Thoughts on the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) from June: 3,000 riders, 250 miles in 5 days of riding, 2 days of rest in small towns in Ohio, camping each night along the route. It was life changing! Anyone who knows me understands that I perceive everything with an educator’s world view. So here are my observations.
1. This was a personal challenge for this not-before-physically-active girl. Oh, I am busy, passionate about teaching, stand all day, but not much exercise. Until training. Elle Woods (Legally Blonde movie) was right- endorphins do make you happy. To come back down the street in Urbana, Ohio, where I began after 250 miles of not quitting in the pouring rain was life changing empowering to me! How many times did my mind play tricks to quick, but I kept going! I burst into tears I was so happy and exhausted. Our students deserve to be challenged to do their personal best every day. Sitting at desks all day for 8 hours is not what our students need, they need challenging 21st Century learning. Our students deserve to choose their learning and go and be challenged by creating that learning.
2. It reinforced to me what I already knew – knowing unconditional love, support, and having fun with family is what I wish for every child born in the world to know. It is every parent’s responsibility to create this for their child and it is difficult. Long nights, early mornings, and a lot of structure and discipline. Our students deserve unconditional love from the education community. They know what they can’t do; we need to empower them to believe in what they CAN do! And it’s not passing a standardized test.
3. While riding 8 hours through the farmlands and small towns of Ohio, I realize I am living a narrow view of the world outside Washington DC. I live in a rural town but we are only 35 miles from the city and many parents live and work in Northern Virginia (NOVA). Seeing silos as tall as most buildings, I was in awe of the hard work and community this area brings. They couldn’t be farther from DC and yet, all the political decisions affect these hard-working people. Small businesses and farms are the back bone of America – a cliché, I know – yet, these communities welcomed us with open doors offering free water from their coolers on their lawns to opening schools to cool off in the heat. Our students deserve to be part of a community. Every school can take notes from New Bremen Public Schools. From the moment we rode in to stay on the school grounds I sensed community. Football players unloaded the trucks with our camping gear, cheerleaders served us Gatorade and snacks, the Boosters’ parents were cleaning up the bathrooms for us, and the Superintendent knew everyone and was at the High School 24/7 for two days. The SUPERINTENDENT! I haven’t seen a Central Office person in my classroom or even at my school in a very long time. Even the community center in town had the school cardinal on top of the roof. Our students deserve excellent schools where the entire community is involved.
I will take what I gained riding 250 miles this summer and go back to school refreshed, renewed, and with “New Bremen” community spirit.
What were your challenges, goals, and ah-ha moments this summer?