A little about me...
This fall I am taking a course through UNL called Place Conscious Teaching. One of the course requirements is to create and maintain a blog, so to save me a step or two I figured I would just use the blog I already have established!
A little about me and where I come from:
My name is Danielle Helzer and I am a 23 year-old English teacher, wife of three years, daughter, sister, aunt, and volunteer. My husband and I live in Ogallala, Nebraska with our two year old Cairn Terrier, Sampson.
New jobs brought us from Kearney out to the Cowboy Capitol a year ago. Previously we had lived in Kearney, Nebraska where I was attending UNK and substitute teaching at Gibbon Public Schools and Elm Creek Public School and my husband was in his second year teaching K-12 Vocal Music at Elm Creek Public School. Around our second year of marriage, I had joked around with my husband about moving out to western Nebraska. Being very family oriented, he had always said that he wouldn't move further west than Kearney...but here I sit in my newly finished basement in Ogallala, Nebraska!
To make a long story short, friends of ours were moving to Ogallala and had mentioned to us that the Vocal Music position at OHS was open. My husband, wanting to transition to a larger school, applied for the job in March 2008. As soon as he sent out his application I began looking for possible jobs. However, I had not yet complete my student teaching experience. In fact, I had just recently been assigned to student teach in Minden, NE. Nonetheless, the day after Nate sent off his application I attended the educator's employment fair at UNK and dropped off my resume to every booth whose representing school was in a 45 mile radius of Ogallala. Luckily, the principal from Perkins County High School in Grant, NE just happened to be looking to fill an English opening. Later that week my husband and I were making the two hour trek to interview for jobs. A day later we were offered positions. I remember getting "the phone call"...it was during one of my classes and when the principal offered me the job I danced up and down the halls of Thomas Hall (the English dept. at UNK).
Last year proved to be a rough year for me. Because I had not yet student taught, my first semester at PCHS was spent "student teaching"...basically I taught almost all of the classes I was assigned to while my cooperating teacher (a full-time sub and retired History teacher) got paid to supervise me. I had a massive load: Creative Writing, English 11, Practical English 9-12, Journalism, Yearbook and the asst. speech coach. In December I finished my student teaching experience, graduated, and began collecting a pay check! Though I enjoyed my time at PCHS, the class load quickly wore me out and I turned in my letter of resignation in March. I was blessed enough to be offered a job at Ogallala High School teaching English 9, Reading, and one section of English 12. Needless to say, I quickly accepted!
This year has been much better. I am enjoying teaching in the same town I live in and love teaching at the same school as my husband. I've gone from a small, rural, upper-middle class farming community to a larger district with a high percentage of free and reduced lunch and much more diversity. I'm still getting used to all of these changes, but they are welcomed and keep my job interesting.
Though I often long for big-city-life, over the past year I have grown to love this place. I love the movie theater that also houses a coffee shop. I love hearing the sounds of roosters' crows filtering through our bedroom window in the early morning hours. I love running the town's trail that winds through hills and is littered with cactus and yucca plants. I love seeing students at the grocery store. I look forward to Summer Indian Rendezvous every September where downtown is cluttered with food vendors, live performers, pep rallies, and other festivities. And I love visiting Arthur Bay to watch sunsets at Lake Mac. Many of my friends are occupying urban areas, but I am happy right here in Ogallala.
Tomorrow I will post my I Am From poem as well as a few of my students' I Am From poems that they have been crafting over the past few days!