Kathy the mechanic

The past year and a half have been brutal on us with car repairs.  Let’s see, we have had 2 car accidents; resulting in one total car.  My daughter’s car overheated on the George Washington Bridge in New York City and had to be towed back to our northern Connecticut town.  My 10 year old van is starting to show it’s age and my husband’s car had something wrong with the transmition.  We have spent well over $5000 in the past year on car repairs.  Such as the life of a car owner, things break and have to be fixed. But it was starting to feel like we had money pits.

Yesterday, on a simple trip to Goodwill with Kelsey, we noticed that the air conditioner wasn’t working.  Weird. I hadn’t noticed it before.  She said, I bet it is the coolant (as it was her car, with her sister in it, that overheated in New York City).  As luck would have it, there was an auto place right next to Goodwill.  I went in and asked for the coolant.  I told the guy what was wrong. He said, it sounded more like a Freon (?) problem and I could buy this kit for $50 and YouTube it and fix it myself. I bought the coolant and left.

Hmm..that got me thinking..why can’t I YouTube it? Why can’t I figure this out on my own.  With my cheapness frugalness as a motivator, I started a google search.  What did I have to lose, except to blow up my car, then again, it is 10 years old and over 150,000 miles so.. (just kidding).

So, I began my search.  Turns out the AC doesn’t just stop working. If your AC is going, it goes slowly.  Who knew?  If it goes quickly, then there is a problem with the fuses.  Shocking right?! I mean a car has fuses?! Makes sense, but who knew? I watched 2 YouTube videos and opened the hood.  Found the fuse box and found the fuse that I thought it was.  Turns out it is a like a plug called a Relay.  What kind of name is that? Now to get that sucker out.  I go into my husband’s tool box. He has everything in there. Anything anyone would ever need at anytime.  I find a screwdriver and go back to pulling out this Relay.  I get it out in time for Kelsey to get home for the gym.

The next problem, how do we know if this is broken? You cannot see inside it.  More YouTube.  We took a different Relay that controlled other parts of the car and put it in the place of the one we took out.  Moment of truth.  I am not going to lie.  This part was so scary to me.  I had to turn on the car.  Would it blow up?  With my heart beating out of my chest, I took a deep breath and turned on the engine.  Waited about 5 seconds and SUCCESS!  Kelsey and I started screaming like idiots people who just won the lottery.

So now I had AC but I didn’t have something else because I had moved another Relay.  I did not know what this Relay controlled. So the problem wasn’t solved completely.  I figured I would just order on Amazon and be without AC for a few days. I called my husband bragging to tell what we done.  He said there was a car parts place right in town.  Who knew?  We called and they had the part.  Kelsey went to get it.

She came back and with bated breath, we tried it.  It worked!!!! What a thrill! It was a $6 part.  I avoided a whole lot of trouble and money by YouTubing it.  It was an unbelievable feeling to know that this was something completely outside my comfort zone and I did it.

I keep coming back to this.  The feeling of self directed learning spurred on by motivation. I was going to figure out the problem and if I could, I would solve it. I am lucky that this problem was one that I could fix, but it has really gotten me thinking about how important self motivation is in learning.  It has me thinking of Genius Hour and how kids chose their own study.  Isn’t our goal as educators to NOT give kids the answers, to NOT make sure they pass the test, but rather, to make them curious, to make them thinkers and problem solvers? Today’s world is very different than the world I grew up in.  Answers are right at your finger tips.  My experience yesterday showed me that. I need to keep this experience close to my heart as I think about my classroom in the fall.

When is the last time you learned/did/tried something outside your comfort zone?  How did it work for you?




Simple poem

I am taking a class this summer online with Kate Messner (the amazing author).  Today’s assignment was to free write a poem something about this summer.


My daughter’s teacher job hunt, by her teacher mom

Too much advice
More interviews
More lessons
More tears
Holding back
Saying too much
Praying, wishing, hoping
Encouraging, pushing
The phone call that changed everything

Would you like to be a first grade teacher?

More tears..

Second Annual Iwanicki Book Awards

We completed our second annual Iwanicki Book Awards this year.  I had the students come up with the categories.  We added all the books that they thought should be nominated in each category.  We voted by google forms to narrow down our choices to 4 – 6 books and then we voted, again by google forms.  We had an Iwanicki Book Award party where the kids had created word searches and puzzles with the nominees.  Students dressed fancy or like the nominated characters.  Every time I announced a new book, I played music from the Oscars.

I thought I would share the winners.  There are some really, really good books there.  My favorite new books are Restart, Refugee and Grump for chapter books.  I also loved It’s Not Jack and Love for picture books.

I am running this as a slide show, which I have never done before, so I hope it comes out okay.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are not leaving

D497319D-07FF-43B3-8B35-C8B282978D40Yesterday was the last day of school.  It was also the end of the my thirtieth year.  I am sure I will be processing that for a while. At the end of the day, when buses were being called, one of my students ran into the book area.  The rest of the children lined up and I said, “Come on. Get in line.” She said she wasn’t going.  It was as simple as that.  She wasn’t moving.  Then, the rest of the short humans decided to join in.  Buses were being called and I had a revolt on my hands.  For the first time, I honestly didn’t know what to do.  At all.

So, I called my principal, who of course, was in the gym dismissing buses and therefore, not available.  I had a moment of shear panic.  I finally got them by saying, “You don’t want to get me in trouble, do you?”  Phew!  that worked. They got in line and we went to the buses.

In processing this all today, I wondered why they did that.  We had a wonderful year.  We did.  I had my lowest class size ever and I had a fabulous teaching assistant.  All of their needs were met to the best of our abilities.  But what was it..why wouldn’t they go?

Then it hit me.  It was my teaching assistant.  In the town I teach in, we have amazing teaching assistants.  We have phenomenal people who go above and beyond every single day and for very little pay. I am eternally grateful for these fabulous humans.  This year, was the first time in three years that I was able to have teaching assistant.

My teaching assistant is a retired investigator, who actually went to college to be a teacher.  I taught his son my fourth year of teaching. He came to sub/para about 10 years ago and this was the first time he was in my room.  What was it about him that made the children not want to leave?  He made them grateful.  He made them appreciate the classroom.  He had them say thank you every day to me.  He kept telling them that they are lucky to be in this school, in this town, in this classroom until they got it.

We, as teachers, give everything we have every day to the students in our classroom.  It wasn’t until this year, that I realized how little thanks we do get.  We spend money, we plan great lessons, we give up our lunch because we want to.  Because we believe in doing what is best for kids.  We don’t expect thanks, especially not daily.   We do it because we care, because we entered this profession to make difference.  Not for the gratitude.

Every day when the students were leaving and Mr. Carroll was taking them to the bus.  He would always say, “Hey what a great day today.  This (insert activity) was great. How about a thank you for Mrs. I.”  If they students didn’t all say it, he made them repeat it.  He did this every day.  Every day. He never forgot.  By doing that, I believe he instilled gratitude in each and every one of my students.  I believe he taught them to be thankful for what they have. That is why I don’t think they wanted to leave.  Because he taught them well.


Letter to my students after testing 2018

My students will receive this letter today after we complete our SBAC testing for the year..

Dear Girls and Boys,

Today you have concluded your SBAC testing for this year.  Words cannot describe how proud I am of you.  This is a very challenging test and each one of you rose to the occasion.  Each one of you had grit and worked your very best. As your teacher, that is all that I ask of you!

Please remember that the score and the results are not what are most important.  It is the learning that is.  Let’s talk about the learning for a second.  Do you remember at the beginning of the year, you did not know how to log on to the computer, let alone do all of the skills needed to complete the test. Typing was very difficult! Then you took a whole test where computer skills were so important!

After the computer skills, think of all the brain power you needed.  You had never taken a test like this before. You had to use brain power AND computer skills at the same time.  That is not easy!

The math! You went from not knowing fractions at all to being able to put improper fractions on a number line!  You solved very difficult word problems. Many of you used over 5 sheets of scrap paper! Your brains were on fire.

The reading! Oh my gosh! So much reading!  Very difficult questions!  You read, you reread and you read again.  You typed long answers. You focused on the details of the questions.

I want there to be no mistaking how much you have all grown. How proud I am of you in this moment right now.  How hard you worked to do your very best.  Never let a number tell you who you are.  You are so much more than that.

I am a very proud teacher today.



Guest Post; Krista a year of change..

