Tag Archives: sad

Today was awesome and then…

I spent all day in my Sharlene Gallagher universe. It was awesome. Half way through the day I posted this on Facebook:

ImageSo far Sharlene has fought demons, put some mean girls in their place, snagged a kiss (hel-lo, I write romance) and aced Calculus all while saving the world. Pretty good day for a guardian angel.

So yeah. Great day.

Even better because I finished edits on the book. Wonderful!

AND THEN (SPOILER ALERT…there’s no happy ending to this post. It veers off on a crazy direction of gloom courtesy of the news. If you don’t want to go there, quit reading now and enjoy the gloriousness of my day with Sharlene!

Better yet go read the first or second book. Angel Eyes isn’t ready yet, but it will be soon!)

 

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you)

 

(Third time’s the charm. The rest of this post is a rant…)

 

 

 

WAH! I’m addicted to the news. How did I let it ruin my great day?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I watched News Hour. And the whole time the source talked about a serious problem with education I thought I can’t believe a word you say because I no longer trust News Hour and I no longer believe the Dept. of Education wants public schools to survive. AND then I got in this funk of reading all sorts of education news that made me even more depressed.

And that just sucks. Because until then I was thinking about how EXCITED I am for Monday and how weird that is because Monday is the beginning of the end of the school year…testing, crazy hormonal students, deadlines. But even with all that I’m looking forward to seeing my kids again. They make me love my job. Most educators I know love their jobs. But now I’m all stressed and sad and grumpy and I think I better go work on the romantic suspense I’m revising because I get to blow stuff up in those books and that might actually make me feel better.

I teach journalism. I can’t quit the news. I think I might have to, though. Boo.

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The All-American

In 2007 the Rider yearbook earned All-American status.

It was an amazing year, and I had amazing editors. One of the editors joined the local university yearbook staff. Yearbook at the university was done out of an area other than Mass Comm, and it was pretty much a disaster. Ultimately, the university decided to move the book online only. Before long my former editor was working alone on the project. No one cared about the online yearbook. I agreed with her when she said an online yearbook isn’t really a yearbook at all. Since then I’ve seen years go by with a great kid or two working on the product called a yearbook, and I’ve seen them begging for help, and I’ve seen everyone shaking their heads and walking away. Because still…no one cares. An online supplement is a great idea. But it’s NOT a yearbook.

Fortunately our admins see the value in the book, not only for the book itself but also for the entire journalism program. You look at quality high schools, and they have quality student journalism programs. They build strong school cultures where students take pride in their campus. They know the fight song and alma mater. Like one yearbook adviser said this summer, “You get the kid to love their school, and they’ll try a lot harder on the test.” She was right. Strong journalism programs are part of the quality school equation.

This is the last of my  journalism adviser posts. I enjoyed the week sharing my thoughts on my class and what we do. I’ll definitely post about the J-Class again, but it won’t be constant. :)#

MY NEW BOOK COMES OUT TOMORROW!!!!!

(Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books. There’s a link to the registration on the right hand side of the page. No spam, I promise! No more than 12 newsletters a year.)

DGWHead3

One Problem WIth Testing

I spent last week in writing classes with students who didn’t pass the EOC test.  What I learned: the STAAR writing exam is definitely better than TAKS; however, as long as the test is the one factor that matters over all others, our public education system is broken.

When I was in school–I know…a long time ago–we started learning how to write all the different types of essays in 4th grade. We built on that foundation every year. By 8th grade I could write any essay given to me, and I had no problem differentiating what I was being asked to write. High school essay writing was about becoming a more sophisticated writer. We didn’t focus on one type of writing over all others in any of those years. We focused on writing. All of it.

Today’s teachers don’t have the luxury of teaching everything they know needs to be taught in a school year. They have to focus on everything a testing company says must be taught in a year, and that focus leaves huge holes in students’ overall education.

I hear politicians say “If we’re teaching the test, at least we’re teaching something,” and I wonder where they went to school. I can count on one hand the bad teachers I had in 13 years of public education. All of them would’ve been bad teachers, regardless of the test. All but one of them would’ve met the standards of teaching to the test. But man we were bored in those classes.

I see great teachers today who consider getting out of the teaching business because it’s all about the test. They’re not able to practice their craft.

I don’t think the test needs to go away, but the way we structure everything around the test needs to change. Until that happens, we’ll continue down the road to the ruination of public schools.#

*****

I’ll be back with vacation pics tomorrow.

 

Thank God…but

I’m over the happy. The terrorist caught today was a child. A perfectly normal child with what seemed to be a somewhat normal life with friends and people he dealt with daily. Everyone who knew him is shocked. Something evil turned inside him and he killed innocent people, brought a major city to a complete stand still, tried to destroy a symbol of America and brought back a lot of ugly feelings I thought were gone. He’ll pay for his actions with his life, I’m sure, but that won’t make things better. I hurt for the amazing young man he could have been, the difference he could have made in this world if he hadn’t become one of the monsters out there. Hate kills. Love wins. I know that, but right now, that love feels muted somehow. I hope his capture gives peace to the families who lost loved ones and those whose lives have been forever changed because of devastating injuries. I hope we can study what turned him, go through the data and see how he and his brother were able to plan and execute this attack with such precision. I hope everyone who helped them is caught and prosecuted. I hope we can at least learn something from this that will stop the next terrorist from striking again and stop the child with dreams and aspirations from willfully becoming a terrorist. I hope we can learn something from this or it’s all such a tragic, awful waste.

