Curious Minds Want to Know

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These past few weeks of the school year have simply flown by.  It is officially fall, and the school year is well underway.  One of the focus topics with the start of a new school year is… social norms.  We need to know what behaviors are socially acceptable.  This is critical now as the “honeymoon” period of the school year is almost over as well as for new students just entering school for the first time.  Desired behaviors can be learned by most on most days.  Who said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  We can all learn something sometime, right?

This past week while working on social norms, one of the English learners in my care greeted his teacher on his own one morning and another learner told her teacher “You’re welcome” while finishing up some math work on the board and politely handing the smartboard marker back to the teacher.  Both cases caused the classroom teacher to be pleasantly surprised by the learning that has taken place in such a short time – and has been applied. (Yay!  I played a part in that!!🙂 )  These two individuals are motivated to learn and curious about the English language and culture; they want to learn.

“Learning is what we humans do best.  We learn throughout our lives by wondering and exploring, experiencing and playing” (Ostroff, 2016, p.1).  In Wendy Ostroff’s book, Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms, we are reminded that curiosity is essential to being human, living well, and being happy.  Curious to know more?  You are encouraged to read the book to learn more.

So how can teachers encourage curiosity without killing the cat? “Fostering curiosity involves listening to the myriad of voices and perspectives of the class community members and respecting each other enough to put oneself ‘out there'” (Ostroff, 2016, p.6).  The power of a positive growth mindset remains unchallenged.  We can accomplish almost anything that we believe.

Learners should be involved with both content and technique.  They should be engaged in the learning and active participants instead of being told what to know and how to think.  If involved, motivation to learn cultivates curiosity, which can bring out the child in all of us.

Allowing learners an opportunity to grow during unstructured times with choices, provides a safe place to make mistakes… to learn from them, and grow from them.  This can be a hard one to let go and grow with, but it is essential to curiosity leading to creativity.  If learners cannot be tasked with the charge to be curious and learn, we have failed.  This doesn’t mean it will be an overnight success without guidance.  We need to model and mold – all the while knowing the mold is meant to change.

A little respect can go a long way – in life and in career; this includes how we treat and challenge others.  Create curious habits and habitats for learners.  Enlist the help of Curious George and other characters who live a life of curiosity and never stop learning and growing.

Life and learning are a journey; enjoy the adventure!

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

Today IS Glorious…Rejoice! Be Grateful For It!


Sunrise on the Missouri River at Meridian Bridge Campground

Today is Sunday…September 11, 2016…the 15th anniversary of that tragic day when over 3000 lives were lost due to terrorists. Many of us remember exactly where we were at and what we were doing at the time of this catastrophic occurrence. Facebook and Twitter have been filled with stories and videos and pictures today all to remind us to never forget.

Rips my heart apart…again.😦

One story about that senseless catastrophe I had not heard before is about the man in the red bandana. Just saw it today. Have you heard the story?  If you haven’t, or even if you have, below is a touching video that tells the remarkable story about this true, REAL hero. Watching it will be 10 minutes of your life well spent!

The video begins with the thought provoking question, “What would you do in the last hour of your life?” WHOA! How does a person answer that? I don’t know?? I pray to God that I never have to make that decision. Do you have an answer? If yes, please share it below. Or, just share what you were doing at the time when those planes hit the Twin Towers. We would love to read your stories…and to remember so we never forget.

Reading the 9-11 stories today and seeing the 9-11 pictures posted on Facebook and Twitter truly makes me appreciate the day…TODAY!  All I have is today. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. So…I rejoice for today. I am grateful for today. For this moment. For right now.

Psalm 118:24 says “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Please allow me to encourage you to recite that verse the minute you open your groggy eyes in the morning. Yes, even before your feet even hit the floor. Just say it. And, say it out loud… “This is the day that you have made, Lord, thank you. Let me rejoice all day long and be grateful for this day, this moment in time!”

I know…life happens. Life will (not might), WILL deliver a tornado or two…the tornado of disease, the tornado of divorce, the tornado of a lost job, the tornado of a lost friendship, the tornado of a child being diagnosed with diabetes, the tornado of Alzheimer’s, the tornado of losing a sibling or parents (many of my life tornadoes so far).

Remaining positive is a choice. Your choice. Or as a dear friend of mine who was going through cancer said to me when I told her that her positive attitude was amazing…she said “being positive is nonnegotiable.” God bless you, Steph!

