Year Two

We Run DC

I don’t think you know how far your emotions can be tested until you take 28 of your favorite students to your college hometown for a weekend.

For a bit of context, you understand that my students live in the polar opposite of Washington, and that DC still occupies the northwest corner of my heart. This field trip has been in the works since January 2015, and my other teacher half and I have put in innumerable hours to make this adventure a reality.

It finally, finally happened. The bus departed at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning in February, and I don’t think anyone slept the whole bus ride there. We were dropped off in front of the White House about seven hours later. They couldn’t believe how small it was. They pointed out the snipers on the roof, and argued about what would happen if they tried to jump the fence. We walked to the Verizon Center to catch the Wizards/Pistons game. I considered the walk just a couple of blocks. I guess it was actually a mile. Oops.

I don’t particularly care for basketball, so I have no idea how the game was, but I had some delicious pizza and got a free t-shirt! When we got back to the hotel, we set curfew at midnight, and please take note of the photo of our diligent door-taping procedures we secured in order to prevent potential purpling. Onward to Saturday.

We toured the Capitol, which went off without a hitch. Our next stop was Bertucci’s for lunch, followed by a tour of GW. They hated Bertucci’s – I guess thin crust pizza isn’t popular in SC. The 38 of us had one tour guide for GW’s campus, meaning no one could quite follow what was going on, and on top of that, everyone was hungry. We got Captain Cookie afterwards, which seemed to temporarily placate them, but oh, just wait.

A note on GW- it was weird. I was walking with one of my best friends from college through the Marvin Center, gossiping about the latest fraternity to be kicked off campus, with my students in tow. It felt weird. It was like my two lives had merged into one on the corner of 20th and H. I couldn’t help but feel that they were out of place. In 2013, the Washington Post ran an article about how GW was fighting its “rich-kid reputation.” My kids looked around campus, looked around their info session, and they didn’t see anyone who looked like them. I can’t blame them for being disinterested. The whole time I was battling the internal debate of whether or not this tour was a good idea in the first place.

After Captain Cookie (God bless), we went to the Mall. Let me tell you. They were VERY disappointed to find out that this was not actually a mall. We did the museums. I think my brain farted and forgot that museums are actually, uh, boring. I dragged students through the National Gallery pointing out nude portraits and racy images, and they could not have been less interested. We had split into small groups for dinner, but as dinner time approached, the small groups got bigger, and my plans for a quick bite at Shake Shack violently erupted. Our group of 10 became 25. I didn’t realize there was a Capitols game that night, and we caught ourselves next to the stadium, an hour before game time, trying to find dinner. LOL. Another fun detail – it was about a 30 minute walk from the museum to Shake Shack, bringing our total walking milage for the day to around 7 miles. Shake Shack was packed, and long story short, we stood on a street corner in DC for an hour waiting for our bus to come pick us up and drive us to an all-you-can-eat buffet in Arlington.

This is also about the point where all the Advil and Prozac had worn off, and Ms. Abram was at her, erm, rawest. I cried on the bus ride to dinner and wrote an emotional letter of resignation. (It ended with “if not me, who? if not now, when?” I scrapped it eventually.) I ditched the group to eat at Popeye’s, where I dined on french fries and diet coke, and listened to one of my favorite boys tell a story about the time that he thought he got his period.

I am thankful to have wonderful and thoughtful peers who realized that I was on the verge of breakdown and sent me to bed the moment we arrived at the hotel.

Sunday was a fresh start, and it contains the memories I hold near and dear to my heart. We started at the WWII memorial, where I showed them how to take corny pictures that looked like they were holding the Washington monument, and they thought it was the coolest thing in the world. We moved on to the Lincoln, where I pointed out the typo on the right hand side to one student, who promptly showed it to every other child on the trip. I took a group around the back of the Lincoln to look at the Potomac. We stood in the same spot where MLK delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. We took so many pictures. We walked over to the Vietnam memorial, and it started to pour, and we ran back to the bus. We hopped off again at the MLK memorial, to stand in the rain and read the inscriptions on the memorial. We drove up to Howard University to wander the quad for a half hour, and when we got back on the bus, every student announced their intention to attend Howard after graduation.

We stopped at an actual mall on our way back to SC (you’re welcome, kids). Even though we didn’t arrive home until 10 p.m. on Sunday night, every one of us was at school Monday morning wearing our new Wizards t-shirt.

Overall, the weekend was much like a ride on an elevator. It had its ups and downs.



Year Two


Disclaimer: I wrote this post in January. Oops.

The following image, and ones similar to it, kept popping up in my Twitter feed over winter break.


It was one of those things that a few years ago I would have thought was hysterical, and now, on the other end of the tunnel, just doesn’t sit right in my stomach (much like the sugary + greasy combination of having only hush puppies and a Cheerwine float for dinner).

Our next unit in algebra II is logarithmic and exponential functions. We just learned what logarithms are, what they mean, etc. What exponent is required to go from a base of b to a value of a? And the whole time I can’t help but think to myself, “is this the most important thing for my kids to be learning right now?”

I decided the answer was no. We did a giant financial literacy project that took up the whole third quarter. I hope that one day, a dozen years from now, my students will be browsing funny memes on Tumblr and smile because their teacher actually taught them about how to do their taxes.

Year Two


In order to recall what February was like, I literally have to go back to my planner and figure out what went on for those 29 days. I’m looking at it now and laughing out loud. Here’s a snapshot-

And an overview of the highlights of the month (ok I’m sneaking March in here too, even though it could warrant a whole other post).

  • I coached our HS Academic Challenge Team. We won more games than our football team did. My proudest moment was when one of my kids correctly gave the decimal form of 10101.
  • I went to DC for a conference and wrecked my ankle nearly falling off a stationary bike. I also went to the OEOB for an education policy panel and did my best to channel my inner CJ Cregg.
  • I took 28 children to DC for a weekend. It still feels surreal. I’ll write a separate post about this whole adventure.
  • Google Cardboard came to my school. We went on virtual field trips to everywhere from Mars to the bottom of the ocean to Versailles. One of my kids said that his favorite field trip was to the Great Barrier Reef, because he’d probably never get to see it in real life, because he can’t swim.
  • We had a 4 day weekend. On the Friday, I took 5 students to hear Hillary Clinton speak at South Carolina State University. On the Monday, I took two kids to tour Coker College.
  • We went to another TEDx Conference.
  • We went on a field trip to a STEM exhibition in Charleston that was across the street from Emanuel AME Church.
  • The robots finally arrived.
  • Spring Break finally arrived.


Year Two


I think that you should really read this whole article posted here.

All my quotes are from the 800-word piece I wrote about the intersection of the high school I attended, and the one at which I now teach. It’s really great. I would just copy and paste the whole thing here, but I want to give Bolles the web traffic it deserves for writing about me. hairflip