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Annandale, Virginia
Social Studies teacher with 2 years experience as a substitute, 1 year as a student teacher, and 6 years of volunteer work in various roles. I specialize in differentiated instruction, data driven curriculum, and authentic assessment. A New York State certified teacher, I graduated from Fordham University with an MST degree and high accolades. Finally, I hold membership with Kappa Delta Pi and NCSS as well. It is my intention to grow student confidence and widen content knowledge for students of all backgrounds, cultures and abilities through modeling literacy comprehension, critical thinking and communication skills. I believe each and every student is a valuable asset to the learning community, capable of achieving academic success. I am able to lead these young people to such success. Please click on the links on the right to learn more. You can also email me at I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Astronaut Armstrong recalls moon landing
July 20, 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The first man on the moon marked the 40th anniversary of his historic achievement with characteristic understatement Monday, calling the program that put him on the lunar surface "a good thing to do."

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong joined crewmates Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin at the National Air and Space Museum, capping a day of commemorations that included a stop at the White House. During brief remarks at the museum, he said the mission was the climax of a "staggeringly complex" endeavor that "required the very best in creativity, determination and perseverance that could be assembled in the American workplace."

"Those successes were very impressive 40 years ago, but they were not miraculous," Armstrong said. "They were the result of the imagination and inventive minds of the people in the Apollo project since its inception eight years earlier."

The July 20, 1969, moon landing followed four test missions and came just two years after a fire that killed the first Apollo crew. Six lunar landings followed. A seventh flight, Apollo 13, was forced to abort its landing after an oxygen tank explosion crippled the spacecraft; the crew used its lunar lander as a "lifeboat" for much of their harrowing return to Earth.

Armstrong called the Apollo program "a superb national enterprise" that "left a lasting imprint on society and history."

"Our knowledge of the moon increased a thousandfold and more," he said. "Technologies were developed for interplanetary navigation and travel. Our home planet has been seen from afar, and that perspective has caused us to think about its and our significance. Children inspired by the excitement of space flight have come to appreciate the wonder of science, the beauty of mathematics and the precision of engineering."

He concluded, "Apollo was a good thing to do."

While fellow moonwalker Aldrin appeared on an episode of "The Simpsons," wrote a memoir that frankly discussed his bouts with alcoholism and depression and once punched out a conspiracy theorist who argued the landing was faked, Armstrong retreated to quiet obscurity after leaving NASA. He taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio in the 1970s, was chairman of an aviation computer company until 1992 and served on the commission that investigated the loss of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

He has given only occasional interviews in the intervening decades and stopped signing autographs because he discovered his signature was being sold for profit.

Collins, who flew the Apollo 11 command module Columbia while Aldrin and Armstrong took the lander Eagle to the lunar surface, went on to serve as director of the Air and Space Museum. Columbia is now a prize exhibit at the facility.

Earlier, the crew met with President Obama, who hailed them as "genuine American heroes" and "the touchstone for excellence in exploration and discovery." Obama said the landing continued to inspire young people to study math and science in hopes of becoming astronauts.

As a boy in Hawaii, Obama recalled, he would go out with his grandfather to welcome back astronauts from missions that concluded with Pacific Ocean landings.

"I remember waving American flags and my grandfather telling me that the Apollo mission was an example of how Americans can do anything they put their minds to," he said.

Later, at the museum commemoration, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Apollo "fundamentally changed how humankind views its place in the universe."

"What you achieved will never be forgotten," Bolden said. "Centuries from now, future generations will remember it was you -- you -- who took humankind's first steps beyond our planet."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska's governor, raising speculation on 2012

By Chris McGreal
Friday 3 July 2009 23.02 BST

Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate who electrified her party's campaign last year, has resigned as Alaska's governor in a dramatic decision that has fuelled speculation she is positioning herself to run for president.

But after an at times rambling speech in which she compared herself to battle wounded American soldiers in Kosovo and said only dead fish go with the flow, Palin's critics accused her of a "flaky" decision and walking away from her post.

Palin, who built strong support among conservative Republicans as John McCain's running mate last year, said she will step down in three weeks because she can contribute more away from politics.

"We know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities," she said.

But Palin also hinted at continuing political ambitions when she repeated a quote she attributed to general Douglas MacArthur: "We are not retreating, we are advancing in another direction."

For someone who is supposedly stepping back from politics, Palin's resignation speech was weighty with policy specifics which prompted speculation that she is positioning herself for a 2012 presidential bid or seeking another office which would move her from distant Alaska to the heart of Washington politics.

But the timing, coming during one of the biggest American holidays of the year, independence day, raised questions among some of Republicans who accused her of attempting to escape falling poll numbers in Alaska as a series of economic problems and ethics investigations take their toll.

A prominent Republican strategist, Ed Rollins, who directed Ronald Reagan's election campaign, said Palin had made a serious mistake.

"She was a shooting star who dimmed in recent months and now she's crashed," he said.

