Texas & Teaching Update #11


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Howdy, y'all!

Well, well, well… we meet again! I’m writing to you as I sit aside the Colorado River in Austin, TX, surrounded by teacher friends as we enjoy our spring break together. I know it has once again been a very long time since I last wrote, but rather than fill you in on every single moment of the past four months, I’ve tried to respect your time and attention span by using bullet points, numbers, short phrases, and pictures whenever possible! :)

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Facts, Stats, and Stories

$1.49 – The lowest price I’ve ever paid for gas (!!!!), sometime in February.

2 – Months until my family comes to visit Dallas and I graduate from SMU with my Masters in Education!

3 – Weddings coming up in 2016 that I can’t wait for…including that of my very own sister Jennifer to her fabulous fiancé Stephen!

4 – Months since I last wrote you; I’m sorry! (I’m sure you were all very sad and anxiously awaiting future correspondence from me….) Also the number of years since I had made it home to San Juan Capistrano for a Swallow’s Day Parade, which I just had the pleasure of attending last weekend.

5 – Years since I graduated from Capo, so we held a reunion over the Christmas break where well over 200 alumni showed up!

6 – Trips I’ve been on since I wrote you last:

  • Orlando, FL: Sean had a Perio conference in Orlando in November, so I tagged along to check it out! Highlights were obviously going to Universal Studios, or more importantly, Harry Potter World!!! We got some great pictures, and discovered that Butterbeer (non-alcoholic) is THE BEST DRINK I’VE EVER HAD.
  • Texas Road trip #3 (I think): For Thanksgiving, Sean and I took off on a road trip to see a few more parts of Texas we had yet to experience, including Enchanted Rock, Hamilton Pools, San Antonio (The Alamo, The Riverwalk ,Mission San Juan), Llano (Cooper’s BBQ), Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, Kingsville (King’s Ranch), and College Station (Texas A&M).
  • Orange County & Big Bear, CA: I made it home for a few days over Christmas break before having to return for basketball practice and tournaments. While home, I enjoyed quality time with family and friends, attended the Young Americans Christmas concert, and went on a day trip to Big Bear for some tubing!
  • Washington, D.C.: I took a brief trip in early February to DC to attend the Teach For America 25th Anniversary Summit. There were over 15,000 attendees, including more than 200 from Dallas alone. It was an amazing weekend filled with fun and inspirational events that made me so proud to be a part of such a dynamic organization. President Obama even sent a recorded message of appreciation, which I’ve included down below for anyone who wants to watch.
  • Orange County, CA: I made it home again for a few days over my spring break! I got to see family, see friends, attend Swallow’s Day, find my bridesmaid dress for Jen’s wedding, get my hair done, go to the doctor, and attend a surprise birthday dinner for my darling Tiana!
  • Austin, TX: Upon returning to Texas from CA, I hopped in the car with a few friends to meet up with other teacher friends at a lake house (aka mansion with working elevator ah!) in Austin. We mostly spent our days in the sun, and made it out to 6th Street and Rainey Street a couple of times as well.

7 – Times I had to drive a 12-passenger van filled with hormonal and loud teenagers during the basketball season…hopefully some of you were lucky enough to view the Snapchats I posted, because I was informed they were pure comedic gold.

[21-1] – The final record of my girls JV basketball team, including an undefeated 10-0 record in league as well as a tournament championship title. Basketball was a HUGE commitment, starting in early October and ending mid-February, and was one of the major reasons I was too short on time to write a worthwhile letter to y’all. Practice every day of the week usually had me getting home after 9pm on weeknights, and on game nights I was typically getting home around 11pm. Paired with teaching two new courses, planning the Academy, and going to grad school, my time management skills were put into overdrive!

24 – My new age! Although I am not necessarily thrilled to be getting older, this year of life was brought in with so many special surprises that left me feeling incredibly loved. In particular, two of my class periods arranged surprise parties for me, complete with cards, posters, cakes, drinks, decorations, and even a taco bar! So well done and so touching. Coincidentally, Tiana was visiting Dallas at the same time as my birthday, so we were able to celebrate together, which included a Jon Pardi & Brother’s Osborne concert! Endless thank yous to all who called, texted, posted on social media, and sent cards, gifts and well wishes – I absolutely realize how lucky I am to have you in my life!

