Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lost Dreams

What do you do when your dreams don’t come true?  What are you supposed to feel when everything you imagined your life to be slips right out of your finger tips on a cold June afternoon?  What direction and new goals are supposed to be set when you think you had it figured out but it doesn’t work out right?  What do you do when the sadness and tears and lost dreams overwhelm your heart?

To answer any of those questions right now is impossible for me.  I just think about those questions and I keep asking more questions.  What if I would have tried harder?  What if I would have pursued the dream the minute I knew it was a possibility?  What if I hadn’t waited?  What if I am never meant to live out that part of my life?  What if the timing is wrong?  When will the time be right?  What was I thinking?  This is why I don’t get my hopes up, why’d I let myself do it again?  Did my initial fear crush the possibility of a dream come true?  What if my internal navigation is off?  Am I hoping for something I will never obtain?…

It’s the worst feeling in the world, realizing that something you thought was meant to be and something you wanted so bad, doesn’t work out.  I had to grab my chest today because I felt like my heart and lungs were going to push themselves out of my rib cage.  I sobbed and sobbed at the words I was reading.  “Unfortunately”  “At this point it is unlikely”  “since you don’t have a credential nor teaching experience in this field our preference would be to hire someone with both.”   My heart stopped.  My dream of teaching at the high school was abruptly put to a stop.

I LOVE THOSE KIDS!  I know them, I know what works for them, I know what helps them.  I  know how to talk to them to calm them down.  I’ve witnessed most of them cry in front of me about life or hardships or homework or boyfriend troubles or family troubles.  I’ve had lengthy conversations with their parents, several meetings with their teachers, pulled them from class for a variety of reasons (both school related and not), and I care about them.  I check up with them, I remember what they say to me, I care about how they are feeling.  Credential or not, teaching experience or not, my heart for those students is bigger than anyone could ever realize.   That is something you can’t teach me in school, that is not a class that people can take.  My heart and mind is in it for the benefit of the students.  I care about how they do in school, I want them to be successful young people, and I check to make sure they are staying on the right track.  There is nothing that I wouldn’t do to help support them and assist them in life, in school and in anything else there might be.  

I wanted more than anything to follow my 8th grade students to the high school and be there to support them and help them navigate the unsteady waters of the high school.  My heart longed to be the place where they came when they had good news to share, or needed a place to escape from it all.  I imagined them seeing my face in the hall and being excited and coming to my class at lunch to eat with me, or me watching them get dressed up for their first homecoming.  I imagined going to all the football games and dressing up in the team colors every Friday.  I imagined dancing at the rally’s and staying after school to help the students with their homework.  I imagined the meetings I’d have with the parents when things weren’t going right, and sharing the triumphs when the students were successful. 

I spent the last year building a relationship with those kids, something that takes time and effort and determination.  I cared.  More than most would probably think is smart, but I cared.  And, I still care.  I’m worried about them.  I don’t want 40+% of them to drop out of high school and not graduate.  I don’t want them to feel like a little fish in a big pond.  I want them to feel good about themselves, be successful and walk that graduation stage.  They are my students and the kids that I care about a ton.  I don’t want them to be handed over to someone who doesn’t know them or understand them or care about them.  I want them to know that there is someone rooting for them at all times, good or bad.  I want them to know that life may be hard but there is always someone in their corner, even if they feel all alone. 

I know it is my dream of teaching at the high school that isn’t coming true, but I am also worried that many of my students’ dreams will be lost in the next four years too.  I just hope they know that they can always come back and I will help them no matter what.  Right now, an occasional visit doesn’t feel like enough.    I want to be there, at the high school, with them.  I want to be there rooting them on.  I want to be there teaching them so much more and helping them be well educated and upstanding young people.  I want them to know that they are the future and hope for this world and they have to be bigger and better and stronger than they even think they can be.  I want them to know that they are special, and smart, and talented and that they have something to offer to the world.  I want them to know that they have gifts and big hearts and funny quirks and that they are wonderfully unique. 

