Monday, November 30, 2009

Riding this World Together

A teacher in our school has adopted “A Day in a Wheelchair” and is providing a couple of wheelchairs per day for staff and later, students, to “break from comfortable routine, the courage to act, the courage to be an agent of change, and a leader in our community….”

I had the privilege today. And I share my experiences. But first, I read 7 Wheelchairs. What a beautiful memoir. The story speaks of courage, pain, triumph, humor, and determination!

And now my thoughts….
In the chair for the first time, I was positioned to see down a long, empty hallway. My initial thought, “Oh, what a long journey.” I have never looked at this hallway in the same view. I think this journey is symbolic of a bigger thing…the journey of life in a wheelchair.

As I took off on this journey, I saw I was in for a slow walk. A kind student came right up and asked to push me to the library. In a second, we were off. I didn’t forget the two important words…thank you!

I seem to be noticing natural things more. I hardy take the time to see the sun rise in the library, but today, my view is at a slower pace. And thus, I marvel at the sun shining in my office. But with my inexperience as a wheelchair driver, I am not moving too quickly and the sun begins to be a nuisance as it needs to move, rather than me move!

My first big lesson, BE CAREFUL when bending over to pick something up. I almost fell out of the chair. These chairs are wicked! Is it okay to laugh at yourself? I think so.

It is amazing the looks and stares from people. On the way to the lunchroom, I wanted to say, stop staring. Many students do indeed treat the wheelchair occupant as nothing out of the ordinary but others simply stare. It is a comfort when a person pops up and says, “Hey, let me help you carry that lunch or push you through the hallways.”

Our pathways are tight throughout the school. I see from this experience that it would be nice if people would push chairs back in and tidy the rooms. It is easier for accessibility when the pathways are clear.

I went to the Library CafĂ© for a cup of hot cider. I didn’t think about being a one-handed driver with a cup of cider. It didn’t work; I went in circles. Again, I discovered helpful students to get me from one location to another. More thank yous!

Oh, about the bathroom experience -- Being a staff member, I thought I would tackle the office restroom. No way! Even though the sign said wheelchair accessible, it was not!
I then proceeded to the girls’ student restroom with a similar sign. I had to have help with doors getting in and out! In the stall, I got stuck in the room backwards. What an experience! I hope it is not cheating that I had to use my feet to push myself backwards out! And then, I couldn’t exit the outer door. I opened the door enough to holler, HELP! Thanks to the young man who came into the bathroom to hold the door open wide enough so I could maneuver my way out! I had a large wheelchair that was forever getting stuck!

I enjoyed talking with a fellow student in his wheelchair. We talked about muscle strength, interests, and the normal school talk. I encouraged him to pursue whatever his heart desires for future after high school.

What I learned?
I am clumsy. Southeast Polk students are helpful for the most part, either by volunteering or with a simple please and thank you. I can maneuver a wheelchair with practice but do leave some nicks and dings along the way!

Door entrances are tight. We need to push chairs in for easier handicap maneuvering. Let’s just do it, without being asked.

Life moves at a slower rate in a wheelchair. I see things at this level that I might have missed a few feet higher up! Seeing the sun shine in the library today was a good feeling; ordinarily, I might have moved away from its glare and missed this feeling of appreciation.

Matters not if we are in a wheelchair or on two feet. We are all the same and valuable to this Earth, yet diverse from one another in some way. There should be no pity or sympathy for an obvious disability. We all have disabilities that just don’t show. Each life on Earth is important and should be lived and appreciated to the fullest. I am happy to have participated in this experience. Thank you, Southeast Polk, for this opportunity.

7 Wheelchairs A Life Beyond Polio, Gary Presley (Univ. of IA Press, 2008)

Words spoken by Mr. Presley…

…murky line between compassion and pity, sympathy and condescension…

Sincere sympathy may be a little better, but I don’t want it. Whatever warmth it provides you, it is of no value to me. Empathy, silent empathy, which unvoiced assumption of our commonality, I suppose is best of all. Empathy does not ask me to decide if I am worthy. Empathy simply recognizes we all ride this world together…

p. 224

Sunday, November 15, 2009

study world culutre

study world culutre
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
International Education Week Celebration of World Culutes...coming a high school library....Monday, Nov. 16, 2009...students wrote these collective thoughts as ticket to come...will hear exchange students speak...special guests from across Central Iowa coming...International Feast of Foods for all...should be fun???

