Sunday, December 14, 2014

CELEBRATE Learning, Service, and the End of the Season This Week: LXI

Each week Ruth Ayres asks interested writers to celebrate their stories. The stories tie the community of writers tightly together as they weave their tapestry with air of positivity. My week was filled with learning, contrasts, and connections. 

My story unfolds around a trip to a state conference that took me away from my family right in the middle of holiday preparation time. Below you will see images captured during the week.
Can you guess what these images have in common?


All of the photos center around the conference that led to increased learning, service, and the close of the fall season. I celebrate these major components of my week by introducing a lead character, Mother Nature, who played her tricks with us. Mother Nature introduced Weather as her companion this week. Weather decided to make a grand entrance at the start of the four day conference. He created quite a stir. News stories and conversations centered around the snow that was reported to fall. Once the temperature dropped, Weather allowed huge snowflakes to fall and kept up the routine for a full 72 hours. While lovely to watch the flakes sweep the sky and dance their way to the ground, their full descent caused havoc. Roads iced over; buses had difficulty transporting conference attendees to the Cultural Education Center in Albany; delays to the start of the conference occurred on two different days. Mother Nature decided that she wanted Fall to exit in shocking white in the Capital region and indeed it did. I captured the storm in a photo and blogged about that at the beginning of the week. You can read about that here.  My week ended with a drive home to Long Island that sharply contrasted Albany's weather patterns. Long Island's temperature and no snow landscapes allowed for my outdoor holiday decorating to begin with ease. Mother Nature used her magic wand to change up scenes in two different locales I was in making me realize how powerful her reach is. 

While in Albany, I was present for NYS Education Commissioner John B. King's announcement to join the U.S. Department of Education as a senior adviser for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. With the TV cameras rolling, Dr. King delivered a humble speech that was met with a standing ovation. Learning continued throughout the conference. The focus  was on backward planning to provide supports for all learners to be successful stewards of their own learning. While at the conference, attendees had the opportunity to visit the new exhibit on the Shakers in the NYS Museum. The collection was extensive and informative, shedding light on the Shaker community in NYS. My background knowledge was limited in scope, only knowing about the simple line of furniture that the Shakers created. After the tour, I had a broader body of knowledge to think about. As a participant, I was to move my thinking from being a spectator on a field trip to a fieldworker engaging in research. This move will be modeled for teachers so they can provide students with authentic learning experiences revolving around active research.    

Lastly, the conference afforded me the opportunity to expose the conference attendees to the global outreach work I am involved in that brings light to service learning and leadership. H.E.L.P. Uganda is an organization founded to bring hope, education, and sustainable living to mothers and children in Masese, Uganda. Through the selling of beautifully crafted jewelry and bags, a school for 500 children was built and continues to thrive as a center for literacy in the refugee town. You can read more about the fundraiser efforts that I am involved in through a series of blog posts, the most recent one being Giving Tuesday Offers Hope to Others

Now back at home after a long week, I can begin preparations to celebrate the Christmas holiday with my family. Here's to all of your celebrations-may they be merry and bright as Ruth Ayres reminds us to be. 

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us each week to celebrate our lives. 
Click over to her site, Discover, Play, Build, to read more celebrations 
by the community of writers.