In the Mourning & my hope for the future

*names are redacted as I doubt this will go anywhere beyond my friend group but it has the ability to do so.*

The day I started teaching I was bright eyed. Tonight I sit here blurry eyed with tears.

It’s officially past midnight making it the 20th. It’s officially been a month.

A month ago, at 7:11 pm, I read a message that made me sick to my stomach. Even right now it makes my breath stop in my chest.

Less than 12 hours ago, coming home from errands today, I was driving home and was stopped there. And I paused my audiobook and just sat there and wondered why.

It was on my mind a lot in the last 24 hours. I saw a boy (I’m sorry I say boy I know you were technically a young man, but you were one of my babies) that reminded me of you. His body language reminded me of the way you held yourself in my classroom and the countless times I passed you in the hallway.

I walked into a shoe store and pretended to look. One of the clerks tried to make eye contact and I watched them read the look on my face then walk away.

I kicked myself for the fact that a little over 3 weeks ago, I stood next to your casket and choked through half of the words I wrote about you. I didn’t make it through before I sat down. And I still feel like I owe you more than that.

These are the words I had written down, if it’s okay for me to tell you now:

From the first day that students enter my classroom, I welcome them with the fact that they are now my “kids.” I taught J* his junior year. His class was something special They were the first time I watched my students truly embrace the concept of family in the classroom. It was a privilege to watch J grow as a student and young man in the time I had him. [I added somewhere in here, something along the lines of that the day of that so many of your classmates were there and that showed me that class’ community]

I’ve reflected over the last week on memories of that semester, particularly those of J. And I have three things that come to my mind and stick with me. The first are his headphones. Every day he bopped to whatever song was playing while he took his notes. But ever so respectfully, he would move one side away from his ear to listen when I was speaking, I took this as his desire to learn.

The second thing that sticks in my mind is his smile and laugh. There was a lot of laughter in his class. They had fun while they learned and J was always friendly with his classmates. I did not know him to have conflict with any of them. He had a life skill that many of us could use to just be friendly and relaxed. He loved well and I think that has really been shown over the last week.

Lastly his determination. I saw this in a few aspects of his life, through the bonds he formed and fought for, through his work in my classroom, but also one of my favorite memories, of his unique ability to sleep through a noisy classroom watching a movie after an exam, and he had three desks pushed together because he was determined he was taking a nap.

The last week has been hard. I see it on your faces today. I see it in the posts online where I’ve read countless memories and the love you had for this sweet boy. I feel it myself.

As we collectively struggle to find peace in these moments of grief- I truly believe that you should rest in the idea that while he is not physically here, he is looking down on you, bopping along to the song playing through his beats, and smiling. And when we see him in the after life, he’ll pull his headphones to the side and greet us with that warm friendship we will all remember him for. Until that day, I think we’re called to live the friendship he showed so many of you, because I think that’s what he would want. It was and is an honor to have had him as one of mine, thank you, Miss R, for letting me love yours like one of my own for the brief time I had him, that will never leave me.”

 

If I were to be honest, today the thought crossed my mind that as a teacher I’ve failed my kids. I’ve lost two of them. Each time someone my age has passed since I graduated high school 8 years ago, I haven’t understood, and I’ve always felt like it happens too frequently, because we’ve lost too many people that walked my high school halls with me. I’ve never wanted that to be the feeling that my “kids” experienced. The fact that two of “mine” have been lost makes me feel like somehow I didn’t protect them enough.

It makes me feel like I didn’t give enough Friday lectures.

It makes me feel like I didn’t hug them enough.

It makes me feel like I didn’t remind them enough to be safe because they were so valued and they mean(t) so much to their classmates, their families, me.

It makes me feel like I didn’t literally say the words “you are valued. You are loved. You are so important. You are enough,” to them enough.

If you’re one of mine, and I didn’t say it enough, I’m so sorry. Please accept this as my way of telling you now and I hope you’ll hear it in your heart and mind every day.

I never imagined losing one of you. I never wanted to. I’m sorry I did. Im sorry I was afraid to go to the first funeral. I’m sorry my words standing at the second fell so short.

