Dear Reader,

Yesterday I logged onto my school email and saw a message from one of my professors:


I just wanted to touch base with you and make sure you’re doing okay. You seemed upset during class yesterday (but perhaps you were just tired).

Let me know if I can help.


Professor Pennington”

If you look back at my recent blog posts, you can see that this week has been tough for me, and when she saw me in class on Tuesday, it was after I had spent the entire night in the suite, crying and writing and trying to study for my 8am exam the next day.

I don’t remember being particularly unpleasant or upset in class that day, but I’m often unaware of how often my face exposes my true emotions and thoughts.

Still, I didn’t walk into class and slam my things down or sigh or groan constantly. I remember paying attention to what was going on, but I didn’t participate in the conversation at all, and it was probably pretty clear that I had other things on my mind.

My professor noticed this and recognized that my behavior was different, but she then took it one step further to ask me about it–to make sure I was really okay. Because people have good days and bad, but people also have things they struggle with on a daily basis that often go unnoticed.

I feel very fortunate to be in the situation I am in. I go to an amazing school that has a reputation for it’s “unusually strong commitment” to teaching, which is something they really try to sell to seniors in high school. When I was a senior, though, I didn’t really know what that meant.

I didn’t know that I would have professors who would stress the importance of mental health being your top priority. I didn’t know that I would have two professors–one for a creative writing class and another for a geography lecture–actually recommend that I seek counseling, regardless of any stigma that’s attached, and then send me links to our university’s health services.

I didn’t know that I would have long talks with some of these professors that honestly felt more like therapy sessions than anything else and left me feeling good about myself and the future that awaited me. I didn’t know they would, in turn, open up to me and tell me about their wife who struggles with anxiety or apologize and say they have to run because they have a meeting, themselves, with a therapist that they can’t be late to.

I didn’t know that my professors would make me feel so cared for, regardless if it were a class of 11 or a class of almost 200. I didn’t know they would give me second chances and encourage me to achieve more, even when I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I didn’t know I’d be writing scholarly articles alongside them or nominated for awards by them.

I didn’t expect this huge support system. If anything, maybe a handful of teachers would stand out. Or maybe two of them would really push me to publish my writing or vocalize how far they see my potential reaching.

But it’s much more than that.

I’ve had over twenty professors at this school, and they may not all be deserving of this praise, but even the bare minimum seems to have exceeded my expectations. But the special ones make up well over half and their dedication and their support is making more of a difference than I ever anticipated.

I had eleven classes with Professor Pennington before she sent me that email.

It doesn’t take a lot. All it takes is someone who is observant and who will listen. Someone who cares. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a difference.

That’s the kind of teacher I want to be in my classroom. At the very least.

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Dear Reader,

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. I don’t know why, but it’s always seemed like the perfect job for me. I’ve definitely had my doubts here and there, and the lack of support and enormous skepticism that has come from certain people has tested me for sure, but, ultimately, I want to be a teacher. I want to make a difference and I want to inspire. And throughout my years as a student, I’ve had a number of perfect examples who’ve helped make this decision an easy one for me to stick with. Now is the time to thank them.

Mr. Hamann

My all-time favorite teacher is my eighth grade history teacher, Mr. Hamann. Yes, history. I had never liked that subject before. I’d always been intrigued by English and math and music and languages and, well, anything but history and science. They were just boring. But Mr. Hamann had more passion in his right hand than any other history teacher I had ever had before had in their entire body.

I looked forward to his class every single day–I looked forward to studying for his class at night and taking his tests! I excelled in his class, and it wasn’t because it was easy. In fact, many people struggled with history that year. But for the first time ever (in a history class), I wanted to learn!

And I learned more in his class than I ever had before. I learned how to study and take notes and highlight only what’s important. I learned interesting facts about history and listened to more stories than I knew what to do with. I idolized Mr. Hamann for his teaching style. He knew when to joke around and when to get terrifyingly serious (we did touch on some pretty heavy subjects).

Ultimately, he’s everything I could ever hope to be in a teacher. He obviously loved his job–and his life!–and he cared about every single person he had in class. That’s who I want to be. And I thank him for being the first person to show me.

Mr. Hauge

Mr. Hauge was a very popular teacher at my high school. Like Hamann, he had more passion that I was used to seeing in teachers. And he knew so much! I didn’t even get the chance to have him as my English teacher, and man was I pitied for it. Peers of mine would constantly talk about what they were learning in Hauge’s class and what they were discussing–matters far beyond that of my class. His students left class with new outlooks on life and more funny anecdotes than they had ever asked for. I left mine with homework that I never ended up completing.