So, to ALL of you…family, friends, teacher candidates, colleagues, appreciated blog readers…remember that today IS glorious. Rejoice and be grateful that you are alive.

Stay positive today, tomorrow, and every day! It’s nonnegotiable!


My hubby and me—Yankton, SD Missouri River

Stay Calm & Rejoice in Today!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Fill It Up!

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“My cup runneth over.”  Although I haven’t seen the movie in some time, I immediately recognize the line from, Hope Floats, where the grandmother in this 1998 film kindly shares, “My cup runneth over.” Although there are various ways to interpret this phrase, I have always thought she meant it in an endearing way to say that she has everything she needs with the love of her family.

You might be thinking “that is not the only place you can find that quote” – and you are correct.  It may be found elsewhere…including the Bible, which is probably where it all started. ;-)  Psalm 23: 1-6 reads:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

My cup runneth over. So I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at the time I first watched that film almost 20 years ago or when I read it in scripture, but I know what it means to me now.

Today standing in-line – it happened.  I could feel my bucket (or cup in this case) filling up.  As I helped an English learner with her fingerprints for lunch (Yes – that’s how modern day school lunch lines go for those of you wondering), we were chatting.  What did we talk about?  Shoes.  Sparkling, silver shoes to be more precise.  Although the little girl and I were not fluent in the same language, we were able to communicate about something we had in common – loving rockstar shoes!  During this time, I was able to connect with one of the precious ELs who I will have the opportunity to teach and learn from this fall.  My cup runneth over.

Opportunities are everywhere.  The bucket can hold all kinds of energy.  We just have to see the opportunities and seize them.  Last week at teacher workshops, I had the pleasure to hear two fabulous speakers.  (Yes – I know that might be crazy to say.)  The time simply flew by and my bucket was overflowing…gushing maybe.  And I might be a groupie to both Willow Sweeney and Dr. Luis Cruz now…. My cup runneth over.

Willow Sweeney, partner in creating the Top 20 Training, fired us up to connect with our students and each other. There is potential in all of us.  Take ownership for the energy that we show up with each day and keep each day.  Not everything will go our way but how we react to it is up to us.

Dr. Luis Cruz was the first in his family to attend college – and become a doctor!  (Even if his daughter thinks he’s not a real doctor, I say kudos to him!  It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make that happen.)  His message for us is to never give up on our kids, on each other, on hope.  I won’t give up. Hope floats after all.

If you have the opportunity to experience either of these two speakers in action live, go for it!  You won’t regret it!  I absolutely LOVED the speakers!  They reminded me that we can make a difference.  I realize that I am optimistic person, who is an idealist almost to a fault. 🙂 I am continuing to learn to be a pragmatist and realist each day, but it seems to start over every morning with the same “let’s change the world and make it a better place” mentality.  I just can’t help it.  Everyone has a vice… mine include: reading, writing in run-on sentences (hard to believe since I am a language arts teacher at heart, but I have so much I want to share with you), fountain pops with lots of ice, a glass of cabernet now and then, fun pens, and of course shoes (if you weren’t paying attention earlier)…and being an idealist.  As the Marshall Public Schools mission statement reads, “MPS develops the potential of each learner for success in a changing world.”  Let’s do this –together!

I love my profession – teaching young students as well as my teacher candidates.  That fills my bucket.  Although I greatly miss my SMSU peeps, I am truly enjoying my adventure at MPS.  My goal this semester is to bring great ideas back to the SMSU teacher candidates from my experience at Park Side and enhance our rapport with schools throughout our community.  Taking time away from my university family has made me fully realize the impact that we have on the community and what more we could even do.  People and authentic relationships make us who we are and how we can help each other.  We truly can make this world a better place.  My cup runneth over.

Cheers to the weekend and making this world a better place and to you… May you find something to fill your bucket that is perfect for you!

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



The Life of a First Year “Pinterest” Teacher: A Mom’s Perspective


At our SMSU back-to-school professional development days, a professor friend from the Sociology Department approached me and said “WENDY…I had no idea how hard it would be to set up an elementary classroom!”

Up went my eyebrows and out came a VERY LOUD giggle. I said to her “oh, PLEASE write this down then email it to me. You can be a guest blogger for Dr. V and me.”

