Dear Tessa Bug,
I dedicated this song to you five long.crazy.fast.exhausting.ridiculous.worthwhile.happy.sad.sleepless weeks ago.  
Now that you are done, I hope you celebrate that fact that you are strong.smart.brave.helpful.special.  
Not many people could do what you did.  
Not many people want to do what you'll be doing.  
But you'll be making a difference.  
Though you might not get thanked {ever},  you won't be rich {from your own works}
and you may not be able to see your students make life choices 
that ultimately reflect the goodness of your character 
{wrapped up in scarves, shiny lips, pretty hair 
and oozed out through gentle leadership, interesting lessons, and positive reinforcement}
you will make a difference.  
Because you are strong.super.proud.friendly.magical {yes?}.special.  
And even if you are grouchy sometimes like Oscar, you are loved.  
Always and forever :: to the moon and back.  
We are so proud of you.

Love, Ash, Andrew, & Alekzander
{Mom, Dad, Ryan, and all your other loyal blog followers and friends.}

If what I am is what's in me
Then I'll stay strong - that's who I'll be
and I will always be the best
"me" that I can be.

There's only one me, I am it

have a dream I'll follow it
It's up to me to try.

Oh! I'm a keep my head up high

Keep on reaching high
Never gonna quit
I'll be getting stronger.

And nothing's gonna bring me down (no!)
Never gonna stop, gotta go.
Because I know
I'll keep getting stronger.
And what I am is thoughtful
what I am is musical
what I am is smart
and what I am is brave
what I am is helpful
what I am is special
There's nothing I can't achieve.
Because in myself I believe in oh...

Gonna keep our heads up high
Keep on reaching high
Never gonna quit
Just keep getting stronger.

And nothing's gonna bring us down (no!)
Never give it up, gotta go.
Because I know
I'll keep getting stronger.

What I am is super
what I am is proud
what I am is friendly
what I am is grouchy
what you are is magical
what you are is special

There's nothing I can't achieve.
Because in myself I believe in oh...

Gonna hold my head up high
Keep on reaching high
Never gonna stop
I'll be getting stronger.

Nothing's gonna bring me down (no!)
Never give it up gotta go, oh... yeah...
I'll keep getting strong--er.



Five more days.

An old picture.  But I really love love.  Did you know?


Ground Zero

Ground Zero Blues Club :: Clarksdale, Mississippi
Owned by Morgan Freeman


Delta Views

In no particular order, these pictures make me really happy.  A new smile to love (Sarah's), 6:00am bus rides, Rex missing his mommy, 11 days left on our toilet paper countdown (yes, just eleven!), the no whining creature of Hey Joe's, and 4th grade character traits.

Since we're all friends here, I will tell you that I have felt lots of really not happiness.  Exhausted, emotional, stressed, homesick, "I can't do this"-ness.  On Sunday I had a burst of renewal (perhaps linked to a three day weekend and the ability to get a week ahead on my lesson plans), and now I can look back and laugh.  And smile.  And realize that many great things - experiences, dollar store headbands, friends, learning, Wodney Wat, emotions, a new dress, etc - have come from this.  Tomorrow is our last day in the double digits.  Heck yes, we can.


Celebrating America in the Mississippi Delta

I couldn’t ask for a better place to celebrate Independence Day this year.  The towns of the Mississippi Delta are the simplest of simples.  They are America.  Children play in the yards and mamas love their babies and not so baby babies with a fierce passion.  People sell watermelons on the street.  Everyone treats us like we are guests of honor.  “We’re so happy you’re here.  How is the food?  Do you like it?  Thank you so much for all you are doing.  What exactly are you doing?”  We are Teach for America and we are working to close the achievement gap here in the Mississippi Delta.  We wake up at 4:45 in the morning, we gather on yellow school buses that take us an hour away to our school sites, we teach, we learn, we love.  We stay in dorm rooms and eat salad, ice cream, cereal, apples over and over and over again.  We stay up lesson planning until 1:00 in the morning, and then we wake up again at 4:45.  We do it because we love what we do, and we love these babies and not so babies with a fierce passion.

My students are 4th graders.  They are between 9 and 12 years old and have reading levels ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade.  There are twenty-six of them.  Twenty-six children to love by giving them the education that they deserve.  And so this is America.  The heart of it.  And this is Teach for America – we’re doing it.  It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever.ever.ever done in my life.  But when I think about those twenty-six faces, it is so completely worth every lost hour of sleep and every tear I’ve shed for missing home.

Happy Independence Day.  Be so thankful for all you have.  For living in this beautiful country.  For public schools.  Opportunities.  New friends.  $1 beers.  And apples.

And thank you to my sweet friend, Heather, for constantly bringing a smile to my face when I need it most.  I miss everyone so much.  Twelve more days til I step onto the plane and head back home.  I can do it.  I circled yes.