Wednesday, February 8, 2017

An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos

Dear Betsy DeVos,

     Yesterday, in a tie-breaking vote, history was made as you were elected the United States Secretary of Education. I guess that means congratulations are in order. And seeing as you're a fellow woman I guess I'm supposed to be even more pumped about you having such an influential part in the leadership of our country. You see, a few weeks ago thousands of women marched in an attempt to give our gender more equality, more power. And here you are today. Holding more power than I think you fully understand in your hands. Yay for the home team right?

     Except here's the thing, Mrs. DeVos. Apart from being a woman, you and I have very little else in common. At least we did until yesterday. Now our worlds seemed to have collided in a big way. You see, as you sat at the capital yesterday in your tailor-made suit preparing to make history, I sat cross-cross apple sauce in a Title 1 school, in clearance rack Old Navy pants, preparing to make the future. I'm a public school first grade teacher and yesterday, in a way, you apparently became my boss.

     All of that being said, I felt like maybe I should tell you a little bit about myself and my job. It seems you don't fully understand what it means to be a public school teacher, and that's okay as I don't fully understand what it means to be a political figure. It's just that, with your new title, I feel it might be beneficial to at least have some idea of who and what you're representing.

     I graduated magna cum laude  from a four-year university with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. I have to be "highly qualified" to get a job as a teacher and my college degree was just the start. I attend countless trainings and professional development courses each year to stay up to date in my field and keep my "highly qualified" status. Many of these trainings occur in the summer, on my time off, and happen without extra compensation. I also get observed and evaluated multiple times a year by my administration. Occasionally, during accreditation years, I get observed and evaluated by other really official people. Did you know that public schools go through accreditation processes? You know, to make sure we're still doing a good enough job.

     Remember those clearance rack Old Navy pants I mentioned earlier? I'd love to say I wear those to work every week because I'm a really good budgetor who just loves a good deal. But the truth of the matter is, my miniscual paycheck doesn't have room for tailor-made suits no matter how hard I try to stretch each penny. You see, my husband is also a public school teacher, which here in NC is like a death nail on financial prosperity. I, fortunately, got an education scholarship to go to college and get "highly qualified" but NC has since done away with that education scholarship program. So, like many of my other public school educator friends, student loans are another bill we must cover with that teeny tiny paycheck we receive each month.

     My personal paycheck isn't the only thing getting slighted each year. The funding public schools receive each year continues to plummet. Positions are cut constantly and resources aren't updated the way they need to be. You know what's not decreasing though Mrs. DeVos? The amount of children that still need to go to school. So while Art, Music, and PE programs are being cut and teacher assistant positions are disappearing, class sizes are growing. Have you ever tried to teach 25 Kindergartners how to read by yourself Mrs. DeVos? I watch my friends do it daily. And surprisingly enough, Mrs. DeVos, they're successful a lot of the time.

     But Mrs. DeVos, the things I want you to know about me and my job don't have anything to do with the trainings I attend or the money I receive. It has to do with the one and only reason I continue to do what I do each day. The kids. I'm not quite sure when public education become synonymous with bad education but from where I stand, which is a pretty relevant place, it's just not true.

     Remember how I mentioned teaching at a Title 1 school? As part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA - acronyms are BIG in education, you should start studying up) "schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families" receive financial assistance to help "ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards." Its kind of a sweet deal except when even that additional funding continues to decrease (see above). It also means that a lot of my students need more during their school day than just ABCs and 123s. Food to fill their bellies, warm clothes, hugs and encouragement that they may or may not be getting at home. Parents in my community are working multiple jobs with crazy hours just to pay the bills. Children in my school community are worrying about responsibilities that go far beyond reading and writing. As their teacher, it's my job to help ease that burden in anyway I can. Even when, at times, it means veering away from the curriculum I'm required to teach, the one I'm observed on in order to keep my job. Or if it means using my own money to purchase something for my classroom. Because remember how heavy my pockets are?

     Are you beginning to see the double edged sword we public educators deal with each day, Mrs. DeVos? Am I painting a clear enough picture of how interconnected each issue is?

