On to CA History

Civics was easy (having already studied it last week as part of US History), so I moved on to California History.  I was a little worried that the teacher edition study book that I had borrowed last week was only one book of three in the collection.  I hadn’t seen the material in books 2 & 3, which is everything past the Gold Rush of 1849.  My wife assured me though that she never taught California History past the Gold Rush.  So why then are there books 2 & 3?  What I now had available, since I had returned the teacher book, were the Cliffs notes from the CSET booklet.  I studied those, and wouldn’t you know it, there is precious little after the Gold Rush.  Anything beyond 1850 that had to deal with California was also adequately covered in US History.  With this revelation, I took the practice test… and got a perfect score.  Gee, I guess I don’t need to study California history any more.  Since I also did well on the Civics and Economics practice tests, I should pass this third of my required test subjects next week (World History/Geography and US History/Geography being the other two areas).

Study and schedule concerns

Gaa! My brain is leaking!  I just looked over a world history test, and I have no recollection of anything I learned two weeks ago.  What was once my strongest subject going into this lengthy study session is now perhaps my weakest area.  US History is now (temporarily?) my strongest subject.  Today, I did a whole day on Economics (and just why is Economics a part of history?) and got an OK grade on the practice test.  Tomorrow, I’ll spend all day on Civics.  Saturday will be California History and Geography.  I guess after that, I’ll need to study World History again and hope I don’t lose any of my recently built-up US History knowledge.  Somehow, I must retain all these different sub-sections going into next Saturday’s test.

Now that I’m in NHU, I have been given an appointment for scheduling my classes (next Wednesday).  This meeting should go quickly; I only have a few classes to choose from.  Right out of the gun though, if I don’t take two particular classes this quarter, I won’t be able to graduate by next summer.  There is actually a third class I’d like to take immediately, but it requires that I pass my CSET test in history.  I might pass the test (I’m counting on it!), but I don’t see how I can get the scores into the NHS office by the class start date, and they certainly won’t be ready by my scheduling appointment next week.  Looks like I’ll have to take that class later.

My other scheduling concern: two classes are considered “introductory,” yet the earliest I can take them is next spring (having just missed them because they were offered just before I joined NHU.).  Will this mean that I can’t do my student teaching until I’ve taken these two intro classes?  I sure hope not.  My classes would then extend into next school year.


Yeah, I got in!

Next up, more studying; I recently started watching three excellent video series.  I finished one over the weekend, and now I’m sort of committing to completing the other two before the big test.  Downside of doing so: it commits me to 3.5 hours of viewing a day right up to the test if I am to watch every episode.  I probably won’t watch every episode.  I also need to continue my book studies, and I easily have two weeks of material to read, but I also want a few days to review.  In other words, I’m going to be extremely busy studying for the next two weeks!

Getting the paperwork in

I didn’t get a ton of studying done today because I made two trips to NHU.  The first trip was to turn in all my paperwork, save one letter of recommendation, which hadn’t found its way to me yet.  When I got home, that letter had arrived, so I drove back to deliver it.  Danny at admissions said that the decision to admit me would come tomorrow.  I sure hope I get in!

Though sort of unintentional, I became obsessed with finding the perfect schedule for the coming year (creating two hours of wasted time if I don’t get in!).  What I discovered… if I’m allowed to take certain classes in a certain order, I can indeed get through this program in exactly one year and be ready for the 2013-14 school season.  This is FAR from guaranteed – a lot of stuff has to go right over the next year – but it does give me hope.  Danny did say that some have accomplished this feat, though it is rare to do so.  It would help if NHU published its class of schedules for the whole school year, but they only do so one quarter at a time.  I used last year’s records to fill in the rest.

There seems to be a special situation where I can both become a teacher and work towards my credential.  If I can pass my CSET test, and if I can get permission from the district (based on need, and at my wife’s school, there is a need), I can become an intern teacher for up to two years.  I should pursue this… once I pass my CSET test.  I guess I should study some more!

Focus-draining carrots

Yeah, I got to the end of the book and the end of the lecture series.  That was enough! (It took me until 4:30 to complete.)  I had no time for the Cliffs US history books.  I would say “maybe tomorrow,” but thanks to my friend Kristi, I now have a teacher’s edition of a CA History book.  I’ll pour over that over the weekend, then give it back to her so she can give it back to the teacher she borrowed it from.

Last week, Julius pressed me for a job.  This week, Bob has done the same.  And from what I understand, Trevor called a few days ago, no doubt wanting to see what’s going on at ASD (and to see if I’m free for a job perhaps).  Gee, I guess I shouldn’t have changed my LinkedIn status to “formerly at ASD.”  It made me available.

While I am appreciative of the interest, it’s not where God wants me to go.  God’s clear on that, and I’m clear on that.  It feels weird to turn down jobs, but it’s also the right thing to do right now.  These job offers merely attempt to take my focus off of my goal of teaching, and I simply can’t let that happen.

Now, when I’m settled in college, and I know my schedule, then I can start to consider employment that works within that frame.  I can’t take a full-time job right now, and I don’t want to commit the bandwidth on jobs that do not pay now, and likely never will (as I suspect both Julius’ and Bob’s jobs would be).  I did that last year, and I cannot do so moving forward.  Trevor’s job would want me to work 60+ hours a week.  Consulting still seems like my best option, as it provides flexibility.

Larry, Lance and studying

I got from the Civil War to WWII today in the textbook.  The 8th grade text doesn’t cover WWII at all!  I was surprised by that.  No doubt, the subject is covered in High School.  This might somewhat explain why I thought Vietnam was WWII for so long as a youth (until I started living on Guam – as a WWII site, I could hardly avoid the history!).  Maybe the powers that be feel that WWII history is too harsh for K-8.  I also went from the Civil War to the Wilson Era on the video lecture series.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish both video and text, going up to modern day, and then I have some US History Cliffs Review books to study before taking a practice AP US History test.  We’ll see just how much US History I’ve retained over the week!

Both weird and sad news today: Lance Armstrong, a personal hero of mine, is giving up his fight against the USADA and their doping charges against him.  Lance will likely be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, but more importantly, it will likely lessen the donations to his LiveStrong foundation, which fights cancer.  That’s the sad news.  The weird news: Larry Ellison has just purchased 98% of the island of Lanai (Hawaii) from the Dole conglomerate.  He inherits around 4K inhabitants, several restaurants, a gas station, two luxury resorts and a whole lot of scrub-grass (formerly the world’s largest pineapple plantation) and several beaches.  The previous owner wanted to plant windmills everywhere and make Lanai a power plant.  Larry likes the quiet seclusion of the place, and may not install the windmills.  No one (maybe not even Larry) knows what he will do with the island.


I actually did not start on Civil War and beyond today.  That’s where I ended with my video lecture series yesterday.  Before I got too far into US History, I had one text book that I wanted to delve into.  I started reading the 8th grade US History textbook (teacher edition) which put me back to the founding of America.  I chose this book because the teacher notes in the book include all the California Standards that must be taught.  To my way of thinking, if California demands that these particular items are taught, there is a good chance that they will also be on the California teacher test.  This book will help me with my breadth of study, and possibly help me answer some of the “depth” (essay questions on the test), should I get lucky.  I did the same thing last week by reading the 7th grade World History teacher’s edition text, which I found immensely useful.

What I liked about the textbook is that it sort of takes a break after the formation of the Constitution to actually go through the Constitution.  I was going to do this next week anyway as part of my Civics study, but doing so now helped me understand some of the history that happened after 1787.  As new things happened, they would change the Constitution, or attempt to change the original intent of the document, much like we continue to do today.

After a very full day of reading and studying (I went through three pencil leads in my mechanical pencil!), I am back to the Civil War in the textbook.  Tomorrow, I will be that “hole” I talked about yesterday – events from the Civil War to WWII.  Now that I’m up to the Civil War in the text book, I can read beyond the Civil War tomorrow and then reinforce what I’ve learned with the video lecture series.  I had done the same thing last week with a lot of success – combining book study with lectures really works for me!


