“The Water Is Wide”

This summer has been a busy one for travel for me. I usually have a couple of trips during the season, but have had more than usual lately. Typical summer trips for me include drives across Georgia and Mississippi to visit family. I had those, and two more trips that I thought I would take a few minutes to recap.

The most recent was an opportunity to see one of my favorite artists in concert. As an early birthday present, I got tickets to see Norah Jones in Atlanta. I had never seen her live before, so that was a fun experience that I hope to have again soon.

I also took a long weekend and drove to South Carolina with my parents and brother. We spent two days in Myrtle Beach and a day and a half in Charleston. Both towns were nice, but Charleston was especially enjoyable. I definitely want to visit it again soon as there is much more I want to see there that I didn’t have time for this trip. I may write more about that trip in the future. But for now I want to switch to a different topic.

On the subject of South Carolina, the last book I read is “The Water Is Wide”- a book about the short teaching experience of native son, Pat Conroy. He is, of course, known for his fiction. But after deciding to read a Conroy book along with my friend, Tosha, this one caught my eye.

I was interested in his experiences as I am a teacher by education. One of the things that resonated deeply with me is his concern for the students in his class. My only experience so far teaching is as a student-teacher and substitute teacher. But even in those situations I found myself longing to be a positive influence in their lives, and to do my best to spark a love of learning in them.

I certainly cannot give a wholehearted endorsement of Conroy’s teaching methods and his tone with his students. But some of you who work with students might find something interesting about the book. As always, I hope you all are doing well and I look forward to hearing from you. Keep cool!

Books

My inspiration for this post comes from the Friends of the Library Old Book sale that happens here every Spring. I’m pretty sure I have heard that it is one of- if not the- biggest book sales in the southeastern US. This year is significant because it is in a new, bigger site. It happens over four days and I usually visit at least two or three times, to give myself the best chance of not missing something I would love.

I love books. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading to my brother and me. I also remember spending lots of time in the library during the Summers picking out and reading books as part of the Summer reading program. Reading a certain amount of books won you prizes. I don’t remember any of the prizes. But many of the books remain fresh on my memory. “The Fox and the Hound”, “My Side of the Mountain”, The Hardy Boys books. These were a few of my favorites when I was a child. I have always had very bad allergies, which have limited the amount of time I could play outside and not be miserable. So, reading has always given me enjoyment since I can do it anywhere.

I enjoy books as entertainment and as tools for learning. In college, I had to read and write a lot. This was fine by me as I do not do many things well, but I love to read and consider myself a fairly good writer, too. (I suppose you can judge that for yourself as you read my blog. But I digress. . .) My first job after college was as a bookseller. And, as I have mentioned in a few previous blog entries, my chosen career is in academics. It seems that whatever stage I am in my life, books play an important role. One of the things I want to do in my career is to try to inspire a love of books and learning that my parents, teachers, and professors encouraged in me.

Whenever you ever read a book that you enjoy and you can’t wait to tell somebody about it, I would love to hear about it. Taking about books is one of my favorite things. I’ll do the same for you. That is one of the things I miss most about not working at the bookstore. We might not have the same taste in books, but we can share our love of books.

Teaching

I would never be a teacher. I always knew this. I come from a long line of teachers, you see. I know how difficult it is. The relatively low pay; the high stress level- these were things I was aware of because my mom is a teacher. Additionally, I like the idea of a job I can go to every day and leave it at work when I go home. None of these things apply to the teaching profession.

My mom suggested a few times during my time as an undergraduate that I study education. She had that sense familiar to moms of what your children would be likely to do well as a career. I resisted, and she didn’t push the issue. She let me decide for myself. I found that I was interested in many different areas, but decided to focus on Sociology and History. (I also took several English classes, finishing just short of a minor). I did fairly well and enjoyed myself. I had a few Sociology papers published in an on-campus journal, which is one of the things I am most proud of.

During this time I began feeling the allure of an academic career. This was partly at my professor’s urging, but the feeling became stronger as time went on. I was not accustomed to this level of academic accomplishment, and the attention and compliments from professors took some getting used to. But I liked it. What if teaching might be the career I chose after all? This was a big deal.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I loved college. I am a naturally curious person. And I love to read, write, and talk about what I am reading and writing. Things started clearing up in my mind.

So, after working at a local bookstore for a few years to save money and clarify things in my mind, I went back to school for my Masters degree and teaching certificate. With the job market so tight, I wonder if now is the time to see if a doctorate is possible for me. I know that this is a goal I will have until I either fulfill it or not. And I know that there are people who will be there to support me as I pursue it.

The main reason I chose this subject is that I love learning and love the idea of helping others learn. My hope is that this first few blog posts will give anyone who might be reading these more of an idea of what I am passionate about and interested in.