Friday, May 26, 2017

Teachers are people too

As another school year is coming to an end I thought back on the teachers I have known who stand out in my mind. Today I am sharing a story I wrote several years ago about a teacher who is now retired and is living in Hawaii with her husband. Sometimes I don't think students/parents realize that teachers are people too, but they are.

Each day is a series of tests with no right or wrong answers. Education is not limited to books. It is found in every aspect of everyday life. Positive teachers who teach from their heart and risk sharing their personal experiences with their students are rare. Grants High School is extremely fortunate to have such a teacher. Loriann offers classes in government, economics and global studies.

She was transplanted in New Mexico in 1967 via Hawaii, California and New York. Born in Kauai, Hawaii, Loriann was raised by her maternal grandparents from a very young age. Her grandfather was Old World and  severely strict. When he was around she sat up straight and paid attention. When he wasn't she ran wild in the surf.

Her mother was very well educated and was an essential part of the war effort in World War II. She held a position as an interpreter at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Loriann was influenced by her ancestral Asian culture, which stresses strong family values.

Her first career choice was to be a missionary in Africa. Her second was the Peace Corps. Loriann's family wanted her to teach. Back then women who wanted a career chose either teaching or nursing.

She said, "I didn't want to do shift work, so I became a teacher".

Her parents moved to California to get settled. She joined them three years later. Loriann has two younger brothers and a sister. At twenty-one she had her Master's Degree and was still living with her parents. Her mother decided it was time for her to leave home and pushed her out of the nest. She took a risk and moved to New York.

Working at a variety of jobs including eighteen years as a waitress, typing briefs, teaching at a prison and factory and cannery work paid for her education. She did anything to keep from failing and having to return home. She believes in universal values of good and bad, destiny and choice.

Loriann does not like to waste anything, especially her student's time. Before moving to Grants, she taught in Socorro, NM for three years and on the Magdalena Indian reservation for one year. She has taught for a total of thirty-nine years.

Her definition of a good teacher is stamina and never giving up finding something positive in every student, especially one she instantly dislikes. "It could be my fault", she said.

She believes every teacher is a link between the individual and the mega power status of the United states. She also believes ignorance is the greatest destructive force in anyone's life. Knowledge is like a bank of resources that allows a person to draw from when they need it. A favorite saying of hers is, "The more you know the less you fear".

A sign in her classroom states, Freedom isn't Free. When I asked about it she replied, "If you want freedom, you have to be willing to pay for it".

Loriann believes she would not move anywhere else, even for a high paying job. Because she has lived in many other places she has something to compare Grants to. She loves the sunshine, fresh air, Mt. Taylor, the diversity of the people, the nearby cultural attractions and mostly the wonderful kids. She returns to Hawaii each summer to keep in touch with her roots.

Her thirst for knowledge and her desire to pass it onto her students is like a dog that has been caught in a rainstorm.When the dog comes inside, anyone within a few feet radius is going to get wet, whether they want to or not. Loriann believes sometimes her students don't realize what they have learned until years later and they come back and tell her.That is when she is sure she is doing the work she is supposed to do.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The lost is found

During the year 2014 I began this blog and only wrote 11 posts. It was meant to share true stories I had written about some of the residents of Cibola county, New Mexico and pictures and happenings. I stopped sharing in April of that year when I realized that the blog really had very few readers.Since then I thought it had vanished. I not only couldn't find it I couldn't remember the name I had given it.

Yesterday I clicked on blogs by Barbara Loure`Gunn and guess what? One more click and there it was.

I found it really interesting that the last post I wrote was written about my female chiropractor who I had mentioned in a Facebook post from yesterday. Everyone knows there are no coincidences- right? I'm still thinking about this and wondering just what I am supposed to do now.

Should I just ignore it as a rather strange experience or should I take it as a push from an unknown source to rescue this blog and continue writing? Perhaps I should go back to interviewing and write some new stories.

Since I don't have an answer at the moment I will just have to get back to any former readers still wondering the same thing.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This is it!

