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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Reasons I Love the Royal Family


            
Trooping of Colour 2018. (From left to right: Queen Elizabeth; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex; Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex; Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge; Princess Charlotte of Cambridge; Savannah Phillips; Prince George of Cambridge; and, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge) 

I was a young girl when I first heard the word “princess.” Back then, it was in reference to Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. As I started to get older, the idea of being a princess in real life continued to grow. I imagined myself twirling around in a big, puffy dress with a crown of perfect jewels on my head, a gentleman would accompany to a ball and whisper into my ear that he was the Prince of so-and-so, and we would run away together before the King and Queen could find out.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school when I finally did some actual research on princes and princesses. I typed in the word “prince” and guess who popped up? That’s right, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis. He quickly turned into a real-life Prince crush for me. I learned all about Prince Henry “Harry” Charles Albert David, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, and most importantly, Princess Diana. Researching the Royal Family completely changed my life. Not only did I find real-life princes and princesses, but I also found a whole family of role models and strong women to look up to. Learning about Princes turned into something more than the idea of loving and marrying one. Here’s why:
Reason #1 - The Duchesses: Also known as Duchess Kate Middleton of Cambridge and Duchess Meghan Markle of Sussex, these two blow my mind. Not only are they living my lifelong dream of being royalty and not only are they gorgeous, but they are some of the smartest and charitable women I know. Duchess Kate Middleton gives so much time and work to the many charities she’s a patron of. She’s a committed champion of issues related to children’s mental health, adult’s mental health, addiction, athletics, and so many more. Ever heard of Heads Together? Yeah, that’s the Royals. 
Duchess Meghan Markle has always been an advocate/activist for women’s rights, even way before marrying Prince Harry. She was a Global Ambassador for World Vision, the largest international children’s charity. For her wedding to Prince Harry, instead of asking for gifts, they asked for money to be donated to charities that help with HIV/AIDS, environmental issues, women empowerment, conservation, homelessness, and armed forces.
Reason #2 - The Brothers:  Also known as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Having lost their mother at such a young age (William was 15 and Harry was 12), being Royalty, and always in the public eye, their childhood was probably not easy. Being the eldest and second to the throne, Prince William had bit more of a reputation to keep track of. After this mother died,  he made sure to watch out for his brother, especially when Harry got into some serious trouble. Having decided to choose a military career, he was selected to be an officer. But because he was second to the throne, deployment was possible but being potential danger decreased his chances of seeing combat. So, he trained in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, where he earned his wings. In 2014, he announced that he took a full-time job as an Air Ambulance Pilot. He left his position in July of 2017 to have a more active role in his Royal duties to support the Queen. 
In addition to his support for the Queen, Prince William is also a patron of many charities. He works to help young people and raise awareness around what things young people could be going though: homelessness, bullying, etc. He continues his mother's work to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. He, his wife The Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry started a mental health campaign called Heads Together. It is a coalition of eight mental health charity partners to change the conversation about mental health.  
And for Prince Harry, it definitely was not an easy childhood. Drinking, drugs, and partying took up a good chunk of his teenage life. Turning his life around, he joined the British Army and served for ten years. Now, he does all he can to promote welfare for those to served and who are still serving. He's a big patron for The Invictus Games, which is an international sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women. In 2006, Prince Harry  jointly founded Sentebale, a charity that helps orphans in Southern Africa with HIV/AIDS. He even went so far as to take an HIV test on Facebook Live. Lastly, he too is a part of Heads Together, along with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 
Reason 3 - The People's Princess: Also known as Princess Diana of Wales. Princess Diana went from being a kindergarten teacher to an icon. Marrying Prince Charles on July 29th, 1981, completely changed her life. She turned out to be an international style leader and hailed as one of the world's best dressed and most elegant women. Her clothes and outfits were planned weeks in advance, only changing if radical weather were to hit. And all that was just the beginning. 
Not even a year after their wedding, in 1982 Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William. And in 1984, Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry, starting a family of their own. Prince William said that "she was a very hands-on mother." She wanted her sons to have as much of a normal life as she could. After being unhappy for years, Prince Charles and Princess Diana decided to announce their separation on December 10th, 1992. Their divorce was finalized in 1996, just one short year before her unexpected death. 
Initially Diana's work as a patron was mainly in the arts field: RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), the Royal Academy of Music, and the English National Ballet were just a few that she was President of. She did a lot of work with children of abuse. One cause that was close to her heart was drug abuse. She hosted a reception at Kensington Palace for Turning Pointm a charity which concerns itself with both drug and alcohol abuse.
By far her most significant and memorable role was the support she gave to the less obviously popular and high profile charities. When she visited Aid suffers in April of 1987, at a time when there was widespread hysteria about the disease, she met, shook hands with, and sat on the beds of nine terminally ill men. Her close involvement in Aids fundraising took some bravery in facing the social taboos around the disease. But when a good friend of hers died from Aids in 1991, she took on the role if patron to the National Aids Trust. 
On August 31st, 1997, Princess Diana died to due injuries she suffered in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. 

