Friday, October 15, 2010

Introduction Post- Welcome to Our Community

In your introduction post please include your name, teaching experience and choose ONE of the three questions to respond to in your own blog response:

(1) What is the most interesting trip that you have taken thus far?  Why?

(2) If you had the chance to go back and relive 24 hours of your life- what age would you return to and why?

(3) What is a tradition from your own childhood that you believe should be passed on to the next generation?


  1. One tradition from my childhood that I think should be passed on to the next generation is eating dinner together every night as a family. When I was growing up, it didn't matter what you had going on in your day, you always made sure you were home to sit down and eat dinner with your family. During dinner, my family and I always took turns going around the table and telling each other about "What the best part of our day was" and "What the worst part of our day was." In today's world I think it is especially important that families take the time to sit and enjoy at least one meal together and to listen to each other. A lot of times parents will ask their children about their day and they will just say, "It was good." This tradition helps kids and parents open up to each other about what is going on in their lives and gives them a place for their voice to be heard. Of all my family traditions, this is the one I value most.

  2. Valentyna Banner taught fourth grade for 1 year at Iftin Charter School, third grade for 3 years at Nubia Leadership Academy, and is currently in her first year of third grade at San Diego Global Vision Academy.

    #3)Tamale night is always a night to remember! All the women in the family get together at Nana's house and make about 300 tamales. We form an assembly line with various jobs, which you have to apply for. Cleaning and preparing ojas with masa is always the job to avoid. Major butt kissing occurs all year long to the amazing tamale queens.
    Each girl has a special champagne flute with her initials engraved. White Star Champagne is the only acceptable ticket to the party. After the tamales are the made, we karaoke and dance the night away.
    On Christmas Eve, the tamales are eaten and the men can always tell how many bottles of White Star we went through!

  3. I taught for 4 years at Iftin Charter School (1st and 2nd grade) and I currently teach 2nd grade and San Diego Global Vision Academy.
    I grew up Pennsylvania, where the winters were so cold doors often froze shut in a town that was so small it routinely got buried in snow from November-March. For at least 5 solid months out of the year, it was necessary to start your vehicle 20-30 minutes before you actually had to drive somewhere. I will never forget the days of opening the front door of our house and being pushed back by the wind and snow so cold that it took my breath away. With the key in hand, I would slide across the front porch, fight my way down the icy steps, traverse the snowy driveway, and open the driver's side door as quickly as possible. Once inside, I would turn the key, relieved that 1) the car door actually opened and 2) the car actually started. I would then proceed to turn on the heat (which comes out astonishingly cold in the dead of winter) as high as possible, and sprint back into the house as quickly as possible. Shivering, cold, wet, and snowy, I would have to continue to get ready for school. It was just around the time that my teeth stopped chattering, the feeling returned to my extremities, and the ice in my hair melted and dried that I would have to put my coat back on, this time backpack in hand, to venture back out into the blistery cold to begin our voyage to school.
    If I still lived in a place where severe cold was the norm, I would definitely carry on the tradition of making my children go turn on the car while I continue to eat my breakfast, blow dry my hair, or simply laugh an evil laugh as I watch from the window clutching the warm sleeves of my robe. Thanks, Mom.

  4. My name is Christine Kane and I'm a full-time fourth grade teacher at San Diego Global Vision Academy. I also teach in the evenings at either USD or SDSU - depending upon the semester.

    One tradition that my father instilled from my own childhood was going to the bookstore every Saturday morning to purchase one book. Coming from a poor family in the Bay Area funding was pretty scarce and buying books was a luxury (I was an avid borrower of books from the library). My father would save a portion of the lunch money that my mother provided him for his work everyday and take me to used bookstores or thrift stores to buy a book (or two if they were on sale). This fueled my love of reading and as an adult I am determined to continue on this tradition from my father.

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  6. "Interesting trip" doesn't do this experience justice. Eye-opening, inspirational, magnificent are words that describe the trip of my dreams. For my 30th birthday my husband and I left our daughter with my parents in Wisconsin and off we went to the other side of the world….South Africa and Zimbabwe. We spend a good portion of our trip seeing the sites, which included: Cape of Good Hope, Great White Shark cage dive, animal safari’s, wineries, Robben Island (Nelson Mandela’s jail), Botanical gardens, etc.

    Those events were fantastic, but the part of the trip that left the largest impact was visiting the schools in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. 50-60 students filled a furniture-less classroom and the learning was palpable. Signing, writing on the chalk board, chanting, and discussions, filled the learning day. The teachers brought experiences that they have read about or experienced themselves and used these stories to fill the children’s minds with wonder and question. I was floored. Simply flabbergasted. I learned that the smallest amount of money can build much needed water wells, supply clothing and classroom materials that these children so desperately need, but don’t even know they want.

