What’s Next after Graduation?

Well…After graduation, how do you get started on this “thing” called life? In the famous words of Prince, “Electric word ‘life’ that means forever, and that’s a mighty long time…but I’m here to tell you there’s something else….” So, let’s get started!

First, you sleep all weekend. You’ve earned it after 13 years of school. Then, it’s time to put your life plan in place. No better time than the present. What? You don’t have a life plan? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

First, you need to write down where you see yourself in five years. Are you in a certain job, going to school, or traveling the world? Write down your career aspirations, your financial goals, and your lifestyle goals. Write each one down on a separate sheet of paper in the following manner: “By 2024, I will ….”

Next, research what you will need to complete each of these goals and write down each step with a due date. By doing this, you are creating a map to follow.

In the game called LIFE, everyone needs a plan. Those who don’t have a plan are usually unhappy. If you fail to plan, life will control you. The goal in life is for you to control your present and future. Why? It leads to fewer regrets and quicker happiness (some even call it success). Your life is up to you, not your parents or friends. You will have no one to blame but yourself. Even if you fall into a rabbit hole, as long as you have a plan, you will find your way back.

Once you have your goals and steps written down, have a parent or experienced adult look at them and make sure you have all necessary steps written down. Once revisions are made, take one step at a time. You’ve got this. You can do it! Along the way, make adjustments as needed. You are on your way to your own personalized American Dream!

Don’t delay…Start today!


Reading Strategy: Preview

Reading strategies are helpful ways to improve your understanding when reading. The first reading strategy is previewing what you read.

How do you preview? If you are looking at a fiction book, look at the front cover. What does it tell you about the book? Sometimes, pictures give you hints. Also, if there are other pictures in the book, it is good to analyze them. Another tip is to analyze the title and any subtitle given. Usually, titles hint to the universal idea of the book. Other tips are to look at chapter titles. Again, titles are hints. To determine if this is a book you want to read, look at the total page number of the book and total number of pages in each chapter. You can also read the back cover or inside cover for a summary. Finally, read the first page to determine if the author’s style and diction (word choice) is at a level you are comfortable with.

If it is a nonfiction book, you will look for all the ideas above. Additionally, look at charts, graphs, and tables and look at their captions. If there are any sidebars or highlighted information, remember it is an important piece of information that you should know.

Finally, previewing a book is the best way to decide if you are interested in the book, if it is at a level that you are comfortable with, or to learn more about it. Don’t delay. Next time you pick up a book, give it a try and let me know if this strategy helps you. In the meantime…happy reading!



1e7fabd9-25ef-41ac-b81f-7f99e8c66403-12105-00000fd365c7b345A provocative look into the horrific life of sex trafficking and modern-day prostitution. Lakshmi, a young 13-year old girl is sold by her parents into this violent, preditorial world. Sold is her coming-to-age journey into a world she never knew existed.

Lakshmi is a young girl from a poor village in Nepal who loves her mom and brother. Sweet and innocent, her biggest wish is for a new roof so that rain water does not run into her home. Her stepfather is no help as he gambles any money they have saved.

One morning, Lakshmi wakes up and is sold. She thinks she is being sent to work as a maid, but soon learns of a fate fit for a nightmare.

Take time to read Sold by Patricia McCormick. It will open your eyes to the horror of sex trafficking.  Did you know that:

  • 600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor or commercial sex (U.S. Government)
  • When internal trafficking victims are added to the estimates, the number of victims annually is in the range of 2 to 4 million
  • 50% of those victims are estimated to be children
  • It is estimated that 76 percent of transactions for sex with underage girls start on the Internet
  • 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade (UNICEF)
  • There are 20.9 Million victims of trafficking world wide as of 2012
  • 1.5 Million victims in the United State
  • A $32 billion-a-year industry, human trafficking is on the rise and is in all 50 states (U.S. Government)

Information from


Bookstore Tour

Snuggled in the great little town square of Zebulon, Georgia, I visited another great indie bookstore this week called A Novel Experience.  When I entered, I was amazed at how spacious it was.  Some of the great features besides the books were the coffee area where you could make your own coffee, an area for book clubs to meet, and a designated and decorated children’s area.  Another great feature was their dedication to help local artists by displaying and selling their artwork.  The sales clerk was very friendly and created great conversation about the owners and their dedication to this bookstore.  She told me of the various book clubs and other groups that met there and how active this bookstore is in the community.  It appeared to me that this bookstore was staying around because of its owners’ desire to build solid relationships with the community.  So, if you are ever in Zebulon, Georgia, take a quick minute to stop buy and browse.  I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

a novel exp1



A little bit of Americana…

I have always been intrigued by the musty odor of old books and old crooks and crannies in the speakeasy1vintage bookstores.  Strolling down their aisles makes me think about a time when life was simple and troubles were few.

Although many of them have been replaced with the big box stores, I still don’t get the feeling of nostalgia like I do when I enter a quaint little corner bookstore in the town square. Sadly, it makes me feel like America has lost just a little of its “Americana.”

