Rock the Casbah

I met a friend at the bazaar in Casablanca, in 1996!

When I was 25 years old and finally graduating from college, my dad took me on a tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco as a gift. Those were the kinds of gifts I usually got…no cars or laptops for me, and no regrets either. (Thanks Dad!) Still, I was young, so I didn’t even know what I didn’t know about what I was seeing at those places. I’ve always wanted a do-over of that trip, especially once I went on to become a history teacher of all things. Read more

A Manuscript for YOU and YOU and YOU!

It is with GREAT excitement that I am able to give each one of my students in all of my American history classes their very own printed manuscript of the new book, An Accidental Odyssey (formerly titled Where Do We Get Such Men?). They are totally devouring it, and already they want to meet Pops, they want to see the planes at the Pensacola NAS Museum, they want to learn the prisoner tap code (we’re doing that on Monday) and they want to know more about why I hate Communism so much. (Oh…and do I plan to tell them!) It is such an invigorating way to teach the history I love so much.

What more in the world could I ask for? #AccidentalOdyssey

The Box

One rather heavy, somewhat disorganized and cumbersome-to-transport cardboard box, a box roughly the size of a mini refrigerator, has been emptied, re-organized and given a whole new life recently. Its contents are best described as treasures of zero monetary value, of little consequence to any milestones in the lives of its contributors, and of somewhat trivial and miniscule philosophy. Still, they were born of a life dedicated to cultivating knowledge in young people. My life as I’ve known it as a public school teacher is entombed inside that box. Read more

Jellies

PC: Instagram @luakanishi

I heard his tell-tale screeches from all the way down the beach. A young boy, around eight by my best guess, clearly thought he was going to die of pain. I stayed out of the pandemonium at first, trying not to be the (nosy) kind of person who tells someone else how to do their job, but his parents were turning themselves around in circles, picking up and dropping towels, dumping water bottles onto his skinny, paralyzed little limbs and making a wrinkled, sandy mess of their perfect pallets near the water’s edge.

They were jellyfish virgins, it was clear. Read more

A Guest Post: A Letter to My High School Self

The following letter is republished with permission from its original author.

Dear High School Me,

When I look back at you, I see a girl who felt trapped in high school. You were the popular, pretty cheerleader, but you were also known as the Party Girl. People knew you were the one who liked to have a little too much fun. You didn’t know your limits, and you did not know your worth. In the moment, you didn’t always know what you were supposed to do. However, the lessons you learned are ones you can bring to use now that you are older. Read more

American For Sale

Emilio after his naturalization was final. PC: Andrew Payne

As my time teaching and living with teenagers draws closer to an end, I am finding it hard to keep my excitement contained. Teenagers are exhausting in their very own unique way, anyone who knows them would attest to this. So I remind myself constantly that soon this stage in my life will be over and I will be free of these highly-charged, 100-mph, full-bore years forever and be on to something less…less…everything. Read more

The Fighter

PC: Instagram @tolufiz

I noticed two things right away: first, the bad mood, then the bruises.

I can spot the kid who smokes weed on the internet for attention, the one who revels in his shameless exhibition of wasted potential. I can point out to you the misfit who eats lunch facing the wall everyday. His days are long and lonely, I bet. I know all about the promiscuous ones, the boys and the girls, who are both oversexed and way under-supervised. Their parents would never believe the number of nudes their child has sent and received over Snapchat. I watch the rich kids with the expensive cars unintentionally look down their noses at the others around them. They don’t mean to be snobs but they have real goals and they know they’re going places. And I know who the Fighters are. The Fighters are my favorite. They’re the ones who always look like they had a really long night. They’re kind of special but no one thinks about them much. They keep a low profile. Read more

When In Rome

PC: Instagram @black_market_ltd

I put my hand on her arm and squeezed gently, the kind of touch I was hoping brought back a small reminder to her that I was one of those teachers who was always on her side. Then when I saw that she did remember, I leaned in closer and we whispered.

Me: I know what you’re thinking. I know how you feel. But it’s just one day; it’s just one more rule that you have to follow just one more time, here. Then, never again.

Her: Can I at least wear pants IF I wear a shirt and tie?

Me: No. It’s the rules. Can you challenge them and win? Yes, we both know you can. But for just this one time, at this one last event, can you please do this for me?

Read more

Lessons From Google

PC: Instagram @bermudezeduardo

Long story short, I was reading up on the latest Apple vs The US Government face-off the other day and it sent me in a roundabout way to the article Why Are Google Employees So Damn Happy?  I was instantly jealous. Oh I’ve heard the rumors of what the Google offices are like. Little girls with ponies couldn’t be more excited than I would be going to work knowing trampolines and smoothie machines were awaiting my arrival.

But that’s not what the article was about and unfortunately most of us don’t work at a place like that. Read more

What a Good Teacher Does

PC: Instagram @weareteachers

“You need to leave there and go home. Now.”

“It’s ok. We will tell your parents, together.”

“Tell me where you are. Do you need me to come and get you?”

“No. I don’t think this will keep you from getting into college.”

“That’s not true. I care.”

“You’re welcome. I love you, too.”

When you become a teacher, at least if you become a good teacher, your role goes far beyond teaching state standards. Read more