A Hole in my US education

Today only confirmed how much I don’t know about US History.  Unlike last week, when I was bouncing through World History exclaiming, “This is easy!”, I’m now faced with the reality that I really didn’t study or pay attention in class.  I remember clearly NOT liking US History in High School (or more correctly, the US History teacher), and then showing up only three times for my US History class in college (first day, mid-term, and final – Hey, I got a B in the class).  I have not taken a US History class since.  The only recent exposure to US history classes/texts came last year when helping my daughter through 8th grade US History.

Recently, my dislike of US History, or rather my clear preference for European/World History has changed due to a few years of purposeful travel.  For about 20 years, I spent most of my travel dollars on Europe, but starting in 2006, I started traveling domestically again.  I had avoided US travel for so long because I had “seen it” growing up.  As a kid, we lived in California, and my grandparents lived in New York so every year, we would drive across the country and back.  I remember seeing lots of desert and lots of corn and nightly KOA campgrounds and not much else.  To me, this was “America,” and America was boring.  After discovering Europe as a historical playground, I thought that maybe America might have something to offer as well… except that it was such a “baby” nation, so there was little chance that anything interesting could have happened here that wasn’t trumped in some way by the really old history of Europe.  Then I went to Washington DC.

At first, I went to DC because I didn’t have enough money for Europe or Peru.  I was really stressed at work and travel relieves that stress so my loving wife allowed me to go someplace.  I thought I had $5K in my travel budget, but I only had $500.  My brother lived in DC, so I went there and stayed at his house.  Washington DC was fantastic!  After six days in the city, I had not run out of things to see or do; and it was all so wonderfully historic.  It really turned me around.  When I got home, Barb and I started visiting California Missions (later that year, I went to St. Louis, and as a family, we also went to NYC – all were fantastic and historic).  We then went to Hearst Castle, a place I had absolutely loved as a kid.  It was magnificent!  In 2008, we visited DC again, along with Philadelphia and Mt. Vernon (Washington’s home); this time as a family.  More wonderful history!  That same year, during a family reunion, we went to Gettysburg, Harper’s Ferry and Antietam and learned about Civil War history.  That was so cool that last year, we took a trip to Mystic, Plymouth, Quincy (John Adam’s’ house) and Boston.  I began to understand how these different cities interrelated during colonial times.  This year, we started in Florida and went up the coast just to see some of the Southern historic sites (St. Augustine, Charleston, Jamestown/Williamsburg & Monticello {Jefferson’s home}).  With all this recent travel, I feel well-prepared for early US history, but not for anything past the Civil war.  I have traveled in Europe and Asia, so I get WWII, Korea and Vietnam; the big hole in my historical knowledge is from the Civil War to WWII.  This is the period I’m studying for the next couple of days.

Friendships yield real issues

I got up way too early today and it affected my entire day.  There was no amount of coffee that was going to keep me awake.  It didn’t help that I was studying US History and Geography today; two subjects that I am a little less passionate about (but have gained appreciation for in recent years due to a couple of east coast trips).  I started studying in a “fog” and sort of stayed there.  By the time lunch rolled around, I was sleepy, yet buzzed on coffee.  I did not feel well.

Lunch today was with some of my old ASD friends.  We talked business (of course), and a little about hearing God’s message for our lives.  I have heard God’s clear message for my life (teach!), but Julius has not, and it’s concerning him.  He has been through several positive interviews only to get shut-out at the last minute.  It’s a real trend in his life right now.  He needs money, and hates staying at home with nothing to do.  I see it as God directing him to that perfect job.  He’s a little frustrated at the moment, not wanting to wait for the perfect job.  Because he doesn’t currently have a job, he has enrolled in SJSU’s MBA program.  Perhaps this is where God wants him.  Jeremy recommended that Julius read Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” in addition to his daily Bible studies.  I couldn’t’ agree more.

I also found my dear friend from Scotland (Andrew) on Facebook over the weekend.  He replied this morning and I posted his most recent purchase on my Yellow Car Blog.  I put it there because he bought a midlife crisis car – a Porsche (Boxter) Spider RS60.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that his wife was diagnosed with cancer in January and died in April.  She was so young!  Andrew’s family and my family are about five years apart.  The loss of Catriona really hit me hard.  She was a school teacher just like my wife (and Andrew is a layout engineer, just like me).  His two kids are now college age (whereas both of mine are in high school).  I feel sad for Andrew and his kids; they all relied so much on her.  Andrew says he is trying his best to adjust, but I have to believe that he’s really lonely right now.

