January, 2005


31
Jan 05

Day sixteen, a new day…a new week

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After a weekend’s rest, I felt ready to tackle the world. First stop was at The Chalkboard in Waycross, GA, just two blocks away from the hotel I had stayed in since Friday. Unfortunately Judy Bagby, the owner, was busy teaching school and I didn’t get to meet with her. However, I was well received by the sales clerk, Amber. She and I had a great chat. Eighteen-year-old Amber told me she had studied French at school because she’d always hoped to travel to Paris.

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Amber [left], the friendly sales clerk and the interior of The Chalkboard [right].

This made me think of a great service which I thought would really interest Amber. It’s absolutely free, offered through Ruhrs University in Bochum, Germany. The service pairs up partners in different countries for the purpose of learning a new language. Each partner learns the other’s native tongue in tandem. I had great fun and many laughs with my ‘tandem partner’, Pilar, who is a high school art teacher near San Sebastian in Spain. You can find out about this wonderful program at:

http://www.slf.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/etandem/etindex-en.html

I looked forward to my next stop even though it was quite a distance driving into Florida. My hosts Cliff and Kathy offered to put me up in their oceanfront condo in Daytona Beach. What a view! And what a break it is being in Florida considering the snow everyone is shoveling back home. Thank you so much Cliff and Kathy. You’ve made my week and it’s just begun.

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My host in Daytona Beach, Kathy [top]. A view from the condo of the Atlantic [bottom left] and of the inland waterway [bottom right].


29
Jan 05

Days 14 and 15 in Retrospect

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I am sitting here at a Hampton Inn, thinking about days 14 and 15 in retrospect. The television doesn’t work well here, but the Internet does. So the television sits on one channel. It’s a channel full of infomercials. In a way it’s unfortunate – all these infomercials. But in a way it’s good. It sparks my memory and I can recount everything that has happened in the past couple of days.

The most memorable thing, for sure, is the couple I stayed with in the small town of Millen, GA. I think that I mentioned before that I am a member of an Educator’s B&B Network. If you’d like to join, you can find them at www.educatorstravel.com. If you DO decide to join, my membership no. is: 13357.

Each stay, I believe costs $34 per night. But members can earn credits by referring others or by hosting others. So, please if you join, tell them I referred you. God knows I could use the credits since this trip is so long.

Now I want to talk about my experiences.

I think that this entire trip has been a ‘high energy’ trip. I see the highest energy in the hosts of the B&Bs. A common character trait of each host is ‘high energy’. Not just an “A” type personality but often a “Triple A” personality.

Over the past few weeks, I have met people who’ve worked at the Pentagon, written books for NASA, and done a dozen equally interesting things. Sometimes I don’t write about it, out of respect for the member’s anonymity. But I have to tell you, this trip, just based on the visits with various teachers and retired teachers, has been an experience I won’t forget.

Today is Saturday. I keep thinking about the couple I stayed with on Thursday night, in Millen. Originally I was going to pick up a bottle of wine, visit the local Starbucks and grab something to eat before I finally arrived at their home. I was in shock to see that the total population of Millen, GA is only approx. 2,000 people. No Starbucks, no hi-speed Internet and probably no restaurants. But Millen is the home of probably one of the fastest women runners on the earth!

Joyce and her husband Jim are totally involved in ‘track and field’ and running. When Joyce does races (which is often), she runs over 26 mile marathons. Not only does she expect to run the entire race, she expects to finish first. Joyce is 67 years old. Her husband, Jim, who is 70, experienced two heart attacks and a heart-bypass operation a few years ago. Because of this, Jim’s races are only 5 miles long.

Now, you might say, “Well, these people lead unbalanced lives. It is obvious that they are extremists in only one area” But this is wrong. Joyce is a retired teacher. She taught English, French and Latin. Jim’s background includes everything from being a priest, a pastor, teaching an alternative program for hard-to-reach adolescents, being a prison chaplain, and teaching history in a high school. He presently works part-time as a journalist for the local paper and they both sing with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra. They are both certified coaches and officials for various athletic games. They have traveled the world competing in various competitions.

