Thursday, October 24, 2013

Soooooo.....I'm not YET Dr. Rachell

I didn't realize how long it's been since I posted.  I am not yet Dr. Rachell.  It's been a long journey but I know that the light is peeking right around the corner.  I was really shooting for 3 years to be my cut off for school to complete this degree but I realize that this is my journey and mine alone.  I cannot compare what I am going through with other people.  I will finish in MY time.  Tomorrow is the graduation ceremony that I was shooting for and obviously will not be attending.  I'm okay with that. My time is coming....fingers crossed it will be in March.  With that being said, this is where I am....

I am 4 weeks into my second "continuation" course.  I ALMOST have a finished proposal.  It is my hope to be able to defend my proposal in the next 3-4 weeks.  From there I will move on to IRB and the goal is to "pass" IRB the first time.  From there I can start collecting my data.  I will be conducting interviews and surveys.  And then I can write chapters 4 and 5.  It all sounds so easy but it's taking forever!!!!  Good news is that I've hired an editor.  I feel so scholarly in saying that.  She is awesome! Her name is Tommie Sue.  She used to live around the corner from my son's school and she now lives in Canada by where I grew up.  Instant connection!!!!  SCORE!!!  I found her through an online resource called elance.  Went out on a limb using it but got REALLY lucky!  I love her!  She has already edited my chapter 1 and will hopefully be done with chapter 3 in the next few days!  LOVE HER!  What is frustrating is that since I attend an online school, my chairperson, content specialist, methodologist and editor are literally in 4 different places in the United States.  So one person may say one thing and another may say something else.  It's frustrating but I keep telling myself that "a good dissertation is a done dissertation."  So what they ask for is what they will get.  I just have to get it finished! topic is still the same.  My study is a qualitative descriptive case study.  It's funny...I feel like I don't know anything but when I talk to people about my topic, my methodology and my design I feel like the smartest person in the world.  It's true when they say that you will own your research!  I am so ready to be done with this journey!  I have also started wondering where this will take me when I am finished.  I know that I want to start to present my research because it's extremely relevant and timely in the field of education so that could definitely be next.  In case it's been lost here...I'm studying the challenges that a math and science transition to teaching program faced in its recruitment and retention.

I still have a passion for African American males and their education, suspension rates, furthering their education, etc.  I had a deep conversation with my friend TJ about this last week and some things were validated for me on this topic.  I believe that I'm so passionate about it because of my two sons as well as the students that I taught.  I may pick this topic back up.  I'm by far no expert on it but I'm very passionate about it.  It just sucks me in to further understand how some of our young men can excel in school and go to Yale and others end up in jail or dead.  It just seems that there is no gray area...either they make it or they don't.

So, that's an update on where I am.  It's coming along.  I hope to do a better job at posting on this blog. I always say I need to post and then life kicks in...raising a 4th grader and an 11th grader has taken over my life...add being a wife, a full time education technology specialist, and my dissertation on top of that and you can see how this blog gets pushed to the side.  Keep me in your thoughts as I continue on this journey...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sharing some words of wisdom with other GCU learners...

Wow....I haven't written in a VERY long time!  Life, researching and writing has definitely taken over my life!  I haven't forgotten about my blog and think about writing often.  I have so little time!  Better late than never!  In this post I am going to talk about an opportunity that I was given and took full advantage of.  I will catch you up on life later.

My GCU boyfriend (as I call him), Todd, is my doctoral enrollment counselor.  His only job was to enroll me in a program almost three years ago.  Well....we clicked and have been in contact ever since.  He calls to check on my progress and congratulate me for finishing classes, etc.  I know that he has a twin brother, is working on his degree, just bought a house with a pool, etc.  We have encouraged each other to keep pushing forward on a professional level.  Well, about 2 months ago, he called to inform me that GCU would be having a "test" doctoral residency here in Atlanta and that even though I wasn't required to go (because I finished my required two in Phoenix last summer and the summer before), that I should consider getting involved.  I emailed the lady in charge of setting it up and offered to assist.  She responded and asked if I would like to participate in the Emerging Scholars Conference and speak to the group of about 75 attendees about my experience in the program and words of wisdom that I had to offer them.  Of course I said yes!!!!