  7. The most interesting trip that I have enjoyed is to Chicago. My friends and I decided about 6 years ago to travel to Chicago on a whim and go to the Taste of Chicago. Ever since then our it's become a mini-reunion every summer. I love the shopping, the food and the city.

  8. My name is Ann Zivotsky and I am a fifth grade teacher at Del Rio Elementary School in Oceanside.

    If I could go back to any 24 hour period, I would choose my 30th birthday and I would convince myself to take better care of myself. I would also tell myself not to worry about most of the things I'm going to worry about during the next two decades.

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  10. My name is Janet Ilko and I teach sixth grade English and dabble in sixth grade history at Cajon Valley Middle School in El Cajon, California.
    I was an only child and when my parents divorced at 13 my dad and I became this new dynamic team. Now in the midst of raising two teenagers I know now the enormous challenge my dad took on raising a teenage girl on his own. What my dad instilled in me was the importance of including your child's friends in all your activities. From a cross country trip with my dad and best friend in a volkswagon rabbit at 15 (he will have a special place in heaven for that one) to the weekend dinners that invariably included all my close friends every Friday and Saturday night. He never once told me I couldn't have anyone over, there was always food for everyone although we struggled on one salary, you would never know it. Other parents thought he was crazy, but my dad was the smartest man in the group. He always knew who I was with, where I was, and who and what was important in my life. I have followed in his footsteps, opening my door to people. My kids have grown up in a house that may not ever grace the cover of Martha Stewart, but the will always remember being able to bring anyone, anytime and they were well fed and welcome in our home. My daughter just called to ask how to make rice tonight, she is having a few friends over for dinner on a rainy night in Cal Poly, because as she said, "it is just nicer to hang out at a home." Mission accomplished dad.

  11. Hello my name is Aja and currently I am teaching a 5th/6th grade combo class at SDGVA.
    I think my mom did many amazing things for me as I was coming up. She was raised by a well-intentioned mother who embodied the stereotype of the 1950's mother. My mother was never told that books were valuable, let alone witnessed people in her family reading very often at all. Intrinsically, my mother and her three sisters gravitated toward literature and thus began my mother's addiction. Being the bibliophile that she is, although she was a young, poor, unwed mother, she did many things to ensure my academic success. One was imparting her love of reading by taking me to book stores. Many a weekends were spent in book stores where I was left to explore freely any section I felt like. One must remember this took place before Barnes and Nobel or Borders was created. Most often, we visited used book stores, the more eclectic the better. Some of my favorite book stores are located in San Francisco. City Lights Books, and the various "mom and pop" hole-in-the wall used book stores on Height near Ashberry. I never fully understood what a privilege I was being afforded every time we set foot into a book store. Growing up I just knew it was what we did. Lisa and Aja off to the book store, as if we were going for groceries. Now, as a mother and teacher, I can see that my love for reading grew from my mothers love and now I can pass that on to my children and students. When I was in the 7th grade I remember my mother let me purchase a used copy of Narcissus (spelling?) and Goldman by Herman Hesse. She knew that I was not fully able to comprehend its contents but I was motivated to read it and she said a book like that would help me "stretch" as a reader. Who knew, my mother was doing for me then what we know now we should do for our students?
    Okay so yes this is a bit much, I will end with this: the tradition I will pass on to the next is the love of reading and trips to the book store!

  12. Hello my name is Aja and currently I am teaching a 5th/6th grade combo class at SDGVA.
    I think my mom did many amazing things for me as I was coming up. She was raised by a well-intentioned mother who embodied the stereotype of the 1950's mother. My mother was never told that books were valuable, let alone witnessed people in her family reading very often at all. Intrinsically, my mother and her three sisters gravitated toward literature and thus began my mother's addiction. Being the bibliophile that she is, although she was a young, poor, unwed mother, she did many things to ensure my academic success. One was imparting her love of book stores. Many a weekends were spent in book stores where I was left to explore freely any section I felt like. One must remember this took place before Barnes and Nobel or Borders was created. Most often, we visited used book stores, the more eclectic the better. Some of my favorite book stores are located in San Francisco. City Lights Books, and the various "mom and pop" hole-in-the wall used book stores on Height near Ashberry.

