3.02.2017

New Rule

New Rule: politicians, media, and/or anyone taking about politics will stop using the word: LIE (n) - "a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth." We can just assume politics and lieing are synonymous and move on. We will not waste our energy on lieing and people that lie. It's an assumption. Now we are free to focus on "positive and productive" endeavors..........

2.12.2017

They say

Love the skin you're in
Or bolt
Through a crowd where you're stuck
Did you explain
That's not where you were supposed to be
Bad timing
Bad day
Bad week
Bad memories
Bad decisions
Good heart
Good hands
Good mind
Good intentions
Does it matter to you now
Will it matter to you when
You are older
You should know by now
Your soul hasn't walked away
So experienced yet naive
You shouldn't be here

I didn't write this but I feel this

 

When heroes let you down

 

11.29.2016

Catharsis: Top 5 List - reasons to opt out of politics on Facebook:

Catharsis: Top 5 List - reasons to opt out of politics on Facebook (And be a happier person)

1. It's too easy to post what you think and too hard to unsee what others think (balls of steel and hearts of glass)

2. Two wrongs don't make a right and two rights don't make a wrong (no winning)

3. There's only 2 types of people in this world... (division)

4. I like to keep my friends close (and I don't have enemies to keep closer)

5. Being judgmental helps no one (it hurts people)

11.09.2016

Nativism & the American Dream: An origin story

Disclaimer: This blog entry has nothing to do with the president elect, Donald Trump. I wrote this for a former student who asked me to write about my personal immigration experience for a US history assignment she got in college. The timing is merely a coincidence, I assure you!

I've always been fascinated by the stories of my ancestors and was excited when my former student and close friend asked me to lend my voice to this topic. I am happy to share my personal experience as a first generation American on my dad's side and 3rd generation on my mom's side. My father was born in Mexico in 1939 and moved to the USA when he was 9 years old. He and his family officially petitioned for citizenship in 1952, but his immigration story began with his parents 20+ years earlier.

When my grandparents sailed to the US from Poland, they were denied admittance into the port and were told that they didn't have to go home but they would not be allowed into the United States. On their passports, their ethnicity was listed as "Hebrew" because they were of Jewish decent. I'm positive that their religious heritage and undesirable Eastern European ethnicity was the reason why they were put back onto a ship to anywhere but the US. During the 1920's the US government passed a series of immigration policies which legalized racial and ethnic quotas and selectively closed borders to many. Mexico, Canada, and Barbados were my grandparents' viable options and they went to Mexico where they became legal citizens. The Ribakowsky family spent 20 years moving from town to town and my Poppy sold pots and pans door to door until they finally settled just north of the Texas/Mexico border.

My father was not born an American citizen but he couldn't be more of a patriot. He got a green card and eventually became a naturalized citizen when he was in high school. His agreement to join the US army came with a promise of citizenship. He and his parents became legally American in San Antonio, Texas where I was born and raised.

My mom is a second generation American and her family moved here from Russia (present day Ukraine) via Germany in the 1880s-1890s. To say the least, they had it rough back in mother Russia! They were escaping the pogroms and anti-Jewish nativism. In fact, my great grandmother was said to have been hid in a barn in Kiev for several years like Anne Frank, but at the end of it, she escaped to the land of opportunity where she had religious freedom and a job in a hat store. The US did not have laws against the Jews or ethic quotas at this point. This was before the Red Scare and before pseudo-scientific notions of racial superiority against Eastern Europeans. The US had not experienced the Great Depression, or World War I and the horrors experienced through the entanglement in Europe. My mom's family's immigration story is fairly simple... imagine... Fiddler on the Roof but with a happy ending in Columbus, Georgia.

Thirty years makes a big difference when it comes to immigration reforms. All of my family that stayed in Europe was murdered in the Holocaust. All properties and records of their existence were erased from the planet. Regardless of the difficulties that my dad's side of the family experienced, they got out just in time. My father's first language was Spanish, but he spoke Yiddish and learned English within a few months of moving to Texas. It's so strange to me that "Hebrew" was listed as his nationality when he arrived. Today that is considered racist and ignorant. But in the 1950's it was acceptable and it was a good reason to Americanize. When my father became a citizen, the judge suggested that they cut off the end of their surname. He didn't have to say why... it was obvious why. My maiden name would have been Ribakowsky; becoming a Ribak was not a big deal considering they had just lost everything in WWII and all they wanted was to be American!  




10.04.2016

I'm sorry I f**ked up & I am sorry I can't fix it


"I'm sorry I f**ked up and I am sorry I can't fix it"

I was struck by this message on my feed today... Maybe b/c this is the New Year, a time of reflection for the Jewish people. The Book of Life is wide open... So, I have decided to appreciate my past "mistakes" and release regrets. They all lead me here where I am able to fix the things within my power & as a teacher with the power to lead, I can prevent future regrets by speaking with those souls who just don't know this yet. I am thankful that my wicked youth is now of use. L'shana tova!!

