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So, I have waited the obligatory time for sponsors to contact me about shamelessly plugging their products and have received absolutely zero.  Luckily, Millikin is still allowing me to blog on behalf of the PACE program (I know, I’m shocked too).  What a crazy time I have been having.  I am thoroughly educated in classroom management and discipline…now bring on that class about early adolescents. 

Really though, if I may take a moment to reflect (highly encouraged), I am loving every minute I am in class.  I am learning a lot, but it is more than just learning from lectures or textbooks; it is real-life experiences from the professors.  The stories they have shared about their past experiences of what works and what doesn’t it truly amazing.  In fact, I had a professor tell a story about what they did one time when they were teaching.  I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I mentioned it to the teacher I am an aide to at the school I work for.  He loved the idea so we gave it a shot.  It worked tremendously.  At the end of the week the student recognized his/her accomplishment and was equally excited. 

I shared the story with the professor who in return shared in my excitement.  The students at Millikin mean something to the professors.  I feel something I have never felt before in my previous college experiences.  They want me to succeed.  They want everyone to succeed.  When you come to Millikin, especially the PACE program, students feel that one-on-one connection.  You are going to work hard, not just in school, but with the juggling act you will have between work, family and school.  The professors understand this and it shows.  Each time I get another class down I feel a sense of pride, and I know my professors feel the same way. 

I have said all that I want to say for now.  I will inform you that I have started a membership with Netflix in order to watch movies and television shows via my Wii.  I just joined today so I don’t know what it is all about.  But I will warn you that if my experience is positive, I will be plugging both Netflix and Wii with hopes of a sponsorship deal…or until I am told to quit by the university.  I think I know what might come first.  Until next time!

*The following has nothing to do with my life in the PACE program.  In fact, this disclaimer was added as an afterthought when I noticed that it seemed to be a shameless plug for BlackBerry.  That was unintentional, however, if you are someone from BlackBerry, please contact me regarding a chance to shamelessly plug your item for money.  Just kidding, besides, I made a plea for someone from Disney to contact me about yelling "I'm Going To DisneyWorld" when I graduate and I have yet to be contacted about that.  It is all in good fun, which I believe you have to have in order to get by sometimes.  So hence the title...this post is a pace away from the PACE program.  Enjoy!  -Scott

Once again I am behind on my duties as a blogger for Millikin’s PACE program.  I was reminded of that tonight.  To that person: I thank you.  Reminders in life are nice.  Which is why I got a BlackBerry.  Not really, it was buy one get one free, so the England family is now unlimitedly accessing data at their own free will!  What does that have to do with reminders?  Nothing really, except that I found a cool feature (called a calendar…) that offers its services to me in the form of instant reminders whenever I want/need them!  Are you kidding me?  Oh how I love technology.  I take back my National Shut It Down idea plan (never would have worked anyways) and I am starting the National Something To Do With “I Love Technology” campaign!

I thought my iPod Touch was miraculous when it came to keeping me connect.  Then I took the 3G or something plunge and haven’t looked back since.  I keep track of football scores, two email accounts, the weather, Facebook and stocks with my phone.  (Okay, not stocks, but I had already typed ‘and’ so I needed something.) 

So now that I have blogged about nothing to do with my education or the PACE program, I am going to go to bed.  But I will rest easy, and so should you, that I have the capability to set a reminder on my phone of when I am becoming ‘that guy’ in the blogging department.  I don’t want to have my blogging rights revoked, so next time I will post something profound that will make people say, “Man, does he have a SmartPhone?”  Or something cool like that.

Wow, so I see it has been since April since I have posted anything…what happened?  Just busy!  April on through May proved to be a busy time due to the semester winding down.  June was a month off…well, from Millikin at least.  I took two online courses at a local community college over the summer.  And then July, well, here I am!  I apologize to all of my subscribers (or would be subscribers if it were an option).  I make the promise that I will regularly update my blog from here on out.

So what else have I been up to?  Well, I am off my rant of National Shut It Down Day.  I lost power for a day this week and realized that I need technology.  I am also sad to say that I never found any of those elusive morel mushrooms I talked about back in Spring.  And I have been too busy for fishing.  However, I did take a vacation to Michigan over Memorial Day weekend with my wife for our anniversary.  And I did the parental requirement of visiting Disney World in Orlando, FL a week ago.  (*Note* In my profile blog accessible to PACE students I have stated that, for a fee, I will shout, “I am going to Disney World” when I graduate.  If anyone knows Bob Iger – CEO of Disney – please tell him.)

Now, on to the important part!  Classes started back up a couple of weeks and it is amazing how it is when you get into your cohort how you instantly have around 25 new friends.  Getting back to Millikin and seeing those familiar faces reminds you that you aren’t in this alone.  It is an important part of how the PACE program is structured.  Everyone around you is in the same position as everyone else.  If the current course has several projects due, it is the same for everyone.  It can be stressful, but by having your friends in the cohort, you can often get help or ideas.  Your classmates are a valuable resource to you and your progression.

But don’t just stop there; include family, friends, and co-workers.  Whoever can assist you in a supportive manner: include them!  Don’t attempt this on your own.  My wife and family play a huge role in my education.  I know that without them I wouldn’t be where I am at today. 

So to them I say: Thank You! 

I also want to take a moment to say congratulations to my wife on the completion of her Master’s degree in Forensic Science.  She will probably be mad and embarrassed, but I am proud of her and feel the need to share it with the world!

Today I went to St. Louis.  I got down there around eight this morning and decided I was hungry.  Too early for Chipotle (the best restaurant on the face of this earth), so I stopped in a fast food joint that offered free Wi-FI.  Before I entered this establishment I made a quick call to my mom using my Bluetooth headset, I texted my wife, then took a picture using the same phone of a funny bumper sticker.  I got my breakfast and sat down, making sure I had my iPod touch with Wi-Fi capabilities.  I checked my email, Facebook, and then a quick update on the Boston Marathon that was underway.

I finished breakfast and moved on to a bookstore.  This place also had free Wi-Fi (why not really?).  After I pulled out my wife’s netbook and got it connected to the wireless, I once again extracted the Touch.  I went to the Chipotle app and located a restaurant less than five miles from my location.  I went ahead and downloaded the Boston Marathon app since it was streaming live updates over the internet, checked to see when the Cubs were playing via the MLB app, and then posted a status on Facebook about what I was doing (because I knew people really wanted to know). 

After a couple of hours of school work (no technology there, boring!), I jumped in my car, entered the address of Chipotle into the GPS and took off!  It was a little while after I finished my burrito that I thought about everything I had done today.   Not much, technology had done everything for me.  I couldn’t decide if I should embrace it or be disgusted.  When I got my driver’s license there was one cell phone the family shared, and it was in a bag.  And it couldn’t text or take pictures.  I use to access the internet with not only wires, but through a phone line that tied up the land line.  And to find out if the Cubs were playing I referenced a little paper schedule I carried in my wallet.  Technology should be embraced, we use it every day, but what we need is a National Shut It Down day. 

How about we take a day to shut down all electronics that aren’t vital to our daily living?  No cell phones, iPods, laptops or GPS.  We will survive.  Maybe we can get out to a park, go for a walk or a bike ride.  How about picking up trash around your neighborhood or in a park?  Try this for a day, then the next day turn them all back on, blog about it, put a link to the blog on Facebook, and then text all our friends to let them know you just posted something on Facebook.  And why not, take your cell phone back to the park and take a picture of the trash free park.

Good thing that people cannot subscribe to my blog because I feel I would have let them down.  It has been such a long time since I have been able to have a moment free to post something.  Well, that isn’t completely true, but this nice weather added in with the school work sort of lessens my time available at the computer.  I have been able to reflect though on how I got to where I am today.  And, with the Candidate Assessment courses I have been able to hone my reflecting skills.  So what did I find in my reflections?  I found reflection itself.

