FAREWELL to our Fighter…


Muhammad Ali /ɑːˈliː/; was an American Olympic and professional boxer and activist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century.
Born: January 17, 1942, Louisville, KY
Died: June 3, 2016, Scottsdale, AZ
Spouse: Lonnie Ali (m. 1986–2016)
(Compliments of Wikipedia)
INFAMOUS Ali Quotes: 
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.

 Today at 3:00 p.m. as thousands gather to say their final farewells to one of the greatest fighters of all time, Muhammad Ali, what comes to mind for me is the literal, spiritual, and figurative meaning of the word FIGHTER. 

He not only fought in the ring, but fought for racial equality, religion, social justice, and flat out what was right in the world.
What do you fight for and believe in?  How can we as educators fight for our students in and out of the classroom? Can you reflect on a time where you had to stand up and fight for what you felt was right? 

Long live the champ. Rest in peace Muhammad Ali…



So What’s for Dinner?


summer mealsThe summer months continue to be my favorite time of the year, as for me it allots more time to cook and explore with fun recipes! I love all of the summer eats and treats that are posted on Pinterest, Facebook, and other outlets of social media. Many friends of mine share their infamous yummy meals, and we try them out together. The summer months are the best for light, easy, and  quick fun meals!

Tonight I was excited to get an evening workout in, and then prepare a good dinner. It was a spaghetti bake with vegetable noodles for a healthier option. The ingredients consisted of: 

  • ground turkey (seasoned well)
  • cut up pieces of kielbasa (can be turkey) 
  • Italian sausage
  • Vegetable spaghetti noodles
  • cut up red peppers
  • yellow peppers
  • green peppers
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • Rosemary and garlic sauce
  • Italian sausage sauce
  • tomato paste
  • at least 4 seasonings, including olive oil and Italian seasoning
  • Topped with your favorite parmesan cheese (or none) 

This meal should be prepared in at least 3 separate pots/pans, and then combined into one pot. It makes for a great meal for a couple of days! If you are like me, for my household I like to cook meals that can last at least a couple of nights (I love some leftovers!) and not cook everyday. Top this meal off with a baby spinach and spring mixed salad with olives, and Caesar dressing (or dressing of choice! A great balsamic can go well here too), then serve up for everyone to enjoy. A slice of garlic toast goes well with this meal also, but that is where I try to cut back on the complex carbs.

Here is a list from ‘Delish’ of 75 amazing summer recipes to try out…

Summer Recipe Ideas~!

So what are you favorite summer recipes to prepare? Share away!  



The ‘Responsive Classroom’

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         Back in 2008 when I had the wonderful experience to be a huge part of opening up the doors to a brand new school in the city of Detroit, we wanted to make a better learning life for students in that area. Since I could remember it’s always been a passion of my career, to reach and teach teachers on how to manage their classroom. Here was where I met one of my favorite classroom management series of all time…The Responsive Classroom Approach. The work of this program, by Roxanne Kriete, Carol Davis, and a team of others, spoke volumes to me on how to approach the discipline of a student that is in your classroom environment. The foundation of this approach in summary, is about being responsible of creating class rules (norms) together, being fully responsible for your actions as a student, and letting the ‘time fit the crime’…(how your consequences need to match your offense).

This all made so much sense to me so much that when I was approached to be the representative to teach RC to other teachers on my team, and in my building, I fell in love with it and knew I found my calling. The next level came when I was asked to be an adjunct professor at Madonna University in Michigan,  and teach on the collegiate level in the evenings to up and coming teachers. Three of the RC books were even the required text for my course!

 When I then moved to Atlanta and joined the Lower School team at my current school, even teaching Kindergarten, I brought the same techniques right with me. Other than showing me I could  survive the Kinder years, it helped me to see that middle school or elementary, young or old, when you follow these approaches they work! At the end of that year, I did a professional development series on the Responsive Classroom approach, focusing in on Morning Meeting. The basic 4 steps of how to start the day, coupled with a letter to your class daily was one of my favorite parts of RC. Lower School enjoyed using those strategies, even when I went back to the middle school atmosphere from the divsion.

