Author: <span class="vcard">admin</span>

This post is intended directly for students and parents who were trying to locate the Odyssey site for our final three (!) weeks of learning.  If you got the Remind message or e-mail that clarified this issue, I urge you to stop reading now and get back to your daily lives (or scroll down to play some Asteroids, please and thank you).

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I have heard from some that there was some uncertainty about where to find the relevant Epic materials in these byte-dark seas of the world wide web.  Although I have previously used this site for Odyssey materials, I thought it proactive to use our district’s Google suite of applications to make a companion Google Site specifically for this purpose.

Here is that link, again:

Any further questions about the Odyssey site, or our final push to our own Ithaca known as year’s end, can of course be sent to me at any time.  For your storm-tossed ship, may the tides of May be tidy!

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Please don’t toss your work to Poseidon at year’s end.  At least not the Chromebook.

9th Grade: Intro to Literature Admin Class Resources

Lucille Clifton. Photo credit: Dorothy                               Alexander.

“blessing the boats”

by Lucille Clifton, (1936-2010)

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that


Admin Class Resources

Just a quick note between wind storms – those gusty fustilarians leaving all sorts of leanings, vandalizing our privacy fence with an unhealthy bend (now fixed – thanks, Ace!) and leading more than a few freshmen into cabin fever, cannibal-inclinations.

Being National Poetry Month, I’ve been studiously reading poems each day and writing a few in my spare time.  While the last effort is always rewarding, the second has also been beneficial.  Not only is my emotional state more settled, but I have also been accepted for publication!   The debut, summer edition of the Crow Literary Journal, a new print literary journal here in eastern Wyoming, will include three poems by yours truly.  My contact with their team has been invigorating, and I think there will be some very talented writers making a name for themselves.  While I hold no such high hopes for me, I do appreciate being included.

In another note on summer fortunes, I have also been offered a panel at Denver Comic Con this year!  I’ll let my description speak for me, especially to remember what I promised to do:

Illustrated Education: Drawing on Comics in the High School Classroom

An educator will describe the elements of design, text selection, metacognition, and publication that inspired reluctant readers into avenues of creation and abstract thinking – all through the use of the comics medium!  The presentation will include: the steps of identifying high school classes with a need for reordered thinking/reading, implementing visual and comics texts into curricular needs, naming foundational texts of a graphic novel classroom, examining concepts and pedagogy that suit higher-order, 21st-century thinking, and inviting participants in the session to communicate, collaborate, and create opportunities to use the valuable media in their own classrooms.

I don’t know the specifics yet, but such information will be posted when available – that is, if I don’t flee from my own hubris into a summer cycle of seclusion and self-doubt.

Happy trails!

Admin Threads

Fisherman, Connemara, oil on canvas, Maurice Canning Wilks (1911-1984)

“The Fisherman” by W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Although I can see him still,
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped ‘twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, ‘Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.’


Yeats: “Hammer your thoughts into unity”

12th Grade: European Literature 9th Grade: Intro to Literature Reading Picks

Students will ask me about favorite living authors, and it is a bit like choosing body parts to lose.  Why an anxiety over a simple expression of preference?  Because — you throw a name out there, among many such deserving names, and giving it breath gives it life.  Commitment, there is, to life — once spoken: an obligation, a responsibility, an ownership.  Volunteering such a selection that represents your inner workings, what you perceive and how you want to be perceived, has many varied routes that range from genuine to pedantic to clever to paternalistic to encouraging.

I am fortunate, at this question, that I can name Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  And you, reading this, too, are fortunate that you can name Adichie, operating under the hopeful assumption that if you are not familiar with her work, you can be!

(And also that you aren’t scared by pronunciation, which is, per a publisher:

Chim-muh-MAHN-duh      en-GOH-zee    ah-DEECH-ee-(ay),

the “ay” being soft, like an exquisite breath following a name like poetry.)

I first encountered her incredible nuance and artfully measured characterizations in reading Americanah (2013) for a college course.  This novel, centering on the Nigerian and American-immigrant experiences of a perceptive and independent young writer, with occasional interwoven threads of a lost love, was eye-opening for me.  Having lived so long, through the classroom or the need for cheaply-attained bookshelf fillings, in the classics or in genres, I had doubted a contemporary work’s ability to affect me so profoundly.  But the words!  Flowing at once dexterous and durable; built, like a braid of hair, upon energy, identity, and culture.  This novel allows a glimpse of modern America from a liminal perspective that is world-widening and contemplative.  Simply put, the first piece of literary fiction published, and then read by me in “real-time”, that caught my sense of temporal and spatial habitation.  If it wasn’t for Americanah, my reading scope, while still fairly diverse, would not be including a crucial, culturally-resonant moment.

This cultural resonance is reflected in a pair of Adichie TED talks which encapsulate the shoaling before many of our current cultural waves swelled and broke.