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Jim and Joyce [left]. Married in 1991, this couple of over-achievers is inseparable and their home is filled with trophies [right].

These guys are understated. They live quietly in this town of 2,000. If you ask me, Joyce would be a super ‘poster-girl’ for some corporation. If you think of Jarrod, the guy who did nothing but eat ‘Subway Sandwiches’ and lose weight; Joyce’s story is incredible. She did not start running until she was in her 40s. She told me that she started by running 100 steps from her house and walking back. The next day she ran 200 steps. Now, she sometimes runs non-stop over 30 miles and comes in first.

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The shelves hold thousands of promotional tee-shirts [top] from hundreds of races and Joyce has a different pair of running shoes [bottom] for every day of the week.

As I write this, the infomercial station in my hotel room still plays on. The problem with the media is that it helps to promote the misconception that success is easy. One cannot become a millionaire overnight in real estate. Nor can one reduce to a size two of clothing by taking some kind of supplements bought over the television. Health and success come with common sense lifestyle changes.

Joyce has a coach who lives in Colorado. Joyce could be an incredible coach herself. If you belong to Educatorstravel.com, get yourself down there to check it out. I think that she could be the answer to the obesity problems of millions of Americans. What is all this about suing McDonald’s? Or talk of the new ‘Obesity Bill’? It takes a long time to become obese. It should also take a new life style and a long time to reverse the process.

Jim and Joyce are, without a doubt, the most active couple I have met. Actually, everyone involved with www.Educatorstravel.com is super active.

Well. Now I’d like to recount my visits to the two retailers on Days 14 and 15.

On Thursday I had the pleasure of visiting: Education Station in Summerville, SC. The owner of Education Station, Russ Davies, has an engineering background. He worked in development of diesel engines for over 32 years. Upon retiring and looking for a new option, he wanted to find an outlet where he could “make a difference and build something”. His store is only but a couple of years old but Jim is enjoying himself immensely and has become a ‘retailer of note’ in Summerville, SC. Russ said that he receives many requests for Spanish, French and Multicultural resources.

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Russ Davies [left], proprietor of Education Station and the inside of his store [right].

Friday, I stopped by a small retailer in the town of Vidalia, GA. What a cute little town! The sales clerk, Rachel, was very helpful and upbeat. Paula Wolfe, the owner, was unavailable since she juggles her job as a schoolteacher by day with her responsibility as owner of the store. The population of Vidalia is approximately 10,000.

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Rachel [left], sales clerk at Teacher’s Edition and the store’s interior [right].

Day 15, the end of my third week of travel, would end at a Hampton Inn in Waycross, GA. As I said, the television is not great, but the Internet access is tops.
Cheers. I’ll let you know how Monday progresses!


26
Jan 05

Day thirteen, as unlucky as it sounds

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Well, it had to have happened sooner or later. Both my appointments today weren’t expecting me. It makes me wonder what’s happening with the world. Each place was contacted several times in advance. Maybe everyone in today’s world is traveling in the fast lane and they just miss each other unintentionally.

All was well with the first appointment, though. I arrived at 10:30am at Teacher’s Touch in Myrtle Beach. No, they hadn’t been expecting me, confirmed Carolyn, the sales clerk. “That’s too bad,” I said. “I’d really hoped to see John Reeves again. He helped me so much 15 years ago.” Teacher’s Touch was the very first parent-teacher store I’d ever approached.

Carolyn got John on the phone and, to his credit, he stopped renovating his house and drove over to the store to see me. We had a good visit, reminiscing about our first meeting 15 years ago, when John had a much smaller store and I had only one title under my belt. Since then, John’s store and customer base has really flourished and we have gone from one title to more than forty.

