Dear Dr. V. and Dr. Wendy: Questions From Our Teacher Candidates

SS Methods 2017

We asked our teacher candidates to imagine that they are sitting across from us individually at a table in the student center enjoying a cup of coffee or a soda together. We then asked them to write down one question they would like to ask us during this coffee date. No limits…ask away. What would they like to know?

The questions were incredible. So many of them to answer…so little space to write in this blog. Though we wanted to answer every question because each one holds its own uniqueness and importance to the teacher candidate who asked, we picked just a few to add to this blog…maybe there will have to be a Part II.

Teacher Candidate (TC): What was your biggest fear when starting out as a new teacher?

Dr. Wendy (WS): My biggest fear was not being prepared. Every year in August, I would have the same recurring dream…that I showed up on my first day of class with nothing ready to go. Thank goodness some dreams don’t come true.

Dr. V. (SV):  Not knowing it all.  Then I finally figured out that I would not know it all, and I shouldn’t know it all.  I did not fail my students when I said, “I’m not sure of that answer.”  I was helping them grow as learners and modeling for them when I then said, “Let’s find out together.”

TC: In our first year of teaching, how do we obtain the countless games, resources, decorations, etc. that will be used in our rooms? Do we need to obtain these ourselves before teaching or is it part of the budget?

WS: In my first year, I had a room full of ‘stuff’ that the retired teacher left behind such as the cursive alphabet on the front wall above the chalkboard/whiteboard and a few bulletin board borders.  I also had some materials from college that I still have and use today. Our budget allowed us so many dollars each year to purchase items for our classrooms. Just know that teachers supplement their classrooms with their own money.

SV: Put your loved ones to work.  I enlisted my little sister’s services.  She was just a “college” student at the time so I used up her free summer time prepping my classroom.  Most of it was my budget along with the good will of mentor teachers and the local Good Will.  There was a small classroom budget, but with my optimistic idealism, I needed more.  Hindsight: Less is more… it is you, the teacher who learners need… the colorful room is just an extra.

TC: My boyfriend lives in Kansas and moves all the time with his job. How do I deal with this with licensure requirements?

WS: Whatever state you move to, visit their Department of Education Website. Their licensure requirements are listed on there somewhere. My daughter graduated from and taught in Boise, ID for a few years. She then moved to Minnesota. She visited the MN Department of ED website and began to fulfill all the requirements that they have listed. Yes, she had some frustrations, but she got it accomplished and has been teaching in MN for 5 years.

SV: Start by getting your MN licensure. Do not go through all the work to get there and then almost get there but not get there. Get it?!  Once you have your degree and licensure in place, pack your bags!  Okay – not quite so quickly… Check with the Department of Ed for that particular state as each state has its own requirements.  If you do well on your edTPA and are licensed in MN, that will take you places.  MN has high standards for educators so all the torture you go through to get your license, pays off.  Your learners are counting on it!

TC: Did you ever struggle financially with a teacher salary?

WS: When I first began teaching in 1987, my salary was $17, 800. Quite honestly, I thought that was a lot of money then. I had worked in banks as a teller and my teacher salary was WAY MORE than my bank salary. My mom, who had been working in the same bank for almost 30 years, was only making $18,800 in 1987. I started just a thousand dollars below her. I was proud and so was she.  So, NO, I have never struggled on my teacher salary. In my lifetime, my teaching salary has been MY highest salary ever. Others may not agree.

SV: Yes – struggled with finances at times but never with my calling.  Teaching is a profession of the heart.  You have to be ready to sacrifice some for the good of others.  I started at a private school in 1998 at $17,600 – so just below Dr. Wendy about a decade later in life.  It was great at the time since I earned about $2,000 as a teacher’s aide previous to that while earning my licensure.  It goes up from there – so perspective is everything.

TC: If you were hiring a new teacher, what is the most important thing you are looking for?

WS: I would want someone who is able to build positive relationships with students. Someone who will always be a champion for children.