“The Danger of a Single Story” (2009) examines cultural lenses and embedded, preclusionary narratives regarding race and nationality:

“We Should All Be Feminists” (2012), which was later published in a handy, pocket-sized book, takes a much-needed, skeptical look at why “feminism” has become a controversial group to belong in, another incisive look at how language can subtly, and nefariously – whether intentional or not – shape our perspectives:

You can follow up these thoughts with Adichie’s most recent publication, an essay written as advice to a friend that also serves as a notes on motherhood and celebrating your work, as well as two other novels, a short story collection, and some pieces for The New Yorker.   It’s a sacred responsibility, as the promoter of reading in our public schools system, to provide suggestions meaningful, challenging, and/or thought-provoking.  For readers looking for something mature, progressive, and even happy – check out this author to appreciate: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Appreciations ENG2020: Concurrent Enrollment Reading Picks

You know that video – the one with the two red foxes screaming at each other, at arm’s (foreleg’s) length away?  Just staring and screaming, occasionally looking around to see if anyone has commentary or choral aspirations for their love/antagonism?  February was a bit like that.  In the last month, since a whirlwind Jeopardy! appearance and an incredible outpouring of affection and support, the air became thick.

Peer reviews, illness, professional quirks, insanity on the television.  Bullish weather, armed teachers, book selection challenges, advice from the uninformed.

At least there was chocolate.  I’m lucky to have a lighthouse at home – in fact:

There’s no time in which I feel more at peace than in the winking daylight when I pull up on the curb.  In a car now, and sometimes by foot, but hopefully on a bike soon.  The lighthouse in my home is a port in the storm and a part of my form.  Mental health days were taken, if only to make you breakfast and stick lavender incense in every cranny.

At times, I pursue reading above all physical concerns or obligations.  In preparation for potential panels in the summer and reimaginings (forced and unforced) of the texts for next year’s classes, it’s been heavy on graphic novels and comic collections.  These days I dream and breathe sequential art – it’s in every fiber and thread of the tenuous classroom strings.  Despondency over the pre-spring doldrums hit hard this year, and my reading has been similarly contemplative.  I’ve been checking out graphic memoirs, with varying lenses of trauma and redemption (eating disorders, abuse, neurological/mental illness, etc.), investing deeply in the Mignolaverse (splatty bug creatures and fun with ectoplasm), and revisiting Sandman with the collection of Death (Gaiman always rights the perspective-ship).  Amid monsters and shadows, it’s life on every page.

The spring cleaning I need to do (besides the actual mountains of housework, writ in lists that, laid out on the floor, not only circumnavigate the whole domicile but also define the safe pathways that won’t result in stubbed toes or “TIMBER!” of assorted organized chaos piles) is of the mind.  Minimize the day to day, focus on the big picture.  Get back to one of those three writing projects.  Beat back the block and decorate my world with a mantra splashed on the wall space, as Neil would have it:

The first step out.

Admin Threads


As I write, it is less than 48 hours until my own Jeopardy! experience reaches air.  Many of you may have been laughing along with that Hometown Howdy of mine.


…..grrr.  That’s a hard line to say!  Despite being on national TV (- and writing blog posts about it – ) – ( – and gabbing to every local news media outlet – ), I don’t think it’s crazy to say that I’m not one for self-promotion.  Now that the freshmen found it, and I have to hear the Howdy thirty times a day, with imitation – well, it gets me.

I’ve been really enjoying my Jeopardy! viewing this week.  If I haven’t said it enough, the entire team behind the scenes and in front of the camera made the experience the friendliest, if still anxious, of my endeavors.  Each of the contestants were top notch.  Even if it doesn’t show (with all the negative numbers and single-game dominance), everybody deserved to be there and would have/could have won if categories or buzzers had been more in their timing.

Dash it all!

Crazy to think that I’m in that room on the air, just not visible yet.  It’s like listening to an echo, or swimming through an oft-watched episode of Twilight Zone – you know all the lines to but still have to catch yourself to see if really happened just like that.  Each promo and each clue is another knock, another footstep, another thunderbolt to the half hour that has been in the back of my mind for three months.  I hope that everyone who tunes in will play along and join me in giggling through the whole show.  While I certainly didn’t make enough money to take “rich leave”, I’m not disappointed with my performance.  It’s been a privilege and quite the honor.  I couldn’t have done it without Shannon and without the support of my colleagues, students, and friends.  Sincerely, thank you!

Managed to resist “Celebrity Jeopardy!”/Kebert Xela joke. #meetyourheroes

The End….For now?

So long everybody!


        Be’er preperred

Up in the Morning Early

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shrill’s I hear the blast,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

– Robert Burns

        Dedication of the Robert Burns statue in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on November 11, 1929

12th Grade: European Literature Threads