Or rather shift. More focused. I am surprised I can spell the word. Focus. Focus on this story if you will.
I taught 5th grade at a small rural elementary school in the hills of southern Virginia my first year out of college (a few years ago, har!). I was not trained as a teacher. But with a BA in Psych (which without a masters degree was fairly useless), and being unwilling and unable to go to two more years of school at the time, well, it was the hills of Virginia.
This turned out to be a mostly fun and definately rewarding experience. The class was divided into two groups, my homeroom and Ms. Scott’s homeroom. I taught the math/ science block, and she the language/arts, and we switched at midday. Ms. Scott was also teaching officially for her first year, but she had graduated with a teaching degree. She saved my inexperienced life, basically. Though 5th graders are a pretty agreeable crew. Lucky for me.
We had a good year. With the help of Ms. Scott, and my young man’s open and adventurous outlook, I basically winged it pretty well. All survived, most graduated, and I moved into town (such as it was) to teach 8th grade science the following year. Shoulda stuck witht the 5th gaders. 8th graders are, well, starting to become hormonally impaired. But most of the young married school teachers were in town, And, well, I was in my early 20’s. Hormonally impaired as well.
After two years, even that ended fairly well. I then went to play music in the exciting music rich city of Washington DC. Emily Lou Harris and Roberta Flack were among those getting their start there in the mid 70’s, but that is another story. (see my blog here from May 30, 2012 about Doc Watson and those times). I did that music scene, then got married, had a horse farm and a daughter, then went back to school and had a career as a health care professional. I retired a few years ago. I had been all over the southeast US, but never back to those Viginia hills.
Then one day early last year, I got this message on FB. “Are you the Mr. McNeil that taught 5th grade at Sanville elementary?” It was one of my former students. The rest is a pleasant history. Some of us met a few months later, a mini-reunion. We planned a larger one for this past fall, but my 92 year old dad came to live with me and my daughter, and I could not make it. But I did make a video of the mini-reunion, with a song I wrote to go along with it. I just re-tweaked it, put it up on YouTube, my second one up there. I did put one up a month or so ago, just to see if it worked. It did. And this whole thing got me thinking. Remember, I am retired, and I can think about whatever I want.
I have tried my hand at blogging for about a year now. Kinda fun, pretty time consuming. I have some followers, but in the single digits. It aint about numbers, but I can do other stuff better. Like music, and videos. It really fed something important in me to write the song about the teaching experience, and make a music video to fit it. So I am going to spend more time making music videos. Cause writing original music is what I am good at, and it juices me. And if you can stay juicey at my age, better go for it. I am going to make one new music video a month for the next year. And one new original song a week for a year. That oughta keep me busy. I will simply blog once a week about the new song, and once monthly about the new video. Stay tuned.
ps- I plan to get the new music video about me and the kids (some of whom are now grandparents themselves) up before the holidays. Wish me luck. Wish me double digits. Triple? Who cares. It’s about heartful creativity.
pps- Well, I put it up a little late, on New Years Day, but not bad. The music video is called “Together”. It is dedicated to “my” elementary school class from years ago, and to all at Sandy Hook.
ppps- See, it’s about working on my ADD. Just focus, John Paul, focus on the Music. The Music. The Music.