colonial Williamsburg, we received a new identity.  That first evening as we got an overview of the town, we were always looking around the corner to find out about our special person.

I was Clementina Rind, whom I wrote about earlier in my blog.  The interesting thing about doing that SIMPLE activity is that you never forget THAT PERSON.  You might forget tons of other factoids, but that person lives in you forever.

Students don’t even have to dress up to take on their identity  One teacher assigned her students the identity of children of the Holocaust.

They they invited a guest speaker who survived the Holocaust.

The strategy of assigning alternative identities is applicable anywhere about any period in history.  Most teachers can’t dredge up re-enactors, or even guest speakers, but I’ve seen teachers dress up themselves,

or have their students dress up and play a part in a readers’ theater that they write themselves using primary source documents.

These fifth grade students became re-enactors for the Civil War Time Time Travelers Student Event.  (Another story coming soon.)

 Colonial Williamsburg is spectacular, but the lessons learned in that setting can spruce up field trips and family vacations anywhere.

 

Mission Inn, Riverside, California

Romantic, historic, and definitely NOT obstreperous – even with 1,000 fourth through twelfth grade students and their parents and teachers meandering through the labyrinth corridors.

May was definitely the right month to stay here.  The weather was a perfect 80 degrees.  We were Walking in Sunshine, and it felt GOOD!

You may wonder how come everything was calm and quiet with hundreds of students going in and out the buildings.  The fact was that these students, far from being obstreperous, were model students.  Serious state contenders came to compete in National History Day-California.

There were lots of wide open spaces for students to congregate, and most were busy studying or talking quietly together while they waited for their turn to present their projects to a panel of three judges.

Many of them took pictures, like I did of  all the photographic locations around Mission Inn.

So if you every get to Riverside, California, stay at the Mission Inn.  Even obstreperous middle and high school students are miraculously calmed by the majestic ambiance.

 

 

Mikuni’s

This is the place to go, the Davis Commons, a little mall that used to have a Borders.   Now you can find lots of little eating places with plenty of tables outside to enjoy the scenery – which is mostly college kids.

It’s a short walk under the bridge on the bike path from the University Park Inn and Suites hotel in Davis.  I’m not sure if it is a safe place for big-footed angels, but it was great for us.

Three of us met at a sushi restaurant called Mikuni’s that was recommended by one of our instructors at the Teaching American History Institute.  Usually fairly expensive, the best time to go is during happy hour.

Just because I went there, doesn’t mean that I had sushi.  Oh no.  They had tempura.  Broccoli, sweet potatoes, onion.  I had to give the mushroom away.  Anyone who knows me know that is a pet peeve of mine.  Mushrooms always sneak onto the menu masquerading as a vegetable when they are obviously a fungi.  I hate fake food.  If it is a fungi, call it a fungi!

Tofu faking it as a juicy piece of ham in a ham and cheese sandwich is just wrong.  If you are going to have tofu, call it tofu.  It’s delicious when it’s not pretending to be something else.  My friends thought that the sushi was great.

The green things that look like beans are beans.  Their official title is edamame, but don’t try to eat the salty pod.  I know from experience that it won’t hurt you, but it’s just too much work. In front next to the red wine is a plate loaded with Puff Daddies,crab mix-stuffed shrimp with creamy house sauce, masago and onion.  To the left of that I’m going to have to guess.  I have the menu open for reference, but I’m still guessing that it is a spicy salmon hand roll, with the hand being made of seaweed.  Anyone that knows anything about sushi will probably be able to identify the next plate towards the back.  But I’m not one of those people, so I’m going out on a limb here and calling it California 2 Roll with crab mix, avocado and sesame seed.  Finally the top right- hand dish is the special on Monday night – Nigiri Tuna.

Debbie, Jennie and I enjoyed this so much on Monday night, that we brought more friends back with us the next night.  Believe it or not someone else there didn’t like sushi.  She tried it.  I couldn’t be outdone by another sushi hater – I tried a Philadelphia Roll – SMOKED salmon, cream cheese, avocado, and masago.  It was delicious.

BLANK SPACE HONORING MY FRIENDS’ PICTURE THAT GOT ERASED.

