Best part of your day?

I asked a few junior high students today what the best part of their day has been.

Getting money.

It’ll be the end of the school day.

Yesterday it was at the park with some CP girls.

Getting a good grade on a test.

Coming to Spanish class and seeing Ms. Dobrinski.

Seeing my friends.

When we had Mr. Harvey for Literacy class.


In Science we got to look at optical illusions.


I hate when I get mad

I hate when I get mad.

Managing an 8th grade classroom can be so hard. 

I hate when I get mad because I know what they need is love and positive encouragement. 

Sometimes, the negative vibe of anger just makes things worse in the classroom.

I hate when I get mad because it’s not who I am. I’m most comfortable when I’m optimistic and having fun. That’s who I want to be for my students.

At the end of the day, the moments when I lost my cool or said something sarcastic play back over and over again in my mind and I wish I would’ve handled it differently.

I hate when I get mad because it doesn’t feel good for any of us. I know, whether they act apathetic or not, the students are happier when they’re doing their best and not upsetting me. Everyone wants to do well.

The anger comes from fear that I’ve lost control. What do any of us really control anyway? I know I need to teach by being a good example. Then, it’s their choice.  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I love my students. As much as I want them to succeed and I care about them, I also must take care of myself. If teacher’s not happy, nobody’s happy. Remaining calm, modeling love and positivity, even in the most challenging moments (disrespect, disruptions, unkindness towards eachother) is my work. My wish for all of us is peace.

So, I hate when I get mad. It feels like I’ve failed at what I believe in.

Anya’s Handwriting

I am not yet a mother, but I am an auntie.

My sister’s kids mean the universe to me, because saying they mean the world to me isn’t enough.

My heart strings tug just thinking of them and the love I feel.  How can I put it into words?

My older sister, Angie, is 9 years older than me.  “She was my full-time babysitter” is what I always tell people, but she was more than that.  I thought she was the most beautiful, coolest, wisest girl there is.  The way she idolized Madonna in the 80’s and 90’s is the way I looked at her.  Seriously.  She was gorgeous and always so fashionable.  She is still beautiful but now, I mostly admire her character and her heart.  Angie is an amazing mother and now a high school teacher.  She says she got to “practice” on me when people say what a good mom she is.

I believe that everyone experiences suffering in some way during their lifetime, but I’m not sure why my dear sister seems to have had such an especially challenging journey.  They say God only gives you what you can handle, but some of it just isn’t fair.  I guess they also say, life isn’t fair, so touché to that.  I’ll save the specifics for her to share with you herself some day, but one thing in particular (the worst suffering for our family) is what leads me to the point of this piece.  She lost her oldest son, my nephew Kendall, suddenly one morning in 2010.  He was 15.  It was a shock and a tragedy to us that still scrapes our hearts and clouds our minds, but with love somehow we have lived on.

Kendall left two younger siblings behind when his 15 years on this Earth came to an end.  Bryan is his brother, 4 years younger than him (he’s now 15 himself) and Anya is his sister (another 4 years, she’s now 11).  Now, I know I am bias, but Bryan and Anya are amazing kids.  They are so sweet, loving, smart, fun and make me proud every time I see them or hear from my sister what they’re up to.  It is an honor to watch them grow up and to get to be their auntie who they know loves them with all my heart and will do anything for them.  I am so grateful and adore them so much.

Today, I stopped by at their house for a visit after work.  My incredible sister and her on-board husband, T, just recently became foster parents to two high school students, a brother and sister, Justin and Alexis, who have walked a rough road themselves and needed a stable loving family to live with.  This is the kind of person my sister is.  I wasn’t surprised a while ago when she told me she was going to soon have foster kids.  So, today I went over to visit the whole family.  When I walked in, Anya and Alexis (her new, and only, big sis) were in the dining room to greet me.  Alexis called me “tee tee” short for auntie and then said “Is it ok if I call you tee tee instead of Sara?”  I smiled and said, “Of course, honey.  I love it.”  Bryan and Justin were upstairs, probably playing video games according to Angie.

Now, I could go on and on about Angie and T and Bryan and Anya and Alexis and Justin, and I have so many dear memories of Kendall… but as I sat down to write about Anya’s handwriting tonight, you needed some background to understand this:

Anya was wearing her junior high gym uniform this afternoon because she had track tryouts after school.  On the front of the blue t-shirt the name of the junior high is printed in bright yellow letters.  Below that, there’s a yellow rectangle for the students to write-in their names with a Sharpie.

[Anya Tapley]

As I looked at that familiar bubbly handwriting, I felt Kendall there with all of us.  I had to tell her.

“Anya, your handwriting looks like Kendall’s handwriting.” 

My brother-in-law, T, (who remembers his son’s handwriting) nodded in agreement.


If I were a plant, I’d be a succulent.  Their juicy bulbous leaves are so cute you just want to squeeze them like bubble wrap.  As a kid, I had chubby cheeks that were often pinched.  Now, I’m one of those ladies.  The kind who can’t keep her hands to herself when a cute kid with chubby cheeks shows their sweet face.  This is difficult, being a teacher, because I see adorable kids every day!