Here is the book below…definitely worth checking out! Especially for new teachers that want to build a positive classroom culture….so that just means a teacher period right? 

Morning Mtg book

I could go on and on about this approach. As I work on my doctoral degree in educational leadership, my main focus is training and getting teachers fired up for the classrooms of today and tomorrow. 

I highly recommend that you check out the Responsive Classroom approach as an educator, and even if you use one part of it, like the Zenergy Chime, it will change your classroom culture only for the better~….

Here are a few other dynamic books of the awesome RC program. I’m always happy to chat more on it anytime! 

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Summer Mornings…Summer Nights!

As a continuation from the thoughts of having far more time to take care of our inner and outer selves in the summer, this is apart of my daily morning and/or evening routine thus far! I am diving into some great personal reads, (coupled with professional summer reading and work to do for my job), and picking back up one of my favorite workout series, Walk Away the Pounds by Leslie Sansone. I have been starting my mornings, and/or ending my evenings that way, and it’s been nothing short of amazing. I feel good and energized for the rest of it. To start off…

A co-worker of mine bought me this book. Meditations for Women who Do Too Much by Anne  Wilson Schaef. If that is not me I don’t know what is! She obviously could really tell I needed a copy of this for sure. It’s daily dated nuggets of encouragement, that truly get and keep me going. I encourage all women who do too much to check it out!

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Next up I am reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. This is the amazing queen of TV right now, that has been ruling Thursday nights for a while. Though I have picked up and started this book several times, I look forward to ACTUALLY finishing it this summer. HOWEVER, my focus is more on saying NO! (I say YES far too much which in turn leaves me exhausted…) It is interesting to read about a person who always said no, and why the need to say yes more often came about….check this one out too if you’re interested!

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Lastly, for my personal summer reading list, my Godmother recommended that I pick up A Woman’s High Calling by Elizabeth George. She said this book can and will encourage me to focus on hearing, doing, and receiving God’s plan for my life as a woman, wife, working professional, and the list goes on. I truly look forward to this read for sure! 

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So we have mind, spirit, and now BODY in my daily routine. While I truly plan to enjoy the beauty of being outside in the summer to workout, and definitely many dips in the pool, one of my favorite fat burning high-intense calorie workout routines is Walk Away the Pounds by Leslie Sansone. I pretty much have EVERY DVD she’s ever made! It’s an oldie but a goodie; and when I am short on time, want a HUGE calorie burn, or desire an early morning/late night workout, I pop good ol’ Leslie and friends right in! I get them so cheap and quickly through Amazon, so feel free to do the same.

There are many in-home workout plans to follow, but this is by far my fav…Walk away the pounds

So what is your summer routine so far? How do  YOU spend your summer mornings? Summer nights? Feel free to share! 







Summertime…and the livin’ is Easy?!


Did Someone say Summer Break? 

Well, well here we are again…the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m not talking Christmas! I am speaking about the time of the year where the halls are quiet again, the carpet is getting cleaned, walls washed, floors waxed, and plans are rolling out for the new year to come…it is SUMMER BREAK! What music to my ears. As the close of my 10th year as an educator just happened, (which I can’t even believe!) I reflect on many awesome summer breaks. Each time I like to think about what just happened during  a school year that flew by so quickly. It is now time to learn from it, and plan for the fall…

This past year was my second term in the role as Dean of Students of Mount Vernon Presbyterian Middle School. I have learned even more round 2! I must say it was far easier in some ways, and harder in others, where as this time in most cases I had a better idea of what to do. I think it is so important to at least have the same role more than once so you know where to go and grow from there. I have served in several leadership capacities, and each one has its own growth opportunities. I am so thankful to have learned from them all and take each new discovery on to the next one…


Now that teachers have been checked out, and headed for a summer of fun and learning, it is so important to focus on US! We have to  recharge, revive, and renew our inner and outer selves. Even though I work during the summer as an administrator, I still love this time of the year. You can think and reflect more clearly on your decision making processes. You can BREATHE, and look at what worked well and what did NOT! Changes, updates, and preparations can be made, and new goals can be set. I know that the third time around will be a charm. So buckle up and get some well deserved rest everyone. We have truly earned it, and had a phenomenal 2015-2016 School year!

