Sunday, June 14, 2009

Making a Difference?

Boy, it is difficult to find time to blog lately - I think my microblogging has become more prolific while this one suffers. But, I just felt I had to record some thoughts this dreary Sunday afternoon.

I just finished filling out papers for a possible retirement in the next few years. Looking up and through my "treasures" from over 30 years in education made me wonder if I ever made a difference - ever left any students better than when I met them. So, I took a private trip down memory lane and would like to share just a few of the remembrances.

-- It all started in the early 70's as part of the American Peace Corps where I worked within a small village being involved with women's matters and a girls high school in Dezful, Iran. I hope that the cultural exchanges, the discussions on pasteurizing milk and the daily friendships left my neighbors with as much as I brought home. I will never forget the day before we left for Tehran airport when our neighbor begged us to take her 3 year old, Hossein, with us for a "better life". Hossein would now be 38 years old! I wonder if I ever see him in the faces of the Irani people in the news. About 2 years ago, I was contacted by my best friend and co-worker from there - after the tears flowed, Mahnaz and I both expressed how much we had learned and were able to share with others after separating. We have again lost contact, but hopefully before another 30 years, will again be able to touch each other.

-- My next adventure was in the US - northwest Ohio. I taught grades 7-12 for ten years there. The two best memories are the time spent with students in a work study program and being able to start a computer program within the high school. The first helped individual students to become more than they ever anticipated and the second is still going strong bringing technology to the classroom.

-- Then to Europe (Germany) with my husband's NATO job and two small boys in tow. I was so lucky to become part of a fantastic group of women many of whom I still consider my best friends. Work was with Dept. of Defense Dependent Schools where I hope I made a difference by:
  • Participating in the committee changing curricula to a problem based model
  • Starting a distance learning computer science program for interested high school students
  • Again expanding the exchange of culture with so many - a two way street

-- In 1994, we moved back to the US - southern coastal Maine. I love working here - the way life should be. I think I am making a difference. The power of my suggestions has at least:
  • A collaborative of districts is now working together to save money through a buying group
  • A yearly open source conference, FOSSED, has been started and evolved into a resource for all educators
  • A new K-3 computer program has been implemented within a district
I had the ideas - others took them and ran! It pleases me to see students and schools benefit.

Are any of these accomplishments headline makers? No, but did I help to make a difference? I think so - and I hope to continue to do so even if I do someday manage to "retire".

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