To All My Teachers – A Note of Gratitude

May 7th, 2019

This past week I sat down with my calendar and started mapping out blog posts topics for the next few weeks.  I put on the calendar for today: BLOG – TT (meaning Teacher Tuesday blog post) and couldn’t find myself landing on a topic I felt really excited to write about.  I flirted with questioning techniques, my favorite apps, or even end of the year activities but then I remembered – it’s National Teacher Appreciation Week!  And then I got my wheels turning… I’m used to this week being about being an educator – the deals, the free meals, the jeans days because I am an educator – through and through.  But then I got to thinking and decided I wanted to do something a little different with this post.  I want to thank all of my teachers – including my students.

I’ve been blessed in my life to have amazing education experiences – people who challenged me, supported me, dreamed with me and brought me back down to earth.  The educators in my life are my role models, the people I think to for “Well what would _____ do?” or “What would ________ say to me about this lesson?”  Beyond the teachers in my life through being in education has always been about the kids for me and the things they’ve taught me.  SO here’s to you, all my teachers, in no particular order (except kind of chronologically).

  • To Dr. NB my high school science teacher who taught me that I really did need to read the book and study!  And for gifting me with a deep appreciation for science.  For also teaching me in ways that clicked and having infinite patience with me.
  • To Mrs. Day (in heaven) my middle school and high school math teacher who taught me that it’s probably better to do my homework on time 🙂  Also for gifting me an appreciation for corny jokes, math and showing me an example of a teacher who is warm and caring above all.
  • To Mrs. Ridenour who taught me how to fail with grace and then get back up and try again.
  • To Dr. Pease who is the educator voice in my head and taught me that teaching is more than just activities and fun but purposeful planning.  That I’d enjoy teaching more when my lessons were deeply connected to learning goals and how to write essential questions and rubrics – which now has made me a stickler for these things. 🙂
  • To Dr. Harraway who taught me how to set up my room for success and how to focus on the positives in kids to get the best results.
  • To my Middle Ed Cohort – who inspired me all the time and taught me about great teaching in all subjects.
  • To my Quioccasin Family – who taught me how powerful a supportive community is.
  • To Susan Mallon – who taught me how to be dedicated to your passions and that teaching sometimes doesn’t show rewards until a few years later when the students start coming back.
  • To Natosha Webb and Anne Hampton – who taught me how to laugh through the toughest and most stressful times.
  • To Andrea Burton who taught me how to think outside the box and not be afraid to shake it up a bit.  Also for being a leader in standards-based grading and flipped classroom for me!
  • To Jay Golding who taught me that sometimes you have to make a big mess to make a big impression and that anything can be done with the right tool.
  • To Kara Zedaker, Kelly Smith and my other science team who taught me how to work as a team and design great hands-on inquiry.
  • To Jessie Burbic, and Jennifer Maddux who taught me how to solve any problem with creativity and willingness to try anything!
  • To Sarah Fidler, Jeannie Redford, Jenny Smith, Tedra, Gil, Andrea S, Sarah Ligh, Jess Bowden, Dawn Bullen, Mindy, Kaitlin, Catherine, (and more and more and more) who taught me that sometimes you just need to go cry it out in the E-Hall Bathroom.  🙂
  • Becky Collier who taught me how to be a great listener and that numbers don’t always measure my worth.
  • To Kourtney Bostain who taught me how to think more deeply about content, plan more deeply, and teach more deeply beyond my wildlest dreams – you taught me so much about how big and powerful teaching and learning could be.
  • To my later ITRTs Terri and Brooke who taught me how to take an idea and run with it and that trying new things can be so fun!
  • To the ITRT/ILC team who taught me that work can be SO FUN and for teaching me how to really help teachers.
  • To the Wilder teachers + staff who taught me that despite what people may think about Title 1 schools you are the hardest working and most devoted teachers I may ever meet.  Also for showing me that any child can learn and all children hold beautiful potential.

And now for the ones who don’t get noticed during teacher appreciation week… my students

  • To my FIRST YEAR students (class of 2017) who taught me how much I LOVED being a teacher and that good routines and procedures make everything else so much easier.  Also for teaching me that no matter what you should be yourself – even if you’re the weirdo new teacher who is dancing and singing through the halls.
  • To my SECOND YEAR students (class of 2018) who taught me that to be a good teacher, I had to start with the heart and approach with LOVE.
  • To my THIRD YEAR students (Class of 2019) who taught me how to fight for kids that others might give up on and that value and effort can’t be measured by just a number of a test.  Also what the perfect half-court shot into the trash can for the Megamanji WIN can look like!
  • To my FOURTH YEAR students (Class of 2020) who taught me how to keep pushing myself to improve and be a learner myself.
  • To my FIFTH YEAR students (Class of 2021) who taught me how great it feels when hard work pays off and how much I’d LOVE working with eighth graders!  Also to always check your email because you never know what very important email with a very important appointment might be piled down in the inbox…
  • To my SIXTH YEAR students (Class of 2022) who taught me that teaching is really hard but it’s so worth it to see the growth of each individual student.
  • To the students I’ve worked with as an Instructional Coach – who have taught me the endless depths of creativity and that any child can learn and all children hold value!

WOW what a list – I honestly could keep going and am having a little bit of anxiety that I am forgetting someone who deserves a specific shout out!  Just know that if you are an educator in my life, you mean the world to me!  I value you so much and can’t thank you enough for how you’ve impacted my life.