In my hometown of Hampton, Georgia, we have one such store — Speakeasy Book Store.  When you enter, it is filled with the smell of fresh roasted coffee coming from its nostalgic espresso bar in the middle of the store. Surrounding the espresso bar are wall-to-wall books of all types.  Down below the store, they are renovating an old speakeasy from the 1920s that they would like to turn into a wine bar. The store owners are very knowledgeable, have many years experience in rare and antique books, and will give appraisals.  And, even for you Walking Dead fans, Speakeasy Book Store hosts zombie tours to show you around one of the towns where the Walking Dead films.  

As another era passes in our great history of America, it makes me feel hope that these small stores can keep their doors open. I will continue my book store tour throughout Georgia, and will continue to update you through the summer. If you know of any great used book stores, please let me know. Let’s not let this American tradition go by the wayside. Don’t let technology destroy a place we can gather, have good conversation and coffee, and read a good book.


The I-generation


They grew up in some of the worst “bad” times in American history. They witnessed 911 and terrorism, violence all over the media, economic debt that their grandchildren can’t even repay, insurmountable debt from college, no chance for retirement, a recession, income gaps and class division, and a shrinking middle class . They have been growing up in a world of changing values with headlines such as LGBT rights, abortion, Black Lives Matter…

Who is Generation Z?  They were born around 1995 through 2010 and, for the most part, they are the children of Generation X.  They have been commonly known as the IGeneration because they were the first generation to grow up with technology in their hands.  GenZ’s were also the first generation to see the first black president and were a major part of the largest technological, scientific, and medical booms of the 21st Century.

So how do these children shore up in the classroom?  According to many researchers, GenZ students are resilient, conservative, and cautious. They are responsible determined, loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, money-oriented and more entrepreneurial than the millenials, or GenY.  As a classroom teacher today, I don’t agree completely with the researchers. I agree they are resilient, conservative, and cautious. I can also agree that they are are determined, loyal, open-minded, and compassionate. These are great traits that we should all have. You could say they have “good bones.” Yet, I struggle to see responsible, thoughtful, and entrepreneurial. Maybe they have these traits but they need to be fostered.


Unfortunately, I worry about this generation.  In the classroom…

  • I see students who cannot take risks, lack the confidence to think for themselves, who are so dependent and so scared that they do not get a a driver’s license or  job, or who depend on me/others to think for them and hold their hands.
  • I see students who are so insecure and have so little self-worth that they must continually take selfies, worry constantly about how many followers they have on social media, need instant gratification or they fall apart with anxiety, who focus on appearances by begging their parents to buy labels–American Eagle, Abercrombie, and $200 Jordans, and insist on smart phones with no regard to cost to ensure their status in the school.  
  • I see students who lack creativity and imagination.
  • I see children who don’t read and write much, and therefore, lack vocabulary to aid in reading comprehension and social conversations.
  • I see students who lack basic grammar skills to write coherently, and I wonder if they can ever make it past their first semester in college.
  • I see students who are so absorbed in social media, You Tube, Instagram, video games, music and movies that they consider education a distraction to their social life.
  • I see students who are so demotivated that they don’t seem to care about their future.
  • I see students who have no regard for respect or authority.


Even though I see all of these negatives, I also see the positives in our students.  Again, these students have the foundation of resiliency, conservatism, cautiousness, determination, loyalty, open-mindedness, and compassion. The question is: How can we use these traits to build risk taking, confidence, independence, creativity and imagination, reading and writing skills, motivation, accountability, and respect? I wish I knew.  This is my struggle in the classroom.  This, I believe, is why teachers are “burning out” at record levels.  As we continue to educate for the 21st Century, teaching children skills and traits they need for jobs that do not even exist yet, we need to keep in mind what these children have grown up with in today’s American culture.  We also need to remember the traits and skills that we think will be needed in the 21st Century. So it looks like the skills and traits we need to work on are:

  • Responsibility
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Entrepreneurial/Leadership
  • Risk-taking
  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Creativity/Imagination
  • Reading/Writing Skills
  • Motivation
  • Accountability
  • Respect
  • Social skills
  • Global awareness

I added the last two because they were not mentioned in my research.  What are your thoughts about Generation Z? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows…Sydney Harris

I love that quote.  Students, as teenagers, only notice a mirror. They only see themselves. Their main questions in school are: “What does this have to do with me? How will this benefit me now?”  So many students complain about the curriculum at school.  What does algebra teach us in our daily lives?  What does literature teach us?  Why do we need to study science and social studies? These subjects teach us about the world around us.  Like the quote says, they turn a mirror into a window.  They give us a peak of others in the world.  Looking through the window, we become curious and want to know more. Looking through the window inspires us to look beyond ourselves.  Wow!

In the book, Samir and Yonatan, that my 10th graders are reading, we are learning about two boys (one Jew and one Muslim) who are building a friendship.  Instead of hating one another, they are learning to love.  My students have compared this story to America’s divisions in race, religion, nationality, and finances.  It is amazing how it is opening the window to conversations about the lives of their family, friends, and loved ones.  I’m really looking forward to their project where they will try to “heal the hate.” I’ll keep you updated.

So next time you hear a student or an adult complain about education, remember this quote and teach it to them:

The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows…Sydney Harris

window 1