Gifts…Giving or Getting?!?!

Gifts make me smile. Surprises are the best! It’s not the THING or the money spent…it’s the thought behind it. It reminds me of a favorite line from our read aloud, Fish in a Tree, “But what really gets me is that in order for Mr. Daniels to come up with this plan, he must have thought of me outside of school- when he didn’t have to think of me.”  That’s like getting a gift. You thought of me when you didn’t have to think of me.

Bella LOVES her new blanket.

Bella LOVES her new blanket.

Giving gifts is the BEST thing for me. I love thinking of something that the other person would enjoy. As a teacher of seventy-five students, gift giving is tough. That’s a lot of people. It’s expensive. It’s hard to think of something, but this year I made something that I hope you will like.

It’s important to me that you know how important you are! It’s important to me that you know that YOU MATTER. That’s what inspired this gift. It’s a touchstone…something to carry with you. Whenever you touch it, may it remind you that there is someone out there that believes in you and believes that YOU MATTER!!


A Long Walk to Water

Dear Students,

This book is one of those books.  You know. Those books that I remember…will read again and again…and will always think about. Salva and Nya’s stories are real. Just think about that for a moment…they are real. I look into the faces of the students sitting in front of me and I think about Salva and Nya. They are the same age as you…my students. I worry about the Salvas and the Nyas and the Akeers of the world. I wish that they didn’t have to struggle for things like water and a safe place to live.

Reading this book is hard! I want to close the book and not know. I want to not know that there are such terrible things going on in our world…but I can’t. I know now. Whenever I read this book, I think, “What can I do? How can I make things better for kids in Africa?” I want everyone to have clean water. I want every child to feel safe and loved. How do I do that?

I don’t know. I do know this. I will do something. I will start here. Where I live….where I work. I will make sure that the students, kids, that I see everyday feel safe and important. I will make sure that they feel like they matter! And I will search for ways that I can do something. Make a difference. What will you do?

Be good today and I’ll see you tomorrow! (I miss you guys!) Remember…You Matter!

You Are More than Your Mistakes

Slice of Life. The title of this post comes from a

Kid President video about heroes.

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Have you ever had a day when you felt like a failure? A day where you felt like you kept messing things up, the more you tried to make them better? I had one of those days last week. Things weren’t going well and I felt like I was failing as a teacher. I looked out at those faces and thought, “They deserve better.” There’s really no rhyme or reason to this particular day, but I couldn’t shake those feelings.

That’s the big problem…moving past those negative feelings once they grab hold of you. I couldn’t turn off the voice in my head that kept a running tally of all of my failures. I wish there was a mute button for that voice!

During my planning, last block of the day, I decided to go for a walk. That’ll help me! I walked to the mailbox in the main office. The mailbox usually contains more work, but not today. Today it contained my own tiny miracle. 

There was an invitation to a banquet. I read the letter and it seems that a former student of mine, Hannah, invited me…ME…to accompany her and her family to a banquet for academic excellence. Hannah, now a high school senior, had the opportunity to invite any of her teachers that made a difference and she chose me, her fifth grade teacher. On a day, where I felt like I was spinning my wheels and making wrong choice after wrong choice, this invitation reminded me that maybe I’m doing something right. 

As I looked at that little ticket and realized how much it meant that she invited me, I thought about who I would invite to a banquet like this. Who are the teachers that made that difference to me? 

Professor Daly taught in my graduate program. He was the first teacher who believed that I’d write a book someday. I’ve never forgotten that conversation!

Miss Leone. She taught history in high school and had so much passion for the subject and for her students. I felt important to her and loved being in her class! 

Sister Jean. She was my sixth grade science teacher. This is the first time that a teacher really challenged me to do my very best!

My mom. As I think back on my teachers, my mom is the one who encouraged my reading and writing more than anyone else! Weekly trips to the library built my love of books! That blue flowered notebook that she gave me opened up the world of writing. I had my very own teacher encouraging and loving me every single day!

Who would you invite to a banquet to celebrate your academic accomplishments? Thank you Hannah! I can’t wait!

YAY for Excellent Comments!

I am so proud of each and every student! The time spent reading and commenting on blogs made quite a difference. Read what the teachers said…


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I love playing music in class. It changes the mood and makes us calmer or happy. I have so many songs to play, but some of my students have asked if they may request songs. Here’s your chance… What songs do you think I should play in class? Please include title and artist of the song. Remember that we are in school, so the songs must be school appropriate. I’d love it if you shared some songs that communicated the YOU MATTER theme we are focusing on this year. Can’t wait to hear about your suggestions in the comments!

First Day of School…You Matter!

The first day of school holds so much excitement. I was thinking back to my first day in sixth grade. My homeroom teacher was Sister Jean. I attended Holy Cross School, a K-8 Catholic school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Sixth grade meant that many classes were finally upstairs and I got to leave the school building and walk across the playground to another building to go to my math class. Sixth grade was also when students got the chance to serve on the safety patrol.

It was a time when we got more responsibility and more privileges. I wonder what your memories will be? Here’s a peek at me in the sixth grade…

Can you find me? This is my sixth grade class.

Can you find me? This is my sixth grade class.

I am so excited for a wonderful year. I can’t wait to start 2014-2015. The classroom is ready. Desks are set up. Books are organized. The only thing left to make this year amazing is YOU!

I found these words written by Angela Maiers and they will guide me this year. Please read these words and know that…


YOU are the reason I come to school every day. YOU will leave my classroom knowing how special you are and how much potential you have. 

You matter