I was going to tell you about masago, but when I tried to Google it last night, the entire internet system went out hotel-wide, and I didn’t feel a bit responsible.  BUT, I just Googled masa_o right now – TWICE, and the webpage wouldn’t display which is just what happened last night.  In addition I lost my last picture, so I left a space blank in honor of my friends who got erased.  So I think that m_sago must be something that triggers an international crisis, so you’re on your own to learn about m__ago.  I’m almost afraid to even write the word when I see what happened to the angel in the Davis Commons.  I hope it wasn’t the ma____0.

Opposition to Free Speech

This was the first day of the Tulare County Teaching American History Institute.
A big shout out to California History Project Director, Nancy McTygue, and her sons for preparing lunch.   It was an absolutely perfect 75 degree day in Davis, California.
Nancy McTygue introduces our guest lecturer.
Participants learned about the differing world views between the Federalist Party and the Jeffersonian Republican Party, and their stands on Free Speech.  These are my notes from the lecture.
Dr. Alan Taylor  Pulitzer Prize winner, Professor at U.C. Davis
Bill of Rights Ratified December 15, 1791
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Bill of Rights only pertains to what Congress can and cannot do, and does not limit what private entities can do.  Free speech is never completely free.
In 1790 the population of the United States was 5 million, and the western boundary was Mississippi River.  Slaves were a fifth of the population, but 90% of those were in the south. The north wasn’t free of slavery.  For example, in  New York it wasn’t until 1826 until all slaves were freed.  There were differences between east and west and north and south.  There were no railroads most goods moved by water, and the mountains created obstacles.  The United States wasn’t very united.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:United_States_1789-08-1790.png
The Federal Government in 1790
The United States was set up as a republic and not a democracy so that there was a barrier between the people and the government.  At that time powerful insecurities dominated national thought. This was the only Republic this size that had ever been tried.  Switzerland was a republic, Venice was a republic – smaller places that were homogeneous we’re republics, but the US was large and not homogeneous.  It was so risky that politicians at that time thought that the experiment in governing as a republic was likely to fail.  No one was  sure that the unity was going to last when the enemy (Britain) was gone.   The forms of state government varied radically between the states.
The founding fathers fought like cars and dogs.  There were two parties as the country began its political life, the Federalists and the Republicans, which were different from Republicans now.  They tended to polarize between the Federalists George Washington and Alexander Hamilton while Thomas Jefferson joined by James Madison and Aaron Burr started the opposition party called the Republicans. The Federalists were fearful about common people taking part in government.  Alexander Hamilton once said, “The people sir are a great beast,” and Federalists felt the strong need to ride herd on the people.  The Jeffersonian view of government was much more robust.  Jeffersonian Republicans believed that people will stay stupid stuff, but it will sort itself out without the government having to squelch them using the military.   Most people were Jeffersonian Republicans and thought that the government was better off not governing.  Over time we evolved in a more democratic government where the common people have more of a say in government than what they had when the government was new.  It is in the ambiance of  anxiety that is the context for the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Federalist leaders received a powerful dose of fear when they saw what was happening during the French Revolution.  At first they thought the French were just like the Americans, but when the French executed their king, Federalists felt that the French world view which would culminate in violent tyranny and despotism.  Dr. Taylor conjectured that Matt Groening, writer of the Simpsons, most likely is a Federalist.  To support this statement, nothing good happens in Springfield during the times that the mob rules.
Federalists and the Concern over Free Speech
Whiskey Rebellion was another example of the fear that Federalists felt when the common people got out of hand. Those that took part in the Whiskey Rebellion felt they were doing just what the Boston Tea party participants had done.  George Washington felt the need to bring the Whiskey Rebellion under control.  The Federalists wanted to outlaw self-governing areas.
The first contested election was between John Adams v Thomas Jefferson in 1796.  John Adams received 71 electoral votes to Jefferson’s 68.  By the rules of the government then, Jefferson became the Vice President instead of another Federalist.   John Adams was accused of trying to set up a monarchy.  There is a war undeclared between France and the US. The French were preparing to invade US.  So first effort to limit free speech was in 1798 with Alien and Sedition acts.
A question was asked about electoral college which was to prevent the two-party system.  Each party said they represented the public view.  About this time, the Irish began coming in large numbers to the United States. The Irish were radicalized and they voted republican, and this influx of new immigrants leads to the first instance of Nativism.  According to the Federalists, the Irish were not prepared to vote.
Alien and Sedition Acts
Most of four acts of the Alien and Sedition Acts were  lumped together.  One of the components of the Acts was that it took 14 years for someone to be naturalized, and be a citizen. The Federalists did this to help prevent a rebellion.  The Sedition Act pertains to free speech, and it concerned  any false, scandalous and malicious speech toward federal government should be curtailed especially regarding the President.  The key question at that time was who would decide whether the speech matched the criteria for being false, scandalous, and malicious?  Juries determined the fate of the one accused of false speech.  Then the question arose, ” Who gets to pick the juries?”  A lot was drawn to decide who was chosen as a juror.
Licentious is a favorite word of the Federalist that comes from the word of license.  The Federalists want to prohibit people from publishing something.  They weren’t plying for censorship, which is limiting free speech before it happens, but they wanted to control what was done after the speech was already out.  Under the terms of this law over 20 Republican newspaper editors were arrested and some were imprisoned. The most dramatic victim of the law was REPRESENTATIVE MATTHEW LYON of Vermont. His letter that criticized President Adams‘ “unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and self avarice” caused him to be imprisoned.

