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I am a delightfully unique person who had to create this website to help cope with having Multiple Sclerosis, MS.

This page is a general overview of my life, what is like to be me. There are two more pages that will be developed over time that share parts of my life with Pete and specific stories of what it was like in the classrooms in which I have been employed. If you are curious about some of the EDTECH stuff I've done. check out this page.

In spite of having MS, I have still managed to accomplish the following achievements, had the following experiences, or been a part of these happenings:

Graduated from college Magna Cum Laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. I did not know that when my vision split my junior year, age 20, that it was most likely my first MS symptom.

Earned a Masters Degree from University of California, Davis in plant pathology. UC Davis's plant pathology program is one of the best in the nation. I left a program I originally intended to pursue through to the PhD, but I lost my ability to read and comprehend a lot of stuff in my second year. I chose to finish with the MS my third year. The inability to read and focus was quite possibly due to the demyelination going on in my brain.

Earned a teaching credential the following year from California State University at Sacramento, which is a very good school for getting a teaching credential. Even though they could not work with me to get a credential for chemistry, I submitted my paperwork to the credential office in Sacramento and they approved the chemistry supplement. My California credential is for life science, even though I have never taught college-prep biology. While at Sac State, I went to their health clinic to get my eyes checked. Finally, after not being able to see clearly for five years and struggling with reading, I finally saw an eye doctor who was able to put glasses on my face that work. The words stopped moving all over the page, I was able to focus on what I was reading, and leaves suddenly had edges again. What an amazing feat this doctor achieved for me! I wish I had written down his name because he made one of the largest impacts on my life that could ever be done. After all, the people at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye clinic told me that I was imagining things, and the neurological ophthalmologist at UC Davis Medical Center was only able to tell me I had perfect eyes from what they could tell.

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March 1998 was incredibly significant for me. On March 4 I learned that I had an 80% chance of having Multiple Sclerosis and on March 5, I found out my district not only approved the biotechnology course I proposed, but they were giving me $10,000 to start the class. Turns out the MS is 100% certain, and my piece of crap body only let me get 5 years of teaching the class I created with some of the most amazing kids I have ever met.

After leaving that school, which had become like a family to me, I was a bit lost for a while. Fortunately I had a clue how to create websites so I created (or .net) and somehow was able to connect with some of my former students. I did not join Facebook until its later years, actually until after I got married, so it was mainly random websites or ones I created that let me connect with students from my recent past. I owe several students gratitude for putting up with my emails and inquisitions about what they are doing with themselves. My world had become the school where I was teaching, creating my craft so that these kids could be prepared for college and possibly beyond, and when I left that particular classroom, too much changed.

I did a few short term jobs for a couple years. I was a BTSA coach for four new teachers for a year. That was one of my favorite jobs because it was my job to be their private cheerleader. I got to spend time in their classrooms, and after watching them teach for some time, we got to celebrate what they were doing that was amazing. The sneaky thing is, though, that they did not realize how amazing they were. It was total joy for me to show them what they were doing correctly, and why they were good teachers. This job was actually after a year and a half of working with science student teachers. That job with the local university, unfortunately, was a disaster. It could have been amazing but my co-worker who co-taught the course with me refused to collaborate. She told me flat out that she did not collaborate and for me, that proved to be too difficult to deal with. I love collaboration and it really was not until this past year with taking classes at Boise State that I've started to recover from the year and a half of no collaboration with the student teacher co-superivisor, and the three years at my last teaching position where nobody really cared what I had to say or was thinking.

In 2005 I created my own business, Online School Surveys, and it was still going until 2011 when I decided to put my career focus on online teaching. I started at Boise State in their Masters of Educational Technology program officially in summer 2011 and have loved all except for one or two of my classes there. For the most part my fellow students are serious people who are very talented. One might not immediately think of Boise State as being a source for creative people, but I can tell you that these are some of the most hard-working individuals I have met in a long time. I love being an online student there.

As for other interesting tasks I've completed while having MS symptoms... I have served on several WASC visiting committees, and love doing those school visits. There is something amazing when I am on a committee that works really well together. Not every VC has been a ball of laughs, but the few that have been real collaborative efforts were amazing. I have learned a great deal about how well schools can work, about how amazing kids can be in some very challenging situations, and how awesome some of my colleagues are throughout Northern California.