     I've wanted to be a teacher my whole life (except for that short time in middle school when I was convinced I could host my own interior design TV show) and during that time I've had to defend why. Why would you want to teach? You could be anything you want to be - why settle? There's so many other jobs where you could make more money. You want to know what I'm tired of doing, Mrs. DeVos? I'm tired of defending my job. My job that creates all the other jobs. My job that requires me to sacrifice time with my own daughter to help nurture and love other sons and daughters. My job that often keeps me up at night. My job that is constantly devalued and underestimated. My job that I continue to show up for, day in and day out.

     Mrs. DeVos, you made history yesterday and are trending all over social media. You are in a very opportune position to either a) continue this false rhetoric that public schools are failing our children or b) put your support behind the thousands of public educators who are fighting on the front lines for our children.

     My job is hard Mrs. DeVos, as I'm sure your's is too. But my job is needed. My job is important. And my job means the world to me.

     I would love to give you my support, Mrs. DeVos. In fact, I'm pretty easily swayed. And my request to you is a simple one. Change the story on public education. Throw your support behind me and my fellow educators. I promise you once that's done, you'll have the biggest group of cheerleaders you could imagine.

     Until then I'll be hanging out in Room 307, with some of the best first graders I know.


A proud public educator

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Saying : Yes, I am still alive. Contrary to what my inexcusable absence on this blog might have indicated. I started reading blogs again (something I haven't done since before Christmas...sorry friends) which brings back the itch to write a little bit. I'm not making any promises though.

Watching : Robbie and I just finished Friends on Netflix and y'all. I love it so much. We've seen nearly every episode at least three times but we inevitably still laugh just as hard every time we watch it. And the end. Ugh...I can't even.

Listening : to Ed Sheeran. I've decided he is my new favorite artist. And if you're getting married anytime soon and not dancing to "Thinking Out Loud", you're doing something wrong.

Reading : The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with my firsties. I don't read for pleasure. #sorrynotsorry. I like reading and obviously think it is extremely valuable (I teach first grade after all) but I don't read in my free time. However, I love love LOVE any and every opportunity I get to read out loud to my kiddies. We're finishing up our Winds of Change unit where we focus on the changing characters in the Wizard of Oz and it is quite possibly my favorite ELA unit of the year!

Eating : Everything in sight. We had two "ice days" last week which couldn't have come at a better worse time. Time off from school + cold weather + a ridiculous amount of leftover Valentine's candy = 5 unwanted pounds.

Wishing : That is wasn't Sunday night and I could relive this weekend over instead of going to school tomorrow.


I know it's been forever since I've blogged. I felt so disconnected from it lately. And I don't want this space to be something forced. But at the same time I do miss hanging out in this little corner of the web. I have so much to share and so much to say and so many thoughts that I need to get out. But the thing is, right now. I don't know how.

A lot has happened since the last time I blogged in December. Things I'm still trying to process. Things I want to be able to share via blogging.....eventually. I don't know if I'm there yet. Getting in the "routine" of blogging again might help, even if it is silly pointless posts for a while.

We'll see...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some things never change.

Like my inability to blog on a regular basis now.

However, since the last time you heard from me, I've been up to the same old tricks.
No worries.
But as it is December aka the last month of 2014 aka where the heck did the time go (?!) I realized I might want to have some documentation of all the same ole same ole I've been up to lately.

Let's back up shall we...

October was a blur of month - as it usually is - full of fried food, pumpkin carvings, and costumes. You know, the usual October shenanigans.

Our jack-o-lantern lasted a whole week this year before it rotted and caved in, which is a standing record for us. #encproblems

I saw several ways to "preserve" your pumpkin and had every intention of trying them out. Except not really. Because ain't nobody got time to rub Vaseline all over a jack-o-lantern. That thing is lucky it got carved.

We celebrated Silly Sock Day at school on Halloween - which was a Friday and a half day, thank goodness. My kids had earned their first compliment party of the year and they voted to have a barefoot day in the room so we kicked our shoes off at the door and spent the day slipping and sliding around in our silly sock feet.

Sidenote - it never ceases to amaze me how excited these kids get over the littlest of things. A barefoot day was completely their idea and they thought it was the coolest thing!