Source: CC-wordle-vanhookc

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

IOwa Teachers Rock

WE are live with IOwa Educators! These fine teachers are learning how to take our students into the 21st Century and be lifelong learners.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sept. 21, 2009 - Strength in Letters

I am working with a fine group of teachers learning about using online tools in the classroom. Thank you for your attention.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Origins -- My real About Me

Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Where I am From
by C. VanHook

I am from stately old pecans trees
supporting wheel barrow tree houses
I am from the afternoon jingle
of the ice cream man strolling down the lane
I am from amusement parks and hula dancing in the streets
with cousins at Grandma and Pa’s
My bank account is filled with memories of shiny white bush-coins
that made me rich in play
I am from the deep South where cold springs take the swimmer’s
breath away, fishing on the dock and swimming in the seaweed
I am from journeys into town with Papa to shop Piggly-Wiggly
and to climb the mountain of library steps
for awaiting adventures with Nancy Drew
I am from a red Cocker who could play hide and seek
and a Siamese that would leave headless gifts in my bedroom closet
I am from country ham and biscuits, pecan pie, boiled peanuts, and pinto beans--
real soulful, Southern delicacies
I am from teenage shopping trips with Mom in search of Bobby Brooks
I am from big oaks and pines and rows and rows of rainbow-colored flowers
I am from a Daddy’s royal harvest of silver queen, red juicy tomatoes,
and purple crowders just waiting for a Mother’s yummy Sunday dinner
I am from aunts and uncles who adored the nieces and nephews,
cozy visits, and words of wisdom that gave us a wealth of confidence
I am from the mindset that there is something good in everyone
and that when you find your true love,
it's a 50/50 “give and take” relationship
I am from a genealogical mix spanning Pennsylvania to Georgia!
The memories are precious and give tribute to a happy childhood!

What's your About Me?

Connecting in Education

Connecting in Education
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
I wonder how education has changed. Our elders were happy learners in their day and time. The stories passed down through the ages tell us so.

The baby boomers had it pretty good in the classroom, too! Class reunions reveal some pretty happy, successful, educated learners!

Today's classroom has rapidly turned global and digital. 21st century learning is essential for our students. Student success after graduation requires new ways of learning and delivering. How exciting!

Knowledge has changed, but the desire to learn is the same...yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are still making connections.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A New School Offers Welcome Grounds

What a rewarding feeling to have such a fine group of students support their cause. Indeed these kids geek the library and book club!

Take a few games, a little meeting time as a group, pizza and pop, and some music and karaoke for a high school Book Club to have a blast. The most important piece of this puzzle? Answer: fellowship

Great national movement....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept. 9, 2009 - Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On the 12th day of the new school year, in our brand new high school, the Library opened its Around the Corner Cafe. We had a late start for students so teachers could have inservice, but many students eagerly came an hour early. These students lined up at the cafe to be apart of this grand opening. Quickly, we decided to have a ribbon cutting ceremony. Lucky Chaz volunteered to cut the ribbon, which was really my new silk scarf. I told him, "Whatever you do....don't cut my scarf!" I did, however, award him a smoothie for his cooperative spirit!! What a fun time and a big laugh we had!

Stories and meaningful experiences are what libraries offer our communities. Enjoy a photo story for the opening day of the Around the Corner Cafe by clicking on this picture. (You will transfer to my photo gallery at Flickr. Find the tag for "SE Polk Library Cafe" to see a slideshow in the top right-hand corner of the webpage.
-Sept. 9, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bright, Shiny, and Rusty!

Bright, Shiny, and Rusty!
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Polk Co. 4-Hers are very creative. Loved this display! What a great use of an old rusty wheel! I am so glad to see 4-H has strong support in Iowa and hope it does as well in all states of the USA.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Books panorama

Love this picture. I borrowed it from a flickr member, as it has Creative Commons permission!

This post is to share with you great book suggestions from my PLN contacts. What a powerful list, and the contributors shared within a 12 hour period. Obviously, from the looks of this list, these are powerful readers. Thank you for sharing:

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear
[My New York contact offers a wonderful review, "It's a grown-up alternative to the Twilight series, mildly erotic but fascinating look at an alternative history, where the British still rule the colonies and magic is an acknowledged part of life." *****

Mysteries, mysteries, mysteries:
Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
Chasing Vermeer (ages 9-12)
Stephanie Plum Series, Janet Evanovich
Just One Look, Harlan Coben
Harriet Vane in Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Whimsey Series
The Beekeeper's Apprentice Mary Russell Series, Laurie King
Angels and Demons -- book beats the movie!!!

