Sunday, November 16, 2014

What the heck is a HORT?

I value human kindness and support.  I was originally thinking I should add "more than most people" to that last sentence, but who am I to judge what others are thinking -- especially during the month of gratefulness.
This weekend, I presented for the first time at a national conference. To say that I'm on Gifted Education overload right now is a tremendous understatement.   Five days and four nights in Baltimore, where the conversation about teaching, intelligence, technology, (standards, groan), and changing the world, one life at a time, interrupted sleep schedules, meal schedules, and conversations in mid-sentence to share another story or idea.  

And every single minute was worth the expense, the time away from family, and the pages and pages of lesson plans left for my substitute.

Nov 16 What is the most powerful aspect of being a connected educator? What are you grateful for?

11 pm Wednesday:  I circle the "Arrival Loop" at BWI Airport.  Given that I had been out of bed at 5:15 am, the sunroof was open blasting just enough cold air on my head and face to keep me awake.  Simultaneously, the heated seats were on HIGH.   This was a necessity, as was the extra coat in the back seat.   I was at the airport to pick up my roomie, Susan Simpson, and I knew her Texas blood was not ready for the Baltimore temperatures.

Susan and I go way back.  Okay, way back to 2011 when we first met at UCONN, after being masterfully matched by the immeasurable Judith Mathews who had surveyed the list of incoming Three Summers cohort and assigning apartment-mates.  Nina, Susan and I bonded that summer, and Carrie, (next door for the first summer) moved in with us the following year.  We were all above forty.  Okay, above fifty, and marveled, suspiciously, at the alcohol, late nights, and lifestyle pace of the twenty-somethings in our building who were back for their second of three summers.  Susan was coming, all the way from Houston Texas, to attend the NAGC National Conference.

To support me.

As soon as I found out that our presentation proposal was accepted, I shared it with my UCONN cohort on our shared facebook page, and Susan immediately started courting her professional development approver for permission to attend.

We attended the conference, reflected on sessions, met up with others in the field of gifted ed.  We bought resources for our classrooms, and learned about many free ones.  We plotted about potential grant proposals we could write to support some of the too-many ideas we're taking home.

On Friday night, there was an alumni cocktail party for UCONN. Susan and I both had RSVP'd via email long before the exhaustion of Friday night made us realize that the party started at NINE PM.  Clearly this party was planned by those 2nd years from 2011.  

Instead of attending, we put on our pjs and called Carrie in Bainbridge, WA.  Our speakerphone conversation was its own alumni event, and concluded shortly after the UCONN party.  Could we have attended?  Yes.  Had we seen everyone during the previous two days at the conference?  Pretty much.  Connecting with Carrie made it seem like she was there.

In the middle of the night on Friday, I awoke and spent a lot of time thinking.  I was nervous about the presentation, I was not used to the noises of the city, and I missed the 35 on my Sleepnumber bed.  And then I wondered.  

HORT.  What the heck is a HORT?

Co-chairs, Co-presidents, Cooperate, Collaborate, Cohabit.  English tells us that the prefix "co" indicates two or more doing something together.  So what is a cohort?  It's a weird word, yet I've spent the last four years clinging to the preciousness of the word.  I am bonded, inextricably, to Carrie, Kiersten, Nancy, Kim, Nina, Rudd, Melissa, Susan, and the rest of my cohort, and I can only articulate that "we are a cohort."

According to dictionary.com, the only definition provided for HORT is as an abbreviation for horticulture or horticultural.  

the science and art of cultivating....

 We are connected educators.  We are, and always will be, a cohort, collectively, and individually practicing the science and art of cultivating the minds and talents of gifted students.  And I am so very grateful for each and every one of them.

4:33 am Sunday (Today):  I awoke before Susan's  alarm, which I thought was set for 4:30.  Her flight out of BWI was scheduled for 6:48 am necessitating at 5 am-ish (as opposed to Amish) departure from our hotel. 

As we traveled into the ARRIVALS loop shortly after 5 am, I stopped in front of the United entry point and Susan exited the vehicle after a quick hug.  The last time we said goodbye, it was an ugly, sobbing, hugging scene in a parking lot in Willimantic, CT.  I was determined not to have one of those post-cry headaches for the remainder of the day, so I kept the proverbial stiff upper lip.

The last words I heard Susan say, as the sliding door on the van closed was, "I miss you already."

I miss you too.