2010-2011 AT&T NC Teacher of the Year Team

From Left to Right: Vann Lassiter (Northeast Region) • RenĂ© Herrick (North Central Region) • Courtney Davis (Piedmont-Triad/Central Region) • Amber Alford Watkins (Sandhills/South Central Region) • Joy Jenkins (Northwest Region) • Dorothy Case (West Region) • Jennifer Facciolini (Southeast Region) • David Dahari (Southwest Region) • Stuart Miles (Charter Schools) For more information on any team member or on the AT&T North Carolina Teacher of the Year Program, please click the photograph below.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The View from the W Hotel and My Farewell

On our last TOY trip we spent a couple of nights in Times Square at the very gorgeous W Hotel. It was my first trip the New York and I could hardly sleep! I sat up for hours sitting by the window and starring out at glitz and glamour, listening to the sounds of the city, watching the diversity that existed in one small part of a very large city. I just sat and pondered. Here it was the final official NTOY trip. The last time I might ever see some of these folks. What was next for me? Yes, I have a new job. Yes, I love the fact that I may actually get to unpack my suitcase for more than one or two nights. But as I sat in the still quiet of my hotel room watching the busy noise of the city, I could not help but wonder: Am I the same Jennifer? Am I the same teacher? Will I ever make up this crazy year to my two beautiful children? Has my career peaked and this the defining moment of who I am? I reflected on the many conversations I had throughout the past year. Some where people simply said..."You have changed." and other who laughingly say..."You are just Jenny from the block." I am for the first time in my whole life confused. I have always know what the next step was for me both personally and professionally. And now, here I sit in the city that never sleeps, wondering if I can even comprehend what is next in either of those areas. For the first time in my life.....I am unsure, uncertain and down right scared. On one of my final days in New York, I decided to leave the safety of the treadmill at the W Hotel gym and run in the city. As I ran, I laughed, cried, and pondered. No, I don't know what is next for me. However, the one thing I know I gained this year is the inner strength and courage to find out who I really am and what I really want to do with the teacher within me. On my final night in New York, Angie Miller knocked on my door at 3:00am in her pjs. With tear filled eyes, she walked into my room. We did not need to say a word. We instantly knew we were both hurting. We were both struggling. What were we each to take away from this year? We just sat quietly in our pjs and enjoyed the view from the W Hotel. Yes, I have changed. I have grown personally and professionally. Where this change will take me, I don't really know. My heart is in the classroom and with my own children. Will I go back to the classroom? I don't really know...but very likely so. As I type this, months after the New York trip, I still find myself sitting quietly and starring as life goes on around me. Although the unknown is a bit scary, I am ready to stop looking out the window and walk the unknown streets. "What's next?" is the question I continue to be asked most often. And I say again, for the first time in my life, I don't know! But I can tell you that the teacher inside of me is ready to discover it!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Education Nerd

Okay, so I have realized how much I enjoyed sharing my random thoughts and reflections. Though no one may really enjoy reading them or find my blogs insightful at all, I have a new blog. My focus is to reflect, ponder, laugh and share on both a professional and personal level. Visit my blog at http://educationnerd.blogspot.com

Final Thoughts

Over the past two years, my life has been a roller coaster. Just over two years ago, I was honored to be named the North Carolina Teacher of the Year. The year of my service was nothing but amazing. I encountered such amazing teachers and people who have inspired, encouraged, and helped me in ways too big to describe in a blog post. There are so many people to thank, that I cannot possibly thank them all in this blog. I had a amazing year and as I try to reflect on the "big moments" I am truly overwhelmed. The last part of our Teacher of the Year journey was a conference entitled "Next Steps" and was held in Princeton, New Jersey and New York, New York. I thought when I went that I would know what was next in my professional life. I think it should have been entitled "Reflections" as we spent more time reflecting with each other than thinking about our next steps. While in New York, we had the opportunity to see the Broadway production of Wicked. It was truly amazing, and seemed to capture the spirit of my journey with the 2011 NTOY class. To my classmates, "because I knew you, I have been changed for good." So many of you have been such a part of my life in such unique and special ways that I cannot even begin to find the words to say how I feel. You have picked up my shattered pieces when I fell apart.  You have reignited my passion for teaching. You have made me laugh for hours at a time. You have answered your phone when I called in tears or sent a text to say hello. "You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart." A few photos from our last NTOY 2012 trip.