But I got to have Hauge as a mentor for my senior year. I was only with him for a few weeks, but on the first day I learned three teaching “tricks” that not only would I have never thought of, but that actually worked! And on another day, as he was sitting in the back with me, just spewing knowledge about teaching, he referenced a book that I had to read. Then he pulled the book out and handed it to me. When I went to return it after break, he told me to keep it and bring it to college–it’ll be useful. This gesture was probably so petty; he gave me a book that he no longer had any need or desire for. But it meant so much to me. And here it sits in my dorm room.

But I have to say thank you to him. For even allowing me to be in his class in the first place (I didn’t do a thing) and for teaching me so much. I’ll always remember what I learned from him.

Senior Year Teachers

Along with Hauge, I got to have three other mentors throughout my senior year: Mrs. Smolenski, Mrs. Bechtol, and Mrs. Gerber. I was expecting to learn a lot from Hauge because he’s exactly what I want to be: a high school English teacher. But I didn’t know I had so much to learn from kindergarten, fourth grade, and sixth/eighth grade teachers.

I have to first say thank you for, again, allowing me to be in class. But even more than that, I cannot express how grateful I am to have been included. I would come back to teaching professions week after week and hear of classrooms where the student mentor did nothing but copy papers and run errands.

Meanwhile, was reading to kids, teaching games, tutoring 1 on 1, checking homework and classwork with the students, and more! I was interacting with the students–getting to see the joys of teaching firsthand. I got to work with a student who moved to the States from Finland. I got to walk in their Halloween parade (dressed as a scrabble letter with the other teachers). I got to take accelerated students to the computer lab and work with them on special projects. I got to help out with puppet shows and food days. I was more involved than I had ever hoped for and I am so thankful.

And I have to thank the kids as well. I must’ve been really lucky or something, but I seemed to have the best kids everywhere I went. And I’m not just saying that ignorantly–I saw the other classrooms. More than that, I heard stories from teachers and parents and students. But the kids I taught genuinely wanted to learn. They cared for each other and they were friendly to everyone. I got to work with students with special needs who had so much love.

I could honestly write another post entirely about how wonderful my teaching professions experience was (and maybe I will someday), but I think I need to wrap this up. So thank you. Thank you so much.



PS. Scarecrow – Alex & Sierra 


Dear Reader,

My high school principal was much like what I would imagine to be your typical high school principal: stoic, kind of scary, sometimes compared to a grizzly bear.

I was never the sort of student who was recognized in the main office. I didn’t call for much disciplinary attention, nor praise in the academic or athletic sense. I sort of glided by in high school, and was surprised when I discovered that the principal knew my name–and could match it to my face at that!

That’s not why I’m thanking him, though. I’m not about to write an entire entry thanking my high school principal for being able to recognize me out of almost 1500 students. And I’m not writing this to thank him for being a great principal, though I could–and maybe I should. He really did do a lot for our school and I’m sure that a lot of my fond memories from that place were possible because he was perfectly balanced as a principal. He let us be heard, but was always there to stop things from getting carried away. He was very understanding, but always let us know that he meant business.

Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing this entry.

During my senior year of high school, I took a class that counted for college credit called “teaching professions.” Because this class was designed to prepare us for the real world of teaching before we fully committed to the major, it ended with an interview.

At the end of the year, everyone who took the course got dressed up, put together a portfolio (containing 24 essays, 48+ pieces of evidence, pictures, pamphlets, the whole deal), and sat down with two faculty members for a mock interview.

Most everyone got someone they didn’t know. A random principal from some other school or perhaps a college professor or something, but of course I get Dr. Short–a man who not only scares me but has access to more information about me than I could guess.

To make matters worse, I’m awful at talking. I trip over my words and say “um” and “like” and lose my train of thought–and interviews are awful! They’ll ask me one question and by the time I’m halfway through the answer, I’ll forget what I was answering, and I’ll just go in a completely different direction.

So I’m answering their questions and finding it incredibly difficult to read my principal.  The entire time I’m thinking, he hasn’t smiled in a while. Ugh he’s probably so bored. My first substantial conversation with Dr. Short and I’m coming off sounding like a completely unprepared idiot!

I mean, I was babbling. Going on and on, trying to find the right answer for questions like why I want to be a teacher.

Of course know why I want to be a teacher–I want to make a difference! I want to help kids grow. I want them to not make the same mistakes I did, and I want them to realize their true potential and push their boundaries and realize the beauties of the world. And English can help!