Today marks 4 months since I began writing this blog with the intention of promoting Cibola County, New Mexico. Judging from the lack of interest during that time it is something that few readers are interested in. I have concluded that the effort is taking up time that could be better spent on another endeavor.

I still believe that this is a great place to live, but I will leave the promoting up to the Chamber of Commerece. This is it!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A rose by any other name.

Many have referred to New Mexico as a melting pot. Other than those actually born here people come from all over and quite often are not sure just why they landed here. Through personal experience I have found Cibola County, NM to be a very spiritual place. With all of the devistating weather occuring in other parts of the country we seen to be somehow protected here. We do not have tornados, huricanes, earthquakes or floods. Some people have also called New Mexico "God's Country" while others have chosen, "God forsaken". Whatever it is called I do not believe I would feel comfortable living anywhere else at the moment.

One of the transplanted souls that comes to my mind is Rose D., who was born in Haiti. She and her two sisters have the unique distinction of sharing the same first name. It was a loving gesture offered by her mother to honor a deceased relative. The girls each have a different middle name.

When Rose D. was about five her father immigrated to America. He then sent for her mother and gradually the children. Rose arrived in the United states when she was nine, speaking no English. Because she would occasionally pick up words that were similar to Haitian she was convinced people were talking about her. In time she learned the language, graduated from high school at nineteen and went on to college.

Because of an interest in science she set a goal to become a medical doctor. In her junior year she said God told her that was not what she was supposed to do. She switched to chiropractic. When she left for college her father couldn't understand why she couldn't leave her car at the airport until she told him, "Dad I won't be coming back until next semister."

After graduation from Life University Rose had two successful chiropractic practices, one in Florida and another in Georgia before moving to Grants, NM in the spring of 2009. Loving the spiritual tone of the area she opened Ducasse Chiropactic, acknowledging, "I have no idea why I am here."

Her patients are grateful that she is here. Her gentle hands, strong faith and firm belief in healthy choices guide them to live better lives. Along with up to date methods of treatments, including ultrasound, she listens to her patients, stores the information and uses it to heal them.

Rose loves to travel and occasionally takes trips to enrich her general and spiritual knowledge. Once she was given a chance to go to Isreal with a group of church members. Although she really wanted to go and had the money she helf off making a decision. She is very family oriented and knew if she spent the money on the trip she would be less available to help her family if they needed something.

She said, "In the middle of the night I sat bold upright in my bed and exclaimed "why didn't I know I am supposed to go to Isreal?"

The next day she got an email inviting her to go on the trip from a person who told her, "I suddenly sat bolt upright in my bed and exclaimed, "I need to invite Rose on the trip."

Not being able to ignore the parallel of events Rose agreed to go. Feeling a bit guilty about the money she said a silent prayer that it would be nice if someone decided to sponsor her. The next day she got another email from a generous friend who decided to do just that. To her surprise her plane fare and accomodations had been taken of. Rose had a wonderful trip, taking in biblical facts and places she had only read about.

Even though she is far away from her family who live in Florida it is not unusual for her to hop on a plane and drop in for a visit for a weekend or a week. That is where she can be found on most major holidays and important family events. When she goes home she said, "Everyone lines up for free adjustments."

Her mother often nudges Rose to get married but, she she enjoys her life just as it is. She works when she needs to, travels when she wants to and has a personal relationship with her creator. Generally speaking she has a great life and is now the only chiropractor in Grants, NM. She has come a long way from that little nine year old girl who couldn't even speak English when she came to this country.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Alvino S.

As stated in my last post the residents of Cibola County are generally not eager to accept new ideas, even when they are healthy. Partly because of long standing diets the area has a large number of diabetics, especially amoung the Native American population. A few years ago Alvina S., who graduated from Grants High School in 2000, saw a need for offering healthier choices and decided to do something about it.

His quest for fitness began in high school where he played basketball and in his senior year lifted weights. He worked out with personal trainers and began asking them how they became fit. He was told that fitness is an individual jouirney. It was suggested that he educate himself by reading and trying new options.

