A Second Chance

New beginnings are so exciting. The summer is ending, and rather than signifying a sad event, it signals that school will begin again. Students are eager to return to school, teaches are working hard to get their classrooms ready, and parents are shopping for school supplies. New freshman are entering college and excited about a new start. Summer does not signal the end, no it is a new and fresh start, a chance to redefine ourselves, in a sense, a second chance. I have many friends and family members starting new jobs and I am excited for them to see what new things they achieve.
I love the idea that in life we are given second chances, not just once, but over-and-over again. We all deserve a second chance, we all make mistakes, and we all learn from our mistakes. I celebrate my mistakes, because with each one, I have learned something very valuable. I have learned to love my children, as they are only young for such a short time. I discovered the true meaning of friendships, as fare-weathered friends are soon gone.

In life, I have survived the greatest heartaches the death of my father, the breakup of a marriage, the betrayal of a friend, and the heartache of a child with a long-term disability and yet, I survived, and even thrived. During my darkest moments, I felt heartache and despair, but I recovered and now I know that I can live through bad times and I can learn from them and help others during their bad moments. The other side is joy!

I see the end of summer as the beginning of new hope that life will get a bit easier, that dreams will come true. As I take joy in seeing kids return to school, and friends start new jobs, and family move to new homes I have hope that this year I too will get a full-time teaching job and if not I will preserver. Just as the seasons change and life is renewed, I am renewed. The greatest lesson I have learned with the ending of summer is that of hope that summer will return and life begins again – new.

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Humanity and the class of 2013

I graduated from a master’s program that focused on “The Great Books Philosophy” from American Military University. I love classical literature and have read classical literature since I was a child. When people ask, why did I choose such a major and I did choose this, as I have a master’s in Liberal studies in Reading and English from Fort Hays State University. I answer quite simply to learn and teach about humanity. Humanity has become secondary in our lives with the advent of technology. I love technology and have worked in the technology field for over 15 years. I have an undergraduate degree in Robotics and I have taught computer repair and electronics. Technology is essential in our lives. However, there is a down side; we are losing sight of virtue, critical thinking skills, and compassion. Schools focus on common core and standards, which in themselves are great but they do not focus on developing character or empathy.

These qualities are important to me as a person, a student, and an educator. I am a teacher at Vincennes Lincoln High School, an adjunct instructor at both Vincennes University and Frontier Community College. I want my students to read literature not just for enjoyment or knowledge but to take away lessons about kindness and justice. “Virtue rejects facility to be her companion. She requires a craggy, rough and thorny way” (Michel de Montaigne). I know this to be true, life is difficult and sometimes filled with heartache, but life is also wonderful and full are special moments. I have experienced both great sorrow and great joy. As education moves away from teaching about humanity society loses something and our children will graduate without the benefit of these important lessons.

The class of 2013 will be soon be leaving their educational institutions and going out into the world. They will face challenges that they may not be prepared to face. Have we let these students down in some way? Have we taught children to embrace the challenges with grace and dignity? Have we stressed that we do not always get what we want and that no is sometimes the right answer? Have we taught our children to be empathetic to other people and to the world around them? In the words of George Bernard – “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of humanity.”

I challenge the class of 2013 to seek out challenges, face difficulties with grace, and to care about the people and the world around them. I also challenge them to read the classics think about the lessons they are learning. Life is amazing and there is so much more out there than students learn in school and it is up to each individual to keep learning.