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Seeing John [left] was definately the bright point of my day. His store [right] has changed a lot since the last time we spoke.

John showed me around the store. His busiest season is during March break and the summer, when teachers and parents are on holiday in Myrtle Beach. You can find him at: 2610 S. Kings Hwy in Myrtle Beach. His website is: www.TeachersTouch.com. He offers 10% all year long. When you stop in, tell him “Sara sent you.”

After leaving John’s store, I was dreading the next drive, which was at least 3 hours, to The Friendly Apple Education Center, (also known as Mid Carolina Office Equipment). Maybe the second name is more applicable since I didn’t notice too much friendliness. After four hours of driving (and many service station stops confirming directions), I excitedly managed to arrive on time. Unfortunately, Lydia, the owner had gone home, feeling ill. Briana, the buyer, felt she was too busy to come out of the back to meet me, so I met with Norma the clerk. I’m sure you can imagine how I felt. I dropped off the samples and didn’t stay too long.

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Norma [left], the sales clerk who accepted my samples. I guess I left in such a hurry the shot of the inside of their store [right] turned out a bit blurry.

The last photo you see here is of Mario, I snapped while checking in at the Fairfield Marriott Inn, Orangeburg, SC. I wanted to capture his buoyant attitude. Mario is my hero of Orangeburg. He works as an HIV AIDS educator/advocate by day and at the hotel reception at night. The minimum wage and pay here in South Carolina is close to $5 an hour. Most people must work two jobs in order to survive.

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My hero, Mario.


26
Jan 05

Prelude to Day 13

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Day 13 was a bad day. Perhaps, as I drive across the country and arrive at my appointments, some retailers think of me as a sales rep. They treat me as a sales rep or probably worse because I don’t have the shiny slick veneer that can tolerate insults with a smile. I am too passionately involved in what I do. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am easily humiliated. I think I am not cut out to be a sales rep, even if I wanted to be one.

So far, I haven’t asked anyone to place orders. This trip is more like a series of mini social visits. After fifteen years of writing these educational songs, and a lifetime of studying music, I really want to meet the people who are selling my materials. I want to visit their offices, exchange some pleasantries, look at their catalogs, give away free product samples and maybe pick up a few ideas in the process.

People often ask me how I ever became a publisher of educational songs. When I first graduated from University of North Texas, I felt I was destined to be a pit orchestra player and a film composer. One of my first (and last) pit orchestra gigs was backing up “The King of Insult”, comedian Don Rickles. Little did I know that I would become the butt of some of his jokes: “It’s a union regulation, One Hooker in Every Band”, he quipped.

Without thinking, I flew into ‘stage rage’, giving him the finger accompanied by the requisite vocal expletive. The scenario received newspaper coverage and word traveled in musicians circles across the country. My career as a pit musician was short lived. I became known as the female sax player prone to stage rage. The following week, I made the decision to become a full time educator. Knowing well that my pit band work might be limited, I settled into the security of a fulltime teaching position. My raging persona indirectly took up a new cause: combating illiteracy.

My first long term position was at an inner-city school, teaching illiterate Jamaican kids how to play steel drums. The scariest thing was, while most of these recent immigrants exhibited above average intelligence, the system had deemed them ‘educable retarded’. It was during this period that I started experimenting, providing my students with music tracks and encouraging them to write their own lyrics, which they would then perform ‘rap’ style. The results were encouraging.

Totally illiterate adolescents were spending hours trying to write and then read their own lyrics. Encouraged, I composed and produced my first album of 12 educational songs. I was determined to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of my charges. Today, while I am no longer a classroom teacher, every song I write, and every resource we create, is still done with the end result in mind, an educated kid.

So, now you know where I am coming from.