End of the Year Fun Stuff

Okay so I have been less that punctual at a great deal of things lately, especially my blog. So this weekend, I will attempt to hit the fun stuff from the end of the TOY year and leave you with some final reflections. These events and experiences were far more fun, captivating and incredible that I will do justice to in the brief blog...but nonetheless, here it goes.. This one time at Space Camp... I will admit that Space Camp was probably the event of the NTOY program I was looking the least forward to attending. Geeze...I was wrong! I had envisioned hours of rigorous math and science that would leave this humanities chick in the dust. However, it was rigorous and demanding, but one of my favorite events! From the State Costume Parade to building rockets, I had a blast! When we first arrived, we had to the parade of states. We each had to create a costume that showed something about our state. As NC is home of beautiful light houses, I glued sand and shells to my heels and went as Cape Hatteras. From the Starbucks logo from Washington State to Ben Franklin from Pennsylvania, we had a blast. Below are a few photos and the video of our parade of states. If you ever get the opportunity to go to space camp....GO! Click here for the Parade of State Costumes video. Here are a few photos with commentary from the most awesome week in Huntsville, Alabama! State Costumes:
(Kathy Powers from Arkansas as Mother Nature, Erika Webb of Kentucky representing the Kentucky Derby, Kristen Brummel from Hawaii as volcanoes, Shelly Moody as a Maine Lobster and Danielle Kovach as Snookie from the Jersey Shore.)
A glimpse of our TOY class' crazy costumes!
Cheryl Conley of Florida is such an awesome lady! We hardly recognized her as a Seminole!
Darin Curtis as a California Beach Boy, me, and Jay Maebori of Washington as the Starbucks logo.) After the parade of costumes, we worked on everything from Martian Math to landing a shuttle! We worked, learned, and laughed as a team all week long! I built and launched my first rocket, met Rocket Boys author Homer Hickom, survived the "Shonk Awards" and almost died on the way home from our host dinner as our driver drove the wrong way on the road! (Just to clarify, none of the TOYS were driving. Our dinner hosts were from Europe originally.... thankfully we all survived!!) What a crazy fabulous week!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

China - Wow! What an Experience!

As part of my TOY year, I had the opportunity to travel with the North Carolina Center for International Understanding to China. It was one of the most amazing, reflective, and interesting trips I have ever taken. (Ok to be fair I had never before been out of the country....but none the less an amazing trip!)

There were 24 other teachers and two leaders who joined me as we flew for a very long time! I don't know that my words or even my photographs will do justice to the experience. We left on June 16 and we bonded almost instantly at the airport! Teachers were of a variety of grade levels and located across our great state! I learned so much from our conversations throughout our 10 days together! There were so many take-aways that I don't know where to begin. I think the first and biggest take-away was on a more personal than professional note. As I walked around Shanghai one morning, I really had some quiet time to reflect. There I stood in a city of over 22 million people and felt like I was walking around in the most quiet and peaceful place. No one was in a hurry. No one was rushing. Yes there was traffic and fast food places, but no one was eating in the car. No one was in a hurry. As we dined (and I loved the food as I was the only one in our group that did not loose any weight while there) it took over an hour. Meals and family time were to be enjoyed. It was not exactly what I expected in this large city. I am much to sentimental while attempting to chronicle my trip to China. So I think I will let my photos share the amazing experience. What a beautiful country! Here are some of my favorite photos that capture a glimpse of Beijing and Shanghai.
Our "travel family". You guys were so much fun!
We don't look like tourist at all!
Traveling around China in a purple Mercedes bus. Now that is rolling in style!
Elizabeth Plotkin (WCPSS TOY 11-12) and fellow Meredith Angel and I in one of the many beautiful gardens in Shangha.
AJ was the most awesome travel guide! Whether he was leading Karaoke or taking us for Papa Johns, we had a blast and learned so much from AJ!
Our travel family: Dwayne, AJ, Clark, Elizabeth, me and Darren The Tourist Stuff General Touristy photos
The Forbidden City
The Great Wall (My personal favorite part of the trip.)
Education: Our school visit Because it was testing time, we were only able to visit one school. Classes were single gender and very structured. Here are a few photos.
Again, I realize my reflections on this amazing opportunity are not up to par. In part, it has been some time since my visit. In other ways, it was such a powerful trip, that I find it difficult to put into words. I love to talk about this trip, so feel free to email if you have specific questions!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Month of June

Okay so clearly I am a bit behind on my blog. It is October and I am trying to catch up from the final month of my "official" tour of duty. For most, you may agree with the following cartoon:

For others, I appreciate your support and willingness to follow my somewhat crazy blog! Although it is late, I would certainly feel as though I left my year incomplete if I did not finish out my TOY year via blog!

June was a month of mixed emotions. From watching the class I taught as both Freshmen and Juniors graduate, to handing over the NCTOY job to Tyronna Hooker, my emotions were on a roller coaster this month!

On June 7, I attended the North Carolina Business Committee for Education in Raleigh and enjoyed the opportunity to talk about the role of business in public education. This is truly a dedicated group of individuals who want to work with our public schools to graduate the most capable, creative and analytic students to work in NC.

On June 9, I watched my students walk across the stage in caps and gowns. As most teachers, I felt like a watched my own children graduate. We loose sleep; we worry; we stay at school late figuring out the best way to reteach the material; we listen to their problems; we cheer them on at ballgames; we dry their tears. They really are like our own children aren't they? Occasionally they will return to say hello. A few years down the road, a email from a former student will make your day. We watch them transition to the next phase of life and hope that in some small way, we made a difference. Here are a few fun photos from the graduation ceremony at Midway High School.

Erin, Caroline and Maria are three of the coolest, funniest, and most intelligent ladies I know. They were Marshalls for this years graduation.

All of us are Meredith Angels and we wanted to relive our "ring dinner" days! I truly enjoy working with you ladies!

Jacob and Edgar are two of my most unforgettable students. I am very proud of you two!

The following week I had the opportunity to lead a professional development workshop for Lenoir County Schools. I had a great time and really enjoyed talking with this group! Thanks to Steve Hill for inviting me.

Then I was packing my bags for CHINA! I was so excited!