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10 March, 2001

It is hard to believe that my long awaited trip is finally about to occur! After months of preparation and anticipation, my bags are packed. This week has been filled with many exciting events. My school principal and assistant principal surprised me Tuesday with a going away party. They presented me with four new children's books written by local authors. I will be able to share these with the children that I encounter during the trip. The entire faculty also enjoyed Eskimo pies as a special treat. Friday the children had a special party complete with gifts and ice cream! They shared trip "advice" with me. One parcticularly important piece of advice was, "Don't fall off the ship!" Let's hope I don't! No one wants to hear the words "Man overboard"! Another piece of advice was don't carry meat in your pocket. I have smart little children! Several close teacher friends also had a little get together to wish me well. There was lots of hugging and well wishes yesterday from the children and adults.

To summarize the week, I believe that even though I am the one taking this trip physically, many have and will benefit from my experiences. I have witnessed a real sharing of excitement among the children, teachers, and administration. I have had community involvement and support. The Knoxville News Sentinel will be featuring a column each week that includes my reflections and thoughts. This will be a great outreach into the community.

Even though I haven't left yet, I believe one of the goals of the TEA program has already begun to be accomplished. That goal is an awareness of science and a desire to learn more, to become more scientifically literate. I am witnessing this not only with the children in my classroom but by so many people that I come into contact with. This is truly exciting!

I am looking forward to Monday morning when I board the plane headed for the Arctic!

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