110 – Number of students I currently have (about 70 less than last year, much easier to manage!). We have a lot of fun together, and we do our best to spread hospitality and cheer around the school. Here are some of the random, silly, and/or endearing things they have either said or done recently along with my corrections/explanations:

  • “My head really hurts… I think I have an immigration” (Migraine)
  • “Oooooh, that really grinds my EARS” (Gears)
  • “Miss, what is the difference between real and fake Christmas tree?” (This led to a discovery that my students did not know what a Christmas tree lot is, which actually made me quite sad :( )
  • “Miss, I’m going to have a teacher tantrum!” (Pretty sure she meant “temper tantrum,” but still not sure ;) hehe)
  • “Let’s watch Charlie Brown!” “Oh, you mean the one with Snooki?” (aka SNOOPY!)
  • “Let’s watch Mean Girls!” “Oh, you mean the movie where men dress up as girls?” (She either thought we said Men Girls, or was thinking of White Chicks)
  • “Miss, I have a really bad stomachache” (starts rolling around on the floor, clutching her stomach). “Well, did you eat this morning?” “Yeah, I ate a whole pie for breakfast.” -__-
  • “Here’s a present because I like you Ms. A” (This was actually super adorable, she gave me a pink bag with an anchor phone case and my favorite snacks! My students know me well!)
  • "Miss, will you be my escort for my senior night?" (This was such an honor!)

2016 – The new year! No big resolutions for me, just trying to live life to the fullest!

$15,000 – The fundraising goal for a Teach For America campaign I am leading this year. Each year around the nation, a group of second year TFA Corps Members in each region get together to plan and host a fundraiser for a cause of their choosing. My group decided we wanted to create emergency transitional funding to help new Corps Members who are experiencing financial difficulties during the summer months leading up to their first month of school (aka when they will receive their first paycheck). By providing this funding, we are hoping to help our future Corps Members make it to the first day of school, and to keep classrooms filled with teachers who care and are committed to making a difference. At our launch event a few weeks ago, we made $5,000 in the first 10 minutes. We are over halfway toward our goal and making moves!

2,000,000 – Pounds of ice used to create ICE! at the Gaylord Texan Resort. Around Christmas time, a troupe of artisans from China is flown in to the Gaylord for several weeks to create a completely frozen Winter Wonderland built around a specific theme. The temperature is maintained at 9 degrees to keep the ice sculptures from melting. This year the theme was “All Around the World” and featured a lot of ice children decked out in their country’s traditional holiday garb. On the way out of the massive exhibit, there is the most beautiful rendition of the Nativity Scene, complete with angels and a speaker reading the Nativity story. Although I nearly froze to death (note to self- never wear canvas shoes in a giant freezer for an extended period of time), it was a truly fun and memorable experience. In fact, a friend of Sean and mine’s proposed to his now-fiancé at ICE this year!

Hard-to-quantify Highlights

Cooking competitions: I accompanied some of the students from the culinary classes (the juniors and seniors above my students) to several cooking competitions, including one in which they won the “People’s Choice Award” voted on by patrons of the event, and another in which they won an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC in June to compete with their recipe on the national level! These students are led by my partner Chef Baz, and they are accomplishing incredible things.

Garret Boone: As you might remember from my last email, I mentioned attending a dinner put on by Garrett Boone, CEO emeritus of the Container Store. Well, I have kept in touch with him via email, and somehow convinced him to speak to my students at school about customer service. It was such a neat, memorable, and meaningful experience, loved by all who attended.

March Madness: I am participating in March Madness for my first time ever! Wish me luck!!! :)

Wine walks: An ingenious event that takes place once a month in Dallas where you pay $15 for a souvenir wine glass, and then you walk around a predetermined area/neighborhood where all the stores provide wine, and you can just drop in and get your glass filled while you look around and shop. I went to one earlier this month and had a BLAST! We definitely need these in California.

Until next time!

And that right there is all I’ve got for you this time around! If you made it this far, congratulations and thank you! Here’s wishing that 2016 has been treating each and every one of you SO well, and that I get the opportunity to catch up with you sometime soon.

Lots and lots of love,


3220 Maple Ave

Apt 463

Dallas, TX 75201

President Obama Wishes Teach For America Happy 25th Anniversary