On day 13, when I arrived at my final destination after four hours behind the wheel, I didn’t receive a welcome at all. The buyer didn’t even emerge from the back room but told the sales clerk to ‘look after me’. Feeling sad and insulted, I imagined myself going into ‘store rage’, flinging audio kits at the head of the poor woman behind the counter. Luckily I contained myself, remembering what happened after my ‘stage rage’. Susan, my logistics assistant at the office, laughed, saying “At least store rage is better than road rage.” I started laughing too. It felt good to be able to laugh. At this time of my life I don’t need a reputation for road rage, stage rage or store rage. I merely want to help eradicate illiteracy. The world is a better place when a kid, through acquired literacy and skills, decides to hold down a job rather than hold up the corner store.


25
Jan 05

Day twelve, old friends and new ones too!

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I started the day with a trip to Starbucks. All three appointments today were in Wilmington. By the end of the day, I knew how to find this Starbucks shop without a problem. I even knew which coffee table had a power receptacle beside it. (My own little personal office in Wilmington!)

My first appointment was at a place called Great Ideas for Teaching. I really didn’t know what to expect. Usually I stop in at retail stores on this trip. This place appeared to be different. Located on the second floor of a business complex, it clearly wasn’t set up for walk-in traffic. What ensued was one of the greatest meetings of the trip. I was introduced to Jean DeGaetano, company president, and her daughter, Jeannie DeGaetano, who is director of marketing. I could really empathize with Jean. We have a lot in common.

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Jeannie and Jean [left] showing off their new product samples. Their office [right] is much cleaner than my own.

Jean’s background is in speech pathology. Her catalog is especially geared to the needs of speech pathologists. Although she carries a variety of products in her catalog, Great Ideas for Teaching is a way of distributing Jean’s own titles (over 50), which she has authored. The website for Great Ideas for Teaching is: www.GreatIdeasForTeaching.com

Although over the years, her company has grown to include 7,000 sq feet of office and warehouse space, Jean and her daughter are not above picking and packing orders themselves. They laughed and showed me the “food table”. Jean said that it’s very important to keep a food table filled with goodies for the staff to munch on.

We had a long discussion about illustrators. Jean has a great story about the main illustrator for her books. Kevin Newman first began illustrating Jean’s books at the age of 17. “He was so young, his parents had to sign his first contract with me,” said Jean. Kevin has since gone on to become one of the main illustrators for The Simpsons, the famous television show.

Kevin hasn’t forgotten Jean though, and still offers to illustrate books when time opens up for him. Jean gave me one of her books featuring Kevin’s illustrations. I can’t wait to show it to my own special illustrator, Jessie, my daughter, who has become quite the talented artist and is presently a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Bidding farewell to Jean, I made my way to visit Jim and Scott Long of Educational Record Center. We planned to have lunch together and Jim drove us down to the waterway, where we sat and watched the steamers pass as we ate lunch. I joked when the accompanying photos were taken that I would let everyone know that Jim and Scott do NO work and spend all of their time down by the water!

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Jim, Scott and I catch up over lunch [top left]. Later we take a nice walk along the waterfront [top right]. Outside of Educational Record Center [bottom] I couldn’t resist taking a quick shot to remember my visit.

I have known Jim Long for a really long time and Educational Record Center has carried our titles in their catalog for just as long. The first time I visited ERC, in Wilmington, was about 12 years ago. I took along my kids. Jessie was so young she sat on the floor watching Disney videos while Ben insisted on roller-blading in the parking lot.

Over the years, Jim Long has made an enormous impact on our cover designs and he has taught me a lot. For years now, every time we design a new cover, I ask myself “Would Jim like this?”

Media titles, such as music, software, and videos, can be purchased from ERC through their website: www.erckids.com.

Last stop of the day, before driving off to Myrtle Beach, was to, Teacher’s Aid, a parent-teacher store in Wilmington. The owner, Jackie Fuller, has a teaching background and her bright and charming 400 square ft. store is packed with thingscs of interest for parents and teachers. She is also the local distributor for Girl Scout materials.

