Onyx may be leaving

Two Saturdays ago my family went from Humane Society to Humane Society hunting for me a pet to keep me company here at the beach.  I fianlly selected a black/white “tuxedo” kitten that we named Onyx. According to the Humane Society, Onyx was a 4-6 month old kitten, and I rapidly took to her. We paid for her shots and brought her home, and then I put her in the car to bring to Myrtle Beach (the work-week home away from home for  now.)

I have 2 other cats in Rock Hill, and they were most unhappy with the addition. It didn’t matter though because Onyx would stay in Myrtle Beach for now.  Since the adoption we received a letter in the mail from the Humane Society, and the paperwork revealed that Onyx, who is very small, is in reality 4 years old. She has been raised at the Humane Society where I got her.  I tell this b/c the kitty (cat) is absolutely miserable. She hides 100% of the time. She has been hidden for a complete 15 hour span once. I’ve only seen her out and about by accident. If she realizes she has been seen, she cries, and runs. If I catch her she extends all her claws, and she trembles. I think I have TOTALLY disrupted and devastated this cat’s life!

At the YC Humane Society, I did think it odd that most of the cats were in cages, but three or four (including Onyx) were totally free to roam all over the office.  Now I suspect these cats were safe to roam b/c the office was their home, the ONLY home they have ever known.  All of them were probably raised as kittens there.

My husband is planning to take Onyx back this Friday.   He said the whole reason we got her was to offer me companionship, and if all she does is cry, scratch, tremble, and hide, AND she is  4 yers old instead of 4 months old, she is totally set in her ways and probably very homesick.  He has pretty much convinced me that it is cruel to keep her. The Humane Society does have a policy that will allow this.

I don’t know…I do have terrible pangs of guilt that she is so terribly afraid.  SAD in Myrtle Beach. Sorry for the personal post. Not much to be professional about here.

Allergy update

Yesterday I conducted an experiment to see if new flooring in sections of my library were causing my sunburn-like, itchy discomfort, and swelling around my eyes that I have been suffering with since early November.

Hypothesis: New flooring/carpeting in the library office and video editing studio are causing me to have an allergic reaction (as described above.)

Test: Stay away from the library office and production studio all day Friday, January 4 (which means stay out of the library all day)

Observable Results: I had no swelling, itching, or suburned look around my eyes all day Friday, Jan 4.

Here are two photos–one taken in August 07 as I was sharing about my eye surgery, and then the same eye in mid November 07.


Implications: A district office person in charge of construction & renovation came over to inquire about it, and he will investigate replacing the flooring in the two rooms, the library office and studio.

In the mean-time: I will return to the library Monday (second test) but stay out of the office and the studio, keeping the doors totally closed. The students who do the morning news program will have to be temporarily supervised by someone else until the flooring is replaced.

Other notes: no one else has indicated they may be having the same problems I have had, but from my own informal observation, I am the only one who has been in the studio and the office for long lengths of time. I have spent each morning from 7:30 through 8:45 daily in there, and then in the library office I have spent roughly 1/4 of the day, including lunchtime, where myself, my assistance, and various visitors, including the curr. specialist, school resource officer, and assorted others eat lunch each day.

Final thoughts–if the flooring is not removed in an expeditious manner, I will be forced to resort to asking for workman’s comp to seek medical attention for the symptoms that seem to be increasing in severity as each day passes. Wednesday and Thursday last week were the worst I had ever been up to date. Bummer.

Twitter to the Rescue!

Now I’ve heard it all! I think I may be allergic to work, but allow me to explain.  I am new at a school that just underwent a major renovation.  The library acquired a state of the art video production studio and new shelving.  The office was carpeted along with the renovations.  This was finalized on November 8th, and I was allowed to begin scheduling the studio for use.  We jumped in with both feet and never looked back.

Then the gradual discomfort and itching began.  I attributed it to allergies in general, after all who wasn’t walking around with a sniffle?  In SC, we have allergens of different kinds all year around–there is no off season. Then I began thinking I was reacting to a sinus infection, though I’d never had that kind of reaction before.  I began consulting “doctor internet” and “doctor twitter,” asking for advice and what on earth it could be. I posted pictures to twitter so my friends could see what I was facing.    (I had even let dr internet convince me I had shingles in my eyes–ouch!) The first post to twitter about the issue was made on November 18th.