Well…here it is. Cindy’s reflection on her first ever experience with setting up an elementary classroom with her daughter, Sarah, and Sarah’s friend, Aileen. Both of these young ladies are SMSU graduates and are beginning their first year as elementary teachers. Good luck to you, Sarah and Aileen. Your rooms look fabulous! And thank you for sharing your story, Cindy. It made me laugh!🙂 Enjoy everyone…

This is a guest blog post by SMSU Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Cindy Aamlid. She is the proud mom of a brand spanking new 4th grade teacher.  Cindy loves to read, hike with her family, and sew. You may contact her via email at

I am…Mom of an Elementary Teacher

It was only natural that my daughter become a teacher.  I am a teacher.  My mom was a teacher.  My grandma was a librarian.  Collectively we have been involved in education for more than 70 years. We have experienced setting up classrooms, making bulletin boards, planning seating arrangements, and making lesson plans.  What none of us had experienced, though, is the life of an elementary teacher, and especially this new “Pinterest” teacher.

I spent most of the month of July getting my daughter ready for the big move to the first teaching job in Kansas.  This involved not only packing for apartment living again, but also helping her get things ready for the classroom.  On my list were things like finding cute baskets for the shelves, painting and recovering an old padded rocker for the “cozy corner” in her classroom, making pillows, painting letters and frames, and cleaning out her closet.  What I didn’t know was that my education into the life of an elementary teacher, a Pinterest teacher, was just beginning.


I learned that classrooms aren’t planned around themes anymore…now it’s all about a color scheme.  And the chosen color scheme was a little unique (just like my daughter)…coral, navy, aqua, and gray.  We painted the old chair with a blue chalk paint, and used gray/white fabric to recover the cushions.  My daughter bought a few things like small rugs, bins, and pillows in those 4 cute colors, and I found a few ready-made wall decorations.  We bought fabric and ribbon to use on the bulletin boards, instead of paper.  I thought we were fairly organized and ready.  Looking back on this, I really had no clue.  I should have paid more attention to Pinterest. 

Walking into her 4th grade room for the first time was fun for me.  It was a sort of a life passage.  But it soon became very overwhelming.  I had forgotten how bare an empty classroom looks.  As we walked down the school hallways, we just stared in awe.  The majority of the rooms were all filled from floor to ceiling with wall decorations, as well as having the door covered and decorated.  These teachers had set a high bar in this school, and for a new first year teacher, how could you ever compete with that?  You just couldn’t.  But our conversation also revolved around the fact that parents’ night was 4 days away, and that the parents and students would also be judging and comparing her room with the others.  So how could we find a happy medium…between all the “stuff” that had been collected and developed over the years by experienced teachers and the emptiness of a first year room?  So we turned to Pinterest again. 

What was supposed to be (in my mind anyway) a 5 hour classroom set up, turned into a 4 day adventure.  The first thing I learned is that the school did not have any construction paper in these 4 fun unique colors my daughter chose, and that they did not have a supply of the sticky tape to put things on the walls.  So that sent me to every dollar store, fabric store, and craft store to find the right colored paper; I think I also bought out the town’s supply of sticky tape.  The second thing we learned is that the school has required items that need to be on the walls, such as a Word Wall, Star Student, How We Get Home, and CHAMPS.  So we had to create our own (with helpful ideas from Pinterest) or beg/borrow from the other teachers.  Personally, I would like to suggest to all principals that these required items come already printed and laminated for the new teachers to just hang up…what a time saver and a stress reliever, especially for us mothers. 


The third thing I learned is that I can’t achieve the Pinterest look without the helpful advice of videos and blog directions.  My daughter wanted big fluffy tissue paper pompoms, in those 4 fun unique colors.  The first attempts were somewhat crumpled and misshapen.  Who knew that I would be watching an 8 minute video in order to figure out all the tricks…but it worked.  I can make those pompoms look pretty good. 


Then on to figuring out how to make a cookie sheet magnet board.  We couldn’t find cute magnets in the 4 fun unique colors, so we decided to make our own, using wooden star cutouts, a little paint, a small magnet, and a glue gun.  My husband was really proud of himself for learning to use a glue gun.  We created the Word Wall and Star Student decorations with die cut letters, scrapbook paper, and ribbon.  Pinterest was a big help.  And I am so thankful that I can sew!  I made the girls curtains for their bookshelves (to hide the emptiness) and pillows for the cozy corners. 

Oh…I forgot to mention that we were not just setting up one classroom… my daughter and her best SMSU friend (and roomie) both came to Kansas to teach, so we were also helping her a bit.  I just started making doubles of everything.