I will miss you 8th grade class of 2011.  You were my first set of students and you will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Remember to be smart at all times, never settle for less and strive to be better.

“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think wise,
risking more than others think safe,
dreaming more than others think practical,
and expecting more than others think possible.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Unsent Letter

Dear You,

First, let me start by saying that I miss you.  In an indescribable and unimaginable way.  It’s something that has hit me and has caused me to stop and take a deep breath or hold back a welled up tear.  You were and continue to be a blessing and a light in my life.  For someone who feels you offer nothing to this world, you offer me a reason and a purpose on a daily basis.  Even when you are sad or feeling down, to me, you exude joy and life. 

You have reminded me that life is about acceptance and trust.  You showed me that we must accept each individual human being as they are.  Broken, cracked, imperfections, faults and all.  Each individual is all they can be, they can be no more.  It is out job, as fellow humans, to take everyone for what they are worth and meet them where they are at.  It is not our jobs to change them or fix them or unbreak the broken parts.  It’s our job to love them.  Period.  It’s all about loving unconditionally and without intentions or notions of change.  You taught me that.  That’s pretty phenomenal.  Before you, I thought that everyone could just work on being better and everything would fix itself.  And while, part of that remains true, I was ignorant to a bigger part of the picture.  Sometimes, people carry around pain and hurt that were put on them.  Sometimes life hands certain people terrible situations that break and tear apart the soul.  Sometimes life is unbearably hard and continually cruel, and no matter how hard you work or how hard you try…those things don’t go away.  It’s hard to see the sunshine when you are buried in the ground.   Sometimes I look at you and wonder how you are even standing before me.  How do you even get out of bed in the morning and smile?  I know I probably couldn’t if I had to be in your shoes.  But your strength is astonishing and awe inspiring. 

Not only have you taught me about unconditional love, but you have showed me that so many talents go unnoticed because they are overshadowed by faults.  You are talented beyond belief.  The things I’ve seen you do and come up with and create and generate are marvelous.  You have abilities that are locked inside of you because of a few reasons.  1.  Your fear of them being rejected.  2.  Flaws overshadowing your talents.  3.  Life doesn’t allow you the freedom or space to explore those talents.  You have reminded me that we must all be allowed the space to explore curiosities and be reminded that mistakes are part of the process, talents are to be nourished and flaws are not the depths of a persons whole being.  We, as people, generally tend to look at the things wrong with each person, rather than the talents they have.  Rather than the abilities that person possess, we focus on what the person lacks.   I’ve noticed that many people look at you and see what you lack, I look at you and I see what you possess and I hope that someday you can see all the wonderful things you are capable of, and not focus on the things you cannot do.  You are blessed.  Use those blessings.  Your life will be rich and full and happy. 

Also, you have showed me that you are keenly aware of people.  That’s one of your many talents, but it’s also something I wanted to highlight.  Your ability to notice people around you and the things they do or say or feel is amazing.  You are able to pick up on things that most people themselves cannot pick up on.  You notice minor details, or emotions, or idiosyncrasies that often times are uncharted.  I have heard you say some things, and I’ll look at you and be floored by your perceptions.  USE THAT SKILL!  It’s something you cannot be taught, it is something you will never learn how to use through a book, and it is something that you inherently know and you have that gift.  I hope that you use it to understand, help and learn people.  I also hope that you use it to be a better you.  Start to notice your own thoughts, actions or feelings and do something to make them better and to get them to be in a better place.  Regardless of your circumstances.  

Most of all, I just want you to know that you are special.  You are gifted and talented and a blessing to this world.  You are funny and smart and perceptive and strong.  Believe in those things.  Believe in yourself.  And know, that no matter how far away or how long it’s been since I have seen you, or what happens…I will always care and love you.  I will always feel you are a blessing and a joy to the world.  I will always know that there is more to you than you let people see and I will always know that you are a kind and sensitive soul no matter what persona you show everyone.  I hope only joy and love and peace and happiness in your life.  I really do just want the best for you and I want you to know that I care.