I love the variety of succulents.  There’s the round, spirally ones that look like geometric mandalas from a Buddhist temple.  There are some that are fuzzy and soft like kitten paws.  Some with leaves that fade from green to pink look like they just got a funky dye job.  The beautiful diversity makes it hard to choose when standing at the garden store.  I felt like I was trying to pick the perfect puppy to bring home.  I got three of them!  I couldn’t decide.  Typical.

Today I fed my green thumbs by potting my new succulents into little glass terrariums.  They’re so delicate and sensitive as you uproot them from their plastic containers and place them into their new home.  I can relate to that, too.


Out for the night with teacher friends.
We need it!
I’m posting this from my phone so that I don’t miss my Slice of Life commitment.
Celebrating the great people that I work with everyday!!
And St Pattys Day!

La primavera

La primavera
The spring
The layer of ice upon the ground melts and I can smell Earth again
New beginnings
Foggy mornings and rich, golden sunrises
Birds sing
The hostas, already popping out
Aren’t perennials amazing?!
Skirts and sunglasses
Vitamin D
Walks without bundling up
Fresh air
Ah, yes


Don’t Cry… part 2

If you read my post yesterday “Don’t Cry Over Spilled… Coffee and Broken Vases” then you know Demarco and what a sweet boy he is.  Today, even more to add!!

He came to my classroom door this morning with a gift bag holding two glass vases (one clear and one purple) that he picked up from Walmart yesterday.

“I don’t know if these will replace the one from Peru, but I want to give you these.”

I gave him a hug and told him he was the sweetest kid ever!  I told him that I loved these vases even more than the one from Peru and that I would keep them forever to remember Demarco and his excellent character.

Ugh. I love that kid.

Don’t cry over spilled… coffee and broken vases

The end of the day was kind of hectic today.  This is my week for bus line duty so I’m supposed to report down the hallway to make sure the students who ride busses home are in line and exiting the building appropriately.  Meanwhile, my homeroom students were passing through my unattended classroom, which made me nervous because I don’t have another teacher next to my classroom this year to keep an eye on it for me.  Also, today was scholastic bowl practice and I knew those students would be waiting in my room for me.  I think they know to just take a seat and wait, because I usually need a little bathroom break before we begin practice, but today I felt extra nervous.  I have known for a while that I have a strong intuition and I have friends that even believe I’m psychic.  Today, I was having a feeling that something was going wrong in my classroom and I needed that bus line to hurry along so that I could get back!

On my way, Leo found me as I entered the junior high area of the school, almost to my classroom.

“Your vase broke,” he informed.

“What vase?!”

“The one behind your desk.”

I knew it!  Someone must have been horsing around and clumsily knocked over my clay vase from Peru, which was behind my desk where students weren’t even supposed to go in the first place! I was so mad!  I didn’t even want to walk back into my classroom to see the scene.  As I walked in, everyone was quiet, sitting down, waiting for me to yell at whomever was the culprit.  Madeline had collected the clay chards from ground to present to me.  “Why was anyone even behind my desk?!” I snapped.

Immediately, Demarco came forth.

“Is there anyway that I can buy you a new one?” he asked sweetly.  My cold, irritated heart instantly began to thaw.  He felt so terrible and I empathized.

“No, Demarco, it’s from a small village in Peru that I visited a few years ago.  It’s ok, just don’t be behind my desk again.”  I was still a little disappointed that I Ieft my room unattended for about 5 minutes and something was broken in that time.  I noticed that the leftover coffee in my thermos from this morning was also spilled.  I started wiping it up while the students got in their groups for scholastic bowl practice.

Then, Demarco came up to me with tears in his eyes!  “May I go to the bathroom?”  It was evident that he felt badly for his mistake and was probably a bit embarrassed.  I followed him to the hallway so that we could talk privately.

“Demarco, please don’t cry.  I love you and I’m just glad that you’re sorry, but the truth is, I don’t care much about material possessions.  It matters more to me that you are ok.  I was upset at first that the vase was broken and coffee spilled, but now I forgive you.  Seriously, it’s ok. OK?”

He smiled and said “Ok, thank you” and went to the bathroom to wash his tears away.

He came back for practice, but was kind of quiet and hid behind the other students for most of it.

Now, an hour after scholastic bowl practice ended, I’m still thinking about Demarco.  I truly hope that he isn’t still feeling badly because it doesn’t matter.  Mistakes happen.  I’m proud of him for owning his mistake and immediately trying to offer to fix it.  There are adults that don’t even do that.  He is a sweet boy with a good heart and he wouldn’t ever damage something on purpose.  I hope he’s smiling and playing outside right now on this warm, beginning of springtime, afternoon without a care in the world.  Kids shouldn’t have to cry over spilled coffee or broken vases.  Sending you love, Demarco.