I just got home from speaking at the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers – https://ccsso.org/) conference in Orlando. I was approached a few months ago to speak to a group of social studies members, as well as a group of English/language arts members.
I arrived in Orlando around dinner time on 6/26. I went to have dinner and then went to McDonald’s for a vanilla cone. This woman cut me off in line at the drive-thru, and then proceeded to yell at me. She said that she was there before me. I told her that she was clearly in line ahead of me, and that this wasn’t anything worth yelling about. I told her to have a nice night and rolled up my window. When I approached the window to pay, the cashier said that the woman in front of me had paid. I pulled up next to her car at the next window and said thank you. She apologized. Something so insignificant as your place in line seems to trivial in the grand scheme of things.
I went to check in to the hotel. I was given a room on the 14th floor, which overlooked Disney Springs; I could also see the EPCOT ball, Tower of Terror and the Contemporary hotel. The room was nice – and was even nicer because I was all alone. I love my family, but I also love the silence of being my myself.
That night was the first Democratic debate, and I was living for it. I listened to MSNBC coverage the entire drive up, and had it on in the hotel room. I hung on every word, and stayed up later than I should to watch the post-debate coverage.
The next morning (Thursday), I presented to a group of social studies curriculum people from around the country. Some write their state standards, some are district curriculum specialists, some work for colleges/universities. I began my presentation by telling them that I was a geography teacher during my second year of teaching – more specifically, the world’s worst geography teacher. They all laughed.
I shared my experience on 2/14. I spoke about the remainder of the school year and this past school year. I spoke about “Parkland Speaks,” and the process of putting the book together. I spoke about how students can become engaged, socially active and civically minded. I told them that the “Parkland kids,” who had been mentioned the night before in the debate, were the kids they’ve always been… as impressive as they appear to be, that’s who they really are. They’re smart, determined, fired-up and want to right the injustice we’ve faced in the community and the country. I spoke about when I went to the National Archives, my participation in the Tinkerversary, and how I give my students a voice in my classroom.
I was asked good questions, and I feel like the presentation went well. I told them that I’ve only presented to students, so talking to a group of teachers was a little new to me.
After the presentation, I was invited to lunch with the group. From there, I went up to my hotel room. I watched some debate coverage in anticipation of the second debate night. I then watched “Downtown Abbey” on my laptop and crocheted. It’s not very exciting, but I just wanted to relax. I ordered room service for dinner, and settled in for the second debate. As with the night before, I was up late to watch the post-debate coverage.
The next morning (Friday), I presented to a group of ELA curriculum people from around the country. The presentation was the same. The questions were different, and a little more in depth. I was asked about whether I plan to stay at MSD for the long-haul. I was asked what I would want state Departments of Education to know about trauma and moving forward. I was asked how I’m doing. I was open, candid and honest. I told them that the Sarah I am now is really the Sarah I’ve always been, just a little more amped up. I’ve always been an activist, feminist, outspoken big mouth. I see a wrong and want to make it right.
Both groups thanked me for coming to present. I told them that I’m happy to do it. I will talk about my experience and share my story until there’s no one left to listen. I don’t do it for fame or notoriety. I do it because I know that I have to. I need to keep MSD, Parkland, those we lost, and gun violence in the conversation. I need to make sure that people can put a face to the event, and speak to someone who was there. I need to make sure that change is made.
These are the links I shared during my presentation: