Monday, September 29, 2008

A Long Time Coming...

I know you thought you were done with blogs about Camp Jane (until next year, that is!), but there is one I still need to post. And this one is, perhaps, the most important.

As you may know from previous blogs, over 80 kids came to Camp Jane over the course of three weeks. And all of them were impacted in some way. Here are a few examples... at school, lots of kids are already asking about camp next summer. During a lesson on hobbies and free time one of my students, Cavid, said that jumping rope (which he learned how to do at Camp) is his favorite free-time activity. Sevinc, the formerly quiet, shy girl who delighted me by running when we played Kickball, is now one of the most active participants in class.

None of this would have happened without the support from people from home. The response from family, friend, and even people who have never met me was overwhelming. Before Camp started, I recieved over 20 big, heavy packages of supplies. Donated supplies included markers, crayons, chalk, jump ropes, fethers, googly eyes, pom poms, glue, stickers, books, wiffle balls and bats, frisbees, fabric, playing cards, board games, paper, pens, bandaids, tape, scissors, and so on. the is a fair amount left over - which is a great help for clubs during the school year and is a very nice start for next year's Camp supplies.

I want to take a moment to thank all of you -
The Council for the Arts of Herndon
Employess ofthe Herndon Department of Recreation
The PRD Group
Joanne McCammon
Sue Roberts
Richard McCluny
Jane Rother
Vicky Lewis
Heidi Hanrahan
Mary Taylor
Amber and Mike Tran
Rachel Green
Kathleen Edwards
The Berg Family
Barbara Gouldey
Ther Borg-Breen Family
Sherry Yates
Ken and Dorothy Grimm
Marilyn Bowers
The Gardiner Family
Gary and Jeanne Wolfe
Katy Bain
Several other unnamed people who donated supplies in a box my mom put at church
Judy Downer
Elyse Camozza
Penny Halpern
Jennifer Boysko
Barbara Glakas
Chris Griffen
Vicky Dorman
Diane Traub
Keith Pinkard
Rita Pierre-Davis
Susi Russel
Rachel Piro
The Shaw Family
Phyllis White
Anyone else who donated stuff that I forgot to mention
and, of course, my mom, dad, and sisters.

I truly can'y express the depth of my gratitude. Each and every one of you helped make a difference in the lives of these kids. Thank you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back to School...

Somehow it has gotten to be the middle of September and my second year as a TEFL volunteer is beginning. I seem to be saying this a lot, but I can't belive how fast the first year went! It seems like just last week I was walking nervously to school from my host family's home for my very first day of school in Azerbaijan. How can it be that September 15, 2008 has already rolled around?

In the days before school started, I debated whether or not I was going to go to my school's Day of Knowledge ceremony. There are no English lessons on Mondays, so I had no real need to be there. But, in the end I decided to go. Unlike last year, I got to hide in the background, talk to a few of my students and take pictures. No celebrity Jane sitting on stage, and I didn't have to congratulate anyone on behalf of anything! After the ceremony, I checked the timetable to see when I would have to be at school to actually teach, and went home. I'm glad I went - it is a nice way to start the school year. And the Day of Knowledge is such a part of Azeri culture to me, I think I would have regretted missing it.

Ay my school, English classes are only scheduled Tuesday through Friday. Somehow, the lessons I am teaching ended up just being Wednesday through Friday. I think I must be one of the only people on the planet to have a four day weekend every week! It won't last long - in a few weeks I'll be starting up clubs on Mondays and Tuesdays. But, they never really seem like work, so it'll still feel like a pretty easy schedule.

This year, I am teaching four sections of the seventh form and two sections of the sixth form. Plus, I'm probably going to be working with one little group of second formers - which will either be adorable and awesome OR way too much for me to handle! I love the idea of working with the itty bitty ones, but I'm not sure I'll have the patience for them! We'll see how it goes. Most of the likds I am teaching are my students from last year or kids who came to Camp Jane. It is really nice to be working with these kids again - they are enthused and eager and really wonderful.

I am starting the new school year determined, positive, and enthused. I only have one year left - I want to make the most of it. I know that there is a lot that will still be as frustrating as it was last year - there are just some things I'll never be able to change, no mattter how hard I try. BUT - I do see things I have already had an effect on, and hopefully that will continue this year. I am determined to make the classrooms I work in a better learning experience. And, hopefully, that will rub off on my counterparts (I do see glimmers of it already) and it will carry over both into the lessons that I don't teach with them this year and in the years to come when I'm not there anymore. Hopefully. I know I'm gonna try my hardest to make that happen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Camp Photos...

Just to let everyone know, I have updated my camp postings and added a few pictures. Check them out!!