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The front of Teacher’s Aid [top left]. Jackie [top right], the store’s owner. There are tons of wonderful products inside the store [bottom].

What would a business day be without one last stop at Starbucks? I made my way to my “Wilmington office” (the corner table at the local Starbucks), for my last contact with the outside world, before climbing into my van for the next leg of the odyssey.


24
Jan 05

Day eleven, driving the long haul

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Thank heavens for this blog! It’s the only way I have of keeping track of the days. Got up this morning and drove the few minutes from Gastonia to Belmont. In retrospect, I should have taken photos of Belmont. What an amazing historic little town. Right down on Main Street, in the old part of the city, I found School Resources Inc, Dick Cromlish’s store.

School Resources Inc. has been in Belmont for the past 55 years. I think that Dick said he’s been with the store for the last 30 or 35 years. This 7,000 foot store is bright and airy. Lots of sunshine comes through the front windows and rocking chairs adorn the sidewalk in front of the store.

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The front of School Resources Inc [top left]. Inside I met Dick Cromlish [top right]. The inside of the store [bottom] is very bright and welcoming.

Dick loves to fish and the walls of his office sport photographs of the 150lb halibut he caught with his wife in Alaska. He told me all about the history of Belmont and then asked me about the similarities and differences I noticed while visiting all of these parent-teacher stores. Come to think of it, I notice a lot of differences. For the most part, I find that each store reflects the personality of its staff. Congenial staff and great lighting are of utmost importance.

The trek to my next stop was quite far. Four hours! I was not even sure I’d make it before closing time. Just in the ‘nick of time’ I swung into the parking lot of Teachers ‘R Special and Parents Too in Whiteville, NC. I was greeted by Barbara at the front counter. She was busy searching for pictures of President Bush. After all, Presidents’ Day is coming up. I surprised her by going out to the van and bringing in a copy of our “Presidents’ Rap” songs, celebrating the lives of all of the presidents.

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The beautiful exterior of Teachers ‘R Special and Parents Too [top left]. Inside I got to meet Barbara [top right] and have a look around the inside of the store [bottom].

After a long day on the road, you can’t imagine how I looked forward to my next stop at the home B&B of Lee and Jacquie of Wilmington, NC. Jacquie and Lee are avid travelers and just returned from visiting their daughter in New Zealand for five weeks. Since my son, Ben, just left for New Zealand a day earlier, to go para-gliding, Jacquie and I sat in the livingroom and had lots to talk about. Later on, her husband, Lee bounced in the door. Lee, a retired history teacher, loves to play tennis. He plays softball too. His days from morning to night, it seems, are filled with the excitement of games and practicing. He has twice the energy of many men half his age.

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My hosts for the evening, Jacquie and Lee.

Well. It’s off to some new destinations on a new day. As I sit here in yet another Starbucks café I’m glad that I like coffee! So long for now.


21
Jan 05

Day ten, another week under my belt

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Friday the 21st was a little unusual. It began with an early morning visit to my B&B host Ed’s school in Greensboro, in search of hi-speed access. As I mentioned, Ed is the director of an independent middle school, called Greensboro Day School. Wow! Did I ever feel like a middle school kid! No matter what I tried, my computer was denied access! For a person with a serious ‘hi-speed’ addiction, this can be a problem. Just the evening before I’d visited a local Kinkos, where I’d been able to receive mail but not send any.

During my brief visit to Greensboro Day School, all of the students on campus were actively participating in a day of co-operative games. Each team was made up of students of various ages, from some of the very youngest to some of the most senior. It appeared that everyone (including staff and students) was having a great time.

After leaving Ed’s school, I had to visit a Panera’s Bakery (which promised access) where I bought a sandwich, PLUS three Starbucks cafés. Finally, after finding a fourth Starbucks, offering Internet that actually worked, I settled down to get some work done. You can’t imagine how much I laughed when they came out offering me a second coffee, for free! I must have looked like a homeless person settling in for a warm Starbucks afternoon. It was a generous offer but I was already filled to the hilt with coffees from my previous jaunts in search of hi-speed access.

