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Musings of an elementary school teacher excited about educational technology

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I found an apartment!

and it accepts ALL my fur babies!

It's within walking distance to campus, comes furnished, and includes parking.

I went to Boston last week for my school's open house and to check out potential housing. I only saw a couple of places, and I'm glad that one of the places ended up working out. I signed the lease and submitted the security deposit/last month's rent, so everything is looking good. That's one less thing to worry about. =)

Also, Boston is amazing. I love it. I am in love with my program, my cohort, and just everything. I'm seriously so excited.


So now it's hit me - this is for real.

I'm moving across the country to study at HARVARD.

If someone had told me this when I was a kid, I wouldn't have believed me. I was still in my mother's womb when she came to this country. We lived out of a car and in crummy motels. I even lived in foster care for a bit. I never would have thought someone from my background would achieve something like this.

I'm excited - no doubt about that - but I'm also starting to stress out. I am receiving some financial aid, which I am grateful for - but I'm still going to have to take out some loans to cover living expenses and whatnot. I'm also stressing out about the move there - are we going to be able to find a place that accepts 3 animals (turns out my mom can't watch my cat after all)? How is the move going to be on them? How will we even secure housing from over here? Do we have someone do it on our behalf? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

My boyfriend's parents invited us to stay with them during the summer so we can save up some money by not spending it on rent, which is awesome. The only thing is their place will already be a full house with five dogs, and my boyfriend's mom is allergic to cats. Now I'm frantically trying to find someone in the LA who can watch my cat during the summer. (if anyone out there can help, let me know!)

I'm going to the open house events this week so that will give me an idea of what Boston is like, and maybe I'll be able to talk to people who can point me in the right direction.

I know things will work out in the end, but I wish I had an answer to these things already.

Anyone who has done cross country moves....your advice is much appreciated!


As much as I love my cat, my mother is quite attached to him and begged for me to let him stay with her. I figured I might as well leave him with her so he can keep her company. She's going to need it.

So, as of now, it will just be me, the boyfriend, and the pups traveling to the other coast.

I've booked my flights for admit days and I'm pretty excited. I've never been to Boston so I'm eager to explore the area.

Every day I'm just like, "wow, this is actually happening. this is for real" but it still seems pretty surreal.



It would appear that my dreams were indeed accurate! Dreamt about a rejection from Stanford and got rejected from Stanford....dreamt about an acceptance from HGSE and I just found out I was admitted into the HGSE TIE program! AHHHHH!

The official freak out begins!

Where am I going to live? How am I going to pay for everything? What's my financial aid? How am I going to tell everyone at work?

I didn't even tell my mom I was applying! Now I need to tell her I'm moving across the country!

Oh my goodness.


I know for sure now that I won't be attending Stanford's Learning, Design, and Technology program.

I can't say I'm too shocked or hurt. I knew it was a long shot, and truth be told, my heart wasn't that set on the program.

I am really hoping for HGSE.

Last night I actually had a dream that I checked my email and saw the rejection email from Stanford. Today that's exactly what happened.

A few weeks ago I had a dream that I received an acceptance email from HGSE. What's crazy is that my boyfriend also had a similar dream.

I know today was probably just a coincidence but I'm really, really hoping my dreams are a glimpse into the future.

But, you know, I'm also being real.

Regardless of the outcome, I know I'm ready for a change and will be starting my own adventure, grad school or not.


Here are some pictures of Walter (the puppy I got a few weeks back) and his recent adventures. Gordie makes a few appearances as well. And nope, these guys are not related to each other:








I know it could be any time between this week and the end of the month that I hear back from the programs I applied to.

I've been trying to keep busy but I've been going nuts. I don't like to read into things but I find it crazy that my boyfriend and I both had the SAME dream of us traveling in the car with our 3 animals across the country to Boston.

Anyway. I'm glad I have my furry friends to keep me company, regardless of the outcome.

I know I'm going to make a change in my life...I just don't know in which direction. It's pretty insane not knowing, but I guess that's what makes it an adventure?



I've always had such a hard time maintaining a work out regimen while going to school/working. I don't like getting up super early, so working out before work/school never happens. By the time I'm done with work/school, I'm too exhausted to go.


Granted it's only been a week but I've been going to the gym 5 days now, and don't people say it takes 21 times for a habit to form? So if I keep at it, eventually it'll become a habit. Or so I'm hoping.

Anyway, basically all this pent up anxiety was driving me nuts and I'm finding exercise is a great way to feel better about this whole wait-and-see-if-I-got-in-anywhere situation. I'm starting to feel more energetic, too.

If I do happen to get into a grad school (and even if I don't), I hope to maintain this exercise thing.

How do you all maintain (or struggle to maintain) your work outs?


I guess this is just what comes with the whole process of grad school applications.

I'm doing my best to stay positive but I am constantly filled with doubt about how I really measure up to other applicants.

I wonder why I even put myself through this in the first place and how all the money I spent could have been put to something else.

Sometimes I think maybe this is just a defense mechanism. If I have low expectations, I won't be disappointed if I'm rejected, and will be extremely happy if I'm accepted.

I wish I could just forget about all this for a while and not remember until the admin decisions actually come out.


All my apps are submitted and all my LORs got in. It turns out one of my writers was sick with the flu and he got log jammed with early semester work.

Now just comes waiting for the next few months to hear back. However, working as a teacher, I have found that time passes by so quickly. In the classroom, anyway.

In other news, a meeting today solidified my decision of wanting to leave my district. There's been many charters opening up in our district, and our enrollment been declining. Our district's solution? Change our elementary schools to K-8.

If one of the benefits for having a K-8 is stronger teacher-student relationships, what does that matter if teachers leave? Our district has terrible teacher attrition rates, and a K-8 isn't necessarily going to solve that. People are leaving our district because it sucks. Charter schools are selling an idea - we'll get your kids to college! Our schools? Um, yeah, nothing close to that. My district's solution isn't really addressing the larger issues.

Anyway, this meeting was one guy talking for 20 minutes straight about why we should build a K-8 but having no next steps. Then he opened it up to people and was like, "Well, we're getting together because we want to know your thoughts on it." His answer to everything was "well, there's no real answer to that" or "well, that's an interesting question." Then, he ended it with, "well, I'm not really sure of the next steps, but, next week is the board meeting and I urge you all to get a proposal in."


I'm so fed up with the ineffective leadership. There's so much talk but no vision or action. I want to be somewhere where people actually know what they're doing, or at least have a good idea of how to get where they want to be. I want to feel like I'm valued and that I'm actually making a difference. My district makes me feel completely frustrated.

Chances are I'm getting pink slipped again anyway, so why bother going through the same crap I've been through the last couple of years? Even if I do get called back, I'll most likely end up starting somewhere new again...this is, again, my 4th school in 3 years. (My district is notorious for sending out a ridiculous amount of pink slips each year, and then hiring teachers back and then some. Essentially, spending tremendous amounts of money on paper and in hiring processes.)

So whether it's going to grad school or working at a different district - who knows. But I'm done here. I just can't with this anymore.


Today is the deadline for Stanford. My app is in and I am just waiting on one LOR. I had asked my letter writer in November, and he agreed - he just asked me to send him reminders as the deadline approached.

Well, I've been doing that....every time I log on, though, it says 'has not started' next to his name. ;__________;

I'm hoping that I'll get an email at midnight or something letting me know it got in...just like another of my LORs did for the TIE program.

Another one of my LOR writers submitted a letter and then sent me a copy of it after. It was an amazing letter - only my name was spelled wrong all throughout.

At this point all I can really do is shake my head and accept it.


I'm lucky that I have a job to keep me busy throughout the week. I'm already in the midst of assessments and preparing for parent-teacher conferences.

On my down time and weekends, however, I find myself compulsively checking my email and these forums. I know March will be here soon enough, but right now, it seems so far away.

I've recently started pushing myself to go to the gym on a consistent basis in order to de-stress and get in shape. When I don't get around to going to the gym, I watch random shows on Netflix.

I've also been crocheting here and there. I have so much yarn in these plastic goal is to start using it up.

Here are some of my various projects:


This beanie was originally meant for my boyfriend's sister's baby (who is due to come in about a month, give or take) but it was too small. I put it on my cat.


A (bigger) beanie and baby booties.


These are shark booties I made for her baby.


This was a shark baby blanket/pouch thing....her mom asked me to make one for the baby shower, as it was shark themed. (my boyfriend's sister really likes sharks).


This is it in use at the baby shower....

Sometimes I wish I could make a living off crocheting....


Back to work...

I've enjoyed my two weeks of holiday vacation. Alas, it has come to an end, and tomorrow it's time to return to work...

I love my job but it's definitely hard adjusting to a regular work schedule again. I bet it's just as tough for my kiddos. I am anticipating reviewing rules and procedures...two weeks is a long time for 4th graders...

On the bright side, my applications are done and submitted. At this point, there's nothing I can do except wait and see how it turns out. It brings me back to my senior year of high school, anxiously waiting for 3-4 months to hear back from schools.

I'm going to remind myself that if I don't get in, it's not the end of the world. I will have a job at least.

I'm also excited to get to use the 3D MakerBot Printer we received through DonorsChoose. It's going to be so much fun.

To anyone who is still on holiday - enjoy it! To anyone returning to reality, I feel your pain.


Pets and Grad School

One thing I've been thinking about lately is how my pets would handle the move across the country, if by some chance I actually got into HGSE.