Blogger Challenge

In closing, we have been challenged by our Middle School leader Chip Houston to blog for the next 10 days. I have accepted this great challenge! While I have no particular overarching theme to my posts, I plan to talk about summer, engage in some reflection and goal setting, maybe even classroom set up ideas and a couple of personal experiences. Also share some thoughts on the fact that I am currently in school working on my Doctorate in education! So I plan to ‘double dip’ and post a bit on my learning, homework, and thoughts of my dissertation that will continue to take steps forward in the upcoming months…that is just how the ‘Meeting of the Minds’  BLOG goes! You never know what you’re going to get:).

So stay tuned my friends! Rest up, KEEP CALM, and let summer carry on!

Until tomorrow…







Professional Development Picture


SO…as I continue to try my very best to BLOG, it always seems to be the last thing I have time to do! As much as I love to write and reflect on my learning, especially right now as I am in school, it becomes a ‘beating the clock’ game most late nights of just getting my homework in by the stroke of midnight! This is between being a Dean of Students with several roles and responsibilities, on top of being a full-time doctoral student, and of course can’t forget the home life.   As I just submitted my homework for this week (That is required to be posted 5 out of the 7 days, on top of pages and pages of research papers pertaining to my dissertation) it made me think about how my boss is always challenging me to post about my learning, as I pursue my doctorate degree. I am currently a doctoral student at Grand Canyon University, and I am learning so much! Though most nights are filled with no sleep and trying to spend hours on my research, I think about how relevant it would be to post what I am studying…and though it is surely life-changing to me, it may be a ‘snooze fest’ in the eyes of others.

This week’s homework sparked my attention to write a blog post surrounding the idea and significance of PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT for teachers. Either way of how educators may feel about having to do so, we should be excited about continuing to learn. After all, we are Triple L’s… LifeLong Learners!  As I have always either been apart of the planning or receiving end of PDs, I  know for a fact it has to have a direct focus, intention, and take-a-away, or it’s a true bust!

Here is my homework question for this week and my answer to it! How would you answer my first homework question as a deliverer or receiver of PD sessions?

How can professional development most effectively influence and promote positive faculty relations and the building of a community of scholars? What types of professional development might be the most effective and significant?

 comm_of_practice BLOG POST PIC

            The best and worst days over the last 10 years as an educator has been surrounded by professional development. Though most teachers dread those 2 words, and rather be grading, lesson planning, and working in their rooms, those PD couple hours, half or full days, can bring a rich culture to your ‘teacher work,’ and continue to grow and nurture us as lifelong learners. Professional development can most effectively influence and promote positive faculty relations and the building of a community of scholars through being the most current/relevant material on the market right now, and have take-a-ways that teachers can leave the PD session, and implement immediately. The sessions should occur during a significant time of the day, with an agenda that is set forth (and sent out) to the team ahead of time. A community of scholars has to know that what they are spending the time on to learn, in person or online, that will have an immediate or near future way to grow them as an educator.

‘PD Days’ are deemed as a huge responsibility to the administration of the institution. It is one of the main goals of administrators to offer significant, purposeful, and intentional professional development to their staff of learners and build a strong community of scholars. When such a community exists, faculty members are more inclined to initiate and continue their involvement from a perspective of intrinsic motivation (Stevenson, Duran, Barrett, & Colanulli, 2005). From this, faculty should be motivated to continue on their community of scholars and work together on their own outside of the PD to find out more on the topic presented. Researchers have also discovered that “Faculty who engage in professional development experiences benefit also in terms of increased vitality, informed pedagogy, teaching innovations, and scholarly teaching” (Randall, 2008, p. 18).

