In Honor of Harper Lee…Remembering the Day She Wrote Back

Harper Lee 2
Harper Lee in 2007

My heart hurts today with the death of Harper Lee. She was a woman who has impacted my life in ways that I can’t fully explain. Continue reading “In Honor of Harper Lee…Remembering the Day She Wrote Back”

Because One (or More) Bad Apples Can Spoil the Whole Bunch

Contrary to the Jackson Five song, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, girl. And if you don’t know that when you go apple picking, you risk losing all that you worked for.

The same goes for many professions, too— Continue reading “Because One (or More) Bad Apples Can Spoil the Whole Bunch”

10 Things I’m Thankful for Every Day 2.0

Gratitude has scientifically proven benefits—and what better week to emphasize that?

Last year my post for Thanksgiving week offered ten things for which I am grateful, and…it’s still pretty damn accurate, so…I’m going to share 1-9 again and add a new #10.  Continue reading “10 Things I’m Thankful for Every Day 2.0”

When the Wolves Decide What’s Best for the Sheep

How one suburban Illinois board of education is illustrating a major problem in education.

Back when I taught and I would be introduced to someone as a high school English teacher, I almost always got one of two responses: Oh, you’re a saint—I don’t know how you do it or Must be nice to get out at 3:30 and have summers off…

The disparity in respect for the teaching profession is nothing new— Continue reading “When the Wolves Decide What’s Best for the Sheep”

Cracking the Concrete Ceiling

I was blessed to be raised by parents who believed that their children could be anything that they put their minds to. While this is not a revolutionary idea, it is somewhat exceptional in the world of my upbringing because my dad’s culture—certainly at the time—didn’t really support that for women. Continue reading “Cracking the Concrete Ceiling”

Shut the Door and Teach

Do you ever feel like some days life is really just a big dodgeball game and you’re the only one left on your side of the court? Balls flying everywhere and all you can do is run around like Phoebe from Friends until the inevitable happens and you get pummeled from numerous angles?




Okay, maybe it’s not that intense, but too often outside forces can lead us to lose sight of our true purpose.

When I taught, my fellow teachers and I had to deal with an onslaught of issues from the administration. It was, quite frankly, often hard to swallow, as those who were telling us what we needed to do in the classroom had either never taught before, or had a year or two of teaching physical education under their belts before moving over to administration. I’m pretty sure a surgeon wouldn’t be thrilled with a first or second year resident telling her how to operate. But I digress.



With the swirl of outside forces clouding my vision, I used to tell myself this one thing to remember why I was there:

Shut the door and teach.

After all, that was my true purpose. I didn’t get into education for the politics of it all—I became a teacher because of my love of learning and wanting to share that with my students in the hopes that they, too, might also fall in love with it—or at least fall in like with it. Ever the realist, I am.




Just shut the door and teach—because that is why you are here. This is your purpose, your calling—and don’t let yourself get mired down in the morass of what is flung at you from those outside forces.

Along my life’s journey, I have had other callings, and still the same mantra holds true. While I’m no longer in the classroom, I still need to remind myself to shut the door and teach, in whatever adaptation that means.




No matter what my purpose is, I need to shut out the (often negative) distractions and zone in on what I can do to make a difference.

Even within our personal lives, we need to remember to shut the door and teach, so to speak. After all, we can really rip ourselves apart when we lose sight of our core purpose: to love one another.

Really…isn’t that just it? God calls us to love him and one another. Period.




We are not called to feel poorly because our house isn’t just the way we want it or our kid doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that seemingly everyone else does. We are not called to be caught up in the “stuff” of this world.

We are not called to be the answer to every unfolding drama that comes our way or every problem dropped in our laps. Sure, we are to do our best and take responsibility appropriately, but it needs to be in keeping with our purpose—not derailing us from it.

Just shut the door and teach…and love.

Of course, this doesn’t make the distractions and negatives disappear. We all know better than that. After all, the administration kept right on with their form of educational dodgeball. And bills won’t pay themselves. And crises still come our way. Life will still send us ducking and dodging, but we are hopefully more fulfilled because we keep our focus through it all. (Or at least on most days. Still the realist.)

So for all of us who from time to time feel pummeled by the world around us, I hope you are able to do your own version of shutting the door and teaching…of remembering your calling and keeping those that have a habit of putting obstacles in your way in their proper place.

Remember what you came for…and then do it.