Saturday, August 30, 2014

Coming up for air….

Tubing on Lake Webb with my nephews at the controls. 
Hosting international students sure does force me out of my element. Rasmus and Felix have been here for 2 weeks and a day. They're exhausted; I'm pooped; Bailey's up for more activity. Up at 5:30 a.m. this morning, I took the boys to the bus for a soccer tournament in Lisbon. They were dragging. "We leave in 16 minutes!" No sign of either of them. "Twelve minutes!" We made the bus but not without some anxiety-ridden moments.

I received an email yesterday from the boys' organization, Youth for Understanding. They're still trying to place 49 kids. Wow… I can't imagine how those kids feel sitting at home without an American family.

As usual, I'm keeping a blog of the boys' experiences for their families and friends. Scroll through their website/blog to get a sense of what we've been up to the past few weeks.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Growing the family, yet again… 38/60

Jose, Bar Harbor, 1985
This coming Monday, Jose, Noemi, Sofia, and Felipe Ytuarte will arrive in Weld for a weeklong holiday. I hosted Jose as an exchange student when Allen Jr. lived with me in the 1980s. Now, 30 years later, this lifelong friendship is as easy and fulfilling as family.

Over the years I have welcomed many international students into my home. These kids have helped expand a part of my life in ways that teaching and coaching have. But welcoming teenagers into your home on a 24/7 basis goes well beyond a teachers' life. Ha! Talk about understatement.

Sofia, Felipe, Jose, and Noemi c. 2011

After a couple of years away from hosting, I've jumped back in… and happily so. Meet Rasmus and Felix from Denmark and Germany. Involved, smart, and athletic kids, these boys are taking a year away from family and friends to explore the American way of life, to better their English, and to have a good time.  Bailey and I--and the Rumford community--will do our best to make this a terrific year in the USA for both young men.

Felix, Bailey Tuckerman, and Rasmus, August 15, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A life of contemplation

One with the carpet… click to enlarge. 
I wonder what he's thinking about, not that dogs think. I wonder if this pose is one of expectation as he waits for the next treat, scratch, pat, bowl of food, soft words, brush, walk, hike, ride….

Perhaps he's sniffing his back paw and all the great smells he came upon this morning on our walk. Maybe there's leftover peanut butter from yesterday's Kong, stuffed with cookies and smeared with Jiff. 

Or maybe he's thinking about the long gentle road up Red Hill or the pool on top of the Parker Ridge Trail where he rested after summiting on a hot August day. Maybe he remembers last night's belly rub or the long strokes of the brush down the middle of his back.

Top of Parker Ridge with Tumbledown Mt and Crater Lake in the background.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hiking up to think back: Whitecap with Darren Miller

"Treats galore!" Darren & Bailey
on Whitecap's western summit.
Click photo to enlarge.  
What a terrific summer for meeting up with former student-athletes. Today, Darren Miller and I hiked Whitecap Mountain's main trail and trucked over to the Connector Trail near tree line. Darren played on the Rumford High School varsity soccer team and skied for the RHS varsity ski team back in the 1980s. He also reminded me that he attended the Rumford Learning Center as a first-year student when I ran that little school out of my home.

Darren: Whitecap's west summit
Click to enlarge photo.   
An officer in the US Air Force, Darren is stationed in Germany where he met his wife Margit ("Hi, Margit! I look forward to meeting you some day!"). This November, Darren will retire from active duty after 20 years of service to his country and create a new professional life. "Such things to be!"

I love reconnecting with former students so many years later. It's interesting to hear about their lives. I remember Darren as a bright-eyed teenager filled with positive energy–he always wore a smile. Darren had a slew of active friends and loved soccer, skiing, and tennis.  It's fascinating to come to know the adult version of former student-colleagues. Their stories of days gone by spark many memories… what a great way to hike a mountain.

See you again, Darren!

Click to enlarge. 
The old guy and his hiking partner. 