I even posted a picture (I am so brave) to share so folks could grasp the severity of the situation.

Since this picture is really embarrassing, you can just visit the flickr picture to get a good view (and laugh). Most of my Twitter friends were strongly recommending I go to the doctor.  But I had an eye doctor appointment coming on the next Friday, and would be leaving to go back home to Rock Hill (170 miles away) for that appointment.  So I delayed the visit, leaving Myrtle Beach Thursday right after school, and spending the night at home before going to a 2:00PM appointment.  But miraculously the next morning 90% of the swelling was gone, and I wasn’t itching at all. It was a miracle, or so I thought.

At my doctor’s appointment I did not even mention the rash or swelling. No evidence of it anyway…But I did return to school the next week.  But by this time, I had a full scale head cold that I suffered through right up to Thanksgiving, and so attributed the returned rash and itching to being sick (again, even though I’d never had that reaction before.)  After the head cold subsided, the itchiness remained. So I began to think I was having an allergic reaction to possibly my cats, which I only see on the weekends now.  It was the only rational thing I could think of, so I began taking Clariton daily, which did seem to help some. The  itchiness was still there, but only a minor nuisance, and by this time I had become increasingly aware of it, and tried desperately to NOT rub or scratch my eyes. So there was a significant decrease in the redness or swelling. During my two week break I had NO signs or symptoms. None. But  was taking a Clariton daily, and assumed that it was finally keeping the discomfort to a minimum.

Fast forward to yesterday, January 2, a workday at school. I spent a lot of time at my desk doing things and time in the studio getting it ready for a live broadcast from the studio and from a remote location. I was clear and fine when I arrived at school. But by lunch time all those symptoms had returned with a vengeance. At home last night, most of it went away. Note to self-at school, irritation flares up; away from school, irritation fades and disappears.  Today at school, once again, the irritation flared up with a nasty vengeance again. As I was talking with a friend at school, we both realized the itchiness started around the time all the construction was done.   The studio was finished and made available to us, and the library offices were carpeted (they had previously been tile.) Notice date on this tweet. November 8.

This is almost exactly when I noticed that my eyes were constantly itching.  I just never made a connection to the construction or perhaps even the new flooring.  

But I did ask my twitter network if anyone thought I could be be allergic to mold, mildew, or allergens in the library, getting several responses to make me beleive this. I even picked up the phone and called my principal, asking if we might could have the library tested for somethng causing my discomfort.  Her suggestion is to come to school tomorrow but stay out of the library–to see if the irritation returns.  She is the one that suggested it may be the new carpeting that was laid down in the office and the studio…So tomorrow I work all around the building and not in the library. I will be in the auditoruim for class meetings (helping kids with PPT presentations for 3 different class meetings,) and then I’m going shopping for some school accessories we have determined we need. I’ll drive back to Myrtle Beach for this shopping trip. If at the end of the school day I am free of irritation, my principal is going to call the district office to see what kinds of tests they can conduct.  What do I think needs to happen?  I want a air cleaner (thanks for the idea Carolyn) and I want to go back to tile in the office and studio. I don’t know if the studio will have sound problems with a tile floor, but by golly I’ll be a heck of a lot healthier and happier.

Last, if it hadn’t been for my Twitter network tonight, I wouldn’t have even thought about the “library” possibly causing all my discomfort. Thanks, network! I hope this is resolved soon, as the irritation makes me look ten years OLDER. Arggg.

Our first formal production

My sixth grade students ( a group of about 8 girls) put together a video for our morning news show on locker care. Not expert, but good enough! I’m sharing here. All was made here at school. Almost 3 minutes in length. A little rough around the edges.lockersmov.mov

Download Title

Guess I need to upload to YouTube or teacherTube to have it play here. Bummer. Still trying to figure it out.