Lastly, the types of professional development that might be the most effective and significant are the ones that are not just a fad; meaning we are spending hours on it today, but you will actually never see the concept or use it again. They are the ones that a community of scholars want to continue to learn about after the session is over; meaning they want to find more websites, books, articles, or blog posts that pertain to the subject matter, to implement into the further development of their personal learning. The most significant and effective best of all is the kind of professional development that our students benefit the most from, and gain a wider knowledge and perspective of their learning process. If the PD does not directly enhance the learning of a student, by way of an educator, it has indeed lost its complete focus and significance.

Thanks for the challenge Chip! I am going to try my best to keep posting/BLOGging as I am learning…


Randall, L. (2008, fall). Rethinking faculty development: Toward sustaining a community of learners. Senate Forum, 24(1).

Stevenson, C. B., Duran, R. L., Barrett, K. A., & Colanulli, G. C. (2005). Fostering faculty collaboration in learning communities: A developmental approach. Innovative Higher Education, 30(1), pp. 23-26.




Building Positive School Culture=#HaveFun!


Of all my many daily duties, jobs, and tasks, my FAVORITE one is my main role: being Dean of Students in Grades 5&6! I think that title can easily come with a ‘negative connotation’ of trouble. I often say that I’m not just the Dean of Discipline, but the ‘The Dean of Fun!’ At my school in Atlanta, one of our norms are to #HaveFun. What is school if you don’t have that type of environment? As a middle school team overall, we are working hard to make sure our students are engaged and enjoying their time with us. These are the precious years…

One of my duties are to plan socials. We have one in the fall, which is Sky Zone, and one in the spring when we go to Stars and Strikes bowling alley. These are two events where we meet in the evenings, teachers and administrators, and jump around/bowl with our students. They are able to see us outside of the norm, and enjoy some time together.

The main goal is to yes, #HaveFun, but to also tap into one of my other deep passions in education: Building Positive School Culture. For instance, every Monday I have a ‘Monday Morning Meet-Up.’ During this time we have certain goals:

  1. Pray together
  2. Say the pledge
  3. Scripture/quote of the week
  4. Life Skill of the Week
  5. Study Skill of the Week
  6. Athlete of the Week
  7. Joke of the Week
  8. Manner of the Week (Manners still matter! More to come here soon in its own BLOG post…stay tuned!)

Then at beginning of that month, we celebrate and give locker magnets for each birthday during that time frame (pictured above), and we have cake the following Tuesday. Being in middle school, there are still so many opportunities where we can enjoy each other. As we stress over lockers, schedules, grades, coupled with belonging, drama, and discovery of ones true authentic self, there needs to be moments to escape from those intense times.

In middle school we also take class trips to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL (Grade 6) Boston, MA (Grade 7), and Washington, DC (Grade 8). I look forward to hopefully blogging about those experiences as well. Taking class trips are another great way to connect and build culture outside of standard school learning space, and take it to the next level! #Fun2.0!

So my questions to you now my fellow builders of school culture are:

  1. What activities can you share that you do to promote fun and school culture?
  2. How do you delegate and navigate fun in your school?
  3. Who is the heartbeat and the help meat of school culture?
  4. Where does school culture go from here?

That’s all for now folks! Hope to chime in soon with another post on one of my favorite topics of all time…creative a positive, warm, welcoming, and productive environment in our schools overall.

Stay tuned!



ASCD Educational Leadership Conference! The ‘RIGHT-NOW’ Leader

This weekend in sunny and beautiful San Diego, CA, ASCD is holding a sold out conference of leaders from all over the country. It is so interesting to meet and see new people who work from all walks of life; especially in their educational background and experience. I have just been excited to engage in various sessions on leadership (which is a life-long passion I have) and to share/’borrow’ ideas from other leaders…

Even as tired as I am from east coast time, and a long day, I couldn’t help but want to share what great nuggets of learning I am gaining from this conference. Much of it is on my Twitter feed featured on this very page, so check it out! The main piece of insight that I walked away from day one, was being the right now leader that is on the fast track of steady leading and design with their teams. Education is evolving and we have to lead the charge to evolve with it. The great list of knowledge just goes on but here is the link to some of my notes and some pictures just from the first day.