  13. I never fully understood what a privilege I was being afforded every time we set foot into a book store. Growing up I just knew it was what we did. Lisa and Aja off to the book store, as if we were going for groceries. Now, as a mother and teacher, I can see that my love for reading grew from my mothers love and now I can pass that on to my children and students. When I was in the 7th grade I remember my mother let my purchase a used copy of Narcissus (spelling?) and Goldman by Herman Hesse. She knew that I was not fully able to comprehend its contents but I was motivated to read it and she said a book like that would help me "stretch" as a reader. Who knew, my mother was doing for me then what we know now we should do for our students?
    Okay so yes this is a bit much, I will end with this: the tradition I will pass on to the next is the love of reading and trips to the book store!

  14. My name is Callie and I teach 9-12th grade English at MAAC Charter School.

    As a child, there were few things that could convince me to wake up at 6am on a Saturday morning. The local library book sale, however, was one of them. We never had much money, so we never frequented book stores. Every week my two sisters, my mother, and I would go to the library and check out as many books as they would let us. I remember feeling anxious at the thought of having to give the books back; in fact, there is a box full of those very books I just couldn’t part with sitting in my garage now. (I only feel slightly guilty about that.) Once a year the library cleaned out its donations and cleared the shelves for the incoming books: this was the only day I ever looked forward to experiencing. We woke early to guarantee we were the first in line, our arms holding bags ready to carry our treasures. As soon as the doors would open my feet would shuffle forward, eager to edge around the lucky few who managed to get in front of us, hoping they would be the romance reader types. We would practically bounce down the stairs into the musty basement and scour the books for our treasures. Jenny and Ashley would head for the young adult section, searching for Babysitter Club and Sweet Valley High books, while my mom and I would head for the fiction section. Even today, as I live across the country, I still mark the date on my calendar and anticipate the phone call from my mom who stands in a musty basement amidst the piles of discarded books and my favorite childhood memories.

  15. My name is Laura Pribyl and I teach fourth-grade at Fuerte elementary. I do all the math and social studies.
    My parents were avid readers. My dad was a reporter for two newspapers back in Elmira and Rochester, New York. He was never without his reporter's pad and his pen. Everyone in my family read constantly, largely to escape the brutal winter weather and sometimes to escape the brutal family relationships. My mother ALWAYS put a new book in our Christmas stockings because she knew we would immediately take it somewhere and begin to read and then she and my dad would get a few more hours to sleep before we began whining to open the gifts. I passed this tradition on to my own three children and they were always so delighted to see the book I had chosen just for them.

  16. I love all the traditions about reading and books... :)

  17. My name is Miriam Sikking. I teach third grade in Encinitas at Paul Ecke Central.

    I am the product of a blended family. My mom and dad were both previously married and had children before I was born. After both their marriages fell apart, they found each other, fell in love and had me.My brother and sisters on my mom's side were teenagers when I was born.

    It was probably very awkward to accept a stepfather and a new kid into the family. Conflict and tension can tend to arise, and at no time is that more evident than during the holidays.

    Many children who have step parents have to celebrate two holidays, eat two dinners and travel to two different homes. My mother was opposed to this idea; she cherished the concept of a holiday with as little stress on the children as possible. Every birthday and holiday, my mother, father, my half brothers and sisters and their father all celebrate the holidays together. There is only one Thanksgiving dinner, one Christmas and one Father's Day. She learns to put aside past grudges and get along with her ex-husband. My father and their father are cordial to one another.

    I hope to honor the tradition of acceptance and love so that the holidays are remembered for a time to enjoy family, not relive past grudges. As my parents begin to get older, it becomes increasingly important to cherish every moment with family and honor the gift of love and acceptance that my family has created!

  18. Hi. I'm Kim Douillard. I teach full time in a multiage class of first, second, and third graders at Cardiff School. I am also the director of the San Diego Area Writing Project.

    A memorable trip I took was surprisingly fun. I say that because I do not like road trips--and a year ago my husband and I found ourselves faced with a cross-country road trip to take a car to our son in Ohio. We decided to make it an adventure. Armed with our brand new iPhones for entertainment, we trekked across the country stopping at choice spots for a bit of sight seeing.

    We stopped at restaurants recommended by Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. We were awed by the Grand Canyon and the St Louis arch. We chatted, texted, and tweeted. It was a truly memorable vacation.

  19. I wouldn’t call it a tradition, but when I was 13-years-old, my dad decided to take me to a different church each Sunday. He wasn’t overtly religious, but he felt that I should be exposed to a variety of beliefs with the hope that I would someday make my own decision about religion. As an adolescent, I took communion at a Baptist church, sat in awe as a group of Pentecostals spoke in tongues, and listened attentively to a sermon given mostly in Hebrew at the Jewish temple. My dad wasn’t a communicative man, and we didn’t talk much about the experiences, but our outings were eye opening, and even without a word spoken between us, I grew to understand the world around me, my father, and myself more deeply through our Sunday dates.

