Category Archives: #SmarterSunday

#SmarterSunday: The Insidiousness of Resiliency



Raise your hand if you work for an organization that uses “resiliency” in its mission statement or philosophy.


Now take that hand and smack yourself in the forehead.

Because that’s what “resiliency” feels like to me now.

As a teacher who is surviving the high stakes testing extravaganza inspired by No Child Left Behind, no word rings more hollow than “resiliency.”  It really means do more with less and make sure you smile while doing it – and come back for more tomorrow.

This article by Parul Seghal explains a dangerous outcome of demanding resiliency:  shaming those who question the system.

It’s time those of us who are asked to be resilient to start asking more questions about the system that demands so much from us. Even rubber bands snap.


#SmarterSunday: 2016 In Three Words Or Less



My life became unmoored in 2015: my beloved uncle died in January; my amazing grandmother died in April; I left a job that was my professional home for ten years; I started an amazing new job that challenges in me in tough ways; my cousin is very sick with lymphoma.   The image that comes to mind when I think of 2015 is a balloon floating into the sky.  It’s not at all what I anticipated.

This article by Donna Talarico  has given me a way to feel more anchored as I end this bittersweet year and look forward to a happier 2016. I hope her words can help you frame your bliss, too.


#SmarterSunday: Two Harts Beating For Social Justice


“It was just a normal day” is the beginning of many stories, often sad.

September 11th, 2001.

The day my Uncle Harvey died.

But not this time. This time, this normal day became a revelation.

It was my first day volunteering with Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County, so I was going on an orientation delivery.  I helped Bill and Evelyn Hart load their car with the coolers and we started our route.  We made small talk and when we started talking about my job as a teacher, Evelyn said in passing that she taught in an underground literacy program in Alabama during the 196o’s.  As a teacher, I was fascinated and inspired by her story.

That February, Evelyn spoke at my school’s Black History Night about her experience as this “secret teacher.”  One of our students asked if she’d ever contacted her maid and Evelyn said she hadn’t. That made Evelyn think…

The rest is in this article written by the talented Margie Peterson.



#SmarterSunday: “Changing The World, One Little Girl At A Time”

#SmarterSunday: “Changing The World, One Little Girl At A Time”

I am guilty of this:  meeting a little girl and complimenting her on her dress or her hair or her smile.   In fact, I probably say it to little boys, too.  Bloom Quote

“I love your dress!”

“How cute are you?”

“What a handsome one you are!”

This article by lawyer, writer and news analyst, Lisa Bloom, via Latina Fatale made me reconsider how I interact with children when I first meet them. When we initially notice their appearance, what message are we giving? Maybe it’s OK to offer a compliment, to break the ice, but there are so many other ways to go from there.  That’s why I like this article – the reminder that it’s important to really talk to children.


#SmarterSunday: The Deadly Spike Epidemic


Spike. Spice. K 2. Synthetic marijuana.  Plant material sprayed with chemicals, dried, crumbled and sold to people in our communities at your corner store. Google images of synthetic marijuana and see how it is marketed to children.  The packets looks like candy.

Image via Wikipedia

It was the latest craze in my school district last year, with students talking about it, knowing people who smoked it and even some students who used it regularly.  Glazed eyes, scrambled thoughts, erratic behavior. The worst part – there is no test for Spice yet.

Today for #SmarterSunday, I  bring you Spike Nation by Steve Featherstone so we can all become aware of this dangerous and desperate epidemic.  I’ve also added a response from Rolling Stone to expand the point of view.

#SmarterSunday: The J Word

#SmarterSunday:  The J Word

Until last week, I was a notorious juster.IMG_8950

I’m writing you just to see if…

Oh, I’m just working on my next book..

I need just a few minutes of your time…

Until I read this article by Ellen Petry Leanse, I had no idea how often I was potentially sabotaging my credibility.  Do you need to drop the J word, too?

#SmarterSunday: Along the ‘Black Route,’ A Perilous Path To Asylum

#SmarterSunday: Along the ‘Black Route,’ A Perilous Path To Asylum

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 10.06.33 AMIn a new weekly post I’m calling #SmarterSunday, I’m going to share an article that has made me smarter about the world we live in.   As a person and a writer, I am always interested in culture and politics, so I will offer you a gem from a reliable, well-done website that will offer us perspective on life as citizens of the world.

Today, I offer you this beautiful article/photo essay from The Washington Post by Anthony Faiola, Washington Post Berlin Bureau Chief, about a perilous journey from war-torn Syria to Europe.  Over-crowded ships, smugglers, gangsters, police and even wolves are part of the harrowing journey to reunite with loved ones and to build better lives for themselves. The photos by Charles Ommanney make it the story come alive.The grit, the tenacity, the strength of the people who make these journeys to escape horror and trauma inspire me.  What did my great-grandparents flee when they left Slovakia, Poland and Lithuania?  How can I be part of the solution?

So read the piece now, read it later in the week for a time you can enjoy it.  Please comment below with any insight or suggestions for a #SmarterSunday read.