The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More about the Vinster today

At one moment today I thought to myself, "I truly can define good parenting in one word.... perseverance."

Seriously. Especially with Vinny lately.

This kid is such an amazing blessing and such an amazing challenge all at once. He makes me smile and makes me crazy in the same breath sometimes. For a 3.5 year old, he sure can have an attitude. He was a really good sport today through some really long errands, and didn't even complain about lacking lunch until like 2pm. Of course, when we get to a restaurant, he promptly tells the waiter, "I'm not hungry." This was fine by me, given his eating spree the day before, and I did not plan to order him anything. I was just going to share some of mine if he decided he wanted to eat. Of course, when the waiter gets there to take our order, Vinny promptly declares, "I want a hamburger and french fries." Ugh... fine. So, of course this huge burger and plate of fries comes for him, and I am thinking, "There goes a waste of $6," but no kidding, he ate like 90% of the meal. Must be a growth spurt.

When we get home, the mess of morning playtime was spread ALL OVER the living room. He wanted me to put together this new Hot Wheels toy he got, but I said that he needed to put his toys away in his room first. So what does he do? He whines for a little bit and then scoops up all of his toys and promptly DUMPS them in the doorway of his room, declares them "put away" and tells me to "put it together now." A battle ensued. It went something like this...

"Vinny, no, you need to go clean your room first."
"Moooommmmmmmmyyyyyy, cleaning my room is hard."
"I know. Life is hard."
"Help me."
"No, I will not help you. You made the mess by yourself; you can clean it up by yourself."
"But it's haaarrrrd."
"Vinny, stop whining."
"I'm nooooooot whiiiiiiniiiing!"
"Yes, you are, and I am done talking to you until you clean your room."



"VINNY! STOP! Do you want to go to the naughty spot?"


"Then clean your room."

A good five minutes later, he emerges and declares his room clean, which I discover means he has moved the stuff out of the doorway. It is not put away by any means. I explain this and return to the living room. The cycle starts over,
"Mommmmy, cleaning is hard."
"Life is hard."
and so on.....

About an hour and a half after the battle began, after an eventual trip to the naughty spot, a long talk, and several distractions (who can put a book away without reading it first, right?), the room was finally clean. I finally put his toy together, and he joyfully played shooting the cars around and declared the fun very worth cleaning his room.

I missed the next battle due to a meeting at church. It came at dinner time when Aunt Brenda tried to get Vinny to fill up on dinner before begging for cookies. He really thought he was going to win that one, but fortunately I am surrounded by wonderfully consistent adult family members who reinforce the values I attempt to instill in my son and Vinny ended up in the bath without dessert, knowingly so. When I said, "Did you give Aunt Brenda a hard time?" he honestly shook his head yes.

At least he knows he is being troublesome. I know that discipline pays off because I am never nervous to bring my son in public and rarely get negative reports from school, but it sure is a lot of work.

Why I Love Breaks....

I know that normally on this blog I talk about my other kids (that is- my students), but today I want to talk about mine.

Today was my first official day of Spring Break. I love being on breaks from school because I get to spend time with my precious, amazing, wonderful son, Vinny. He is just this amazing person, and I love spending time with him. Especially lately.

Yesterday morning, I was laying on the couch with him in the morning before church, and when I had to get ready he begged me to come lay back down. I did have to get ready, but promised him I would spend every morning this week on the couch with him in the morning. He held me to it today.

Vinny is just like me- not a morning person- so when we were both ready to get dressed this morning we wandered out and spent the day at Universal Studios. Hooray to them for doing "Salute to Teachers" and letting me in for FREE. It was a relatively inexpensive fun day. We went on the studio tour, which was interesting trying to explain to a three-year old. He totally loved it but only sort of got that none of it was real. Explaining that it was "the movies" didn't help much, considering that he still thinks that movies are real. After that, we saw a couple of shows (Vinny liked the Shrek show), ate some lunch, and then he played on this giant, 3 part, Curious George playground for a very, very long time... that wore me out! I followed him all around this thing (it was very twisty and I don't feel comfortable letting him out of my sight) until I couldn't handle it any more. Then we saw one more show and then went home.