Lately it seems like in all my classes there is some sort of reflections to go along with all the assignments.  I was first annoyed by it because it made me think a lot harder and deeper into what I wrote.  Then I realized that was the point.  When I wrote down my first true reflection that made sense, I felt good.  After that they all seemed to come easy and I was learning more by actively engaging myself in what I had learned.  After that I decided to extend the reflecting process outside of the classroom and into the real world.

I found in my reflections that I am very thankful for my family.  I have a supportive wife who gets excited when I succeed and encourages me when I am in a slump.  She sits through my countless hours of reading out of the textbook aloud (I learn better that way), and she even brainstorms with me on ideas I have when writing papers and doing projects.  I even receive support from our three year old; not to mention a lot of wonderful ideas.  Without my family I couldn’t be near as motivated or successful as I have been with school. 

It is important to have a support system when going back to school.  It is really important to have a support system anytime you go to school, but try telling that to an 18 year old that is going off on their own for the first time.  It doesn’t have to be a significant other; it could be a brother, a sister or even a friend.  You just need someone that is going to be there to lift your spirits or even help out as you learn to balance work and school.  A support system will work; don’t believe me?  Try my idea for thirty days for free, if you don’t like it, get rid of it.  If you find that it works for you, keep my idea and continue to cherish it…for free.  (In my dream world I am a pitchman for products and some day that will come true.  More on that in a later post!)  Good luck!  -Scott

Is Spring officially here?  I got out on the lake yesterday for some fishing, and if the weather holds out then I should be able to go mushroom hunting starting next week.  I was thinking about how much I love to fish and search out those elusive morel mushrooms.  Both take patience, perseverance and of course, picking the right spot.  And what do you get at the end of the day?  Well, besides fish and mushrooms, you get a sense of accomplishment.  So it only made sense when I was on the lake yesterday that I felt the need to blog about the similarities between what we find fun and school.


You are looking for the right spot?  You need a program that allows you to accomplish your goals, better your future, yet, still allows you to maintain a job and family.  So you decide to take a look at Millikin’s PACE program.  Congrats!  You have found the right spot.  You already know that earning a degree is not an overnight experience.  It is going to take patience; it is going to take perseverance.  And what do you have in the end?  Something better than fish and wild fungus!  You have a bright future waiting for you.


So why am I talking about fishing and mushroom hunting when in my previous posts I talked about being busy and keeping up with my assignments?  That is a good point!  But just like everything else you do, you need to reward yourself with some personal time.  I have classes on Tuesday night, so usually I take Wednesdays to regroup and relax.  I don’t do school work unless I absolutely have to.  I know that every other day of the week I am going to be doing something for school, so I take Wednesdays off.  Maybe an entire day of no school work just won’t work for you.  That is fine, but you need to remember to take some time for yourself.  You have decided to go back to school, reward yourself.  Maybe take one day for yourself after you finish a class.  Get a hot fudge sundae for receiving a good grade!  Do something for yourself because graduation is not the only reward you deserve for bettering your future! 

Wow!!  Enough said.  I considered ending my blog post with that.  But then all of my mega-fans and subscribers to my blog would be left with a cliffhanger…”is that a good ‘wow’ or an overwhelmed ‘wow’”.  Yes.  When you enter the PACE dimension you will find yourself saying wow a lot.  Wow, I have a lot of work.   Wow, I haven’t done math in years.  Wow, is there really that much information out of this twenty page picture book I have been reading since I was a kid?  However, my personal favorites are: Wow, another class is over.  Wow, I am that much closer to accomplishing a goal that will impact my future.

Yes, there is a lot of work in the PACE program.  Yes, it does seem overwhelming at times.  No, it is not impossible.  You have to imagine a traditional student and the amount of time they have throughout the semester to complete projects.  Now look at the PACE program: five weeks.  The crazy thing is that I am learning more than I ever learned in a traditional program.  I can take my newly acquired knowledge to my next class that starts immediately after the previous one is over without forgetting anything.  Do I mind the feeling of being overwhelmed?  No because it is not always like this.  It just so happens the way my classes are right is that one is ending, another is starting next Tuesday, and then there is a Saturday class in the middle. 

