Wednesday, April 4, 2007

In a big country

Okay. After searching Youtube for the past few minutes, I found it. One of my all time favorite songs by Big Country. Conviently, the song is called In a Big Country. While they may have underachieved with their song's title, they more then made up for it with the fact that they were able to make a Fender sound like bagpipes. Yes, they have risen to new levels of achievment.

Enjoy In a big country, by Big Country.

Leia Mais…

Monday, March 26, 2007


This weekend was exactly what I needed.

Saturday morning was nothing special. At eleven thirty I went to the Church to meet up with some people and then drove down to the Allred’s farm in Zebulon, about and hour and a half south from here.

Traffic was terrible. If I had not known that it was Saturday, I would have thought that it was just another day of the week on I75 south. Fortunately I was not in it that long and made it to my exit with no problems. We got to the Allred’s at about 1:30pm.

I spent the next couple of hours shooting skeet before I went back to the house to help grill lunch, which turned out really good. After lunch I decided to hang out in the cool of the living room and catch up on some reading.

At about 7:00pm we packed up and fought traffic all the way back but it was not so bad. I was totally relaxed, the weather was really nice, and the classic rock station was playing a lot of my favorites. In my opinion it only got better.

Well after I got home I went up to my room and then fell asleep around ten.

Thankfully Sunday was rather low key.

I woke this morning actually feeling refreshed which means it was a good weekend.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Today is Thursday. One week to the day since my interview with Special Education and ESL program at BYU. During the interview I was told that I could expect hearing from them in two to four weeks meaning that I have to wait.

This morning I was kind of stressed out about it. This is definitely my first choice when it comes to where I want to go to school this coming fall. But as the day went on, things got much better and by the end of the day I was doing very well and am now looking forward to celebrating my sister in law’s birthday this evening with the family and then hopefully going out with Lisa tomorrow night.

Well, until something interesting happens that is worth writing about I am going to go read the Old Testament. I am now in the third book of Moses aka Leviticus. I will let you know how it turns out.

Leia Mais…

Friday, March 16, 2007

A happy day

So yesterday I had an interview with the Special Education and ESL department at BYU. I feel as though it went very well. They asked me some questions to which I gave lengthy and detailed responses that they appreciated. Of all the things that they said, what they said made me stand out was my experience and determination. I felt really good about this.

Along time ago my mother said that she thought that I should go to BYU. At the time I did not think much of it, but now, perhaps she was being prophetic. There are so many things about going to BYU that make sense to me in both my heart and mind. But of all the reasons that I could list here, the most important one is that I want to go there. Sure, I have been accepted to programs here, but attending BYU would also allow me take part in other things that are just not available around here.

So now that the interview is done, I have another two to four weeks before I get either the thumbs up or the thumbs down.

But let us rejoice in this victory with the greatest German Disco group with the name of a medieval Mongolian warlord ever.

I give you Dschingis Kahn, anglicized Genghis Kahn.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Journal

Well, we are one month and three days in waiting for a response from BYU. A response could come from them tomorrow, or as late as sometime this summer. My attempts to find out when I will get answer either yea or nay have been ineffective and what they have said has not helped. Of the three times that I have contacted them, they have told me that in about a month I would have their answer. Unfortunately that month has come and gone and the mailbox has yielded nothing.

Lately I have found some things to pass the time. Of those things, writing a reflective journal of my mission in Northern California has been the most enjoyable. This has been a really good thing. I am finding that more good things took place on my mission then I remember. So far the journal is over twenty-two, single spaced, type written pages long. There is so much to be said, not simply in terms of recording events, but how I felt about those events then, and my thoughts on how they affect the missionary experience overall.

As I was writing this, I got a call from BYU. They wanted to have a phone interview with me this Thursday at 6pm EST. So this is a step in the right direction. I am going to do all that I can do to prepare for this interview. Hopefully it will go well.

Let's celebrate this development with some Arrested Development.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sad Cows

For some reason this video is really sad. I know that they are just paper cows, but it gets me. My favorite line is "warm light, on a winter's day." Poetic and profound in a way that I cannot express nor describe.

Enjoy Pink Bullets by the Shins

Leia Mais…

Monday, March 5, 2007

Indie Rock continued

I discovered this band while watching Current t.v., a station "dedicted to today's current lifestyle". Whatever that means. But the band is Minus the Bear. Their music is pretty complex, but something that I find relaxing and cool. This song is called Pachuca Sunrise. Enjoy them, please, as much as I do.

Leia Mais…

Indie Rock

Last year I got into independent music and have been into it ever since. I would describe indie music as stuff that's out of the mainstream, will recieve limited, if any air time on MTV and other music channels. It is not a definite thing and is more of a fluid then static genre. I give you Bloc party. Their album Silent Alarm is really, really good. If you like it, show your support of indie music by purchasing it. Keep music and creativity alive and put "The Man" down :-)

Leia Mais…

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Teachers that matter

Last Wednesday night was my first class in what will be a ten session, fifty hour, professional learning class entitled Teacher is a verb.

The first activity was the class was to divided into four groups and, as groups, collaborated to come up with as many verbs as possible that describe everything we do as professional educators in any given day. None of the groups came up with less then one hundred and twenty verbs.

One thing that stood out was that a new kind of teacher is needed now more then ever.

We went over some statistics from a recent journal study. If they are accurate then they are alarming. For example one out of six girls is likely to be sexually abused by the time she is eighteen years old. One in eight boys by the time they are eighteen will have sexually abused as well. Right now the percentage escapes me, but most kids, especially girls, will be sexually active or engaged in sexual activity by their eighteenth birthday.

Another sad fact is the homes that many of our students are coming from. In some houses children have been hit with empty liquor bottles, or spend the night cowering in a corner or closet out of fear that someone will either physically or sexually abuse them. But it does not end there. Many children, even in wealthier areas, are neglected by parents who are so career oriented that they forget about those who they suppose that their long hours at the office are supporting.

We also took a brief look into what foster children, an ever-growing population, face as they are shifted from home to home and having little normalcy or stability other then , “In a few weeks, I will be someplace else”.

Is it any wonder why the some of the disadvantaged struggle in school?

In short, it is a sad, grotesque, perverted, and violent world that is reality for many young men and women.

Alarmingly, many of the typical role models are no longer the standard that many youth look too. Everyone that I had as an example of success and productive living has been discredited as they are involved in scandals which then become fodder for the twenty four hour cable news channels, who count on sensational journalism to keep ratings high and keep the coffers of corporate sponsors full if not running over.

So what does all this have to do with teachers? Here are things that I have observed.

• The roles of teachers have dramatically changed in the past ten years.
Veteran teachers, these are not the same kids you taught when you started.

• Saying I don’t get paid to do this is not an option.

• Your students will not brook hypocrisy.

• Those that are in it for summer vacations need to get out because they will
not be the kind of teacher that today’s kids need.

• Most importantly, students need teachers that are will to offer, humanity,
mind, heart, and spirit to them if a difference is to be made.

This will be the first in a series of posts about what is needed in those who are going to be teachers today and in the future. I say in the future because it will probably get far worse before it gets better, if it gets better at all.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Happy Monsters

I saw this on my mission and thought it was both cool and funny at the same time. I was over at a member's waiting for a my new companion to arrive when this came on the tube. I guess that it was lost on the four year old watching it, but I thought it was great. Enjoy R.E.M. and the Muppets (My favorite part is when Michael says,"come on monsters, we don't have to be sad, we can be happy).

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finnish Disco Rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This has got to be the worst music video of all time. It is so bad that I just had to share it with the whole internet.

Leia Mais…

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ehrman and apostasy

I found this interview with Bart Ehrman online today. Ehrman is a biblicial scholar and Dean of the religious studies department at UNC Chapel Hill. While I don't agree with his agnosticism, I appreciate his candor about issues about how the bible actually came to be. If anything, the issues Ehrman presents indicate to me the need for Latter-day scriptures and a restoration. Not for the faint of heart. You may not like this.