Of course while I am trying to be frugal, Vinny is going through a growth spurt or something and is hungry constantly, which doesn't work out so well at an amusement park. You would be shocked if you saw how much this small kid ate today. He just kept saying, "I'm still hungry." It did get a little expensive. At dinner tonight, I sat him down with his bowl of chili and the bag of grated cheese, which I intended to give him some of once we all sat down, and then turned around to finish grabbing things. When I returned to the table, he had one hand full of cheese and in his mouth and the other hand grabbing another handful. I picked up the bag and it was half gone. He literally ate like half a bag of grated cheese in a matter of like 60 seconds. He cracks me up.

Later tonight, in the bath, he tells me, "Mommy, I want one of the covers (translation: blankets) you used to wrap me up in when I were a baby. I want it on my bed tonight." Hmmm..... "Which one?" I ask, trying to figure out what he is talking about. "I don't know," he replies, "I think they are in the garage." He is right; all of his baby stuff is in the garage. I am thinking that this desire to have some of his baby stuff is stemming from a fear that the new baby will make him less my baby, so I did what I thought was best and dug out the box of baby blankets. I spent time talking about how much I loved holding him in those blankets, and I cradled him in the blanket again, which he laughed about and said, "I not a baby!" I let him pick one, which he excitedly did, to put on his bed. He then declared that he did not want the rest of his covers tonight, just that one. I had encouraged him to choose one of the larger blankets, but nonetheless, it barely just covered from his neck to his toes and doesn't wrap around him much. I still didn't think it was right to fight him on this, so I let it be and did my best to cover him up.

Not five minutes later there was a call from his room, "Mommy! Help!" I go in and turn on the light to find a frustrated preschooler tangled in a baby blanket. "I don't want this!" he declared. "Do you want me to put it next to you to cuddle with?" I ask, but he didn't even want it near his bed. "I'm not a baby," he resolved, and allowed me to tuck him in with all his blankets. What a relief.... If there was any worry that he will want to revert when the baby comes, it is gone. If he does, it certainly will not last long.

So, anyhow... there are 4 days left of my break, and I do have a lot of catching up on school work to do, but I am so excited to be able to pour time into Vinny. I guess I just feel like I am so busy during the school year, this time is so precious and I do my best to spoil him like crazy with time, attention, and special outings when I do have this time.

Being a mommy makes me happy. You know, I didn't really think I was ready to be starting over again so soon, but now I am starting to get excited. It really can only bring me more of this joy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

All I can think about is the beach

Every time I am on break, be it in Winter, Spring, or Summer, all I can think about is the beach. Now, yes, I do live in Southern California, but these are not the beaches I dream about. Our beaches are pretty, but cold.

I have fantasies of tropical beaches... constantly. Really, I sort of kind of forget about it when I am working, but as soon as a break hits, all I can think about is the possibility of a tropical beach vacation on a future break. Considering that I am 15 weeks pregnant, the next time this looks possible is probably Summer of 2010. Although the tropics would work in January, I don't know that I would have much fun with a 4 month old baby on vacation. Now, an 11 month old baby, that I could deal with.

I have always had this constant fantasy, but the issue became greater after experiencing Miami last summer. To be honest, I did not like Miami. I did, however, love the Florida beach and ocean for its tropically clear water and warmth. I could even deal with the intense summer heat, given that I stay in the water a lot. It was the town I wasn't such a big fan of. It was so crowded and so expensive and so... metro (I also had a bad experience and lost my purse and found the police the opposite of helpful). Mostly though, I really want a more secluded beach vacation. I don't really want to be laying on the beach to a back drop of a major city; I find a more secluded natural environment to be my cup of tea. In fact, as most of my California friends know, this is why I prefer Malibu beaches that I can hike down to for some peace and seclusion.

Anyhow, my fantasy destinations change on a regular basis. My current longings are for a combination week of Maui/Kauai/Oahu (mostly Maui, I am thinking) or somewhere in Puerto Rico. I like the Americanish aspect of Puerto Rico, while it still will have a cultural flair and is significantly cheaper than Hawaii when it comes to shopping and eating. I also found a site that does house/condo rentals and there are tons of them for less than $100 a night! We could do a week dream beach vacation for less than $2000 for our whole family. That is sort of amazing, and I really, really want to. I could be totally happy with just lying on the beach and eating delicious food for a week. I really don't need much more to be happy. Okay, a little bit of exploring could be fun. That is sort of why the idea of Hawaii appeals to me- lots to explore.

