Merry Christmas to All!

christmaswreath.jpgSometimes we learn life’s lessons best through difficult times.

About four summers ago my wife and I came into some extra money (for those that don’t know what this means, it means that you have more money than you expected–SURPLUS–hard to comprehend, isn’t it??) and I thought it would be wise to start getting things repaired on the house. Although this seemed the logical decision, my heart wasn’t in it. My wife had quit her job as a first grade teacher to be a full time mom, and thus with income cut in half, that meant I would have to pick up summer jobs: summer school for nine summers. This particular summer I was writing curriculum, and even though my stress was reduced, I felt obligated to keep on top of all the repairs.

My heart wasn’t in it, and since I had worked so long for so many years , we had never taken a vacation as a family with the girls. After discussing my plan with my wife, we decided that it was more important to invest in time with the girls and not the house. As my mother used to say, you can’t take a U-Haul to heaven!

The vacation was what was needed to reduce stress. We took late night runs for ice cream, explored The Mall, watched people, and a sundry of other activities. Returning home, I still looked at an unrepaired house (did you know you can get duct tape that matches the color of the cabinets?), but also looked at children that I had invested my time and love. The lesson learned was yet to come.

For awhile that September, we had a category 5 hurricane approaching the Virginia coast, and we even had begun deciding what to pile in the trunk of the car and called family to see who we could stay with. The forecasters were even predicting that many buildings would be flattened.

One night I stood in the backyard looking at the house as I prepared for the hurricane, I thought: if I had spent all that money on repairs and not my family, it would have been for naught. What would my children have remembered? That the house was more important than they? That’s when I determined that investing in people was a treasure that would last forever. Teaching is an investment in the future, and we as teachers do this every day. Thus, what’s the point?

Take time this Christmas to be with those that need an encouragement and time. Recharge your batteries. Read a book. Watch five movies in one day. Watch the sunset with a friend. Put your watch in the drawer. Call somebody up that you haven’t talked to in a long time. WRITE a letter to an old friend. Buy somebody a gift AFTER Christmas for somebody that can’t return the favor. Listen instead of talking.

Enjoy your Christmas, and please take time to read a wonderful column that a great writer, Kerry Dougherty, from the Virginian Pilot, wrote. It’s well worth your time: Go.

Merry Christmas!

Visit the White House–Sort Of…

whha_logo.gifFrom the White House websiteOne of my hobbies, or interests, is history of the White House. In fact, one of my dreams is to be able to see the upstairs of the White House and visit the Oval Office. What are the chances of this? Probably about as much as striking up a friendship with Zachary Levi (“Chuck”), or winning a zillion dollars, or being mistaken for Brad Pitt.

The biggest let-down of not winning Virginia Teacher of the Year was not because the folks in Richmond thought somebody else was better than I, but that was my last chance for getting my foot in the Rose Garden. So how else do I visit?

Have you heard of the website The White House Historical Association? This is a fabulous website to take students to if you want to learn the history/background of the President’s House, get lesson plans, teaching guides, etc.

Examples of things you can see:
=>Primary Document Activities: Go
=>Music Educator’s Kit: Go
=>Art Educator’s Guide: Go
=>Examples of lesson plans: Go

The White House official website has a fascinating page about life at the White House with virtual tours, historical photos, facts, art, and what happens at Christmas. For example, here’s a pdf of their booklet given out at the White House Christmas tours: White House tour book Check it out!

Travel to Colonial Williamsburg for Christmas via the Web

2.jpg6.jpg1.jpgDo you teach American history?

Do you wish that you could take your class to Colonial Williamsburg? You can, via the net.

Williamsburg has a wealth of information and resources on their website for teachers of colonial history. Some examples are below. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

=>Col. Wmsbg., Past & Present: Podcasts.
=>Teacher Resources
=>Lesson Plans (includes Christmas ones too)

There are many other items too numerous to mention. Want to learn more? Their website is and is fun to spend time exploring!
© 2007 The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation