I have been teaching languages for the last sixteen years, and I have seen and heard many weird comments during that time.  I have noticed that many people simply don’t appreciate the work I do.  To be honest, it makes me sad and a bit angry.

I have heard things like, “Speak English!” or “Why can’t everyone learn English?” too many times to count.  Think about it from my perspective if you can.  I am a professional paid to speak my second language—in this case Spanish.  I am paid to teach people as much as I can in the time allotted to me.  I have been trained extensively in the various methods to do just that, literally spending years staying current with research in my field.

When my students encounter me, I need to create the expectation of using the second language.  What that means is when I see students in town or anywhere else outside of my classroom, I like to speak to them in Spanish.  It activates what they already know and expands their minds to be able to learn even more.  They gain confidence when they are successful.

Sit back, be quiet and let me do what I’m trained to do.  It’s not my fault there is no official language for the United States.  It’s not my fault that students are required to take at least one year of Spanish to graduate.  It’s not my fault that it is harder for some students than others.  If you think about it, that could easily apply to math or science, etc.

What any teacher does is build background knowledge for life.  Our job is to combat ignorance.  A little support from the community would be nice.  Tolerance for other cultures wouldn’t hurt either.  You’re never too old to learn!

P. S.  To the community members who are always supportive, thank you so much!  You make the rough days easier.

Planting Seeds


My colleagues and I had an “event” today in a neighboring city, and we all expended a lot of time and energy to make it fun and successful.  I was hoping to be able to use my Spanish because I had invited several gals.  I didn’t get any takers this time, but I figure nothing grows unless you plant seeds.  That’s what I’m doing now—planting seeds as I invite ladies—and hoping for a harvest at some point.  That harvest may be in the form of business relationships or friendships.  Either way, I come out a winner.

Today’s event gave me a chance to practice what I’ve learned and look my best at the same time.  The cupcakes were a tasty bonus!



More Training

Firefighters always benefit from training, but so does the community.  The more efficient we are, the better our reactions in a real emergency.  For that reason, our fire department hosted an all-day training event Saturday.  Firefighters practiced SCBA skills, nozzles, search and rescue and live fire fighting.

I played a victim for search and rescue.  I felt a bit like I’d been typecast into the helpless female role, but I did get the chance to run back in to cause havoc.  🙂  Dan took this picture while I was waiting for rescue.


Below are some guys practicing with the nozzles while the chief gives pointers.  Patterns are important when attacking fire.  Some situations call for the straight pattern while others need the fog with a wider spray.  This practice is needed because in an emergency situation, firemen wear heavy gear that includes thick gloves.  The clicks are different and depend on the type of nozzle used.  Practice minimizes errors.



Driving Class

The Mullen firefighters (and ambulance crew) take training seriously.  After two nights of class room instruction (3.5 hours each night) at the fire hall, “driving day” finally arrived.  I’ll admit to being a bit nervous.  Most of the firemen have driven huge trucks for years, so I knew I couldn’t do any better than they would.  I also knew I was going to hear about women drivers forever if I screwed up even a little.  Nobody’s perfect, right?

Starting the course....

Starting the course….

My time to drive was 9:40, but I showed up early and brought my camera (of course!).  The state yard was full of cones.  To run the full course, the driver had to leave the loading dock area, go forward between the small cones, reverse all the way to the beginning, swing a wide turn and enter the “gate” which consisted of two tall cones.  After going forward to make a three-point turn, the driver would exit and enter the serpentine course.  The driver then had to go all the way to the end of the cones, reverse through them before completing the serpentine pattern going forward.  Reverse was the bane of my existence.  A tight turn was in order to make the next gate; after that was the lane shift.  For me, that was the easiest part.  An easy loop was next.  The turn led to the straight stretch and the stop.  Stopping at a cone that is not visible can be really tricky.  The driver was penalized for touching the cones in the course as well as for being too far away from the “stop” cone.  I was so proud when Josh measured only two inches between the truck and the cone!  The chief even gave me a thumbs up!  🙂  Josh actually had a tape measure for that purpose.

All of the drivers did a great job while having a good time!

Here's the stretch and the "stop" cone.

Here’s the stretch and the “stop” cone.

This simulated the loading dock at the end of the course.

This simulated the loading dock at the end of the course.

Driving a rig is hard enough, but when you can hear the guys laughing across the lot, it's nearly impossible to focus!

Driving a rig is hard enough, but when you can hear the guys laughing across the lot, it’s nearly impossible to focus!

Clean up was a snap.

Clean up was a snap.

The trainer's rig had plenty of cones.

The trainer’s rig had plenty of cones.



Fire-fighting Women

When I called and told my parents I had joined the local fire department, my mom said, “You WHAT?” The next question was, “WHY?” Her natural worry, of course, was for my safety. I can also understand her concerns for my younger daughter if I died in the line of duty. As one of two females on the fire department at the time, I sometimes asked myself why I joined too!

The guys have all been great. I never asked them to change their behavior or language for my benefit. I wanted to fit in with them, not change the dynamics of the station.

As you might expect, training is hard work. I really need to get in shape! (In my defense, round is a shape.) One man in particular (he knows who he is!) encouraged me when I thought about giving up. He made me climb a ladder, lock on and hang over the side. Did I mention I’m afraid of heights? This man was also the first to offer his congrats when I (barely) passed my live fire test! Thanks to all the firemen, I have learned so much. I still get the feeling that they have forgotten more than I’ll ever learn.

I look forward to fire school every year. I have been able to learn about crime scene investigation, anti-terrorism and so much more. The highlight so far was watching a good-looking SWAT team fellow blow things up! Who knows what I’ll get into this year!

I love fighting grass fire!

I love fighting grass fire!

Extrication training!  I got to break a window and cut off a door!

Extrication training! I got to break a window and cut off a door!

Vicky Earl, thanks for helping take pictures!