I hope each of the rest of the 600+ of you outlives me by so many years and makes the most of the days you have ahead. I hope you make everyone around you proud. I hope you remember that life is short and use that as a lesson to remain safe and to also honor those that you’ve lost along the way, because it will and should shape you. I hope that even on the hard days that you realize how absolutely loved and needed you are…and if you ever need to be reminded and don’t feel like you have somewhere else to go, please come to me because I’ll remind you, and be longwinded, emotional, well-meaning, and most likely cliched about it.

Xoxo, Freeman

I’m not a good friend

The first time I thought the words “I’m not a good friend,” I was 12. My best friend chose to exclude me from plans with one of her other friends, and I told her my feelings were hurt by this. Her reaction and the reaction of others told me that I was a bad friend for admitting my feelings to my friend.

The enemy planted a seed in my heart and head that day. The thoughts started to grow that I was not a good friend and that I was not worthy of having friends. 14 years later, and tonight, those words are ringing just as loud as ever.

The last few months have had a clear line of events that have dug these seeds up to the surface (and I can’t even begin to touch on each one). Every time each of these events happened, although seemingly small, I felt the roots of these now well-grown plants wrap a little tighter around my heart.

I knew the thoughts were festering again when a friendship ended approximately 10 months ago.

But then I had confirmation.

My friend didn’t know what the words she said did to my heart.

The friend mentioned in one of our conversations that at an important life event she had all of her close friends involved….I hadn’t been involved. Her words cut me and she didn’t even know it. I literally replay them at least weekly, when something reminds me that I’m not a good friend.

It has double meaning for me. I’m not a good friend, as in I’m not anybody’s Tier 1 (Hope in the Hard Places ) go to person. I’m not a good friend, as in I’m not the friend you depend on because you know I’m not a good person and I fail as a friend, and I fail terribly.

These words tug at my heart. Sometimes daily.

When I don’t have an inner circle at work.

When a friend writes about how they spend so much time weekly catching up with their besties, and I considered them one of my “besties” but I’m never the one they call or text.

When I realize there are people who have lifelong friends, and I can barely maintain a friendship for a few years before it falls apart.

When (as much as I love him and our time together) my spare time is spent with my fiancé or alone, not with friends like other people my age.

Sometimes, I’m still the 14 year old sitting by herself during lunch for her entire fall semester of freshman year.

Sometimes I’m the college girl who was betrayed by the group of people she trusted to love her, who felt a hurt deeper than she knew existed — that still runs deep today.

I tell myself there are reasons I’m not a good friend.

I guess we can call them my excuses.

My autoimmune disease wears me out.

My anxiety is crippling.

My depression is exhausting.

The two combining mental issues overwhelm me more days than I would ever tell you.

I legitimately forget to do things frequently, including responding to texts, calls, and social media messages.

I sometimes have to cancel plans because I’m in too much pain.

I’m busy planning a wedding.

I’m busy working a job that requires more hours than I get paid for.

I’m busy completing graduate school.

I’m busy doing all of this at the same time that sometimes I forget my name, my age, and what day it is.

I have RBF so people don’t approach me.

I’m too outspoken, so people don’t agree with me or don’t know how to handle me.

I’m really weird- look at my mind map for my thesis sometime and you’ll understand.

But what this all comes down to is…I’m not a good friend.

I don’t call.

I don’t text.

I don’t check on people.

I fear rejection so I don’t try.

I talk too much. So other people don’t get a chance to.

I stay busy and I don’t try to make time in my schedule because then people will realize what a bad friend I am.

I’m not a good friend.

I don’t know that I ever will be.

I’ve read endless blogs, devotions, and articles about how to be hospitable, loving, and a better friend.

It doesn’t stick.

I’ll never be the friend demonstrated in the Bible.

I’ll always fall short.

And I think that’ll just always be my struggle.

I want to cut the weeds but I think they might be too strong.

I hope one day to be better. I pray for it. I wait anxiously for it. I fall short. But I hold hope that every morning holds new mercies. I thank God for the friends who love me through my weaknesses and pray he gives me the ability to love them as a friend should. Because Heaven knows this torn heart needs the help.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes…. [Sexual Assault Awareness Month & Approaching Year 10]

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Suicide

Ten years ago, I could not have imagined this post because I thought it would never happen to me. Nine years ago, I could not have imagined this post, because I thought I would never have the ability to speak these words. Yet, here we are. And this year, I’ve struggled to find the words to type for my Sexual Assault Awareness Month post.