  20. Hi, I'm Demi Sakadelis and I teach 7th and 8th grade English and History at Integrity Charter School in National City.

    As a Greek-American, I have lots of family traditions to choose from! One of my favorites is the egg-cracking game we play as a family at Easter (during which the tradition is to eat lamb-yum!!). Basically, each person has a hard-boiled egg. It's been dyed with food coloring in the spirit of the season. One person holds their egg firmly while the other uses their egg to try to crack the other's. There is strategy involved: how hard you are holding your egg, what angle you hit the other person's, and how hard you hit it. Usually only one person's egg will break (the loser) and the winner goes on to challenge others until their egg inevitably gets cracked. I thought this was a game everyone played until I was around high-school or college age, when I was shocked to learn it was a Greek tradition. Anytime I've brought a friend or significant other for Easter they have always had a great time cracking eggs with us!!

  21. Hi my name is Veronica. I teach second grade at Nubia Leadershp Academy.

    I don't know if you would call it a tradition but it was instilled in me by my parents to 1. never go to sleep angry and 2. to always before leaving someone you love (family) to hug them and tell them that love them. Sound kind of weird huh? But you never know when it's going to be the last time you will see them. Therefore I treat every goodbye like it is my last.

  22. On a happier note the best trip I have ever taken was to Rome. It was amazing to see so much history. Also it was memorable because I lost my passport.

  23. I'm Carol Schrammel and I work with all of the amazing teachers at the San Diego Area Writing Project.

    As a child I loved to go to the library and check out books--as many as were allowed per visit. I loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries. My mom always encouraged us to read and made sure we got to the library regularly. As a new mom, I read books to my boys (now 26 and 28) every day. We didn't have a lot of money as a young family but Mark and I believed that you read to your kids and had a home library.

    My oldest son now has two children of his own and reading is a tradition in their family. One of the joys of my life is to sit with my 5-year old granddaughter, Teagan, and read with her. She will ask me to read, bring me a stack of books and expect me to read EACH of them to her in one sitting. Her own library of books is in the hundreds!!!!!

  24. Hi! I'm Kim Fruscella and I am doing a long term substitute position for the remainder of this school year in Kindergarten at Solana Highlands Elementary School.

    The most interesting trip I took thus far, was my honeymoon. My husband and I were living in Maui, Hawaii, so when it came time to decide where to go for our honeymoon, we were lost. We ended up deciding to do the complete opposite of where we were living and go to Whistler, Canada in March (to the snow)! We had to buy an entire wardrobe just for the trip! The most interesting part of it all was the 2010 Olympics had just finished the week before we went and the Paralympics were about to start, so we were able to see all the hype that came with both. We loved our trip and can't wait to go back!

  25. Hi, I'm Lilian Cooper, and, although retired, still substitute teach in San Diego Unified.

    I am intrigued that so many of us have similar experiences growing up with books--that although not having much "wealth," our families put a priority on reading and having books in the home. My situation was the same: my family was very poor but my mom invested in the My Book House series and a set of encyclopedias.

    I think the experience that has had the most impact on my life, as well as teaching, was a trip around the world I took when I was 23, when for $1000 you could buy a plane ticket and stop anywhere you wanted, as long as you kept going in one direction. Some of this was traveled with a college girlfriend, some with my first husband, who was luckily being paid to do graduate student research. Four days in India cemented a life-long concern and appreciation for social justice, beauty, and respect for the dignity of all human beings, no matter what their situation. Seeing the gauze-tented housing lining the streets of New Delhi, the mutilated child beggars, the naked "untouchables" roaming the parks, and the morning sounds of cow-pulled wooden carts collecting the dead was shocking; it put my memories of my own childhood deprivations and nightmares into clear perspective. Then there was the crowded train ride to Agra, where permanently imprinted in my brain, was the magical beauty of the Taj Mahal perched on the riverbank in a mystical light that I've never experienced since. But contrasting with the wealth needed to build such a spectacle was a perfectly straight row of about 25 women, haunched over with small knives in their hands, inching their way forward in the long, long grassy stretch leading to the Taj--"mowing" the lawn--in the steamy, sweltering September heat.
    I also witnessed first-hand that summer the bomb-ravaged countryside of Vietnam and the whistling of rockets flying over our hotel in Saigon, a city seemingly wrapped in barbed wire to protect the dominant military presence walking the streets and fighting the war.
    I have been anti-war and pro human rights ever since that summer of 1968.