So on Monday, I drove to the hotel where it was being held, ate dinner, and had the opportunity to speak.  Three of us spoke and I went last.  The two ladies before me just finished their doctoral journey so it was inspiring for me to hear them.  I offered the perspective in between the attendees journey and those that finished.  First I told them about myself and what I did for a living.  Below are some of the points of advice or nuggets that I offered them:

  • You will get finished.
  • Celebrate small successes.
  • Make sure your family and friends understand what you are taking will need their support.
  • View your paper as 5 small research papers as opposed to one large dissertation.
  • As you are progressing through your classes, write towards your topic.  That way, when it comes time to write your dissertation, you will have a list of resources to pull from.
  • Find a few dissertations that you love that are based on your topic and pull references from their reference pages.
  • Block out time to write (ie. every Sunday afternoon).
  • Never take too much time off from your research and'll get too far behind.
Lastly, I left them with a quote from Toni Morrison, 

I am so glad that Todd pushed me to step out and do this.  I know that my words were well received as I had people waiting to talk to me after I spoke asking for my contact information, etc.  It filled me up and made me realize that I do have a voice to offer and a bigger role that what I think!  It also inspired me to really get going and finish my journey!  July 17th is my goal and then I'll be DR. NATASHA RACHELL!!!  I cannot wait to accomplish this goal and figure out what's next for me!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 11-Your Siblings

I know that I have been missing for a while...I am planning on finally finishing this blog challenge soon!  Wish me luck and PLEASE hold me accountable!!!

This posting is about my siblings!  I am blessed to have two wonderful brothers!  Allow me to introduce you to my twin brother, Jermaine and my younger brother, Cristian!  I have no sisters.

These guys are amazing!!!  I HATE that I live so far from them but I know they are a phone call or skye session away!  Let me start with my twin....

We shared a womb for 9 months!  He's 9 minutes older than me and let him tell it, those were the best 9 minutes of his life!  I like to say that I kicked him out!  We went to high school and college together.  He pledged Kappa Alpha Psi.  During one of their events, he wrote and read me a poem called "1 of 3."  I wasn't able to go and hear it when he read it but it was amazing!  Never knew he'd say all of those wonderful things!  He has been able to live his dreams and do what he really loves to do.  There's a saying that talks about work and if you do something you really enjoy, it's not work.  Well, he does what he loves so I guess it's not really work to him!  I envy that!

Then there's my little (big) brother!  He is an extremely hard working young man.  Although we didn't see eye to eye growing up, he has really matured into a wonderful young man.  He is raising a family and when I see him with his son I can't help but smile.  It's so weird seeing my little brother with a little son himself!  Guess it's part of growing up.  He is a family man and thrives on creating a family environment.  The only thing I don't like about him is that he likes LeBron James....guess I can see past that...I mean he is my brother!  

When the three of us were little, we used to watch WWF wrestling and reenact the scenes.  My name was Pretty in Pink and they were the Jive Soul Bros.  I have no idea where we got those names from but they worked.  There were plenty of Saturday mornings that we would wake up and eat some cereal while watching He Man or Thunder Cats.  This was of course pre- Cartoon Network days.  Cartoons really used to only come on during Saturday mornings!  We used to take full advantage of the pool that we had in our back yard.  When ever my twin and I tried to get away with something, our little brother would snitch on us!  I have some VERY fond memories growing up being the only girl but they made me stronger!  

I love these guys more than anything!  They are the best uncles for my boys and I miss them so much!

GCU Residency 2012...the second and LAST Residency!!!!

Whew..... I did it!!!!  

I completed my second and my last residency!  Operation get this dissertation done is in FULL effect!   On the final day of residency, while we were all presenting our 12 strategic key points, I was busy taking notes on what I wanted to blog about!  I learned so much during this residency and am so ready to apply it to complete this journey that I am on!

Last year I formed a bond with three special from Hawaii, one from Colorado, and one from California.  We tried to all attend the same residency this year so we could continue the bond that we had formed.  3/4 of us were able to meet up at the same time!  We were so excited to see each other and really spent a lot of time together!  We were even able to go and watch one of the NBA playoff games (even though my Lakers weren't playing)!  We did not end up in the same class this year but it was alright.  We all had different experiences this year.  Our group has since expanded!  We ran into two guys that were in our group last year and met some new friends, too!  So....we formed one BIG group and have vowed to push each other through and keep each other motivated and uplifted throughout the rest of our journey!  There is a picture of our large group below!