On the Floor of Congress
http://www.ushistory.org/us/19e.asp
This is what the floor of Congress looked like in 1798.  Matthew Lyon was prosecuted under Sedition Acts who was not well-educated and came from Ireland, but was elected to Congress,and the Federalists hated him.  He had been court marshaled, and was forced to carry a wooden sword.  He was re-elected to Congress while he was in prison.
These acts were opposed by states, in particular Virginia and Kentucky, and they passed a law declaring that federal law was invalid within their states.  This set the precedent that the Southern states used to justify their right to secede.

Tulare County Historical Society Meeting

A year and a half ago I was asked to become the Recording Secretary of the Tulare County Historical Society.  I thought to myself, “No sweat, I am the meeting queen.  I am Minutes R Us.”  Was I ever wrong.  It has turned out to be a new challenge that I am just feeling comfortable doing – even though the errors haven’t totally stopped!  We meet in interesting places, discuss important business, and best of all keep history alive for the next generation and beyond.  The pictures below are at Mooney Grove Park in one of our projects – Arbor #2 which was toppled by a fallen oak.  Included in the pictures was our special entertainment, one of Tulare County History Day’s winning presentations, “From Prison Bars to Polling Place:  Revolutionizing Women’s Suffrage”.

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2013 CCSS Social Studies on the March in Burlingame

A good friend once told me that understanding the Civil War starts with understanding the geography.  I found out that the same thing is true of planning a conference.   You can’t plan for 500 extra conference attendees if your rooms can only seat 600.  The CCSS Planning Committee arrived at the Hyatt knowing that we had 10 rooms, but we didn’t know how they would be laid out or how many people could fit in the space.  We just weren’t skilled at reading the map and visualizing the space.  Fortunately for us Jeffrey Lemmon and Daisy Lopez patiently guided us through the space.

The bottom line is that we now believe – based on physical evidence – that we can do what we set out to do.  Have 1,000 people attend the Conference.  That means that we can contact the speakers, and start recruiting the Common Core presenters and recruiting districts to send their teachers to our premier conference.

TodaysMeet

On May 11 I wrote a blog comparing the use of Twitter and TodaysMeet during a  day of professional development day with teachers.  My colleague and I chose to use TodaysMeet instead of Twitter for several reasons.  We were quite pleased with how it worked to answer questions during the day.  It integrated seamlessly into our training.

First, unlike Twitter, it was so easy for everybody to begin using TodaysMeet.   There was no signing up.  I accessed the TodaysMeet.com site and with the teachers watching me, signed in, created a chatroom, and demonstrated entering a comment.  We allowed the teachers a few minutes to find the chatroom and enter a comment or two.  The entire process took approximately 5 minutes to make sure that everyone who had a cell phone or computer could work the system.

During the training TodaysMeet worked in two ways.  Most importantly the online program functioned as an electronic blackboard or more currently a whiteboard.  Many teachers have students use individual whiteboards at their desks, and students will respond to the teacher’s question on their whiteboards so that teachers can quickly see their students’ responses and assess them.  TodaysMeet worked in the same way.  Teachers received information about the Common Core Standards via a 15-20 minute lecture.  After the lecturer finished, I asked the teachers to discuss in their groups what they learned from the lecture.  Then one person’s job in each group was to scribe one sentence from the whole group’s summarization  of what they had learned, and press “say”.

In a classroom, even with children, I would recommend using TodaysMeet over the non-digital tool, whiteboards, for several reasons.  First of all, most people can type faster than they can write.  Secondly, it is not messy, and you don’t have to erase the white board before you move on to the next answer.  Finally, the answers are saved on TodaysMeet board for up to two months – your choice.  One of the things that I hate about white boards is that once the teacher has checked the answers, the students erase their answers, no one can ever retrieve that information.