  26. Hi! I'm Jan Hamilton and I teach second grade at Cardiff Elementary.

    My best trip so far has to be this past summer. I spent 6 1/2 weeks on Maui, relaxing and visiting with my daughter and son-in-law. I enjoyed my daily trips to the beach--walking, basking in the sun, playing in the warm water, and greeting all the local dogs (I knew the owners only as Buster's dad, etc.). My favorite happy hour spot was Five Palms--sitting beach-side and sipping whatever spirits beckoned me at the time. I got to know the roads, the shops, and all the aisles in Walmart with pinpoint accuracy. By the way, Maui's Ross is larger and way better than any of them I've shopped anywhere--and I've been to Ross stores in several cities and states! The best part, though, was knowing that when I returned to California, my daughter and son-in-law were moving back so that I can visit with them (or bug them, depending on your point of view) regularly. I am so glad that my plans of moving to Maui, as I thought last spring, have changed and I am still here in San Diego with all my friends and family.

  27. Greetings, friends,This is your squinty-eyed slacker Susan. I teach 6th and 7th grades at Muirlands Middle School, where it seems we're all having nervous breakdowns about thisness and thatness and I'm really trying to sustain some detachment. Recently I've found myself fondly remembering the two years I attended a small Quaker (Society of Friends) highschool outside Philadelphia. We had meeting once a week; sitting in silence for 45 minutes, all upper grades together. (My high school class was 55) Rarely did anyone speak, and if so it was about a small ethical issue at school (someone who sold aspirin as LSD...) or a global one, typically the U.S. involvement i Vietnam. Now almost 40 years later I am deeply missing that ritualized silence. It's one thing to walk on the beach, or sit quietly and write, another to sit as a group, as a community. (I was also molested by a teacher there, and blocked out that era in my life for a long time. I'm glad this very positive experience has managed to filter back...)
    As I've been reading more and more about intrusive uses of technology (vs. expressive or communicative ones..) I'm brought back to the values that humanize us, and the awareness of the factors and forces that dehumanize us. Of course especially a teachers and workers with children. Pretty much just chewing on this...Ingrid Betancourt's interview tonight helped. (kpbs)When she was held prisoner (for 6 years) one of the dehumanizing tactics they used was to call them each by number, not by name. She refused to allow herself to become a number, and always responded by name. And was punished.
    Travel? Beyond the bus to UCSD or the train to Ventura? Well, when I was a young 'um and in love with this old (39) man, he took me to Mexico City. We stayed at a hotel right on the Zocalo, where there was a four-day "manifestacion" of Communist demonstrators. Thousands, surrounded by D.F. cops on motorcycles. Walking back from the Bellas Artes the next day we witnessed a parade, a long one, of teachers marching with duct tape across their mouths, thousands of them, From Chiapas, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Chihuahua. I, too was speechless, that their passion could lead to such action, collective action. Collective defiance. It was almost a decade later that I went from defense law to teaching, but that moment has endured.
    A few years later, the first time we flew from Mexico to Cuba, I was struck again by so many people willing to live their beliefs. (This was before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of Soviet sugar subsidies, Cuba was far better off then than now.) On this post-election whatever-over, I am left wondering what we are willing to live, what we are willing to do, give up, take on, change, in order to help our poor mess of a country.
    Voting isn't doing it for me.
    Teaching is getting pretty damn weird these days.
    I'm actually thinking of going to La Jolla meeting on Sunday mornings, just to check it out. Maybe some meditation, an old ritual, can inspire.

  28. My name is Margit Boyesen and I taught 6th grade English and History for the last few years, but am now teaching a multi-age class (1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade) at Cardiff Elementary School.

    I grew up in a poor family (though I didn't know it at the time). My parents raised 7 children on my dad's meager salary. We didn't have the luxury of purchasing books at the books store and we didn't visit the local library, as my mother always had her hands full with hand-washing diapers, baking bread from scratch (because back in that day baking your own was cheaper than buying), and cleaning up after lots of little ones running around. I'm not sure what made me an avid, voracious reader, but I know what didn't. We didn't have TV, but spent hours creating our own worlds out of doors.

    My dad wasn't able to spend much time with us at home, but the time that he did spend with us was either spent reading aloud to us from his favorite Norwegian fairy tales or teaching us how to use the tools in his wood shop. At Christmas, because money was scarce and there were so many of us, my parents would both encourage us and help us make Christmas presents for each other. My dad would patiently, almost silently, guide our way to learning how to saw, hammer, sand, and create Barbie beds, rocking chairs, and other wooden wonders. My mother would (not so patiently) provide the sewing machine, the fabrics, and the opportunity to create. I learned to sew mostly by experimenting with the fabric and the machine.

