Year End Letter

Nance and Steve’s Site



What a year of change 2010 has been for Steve and I. If you have looked at the pictures on the home page, I am sure that you have noticed at least the physical change. In addition, I have been teaching a new grade – fourth – this school year and am constantly learning how different fourth graders are from fifth graders. I am also teaching in a new way and that has added to the already considerable change of teaching a new grade.


Steve and I had a consultation about Laparoscopic Gastric Banding the day before Thanksgiving, 2009 and decided that we needed to take some serious steps towards getting our weight, and our health, in a better place. Steve, who immediately knew that this was the right thing for him, did a lot of research on the procedure and its benefits and I was finally convinced that it was appropriate for me as well.  Best quote – “Genetics is the gun and environment pulls the trigger”.  Or as another doctor explained it - my body type has been an evolutionary boon for thousands of years when there was a feast and famine cycle. Those who stored fat survived to pass on their genes. (Thanks ancestors!!)  But, today, in the USA, for most of us there is no need to store fat so efficiently and we need to have tools to counter our genetic predisposition. That is what the lap band is – a tool – not magic. We began our journey in December, starting to eat as closely as we could to the post-op diet and both lost considerable weight prior to our procedures.  Steve had his placed in March and I had mine in July. This has required major changes to our diet and our eating habits. We have eliminated all bread, cake, cookies, brownies, rice, pasta and carbonated drinks. We eat primarily protein and veggies – all calories must be packed with nutrition. The difference in our appetites is amazing! I was shocked to see Steve push away his plate with part of his 4 ozs. of salmon still on it. I am eating less than 1000 calories most days and am not hungry. Getting most of the sugar out of your system gets rid of the bulk of your cravings and a few squares of good dark chocolate handles those that still show up. Steve has become a Bikram “hot” yoga devotee and sweats it out four or five days a week. As of mid-December, we have lost a combined 279 pounds – more than I weighed when we started!


Renegotiating my contract at JDS for the 2010-11 school year was a nightmare due to enrollment drops and difficulty in knowing how many students were going to be in fifth grade. I was offered a dream contract of teaching all of fifth except for Math and Science (plus my 7th grade course) and was thrilled with this. Unfortunately, the fourth grade JS teacher then indicated that she would not be returning and so they needed someone to replace her. I was then approached about teaching BOTH fourth and fifth JS – seems it didn’t make logical sense to have a great Judaics teacher teaching GS topics when you needed a JS teacher. It took a few months for it to be clear that this was just not possible and it wasn’t until mid-summer that I knew that I would only be teaching fourth grade. This was a choice made based on economics (.9 FTE rather than .4) not what I really wanted to be doing. In addition to all of this chaos, there was a decision made to change the teaching method in 3-5 to Inquiry based learning. So, on top of a new grade and new curriculum, I had to learn a new way to present it! It has been a crazy and exhausting first four months of school but I, and my partner, Shannon, have successfully taught two units of Inquiry. Our students love it and the parents, mostly, seem to be on board and seeing the value of it. My class just finished writing a “how-to” book on Jewish Rites of Passage, which showcased both their considerable learning and their writing and illustration skills. So, while I am not sure I was meant to be a fourth grade teacher, I am learning how their brains work and loving working with Shannon. Having a classroom in a brand new portable rather than an old and rotting one is also a bonus! That said, I am hoping to follow these same kids to fifth next year.


On other fronts, there has been relatively little change. Steve is still with Frito Lay as a District Sales Manager. I still lead services at Beth Shalom as well as helping to teach the Sixth Grade Family Minyan there.  We visited Pittsburgh in April and then met my dad and Ginger in Las Vegas in August as well. My mom visited in October.  Steve has been busy trying new activities such as zip lining and a high ropes course, cross training and anything else for which there is a Groupon! We are even going to Suncadia, in Roslyn WA, this coming weekend courtesy of a Groupon.


Wishing you all a healthy, happy, peaceful 2011.

Nance and Steve