Leia Mais…

Death Cab

The song Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorites. I heard this song on the radio and have loved it ever since. Here is an acoustic version that I am sharing with you. I hope that it moves you the same way it moves me.

A side project by the lead singer is calle the Postal Service. This song, Such great heights, was in the Garden State soundtrack and is pretty cool too. You might also learn something about how micro processors are made too !!!!!!!:-)

Leia Mais…

Season of Change

I had a sad thought today. I thought about what will happen to our students when we leave. Who will teach them? Will the new people be as dedicated as we are? Will they work as hard as we do to help them reach higher levels of independence?

We have accomplished so much with the two students that are here that one cannot help to think about these things. People, like us, who are dedicated to making the world a better place by helping the disadvantaged and disabled cannot help but feel this way about our kids.

From what I can see is that this transition will be much like a dear loved one passing away. It will be very painful at first, but I am sure that as time passes, and new people and experiences fill the void, it will get better until the departed loved one becomes a fond memory.

I was in Helen Georgia during October to see the magnificent autumn foliage of the North Georgia Mountains. Some friends and I hiked to Anna Ruby Falls. While leaning up against some rocks at the falls the wind picked up filling the air with swirls of bright reds, deep browns, and brilliant dark oranges set against a clear blue sky. It was then that I had the thought that while life is fluid and transitory, each phase is to be enjoyed and appreciated because that is why they are given us. Simultaneously though, a happy and productive life requires one to not only appreciate fall, but to move with seasons as they move and appreciate the good that comes with the winters, springs, and summers.

The preacher (the book of Ecclesiastes) said that for everything there is a time and season under heaven. How true this is, and how happy and sad it makes me at the same time.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Change for sure

It is for sure that things are changing. Today our department head informed our lead and another of our team that they are moving to the mild classroom that will open this fall. What was once something we only thought was going to happen is now a reality and come fall, things will be changing.

I am really okay with this. They have dealing with the challenges of a severe autism classroom and want a new to take on a new situation with the good and bad that will come with that. I don’t blame them because seeing what we have been through during the past two years, and knowing about what has happened in the past, their decision to move seems very wise. When it comes the safety of staff and the kids, there are some things that are just flat wrong no matter how others try to justify them.

It will not hit me that something great is coming to an end until the last day of school in May and we all have to go our separate ways, my friends to new work opportunities and me to wherever my graduate studies carry me. There are some people I know who have said that it would drive them crazy not knowing exactly what I will be doing six to eight months from now in terms of school and work. I don’t blame them.

On the other hand I have always been adventurous, always wanting to explore new places, meet new people, and have new experiences. For instance summer vacations were filled with wonder as my friends and I would ride our bicycles to the edges of our known world, exploring every vacant lot, wooded area, or local wetland that was in the Garden Home community of Portland Oregon.

After two very dismal and depressing years at BYU-Idaho, on a whim I filled out an application to BYU-Hawaii. I remember my mother thinking that I was joking around in filling out an application to attend school in Hawaii. Going to Hawaii was not just transferring to another school, but moving into a whole new world of cultures, possibilities and experiences that I would not have but when August of the following year rolled around and I got on that plane to Honolulu. It became apparent to everyone that I was totally serious about moving thousands of miles from Lawrenceville to a remote island in the middle of the Pacific.

The thing in life that I have learned is this; when I go with these impulses to have new experiences, to learn and see new things, it always turns out for the best. On the other hand when I stick with the status quo, misery generally follows. My happiness is in adventure. That’s part of who I am. I don’t think that I will ever be able to give it up. I also think that life does not end at thirty. It only ends when either you are dead, or loose that sense of wonder that drives you to see what’s in that stand of trees, or down the road.

I am definitely more of a Liahona Mormon. That’s who I am.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Keepin it together?

Something really funny just happened.

I signed for a professional learning class that was being offered through the school district that I work for. So today after school I went to Radliff Middle School, the announced location for the course.

