Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2009 by Joe

That’s right…I am moving my blog.

If you follow this blog, please make the jump!



Jack and Bobby: Lost Boys

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2009 by Joe

Once again, I was surfing YouTube. I found this snippet of an episode from the show “Jack and Bobby.” In this episode, Jack deals with the suicide of a friend. He wonders if he could have done more to save him. It is truly emotional and very well done.

Pretty Powerful Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 by Joe

Shannon posted a video blog to his website. I was blown away by how open he was about his life. All I want to say here is WAY TO GO, SHANNON! Just keep on being yourself.

Freedom of Speech…WHERE???

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 by Joe

Today our president, Barack Obama, delivered a speech that was meant to be broadcast to the students of the United States. It comes as no surprise that there are those in our society who worked very hard to silence our president. Many people called schools, complained, threatened to keep their students out of school, and worked to insure that President Obama’s speech would not be played in the schools.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you, where is our freedom of speech? One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie, “The American President.” As the president, Michael Douglas says “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” The freedom of speech is one of our given rights as American citizens.

Now there are those that say they don’t have to listen to those exercising their right to free speech. Yes, they are correct. My problem is why do they have to work to deprive those who want to listen?

I understand that I also live and work in a very conservative, right-wing part of the country. (For the record, during the presidential election McCain beat out Obama two-to-one in my part of the state.) I expected there to be those who would complain about this speech. Again, what surprised me is that these few people who did call into my school system made it so none of us were allowed to show President Obama’s speech in my class.

As an educator, especially an educator of social studies and history, why would I choose not to show the President’s comments? This is history in the making, and my students were deprived of that experience.

I, like many educators, had the opportunity to read the President’s speech beforehand. I did not find anything that played into partisan politics or any political agenda. The President’s speech was basically a rally cry for our students to get serious about their education. I found it to be an encouraging speech for teachers and students. Why wouldn’t parents want their students to be told they can do better, they can rise above, and they can achieve anything if they work hard? True, you may not like the man, but the message rings true no matter who was delivering the speech.

Because of the prejudice some people displayed this past week, many students in our country missed a moment in history.

All I want to say is GROW UP AMERICA!

We offer options in this country. Why could we have not sent a letter home to parents giving them and their child the option to participate in the viewing of this 13 minute speech? Why would that be such a difficult task? Instead, we received a direct order from our administration that the video of the President’s speech was not to be shown unless it could be tied in with the curriculum. Heck, I teach ancient civilizations. The President’s speech did not necessarily fall into my curriculum, and I could not justify it to my principal.

Now, this Friday is September 11. Those of us who remember 9/11/01 were greatly affected by it. I make it a point every year to take a few minutes out of my classes to talk with the students about what happened on that day. My current students were only 4 or 5 years old when 9/11 occurred. They don’t really have much memory about what happened on that day. I take the time to teach them about this pivotal moment in our society. We look at newscasts, newspapers, etc. I talk about a man I met in 2003 when I was visiting Ground Zero. He was the husband of one of the flight attendants on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. It was an incredible experience meeting and talking with him. His pain is something I will never forget.

Is there going to be some parent who will call and complain because I am teaching and talking about something that is relevant to our history, present, and future, but is not necessarily in my 6th grade curriculum? It hasn’t happened yet, but I am sure it will at some point. Until then, I will soldier on.

Going back to President Obama’s speech, I did post it to my teacher website in case there was someone who wanted to see it. They have that option.

Sinead’s Hand

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by Joe

Old Family, Old Friends, and Some Fireworks

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by Joe

This weekend has been quite a busy, and interesting one.

On Saturday I went to my family reunion. I have to preface this by saying I come from quite a large extended family. There were probably about 100 people at the reunion, and that is about half of what we normally have had in the past. There has been quite a bit of illness in our family in the past couple of years. Last year’s reunion was cancelled because the patriarch of our family, my uncle Robert, was seriously ill. He has recovered and made sure to bring the reunion back this year.

When we all gathered for dinner, my uncle Robert began his speech by saying we would begin having the reunions on a different Saturday from now on since it always conincides with opening day for the UT Vols. (As I have mentioned before, my family’s blood runneth Volunteer Orange!) There was a great deal of applause at that announcement, especially all of us wearing orange shirts.

Next came the traditional blessing, given by my uncle Robert’s pastor. He really has become more like a member of the family, so the pastor stays around and eats with us. Got to love the Southern Baptist preachers. The can eat, socialize, and offer you blessings all at the same time.

There were some missing members of my family at the reunion, which did put a damper on my spirits a bit. My cousin Paul, who is serving in Iraq, and his family were not there. Only 2 of my 9 nieces and nephews were there. They are the highlight of my time there. And, most missed is my grandmother. I did take about half an hour out of the reunion to drive up to the cemetary to visit with my grandmother. He burial site is in an incredibly beautiful location…on top of a hill and right on the bend of the river. I sat next to her grave and talked for about 10 minutes or so and then just closed my eyes to just listen. It was extremely peaceful, and I she a tear or two. I miss that woman!

Getting back to the reunion, it was interesting to see my cousin Kelly there. She was obviously uncomfortable at the reunion. She has 4 bi-racial children. She brought two of her sons with her to the reunion. She commented to me that she did not like the looks she was getting towards her and her bi-racial kids. I simply reminded her that we are from and very Southern, uber-right winged, conservative, Republican, and sometimes redneck family. I told her not to give it a second thought. I love her kids. They are a barrel of fun to be around.

To add to the drama, my sister decided to show up. Personally, I think it was because the food was good and free. She definitely stuck out in the crowd. She arrived in a halter top that was obviously not designed to hold her check in place. Yes, this means no bra to hold the girls in or up either. I know she wore the top so she could show off her tattoos…the set of stars shooting across the top of her breasts and the set of angel wings on her back. Did I mention the gothic black dyed hair? Oh, and then there was the lip, tounge, and nose piercings.

Now, I am all for freedom of expression, but this is crazy. The looks were plenty and all coming towards her. She doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Given my current frustration with my sister, I had to bite my tounge hard not to say anything negative to her. (Not about her appearance, but about her behavior of late.)

Moving on. On Sunday, I met up with some old friends from high school. We all met to attend the Labor Day weekend fireworks show. The celebration is called Boomsday, and it has been given the designation as one of the best fireworks shows in the country. I would have to agree with that statement. The fireworks were awesome (see below for a few pics), and the company was awesome too. My only complaint about the fireworks show is that there was not enough wind to blow the compunding smoke away. By the time the finale hit, we could not see many of the fireworks going off, but we could sure hear them.

All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. It was nice to relax. Of couse, now I am spending my Labor Day doing work. I am writing lesson plans, grading papers, printing progress reports, etc. School life goes on!

Hope everyone had a great weekend.
– J.

First thing you notice!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2009 by Joe

When you meet someone, what is the first thing you notice?

For me it’s the eyes.

I could get lost in his eyes!

I could get lost in his eyes!