From Deep in the Heart of Texas

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Howdy!

I am honored and thrilled to begin my journey with you all as the 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  I am following in the footsteps of many wonderful and talented teachers who have traveled the trail before me and have shared their stories, lessons, and inspiration with classrooms around the world.  I hope to live up to their examples and provide my fellow educators around the world with innovative and creative ways to bring “The Last Great Race on Earth®” into the classroom and help inspire students with the many lessons this special unit provides.

I am currently a fourth grade teacher here in Austin, Texas, often referred to as, “the live music capital of the world!”  Austin is a wonderful and unique capital city with a laid back attitude and a dedication to bring music and the arts to all.  Our official motto is “Keep Austin weird!”  This means different things to different “Austinites,” but for me as an educator, I feel inspired to think “outside the box” and find unique ways to teach my students to care about the world and want to make a difference.

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As I reflect on my 20 years as a public school teacher, I remember leaving the University of Texas, eager to change the world and inspire my students to find their passion and follow their dreams.  I soon realized that my goals were set high, but it is still my passion to this day to encourage my students to DREAM BIG!  I began my career working with special education students in a school where I did not have access to textbooks or even a chalkboard. Teaching in such a difficult situation, and with limited resources, I simply shared my own passions with my students; a love of nature by visiting nearby caves (in my own car) or performing plays and reading adapted classic literature (I bought myself) such as The Three Musketeers. I soon realized that every student in every classroom has the same desire; to be inspired about what they are being asked to learn. My last year at Campbell Elementary School, I was awarded a grant to develop a space called “Kid City” working with the University of Texas School of Design. Real world buildings resembling a city were built to encourage real world math skills in a simulated city environment.  I reach outside the four walls of my classroom and bring the community inside to help us achieve our goals.  This will continue to be an expectation of mine throughout the year in my classroom and on this blog.

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I take every opportunity to learn and grow as a teacher and, most importantly, to give back and share and collaborate with my peers. At Eanes Elementary, I have embraced Project Based Learning and I was asked to pilot 1:1 tablet technology for all the Eanes Independent School District elementary schools. I have presented locally and nationally at teacher conferences, sharing the tools and ideas I have learned to be successful in the classroom.  What inspires me now is to continue to find ways to give my students opportunities to share their work and passion with others nationally and globally. I am thrilled to be the 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ so I can continue to share my love of nature, animals and history with others around the world.

I hope y’all will join me on the “trail” this year, and my hope is to provide you with a little inspiration along the way. Happy Trails!