Ah...... why do I do this to myself?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I cannot believe I am sick again....

Talk about bad timing. Our school is being visited by the WASC team this week, which means a lot. This is how we get our accreditation, which is very necessary. If you are not an accredited school, well, then you are not really a school.

And I am sick again.

I'm asthmatic and I get sick easily. Under normal circumstances, there is a lot that I can do to stay healthy and prevent this, but this has been hindered by the fact that I am pregnant. Yes, pregnant. 14 weeks. Sick and pregnant are not a fun combination. For starters, it is sort of the cause of it, since I can take no real allergy medication (at least none of the ones that actually work), my immune system is weakened, I am extremely limited as to the medications I can take to make myself feel better, and I am already super exhausted, so the combination of sick and pregnant is not fun. I would give almost anything for a nice big spoonful of cough syrup right now (almost anything... hence that I am not rushing to the medicine cabinet).

I am not looking forward to teaching sick again this week.

On the other side, I am not really worried about WASC. I feel confident that my classroom, my teaching, and my students regularly reflect a quality education, so that is not a concern. I am a little worried about looking weary or worn out though. I don't want them to think that it is me being a weary teacher... because it is not. I'm just sick, pregnant, and ready for Spring Break, but I do still really love my job. As an administrator (semi)jokingly said today, "Time to Vaseline the teeth, glue the lips to the gums, and pretend we are beauty queens in a pageant."

In other news, my son's toes tonight were all bloody for no apparent reason. When he took off his shoes, his sock had blood on it and all the toes on his right foot were bloody. He didn't seem to be bothered by it that much, but couldn't really explain what had happened either. He said something about running into a table, but I don't remember that happening and I think he would have cried. Although, he is a rather tough boy and doesn't seem to cry about much. Odd though, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Theater Arts - An introspective

Yesterday, I took my theater arts students to see Comedy of Errors at CSUN. We got very lucky that for this particular show, CSUN offered student matinees for FREE.

In many ways, I am living my dreams with this job. If you asked me five years ago, teaching drama and directing plays would have been on the top of my "buried list." Last year, while teaching dramatic literature through performance in my English classes, word started buzzing around with my kids that I should teach drama the next year. The school had a drama teacher at that point, but he wasn't really directing plays and running a theater arts program, but just teaching one academic class. I had a feeling he'd be gone the following year (and my feeling was right), but I didn't think I could handle being a drama teacher yet.

Then I read this book and did this study with my church called One Month to Live. It changed the way I look at life. Honestly. The idea behind the book really is to eliminate the word "someday" from your vocabulary and replace it with the word "today." So I decided, "Why not" and asked if I could have a theater program. It was the best decision I ever made. Although it is the hardest thing I have ever done, it is also the most fulfilling.

A few weeks ago, I was really frustrated about some of my actors not taking rehearsal seriously and not being as committed as I wanted them to be. I started to think, "What can I do?"

At a big performing arts school or at a college or in a professional atmosphere, I would threaten to replace them... but this is none of those, and I need every single kid I have there. I had a brief (yes, very brief) pity party in which I thought, "Not fair. When I was in high school, there were tons of kids who wanted to be in drama, and I would have a lot to choose from... not just all these uncommitted kids who mostly can't sing (we're doing a musical this semester)."

Then I paused and thought, "But the school I went to had like 3000 people." True, my high school drama department had a reach of about 80 members, but that is less than 3% of the school. The program I currently run has about 45 members. This may not sounds like a lot, but I teach at a school that has 450 students. This means I have 10% of the school involved in theater arts. That's not half bad!

