Let the Games Begin!

Or rather, let the classes begin!!

Today was my first day of teaching art in the morning and taking Spanish classes in the afternoons. Here's what my schedule looks like:

7:30-12:30 Teaching Art
12:30-1:30 Break!
1:30-4 Spanish Classes

And now I have 9 pages of homework!!! A grand wake-up call in my world of "no more college for me!" Ha, maybe I'm like my dad and I'll always be pursuing another degree of some sort... The problem with Spanish is that you never really "graduate"... there's always more to learn.

Speaking of homework, I'd better get started!


Day Trip to Jaco

I had a craving for the beach since the last time was April... so did some other girls I met randomly. Sooooo there we went! We rode the bus from San Jose to the coast in the early, early morning, enjoyed a day in the sun, and then rode the bus back! Total transportation cost: $10. Food cost: $8. Not bad.

The four musketeers for the day. L2R: Joni, me, Amy, Chrissy. Joni is studying at the Institute just for the summer as she's in college for nursing. Amy has been volunteering at Sojourn for the last month and will be returning to the States on Monday. Chrissy just arrived in CR last Monday volunteering with an organization called Latin Link... She just graduated from Imperial University in London. Quite the random group, but we definitely made the best of it!
This dog hiked with us all the way down the beach and back. Her collar said, "Hola. I am Clarita." and then a phone number for tracking down her owner. Other dogs would approach us, and Clarita would run them off!

Kate the explorer... I have potential, don't I? ha.
Then! We had a surprise and slightly impulsive adventure as we went horseback riding! I'm a little sunburnt at this point in the day (I'm tempted to make the photo black and white so you can't tell!). We rode for about an hour and a half... my rearend is reminding me this morning.

I know this isn't the best photo in terms of detail, but I like it for it's artistic nature.


Planting Seeds

Teaching is all about planting seeds. Seeds of math strategies, historical lessons, science concepts, the joy of reading. Each teacher waters and fertilizes and weeds what the last teacher planted. We all hope and pray it grows. And then the end of the school year comes and we say goodbye.

Dad sent me this photo from their recent trip to Iowa. The house behind the white car was the parsonage we lived in while Dad was pastor of his first church. Mom looks tiny standing next to the tree in the front yard... the tree I brought home from kindergarten and we planted in the front yard. It fit in a cup when we planted it... now it's two times the size of the house!

The tree a good reminder that my students will grow. Not because of me, but because of God. So ultimately, teaching is all about putting in my best work and trusting God with the rest of the growth. Hopefully my students will be giants like this!!! :)


Vacation has always meant going somewhere... but this time, I'm here. Well, still here in Costa Rica, but I'm not travelling for the whole vacation. Instead, I am doing more normal things like napping, eating, reading my pile of books to read (The Shack, Wrinkle in Time... anybody want to join in the Kate Book Club? :)), and not thinking about teaching one bit. Excellent.

Costa Rica is a hot spot for studying Spanish, so I've been able to get together with different people who were/are Judson students or are related to Judson friends. Last weekend (before my emergency room episode), I travelled by bus to Heredia for the day to meet Hannah Morris, the sister-in-law of my Judson friend Valerie (Kasen) Morris. That was fun!!! Hopefully this week, I'll be getting together with Becca O'Donnell, another Judson grad who is studying here short-term.

I also have plans for a pedicure with Becky, jewelry making with Jamie, and cooking with Carolina. There's a potential beach trip for this next weekend with Alejandra.

So far, so good.

I've never felt like I have deserved a vacation more than now. Ha, that might sounds conceited or stuck up, but teachers put everything into their students for 10 months and then it's time to rejuvenate... too bad I only have 10 days of rejuvenation! As the saying goes, I'm going to milk it for all it's worth.

Happy Father's Day!!

Hi Dad :).

I tried to call you 6 times... but Skype's not working.

So this is an official, modern technology "HELLO!!!" for Father's Day...

Hope you don't mind the blog version instead of the telephone version...


Last Day of School!!

We (Kim, Kim, Trish, and I) have survived one year of teaching in the craziness of Sojourn Academy. Seriously, when I walked out of school Friday, I felt as if I had graduated from college all over again. What an accomplishment!! And on top of learning a language and living so far away from home... wow.

My "sextuplets". One day I just had these girls lined up at the bathroom because the other tico students were in English classes, and a high schooler commented that it looked like I had sextuplets because they're all about the same shade of blonde... sure enough, it stuck. L2R: Annabel, Carissa, Brooklyn, Rebecca, Katie, Christina.

And the other part of the class... My other quintuplets, ha. L2R: Gabriela, Valeria, Paula, Nicole, Diego.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on in this photo, but it well illustrates the hyper craziness of the last moments of the last school day. Seriously, there was no turning back once we ate the various treats parents had sent in.

The photo above is Gaby taking my picture on the last day. I love the how students in the background want to be part of the photo too :). It's quite the artistic shot, if I do say so myself. :)
And Kim keeping students awake during the Talent Show with water guns!!! Haha, she's hilarious... Kim won't be returning to Sojourn next year, so I'm grieving over her loss... but she did donate the water guns to my teacher supplies. :) Wonder what I can use them for next year...


