Life in the Green Mountain State

I am celebrating my 26th day living in Vermont!  Every day I learn something or discover a new place that I love.

Today, for example.  I walked to Northshire Bookstore, which is less than a mile from I live.  A mile.  Can you believe I’m this lucky?  It’s an adorable little bookshop near one of the roundabouts in the main part of town.  (Just a side note: roundabouts make so much more sense than stoplights.  Seriously, they’re amazing.)  I spent over an hour browsing and enjoying the atmosphere.  There’s also a coffee shop connected to the store, which makes it even better.  I got a book about being eco-friendly, like how to make your own laundry detergent and other ways to help be more green in everyday life.  It’s a big deal here in Vermont!

I recently completed my third week of teaching at my two elementary schools.  In some ways, every day gets easier, but in other ways it gets more difficult.  I finally have learned almost all the teachers’ and students’ names and I am more efficient at lesson planning and teaching to the needs of each class.  However, now band has started at one school and there’s a lot of work involved in getting rental instruments for kids, fixing the pesky clarinet whose bridge key is bent, talking to parents about costs, coordinating small group lessons with the classroom teachers, typing up practice sheets, updating my website page, and more.  It’s a lot of work!  Some days are tough – really, really draining.  I come home with a hoarse voice, a gigantic to-do list, tired feet, no food in the house, and very little money in my bank account.. But you know what?

I love those tiny humans.  I love music.  I love teaching.  Some days I walk out of school on such a high that I can’t help but smile and sing along to the radio the whole way home.  Those moments and days make up for all the tough ones.  Each day of teaching is unique and challenging in its own way.  It’s awesome.

Here’s pictures from both schools:

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2014-09-20 19.43.51My parents were visiting for the past 4 days, so I showed them the schools and some other places in the area.  It was great to have them here!  Now that all 3 of their kids have left home, hopefully they’ll have time in their schedules to visit us often (although mine is the farthest).

Speaking of visiting, I drove to Pennsylvania for my first drill weekend last weekend.  It was very tiring, but the traveling was fine.  Vamping up my energy level on Monday morning after this weekend was hard, but I survived.  It was so nice going to a familiar place where I didn’t have to concentrate on what anyone’s name was or use my GPS to get everywhere within a 10 mile radius of where I was staying!  My true introvert-ism shines through some teaching days because talking to so many new people exhausts me, but this weekend was great because it kind of recharged me talking to friends and familiar faces.  Here’s a shot of the sky as I was driving to PA.  I know, I know, I’m a terrible person for using my phone while driving.  I survived.  Lately, I have been obsessed with clouds!

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One exciting thing that happened a few days ago was that I became the official owner of my 1997 Volvo!  I drove it for most of college, but now it’s actually mine.  I have my Vermont plates and driver’s license!  I love this car.  It have more than 185,000 miles on it but it still runs like a champ, and is like a tank in winter.  It’ll be just fine for this coming winter.

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This past week was especially fun at one of my schools.  We had the “Junkman” visit and perform for us!  Don is basically a one-man Stomp performer who travels all over the place to do gigs like the one he did for Sunderland.  The kids LOVED it. Each grade had their own junk-playing class after an all-school assembly where he gave a short concert.  As a result, I am brainstorming ways on how the fifth and sixth graders can include our own composed junk piece on the holiday concert!  They did such a good job with playing rhythm patterns on their own junk, and they asked so many insightful questions.  I know you’re not supposed to have favorites as a teacher, but my 5/6 class is especially fantastic.  They are so musical and not afraid of doing anything in music class.  They’re a joy to teach.

(Just a little disclaimer, I had permission to take and use photos from our junk classes!)  You can see in this picture on the left Don’s set up where he uses 100% recycled materials to make music.  He did a great job with the kids.  I especially loved an exercise where 4 kids kept a beat on an upturned bucket with rubber band covered sticks to deaden the sound, and he and another student would take turns soloing on another louder, more metallic sounding bucket.  The students got really into it.  I loved seeing them be expressive and creative with music!  I’m working on getting him to visit the kids at Currier!

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Can I just say that it’s awesome to be loved as a teacher?  I see students everywhere (including a barn sale today, a restaurant this past week, and at church last Sunday), and in school and elsewhere, the kids are always waving at me and saying hi and coming up to give me hugs or to help me move instruments out of the closet to the music area.  I am doing my best to give them a well-rounded musical experience as possible.  I try to take notes after each lesson to remember what went well and what I could change for next time.  I’m sure I’m going to be such a better teacher after I’ve done it for one whole year but so far things are going pretty well!  I make mistakes every day, but kids are forgiving!  And the next class I teach a little bit better.

It’s beginning to get cold here!  I had frost on my windshield yesterday morning!  During the days it’s warm, but at night and early morning it’s very chilly.  I wore my first scarf and pair of boots of the season this week!  I had an especially good run yesterday at a nearby park (also within walking distance of where I live) when there was no humidity, a slight breeze, and the perfect amount of sunshine left in the afternoon.  It was perfect.

I’m trying to get involved in community events to meet people and socialize.  Next week, I am doing a yoga day at a studio in town whose proceeds benefit an organization called Women for Women, and I was recently invited to help lead Girls on the Run at school.  It’s a club in the spring that’s like an elementary version of cross country.  I’ve been to 2 different churches, and I’d like to try out a couple more in the coming weeks.  There’s also a house being built through Habitat for Humanity in a neighboring town soon, and I’m going to sign up to volunteer to help.  I also have 4 piano students and have met really nice families through that already.  And I’m playing with a samba group tomorrow!  I was invited by a fellow teacher at school who is also a musician.  So I’m definitely keeping busy!  I love having two mornings a week where I’m not at school, because it allows me to get everything done I need to and still have time to do this kind of stuff.

It’s a good life.  Have a great week, my friends.

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