Monday, March 11, 2013

Solitude Experience

In order to experience "solitude" over spring break, I took a day off of technology - my phone, computer, television, etc. As I was telling my family about the little assignment, everyone began badgering my sister about doing it, as well, considering she literally does not put down her phone. So, she too, decided to do it with me. I actually turned off my phone around midnight last Friday night and kept it in my purse. I made it through Saturday around midnight without turning it back on, but did notice a couple key things and reflected upon that.

First, being home around my family, I found it near impossible to avoid all technology, because it is just constantly surrounding us. For example, my brothers were watching television, so every time I walked in the room I was basically like "Oh wait, that's technology." Additionally, my parents played music not only in the house, but in the car; again, that's technology. I did actually use our house phone to call my grandma to thank her for my birthday gift. (How could I not call my grandma?!) My sister and I also went out for a bit during the day. Keep in mind, we did have our phones in our purses, just in case! I found myself about three times actually reaching into my purse to touch the circle button on my phone. Habit? I'm not sure, but regardless, how crazy! We were waiting at the nail salon, and after we both sat down, my sister turned to me and said, "So, now what?" Ha! We laughed it off not being able to take out our phones and check Facebook, but how crazy is that! Instead we talked. Weird!

Overall, it is crazy to think about how much technology has affected our society. We truly do not know how to disconnect and just be. However, just this past Saturday, my sister forgot her phone at home for half of the day, but she survived! I honestly really liked not having my phone, etc for the day. It was nice to be able to put my attention 100% into conversations and the people around me. I would not exactly consider it solitude because I was surrounding by people all day. But, the feeling of freedom from technology was definitely enjoyable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


After reading Chapter 5 of Paul Loeb's book Soul of a Citizen, I feel as if he is trying to say that regardless of what others think, things are not just going to happen on their own. If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen! Much like Vanessa German claimed in her presentation Wednesday, there is no "they". You cannot just live life thinking, "Oh, they will come up with a solution to that problem." There is no they! If you want to see something happen, you have to do it for yourself. And I truly do believe that one person can make a difference. As for my personal passion project, advocacy is huge. Advocacy for public education is a large catalyst for making any sort of reform. Children, especially those in public schools, need people to speak up and advocate for them. If educators, parents, families won't stand up for children, then who will? In my lifetime, I really do hope to see some drastic change in our public education system. Every child has a right to a great education, and I know, for sure, that I will do everything in my power as a teacher to make sure that happens for my students.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Love Front Porch

After viewing the Love Front Porch website, I feel very inspired by the organization! I think that Vanessa's motivation to expand and just be there for those children is wonderful. It also seems that she has such a positive attitude. Even with all of the negative things that happen in her community, she still tries to turn it into a positive. As far as the website is concerned, I think it is constructed well. The pictures and paragraphs really tell the story well and kept me reading to find out more. She also has a lot of great social media, including a video, Facebook, and Twitter. For improvements, possibly the site could try to be more outrageous or create a buzz in order to really grab the attention of more people. Finally, a question that I would have for Vanessa: Where do you see your organization in five years?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Personal Manifesto

For our readings this week, we were assigned a chapter in the text Sevice-Learning Companion. We had to read Chapter 3: Becoming Good Citizens. In this chapter, Duncan discusses creating a personal manifesto. This is a simple way to narrow down an underlying issue in society and try to decide how you can personally make it better. To create my own personal manifesto, I decided that our society is too busy and stressed. People simply fly through life and worry about every small detail, including myself. I think that stress management is a key life skill to have. I think the best way to get on the right track toward achieving this skill it to just relax! I created five tenets to try to live by for a week. These tenets included:

1. Don't dwell on all of the things I need to get done.
2. Walk a little slower and take in my surroundings.
3. Go to bed earlier.
4. Reflect for atleast 5 minutes a day.
5. Try to not take medicine for a stress-related headache. Find another solution i.e. workout, etc.

To be completely honest, some of these tenets were easier to remember than others. I found myself forgetting about the assignment really because I was so busy! :/ But! When I did remember, it was definitely nice to take my time walking to class, kind of taking in my surroundings a bit more. I did go to bed a bit earlier, which was also very nice! However, I cannot recall one time when I actually took five minutes to simply reflect. Overall, I think the assignment helped me de-stress a little. Maybe if everyone took some time to simply take things a little slower, our society wouldn't be so busy and stressed??? 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Book Analysis

After reading Waiting for Superman: How to Save America's Failing Public Schools, I am left feeling slightly discouraged, yet hopeful about our public school systems. To begin, the authors of the non-fiction piece start with discussing the problem of our education system; simply that too many children are being left behind. Especially children from lower-income families, the education system is failing them, resulting in drop-outs and uneducated children. The book discusses the making of the film, which was actually made before the book. Then, the book is a mix of introductions to stories of five different children who are being failed by the education system and excerpts from various professionals. They offer a variety of solutions to the current state of our education system, including: charter schools, better teachers with more accountability, more student involvement, and a focus on global learning. The editor closes the book by calling to action teachers, parents, students, and concerned citizens by listing a variety of steps they can take to help improve the public education system.