In my last teaching position I learned first-hand what it is like to be physically disabled in the SF Bay Area when riding public transit or teaching at a school where I was one of the oldest teachers on staff. I was 0.2 FTE and it is amazing how I felt like only 20% of a person when I was at that school. I don't know if they were aware of the extent of bias against me because of my disability, at least I think it was because of my disability. Things like not being able to walk through the classroom in which I taught, not having a place where I could sit and get work done, or even having a place to sit during faculty meetings was a challenge. Routinely I was not given hand-outs or was excluded from inside jokes or collaborative happenings. It is no wonder the MS gave me a symptom that forced me out of the classroom: dizziness and vertigo. There are no Western medications to combat dizziness. It was not until summer 2010, over six months after the dizziness started that I was given a treatment that works with dizziness, Chinese herbs.

I've been doing acupuncture since 2004 and scalp acupuncture since 2005, but I always refused to take Chinese herbs. I am sensitive to caffeine, and something else that I've never been able to identify. Because I don't know what is going to set off the reaction, I tend to avoid new foods or new spices. Pretty much all teas cause a caffeine reaction so I avoid tea in all shapes and forms. I was desperate and my acupuncture doctor convinced me to try her herbs. Guess what? That is the ONLY thing that will ease the dizziness. Yes, I am still dizzy at times, and this last month I had a few weeks of vertigo. I strongly dislike vertigo because bed spins or world spins are not fun. Plus I get nauseous. I am now back on the Chinese herbs and am trying a new diet. For the last two weeks things have been calming down and I even drove today without any troubles. I pretty much stopped driving at the end of 2009 because I won't drive when I am dizzy. I also started using a rollator pretty much full time in 2008 because of balance issues. Today I got around at the local stores without the rollator, and I drove myself there. I don't know how long it has been since I've had this much freedom to go do things. I expect a relapse will happen because they always do, but maybe this time it won't keep me at home as much as I have been the last two years.

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Although I have MS and started using a rollator pretty much full-time in 2008, I passed National Boards in 2010. It took me 3 years, but I am a NBCT, AYA science. I wanted to complete NB at the first school where I taught, but with a full time schedule, coping with learning what MS would do to me, and starting a biotech class, I could not find time to do the NB process. I need to thank my mom for supporting me financially, otherwise I could not have done the NB process at all. My second school couldn't care less about someone doing NB, especially if it was me, the disabled chick who is only 1/5 of a person. To date, I have not received any monetary recognition of this achievement, and only two states that I applied to for a credential have extended the deadline for credential renewal because of the NBCT. One state did accept the NBCT as recognition of HQT status, which is more than the last two school districts I taught in did for me. I'm a NBCT without a paper from any of my previous districts verifying that I'm HQT, and apparently the credentialing people in CA don't bother with such nonsense. I want to thank National University for the recognition they give to NBCT because to date, I have not come across any other entity, public or private that celebrates the accomplishment.

There are a few things that I stopped doing because of the MS and it may be possible for some of the things I miss doing to be able to happen again because of the treatment I am getting from my current acupuncturist. I do not expect to be able to go back to how I was before the symptoms became disabling, but I may be able to exercise again and drive long distances. Before the MS, I used to rock climb, exercise on a regular basis, coach girls tennis, drive long distances, and attend school events like prom, sports games, or take students on field trips over spring break. In the early years of the MS I was still able to take students on field trips to local science museums on Friday nights with the help of fellow teachers who volunteered to drive some kids, and take them on Saturday afternoons to other science museums on my own using public transit. I used to try to get to at least one game for every sport I knew students played every season. I loved going to proms and celebrating this happy time with the kids.

Update June 2015:

I've completed the Masters in Educational Technology and have two certificates: Online Teaching and a Certificate in Technology Integration. I have met some amazing people who will truly be leaders in this field. If you want to see some of the things I tinkered with doing while at Boise State University (online), check out my edtech page.

Update April 2016

I changed the layout here and now have a section listing many of the websites I've created in the last 10+ years. Embrace challenge started in 2005, but I moved it away from its original site in 2016 because my original hosting company stopped supporting older versions of Dreamweaver. I still have not finished updating links in the science links page because my focus at the moment is to migrate away from the first hosting company, finish creating Science Teachers Stuff so I can have some income, and write grants so we can actually do our nonprofit.



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