    The time, the tools, and the opportunity to create is what I'd love to pass on to the next generation. Creating leads to problem solving. I firmly believe that. My parents taught my 6 brothers, sisters, and I to be good at anything we set our minds to. We're able to look at things from various angles, create a solution from a "problem," and use what's available to make what's needed or desirable. In a world of such instant gratification, learning to create with ones hands and mind is something I want to pass on to the next generation.

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  30. My name is Cherie Firmery. I have been teaching in Oceanside for 14 years.

    One of my most exciting trips was to New York. My husband and I were to attend a wedding on Long Island, but decided to stay for a few days in Manhattan. We stayed at the Helmsley Hotel, walked in Central Park, rode the Red Buses, saw 42nt street, ate at Carnegie Deli, and drank "coffee regular". For me, visiting Manhattan was as life altering as a trip to Yosemite; both places have impacted the image of how I see myself within a world context.

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  32. Hi, I’m Althea. I teach 6th grade English and Social Studies at Muirlands Middle.

    The prompts are difficult for me.
    All the memorable trips are the ones I have yet to take. Those I have taken were for work or for family. Memorable for some small detail – a task completed, a loved one supported, a good deli found on the way to the next ‘thing’.

    Traditions from childhood are still being processed. As I lose more and more people who are close to me, I discover newness about our childhood times together. Was that a tradition? I didn’t know until you’d gone what it really meant. I’m still processing, still growing…”after all these years”.

    Twenty four hours to relive seems like a story to tell, but not from childhood, from motherhood. I’d relive the 24 hours around the birth of my son, a son born to a mother diagnosed infertile nearly a decade earlier. There was pain, of course, but there was also comedy. Like the anesthesiologist who came to give me a spinal – he turned out to be a former med school classmate of mine, a womanizer with low grades. Ok, people change. Oh, my mother, Lamaze coach and substitute ‘father-husband’ – she deserted me for the hospital restaurant with gourmet status and her ‘soaps’ on the labor room TV. The closest she came to recognizing my presence was when she asked me if the phone next to my bed would allow her to dial long distance, then proceeded to dial...
    Then, there’s the man of the hour, my son who entered this world as a result of his mother’s violent fit of vomiting. We don’t really talk about it much.
    These 24 hours culminated in a mystical, ancient human ritual that still defies complete comprehension, and we managed to have a few laughs along the way.
    I would relive it in a heartbeat.

  33. My Name is Casey Payte and I am a second grade teacher at Cardiff Elementary School.

    Though it probably isn't considered a "tradition," something I will always take from my childhood is the closeness I share with my family. My parents divorced when I was nine, but have remained close friends ever since. When my mother ended up in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic, my father stepped in and "rescued" us. Without another thought, he adopted both my half brothers and supported us all. It's been 25 years since that night and our family has remained as strong as ever. It's not unusual for us to eat two meals a week together or chat on the phone several times a day. (Now that my parents have discovered texting, connections are even more frequent!) We never hang up the phone or part ways without saying "I love you." When we can't be together, we make plans for our next reunion. I feel that closeness I grew up with helps me be the caring and (most of the time) patient teacher I am today.

  34. My name is Jenna Yezarski-Unis and I have been teaching English at Rancho Buena Vista High School for three years. Before that I taught for two years at Oceanside High School.

    One tradition that I would like to continue with my family when I have one, is to plan family dinner and game nights. Being a high school teacher now I see the value and importance of this tradition as a way to stay connected to your children and to check in with them to at least get a mood read. My parents made sure my brothers and I were home for dinner, and even though when they asked what I did in school I gave them plenty of "nothing" answers, it was still special to me, and important I think for them, to spend that time together.

  35. My name is Wendy Weisel-Bosworth, and I am a sixth-grade teacher at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas.
    I think I would like to pass down the blended traditions from my family. Specifically, our family was from South Bend, Indiana where immigrants lived in enclaves.
    My mother came from the Irish side and brought with her storytelling and a love of poetry. To this day, my uncle can captivate an audience with his yarns. During family gatherings, we love to listen to sometimes tearful readings of the poems of James Whitcomb Riley.
    My father's family was from the hardworking Polish community. These were seriously responsible people. I have visions of them turning up their collars, adjusting the brims of their hats, and braving the icy winds off Lake Michigan, as they walked to the Studebaker factory.
    I believe these traditional values are and will be a part of the genetic make-up of my children and of the generations to follow. They are embedded in our DNA. Our ancestors have unknowingly blessed us with these gifts.

