Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From Trojans to Ransom Notes: Protect Yourself!

Don't let this Trojan Horse come in and attack your protected work.

Remember the Greek mythology story about the Trojan Horse? During the Trojan War, Greek soldiers hid inside the Trojan Horse to trick the Trojans into letting them inside their city walls. Well, it worked and there was destruction.

Hidden dangers still occur today in our digital society only with what is called a Trojan-ransom virus (ransomware) which infects your computer, through files, data, programs. Once you've been hit, here is no way to retrieve all your important information unless you have the encryption key. How do you get that encryption key?

You guessed it, by paying a ransom. Typically, it's $100, sometimes more.  Obviously there is no way of knowing if the cyber criminals will actually release the key to you. Usually there is a timer which pops up and counts down the hours, minutes until your files are lost forever. 

This type of reoccurring infection is nothing new. Sure, there are new viruses which pop up and have different algorithms associated with them all the time,  but this type of illegal electronic activity has been going on for awhile. It still surprises me when I hear about friends, students, and colleagues being infected because it can be avoided easily. If your computer has been attacked you will need to remove it or seek professional help. Honestly, many times there is no way of retrieving the lost files.  

What can you do? Use common sense and be proactive. You may have heard these types of tips before, so review and remember!
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer. Duh. There are many households which do not purchase anti-virus software, or don't install it properly or don't keep it updated. This is important! You wash your hands all the time, don't you? Doesn't take that long, neither does keeping your anti-virus program current by running the updates.
  • Don't open email attachments or click on website links that you are unsure about. Again, common sense, but this is one of the fastest ways to spread a virus and people keep doing it. Just like you wouldn't open your door to some unusual stranger or share openly private information with someone you don't know or trust, don't open or share anything you are suspicious of.
  • Block the pop-ups! They are annoying anyways. Sure, some of them are from advertisers, but many contain malicious codes that when clicked take you to a corrupt link. You're not going to win $1 million by clicking on that pop-up, so don't do it.
  • Use a firewall. If you don't know what that means, here's a basic explanation: a network or program which inhibits or blocks unauthorized access to your computer whether you have a Mac or Windows system.
  • Back it up, back it up! There are many ways you can back up your important files, data, etc. You can use programs such a Google Drive, external hard drives and One Drive. Beware of Dropbox and programs like Dropbox,it is not completely protected from viruses either. 
  • Don't download anything (programs, files, emails, etc) unless you are absolutely sure it is safe. No need for further explanation, right?
Protect yourself and don't spread any viruses!

Still curious how it works, check out this video.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lent (Part 1): Breaking Bad [Habits]

You think you have some bad habits? 
Probably don't even compare to these boys.

What are you giving up for Lent?  How did you choose? Gotta plan?

Did you know that the word Lent literally means springtime? An obvious time for growth and renewal. As Catholics, we view Lent as a time of breaking bad habits and giving up something. What if we started something new? Perhaps starting a good habit? A way to better ourselves and reconnect with God?

We are all human. We make mistakes. We try to correct them, then get discouraged by our own failures at doing so.  During Lent we are encouraged to: break bad habits as we decide to give up something in our life which is not healthy (spiritually or physically), this then enables us to sacrifice ourselves to God.

It's difficult to give something up, especially something you have really enjoyed and loved. This has a different meaning for everyone. Reflecting on our lives and taking a deeper look inside, we know what we must give up.  Many times it's right there in front of us and there's not even a reason to over analyze it. Yet, there's that voice inside our heads which reminds us the importance of 'live and learn'.  Allowing ourselves the freedom to live life, live in the moment, live and appreciate those around us. So are bad habits bad or can we use them to teach us something good?

When you give up something, there is the feeling of loss. Replacing it with something positive seems the most logical, but can be overlooked.  I think too often we overextend what we can promise and sacrifice to God and others. He is a loving God and he wants us to be our best. So, think about what you want to sacrifice, be realistic. How do you want to grow as person? Change is difficult, so focus more on forming good habits instead of the bad habits that drive you crazy. And you know what? If you mess up, there's a new day tomorrow.