Emergency Room

Latest adventure: people watching in the emergency room. Apparently the thing to do here in Costa Rica when you're vomitting every 20 minutes is go to the emergency room... so I was there from 3am to 9am. 3 IV bags later, they finally let me go. No worries, I'm recovering here at home with Jell-O and ginger ale... My tico family is seriously awesome for taking care of me right now.

The photo is from when I was released... ManRi wanted a photo for his cell phone, and I look greeeeeat, ha.


Teaching Myself a Language

So as a teacher, I am aware of several different learning processes that are occurring in my mind. The major learning process right now is that of Spanish. Oooof.

So when we were kids in kindergarten, we didn't throw fits because we couldn't read. We may have been motivated to read.. but we were probably so interested in playing with Barbies and Tonkas that we didn't have time to think about it. We answered our teacher's and parents' questions about the alphabet when they quizzed us and beamed in their praise of our accomplishments. We eventually began putting the visual symbols together with the sounds we could make with our mouths. Then we began to blend the letters and sounds together to make words, and then we put together words to make sentences... etc.

We are so excited the first time we can read a book... but remember our first books? They consist of "Ball. Doll. Dog. Cat." One word per page. Lots of pictures. We graduate to reading books with a whole sentence on a page, usually consisting of repitition sight words. "See the dog run! See the cat run!" or something like "This is a fish." "This is a snake." The picture clues are really what make these books possible for little ones to read. Our parents read to us the more complex books and storylines that we might memorize to then "read" to our stuffed animals.

We learn more and more and continue putting the pieces together and then we fast forward to high school and read books like "Of Mice and Men" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". Then in college, we read the whole C.S. Lewis series as well as textbooks with no pictures (welllll... I probably read about 60% of the textbooks... depending on how interested I was in it or how pertinent it was to the test... true confessions).

THEN some of us crazies decide it's time to learn a new culture and language, and while we're at it, we want to read the classics of the culture we are living in. I am currently borrowing La Alquimista from my tico family, and apparently, it's a classic, but I can't understand very much!!! What I have retained from the first two chapters is that it's about a shepherd who is describing his whereabouts.

I am reminded of why I don't give these complex, "adult" books to my 4th graders. Not necessarily because the content is too mature, but because it would frustrate them to not understand everything. Children's listening vocabulary is more developed than their reading vocabulary, especially as they're learning another language, so I can read out loud to my students books like "Number the Stars" and "Esperanza Rising" without them getting frustrated. But if I expected them to read these books all on their own, it would be sure to not last long (or kill their desire to read).

My thoughts have returned to my current Spanish reading level, and I probably speak at a 6th grade level or something... not sure. But my reading? mmm... I'm probably still in the picture book level, using picture clues and picking up on grammar patterns.

Today I'm going to the bookstore... you can find me in the picture book section. :)


Thoughts about Friendship...

...from a 4th grader :).

My friends are good sometimes, sometimes they fite and sometimes they are mad at echother and it is hard to put them again like good friends but I am use to it and they are still my friends and I have fun with them but sometimes when everyone is mad at each other thats a big mess and it takes more to repare them as friends again they are my friends I dont say: I am not going to be friend of her because shes bad or black, no becase God loves everyone even if they have cancer or they have problems or nothing. God loves each other eacually.



We brought pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to make our read-read-reading more comfortable.
Putting the desks back at the end of the day.
Valeria loves reading! ;)

Read, read, read! We got out the rug today for the festivities. Our classroom is too small to enjoy it all the time.

Que Lindas Las Maestras!!

The beautiful employees of Sojourn Academy :). Mimi, Peggy, Else, Karol, me, Tricia.


Final Weeks of School

I've almost survived my first year of teaching! Wow, what an accomplishment! Haha... wasn't sure I would make it, to be honest. 

But here we are in some of the final weeks of school. 9 more days to be exact. I'm tired... exhausted is more like it. There's so many things to do still though and then summer school... I'm missing the feeling during college that when you are done with finals, you are completely done. You don't have to think anymore, you can just sleep, eat your mom's food, and sleep some more. 

What's that? I have to grow up? Ha, I wouldn't say living with a family and having a mom to cook for me still would be considered "growing up". But I would definitely say I'm growing up in the sense that ... well, there's no 4 month vacation involved in this period of life. Bummer...

So I'm exhausted and stressed about teaching summer school. I need an attitude adjustment and rest; There, Mom, I can prescribe myself! (She never thought that day would come... and probably still wonders if that day has come!) Pray for peace and contentment as I experience this time of transition.

On a more cheerful note, we have some fun events planned for this week. Tomorrow is a "Read-a-thon" and we're bringing pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to get comfy with our books. I'm super excited as I will be reading Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes to the 4th graders... and all the teachers are pulling a swap in the afternoon and we'll have another class for about an hour. I'll have the 3rd graders (in other words, my future 4th graders!) How exciting!

Then Friday we have a Field Day with games and races for everyone... I'm not quite prepared for that one yet, but I will be by Friday. 

I'll be sure to take lots of photos of both days :)


Costa Rica vs. Estados Unidos


Check out this site for a soccer game I went to last night. The United States national team arrived earlier this week to play against the Costa Rica national team in the Saprissa stadium about a 30 minute drive from where I live. Of course we had to go and had been planning to go since March :). It was a good time, but the US team lost and I'm absolutely exhausted!! We got home around midnight and I got up at 5:30 to get ready for school this morning...

Tonight is an early-to-bed night.