Do you buzz?

Yes, do you buzz around like a bee? You see where I'm going with this? This week I represented the school I work for in the Wellesley Spelling Bee. With thirty lists of words to study I was engrossed and could talk about little else for the past few weeks. No joke, ask my friends and family who are glad it's over. I learned words like butyraceous, jeroboam, tabetisol, and my personal favorite kakistocracy. I spent time with my colleagues/teammates from school as we chatted, studied, and laughed over the silliness of the words we were spelling. It was bliss for a true spelling bee nerd like me.

You see, I was in the Peace Corps a few years ago. While I was there one of my biggest accomplishments was founding the National Spelling Bee of Macedonia with my friend Matt. We were both very passionate about making language learning engaging for students of every level. We knew that our students loved competition and this seemed the most logical way to make learning English fun.We put together a bee, formatted for the students of Macedonia with lists based on the state curriculum and hoped for the best. We had around 2,000 students compete nation wide the first year and 3,500 the second year. The bee lives on in Macedonia today, and grows with every passing year. One of the big buzzwords that Peace Corps LOOOVES is "sustainability" which is why this may qualify as my only truly successful project. It is funded 100% by the people of Macedonia, run mostly by the teachers and librarians of Macedonia and brings together students of 4 different ethnicities that represent every region of Macedonia.

Despite all of my experience with spelling bees and my belief in their incredible power as a teaching tool I had never participated in one. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I made flashcards. I repeated the words out loud in the car on my way to work. I bugged my husband to quiz me. And yet,

"urceolate"

will forever be ingrained on my skull, for it is the word my team lost on. Now I know how my students felt. Now I understand. Now I see the pictures with expressions of sheer joy or utter disappointment on the National Spelling Bee website and can now say, "I feel you, man!" I wish I understood what it was like for my students who won...but I'll live to fight another day. For now, my hats are off to the ladies representing the Wellesley Council on Aging who prove that age really does matter. Wisdom can only come with time. Check them out in their matching red outfits. They really are the coolest.

http://theswellesleyreport.com/2012/11/wellesley-spelling-bee-has-a-fishy-finish/

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