First things first....I have finally secured my research topic!  This is HUGE for me as I have been all over the place.  The one good thing is that it still falls under the umbrella of mentoring, which if you read my post from residency last year, you know I was very passionate about.  My topic last year that dealt with African American males and the use of mentoring programs to increase their achievement was something that I was very passionate about.  However, at residency last year, I realized that for my program of study I needed to put a leadership spin on it.  As soon as I did that, I lost my passion for it because I really wanted to perform my research from the perspective of the student and not the leader.  So...back to the drawing board!

So, now my topic is going to be a qualitative research study that takes a narrative approach that will seek to understand the hurdles of recruiting and retaining middle school math and science teachers to the profession.  I will be triangulating my data in a means to ensure its validity and reliability.  I will utilize existing archival data, perform interviews and conduct surveys.  By doing these three things, I will hopefully gain a true picture of why it's so difficult to recruit and retain these teachers as well as what it take to successfully do so.  

During residency, I was fortunate enough to be Blessed with two professors, Dr. Branch and Dr. Kimball.  They are both very educated men and have a plethora of knowledge to offer.  They both offer two different points of view so it was very refreshing to be able to run my ideas by a great methodologist as well as a qualitative guru!  Through speaking with Dr. Kimball about my topic, I brought up a previous professor that I had earlier in my program and discussed his research topic and told him that I was going to consider asking my old professor to be my content specialist being as though our topics were similar.  He encouraged me to do so.  I emailed him and guess what....HE SAID YES!!!!!  During my next class, I will be assigned my dissertation chair and my methodologist.  If I am fortunate enough to receive Dr. Kimball or Dr. Branch as my chair, I would be more than happy!

I was also fortunate enough to be asked to sit in with a small group and have a working lunch with the Dean of the Doctoral Program.  We were able to share "glows and grows" for the program that will be used to ensure the improvement and continued success of the program.  I was honored to be asked to serve on this committee that only included approximately 8 people!!!!

During residency, I was able to participate in Chapel on one of the evenings.  I am so glad I attended as I didn't go last year.  The message was powerful and was extremely relevant to what I was experiencing.  We were also able to take a tour of the campus.  It is a beautiful and growing campus!  I can't wait to return next year to walk across the stage as Dr. Rachell!  I was also able to get my class schedule built out for the remainder of my program.  I will be finished with everything (dissertation included) in July of 2013 (fingers crossed)!!!  To actually see what I have left is amazing and as these classes get knocked off my schedule one by one, I am really seeing the end in sight!

The maturation of my work just from Monday to the last day on Friday surpassed me!  I thought I was doing good with what I brought to the table on Monday, but when I left on Friday I felt kind of like something like a soon to be doctor!  LOL!  

My professors put this very challenging task of becoming a Doctor of Education into very achievable small chunks for us....

  1. Perfect my 12 strategic key points.
  2. Get them approved.
  3. Write my prospectus.
  4. Get it approved.
  5. Write my proposal (chapters 1, 2, and 3)
  6. Defend my proposal.
  7. Get them approved.
  8. Perform my research.
  9. Write my chapters 4 and 5.
  10. Defend my dissertation.
  11. Call me Dr. Rachell!!!!
If I can keep these small chunks in mind as I move towards the end of my journey, I will be alright!  So with all of this being shared.....PRAY FOR ME!  LOL!  I see the light peeking at the end of the tunnel and am ready and even more so determined to push forward!  

The GCU Lope and I!  

Ebony (California) , me and Deb (Hawaii)....We met last year and planned to attend together this year.  Although we were not in the same group this year, we spent a lot of time together.

This was our new found group!  We have vowed to keep pushing each other until each of us completes our programs!  Maruo (Nevada), Chuck (Illinois), Jan (Hawaii), Natasha (Arizona), Deb (Hawaii), Monique (Florida), me, Terence (Georgia), and Ebony(California) (from left to right)

Dr. Kimball and I...meeting this man has been life changing.  He shared his testimony with us.  His wife was diagnosed with cancer, his house burned down and he lost his brother all while he was writing his dissertation....he never gave up!

Dr. Branch....this man is VERY smart!  Such an awesome methodologist.  He validated what I wanted to do!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 10-What I wore today....