The journey of life.

Perhaps you are this Christian who believes, personally, it is better to focus on forming good habits rather than breaking bad ones. Huh? Isn't that what happens when you break a bad habit, you transform it into a good habit? Not necessarily. It's all how you approach the issue.  Lean towards taking a positive spin on the whole experience. I saw this quote awhile back and it's stuck with me.

Sacrifice doesn't have to mean giving up something we must have, but a way of bringing more goodness to our lives. Perhaps spending more time reflecting alone, or focusing on having more quality time with your family, thinking about volunteering with those in need.  You will have to sacrifice what you would normally spend your time doing if you want to spend more time with your family or volunteering. For example, you might sacrifice your favorite TV show so you could play a family game once a week or sacrifice extra sleep to get up early and volunteer at a soup kitchen.

This notion of forming a good habit or two has always made more sense to me.  After reflecting about it, I have decided to form a good habit of reading an inspirational quote via The Lent App. from the Bible each morning or at dinner with my kids. I'm hoping to spark some great convo with them about God and what the Bible can teach us.

Growing up, my mom and dad would read "Our Daily Bread" at breakfast or dinner. I remember this little booklet filled with short personal stories from Christians and Bible verses for each day.  Sometimes my parents would read the whole short story, sometimes just read the scripture verse.  Some days we would talk about it, other days nothing was said, I'm assuming to let me think about it on my own. Which, looking back, I did more often than I realized.  I'm inspired by quotes and short stories of other people's lives. The good, the bad and the ugly. I think it's fascinating how some people will let you in, even for a snapshot of their life journey as they share how they have grown as a person... as a Christian. 

Share your story, help those around you, especially during Lent. It might just turn into a habit, a good one!  I think we forget how a simple smile, a genuine pep talk or even a warm hug can make all the difference. 

There is a great deal we can learn from each other about God.  I wish you all the best on your journey this Lent season. Whatever path you choose: to sacrifice in breaking a bad habit or focusing on forming a good one, remember it is all about feeling God's love and sharing that love with others.

The Lord has your back! Be a light for others and let them be a light for you.

Some helpful apps and websites for Lent:
Whether you are a rap fan or not, 2Pac (Tupac Shakur) lyrically had some interesting things to say:
"It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes.

Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live
and let's change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive...."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kindergarten King: Artist John Bukaty Creates A Buzz

How would you respond if you were asked to work with 42 Kindergartners on an activity over the course of an hour?

A. "You talking to me?"
B. "I'm allergic to children under 6."
C. "Oh....thanks for asking, but I have this...um, thing...I have to do."
D. Run for the hills.


Exactly the opposite of what the incredibly talented, New Orleans Artist John Bukaty did.

A few weeks ago, I contacted Mr. Bukaty to pick his talented creative brain about integrating more art into the science, technology, math and engineering aspect of STEAM. Obviously, I'm not an artist, but I have had success reaching out to other professionals in the areas of STEM, so thought I would see what he could offer. We spent about an hour or two on the phone over the course of a few weeks. He shared great ideas, direct insight and helpful tips for ways we could weave the arts into our program more naturally, effectively at the STEAM Studio. 

We talked about exposing kids to the big picture of art. Expression. Confidence. Creativity. Vision. Integrating the science and math beyond it would come. He suggested exposing them to Sacred Geometry. I was excited! Most kids love shapes, but you mention the word geometry and they quickly fade away.  How cool to show them the math beyond some incredible ways to design patterns, review symmetry, and introduce hexagonal figures, toroids, fractals, and 3-D imagery in a variety of ways. Nature, all natural.

At the end of one of our conversations he said, "I would love to come help when I'm in town." Little did he know I would quickly take him up on that.

Last Friday, 42 Kindergartners buzzed into the STEAM Studio for three hours.  They came in like a swarm to the STEAM Studio, all excited and ready for some action. We had four stations for them fly around to throughout their time. Originally, I had asked John to come by for about an hour. I thought he would get his fill,  and more, in about that time. But, he did what most would not have done...

