On the Title

Roi-Et a.k.a. "101" is a city in the northeast of Thailand. I spent more than "One Night in Bangkok," and was on my way to Roi-Et. It wasn't my final destination in Thailand, but the place where I grew the most. I gained a tolerance for spicy food, and learned a little dialect called Essan-- a mixture of Laos and Thai. I learned that it's not the destination but the journey that matters. Just as random as my adventures were in Thailand, so is my life--it's like living in L.A. (oh by the way L.A. is another nickname for Roi-Et).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kerri 4.0. . . What?!

The other day I got a cardboard envelope from Santa Barbara Business College. It seemed odd because I wasn't expecting anything from them, and it wasn't big enough for a textbook. The day before that I got a mini manila envelope with my student ID card (finally, now I can get a discount at the movie theater). My curious nature got the best of me. Inside was a piece of paper. What?

After careful evaluation, ok really just looking at the 20+ point font, it was a certificate of achievemnet. What?! It was for getting a 4.0 for fall term (October -December, 10 weeks, 12 credits). I wasn't expecting any award --although a discount on tuition would be nice--but it's nice to be acknowledged. One reason I like SBBC is that they do care about my success, while it might just seem like they're in it for the money (and I'm sure that's what the business side of the administration is concerned with), the people really do care. Occasionally I'll get emails from advisors and student representatives giving me encouragement, and metaphorical "attaboys" (the little pat on the back with the person giving the pat saying "'at-a-boy" short for "that's a boy"). Going back to school has been a good experience, and I'm glad I picked a good school.

I may have shot myself in the foot with this one, by starting off with such high achievements I have nowhere to go. Blast my English skills! The first time in college I did well, I made dean's list a couple semesters, but I never got a 4.0. My final GPA was a 3.49 (I usually just say 3.5) I was so close to a 3.6/3.7 that I could've graduated Summa Cum something or other, but the last semester there were a couple classes that were unnecessarily graded subjectively (I could not figure out what the professor wanted, even after sitting down with her and going over my work, and then doing the next assignment exactly how she explained it, still not getting an A. What?!), and my  post-graduation "Education Certification Courses" brought my overall GPA down. But it's ok, a 3.5 isn't bad, and it shows that I am still teachable, which is a good trait in the job field.

The real lesson learned is going to college is easier the second time around!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons . . . Buy a Watermelon Instead

Wow! So, 2013 will be known as the year that just didn't work out. Oh well, I'll just chalk it up and move on. Through some unpleasant experiences (lemons) I decided that teaching isn't for me, and I'll just transition into something else (watermelon). Here's the story . . .

So, one day I thought things were going pretty decent, I was adjusting to my new job as a middle school teacher, and the unending confusion that is "Common Core," and BAM! I'm told I no longer have a job. I thought I was doing everything that was asked of me, and yes my classes were rough, but was it so bad that I had to be demoted? Apparently. So, I decided "forget being a teacher, I can mold young minds some other way.  What has it really done for me?" . . . Well. . . some stuff, but unrelated to the actual teaching part. Looking for jobs is the pits, and sometimes I feel like I'm only qualified for one thing--TEACHING--but then I remember "I have a Bachelor's degree!" Enough of the lemons, they really are making me sour right now.

On a side note, before all this happened I contemplated quitting, I didn't have a contract, I wasn't obligated to any school, I'm a free agent, or as my Employment Law class would say "Independent Contractor."

I bet you're wondering why I'm using such legal terms, well, I am now a paralegal student. Yep, that's right! I've been contemplating it for a few years now, and I decided this is my opportunity. Being let go was a good thing, a sign, if you will. I am now taking online classes, and I can still work part-time. It's not as great as a full-time job, but I think I've settled on a gig that will work with my schedule, and still pay well. Having a Bachelor's does have its perks.

I'm not as angry or cranky as I used to be. I'm not worrying about my students, making lesson plans or grading papers at home, or answering to the Common Core. I just decided to take a step into the dark, and the light grew. Opportunities for employment opened up; were they the best choices, maybe not, but they filled time and space until the right one came along. Believe me, I still doubt sometimes, but I hold firm to the choice that I made to go back to school because I've never felt like it was a bad choice (my doubts are how am I going to pay for this?).

 My Classes are cool! I'm learning a lot about employment law. I love watermelon!

**Note: I was let go on September 30, and started school October 14--yeah, that fast!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Again with the Last Minute Hiring. . .

