jennywren: (At table with computer)
( Sunday, August 30th, 2009 05:43 pm)
I've been thinking a lot about school lately, particularly math. I'm sure a big part of that is that I work at Staples, an office supply store, where the back to school season is almost like Black (Green) Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, when the holiday shopping season officially begins), except that it is nearly that busy spread out over weeks. I do not remember school supply buying being such a big deal when I was in school. I mean I always loved getting new pens and pencils and especially fresh notebooks with all those empty pages. We never spent that much on stuff, and reused what we could from year to year (or even from generation to generation -- I used some of my mom's old binders). Molly (who is working at least temporarily at Staples, too) and I have seen so many kids (well, okay, mostly their parents) shelling out the bucks for graphing calculators, the TI-84s. When I was in school (I'm already starting to feel old when I say that phrase -- I graduated high school in 1993, only 16 years ago!), we didn't need or use graphing calculators until Calculus. Back then, it was the TI-81, and the school actually provided the calculators for the students in that class. Most of us (our parents) wouldn't have had the $80-$100+ plus that the TI-81s cost back in 1992-1993, nor enjoyed having to drive at least an hour to find a place that sold them. (My family especially, since we were getting by with free school lunches and forever hand-me-downs!) I remember the 6-8 of us who braved calculus my senior year, sitting in Mrs. Scott's classroom or working out problems together on the the board. I'm not sure I could remember the calculus we learned then, but I remember studying it.

This memory brings me to the other main reason I've been thinking about school and math. I found out this week that my high school math teacher, Mrs. Rochelle Scott, died on August 24th. I've been reading over her obituary and the memories others have shared on her tribute page. It has brought back many memories of Mrs. Scott.

-- I took a lot classes from Mrs. Scott, including algebra II, pre-calculus, and calculus, basic and advanced computer programing (We only used BASIC on Apple IIes. The school got its first Macs at the end of the year I graduated. Mrs. Scott used to tell us about the first computer classes she taught with the big boxes. The students would make their punch cards and once a week drive to to a school about an hour away to run their punch cards through a computer. If there were any mistakes, it was another week before they could try again.)

-- Mrs. Scott was also the newspaper adviser. I was the editor or co-editor of the school newspaper for 3-4 years. We spent lots of time before and after school typing, cutting and pasting (literally) the newspaper together. She would even drive me to school or home later, if we needed to work on the paper. I remember riding along in her zippy, sporty red car (weren't there a few tickets for speeding/not wearing a seat belt in her history :) ?) along those 11 miles from Burt to Sentral School, a school out in the middle of a cornfield (except for the years it was in the middle of a bean field). I was incredible naive, and her careful eye kept me from printing coded innuendos the columnists tried to sneak into their articles.

-- Mrs. Scott made math class so much fun, but we learned so much. She stuck with us and helped us all get the concepts, spending so many extra hours with students. She was always lively and energetic, with a spark in her eyes. Her enthusiasm was contagious! She was also a live wire, a fire brand -- I learned a lot of colorful expressions from her. After tests, we would work on puzzles from Puzzle magazine.

-- Many people have talked about how Mrs. Scott would work with students got the concepts, spending countless hours with us. I think this is fantastic of her. We went to a school where the teachers really strove to leave no student behind. Memorably I remember spending two months studying adverbs in English class, as Mr. Hansen tried to help everyone grasp the usage of adverbs. Our small school had the opportunity to help each student learn the things they needed.

-- Mrs. Scott and her family were also members of the same church we were members of. She sang alto in the church choir.

Wow, so many memories! I'm sure so many more will continue to come to me, but I just wanted to share a bit about Rochelle Scott, who touched my life and lives of so many students over the years. I can't believe she's gone already, but she lived a full life.

(This entry was largely written in my head at work as I sat for hours removing the staples from packets, adding a page, and re-stapling the packets -- over 700 times. Don't ask!)