Man Gone Down -- Michael Thomas
Oryx and Crake -- Margaret Atwood
Suck it Up, surprise ending! YA
The Book Thief
The Brief Wondrous World of Oscar Wao -- Junot Diaz
The Cinderella Pact -- Susan Strohmeyer
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Loved Dog
Three Cups of Tea
Jane Austen -- of course!

My PLN friends from PA say, "You need to read every day in some way!" and "Reading can take you places."

And ThinkingTom says, "The serious books he reads are the type of books that you find yourself submerging into...time flies by and you don't wish to do anything else!"

What are you reading?

Connecting with Blogs

Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Thanks, friends in my PLN! You have shared many great blog suggestions on just about every topic!

For a little humor –Wondermark, Unshelved, Shelf Check
For a glimpse of images—Less Ordinary
For life style tips – Life Hack, Unclutterer
For fun – Cake Wrecks
For quotes – Quoteflections
Global following -- Spring of Hope (

Other’s recommended / Educational –
Scott McLeod’s blog
Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog
Assorted Stuff
Bud the Teacher
Discovery Education Blogs
Wesley Fryer’s At the Speed of Creativity
David Warlick’s 2 Cents Worth

Hint: Install Google Reader on your computer and drop the RSS feed for any of these blogs into your Reader. You might set up categories, as suggested above! I have found when reading them gets ahead of me, I can mark them All READ. However, I can still go back and keyword search these archived blogs to find what I need to know! I also like to STAR the ones I want to come back to and read again!

Blogs are often my best teacher for professional and personal learning.

Those contributing information shared they read and listen to these on their Kindles, Google Readers, and Ipods.

This is just a start on the many great blogs out there. Add your 2 cents worth here and share more great blogs!

Add Some Spark to Your Teaching

Hometown Spectacular
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
This entry will share the spectacular suggestions by a few of my contacts in my PLN! Thank you!

What a great list of educational resources. I see there are so many educators reading materials this summer in preparation to better serve our youth!

Hope you find some resources here that will be of interest:

The Element
Why Don't Students Like School
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
Brain Rules
Fred Factor
Quantum Learning and Instructional Leadership in Practice

Great comment coming from PLN contact in Wisconsin -- "...information and technology literacy needs to be the domain of all educators."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Creative Thinking

Creative Thinking
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Be confident! Individualism rocks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kayaking in Bradenton!

Kayaking in Bradenton!
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Try something new! You'll be glad you did! I was nervous to try this but had an absolutely wonderful time!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy on Vacation!

Enjoying Florida, Carol's parents, our son Rob and family, new friends, and the good times that Florida has to offer!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brick Walls

Brick Walls
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
This is an incredible story. Randy Pausch had such an incredible view on life. His words of wisdom will live forever!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sailing on to New Adventures

This puzzle marks the last one done that will be completed in the old SE Polk High School Library. During my six years as Teacher Librarian in this old high school, I have enjoyed watching students and staff share a passion for doing puzzles.

Rarely has a piece been lost (ironically, someone tampered with this one but the true puzzle lovers just rebuilt its scramble. Sorry to say the corner-right piece disappeared). Again I say that has been a rare thing! Maybe someone was frustrated with trying to match the cloud pieces!

These puzzles have brought users to the library to sit and visit while finding pieces. Often when the puzzle was next to impossible, discovering a fit would bring great pride and a feeling of accomplishment. It has been a good feeling to be called a puzzle expert at SE Polk!

I hope as we sail on down the stream to the new high school that I can find just that right spot for a puzzle table. I have packed the new puzzles away - somewhere! I look forward to new beginnings and new friends being brought into the library and to the puzzle corner!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Makes a Mom and Dad Proud

Congratulations to the two of you. How ironic that our youngest are both stepping out into new adventures on the exact same day!

Sarah, you are to be commended as you achieve a Masters of Social Work tomorrow from Iowa. You have blossomed during this Master's Program. We see an earth shaking gal here that brings so much sunshine to others just through a smile and the sweetness of voice. God has a special plan for you, Sarah, as you step across that stage achieving this honor!

And Michael, on the same day you fly off to the other side of the world. Look out Singapore, here comes a fine group of students from Lee University. Amazingly your childhood buddy, Ben, is going, too! What a fun time for the two of you! Michael, you have shown such leadership and are such a trailblazer. God be with you as you broaden your horizons. You, too, are stepping forth into leadership opportunities.