Another Republican strategist, Tony Blankley, disagreed and said Palin appeared to have made a smart move to position herself for a run for president.

"It looks like she's moving down a path toward it," he said. "It frees her up. The normal rules don't seem to apply to her. She's a fascinating character who seems to do things her own way."

Blankley said that it makes sense for Palin to resign as governor if she is seeking higher office.

"This is going to be a pretty tough time for incumbents the next couple of years in America with everything going to tell and this may be a pretty good time not to be in office," he said.

Blankley also said that Palin faced particular difficulties trying to juggle a national campaign with being government of Alaska.

The geography is bad for her because it is several time zones and the better part of a day's travel from Washington. That limits her ability to maintain her profile by dropping in on important campaign states for short visits to whip up backing for a run for president. Quitting as governor will give her an opportunity to travel and court the Republican base among which she retains considerable support. Palin will also need to spend time in the capital developing relationships with key Republican strategists.

Palin remains a front runner among Republicans nationwide as a potential presidential candidate.

But other Republicans were more critical including John Weaver, a long-time confidant of McCain.

"We've seen a lot of nutty behaviour from governors and Republican leaders in the last three months, but this one is at the top of that," Weaver told the Washington Post.

Palin's resignation was swiftly criticised as "flaky" by her Democratic opponents who said it was part of a pattern of "bizarre" behaviour.

The Democratic National Committee said she is "leaving the people of Alaska high and dry ... or she simply can't handle the job now".

The timing of the announcement on the eve of independence day led some critics to accuse her of trying to bury the news of her resignation. But given that almost nothing else was going on it might have been a move to dominate the news bulletins as it forced Michael Jackson's death from the top slot.

"Some are going to question the timing of this, and let me say this decision has been in the works for quite a while," Palin said.

Palin addressed the numerous ethics investigations launched in to her alleged misuse of office by saying that taxpayer money was being wasted and deriding them as part of the "superficial political blood sport" against her since she shot to prominence as McCain's running mate.

Palin will hand power to her deputy, lieutenant governor Sean Parnell. The next election for Alaska governor is in 2010.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Senate Deadlock Hits New York Schools

Wall Street Journal Online
July 2, 2009

New York City officials scrambled Wednesday to re-create a system of school governance that hasn't existed in seven years after a deadlocked state Senate failed to renew the mayor's control over public schools before a Tuesday deadline.

For three weeks the state Senate has declined to tackle controversial bills, including one that would have renewed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's control over New York City schools. Without that approval, the city was forced to revert to its 2002 system, hastily choosing a city school board. But there are no provisions in place to establish such entities as local school districts, creating a situation, the mayor said, in which the city could be accused of running the schools illegally.

The state senators -- locked in a 31-31 tie after two Democrats defected and then one returned -- have repeatedly met in their respective party conferences only and then adjourned, since neither party has enough votes to make law. For a while the crisis seemed to have minimal impact beyond exasperating government officials and amusing political pundits. But now the Senate's refusal to agree on its leadership is starting to hit cities.

In addition to the school-control legislation, the Senate didn't vote on Mr. Bloomberg's request to increase the city's sales tax, depriving the city this month of $60 million -- roughly the amount the city spends to employ 600 police officers, the mayor said. The gridlock also is threatening billions of dollars in federal grants, state aid to municipalities and tax increases that would have balanced local budgets.

Gov. David Paterson has obtained court orders compelling the Senate to meet, but most days it has been unable to get a quorum of 32 senators in the room at the same time to vote. Wednesday, as he has every day for nearly a week, the governor ordered the senators into a so-called extraordinary session, asking them to consider, among other bills, the New York City schools issue. The senators have rebuffed his pleas.

Gov. Paterson said Wednesday afternoon that he would keep the special session going through Monday, compelling the senators to spend the holiday weekend in Albany.

Early Wednesday, the mayor and the city's five borough presidents appointed a seven-member schools board, made up mostly of allies or employees of the mayor -- and thus likely to vote to disband itself should the Senate eventually affirm his control.

Some who oppose Mr. Bloomberg's control are scrutinizing the newly created board, questioning its resolution Wednesday to allow Chancellor Joel Klein to approve all contracts on its behalf.

"I don't know if they have the right to sign away...their fiduciary duties," said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, an advocacy group that is critical of mayoral control.

The state Legislature allowed Mr. Bloomberg to take control over the city's schools in 2002, after city officials argued that the politically divided board of education had failed to improve school quality. The mayor has argued that schools have improved, with better standardized-test scores and graduation rates.

But Mr. Bloomberg's control has drawn the criticism of some parents and many teachers, who say the system leaves no room for the views of community members.

The state Senate is considering a bill to create a school board that, supporters say, would make teachers and parents partners with the mayor. A key Democratic Senate leader favors that setup.

Senate Republicans said they support renewal of mayoral control "and are prepared to pass it as soon as possible," said Scott Reif, a spokesman for Sen. Dean Skelos.