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jennywren: (writing)
( Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:34 am)
Since I haven't posted here in so long (Sorry :( -- I wish I would), I thought I'd post this list of 25 random things I wrote over on Facebook.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

1. I’ve been reading these “Random Things” postings with interest. I’ve been both eagerly anticipating and dreading getting tagged. I can be very random :)

2. I have two middle names: Kirsten Lael. The story is that I was going to be an only child, so my parents wanted to use lots of names. I do have two younger siblings now. If I had been a boy, they would have named me James Christopher Ian and called me Jamie.

3. Names and words and language and languages are among the things that fascinate me most. I grew up playing word games and talking about words in my family. I majored in languages and linguistics in college. I have a Master’s in linguistics and a Master's from seminary where I focused on biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek). I want to go on to do a doctoral degree that focuses on language in some way :)

4. I live in a great townhouse apartment right by the Olentangy River. The windows in the bedroom and the living room look out on the river, so I have lots of opportunity to watch the wildlife and the seasons change. Across the river is a steep wooded embankment, so the view is fairly perfect. We have some bird feeders on our patio which help to bring the wildlife to us.

5. I am a double PK (preacher’s/pastor’s kid), even though my parents weren’t clergy at the same time. The fact that my parents were in the ministry is part of how I ended up in seminary, but it is also why I would have never considered ministry except for God’s calling me and pushing me.

6. I was extremely shy and quiet in school. It has taken me a long time to be less shy with people and less inhibited. I still like to think things out before I say anything serious, but I also can be quite wacky and uninhibited with people who know me well. I can speak with strangers, esp. since it is part of my job, but I do still have a quiet voice.

7. Because my parents were in the ministry (and itinerant United Methodists), we moved around a bit while I was growing up. I was born in Washington state, but we lived on the other side of the Columbia River in Ranier, OR. We also lived in Sutherlin, OR; Webster and Black Earth, WI; Evanston, IL; Burt, Pleasantville, Rockford, and Osceola, IA. I went to college in Mt. Vernon, IA, and grad school in Iowa City, IA, before I moved to Delaware, OH, for seminary.

8. My parents divorced when I was 12 (the divorce was finalized on my 12th birthday). Growing up I never thought divorce would happen to my family, but it has been a reality for almost 22 years now.

9. My mom and I have enjoyed a very close relationship for a long time. I do wish I had a closer relationship with my dad. I don’t want to regret all these things I’m missing out on.

10. In high school I had over 100 pen pals from around the world. When I went to college, I no longer had enough time to keep up with them, so I lost contact with them all. It still makes me sad :( (If I could find my address book, I’d try to find some of them again.)

11. I’ve always wanted to grow up to be a writer, but I seem to lack the discipline to do the writing I need to do. When I was in elementary school, I received an award for being the best writer, and the principal, Mr. Plath, said he hoped he’d read one of my books someday.

12. I seem to have a good memory for some details of my past.

13. My two favorite applications on Facebook are Live Gifts and Hatchlings. And, yes, I do spend way too much time on Facebook!

14. In high school I had a teacher who said I was too idealistic. That has really stuck with me. I’ve thought that idealism is a very positive thing, and I have come to terms with what it means to be too idealistic. Thanks, Mr. Garman.

15. My high school English teacher taught us mostly grammar (as opposed to writing and literature). It may have been dull at times (esp. spending a month on adverbs one year), but it has helped me to be a better writer and has been a great foundation for learning languages other than English. Thanks, Mr. Hansen!

16. I’ve studied French, Spanish, German, Latin, classical Greek, Hebrew, biblical Greek, a smattering of other Greek dialects, and a tiny bit of Japanese. I am only fluent in English.

17. For a while, my goal was to work with endangered languages, like Native American/First Nations languages. Endangered languages are those that are in danger of being lost because fewer and fewer people use them anymore. For many of these languages a few elders might speak the language but the children aren’t learning or using the language at all. I studied linguistics with this in mind. Unfortunately I got burned out in grad school, but I am still excited by languages and linguistics.