In addition, I read the article The Myth of Charter Schools to get a counter viewpoint from the collective views of the book. This article really stressed the idea that charter schools (privately run schools where children are given admission by lottery system) are not a solution to our public education issues. In fact, it highlights that 37% of charter schools are worse than public schools, 46% of charter schools have the same academic gains, and only 17% of charter schools are proven to be better than public schools. The author of this article believes that our education system needs to improve its teacher force. The article ends as the author expresses his gratitude towards our American education system where no one has to win a lottery to be accepted, much like that of a charter school.

Obviously both sides agree that our education system is in trouble. However, after reading opinions from both sides of this highly debated issue, I have come to determine that I do not think charter schools are the solution to our education system. Yes, charter schools do work well for some children, but they leave a ton of other children behind, as well. However, overall, I think the book truly did highlight some of the main issues in the education system. It also offered a variety of plausible solutions. I think this book was a great beginning to my personal passion project, and I plan on utilizing all of the information I have learned in order to fully investigate and try to advocate for our public education system!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Consultant Projects

For our Consultant Projects for LOT, Leaders of Tomorrow, our class will divide into four seperate teams to complete various tasks. These teams include: Grant Organization Plan, Fundraiser, Social Media Marketing, and Print Media Marketing. I would like to work with the Grant Organization Plan Team! Although I am not very familiar with the grant writing process, I would definitely like to learn! I think it would be something that could potentially be good for me to know in my future as a teacher working with various organizations, etc. My second choice team is the Fundraiser Team. Again, I think planning and executing a a fundraiser would be beneficial experience for me to have before I begin working in a classroom. If I am on the Grant Organization Team, I hope to be able to contribute a lot of my time to fully researching any possible grants that would benefit LOT. I am hoping that once we find these available grants another Carlow course could complete the process by writing the grant if we do not have enough time, which has been done in the past. One strength I think I will be able to add to the team is my organization skills. I like to think that I am a very organized person, and I think this skill would help keep all of our research together better. On the other hand, I think a challenge that I might face will come from my inexperience with the whole grant process. However, I know my professors will be more than willing to help! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Personal Community Innovation Project

For my Personal Community Innovation Project, I think I would like to read Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools. There was a film produced based off of this book, so you may have seen it. I did not actually see the movie, but I think this book is going to be very interesting. I hope to get a better idea about the causes of failing public schools and what can be done to prevent this from occuring because I think that children and their education is such a prominent and important issue in current times. In addition, I plan on looking into articles that may present a counter viewpoint, such as opinions on the parent trigger law and other school options, such as the voucher system. I will keep you updated on my reactions to the book as soon as I begin reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

After reading some of the articles assigned, I have discovered a few different perspectives concerning the education of African Americans. From Black Student College Graduation Rates, it was great to see that the graduation rates of black students are improving. However, it is sad to learn that there is still a large gap between black and white graduation rates and not much is being done to bridge this gap. It was also interesting to read that a lot of the colleges with higher gradution rates tend to use programs, such as mentoring, to assist African American students with their first college experience. Likewise, Debunking Education Myths about Blacks listed a variety of steps that could be taken to get African American students on track towards graduating. For instance, counseling, mentoring, and interships, are just a few of the strategies listed for helping to improve these graduation rates. I am excited to begin this partnership with LOT, Leaders of Tomorrow, this semester. I am very interested to see some of the strategies they utilize to help today's youth succeed in high school and pursue higher education. Overall, I am excited to begin this networking experience and working with others for a good cause!


Hello! My name is Mary Conley, and I am a senior early childhood education major at Carlow University. This is my first time blogging, so please bear with me! I plan on using this blog to reflect my thoughts and feelings about a service learning course, Community Innovatin through Networking. I was a little nervous about this course at first, but I really think I am going to enjoy working with other people and completing projects that actually matter! During our first class, we completed an activity to try to narrow down various topics that we could use for our personal community innovation projects this semester. I definitely am interested in children and their education. I was thinking possibly something about failing public schools in our nation but am still trying to narrow it down...