Tag Archives: Albania

Year in Photos 2016

Sometimes pictures are better than words. They can tell more of a story, inviting the reader to infer their meaning, ask questions about their significance to the writer, and wonder what happened before and after the snapshot was taken. I’ve been telling a story of my year in photos for the past couple of years (click here for my year in photos for 2014 and 2015), and it is an exercise I enjoy, looking back through my year’s photos, deciding which ones to include and which ones are better left out. Without further adieu, here is my 2016 year in photos, in chronological order.

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Last Day

Today was the last day of school with students, but for some reason, it didn’t feel like a typical last day of school. It’s weird. Normally, the end of school has a buzz to it. There’s an excitement in the air that is palpable. I’m not quite sure why today didn’t feel like that to me. Maybe it was because while today was the last full day, students are returning to school for 2 hours on Friday for an assembly and to pick up their reports and portfolios. Maybe it’s because I was glued to the computer most of the day editing said reports. Maybe it’s because many of our students were absent, already on holiday and enjoying the beach. Maybe it’s because it’s a Tuesday. Usually last days are Fridays, which naturally bring excitement. Or maybe it was a combination of all of it. I guess it’s just hard to imagine being done this week. I want that feeling that normally accompanies the end of the year to make it feel done.

We have a lot to celebrate this year. We came together, this bunch of very talented educators, and formed a team. We learned how to collaborate with one another, and we created a school. There’s something really magical about that. Ten months ago, ACT was just a vision. We made it a reality, and we should be proud of that. We inspired students. We nurtured a school community. We developed curriculum and policies and reports and systems. We supported one another through the hard times, and we celebrated the good ones. We did it…together.

While this year was tough, as any first year of a brand new school probably is, I have my team to thank. They have worked so hard to create a real school that we can be proud of, and for that, I am grateful. So, even though today didn’t feel like the last day, it’s okay. Maybe it will on Friday.

Adrenaline

There’s something about the end of the school year that just gets my adrenaline pumping. The combination of the million things that have to be done, the dress up days for Spirit Week, the reflecting on the year’s accomplishments, the fast pace of trying to squeeze it all in, the weekends with friends enjoying the sunshine, the kids buzzing with excitement, the flurry of teacher interviews and meetings with prospective parents telling them about how awesome my school is…all of this and more adds to the adrenaline pumping through my veins. MY brain is in overdrive and I’m having trouble sleeping, but I keep going, working toward that finish line. Once I reach it, I know I’ll be exhausted and in need of a break. This is why schools invented summer breaks. As much as the kids need a break from the go-go-go, so do teachers and administrators (even more I think!).

And then summer comes and I get to breathe. I get to do what I want to do, and it’s amazing! Things like sleeping in, having long, wandering conversations with friends and family you haven’t seen in a year, reading for pleasure, barbecues with loved ones, going to the cinema, shopping (!!), having more time and space to write, really reflecting on the past year and making plans about how to improve when I come back in August, trying out new recipes, and swimming and laying out in the sun.

I have two more weeks of adrenaline. Two more weeks to get it all done. Two more weeks to say goodbyes. Two more weeks to enjoy my students and teachers. Two more weeks to enjoy Tirana before heading out for six weeks of traveling and visiting home. Two more weeks until the first year at ACT is done. As much as I want time to slow down, I know it’s going to be here in no time. I’m going to try and slow down as much as I can, take it all in, and enjoy all that our team has accomplished this year. Starting a new school is hard work, but the rewards are great!

Brought in 35 with a BANG!

So…my birthday was last week, and I celebrated on Saturday night with an epic theme party (oh how I love a good theme party)! My friend Keri and I planned one of the best parties I’ve ever had! The theme was Prom, and the plan was a scavenger hunt bar crawl. The best part was that we actually had a surprise prom set up at the last bar, complete with decorations, a photo booth, snacks, cake, and spiked punch.

It all began with the invitation…including a picture of me at my Junior Prom (19 years ago!!!). Oh man, I had such a baby face back then!

IMG_1904Next up was planning the scavenger hunt…this was definitely the most fun part of the planning process! We categorized the tasks into photos, videos, things to collect, and drinks to drink. The best part was that all photos and videos had to be uploaded to Instagram throughout the night with the hashtag #keslerprompubcrawl so we could follow the other groups and see what they were up to!

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We all met up at one bar, got into teams (we were Team Spice Girls), and began working our way through the scavenger hunt. Along the way, there were checkpoints where we would see our friends/competitors and trash talk one another. Some of my favorite tasks were singing “I’m a Little Teapot” (with motions) in front of a slew of people at a crowded bar, finding a stranger to play Rock, Paper, Scissors (we had to teach him first!), and me convincing a stranger to let me try his food (it was good, by the way).