Then, over the past couple of weeks, I have started to really dwell on that and have realized how amazingly lucky I am. This is my first year teaching drama. I have never done it before. In fact, before this Fall, I had never even directed a full-length play, just a few short scenes. Yet, with the help of my amazing students (and my dad and my friend Janelle), I directed and produced Go Ask Alice. When I was talking to the coordinator from CSUN yesterday and he asked what we were doing this year, I told him we had just finished Go Ask Alice and he said, "Wow, that is really heavy for high school kids!" I hadn't really thought about that, but you know, it was a heavy show. Not a single kid I had on that stage had ever acted in a full play before. They were pretty amazing if you consider that.

I was worried that they wouldn't understand Comedy of Errors yesterday, as Shakespeare can be really intimidating. Not only did they understand it, they loved it! I had been too nervous to think about doing Shakespeare yet, but I think I am feeling Midsummer Night's Dream next Spring.

I really am lucky.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I love being challenged... no, seriously.

So, I am doing the unit where my Honors students are reading different books in literature circle groups on issues about tolerance, and then they are creating proposals to give at other international studies schools for suggesting this book as mainstream curriculum.

One group is reading a book called Does My Head Look Big in This about a young Muslim girl in Australia who decides to start wearing the hijab and faces a lot of struggles as a result.

I got the following email from them today:
Hi Mrs. Mohr,
The group and I were talking about the book and why it should be in the curriculum and we actually came up with multiple reasons why it shouldn't:
1. It's more of a book for girls, and it won't be of interest to all students (mainly guys).
2. Although it does have some points about prejudice, it doesn't really educate the reader about why it is wrong or anything.
3. The book is mainly about girls drama and boys, with the hijab mentioned in some parts, which makes for an interesting read, but probably not the best curriculum.
4. We all agreed it was a very good book, but didn't find something to gain from reading it.

So, we were wondering if there is an alternative project we can do? Or should we still try to use this book for our presentation, even though we don't really think it is a great choice?

I was THRILLED! What better example of critical thinking than students who don't take what I say at face value, and end up deciding that the book is NOT a good option for mainstream curriculum at an international studies school? This truly shows that they are able to evaluate independently and think for themselves!

Ah.... it feels good. This email made my day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Field Trip....

So, several of my students are short on their funds for our field trip to see Much Ado About Nothing. The funds are due tomorrow, and I am worried that it is going to be a much smaller trip than planned. :-(

Anyone want to contribute? Most of them are only short like $10.

You can mail a check to
Nicole Mohr
Vaughn International Studies Academy
13330 Vaughn St.
San Fernando, CA 91340

Or paypal to

It's tax deductible and you will get a thank you letter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My most precious kid....

As much as I love all of my students, nothing compares with the few hours a week I get to spend with my son. Seriously, it hurts me to realize that during the school week, it is only a few hours, but at least I get weeks at a time during July and January.

He is such a sweet boy, and so amusing and fun. He loves preschool and loves to tell me about it. Today they made "Friendship Fruit Salad," and he was very excited to bring strawberries to contribute (his choice- I guess they are his favorite). He told me that he played with blocks today and learned about healthy food. Then when we got home he told me, "Today, Ethan was the bad guy, and I was the Daddy. Zoe was the mommy." Oh my gosh... they were playing house! So cute! I remember playing house. I LOVED playing house. I was always the mom. (On a side note- why isn't it as much fun now as it was when it was just "playing house" when we were little?)

Daddy got Vinny a Beta fish today. This is the second one Vinny has had. Let's hope this one lasts a little longer (The last one didn't make it 48 hours). After Vinny put his fish in his new bowl on his dresser, he only played in his room for a couple of minutes before he found me working on my laptop on the couch and said, "Mommy, I want to sit with you and watch TV." So we decided to watch a tivoed Bob Marley concert together.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How Our Instant Gratification Society Affects Our Kids

Do you ever get frustrated at how much our society desires instant gratification? I don't think that we realize that this has an impact on education, but it does. I didn't exactly realize before today, but I see even more so today how much it is truly integrated into the fabric of who they are... and how negative it can be.

They are writing an essay for the Holocaust Remembrance Essay Contest. The topic is, "What can young people do to combat and prevent prejudice and violence in our world today?"

A large group of my kids seemed to just not care. They wanted to write their essays about "There is nothing we can do because prejudice and violence will always exist."