No more lacrosse, new friends, losing friends, new school, new job, interviews, applications, loss of jobs, car accident, another car accident, funeral, another funeral, one more funeral, new major, new opportunities, new sorority, chief financial officer, one marathon, two marathons, new life, 2017. Needless to say 2017 was a year of changing, growing, developing, and altering my view of life. In 2016, my family took a trip to St. Croix. Amongst the relaxation I never knew that I would make a life altering decision that would affect my life in more ways than one. It was on a snorkeling cruise, as the calming sounds of waves resonated through my brains that I realized that the life I thought I wanted was not the life that I needed anymore. I was currently at a great school, Assumption College, playing the sport I cared so deeply about, lacrosse, and making some inseparable friendships. However, on that boat ride I was ready to give it all up in order to further my education. A little dramatic? Some may think; however, this was more than just a major change, it was furthering my degree, my experience, my life into something that was more than just hidden behind my love of lacrosse. I took the leap of faith, after talking with my family and friends I decided to come home for the spring semester of 2017 and explore my educational options. I thought the hard part was over. The decision to leave behind a life of comfort to something completely unknown. Little did I know the struggle only began. Only my close family really know this about me, but when I came home, I struggled with more than just the decision of what school to attend next, I was struggling with a huge mental battle, one that made me seek a counselor in the hopes of some reconciliation of what was going on. I am not psychologist, but I firmly believed that this counselor helped me in more ways than one. So, if you or if you know someone who might be struggling with something mental, I suggest to talk with someone just to let is all out. After talking with this counselor, I was more than ready, mentally and physically now to make my decision to attend Quinnipiac University. For months I was struggling with the decision between Springfield College and Quinnipiac. My ultimate decision to change was based on the idea that I was starting a new life, not based upon sports. I had found a love of running in the semester that I was home. In fact, I ran a marathon during the time that I was home and started to train for another one the summer going into my junior year. Was I scared? Yes. Was I anxious? Yes. Of course, I was completely unsure of what the future held for me, but there was only one way to find out, and that was just to do the damn thing. 

On August 24th, I moved into my new life at Quinnipiac University. I went for a run that morning to try and shake the nerves that were flooding my blood streams. This move in day was no different from the day I moved into Assumption. I was speechless, shaking and crying. It was junior year, so must people already had their friends groups, their majors, aspirations, groups, whatever it may be, I was coming in as an outsider. However, when I set out to do something, I do it with all my heart one hundred percent. This year was not going to be anything less than just that. The first weekend I spent in sorority recruitment. I never EVER thought I would be a sorority girl. I thought it was full of cliques, hazing, and drama. What I did not know was that I would find not one sister but 120 other lifelong sisters. That weekend led me to become a Kappa Alpha Theta sister. Not for nothing, but Theta on the Quinnipiac University is known among other colleges as a great sorority known for its high academic achievements. I was so honored and blessed to be apart of something so amazing. The first semester started so quickly and I never felt like I got the chance to appreciate just how pure Quinnipiac truly is. From recruitment, to training for a marathon, to initiation, to all the events Theta had, to trying to still adjust and desperately missing my parents, I never got the opportunity to just sit. To just sit and see how beautiful the life at Quinnipiac really is. At the end of the first semester, I knew I was happy but I was not fully engrossed with the life at Quinnipiac. I knew there was more for me. At the end of the first semester, I was nominated as Chief Financial Officer for Kappa Alpha Theta. This recognition was something I did not even make myself available for. I was not expecting it in anyway and being a Health Science Major on track for Occupational therapy, finance was not something I knew a lot about. I was doubting myself, I was nervous and anxious for this role. This is when I met Laura Voisine, a true inspiration to me. Drunk one night we spilled our feelings about the roles we had for the future. She too, had an executive position. As we were both anxious for the year that lied ahead of us, we knew we had each other and that made it all better. 

