Sadly, my ritual Intelligentsia coffee shoppe in the Monadock building was closed on the weekends. Luckily, I found another nearby location. Granted the décor is more industrial in theme, I do prefer the marble, art deco stylings of the Monadock location. However, the coffee is fantastic, the croissant yummie, free WiFi and the atmosphere is conducive to writing. What more could a girl want? Also worth noting, Carl, another NEH participant from my work table, is equally enthralled with good coffee, as am I. He has been visiting the same Intelligentsia coffee shops, and we often chat as we pass each others’ table. To my chagrin, they sell a blend of coffee ( sold out at the time of my visit) aptly named Librarian’s blend. However, it is a decaf blend. It is marketed as
This blend is representative of the soul of the librarian: steady, reassuring, and always there with that slight edge of eccentricity. It has a bold base with a bit of sparkle.
Obviously, they do know us very well…….
As a group, we discussed what we have learned this week and how we will be applying it to our classrooms in our hometowns. This sharing of ideas has lit a spark with me. I have a number of ideas for my final project. Each participant is expected to produce (within one month of our departure) a plan for a final lesson with our students, geared to the age we teach. Many of my fellow participants have turned in their lesson plans today. I have elected to mull it over more and will email my plans in within the week. I have a number of ideas, but need to sift through and clarify it on paper.
Today is a day of great sadness. It is the final day of our National Endowment for the Humanities, Landmarks in American History program. I would like to thank Dr. Mark Newman, Dr. Costas Spirou, Dr. Larry Bennett for organizing this program to inspire teachers (and those of us who work with school children) to inject a different perspective into our lessons. All three lecturers were extremely knowledgeable of their subject field, all three were engaging. My particular favorite lecturer was Dr. Larry Bennett. His humor and light personality was injected into each lecture and tour he gave. I am truly honored to have been selected for this program and am leaving with a refreshed outlook as well as rejuvenated approach to my library program. Participants were treated like professionals, yet it has been an enriching week as that the group got along so well. I can feel like I am leaving the NEH Chicago program with something in my hand (a practical lesson plan), something in my head (I have a new outlook on public spaces) as well as something in my belly (the hospitality was incredible!). Finally, I would like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for offering the Landmarks in American History program. While numerous government programs are being scrutinized during budget cutbacks, this program’s offerings are invaluable and should not be slashed.
I would also like to thank the University Center staff for accommodating our group of 40 teachers. The University Center, during summer months, operates as a downtown hotel. At a very reasonable rate, they offer clean modern dorm rooms, with a private or semi private bath, in a prime location of downtown Chicago, in the education corridor. The Loop, CTA lines, as well as many historic sites and museums are well within walking distance of the University Center.
Upon the noon time, final dismissal of our program, many participants dashed back to the Uni Center to collect their luggage and depart for the airport. A number of us stayed for a final afternoon, to depart on Sunday. I felt a sense of bittersweet sadness. I have so very much enjoyed this week, learning, travelling, meeting new people from across the country and exchanging fresh ideas.
After walking back with my roommate, Rebecca, we said goodbye in our room. One of the major reasons I enjoyed this week was that I had found myself rooming with another teacher who was very much like me, personality wise. We had a ball; sharing some of the activities together and laughing constantly.
After bidding Rebecca adieu, I decided the afternoon should be spent at the Robbie House in Hyde Park. I have been itching to take the Wright 3 tour, given by school aged, docent trained children of the Frank Lloyd Wright house. The beauty of this tour is that it is given from the perspective of the Wright 3 book (a children’s book) by Blue Bailliet. I toured the house, witnessing the patio were the workman in the story fell, were Tommy found the oriental fish talisman in the children’s play yard, the windows which ‘sighed’, and the Invisible man embedded in the stain glass window, Tommy’s neighboring apartment complex where he lived. After being in the house in person, it did not feel as haunted as the book implied, though it certainly had a ‘presence’; its own breathing ‘life’. I was ecstatic to finally take in this historic home.
After the tour, I walked about Hyde Park, a very gentrified neighborhood, which boasts some fabulous architecture, bookshoppes (to support the University of Chicago) and is home to many prestigious families…including the First Family, the Obamas. I stopped to grab a cold soda pop at Medici’s bakery, which turns out to be the Obama’s favorite neighborhood bakery. I was able to take the #6 bus back to the downtown Loop, to return to my room to rest…..a half empty room, as that Rebecca and her belongings are now off to their next adventure.
I ate a quick supper at the University Center. From there, I also took a trip up to the Hancock building, up to the 96th floor lounge to enjoy the view. At twilight the city is being to twinkle with lamination. This was an interesting experience to compare with my trip to the top of Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) two years ago. While that was 180 floors up, the Hancock view was not as high, though I felt much more prettier and accessible view of the skyline, somehow. I still do not like heights……..Adjacent to the Hancock Center is the Watertower Plaza. A second stop at the Lego store has provided me with another prezzie to tuck away for Christmas. (Ironically, the sales clerk remembered me from my visit on Monday. He greeted me by name! How impressive!) I was then able to sit in the Millennium Park to enjoy an outdoor concert. One of the many benefits of Chicago’s public places during the summer months are the many free, quality concerts in the parks.