At first, I was really saddened and upset by this because I felt like they just don't care. Like they just feel like, "Eh, why bother?" But then, after talking to them, I realized more and more that what my history colleague pointed out is much more true. It is not that they don't care; it is that they just feel that the problem cannot be fixed quickly, so it must not be fixable.

I just wish I could make them see that the battles worth fighting are not easy battles and they are not quickly won.

Tomorrow, I plan to share this story, which many of you I am sure have heard before, in hopes that they will get the picture:

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one.

by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Personally, I think Central Falls did the right thing...

For those of you who follow the politics of education, you may or may not know about Obama's turn around initiative for schools. It targets the 5,000 lowest performing schools in the nation and offers their districts money (something NCLB has never done) if they are willing to adopt one of 4 plans to turn around the school. In short the options are...
1) Fire at least half the staff
2) Turn the school into a charter
3) Close the school and redistribute students
4) Reform school strategy to provide extra student assistance and more time for teacher planning

One school in Central Falls, R.I., was targeted for this grant program based on their dropout rate and the fact that only 7% of their junior passed the state math exam. It is one of the worst high schools in their state. The district superintendent tried to get the grant by asking teachers to extend their teaching contract to include two weeks of summer training, which they would get paid extra for, at $30 an hour, 90 minutes of planning time a week (also paid $30 an hour), and an extended school day, 30 minutes longer than before, which would not be compensated extra, and committing to eating lunch with students at least once a week. The teachers refused, so she went with another option... fire the whole staff.

I think she did the right thing. Why? Because the average teacher salary in that school is already around $72,000-$78,000 a year! That is nearly twice what I make! Guess what their current school day looks like? 7:50am-2:25pm. She only wanted to extend it to 3:00! My contract is 7:30-3:30, and it is a MIRACLE if I leave at 3:30. I think 90% of the staff at our school spends at least 90 minutes of planning time a week that we do not get paid for. I would have jumped at the chance to get some extra money for what I am already doing. Students eat lunch in my room almost every day. They know I am almost ALWAYS available at nutrition and lunch to help them with whatever they need help with. Teachers at my school are also required to serve on governance committees, because we are a charter school and that is our version of a school board. When it comes to the summer training the principal asked for, last year I spent one week of my 5-week summer break having valuable training experiences that I did not get paid for but volunteered to have the opportunity for. Our school also has a school-wide "retreat" (on campus; its just training) before we return every fall that is also part of our contract and is not paid extra. We do not get paid extra for any of this. We do this because we are good teachers who know that results don't come from an 8-3 school day; results come from putting in the extra time to prepare engaging lessons, to work one-on-one with students, and to develop as professionals to become better teachers. I think the teachers who voted no on the changes are being ridiculous. If you wanted to be treated like a professional, you have to act like one. Professionals are dedicated to their work, not to their schedule, and they recognize the importance of planning time and collaboration.

In a recent interview with NPR, the school's union representative pointed out that "Children of poverty come to school with a lot of issues," and it was mentioned that 40% of their students speak a language other than English at home. I am pretty sure the percentage at my school is about double that, and we are actually in a higher poverty area than Central Falls. The median income in Central Falls is $22,000. In Pacoima, it is like $12-15,000, and this is in Southern California, which we all know is an expensive place to live. I'm sorry, but poverty is not an excuse for being a poor educator. Yes, they do come to school with a lot of issues, but they also come to school looking for education to be the great equalizer. No one wants to remain in poverty, and no one has to. If you choose to work in poverty, you choose to accept a challenge that means putting in the time to help these kids overcome. Is it a harder job than teaching in a middle-class suburb? YES! But it is worth it! If those teachers don't want the challenge, let them look elsewhere and let the district replace their positions with enthusiastic teachers who consider the opportunity to make a difference a privilege.

Okay... I will get off my soap box now, but I couldn't help want to write about this.

