My Teacher Hero

My little man is napping, the dishes are done, and the laundry is rolling around in the dryer so I thought I'd make the most of this snow day and join in the AMAZING link-up my sweet friend Jenny has started!

I sat down to write this post thinking I would write about my own third grade teacher, Mrs. Williams. She was warm, kind, funny and compassionate - qualities I needed in a teacher after a very unpleasant 2nd grade experience.

However, when I started thinking about who has had the biggest impact on my own teaching career I kept seeing the same face pop into my head --- my dad's.

A very young Papa Bookworm. I remember Daddy wearing that hat ALL the time during football season!
My dad is a band director, and has been teaching for almost 40 years. He will retire at the end of the year and I cannot wait to celebrate him. He was my high school band director and my AP Music Theory teacher. I have never met anyone who works harder than my daddy.

For the last several years, he has gotten to school early to practice with his jazz band kids. He brings them donuts for their early efforts, coaches them through new pieces of music, and has them off to class with a smile on their face before the first bell rings.

He has given up his weekend more times than I can count to take kids to band clinics throughout the winter and the spring. He's driven from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to get instruments repaired by just the right guy or to pick up a new one. Instead of one week of band camp, he had two or three - one for freshmen, one for colorguard and percussion, and one with the full band. He didn't have to do it that way, but he knew that the extra time would give him better results on the field.

He will never accept less than 110% effort. He is loud. He is in your face. He does whatever it takes to get you to do your absolute best. You will hate it, but you will know it's worth it when you see him beaming with pride behind his podium or on the sidelines grinning from ear to ear. Or even better, when he winks at you and gives you a simple, "Good job, kid." :)

He is compassionate. He has opened up our home to students more times than I can count. He has always done whatever he can to make sure than kids who want to participate in music education can have the opportunity to do so. If they needed a ride to practice, he picked them up. If they needed a ride home, he dropped them off. If they needed a meal, they were sitting at our dinner table. If they needed a place to stay, he had us make up an extra bed for the night.

Papa Bookworm is one of a kind. He is brilliant. Creative. Passionate. Innovative. Mischievous. Hilarious. A definite force to be reckoned with.

People. My dad dressed up like an ELF for his middle schoolers this year.
My heart fills to bursting every time I hear someone talk about the impact my dad had on their life, how he was their favorite teacher, or how much their community will miss him when he retires in June. I hope one day I'll be able to hear some of the same things when my former students and I run into each other. I try every day to be a little more like him.

TpT is also celebrating teacher heroes with a SALE! Use the code HEROES for an extra 10% off. Lots of stores (like mine!) are also on sale for 20% off. Make sure you add the code for a total of 28% off!


Do you have a teacher hero? Link up with Jenny at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad! Scroll down below to see more teacher hero stories. I love reading all of these stories!!


A Spark of Inspiration Blog Hop

My *SPARK* peeps and I are so excited about this blog hop! We are in love with our new design, and we're pumped to share some of that love with you! :) We're giving away a ton of freebies, a $100 Visa gift card, AND a $50 gift card to TpT!

If you're coming over from Julie's blog for the first time, I'm so glad you're here! Don't forget to keep hopping through to grab all of your freebies and entries for the AH-MAZING Rafflecopter down below!!

I've got a freebie for you that's perfect for wrapping up the month of February. We used this as a review activity in one of our Reader's Workshop centers last year and I'm excited to share it with you! Just click on the picture below to grab it from Dropbox.


I just set the cards and the recording sheet out on a table and let the kids work in pairs or on their own! I hope it's something you'll be able to use!

Hop on over to see Whitney at The Crazy Schoolteacher and grab your next freebie!


But wait!! Make sure you keep scrolling to enter our awesome Rafflecopter giveaway! Happy hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


EDExpo 2015 - Coming to Atlanta!


I am really really excited about the EDexpo event that's coming to Atlanta on February 22-23! In a little over two weeks, principals, superintendents, curriculum directors, and lead teachers will pay our Peach State a visit to get a some great PD and a sneak peek at the up-and-coming classroom tools for 2015-2016.

I'm one of about 50 lucky bloggers to get in on the exhibit floor to see all the new technology products, Common Core materials, games, teaching aids and more! I cannot wait to see some of my sweet bloggy friends in person!! Even better, I can't wait to share the new "must-haves"with you all! Come back soon!