  36. My name is Nicolle McDaniel. I am currently teaching 5th grade at Lexington Elementary in El Cajon. Before moving to 5th grade four years ago, I taught 7th grade English at Emerald Middle School.

    My family is quite close and we have several traditions that we honor each year. Choosing one to share is difficult, so I will share two.

    The first is not a tradition, but more of a ritual. Growing up, my father believed in sending myself and my three siblings off to school with a hot breakfast. Each morning he would get up and fix us something terribly unhealthy to get us off to school... a typical meal would be buttery eggs, french toast, pancakes, and bacon or sausage. During our meal together, my father would say very little, highly focused on his daily crossword puzzle. After we had all finished, his only remark would be "Did you get enough?" While very little was spoken each morning before we went to school, I still felt highly connected to my dad. My sisters, brother, and I have all unconsciously passed the love of breakfast on to our children. It is a required way to start the day. The best, however, is when Grandpa fixes breakfast for everyone. Twenty plus years later we all still love when he is the one who makes the meal. No talking, just eating.

    My second favorite tradition is when, every year, my mother would "surprise" each of us with a new Christmas ornament. Each year, our collection grew and it was so fun decorating the tree and reminiscing over the years of ornaments that we had collected. She chose a different one for each of us, something that reflected a current interest, behavior, or personality. Each year we would have one night designated to decorating the tree. Once all of us grew up and got married, one of our wedding gifts from our parents was the box of ornaments that we had collected over the years. It was our chance to start our own family Christmas tree with a nice starter set of ornaments. In having my own children, it is one of my favorite purchases during the holidays; the perfect ornament for each of my children. Something I hope they look back on and cherish as highly as I cherish mine.

  37. My name is Elizabeth Lonnecker and I am currently teaching 12th grade English and Peer Education at San Diego High School. I previously taught middle school in Oakland and Mauritania, West Africa.

    I think that the 24 hours that I would like to relive is the Easter before my mom died. That was her favorite holiday and the last one we spent together as a family before she died. There was often turmoil and uncertainty in my house growing up, but for some reason we seemed to always have special holidays together.

    Now things are really different, and even though I sometimes still struggle with what I didn't get from her, I can now appreciate how much she held my family together. I wish we could have one more holiday with her here so that we could remember that we truly love each other- and that that love is strong enough to carry us through the times when we don't really like each other.

  38. My name is Heather Bice and I teach junior and senior English at Coronado High School.

    I don't think I would want to relieve any part of my life, even for 24 hours. Sure, there are things I wish I had done differently and moments I hold dear, but they wouldn't be the same the second time around. I much prefer to look toward the future.

  39. Hi, my name is Jason Parker and I teach at Southwestern College (English), San Diego City College (English), and San Diego State University (Rhetoric and Writing Studies).

    When I was younger, I collected money, or rather monies from various countries throughout the world. Relatives and friends who know me nod their head in agreement when I tell them this about my childhood, like the idea of me collecting money makes as much sense as combining peanut butter and chocolate and selling it in delicious bite-sized cakes. Whenever someone gifted me with money, my parents demanded that I write the gifter a thank you note, one that required me to express my appreciation and gratitude for taking the time to think of me and my burgeoning collection.

    Although I blew through my collection while in college (somehow, one night, I got the bartender at the only decent pub near UC Riverside to accept a 1,000 yen coin in exchange for a pitcher of Bass Ale), I still write thank you notes for those who let me know that I'm in their thoughts. I've started teaching writing that expresses gratitude and appreciation in my junior and senior level classes as part of the job application/grad school application process (and because I secretly wanted to be thanked for teaching them).

  40. Yo? (Is "yo" appropriate?)

    My name is Mark Manasse, and I am an ESL and English Professor at Miramar College. I actually just got tenure a few days now I can do or say whatever I want. That holds true on this blog, too, right?

    One of the most interesting trips I have ever taken was a train ride to Paris. Along the way, I ended up in the Canary Islands. For free. Now, I have never been to Paris...but while in the Canary Islands, I learned how to drive a stick shift, I somehow seriously hurt my elbow (and don't remember how), and I ended up sleeping (alone) on the beach...even though my friend and I had a room at a hotel.

    If you want to know more...just ask!