I don’t want to scare anyone.  I hope I haven’t because that is not my intentions.  In fact, the message I am trying to convey is the sense of accomplishment you feel when complete everything.  I mean, you have taken the step to get back into school.  You aren’t going to back down now when there is a challenge presented to you.  I honestly feel this program is giving me the opportunity to not only complete my teaching degree, but it is also preparing me to be a better educator in the future.  Fact: life is not a cakewalk.  But if you can juggle family, work and school then you have just told yourself (and those around you) that you are ready and prepared for anything life may throw at you.  So in the end you can say: Wow, I AM a graduate – and a successful one, too! 

So this week is Spring Break!!! Yes!!! One problem: I haven’t found either.  After being teased a week ago with wonderful weather we are back to cold, cloudy and dreary.  I have lived in Illinois long enough to know that this is what happens every year.  That doesn’t make it any easier from year to year; nor will it ever stop me from complaining about this time of year either.  Just so everyone knows, when spring and summer hit full force and I am mowing my yard two times a week, I will probably make some sort of comment about wishing winter was here.  It is a vicious circle that Illinoisans live with every year. 

That leads me to the second thing I have not found: a break.  I am using my “Spring Break” to fulfill my required hours for my internship.  Is that my fault for scheduling?  Possibly, but at the same time it is allowing me to focus more on the internship instead of creating a balancing act between that and my classes.  My current class and the next one that will be starting at the end of March both have wonderful instructors that have mapped out everything that needs to be accomplished.  So long as I don’t put everything off, I should be okay.  But there is always something enticing about procrastination.  I don’t know what it is but give me two assignments and a week to do them and I will delay, delay, and delay. 

 I feel I should put a disclaimer on that last comment.  Delaying is not something you should do in the PACE program unless you have a pretty good grasp on what you are planning on doing.  This non-traditional program does not give you the benefit of several months to complete a final project.  Could it be considered an accelerated method to education?  I don’t view it that way because I am still completing the same amount of courses traditional students are doing.  It is just a formatting function that allows individuals that are exceptionally in tune with prioritizing; all the while not affecting our home life with our families or our jobs. 

So Spring and Break, I am looking for you!  I am bound and determine to find one of you; which with having school and a family, I am guessing that I will find Spring several times over before I find that elusive break.

I figured the best thing to do for my first post would be to introduce myself and give a little background information.  My name is Ernest S. England but I go by Scott.  Which always leads to the question, "Are you related to the Scot England on WAND-TV?"  The answer to that is no.  We do live in the same town and our spouse's first name both begin with 'J'.  What a good segue into my next bit of info.  I got married in 2004 to my high school sweetheart.  After our wedding we moved to Rochester, MN.  That was cold, not to mention lonely not being around family, so we moved back to Illinois in 2007 - a few months after our son was born.  



So how did I end up at Millikin two years later?  I guess you could say it was due to the frustrations of my job at the time.  But a lot of it had to do with always having the desire to get my Bachelor’s degree and to fulfill my desire of teaching.  The problem though was I had done the whole university thing a time or two.  I needed to find something that could allow me to continue to work.  I looked into a couple of online degrees from a college in Illinois and one in Indiana.  Both had good programs but only admitted around thirty students once a year.  But then my wife mentioned Millikin’s PACE program.  I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure as to what to think about that idea.  However, at that point, I was desperate to find something that could possibly work for me. 

 All it took was one phone call to Kim Murphy.  I had never before talked to anyone at any university that was so incredibly nice and willing to answer my many questions.  Within the next day I had submitted my application, for free, online.  I had transcripts sent in from previous institutions and within two weeks I was accepted and ready to enroll in school.  What??? It isn’t supposed to be this easy!!!  I believe it was the last week of July or first week of August when I made first contact with Millikin.  I was in classes by September. 

What is great about the PACE program is the one class at a time format which is great for students like me that struggle dividing my time between multiple courses at once.  And I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of when that fifth week of the class is over and reality hits you: I just finished another course.  It truly is an amazing program and I hope to share many stories of success and progression as I move towards graduation.

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
 
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
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