 

For a month, I’ve had the head knowledge that this post needed to be written. I had the passion to do it. But I have felt a lack of courage. And also a lack of motivation as life has been overwhelming.

One night I thought I found the place in which to write, but as the words formed, I decided I could not for fear of it being too emotional.

Even now I wonder— Can I be vulnerable enough to share this?

This year has been particularly rough. I have a myriad of reasons I believe it is so rough.

It’s year nine…which means in November I will have survived ten years since being assaulted…which is largely significant.

I’ve struggled with things at work, grad school has kept me busy, and I’m busy with wedding planning.

My autoimmune disease and pain disorder have kept me on a run for, what some days feels like, my existence.

My anxiety and depression have been on the attack full force and I have no doubt that this is the enemy using where he knows I am weak in an already trying schedule.

I’ve fallen down on my self-care more than once because I’ve run out of time on so many days.

So today I sit in a Starbucks, sipping a skinny vanilla latte, after leaving the rheumatologist, hoping being in a public space will allow me to keep my emotions in check to write this.

The night I felt I could a few weeks ago. I lost my courage. But the moments in which I felt ready, it was because I realized how much my assault still affects me in my every day.

I froze. And I don’t know how long I was frozen where I stood.

I had been contemplating the words to write. I had been thinking about my assault. I had also been having very vivid nightmares and flashbacks.

I was standing in the shower and everything in me froze. My mind played back my assault. The details. The weight of him. The screaming. The woman walking by and refusing to stop. Watching it happen to me and thinking this can’t be happening to me. The thoughts that this was someone I knew and this only happened when a stranger assaulted you. The way I froze and stopped fighting and tried to leave my body until it was over. His words telling me he knew I enjoyed it. The way I apologized to him afterward. The realization that my innocence, and the purity I cherished about myself, was taken from me. The words whispered about me in hallways. How only one person knew the truth for what felt like so long.

It was a while before I realized the shower water was burning my skin, I was sobbing, and I had been standing there far too long. So I did my best to pull myself together and went on about my day.

[I’m now being stared at in Starbucks because I just choked up a little]

So why am I writing about this again? Haven’t I done that enough? Doesn’t that make it harder for me?

I’m walking in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on Saturday hosted by Safe Alliance. Funds raised from the walk, go towards their mission of helping women domestically or sexually abused. A dear friend will walk with me. And even as I type this I’m shaking.

But I want to tell you why I’m choosing to walk this year. Maybe you’ll choose to donate to Safe Alliance, join us to walk, or both.

You can find the link here.

I want you to walk in my shoes; a brief walk down memory lane of what the last ten years have held for me in the grief, and the growth.

  • 10 years ago, I was 15. My boyfriend at the time was very jealous and possessive, but I thought that meant he loved me. He even shoved me against a locker once for hugging a friend. But nobody who watched it said anything so I didn’t think about it. Looking back now, I should’ve known he was trouble.
  • Sometime in spring 2009, we broke up. But he continued to give me attention. My family didn’t like him but I saw him around them knowing I was seeing him.
  • In November 2009, he assaulted me. He told people I was a slut/whore/slept around.
    I whispered the words “he forced me” to a friend later that week, but swore him not to tell. We never talked about it. He didn’t tell anyone to my knowledge. But people talked about me with the rumors that had been spread.
  • In 2011, an old friend was assaulted and killed. I was torn up over this, and struggled heavily (and I many days do still struggle with) with survivor’s guilt.
  • In January 2012, the new boyfriend of the year heard the words, “I think I was raped,” after something we watched on TV. He encouraged me to tell somebody. I told my bible study group at NC State.
  • My group leaders set me up with a counselor. A girl in my group when she heard said the words,Wow, you must have sinned really badly for God to punish you like that.” I began to doubt God because if that was the way God worked, I was not a fan.
  • Later that spring, at my home church, I asked for prayer as I continued counseling to work through it. I was asked what I was wearing, how far I had gone with him before he assaulted me, and what I had done to lead him to believe I wanted sex. In a phrase, I was victim blamed. That week I decided I really didn’t like church and began to pull away.
  • In the fall of 2012, I transferred colleges, and my life fell apart in a series of events, some of which still tear at my heart. Among these was a series of successful suicides by multiple people I knew or who were my age. I began drinking, and self-harming, believing God either didn’t exist or hated me (I mean he had punished me pretty badly, remember?), and that my worth was basically nonexistent. I was put on medication for a misdiagnosed condition that messed with me mentally. I gained a ton of weight. And my self-harm worsened as I wanted nothing more than to get my pain from the inside to the outside so I could deal with it.
  • On April 28, 2013, my sister found me in the bathroom with cuts on my wrists, and God wrestled with me in the ER to bring me back home to him and my family.

