I don't post about my job very much but I'm one of two Marketing Assistants at Greenwood-Heinemann Publishing Group. We publish professional devleopment books and resources for teachers (meaning books on how to teach better, not textbooks), as well as put on workshops and set up speaking engagements with our authors. One of our biggest events that we put on every year is The Walloon Institute. This group of about 20 authors have been putting on this event for 17 years now, every summer. It was started by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels (who I work for as a transcriber apart from my job at Heinemann) and the name comes from his summer home on Walloon Lake in Michigan. But basically it's summer camp for teachers. About 250 educators attended this year. They meet in groups in the morning with other teachers of the same grade level, and in the afternoon attend workshops of their choosing. Heinemann joined up with Smokey five years ago to help organize the event and this is the second year I've been lucky enough to go. The days are long, but it's a blast.
Longtime readers of this blog may or may not remember my photos from last year's Walloon Institute in Wisconsin (there were two last year, one in Wisconsin, and one in Lake Placid, New York), but the hotel rooms then were so-so. Wood paneling, very thin walls, nothing too exciting. Well, this spring they renovated most of the rooms (except for one building, and boy did we hear it from the participants about that building, but I digress :D) and they are now GORGEOUS. Apparently the Lake Lawn Resort is now condos, which they rent out when the owners are not there. Each room goes for about $30,000 a pop. It's INSANE.
So here's a photo of the bathroom. :D The tile was gorgeous, everything had an adirondack theme, very woodsy but luxurious. It even had an overhead shower, which was very nice! PLUS, I got cell phone service the whole time I was there—score! :) The other thing that really made me feel at home (prepare for the nerdiness) was that I had my laptop with me for the first time this year. It made SUCH a difference to be able to come back to my room at night and check my email. :D
The Lake Lawn Resort is right on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin (near Lake Geneva) and the area there is beautiful. It's just picturesque farm after picturesque farm. My favorite part about the area, and I REALLY wish I had a photo of it, is that when you drive down the street from the resort, you'll come to an intersection where there is a truck bed with piles of various sized rocks, next to a sign that says "ROCKS FOR SALE." And if you venture closer, you can see that there is a coffee can with a label that says something like "HONOR SYSTEM–leave cash here!"
Only in Wisconsin, that's for damn sure. :D
One of the highlights of the trip was the fancy shmancy dinner we get to go to with all of the presenters. The dinner is at Kirsch's Country Inn, an adorable French restaraunt right on the lake. This year was my friend Dusty's first year working at Walloon, and she was a little worried about a fancy dinner out with 20 or so authors, but these are not your typical authors. These people are all friends from way back, and this is just as much summer camp for them as it is for the attendees. So when they go out, it's a party. There is much wine, and Cherie (from Heinemann) has to make sure to notify the restaurant that there will be much singing. It's awesome. Sometimes the waitresses will make requests too. :D
Here's Katie Ray, who writes books on how to get younger kids (K–2) to write. She's a sweetheart. She's from South Carolina and her husband sells knives to the military (don't quote me on that though). Rumor has it this little lady does knife throwing demonstrations. I definitely can't picture that at all. :D Next to her is Cherie, the lady from Heinemann who pretty much runs the show at Walloon. She also nearly singlehandedly supports all of Heinemann Professional Development. :D And next to her is Smokey, the man who started it all.
Pete Leki is the dreamy one in the pink scarf, next is Kyle Doda, who is the son of one of the authors. He comes to Walloon every year with his clothes in a garbage bag and rules over the copy machine with a not-so-iron fist. His mom, Nancy, told us a hilarious story about how Kyle recently got mugged in New York City for the first time and how it scared the crap out of her but he thought it was a great learning experience. Kyle cracks me up. After Kyle is Barbara Morris and Gigi.
He was also none too pleased that I took this picture. Ha!
Cherie got us a closed-off room from the rest of the restaurant so we could sing loudly. We filled four tables. So here's Table 1, left to right: Nancy Steineke (who dances to "Baby Got Back" like no other), Katie Ray, Steve Zemelman (who does the alligator, see later photos), Lois Bridges (Acquisitions Editor at Heinemann), Smokey, his wife Elaine (who is a sweetie), and Jim Vopat (who I bonded with on the bobsled at Lake Placid last year).
Table 2, left to right: Yolanda Simmons (who is just trying to "get in touch"), Suzanne (who is there to hang out with her sistas), Michael Salinger (who is a fabulous poet), Sara Holbrook (who is also a fabulous poet), Pat Bearden (Yolanda's sister, who sings "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" very well), Mary Hausner, and Barbara Dress
Table 3, left to right: Dion (Marilyn Bizar's niece), Lynette Emmons (who is hilarious), Barbara Morris (who rules and can play fake harmonica like a champ), Debbie (Pete Leki's wife, who is the envy of most of the women who have ever met Pete Leki, and who is a total sweetheart), Pete Leki (who Cherie, Dusty, me and most of the women at Walloon have a huge crush on), Ted DeMille (fabulous singer of "The Sandwich Song" from Bath, Maine, and super nice guy), Marilyn Bizar (so nice), and Gigi (Marilyn's daughter-in-law who was actually there as an attendee)
And last but not least, Table 4, where I sat. Left to right: Cherie, Dusty, Nancy Doda (one of the nicest ladies I have ever met), Kyle Doda, and Marie (from Heinemann)
Dusty took this picture of me. :D
And just in case you doubted me when I said there was much singing at this dinner, here's photographic proof. I couldn't tell you the name of the song, but it was definitely something from the '60s. :) That's Nancy Doda, Lynette, and Smokey.
