Posts Tagged ‘students’

TAD JOY

Do you know what today is? No, not just May 7. It’s TEACHER APPRECIATE DAY 2013!

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When I say “Favorite Teacher,” who comes to your mind? For me the answer is easy–Mrs. Ligdon, a teacher I had way back in elementary school in Macon, Georgia. She taught me to value myself, and to do the Mexican Hat Dance. Here’s a link to a post about her (and all good teachers): Balcony and Basement Teachers

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I challenge you today (or this week) to call or email or send a card to a teacher. Tell her or him you value their work.

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“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.”

~Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”

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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!

Five Friday Happy Bringers (11/2/12)

Okay, I know it’s Saturday. but yesterday was an uberbusy day.  And isn’t today gorgeous?  It’s cool.  It’s Fall.  And it’s time to acknowledge some Happy Bringers.

1.  Enjoying the Savannah Film Festival this week (hosted by SCAD).

2.  Making little Halloween goody bags for my international students, most of whom had never “done” Halloween before.  Then discussing the Day of the Dead (which some of them celebrate) and being grateful for all our relatives and friends who have passed on.

3.  A great-smelling rose.

4.  Attending and enjoying the Taste of the World food festival at SCAD yesterday.  Here’s a little bit about the event from the ISSO (International Student Services Office) newsletter: “Dine thali style and sample more than 80 international dishes. Visit the mixed grill area specializing in tandoori chicken, Thai chicken satay on skewers and Persian beef kebabs. Enjoy live performances inspired by international cultures and Savannah’s own Latin and Merengue sensation, Son del Coqui.”

I ran into some of my colleagues from SCAD’s Language Studio.  Here’s Coordinator of Language Studio/ESL Ana Turner (right after leading a traditional dance).

And here’s the Director of Language Studio/ESL Christina Cavage.

New full-time prof Curt Klinghoffer.  (I wish my last name cool like Curt’s.  I mean, Saye?  Really?)

Officemate Emily Gung.

Oldtimer–I mean “experienced”–ESL prof (and my mentor) Todd Nemanic.

I appreciate the appropriateness and truthfulness of this affirmation:

And I loved seeing some of my students at the festival.  Here’s Sonali.

And Juliana.

Andrea (with a friend).

Raquel and Juli.

And some other people I met.  Juwan, for example–I took his picture because of that cool blue hair.  I’m thinking about green for mine.  Yes?

And Devyn wins my prize for hippest necklace and pants.

I really had a ball there.  So much fun.

Now let’s play a game.  It’s called Oh Saye, Can You See?

I ran into my buddy Mangue Banzima with his gorgeous daughter.

Mangue writes/photographs a beautiful blog about fashion in Savannah, Qui Style in SavannahCheck it out sometime.  Okay, check it out RIGHT NOW because I’m in it for the second time!  Keep scolling down, past all the really cool and hip-looking people, until you get to the Taste of the World pictures–then, again, scroll past those young, stylish folks till you find … me!  [First post from a while back about fashion: I’m a Famous Fashion Model]

What a fun couple of hours in the fall beauty of Savannah.

5.  Seeing smiles as the most significant means of communication between people.

Joyful, Smiling Weekend!

Five Friday Happy Bringers (10/26/12)

A cool, breezy Friday in Savannah.  I’m happy because …

1.  My international SCAD students turned in such beautifully created Visual Essays as a part of our ENGL 193 Composition course.  Here are a few from (in order) Miao, Dang, Ji Sun, Alejandro, Kathrine, and Stefanie

2.  S’mores.

3.  Reading an insightful book, The Power of Awareness by Neville Goddard (popular writer/speaker back in the middle of the last century) who taught that “your mind is always arranged in the image of all you believe and consent to as true.”  I appreciate the wisdom of his truth: that which we think about, believe in and agree with creates our habitual mindset.  So to me it makes sense to think about and cling to the joyful and the good.

4.  The excitement and fervor of kids as they decide what to be for Halloween.  For Grandies Daniel and Gabriel, it apprears that the ninja craze is going to win.  I’ll let you know next Wednesday.

