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© Tom Gilbert

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May, 2019

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A Beautiful Parting Gift

May 31, 2019

student gift to teacher of a decorated guitarMy school wrapped up last week. I've been teaching 5th grade there for seven years and it has been some of the best years of my life. I have grown so much as a "second career" teacher. I love learning, I love teaching, and I love seeing kids learn.

One of the things I've been doing the past couple of years is playing guitar in my classroom. I love music (which is why my "first career" was 30 years in radio broadcasting) and I like to sing and play songs. I have a built in audience with my students and I think they enjoy it (most of the time). It's a good way to engage them and for them to see me as more human. More importantly, music as the universal language is an excellent way to teach.

I made the decision to move on from this school and the new challenge at my next school is already inspiring me. It is necessary for all of us to make new starts. Just as the students each year move on, my time has come. I will always treasure my time with St. Therese, but I believe my next step is needed for me to keep growing. I have a new job, still as a 5th grade teacher, and it will now be in public education. I will have more resources and more colleagues to collaborate with. I fully intend to keep playing my guitar!

backside of student guitar giftMy students this year gave me a really special parting gift. Together with the art teacher they decorated an old stringless acoustic with drawings, messages and their signatures. I will treasure it always.

Parting gifts can be something material. But it can also be something else. The love and spirits of students will always be in my heart. Our parting gifts can hold great meaning. Maybe you can think of the things you want to give and pass on to your loved ones. A preserved life story is a great way to start.

Lives Impacted by Military Service Deserve Gratitude, Encouragement and Compassion

May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019 has many reflecting on those who served in the military, particularly the ones who went to war and to the many who never returned. The ultimate sacrifice of a life cannot be adequately measured. Nor should we attempt to lump together the various lives in a patriotic salute without taking the time to appreciate each individual's story.

Let's face it - we love our freedom and our country and patriotism stirs in most hearts strong feelings. We want to protect our freedoms and it is naive to believe that can always be done without blood ever being shed, although that would be the ultimate desire and goal.

I was raised in a military family. I saw my dad go off to war in Vietnam anxious to prove his mettle in air combat. Having trained all his career to be a top-notch pilot he needed to do it. He was a great pilot with excellent skills and a fair amount of bravado. Experiencing the reality of the conflict and the many messy layers of war showed him things he probably wished he hadn't seen. That is probably true for any soldier who has been in combat.

Dad did come back from Southeast Asia alive. But he was changed. And he challenged some higher ups which brought about retribution in the form of a desk job. His rank was full colonel, but what he really loved was to fly. His punishment was "clipping his wings".

I long for a world of peace and no more war. I also want a world where people's lives are honored for their contributions and sacrifices. Military service is a high calling for many. So, too is being a doctor, nurse, teacher, social worker, counselor and artist.

The U.S. Army sent out a tweet a few days ago asking veterans how their service has impacted them. They got a lot of responses, some perhaps surprising. See this story on NPR for more.

Zoo Day Field Trip

May 20, 2019

It is pretty typical for schools to do field trips to their community zoo. Here in Albuquerque it's one of our end-of-the-year traditions. Today was the day and it is always fun to check out the exhibits, the amazing diversity of wildlife and to see the kids from pre-K to 5th grade react to it.

I teach 5th graders and some of them start to get a bit jaded about the zoo at this age. So it is my job to get them excited about it. We have a nice Bio Park here in Albuquerque and I work ahead of time to prepare the students about animal life. If you allow it, your mind will truly appreciate how many wonderful types of animals there are. Granted, the zoo is not the best place to see them. Much better in their natural habitat. But we have to do with what is available. Here in Albuquerque the displays do try to incorporate some of what it is like in the wild for the animals.

One of the things that I enjoy about zoo trips is the experience and strengthening of relationships you can make with young people. Grandparents (I am one of two young grandchildren) get it. Seeing life through the eyes of a child allows wonder to be experienced. That is something we all need forever in our lives.

For a fun song about the zoo here's a link to Simon and Garfunkle's At the Zoo.

Moms Move Mountains

May 11, 2019

Tomorrow is the Mother's Day holiday in the United States. Moms move mountains. That's figurative speech, but if a mother had to literally move a mountain, even one stone at a time to protect their child, I wouldn't bet against her.

Let's face it. Mothers are incredible and what they can and will do for their children and families is hard to quantify.

Despite the way we often hear about the world these days and the state of families and values, I still think the value of a mother needs to be recognized, appreciated and praised.

Mothers are the best at nurturing. Everyone needs to have that quality, to encourage and nurture growth and esteem in others. But moms are the experts.

Parenting can be very stressful. It is a demanding, and sometimes thankless, job. It's the most important job. We all need to help our children grow, develop and be the best they can be. It takes time, effort and a lot of tough love along with the tender moments. There is laughter and tears. Thanks to all the mothers who help us dads. And thanks to the fathers who support, love, encourage, protect and appreciate the mothers, grandmothers and all who fill the motherly position for others.

We don't stop needing our mothers when we are grown. My mom passed away thirteen years ago, but I still "hear" her voice and "feel" her love.

If you are looking for some ways to be a happier mother there is this article on Psychology Today.

Happy Mothers Day to all the mountain movers!

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