Meet Solomon.

11 Dec

Greetings from Phoenix! After a long break from blogging, I am back and ready to roll.  It has been hectic recently as I moved to a new school site and finished up my first semester of master’s classes with ASU.  I have one week left before my winter break, which doesn’t seem like much, except for the fact that the federal office of Head Start (OHS) is coming to my classroom for two days in order to conduct the triennial review of Maricopa County’s program.  Needless to say, I am a bit nervous.  That’s why I have been distracting myself with this:

Fall foliage adorns his cover as a symbol of our first semester together at Bates.

Meet Solomon.  He was my senior thesis at Bates.  We spent many nights together during that magical fall semester.  There were good times, and there were bad times. Then we broke up.  But now for the exciting news: we are getting back together!*

Solomon arrived in the mail about two days ago because my thesis advisor and I are going to try to publish my thesis.  We had started the process back when I was at Bates, but with all of the insanity of moving out here and starting my life, we had to take a break.  My mom sent me Solomon, who contains all of my research, references, measures, data, and approvals from those four months, so that I can use some more of my analyses to strengthen my manuscript.  For a link to my thesis abstract as well as those of my peers who studied Psychology at Bates, click here.

Looking back on thesis, I realize how lucky I was to have the opportunity to do one.  As a first year, I was absolutely terrified of the prospect of writing my senior thesis, but I really believe that I was ready when I finally got to that point in my college career.  Bates gave me that incredible opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor to study something that was both self-created and self-directed.  By the end of that semester, I was so proud of what I had accomplished, and that is why I am so excited to get the ball rolling again as I work on getting it published.

So yes, that is what I am doing this weekend – I am getting back together with my thesis.  When Solomon and I ended our fling a year ago, I really did think it was over, but things have a funny way of working out sometimes.  I think this is the start of an exciting new relationship…

Best,

Nicole

*Note: I am not the only one who named my thesis, nor am I the craziest for insinuating a relationship between myself and my capstone project.   I actually had a friend who made a Facebook profile for his thesis, then married it on the FB. Yeah, it can sometimes go there.

Some days, it’s therapeutic to see someone get checked into the boards.

31 Oct

Ever since I found out that I would be moving to Phoenix for TFA, I was looking forward to one thing that I never had growing up in Seattle…

NHL Hockey.

Seattle was never the home of a pro hockey team, and only once I started at Bates did I really get to experience the thrill of this most glorious of winter sports as I became the superfan of both the women’s hockey team, known as WoHo, and the men’s team who refer to themselves as the NECHAs.

Starting my first year, I went to the WoHo games to cheer on my best friend and my Junior Advisor, and by sophomore year, I could be seen at every men’s and women’s game.  During my junior year, I invested in a cape and face paint, and made a sign out of a twin sheet for WoHo (see below).

Finally, senior year, I lived for hockey season.  I scheduled my dance rehearsals around hockey games.  I made two new twin sheet sized signs for the NECHAs and WoHo.  I even served as a backboard dummy for Bates EMS hockey training.

Credit to the Chief for the photo!

Needless to say, I couldn’t get enough. As January approached, I feared the end of hockey season because I had no idea where I would end up and if I would have the chance to continue enjoying this fantastic sport.  Luckily, my placement in Phoenix introduced me to the Phoenix Coyotes.  Although their fan base isn’t the biggest, I am still extraordinarily happy to have a place to enjoy the hockey season now that I don’t have two or three Bates games per weekend.

Here is a picture from my seat at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale on opening night vs. the Detroit Red Wings on October 16th.  The Coyotes lost, but it was so nice to be back in a rink again.  I went again last night to see the Yotes take on the Tampa Bay Lightning and I already have my tickets for this weekend’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a game in February against the Washington Capitals, and the Vancouver Canucks in March.

But you never know, I may buy some more.  In the real world, everyone has those days when you  just need to see a good hockey fight.

Best,

Nicole

Fall just isn’t the same.

10 Oct

It’s October.

Right now in Maine, the weather is cooling down into the 50s, the leaves are changing colors, and students and community members are lounging beneath the trees on the Bates Quad.  In a nutshell, it’s indescribably mind-blowing.