I've opened my heart to this family and have yet to be disappointed. They have such caring souls. Take a moment and really look into them like I have. I promise you, you won't be disappointed. For more information about these wonderful human beings, please visit https://www.royal.uk  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Reflection of the Last Six Months as an IA

            My whole life changed for the better the moment I was offered my job at Gold Academy Elementary in Decatur Township. I will gladly admit that I was in over my head the moment I walked through the doors as an educator instead of a student. Walking through the hallways felt a lot like déjà vu, even though I was on the Blue side for my fifth and sixth grade years. A lot of memories reappeared, mainly since the principal and assistant principal of Gold were also my sixth grade teachers on Blue. The two fifth grade teachers I work with were also my fifth grade teachers at Blue. A third grade teacher that I work with was also my former fourth grade teacher from Stephen Decatur. It oddly felt like coming home. And those five teachers have turned into my colleagues and my friends. Not many people can say that about their former elementary school teachers.
            My very first day was filled with A LOT of NWEA testing and shadowing the English Language Learner Instructional Assistant (ELL IA) on the Blue Academy. I got to see what the days of NWEA testing was like. I remember taking it as a student, but boy, things have changed. Instead of taking it just twice a year, they take it three times a year. Anyway, that day, I only met three of students: my three fifth graders. Along with them, I also met four other marvelous IA’s that I now share a LGI room with. That was also the day the LGI room was all moved around and chaos ensued. It was definitely an interesting and overwhelming first day.
            The following days after that consisted of a lot of testing and introducing myself to the teachers and the students I’d be working with. Walking into classrooms to talk to teachers was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done. I mean, I’m taking students from their rooms to work with in a small group. I wanted to make sure every teacher trusted that I would take care of and help their student, which is difficult to persuade them of such a thing given I was freshly out of college and the only students I’ve ever worked with before were college students. However, I walked into their classrooms with confidence. And, honestly, all the teachers I work with are AMAZING. I’m not just saying that. They are. They put hours and hours of work into their classrooms for their students and I guess I never really realized that until now. Lesson planning isn’t always easy. I, a little ole IA, have stayed at work until five or later for lesson planning (my schedule is so packed that sometimes my prep time turns into a pull out session). I know of several teachers who have stayed until eight or later grading and making copies and just getting things prepared for the upcoming days. It’s inspiring.
            About a week after starting the job, I finally got to work with my students! I was so nervous that I didn’t eat all day. Since I didn’t know any of them and they didn’t know me, I thought it would be fun to fill out little index cards with fun stuff like birthdays, favorite colors, favorite foods, favorites books, etc. (I actually just found those cards yesterday). Little did I know then that just an act as simple as having them write down some of their favorite things was huge steps toward building a relationship with them. Six months later, the bond I have with all 45 of my students is strong. They trust me, they’re comfortable around me, and that’s a feeling like no other.
            It took some as little as a few weeks to be comfortable around me, others it took a couple of months. Now, I’m not saying everything has been perfect or that I’m perfect or that my students are perfect. I’ve had arguments, I’ve written students up, I’ve taken away recess, I’ve started a clip chart in my room, I’ve done behavior charts. As an educator (can I call myself that? I mean, I am teaching them some things), I’ve taken a step back and looked at everything I’ve done wrong when it comes to disciplining my students. I talked to the Master Teacher. I’ve talked to other teachers. I’m still learning, but I’ve learned so much from them and I’ve been going about things differently than I was before. So far, so good!
           

            One of the hardest things I had to get used to was lesson planning. I didn’t know my student’s weaknesses right away, so it was slow going. A lot of spelling board races, reading as a group, talking about the day just to get them using English, and rereading the story of the week. What I didn’t know then was that all of that was exactly what they all needed. A few extra minutes with the story helped with their comprehension tests. More spelling practice helped with spelling grades. Everything I thought I was just putting together to hold me over until I knew exactly what they needed, was perfect for them. They aren’t crazy needy students, they just need a little extra help to make things click easier for them.
            One thing that I make my students do is to read for thirty minutes every night. At first I didn’t make them document it, but now they have to. Anyway, every single one of them fought me on it. BUT… I’m going to brag a little bit real quick, THEY ARE EXCELLING IN READING. Going up on NWEA tests, going up levels in benchmarking. I’ve even got some to actually like reading! It’s crazy but so much fun.
           


            Just so everyone knows, I love sleep. I love sleeping in. But on weekdays, I don’t mind waking up early to go to work. I don’t mind standing in the commons area and greeting all the students when they get off the bus. I don’t mind staying after school to plan for pull out groups during testing season. I don’t mind when I need to change my schedule up a little when a teacher needs to me help a student at a certain time. I love my job, and sometimes I wish I went to college to be a teacher. But for now, I don’t mind working with ELL students, fighting for what they need, or being someone they can talk to. This job has been one of the best accomplishments of my 23 years of life.