July 28, 2006

The D.C. Report

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:56 pm by mrsmauck

Well, my legs are still sore, and I’m a little sunburnt, but I think I’m fully recovered from some jampacked days in Washington, D.C.! What a fun city! Love the metro, love the Smithsonian and all its glorious free-ness, love the restaurants, love the shopping.

The conference was quite motivating, what with Congressman Chakah Fattah speaking to us about how he framed GEAR UP as a program for his native Philadelphia, and then seeing its success, proposed a bill in the U.S. legislature to make it nationwide. And look at us now, seven years later! Then Stedman Graham (that’s right, Oprah’s Stedman, who is apparently a motivational speaker and author and in some sort of vague business) gave me goosebumps, talking about how if we don’t define who we are, the world will. They will judge us based on our outward appearance and place in a box where we don’t belong. What’s the most powerful word in our language? he asked us. Education? I thought. Nope. Love. Find out what you love, who you love, what you love to do, and do it to the best of your ability. Use everything around you to make yourself a better person, and better able to do what you love. Be able to grow. This excited me not so much for myself, but as messages to pass on to my future students. Love it!

I attended a few group sessions, but mostly I sat in them just thinking from the perspective of a future teacher, and not so much as a current GEAR UP coordinator. I took some notes about effective programs and strategies, but let’s just see if my director ever asks us what we learned at the conference so we can implement new ideas at our program. I’ve met with frustration too many times from her when I approach her with program ideas. OKAY! Enough venting!

On a brighter note, I was the chaperone for two excellent boys from our program who were selected to participate in the Youth Leadership Summit portion of the conference. This was SO rewarding–the boys learned so much, and the entire group did an amazing presentation at the end of the conference about the major obstacles students face in being prepared for college. They also proposed solutions. Part of the presentation was completely inspiring for me: these kids crafted poems to express how difficult it is for them to be prepared to succeed in college, and delivered them in slam poetry/drama style. It brought tears to my eyes to see young people be so passionate about important issues in such a creative way! I can’t wait to teach poetry like that in my classroom, and see kids express themselves so powerfully.

Highlights from the sightseeing part of my jaunt:

  • The Holocaust Memorial Museum was a soul-changing experience. I wish I could have spent longer in it, but I saw enough to understand that I am definitely going to teach a unit on the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel’s Night is now on my reading list.
  • The Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum was just awesome. The spectacular dinosaurs, the beautiful gems, and the leaf-cutting ants were so cool! My seven-year-old brother was enraptured with pretty much everything.
  • The Smithsonian’s American History Museum was pretty good–it’s about to undergo renovation, so many exhibits were closed, but the fantastic war exhibit was still open.
  • Our tour of the Capitol building brought back some great memories of when I was a tour-giving intern for Congressman Wes Watkins.
  • Dinner at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, VA, was really neat–George Washington and James Madison ate there! (G-dub’s favorite dish: roast duckling–yum!)


  1. the reflective teacher said,

    Do you have pictures of the Holocaust Memorial Museum? If you do, I’d love to have some copies to show to my classes. (And in payment, I could give you a TON of pictures from my recent visit to Dachau.)

  2. Kim said,

    No, you’re not allowed to take photos inside. You’re encouraged to maintain silence, in fact. But the website has quite a few images and other resources.

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