Posted in Throwback Thursday, Neal’s Post from the Past

Neal’s Post from the Past: “The Smile — and Happiness Shared”

Here’s a post from back in 2014 about the power of a simple smile.

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The students in my English 123 (Freshman Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) are doing what I call Visual Essays in this, their next-to-the-last week of Fall Quarter 2014. We read two books this term, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier, both relating to our course theme of “Happiness and the Exploration of Joy.” The Visual Essay project invites the students to MAKE, rather than write, their papers. Traditional essay requirements are still required: a focus and thesis, structure, detail and support, etc. But this essay morphs into a drawing or painting, a sculpture, a collage, a video, a food, etc. Basically this project is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/perspective/idea. The challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

Debora Jacob (from Brazil) went to Forsyth Park here in Savannah last Saturday.  Here’s her Visual Essay titled “Happiness Shared” on the topic of the smile and its significance.

Thanks for the encouragement, Debora.

Let’s all SMILE more often.

Posted in Encouragement, Holiday Joy

Have You Counted Your Holiday Blessings? (Part One)

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Have you done so this holiday?  Blessings come in SO many forms and dressings.  I urge you to take a sheet of paper and number your joys.  Here is a sampling of mine:

1.  I had to miss my seven year-old grandson Daniel’s first piano recital earlier this week.  (I was SO frustrated.)  Tonight at my family’s early Christmas dinner, I walked in the door and daughter Amy had arranged for Daniel to dress back up in his Calvin Klein suit and play Jingle Bells (as he did at the recital).  It melted my heart.

 

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(Okay, I’m not sure about the sunglasses either.)

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(Absolute grandfather joy.)

Here’s Daniel at the actual recital:

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2.  The ability to smell Christmas.

3.  Enjoying the power of silly.

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4.  Hosting a Holiday and Hot Toddy Chili Party Saturday night.

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What fun!

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Good buddies Ellie, Jamie and Brennan.

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I read “A Cup of Christmas Tea” to the twenty-something guests–and asked them to think about a person important in their upbringing to toast at the end of the story.  I urge you to do the same.  Who encouraged you along your way?

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“Let’s raise a cup of Christmas cheer, to family and loved ones far and near.”

So take a few moments, and with Bing, count your blessings:

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5.  Tree shadows on a wall during a walk the other night.

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What are a few of your Holiday Blessings?  Come on, share a few.

Posted in College Teaching

The Smile — and Happiness Shared

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The students in my English 123 (Freshman Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) are doing what I call Visual Essays in this, their next-to-the-last week of Fall Quarter 2014.  We read two books this term, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier, both relating to our course theme of “Happiness and the Exploration of Joy.”  The Visual Essay project invites the students to MAKE, rather than write, their papers. Traditional essay requirements are still required: a focus and thesis, structure, detail and support, etc.  But this essay morphs into a drawing or painting, a sculpture, a collage, a video, a food, etc.  Basically this project is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/perspective/idea.  The challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

Debora Jacob (from Brazil) went to Forsyth Park here in Savannah last Saturday.  Here’s her Visual Essay titled “Happiness Shared” on the topic of the smile and its significance.

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Thanks for the encouragement, Debora.

Let’s all SMILE more often.

Posted in In Our Own Backyard

Touring Savannah’s City Hall, Y’all

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Every First Tuesday Savannah’s City Hall opens its doors for free tours.  I know, I know, touring City Hall doesn’t sound like the most exciting entertainment venue around.  But hold on just a second, compadre.  After a hefty helping of Gabriella’s Zesty Chicken (on mashed potatoes) at Zunzi’s, I wobbled down Bull Street, remembering just in time to look up before I reached the river, and saw this …

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… Savannah’s incredibly beautiful City Hall.

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Completed in 1905 …

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… City Hall features two figures who adorn the front, just below the clock and gold dome.  And those two pretty ladies represent Commerce and Art.  If you know anything about Savannah, you will find those figures so, so timely.  Because what was true in 1905 is certainly true today:  Savannah is both a big business city (Savannah Port and Gulfstream, for example) as well as a cultured, artistic town (SCAD, Savannah Music Festival, festivals galore).

