this is the amount of money i borrowed to earn my degrees: $114, 005.43

and according to salliemae, I’ll pay back this much: $223, 119.73

i have a b.a. in english that it took me 7 years to get b/c i was a dumb kid with my head up  my ass for awhile, and i finished at a small private school.  i have an m.a. in english that–though my tuition was free since i was a gta–i had to borrow money to complete b/c i only made $600/month for my teaching.  and i have a teaching credential that cost me roughly $36k in private loans, which repay at a higher interest rate.  why did i get provate loans you ask?  i had to.  i had exhausted my loan eligibility for federal funds.  

so june 28th, 2008 i start paying back these loans to the tune of $845 a month.  A MONTH.  i owe this much money because fining the job i love took me a long long time.  and now i have it, and it will financially cripple me.  

 

viva la american dream.

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money…dead weight

October 7, 2007

so after a great weekend (friday night seeing dad play in westport and hanging out with mom, b, & t, and saturday going to the ku/ksu game and watching a great snl) i decided this morning to get my finances in order. i’m trying to be healthier, to be more positive. to put my world into the empty frame on the wall and paint it the way i have always seen it. in my mythical world i am healthy, i am at a comfortable and livable weight, i work hard at making sure the people i love know i support and cherish them, i aspire to inspire the kids i work with and the people around me, i spend my days reading and breathing and giving everything i have to the world so that when it comes back to me i can know i deserve good becuase i have put good into the world, money is never a concern because i am good at my job and compensated accordingly.

but then the truth looms. all the beauty and glory and possibility in the world flies out the window and are immediately shot by a money grubbing hunter hell bent on destroying my dreams. you see, today i updated all my student loan information and learned that my b.a. in english, my m.a. in english with an emphasis in creative writing, and my teaching credential cost me a whopping 107 k. that’s right. $107,000. now, i wanted to pass out and die, but then i realized that this money lead me to my passion, my career, my calling. the thing i feel meant to do, the place in the world where i know i can make a difference. so, ok, it was worth it. surely i can pay it off and i’ll deal with it. until i saw not all my loans were consolidated. the private loans couldn’t be consolidated with the federal, so now my monthly payment sits at $1200. monthly. you have got to be EFFING shitting me.

i’m working on fixing it, but really, lets get serious: education in this country should be free, especially to people who decide to teach or work in the arts. we are the ones ensuring the progression of culture and existance, we are the ones moving society forward through intellectual and creative expression and expansion. personally, i think education should be free for EVERYONE, just like healthcare should be free for EVERYONE. some might call mine a socialist point of view, so be it.

from wikipedia:
“Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community[1] for the purposes of increasing social and economic equality and cooperation…As an economic system, socialism is often characterized by state or community ownership of the means of production.”

if socialism could knock out my student loan debt, make sure my parents & everyone i know has health insurance, and do something towards moving the largest amount of wealth in this country out of the hands of so few, then bring it on.

moving right along

February 2, 2007

the last few weeks have been incredibly humbling. knowing how to teach freshman composition has prepared me in some ways to teach high school, but there is a whole school of fish i have not encountered before and they are the apathetic and/or could give a crap students. i want to say to them “this is where it starts, the road to who you will be, let’s make sure you have all the tools to be successful and help you to know who you are and what you want and what you believe in.” maybe that is too pollyanna.

also, i was evaluated this week by my supervising teacher. she is so knowledgable but i often feel disheartened after speaking with her because, though i need to hear the criticism she gives me, it often feels less constructive than it could. i don’t think she dislikes me in any way, but feel she expects a lot out of me, and while that is a very flattering thing, it would help to hear a little praise once in awhile, even if it is only “hey, you knew the kids’ names!”

and for the record, four days of pre-reading is too much. stick with two. i followed a hopelessly unrealistic plan and the kids were OVER IT. we started reading “to kill a mockingbird” yesterda and they would have been ready on tuesday. it is one of my favorite books so i hope we have a good time with it together.