For more information, check out these website:
NPR: School Fires Its Teachers In The Name of Progress
Central Rhode Island School Fires Every Teacher

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Whirlwind Day

Yesterday was such a whirlwind. I took my Honors English class to the Getty Center to study Romantic artwork to compare to Romantic poetry. To save money, since this wasn't in the budget, the students all chipped in and we rented 14 passenger vans, instead of getting a bus. Marc and I drove the vans. With getting and returning the vans, and then the trip and everything, all done by 1:00, it was a rush. Still a good time, but rather hectic.
It was nice to see my kids not only get to see these paintings in person, but also get to have time for "experience recollected in tranquility" and just to sit and leisurely appreciate nature. What better lesson for Romanticism could I come up with?

There were also a few kids who never came through with their contribution to the field trip. A couple told me they couldn't afford it, and a couple just never came through with the money. It was a big part of this unit, so of course I took them all anyway, and I had estimated a little bit up since I anticipated this, but they also raised the rental rates since the last time I looked them up, and I also forgot to account for tax. Oops. It took pretty much every last penny that Marc and I had on us to make up the difference. Literally... we were scrounging for change. Fortunately, Marc gets paid Friday, and fortunately I have a very, very supporting husband. It takes a lot to understand that my dedication to my "family" extends to all of my 100+ "kids," not just him and Vinny... and he does understand and support it- financially, emotionally, and physically being there for them.

You know what though... it was worth every penny. I love seeing these kids have these experiences. My greatest hope is that they will want to go again. They were only there for about 2 hours yesterday, but the museum gave them passes to bring their family back with free parking, so hopefully they will take advantage of it.

So, my crazy day goes on. I actually had a training web-conference thing scheduled for 12:40 that I was late to, and then I had to rush straight from that to a meeting across the street with a theater representative administration wanted me to meet with. She was from a company that comes into schools to do an afterschool theater program. It seems like it would be a great option for something different to do in the Fall. She wouldn't talk numbers, although mentioned it was an expensive program, but it seems like they will look for the funding themselves. After that, I rushed back to school to lead rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast.

It was a somewhat frustrating rehearsal. So many kids just do not prioritize, and they do not realize that a cast doesn't function smoothly if even one person is missing. A couple of kids actually straight up told me that they couldn't stay because they had too much homework. Hello... its a college prep school. Everyone has homework. I am going to have to try to deal with the issue today, but it is hard, because I can't make too many threats. I need EVERY member of the cast. I need to try to be inspirational instead. We'll see how it goes.

By the time I got home and we got something to eat, I couldn't even figure out where the day had gone. All of a sudden it was 8:30, Vinny hadn't taken a bath yet, and I was already looking towards tomorrow.

Where does the time go?

Monday, March 1, 2010

I guess I succeeded....

One of my goals in teaching is to create a true appreciation and honestly, love, for the arts within my students. I teach drama and character study through student performance, and I teach Shakespeare through live plays and excellent movie versions. I read difficult parts of books in class via reader's theater. I teach my students Romanticism through a combination of poetry and paintings. I really, truly want my students to appreciate the arts. I especially love when they appreciate theater. There is a magic to live theater that nothing else really compares to. When I walk out of a really amazing play, like when I saw Rent with Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp a year ago in Hollywood, it is this amazing feeling. It is like part of their soul has reached out and touched mine, like they have shared something with us, the audience, and it is an amazing something. It is something that can only be shared through live theater. It is the part of one's soul that is only reached by completely embodying a character for several hours as you live that character out on stage to reach your audience with a message... a purpose... a point. I want my students to appreciate that magic, and see it as something truly special and worthwhile.

I have not yet completely entered that unit with my 10th graders yet. It is something I do in the Spring once I have already developed their work habits enough for it to be a success. As a result, the vast majority (like 75%) of my theater arts program is made up of juniors. Most of the sophomores just aren't interested yet (but they will be!).

It makes me happy to know that I have succeeded. How do I know I have succeeded? Well, the junior English teacher this year gave them an optional opportunity to spend a Friday night seeing The Color Purple at the Pantages. 30 students took him up on the offer and took the train with him down to Hollywood. I was so excited to hear that so many of my former students wanted to go. He just sent pictures, and it was really exciting to see. Of course, when I counted in the picture, I realized that more than half of the students who went are part of my theater arts program, but that is sort of even better news. It means that I am succeeding in my theater arts program, because I want them to not only appreciate being on stage, but also the magic of seeing it too.

Click here to see the photos :-)