Come along.

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The original clockwork is now in the lobby:

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I really loved the wood floor.

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Looking up to the interior stain glass dome:

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Some important Savannahian.  (I want a bust made of me.  Where can you go to get that done?  Hobby Lobby?  Michael’s?)

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The plaque below looked historically official, so I stood there trying to read it to make people think I’m smart and all, but then I started daydreaming about the Vanilla Taffy down at River Street Sweets, so I took a picture of the plaque (which sorta still made me look smart because why else would you take a picture?).

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Here I am with the really interesting tour guide (and SCAD grad), Luciana Spracher.  She knew her stuff!

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Did you know Savannah has a flag?

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View from a back window of city hall:

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Very cool open style elevator cage:

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Something important looking:

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I pretended to know the mayor.  But you can only stand in front of her office for so long before people start to wonder what you’re doing.

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TANGENT:  A couple of months ago, I attended an event at the Savannah Civic Center with our mayor, Edna Jackson.

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Okay, okay, maybe I wasn’t exactly with the mayor, but you can’t tell that from the above photo with her and Savannah State’s President, Dr. Cheryl Davenport Dozier.

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Luciana led us into the Savannah City Council chambers.  For some reason I just got so excited.

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Here I am sitting at the mayor’s desk.  (Does she know people do this?)

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What a fun (and educational) tour!  Thanks, Luciana.

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I Love Savannah!

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (4/12/13)

Friday, Friday, thank you for heralding happiness this week.

1. Driving back up on Wednesday to Statesboro and Georgia Southern University for the annual Retirees Recognition Ceremony. Retirees who have given ten years or more service to GSU have their names on plaques that are put on the wall at the Builders of the University Terrace.

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And here I am with fellow retirees and good buddies Linda Arthur and Phyllis Dallas:

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And who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

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(Okay, maybe I put in a few years for that lunch. But the ham was good.)  What a beautiful day!

2. Aspiring (great emphasis on “aspiring”) to live the rest of my life by this quote from the novel I’m currently ready–The Light Between Oceans: “It isn’t safe to put off what matters.”

3. Walking down stairs …

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… without falling.

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4.  The incomparable aroma of onions sauteing in olive oil.

5.  Attending SCAD’s 15th annual International Festival in Savannah’s beautiful Forsyth Park.

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With a couple of former students, Alejandro …

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… and Cash

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Have a world of fun this weekend!

Posted in Where Happiness Finds You

Neal’s Neverending New York PhotoNotes Post

[Warning:  If you’re going to read this one, you might want to go get a snack.  And maybe a cushion.  Wear loose-fitting clothes, comfortable shoes.]

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I traveled with daughter Amy, son-in-law Orte and grandsons Daniel and Gabriel to Manhattan last Thursday, returning yesterday.  This trip has become our annual spring rite of passage.  Except spring didn’t cooperate this year–cold!  Brrr!  Even a little snow.  But what a Grand Time as our Vagabond Shoes left Savannah and headed to the Big Apple.

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Easy, FUN flight, even with five- and three-year-olds.  No, BECAUSE of five- and three-year-olds.

Cool suite on Park Avenue:

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And of course, the first thing the boys want to do upon our arrival in New York?   Watch Gravity Falls on TV.

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(Okay, maybe it was pretty interesting, all about Dipper’s sister Mabel having a crazy-about-boys summer–at one point she sees a young fella holding a turtle, runs up to him and exclaims, “You like turtles?!  I LIKE TURTLES!  What’s happening here?!” as she moves her hands back and forth between her and the boy.  Finally Mabel sorta falls for a trenchcoated pyramid of Gnomes who want to marry her and make her their Gnome Queen.  I had no idea Gnomes could be so pushy.)

Gabriel looking out on the NY skyline from our 27th floor:

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The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (on the Upper West Side):

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A walk in Central Park, playing with dirty snow.  (But we’re from the south–we’ll take what we can get.)

