Today is Wednesday, June 21, 2017. I leave for Chicago this coming Saturday. Less than 3 days away. I have already started packing. You know when you are going to be gone from home for 4 weeks and you don’t know what the weather will or what to expect day to day you can wind up packing a lot of stuff. Maybe when I load my car I will post pictures of all my bags on social media.

As I have been packing my stuff I have been getting very excited about my trip. I guess I should explain a little bit of why I am even going to Chicago for a month. I was selected as a summer scholar for a NEH (National Endowment for Humanities) Summer Research/Fellowship program. My program is titled Rethinking the Gilded Age and Progressivisms: Race, Capitalism, 1877-1920.  Yeah that is a mouthful, so going forward we are going to refer to it with the hashtag #GAPE both here and on social media.

The process for being selected as a summer scholar was rather unexpected. Several months ago I was sitting at my desk at home one Saturday afternoon. I had Twitter opened on my laptop and was casually reading through random posts. I came across a post by an education specialist for the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank about summer NEH programs. I was intrigued, so I checked out the link. I instantly thought all of the various programs sounded amazing. I immediately knew out of the various options; the Chicago study of #GAPE was the most compelling to me. I also thought Stephanie would be against me leaving for a month. I asked her about it and she was supportive. She thought it would be good for me to apply. So I did.

I quickly set about obtaining letters of recommendation from my principals and wrote an essay. A few weeks later I mailed off my application. I then waited anxiously for the decision date. I received word that I was selected as an alternate. I was disappointed but decided to be ok with it. I started to check out other plans for the summer, mostly involving AP Summer Institutes. A few weeks later late one night I was watching an Oklahoma City Thunder game. I checked my email during a timeout and I had a message informing me my status had changed from an alternate to a participant. I was ecstatic. Stephanie was too.

So that leads me to here, 3 days away from leaving. I have read a lot to prepare for the conference. I am 98% packed. I am excited. I am nervous. I will be 12 hours away from home. I will be away from Stephanie and my children for 4 weeks. I know I will miss them like crazy before I return. I also know this is an amazing opportunity and it will expand my knowledge and abilities as an educator.

If you want to follow along with my trip and occasional sightseeing I will be posting updates here on this portion of my website.  Feel free to join the discussion through the comments or social media.

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