Sunday, March 2, 2014

PAEMST Recognition Trip - Day 2

Today was the big day!  After all the waiting, today was the day that the PAEMST recognition activities finally got started.  

I started the day with a 6:30AM ten mile running tour of Washington.  I started by running past the White House, ran to the World War II memorial, up to the steps of the Capitol, visited the Lincoln Memorial, looped the Tidal Basin through the MLK and FDR Memorial, visited the Jefferson Memorial, took time to walk through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and ended back at the White House.  I had planned a 12 mile run, but my legs were tired after so much walking yesterday, so I cut it short. At that time of the morning, the monuments and memorials were empty.  I had a private meeting with Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR.  President Jefferson told me that he thought standardized testing was ruining the minds of our children's youth.  President Lincoln told me that he was sick of staring at the Washington Monument.

After the run I picked up Starbucks for Lori and I, cleaned up, and packed our bags for the switch to the Omni Shoreham Hotel where we will be staying for the rest of the trip.  

After we checked out, we walked a few blocks past the White House to Georgia Brown's, where we had a great Southern Jazz Brunch with my cousin Eric who drove up from Columbia, MD to meet us.  It was great catching up with him, and I really enjoyed the food, music, and company.  A few people were gathered near the White House getting ready for a protest of the Keystone Pipeline.  There were many police officers in the area on motorcycles, horses, in cars, and on foot.  

After brunch, Eric drove us up to the Omni where we checked in.  The lobby was beautiful, and we learned that Frank Sinatra once played here, and that FDR had one of his inaugural balls here.

After getting settled in our room and getting my suit picked up to be pressed (complimentary) and my shoes picked up to be shined (also complimentary), we headed down to the PAEMST registration and Meet & Greet.  It was so exciting for it to finally be happening.  I don't know that the magnitude of it all sunk in until now.

Lori pinning on my PAEMST Pin

It was amazing finally getting to meet face to face all of the amazing teachers that I had been communicating with through Facebook for weeks.  Even though everyone was excited, much of the conversations revolved around discussions of what would happen if the 10 inches of snow we are expected to get tomorrow shuts down federal office buildings.  You could hear the air deflate out of the room when we found out that federal offices were indeed going to be closed.  
Tim Darby, Delaware Science Winner and I

Jay Vahle, Indiana Mathematics Winner and I
I couldn't have done this without my incredible wife.

Jed Dearybury, South Carolina Science Winner and I

After the Meet & Greet session ended our guests left and we heard from the presidents of each of the three PAMEST Alumni Associations - one for science winners, one for math winners, and one for elementary winners.  All three passionately stressed that winning this award would change our lives. It's an exciting and scary thought.  I'm excited by the new opportunities that this may open for me, but also nervous about the unknown that awaits.

We then spent some time discussing how we could expand our leadership roles in our states and nationally with a few of the Einstein Fellows that were in attendance.  I, of course, mentioned that the culture of standardized testing needs to change in order for teachers and administrators to feel the freedom to get away from textbooks and institute innovative teaching.  I also stressed the importance of using social media to share the amazing things that happen in classrooms - of awardees and everyone else.

At the end of the session we were told that despite the government being shut down tomorrow, and the fact that the bus contractor wouldn't be able to transport us to the White House, our scheduled events will still go on as planned.  That includes a meeting with the Secretary of Education in the morning, and a "very exciting photo opportunity" in the afternoon which could not be elaborated upon further.  We were all so relieved and excited to hear that.  Instead of taking busses we will be taking the Metro and walking to the White House, but none of us care.  I'd swim through shark infested waters to get there if I had to.

2012 Pennsylvania PAEMST Winners (Susan Bauer and I)
After our session ended, a group of us decided to go to Cafe Mozart for a German Dinner.  The food was great, and we really enjoyed the woman who played the accordion for us while dressed in over-the-top Oktoberfest garb.  I gave a "Whoot" when she played the Pennsylvania Polka.

It was another amazing day.  Tomorrow promises to be even more amazing.