SV: Positive game-changers who are willing to lead by example and put learners first.  It is important to care for one’s self as well – so don’t get me wrong there.  What I am talking about is an individual who is compassionate and has a passion for teaching and learning.  They aren’t there for summers off.  They are there to change the world one student at a time, one day at a time  – even when it is hard.  Believe me – some days will be like that.  Effective teachers know this, embrace this, and teach anyway.

Remember…we told them they could ask us anything they wanted to so let us end with these two questions that have nothing to do with teaching…

TC: What does marriage really take to be successful?

WS: After celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I talked about this very question. What made our marriage thrive? If you want to know the “WE DO’s” of our marriage (Example: We do choose to be ‘we and ours’ not ‘mine and yours’ in everything except our underwear :-)), please check out my blog on this very subject…

 SV: Collaboration – just like any relationship.  Work hard. Play hard. Agree to disagree sometimes.  Set goals and celebrate accomplishments.  Be the other person’s cheerleader even when you don’t feel like cheering.  Don’t keep secrets – except for surprise gifts.

TC: What kind of soda do you like?

WS: An ice cold Coke in a glass bottle just pulled out of a cooler full of ice. YUMMO! 🙂

SV: 7-Up or Dr. Pepper or Root Beer… I actually don’t drink a lot of soda, but when I do, I enjoy a fizzy fountain pop with ice.

Teacher candidates…even though we were not able to have coffee or soda together…let’s make a date to get together in the near future. Until then, we hope these answers will help you grow professionally and personally.


Stay Calm & Keep Asking Questions!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 


Making Memories and Telling Stories … Homecoming

It is a quiet sound…the soft sound of a music box.  The one in my hands is not mine, but it brings me back to a time when I held my own music box as a little girl.  Imagine – a satin-lined, pastel pink box that could be held in the hands of a young girl.  Inside is a ballerina who spins to the music when gently opened.  Holding this music in my hands that is not mine brought me back to being in the middle of my yellow-accented bedroom more than 30 years ago.  This instant time travel was simply from the chime of a few beats of this quiet music. My mind picked up the memory, and started telling a story within seconds.

Amazing what a memory can do – it can tell our stories.  Recently this past week, author/speaker, Tracy Nelson Maurer, spoke on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State at the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council’s Fall Conference.  Tracy shared three keys to writing success: inspiration, information, and imagination.  She sparked our memories and helped us see our stories.  We all have stories to share.


This past week was full of stories at SMSU sparked by memories as we celebrated Homecoming 2017.  It was not a standard week of Homecoming festivities at SMSU this year, however.  We are celebrating our 50th year as an institution, a community, a family.  This week allowed us a time to share memories, tell our stories, and make new memories to share in the future.

Here are a few highlights of the memory-sharing and memory-making week…
The 50th SMSU Charter Signing

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Door Decorating Contest — School of Education was awarded second place!

Guest Author/Speaker Tracy Nelson Maurer

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School of Education Alumni Tent, Parade, and Football Game Festivities

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All-School Reunion

We all have a memory and a story to share.  Continue to share them – as we connect with the past and storytell in the future.  Let us inspire, inform, and imagine together. Listen to the soft music, and let it play.

Stay Calm & Make Memories!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Choose to Be the Top 20

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Collaboration is a key ingredient to success.  We can do so much more together than we can alone.  Recently, SMSU Provost Dwight Watson shared a text with us – Top 20 Teachers by Paul Bernabei, Tom Cody, Willow Sweeney, Mary Cole, and Michael Cole.  We had seen this book once upon a time, but its message was one to be renewed for us.  According to the authors of the book, success is the summation of great results and a great ride.

“Great Results are those outcomes we desire when we go to work each day… Great Ride means we want to enjoy the experience. We want to enjoy what we do and have meaningful relationships with our colleagues.  We wouldn’t consider it a great success if we attained great results in our work but hated going to school every day.  Nor would it be a great success if we enjoyed hanging out at school every day but never accomplished anything worthwhile” (2010, p.1).

Teachers can make the learning experience both – a great ride with great results.  “In essence, teachers have power to activate the potential in their students to make a positive difference in their lives” (2010, p.2).  The authors point to being part of the Top 20 when potential explodes into great results and a great ride.  We are all top 20.  We are all bottom 80.  Sometimes we are the best self we can be.  Sometimes we are not the best self we can be. It is how we handle situations – how we think, how we learn, and how we communicate that determines where we place ourselves – in the top 20 or bottom 80.  “The Top 20 and Bottom 80 labels in this book are not intended to be a comparison between people.  Rather, they are simply a way of understanding two dimensions of our own selves” (p.4).  Where do you choose to be?

BLOG Top 20 potential

The authors share a variety of topics as they consider Top 20 Teachers.  A few areas of focus include: seeing things differently, creating a positive environment, creating connections, and listening to understand. We thought quite a bit about our teaching and learning and what we do to positively impact our learners.  We are in the business of promoting and modeling the art of being reflective practitioners.  Considering this, we decided to invite some of our colleagues to respond to the following question. How do you make a positive impact on your students and build a culture of curiosity in the teaching and learning process?  Their responses were thoughtful, and showed us their Top 20 qualities to help students experience great results with a great ride.  This is what they had to say…

“I draw extensively from the work of Ellen Langer, Harvard social psychologist, related to mindfulness.  The forty plus years of work she has done on mindfulness focuses on how to foster flexible, creative and critical thinking processes in the classroom, business settings, delivery of physical and mental health services, etc. (The construct of “mindfulness” that Langer has evaluated is not the same as what is described in the mental health literature that draws from Eastern traditions such as meditation, yoga, etc.) I have used four of her publications as texts in various psychology and LEP 100/400 classes since 2004 and students consistently note the content in Langer’s publication to be the most transformative for them among readings I assign in class with regarding enhancing curiosity, increasing their openness to new experiences, enriching their personal relationships, increasing their willingness to take risks, and enhancing their creative thinking capacities (for example).”
~Dr. Christine Olson
SMSU Professor of Applied Psychology

“At the age of 15, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to England to study, and there she encountered Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre, who would mentor her for three years. Together, they traveled to Europe, visiting places of poverty and spender. Eleanor studied literature, art, history, languages, and in the process she gained self-confidence and confidence in her ideas. In her autobiography, Roosevelt wrote of this experience: ‘Mlle. Souvestre shocked one into thinking, and that on the whole was very beneficial.’ That is what I do to build a culture of curiosity in the teaching and learning process. I try to shock my students into thinking.”

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~Dr. Jeff Kolnick
SMSU Professor of History

“I like to think I make a positive impact and build a learning culture by first teaching students about social skills.  I like to make sure I learn each kid’s name and where they are from, and I constantly challenge them to do the same with their fellow classmates.  If they feel like you care about them, then they are more willing to learn and curiosity will come naturally.  I encourage social interaction that doesn’t involve technology, small group communication during class, make them debate a topic, and take a side even if they don’t agree with it.  I make them be involved in the community, more than just the campus of SMSU, it forces them to talk to strangers.”
~Brian Frana
SMSU Asst. Football Coach & PE Instructor

“Set a comfortable tone to the classroom. I begin each day with a corny joke and a ‘thought to ponder’ on the board. I also work at learning the students’ names and something about them. These may seem like silly little things, but I have found that students look forward to coming to class and remain engaged. Also, interjecting personal stories and experiences to bring the information into real-time for them.”
~LeAnne Syring
SMSU Assistant Professor of Special Education

“In my courses I allow for student choice in completing and designing projects. In the end, I want the project to be part of the bigger final outcome so the assignments or projects leading up to that are scaffolded ideas that should easily fit into the end capstone project. I have received positive feedback indicating they like this format that provides them opportunity to actually prep for the final project, while building understanding of the topic and content. Generally, we discuss in the classroom then move to an open room where students collaborate with peers and work together. As they work I provide feedback or clarification as needed. This format works well and engages student’s curiosity as they work toward their final goal.”
~Dr. Mary Risacher
SMSU Assistant Professor of Education