nest week i start sailing up the river with the funky and foul finn, huck that is. i cannot stand this book, but it is part of the curriculum so i will wear it well, the albatross taht clashes with all my other accessories, until we can move on to modern poetry, and e.e. cummings. this is the poem he wrote that we used in our wedding, and i love it so:

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

so much to do

January 27, 2007

here’s the deal.  i have a large amount of work to do but all i want is to sit here and play on the internet, order shoes from old navy and sweaters from vickie’s secret, watch the re-cast of nashville star, and slack around til the ku game comes on at noon thirty.

i have a huge mess spread all over the floor, all my materials for teaching.  i’m trying to plan a unit on huck finn for accelerated students and one for lower level students, as well as a midsummer nights dream plan for sophomores, a persuasive paper for sophomores, a literary analysis for juniors, and a unit on boxing films featuring rocky, million dollar baby, and cinderella man for lit and film class.  SO MUCH TO DO.  and, oh yeah, a modern poetry section for the juniors based on frost, hughes, and cummings.

can’t i just nap all day and pretend i’m still a carefree grad student, ready to party at any turn?  guess not.  at least the kids are great, and i really do love the thrill of being with them and sharing the learning experience everdyay.  that may make me a nerd, but i don’t care.  go ku!

gifted and angry

November 21, 2006

we talked a lot in one of my ed. classes today about gifted and talented kids, and it occurred to me taht on one level or another all of my friends fall into this category.  here is a definition from www.nagc.com (national associateion for gifted children)

“The current federal definition of gifted students was originally developed in the 1972 Marland Report to Congress, and has been modified several times since then. The current definition, which is located in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is ‘Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities’…”

there are some hallmarks of gifted kids and, surprisingly, one happes to be anger or frustration at feeling different and out of place in a general education classroom, or in their chronologically equivalent peer group.  i find this fascinating.  i was definitely an agry kid, often feeling more aligned with adults than kids my own age, constantly trying to make bigger connections than the ones my teachers illustrated.  i’m not trying to say “check me out, i’m suzy smart socks,” i’m just intrigued by the notion that my anger was related to upper level intellectual and creative capabilities, and not to a crazy hormonal imbalance or something. 

here’s a list of characterisitics of creatively gifted students, but there are other area as well, like general learning and visual, etc:

Creative Characteristics 

Gifted children’s creative abilities often set them apart from their age-mates. These characteristics may take the following forms: 

  • Gifted children are fluent thinkers, able to generate possibilities, consequences, or related ideas. 
  • They are flexible thinkers, able to use many different alternatives and approaches to problem solving. 
  • They are original thinkers, seeking new, unusual, or unconventional associations and combinations among items of information. 
  • They can also see relationships among seemingly unrelated objects, ideas, or facts. 
  • They are elaborate thinkers, producing new steps, ideas, responses, or other embellishments to a basic idea, situation, or problems. 
  • They are willing to entertain complexity and seem to thrive on problem solving. 
  • They are good guessers and can readily construct hypotheses or “what if” questions. 
  • They often are aware of their own impulsiveness and irrationality, and they show emotional sensitivity. 
  • They are extremely curious about objects, ideas, situations, or events. 
  • They often display intellectual playfulness and like to fantasize and imagine. 
  • They can be less intellectually inhibited than their peers are in expressing opinions and ideas, and they often disagree spiritedly with others’ statements. 
  • They are sensitive to beauty and are attracted to aesthetic values. 
  • my husband, my brother, ben, erin, jason, dannah, etc. etc. the list just keep going, all the people i am close to seem to share so many of these characteristics, but hter are no federal mandated programs for gifted kids, and a lot of them are seen as having some form of disability because their boredom in class results in acting out and/or lower grades.  they get bored and they tune out.

    so how do we reach gifted kids?  how do we get them to value their potential and not be afraid of success (another hallmark)?  i don’t know the answer.  experiences outside the classroom can help, conferences, camps, and the like, but what about in the classroom?  i hope to work hard to do right by these students, and to give them all they need to be successful.