[kml_flashembed movie="http://technotuesday.edublogs.org/files/2007/11/lockersmov.mov" width="400" height="300" wmode="transparent" /]

My memory lane…does it measure up?

I read where Kathy Schrock and Doug Johnson recently provided a history or timeline of sorts to document their careers, so thought I’d take a moment to do mine. I am no comparison to those two who are quite accomplished educators. But it does help me when I reflect over my growth. In taking this walk down memory lane, I realize my professional growth has only just started to be independent of my husband’s career. You see he is a retired football coach, so the several moves I’ve made have been a direct result of his job changes as he moved from assistant to head football coach, and then from small schools to larger ones. Now that he is out of the coaching world, and is working as a school administrator, my work does not seem to revolve around where he is working. It is shocking to realize how big an impact it has had over the years I’ve been teaching. But now I am the driving force behind where I work and what I do. It almost feels “grown-up.” For anyone who knows me, this year I am working 170 miles away from my family, but am happier professionally than I have ever been. Some day I will share why I was so unhappy before coming to my current job, but the purpose of this post is just to walk down memory lane, and create a professional history of sorts. Specifics about this list can be gleaned for my resume, or curriculum vita here.

My professional history:
• 1986 – began teaching (5th grade) in Orangeburg County (South Carolina)

• 1988 – Enrolled in graduate school (University of South Carolina); looked into specialty areas like Guidance, Reading Specialist, Administration. None interested me so I chose a generic Master’s degree. After all, it was simply a pay raise, nothing more. I drove back and forth for every class–roughly an hours drive. During my last class, a math methods course of all courses, I realized the library was a place where I felt I could make a difference.

• 1990 – Master’s Degree in Education; plan in place to re-enroll in graduate school in five years when time for recertification – work towards library certification. (In hindsight, why did I wait so long? It could be that I had two children by now, both small.)

• 1995 – Re-enrolled in the Library & Information Science program at USC; seeking certification as a school library media specialist. I was in luck though as most othe classes were offered through distance education methods, so I only drove to Columbia for a few classes. The rest were taken using viewing sites and Blackboard.• 1997 – Certification in school library, family relocated to Aiken, SC; first job as school librarian in a middle school that did not even have a full time slms. I taught two classes of ELA (7th grade) and worked the rest of the day in the library. After one nineweeks, my principal hired a part time teacher to take over my ELA classes so I could work full time in the library. Implemented school news program, created school website from scratch, and began a quest to get innovative programs and equipment through grant writing. Was awarded teacher of the year. Also attended first SCASL and EdTech conferences, and decided I had MUCH to contribute. Since then, I have presented at either/or (and sometimes ALL 4) SCASL, SC EdTech, SCASA, and SCMSA conferences each year. My last three years I was the vice pres (1 year) and then president of the Aiken County Media Educators Association (2 years).

• 2001 – relocated for family purposes. Worked in a high school library one year. Continued successful grant writing, and presenting at state conferences

• 2002 – transferred to district closer to home—went against my heart and accepted a position in an elementary school. Continued presenting at various state conferences, but branched out to larger conferences, and presented at FETC in 2005. Attended my first NECC in 2005 as well—Philadelphia. Attended NECC in 06 San Diego and 07 Atlanta as well. Continued successful grant writing; expanded presentations by adding arts education conference to my resume. Developed skills as video editor, podcaster, & blogger. In 2004 was awarded teacher of the year; earned National Board Certificate in Early Childhood through Young Adult Library Media. Taught several teacher education professional development courses. In 2005 was invited to Nashville to give a three day workshop to LMS’s –>topic: the LMS as a Catalyst for Technology Integration. I worked as the Instructional Technology Chair for SCASL in 2005, earning me a spot on the SC Association of Educational Technology planning board for the annual conference (SC EdTech).

• Presently – Blogger, budding (once again) Podcaster; presence in Twitter (Cathyjo) and Second Life (Bentley Noel). Middle school librarian in new district. Enrolled in Educational Administration program, but interest waning once again….

