Since enrolling at Ashland University four fast years ago, Meredith has had the goal of being part of their Southern Internship Program. Originally, she wanted nothing more than to spend her 12 weeks of student teaching in Celebration, the town created by Disney just outside the parks. Her dream was to teach at Celebration School, and be Cinderella in the summers. As she progressed through the education program at AU, she began to have second thoughts. Not only about the Celebration dream, but teaching in general, she hadn't had that classroom experience that helped keep her teacher fire going and she wasn't sure it was the right field for her. If you've read any previous posts about Meredith, you know that I know she has that "it" factor of teaching that can't be taught, so we knew she was a born teacher she just needed to stick with it.
In the fall this year she had an outstanding experience in Shelby, OH with a cooperating teacher that saw what we have seen all of these years, a natural born teacher. Here supervisor from Ashland saw it too, and Meredith's fire for the classroom began to see a spark again, then she was chosen for the internship program, and the director, Joe Hendershott, a guy I grew up with, worked very hard to find just the right placement for Meredith. For the first 6 weeks she taught in Sarasota, FL, just 10 minutes from the #1 beach in the United States, according to the signs. Her second 6 weeks would fulfill her dream, she was assigned to Celebration School.Ashland's program pairs the students with host families in the school districts and the two families Meredith stayed with could not be any nicer and welcoming to her.
Each time we talked with Meredith the spark that started in Shelby, grew and her passion for the profession was back. She loved living in Sarasota with her runs on the beach, the sunny weather, avoiding the horrible Ohio winter, and quickly realized that she is a misplaced beach person. She really felt it was where she was meant to be all along. The Lovely Mrs. Prosser and I sensed a contentment in Meredith that we hadn't before and both agreed with her that Florida is where she belongs.
When we met up with her she had just finished her second week in Celebration and they were on break this past week so we were able to spend the whole week together. As I said, it wasn't a relaxing break, we drove from Orlando to Sarasota to Fort Myers and back to Orlando in the first 3 days. We visited family, walked on a cloudy beach at Siesta Key on a day of rain, and spent one sunny day on Hickory Island Beach. Through it all we had time with Meredith. Time to talk about her plans, time to help her think about her plans, time to look into what she needs to do to teach in Florida, and time to appreciate the independent young lady she has become. The weather wasn't great, and it was a busy time, but as she dropped us off at the airport yesterday, this sentimental father couldn't help getting a little teary eyed. My baby girl is grown up and grown up good. We couldn't be prouder of her.
I know there is a beach town in Florida that will have an amazing young teacher next year. It makes me happy to see Meredith happy.