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Me being offered a second coffee for free while surfing the net.

During my search that day, I did stumble upon one educational toy store. I went in, introduced myself, and presented some samples. Of course, I also asked where I could find the closest place with Internet access. Scott Brewington, of Learning Express Toys in Greensboro, seemed really excited about our educational audio kits. (His store, by the way, is filled with a lot of neat stuff.) As is often the case, sometimes the best relationships develop from unexpected moments. I wouldn’t be surprised if Learning Express Toys becomes one of our best customers. Just because the visit to their store was totally unplanned, and that’s the way life often is!

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Outside of Learning Express Toys [left] before meeting Scott [right].

Heading on south, I was excited about driving to Gastonia, NC for the weekend, where I could recoup at a hotel with hi-speed just a few feet from my bed!


20
Jan 05

Day nine, mischief and more!

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Before I get into my day’s travels, I have an interesting tid-bit of information. It kind of shows how teenagers get into different kinds of mischief depending on their circumstances. In Richmond, apparently, they are all supplied with their own laptops (equipped with hi-speed wi-fi cards). Guess what some of these kids have been up to! They paint the town with neon paint that glows in the dark. The pavement lights up now in places where free “hot spots” for Internet access are available. Interesting, huh? Leave it to kids to think of this!

My first stop of the day was a short distance from Robley and Carol’s place. After just a short drive, I arrived at Teach ‘n Things, where I was greeted by Linda. This quaint little store offers a great variety of educational resources to the local community.

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Linda [left] was very pleased to receive the samples I brought her. I think our audio kits will fit in well with the rest of the store [right].

The subsequent drive to Lynchburg seemed to take forever. Not until we are actually outside of urban areas do we ever realize how much undeveloped land and how much beauty surrounds us. You can literally drive for hours through pristine country without seeing a soul. It sure would be nice to keep it this way.

I wondered how a tiny town of approximately 65,000 could support a toy/bookstore that boasted 16,000 square feet. Little Dickens was an amazing place. The inside was packed to the rafters with toys, books, used books, and a café. I met with Danny Givens, the owner. You could see that Danny’s upbeat personality and hands-on approach to everything that happened in the store, really made the difference. I wish you could see the Little Dickens store for yourself.

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Danny [top left], the owner of Little Dickens. His street sign [top right] is definitely worth posting a picture of, not to mention the colorful store exterior [bottom].

By this time, I was really looking forward to arriving in Greensboro, where I would be staying with Ed, a middle school principal. Over a glass of wine we talked of many things including Ed’s travels to Marseilles with his daughter. Their stay was arranged through www.EducatorsTravel.com.

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Ed, my gracious host for the evening.

It was then, that I started to realize that this B&B network of educators was much more than an inexpensive accommodation option. How can we really measure the ripple effect of having teachers befriend teachers around the world? Can we ever measure this celebration of diversity and new friendship on the students who sit in these teachers’ classes?

With that I will bid you adieu. Tune in on Monday to see the after effects of someone who has eaten way too much (having to order something at every place offering hi-speed internet). Have a good weekend!


19
Jan 05

Day eight, on to Virginia

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Woke up in Manassas, Virginia and had a great breakfast with Dorothy and Bill, my hosts. Now off to Stafford, VA and my first stop at The Scholarship.

Suzanne Rich, of The Scholarship, was excited to receive the samples and happy to show me around. Although the folks at The Scholarship have been customers of ours over the years, I never got a chance to meet Barb and Penny, the store’s buyer and owner. Oh well. I hope we get a chance to meet at the upcoming NSSEA show. Apparently Barb, who had hoped to meet me, was called to a meeting at their new store. The Scholarship has opened a second 20,000 foot store in Fredericksburg. For those of you in the area, you’ll find it close to the UKROPS store.