Well, this is crazy! Once again I get hired right before school starts with little to no prep time. I'm still taking it in. I still am shocked and amazed everytime I hear "you're hired!" I thought all the hiring was done for the 2013-2014 school year, but I guess not because there was one spot left... for me! (Imagine the scene in Legally Blonde when everyone is standing around the board to see who the interns are, and the only spot left is for Elle Woods and she says "ME!" with that "triumphant in your face tone," yeah that's my life). I almost didn't get it because of some state technicality, which doesn't really qualify a teacher for being good or not--really, English Language Learners, that's what was holding things up?

Last week, I randomly get called by the HR department at Bakersfield City School District, and they ask me about my license and CLAD (the California version of ESL certification), and I explained to her about the classes that I took in Arizona, and how I am getting that worked out through the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) and the California Teacher Credentialing (CTC). Well this started back in June, a week later I went to Utah, and other stuff came up that I forgot to follow up with KCSOS. After I hung up the phone with BCSD (saying they were interested in me, but needed to figure out what to do with the CLAD), I immediately emailed KCSOS to see if they found out anything, and the certification adviser  emailed me back saying she hadn't heard anything, and that she would resubmit the information, and blah blah blah. So a day goes by and she emails me back with the sad news that California will not accept my Arizona credits because of a technicality (working in California is such a hassle, and it really isn't that much better than anywhere else, they just like to make people's lives difficult). So, I didn't think I would hear from BCSD again. Then, on Monday August 5 (wow! a magical day my nephew and cousin's birthday, and the day I was hired at SLHS), BCSD called again to set up an interview, and that they'll work something out once they make the decision.

The interview was really nice and pleasant. I enjoyed talking to the principal of Stiern Middle School. I explained the situation with CLAD and she made it sound like the school/district would work with me, so that was hopeful. Right off she said that one of the reasons she was interested in me is because of my experience working with English language learners (SLHS, Boys and Girls Club, Thailand, etc.).  One question seemed really vague and hard to pin down, but she said I gave a really good answer (and she's not supposed to tell people that in the interview), and the last question about classroom management she said "I hit the nail on the head" with a keyword: consistency. (I can tell you that is a hard concept for me, but it is something I "consistently" work on.

At the end I asked when I would find out, and the principal of SMS told me she would be making her decision today, I didn't expect it an hour after my interview. I barely walked into the door, ate my bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit from Carl's Jr., went upstairs to change before I got the call (my nylons were still on), 49 minutes after I left BCSD.

Not that this interview came out of nowhere, but once again it was a miracle. There were signs along the way that told me it was right. I get nervous in interviews, but in the back of my head I felt that they wanted to hire me no matter how horribly I answered all 10 questions. So, maybe I am supposed to be at BCSD this year, whether everything with CLAD and my license status works out or not. The district called me twice, and CLAD was a concern, but they were looking for a way to make it work. Again, another answer to my prayers, another door is being opened up to me, and I am suppose to go through. People want to know all the details and all I can say is "uuuuh. . . I don't know. They just offered me the job, and I said 'yes.' Sorry I didn't ask for the details."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Christina Perri Songs Are Not Depressing...They're the Story of My Life

This past week at work, I would consider a "lazy week" because I was doing a lot of testing and little to nothing of teaching. I told my students that if they were good, and stayed on task I would play background music; some of them actually work better with music--it's the generation of ADD due to electronic devices--most of my classes did a good job, and there were a few classes with 1 or 2 students that didn't want music, and the students that wanted music claimed majority rules, yeah right my classroom is not a democracy--like I'm going to let teenagers tell me how to run my class HAH!--it needs to be unanimous in order for the music to be played; they suggested to "just send those kids [the ones that didn't want music] out," no way! those are the good ones, and sending students out of the room is a punishment not a reward for good behavior, my reward to the good students is just being left alone--I think they appreciate that more.

One of those days, a song that I love, "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri, came on. My TA told me it was depressing and should change it. I told him to leave my iPod alone. "Come on. You're happy, this is a depressing song." Again, I had to tell him "DON'T touch my iPod. This is my song." I will admit it isn't an upbeat song, but it doesn't make me sad. I feel like it empowers me. She's talking about not letting a "contemptible male"(feel free to fill in whatever slang/swear term you wish that fits this description; I like the word that is French for shower, the Brits like the "w" word") steal your heart, put it in a jar, and store it on his "shelf of conquests." I like the video, it actually tells a story that fits the lyrics, and it's raw, you feel what she's feeling.

