September 16, 2017

Today Jeff arrived with a large cargo van filled to the brim with clothing, quilts, and shoes from our Church, Lutheran Church of the Master. We will be doing a give away tomorrow morning with Jerome and Theresa HIgh Horse. All the clothes, shoes etc... are all really needed. We have children staying home from school because they do not have shoes or appropriate clothing. Sometimes staying home means that child also will then not have food for the day as well. The school and the High Horses are working together to try to get a food backpack program started. 

Last Sunday, I went to church for the first time here in South Dakota. I spent several Sunday mornings sitting in empty parking lots guessing on church times based on when others thought church might be. Churches here work on rotating pastors so you have to be in the "know" to know when services are. It is not posted on the outside the church. There isn't even a phone number or website you can use to find out. I call it secret society church. Anyway, I went to services at a small Lutheran Church in Kadoka last week (About 30 miles away). There were 10 of us present! No one spoke to me until after the service. The lay minister read the sermon off his iPad. He assured us it was a good message because it was written by a real pastor. 

Oh the things I take for granted:

  • My church right in my neighborhood and so many people there who are an important part of my life! Messages crafted each week intended for the individuals within our community. Music that sings to my soul. 

  • My friends and groups that I attend. I am really on my own a lot here. I am older than all of the teaching staff I work with and truthfully there is little to go and do in Wanblee. After a long day at school, most of them are going home to care for young families. 

  • Having running water that is hot when you turn it on and real water pressure. Jeff calls it shower by dribble; and to do the dishes I have to swish the water around with my hand to get bubbles. Otherwise, there isn't enough water pressure to create bubbles. 

  • I am thrilled when I get far enough down the road that I can get a radio station. I take for granted my Christian Radio station that is right at my fingertips in Omaha.

  • Air conditioning. It was in the high 90's this week and the school's air conditioner is not working. I did not have air in my apartment until Tuesday. 

  • Wifi and cable TV. ( I have neither at the apartment and I am really tired of PBS reruns. The wifi and printers have been down at school at times as well. The next two weeks we have MAPS testing so pray that the wifi holds for two more weeks. I am sure we will have children praying for just the opposite.)

  • Everything closes up by 5 and all towns are at least 30-40 minutes away. We are at school until 4:30 or 5 daily. Nothing is open on Sunday! It's amazing to me!!!

  • The closest Quilt shop is 2 hours to Rapid CIty or 2 hours to Chamberlain. I am so used to having multiple shops right down the street from my house. From my home in Omaha, I have 3 Quilt shops within a 5 mile radius. I have yet to find a yarn shop here. So I am depending on my friends to buy from our favorite shop in LIncoln and then wait for Jeff to relay the projects to me. 

  • I am beginning to find my way around Rapid City. I am crossing off grocery stores as I try them. I really miss HyVee being right on my way to and from work and Jeff doing all the grocery shopping!

Not meaning to sound like I am complaining; it is just a really different way of life here. You can't just run and get what you need - you must plan far ahead and have the time to get to the materials you need. For example - the table in my classroom is too short. The legs will not extend high enough for my children to sit around it and get their legs under it. So this week my boys decided they were tired of sitting way back from the table when they have group time with me. So on the count of 3 (in Lakota) - they lifted the table and rested the table top on their knees.  I have Bob, the builder working on cutting PVC pipe to fit on the legs to raise the table. (The kids made me laugh each time they did this little feat. It's just another example of how they are just used to figuring out a way to make whatever they have to work with work!)

Once again I came off as the crazy old white woman. Each morning our pod of classrooms (third-sixth grade) gathers in the hallway to open the morning with announcements and a Lakota prayer. Ramon, our sixth-grade teacher usually leads this. One day this week, he was tied up in a meeting. So I stepped in, to lead opening. I did the good morning and the Crazy Horse Chiefs chant with the kids. Prior to the prayer Ramon always does a 1-2-3 countdown in Lakota. Of course, I cannot do this, so I do it in English - no one starts the prayer and I only know the first 2 or 3 words.... so the kids say to me no in Lakota. So they say 1 in Lakota and I repeat it, they shake their heads and say it again, after several attempts I was able to count to 3. We got the prayer started. They were all giggling so hard they could hardly pray.

Today was the back to school PowWow. Jeff and went over for dinner and the beginning of the dancing. No one warned me that the teachers had to be a part of the grand procession of dignitaries into the dance. It would have been nice to have known what I was doing. The kids looked so amazing in their costumes. The beadwork and designs on some of the costumes was outstanding. The really little toddlers in their full costumes were precious and they were out there dancing-like my girls used to at every wedding dance. It was joyful to watch. 

Finally, the other big surprise this week is that homecoming has a parade and our classroom must have a float. We were given $50 to purchase all we needed to decorate the float. I understood we had homecoming happening. I understood there would be a parade - somehow I missed that my class would have its own float! So we will have a float. We need candy for the kids to throw - that is what my kids are most concerned about. Thank you to my friend, Carla for already sending candy with Jeff. We will need more candy, so if you are willing to get a bag of candy or money for candy to Jeff by Monday, September 25th PLEASE do so. My friends Elizabeth, Kitty, and Lori will be coming up and will deliver it to me in time for the parade. The parade is Friday, September 29. I will post a picture of the float. Thank you to the High Horse family for furnishing the flatbed for our float. 