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Delicious Waldorf Salad lunch for me–at the Waldorf:

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Touring = Tiring:

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Dinner at Victor’s, our favorite Cuban restaurant in Manhattan:

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Neat day, after Gabriel’s “breakfast” …

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… we taxied to another great museum: the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo.  What an interactive place!

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My work:

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(Now do you see why I teach part-time at an art school?!  I call it Morning Glory and Green-Haired Cory.  Bids start in the upper thousands.  Thank you.)

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Daniel’s Dragon:

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(Those aren’t my blue fingernails.)

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First of two Broadway plays: Newsies.  Just incredible energy!  Google it.

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Newsies ticket

And here’s a pic of the stage/curtain thingy, right before I got yelled at for taking pictures inside the theatre.  (I’m sure they didn’t realize they were talking to a world-famous blogger and all.)

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I’m thinking about becoming a Broadway star.  All that’s holding me back is that you have to sing and dance and memorize lines and get up in front of people and not stutter because you’re so nervous.  AND not fall off the stage when you have to walk close to the edge.  That part TERRIFIES me.  But still.

The most incredible coincidence happened next.  Walking back to our hotel to join the fam, I saw Andaz.  No not a person, a very cool hotel.  We have an Andaz on Ellis Square in Savannah where they give you the MOST delicious Candied Bacon I’ve ever tasted.  (Okay, it’s the only candied bacon I’ve ever tasted but SO good.)  Of course I had to shashay in to compare Andazes’ (plural possessive?).  This sign greeted me when I walked into the lobby:

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Hooting Hyenas!  SCAD is where I teach as an adjunct.  So I hopped on the elevator to the second floor!  Wouldn’t you?  Why?  Well, duh, a reception, and receptions mean one thing … free food.  The first person I saw was Joseph; he’s in a writer’s group I sometimes attend:

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(I’m not sure why I look so huge and bloated in that picture.)

(Does anyone know how to Photoshop me standing about two feet behind Joseph so I don’t look so very big?)

I chatted with other SCAD folks and even a few newly accepted students and their parents.  A fun NY surprise.

Next morning, Grand Central Terminal …

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… and waiting for Kidding Around (a very cool toy store) to open–we did F. A. O. Schwarz the day before:

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Street vendor hot dogs, of course:

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Second Broadway play: Cinderella (with a new spin, including lots of humor and an evil stepsister who turns good).

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Orchestra pit (we had second-row seats!):

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Afterwards off to Ellen’s Stardust Diner where the wait staff … SINGS!.  So cool:

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Snack on the walk back to the hotel:

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The Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal for a new case for my iPhone:

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Last morning.  Daniel and Gabriel reennacting the final scene from Gravity Falls (we watched the same episode three times over our stay) when Dipper rescues Mabel from the Gnomes, and the brother/sister engage in an “awkward sibling hug” with “pat, pat.”  (Hulu it.  I think the episode is called “Tourist Trap.”)

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Blustery/snowy/rainy weather on the way to LaGuardia.

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For some reason, less-than-ideal weather always makes me feel better when it comes at the end of a trip.  (Reminder to self: therapist talking point.)

While we were waiting at the gate for our flight, a Big Red Heart sauntered up.  No clue why.  But D is never one to miss a photo op.

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Oh, if you were that Big Red Heart, looking where he seems to be looking, you would see this:

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It’s an iPad cafe–you order your food right from the iPad.  (“Hip” should be my middle name.)

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A wonderfully joyful New York trip.

As we waited on the runway, while an animal-like machine de-iced the wings, Daniel looked at me fiddling with my phone and yelled (loud enough for his dad and the rather stern flight attendant to hear), “Abu is not turning off his electronic device!”

Great memories to think about.

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (3/15/13)

Top of the Friday morning, to you. Here are Five Friday Bringers of Happiness:

1. This cool pic of blooming almond trees in California sent by my new buddy Don Simmons. Don is good friends with Rick and Linda, the couple who moved to Savannah from Wisconsin. One fabulous day they gave me the tour of the “Joy in their own back yard”.  Here’s what Don said in his accompanying email:  “Since you mentioned almonds in one of your post, as something that brings you joy–I wanted to send you one of the great views that I have here in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where most of the world’s almonds are grown–it’s time for our ‘blossom trail’ and the almonds are certainly giving us a beautiful show–as well as the Sierras!” 