2.15.2016

A Vision of Leadership in Public Schools

Reminiscent of Leadership Pathways is this quote by Ernest Hemingway; “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Although this essay assignment was aimed at my last 2 years, I believe that true leadership requires a longer timeline.

As early as 5th grade, I became captain of the honor guard of Patrols. In middle school & high school I competed in the National Forensic League; I experienced triumph & defeat in tournament standard impromptu, extemporaneous, Lincoln Douglas, & cross-examination debate. I have fond memories being leadership in school-wide organizations. At the University of Texas, I was Music Director & Program Manager at the student radio station, KVRX. In 2000, the Austin Chronicle distinguished me as “Best Evening Radio Host of Austin.” Additionally, I served Texas as a Governor’s Fellow. I then moved to San Francisco & later NYC for my professional career as a Community Organizer & Account Executive. After six years in NYC, a subway ad inspired me to become a Teaching Fellow in Cohort 18. Since 2009 I have cultivated a passion for educating urban youth.

In 2012, I founded the Speech and Debate club at AFYW.  Meanwhile, maternity leave spawned a teaching program change that was instrumental to my academic evolution, but ultimately off the path of teacher leadership. With mixed emotions, yet a “stamp of approval” from administration, colleagues, & students, I transferred to UAMA. I am maintaining strong relationships at AFYW. I presented this essay question to my former speech squad. I believe this 11th grader’s words exemplify my community contributions:

You helped us come out of our shells. Showed us how to make our points both verbally AND physically. It improved the writing styles for a lot of people and showed us how to organize our ideas. Nancella, you've done plenty!!! You've shown us how to be speakers & inspire other people with our ideas. You literally coached us to put our ideas into actual words. That's really hard to do!!! And LOL, don't forget our regents prep!! The tricks & stuff you told us about. If that counts... By you just taking the job you did, you made an example of going after what you want. Even if it means a change of environment and required adjustments to it.”

Mission accomplished! Now there are new opportunities to build community. I have no doubts that my time as an ICT teacher made me a 100% better educator and leader. Timing and tenaciousness had me land in a community where I am needed! In January I became DOE mentor to History & ICT teachers at UAMA. I was appointed to the Instructional Committee and have been tapped for increased leadership in the coming years. I quickly became an integral member of my new school community. My future role as an administrator is the logical next step.

We live in an Information Age where we efficiently make virtual connections & provide less opportunity for face-to-face communications that which make us human. Social Media holds this generation’s gaze, but I aim to take part in an educational movement that is intertwined with the educational values more prominent in less technological times. Providing platforms for students to stand up & speak out is an investment in our future. Our children need to acquire more self-confidence & executive skills in order to compete in this world. Being an administrator is a vehicle where I may broadcast my vision of quality education. I am confident you’re looking for teachers like me… so here I am, and I’m ready!

10.19.2015

Aim high for awareness!

This evening I in-boxed via Facebook to 2 people that did me wrong in high school. These two individuals got away with it. Facebook was the vehicle I used to confront my oppressors. When forgiveness &/or revenge aren't options, aim high for awareness! I'm sure this form of catharsis would not exist without Facebook.

For 22+ years, I wanted to confront these two guys from another high school who disrespected me so badly. As long as it's been, it stings when I think about it. There's a part of me that envisions revenge, and another part that wishes I were able to grant forgiveness, but I have developed acceptance. I'm about to be 40 years old. I do need to forgive those who deserve it, but there are others who just need to be put on notice. 

Thanks to the almighty internet, all of this is possible! I will make peace with some and also release demons by speaking up. Technology means my pen is no longer mightier than a sword, but my keyboard is. After I sent out these inbox confessions, I have to say, I feel a whole lot better! My head is lighter.... My mind is cleaner.... The words are out there… 

Apologies for the part at the end where I insult the guy for still living in the city we grew up in. I wouldn't knock where I grew up. I still love it. That insult is not meant for my readers, just for the losers who robbed my crib. By living away from where I was born and raised, I am no better than you. But when I said it to the perps, it was the most satisfying dis. 

Below please find the message I sent to one of the perpetrators' brothers: 

"Hello XXXXXXX, I am not sure if my name rings a bell. I have no beef with you and you owe me no debt, but I would appreciate it if you would forward this message to your brother, XXXXX XXXXX. He does not accept messages from non-friends on Facebook, but he needs to hear from me! If not for your own soul, please forward this as a gesture of good will. Thanks in advance! 