In contrast, here in Phoenix, it recently dropped below 100 degrees, we had a monsoon complete with golf ball sized hail that left dents in the roof of my car, and the only “foliage” we seem to see is the tire treads left by semi trucks on the highways.

I miss Maine so much, so I resorted to creating my own New England wonderland in my classroom.

For the next couple of weeks, our classroom theme is Fall, so we changed our dramatic play area into a fall scene.  I spent most of the day working on it during my planning day on Friday, and below is the result.As you can see, it is complete with a color changing tree, books about harvest, space to picnic and relax under the foliage, and my Birkenstocks (my Birkenstocks will not be an installation, but I thought it added a nice touch).  Although I am sure that it will be destroyed within the first day that the kids are there, I still think it is worth it.

It is so crazy to think that few of these kids have seen any sort of foliage in their lives, even in pictures.  I realized this would be the case during my Teach For America summer institute. During a quiet free choice time, one of my kindergarten summer school students was coloring in a coloring book and asked me, “Can trees be red?”  His question stunned me at first, and then I responded, “Yes Elonzo, in some parts of the country during the fall season, trees change from green to red, orange, yellow, and brown.” He looked at me in utter disbelief, and when we told the other kids in the class, they didn’t believe us either.

As a result, I expect a lot of questions about it when my preschoolers arrive in the classroom the week after parent-teacher conferences.

For now, I am off to do some planning for conferences and to complete some more work for ASU.  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Best,

Nicole

Happy New Year!

12 Sep

Shanah Tovah to everyone! This week I celebrated Rosh Hashanah (literally, “Head of the Year”) for the first time here in Phoenix, marking the beginning of year 5771 on the Jewish calendar and the start of the High Holiday season.

Happy Year 5771 from Phoenix!

The picture you see here is of the Rosh Hashanah dinner that I prepared on Wednesday for myself and my roommate.  I even baked the challah (bread) from scratch using the phenomenal recipe from which one of my closest friends used to make challah every Friday night at Bates Hillel!  You may have seen challah in grocery stores in its traditional braided form, but for this holiday we make it round to represent the cycle of a year.  The raisins in the challah and the apples and honey on the table are symbols of the sweetness that we hope the new year will bring.

At Bates, my homesickness generally hit hardest over the High Holiday season because I was so far from home and these holidays had been such important parts of my childhood as it is for many Jews.  However, I was lucky at Bates to have a small, tight knit community of Jews in Hillel with whom to share the holidays.  As the religious coordinator of this Jewish student organization, I was responsible for preparing for the holidays at Bates, which, although time consuming and stressful at times, was always worth it. Every year, we brought in a rabbinical student from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York to lead us in our services.  For those of us who were far from home, this was especially important because we had a local service and a group of people with whom we could celebrate. This year, I went to ASU Hillel’s service on Rosh Hashanah morning and had a good time, but I truly missed being with the people I love – both at home and at Bates.

Anyway, it is time to get back to master’s degree work and planning for classes.  I wish you all the sweetest of new years, whether you are celebrating the Jewish Year 5771, the 2010-2011 school year, or both.

Best wishes from Phoenix,

Nicole

Next stop: Miami, Florida?

30 Aug

Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona!

My name is Nicole, and I just graduated from Bates in May. I was born and raised in Bellevue, Washington (just outside of Seattle), spent my college years at Bates in Lewiston, Maine, and just moved here to my third corner of the country about two and a half months ago to start my two year commitment to Teach for America.  As fun as it is to put some pins on my travel map, I have a confession: I MISS BATES!

Right about now, the Junior Advisors (JA) and Residence Coordinators (RC) are arriving back at Bates, getting ready for the arrival of the Class of 2014 after their outdoor orientation (AESOP).  Facebook statuses are flooding my news feed with friends’ joyous exclamations of their returns to Maine.  I. am. so. jealous.

Not that my life here isn’t great – I am a teacher in a Maricopa Country Human Services Head Start program, and I get to read, color and play with three and four year olds all day.   But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could be back on that beautiful campus…not to mention the fact that it is about 25 degrees cooler up in Maine.

I am also in the process of getting my master’s degree in Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.) from Arizona State University (ASU), which is why this post has to be so short – I have work to do!  I’ll do my best to write more about my life down here, add some pictures, and share some of my favorite Bates memories in the process.

Best,

Nicole