But this isn’t nearly the end of this story, is it?

Even with a new found faith, the enemy has made sure to continue my anxiety and depression and panic attacks, sometimes coupled with flashbacks.

    • And there are always plenty of people to victim blame and perpetuate rape culture.
      Over the course of the last 6 years, I was privy to one significant other telling me that it was okay that I had been assaulted, he didn’t begrudge me that or my past as a result of it….and that he was still going to vote for Trump even once the p****-grabbing tapes were released.
    • I’ve been asked countless times what I was wearing, what I did to lead him on, why I couldn’t just have sex with him, or why I had sex then called it assault.

 

  • I’ve been told that rape and assault are nonexistent because who wouldn’t want sex. As I write that sentence I wish I was joking that that has been said to me.
  • I’ve been told that my willingness to speak, and write, about this without holding back and without fear of how ‘this would hurt him,’ means I have not truly forgiven him, and maybe I should work on forgiveness.

 

  • I obviously was fired up over the Brett Kavanaugh investigation and subsequent appointment. 
    • Among my personal favorites in that incident is how many people jumped on the #HimToo bus…like I’m still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to tell me that was a joke and I was being filmed. I had family and friends tell me I was going overboard in my defense of believing survivors. Oh, and of course there were the jokes. But most of all the assumption that anyone who is assaulted comes out immediately and if they don’t, they’re clearly liars. [I’m currently shaking thinking about this]
    • I have seen a plethora of jokes in my years of dealing with this. I have cut multiple people out of my life as a result. No matter what you think, I’ll let you know, they aren’t funny.


Yet, despite every bit of this…and how it still hurts so many days…the Lord does not waste a hurt.
Never, does He waste a hurt.

Because of my assault. Because of my anxiety. Because of my depression. Because of the low self-esteem I battle. My outlook on life is different. My ability to emphasize and sympathize is different.
My heart for serving others has grown in ways I cannot describe to you, because I want to make the difference I have yet to experience.
My testimony allows me to connect with people who have felt people in the church would not understand them or would be too good for them.
My story allowed me a beautiful relationship with one of my former students and she and I have matching ribbons we wear in April because of the phrase #MeToo and that was all it took for us.
And because of all I’ve seen and been through, the long, weary miles I have walked, I know I don’t walk alone.

So today— will you walk with me?*

Because, let me tell you, for the culture we live in…

For the abuse that is perpetrated every day….

For the 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 6 men, sexually abused in their lifetime (based on reported numbers), who feel they will never see justice….

your support, your love, your voice matters.


And almost just as importantly…for the 0.05% of perpetrators who are convicted in my area….#TimeIsUp….we will tolerate #NoMore.

 

*Even if you choose not to walk or donate. I implore you to consider the way you speak and think as it pertains to sexual assault and abuse. If you take part in rape culture or victim blaming, I encourage you to pledge today to stop. If you are someone who has not believed survivors in the past, I hope that this has helped bring some perspective of what just one account of the millions looks like in the every day; and that you will believe the next survivor who comes forward. Become part of the change that is so absolutely necessary.

Accomplishments from 2018

When I have started each year, for at least the last five years, I have started with a list of things I would like to accomplish in that year. The number of accomplishments on that list corresponds to the year that it is, like 18 things in 2018, 17 in 2017, etc. It turns out I have yet to accomplish all of the things on the list that I have set out to accomplish in any of those years. So last year I started a tradition to recap at the beginning of a new year the things that I did accomplish in the previous year- some of them were on my list of things I aimed to accomplish, while others were not.

So here are the 18 things I did accomplish in 2018.