Anyway… Once I got back from lunch, my kids arrived (first day of school was short).  It was a little noisier in the house, so I opted to watch some college lectures on US History rather than attempting any book study (That and Courtney was obsessing about finding a homework assignment online that didn’t exist – the teacher never posted it.  This sort of thing generates a lot of drama.).  Jeffrey and I both fell asleep by the end of the first half an hour lecture.  After a nap, I was able to watch two more lectures before calling it a day.  It was nice that the lectures complimented what I had read earlier in the day; it allowed me to understand all that he was saying.

Seems to be the place

Today, I went to the open house at National Hispanic University (NHU).  I did not know what to expect, but everything far surpassed what I had envisioned.  The staff is dedicated, motivated and passionate.  The students are held to a high standard and are encouraged every step of the way.  The class sizes are small, personal, and everyone is treated like family.  The facilities are new, up to date (technology-wise), and absolutely spotless.  It’s a pretty exciting place!  Even before the first session started, I had several staff/faculty people approach me, shake my hand, and talk to me.  It made a powerful first impression!  One guy in particular seemed interested in my desire to teach at this institution.  He gave me the name of the HR manager, and asked me to call her on Monday.  Later on, I discovered that the man I was talking to was Dr. Lopez, the President of NHU.  The guy was so personable!  The only downside (to me anyway) is that there is no opportunity to get a teaching credential in under a year, and 100% of all credential classes are offered in the evening.  In other words, I cannot go to class in the daytime, which would be my preference, and I can’t choose more than two classes every six weeks, because there aren’t more than two available every six weeks.  It will take me 1.4 years to graduate.  This is still faster (and cheaper) than SJSU by 2x, but it doesn’t help me achieve my goal of getting my credential by next summer.  Looks like I won’t be credentialed to take over that 7th grade class at my wife’s school next year.  No doubt, God wants me somewhere else.  I will trust Him and move forward with assurance.

The presentations were pretty good today, as was the catered food.  Instead of attending the last session, I asked for a tour.  That tour turned out to be a gold mine!  Alex, the young I.T. guy who guided me around, is a recent grad of NHU.  He and I went through the three floors of the campus, and he was able to answer all my questions.  On the final floor, I met Prof. Mooney (English) who had spoken in the general session.  He’s a real positive and likeable guy.  I mentioned that I was going into the credential program, to make myself more “hirable” as a teacher, but that my actual desire was to teach at the college level, and that I had applied at NHU.  It turned out that he is on the interview and hiring committee for the Art Appreciation position I had applied for.  He asked if I had online/computer skills and I answered in the affirmative.  He said that there is a pretty long vetting cycle that happens before my resume hits his desk, but if I get phoned or interviewed by anyone along the way, I was to make sure I mentioned that I was computer savvy.  From what I can tell, there is only one other “Art” teacher on campus, and I’m not even sure he’s still here.  I might be applying as his replacement (a guy who attended and graduated from SJSU in Art History after I had).  Prof Mooney said that NHU had every intention of quickly adding Art History classes to its schedule, so if I got hired now, I could be in an area of expansion.  He didn’t say this, but I felt he was hinting at a possible full professorship for those who stuck around.  Right now, Art History is strictly Adjunct (part-time, no benefits).  In other words, if I get hired, and if I don’t go broke as an Adjunct Professor after 5 years (the typical period before anyone is considered for a tenured position), I could land a rare full-time, tenured position.  Now that would be cool!  Alas, he also mentioned that because NHU is now a part of Laureate International Universities, they would likely be looking for PhD degrees for their full-time staff.  I have no desire to get one of those degrees right now, so I might have to look elsewhere… or get that degree.  With an MA, and five years as an Adjunct Professor, I could seek full-time positions in community colleges elsewhere, but I would most certainly have to move.  The kids would be out of the house by then, so moving is a possibility.