Tag Archives: teaching

Spring in Sacramento

This is the perfect time to live in Sacramento, California.  The weather has simply been divine.  Mid 70s, slight breeze, glorious sunshine with wispy clouds ever so often… Hopefully it will rain a bit more before the scortching summer heat arrives as we did not have a wet winter and everyone is worried we are going back into drought mode.  But for now, on my Spring Break, it has been delicious.

Here are a few flowers in my garden that have decided to bask in this great weather:

School has been really fun this year.  The kids just concluded learning about the Bill of Rights and the Three Branches of Government – for their culminating projects they did a music video and then a stop-motion video (respectively) explaining each.  Super silly and fun.  They also wrote a biography and did a research project on a founding father or mother of the US.  Here, they are dressed up ready to present their biography:







We also lucked out at Marin Headlands this year and it only poured down rain on us in the mornings – the afternoons were full of beautiful sunshine.

At the lighthouse.


We are now moving into learning about the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark and then on to the Civil War.  Its an exciting and very packed full final nine weeks.

March for Our Lives 2018

I’ve been doing a bit of hiking and exploring, not as much as I had planned as I am tutoring after school and trying to fit in writing the next book in “The Treasure Chest Mysteries.”  I’ve gone on a couple of marches: Women’s March and the March for Our Lives.  So amazing to be out there with people who care about our country.

Sunset watching the Great Sand Hill Cranes

Women’s March with Kristin and Brynna

And here it is April tomorrow!  I hope spring is being gorgeous where ever you are as well. Enjoy!

~ Gretchen




Filed under Education, Fifth Grade, Gardening / Outdoors, Spring, Uncategorized, Writing

Hello from Mandalay!


Flying into Mandalay.

Today marks the 17th day that I have been in Mandalay, Myanmar.  It is a stunning country both visually and culturally.  The view from the plane upon decent into Myanmar was of a very flat landscape marked with squares of agriculture, primarily rice, and a few distant hills shrouded in mist.


Mandalay International Airport

Debarking from the plane onto the tarmac, I was enveloped by a wet and hot blanket.  The tempurature was 106 F the day I arrived and the humidity gracefully guided my excited body from its airplane, air conditioned chill into a dripping and roasting slumber.  At first it felt great, but slowly it became a bit oppressive. 

After customs we were greeted by our Assistant Teachers and whisked away in the school bus to our new home and school 45 minutes away. 

The population of Mandalay is about 1 million people.  It still has many growing pains and has both extreme wealth and poverty, nestled tightly together.  It really feels as if one couldn’t do without the other.  The streets ebb and flow.  It is hard to explain how one moves down the road.  When bicycling along, sometimes it feels as if every one is coming at me, on my side of the street.  Then there are the cars and motorbikes zipping perpendicular to me from side streets.  There are few stop lights.  When you come across one everyone pretty much obeys.  But they are few and so it is really up to you to decide the direction you want to go and when.  You discover the rythm and flow pretty quickly and it becomes actually fun.


Ayeyarwaddy International School

Smiles.  I haven’t seen so many people, so happy and with ready and willing smiles, in a very long time.  There are few foreigners here and the people, of all ages, seem genuinely happy if you take the time to smile or say hello in any way.

Breakfast...Dragon Fruit - so delicious!

Breakfast…Dragon Fruit – so delicious!

After a week of training and getting our classrooms decorated and lesson plans made, we started school last Monday.  I have 26 adorable children.  Most are eager to learn and do right, some are a bit more wiggly and talkative.  But for the most part, they are wonderful and we finished the week with good cheer, rules and behaviors learned, new math, science, language arts and social studies concepts practiced and happy students heading home with library books to read and report on.

With that I will sign off and write again soon! 



Filed under Education, Myanmar / Burma, Travel

The Land of Golden Pagodas

I’m headed out for a new adventure.  You may be thinking, ah she’s headed to Mexico.  But this is not the case.  Although I hope to get down there late next year, I’m headed in a more eastward direction with a whole lot of miles and ocean in between.

I’m going to Myanmar!  A Buddhist country full of golden pagodas and palaces, lush rainforest, exotic spices and foods and beautiful, soft, gentle people.

I am going to teach:  little people excited and wiggly, sponges of curiosity.

It has happened quickly (signed the contract yesterday, bought my air ticket last night) and now I leave on May 9th!  Only 22 days until departure.  I’ll be living in the vibrant city of Mandalay come Saturday, May 11th.

Thanks to a huge support of friends and family I am able to sub-let my duplex (thus saving me all the massive packing and moving I was going to have to do), my wonderful new sub-letter is going to take care of my precious cats and I am off to teach, explore, and breath once again.  My heart and head need this.

I will be posting stories and photos on this site about my adventures over the next year. I hope you’ll enjoy, comment and engage.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful experience in a place I have yet to explore.   Gretchen


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Filed under Adventure, Education

Dreaming of Bright Colors

Over the past year I have been hankering to go abroad again.  Not just to travel, but to absorb a culture, to live and breathe in the aromas and surround myself with the wonderful sounds and bright colors.

And as I’ve pondered this idea, I’ve been thinking about my third act  of this short life.  And, happily, I’m thinking it may be similar to my first act.  After graduate school I went to Costa Rica seeking work in sustainable development.  I had no leads, no predetermined path, just suggestions from friends in the development world that Costa Rica had lots of opportunities for a young, excited do-gooder.  I went.  Traveled much of the country exploring.  I ended up in Monteverde, a stunning locale with hundreds of animal species just asking you to see them.  But there just wasn’t any work to be had.

Plus… I needed to learn Spanish.  So off I went to Guatemala, where everyone suggested I go to get the best Spanish education.  It was there that I found my place.  The country is exquisite.  Thirteen different climate zones, 26 different language dialects.  The colors, the smells, the terrain, the people so warm.  It was perfect.  I stayed for four years.

I ended up starting two ecotourism companies and consulting for Conservation International.  I had an adventure nearly every day.

Fast-forward…here I am, after nearly 11 years back in the USA, I have two wonderful cats, I’m a lover of writing and photography, a certified teacher without a teaching job, and no other satisfying career.

Sound like a good time to try something new? YES!

I am ready to fill myself up on the beauty of other cultures and have a bit of adventure again.  But where to go?

Now that I am obsessed with the idea, I have been asking myself the details…  Where can I go that will resurrect my Spanish skills, offering me a good-steady- exciting-well-paying job, some place I haven’t lived before and doesn’t have an animal quarantine (I can’t leave my two babies behind!), isn’t too far away so that airfare to come back and visit family and friends isn’t too burdensome etc.

So I am excited to say, I’ve landed on our neighbor to the south – MEXICO!

And now that I have a focus for my obsession, I have started gathering reading material that is giving me all sorts of fun insights into this beautiful country.

On Mexican TimeMy latest find, by Tony Cohan: “On Mexican Time” has a similar theme to “Under the Tuscan Sun”, but his story is a recount of him and his wife’s exodus from L.A. in 1985 to discover the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende.  I’m half way through and it is a fantastic, easy and fun read.  Loving it.

So a bit of a long story to tell you that I am now looking for teaching positions in International schools, figuring out the logistics and planning my escape, or rather, my third act, that is destined to be full of adventure, warm days, bright colors and with a bit of luck, love.

Here’s to adventure!

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Filed under Adventure, Education, Introspection