  1. I paid off my third loan. I’ve paid off 3/4 of my debt on my own and I’m really proud of that.
  2. I completed half of my requirements for graduate school and maintained a 3.5 GPA even though I was wedding planning and working full time while attending school.
  3. I read 64 books and got closer to my life goal of reading 1,000 books.
  4. I beat my addiction to calorie counting and learned to eat when I’m hungry.
  5. I said yes to my best friend and we planned a lot of our big day together. I cannot wait to marry him and share those moments with our friends and family! Only 166 days!
  6. I accepted a new job and left the comfort of my first big girl job.
  7. I went to Miss America for the first time (and got to watch one of my dear friends win!!).
  8. I learned to stomach tequila. Okay, that one may sound sketchy, but for a while I could not even smell it in my vicinity without being sick. So thanks to the best bridal shower for a friend, for helping me get over that one.
  9. I was part of my first protest. #RedForEd #MyBabiesDeserveBetter #WeDeserveBetter #NeverthelessWePersisted
  10. I found my voice, again, to speak up for injustice, and refused to let it be silenced, even if it was an attempt by someone I loved.  #MeToo
  11. I learned to walk away from friendships I wanted to maintain when that friendship was not healthy.
  12. I finished my year as Miss Capital City, and even though I did not get another chance to compete at Miss North Carolina, I was so proud of the way I represented that title, and all of the work I put into making a difference through my platform.
  13. I completed my graduate school internship at the Gaston County Museum. I learned a lot, and I gained new members of my family.
  14. I had worked with a lot of nonprofits before, but I had never done so with an official title, or for a prolonged amount of time leading up to an event that I helped bring to fruition, and I was so privileged to do that in 2018- and we raised thousands of dollars in the process!
  15. I judged and presented awards at National History Day, as Miss Capital City and as a student, at UNCC.
  16. I made my first bulletin board.
  17. I taught a new class where I was able to create the curriculum and actually had fun even though it was really hard.
  18. I made it to my five year recovery birthday.

There’s a lot I wanted to do in 2018 that I did not do, but that’s okay. I plan to write again in a few days letting everyone know the plan for 2019, and the list of things to accomplish and share some news.

For now, it’s off to start this semester of graduate school.

 

Books from 2018 & my suggestions for 2019

For my first blog of the new year, I thought I’d go over the books I read in 2018, and the ones I would suggest that others read in 2019.

  1. You’ll Never Know Dear
  2. More Happy Than Not
  3. Work Ethic in Industrial America, 1850-1920
  4. Giving Preservation a History
  5. Building a Nation
  6. Race and Reunion: US Civil War
  7. Murdering McKinley
  8. First Ladies
  9. Shattered Dreams
  10. Banana Cultures
  11. Hope in a Jar: making America’s beauty culture
  12. Goat Castle: Race, Murder in the Gothic South
  13. Warfare State
  14. Impossible Subjects
  15. Notes from the Cracked Ceiling
  16. Why Preservation Matters
  17. Bending the Future
  18. Women, Partisanship, and Congress
  19. Highest Glass Ceiling
  20. Thinking Small
  21. First woman cabinet member
  22. The woman behind the New Deal
  23. EMILY’s list
  24. Beyond Preservation
  25. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime the Making of Mass Incarceration in America
  26. Dark Places
  27. Four Hour Work Week
  28. The Big Bad Wolf
  29. Salem’s Lot
  30. Gastonia 1929
  31. Martyr of Loray Mill
  32. The Latino Migration Experience to North Carolina.
  33. Gaston County Memories
  34. The Thirteenth Juror
  35. Latino Farmworkers in the Eastern United States Health, Safety, and Justice
  36. Making Time for History
  37. For Our Little Children
  38. Maya of Morganton
  39. Scratching Out a Living
  40. See Jane Run
  41. Sorority
  42. Roanoke Girls
  43. Latino Workers in the Contemporary South
  44. On the Line
  45. Voices from the Nueva Frontera: Latino Immigration in Dalton, Georgia
  46. The Baptism of Early Virginia
  47. Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England
  48. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America
  49. Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic
  50. Soul by Soul: Inside the Antebellum Slave Market
  51. Making Slavery History: Abolitionism and the politics of memory in Massachusetts
  52. The market revolution: Jacksonian America, 181501846
  53. Free soil, free labor, free men
  54. Revolutionary Mothers
  55. Disorderly Women
  56. Women of the Republic
  57. Claiming the Pen
  58. Mere Equals: The paradox of educated women in early American republic
  59. Liberty’s daughters: the revolutionary experience
  60. We have raised all of you
  61. Teaching History in the Digital Age
  62. Writing History in the Digital Age