Ummm so yeah...this is definitely one of those boring posts that you're probably not really concerned about!  I wore some black slacks, a black flow-y tank and a herringbone cropped black and white jacket.  I also had on some black heels which is nothing new as 9 times out of 10 you will see me in heels of some sort!  People always joke that they can hear me coming before they see me!  As far as having a style that I model my dress after, I really don't try to emulate anyone.  I would say that my dress is kind of boring.  I probably wear a cardigan of some sort 3 days out of the week.  I have a lot of black in my wardrobe and some pink as it's my favorite color.  I like cardigans, sweaters, and jackets that I can mix and match and keep it pretty simple and plain.  I like the style of Michelle Obama and the simplicity of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffanys!" along with the class of CoCo Chanel and the diva"ness" of Beyonce.  I guess all of those mixed together is what I envision!  Depending on what day it is and how I'm feeling, either of the four may come out!  My friends say that out of the group, I dress like the conservative teacher...well, I am one!





Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 9-My Beliefs...(in regard to education)


In regards to education....this is easy!  I can sum it up into four words!


You'd be surprised how many educators don't believe in this statement!  Children will not all learn at the same pace, but they will and can all learn IF and I repeat IF...they have the right teacher in front of them.  They must have a nurturing teacher that believes in them and believes that they can learn.  They must have a teacher that is willing to work past the hours of 8-3pm.  They must have a teacher that is willing to figure out how they best learn and really want to cater the lessons to them....even if it means figuring out 15 different ways to teach a topic.  Teachers must be willing to stay after school to tutor their students, to stay after school to call parents and tell them not only when their students are doing wrong but even more so when they are making progress!  

Teachers need to differentiate instruction to meet the multiple intelligences of all of their students.  We may not be able to move all of our students up to grade level by the end of the school year, but we can darn sure try!  If we move them even one or two grades higher than they came to us, that is progress.  Teachers need to be involved in the school in order to create a nurturing climate that the students really feel valued and appreciated in.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 8-A Moment...

I have thought about this one and have thought of several "moments" that I could blog about.  I have even thought about changing it to my "journey." After much thought, the moment that I have chosen is the moment that I moved out of my childhood home. 

Without going into a lot of mom sold HER home...OUR home, our childhood home in 2010.  I went home to help her and my brothers clear out the house that we affectionately called home since 1986.  Clearing out the house was bitter sweet.  It was almost like a cleansing process.  We had been holding onto so much stuff for so many years and this forced us all to let it go.  In the garage, I found one big box wth my name on it that contained so many memories:
  • Porcelin dolls and masks that I used to collect
  • Love letters from old crushes and boyfriends
  • Yearbooks from middle and high school
  • Hundreds of letters from my best friends
  • College acceptance letters
  • SAT scores
  • Endless amounts of pictures
  • My old cheerleading uniforms (4 years worth)
  • My cheerleading megaphone
  • Certificates and awards
  • Old report cards and progress reports
  • My old pagers!!!!
  • Ballet slippers from when I was little
  • Old essays and work from high school
  • A book that I wrote in Ms. Farish's English class
  • My old retainers
The list goes on and on.  I really thought that I would be alright with packing up what I could and bringing it back home with me but not so much.  The last time that I walked out of that house and closed the door, I broke down in tears.  Why?  I have moved on with my life and established my home here.  It was the permanent ending to having a place to call "home."  The ending to have a common place to meet my side of the family on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It put closure on having the same phone number to call home for over 25 years. 

Closing that door and looking around brought back so many memories:
  • Getting our pool built
  • Practicing for cheerleading tryouts
  • My car accident in my driveway
  • Having our friends over ALL of the time
  • Holidays, holidays, and more holidays
  • Practicing for the Ms. Ebony Eyes Pageant that my mom made my costume for and coreographed my talent routine for!  I got first runner up.
  • Learning to drive
  • Experiencing earthquakes
  • Elementary school, middle school and high school
  • Riding my pink beach cruiser down the street
  • Walking around the neighborhood to see all of our friends
  • Joe that lived across the street and ALL of his cats
  • Playing basketball in our driveway
  • Swimming for hours on end
  • All of the pets that we had
That was "our" house and I have so many memories there.  Driving away from it for the last time was bitter sweet.  Time to move on and let it go...the memories and moments will live on, but I hate that it's not "home" any more!