“How does a teacher create a positive climate to optimize students’ learning? Through the demonstration of unconditional positive regard‎ (Rogers, 1959) a teacher forms the foundation upon which exhibited elements of invitational theory and practice‎: Respect, care, optimism, intentionality, and trust (Purkey & Novak, 2015), sows a fertile learning community.  This emotionally nourishing environment then produces  a bounty of student exploration, innovation, and critical thinking!”
~Dr. Chris J. Anderson
SMSU Assistant Professor of Special Education

“To build a learning environment that fosters creativity, thinking, and the development of curiosity, I have embraced constructivist practices and create learning experiences based on learners’ passions.  This has been remarkable in the online classroom as I watch students develop relationships, understanding, and knowledge with classmates that they have never met.
Currently, there are English, ELL, reading, math, and more instructors creating magic together, not in isolation.  Everyone has a powerful voice. Their ideas and their passion are giving insight not only into content, but to practice.  This has been a joy to watch unfold as learners embrace ideas and cheer for each other.
This has been facilitated by “being there” – all the time.  Not only merely assessing, but adding and questioning.  Joining in the joy and the passion that drives teachers.  I am excited for them and for their students.  Education is changing. I am surrounded by brilliance.”
~Dr. Toni Beebout-Bladholm
Marshall Senior High School English Teacher
SMSU Adjunct Professor

What did we learn from all of this?  We teach alongside rockstars, who are shaping the world one student at a time, one day at a time.  It is not just great results that lead to success. Great results and a great ride equal success.  Teachers can make all the difference. We choose our Top 20 selves to guide, mentor, and care for our learners.

Stay Calm & Choose to be the Top 20!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 



This is Who We Thank

Blog gratitude

Student teaching is the final hoorah of all teacher prep programs. You work and work and work at your studies and then the big day comes when you are placed in a classroom with a mentor teacher so you can learn and grow as a professional.

Sometimes the placement is AWESOME, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes your university supervisor is AWESOME, and sometimes, not so much. Whichever circumstance you find yourself in, you CAN learn from it. You can learn what to do and what NOT to do.

I (Wendy) was placed in a 4th grade classroom in Worthington, MN.  I purposely asked to be placed there to escape a certain professor/university supervisor. I naively thought he wouldn’t travel that far from SSU to supervise anyone. To my chagrin, this supervisor ended up being mine. I was a nervous wreck!

As I look back on this experience over 30 years ago, it was the BEST experience of my life! My classroom mentor in that 4th grade classroom was Paula Krekelberg. Can we say DYNAMIC teacher? Passion, energy, enthusiasm, creativity…all in one package! Lucky me!

She was the 1986 female version of Dave Burgess before #tlap even existed. She was phenomenal, and I became a Paula Krekelberg. I begged and borrowed and tweaked ALL of her teaching ideas, plus her teaching style and teaching philosophy.

Gingerbread House Day in December is still one of my favorite memories from Paula’s classroom. She collected milk cartons, graham crackers, and candy galore then invited parents in to make Gingerbread Houses with their kids. I started the Gingerbread House tradition in my first 3rd grade teaching position at Brown Elementary. I no longer teach there, but the Gingerbread House tradition still prevails…over 30 years later.

Thank you, Paula, for being the best mentor teacher ever.

The gentleman who was my university supervisor was also one of my professors at SSU. He wasn’t one of my favorite professors because he intimidated me. 😮 So when I found out he was my supervisor, I was deflated…and a lot scared.

Lesson learned…he was the BEST supervisor I could have wished for. His personality was slightly different as a supervisor than it was as the professor. I adored him as my supervisor, and he gave me so many helpful hints after he would watch me teach a lesson. Forgive me, Lowell, for misjudging.

