Saturday, June 27, 2009

Student Filmmaking

Gee, I'm sure glad I got an undergraduate degree in Media Arts from BYU. Some kind stranger has posted my TMA 285 project on YouTube!

This was created in a class where we formed a "film crew," wrote an original script, shot it on 16mm film, and edited it using Avid and ProTools- all in one semester. I had some awesome team members, including:
Kirsten Bales-Heder
Jason Conforto
Jonathon Dayton
Robert Fewkes
Todd Hamilton
Daniel Heder
Sarah Heder
Ryan James
Heather Rampton
Jana Schurig

Seriously though, I've been trying to find a copy of this for, like, the past five years. So thank you, kind stranger!

Let the purging begin!

As I'm closing one chapter of my career and preparing to begin a new chapter, I felt a little purging was in order. Nevermind that I have 13 giant Rubbermaid containers full of teacher junk. Nevermind that I own enough children's books to start a smalltown library (thanks to Scholastic, eBay, and Goodwill). Since purging junk and books takes a degree of organization that I can't muster at midnight, I decided to start small... just a little facebook purging.
It's not like I'm super snotty about facebook; I am "friends" with enough childhood friends and former coworkers to start a marching band. However, there are just some people that I don't care to be in contact with anymore. These are former coworkers that generally spread drama wherever they went and created a toxic work environment... for fun and sport. I just don't want these negative influences in my life anymore. So I blocked them.

...and I feel better already!

Note to self: #1 Task for tomorrow: tackle the 13 giant Rubbermaid containers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Girls Rock Vegas... totally awesome week of camp!

Thanks to Denise Rosch and Channel 3 for visiting our camp and telling our story!
Aired June 12, 2009 on the 4:00pm news
I can't even begin to describe how amazing our first annual Girls Rock Vegas Summer Camp has been. The campers, counselors, and musicians worked so hard to make it a success! We are empowering girls, one chord at a time!

(I realize that sounds cheesy in general blog conversation, but that's our camp slogan.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Heather = Toby (or, Free at Last!!!)

As I went to the office to return my classroom keys, a certain admin stopped what she was doing to exclaim, "I need to check you out and inspect your room!" even though the member of the office staff assigned to inspect classrooms had already done her job. That person explained that I was already checked out and that my room was fine. So the admin grabbed my checkout sheet and scrutinzed every last thing, even though I had gone above and beyond, creating my own typed and categorized inventory sheet for items in my classroom (this school has NEVER inventoried their materials, even though they have had millions of dollars of state and federal money poured into it when they became an empowerment school). I also provided receipts for everything I had purchased for my classroom in the last two years (totalling over $4,000).

"What about your whiteboards, sweetie?" she asked.

"I never received white boards from this school." I answered. During my first year of teaching at Vegas Verdes ES, I went to Home Depot, ordered a large piece of melamine tile board, which I had cut into 1' by 1' squares. Ghetto? Yes, but a much more economical solution than the Lakeshore Learning addiction that this school suffers from.

"Well, every classroom received whiteboards." she said.

"No, they did not." I wanted to tell her that some classrooms also received easels, smart boards, curtains, custom tiled floors and paint jobs, furniture, plastic trees, etc...

"I'm sure they didn't just grow feet and walk off," she said, trying to rally the support of the office full of other teachers and office staff. "Hmph. I guess next year we'll have to take an inventory and make a sign out sheet so these things don't just continue WALK OFF when people leave."

"Um, okay. Here are my keys."

I may be a perfectionist, I may be a little messy, and I may come to school with wet hair a few times a year... but I am NOT a thief. I haven't stolen so much as a paper clip from that freaking place. It infuriates me that Dr. G would try to imply that I stole from children, when in fact, she and her inner circle had been misappropriating funds for the last three years. I'd been harassed for the last few weeks of school, but trying to publicly call me out on whiteboard theft while I'm dropping off my keys? Unbelievable.

More "Fun and Exciting" things that I choose not to be a part of:

  • Multi-age classrooms (1st grade - 3rd grade) where older gifted students are required to "teach" remedial students. Kids don't come to school to teach, they come to school to learn.
  • Not making Adequate Yearly Progress for several years in a row due to a lack of structure and actual teaching.
  • Spending tens of thousands of dollars to fly out personal friends and pay for their travel expenses, under the guise of hiring "consultants."
  • General misuse of state and federal money.
  • Teacher turnover rate of more than 50%
  • and many, many more...

From our Union's website:
NRS 388.132 requires schools to provide a safe and respectful learning environment. This applies as much to students as it does to teachers. Teachers often discuss issues regarding parent and/or administrator threats, abuse, and harassment. There are statutes and school district polices to protect teachers from these types of actions. Because of the requirements of NRS 388.132, the school district promulgated Policy 5137 which provides that teachers have the right to work in an environment free from harassment, abuse, and threats.

Click here for some further insight into my journey at an "empowerment" school.
Michael and Toby's Greatest Moments

And just to show that we're not all fun and games, here is a little food for thought...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

And then I realized... (Episode 2)

... that a job is just a job. My problem was that I put too much of my heart and soul (and money) into a job where I wasn't appreciated. I am really hurt because I gave that place 100% of myself for the last two years, and now that I'm leaving, I feel like Toby, from "The Office."

Heather = Toby.
Here are some of the things I "choose to be":

  • I choose to frame my instruction from state and district standards, use district-adopted textbooks and programs, and use assessment to drive my instruction.
  • I choose to use school funds wisely and honestly in a manner that benefits students.
  • I choose to give all students the instruction that they need. Differentiation is NOT discrimination.
At least Toby got a party and a Michael Scott parody song when he left. All I got was some nasty emails.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Class Photos

I will be removing these later today, as I don't really think its a wise idea to post a photo of my students online. However, I need these pics for our class yearbook, and I tried to email them to my work email, which had already exceeded its whopping 20mb capacity.