Besides using TodaysMeet as a white board, we also used it as a “Parking Lot.”  In our office if a workshop participant has a question, they write it on a post-it note, and post the question on a piece of poster paper labeled “Parking Lot”.  Occasionally during the day the trainer goes to the public display and answers any questions that might have arisen during the training.  A time-saving quality of TodaysMeet is that no one has to retype the ideas that are written on post-it notes .  This also eliminates possible typographical errors.  Additionally, the colleague presenter in the training has the option to immediately answer a participant’s question, and the speaker’s presentation is never interrupted.  Most importantly, these questions are saved for up to two months so that any attendee can look up the question and answer.  Another way that we used TodaysMeet was for the presenter’s colleague to simply take notes during a lively classroom discussion.  The students could later access these notes.

I was not a participant, but judging from how many people wrote comments, I would say that our use of TodaysMeet was quite successful.  There were no white boards to clean after the day’s presentation.  The comments were all helpful, and sometimes humorous, but never inappropriate.  Obviously, I would use the online whiteboard, TodaysMeet, again.  Next time I would try it with students.  By the way, I have no vested interest in the company that produced this program.  I just enjoyed using it.

Barrister’s Banquet

In his keynote speech, Paul Hurley noted that fewer and fewer people join in community events.  They can get everything from their home including their social lives.  This was not the case this evening.  The Tulare County Bar Association had their own Academy Award’s Banquet, the Barrister’s Banquet.

 

 

 

Among those who were asked to speak was Robert Dempsie, who “wrangles” judges and attorneys to coach, score and judge for the Tulare County Mock Trial Program.

Robert couldn’t have arranged a more successful speech.  Over 80 judges and attorneys volunteer their time  during the Mock Trial season each year.  Rarely do they get to interact with any of the more than 200 students once the trials finish.  Although each year one team wins the Tulare County event and goes to compete at the state event, seldom does anyone report back to the host of adults that made their trip possible.   It helped that this was the first Barrister’s Banquet in several years where many attorneys and judges gathered together in a social setting.

This year the barristers heard from two alumni, now teachers at Tulare Union High School, Sara Zakarian and Courtney Vieira.  Courtney went to state finals with Tulare Union in Riverside, CA the first year I coordinated the Mock Trial program.  That was 10 years ago.  This is the second year they have taken their team to State Finals, and interestingly, last year they went to Riverside, CA.

Sara and Courtney brought along two of their most valuable players from the team, the Pre-trial Attorney, Josiah Lippincott, and another attorney, Sudeep Dhanda.

 

Sudeep, only a sophomore, is still not sure what he wants to do after graduating from Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, but he has many skills and choices.  He particularly liked Mock Trial for the opportunities for socializing that it gave him.  As he talked, I couldn’t resist snapping several pictures.  He wasn’t shy and kept on talking as though he was looking right into my eyes instead of the lens of my camera.  It was obvious that he felt strongly about the Mock Trial program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing I am grateful to Robert Dempsie for allowing me to share this occasion when I could have stayed home alone getting all my socialization from the computer. What a better way to go!   Not only that, who would have reported this event?  I didn’t notice any TV or newspaper cameras at the event snapping pictures and interviewing guests.  So, I guess that not only was I mingling with real human beings, I was doing the community a service by capturing a small segment of what happened during that three hours in the Visalia Country Club on May 4, 2012.

SJVCSS Awards Banquet

The Banquet started at 6:00 p.m.  Language Arts Consultant, Charlene Stringham, told her husband, “I’ll be home by 7:00 or 7:30 at the latest.  How long can it take to give away a few little History-Social Studies awards?”  When she looked at her watch at 9:00, she was shocked.  “It was so much fun.”

As guests arrived, Dr. Solis serenaded us  with continual saxophone music for at least a half hour.  We whistled while we worked  setting up, and everyone was greeted with a bit of song and a dance (mostly song).  What a pleasant way for people to enter the room.  He also played all during dinner.  Thank you, boss.


Cynthia Thorburn, Banquet Chair, welcomed the honorees and their families, and officially began the evening’s  festivities.

Justin Paredes and Matthew Ethen gave a quick overview of the purpose and value of being a member of the San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies.  “We want you all to join, ” they finished.