I’ll never forget the first time he came to watch me teach, I was over prepared. My plan was to knock his socks off with my awesome teaching skills. Well, needless to say, the lesson bombed. As I cried through our conversation afterwards, he kindly said to me… “Wendy, it was a good lesson. You just forgot to give them your expectations.” It was that simple. From that day forward, I always share my expectations of my students with my students about EVERYTHING.

Thank you, Lowell, for being the best supervisor ever. 🙂

My student teaching experiences were much the same… I (Sonya) had wonderful days and days that I cried to cope.  I just did not understand why those cute little kindergarten kids could not tie their shoes.  I mean – I built them a rainforest fort to go along with the literacy unit I was teaching. How could that not impact their motivation to successfully tie their shoes?!  My awesome classroom mentor, Lynn Robertson, very kindly and gently helped me see the error in my novice ways and that the children were simply not all developmentally ready for my expectations.  Keep in mind – this was kindergarten over 20 years ago – so a much different place in a crayon-centered world. Thank you, Mrs. R.!  I am grateful for your guidance.

After my feelings of failure in kindergarten, I moved into the 5th grade for the second part of my student teaching experience, and there – I found my people.  My classroom mentor, Deb Krimm, and the students taught me so much.  I can picture my desk.  I can picture Mrs. K.’s smile and her outfits.  (After all – I was trying out my new teacher clothes and style so I took notes!)  I can picture the room.  I can picture lunch duty in my brown plaid jacket that made me feel like a teacher.  (Never underestimate the power of a great suit …professional attire that our teacher candidates LOVE …or maybe hate?)  I will never forget learning to make wax candles, soap, butter, and more for the 13 colonies unit the night before my students, and being so excited for all the learning that went into it – for me… for my learners.  I am grateful for that.

My university supervisor’s name escapes me…I want to say “Jan….”  (Clearly Dr. Wendy’s memory is better than mine!  I would search it up in my files on my floppy disks, but I am aiming to meet a strict professor’s deadline – aka my blogging partner-in-crime, Dr. Wendy.) 😉   Please don’t mistake my error of name-filing for lack of impact.  I can clearly picture her in my mind, and more importantly, I can still hear her words and feel her challenges that helped strengthen my teaching.  I walked in to student teaching a little intimidated of her, and it grew into a sense of respect throughout the term as I learned that I am not perfect, and that’s okay.  None of us are.  She taught me that if I am not challenging myself, I am not challenging my learners, and that’s simply not okay.  Don’t settle for anything less than my best. For that challenge, I am forever grateful.

Lesson learned… perfection just means it’s time to set a new challenge.  Be grateful to those around you who help show you how to grow.  Life is simply boring otherwise.

Be grateful for your past. It brought you to today. Be grateful for today.  It tells your story for tomorrow (Thank you, Dave Burgess for the #tlap, #gratitude challenge).


Stay Calm & Thank a Teacher!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 


Know When to Engage, Mavericks

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One of our favorite movies is Top Gun starring Tom Cruise (Maverick) and Anthony Edwards (Goose).

In the movie, Commander Viper reprimands Maverick and Goose for breaking one of the Top Gun Rules of Engagement. Viper sternly reminds them that:  “…Rules of engagement exist for your safety and for that of your team. They are not flexible…obey them.”

We offer the same advice to our teacher candidates when it comes to the battlefield of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. If the ‘conversation’ on either one of those turns sour, DO NOT ENGAGE.

Sometimes schools can become the target of negative comments on Twitter or especially Facebook. A few outsiders can become ‘vocal’ and shoot written bullets through these social media platforms if they do not agree with decisions being made.

If this should happen to you or your school, we strongly recommend you stay out of the conversation. Do not engage. If personal expectations are not met, people tend to get upset and there is nothing you can do to change their minds. Even positive comments back to them may not help (speaking from past experiences of our own…we Mavericks should not have engaged). 😮

An elementary principal once shared this wise advice… “anytime a written message is sent out to 25 (250) parents, that message can be interpreted 25 (250) different ways. Choose your words wisely.” Wisdom right there!

