July 28, 2013

Mr. Abel to Mr. Ryan

The past few months have been transitional in my life with lots of beginnings. A new baby. A new place to live. A new car to drive. A new job. All within a matter of days or a couple weeks of each other.

I moved to Memphis because of the Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR). I spent the past year earning a Master of Urban Education and teaching/tutoring at two elementary schools here. The goal when I started was to work as a teacher for (at least) three years as a full-time teacher afterwards but as this year progressed, a larger Memphis plan started coming into focus. This did not include me working as a teacher. Not because I didn't want to necessarily, but rather the realization that the type of equipping you need to be an effective teacher in a high needs school were not the tools that I have come to find on my tool belt. I know what it looks like well enough to know that I ain't got it. Fortunately, the MTR staff were very aware and understanding of this. They were and continue to be extremely supportive of me and my family.

Because I was not continuing in the prescribed course of the program (they get you placed at various schools in four target neighborhoods for the three year commitment), I needed to figure out my next step. This was a very daunting process because I hate looking for a job. Writing cover letters and tweaking resumes, submitting them, and rarely getting any sort of feedback is mind numbing, especially because the process is repeated over and over (and over).

Fortunately, the process for my new job wasn't that at all. I literally submitted my resume on a Sunday afternoon via email (thanks to a job alert on Twitter), and the very next day I had calls from two different individuals calling me in to interview for the position; a job that I was offered and accepted the following week.

This job is with an incredible organization in Memphis called Church Health Center whose mission it is to "reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and our spirits." There is a clinic that provides affordable health care to those who work and aren't covered by health insurance. There are exercise and diet classes. There are a whole bunch of other things you can learn about on our website.

The Center runs a preschool in North Memphis for 128 families of three and four year olds. My responsibility is to oversee the day-to-day operations. I am not the principal, nor am I involved with the curriculum planning, but I need to have my hand in everything else operational - budgeting, purchasing (food, supplies, furniture, etc), making sure everything we do own stays running, and creating/maintaining systems of operation for teachers and staff. There are many pieces to the job. Many. My job essentially exists so that everyone else (the 16 teachers and 6 staff members) is empowered do theirs. I am excited.

I technically started during the last week of last school year however, we follow the local public school calendar (we are housed in one), so were off for summer vacation. I had a few responsibilities over those weeks (generally meetings and workable-from-home type stuff) but I was "off." Last week, the teachers returned to school so now I go in every day. Students start back in about a week so the crazy is about to get rolling.

Last year, I was known in school as "Mr. Abel." It was weird initially but as the year progressed, it was just a normal thing. Now, working at a preschool, everyone goes by their first name so I have become "Mr. Ryan." I am still in the "it sounds weird" phase but before long, it will be old hat.

Here we go.

March 22, 2013

Bedtime for 3 Year Old

So Leilani sleeps through the night these days, but before going to bed, there are a checklist of items that now must be met before she goes to sleep. If any single one of these are missed and she is already bed, she will not rest until it gets resolved. These are:

- Hugs and kisses Mama
- Hugs and kisses Dadda
- Hugs and kisses Ezra
- Brushed teeth
- Water bottle
- JanJan blanket
- Blanket covering everything from the top of the neck down
- Food (The "I'm hungry" card)
- Head cannot be placed near the headboard, even by her own doing
- BearBear (needs to be present, though not necessarily next to her... could be on the floor)
- Prayer (she first, me second)

It's like a bedtime game of whack-a-mole. When she is down, and I'm tired, and I realize that one of those things haven't been done, I get that sinking feeling in my stomach. Despite my best attempts to rationalize or try to get her to forget, it never works. NEVER.

This girl knows what she wants. Joy. No, really.

March 9, 2013

Happy New Year

Yes, the last time I posted about anything meaningful on this blog was last summer. The good thing is that it is now still technically winter, so I only failed to post for a single season of the year. And, while it was technically summer, it was the dawn of a new school year so that means it really was more fall than winter. So, yeah. There hasn't been a single season, therefore, I haven't posted.

Ok, I just calculated (on a website, not on a calculator) that it has actually been 216 days since my last post. Wow. That feels like a long time.

A lot of life has happened in those 216 days.

So for those of who who were whining for an update (Mr. Tamil Memphis Tiger), here it is. I have a bit more time to post things nowadays so I will probably might post more regularly. At least before another 216 days have passed. We'll see.

So in a quick, social media friendly, roundup, here are some highlights since my last post. Sorry for not updating, both for your sake and mine. Here are some things in no particular order.

  • Ruth is pregnant. We are expecting kid number 2 (named Ezra) to arrive sometime on or around April 4. Ruth is hoping for NOW.
  • We've been in Memphis since last May, with a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas in September, and a trip back to DC for Christmas. I took a MTR trip to New Orleans in January.
  • Teaching at an urban elementary school is a tough job.
  • Our first Thanksgiving away from DC area family was really nice.
  • Memphis is warm. Winters aren't as cold as DC, but cold enough. I wore my coat twice. (I should have worn it more.)
  • We have made some excellent friends.
  • We have found a church to regularly attend. I am it's Mayor on Foursquare.
  • There has been some tweaking to the Memphis mission that has brought us here.
  • Getting to know Ruth's family who lives out here has been great.
  • Leilani has become a deeper sleeper thanks to obnoxious train whistles. She once woke up every time a train came by. Now she sleeps through it all.
  • Sweet tea is on the menu everywhere here. Not only at McDonald's and Chick-fil-A. Or Uno's.
  • I am one class (project) away from M.U.Ed.
  • My residency finds me at a new school for the past 2 weeks.
  • I am going to attempt to make funnel cakes when some friends come over for dinner tonight.
Well, that's all for now. I wonder what will happen to my blog when I hit "Publish." Hopefully you can read this and it didn't crumble in a pile of ash.