Not all of Perri's songs are depressing. "Arms" is a good one that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside; it talks about letting someone in after a series of heartache and putting up walls to keep people out, but that person whose arms are around you, is the one that makes you feel safe and like your heart is protected. But, my new favorite Perri song is a collaboration with Jason Mraz (he does awesome collaborations, "Lucky" anyone?) called "Distance." I don't know. I guess she sings what I'm feeling, when I'm feeling it. It's kind of like if you were to make a movie about my life that tells the story of just this past year, it would be on the soundtrack. Amaaazing! Right?! How does she do it?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Nerd Within

Today is the beginning of Comic-Con--which I am not going to. Every year I talk about it, but never go. It's the only place where if you don't wear a costume you're considered a dork, an outcast, a loser. Vindication for nerds! I once went to, what I endearingly call, a "nerd convention," but it was more for academics. I wrote a research paper, it was selected, and I read it in front of an audience. But I digress. I wish I could go. I wish I had thought of buying tickets last July. Here's to procrastination, and not being a genuine nerd, just a nerd wannabe.

Comic-Con is huge! Hollywood stars even go. I was hoping to run into Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), but I looked at the guest list and they weren't on it. But the cast of Breaking Dawn Part 2 is--when did that become cool! Seriously, that is the worst of the Twilight series and they could have taken out like 2 hours of part 1 to make it all one movie. Yeah that's cool, trying to hold on to your 15 minites by copying Harry Potter (and Harry Potter was effectively made into 2 movies because there was a story).  Despite no Thor, Psych will make an appearance. I love that show!

I was never into comic books--which are now called graphic novels--because I thought it was a boy thing, and I thought I had grown up and moved on from "illustrated" stories, but I read the Sunday comics  "Calvin and Hobbes," (I love that tiger), "Peanuts," "The Far Side," (Sometimes I would stare at that for hours to figure it out), and the occasional "Prince Valiant." I like watching the movies, even though they aren't true to the graphic novel, and that's where I get my knowledge of comics. I come to realize that graphic novels do have a strong place in literature. They have well-developed characters and a plot, that is sometimes better than most novels. But at the core there are some good lessons to be learned. I really like the message in X-Men. It's not just good v. evil, but good v. a little evil v. really evil; and who is a little evil and really evil; and the"search for hope" (imagine Magneto, played by Ian McKellan, saying it).

The last reason for me really wanting to go to Comic-Con this year is that on this day there is a forum on using comics in the classroom. Anything to make learning fun is ok by me (and whatever helps make my life easier)! It sounds really awesome, so maybe I should drive the 3 hours (another benefit to living in Yuma, being closer to San Diego) break into the venue, take notes and get handouts (I love handouts), and drive back without being caught (that is the important part).

Yes, I have nerd tendencies that I hide really well. But when Comic-Con starts up that nerd inside takes over, and I have no control over her. And someday she will be appeased once I make my pilgramage to the "mecca" of nerdom--Comic-Con!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's Back-to-School Shopping Time

It's only July 11th and the back-to-school sales have already started. I went into Wal*Mart and there was a cardboard display for school supplies listed by grade. The funny thing is that retailers and marketers can assume what students need, but it's best to just wait until the first  day to find out what your teachers really require. Yeah go ahead and buy a backpack with a matching lunchpail, and some paper, but don't waste too much time or money.

After I graduated, I felt empty not being able to buy school supplies. Pens. Binders. Notebooks. Filler Paper. I love shopping for school supplies. For two years I missed out. It's nice to be a teacher because I can shop in the back-to-school section again. That is such a nerd thing to do. . . want to shop for school supplies. School supplies are so fun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Being sick is no fun. I had plans of being productive today (yesterday was my "Lazy Day"), but thanks to the stomach flu I have to sip on gatorade (to stay hydrated in 110+degree weather); eat crackers, chicken noodle soup, and applesauce; and watch TV (perhaps another Millionaire Matchmaker marathon, yes please!). Poor miserable me.

While laying in bed watching TV, VH1 was playing videos--I know, shocker right?!-- and my favorite artist of the moment (perhaps for the rest of my life) Kelly Clarkson came on. I absolutely love her music. She has a song for every mood (happy, sad, angry, in love, out-of-love), and Stronger is by far her best album, I pretty much like every song.  "Dark Side" came on after some lame song, and while I was facebooking/playing an internet game--yes, I can multi-task--I took a break to watch because before then the videos were just background noise to my rumbling twisting stomach. I looked up and said "She looks uh-MAZING!" Check it out for yourself.

I also bought a magazine with her on the cover.