We all have people who act as teachers in our lives.  They come in all ages, all walks of life and they all make an impact.  If you’re thinking of thanking a teacher in your life don’t worry about the Pinterest hacks or the snacks (though those are great), just take the time to tell them how they impacted you.  For me, the teachers in my life have impacted me so deeply that I think about them all the time!  I would love the opportunity to see these people, chat with them, get a snack, laugh, catch up, and thank them.  

CAUTION: low quality – non-edited iPhone images below that are filled with some of my most FAVORITE people and memories.  I kept pictures of my students out since I don’t have permission to post them.  🙂 


Teacher Tuesday – Organizing Group Work and Task Management

Let me introduce you to my new best friend – Trello!  Trello is a task management tool that you can use individually or with groups.  I’m currently LOVING it for helping students with group goals and to do lists and for managing my own personal goals and running to-do lists.  I even have a Trello board to manage my workflow for photography sessions.  It can really be used for anybody not just students, Sterling and I are both using it for our personal house chores as well as our professional tasks.  Let me explain more about how this works.  Read More »

Teacher Tuesday – Defining ITRT

Magic School Bus Picture-1Teacher Tuesday is BACK!  The last time I posted one of these blog posts was in 2015 and I posted about my homemade grade book!  Being a teacher is a HUGE part of who I am and I LOVE sharing about it, I’m honestly not sure why I stopped doing these posts.  What I’ve reflected on recently is that this place should be a space where I can share about beautiful sessions with families but also a place where I can share about my passions inside and outside of photography.  I’ve realized that I’d like to start treating this space as a legacy that I can look back on years from now as a glimpse of what my life was like back in the day. Originally that was what this blog was for – a place where I could share about my adventures around Richmond with others.  So it’s time to get back to my roots and share the whole story, me in all aspects of my life.  I’m bringing back TEACHER TUESDAY!  Q: S Club 7 song: Bring it all back! Read More »

PSAs with some SPARKLE!

Social Studies adds student choice to their PSA project!

Matt Seidita pushes his project a little DEEPER by focusing on Pillar 3: Learning is Student Owned for this Henrico21 submission! 


What is the best way to add variety and a quick way to spice up a project?  Add more options for student choice and voice!!  It is probably the easiest way to take any assignment to the next level while simultaneously making it more engaging!Read More »

Art + Coding = HUGE Win!


Henrico21 Finalist Jessica Tran hit a home run with her coding light art project in Art 1!
A combination of coding, digital photography and photoshop made for a project students won’t soon forget.The Concept: In this project students had to create a digital work of art that they could sell to a client using Spheros to design light art.  The Spheros were coded to move under a camera with a 30 second exposure.  The camera picked up on the traces of light and the students were able to create digital artwork to be shared with a client.

Read More »

Colonial People – The Struggle is Real!


Colonial People – The Struggle is Real! Social Studies Knocks it out of the Park!

What I LOVED about working on this project with Dana was how her student’s came alive with the concept.  Back in school when I was taught about colonial life it always felt like a snooze.  This project brought it back to life!THE CONCEPT:  The struggles of human beings spans the lengths of time, so what are the struggles of the colonial people and who struggles the most?  Each student was challenged to pick a colonial persona and take on their perspective from the colonial time period.  They had to research the everyday struggles of those people and what they would have wanted to make their life better.  The idea was that if there were to protest, what would they protest for?  Who would need to hear their story?  Who could they recruit to help?

This project started with researching colonial people and left with students drawing connections between classes of people based on their similar struggles.

Read More »

Catch the Fever – #FlipGrid

PictureUse Flipgrid in Your Classroom to Vamp Up Engagement! 

Did you love using Flipgrid in the PD on Monday (January 29th)!??  Want to integrate this tool into your instruction?  Keep reading!Flipgrid is a response tool in which students can video their responses to questions, probes, discussions, videos, images etc. etc.  It is very easy to set up and the possibilities for use are endless!  Kids love this tool as it has a “snapchat” feel and gives them an easy way to participate and collaborate.Read More »

Classroom Screen

Shout out to Ms. Seay and Mrs. Cavedo for finding and using this awesome classroom management tool!


When I first saw this app being used in Ms. Seay and Mrs. Cavedo’s 6th grade English class I instantly fell in love.  It’s call Classroom Screen  and is the perfect addition to your classroom management resource bank.   
Mrs. Cavedo and Ms. Seay use this application as a way to keep their students on task and set clear expectations.   When I came in I noticed that the students were participating in their silent reading time and on the board the teachers had used this screen to set the time left over.   This combined with the peaceful music in the background set the stage for success.
When diving in to explore the app myself I noticed that the backgrounds were simple but the features were extensive.

#SelfieSnaps: Teacher of the Year

Okay so this post physically makes my stomach full of butterflies and makes me a little squirmy because I hate to “brag” about myself.  It makes me seriously uncomfortable to talk about myself but I feel as though if there’s ever a time to give myself a few #snaps, it’s now.  If you’re a sorority girl, you know exactly what “snaps” are.  The moment when someone did a great job, helped plan a baller fundraiser and so they get a shout out and the stereotypical but so fun, room full of snaps.  Us sorority girls snap as if to give a little “you go girl” cheer.

Like I said, I hate bragging about myself and to be honest, I really hate the feeling of people “fawning” over me.  I’m not that girl who likes people to sing happy birthday and getting praised makes my face red and embarrassed.  So even as I’m writing this post, I’m contemplating at every step just deleting it all together and…. But now I’m thinking, if this blog is a documentation of my life, photography and my successes, I’m going to want to look back at this post when I’m 40 and remember this year and this moment. Read More »