5.  Good eyesight.

I hope you SEE a delightful weekend ahead.

Learning and Teaching from The World’s Smallest Lady

August–the time of year when school bells ring again.  Teachers everywhere commence their incredible annual charge of encouraging students to develop their true sight, their true voices, and their intellectual joy.  School at every level should be a haven where young learners want to be.  And the teacher, though underpaid and overworked, is key.  Some years back, as I spent a summer month participating in the Georgia Southern Writing Project, I was asked to write about what birthed the teacher in me.  I knew immediately the answer: The World’s Smallest Lady.

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The World’s Smallest Lady

As I dialed the telephone recently to check on the condition of the terminally ill father of a childhood friend from my hometown, I kept trying to keep the memory from surfacing.  I hadn’t thought about it in ages.  An incident from several decades ago surely didn’t still have the power to take control of my thoughts, to interrupt my life.  But the truth is, that memory is too powerful to ignore, too embarrassing, too haunting to dismiss.  And as I listened to Ricky’s phone ringing in one ear, the years faded, and the jumbled noises of an old Cherokee County Fair started sounding in the other, accompanied by reminiscent sights and even smells, which are such an integral part of a southern autumn carnival…

…I was thirteen, old enough to know better.  Ricky, Fred, and I had just staggered off The Bullet and found ourselves walking down Freak Show Alley.  Outside one attraction, a hawker was shouting at passersby to “Step inside and see The World’s Smallest Lady!  Only twenty-six inches tall!  For only a quarter!”  So, laughing, into the tent we hurried, just the three of us.

And there, surprisingly close to us on a small black round table, stood what indeed had to be The World’s Smallest Lady.  She was dressed in a little gaudily sequined gypsy outfit.  A short screaming-red skirt revealed two chubby stumps of legs.  But she wasn’t a child, even though she was so tiny.  Her face looked old, and I could see wrinkles beneath the cheap, garish make-up.  It was her very large head, however, topped with a gaudy, shiny gold crown, which really captured my attention.  I couldn’t stop staring, and why should I?  I’d paid my quarter.

So we gawked and snickered, three carefree young teenagers at the fair, secure and even innocent in our youth, our health, our futures, our “normality.”  Then Fred loudly whispered, “Damn, y’all, look at the size of that head compared to the rest of her body.  And her butt is bigger than mine!”

But it was Ricky, the member of our inseparable trio capable of doing and saying anything for a laugh–who, in reckless teenage cruelty, did the unimaginable.  Before anyone had time to react, Ricky stepped over the velvet rope, reached out to The World’s Smallest Lady, and jerked her gypsy skirt down to her ankles.  He ran out of the tent, followed by Fred, giggling and yelling, “Neal, let’s get out of here!”

But I couldn’t.  My feet were glued to the sawdust, and for a second or two, my eyes looked directly into those of The World’s Smallest Lady.  The dimension of time ceased, no one existed except for her and me, and those humiliated, prostituted, tiny eyes took away my innocence and my security.  As I stared, and stared, the plates beneath my small, comfortable, well-defined earth were shifting, ever so slightly, quaking.  Finally, as she reached down, pulling up her skirt to cover her nakedness, The World’s Smallest Lady spoke in a voice that seemed more resigned than angry: “You boys can just go to hell.”

As I hurried out of that tent and away from that sawdust and those piercing eyes, a startling transformation occurred, the full impact of which I wasn’t aware at the time: a sideshow midget, a twenty-five cent carnival attraction, a freak, became a regular human being with regular human feelings in the frightened yet awakening eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy.

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I learned from my encounter with The World’s Smallest Lady the danger and horror of living in a world where we construct walls which establish the category of “other”–with ourselves being the privileged, the truly knowledgeable, the valuable, the ones who really count, the normal…and “other” being defined by gender, race, class, IQ, physical disability, sexual orientation, etc.  I learned that when we cast our dominant “gaze” patronizingly on others, we diminish ourselves as human beings as well as do violence to those we belittle.  I also learned–years later and after much reflection and life experience–that a teacher is one who refuses to allow the binary of “us/them” to operate in (or outside) the classroom.

May the new school year be one of JOY for students and teachers the world over.