Now that a brand new school year is in session, always seek out the positives, and stay far, far away from the negatives. Always do what is best for your kids. And, please….be smart on your social media platforms. “…Rules of engagement exist for your safety and for that of your team. They are not flexible…obey them.” Know when to engage, Mavericks!

Blog Top Gun Convenience

Stay Calm & Obey the Rules of Engagement!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 


Be Yourself

BLOG 8.30.17 Be Yourself

So a week done and already into the next… time sure flies when you are having fun!  That’s what school is for us. Let’s be honest – not every day is a joyride, but life can be a rollercoaster and some days are like that – and most days are fun if we let them be.  Just as we preach to our teacher candidates to be reflective practitioners, we must be, too.  So now that we are cruising into week two and beyond, what are some take-aways that we can offer as we continue to move forward along this semester of life.  There is just so much that we want to share… where do we begin?  We begin by being who we are – who we are meant to be.

Words of advice for this new school year – be authentic. Be real. Be yourself. Aim to be the best that you can be. But be you. Be the best you that you can be.  In this fast pace world filled with fake news and drama, we owe it to ourselves and each other to experience today together and celebrate our unique and diverse selves. We aren’t all the same, and that’s beautiful.  I’m no good at being you, and you are no good at being me. If we can model this as teachers, administrators, staff, coaches, and parents, our kids will be better off – and so will we. If we can be honest with ourselves and each other, we can build relationships and not walls in our classrooms, our schools, our homes, our world. What a surreal thought. What a sweet thought. It may be idealistic, but why not be? That’s who we are – and we are trying to be the best “we” that we can be.  With a new year we can hope again and try again.  We can pick each other apart where we faltered last year or we can pick each other up.  We can shake off failures and strive for victories again.  We can model this for our learners and challenge them to do the same.  We do this by starting to be who we are and who we are meant to be – you and me.

A new song out by Seth Alley, Be Yourself, has some great thoughts for us as we start this new year and build and renew our relationships starting with ourselves.

I want to be great, but I ain’t cause I fake what I make.  Yeah – I think that it’s time for a change.  Stop waiting on the world for help. Stop worrying about everyone else. Be yourself.

There is no one else you can be so stop trying to be. Be yourself – be your best you.

Stay Calm & Be Yourself!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 


We Are Helping Others Learn What We Love

Blog class of 2021

We love teaching and learning. That’s what we do! It’s a big part of who we are!

I was reminded of this the other day while listening to Sheltered Reality Drumline perform in South Dakota.

This group of young drummers wowed us with their entertaining abilities on the drums. And boy oh boy do they enjoy entertaining. However, the mission of Sheltered Reality® is to “engage and motivate their audiences to make positive changes in themselves and the world.” Sheltered Reality’s® main message the other day was three-fold:

  • Take a chance
  • Never give up
  • Believe in yourself

YES! For our aspiring educators who will begin their classes today, this message is for you too!!!

Take a chance…you will be challenged by us, your education professors, to take several chances throughout your teacher prep program. Embrace these challenges. Go for the gusto. Take risks. Shoot for the stars. Take a chance on this new endeavor.

Never give up…there will be days you will want to throw in the towel during your time at SMSU. Questions? Ask! Concerns? Share! Please know you are not alone. More importantly, know many have felt this way. BUT…they have stuck it out and have gone on to be successful, outstanding teachers!  Never give up, teacher candidates. You will make it.

Believe in yourself…focus on trying. Leave your “I can’t do this” mentality in the dorm or apartment or wherever you reside. Develop the mindset of “I CAN do this.” Will you make mistakes? Of course. We all do. Learn from those and move on. So…kick your ‘stinkin thinkin’ to the curb!

Sheltered Reality® involves the audience during their show. I happen to be one of the audience members who was chosen to go on stage and drum for the first time ever…in front of a lot of people. 😮 I took a chance! I never gave up! I believed in myself! And guess what???

