A few days ago I met up with students and parents for some dinner and to address any lingering questions and concerns about our Vanderbilt expedition. All of the parents seemed much at ease and very excited that all of the hard work their children have put into their academics (thus far) was about to come to fruition. The students, on the other hand, were full of nervous energy and even a bit of anxiety. There was some mention of sleeplessness and strange dreams, as well as vibrant discussions about expectations and minor concerns. I have been so busy with a variety of responsibilities this summer that I hadn't given too much thought to our quickly arriving departure date. Well, thanks to the energy and excitement emanating from these students and their families, I am wound like a top and ready to roll!
I have made a number of trips through the South but have never been able to spend a great deal of time exploring. I am looking forward to experiencing the culture, meeting the people, visiting the sites, and learning the histories of North Carolina and Tennessee. These are areas of this country with complex story lines and legacies, and I have a great deal to learn, reflect, and process. After all, I may be a teacher, but I am a student for life. While much has been made about the recent weather in Raleigh, DC, Philadelphia, and Nashville, I am looking forward to the onset of enveloping heat and the sweet smell of rain that precedes a summer thunderstorm.
One of the rewards of teaching is getting to see learning happen in the moment. This adventure is going to set off a chain reaction of epiphanies and connection making moments that is going to place these students far beyond their peers. I am simply amazed at the fact that students from the West Contra Costa County School District are presented with such an opportunity. Narges, Yessenia, Chris, and Hannah have already demonstrated to me that they have earned this privilege, and I am anticipating endless examples of learning and achievement.
Finally, in case you didn't know, I am a music nerd at heart. I searched for songs about our first stop (Raleigh, North Carolina) and found this bluegrass number. Enjoy.