Monthly Archives: April 2013

Not for me

I do not have an EZ-Pass. Given the fact that I commute an hour one way to work Monday through Friday, this is hard to fathom, I know. I purposely drive through the regular toll lanes and I do so with great intention.

Let me explain …

Each day, when I get onto the toll road (about halfway into my commute) and again when I get off (just 5 minutes before pulling into work), I am greeted with a smile, a “have a nice day”, and often a “drive safely”. This from folks who began as complete strangers 2 1/2 years ago when I started my job, who have now become people I enjoy seeing each day.

I do not know any of them by name, nor do they know me, other than by vehicle make and model. And yet, these folks often lift my spirits more than people I engage with on a more frequent basis.

Here are some interesting things I have learned about my toll booth operators:

1. Lane 3 is very eccentric – she has new nail designs virtually every other day, and a funky hairstyle she wears so well.

2. Lane 2 is a huge Packers fan – he still calls me “Green Bay” long after I have replaced my WI tags with NY ones.

3. Lane 4 is a social butterfly – even though she is typically talking on the phone when I pass through, she always tells the person on the other end to hold on while she greets me and sends me on my way with a smile and a “Have a good day, honey.”

4. Lane 1 is compassionate – in our brief 30 seconds, he always asks if I’ve had a good day and wishes me a safe journey.

I do not have an EZ-Pass. I am, however, the recipient of lots of encouragement each day … and many, many smiles.


Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


One Chance

You only get one chance
at life
so make it count



Wear silly socks.
Jump in every puddle.
Never hold back laughter.

Sometimes, there are no time-outs.
Sometimes, there are no second chances.
Sometimes, it’s now or never.

is your day
to begin.



Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


Dear State Ed

Next week, my daughters will begin the ever anticipated series of state standardized testing. No less than three communications have come home, along with a message on the district’s call system to encourage us to provide an adequate amount of sleep for our children and a good breakfast with a side of encouragement to do their best.

While state testing is not new, the assessments are more rigorous and require a different set of skills to be applied to the test-taking process to be successful. Our teachers are working hard to help students be prepared and I know they feel a similar frustration about the standardization of learning that has permeated our educational system.

State Ed is pushing the data-driven instruction model, which they assert is a key framework for supporting student success.This model begins with the assessment as a measurement to drive analysis which will then direct specific action to improve subsequent assessment outcomes. This places value on the outcome of one test in relation to the child’s entire educational performance for the academic year.

One of my issues with this approach is that the tests are purporting to assess what my child knows and can do, but it is pigeon-holed into subject areas that people who are removed from the classroom experience have deemed important to my child’s success and college-readiness (math, ELA, science).  It does not consider the child’s performance in extended studies, such as art, music and physical education. Not every child will go into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field. 

Standardized assessments are not going away, as long as policy makers and legislators continue to place value in only a smattering of a child’s educational experience, and continue to drive instruction based on assessment data that merely gives them a snapshot of one moment in time on my child’s educational spectrum.

So … as testing approaches next week, I will ensure a peaceful night’s sleep for my children, no thanks to the anxiety the tests have stirred up.  I will give my children a good breakfast, which I do every day. And I will encourage them to do their best, as every parent does. It is likely that I will also send a lovely letter to state ed, possibly followed up with a voice message.


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


An Unfortunate Farewell

Most Wednesdays, the ideas about to write are freely flowing. On occasion, I will know what I want to write about, but I am unsure quite how to say it. Today was such a day … until I read an incredibly poignant and moving letter. It was written by Gerald Conti, a high school history teacher who submitted the letter for his retirement. He encapsulates what I believe most educators feel about the state of education and the demise of the values that once dictated it.

Read Mr. Conti’s letter here.

“After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.”

Thank you, Mr. Conti, for your dedication and service to the profession and to your students, and for continuing to inspire educators even in retirement.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

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