An Ode to My Teachers

Mostly this is my apology for all the teachers that ever had to deal with me.

Senora Noche, I am sorry I always was sent out of Spanish class for talking.  I really couldn’t help it.  My best friend was in that class with me and to this day, she still talks more than I do.  I couldn’t help but pass notes to her and tell her what was going on with me.  I hardly saw her otherwise.  I am so sorry that I talked to her and didn’t pay attention.  I had this urge to talk to everyone in that class actually.  I just couldn’t stop talking because Spanish was hard for me and it was frustrating to be talking in a language that didn’t make sense.  I really wish I would have not talked though, that Spanish would really come in handy right now (most of my students’ parents speak Spanish).  Just for future reference:  don’t send a talkative kid to sit out in the hallway. I loved it out there.  I talked to anyone who walked by, or I would write notes to my friends.  But, again, I am sorry for being a chatterbox.

Ms. McPhee, I am so sorry for making your first year of teaching miserable.  I can’t believe the things I yelled during the middle of class.  I was a horrible child.  I know.   I will say this, strategic seating had something to do with it. You put me within close proximity of about 4 other people my age…Groups for seating are a BAD idea.  It’s funny because the one thing I remember learning in your class was figurative language.  I still remember when you asked what irony was and Sam raised his hand and said “It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.”  Thanks for teaching me at least one thing I remember, and I am sorry for yelling things in turrets-like-manner the middle of your lectures.

Mr. Miller, thank you for all the valuable lessons you taught me about being a great teacher.  You taught me what it is to have passion and heart for your students, your job, and what you are teaching.  You taught me so much about being a great student, and so much about the value of using humor with your students.  I will never forget you, your class, or the crazy things you made students do.  Just yesterday a kid fell asleep in my class and I woke him up the way you did.  Slammed something on his desk to scare the crap outta him. Haha.  But really truly, I hope to have half the impact on my students as you did yours.  You are truly an inspiration.

All my PE teachers.  I am SSSSOOOO sorry.  I was probably your least favorite student of all time.  I can’t believe I never ran the mile.  How did I even get away with it?  I don’t know.  But I know for certain that I never ran the mile, in all my years of PE, and I am sure you wanted to shake me because it’s not like I was incapable, it’s just that I was being lazy.  Whenever my students tell me they are failing PE because they don’t run the mile I laugh, tell them to run the mile, and that PE is the easiest class.  Even though I failed it year after year.  So I am sorry I didn’t do the easiest thing.

Ms. Phillips.  Thank you.  More than you will ever know.  You are the reason that I am a teacher.  Ever since 2nd grade when you were my teacher, I have known that I wanted to grow up and be just like you.  I remember you having a picture of your family and dog on your desk and talking to me about them.  You also let me stay in at lunch and help you with your work, or let me come after school to be your “TA.”  I remember you being patient, kind, smart, and most of all, teaching me in a way that I understood.  I can still visualize your classroom in my head and I thank God to have known you, because you are the start of my dreams.  Thank you hardly seems like enough to say but, thank you.  Wherever you are I hope you know how much you have touched and changed my life.  Someday I hope that I will get to tell you all about it. 

Ms. 7th grade English Teacher.  I cannot for the life of me remember my 7th grade teachers name, but I remember your class.  You used to read Chicken Soup for the Soul at the beginning of class and then we had to write in our journals about it.  I went out and bought ever single Chicken Soup for the Soul book ever made because of you.  It got me through some really hard times, and I even submitted a story to be published in it. 

Ms. Young.  I remember your classroom vividly.  It feels like it was just yesterday that I stood up, shook your hand and witnessed you call each student mister or miss (last name).  You wanted to show us that we had ownership in the classroom as much as you did and that we deserved respect and we needed to treat you the same way.  You taught us so much that year, I can still recount lesson plans and activities and poems we wrote.  You had a huge impact on me if I can remember what I did in class 12 years later.  You were a get down to business kind of teacher, and looking back I appreciate that more now than I ever realized.  You expected us to learn and expected us to give our best and be respectful at all times.  That’s a gift that not every teachers gives, so thank you.