After parking my car, I made my way to the media center where the class was going to be held and found a place to sit down. Seeing that no one else had arrived and that the class might be starting later then advertised, I decided to take advantage of the extra time to do some scripture study.

Forty minutes, a chapter from the Book of Mormon, and several sections from the Doctrine and Covenants later, I began to wonder what was going on. Were they running really late? Had they cancelled the class? With this in mind I checked my work email. Between the time I had left Brookwood and arrived at Radliff there was the possibility that the class had been canceled and everyone was informed by email of the cancellation. Sadly there were no new emails indicating a cancelation.

I remembered after registering for the class a few weeks ago I sent myself a message to my Gmail account with the class schedule. I pulled it up and to my pleasant surprise I was early for class, a whole week early. The first class does not begin until the 28th at 4:30pm at Radliff Middle, not the 21st at the afore mentioned time.

Stress must be getting to me. I usually don’t do this sort of thing unless there is a lot going on that is mentally taxing. Oh, well. I will just enjoy the night off and spend it at Institute class at the Mt. Park building.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A definite must see

I love Youtube. It has taken the place that Mtv2 and FUSE had when it comes to music videos. Here are some of my top picks.

This is Interpol. Their album, Antics, was my soundtrack up until a few months ago. This song, Evil, is awesome.

Radiohead is another favorite. I saw this video for the first time, at Craigos, a small pizza place that used to be located just off of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) campus in Rexburg. The song is called karma Police. I don't listen to them as much as I used to. Mostly when I feel nostalgic for the days right before my mission.

I almost went through the roof of of my car on the way home from work when I heard this song. I sat in my driveway until it was done to find who sang it and what it was called. The video is cool. Imagine Joan of Arc, meets Cortez or Columbus, meets the Donner party in an elaborate community or high school theatre production. I give you Phantom Limb from The Shins.

You have to take the time to watch these.

Leia Mais…

Dr. Who

I am big fan of Dr. Who. For those unaware, Dr. Who is a science fiction television series that has been in the public consciousness for over forty years. Best known for its' bad special effects, low budget sets and costumes, there is something endearing about this show that keeps me interested and entertained by the idea of an immortal who travels around the universe and through time, in a spaceship that is forever stuck looking like a British police call box.

It probably has to do with the fact that it keeps me young. Somehow it reminds of the sense of wonder I had as a child that oftend dies as we age and enter adulthood.

So sit back for a few minutes and enjoy the wonder that is Dr. Who.

Leia Mais…

More Change

So after having a good long weekend there is nothing like showing up Monday morning and finding that your student, who you were told would be starting at their new school, is still here. I have nothing personal against the kid, I understand the level of his disability and that he is largely unaccountable for what he does, but for crying out loud, can't people get their stuff together and just do their job? Honestly.

But on another and not completely unrelated note, a rather big development has been th
rown into this process of deciding on a career and graduate school.

Our team has been together for over a year and has had wonderful success with the kids in our classroom. But after what we have gone through with two students this year, and at least five others in the past, we have all been forced and weigh our options. A very significant factor that we have to consider is safety. When our kids loose their temper it is intense, and the potential for serious injury is great even when you are a 6'3" male (me), who weighs 260, who also has received assault, training and has extensive experience in how to deal violently aggressive behavior. Does anyone want to deal with the possibility of being seriously and even permanently hurt, while being an educator, on a daily basis especially when you are on your own at times? Collectively and individually we decided no.

Individually and collectively we are thankful for the wonderful opportunity we have had to work together, but are aware that malevolent forces beyond our control are putting all of us at serious risk, namely delusional parents and negligent behavior support specialists who are responsible for putting the extremely
violent kids in the public schools. We are also thankful for all the experiences that we have had, both the good and the bad that collectively is the wonderful year and a half we have all had.

Our lead was waiting for a sign what to do next year, and then it came. A position opened up in the form of a new mild classroom in our department. For her, it was the pillar of light in the grove. She took this as the sign. Because I was going back to school and another our team members will be student teaching next year, the remaining member of our team and our lead decided to put in for a transfer and move to the new classroom.

