Studying abroad: The opportunity of a lifetime

Welcome back to my blog! In my last post, I talked about my experience with the Track and Field Team at Penndale Middle School and how awesome the two coaches, Coach Brick and Coach Connors, were. This week, we’re going to transition from middle school to high school, and focus on a story that relates to an incredible opportunity at North Penn High School.

With that said, it’s time for my story about studying abroad. As a sophomore in high school, I was taking honors Spanish 3, and I really enjoyed the class. I came from having an incredible Spanish teacher, Señora Hanes, in middle school to having an equally amazing teacher, Señora Kriebel, in tenth grade. A few weeks into school, Señora Kriebel started telling the class about an organization called The International Friendship Committee, which is an exchange program that grants scholarships to a certain number of students each year to study abroad in countries like Germany, France, and Spain. This caught my attention; I absolutely loved Spanish, and studying abroad seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime.

There was one problem: my friend Nolan, who was also in Señora Kriebel’s class, wanted to apply to study abroad in Spain. This was a pretty conflicting situation for me, because since Nolan was my friend, I didn’t want to take the opportunity from him. After much thought, I decided to apply anyways. Nolan and I promised each other that we would be happy for the person who was selected no matter what.

As we attended informational sessions, completed the application, and interviewed for the one spot, my friendship with Nolan grew exponentially. We sat next to each other in Spanish and refused to be separated. Luckily, Señora Kriebel was okay with this seating arrangement. Every day we could be heard talking about Spain, who was going to be selected, what it would be like to live abroad, learn a new language and culture, and explore the unknown, and more.

Then, the day came. Decisions were being announced slowly throughout the day. When I was notified, I couldn’t believe it. I was going to Spain! I felt so grateful to have been selected to study abroad in Spain for an entire academic school year on a full scholarship, but then it hit me. What about Nolan? Shortly after, I was called down to guidance counselor’s office, where I found Nolan. I knew what it meant, but he didn’t. He smiled slightly and said, “I got it.” I basically jumped on him and yelled, “Me too!”

We left the office and did some laps around the building trying to wrap our heads around the fact that The International Friendship Committee had selected two people to go to Spain. Throughout the rest of the school year, Nolan and I couldn’t contain our excitement for Spain. We talked endlessly about the experience and were even fortunate enough to sit in on the AP Spanish class with another incredible Spanish teacher, Señor Vidal, to practice our skills.

Looking back, deciding to apply to study abroad was the best decision I ever made. I’ll never be able to fully express my gratitude to the International Friendship Committee for giving Nolan and I the opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you, IFC!

BEAST MODE! Remembering track and field from Penndale Middle School

Welcome back to my blog! Throughout my last post, I talked about my memories of Mrs. Roach, my third-grade teacher, from York Avenue Elementary School. Shifting to middle school for this post, I’m going to be focusing on a story from my experience at Penndale Middle School that not only exemplifies how my passion for education has been developed through my experiences there, but also communicates my appreciation. With that said, I’m going to be talking about being on the girls’ track and field team with Coach Brick and Coach Connors.

Looking for ways to get involved, make friends, and enjoy my middle school experience, I remember thinking that joining the girls’ track and field team would be a great idea, so I went to the info session and joined the team. As a seventh grader, I never realized how much of an impact that being a part of the team would have on me later in life. The coaches, Coach Brick and Coach Connors, deserve so much credit for all of the time and effort that they dedicated to the team, from the practices, the meets, and all the things they did in between that went unnoticed.

In seventh and eighth grade, I was a part of the team and a runner, and in ninth, I was a manager. Throughout those three years, I was fortunate enough to meet more people, build more friendships, and get to know Coach Brick and Coach Connors.

One of the best memories that I have from being on the team is from the “loop” that the distance crew would run around Penndale. Coach Connors always led the group of girls, and on one run, she said how we needed a chant to sing together. Soon after that, Coach Connors came to practice one afternoon with tiny white slips of paper that had a chant on it. Here’s how it went:

“Penndale is an awesome place

to compete with friends and keep pace.

We go Beast Mode at every race

cause Penndale won’t leave in disgrace.

So please bring on another repeat

to get me ready for the meet

My best time I will beat,

cause I do not know defeat.”

That chant has stayed with me since the first practice that Coach Connors introduced us to it. When I go on runs alone, I find myself repeating the chant under my breath, because it brings back so many great memories of running with such a great group of girls and being led by two awesome coaches.

In the third line of the chant, it says the words “Beast Mode,” and these words bring another great memory to mind when I recall the three years with the team. Coach Brick was unlike any other coach I’ve had; he genuinely cared about each and every single girl on the team, making everyone feel excited to be there. With that said, at practices and meets, we had a tradition of yelling “Beast Mode” as loud as possible. Describing the experience in words won’t do it justice, so I leave you with a video to end this week’s post:

York Avenue: Memories of Mrs. Roach

Throughout the course of the first semester, I wrote about my incredible experience at the North Penn School District in five posts. With the hopes of not only expressing my genuine appreciation for the education that I received, but also conveying how my K-12 experience helped me discover my passion for education, I mainly focused on broad subjects, such as York Avenue Elementary School as a whole or the NPHS staff collectively.

Within each of the five posts from last semester lie stories, and I think telling these stories will help convey how meaningful my experience as a student was. While this idea of storytelling might seem like I’m wandering from the idea of connecting each post to my passion for education, I can promise you that I’m not. Each story has stayed with me for a reason, and they remind me every day of why I am so passionate about education.

My blog format for this semester will follow the same outline as the last, but here’s a little reminder, since it’s been a while:

  • Post One: York Avenue Elementary School
  • Post Two: Penndale Middle School
  • Post Three: NPHS Classes, Clubs, and other opportunities
  • Post Four: NPHS Staff
  • Post Five: NPSD Organizations

With that said, it’s time for the first story from York Avenue. As an elementary school student, I was blessed with incredible teachers, like Mrs. Groth, Mr. Melchior, Mrs. Ferretti, Mrs. Roach, Miss Harper, Mrs. McGuire (I was lucky enough to have her two years in a row!), Mrs. Bryan, and so many more.

However, some of the most beautiful memories that I have from York Avenue are with Mrs. Roach, who was not only my third-grade teacher, but also a Penn State alum. In fact, one of her classroom management techniques involved her yelling, “WE ARE,” and the students responding with, “PENN STATE!” This was used to quiet the class down or get everyone back on task.

Mrs. Roach unfortunately passed away, but I think of her beautiful soul constantly. I think of how she would invite her sister, who we called Aunt Helen, into the classroom to bring us cookies from the bakery she worked at, how she was so passionate about the “Goin’ Buggy” play we put on, how she would brag about our class all of the time, how she sat us all down on the floor and explained some of the health issues she was having.

When Mrs. Roach passed away, an award, The Loli Roach Spirit Award, was created in her memory, and it would be given out at the sixth-grade awards ceremony by her family. When my time at York Avenue came to an end, I was fortunate enough to receive this award. I cherish the plaque with her picture on it and the crazy hat (She was known for wearing crazy hats, so this is a part of the award) that I was given.

As a third grader, I never imagined that I would be in the College of Education at Penn State yelling the same “WE ARE” chant that Mrs. Roach used in the classroom. Or that I would remember the red “Hot Seat” in her classroom that was used when a student was reading to the class. Or that I’d smile at the thought of the “Goin’ Buggy” play and all of the cute costumes we wore. Or that I’d recall the excitement I felt when Aunt Helen paid a visit. My memories of Mrs. Roach remind me of the beauty and lasting impression of a teacher.