18. I was so clueless in high school. I was an academic nerd who was into reading. I was the newspaper editor, but I didn’t really know what was going on with my classmates. I wasn’t too strongly connected with them. Part of it was probably that I was a PK and I didn’t drive or really care about going out, but mostly I was just naive. I didn’t hang out with people very much and I wasn’t invited to “those” parties, so I didn’t know what was really going on. But I had a happy, innocent childhood ;)

19. I had one boyfriend in high school, if you can call going to the Homecoming Dance together and talking some on the phone having a boyfriend. He was someone new to school who was made fun of by the other kids (he had curly hair, so they called him Cornelius). I have often tried to connect to people who are outside the action or who are quieter than me, so we started talking and getting to know each other. He moved away about two weeks after he had moved in, so that was the end of that.

20. I have synesthesia. It is a condition in which input to one sense is perceived by additional senses as well. For example, freezer burn smells green to me, while sour milk smells pink. Some sounds have taste and color to me. (See for more information on synesthesia). Some people see synesthesia as a liability, but I see it as an advantage, esp. creatively. I didn’t realize that the letters and numbers didn’t have colors and personalities for everyone. I didn’t know that time (weeks, months, years) didn’t have shapes for everyone. One of my best friends in the world Dannye was studying synesthesia as part of her doctoral program in neuroscience. She was the one who made me aware that not everyone perceived things the way I did and that there was a name for what I experienced. I think synesthesia is cool!

21. My house is filled with books. A place just doesn’t feel homelike without walls lined with overflowing shelves. My parents are both readers and instilled a love of reading in us very early on. I grew up surrounded with books, so I feel comforted by their presence. I haven’t by any stretch read all the books I have, but it is good to know that they are here when I do want to read them. When we drove to Iowa this past summer, we filled the car up with another load of books that I had been storing in Iowa City, but we haven’t found a place for them all yet in the apartment. I almost always have more books than reasonably fit in my living space :) I love having books at home, but I also love libraries!

22. I’ve been out of the United States twice, both times to Canada. When I was studying in Grand Forks, ND, one summer with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, my friend April took a few of us to her home on Lake of the Woods, Ontario for the 4th of July weekend. In October 2007, Molly and I took a camping trip around Lake Erie, through Niagara Falls, around in Ontario (with trips to the African Lion Safari, Lake Ontario, and Lake Huron), and back down through Detroit. I’d love to travel more and see so many parts of the world, but I am also a huge homebody and miss my cats terribly when I am not home.

23. We currently have three cats, Sparky, Michela, and Zephyr. We had a gerbil, Rosie, up until a few days before Christmas. I almost always had cats growing up, though we also had one dog, a lhasa apso named Olie, as well as a few hamsters and gerbils and fish. Some of the cats we had (as well as some influential neighborhood cats) include Nicky and Tasha (Nicholi and Natasha), Orange Julius, Pooky, Mariah, Jenny Baldren, Annie Katrina, Lady Sassafras (Sassy), Fridley, Avagadro Phogg, Ghengis Khat (my brother’s Scottish Fold), Maya Sarahcat (my sister’s first cat), Sara Lee (her second cat), Emma, Lady Jane Grey and her kittens, Madd Maxx (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some). When I lived in Iowa City, my apartment didn’t allow pets, but my neighbor had a cat named Scout, who would come visit from time to time.

24. I also love tigers and other big cats. One of the nicknames my parents gave me as a child was Lael Lion.

25. I can be terribly longwinded in writing (and I do talk a lot to some people). This surprises the people who know me as a quiet and not very talkative person. However, this list has shown me rambling on and on about random things :)

Also, it was really hard to choose just 25 of you that I want to know more about, so feel free to try it out, even if I didn't tag you :) And you don't have to go on and on like I did either, unless you want to :)


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