Moving on to college in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Alvino checked out Herbalife and eventually became a customer. He liked the way the product worked and his interest led him to investigate becoming a distributor. On March 28, 2011 he opened Right Track Nutrition in Grants. The tiny building his business occupied was built in 2002 and briefly housed "Coffee and...", which offered coffee and bagels. It had sat empty for several years just waiting for the right entrepreneur. Its motif had been centered on train tracks, as they can be seen from the back windows of the building. Right Track Nutrition was a perfect name for a healthier choice.

Alvino has a Bachelor degree in hotel, Restaurant and Tourism as well as Associate degrees in Marketing and Business administration. He said, "I needed to make good use of ten years of my college education."

A business of his own was a positive step forward and his hometown was the best place to take that step. Alvina spent four months being mentored by Herbalife business owners before becoming an independent distributor himself. Along the way he noticed that females around his age were most likely to be interested in the concept of Herbalife. He commented, "guys are more interested in muscles than nutrition and I hope to change that attitude."

He also hoped to convince coaches and parents to encourage high school athletes to try the products. With the help of family and friends Alvina began to spread the word. He manned booths at community events to help educate and encourage the community to choose healthy lifestyles. He maintained a facebook page to keep followers up to date on walks, runs and other fitness activities he sponsored. He offered the message,"Get on the right track with a healthier today."

Working eleven hours in the store didn't leave Alvino much time for anything else, but he also peridically offered what he called "boot camp" for the community when time allowed. It consisted of about an hour to an hour and a half of rigorous exercise, using skills everyone learned as children, such as jumping jacks. Distributors are free to use their own imagination and knowledge to promote their business, which makes them their own boss.

Alvino represents the younger mindset that is slowly emerging in Cibola County. When asked what his parents thought about the risk he took to open his own business he replied, "At first they were hesitant, but now they are proud of me."

Unfortunately, Alvino's ideas and hard work did not last. On March 24, 2013 he offered the following statement to the community: "I would like to announce that Right Track Nutrition is closing its doors for good. I gave it my best shot, It just didn't work out around here. So I'm closed for good."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mixing old and new

Grants, NM is an old town partly made up of old buildings, old traditions and yes a lot of old people with old ideas that are not easily changed. Every now and then someone comes along with vision and "surprise", the result is a new way of looking at things.

During this last week an old bar/lounge sitting on a corner of the main street of town was completely demolished in about two days by a private demolition company. The only evidence of what was is the tall old fashioned sign- Roarin' 20's.

This building has been an eyesore for years and blocked the entrance to the current mortuary, which also has an interesting history. It used to be the post office. Imagine that!

A few years ago this building was sold to a private funeral director who wanted to offer people a more personal experience than a corporation could provide. After renovating the building he and his family opened Compassion Mortuary. Shortly after that the corporation owning the only other mortuary left town.

On the East end of Grants there once stood the 4 B's restaurant, which was part of a chain. The day came when that too was sold and literally taken down piece by piece. It was interesting to watch the daily progress. In its place today stands the newest of the motels on that end of town, the Holiday Inn Express.

There are two examples in Grants of the fact that it isn't always necessary to destroy something old in order to create something new. The first is an old church left vacant for several years. It was purchased by a couple of very hard working individuals who worked their tails off to restore the building. They turned it into a gallery with a little cafe. The cafe no longer exists, but the gallery is still giving the owner a place to exhibit his work.
Another restored building was the original Grants jail. The building has had other lives in its history. It was a bakery and for several years El Jardin, a Mexican restraunt. It sat vacant for some time until a person with new vision renovated it and it became Bella Vita, the only Itallian restraunt in the area.
The last building on my list of mixing old and new is one sitting on a hill above town, visable to all who happen to look up. It housed the police department for some time, but is on a city list to be demolished because it is crumbling. There is no hope for this building and I for one will be celebrating when it is replaced by something new.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Inspirational clouds

Along with beautiful sunsets Cibola County offers an inspirational array of cloud formations. These were viewed from my front porch.