The Power of Music: Positive Vibes Soundtrack


A fun project my students and I worked on was to create a soundtrack of songs that immediately put you in a positive mood.  Students have a host of struggles which spill over in their academics, and since they enjoy listening to music I challenged them to create a list they can turn to or should I say, turn up (ha…see the puns there) if they feel a bad mood creeping in.

Ohhh…one more rule was that the artist had to be African American (or write lyrics touching on African American issues) because I currently teach African American Literature and this was a way I could incorporate additional learning.

I have found starting class off with a positive song improves the environment of the classroom…this is not always an easy task as I teach in an inner city school. (Students are ages 16-21).

Have you heard?  What we put in our bodies affects us—we have the power to decide if that is for the positive or the negative.  We discussed that when we are in a bad mood we tend to gravitate to and listen to music that makes us even more angry and upset.  Being mindful about what you are listening to can change that.

Our Positive Vibes Soundtrack

Pharrell Williams “Happy”

Pharrell Williams “Freedom”

Kirk Franklin “Smile”

Tupac “Dear Mama”

Tupac “Keep Ya Head Up”

Tupac “Changes”

Alicia Keys “Superwoman”

Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”

Tasha Page-Lockhart “Fragile”

Bob Marley “Buffalo Soldier”

The Temptations “I got Sunshine”

Otis Redding “Dock of the Bay”

Meek Mill “Traumatized”

Jussie Smollett Conqueror

Monica “Angel of Mine”

Comment:  What song immediately puts you in a good mood?  What song would you add to our list?



A Part of my Heart Belongs to my Students…


This week started a new semester teaching students…new students.  Our school is one of the few in the district with a semester based schedule to assist students on their path to graduation who may have wandered off the course for a variety of reasons.  They are able to recover credits faster which means they can get back on track to graduation.  A semester based schedule also means I receive a new class list of students in January (this week).  I realized yesterday that I’m usually a bit depressed during this time and tried to be mindful about what was causing all of this emotion to stir.

I love my students…someone once told me I shouldn’t say that, but I do…in the time I spend with them I learn so much, bond with them, care for them, and I know some reciprocate that feeling.  Some overcome so much adversity to simply come to school, so being a part of the journey to their goal to graduate is incredibly rewarding.  I prefer to teach 11th and 12th grade, but it can also come with some pains.  You bond, care, and build relationships with students in such a short time and then they are gone…some keep in touch, but the change is difficult and often weighs heavy on the heart.  How does one resist the slight depression that accompanies the change?  We (teachers) are expected to begin again with a fresh batch of students as if we didn’t lose a tiny piece of our heart…build those relationships, and watch them go…again, and again.  I will do it…because that’s who I am!

They miss me when I’m gone…as I do them!


Ten things I learned from my students:

  1. up-to-date slang terms like “wavey”, “finesse”, “thirsty” or that “it’s a dub” and “lit” have more than one meaning…haha!  Ohh…and the term “corny” came back from when I was a kid!
  2. a simple hand on their shoulder or hug can calm the soul
  3. snacks go a long way
  4. That I was really rich growing up…I never remember a Christmas without a tree…we may have worn hand-me-down clothes, never ate steak for dinner, and didn’t have all the name brands, but compared to the lifestyle of many of my students I was blessed!
  5. to pick my battles and that I do not need to be in control all of the time
  6. the sloppiest handwriting can mean the deepest thoughts
  7. what a hijab is, how some observe Ramadan, and how we learn from one another when there is open dialogue
  8. that adult students do love using markers, colored pencils, and scissors…and they love receiving a paper back with a sticker on top of it
  9. students who seem tough deep down because they’ve been handed adult responsibilities just want a chance to be kids
  10. how to laugh more
Some students have a great sense of humor!


My challenge for you  is to send an email to a former teacher, current teacher, school staff member, professor…update them on how you’re doing and what an impact they made.  We often wonder about students and it’s always nice to receive a positive email!





A Door to Knowledge


A Door to Knowledge

I have been stumbling on more and more of these lately…every time I see one it puts a smile on my face.  This one is in the city of Rochester in my grandfather’s neighborhood.  A Little Free Library is at the top of my Christmas list!!  They are filled with books, and you and give/take a book for free…love love love!

For more info about the little free library click here


Teacher Appreciation Day


Teacher Appreciation Day

Our purrrrdddy awesome school principal treated us to a surprise visit from the Stingray Fusion Food Truck and free lunch today!  I have tried sushi in the past, and was never much of a fan…after today I have found a new favorite food to add to my list!!  My taste buds were having a grand ol’ time!

After work it was Cole’s lacrosse game, shopping for a new rug, and then a stop to Chipotle to take advantage of the B1G1 free deal for teachers.  I just so happened to be watching the Great Food Truck Race while chowing down…go team Hodge Podge!!  Planet Fitness is a must after all this eating!


Most of us have had a teacher who has influenced us in ways they will never realize.  Take a moment to think about who those teachers are…


  • send a card/letter with a personal message thanking her/him
  • send an email of appreciation
  • have your daughter/son write a note of appreciation to their teacher
  • some of us may even need to send a teacher or fifteen a note of apology for being hard-headed, stubborn, defiant, teenagers…haha!
  • Send in school supplies, tissues, cleaning wipes, snacks…to a random teacher (now this one is my favorite suggestion if you add a card with it)

Did you have a teacher who influenced you?  Share your story!



Counting down the days until I take off…alone

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Solo travel not only pushes you out of your comfort zone, it also pushes you out of the zone of others’ expectations. ~Suzy Strutner

One of my goals has always been to travel solo abroad, and this June I will be embarking on that adventure! I booked a trip to Amsterdam, purchased a new camera bag, and now I’m counting down the days until I take off…alone.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have some anxieties bouncing around, but I know the experience is what I need. My oldest daughter has graduated high-school and moved out (I should have received an award for making it through that), my son is 13, and my youngest daughter is 11, and they are able to handle me leaving for a week. They have actually encouraged me to take this trip.  Before anyone frets they will not be home alone while I’m gone. As their only parent I have sacrificed, without complaint to ensure they have all they need, and now this is a journey I must take for a variety of reasons.

My top reasons I want to travel solo:

  1. I’ve never traveled alone
  2. I’ll be pushed outside of my comfort zone, and grow from the experience
  3. to set an example to my children…not only to my daughters, but my son as well
  4. to improve my sense of direction…I become lost driving to the corner store, so this should be an interesting trip (insert a tad bit of sarcasm here)
  5. to learn, learn, learn, and share what I have learned
  6. to do what I want…I won’t have to think about what my children would want for dinner, what types of entertainment they would like…this is a trip all for ME…a little selfish maybe, but I deserve it!

When is the last time you have pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone?  Starting something that made you nervous, enrolling in a course/class/club, joining a team or gym, visiting a new local (or not so local) café, initiating a conversation with a stranger…



A moment to reflect…

Pause for a moment to reflect…

Saturday was the last class of my central office course to earn my certification in educational administration.  What a feeling of accomplishment!  When I began the program I had doubts because I was teaching at a not-for-profit, private school rather than a public school and felt I lacked some of the knowledge many of my classmates had.  Through the program I learned quite a bit, gained confidence, met some wonderful people, and discovered more about myself.

Five qualities I revealed about myself:

  1. Establishing and building relationships is a strength for me
  2. Finding the right fit where to teach makes all the difference…I’m where I belong!
  3. I have a slight obsession with to-to lists
  4. My diverse experiences are an advantage to me
  5. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone helps me grow

It is important to reflect on the challenges we face, and what we have learned from them.  What challenge have you faced?  What did you discover about yourself?