Came early, stayed late.

When he arrived, we set up a slide show of his paintings to give the kids some ideas and examples of what they could do. He spend time explaining his thought process when creating art and what it meant to him. After the slide show, he continued on and not in the typical presenter fashion, more like the Kindergarten fashion.

He got down on their level.

He raised their confidence by giving them ideas on how to do more.

He gave them positive feedback.

He give them hugs, high fives and chilled with them.

He modeled for them, but encouraged them to do their own thing.

He got out of their way

He showed them how to have fun.

What did they do?

They buzzed around, like busy bees do, they were humming, collecting what they needed, moving to their own beat and making their own honey...their own sweet art.

One thing I have realized since the opening of the STEAM Studio, the importance of finding the right professionals related to the areas of STEAM to share their expertise and talent. Artist John Bukaty not only shared his time and talent, he shared his heart to this swarm of Kindergartners. He planted a seed. A seed that will grow, blossom into a flower, only to attract more busy bees.

Please check out John Bukaty's one of kind art pieces and support him! Go visit his studio in New Orleans, a great reason to take a trip to the French Quarter ~ Mardi Gras is around the corner!

John Bukaty made the Terminator look like a "girly man"...here's a clip from the unforgettable Kindergarten Cop.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cavern Technologies: Digital Age Batcave

Cavern Technologies take the word "Batcave" to a whole new level!

You don't have to live in Gotham City to experience the technological advancements in keeping the city safe from jokers who want to steal your data. At Cavern Technologies, KC has their own modern day Batman, John Clune, who is focused on protecting and securing the most important information out there. I had the pleasure of visiting this underground futuristic environment recently. Here are the amazing things I learned about this incredible company...

"Bam Pow Zap!"

1.      Why underground? Is this something sweeping the country? How and why does this set you apart?

Under 125 feet of limestone in Lenexa Kansas is the beating heart of the silicone prairie. Over 100 of the country’s leading banks, hospitals, law firms, and technology companies run their highly sophisticated mission critical data center operations from what was once a limestone mine. Cavern Technologies was founded in 2007 by John Clune his father Pete Clune Jr.

Located in a 3M square foot Energy Star Rated, GSA approved underground at 95th and Renner, Cavern has become the largest Data Center Colocation provider in the Midwest with 125,000 square feet of purpose built, state-of-the-art Data Center space.

 John’s vision was to design and build the most secure, reliable, efficient infrastructure possible, and give customers the peace of mind of knowing their Data Center is protected and connected with all the cooling and electric redundancies to handle any scenario, including a Zombie Apocalypse. Beyond protection from Zombies, Tornadoes and Ice Storms of the Midwest, customers come to Cavern for their low cost, abundant and reliable power through KCP&L, and the multitude of telecom network providers that connect Kansas City at light speed to the rest of the world.

The planets must align for an Underground Data Center to work.  Rock strata must be stable, and a safe distance from fault lines. Locations must be above the flood plains close to an urban core and have access to abundant power from multiple substations.  Redundant bandwidth providers must be built into the facility, and enter the location from multiple entrances. Other large players in the underground Data Center Space are Iron Mountain in Pennsylvania, and Green Mountain Data Center in Norway.

Cavern’s specialty in the market is giving customers private data center suites.  While most colocation tenants are expecting huge, anonymous, cage filled rooms, Cavern gives their customers (large and small) their own custom room, with their own 4 walls, their own biometric access controls and surveillance cameras.

"Holy cooling caverns, Batman!"

2.      How specifically is better for the environment?
With an ambient temperature of 68 degrees, Cavern’s cooling systems have a distinct advantage over cooling systems that are battling the extremes of weather (-10 to 100+).  Customers typically see a 30% saving on their cooling costs.

With an adaptive reuse of underground space Cavern does not take up space on surface.  Cavern is one of the few data centers in the world with trees, grass and deer on their roof.