 

My suggestions in no particular order:

Murdering McKinley – despite a pretty significant knowledge of American history this was an insightful book to the way that Roosevelt reshaped the American consciousness once he became president and the author gives an interesting argument that I had never considered, that by trying to forget McKinley, Roosevelt effectively murdered him a second time

Women of the Republic – another book used in graduate school this semester, this was an interesting look at how women of the Revolutionary Era were useful as more than just housewives and how even just a housewife could have influence of the revolutionary mindset

Damned Women – a great read about the witch trials, nothing more needs to be said

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime the Making of Mass Incarceration in America- similar to “13th” on Netflix, I 10/10 recommend this and watching that together, you’ll have a new outlook on the mass incarceration and how the prison system is our country has become a for-profit industry

Hope in a Jar: making America’s beauty culture- how America has sold to women (and in some cases men) that they need particular products to be considered attractive, a great read for all my pageant folks

Goat Castle: Race, Murder in the Gothic South – written by a professor at UNCC (go niners!), this is a specific case exploration of murder in Mississippi and how a young African-American woman was accused and convicted when she had no connection. A strange, real-life crime story.

Notes from the cracked ceiling (also maybe add Emily’s List right after this)- eye-opening accounts of the struggle for women to earn a place in government and politics

 

 

What did you read in 2018? What are your book suggestions for this year?

Review of ‘Remembering Lincoln’ Project by Ford’s Theatre

Below is the assignment I was given for my graduate Digital History course, and my response to the assignment, as we have been asked to write it as though it were a blog post.

BLOG ASSIGNMENT: Write an evaluation (500-750 words) of one the following sites (each of you will sign up for one), using the Journal of American History evaluation guidelines. and, where relevant, drawing on the week’s reading. Note especially the questions in the key areas of content, form, audience/use, and new media. If you have a project site that you’d like to review but is not listed here, please let me know at least 5 days in advance of the assignment due date.

The project site that I chose to evaluate is “Remembering Lincoln.” I picked this site because I have always had a fascination with Abraham Lincoln. As a little back story, since this is written as a blog post, I actually was told in elementary school (a very small private school) that by third grade I had written too many reports on Abraham Lincoln and needed to write my next one on a female, especially because we would be dressing up as the subject of our next biography report. I was not a happy seven year old, and strongly protested this enough that they assigned me my biography subject, and called my parents. Eighteen years later, I still drag my family to Lincoln themed historic sites regularly, watch documentaries, read books, and clearly took John David Smith’s undergraduate course on Lincoln. I also regularly rant about Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln when given the chance, and sometimes even when I have to present myself with the opportunity just because I feel like talking about the Lincolns. So, long story short, ya girl is stoked to look at this site. Okay, that’s my unrelated, hopefully ungraded 🙂 rant, here we go.

 

The ‘Remembering Lincoln’ site is an Archive of responses to the Lincoln Assassination that is presented by Ford’s Theatre through various methods. The main tabs of the website are “Explore the Story,” “Browse Responses,” and “For Teachers.” Each of these tabs offers various other tabs within them once the visitor has gone into that tab. The purpose of the site is to trace the narrative of the reactions that citizens had to the shocking assassination of the President.

The Timeline features moves through photos and quick captions that range from one sentence to one paragraph. The timeline features the assassination, the chase and apprehension of John Wilkes Booth, the funeral trains, trial, and the executions of the conspirators in July.

The Map feature lets you click on different cities to see responses to the assassination. Diaries, memories, public statements, newspapers, letters, sermons, photographs, and speeches are all featured. There is also a browse feature for responses that has 39 pages of pieces submitted.

The Funeral Train tab goes to Google Arts and Culture that allows the user to click through photos and a virtual tour of the current sites that stand where Lincoln’s body was viewed by citizens on the funeral train stops.

The lesson plans tab has resources for grades 6-12 on various parts of the assassination.

Based on the Digital History Review Site, after generally browsing the site, I went back and looked for the categories that the DHR noted for reviews.

