Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Mar 27 2012

Tribute to Sarah, 2009 Delta CM.

Sarah Saw In her third grade classroom, Sarah Saw twenty-some kids who, for their next project, should write a non-fiction text. Sarah Saw twenty-some kids who should learn about their individual and collective impact in their own lives, in their own classroom, in their school community, town community, state, nation, and world. Sarah Saw a…

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Mar 05 2012

So level-headed.

I am notoriously unfeeling. Alexis says, “But that’s just Caroline,” whenever someone complains about me seeming callous. I can be pretty excellent at eliminating emotion and getting down to it, tearing through problems and blatantly telling people they’re wrong. But every once in a while something will sneak up, and it’s like havingĀ  thumbs gripping…

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Mar 08 2011

To be a better human.

Spring is a time for reinvention and renewal. The things that have been lingering in my head are e.e. cummings and Justin Beiber. Don’t criticize me. Something (another thing) I love about Teach For America is the value of Continuously Increasing Effectiveness. All of the values (see them here) are intertwined and play off each…

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Jul 15 2010


Because I have a lesson plan that must be finished in the next hour and thirty-one minutes that I have yet to begin, I will consolidate the past few days: 1) My computer had a semi-meltdown in which the keyboard and mouse refused to continue functioning. Wal-Mart (grimace) saved me, as I purchased a USB…

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Jul 11 2010

Hello, Dumas.

Today I met the next two years of my life. I drove with the other three CMs placed in Dumas: Ben, Brittany and Laura. It’s a little over two hours from Cleveland. For some reason I expect everything labeled a “small town” to be like Norway, South Carolina. This is a fallacy. Dumas is small…

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Jul 06 2010

Worst day of institute version 2.0

Today was a series of worst moments and almost-tears. This included a heavy heart carried over from weekend conversations, very poor management implementation during school, a disappointing observation, my computer pooping out for half an hour (hard drive crash? everything frozen after 5 re-starts??), and an overall defeatist attitude. I walked around campus moping, then…

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I wrote a long entry, it was lost. Summarized: I went to Jackson with four amazing girls I didn’t know well. Sarah, Sarah, Sally and Tootsie. One car, one night, Jackson. It made me want to live in a place surrounded by people. It was so uplifting, it was exactly what I needed. I miss…

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Jul 03 2010

Sickling makes it through the week.

Monday: Caroline wakes up thinking she must have clenched her teeth in her sleep, but realizes the (fairly intense) pain is actually deep in her ear. At school, she is observed by her CMA (Corps Member Advisor) and SD (School Director). Big deal. Her lesson is a miserable failure, she is eager for feedback. Gets…

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Jun 26 2010

You forgot the zero.

The day after my “hardest day” I got this from Auntie Sue, my mom’s best friend since the fifth grade: She loves you so much. She told me when you were little and when I was getting my teaching certificate that she thought of all of her babies, Caroline would be the teacher. She knew!…

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Jun 23 2010

The Longest Day

Though I’m sure I’ll have more and more days to triumph in struggle over this one, today has been my most taxing day I’ve had as a CM. Surprisingly, it has nothing (or very little) to do with the fact that it was my first day teaching an actual lesson. I have eleven students in…

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Jun 20 2010

Teacher’s Eve

As I write, I am in a tank top and skort (!) sitting in the Delta State University student union with my collab (read: collaborative partner; person who is teaching the same group of kids I am during all of institute), melting. It is 101 degrees outside and will likely remain so for the next…

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Jun 15 2010


Today: Woke up at 5am, breakfast, bag lunch, bus. 25 minutes to my school site: 5th and 6th grade Levee-Bowl Academy, which is a fake name we made for two combined counties at my school. We’re the closest school to Institute, with the farthest being just about an hour’s busride away. Long day, minimal (VERY…

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Interview day and the last day of induction. I had two interviews, one for a k-6 elementary school in northern Mississippi whose total school population is about 270 kids & whose principal I immediately felt aligned with. Another for a 4-6 school where I would hypothetically teach technical writing to sixth graders on smart boards…

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Jun 10 2010

the Delta, I’m in it.

Yesterday I woke up at 5:30, folded the last of my laundry, hugged Loren & Auntie goodbye, and moved to Mississippi. The ride was fine, all 14 hours: I tiredly talked on the phone, jammed to Justin Timberlake, and screamed every once in a while. Arriving on campus was a bit too real. When I…

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Jun 07 2010


For all those inquiring, my address from June 8 through July 17 is as follows: Caroline Lampinen / Corps Member c/o Teach For America – MS Delta Delta State University Box B4 1003 West Sunflower Road Cleveland, MS 38733 Make sure you include the “/ Corps Member” or “/CM” !!

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Jun 05 2010

Second Observation

Today I went to Kalamazoo Christian Middle School to watch Adam’s last 8th grade class of the year. I am so glad I went. Though religion and I do not have a very well defined relationship, I love spiritual experiences, lessons, morals and values. I love learning about religion and personal convictions, and am excited…

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Jun 04 2010

Last Minute Miracle

There are two school days left until I leave, physically leave, for training. Once I wrote that I did not think I could get the second observation, I gave up. Jill commented on that post, giving me names of Kalamazoo Public School employees that I can get in touch with, and today I was about…

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May 27 2010


It simultaneously feels that I have been inching and sprinting through the summer, and especially the TFA process. Since my last update, I’ve taken the class NYC professional trip, traveled to and from Taiwan, spent a bit of time in Chicago, had a total physical (blood work! menengitis shot!), and went to the dentist. I…

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May 03 2010

Step Taker

With graduation out of the way, one would expect some mild relief from the pressure of academics, deadlines, and filled days. That expectation, in my case, is entirely wrong. Saturday was graduation. My last real “final” was Wednesday afternoon but as a design major, continued to work on my portfolio, helped my classmates, and attended…

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I have been spending, on average, 16 hours a day at school for the past week. It is grueling. The difficult part is that the vast majority of this time I am actually doing my work. Shocking. While working on the whole graduation thing (May 1 for me), I managed to sign up for the…

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FINGERPRINTS To be a licensed teacher in the Delta, one has to go through an FBI criminal background check, which requires official fingerprinting. As Delta CMs (Corps Members), we have been informed we must get printed at our local police station, that it will be free, and that the cards the prints go on are…

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Apr 08 2010

To nurture the TFA ethic

It is 2:09am and I very much want to go to bed, but also want to record as much of my Teach For America experience as possible, bad and good. So, the bad. Entirely my own fault bad. Before we get our placements (right now we know regions, we likely won’t know placements until summer),…

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Apr 06 2010

And so it begins

I never would have expected my college career to culminate in becoming a Teach For America corps member. My appreciation and gratitude to all the friends and family members that have supported my decision to do this is overwhelming. Although I seem to be getting caught off guard at the pre work already (finally caught…

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