Can’t wait for day 2! Bring it on…this leader is ready to learn!

Notes from Day 1 ASCD Leadership Conference

Some great moments at the ASCD Ed Leadership Conference in San Diego, CA!

Some great moments at the ASCD Ed Leadership Conference in San Diego, CA!

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Are Leaders BORN or Made? That is the Question…!

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Are leaders BORN or MADE?

I remember sitting in one of my Leadership Master’s classes years ago for my administrator certificate, when I was asked for the first time (of what was to be many more times to come),“Are leaders born or made?”  It was such a piercing question that has resonated with me for a while now. I have seen many examples of leadership: the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I currently work on my doctorate degree in leadership, I often still ask myself this question that my professor once posed. In my little opinion, I absolutely believe leaders are BORN to lead. Everyone can’t be a leader, effectively anyways, if that don’t have that ‘special touch’ of what it takes. You need to be able to connect to those you lead, and not be so caught up in your own agenda, that you forget about the people who are fighting on the front lines daily. You have to be able to pause and stop in your busy day to make someone else’s day. You have to realize that your visions and dreams are not always the one’s of those you lead, but if you’re a GREAT leader, you can creatively convince them to see your vision and believe in it. So in turn, yes I feel leaders are born into this world, however as they grown and develop in that gift of leadership, they can be MADE to be even better…

Leadership 4Blog Clipart2I often think of the question raised  in my doctoral studies: if the people who currently follow you as a leader, still do so if they had the choice? Wow! When I first heard that question, I knew I had to be the type of administrator that people would TRUST and follow me anywhere, even if they had the option not to. That is so important to me. People are important to me. Those I lead, are IMPORTANT TO ME.

Thinking of even the youngest level of leaders, where does it all begin? Recently we just held Student Council elections in our Middle School, Grades 5-8. I am the Dean of Grades 5&6, so attached you will see the picture of their sweet little faces. Headed up by 2 great teachers on our team, Jenny Novoselsky (Grade 5 World Geography teacher, and Head of Grade), and Mary Beth Struble (Grade 6 math teacher), we are teaching them early on what it means to be a true leader. While we gave many speeches about not just voting for your friends, and putting people in the right position of who will get the job done, it is pretty null and void when you are 10 or 11 years-old, and want to vote in your ‘BFF’ or the most popular kid in school. Either way this is a great group, and we are excited to mold them into awesome leaders!

So to you I ask, are leaders BORN or MADE? …and….If YOU had the CHOICE would you follow your current leader? These are the questions that can have many answers….


2015-16 Elected Student Council Officers for Grades 5&6!


(Clipart Credit: Leadership Stock Illustrations: http://www.gograph.com)

End of Another Great School Year!

11259810_10102299292032434_1755799590873419813_n   The halls are swept, lockers cleaned out, grade book closed, last goodbyes to friends, thanking teachers for a great year, treats and eats, field trips, awards, and the list goes on to ending another great school year! I must say that closing another chapter always feels so good, and like a big sigh of relief after working at warp speed all year long. It takes so much to ‘rev’ up a school year, and then it a blink of an eye, you are shutting it down.

This is my fourth school and who knows how many, of a new position, as being Dean of Students, Grades 5&6. It was an interesting and fun time of learning so many different personalities from parents, teachers, colleagues, and students. Each year is different, but never stops amazing me with conquering challenges, making new discoveries, and obtaining precious memories that last for a lifetime.

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I am grateful for another year not just checked off, but added to a file marked W, for WELL done everyone!

How do you end your school year? What memories do you make? 

Summer fun in the sun, here we come! We all deserve such a restful time to reset, rest, reflect, and renew.