Sunday, January 25, 2009

Budget Cuts

I thought it would be appropriate to update you on the education budget situation in Virginia; and more importantly, in Chesterfield County where Jeremiah teaches. In the state of Virginia, there has been a $700 million dollar budget cut for education. $52 million of that is in Chesterfield County. I am baffled by 1) where all this money comes from, and 2) how the government is able to cut this gigantic sum of money from one year to the next. It's way over my head, but a heavy reality for Virginia residents. Jeremiah has been told that there may be up to 8 position cuts in each school in the district. Chesterfield seniority rules, putting first year teachers on the chopping block. In fact, if someone has taught for 25 years, but they have only been teaching in Chesterfield for a year, they are in the same position as first year teachers. Although Jeremiah falls into this category, we are optimistic about his chances of keeping his job. Math teachers are a huge need and male teachers are in demand, too. In addition, Jeremiah has found favor with the administrators. However, there is a chance that he may not receive a contract for next year.
Fortunately, in Henrico County where I work, there are not supposed be any position cuts. The only significant cut is that no raises will be given.
All of this puts our future job status up in the air. When we first moved here I was crossing my fingers that we'd move back to Pennsylvania after our lease was up; however, we recently discussed the reality of staying in Virginia mostly because we have jobs. It's too risky to move without jobs set in stone, and with the job market like it is we anticipated trying to find new jobs to be quite the task. Now, we're just not sure what's going to happen. We're not in a panic, but we would appreciate your prayers for us in this. We know that God is sovereign and we will be where He ultimately wills us to be. As we seek the Lord in prayer, it is encouraging to know we have a support system in you praying, too.

The Ball Has Been Dropped

Both literally and figuratively. 
As is obvious, since the ball dropped bringing in 2009, I have dropped the ball in keeping all of you informed about the goings on with Jeremiah and me. My apologies. My intentions have been good, but my follow through is lacking at best.
The new year has treated us just fine thus far, and you haven't missed out on any earth-shattering news. We're back to work and busy as ever, with both of us still working eleven to twelve hour days. Jeremiah's new restart class is going well, but of course requires extra planning and preparation. I'm so proud of him for taking on this challenging opportunity, and am encouraged that the administration chose him to do it. He is definitely succeeding as a first year teacher, with lots of affirmation from his colleagues and administrators.
Life in first grade is hectic and tiring. Recently, I have been discouraged by many logistical factors that seem to hinder the students' education. With twenty-seven kids in one class, it is nearly impossible to give any one child one-on-one attention. When you take a second to do so, the rest of the class breaks out into chaos. This is a very talkative bunch, but with large class size, lots of busy-work, poor home situations, and weak attention spans--the odds aren't in their favor. My eyes have been opened to the hard task of not going too slow for the stronger kids, but not going too fast for the weaker ones. Inevitably, the balance is seldomly achieved in the class I'm in. I feel a lot more confident leading my reading group now then I did before; however, there are two boys who consistently give me a run for my money. My head tends to spin after a half hour of trying to teach a group of ten kids while these two refuse to stop talking, fooling around, or listen to me. I am still trying to figure out a solution to this problem. Perhaps this post is about first grade is a little more negative than usual since I'm fresh off of three days with a substitute. Mayhem.

Last weekend, Jeremiah and I were SO EXCITED to have Cameron come down for a visit. I think it was much needed for all three of us, and we had a great time. After a car crisis before departure, Cameron made it here safely Friday night. I am still so thankful that Tyler Hoover, in all his selflessness and godliness, lent Cameron his car for the weekend. You can bet the Lord taught me a lot about my character and about HIS control over life's details after that debacle. We spent the weekend watching a lot of basketball and football, and eating a lot of burgers and fries. Spending a weekend with those two gave a whole new dimension to the holiday weight I was just coming to terms with. We also went to a University of Richmond basketball game, which was a lot of fun. I was sad to have to send Cameron off on Monday morning, but was so so thankful for his visit. I posted a picture of the three of us during his visit.

I've also posted a couple pictures of my dear buddy Shep and his model of Jamestown. This sweet boy has been so excited about this project--excited since first grade he told me--and is so proud of his work. We spent some of our recent time together working on it so I thought I'd share--although I give all the credit to Shep. Didn't he do an awesome job??