"Riddle me this..."

3.      I'm obsessed with the finger and face recognition, how does that work? Why is it important?

“Every face has numerous, distinguishable landmarks, the different peaks and valleys that make up facial features. Each human face has approximately 80 nodal points. Some of these measured by the Facial RecognitionTechnology are:
  • Distance between the eyes
  • Width of the nose
  • Depth of the eye sockets
  • The shape of the cheekbones
  • The length of the jaw line
  • These nodal points are measured creating a numerical code, called a faceprint, representing the face in the database. “ 
Cavern’s customers have multiple options for access control of their private data environment. Some customers utilize thumbprint biometrics, retina scanners or facial recognition. By only having approved personnel with access to their private data is essential for insuring the integrity of their private Data Center’s integrity.

 "To the Batcave!"

4.      Is this future? How do you know? What is to be learned, tech wise about how you operate in this unique way.

Technological advances drive the evolution of the Data Center.  Moore’s Law states that processing speeds and data densities should double every two years.  While footprints have shrunk, the power and cooling needs have grown as our creation of data reaches mind boggling proportions.

Eric Schmidt of Google stated an astounding statistic. “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. That’s something like five Exabyte of data.”

We are still in the early years of the Data Center.  (Although some teenager, tinkering in her garage could change the world of data storage as we know by discovering a way to put all the data in the world onto something the size of a dime.)

Cavern is bullish about the future.  They are not everything for everybody, but instead focus on becoming the facilities partners for the most technically savvy customers who want to manage and grow their IT resources in house. More and more companies are getting out of the construction business or selling their data centers and moving their private clouds to colocation facilities and sometimes moving their cloud underground.

"The Batsignal goes on, he shows up."

5.  How do you give back to the community?

Corporate citizenship is important at Cavern.  Giving Back is KeySome of the organizations that Cavern Supports on an ongoing basis include: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children's Mercy, Ozanam, Bishop Sullivan, Spofford¹s Horse Power Program, F.I.R.E.,  Sisters of Charity in LeavenworthFather Waris's Romero Community Home Building Initiative in El Salvador, and Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program.

The planets have aligned for Cavern, and John.  Beyond the well designed and built infrastructure, John continues to see amazing annual growth by giving his customer’s world class customer service, and never compromising on his mantra of “Operational Excellence.”  

The proof is etched in stone:  In his 8th year in business, Cavern has 100% uptime and 100% client retention.

See for yourself what Cavern Technologies is all about:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Keeping it Real: Why I Send My Kids to Catholic Schools

Let's give a hand to ALL of our exceptional schools!

This week is Catholic Schools Week so naturally I want to promote the faith based education program my kids benefit from in the Catholic preschool and elementary schools they attend. However, I think it's an appropriate time to address some assumptions and generalizations often made about which schools parents decide to send their children to and which schools are the best.

I attended a public high school (Go Rolla Bulldogs!) and had a rich educational experience full of teachers I loved, friends who cared, and coaches who supported me. I sat in class with peers who, like me,  were trying to figure out their way through each day. We may have looked and acted different because we came from diverse backgrounds and family lives, but we were there for the same reason. Sure, there were disagreements, different groups of people who hung out, however when you're from a tight community there's always someone around to give you a hand and help you out.

I went to a public university (Go MU Tigers!)  I never once felt like just another number, even though that is what I heard happens when you go to a public university. Professors do know when you are not in class!  I experienced college life with old friends and met new friends while having some incredible times.There were endless opportunities at MU.  I was lucky enough to work with professors who pushed me outside my comfort zone. I made mistakes and learned from them to grow as a person.

