Road Trip!

The year is winding down. Seniors are done (their farewell ceremony is Friday). Students are interviewing for summer internships and getting in their applications for other summer opportunities. The HSAs are over with (which unfortunately a few students take as a sign that the year is over with too). And final exams are coming. Though I can’t get a clear answer from North Ave about their timing, it seems like this year will be just as absurd as last year in that the final exam dates do not take into account any of the days off due to snow. That is, while our last-day-of-school has been postponed a week because of the five snow days taken, exams have not been postponed a millisecond. This will lead to ten, count ’em ten, days after final exams are taken and grades are entered. Gah! [noise of extreme frustration]

As the year draws to a close, I wanted to share one of my summer plans. I shall be attending the National Academy Foundation’s Institute for Staff Development again this summer, where I hope to learn more about interdisciplinary collaboration and finding work-based learning opportunities as we continue our work toward AOE. But more importantly, I have decided to drive to the conference.

This is more important to my summer plans than the conference itself because the NAF ISD is in San Francisco, and I am in Baltimore.

My plan is to take the scenic route, stopping to visit the sights along the way. It will be over 7000 miles round trip. On the way to the conference, I shall drive U.S. Route 20 from coast to coast, starting in Boston’s Kenmore Square after visiting my friends and family back in Massachusetts, and ending in Newport, Oregon. There, I will see the United States’s Pacific coastline for the first time ever, after which I’ll hook a left and head on to the conference. At this point, I’m leaving undecided exactly what path I’ll take back home to Baltimore.

I hope to keep y’all posted with regular updates here this summer, so be forewarned that this blog will soon experience a shift in focus from math and engineering teaching to travel. Though I’ll definitely keep my eye open (and keyboard at the ready) for any math & engineering sights along my journey!

Also, if anyone out there lives along or near Rte. 20, give me a shout out and I’d be thrilled to visit with you!

Happy travels.



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11 responses to “Road Trip!

  1. On the snow days not pushing forward final exams – has this ever happened in Baltimore? After 3 years of high school and each year having snow days added and never having exams moved forward (and being told don’t send your kids in after finals), I’ve come to think of this as standard practice. Since I have a non-hs kid that has to be in school to the end of the year, it’s not like I could take a family vacation. It does seem kind of dumb to tell me “every day is super critical, attendance is the most critical thing…blah, blah, blah” and then say it’s fine that your kids miss the last 10 days of schools that come after the finals.


    oh, and have a fun trip

    • nyates314

      True; perhaps I was hoping against hope that some reason would be applied this year to the end-of-year dates, since ten days after finals is the most I’ve experienced in my five years here. Last year, even with all the snow, it was only seven days, and the years before that I remember it usually being 3-4.

      As a teacher of semester-length courses, this means my students this fall got two weeks more instruction than my spring students. Which is tough on the students who don’t get to learn as much awesome engineering, and tough on me who will be evaluated in part on my students’ exam scores.

      And you’re very right about those mixed messages re: the importance of attendance!

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  6. Ray Milroy

    I am planning a somewhat similar trip this coming July. Since I live in Illinois the plan is to drive Route 90 to Boston, then Route 20 to Newport, Oregon. Trying to stay on the original roads appears to be tricky based on my research. Have you looked into getting detailed maps?

    • nyates314

      Route 20 was actually quite easy to stay on! I had thought it might be hard, since the old U.S. Route system has been replaced in large part by interstates. And on Route 1, I found that travelling a 500-mile stretch from Boston to Baltimore was very tough (I lost Rte 1 in several places, and tried to find my way back to the error point and figure out what went wrong, but in a few places still to this day I don’t know where the road went!). But Route 20 was not like that, in my experience. Everything was clearly marked, and no sudden lane splits where if you’re in the wrong lane you lose Rte 20.

      I would love a nice coast-to-coast map of Route 20, but couldn’t find one on a cursory search. Let me know if you do find one! Each day on my route, I looked at Google Maps for where I was planning to go. I also had a U.S. Road Atlas with every state on its own page.

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