Making it Back After Maternity Leave

Please don't look at the title of this post and think that I have figured out the secrets to happily returning to work once your maternity leave is over. There are still tearful mornings and I am still counting down to Friday every week when I can spend 2 whole days with my little man. But you can believe me when I tell you that I do understand how hard it is to leave your sweet smooshy baby behind and go back to work.

I know why you've asked your husband to drop the baby off at daycare or the babysitter's house in the morning because you just. can't. do. it. I've been back at work for 2 months and I still can't do it.

I often remind myself that he spends most of his day sleeping.

This IS a collection of tips and tricks I've discovered since I've gone back to work myself. And I do hope they make it a *little* easier for you.

I swear the minute we got home from the hospital our mail carrier started dropping off Shutterfly coupons. I put them all in a drawer and pulled them out about 3 weeks before I went back to work. I proceeded to order a katrillion pictures of my little man so I could plaster the walls of my office with his sweet face. When I'm sitting in there during lunch or a pumping break I can't help but smile and be a in fabulous mood just looking at him. His pictures are also the first thing I see when I walk in each morning when I'm missing him the most!

This was great advice from my "work wife" and former teaching partner. My first day back would have been completely disastrous if I'd waited to send him to his babysitter's house for the first time that day. Start with your post-partum check-up. Drop your little one off while you go and if you're brave, meet a friend for lunch. Experience the joy of running in to pick them up and the big smiles on their little face when you get there. I also had a practice week just before I went back. I dropped Little Man off for a few hours each day - some longer, some shorter. This helped me to get a peek at different parts of his day at the babysitter's. I also liked being able to go get him whenever I wanted for a week. :)

As a nursing mama, I have the appetite of a 13 year old boy. Seriously. In order to keep myself from getting "hangry" with my students, I keep snacks with me all week long. I discovered the glory of Graze boxes and I am a happy mama!!

I get one box (4 snacks) delivered to my school every week (you can adjust the frequency of your deliveries) and I love it!! I have yet to get a snack I didn't like at all. I love that I can "trash" some of their choices before they ever make it into a box as well. This is a great feature for people with food allergies!

If Graze doesn't seem like your thing, think about a different kind of delivery service - like Ipsy or Birchbox! I've also found that having something to look forward to at work has made heading back in each Monday a little easier. :)

My last tips are for my fellow nursing mamas who are pumping at work.


I love nursing my little one, but I will not miss that dag-gone pump!! It makes me feel like a moo-cow. For real.

The two things that have been the most beneficial to my pumping sessions at work are:

1. podcasts and
2. a really good pumping bra!!

Let's talk podcasts. Mamas, pull out your iPod/iPhone/iTunes on your laptop. Sometimes, the rhythm of that pump drives me nuts. I needed something else to listen to!! I found several that I love and I'd love to tell you a little bit about them! 

1. Serial : Serial is an offshoot of This American Life, another radio show and podcast. Each season will tell a different true "story." The first season followed the story of Adnan Syed, a high school kid who was arrested for killing his girlfriend. Next season is already in the works and I can't wait!!

2. Doug Loves Movies : This one is my husband's fault. :) Doug Benson is one of our favorite comedians and this podcast is part game show part talk, but it's all about movies. It can be a little nutty to follow sometimes, but it's a fun way to find new comedians and Doug does a good job of talking about new movies as they come out. 

3. Passion City Church: Louie Giglio's church is here in Atlanta and if you're ever in the area on a weekend I really recommend going. Worship at Passion City is amazing. Louie makes Jesus real and relatable, and they also have an amazing set of guest speakers that pop in occasionally. I also like to keep my own church's podcasts on my devices so I can still feel plugged in on weeks we aren't able to go.

4. The Longest Shortest Time: Love this podcast. Just real talk about parenthood - the good, the bad, the lovely and the ugly. This was a favorite during the middle of the night feedings, but now it's one of my favorite pumping podcasts. :)  

Finally, the most important part - the pumping bra.

I did some serious research on this and I'm happy to tell you I love the bra I bought. It's not the cheapest, but it is the best quality for the price. And when I was shopping, I did find the best price for Simple Wishes on Amazon.


The Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra has been a game changer for me at work. I can check email, write lessons, put materials for the next day together, and eat while I pump! It has also cut my pumping time in half which makes a HUGE difference when I need to step out for a pump break. I also love that each size is adjustable so you can make sure it fits you properly as you um, grow and shrink. ;)

I hope you've found a few bits and pieces in here to help you. People kept telling me, "It'll get easier." I don't know that I agree with that statement. :)  I don't miss him any less during the day, but I've learned to find ways to smile through it. I hope you do too!