"If you get in the habit of asking questions, you have a very good chance of being both successful and happy.”
Renee's friends, former students, and colleagues offered several warm and generous tributes in honor of her service at Temple University from 2003 - 2011.
On Friday, December 9, 2011, nearly 20 of Renee's former students surprised her with a karaoke party. Hosts David Cooper Moore and John Landis presented Renee with a custom-made, one-of-a-kind superhero action figure, the Mighty Mentoring Meaning-Maker. As "master of the media maelstrom," this bendable and posable caped action figure urges students, "You should write about that!" "What are your high-lights and low-lights?" and "Write a grant."
Filmmaker, media literacy educator and FAANMAIL activist Nuala Cabral created this warm video tribute at the surprise party.
And on November 12th, Sherri Hope Culver created and performed a charming musical tribute which she performed at Renee's Goodbye Philadelphia party. Check out the song here:
Renee celebrated her move by creating her (first-ever) mixtape. To listen to these songs, search for her name on iTunes Ping to listen to these songs.
THE GOODBYE PHILADELPHIA MIX
AND SHE WAS. Talking Heads. The bounce and playful energy of this song charms me. The sense of being simultaneously "in" and "above" the world is what it feels like as an advocate, academic, parent, creative producer, and teacher. The world was moving, she was right there with it.
DIVE. Steven Curtis Chapman. Making a commitment changes everything for the best. This song works for me personally, professionally and spiritually, reminding me of what I get when I give 100%. Take the leap of faith. So sink or swim, I'm diving in. Come on, let's go!
HEY NOW. Augustana. When I drive through parts of North Philadelphia on my way to work, this song speaks to the sadness and despair I sometimes feel about the scale of the pain and the violence and the poverty that are part of this city. Sky black and blue; blue turned to red. It's screaming in your head. Hey world, you're bleeding for nothing.
ONE THING. Finger Eleven. This broken love song speaks to me about the many choices in life, the limitations of those choices, and the impossibility of ever "knowing" anything. If I gave it all away for one thing, wouldn't that be something?
HARD-HEADED WOMAN. Cat Stevens. No doubt I've hardened up a lot at Temple over the course of eight years. This song speaks to the sense of self-acceptance gained as I discover how to balance sensitivity and strength. Take me for myself.
SO GOOD TO ME. William Matthews. I'm all about praise songs. This gospel vibe captures the depth of my gratitude to the amazing people I've met during my time in Philadelphia who have been so good to me.
LEAST COMPLICATED. Indigo Girls. This song captures the incompleteness and imperfections in my relationships with everyone in my life. I'm sorry for any misunderstandings I may have created or any hurt I have caused. What makes me think I can start clean-slated? The hardest to learn is least complicated.
LET IT BE ME. Indigo Girls. The energizer bunny has a sense of agency. Rich vocal harmonies in this song capture a profoundly human response to the sticks-and-stones battle zones in the world. The power of truth is the fuel for the flame. Shine my life like a light.
RING OUT, SOLSTICE BELLS. Jethro Tull. Living only two blocks from the Liberty Bell, it's the peals of joy that I love best about this song. The layered melody, rhythms, flute and bells remind me of laughter. Take me to the distance of the sun, joyful as the silver planets run. Ring out!
LOVE REIGN O'ER ME. The Who. The big drama queen in me loves the sheer physical size of the song's opening with nature sounds, percussion, piano and strings. This intensity conjures up for me the thrill of exhilaration and the delight of being drenched with novelty and complexity. Love, rain on me.
VIRGINIA WOOLF. Indigo Girls. My identity as a reader is pretty central to my being. This song reminds me how I echo and extend other better, stronger voices, whose ideas and actions have given my own life meaning and purpose. When my whole life is on the tip of my tongue, the apathy of time laughs in my face.
GREAT EXPECTATONS. Steven Curtis Chapman. Praise on. This song speaks to the joy I experience with both teaching and learning, where every semester, I receive a group of students and, with them, try to create a place where learning can happen. Dare I go where I don't understand? Receive the inconceivable. And see beyond my wildest imagination.
GET OUT THE MAP. Indigo Girls. So much broken stuff at Temple has sometimes made me feel trapped and broken myself. I'm going to clear my head and start something new. But why do we hurdle ourselves through every inch of time and space?
DOWN TO ZERO. Joan Armatrading. Hubris and humility swirl around me. When I am prideful, then I am humbled. Much pain and much learning results from a fall. I have been re-learning this lesson my whole life. Oh, when you fall.
ON THE ROAD TO FIND OUT. Cat Stevens. This song from my youth reflects the source of my ambition, as fueled by the elixir of intellectual curiosity. So much left to know and I'm on the road to find out.
REACH FOR THE SUN. Polyphonic Spree. As I ready myself to move on, I am comforted by the lyrical incoherence and rock-musical sensibility of this song, with its abrupt ending offering a sharp reminder of the ultimate and the inevitable. Just follow the seasons and find the time.
This mix tape is dedicated to-
Sherri Hope Culver & Dave Culver, Eugene Martin & Carol Martin, David Cooper Moore & Emily Cooper Moore, Kelly Mendoza & Patrick Mendoza, Michael RobbGrieco & Sarah RobbGrieco, Jiwon Yoon, Taylor Frome, Tanya Jackson, John Landis, Katie Donnelly, Nuala Cabral, Laura Deutsch, David Haas, Laurada Byers, Drew Smith and the faculty and staff of the Russell Byers Charter School, Bradley Bergey, Gretjen Clausing, Craig Santoro, Kristin Hokanson, Joyce Valenza, Emily Bailin, Tina Peterson, Mike Plugh, Robert Smythe, Hans Schmidt, Rebecca Hains, Henry Cohn-Geltner, Jonathan Friesem, Rhianwen Benner, Angela Cirucci, Laura Stephenson, Aggie Ebrahimi, Osei Allyne, Yvonne Fulmore, LaShon Fryer, Nasha Taylor, Denise Clay, Maria Cipollone, Kate Spiller, Wen Xu, Haixia He, Ben Warren, Matt McNish, Natasha Ngaiza, Jasmin Kafai, Dee Littlejohn, Natalia Smirnov, Tom Eveslage, Steve Rosard, Edison Freire, Ed Trayes, Hana Iverson, Maggie Ricco, Sue Dahlstrom, Joanne Caplin, Steph Palmieri, Sheri Stahler, Alex Holzman, Val Gay, Undrah Baasanjev & John Borczon, Patrick Murphy, Sue Jacobson, Barry Vacker, Nicole McKenna, El Sawyer, Sam Reed III, Jessica Brown, my remarkable family (Randy, Roger & Rachel) and many other colleagues, my current and former students and friends from my eight years in Philadelphia who are not listed here but who are remembered and loved...