Yes, I messed up a few times!! Okay…many times. Who cares! I had the time of my life! 🙂

Blog drum me

The Sheltered Reality’s® lead drummer ended their performance with this one last powerful statement: “We are helping others learn what we love.”

Exactly! That’s what we are doing too!!! We are helping YOU learn to do what WE love—teaching!

Have the time of your life this year as you prepare to become the most successful, outstanding teachers you can possibly be. We are excited for the new year, and we hope you share our excitement.

Show us YOUR teacher super powers by taking a chance, never giving up, and believing in yourselves. You got this!!

Stay Calm & Help Others Learn!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 


What is EMSP? Collaboration and Solidarity of Aspiring Educators

Blog EMSP LeAnne_Me

Professor LeAnne Syring and I will be co-advisors for the Education Minnesota Student Program (EMSP) at SMSU beginning this fall. I have been the advisor of this esteemed group of future educators for quite a few years. Last spring when I asked LeAnne if she would be willing to co-advise with me she graciously accepted and then said, “You are starting to phase out, aren’t you?”

Yes, LeAnne. Yes, I am. With retirement just around the corner, it is time to have someone join me on this adventure. Thanks a big bunch of roses for being willing to take this journey with me! 🙂

We attended the first ever EMSP Advisor’s meeting in Brooklyn Park, MN, and below are a few of the highlights of that meeting…

  • EMSP is headed for a name change. At the Student Leadership Conference held July 2017 in Boston, MA, the EMSP members expressed their wishes…they do not want to be called students. They are asking that the S in EMSP be changed to aspiring educators. We will find out in April 2018 what the final decision will be.
  • The Student Leadership Conference will be held June 30th – July 5th, 2018 in Minneapolis, MN. This is great news for all of us! Less travel!!
  • Education Minnesota offers many professional development opportunities for the university aspiring educators. There are seven modules which can be presented at chapter meetings or during education courses. These modules are 1. Member Promotion, 2. Collective Bargaining, 3. Organizing, 4. Member Rights, 5, Why Politics?, 6. Education Issues, and 7, Professionalism. In addition to the modules, a few other professional development options offered are Degrees Not Debt, Teacher Licensing, Energize Yourself, Use of Social Media, and Student Bullying. All education professors may use these PD services.
  • The Minnesota Board of Teaching (BOT) is now called the Professional Educators Licensing Standards Board (PELSB). Our governor will be appointing new members to this board. You may go to the Secretary of State’s webpage to see the names of all those who have applied thus far.

Blog EMSP Good bye BOT

  • New teacher licensures that are projected to begin July 2018 are Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, Short-call substitute license, Long-call substituted license, and Life-time substitute license. According to the gal presenting, Minnesota has been considered a powerhouse in teacher licensure. Sadly, she stated this is beginning to change because of this new rule making on licensing. We were told we will be kept posted on this.

Blog EMSP Tiered Teaching

  • Education Minnesota will be leading the state’s educators in a movement to live equitably and practice equity literacy. It’s time for all of us to work together to take down the fence that hinders.

Blog EMSP Equality

A fun surprise was at lunch when we were blessed to see a few of our kids…our SMSU EMSP officers. Thanks ladies and to ALL officers, for all the hard work you do for our EMSP Chapter.

EMSP…collaboration and solidarity of aspiring educators. Here’s to a great year! 🙂

Blog EMSP Group

Stay Calm & Aspire On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 



The Waiting Game: Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry Up!  We need to be on time.  The game is about to start! What game you may be asking? The waiting game that is.  You know… the one in life that we all play together.  We are on the same team – us v. time.  We get going to where we need to be… and wait to leave, and wait to arrive, and wait to start the game, the appointment, the … (you can fill in the blank) – life.