Content: The scholarship is sound in the fact that it features primary sources from around the country. This gives varying viewpoints, and the point of the site is to give reactions to the assassination at the time of the assassination. The project is current because it does have a section for teachers that features lesson plans that have been recently updated to align with national standards that are ever changing for both social studies and language arts educators. The flaw I saw in this category is the display of content communication to users. Three mains tabs are featured at the top of the site, but unless the visitors clicks in and explores, it is difficult to realize what all the site features (browse items, funeral train, explore the manhunt, meet the people, lesson plans, etc).

Design: As previously addressed, the design initially makes the site look much simpler than it is. However, if an user makes a simple click into one of the tabs it does feature what the site does have to offer, so it is not difficult to navigate. The only feature that did not function as expected was the “use History Pin” button for the interactive map of where photos and documents were submitted from, but the map was also featured on the project site, so I was unclear why an user needed to go onto a separate site to view the items to begin with. The site loads quickly, even with my affinity to have 50 tabs open at any given time, which I did while I was working on this assignment (yes, I know, my first period class yells at me daily, but it’s the way my mind works).

Audience: The project is presented by Ford’s Theatre, so theoretically it is someone who is interested in Lincoln’s assassination, assassinations in general, or is in an American History course. I was impressed of how well it addressed the goals of high school and middle school curriculum goals in addressing primary sources, then using analyzing, creation, comparison, writing skills, and comparison with those primary source items. If they intend for this to be used by educators, then they have done an excellent job and I would definitely use it in my classroom.

Digital Media: The project uses interactive mapping and Google Arts/Culture to interactively involve users in Lincoln’s assassination and the aftermath.

Creators: The site uses multiple contributors. Including teachers, digital strategists. They have a curator, website manager, interns, art directors, and digital public historians. They also have multiple advisors from various backgrounds including Dr. David Goldfield from UNCC, Jennifer Rosenfield from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and the director of National History Day that we host at UNCC, Kim Fortney.

Midterms & Chronic Illness

I just wrote the following blog post (yes we blog in my digital history class) to my classmates:

If this was my actual blog, I would be a big cheerleader and tell everyone how wonderful they did. So I’m going to a little off the book here and tell everyone how wonderful they did. I thought each of the projects were unique and exciting. I thought each of the projects showed that there are distinct interests and personalities in our classroom, and that excites me. I think there were so many interesting takes on how we were meant to interpret our assignment here. I think group work has its place alongside individual work, when done correctly, and I think these proposals were examples of how it can be done well. Literally all of them were something I was interested in in some way, shape, or form (especially the Korean War- because my grandfather fought there, and I happened to read it first).

As for the individual proposals, again, I want to be a cheerleader here. I get to spend the rest of my week telling students what they need to work on. As everyone has such different interests, I think it is so cool to see the different interpretations of this project assignment and I am so excited to see what everyone comes up with at the end of the semester. As we’ve been talking this semester about different ways to use digital media to enhance your work or spread it to wider audiences, I thought it was really neat to see different ways that everyone in class wanted to go about forming their idea, researching their topic, and creating their product. Although let me not lie, you all may me feel a little inadequate that my idea was not as well formed as yours were. So keep doing awesome.

Here is what I wanted to actually write, considered sending it to my thesis advisor/professor of the class/head of the department (he wears all the hats and survives- you go, Shapiro, go), then realized it doesn’t make a different:

If this was my actual blog, I would be honest here. One of the biggest consistencies I push on my blog is vulnerability. So that’s where I’m going to go this week. Reading everyone’s project proposals I don’t feel like I’m anywhere close to what everyone else has prepared. On my blog, I’ve been honest about my struggles with my health issues, and the last week has been the most difficult, as I had some serious tests done, and I’m waiting for the results to come back- it could be nothing, but it could be something. It also has made me question what I want to do with my life if it is “something.” I’ve wanted my masters for years. And some of you in this classroom are busting your ass for it. I want to be at that level. But I don’t really know what to do to get there. And I’m struggling to juggle all the stuff I do have on my plate. So this is me sharing. This is me saying yall kicked this assignment’s butt, and I am so proud of you, and telling Nick thanks for helping me when my first draft contribution to ours wasn’t up to par. If this was one of my students in my situation, I would tell them to ask for help from their colleagues and from me, so here I am; how do you do it?

I don’t want to be the whiny person. I don’t want to quit. But I am also overwhelmed. I don’t know how to finish this one strong. I don’t know how to do ALL the things. Venting here.