The Prom party at the end was AMAZING! Not only did it look (almost) like a real prom, but we had hired a DJ to play music that would have been at my prom, so everyone was dancing and singing along to songs like Will Smith’s Getting Jiggy With It, K-Ci & Jojo’s All My Life, and N’Sync’s Bye, Bye, Bye! Everyone had a ball taking selfies and group shots in front of the photo booth display. At the end of the night, we even crowned a Prom King and Queen…and guess who was Prom Queen?!? Yep…you guessed it! It was me! 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the night…it was definitely hard to narrow it down to just a few!

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35 was definitely one to remember…I had a BLAST! 🙂

 

Surrounded by PYP…and Loving It!

Holding dual roles at school means that sometimes I wear one hat more than the other. Lately my PYP Coordinator hat has been on more often, as our Exhibition has been fast-approaching (it’s TOMORROW!). Last week and this week, I have been surrounded by PYP– literally. I can’t seem to get away from it, but I sorta love it!

As I mentioned, our Exhibition presentations are tomorrow. Our Grade 5 students, teachers, and mentors have been working their little tails off getting ready for this momentous occasion for the past 6 weeks. Their collaborative, in-depth inquiry has lead them to some really interesting learning experiences and to take action in their local community. Here’s a video of their journey thus far. Today, I attended a field trip to our sister school, ACD, to attend their Exhibition, and then worked with the students on perfecting their presentations and display boards. I think know we are ready!


In addition to the Exhibition, we held a PYP training for all staff this past Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately I was sick and could not attend all of the training, but the teachers did some amazing thinking and reflection while I was gone!

A documentary made about our school, and how we teach, was just released online today. It shows what it’s like attending and teaching at an international school in Albania, but also what it means to have an IB education. We are a candidate school for all 3 programmes of the IB- PYP, MYP, and DP!

Lastly, today during recess, I was drawn to a group of girls who were playing in the field. I watched them a short while and noticed they were gathering items and piling them up. I decided to investigate. After approaching the group (one in preschool, one in Grade 1, and two in Grade 2), I asked them what they were doing. They explained they were building a nest for the birds. When I questioned them further, they explained that people are cutting down trees, so birds no longer have homes, therefore they built a nest for the birds. They included leaves, flowers, dried twigs, berries, and a long stick. The berries were for food, of course, and the stick was so the bird could locate the nest and have something to sit on. The interesting thing is that they are all learning about Sharing the Planet at this time, although their Central Ideas vary. This group of girls decided, on their own during their free time, to take action to help animals who are losing their homes. If that’s not PYP, I don’t know what is!

It’s moments like this that remind me of why I do what I do and why I believe in it so much!

Putting Some Zen On It #sol16 29 of 31

I went to IKEA a few weeks ago, and ever since, I’ve been itching to put all my stuff away and organize my apartment. Since I’ve been out of the country the past three weekends, I simply haven’t had the time. Once I got home yesterday, I started on my room. Tonight I picked up where I left off, finishing up my room and the living room.

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I was pretty happy with my place before, but now it’s got my stamp on it. I feel so zen and peaceful in my room now. For one thing, plants bring life and vibrancy into what was once dull and lifeless. I just love how a place can be spruced up simply by adding some green plants! Before the transformation, I had these heavy, ornate, large lamps on my bedside tables. The light they gave off was harsh and too bright. My new lamps give off a warm glow, and make it feel so much more of home-y. I’m big on lighting! I organized my drawers, throwing out a bunch of junk and putting everything in the right place. Now my bedside tables are no longer cluttered, and are able to hold some art and plants, and my writer’s notebook, of course. I love hanging out in here now!

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I made a few minor changes to the living room. I swapped the old floor lamp for softer lighting. The previous one flickered every time you turned it on, and was very distracting. I also added some new artwork and pictures that I had recently bought. Plants and candles complete the transformation, making it more like home.

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I can’t wait to finish the rest of the house! I want to reorganize the bathroom with all of my cute new baskets and bins that I picked up. My kitchen is in serious need of some reorganization, too. I plan on clearing out all the unused dishes cluttering my cabinets, which will make it easier to find what I want. Lastly, I can’t wait to finish organizing my guest room, making it more colorful and inviting. This weekend should be the perfect time to get it all done. I am in town this weekend, and I’m so happy to stay put!

A Year in Photos- 2015 #sol16 20 of 31

Last year, I wrote a post sharing my favorite photos from 2014. This was a really great way to reflect on my year, and to relive some of my favorite moments. So here goes 2015’s year in photos (in chronological order). I hope you enjoy! 🙂

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All photos copyright of Jennifer Kesler. Please do not use without permission.