I LOVE Pat Schwarz. Not only is he wearing the Walloon T-shirt that I designed for Walloon 2005, but he is hilarious and THE BEST dancer. And he just came out with a new book that I'm going to buy for my mom.
They do a talent show/open mike night on the last night of Walloon, and all of the presenters go up and sing a song, which is usually something like "Up at Walloon" (sung to the tune of "Up on the Roof"). I forget this year's song, but the talent from the attendees was INSANE. It was the best talent show I've seen (and this is my third Walloon).
Barbara Morris sings this number every year and always brings down the house. Sara Holbrook was nice enough to go into the crowd so the participants could fill in their own words, which was hilarious. :) Also, it's hard to see, but on the screens behind the singers Smokey put up a thank you message to everyone from Heinemann, which gave us all warm fuzzies. :)
Ted DeMille does a workshop on classroom songs so here are him and the "Tedheads" singing his #1 hit (ha ha), "The Sandwich Song", which I totally adore. It's still stuck in my head. Love it. :)
And here's Dusty and I at dinner that evening. I had so much fun hanging out with her, we played Scrabble and bonded over Spinal Tap and said "ho, fo' sho'" WAY too many times. :D
The aforementioned alligator. Steve Zemelman does this every year, and there is nothing funnier than watching a 67 year old man do the alligator and get people to join in. Steve rules! Also doing the alligator: Pat Schwarz, Michael Salinger, Nancy Steineke, and Cherie Bartlett :)
The sock hop was such a great time and Dusty and I danced for a solid three hours. We even endured "Save a horse, ride a cowboy" TWICE! Needless to say, we were both exhausted afterwards. So on the way back to our rooms, we decided to pop in at the bar at the resort to buy some bottled water (everyplace else was closed). Lo and behold, who was there but Rachael and Kevin, who work as distributors for Stenhouse (a competitor of Heinemann's who also sells books at Walloon since many of the presenters have books with Stenhouse as well as Heinemann). And Kevin had a crush on Dusty, and pretty much forced us to stay and have a drink with them. :D
So we played a game of darts, which I inadvertently won after assuring everyone that "I totally suck at darts, I haven't played in like, ten years." Yeah, two bulls eyes in the same turn. Granted, I was probably the most sober of the four of us, but still, it was pretty hilarious. :D
Eventually Dusty said something about her boyfriend, and Kevin was like "how long have you been together?" and Dusty said "five years." We left not too long after that. :D
Here's the lovely garden at the conference center at the resort.
So the next morning, Dusty and I arrive to begin our work day promptly at 7:15am. And where is Stenhouse? Nowhere to be found. At 9am, Rachael rolls in and opens up shop. No Kevin. Turns out, Rachael said, that Kevin was up in the bathroom most of the night puking his guts up. :D This after him saying he's a bouncer at a bar and he does this all the time (gets wasted on a worknight). :D At 10:30AM he finally shows up. Hilarity ensues. Dusty calls him "Pukey McPukerton" for the rest of the day. Kevin spends as little time working as possible (goes out for doughnuts and coffee, spends a lot of time napping in the chairs downstairs). Good times. :D We did feel a little bad for him though.
Here's the whole Heinemann crew, Dusty, Cherie, Marie, and me. :)
On the last day, Smokey asked Linda Bailey (another presenter) and I to put on a slideshow, since the two of us had taken so many pictures. It was great to be able to share all my photos and see them up on the big screens in the ballroom! :)
And here's Dusty at the airport after our flight was delayed for TWO HOURS. This after we had already arrived at the airport EARLY.
Note the guy sleeping in the background next to me. There was a lot of that going on in the airport at friggin 9:40pm when we finally boarded the plane.
So the flight was fine and we figured we were home free when we arrived at Logan and got our suitcases. Then we get to Dusty's car and her power locks aren't working. "That's odd," she says. So we manually unlock everything and pile in our suitcases and she goes to start the car... and nothing happens. Then there was one of those slow-motion moments where we looked up and noticed that her map light had been on the whole time we were in Wisconsin. Oops. :D
Luckily, it only took about fifteen minutes to find the security guard and get a jump for her car, but we didn't get home until about 3am. And went to work the next day. Huzzah!
All in all, Walloon was fabulous, I had a great time. I love traveling for work, it's just great to get out of the office. And get paid for eating at fancy restaraunts, drinking, and dancing. Can't beat it. :)