The Dream Teacher Blog

The Gift

April 2, 2017

Here we are again. I was here less than a year and a half ago when we lost Chance. I was here two months later when we lost Mike. Just weeks after that, we lost Boomer. The Boomer blogpost never happened because losing three granddogs within two months, each with their own tragic story, was too much. Sometimes there are no words. And when I went for my yearly physical the next week, my doctor asked me how things were going. I burst into tears. Over dogs.

I loved them all. I miss them all. Too many gone. …

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August 26, 2016

It was early September when my Daddy died, September 8th to be exact. It was four days after my 47th birthday and four days before my year round school took a three week intersession break. Because of the timeliness of that break, I did something unheard of: I left my family at home and went to the beach by myself. By myself!

I graded student journals by the ocean and kept glancing over at the pier, thinking I’d see my Daddy there as I had hundreds of times, fishing for something…but catching nothing…and happy to be there anyway. I …

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Talking Too Much

January 25, 2016

I was a fresh-faced North Carolina Teacher of the Year when I showed up at the State Teacher of the Year Conference in Dallas in January of 2009. I was nervous – I would be spending a week with fifty-four total strangers, the most amazing teachers in the country. And I had been named one of four finalists chosen to represent them, an honor I haven’t wrapped my head around to this day, seven years later.

It would take very little time for those fifty-four teachers to be colleagues, friends, even soulmates. But that first night I felt like I …

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For the Love of a Dog, pt. 2

January 10, 2016

My mama used to tell me two things: that when I get to Heaven, I’ll see God’s big dusty book that has all the bad things I’ve ever done listed in it, and while I’m there I’ll have the opportunity to ask him anything I want. I have always known what I would ask if given that chance:

What happened to my cat Fluffy?

Oh, there were rumors. All the neighborhood children said she was poisoned by an old neighbor lady we referred to as “the witch.” I don’t know if that’s true, but that question has haunted me since …

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For the Love of a Dog

November 10, 2015

I tried really hard to be sure I never read the book Marley and Me. I tried even harder not to watch the movie. And then one day, I checked into a hotel room, turned on the television, and there it was – the last five minutes of a movie that rivaled the Love Stories and Brian’s Songs of my childhood. I sat by myself in a New York City hotel room and wept.

There’s a reason books and movies about losing pets are so sad. If you’ve ever had a pet, you know those reasons, and I don’t …

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Teacher Leadership (and Marty McFly)

July 7, 2015

It’s purge time for those of us who work in the summer. Central office staff and educators in the school buildings use this short time before teacher trainings and other meetings start to clean up, throw away, and make shiny. Apparently, I haven’t used this opportunity in awhile. I’ve just touched lesson plan books from 1991, poetry from 1993, and overhead transparencies from I-don’t-even-know-when. If you’re a teacher just beginning in your career, you may not even know what a transparency is. Don’t worry. You don’t need to know. Just turn on your interactive white board and go to town!…

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Granny’s Cabinet

January 21, 2015

I stood on my tiptoes, too many years to count, chin to the shelf of my grandmother’s Hoosier cabinet, watching her roll out dough for biscuits and dumplings. I loved that cabinet, the way it held flour in a bin inside, the way she cranked the sifter so the flour would be snowy and fine.

As a girl, I told my Granny that I wanted that cabinet in my grownup house someday. And she told me it would be mine. As an adult, I reminded her on every visit: “That’s my cabinet. Don’t forget.” And every time she would answer …

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A Christmas Tree Miracle

December 31, 2014

Christmas Eve was gloomy and dismal around here. It couldn’t even muster up enough energy to rain; instead, it drizzled a cool, sad mist all day. I was so busy preparing for festivities that would be occurring at my house for the next two days – people were coming in from three states and numerous cities within my state – that I almost forgot to get the mail every day for a week!

On Christmas Eve, I was baking a zillion cookies – you know the ones that look festive at Christmas but you can never eat them all with …

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On Writing

November 15, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter. I wrote it with a pen, not a computer. I wrote it on notebook paper. It was four pages long.

I was writing a condolence letter to a mom who just lost her young son unexpectedly, and I just couldn’t imagine the thought of simply signing a card or worse yet, typing my thoughts. These words were so important they had to start in my heart and travel through me to my hand. And they did.

I wish my children, and the students at my school, knew more about the art of …

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Someone’s Mrs. Warnecke

August 31, 2014

After I was reunited with my first grade teacher, Mrs. Warnecke, after forty-five years, I shared my story with anyone who would listen. After my book, Finding Mrs. Warnecke, came out, I spoke to groups and told the story over and over of the difference she made (and still makes to this day) in my life. At the end of every presentation, people would approach me eager to share their own stories about the teachers who had impacted them. I heard story after story only to hear what I already knew – that teachers make a huge difference in …

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