    the plugged in generation

    October 24, 2006

    i have to respond to something i read on a friend’s blog:
    “18-22 year-olds today do not know how to be alone. In fact, I think they’re afraid of being alone. I think they are probably mostly afraid of looking like a dork because they are alone.” –ejbilling.wordpress.com

    i agree with my observant friend and must inform those of you who don’t know the rest of the premise for this comment, she was observing ku students with ipods, cell phones, and borderline obsessions with facebook and myspace. it isn’t just that students are afraid of being alone, i think they do not know how to be. for many of these students a television set or a computer was the defacto babysitter, even when mom and dad were in the house. or video games took the place of actual interaction with friends.

    when i was a kid (and now i sound like every old fart who ever started a story about anything) but when i was a kif my brother and i had all kinds of opportunites to be alone, or to create our own fun. he played his drums, built huge cascading lines of parachute men throughout his room that would bombard anyone who came in, and created elaborate mazes and forts in our home and yard. i remember dancing around my room to debbie gibson and billie joel songs, a hairbrush in one hand, practicing for stardom, and living out my fantasy life with barbies who wore clothes my grandmother had made herself. by hand. from scratch! and when we played together it was often with neighborhood kids who came to our house to put on skits and shows in the back yard, or to play baseball or kickball between our yard and the schraders’ (who lived across the alley behind our house). we had two whole yards as a field and we were entertaining ourselves, without technology.

    the plugged in generation has lost social graces, the ability to see themselves as less than the center of the universe, and yes, the ability to spend time alone, but i’mnot sure it is their fault. we have to use technology to it’s best end (and obviously i think blogging is a pretty sweet action way to use technology). we have to use it as an enhancement of life, not as a replacement of it.

    finally, i don’t necessarily think kids are afraid that being alone will make them look like dorks; i think they are afraid to really know themselves and admit that they are dorks. everyone is a dork. i have said this many times and i’ll say it again: i took myself way too seriously when i was younger. everything was life or death, the original drama queen, i hung onto the faint whispers of would-be relationships and created wedded fantasies from them. i believed someone who was nice to me was my frined and someone who wasn’t hated my guts. i was a study of extremes and then one day i woke up and said “Shannon, you are a giant nerd. A dorky girl who likes books and Woody Allen movies and you spill things on yourself and make up lyrics to songs on the radio and you fall down a lot and if somebody is going to spill something at a party it is probably going to be you…and that is OK!” i accept my giant dorkiness, i embrace my nerdom. and when i am alone i am jsut as happy with that as i am in crowd, because i know myself, and the plugged in generation isn’t still enough to get the chance to.

    Just a few things

    October 23, 2006

    i’m pretty thrilled to be rollin with this man. i had a long weekend with the rents while he studied and played world of warcraft, yes, my husband is a gamer, and when i got home yesterday we had dinner and went about our separate business. i have to say that we spend a lot of time in the same place (our apartment) but not necc. together, and it works for us. we are a matched set, equal in so many ways and complementary. i am grateful for him and thankful to him everyday.

    ———–

    there are so many people who get married, rush to have kids because it is the “next step” and then settle into lives and jobs they never examine. my brother and i were talking abotu how most of the people we went to high school with have become (or always were) complacent, apathetic automatons living a life that is more going through the motions thatn self discovery and exploration. i hope that i can be more engaged, more intrigues and impassioned about the world around me than those who share a common history.

    people in the arts, writers.actors.artists.poets.directors.musicians, have a broader picture, seeing the world as a blank page, a silent space, a waiting arena upon which to play. brandon and i talked about this, too, how americans don’t play enough. we work and work and struggle and strive and forget what it’s like to be silly and unfocused and simply unproductive. i do not have to be actively marching towards a career goal to be a good person. if i want to sit at my coffee table with crayons and a coloring book and forget about the stress of my life, i do it. if i want to write stories or poems or sing songs or dance around my living room or in the aisles of department stores, i do it. i find i take myself far less seriously now than i did when i was sixteen, and i think it is because i realize that my worth does no hinge on others’ perceptions of me. i hope more start to feel this way.