  41. As a retired teacher with 40 years experience at the high school level, teaching both "traditional" and "elective" courses in English in the Grossmont District, I and my husband have taken many a short summer vacation trip. We've loved to travel, and tried to make the most of our three and four week trips, and have nearly 70 countries in our resumé. Surprisingly, the most interesting trip, was a short one in 2005 when we visited China with a study group from SDSU.

    That trip, led by Lily Cheng, was arranged to build relationships with political, scientific, educational and arts organizations, so it involved a lot of tea ceremonials with VIP dignitaries in addition to the more standard tourist fare. We had a 3-day cruise on the Yangtze River, shopped in pearl, jade, silk, and ceramic stores, among others, and climbed part of the Great Wall. But what really made it special were the personal stories and relationships that Lily shared, including stories of her own family's history through the Revolution and various wars of the 20th century, and visits with her friends and arts contacts, including behind-the-scenes talks with museum directors in Shanghai and Xian. We even paralleled some visits with new American adoptée parents to see how they were trying to absorb all things Chinese as they prepared to take home their new baby daughters.

    Getting ready for that trip we had read many fiction and nonfiction books (from Lisa See, to Maxine Hong Kingston, to Jade Snow Wong, etc.) because it is getting a sense of stories of real people that makes all travel fascinating to me. That travel had a longer-term effect in making the settings of Pearl Buck in China: Journey To The Good Earth by Hilary Spurling, a new biography, come to life for me in last month's reading for a book club.

    I'm sure that I'll continue to travel and absorb other people's stories as often as I can. I just can't stop loving to learn as much as possible.

  42. Hi, my name is Janet Chaloux-Baum and I teach third grade at Mission Estancia in the Encinitas Union School District.

    The trip that fed my love for travel was my first trip cross-country at age 22. Equipped with our college degrees and one year work experience, a friend and I packed my compact car with a tent, 2 sleeping bags, some clothes, and we headed south and then west. As one of six children, this was the first time I had the opportunity to choose where I was going. We stayed any place that we enjoyed, and kept driving when we didn't. We found out that it snowed in October in Colorado as the golden leaves dropped from the aspens. We learned not to stop at Seven Elevens in Tennessee at night. We drank Hurricanes in New Orleans and ate beignets with our coffee in the French Quarter. We discovered beauty as we hiked through Zion National Park, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon. We lounged in the warm California sun in Malibu in November. We visited friends, family, and met kind people all over the country. As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, we realized that the end of this trip needed to be followed by a start of another.

  43. Hey my fellow techy study group partners! One of the websites I checked out that was listed from the back of our book is I found some interesting articles relevant to some of the topics we discussed at our last meeting. has a an option for teachers to build a great class website. It is free and super easy to create. I made one last year and the parents LOVED it. See ya manana!

  44. My name is Stella and I teach 2nd grade in Mira Mesa at Sandburg Elementary. The most interesting trip I have taken was to Havana, Cuba when I was 24 years old. Travelling alone, I stayed with the family of a friend of mine from San Diego. Staying with a family gave me a realistic perspective on life there, that a tourist in a hotel might miss. The family I stayed with was kind and welcoming towards me. The father was a musician, his wife a homemaker, and their three children were University students from the age of 17 to 25. While everyone was busy during the day, I spent most of my days with the grandma, who showed me around the town. We visited her elderly friends who told me amazing stories about the old Havana, pre-revolution. We also went to museums and typical tourist sites like forts and parks. It was interesting to see all the slogans on city walls, statues and murals everywhere honoring Che Guevara. At night I slipped out with the older kids. We would stroll into neighborhoods where everyone seemed to be outdoors visiting with their neighbors - nightly "block parties". Families sat in front of their houses on lawn chairs, sharing food, listening to music, and even dancing on the sidewalks. I was impressed that the youth enjoyed spending their time with families. There was a strong sense of family unity and patriotism.

  45. I love road trips. One of my favorite ones is from the summer of 1999. It was the summer before I began teaching and deep down inside I knew that it would be my last summer of my " youth's freedom". Serious grown up responsibilities were awaiting me at the end of summer and I wanted to enjoy every moment. So.... my grandma, my grandpa, my little sister and I packed my grandma's old truck (well, maybe not so old) with a tent, a little grill that looked more like a white metal box with legs, a couple of ice chests (one with soda and Budweisers) and the other with food, blankets, flashlights, board games, and all the usual things you take on a road trip that will take you to campsites. We drove from San Diego through the hot California desert to Nevada and then to southern Utah where the old truck took us through beautiful mountains, across rivers, through red deserts and finally back home. It was one of the best trips I ever took. I will never forget it.

  46. i was born in minasota and it was fun there. there were big rides which was called "the mall of america. it sure was fun there