Christmas, 1994


It may make me sound older than I am, but it really does seem remarkable to me how this year has flown past.  I can not begin to mention all the wonderful plans I had for 1994, that fell by the wayside as the hours ticked by.  Perhaps with another new year approaching, I'll be a bit more realistic with my resolutions.  Even with all that unfinished business, though, 1994 turned out to be a pretty good year.

My work at Garrigan has kept me extremely busy all year long.  Aside from teaching, my favorite activity is coaching our quiz bowl (academic competition) team, which has been quite successful.  We've won three tournaments so far in 1994, and with a bit of luck we will have won a fourth by the time you receive this.  It's stretching things a bit to say I actually "coach" quiz bowl; really the kids could get along perfectly fine without me.  The biggest amount of work is in organizing our home tournament, which fortunately went very smoothly this year.

I still do some work with speech, and I'm also the faculty moderator for the weekly radio shows that the school prepares for the local station.  I especially enjoy the "Bear Facts", which is a lively update on school news.  We've gotten lots of compliments on it, on what a professional job the kids do, and I must confess with a certain smugness that their program is invariably better than the similar show that the public high school airs.

Student Council is my other main activity.  That keeps me busy with assorted projects:  Homecoming, Adopt-a-Highway, taking food to the needy, and even Valentine "love matches".  This year the student council is also taking responsibility for intramural basketball--which will be fun, but is yet another item to add to my January calendar.

This past year I've also been involved in re-writing curriculum for the math department, I've been co-chairing a committee for a K-12 evaluation our school is undertaking, and once again I've been on the salary negotiations committee.  Occasionally on the side I even manage to get in a bit of teaching.

I've also expanded my work at Iowa Lakes Community College.  Last winter I taught a night course on their TV system, broadcasting from Emmetsburg to students in Algona, Spencer, Spirit Lake, and Estherville.  That was more than a bit trying the first time around, but now that I've got the hang of it, I'm more or less looking forward to an encore performance this coming semester.  I also taught three math classes last summer--two in a formal setting, and one that was an independent tutorial with a student athlete who needed a course for admission to Iowa State.  Iowa Lakes pays extremely well (at least by contrast to a Catholic high school), so I can hardly complain about being overworked there.

Away from school my activities have changed a bit.  I took one class this summer, which almost finishes my talented and gifted certification.  I'm still active at church (as the perennial chair of the Missions Committee), but I resigned from the community theatre board.  The time that took was more than replaced by my new duties as a regional director for the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  That involves several meetings a year, and it also got me a special appointment as an advisor to the "Science Bound" project at Iowa State University, which helps minority students in the Des Moines area.

My work with ICTM gave me experience with the new Iowa Communications Network, the statewide fiber optics system.  Since I had attended a brief series of training sessions about the technology, they decided I was the best-qualified person to organize a series of workshops over the system.  Using the system itself is quite easy, but boy is it a nightmare to schedule!  I ended up applying for a grant to fund the workshops, and much to my surprise it was approved without question--so now I guess I can boast in my résumé that I'm a successful grant writer.

All my work did receive a bit of notice.  Last winter the local Jaycees named me the Kossuth County Educator of the Year.  I'm not sure there's much of a competition for that award, but I was flattered that someone cared enough to send them my name.

Much of my spare time, especially on weekends, I've spent working with my good friend and former student, James White.  James is now a sophomore at NIACC in Mason City, and he plans to transfer to UNI next fall.  His plans are still up in the air, but at present he's leaning toward education, with the idea of coaching and teaching (God help us all) math.  I really enjoy working with James, and he is very appreciative of my efforts.

My vacation this year took me westward to visit Steve and Terry in New Mexico.  Their year makes mine look positively boring.  They've become foster parents--first to a family of six small children, and later to one troubled teenager, Isaac.  Steve is still teaching math and science at Gallup Middle School.  While his preference ranges more toward social studies, he seems to be enjoying his work more this year.  He went to Florida this fall as part of  a special science training project.  Terry teaches Spanish and "life skills" at the middle school in Thoreau, the little Indian settlement where they live.  Next summer she plans to take some of her students to Mexico.

As always I've seen more of Margaret than anyone else in the family.  Her big news is that she's finally putting the finishing touches on her house, as this fall she added sod for a yard.  She took some students to Spain and France last summer, where she seemed to have a reasonably good time.

Paul has become a certified lay speaker in the Methodist Church, and he's been busy  this fall preaching.  He's also trying to raise money to take kids overseas.  Nancy is excited because after twenty-plus years in a mobile unit, next year her special ed classes should finally be moving into the real school building.  Rachel and Timothy are now big.  They're in upper elementary, and they're approaching their mother's height.  Whenever I visit there, I'm especially amazed at the kids' computer skills.

While his school struggles to remain open, John continues to do great things with his students.  I visited last summer, when he was in the process of putting on a special play.  Like me, John also works with speech, broadcasting, and quiz bowl.  Janet continues to suffer the problems of the world of travel, and on the side she's developed quite an interest in fitness.

The Burrow relatives all seem well.  On my trip to New Mexico I visited Jin and Arnold at their retirement home in Albuquerque.  Just a week later they and other relatives got together to celebrate Bill and Hazel's golden anniversary.  On the Miller side, Alaire's big news is her new car--a bright blue Dodge Neon.  She gave up smoking to afford the payments, and she's quite proud of her new wheels.  We had the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Alaire, and it was most enjoyable.

Busy though it may have been, this really was a good year for me.  I hope the same is true of each of you.  I wish you every joy in this holiday season, and the richest of blessings all through 1995!

Merry Christmas


Happy New Year!

The background music on this page is Longfellow's Civil War carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".