How was your summer?

Fantastic! I am so blessed an fortunate to have had a wonderful summer. How many times in a school professional’s lifetime to they hear this question? It’s an insane question really. It’s right up there with when I was living in Normandy during college, upon returning home, everyone asked me.. “How was France? How was Paris?” The glaze in their eyes communicated an disinterest in the true answer…but they somehow felt it was at least important to ask.

Going back…how was your summer? I have to say  my least favorite answer in the world is….Fast. It was so fast. Really? Is that all we can come up with for a response? Several times this summer, I really tried to be in the moment of the day. Enjoying an ice cream cone from a local drive-in or just feeling the breeze on my face. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve had summers that were “fast.” Part of the problem is sometimes in teaching, we do not feel either valued in our own minds or from others for what we do. There is a little feeling of dread of the August 1st date….A feeling that cannot be described to those who do not teach. Honestly, this year, I do not have the feeling.

In May 2010, I really felt so energized from my Personal Learning Network, I was not ready to be done with the school year. From so many educators around the world and from my school in Seymour, I had learned so much that I wanted to share with my students. Not only share with them what I had learned, but share with them how fun learning can be.

This fall I am expecting our second son. To be exact, he will probably be born in August! You may say..HA! She is not even going back to school right away…no wonder she does not feel any anxiety. The reality is that I must return to work shortly after he is born. It is hard for me as a mother to face this reality…my major saving grace is that I do love my job and my students. When people ask me how my summer was….I will say wonderful! Because it was.

My First Day of High School

This blog post will give the most accurate description as I remember my first day of high school. I often share this story with my students to demonstrate how I am human and have made a few blunders. In no way am I trying to exaggerate or fluff the story. This is as it was….

As most people know, I am the sixth of eight daughters in my family. I am the only daughter to have the opportunity/choice to attend Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay WI. I agreed to pay my parents my summers earnings (which did NOT cover the costs) in return for the possibility to learn French and be different from my sisters. I cannot tell you how many times teachers would say to me as I entered their classroom…”OH NO! Not another HUTCHISON!” Whether they loved my sisters or not, it was a different pressure. Either my sisters were terribly smart and bored in the classroom or they just did not enjoy my awesome sisters!  To this day, I try very hard to never talk about siblings in class unless the student initiates the conversation.

Tracing back to my first day at Notre Dame, it is important to know that I did not really know anyone or where I was going or what was the expectation? I was a scared Freshman.

Notre Dame did have a dress code. We were to wear skirts (1/2 inch above the knee) and were able to wear pants too with button down shirts tucked in! So,  for my first day, I had my tan pleated skirt 1/2 inch above the knee with my green embroidered polo tucked in perfectly! As I am walking into school, I notice that no one is wearing the dress code. Everyone is in shorts, flip flops and trendy tops. I am mortified. Another “upperclassman” looks at me and says…”FROSH”  I want to hide but continue in my journey.

First hour goes fine with Mrs. Mueller. She’s a bit old and scary but seems to keep the class glued to her attention. Bell rings….Darn. I can’t remember my locker combination. I have to go to the office. Finally, I get almost all of my books and run to class. I am late. I am the only one in the hallway (as I remember). I run to the top of the stairs and see…205. I need to get to 204…I turn right and run into the next classroom. Room 206. Senior English. I am litterally staring at the class unable to move. Somehow, I turn myself around and walk out of the room. Mr. Wok follows me into the hallway and says jokingly, “You can stay if you want. It’s alright with me.” I hear snickers in his classroom.

With my books and notebooks in hand finally I make it to Mr. Geiser’s room. Algebra I. He was a master teacher. He causally told me to sit anywhere….not a big deal. As I am walking to a seat in the back row, a sophomore, trips me. My materials go flying in slow motion. While I am picking up my books, Mr. Geiser is reaming out “Mark” for tripping me. I am now at a point where I want to cry but don’t.  I realize I do not have my Algebra book but Mr. Geiser told me just to share with Lindsay. Thank God. It was a pivotal moment in the day. More importantly, it was a life learning lesson.

In my classroom, on the first day of school, I always try to remember how I felt that day. How did the teachers make me feel? How did students judge me or help me laugh through the day? So many times, teachers are told to not smile or to act a certain way the first day. I really believe it is crucial for our students to see we care about them the minute they walk into our rooms. We know they are human and so are we.

Thanks, Dad.

Mom, Kayla (granddaughter), Dad

Part of my professional development over this summer is to work on Shelly Terrell’s #30 goals. It is a free book offered online to help educators work on their own personal learning. In goal #16, one is to show your appreciation to someone who has impacted your life. Instantly, I thought of my dad.

Why dad? My thoughts first flood to when I was a small child. My dad worked very hard to support his family. For a couple of years, Dad worked in Milwaukee. I missed my dad so much but when he was able to be home….he was home. He would play with us outside either basketball, swimming, or a little backyard football. We would have bon fires and share meals together as a family.  Dad shared with us the importance of family and faith in our daily lives. On the weekend, we would often visit his dad in New London.

With having 8 daughters, you would think….oh, your poor father! My dad never made us feel as if we were a disappointment to him. Most of my sisters share with people that when we were growing up, we had one shower for six daughters (my little sisters were born a little later :)). Dad really had to wait his turn!  My mom did an amazing job of feeding us healthy meals. I remember Dad always thanking my mom for the work she had done….which was a lot! The best part was that Dad always did the dishes. I don’t ever remember a dirty dish in the sink in the morning.

Dad visited me while I was living in France. It was so important to me that he share in my love of the French people, language and culture. We enjoyed our time together even though the visit was short.

This past year, my husband Matt and I have built a house on Hutchison Road….right next to where Dad grew up as a child. We feel so fortunate to be near family. Within one mile, we have two uncles, three aunts and cousins! We would not have been able to build here without the support of my parents.

Dad always told us to reach for our dreams and continue believing in yourself. This year, Dad announced he was running for State Senate. I could not be more proud of my Dad for his desire to help Wisconsin become and continue to be a wonderful place to live. He has been such a great role model for me.

Merci mon père. Je t’aime!