I taught in a public school in St. Louis (Go Lindbergh Flyers!) where each day brought many gifts because the students in my classes came from the neighborhood and East St. Louis through the Voluntary Transfer Program.  Many of them were from low SES homes with parents who sent them on that bus everyday hoping for a better future. My wise principal told me the first week I began, "You have to believe that all parents want the best for their kids."  Even though I didn't have kids at the time, this really stuck with me. I had to remind myself of her message on days when parents wouldn't return my phone calls or my students came unprepared.  But I was humbled by the fact that these parents trusted me, day in and day out to do everything I could for their child. What were they thinking?!  The students were onto me. They challenged me, frustrated me, laughed with me (and probably at me), best of all they hugged me or gave me a high five at the end of each day. All of them taught me to work hard and they made me a better teacher. 

I was an administrator in a public school in a St. Louis suburb (Go Kehrs Mill Knights) where I worked alongside teachers who dedicated their lives to making a difference in each and every child's life. I watched them learn new teaching methods through differentiating instruction, skipping lunch to figure out their new technology tools or help students, staying after school to finish up lesson planning,  preparing for the next day and what that may bring.  Some teachers left, many stayed as there were trying days, but we grew into a family. Looking back, there was always support and love from kids, parents and educators.

Through all my public education involvement, I witnessed hardworking teachers, dedicated students, caring families, many amazing resources and community teamwork. So why do I send my kids to Catholic Schools?

Because it is the right fit for our family. Because Catholic schools offer the same loving, dedicated, caring, challenging and educational experiences I had in public schools.

I don't think I need to tell you more than that. I don't think anyone needs to explain why they send their kids to a particular school. I've learned through all my educational experiences the incredible importance of supporting what you feel is right for your kids AND supporting what your friends feel is right for their kids. 

Do I think my kids' schools are better than other schools out there? I'm going to keep it real and say, No. Not because I don't think my kids' schools are amazing, they are. However, we are fortunate to have many amazing schools we can be proud of in the KC metro area.  

Yes, we live in a city with a struggling school district. While we strive to solve that, we have to remain vigilant about keeping all our schools systems alive and thriving. I love that we have a variety of schools in KC: public, city, suburban, rural, catholic, private, charter,  home school, large and small which are committed in meeting the increasingly diverse needs of all our kids. Are there issues in each school? Yes. As parents, teachers and community members we have a civil and moral responsibility to creatively come together, research,  and support solutions that are in the best interest of the students.

Which school is the right choice for your family? Don't ask me, ask yourself. Keep it real. Send your kids to the school you feel is right for them and support the schools around your community. All schools need positive feedback. All schools need to give every student a high quality education. All schools can do this, if we stick together and do our own part, whatever that means for your family.  We need to keep all types of schools open and focus on the number one reason they are in existence: to educate the whole child in every child.

I'm proud of my kids' school (Go Vis Shamrocks!) and, you know what? I am proud of your kids' school too because we all want what is best for our children.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Semester + New Activities and Partnerships = New Excitement @ the STEAM Studio!

Einstein, who failed over and over and yet brought us so many new things.
His passion for social justice is one of my favorite things about him.

STEAM Studio Clubs and Activities start back up next week. As we continue on with the projects we developed for the STEAM Studio this past semester, I'm thrilled to share our new partnerships, new activities, and the overall new exciting things taking place in our STEAM Studio this new semester!

This week's spotlight is on...

  • Brightergy- One exciting addition to our curriculum comes from the company Brightergy. Locally owned, their headquarters are in Kansas City which they have successfully expanded to other states. I learned about them from my children's school as the school facility has taken measures to be more environmentally and economically efficient. I was impressed by their vision and looked them up only to find one of my former students, Alizabeth Reynolds, is the Brighterschools Program Manager. We will start partnering with them this semester. Ali has this to say about the curriculum:

    • BrighterClassroom is a hands-on, inquiry-based, energy education program that brings energy alive in the classroom! This curriculum is designed to educate students on topics ranging from understanding energy efficiency to discovering how a photovoltaic cell works. BrighterClassroom takes advantage of the environmental changes happening around us by turning them into learning opportunities with real, direct applicability to students’ lives. 
    • BrighterClassroom has been implemented in over 400 schools across Missouri. Our goal is to take this program beyond Brightergy clients to a national audience. We know technology is going to continue to advance in the classroom; we also know our environment is going to continue to evolve. Students need be exposed to up-to-date, enriching material and in support of that we have a vision for BrighterClassroom. We will be expanding and revamping this program into an interactive, web-based curriculum that will be engaging and exciting for all grade levels. Throughout this process our objective will stay the same: to empower teachers and students with the knowledge, tools, resources, and strategies they need to create a greener, healthier climate for years to come.