Both of you make a Mom and Dad so proud! Have a fun time!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Be an Individual

Together these make a beautiful bed of tulips, but do you see the individuality of each?

So is life. We each have an important role to play in the big scheme of things on earth!

And so...I wondered what the Internet has to say about being an individual. Believe or not, there is a wiki how-to-do manual with an article on How to Be an Individual. Anyone can join and edit this article, as most wikis allow! You might want to read this article or even add your two cents worth:

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”

A book worth the read on this topic is The Element : How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Dr. Ken Robinson. Our school library book review share that this is a breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. Check your local public or school library for this insightful read!

If you work with students, how do you help them realize their individuality? Feel free to leave a comment on this blog to share with others. Or how have others helped you accentuate your potential?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Go for It, Cowboy Sweetheart!

Day 103 -- Go for It, Cowboy Sweetheart!
Originally uploaded by congratulations
Congratulations, Sarah! You have a voice and a half!
And hit the Youtube scene! You may be an Iowan girl, but you are also a little Tennessee hillbilly!

Rippling in the Wind

It's refreshing to watch Ol' Glory rippling in the wind in the springtime! There's a sound of determination in its mission!

Have you ever thought about how often these flags fray and need replacing due to the wind? Watch those flags and keep them in tip-top shape. It shows a sign of respect!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Strength in Making Connections!

Working together as a team gets the job done so much more efficiently!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is that a hat?

Is that a hat?
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry." -Maria Montessori

This is how creative thinking works. When one looks at things freely and imaginatively, no telling what can be created. So seeing a brown hat, in many shades of brown, with a grey band makes a fun thought. Or could there be a hint of another hat within. What was an ugly rock in the road is now something much more beautiful and worth pondering.

Creative classroom activities work in the same manner. Imagination within study and play is stimulating and brings forth success, new ideas, and perhaps even a hope for a better world.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder

Driving parallel to I-80 along a bumpy gravel road, this caught my attention. What odd beauty - an intertwined mixture of barb wire, stumps, and prairie grass.

The camera allows a person to look beyond facts, definitions, and what is real. Yes, in reality, this is an old stump, rusty wires, mixed with last year's growth of grass. The wires are even creating boundaries.

Yet, isn't it grand to slow down and take a different look, perhaps experiencing a beauty that comes shining forth from behind the camera's eye?

One thing is for sure, had I not become committed to doing a 365 upload of a picture a day on flickr, I would most likely have missed this beautiful sight!

Read more, at the flickr site. Click on the picture, for some brilliant observations of friends around the world.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Be a Communitarian in the 21st Century

48 Stars
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Here's my set of suggested guidelines to being a communitarian on the Web. The world flattened with the onset of Internet authoring tools. A new global spirit has emerged. So, when you author to the web follow these guidelines:

1. Evaluate the website you plan to contribute content. Validate its authenticity and determine its purpose. Is it to educate, entertain, inform or enlighten, or perhaps question?
2. Be mindful of the objectives of the website, its conditions of use and guidelines.
3. Determine who the intended audience of the website is and add only material that is age appropriate.
4. Feel a sense of global connectivity and take pride in adding ideas, comments, and feedback.
5. Be a communitarian, listening to others, giving feedback, and being respectful of what others have to say.
6. Aim to sharpen communicative and language skills in your postings and comments. Follow conventional grammar and punctuation rules. Authoring to the Web is not a place for the texting style of writing.
7. Be ethical in use of copyrighted materials and items designated Creative Commons. If adding facts, quotes, graphics, audio or video files created by others, always acknowledge the author and other important information. Aim for originality in adding new ideas and content materials.
8. Become knowledgeable of the ever-changing and emerging new technologies on the Internet. Understand how RSS feeds allow users to subscribe to new information provided at a website.
9. Practice caution and safety when adding personal information to the Web. Seek the assistance of a parent or teacher if you have concerns about best practices on Internet safety.
10. Be honest and trustworthy in all that you say and do on the Web.

And so.....your comments are welcome here!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reflections of Time

Reflections of Time
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. ~ George Eliot

Take time to reflect on those rich golden moments you have experienced in the past few days. Have you felt like the angels have been watching over you?

The time changed today! What's ahead during this vibrant spring just waiting to blossom?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tales Of Global Travel

This week is Read Across America Week. The teens in the high school book club are reading to the grade school children. At the same time, we are inviting the teachers and students to do an online global book with us. We are excited to see what global tales we get back from students.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Reflection on February 2009

Hope February 2009 has been good for you.
Here is a glimpse into these days in my life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hear the train a coming?