Winter break came and went. My position was in full effect from the day I stepped off that campus. I was already getting questions from headquarters about deposits, surplus, checks, etc. Surplus? What the heck is that? Logging into Billhighway for the first time and seeing how much money I needed to handle, I think I almost vomited. I knew Theta was special, but I did not know how special until NOW. Sending out dues, harassing people to pay for dues, sending monthly reports to headquarters, contacting my adviser, contacting Julia Mee (former CFO), having Billhighway on speed dial, it all started to feel natural. Sure, I had my ups and downs as CFO and I will still fall into some struggle with it; but it gave me this sense of pride and confidence that I have never felt before. I was in control of my own and my sororities destiny. I was in control of the money directed to philanthropy events, formals, t shirts, food, etc. I was in control of peoples happiness. If you are Theta you know that food is the key to our heart. Through the ups and downs, I had such a pure group of girls that had my back through it all. Nicole, Amanda, Hannah, Kelly, De, and Michelle. What a pure group of girls that take their job so seriously  and only want the best for the other 120 girls that surround us each and every day. So if you are a Theta reading this, just know how truly blessed and inspired I am by you. If I have not directly thanked you, you should know that you have allowed me to grow in ways that I never thought I could. I feel like a new person. A person that is able to handle something even if it seems so big at the moment. A person willing to put themselves out there and be accepted. A person that sees the world as something so pure and wonderful and I just want to take every opportunity that I get. In particular, my big Sam, if you had made it this far, I want you to know that I would not be the person I am today without you. You have made me look at life in ways that I never would have. I am so thankful for your wisdom and advice. People come in at your lives at certain times for certain reason. You came into mine to show me that life is too short to be upset, to not look for the good in someone, to not laugh at all cost, to not focus on your studies. I am so humbled by the way you live your life. I am truly blessed for you. Theta for me, was my realizing point. My point in my life that I realized how pure and humbling life really is. From the day I came back to now, writing this, I am a different person. I have grown through the struggles, cried through the pain, and ran to my problems and not away. But one thing that I have done more than anything is smiled. I smiled day and night. I smiled through the pain, hardships, tests, quizzes, papers, and stressed. I smiled because Quinnipiac and Theta gave me a hundred reasons why to smile. I am smiling (and crying) while writing this because through the tough times there is always a light. There is always something to smile about regardless of your doubts and insecurities. If I have learned one thing, that is just to smile and to smile a lot.

So I leave you with this, why? Why do you care to read my story for the past year and a half? Honestly, I do not have a great answer for you. I do not normally share things like this on social media. Having my inspiring seniors go off and live their dreams got me thinking. It got me thinking about how and why I started this change in the beginning and looking back to see the type of growth I’ve made. I would not been able to do it without the support of my family and the love of my boyfriend. I am so anxious to see what the further holds for you Max, and you, Kelsey. Without the undeniable grace and wisdom shared by my friends and family, I would not be the person I am today. So why? Because everything happens for a powerful, uncontrollable, undeniable, beautiful reason. 

Numbers; scales and testing; neither tell the whole story

On Friday, I was scrolling through my instagram account and I saw one of those before and after pictures.  This one was different.  In this one, the woman had gained 20 pounds.  Gained! And posted it.  She is part of a movement called #screwthescale that is promoting women to throw away their scales and not let the number define you. By the way, she looked amazing in the second picture.  She had gained 20 pounds of muscles. You should have seen her arms!

The scale is something I struggle  with.  The number can never be low enough for me. I am never satisfied.  That number does, at times, define me.  My daughters get tell me to ditch the scale because it doesn’t give a clear picture of a person.  It doesn’t tell the whole story.

Yesterday I went running. I am going to run my first official 10K next weekend and I went out for a 5 mile training run.  Running does not come easy to me and since it is not the only thing I do for exercise, every step is hard.  Yesterday, I ran 5 miles at a sub 10 minute mile. For me, that is just awesome! I was really proud of me. For some, that time is very slow.

Then I got to thinking… the scale and testing kids are so much a like. Think about it.  Neither tell the whole story, right?!

The scale would not have shown that I ran my best five miles ever, at age 51.  Testing will never show how very hard my students worked last week.

A scale will never show that I work out about 5 days a week and that is good for my heart (and my head). Testing will never show how students in my class raised money to save animals in Africa, and raised enough to save 3 of them!

A scale will never show my good days working out but it could show my bad days.  Testing could indicate a score because a child had a bad day or a bad nights sleep.

A scale is a part of a story of my health, part.  Testing is one part of a child, part.

A scale will not show my cholesterol, my blood pressure, my sugar intake, or a million other things.  Testing will not show courage, heart, grit or a million other things.

I can work and work and work and the scale may not go down, it may go up (muscle weighs more than fat).  My students can work and work and work and they may not meet goal.

The scale will never show how hard I am working.  A test will never show how hard a student is working.

A scale will not show how important exercise is to me.  Testing will never show how enthusiastic my students are; how they love learning; how they dive in to anything new; how they sit with anticipation of the next part of our book.

I need to be careful to not allow the number on the scale determine who I am.  We, as a society, need to be careful to not let the number on a test determine who the student is.

I am more than a number on a scale.  My students are more than a number on test.