Sunday, May 15, 2016

From the Other Side

Greetings from the other side of the Spring 2016 semester. Our grades were due at 1:00PM on Friday, but we both finished before then.

It was a good thing too because my parents arrived from Austin at about 4:15PM, and we had just enough time to tidy the house and go grocery shopping beforehand.

We only had a couple of hours to visit with them before it was time to don our graduation apparel and head to the graduation ceremony.

A few English faculty members 
We had the most ever graduating honor society members this year, and we are so proud of them. Many of them won additional big transfer scholarships. It was a happy night watching our students and our members reap the benefits of all of their hard work. I know students that went to school part time for several years to achieve their degrees. Watching them finish is a big deal. It always makes me emotional (and probably doesn't help that I'm always extremely exhausted).

Returning home, I felt like I had finished a marathon: the marathon of the 2015-2016 school year. I'm proud of this one. In the classroom, my retention rate for students has increased, with 93.5% of my students this semester sticking with the class (of those, 88% earning a C or higher in the course). I figured out how to improve my tutoring coordination in many aspects: we documented over 1,500 tutoring sessions and reached over 650 students with programming. I trained over 20 honor society students to help increase our tutor coverage during crucial times. Of course, there are ALWAYS things I want to change, but I truly feel like I gave this school year my all.

When we returned home, we stayed up talking to my parents for a little while before retiring to bed. I had dreams about survival. I think it was my brain processing that I had "survived" the semester.

Upon waking, we called in an order at Neme's, and Brendan and I went to go pick up everyone's breakfast tacos. My parents were impressed with our newfound food truck find. That afternoon, I did some planning for our upcoming 5 year graduate school reunion while hanging out with my mom, and my dad and Brendan went to Home Depot to get soaker hoses and replace the blades on our outdoor ceiling fan (the wooden blades were drooping, and I forgot to include that in our warranty repair).

Then, we played a couple of rounds of Ticket to Ride (Mom and I both won once--I beat Brendan and Dad both by ONE point) while enjoying homemade margaritas.

Last night, Brendan and I took my parents to Venezia for a belated Mother's Day celebration. Everyone ate too much, but it was an enjoyable meal, and the service was great. Sometimes I think the best gift is a nice meal together, and we look forward to doing the same with Brendan's parents in CT next month.

After the meal, we were so full and opted to watch a movie together instead of playing more games. We watched Grey Gardens on HBO Now. It was a fascinating, sad, and strange movie with excellent acting (by Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore).

We woke up this morning and went to the new Lori's cafe. My parents missed the atmosphere of the old Lori's, but we still had a good meal. After breakfast, we visited for a couple of hours before my parents had to get on the road. The weather this weekend was unseasonably cool (and windy), so we didn't get to do much outside, but overall, it was a great visit, and I'm so glad that my parents squeezed us in.

As soon as they left, we both got to work on our online interim courses which begin tomorrow. These courses run through June 2nd, so they are fast and furious for both us and the students. We both have full classes (18 students for me and 20 for Brendan). This will keep us busy, but we will definitely be able to do our own projects as well. We're looking forward to a week and a half at home before the reunion weekend in Lake Charles. For now, we're just enjoying how good it feels to be on the other side of the semester, and we're looking forward to watching Game of Thrones tonight, eating pizza for dinner, and not waking up at 6:15AM tomorrow. It's finally summer, and that word is music to our ears.

Here's to hitting the reset button.

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