Coming up...
  • Manufacturing Education- Michele Nash-Hoff, president of ElectroFab Sales, a manufacturers' sales rep firm wrote: "The American people have a choice to make. We can either accept the continued destruction of America's industrial base and allow all the gains achieved by America's industrial workers to be wiped out to compete with Third-World labor. Or, we can choose to secure a future for American industry and our industrial workers."   Our kids are constantly consuming something, what better way to build their confidence and build a better nation by giving them opportunities to build something which will have a positive impact on our society. Emphasis will be placed on developing their manufacturing skills. Learning by doing builds confidence and connects different pathways of knowledge.

Getting dirty is fun, just ask one of my favorite men Mike Rowe!
Let's teach our kids the joy of building more and consuming less

 while using some elbow grease and grit.

  • 3D Printing- Thanks to numerous donations from private donors will be able to purchase our first 3D printer this spring.  Offering kids the opportunity to design and develop products to print out then put to use in their daily lives and the lives of others is a team effort which will be taught and facilitated in the STEAM Studio.

My man Pablo, the definition of experimentation and innovation in art... and beyond.

  • Inviting local artists in- Through the Art Department at Rockhurst University and connections through the community, local artists will be selected and invited in to share the math, science, engineering and incredibly interesting ways art can bring out not only expression, but intelligence, failure, success and creativity in many ways.

  • Robotics- We applied and have been awarded a grant from VML to purchase our first robotics kit this spring to offer an unique First Robotics program which was founded here in KC. We are extremely grateful to VML and the Rockhurst University Engineering students who will be volunteering to help facilitate this program.

Wonder woman Marie Curie.
Rejected by a university because she was a woman, first woman to win a Nobel prize in chemistry.
First person to win a Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics

  • Getting more girls into STEAM- We will begin next week by launching a STEAM Club for Girls for the first five week session. We also have formed a partnership with St. Teresa's Academy. STA girls will be coming over to volunteer and STEAM Studio will be an option for juniors and seniors to complete their capstone service project.

None of this would be possible without the support of the Rockhurst University students and faculty. Rockhurst University students volunteer their talent and time to the STEAM Studio through service learning projects. This offers real-world application and stimulating community connections to the lives of the STEAM Studio participants and to RU students.

Find some time to do something you love. If you know of a company who would love to support the STEAM Studio, or know of someone who would love to volunteer their time, please contact me. This video captures the amount of time we have to do just that.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Animal House? Not Quite: What Teaching College Students Teaches Me

I have to go to class?

Back at it this week! Rockhurst University classes start today. Every semester, I look forward to getting back in the swing of things; partly because I am a creature of habit who enjoys a daily routine, but mostly because I get to meet new students in my courses. They all come with their own personalities, needs, attitudes, talents and spirits. This blog post is specifically about the undergrad college students I teach as two of the three courses I am teaching this semester are undergrad sections. Naturally, I have been reflecting more about this particular group and realize they have taught me quite a bit over the last seven years.

They motivate me to be a better teacher: First and foremost, this is one of my goals as a life long educator, to continuously become better. Each generation of students bring their own uniqueness and eccentric outlooks on life and learning. As a college professor, in my opinion, nothing is more humbling then your course evaluations. This is the point in the semester, right before finals, when your students can anonymously write and critique all the areas about you as a professor. There are multiple choice questions which cover questions asking how rigorous the class was, were the readings tied to the objectives, did the instructor assess you fairly then onto open ended questions about your organization, delivery of content and overall performance...just to name a few. Over the semesters, I have been appreciative and work hard to earn high ratings, but there are always students who blatantly see the areas I need to improve on, and they are as right as they feel. Who am I to judge what they say? I try hard to think about their written feedback and figure out how I can improve the course and my teaching. That's my job.