Hear the train a coming?
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
I'd like to hop on a train with my camera and travel across America, snapping some shots along the way!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Renewal of Spirit

For sure, this nest was home to little birds last year, but just spotting it for the first time makes me feel that spring is in the air! It's funny how these little things are right there before our very eyes.

The camera has allowed me to see the little buds on this tree, as well. We are ready at this time of winter for a rebirth in our surroundings.

Yet, daily, we should awaken with that same sense of renewal and spirit. What are the challenges awaiting around the corner and how can we do our best to have a rebirth of positive attitude?

48 / 365 -- Rebirth
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Have a Good Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

44/365 -- 4 way GO (2 hands + 2 shovels)

This is just the cutest thing I have seen this winter. The little boy has so much energy and excitement over a job to do. Wait, aren't these sidewalks already cleared? He doesn't care. He's just busy and has a job to do! And that's wonderful. He's out there enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, getting a little exercise pushing shovels, and enjoying the pretty snow!


Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Happy Valentines Day, family and friends!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


This will warm your hearts!

Southeast Polk & Des Moines Independent Schools,
Mrs. Duden and Mr. Strozewski (staff),
what a wonderful event!
The kindness was overwhelming
in this gymnasium!

How to Achieve Success

In any task you wish to tackle in life, create a blueprint, timeline, or set of goals. You'll save time and reach higher levels of success in the long run.

This beautiful design was created twice! Once on a paper scale and then glued on the real thing! Quite a successful project, heh?

A+++ work!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Good Goals for Life

Good Goals for Life
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Smile, dream, laugh...

good goals to practice in February, well, every day!

My Reflections on 2009

Reflections on Jan. '09

A CNN journalist reported January as a brutal month, speaking in terms of economy as well as weather, global issues, etc. Of course, we had a historical inauguration that offers great hope. Here, too, is my reflection on the good things that happened in 20099! No, real brutality here. Even with the chilly temps, there was beauty to behold!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Look at the 21st Century Teen

Hey, teens!

We've come a long ways! Just think what your kids are going to think about your archival means of communication, entertainment, etc. as depicted in this pic...the iTouch and the fancy cellphones. What's to come in the future?

This TV screen, you might imagine, possibly could look like a sci-fi movie if it were being viewed in 1960! 50 years ago, what would people think these were? ...newfangled b/w mini televisions or small tape cassette players??? What happened to the old fashioned pencil and paper and rotary dial phones? What is ahead 50 years from now? Think about that!

Comment by dotlizard of Flickr:
I know, that just blows me away. I mean, if you'd told me even fifteen years ago that I'd have a telephone with a camera that could stream live video over the internet which I'm not sure I'd even heard of at the time, and 8,000 times as much storage than my computer's hard drive, on a memory card the size of my pinky nail, I would have just laughed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

20/365 -- A Day in History for these Teens

These students are watching history unfold before their very eyes, via CNN over the Internet! Off in the background is a cable TV showing the inauguration for more viewers. And beyond the edges of this picture is the computer lab, with another live streaming of the inauguration. The library was packed and lively!

What a joy to share this inaugural experience with these students. And the greatest thrill was to watch a group of students arrive at 7:00 this morning to decorate the library with streamers, move chairs and tables and prepare for this exciting event!

Facebook's connection on CNN was interesting! The collaborative effort of CNN and Facebook allowed the viewers to see many different perspectives on today's event. Comments were very passionate and supportive of this historical event.

Will these students remember the day, when they watched a live streaming inauguration over the Internet? Fifty years ago, this form of communication would have come straight from a science fiction book or movie!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Marching Forward into History

Pic*Lits is a fun web2.0 tool
that gets you thinking about important words!
And so, I look forward to sharing it with our students!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

7 Things You Don't Need to Know About Me

Butterflies Everywhere
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
I have been tagged by Grace Kat (gkat) to be a part of meme that is going around cyberspace at the moment.

The idea is to get to know each other better. When tagged,

* link to those who tagged you,
* post 7 things you have never told your PLN and
* tag another 7 people.

What might you like to know about me? Hmm...

1. I have taught 7 years of preschool, 5 years elementary classroom, 1 year of high school algebra, directed and taught in elementary Talented and Gifted education, and been a K-12 school librarian for 16 years. I've also worked in a university library during college! It was the college librarian that guided me into the teaching career path that I am traveling on today!

2. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1993, I had to learn how to drive the major interstates through the city! I was petrified. In job searching across the city, I would practice the route to take with my husband. Crossing multiple lanes to get on and off the Interstate made me really nervous! In Indy, folks often drive like racecar drivers. I'm glad I pushed myself to drive the city; we lived there for only two years and enjoyed every minute of it: sports, fireworks, restaurants, zoos, museums, fairs and more!

3. I have a really strong Southern accent...or so they tell me in the Midwest! I say poem, orange and you all so very different than my Midwestern friends! A second grader corrected me on "budderfly" and said it was "but-ter-fly!" It's fun to read to classes in my strongest Southern style!

4. One of my favorite memories as an elementary school librarian was collaborating with a 5th grade teacher, Ms. Turner. We had the entire class write a script for the Wizard of Oz. We made costumes and performed our musical version in its entirety in ONLY 14 minutes for our school's annual talent show! Every student had a role!

5. I love hot weather! One or two snows are enough for me...we've had about ten in the past two months! In the late 60s, 70s and 80s, I loved to water ski and trick ski! I spent more time falling and drinking river water on the tricks though! Yet it was (or is) great exercise!

6. I am obsessed with photography. Once upon a time, I won a first-place and a 3rd-place in the Iowa State Fair Photo Gallery. I'll probably never win like that again with the onset of digital photography; the playing field has grown substantially! I am doing a 365 this year with new global friends, meaning that I am uploading a picture a day to the Flickr pool! It opens one's eyes to a beautiful world that is often otherwise taken for granted!

7. I love technology! Back in college, I hated Fortran! I made a C which should have been much F perhaps! I'll offer my excuse that I was planning a wedding that was to occur at the conclusion of the quarter! That was 38 years ago! We celebrated this wonderful anniversary over a dinner at The Bistro in Cleveland, TN, this past Christmas! Thanks again to our son, Michael, for arranging this beautiful evening!

No more Fortran for me...But I have kept plugging away at technology. Now I am a high school teacher of technology and literacy skills, and I love this web2.0 stuff!

These folks were just tagged by me! As I begin to look around, I am seeing that everyone has already done this...probably you three as well!


I'll keep my eye open for others... Eva you've been tagged! And, Elizabeth, you've been tagged.
Enjoy sharing the 7 things, link back on plurk perhaps, and pass this on to seven others!

A New Dawn at Our School

Every day has much to offer. However, today is extra special. This picture depicts a new dawn, a first day back for our high school students, a new semester. Our students will have many new classes as they begin this second semester. There will be new friends, new teachers, and new routes to take to new classrooms and new faces to meet. May the halls, classrooms, gyms, and every other little corner of the school be filled with smiles and happiness. This is our sincere hope!

Today's beautiful sunrise, overlooking the pond on the school's campus, adds an endorsement of excitement and fulfillment for great things to come for our students in 2009.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Troy, this is for you...

The students were very antsy the last week of school before Christmas Break. The library was packed with students. This should be a good thing but they were not necessarily there for all the right reasons. The library, you see, has lots of computers...and computers connect to the Internet...and to the games.

So, I was a little perturbed with the not-so studious students. Troy said to me, on one of those last days, that he wanted to do something productive to show me proper use of library time and space. He volunteered to write a paper. He asked for a topic, and I suggested one. Here is what I got!

At the end of the period, he beamed as he handed me his typed essay! I told him that his writing was outstanding and he surely pulled if off the Internet. He assured me that our students are listening, learning, and retaining more than we think!

He's so right! Enjoy his words...


"The educational systems in schools today are too sensitive and nice. They baby students all throughout school, from kindergarten to senior year. They don't let students go out and learn on their own. They teach that if you want an answer the only way to get it is to go to your teacher."

He suggested the following as a solution to break away from the habit that students have formed. "We need to make it habit for students to not immediately go to their teacher for the answer but instead expand their knowledge by figuring it out for themselves."

I will probably turn to Troy this next semester for more essays. He's got the answers!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My, How Time Flies!

My, How Time Flies!
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Happy New Year!

My New Year's Resolutions:
healthier living
clean the clutter
learn my camera
love, world peace, and harmony

We had a wonderful time ushering in the New Year with family and friends! January 1 has been a bit lazy at our house, but we did eat our black-eyed peas for good luck! Sarah and Jordon each ate 1-4 peas on their plates!!!