Sheryl has been hampered in her blogging by our lack of connectivity and time spent in the sunshine sampling the culture of New Zealand. She is now in Wellington where she delivers another keynote and workshop series. She has however recounted some of her exploits since landing on our shores on her blog 21st Century Collaborative. I felt so proud of Nelson and New Zealand as I showed Amber and Sheryl around. It is lovely to see our place through the eyes of others from time to time. It helps you appreciate it even more. Sheryl takes Tiny Ted with her and we wish them all the best for the rest of their trip and a safe journey home.
We caught a plane to Nelson on the morning of 15th. Nelson is a city of about 45K but is absolutely breath taking. Much of Peter Jackson’s movie The Lord of the Rings was filmed here. As the plane landed we could see mountains and beaches. It was just like the advertisements we had seen for New Zealand before we arrived. Amber and I were very excited as we made our way via Taxi to the hotel. We stayed at the Rutherford Hotel, a very nice hotel in a room that had a view! About an hour after we arrived we were taken to dinner by TUANZ to meet all of the sponsors and funders of the Educational road show. I sat between Simon and Heidi and across from Ernie and Amber. Simon explained a great deal about New Zealand’s culture and people to me. I learned a great deal. The restaurant was called Bar Delicious and it certainly held true to its name.
During this conference I was to not only do my Keynote and Workshop, but I was asked to give two additional workshops and the panel discussion. It was a full day. The highlight of my time in Nelson was being able to meet Allanah King. Paul Harrington had introduced us and we have been collaborating online prior to my coming to New Zealand. She has been working with my pre-service students in the e-mentorship and was a guest speaker with the Alabama teachers who are involved with the 21st Century project. I also got to meet Rachel at the conference who attended the Elluminate session Miguel and I had prior to my coming to New Zealand. It was great fun. The Nelson teachers were a delightful audience that laughed and asked tough questions. Many brought their laptops to my interactive sessions and created blogs, wikis, and social networking accounts as we went along. The conference ended with Graham saying this was the best professional development he had ever attended. He was presented with a bottle of New Z
ealand wine as a gift for his comments! As a huge surprise, when the final farewells were given and folks were leaving the conference Graham made his way forward and gave the bottle of wine to Amber and me as a gift of appreciation. Kiwis are a kind and giving people. That evening we went to dinner with Allanah and her precious mother Margaret. Margaret’s great, great grandmother was one of the original Nelsonians that arrived from England. She is a perky woman with a terrific sense of humor.
Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Seen
If you could imagine the most perfect place on earth it would look very much like Nelson. There are hills and mountains everywhere that end gently at the most breath taking beaches.
On Saturday, March 17, Allanah took Amber and me to the market. But the market here is different than flea markets in the States; it is more like a mix of real art and quality wares. Each of the vendors was personable and many were friends of Allanah. Every person I have spoken to in New Zealand has treated me as though I mattered. You do not see that in the States, we are often in too big of a hurry and brush people off quickly. After the market Amber and I took a very expensive taxi ride to Abel Tasman to meet some of the TUANZ
crew (Heidi, Quinton, and Brad) to go sea kayaking. Our guide’s name was Angus and he did a very good job of explaining the basics. Amber and I were in a double kayak. It was such a thrill to paddle along the coast of such gorgeous scenery. We worked our way through huge rocks sticking out of the Tasman Sea. I saw birds and other creatures I had never seen before. The weather was perfect, breeze and sun. While traveling in our Kayak we passed Kaiteriteri beach. We then came to a beach where we stopped and came ashore and ate banana cake the caretaker of the Kayak shop had made for us and drank apple juice. It was the first time Amber had ever been on a beach with no other footprints. Amber and I decided to stay and explore the beach a bit more while the others went around the next bend to see what was there. We met two other gentlemen along the way who smiled and then disappeared. I got to see a starfish clinging to the rocks and other curious little birds that chirped and clicked loudly as a greeting.
On our way back the wind picked up and we paddled through some real waves. It was quite exciting. When we arrived back at camp there were others who also had gone on Kayaking adventures, all young and locals. It reminded me very much of my life as a twenty something traveling around the US, especially the time I spent on The Farm in Summertown, Tenn. The peace and calm is unlike anything I have experienced in a very long time. We road the bus back to the hotel and went in to take a long, hot bath.
The next morning, Allanah picked us up and took us to the World of Wearable Art Museum. Several years ago the wearable art competition began as a school fund raiser. It has grown to an international competition and has been moved to Wellington, New Z
ealand’s capital. The costumes are very much like what you see in Cirque de Soleil and the detail is mind boggling. I so wish we could actually wear clothes like that. I love the originality and creativity. In fact, Nelson is a city of artists, organic food, and people who understand how to work hard and then enjoy life.
After the museum we picked up Margaret and went for a drive to see the gorgeous country side. We visited the most amazing beach and picnic area and ended up at Allanah’s school. I fell in love. One hundred children attend Appleby School. I was immediately taken back to the small innovative school I created in Georgia. The classrooms were decorated with student art and creative displays to reinforce the concepts they are learning through project-based instruction. All of New Zealand’s schools are encouraged to use personalized learning strategies and inquiry-based approaches to learning. There was even a library.
The place I was most blown away by was the playground it was simply amazing. There were a series of pipes children could manipulate with water to not only learn some amazing science concept by doing, but also produce musical tones. The students can play in the dirt with trucks and buckets, they can climb trees, and have outside places to eat and study as a class. Allanah said they have the occasional broken arm from falling from the tree, but it is so worth it in the long run to allow the children the freedom of exploring nature and how their body moves in the sunshine. They have a pool and an Amphitheatre in addition to the custom designed playgrounds (created by a parent from Germany with expertise in that area). I so wanted to teach in a school like that–I was so appreciative to have been able to visit.
We ended the visit with a lovely lunch at an art center and watched fan tail birds spread their tails saying hello as we ate our meal.
Thank you Sheryl for your tips in helping me to get rid of the ugly fuzzy photos and replacing them with clear ones and for helping me ‘borrrow’ your photos and text.