I have to be in tune with their emotions and thoughts: They are adults, but just beginning. Sometimes they come to class, tired, overwhelmed, stressed and disconnected. Other times they bounce in with energy, motivated to tackle the world and happy to share their intellectual thoughts related to the course content. I learned quickly the importance of getting to know them through small and individual discussions, their reflections about their past experiences and where they see themselves as future teachers. I am fortunate to teach at a university where my class sizes typically range between 15-25 students, so I can get to know them and they can get to know me. This does impact the way I teach. If I notice that they are losing interest in a particular topic, I need to switch gears and teach it differently. If one or more of them are crabby, I leave them alone. If I can see others are excited to share and teach their peers, then I give them that opportunity. It's not always easy, but it's taught me to be more flexible and the incredible importance of having a pulse on each student.

If you want to play hard (whatever that means to you), you have to work harder.

It's not Toga, Toga: If you are a college grad, it seems typical that you remember the good times and the parties, but that is not the case.  Very rarely do I have a student fail my class. I like to think it is because I care and help them along, but in the end they are required to do the work, no matter what they did the night before or what they have coming up over the weekend. The students I have taught at RU are huge volunteers, provide more service then ever expected. They study hard and I assume they play hard in their own individual way. They tend to be dedicated and choose not to miss class.This past semester, I ended up teaching on two of the nights we were in the World Series, not one student missed! I am impressed by how they put their studies first, even though it is expected, as there are also a variety of distractions in college!

I am their mentor, not their friend:  WOW, that's a big hat to wear. I'm not even sure I have this whole life thing figured out, but I do take my professional career seriously. I feel my experiences in and out of the classroom as a teacher and an administrator  were meant to be shared with other future teachers. The good, the bad and the ugly. I explain why I loved and continue to love teaching, but the challenges and sacrifices which occur when you are a teacher. I remember appreciating my college professors being honest about ways they reached kids, when they made mistakes and how they learned from those mistakes. These preservice teachers are no different.   They have plenty of friends, they don't need me to pal around with.  They need me to guide them into experiences which will set them up for success as an educator and to become a mentor to others.

They are like onions:  Not stinky. Well, not usually. They come with layers and sometimes they can bring you tears when you least expect it. I seek to challenge them and push them to learn more and to be more. They can be very tricky at times and if you try to peel away a layer too quickly, they can fall apart. They can become aloof and their trust in you as a professor can be damaged.  I have learned to slow down. To take my time and encourage them to take their time over the semester to really let the content and their teaching experiences sink in, reflect on them and figure out how we can all learn from them. From time to time, tears of joy, tears of struggle and tears of relief are seen. These are few and far between, but when it happens I realize they are more delicate than I assume.

Don't forget your sharpened pencils and your charged iPad.
I have to remind them: I do struggle with this one. Do I really need to remind them to turn off their cell phones EVERY class. YES. Do I have to remind them that an assignment, which has been posted all semester, is due next class. YES. It's a "given" that that they need to come to class on time and do the readings prior to class, do I still need to remind them? YES.  Hyperlinking additional resources, offering extra help, checking in with each one frequently to make sure they are where they need to be? YES.  I give them reminders, not a grade. They have to earn that!

They remind me that I'm glad my college days are over:  I loved college, all of it. Could have I have studied more, yes. Where there things I would go back and change, maybe. But, overall, I love looking at old pics and reminiscing with the best of them. However, I am glad that chapter is over. Even more, I'm glad that my undergraduate students are in it. They get to write their own chapter, they get to live their own college experience. They get to tell me about it...and I get to watch them and smile.

Know a college student? Give them a big hug, tell them to work hard and be nice to their professors!

Enjoy my favorite song from Animal House...