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2.   Finishing up a great Winter Quarter at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).  My two classes:

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3.  Savannah azaleas (near Forsyth Park):

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4.  The promise of SPRINGTIME:

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5.  Fresh pineapple.

Have a Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!

Posted in College Teaching

NealNotes on Neal’s KeyNote

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I had a great time at Friday’s Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah.  And I delivered the Keynote Address!

Here’s the blurb from the conference website:

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“Teaching Life: the Heart, the Art”

 Dr. Neal Saye.  Associate Professor Emeritus of Writing and Linguistics Georgia Southern University.  Adjunct Professor, Savannah College of Art & Design

Chair or co-chair of the Student Success conference for much of its 14-year history, Neal was also a key member of its founding committee. He reported on these experiences in “Pearls and Perils of Starting a Conference” (co-presented with Mary Marwitz and Michael Mills) at a Popular Culture Association in the South in Jacksonville, Florida. He brought the same dedication to running this conference as he did to his teaching philosophy. A dedicated blogger, Neal posted to his Facebook and WordPress sites: “My passion in life is learning about/exploring/playing with the subjects of joy and happiness. For the past five years or so, I have used this subject to inform my pedagogy and my day-to-day classroom assignments and activities. What has happened is that teaching about happiness has made me (and I hope my students) happier. Thus my passion spilled over into my teaching, which came rushing back into my life.”

Now an associate professor emeritus after 24 years of teaching writing at Georgia Southern University, Neal has returned to academia as an adjunct professor for the Savannah College of Art & Design. In addition to his well deserved emeritus designation, Neal’s honors and awards include Georgia Southern University Professor of the Year, 2010 and 1993; Dorothy Smith Golden Award for Teaching Excellence, Writing and Linguistics Department, 2003; Georgia Southern University Award for Excellence in Contributions to Instruction, 2001; “Most Approachable Professor” Award, Success-In-U Program, 1994; and “Funniest Professor” Award, Success-In-U Program, 1993. Neal earned his Ed.D. in Curriculum Studies/Cultural Studies in 2002. After earning dual B.S. degrees in English and Biology from Berry College, Neal came to Georgia Southern to earn his M.A. in English Language and Literature.

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Here I am at the podium about two seconds after being introduced:

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Kidding.  I actually loved all 35 minutes of it!  The audience was attentive, fun and laughed and ooohed at all the right places.  I used loads of technology with videos, pics and graphics–which all flowed seamlessly.  I’ll post the text of the talk a bit later (in case anyone’s interested) when I clean it up a bit for publishing.  For now here are some photos.

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The conference was held at the beautiful Coastal Georgia Center.

Here’s what I wore.  Up to the last minute, I was trying to decide between hip or plain ole.

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I know.  Probably too much.  But I wore a jacket over it.  But that eyeball kept looking out at people.

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(Armani, borrowed from son-in-law.)

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I loved catching up with former Georgia Southern colleagues.  Here I am with good buddy Mary Marwitz, who introduced me:

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(Isn’t that a cool scarf?)  And with Interim Writing and Linguistics Department Chair Phyllis Dallas:

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Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Curtis Ricker (and fellow grandfather):

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Chatting with J. Marie Lutz from Continuing Education and fellow GSU retiree Nancy Dessommes:

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And trying to listen in, unseen, on private conversations:

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Where are all the people?  Nobody’s here!

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Another fellow retiree Mary Hadley:

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GSU Provost Jean Bartels:

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Former co-worker and blog commenter Rachel VanHorn Leroy:

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Coolest tie at conference:

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What a crowd showed up!

Here’s a video I used about teachers dancing behind students:

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And here are a few quotes from the address:

“We find what we’re looking for.”

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“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”

Caring for Students 101 should be a required course in all teacher education programs.”

“The student is more important than the subject being taught.”

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A great time!