 

The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”

This whole story hurts my heart. I’ve had so many Aaron Swartz type students in my classes over the years.

The world lost a light.

The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”.

RIP Nicky

Nicky Martinez loved to make people laugh.
Back when I first started dating DH, we’d spend time at the Martinez house talking to Nicky’s amazing parents. Nicky loved to share thier stories. He was proud of them, and they were proud of him.
When the phone would ring at 7 a.m. or earlier on a Saturday morning, we’d groan and answer it anyway and Nicky would say “Jalapeno Pancakes.”
I don’t know what Jalapeno Pancakes are, but Nicky sure was proud of them. 
It was easy to think of Nicky as a goofball, but  if you saw him around people who were hurting or people in need you saw he was much, much more. He genuinely cared about people and he helped others often.
If you were the brunt of a Nicky joke it was easy to get your feelings hurt if you forgot to laugh with him. But those jokes were equal opportunity. He shared the wealth.
When Nicky married Margie, he threw himself into family life. He loved fully. Margie and her kids mellowed Nicky some, in a good way. When Margie died, it devastated all of us, but Nicky didn’t stop living. The things that mattered most to him  continued to matter. Family, helping others, friends, Boy Scouts. Nicky stayed Nicky; that surprised me. 
Nicky loved to brag on family. From the time I met him and he learned I was going to be a teacher, he told me the story of his mother, the first hispanic member of the WFHS NHS. The woman who failed first grade because she couldn’t speak English but then set out to make sure no family member or friend ever failed for that reason again. The woman who went on to serve as a longtime principal for WFISD.
He loved to share stories about his father and the music. He loved to play music and if you ever got an invite to see him with a band, you wanted to make sure you got to check out the event. When his father got sick, watching Nicky gently take care of the man, watching him continue to talk to him without getting frustated, was heart breaking and heroic all at the same time. 
He was proud of his new wife for finishing school.
I’ve grown into middle age hearing the Nicky stories, knowing he’s right around the corner any time, seeing him…but not as often lately.
Last week Nicky died, and I was stunned. Today they’ll bury him. 
They won’t bury the memories though. Nicky Matinez was a big man with a big heart. He won’t be forgotten.
RIP Nicky. You will be missed.

Sad Day

A couple weeks ago while we were at Publications Camp, a girl connected to several of the students killed herself.

It’s not the kind of phone call you want your kids to get. It’s a phone call that takes place all too often these days.

The girl, a kid in high school, was a victim of cyber-bullying, but she was also fighting depression.

So often teenagers are told their depression isn’t real, that they’ll “get over it,” but in the moment, that promise of being fine one day seems more of a fairy tale than truth.

Last year we did a story in the newspaper about how social networking has made bullying so much worse. Used to you might have trouble with a handful of kids. Now that handful can be hundreds. If the person being bullied has a smart phone, that’s non-stop harassment about their clothes or their hair or their sexual preference or their choice of music or who stole whose boyfriend and who’s a skank-ho. When I was a kid, you could walk away, today the bullying follows you everywhere you go.

I didn’t know the girl who took her life. She didn’t go to my school. But I’ve seen plenty of others like her, just getting by, trying to hold on to the idea that it will get better some day.

We’ll definitely be doing another cyber-bullying story this year. Until it stops, we’ve got to.

Lots

A week straight counting points and I haven’t been hungry. And actually I’m not really surprised. Losing weight isn’t difficult. (I’ve probably lost thousands of pounds!)
Keeping it off is. For me the key isn’t so much food as it is exercise.

The Book of Daniel:
I didn’t watch it but I have to say NBC is brilliant. Our local station brought several clergy in to watch the show and discuss it in advance. For the last week they’ve had at least a 2-minute Book segment every day, playing up the controversy. Great way to turn an ad into what people see as a story. (Other stations even picked it up. Like I said BRILLIANT!) I didn’t watch it so I don’t know what I think, but the reviews I saw ahead of time said the show had a great opportunity to be edgy and instead uses the religion angle as a shallow cliché’d gimmick.

The Miner Tragedy:
I’m surprised more people aren’t saying this. The media deserves to be called on the carpet on this one. Live TV isn’t news. It’s entertainment. If it were news some of the so-called reporters would verify their information instead of having to say oops after the fact. It’s happening more and more these days. The newspapers picking up the story and running with it are even worse. I tell my students all the time that if the public can’t trust the news, democracy’s in danger. Maybe the journalists working at this level need to remember, it’s not just a job or a ratings war. They hold the future of America in their hands.

Work
I was invited to teach at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association conference in New York this spring break. Woo Hoo. I’m not going this time because I’m going to Boston at the beginning and I can’t be gone from my family the entire break. That would stink. But it’s so cool that I was asked. I hope they’ll ask again another time. But when NYT Upfront asked me to fill in on their editorial board and I had to turn them down, I never heard from them again. I had to turn down the chance to sit in the editorial offices of the New York Times, the chance to smell NYT ink, because I was teaching at another workshop that weekend. It killed me to say I can’t but please remember me because I’d love to another time. A year later I think I missed my chance. 😦

Lots of sales
Not for me, but several first timers sold to Harlequin. Silhouette this week. Exciting, inspiring. I can do this. On that note, I entered the Intrigue log line contest. Yikes. 2 sentences to tell your whole story. Not easy. If they don’t pick me, that’s okay. I’ll just send in a partial with a query and synopsis. I’m pretty sure they’ll ask for a full on that. It’s very much an Intrigue. And I think it’s pretty good.