Oh and we made this "Witches' Brew" thanks to my classroom Volunteer - Aunt Debbie. I can't remember where I found it but I definitely can't take credit for the idea. 
It was so fun mixing it up and passing it out. Plus I liked how it wasn't completely unhealthy.

Halloween weekend obviously involved lots of candy, costumes, and booze. We wouldn't have any other way around these parts.

Saturday morning was our Partners in Education Annual PIE Bowl. If you recall from the past few years, it's a fundraiser for our local schools as well as a chance to dress up and act completely silly. Oh yea, and some people actually bowl too. My school has won a prize every year that I've been there (either Best Spirit or Best Costume) so we've got a lot to live up to.

This year our theme was "Once Upon a PIE" so we dressed up as fairy tale characters. I was Snow White and recruited THE cutest dwarf ever.

There's so many new teachers at my school this year. PIE Bowl is always a good chance to get to know some of the people you work with that you might not normally spend a lot of time with. You know, because you're busy molding the minds of the future generation.

That night, Robbie and I had our Annual Halloween Party and it did not disappoint.

{Recipes at the bottom}

Seriously, we have the best friends. It's nearly impossible to get together and not have a good time!

I was a vintage cheerleader. Apparently it was hard to tell? Willow stayed nakey all night. She is not a fan of costumes. #partypooper

November was brought in with a big, greasy breakfast and snuggles on the couch.

Halloween Mini-Recipes:
("Mini" because they're so easy, it doesn't seem fair to even justify a recipe. But we're just gonna go with it anyway, mmmkay?)

Mummy Dogs (Pigs in a Blanket)
- Lil Smokies 
- Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Cut crescent rolls into thirds. Wrap lil weenies. Bake according to crescent roll directions.

Goblin Eyes (Meatballs)
- Frozen Meatballs
- Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ sauce

Toss everything in a crockpot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Zombie Guts (Queso Dip and chips)
- 2 lb hamburger meat
- one large box Velveeta cheese
- 1/2 can Rotel or Salsa
- 2 packs taco seasoning

Brown beef and add taco seasoning according to package. Cube Velveeta cheese. Add everything to a a crockpot. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until cheese is melted.

Vampire Treats (Cookies and Mini Pies)
- Store bought ha!

Monday, November 17, 2014

I think I'm becoming a self-righteous teacher...

Robbie and I went to church last week for the first time in way too long.
Ever since we've been married, we've struggled finding our "grown-up" church home.
Consequently, we've spent the past three years hopping back and forth among several different churches. While we enjoy the different experiences we gain from attending different churches, we do miss the continuity of a permanent church family. Along with the continuity of regular attendance.

But I'm getting off topic.
The sermon this past week was based on Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents and the risk that it takes to follow God and do His Will.
And I realized something.
Something that's been in the back of my head for a while, but something I'm finally ready to fully admit.

Anytime someone talks about ministry or using the talents God gives us or helping others, I immediately get on my high-horse because I'm a teacher.

By default, I help others everyday.
I go above and beyond daily to give more to others than I do myself.
I honestly believe that God called me to be a teacher and I'm fulfilling that calling every day.
I sacrifice. I give. I love unconditionally.
Every single day.
Because it's my job. And my calling. And my passion.
The passion that God gave me.

But is it enough?

I've questioned this before but today this question is coming from a different frame of reference.
Am I playing it safe because I'm a teacher?
Am I limiting myself? Am I turning down other opportunities to give more, do more, be more, because I'm already giving, doing, being so much?

Admittedly, when Barnes & Noble asks if I want to donate a dollar to help give books to a child in need, I say no. Because I already "donate" multiple dollars to buy multiple books for multiple children in need, in the form of my classroom library and the scholastic books I give as Christmas gifts to my students each year.

I think sometimes I justify turning down mission trips or tithing opportunities or other stewardship deeds because I am already a steward in my classroom.
But maybe instead of justifying the things I already do, I should open my heart to what God wants me to do. Maybe being a steward in the classroom is enough. Maybe that's exactly where God wants to be and what God wants me to be doing.

But maybe it's not.

Maybe He wants me to do more. And I've been so wrapped up in the good that I'm doing in my classroom (because even if it makes me sound a bit full of myself...I am doing good in my classroom) that I'm missing opportunities to do good in other places too.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Only Participation Prize I Agree With

I did it.