I've had Pirate (the cat) since I was in high school and have had Gordie (the dog) for about two years. I think Gordie would adapt more easily, as he's used to going on road trips. He's experienced snow once, too. Pirate, on the other hand, would take some time to adjust. He's never seen snow; I wonder what his reaction would be.

I also wonder about the cost and how difficult it would be to find housing. It took forever trying to find an affordable place where I currently live, as many of the apartments aren't pet friendly or charge an exorbitant fee for pets. I can understand a pet deposit but monthly pet rent? Really?

If it came down to it, I know I could trust family or friends to take my pets in for a year. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that, though. My pets are my responsibility and it wouldn't be fair to anyone. I'd like to have my pets with me, too, as they're my support system. My boyfriend would be coming, too, so they would have that extra someone to look after them while I'm in classes.

Has anyone with pets experienced this? How did it work out?


I was panicking the other day about my LOR coming in late. I had notified my writer in November, and had sent polite reminders. Around the end of December, I was really freaking out when I received a response saying she was out of town but would work on it when she got back. It hadn't been submitted yet. Today I received an email notifying me that Harvard app's deadline was extended to Monday (it was originally tomorrow), so I breathed a sigh of relief. The LOR should be on time now.

Now, I'm just having severe moments of panic and self-doubt regarding the rest of my application. I've spent so long on my statement trying to perfect it, and while I'm currently pleased with it, I can't help but wonder "what if it's still not good enough?" Then I think, "what if I'm not good enough?"

I know it's not the end of the world if I get rejected. I can always try reapplying later, or say screw it and find another way to pursue my goals. It's just the thought that after devoting so much time, effort, and money into applications, it would sure suck to get a rejection.

I guess I should just take a deep breath, hit submit and get it over with.


Introduction and Stats

I figured before I delved into my journey I should provide some background information.

I'm currently an elementary school teacher at a Title 1 district. I love being in the classroom, but I aspire to be an edtech coordinator/technology specialist. I'm really passionate about education and technology, and my dream job would be supplying urban schools with technology and training educators in using it effectively.

(I come from a low socio-economic background, and this is why I want to work with this population of students.)

My original goal was to be a multimedia journalist. I do enjoy story telling, however, I felt I wasn't making as much of an impact as I wanted to. I wasn't really passionate about my work as a journalist, and felt something was lacking. I don't regret it - I learned some valuable skills - but I really didn't see myself working in that field.

During my undergrad career, I volunteered as a technology instructor at a local high school. I would bring in flipcams and laptops, and would facilitate workshops where students created their own digital stories. This is where something clicked and my journey as an educator began.

I became a teacher through Teach For America. In retrospect, I do wish I had gone through a more traditional route to become a teacher - I would have been better prepared to meet the needs of my students. At the time, however, I had already taken out loans for my BA. I didn't want to go back to school to get into even more debt. I was ready to get out and do something. TFA seemed like a viable option.

So here I am. In my time at this district, I've been pink slipped once and excessed twice. This isn't became of my performance as a teacher, but rather declining enrollment and a poorly managed district. In my three years, I've been at four different schools. It's really exhausting and frustrating, and more than anything - it's terrible for students.

The one thing I've enjoyed is working at my last two schools. They have a 1:1 device program (iPods and iPads) that they were able to implement with some grant money. I've learned a lot about the possibilities of edtech, and it's been pretty awesome trying new things out.

The downside is the poorly managed district. We have this amazing technology at my school but we're limited in how we can use it. Our district is very reluctant to adapt to the changing times. It's hard to get anything serviced or updated. They do not trust teachers with technology, and everything must be done through the IT department. However, the department takes its sweet time and even then, is not always familiar with the technology. It's things like this that makes me want to move on beyond the classroom - I think it's absolutely ridiculous that things like this are happening.

I do have an MA in Urban Education. However, I feel I need to learn more about educational technology in order to accomplish my goals. I know I'm applying to really competitive schools but I figured it's worth a shot. I'm really passionate about multimedia literacy and empowering students with technology.

Undergrad Institution: University of Southern California

Major(s): Broadcast and Digital Journalism

Minor(s): Digital Studies, Interactive Media and the Culture of New Technologies

Overall GPA: 3.43

Master's Institution: Loyola Marymount University

Concentration: Urban Education, Policy and Administration

GPA: 3.97

GRE Scores (revised version): .

First time: V: 155 Q: 151 AW: 4.5

Second time: V: 160 Q: 148 AW: 4.5


Teacher of the Year, 2013

Honors in Multimedia Scholar

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Elementary school teaching, tutoring/mentoring, experience with technology and 1:1 device programs, volunteering in schools

Special Bonus Points:

First generation low-income minority, TFA alumni (maybe...I know it's not really respected by everyone)

Applied to Where:

The Technology, Innovation, and Education program at Harvard Graduate School of Education

The Learning, Design, and Technology program at Stanford Graduate School of Education

My Application Concerns:

GRE scores, undergrad GPA

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