Friday, June 10, 2011

My favorite part is the frosting...

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a group of seven high school juniors on a road trip to Knoxville, Tennessee. Being away from your home and responsibilities for six days is tough, but I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade those six days for anything. In fact, when I think about the past seventeen years that I have spent in education, those six days were definitely a highlight. Absolutely the frosting on any cupcake.

I know what you're thinking, "What in the world would possess anyone in their right mind to take a group of teens to Tennessee?" "How in the world can she consider that a highlight?" "Did she say road trip? How far away is Knoxville?"

Maybe I should start at the beginning...

The group in question is a Destination Imagination team from Irving, Texas. They did well at their regional tournament and received a score of outstanding at state. This allowed them to advance to Globals, a yearly event held at the University of Tennessee. There are so many things about this experience that are so memorable. The first being the challenge that the team embarked upon - working with a local salon to donate over 200 inches of hair to Locks of Love. The second is how they presented their community service to the audience at the tournament. They re-enacted their hair drive through a creative interpretation of Rapunzel. The tear jerker? When the only boy on the team allowed one of the other team members to cut his hair off (10 inches) at the end of the performance.

Another highlight? Watching one girl in particular go on an amazing journey that started when she was in 5th grade. When asked to stand in front of her classmates to give a book presentation, this girl simply froze, unable to speak with tears streaming down her face. As her 5th grade teacher, I was petrified. This was not my intention; the last thing I wanted was for my students to be afraid. In middle school, this girl found her voice when she joined DI! She continued to grow and blossom, joing a DI team when she entered high school. And since her freshman year, she has done better each year. She carefully choose her teammates, always with her sister by her side. As a sophomore, they made it to State, but didn't advance to Globals. Despite her disappointment, on the way home from the closing ceremony, she started planning for her junior year. Again the goal was to make it to Globals. And make it to Globals she did, along with her sister and five other classmates.

So, really I haven't even gotten to the six day adventure to Tennessee and I've already told you about two highlights in my seventeen year career. I can't wait to tell you about the things we saw and did on the trip. Until next time...