September 2, 2017

Two weeks of school down. The air conditioner at school broke so we had half days both Wednesday and Thursday. We also missed Parent Night on Wednesday. I was looking forward to meeting the parents of the children in my room. I am considering holding my own night. Both days were a bit of a confusing mess. No one sent out a half day schedule so everything was off both days. Everyone kind of did their own thing so that meant people were overlapping schedules and meals etc... Our pod coordinated our lunch and recess schedules at least. I am now up to 22 children, having added 2 children at the end of this week. I am told after Labor Day to expect a few more. These children will return with families from summer positions that will no longer be open after Labor Day. 

Friday we did not have school due to Crazy Horse Day. I am still unsure what that is everyone I have asked doesn't seem to know. Everything at school was completely shut down on Friday, so I spent a lovely day stitching, The two photos are of the two small quilt tops I completed.Both have been aging nicely in my stash at home like good wine. I will send both with Jeff to be machine quilted. (There is some advantage to no TV and no internet at the apartment!!!) No air conditioning both at school and in the apartment though has been rather uncomfortable and I have not been sleeping well.

Nativity IMG 0890 purple quilt

Jeff arrived Friday late afternoon. I was so happy to see him. I am more than a bit homesick. I am not used to being in such a small space and without friends and family to go do things with. Of course, it is a long way to go to do anything from here. I did find a quilt show in Hill City next weekend. I am seriously considering driving The 3 hours over to see it. Jeff took me to Kadolka for a steak last night to celebrate a late birthday!! It tasted so good!!!

Thank you to my Wooly Mammoth knitting friends for starting to knit stocking hats for here at Crazy Horse School. We know they will be unique and the children will love that. We had a group bring in back packs and school supplies, both were greatly needed. The issue, however, was that all look alike. I did have a lovely silver marker so all my children wrote their names inside the back packs. It did cut down on the bickering about who's back pack it is. Additionally, this group took sizes for winter coats. Since it was over 90 degrees here the children did not understand why anyone would want to get winter coats. I explained that the ladies would be driving back to North Carolina and then purchasing all those coats and shipping them back, We looked at our fifty states map to see how far traveling to North Carolina really is. Most of their world is here in Wanblee with occasional trips to other places on the reservation or Rapid City. Children raised in poverty do not understand future planning. In many of their lives, planning is for the immediate needs (food, housing, health concerns) and something like winter is so far off. 




September 1, 2017

What you can do to help?

Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Here are some things we need at the school.

The school is always in need of:

  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Baby wipes
  • Shampoo (full-size bottles)
  • Soap/ body wash
  • Antiperspirant or deodorant

This article from the Huffington Post accurately describes the need and the high prices at the local mini mart. The video below is from the article (Thanks to Dr. Karla Bergen for sending me the article link). 




August 30, 2017

Here is the art work we did last week. The painted glass balls are finally dry. I hung them yesterday.

glass ornaments hand painted by the students

It is well over 90 degrees today and the air conditioning has gone out at school. It is very warm inside. Our fan cannot keep up. The school has been dismissed at noon due to the heat.

I hate flies!!! I'm not sure what is more distracting, the flies buzzing me while I teach or me running around like a crazy person swatting them with the fly swatter. The kids look at me like I'm crazy.

I tried to teach them to do the twist today. I introduced equation solving using different math properties we have learned. It was really taxing their brains. As a brain break, I put on some old rock and roll and tried rather unsuccessfully to get them to twist their frustrations away. Once again, I got there's that crazy lady look from the entire class.

August 28, 2017

We have made it through our first week of school together. I have learned the following for this group of fifth graders:

  • Fifth-grade humor is actually funny.

  • Fifth graders cannot inhibit touching a low ceiling, especially if last year they were not tall enough to do so.

  • Sometimes you just have to do a cartwheel.

  • Place value into the millions is an abstract concept that can be conquered with multiple opportunities to practice.

  • I am not too old to sit on the floor, I may not be able to get up as gracefully as before-but I can make it!

  • Fifth-grade boys show each other they are buds by rough housing. (Any place and anytime!!! I just wish it would not be when the principal and superintendent are looking!)

  • Sometimes school is the safest place to be and sending home stuff means I don't have it anymore.

  • Fifth graders are only motivated by stuff they really want. They could care less for trinkets-bring on the junk food.

  • NO one wants to be a bully. Calling someone out at this age on bullying behavior sometimes shocks them!

  • It has been along time since I have written lesson plans for someone else to read. It is amazing the amount of work that goes into one of these. Yes, CSM students I have a new appreciation for the time you put into one of these as an assignment.

  • Elementary teachers eat lunch and do all necessary breaks in about 15 minutes! I forgot about teacher's bladder. 

Finally, I have never lived on my own. I went straight from my parent's house to the dorm and then married Jeff. I have learned I can be on my own. I miss Jeff terribly and have a new appreciation for all he does to make my life easier. For the past 38 years, he has taken care of many things, for example; I learned this weekend to check tire pressure and fill a low tire, another first for me. 

Tomorrow is my Birthday. I will be 58. It is the first time in my life I will be celebrating it on my own, with no family here. I know for many others this is an everyday event. I am planning to share it with my students. I have purchased ice cream for us to end the day.

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