I'm a Pearson Award Finalist!

I am honored to share that I am a a finalist for the Pearson Excellence in Higher Education Awards: Outstanding Teaching Through the Pandemic! This is the kind note from the Committee. Wow!
"You have demonstrated remarkable skill in your approaches to teaching and student support in the face of the pandemic. You were able to adapt exceptionally well to the multiple modalities of remote learning while also supporting students through an emotionally turbulent time to still have the best learning experience possible. Out of a robust pool of over 200 talented nominees, your remarkable commitment as an educator is evident! We have included a digital badge to recognize you and say thank you for your dedication to higher education!

Winners will be announced January 16th, 2023. If chosen as the category winner, we plan to highlight your success on our network. Finalists also receive $2,000 to attend their conference of choice, plaque to commemorate the award, and optional inclusion in a blog or webinar to share your story!

Congratulations again on your advancement to the final stages! On behalf of learners everywhere, we appreciate your commitment to student success."
So nice! I'll let you know how it turns out, but for now, I'm simply honored to be a finalist!

Rock Hill Symphony - Holiday Concert

My friend Elisa Koehler conducted the Rock Hill Symphony Holiday Concert on December 17th.
This was my first social engagement by myself, but one I wouldn't miss. Elisa is an incredibly dynamic conductor who brings energy and stories to her concerts. She oversaw the solos, including trumpeters (which had to have been hard since she is, herself, a trumpeter).
Of course, being the holiday symphony, there were lots of children in the audience. They loved when The Grinch showed up half way through!
I actually ended up sitting near his wife. She said he loves to play the role - indeed, he really got into it. Elisa and The Grinch were stars!
The musicians were wonderful, and Elisa received a well-earned standing ovation and flowers.

Winthrop U Winter Graduation 2022

I am way behind on blog posts (for obvious reasons), but want to make sure to record some of the joys that life has continued to offer. (And I think I can set this to go live on the date it actually happened - HA!) For instance, graduation!
     I never miss graduation ceremonies - I call them "Joy Soup." The students and their families are so happy and so proud. And while shouting and whistling may be discouraged at some universities, it's so fun to hear a family burst into cheers. Oftentimes they are celebrating a child who is the first college graduate in their family. So, they aren't just cheering for themselves, they are cheering for all their family members, alive and passed, who helped enable opportunities for the students. It's a humbling and awe inspiring event to be a part of.
     This was our new President's first graduation ceremony and he obviously enjoyed it.
It was also our Dean Karen Oremus' opportunity to show off her awesome robes. She looked great!
I also enjoy putting on my robes. I've slowly been making them mine. Next step, add pockets!
     Here I am with Elisa Koehler (dear friend and Music Chair).

     And with Stephanie Sutton (video/performance art) and Mark Hamilton (photography/Fine Arts Chair).
I didn't have any students graduating this winter, but it didn't stop me from going. I always walk out of graduations with a smile on my face!

Stan's Celebration of Life

"To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world." - Brandi Snyder

      I can't believe it's already been a week since Stan's Celebration of Life. While I'd rather not have needed to have it at all, the turn-out was heart-warming.
     Many people were there in person, some driving from far away and getting hotel rooms; while dozens attended online from as far away as Scotland and Taiwan. We have friends all over the world and it was truly a global event. I'm sorry I didn't get a screen shot from Zoom (if anyone did, please let me know!), but lots of people left wonderful comments in the chat. Zoom is such a strange way to host a final good-bye, but the silver lining is being able to include friends from afar, and now I have an actual recording of the event. I've been slowly going back through the photos, the tributes, the comments, and putting together a compilation video for friends who missed it (link below), and for myself of course. It's not been an easy thing to do. Everyone has been so generous with their love, and I miss Stan so much - it's hard to see your computer screen when your eyes are filled with tears.
     But a few wonderful photos were taken that I want to share... Here I am with some of my students, Kaelen, Maggie, and Sarah...

with Tina Hanlon and students and friends in the background...

Winthrop Professors and Chairs Elisa, Eva, and Jason...

flowers from the Black family...

me with my parents Bob and Betsy...

more flowers from my Hollins family...

and my favorite, me with so many of my wonderful students (I'm a very lucky teacher indeed).
     I asked several guests to share some thoughts and they contributed moving words in tribute. Stan's oldest friend Professor Emeritus Charlotte Headrick knew Stan when he was a student at Young Harris College. Stuart Brown worked for and with Stan at Deloitte and Touche during his early adulthood - they had a lot of fun together. Johnny Martin was Stan's bestie at the end - even though they ended up on different continents, they kept in close touch. Connie Bailey was our dear friend and center of our hub in Edinburgh. And Jane Yolen wrote a precious poem for Stan that I included on his tribute page (link below). Indeed, I was so pleased by all the poetry people envoked for Stan. Charlotte shared a quote from Romeo and Juliette and Johnny recited a poem from Robert "Rabbie" Burns. I wasn't planning on saying anything myself, but Ellen Kushner asked me to share some stories. I'd had practice recounting them to Stan when he was in the hospital, so I was able to share them with everyone. It helped put context to many of the photos in Stan's slideshow. We had so many good stories, so many adventures. I may start sharing them here, on my blog, as part of my healing. We'll see.
     I want to thank those who helped pull this event together and see me through this rough time. Professor Elisa Koehler graciously offered her home to host the event, and it was simply perfect. We had food and drinks in the dining room, screens sharing a slideshow of Stan in several locations, the main Zoom location on the big television on her bookshelves, and a firepit on the back patio to relax by afterwards. Vicky Alvear Shecter has been with me through the roughest parts. She was at the hospital with me in the final days, notified everyone who needed to know as I stayed by Stan's bedside, and drove up once again to help hold me up at the Celebration. I am so lucky to have Vicky in my life - a truer friend could never be found. Professor Jason Tselentis, Chair of Design, arrived early to help with the tech and run Zoom during the Celebration. Everyone should be as fortunate to have such a generous colleague. My students Kaelen, Ethan, and James were my liaisons at the university and arrived early to help with tech, food, and photos throughout. (Truly, all my students have been amazing.) Flipside Catering made a stressful time less so and did a beautiful job. So many friends donated to Stan's GoFundMe, it covered final medical expenses, the expenses for the Celebration, and the expense of having Stan's ashes turned into Parting Stones. (I'll share more on that when they arrive.) Being spared a financial hit on top of losing Stan has been a balm. Colleagues and friends have sent so many cards, flowers, and gifts, I've kept them all and treasure them. Everyone's kindness and ongoing support has meant the world to me.

     I'm not sure how to navigate this next part of my life. There's no way around grief, only through it. But as I said at Stan's Celebration, he'd want me to continue to Live Out Loud just as we did when he was well. So, I look forward to blossoming back into the world and having more adventures... eventually. For now, I sit with my memories and I'm grateful I am not alone. I am surrounded by love.

Stan's Tribute
Stan's Celebration of Life