how-to-draw-a-cartoon-turkey.jpg A Lot To Be Thankful For

Sometimes life surprises you. This week I received a couple of great surprises. Each made me slow down my busy life and reflect on some amazing things and people that have blessed my life in the past year. To me this reflection is more about the genuine good spirit of people rather then any single thing that has happened to me personally. These following paragraphs are testament to the idea that the world can be a very giving place.

A Yogurt Surprise

Last week I received a text from a friend. The text simply read, "Would you be willing to meet a hypothetical family for yogurt next week. They want to give you something." By family they meant a family from my fourth grade class. Always up for yogurt I cheerfully replied, "Yes!" The week came and went and the day for yogurt had arrived. I took my 8 year old daughter and left for yogurt not really knowing what to expect other than some good company and some cakebatter yogurt. When I got there I was blown away. Nearly all of the families of and children in my class were there. What a great surprise, but that was not all. They said they had something for me. Out came a box filled with Easter grass and two wrapped gifts. As I started to open them all the children began to chant, "Open them, open them!!" I had no idea what it could be. As I opened each package my jaw dropped. It a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. A tablet that I had borrowed previously from a friend in order to present at Microsoft and had raved about. It turns out that a group of parents had gotten together organized through e-mail to find, purchase, and give me an incredible gift to say thank you for what I am trying to do for their children. To say I was humbled and blown away would be an understatement. I teach not for the gifts or the recognition, but of course for my students, but when people appreciate your efforts it is overwhelming.


Answering the Call

In late September I set up a Wiki page entitled, Financing the Future. It was the beginning of an initiative to provide laptops to all the students in my class. The idea was to have families in my class be able to buy affordable laptops for their children for use in Learning on the Edge. I knew that there would of course families that could not afford the full price of a laptop and I did not want any one of my students to feel left out because of financial reasons. Shortly after sharing my Wiki with one of my college friends I received a surprise. In my Paypal account was a deposit for $250 the exact amount needed to provide a needy child with a laptop. This was awesome. A college friend that I may only speak with once or twice a year believed in kids and gladly gave of his resources. I more recently also received an offer from a wonderful family whom also agreed to help purchase laptops for the remaining students whom may have otherwise felt left out. These two examples are again testaments to the kindness of the human spirit.

A Place to Learn

My next two stories come from the throws of evil corporate America. Two summers ago I created a summer program for kids called Learning on the Edge Summer Institute. It is a program designed to give students something educational and fun to do in the hot desert summers. The program concentrates on science, technology, mathematics and engineering. The first year of my program was held at an undisclosed location and was a huge success. The following summer, last summer, I was again ready to have the summer program, but had one major problem. I did not have anywhere to hold it. A class is great, but even in today's technologically advanced world we need a place to meet, and here is where the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells, CA stepped up. Without going into too much detail the resort provided a place for me to have the institute. They worked with my budget and needs. They treated me just like any other of their big clients right down to the personal service, lemon water, and mints. They even let my students go swimming on the last day to celebrate their graduation. This experience once again blew me away. Here was a large resort, a part of corporate America, who had the resources and were willing to give WITHOUT any red tape.


Partners in Change

My final story involves one of the largest and most successful corporations on earth, Microsoft. In the Spring of 2010 I submitted a project to a branch of Microsoft known as the Partners in Learning. This branch of Microsoft has as its goal that every child in the entire world will receive a quality education. Wow! a pretty loftly goal and one that sounds a lot like corporate speak. Yet, when I arrived in Redmond I found that these words were attached to real people and these real people actually meant it. Here is where I need to emphasize something. They really meant it. How do I know? These Microsoft executives said they were truly excited and honored to welcome us educators to their campus. Again I thought these were just being polite, but after getting to know these people personally, seeing what the partners were accomplishing globally, and better understanding what their true mission is I was again amazed. This company was putting their money where there mouth is. I was standing there with other educators and they wanted to celebrate what we are doing with kids. They asked us our opinions, treated us in first class manner, and asked what we needed. The actually wanted to be partners.

My hat goes off to all these amazing people. I am an educator and as a teacher we often complain about being underpaid and under appreciated, but the truth is we don't do it for any of those things anyway. We are in it for the kids, however, when people step up and support us amazing things are possible!