Ms. Coakley.  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for all you have done for me.  You were an exemplar teacher and showed me exactly who I wanted to become when I was a teacher.  Not only were you an amazing teacher, but you allowed me to be myself and you encouraged it.  It was the first time I really felt like myself and like I was accepted by a teacher.  It was wonderful to have you push me to grow, be better, and advance, all the while accepting where I was at in my life and my academic career.  You showed me how freeing choice can be for students, and you showed me that there is more than one way to answer a question, write an essay, or express yourself.  The freedom and acceptance that you offered in your class was uncanny and for that I am forever indebted to you.

Ms. Lineweaver.  I don’t think in all my years have I gotten closer to another teacher than you.  Although I never had you for any academic classes I always wished that I had.  Step-Aerobics and three years of yearbook were very fun though.  You were a great teacher, always positive, always funny, and always upbeat.  You accepted each kid that walked through your door and treated us all the same.  You never made anyone feel less than.  You made each students happy and excited and worthy.  That’s a talent that I need to learn how to do, and something that I look up to greatly.  I have only fond memories of our conversations, my time with you, and everything you taught me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


As I am attempting to make sense of everything right now, the only thing that is helping are others words.  Here are just a few of the things that are inspiring me to believe in the truth right now.

"decisions are the hardest thing to make, especially when it's a choice between where you should be and where you want to be."

 "And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -anais nin

"Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it's everything in between that makes it all worth living."

"Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are shooting stars, I could really use a wish right now."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Insight from Middle School Students

Today was my last official day teaching my first class of students.  It almost feels like I am living in the twilight zone and like it’s not really over.  I feel like I just started and the school year never even happened.  It’s bizzarre.  While I try to process the goodbyes and the ending of it all I thought I would share some insight to what my students are really like.

I asked the students two questions.
1.  What really makes you mad or upset? 
2. What really makes you happy?

Below are the answers they gave to the questions.  Please note I have not changed the spelling or edited their mistakes in their writing.  It’s half the joy of reading what they write sometimes. 

The first question they answered was about being mad or upset.  I think my favorite answer was “You.”  I think I might have to work on that relationship with that student if I have to work with him in the future.  :)

1.  What really makes you mad or upset? 
-The thing that really makes me mad or upset is when someone messes with my cousins.
-A lot of things.
-When there’s no school.
-The thing that makes me mad is when people at school talk about me behind my back.
-What makes me upset is when I can’t learn because the people around me.
-What makes me upset is when people put there dirty fingers in my food.
-Cleaning my room and doing work.
-My sisters.
-When they tell me what to do.  When they keep repeating things over and over again when I got it the first time.
-When the teachers do boring assignments.
-Coming to school and waking up at 7:00 a.m. to catch the bus and also standing out in the cold.

The answers to the next question really help me remember why it’s such a joy to be a teacher and to be around kids all day.  It’s hard a lot of the time, but, they are wonderful.

2.  What really makes you happy?
-Being in my house sleeping.
-When I go play.
-What makes me happy is my family.  When I am with them I feel really happy.
-What makes me happy is my family all together.
-Playing video games.
-Something that makes me happy is hearing good things said about Islam.
-What makes me really happy is going to different places, and food.
-What makes me happy is everything that is nice.
-The thing that makes me happy is when me and my family having a big family dinner because I have all of my family members.
-When everybody is working.
-Something that really makes me happy is when I do something right.
-The thing that really makes me happy is when I go outside and do stuff and not haf to be cramped up in my house all the time.
-When I eat something sometimes.
-What really makes me happy is my little brother.  The reason why my little brother makes me happy is because every day I come home from school I walk in my house and it just makes me happy.
-Well I don’t know a lot of things and stuff.

I shall miss you class of 2011, as you enter into high school I wish you all the best and hope great things for you!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


This is self-explanatory... and it's just what I'm feeling right now.