I ran a half-marathon.
Almost a month ago, but that's neither here nor there.

The entire time I was running, I kept thinking about the epic blog post I would write bragging telling y'all all about it.

I've been in a complete state of shock since about mile 9.
I never ever had any desire to run a half-marathon.
In fact, I distinctively remember having a conversation in February with one of the girls I teach with about our upcoming 5K Glow Run that went a little something like this...

"It won't be that's not like it's something stupid like a half-marathon. Who would ever willingly run 13.1 miles anyway?"

Foot meet mouth.
Apparently, I am not that person who willingly runs 13.1 miles.

Well, the one who ran 13.1 miles. 
I honestly don't know if it'll ever happen again. 

I didn't train the way I was supposed to at. all. 
And I guess technically, my time suffered because of that.
But really, who the eff cares? 
By race day, I had one goal - to finish. 
Well that, and not keel over and die.

Once I started running I knew I wanted to make it to at least mile 6 without stopping. A 10K. Totally doable, even with my lack of training. 

Mile 6 came and went and I was still feeling pretty good so I kept going. 
And going and going. 
By about mile 10 I felt like dying forreal and started taking short little walking breaks.
At mile 11 I got scared I was getting lost. So I picked up the pace a little.
And by mile 12 I was almost tears. I had one mile left and knew I could do anything for one mile. 

Little did I know, it was THEE longest mile of my life. That last stretch to the finish line felt like the never-ending Rainbow Race on Mario Kart. 

Not only was Robbie waiting for me at the finish line, my mom was there with craisons. And let me tell you what. I have never loved craisons so good as I did in that moment. 

I was also greeted with a big, shiny medal.

Now, usually I am not a fan of participation medals/trophies/awards/etc.
The winner gets a medal. 
Everyone else gets the satisfaction of finishing. 
Personally, I think it's doing our kids an injustice by not keeping scores at sporting events and not letting anyone "lose". It's sending the completely wrong message.

However, the satisfaction I felt of finishing was HUGE but I was equally as proud of  having that medal. #sorrynotsorry

After meeting up with some other friends who also ran the race, cashing in my beer tickets (which I thought I lost mid-run...yipes), and purchasing my obnoxious 13.1 car sticker, I devoured a huge hot hamburger plate (at 10:30AM mind you) and went home to take a 5 hour nap. I was exhausted. 

My legs were screaming at me that night and it was slow moving on Sunday but by Monday I felt almost back to normal. A little sore but nothing terrible. 

Finishing that race was quite possibly one of the most out of body things I've ever done. 
It's still surreal to think that I actually ran 13.1 miles. 
My final time was 2:22 which was slooooooow but steady. 

8 months ago I was no where near "a runner". 
It still even feels strange calling myself "a runner" and the fact that I haven't been running since the race probably supports that feeling. 
But in a short amount of time, I set a goal, pushed myself completely out of my comfort zone, and accomplished that goal.

And got a medal!

P.S. I don't want to speak too soon, but I may or may not have given myself a goal to actually become a regular blogger again. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Look who showed up to play

Well hello there Long time, no see. (Literally - I almost forgot my password.) For what it's worth I've written at least 25 blog posts in my head since the last time I actually showed up to type one out. Finding the time to type one out is proving the hard part.

As I sit here at 5:45 on a Wednesday night, drinking my second beer, I figured, why not actually try this whole blogging thing out again. So here we go.

I feel like I should at least update y'all on what's been going on in my life recently before I spill out some witty, yet pointless, post. Although after you read through what's been going on with me lately, you'll probably still consider it a pointless post.

I know the trend. Usually when bloggers take an unexplained leave of absence, they show up three months later with some Earth-shattering news. Like a pregnancy, or a career change, or a cross country move.

You should be able to figure out by the fact that I'm drinking at 5:45 on a Wednesday night that I am neither pregnant nor in a new career #teacherproblems. And I'll go ahead and kill the suspense for you...Robbie and I didn't move and we're not really planning to anytime soon. We still go house hunting at least once a month, you know, just for kicks and giggles. But again, that's nothing new.

Robbie's recovering nicely from his back surgery. Everything seems to be back to normal, which is such a relief. He's still not really supposed to do yard-work which means we are currently the disgrace of the neighborhood, because you know I'm not getting out there to do it.

