Wednesday, February 17, 2010

City Academy

Well, as promised here is a little vision of City Academy, the charter school where I teach part time. If you watched the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and saw these guys, then you already have a pretty good idea of what my students look like.

While I am enjoying my classes and I like many of my students, it is extremely different than Mountain Ridge Jr. High in Highland where 90% of my students were BYU fans and didn't like homework on Mondays because they have FHE. At City Academy I have two students who have been kicked permanently out of school for smoking and distributing marijuana on school premises (seven students were expelled total in the incident, I happen to have two of them). Another one of my students was kicked out of school for a much more serious felony offense against another one of my students. I have only been teaching for one month.....what will things look like at the end of five months? There are only 190 students in the school and an average of five are suspended each week for different offenses.

Did I mention that we don't give grades? Well, not in the traditional sense. You can receive an initial, reaching, solid, or expanded grade. These are not supposed to translate directly into A,B,C and D grades. They are supposed to be a better indication of a students academic progress. Whether that is true or not I can't say. It still seems like categorizing to me, so what's the difference really?

I feel very out of place at the school, especially as all my coworkers cluster around the espresso machine for their daily cups of fresh brewed coffe and the smell of smoke clings to most of the students and even some staff. It is very different than gathering in the faculty room and discussing the upcoming general conference, or the latest in church news as often happened at Mountain Ridge.

Different doesn't always mean bad, and I am enjoying the experience of teaching in this environment. It will round me out a little I think, and I enjoy all my co-workers who are friendly and welcoming and make me feel a part of the community, even if I am different.

I guess I'll just see where things lead me from here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scholastic Updates

Well, Brian managed to survive his first semester at law school, while being engaged, and getting married just a couple of weeks before finals. His friends (and professors I might add) thought he was crazy for getting married in November. Well, Brain showed them what was what by pulling off grades he can be proud of. Congratulations honey!

I finally graduated from BYU in Decemeber, and very unceremoniously received my diploma in the mail. I never was into the fanfare that surrounds graduation, so I don't mind that you don't walk in December. I could always return and walk in Aril, but really, what is the point? No use going through all that when I already have my diploma in hand. I did graduate Magna Cum Laude which is something to be proud of I guess. So, all in all, I have a $20,000 piece of paper that I can shove under the bed to collect dust.

Brian is enjoying his new semester and I am enjoying my part-time teaching job at City Academy. I will certainly have a future post about City Academy--it is an extremely interesting place with some very interesting characters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Honeymoon

Ok, ok. Here is the long awaited honeymoon post. At the beginning of January, right after the fun-filled family holidays, Brian and I headed to Florida for a warm, exotic, magical honeymoon. This is what we got: Record breaking cold temperatures
Wind and Frost
Nightly newscasts full of shocked meteorologists
But....short lines at Disney World
As my father-in-law Joel said, "Al Gore should go to Florida and discover an inconvenient truth he forgot to mention." It was fun just the same though.
Disney World
Disney World was so fun. We spent three days there hopping from one park to the next. We went on all the rides and never waited for more than about 45 minutes. Some we just walked right on!

We even went on Splash Mountain and sat in the very front. As you can see, I was more concerned about protecting myself from the water than I was about looking cool for the picture.

In line for Pirates of the Carribbean! We rode it twice and the second time there was absolutely no line at all!

Epcot was one of our favorite places at Disney World. We went there each night for dinner in a different country. The Viking ride in Norway was also pretty fun, and Brian even got to dress up as Eric the Red. If he grew out his red curly hair and his bright red beard he would be a dead ringer. My blonde locks fit in pretty well too!

Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom was one of my favorite parts. The animals were neat, and I just liked the atmosphere of the park. The new Everest ride, which is reminiscent of the Matterhorn in Disneyland was really fun. Out of all the rides it might have been my second favorite after Splash Mountain.

This is a picture in front of the"Tree of Life." I'm glad to say we finally found it! The man who took this picture for us is from Ogden, Brian's hometown. We got talking and it turned out that he had also lived in Coalville and had been to the Oakley rodeo! What a small world. Then again, the Oakley rodeo is pretty famous.
St. Augustine
We drove up north to a town called St. Augustine. This is supposedly the oldest city in America, established by the Spanish in the 1500s. It was extremely cold, but a very interesting place to be. We stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road on the way up and bought some of the best oranges I have ever had. They also had delicious fresh walnuts.
This is inside the oldest house in America. It was an interesting museum and we got the whole history of the house, which was first built by Spanish settlers, then eventually used by British military, and then American citizens.
This old coastal fortress was really neat. You don't see a lot of these kinds of old structures in the United States. It made it feel more exotic.

Brian ran aground in his little boat. Without oars, that is no surprise.

This is the St. Augustine lighthouse. We climbed all 200 and something stairs to the very top where we had a spectacular, yet chilly, view of the port and surrounding city.

The Beach
Despite the cold, we decided to go to the beach anyway, even if we couldn't swim or even sun ourselves on the beach. This was the coldest part of the trip and we only stayed out for about fifteen minutes, but we still had fun. We gathered some beautiful sea shells. On a regular day the beach would have been picked clean. There was only one other person on the beach and he was flying a kite. It was beautiful, if freezing.

Brian poses for the beach picture.

Wekiwa Springs
Brian and I decided that this was one of our favorite parts of the trip. I had looked up state parks close to Orlanda before we came and found this little park. We weren't sure what to expect but we figured it would be a cheap activity--it ended up being so fun. The park would be really fun in the summer. They have a large natural spring where you can swim. The water is 72 degrees year round, but it was just too cold to go swimming for us. The spring has fish and birds surrounding it and is really large. I wish we could have gone. However, the most exciting part was canoeing down the Wekiva River. For fifteen dollars you could rent a canoe and they shoved you off onto the river with no supervision.

Here I am starting off on our river adventure.

The river was full of huge fish, although you could only see them in the shallow parts.

Turtles also appeared in abundance. We saw a lot of logs like this--lined with turtles basking in the sun.

This was definitely the most exciting part of our river excursion. A mother alligator with two babies on her back was relaxing in the shallow water at the edge of the river. We got a little close for comfort as Brian stopped steering to get a good picture. See that log right in front of the alligator? The front of our canoe (which I was sitting in) ran right into that log. The alligator started hissing at us (yes, they do hiss) and I started yelling at Brian to steer us out of there. I didn't think getting attacked by an angry mother alligator would end our trip well.

All in all it was a wonderful trip--the perfect break from school and job hunting and so forth. Even the cold did not get us down. Brian had to buy a sweater to keep himself warm, and this was the cheapest one we could find. Brian wore it like a man.