When breaks from school approach, most of us look forward to time away from the classroom. Maybe I am just a nerd, but I love learning! For the past six years, I have eagerly sought and found some amazing professional development opportunities that rejuvenate, recharge, and refresh my attitude, my teaching methods, and my desire to be a lifelong learner.
For two weeks last summer, I ventured to every museum, church, restaurant, and Gelato stand in Florence, Italy. As a student with Mercer University’s Florentine Freedoms, I immersed myself in the culture, the history, the beauty, and of course, the FOOD of this unbelievable city. Walking the narrow brick streets, listening to the concerts in the piazzas, gazing on some of the most important art in the world, connecting the past with my present, and standing in places once inhabited by Michelangelo, Donatello, Dante, and Brunelleschi – I became a part of the Renaissance that changed the world.
Venturing out from my apartment on the Piazza della Signoria, I climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa and hiked to San Miniato atop Michelangelo Square; I marched and cheered with the Santo Spirito soccer team and fans after their championship win; I observed the blessing of the horses in the Palio in Sienna; I cried upon seeing Brunelleschi’s Wooden Crucifix; I stood in awe when I turned the corner in the Academia and saw Michelangelo’s David; and my taste buds exploded the first time I ate pear glazed gnocchi. Florence – the city of art, religion, politics, diversity, acceptance, and love. The city of pizza, gelato, street musicians, selfie sticks, and fizzy water!
The courses I teach at DWS have been influenced but this experience as I learned the Harkness Method of class discussion and now implement that practice with my students. That said, I came away with more than just a recharged battery and volumes of new knowledge. My faith grows stronger; my passion for great books burns brighter; my desire to learn continues; and yes, my weight is weightier.
I am forever a part of Florence, as she is forever a part of me.
Debbie Newsome Allen, Upper School Humanities