I am at peace with this. It is never realistic to believe that things will never change, that our best efforts, by themselves, can stop the relentless march of time or even change the world. If anything this has opened up new possibilities and has turned me on to things that I have wanted to do for years but never had the necessary confidence to even try. If anything it is for me a sign that it is time to

From all of this I have learned the importance of listening to promptings, responding to the almost imperceptible tugs and nudges, that many call providence. I never would have taken this job in the first place had I not listened to some profound prompting I had a year ago.

As Joseph Campbell put it:

It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.

Leia Mais…

Monday, February 19, 2007

Good things

A good thing might be coming to an end. After two years of working together our classroom might be splitting up during the fall of next year.

Gwinnett County Public Schools is having serious issues with its’ severe Autism program. Over the years teachers, administrators, and behavior specialists have given in to parent’s demands to keep their kids in regular schools instead of taking a stand and sending them to schools specifically designed to deal with sever behavior problems among the intellectually disabled. As a result some people have gotten seriously hurt, including me. Because of all this, the special education coordinator for the county, along with other teachers and administrators are going to look into the placement of every child with Autism and the appropriateness of their placement.

I guess that there is only so much that anyone can take. After seriously hurting my back in August of last year I have had to think about what my options are.

On the one hand I love my job. I get a great amount of satisfaction working where I am and really do enjoy my kids. On the other hand I don’t know who is floating around in the system, or what crazy parent is going to fight the system, and who is going to give in and allow their kid to be placed in a school where they could really hurt themselves or others. There are just too many unknowns right now and until things get sorted out, my coworkers are thinking that they should move on.

I don’t want to get carried out on a stretcher. And after seeing the size of some of the kids that could be place in my room, and considering the violent nature of some of them, perhaps now is a good time to move on and work on improving my employment in terms of how much I am making while doing what I enjoy.

It is clichéd to say that where one door closes, another one opens and so forth, but if accepted to grad school out west, I could also pursue my dream of becoming a Seminary or Institute teacher for the Church. In fact this week I am going to call my local coordinator to set up some student teaching and observations that could lead to a part time position in the fall. That would be great to go to school full time, teach seminary on the side and then have another part time job to pay for my car and other things.

Even though I will be sad if and when the work situation comes to an end, working with the people I have been with for the past two years and all the experiences I have had, both good and bad, have been worth it. The growth that I have experienced over the past two years is something that I would not trade. If given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would do nothing different.

It will be interesting to see what options I have come March.

Leia Mais…

Where oh where

After months of various stages of completion, all of my grad school applications are in and now the worst period of all has begun, the waiting period.

So far I have heard back from Piedmont College, where I was accepted, and need to schedule an interview with Brenau. Both are colleges in North Georgia and are relatively close to the Atlanta area. Then there are the Utah schools. BYU has just begun to review and process applications for both programs that I applied to and Utah State will not begin reviewing applications until March.

I figure that BYU will be the next school to send a response and then, last of all, USU will let me know whether they will accept my tuition money into their coffers or not.

So what will all this mean? It will mean moving somewhere. If I decide to attend Piedmont, I will probably have to move to Athens Georgia. This will mean finding a place to live, getting a new job, attending a new ward and so forth because commuting forty miles to go to school is not my idea of cost efficiency considering the high price of gas.

With Brenau I could keep living at home, but I feel that is not healthy. Most likely if I decide to attend Brenau I would move in with my friend from BYU Hawaii, Matt, and live somewhere down by Emory University in Atlanta.

Any of the Utah schools would mean a major move. Provo, if I decide to attend BYU, and living in Logan or close to districts that participate in USU’s distance learning program.

I am someone who likes change and enjoy new adventures and new places. I am also someone who can be happy pretty much everywhere though, and because I know what makes me happy location is somewhat irrelevant, just a real added bonus.

So check back in mid March to find out where Chris Rusch will end up this fall.

Leia Mais…