Here are some very common examples of waiting:

Waiting for a high school summer league basketball game to start…

Waiting at the mall…

Wait dancing is a common practice is it not? 🙂

Dr. Wendy waiting for her PT appointment and waiting to feel better while her grandson is waiting for her…

Fathers and sons bonding while waiting for doc appointments…

Kids waiting for an oil change…

Brother waiting for his bro at the dentist…

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Traffic waiting…

Check-in waiting…
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Ferris wheel waiting…

Are we there
yet waiting…

We wait on average an hour a day for the next thing in life to happen.  That doesn’t seem like a big deal until we do the math… something like 5 to 6 years of our lives – waiting.
Waiting can be challenging and try our patience – especially when we are in a hurry to get on with what is next in life.  In our world of instant gratification, waiting can upset us and drive us to become mad – out of our ordinarily calm demeanor.  Who you and me? Maybe. What’s important to remember is that good things come to those who wait.  Right?  Don’t be miserable while waiting for life.  A good attitude and perspective can make all the difference.  Enjoy the wait.  What are you waiting for?

What do you do while you wait?

Stay Calm & Wait!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Stop Ignoring the Coin Boxes


All of us have seen them. We give them a quick glance, and then look up at the menu ignoring the message they are sending. Please stop ignoring the coin box.

If you are looking for a trustworthy charity, look no farther than your local McDonald’s. The Ronald McDonald House is incredible and so much needed and appreciated. We both know this because of our own experiences…one a little over 15 years ago. The other, a little over 15 hours ago.

The play area at the RMH is filled with toys and movies and games for all to use. The pantry is stocked full of breakfast options along with snacks available to all family members of the child who is in the NICU or the hospital.  The refrigerator has beverages and milk and coffee creamer and apple slices galore. Volunteers come in and prepare and then serve a delicious homemade lunch or supper for those family members who wait. And then there are the rooms equipped with beds so the family can rest their weary and worn out bodies at night time. Incredible place.

Years ago, I (Wendy) had my third graders save pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. Our goal was one million. We made it to 600,000. Once those were collected, my third graders traveled to Sioux Falls, SD and personally delivered them to the Ronald McDonald House.

Sadly, since then I haven’t given the Ronald McDonald House much thought. But after recently being a visitor at the house while visiting my granddaughter at Children’s Hospital, I have decided that I will never ignore those coin boxes again. And, I will be saving pop tabs from here on out too!


It was April 2002.  I (Sonya) was going to be a new momma in the summer. I couldn’t wait!  Neither could my babe, Jackson Joseph, apparently.  I won’t share the long story with all the twists and turns to the plot, but after six weeks of bedrest in the hospital, I was set free – to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  We were cleared to leave the hospital, but needed to remain close by so RMH welcomed us. I spent two weeks there and then the day that I went home – Jackson decided to officially join us and was born.  Those two weeks in the RMH were a blessing for us.  As soon-to-be new parents, it was a stressful time.  We were able to stay there for a minimal fee while safely within the city limits and near the hospital care that was needed.  It was a bit unusual since the house is designated for families with children in the hospital. A room was open, and we were welcomed.  We are still thankful today.

Then, we were welcomed once again at the RMH in Minneapolis when Jackson was undergoing treatments for his lymphangioma from ages 1-2. We were thankful yet again and still are today!

When I returned from maternity leave, I set out to give back. My 5th grade class started to do more community-focused projects. My experience at RMH helped me to see more needs around me.  I began to wonder how could I help? How could we help?  An obvious project was to start collecting pop-tabs, which became a school-wide project.  We were able to make one of the deliveries while on a field trip so the students could see the house.  From there the project grew into other projects, and students became more involved.
Becoming a parent made me a better teacher and a better citizen.  I was engaged in this world because someone else was counting on me.  I became more engaged in this world because someone helped me.  Thanks, Ronald McDonald House and all the donators along the way.  We began to Pay It Forward

Blog Ronald McDonald House SUFU

Ronald McDonald House in Sioux Falls, SD

The Ronald McDonald House offers support to parents during one of their most stressful times in life. So we ask you, please take a moment to pay it forward today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Do something for someone else today.

Stop ignoring those coin boxes.

Blog ronald mcdonald house logo

Stay Calm & Give Generously!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.