We're officially a two pay-check family again, which is so nice. I never thought I'd be so excited about a NC Teacher's pay-check. And because of it, we've already called a landscaping guy to come fix the aforementioned problem.

The school year is in full swing and has brought some unexpected changes and challenges. That's the thing about teaching. It never ever stays the same. You, literally, start over every August. Which is a curse and a blessing. Sometimes I yearn for monotony.

I'm still working at BWW and yes, I'm probably a little bit crazy. But it's good money and usually pretty fun when I get there. Sleep is overrated anyway.

Football is going strong - across every domain. The tailgate crew is back in action and having a large time, as always.

I'm kicking butt and taking names in fantasy. And our Friday nights are once again spent at the high school football field, which I personally think is one of the best places to be.

I'm "training" for a half-marathon...kind of. I've signed up for one. And I've been working on running longer distances. I still don't feel anywhere close to prepared. But YOLO. My mom's afraid I'm going to croak out and die before it's all over with. I'm just hoping there's free beer at the finish line. Or at least a free protein bar. We'll find out in t-minus 3 weeks. Yikes.

I'm obsessed with almonds now. And Katy Perry's This is How We Do. Just FYI.

A few weeks ago, I joined a Bible Study with a group of girls and it's actually one of the highlights of my week. Admittedly, I still don't know where any of the books in the Bible are. If only I could remember that song we learned in Sunday School when I was little. But the table of contents works just fine. And I'm loving the fellowship.

All my siblings are in college right now. Which is pretty cool and depressing all at the same time.

My mom and step-dad finally sold their house - the house I grew up in - and are now renting the cutest little house while they build their "forever" home. It's surreal to think about someone else living in my childhood house but it's super exciting to see mom and Wave building their dream house together. Also, they still live 2.7 miles away (Literally. I run there often.) so not much has changed.

And that pretty much sums it up.
Not much has changed. Yet, in someways, everything has.

Things at school are very different.
Things at home are very different.
But still kind of just the same too.

It's a new month. And it's one of my favorite months. Possibilities are endless.
Who knows, you may even get a blog post out of me more than once in a blue moon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Southern Style

Well folks, it's official. Back to school is kicking my tail. And today's only the first day with kids. Last week was a whirlwind, dusting the cobwebs off of summertime and setting up for another busy year ahead.

The end of summer is always bittersweet. It's nice to get back into a routine. I just wish that routine didn't start at 5:15 in the morning.

I also always wish I had had more time to get things done around the house. Remember that summer to-list I created? Yea...well, as usual, I veered off a bit and still have quite a few unchecked boxes. But I think I figured out my problem - my crafty eyes are always bigger than my patience. I have all these great ideas and then I realize how hard, and time consuming, executing them really is. Plus, nine times out of ten, the vision I have in my head is much better than what actually comes out.

That's why I am thankful for creative ladies like the one behind Some Southern Style. She not only has the amazing vision but she also has the skill to bring those visions to life.

Nicole specializes in custom pieces and turning old, boring furniture into true works of art. I seriously have found myself scrolling through her Facebook pictures in awe.

Up-cycled furniture is such a big thing right now. And for someone who comes from a family obsessed with antiques, it's something I personally love. Being able to take a piece and turn it into something new and unique to your home and your decor style is like the best of both worlds.

It's just hard to do on your own. Trust me, I've tried.

Some Southern Style also has the cutest pallet signs and canvases you could ever think of. And they're all custom ordered to your liking. Perfect for home decor or even adding that personalized touch to a wedding.

If you're like me, you can sit back in your world of denial and tell yourself that you'll eventually get around to re-doing that piece of furniture or you'll just paint something to fill that empty space on the wall above your couch. But let's be real. You won't. And neither will I. And if you do, you'll quickly remember how bad of a painter you are and you'll be disappointed in the "finished" product. 

Let's save us all the trouble and let Nicole help us out. She's got the real talent, plus she's just so stinkin cute and nice to work with. She'll put in the hard work and make it look ten times better than you ever could on your own. 

And while you're at it, go ahead and order this china cabinet. Can you say gorgeous? You know you want it.