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Outside of The Scholarship [left] on a snowy January morning. Suzanne [right] was kind enough to show me around their wonderful outlet.

Then, I was off to Culpeper, to visit The Learning Tree. What a cute little town! It reminds me of “Niagara-on-the-Lake”, a town not too far from where I live. I stopped a resident to inquire about the population. “I believe it’s about 5,000,” he said. While visiting The Learning Tree, I met with Fanny Bunch, who runs the shop most days.

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The Learning Tree [left] in its serene location. Fanny [right] takes very good care of such a beautiful store.

What would an afternoon be without a “high speed fix”? My sincere thanks to the folks at the Cameron St. Coffee House who make up fantastic sandwiches, roast coffee beans on the premises, and offer free high speed for net-addicts.

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Inside the Cameron St. Coffee House [left] as seen from above. The historic looking bean roaster [right] adds to the house’s unique decor.

Finally, I drove up to my B&B hosts’ home in Richmond, VA. Carol, a middle school teacher, and Robley, a lobbyist for the Virginia Education Association, were perfect hosts. They took me on a tour of downtown Richmond. It’s a fascinating city. I definitely want to come back to and explore some more. We also went to the university campus, where Carol and Robley jog several days a week. Last but not least, we enjoyed a great meal at “Kuba Kuba”, a Cuban restaurant.

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Carol in the morning before my departure. Too bad Robley had already left for work before I had a chance to play shutterbug.


18
Jan 05

Day seven, with the cold weather behind me, I hope!

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This trip is exciting. I feel like I’m in the middle of it now. I wake up in Maryland, where everyone is getting ready for the crowds because of the Presidential Inauguration. I note that I’ll be heading against the traffic. I’m off to Virginia in the afternoon. It seems to be really cold in Maryland. When I hit the state border, Virginia seemed bright, sunny and warmer. Maybe it’s just an illusion. I think I’ve escaped the cold weather now for a few weeks.

My first stop of the day was not too far to travel. I feel like I’m becoming a seasoned pro at this now. I only call the office for directions every hour or so. The ABC’s and 123’s store in Rockville, Maryland is a cute little store, offering teachers and parents a broad selection of educational resource materials. Lewis Kalavritinos, the owner, noted that there are many local schools offering language immersion programs, particularly in Spanish.

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Upon arriving at ABC’s and 123′s [top left] Lewis [top right] made sure I felt welcome, as I’m sure he does for all his customers. The inside of the store [bottom] is very well organized and offers everything you could ever want from an educational outlet.

Heading towards Sterling, Virginia, my next visit was Cathy Hatfield of Montessori N’ Such. Cathy has a catalog company distributing Early Childhood Resources to Montessori schools, daycares and parents. I had to laugh when I saw her warehouse. She started not too long ago as a home-based business. One day, our warehouse will probably look like this, too. I am posting this photo mostly for the benefit of my staff, so they can see what the future holds for us.

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Cathy [left] offered me a great deal of insight into the future of my own business by showing me around her warehouse [right].

Last visit of the day was with the folks at Teacher’s Mart in Burke, VA. I had a nice chat with Melissa, Beverly and Kristen, who were very eager to learn about our line of educational audio kits. Teacher’s Mart is a nice bright store in a very nice bright plaza. One bonus is that there was a Starbucks within walking distance, so of course I had to get my Internet fix before heading towards my evening’s B & B hosts.

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Teacher’s Mart was such a wonderful place to visit, and best of all, very close to a Starbucks.

Bill and Dorothy of Manassas, VA are incredible hosts. Their beautiful home is located not too far from DC. They both enjoy traveling and we share

many stories over a wonderful dinner. My sincere thanks goes out to Bill and Dorothy for making my stay in Manassas really special.

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Bill and Dorothy, my very gracious hosts at the end of a long day.