Before  the Teachers, Administrator and Professor of the Year received their awards, Joy Soares, an administrator from Kings River School and former CCSS and SJVCSS Teacher of the Year, introduced a special guest, Chelsie Muro.  This young woman presented the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Tragedy with such empathy and conviction that no one will ever forget the girls of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City and their sacrifices for better working conditions.

Next, a native of the Netherlands, Ed Boersma, shared a teaser of his upcoming presentation at Tulare County Office of Education on May 2.

You would have wondered how anyone could have followed Chelsie, but Ed brought a story about his parents during the Nazi regime and the incredible acts of courage they performed, and the audience hated that he couldn’t tell them the “rest of the story.”

The first honoree as Administrator of the Year, Mr. Jim Vidak, Tulare County Office of Education Superintendent of Schools, has long been a supporter of history-social studies, but being modest and somewhat shy, he doesn’t walk around waving all his trophies.

 Both Dr. Pansy Ceballos and Dr. Guadalupe Solis found some kind, and sometimes funny words to share.  Mr. Vidak wasn’t too sure how to respond, but he had his moment.  As he pulled out his notes to share his acceptance speech, an audible gasp was heard around the room from the other award winners.  They hadn’t been forewarned to bring notes!  Not wanting to forget anyone, even Mr. Vidak’s acceptance speech splattered praises for his  employees all over the banquet.

Tere Lopez, one of the gaspees, entertained the audience with last-minute notes after Dr. Jordine, also from California State University, Fresno, read acclaims about her contributions to keeping history from becoming history.  She has been a regular speaker at the Tulare County/SJVCSS Scholar Series.  We have notes published from her lectures on our website.  She was recommended for nomination, by one of her former students who is now in the final rungs on the ladder of becoming a social studies teacher himself.

The High School Teacher of the Year, Mark Riendl, from Tulare Union High School,  accepted praise from his principal, Dr. Michelle Nunley.  His acceptance speech went witty as he spoke without notes and avoiding the technology (microphone).  He just looks like a good social studies teacher, but  he might have been solicited for Comedy Central if we had recorded the Banquet instead of just taking pictures.

Kim Rogers, married to Mr. Rogers, stood and shared the story of how Mark, now knowing her, answered a call for help, and provided her with all the materials and advice she needed to get started in her teaching career.  She hadn’t been in touch for years, and was thrilled that he was honored for his great teaching.

There wouldn’t have been enough time to share all the wonderful stories about Gina Nelson, American History teacher at Cherry Avenue Middle School, even if we had eliminated the rest of the program.  Fortunately for Gina, Joy Soares didn’t embarrass her THAT badly.  I had a few remarks to add as well since I have used Gina’s classroom as a demonstration classroom for teachers I coach.  I always learn something I can use, too.  She was able to wing her acceptance without notes…

The evening wasn’t complete until Beth Dignan, fifth grade teacher from Kingsburg Elementary School District,  came forward to accept her award from Mary Janzen from Fresno County Office of Education.  Beth had to make some modest corrections as Mary sang her praises.

She informed the Banquet audience that she had not “TOLD” the Superintendent what she was going to do, but she had “asked” to teach reading using historical fiction rather than the language arts anthology.

The bonds that form between SJVCSS members is    sometimes emotional.  There were often wet eyes during the  ceremony.

Towards the close of the event, I asked Avi Black, California Council for the Social Studies President,

to come and say a few words – no warning, no notes – technology if he wanted it.  He came graciously recognizing the awardees for their dedication to history-social studies.

And with that I thought the awards were finished except for one last presentation to Cynthia Thorburn for her constant and consistent communication as she planned the banquet down to the finest detail.

There was one last surprise for me.  As outgoing president, the Council awarded me a plaque, which Marvin Awbrey, the long-time Treasurer and preserver of the Council told me I could not take home.  It had his gavel on it.  I was thrilled and totally surprised.

 Thank you to Rob Herman, Tulare County Office of Education PIO, for taking these pictures.  Thank you Ivette Lopez for the picture of Dr. Solis playing his saxophone.  There were far more pictures than I used in this article, and the rest will be available on the SJVCSS Facebook page.  Soon they will be uploaded to our new SJVCSS website, created and hosted by AIHE (American Institute of History Education).

Thank you all for attending this wonderful Academy Award Event for History-Social Studies educators to recognize the efforts of teachers and leaders who are keeping history from becoming history.