For perpetrator #2: 
"Hello XXXXXXX XXXXXXX, you might not remember me from high school 20+ years ago, but you probably remember my house which you and your friend XXXXX XXXXXXX looted and burglarized. In 1992, you crashed my house party where you stole my parents checkbook and you both wrote hot checks at XOXOX. Then you got even more greedy and when you knew I was away from home for the night, you came back to burglarize my house. You managed to take much from my family including my mom's wedding china, all of my dad's ties, most of the electronics in our home... you also made off with my entire music collection, our oriental rugs and more.

You must have had a lot of help violating my home! In addition to my material losses, you caused me a great deal of emotional pain. I am writing to you to you to tell you I will never forget the crimes you got away with or the gunshots you /or one of your friends fired in my front yard. Your friend XXXX's dad got you out of jail time, but I am certain he failed you both. You may have been above the law, but you are not above final judgment. The statute of limitations is up in criminal court, but not on your lousy karma. 

I'd like to thank you for being one of the bad memories that propelled me away from Texas 15 years ago. I have done things in CA and NYC that people make movies about. It's very satisfying to me to see you and your buddy XXXXX XXXXX still living in San Antonio. Clearly you never got very far and I think I know why. I hope you remember me now! That is all, you XXXXX XX XXXX!"

9.23.2015

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it is a custom to ask for forgiveness for possible wrongdoings one may have caused. Nowadays we have lots of mediums in which to apologize: “If I have in any way hurt or offended any of you, I offer my apologies and seek your forgiveness.” Making amends is a method of wiping the slate clean. It's more complicated than that of course. The end goal is to be inscribed within the Book of Life; to have a good new year. This year, it occurs to me, what about the inverse?! I admit that I have wronged others, but I myself have been wronged and those offenders aren't exactly coming to me and asking me for forgiveness! As part of my atonement, shouldn't I wipe the slate clean of my anger, hurt and resentment towards those who have caused me pain? How do you forgive someone who isn't sorry? I ask for forgiveness, but I must give forgiveness as well. In my quest for deeper atonement, I have found this on Chabbad.org: “The Baal Shem Tov taught that if someone hurts you, this hurt was meant to happen to you. Yes, the agent of your misfortune has an account to settle with G‑d. And you could sue for damages as well. Nevertheless, be like Joseph. Accept that for some reason this wound had your name on it, and it was for your own good. Then you can shed the grudge and move on.” On that note… a long time ago I ceased to believe that “things happen for a reason.” I believe that things happen and then you find a reason. So, in reference to those who have hurt me: I forgive you (I will try my hardest) and I thank you for teaching me something I have not yet learned. I will take that knowledge and write a new chapter in my book of life. #forgiveness #atonement #yomkippur

9.15.2015

“If I have done anything to harm you in the past year, will you please forgive me?”

The Jewish New Year 5776 began at sunset on September 13th & will finish on September 15th at sunset. Rosh Hashanah literally means: Head (Rosh) of the Year (Hashanah) Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays or "Days of Awe" which are celebrated ten days before Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. It is described in the Torah as יום תרועה (Yom Teru'ah, a day of sounding [the Shofar]). On Rosh Hashanah, Customs observed on Rosh HaShanah include the sounding of the shofar... We eat round foods like round challah and we dip apples in honey to symbolize a “sweet new year.” Yum! On Yom Kippur we fast for 24 hours. As codified into law in the Mishneh Torah, RaM BaM prescribes a formula for making "yeshivah." (repentance) Accordingly, if you are seeking and/or granting atonement, there are 5 simple steps: 1. One must confess wrongdoing to the injured party 2. Compensate them for any losses 3. Resolve never to repeat the transgression 4. Ask for forgiveness 5. Refrain from repeating the offense if it presents itself again. During the High Holidays, Jews from all over the world seek repentance, try to achieve atonement and ask to be “written within the book of life” it has become traditional to speak, text, post or email the following phrase: “If I have done anything to harm you in the past year, will you please forgive me?” In this New Year 5576, I am thankful for my many blessings! Thank you! This year I want to be better!!!!!!!!!!! 5 Resolutions for the Jewish New Year 5776 1. Stop overthinking it 2. Create & enforce routines 3. Have more patience 4. Use less curse words 5. Have more sex

4.13.2015

No More Rain

Are the stars properly aligned today? Maybe the moon is helping the lunatics find a little peace. No way the moon could own this day. Its gentile footprint didn't illuminate that which weren't already in motion. Perhaps it was the bright sun of this glorious day which rotated away from the dark cloudy skies and let us open our eyes to the luminescence within us?! The sun took the blues away, but it couldn't steal my wind because I'm in the black again. I'm not drifting; I move in my place under wondrous celestial bodies in spaces unattained. No more snow. No more rain.