Toward Concord Pond. 

Western View Toward Sunday River and the Presidential Range. 

Toward the Androscoggin River Valley

Monday, August 4, 2014

Exploring the Black Mountain Glades

Aurele Legere Ski Jump, Black Mountain, c. 1981
Click on pictures to enlarge. 
On a hike up the glades of Black Mountain today, I discovered the old take off for the Aurele Legere 55 meter Ski Jump. The remains are all twisted metal and boards. Jeff Knight, the former ski area manager, told me the porcupines had gotten to the jump's wooden support columns.

As I stared at the pile of debris on my hike, I remembered sitting up on top of the jump during the summer of 1981. The wind blew and rocked the tower back and forth while I drafted my poem, "Summer Jump."

The rest of the hike through several glades and main trails sucked the wind out of us because the temperature and humidity were both fairly high. Nonetheless, a good hike with interesting memories.

Bailey in the glades

Western Mountains of Maine

Cooling mechanism in full swing! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Papers for Full Professor… 37/60

July has been focused on two classes, several writing projects, and paperwork to advance to full professor (plus as many afternoon hikes as I could arrange). I've called my bid for full professor the "last hoop" of my academic career.

If you're not familiar with academic rankings, most universities follow a similar hierarchy:

–Adjunct, a part-time instructor
–Clinical instructor, lecturer, research associate, or research professor (non-tenure track positions that are often fixed termed like 3 years in length)
–Assistant professor (tenure track, full time)
–Associate professor (with tenure)
–Full professor

I've held all of these posts, except "full," starting as an adjunct lecturer with at University of Maine at Farmington in 1986. I taught 3-4 courses per semester in the English department for 3 1/2 years. These jobs pay around $2000 per course with no benefits. Universities now hire many adjunct instructors to keep costs low.

Generally, it takes 6 years of work to move from assistant professor to associate. Beyond being hired for a tenure-track position, reaching associate professor with tenure is the big prize. If you're not familiar with tenure, check out this explanation online. Advancement to associate happens once you've conducted research studies and published, received reasonable teaching evaluations, and provided service to your department, college, university, and beyond.

During each of those 6 years, a professor puts together an overview of work accomplished and that collection is reviewed and written about by the peer committee, associate dean, and dean of the college. Next, the dean makes a recommendation to the provost (vice president of the university and chief academic officer) for rehiring (or not) and the provost  makes a recommendation to the president. Each year, an assistant professor receives a letter from the university president saying "upon the recommendation of the Provost…"

To advance from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure, the hoop gets bigger –or– perhaps I should say tighter! If you're doing poorly at year 4, the powers-that-be tell you and either give you a year to find a new job or provide you a mentor if they think you're worth salvaging. (No pressure, professor. No pressure.)

Selected books to be sent to my 3 external reviewers
with about 9 articles, a cover letter, and my CV 
To move on to full professor, a person needs to be a recognized expert in the field. At Research I universities like the University of Maine, UCLA, or University of Vermont, a professor must be well published and have a well-rounded CV. The first step in moving to "full" is to find three outside experts in your field to review and write about your academic materials. These external reviewers must be full professors or well qualified university administrators. I've spent a month organizing my cover letter, CV, and publications for the external reviewers. I also had to buy some of my own books to ship off to them. Education books are expensive even with a 40% author's discount.  

Th next step... the associate professor follows a standard protocol and presents papers to the college/department peer committee. Those papers go up the line to the president, and if she approves, the papers go to the Board of Trustees. (No pressure, professor.)

For me, this process is happening June 2014 through March 2015. Tuesday, my materials go to my external reviewers. In October, my papers go to the peer committee and start their journey through the university hierarchy.

I remember my first day at UMaine, September 2003. I was walking across campus and happened to see our college's associate dean, Anne Pooler. She had been a career academic after a stint as a high school social studies teacher. With her always present smile, Anne called out across the quad, "Good morning, professor!" The pressure was on.