Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sending Everything Positive to Elizabeth Years Stevens, Today: She's Got This! Ubuntu!

Dear Elizabeth,

We met in 2008 when Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott made us writing partners in a doctoral seminar where you were working on a piece reviewing Ralph Fletcher's advice and I was thinking critically about Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Weekly, we updated one another on our writing and we offered, where we could, ways to sharpen our writing before we sent it out for publication.

I'm proud to say we were both successful!

Since then, you and I have shared our experiences through taking courses, finishing a research apprenticeship, proposing papers for the Literacy Research Association, crafting an IRB, fulfilling FPP obligations, designing a study, collecting data, and carrying forth the monstrous dissertation.

Together, we had the irreplaceable experience of bonding with Dr. Kristiina Montero's Local Literacies, Global Histories project, too. Both of us were changed forever from that experience (and my life flew into a new direction - a journey I am still on). We took flights together, dined together, stressed together, laughed together, worried together, and accomplished together.

Today, however, is your day to do what you've been crafting for the last six years. You have proven yourself as a teacher and as a one-of-a-kind mother for two beautiful daughters. You have also proven the power of maintaining a relationship with a generous husband who understood the reasons why you and I 'married' our research and, at times, one another, to get through the process. I can't wait to have a beer with him and, well, your parents, too. They were there for it all.

I am, sadly, unable to be at Syracuse University's School of Education and the Reading and Language Arts Center this morning for moral, emotional, intellectual, and social support - I am there, however, with spirit, karma, friendship, and alliance. The hard work and investment culminating today is the result of devotion, commitment, passion, and your love for excellence. Embrace every second today.

It all belongs to you and I have nothing but pride and appreciation for what you've accomplished. You are a part of the SU community and, if you ever had any doubt, think about our Ubuntu Matters symposium last year in Texas - We are who we are because of who we are together. 
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
I am in Connecticut now, the region of Helen Keller and her influence on the teaching world. Literacy is multidimensional and complicated, and we are only scratching the surface of its power. From the time you've committed to this work, you have found a way to empower others with your questions, interests, scholarship, and work ethic: students, future teachers, practitioners, leaders, and colleagues.

You've got this! I am thinking of you.


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