 

Five Friday Happy Bringers (6/22/12) — Retirement Edition

Yesterday, I retired from full time professorship at Georgia Southern University.  Here are five things about my retiring that make me happy/reflective.

1.  This cool plaque from CLASS (GSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences).

2.  Turning in my grades this morning.

3.  Enjoying the silly truthfulness of a message I posted on my Department of Writing and Linguistics listserv, when I announced my approaching retirement:  Ten Take-Aways from Being a Professor at Georgia Southern for Twenty-Four Years.

*  The student is more important than the subject being taught.

*  Listen to the student–she or he has a voice.

*  Newton (the ancient classroom building which houses my department) never changes.

*  Deans and department chairs do (pretty regularly)  (Okay, very regularly.)

*  The secretaries really run this place.  Be good to them.

*  How I arranged my classroom tables, what books I used, what my theoretical framework was (though important) paled in comparison to being in love with teaching young people (and some not-so-young people) and LIKING students.

*  Don’t grade everything.

*  At least once every week, tell your students something funny–about you, or them or whatever.

*  Take a walk around campus every now and then just to take in its natural beauty.

*  Don’t take yourself or your job too seriously.

4.  A fun saying-goodbye gathering with department members and other collegaues.

Tim Giles and Interim Department Chair Phyllis Dallas.

Mary Hadley, Thomas Klein and Tim.

Terri Welford and Interim Dean Curtis Ricker.

Interim Associate Provost Mike Smith (former CLASS Dean)

Laura Milner and Mary Marwitz

Fellow blogger Emma Bolden

Poet Extraordinaire Eric Nelson

Michael Pemberton and Angela Crow

5.  Realizing that being sad at leaving such wonderful colleagues and students proves the joy of having been a part of Georgia Southern University for so long.

Happiest of Weekends to You All!

Walking in Beauty

I spent my undergraduate years basking in the incredible natural and manmade beauty of Berry College  in Rome, Georgia.  I will never forget the JOY of studying on the world’s largest campus, surrounded by sites so breathtaking that occasionally, even as a green freshman, I would stop in my tracks on a journey across campus and stare, openmouthed, at the afternoon light shimmering off of Swan Lake or, on a cold February morning, gaze entranced out my Dana Hall second-floor, frosted dorm window into the ordered courtyard below and smile as deer delicately ate holly leaves and startling red berries in the snow.  I can still hear my young footfalls on the ancient wooden floors of Berry’s gorgeous chapel (modeled after Christ Church in Alexandria Virginia).  And here’s where I ate my meals, the Ford Dining Hall:

What fond and HAPPY Berry memories I have.  Oh my gosh, that place was magical!

So, of course, I never thought that another school could compare with Berry.

But for the past twenty-four years, I have taught English at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.  When I first arrived, my limited vision focused, uncomfortably, on sand, 100 degree summers and beyond-belief pesky gnats.  (Why is that “g” there?  Why are gnats ANYWHERE?) “Who could live in this desolate place?” I wondered.  But slowly the tall pines and the amazing spring azaleas and (inexplicably) even the hot, humid summers wooed me, and I gradually fell in love.  As I adored beautiful Berry as a student, I came to cherish GSU as a professor.  The school and the land have been so very good to me.

I have watched GSU’s campus grow and develop into an enclave of living beauty.  But far too often, in my busy business of teaching and grading and conferencing, I would forget what thrived outside my office window.  So recently I decided to take a leisurely walk across my campus home.  Come with me.

Let’s begin at the Akins Blvd. entrance off Veterans Parkway:

The RAC (Recreational Activity Center) where I spent many an hour trying to hold back the belly bulge.

Let’s ride over to the two eagle statues.

Now let’s climb a tree.

Look, I’m an Olympic hero.

Did you know that the “S” in GSU also stands for my last name, Saye?

When I sit down and think about it, I realize how much I have loved this school and this beautiful land.

Georgia Southern University has allowed me to enjoy a great career of helping young people progress and mature into their greater lives.  I’ve been involved in a wondrous building process!

I’m so happy that both Berry and Georgia Southern are part of who I am.