I want to learn as much as I can (because I obviously have a lot to learn) and then I want to teach it to anyone who will listen to me.

Of course, I have a lot more reasons that that, but that was the one I went with. So I’m yakking their ears off for probably 2 minutes just talking about that, and I’m not even sure it’s comprehensible at this point, when Dr. Short says, “who’s your current English teacher?”


“Well tell him to keep teaching for another four years.”

I didn’t really understand what he meant by this, so I said, “oh yeah, but he wants to get out before he has to completely change his teaching style to fit with technology, because all kids at Perrysburg get computers now, so I don’t know if he’ll stay that much longer.”

Dr. Short laughed and said, “I just want to have a spot for you when you graduate college.”

And I was kind of speechless–which isn’t the best thing to be during an interview. So he continued, “I would love to employ someone with your passion for teaching.”

To this day I have not forgotten those words.

I had just been offered a teaching job, at age 17, at one of the best high schools in the state–in the country! And I know he didn’t really secure me a job or anything, and he might’ve just been saying it to quiet me down (I mean, it worked!) or never intends to follow through with it, but I still consider it to be one of (if not the) highest compliments I’ve ever received.

Saying this means he believes in me. He believes that I have at least potential of becoming a great teacher. And I would love nothing more than to be able to teach at Perrysburg High School after graduating college.

So I don’t know what he meant by this comment, or what he was thinking when he said it, but I need to thank him. I did in person, but I’ll continue thanking him until I graduate probably! When I think about the future: sad salary, annoying parents, lots of pressure–I mean, it can be a lot. And I’ve never regretted my decision to pursue teaching, because it’s something I’ve always known I’m meant to do, but that comment keeps me working hard.

I want to come back to Perrysburg. And if they don’t have a spot for me, I want to go somewhere equally as great, and I want to be confident.

And Dr. Short’s comment that day is the great confidence-booster I’ve ever received.

So thank you.



PS. Song of the day: Geronimo – Sheppard

5 Favorite YouTube Videos: Inspirational

I am a big fan of YouTube. I spend much of my time on this website, watching hours of people I wish I knew take on adventures I wish I could be a part of. Most days, I live vicariously through them. Hoping one day I’ll have my turn.

But that’s no way to live.

And every once in a while I’ll come across a video that makes me shut me laptop (sometimes even power it all the way down), and do something productive. Have an adventure of my own. And some videos just give me a fresh perspective on life, or hope for the future. Something that shows that we’re doing something right.

So I wanted to share some of these videos.

Press Play, Smile. 

Too often we find ourselves in a world of negativity. A world where celebrating is synonymous for making risky decisions that can steer a good life down a nasty path. This filmmaker took his camera into his hometown, Cape Cod, South Africa, and found some positivity to share with the world.

“Stop listening to answer and just listen to understand that your time here is worth celebrating. Looking at your life as an outsider, it’s more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Embrace it.”

What Teachers Make

The first video is Taylor Mali presenting this live, and the second is more of a lyric video with his powerful speech playing in the background. I’m probably biased because I want to become a teacher, but I think this is so wonderful and perfect. Everyone should watch this video.

“I make parents see their children for who they are and who they can be… Let me break it down for you so you KNOW what I say is true. I make a difference, now what about you?”

Jessica’s “Daily Affirmation”

In just 50 seconds, young Jessica gives one of the best pep talks I’ve ever heard in my life.

“I. Like. My. Whole. HOUSE. My whole house is great. I can do anything good. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Ellen Page Joins HRCF’s Time to Thrive Conference

Ellen Page gave this speech on Valentine’s Day, announcing to the world that she is gay. I can’t say anything better, myself, so I suggest watching the 8-minute video or reading the transcript that is linked in the bio. It’s worth it.

“I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

Look Up

You’ve probably seen this video. After all, it’s gotten over 43 million views in the two months it’s been on YouTube. But that’s simply because it’s brilliant. We live in this world where technology is brainwashing us to believe this new definition of “social.” Social media is not all that social when you can’t interact with the people next to you or the entertain the children before you without a screen as a distraction.

“I took a step back and opened my eyes. I looked around and realized that this media we call social is anything but, when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut.”

So those are five of my favorite videos to watch when I’m looking for inspiration, or just looking to smile. I hope you enjoyed, if you decided to take a few moments and watch one or two. Let me know if there are any others I should check out, as well, and thanks for sticking until the end.