As I reflect, I have to wonder where I will grow next…


Image: ‘Lane.Over

Dear Wes,

[This open letter is to Wes Fryer and anyone else reading and or seeing all the media coverage of the Megen Meier MySpace/Suicide Tragedy–his comments were closed (even tho his site said otherwise) but I want to speak to the issue. If you are not familiar with this story, click here.]

Wes thanks for posting about this today. As you may have read in Twitter, I am slated to give three 20 minute sessions for parents in early December about SN sites like MySpace and Facebook, two sites I do not even use, at a Parent Night at school. I accepted the daunting task, as I thought it was a great way to make parents particularly aware of the end user license agreement–and primarily that users are supposed to be 14. (The evening allows parents to select three short ws to attend, so I’ll be giving mine to 3 separate groups.) I’ve had several discussions at school about MySpace with our students–through library activities and our library blog, @ the CMS Library. Last time I discussed it with classes, I first polled them on their age as they came in–having them mark a tally on a chart to represent their current age (11, 12, 13, 14). I did this for five 7th grade groups. Of the entire grade that day, only 1 was 14. I then asked for a quick show of hands for who had a blog or myspace page. Almost all said they had a myspace page. ONE had a blog. After gathering that data (in a very unscientific and unreliable manner), I showed kids the rule about being 14. They were suddenly very giggly as they realized the purpose for my informal poll and fact gathering. I told them it was painfully apparent to me that all who had a space had fibbed– the youngest year one can select to represent their birth date wouldn’t let them choose a year that would make them younger than 14. Just as my discussion about p2p file sharing sites and illegally downloading music, the kids were defiant, and said it was okay. I explained that I wasn’t their to “police” them but rather help them make informed decisions, and knowing what I knew, they all needed to go home and delete their pages.

I’m debating showing the Meier Suicide videos available from reputable news organizations (like CNN, MSNBC, others) though in all honesty still think my 13 yo will defy the rules and continue to use it. And I believe many parents are JUST as unschooled on what these sites are, what the EULA says, and how to properly monitor their children even when using the appropriately aged portals. It is sad that MySpace turns a blind eye to the misuse—even my school’s resource officer said she made a profile a good while back as a part of an investigation. She faked her age and everything, but all as part of her job.

So how to approach this workshop? Carolyn Foote, a fellow LMS, says to be sure to focus some on the good–study groups for examples, but I honestly think I’ll find few and far between good uses. (Also her kids are in high school, while mine are middle school.) My gut reaction is to tell parents to sit up and be parents, but I’m sure that will turn them off too. I am really researching to find a good approach, as my principal wants it to be a fifty-fifty kind of thing (good vs. bad). I did think I might use my twitter as an example of a positive use, and then dis the sn sites that are not age appropriate for middle schoolers, leaving them with the age appropriate links you mention in your post today.

As far as the Meiers, I am truly sorry for their loss. But too often today’s parents think their children are safe. When a site like MySpace says it’s for 14 and older, then a 13yo shouldn’t have been allowed to use it, even safely guarded and monitored by loving parents. The young Megen’s reactions and final act speak to the fact that she was emotionally too young to be using it, falling victim to the name calling and bullying we all seek to protect our students and our own children from. It is sad that the lesson of should haves, could haves, and would haves is only being realized now for these parents after such a tragedy. In the media clips I have seen it is painfully obvious they are still quite bitter about the loss, and are seeking some kind of retribution, be it through civil courts or media. Although no names were mentioned saved their daughter’s and her fictitious boyfriend Josh, a quick google allows anyone who wants to know what the name of the mother is who did this horrendous act of cyberbullying. If the Meiers sought to get revenge, I’m sure they have all they could ask for now, but in the end they are all losers. How can anyone win with such a tregedy? They lost a daughter. The other mother lost her mind. They lost their dignity by resorting to childish pranks with the foosball table incident. And now they all will be remembered for the longest time for really rotten choices in general, and not any good that might rise to the top eventually. I hurt for these families. They are all on my prayer list.

Anyway, thanks for a well written and linked post today. Any suggestions? Want to be skyped in for this–Dec 4, 6-7PM Eastern time.