As I look back on those crazy 4 days, I know that each year will be easier.  And I also know that I plan on helping out every year that I can…I had better get my Pinterest board set up now! 



Dear Sarah and Aileen…change the world, ladies!!!! One student at a time. We expect nothing less!🙂 Have a fantastic first year!

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

Teaching 101

So after 18 years in education, I attended “new teacher” workshops to start off my 19th year. You see I am on sabbatical this fall to rejuvenate, relearn, and renew. I am headed back to the classroom after almost seven years away to restock my teacher toolkit and soul. I will be an EL – Englisher Learner teacher for the Marshall Public School district. I am so pumped up for this as I join this classy group of “new” teachers pictured here.

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So what is new or what is important to renew in the teacher toolkit? LOTS! You may find blog posts this fall to read somewhat like a journal entry in the life of a new teacher.😉

First impressions are important. They can be lasting. If it bombs, however, it can be changed… but it is no longer a first impression of course.😉 This summer I had the privilege of attending a session with Justin Patton. Incredible experience! If you ever have an opportunity to hear Justin speak or be coached by him, you will not regret it! Some takeaways to consider… We are all just people so we live and learn and sometimes change. We need to do our best to respect others and forgive them for messing up as we hope the favor is returned in kind. No matter if the first impression is stellar or not, communicate honestly and build authentic relationships with people as we are all on this adventure together. Make your presence count. One of my favorite quotes from Justin and now one of my own mantra phrases – “Take responsiblilty for the energy you show up with!” Okay – I am pretty fired up about Leading with Head & Heart so look for more on this in upcoming posts. I hope to share this with my students and fellow staff-mates. Now – back to school, folks…

The cycle of morale exists somewhat for all levels of experience in education and possibly other career fields, too. In the new teacher workshops, the Director of Teaching & Learning shared a great visual about the phases of the school year in the life of a teacher.

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When searching for the image, I stumbled across this one as well. Made me laugh out loud, which is good for the soul and morale.

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There are highs and lows in school and in life. Be there to support others and know that “this too shall pass” is a phrase to live by. Laughter is inexpensive medicine to cure the “common cold” in education, too.

Knowing the cycle – continue to learn and grow – and not because you are told to do so, but instead learn and grow because you know it makes you whole. Here is just one example… For any teachers out there who make it to MEA break, join this Pirate crew if you can!

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It’s critical to remember that we teach kids not content. As much as I love me some good content, it’s the kids who matter and will remember. I received two fabulous reminders of who great teachers are and what they do because they care.

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Thanks to Principal Darci Love for sharing “Great Teachers….” with me this week.

Thanks also goes to Director Amanda Granger, who shared about standards-based grading this week and reminded me it’s up to all of us to repair the broken…

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I could really jump on the soapbox here with grades, but I will hold off for another time to “fix” that. My teacher candidates have heard some ranting and raving about this before. I am passionate about kids and not grades, I guess. (I know there are some of you out there who cringe at the word “kids” so insert your own words; I like it.) Another saying that I really like was tweeted out by our very own Dr. Wendy this week. It is so, so true.

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So to recap because I lost track… kindness and communication matter, continuing to learn and grow matter, and having hope and spirit matter. So what else have I learned?
Take care… and take a nap. We should really be learning from our kids’ habits. They nap and are like the Energizer Bunny. Wherever, whenever (it is legal) – take a nap. There is no warrior badge for the teacher who goes without a nap, a message, leisure reading, … The list goes on and on. Teachers don’t keep up like the Energizer Bunny if they skip over enjoying some of that list. That list is actually called life. Teaching can consume the teacher, and what’s left isn’t a pretty picture. Love yourself so you can love others.

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This could go on and on but frankly, I’m exhausted from the week and all the adrenaline in this anticipation phase. My no-longer-21-year-old self can’t keep up quite the same as when I started almost two decades ago. But that’s okay because I love what I do, I love the people I serve… and I love a rare nap much more than I ever thought I could when I was forced to take them as a toddler.

Education related tag cloud illustration

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

Culturally Responsive Teaching & Living


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As we get ready to go back to school this fall, we are energized from the summer. The fall-like air the last few days is just the right timing to make it official.  Love the summer, but love the fall so much too!  My boys may not be as excited as I am for school supply shopping, but I am! It goes with the territory of being a teacher regardless how much I love summer.

Watching the Olympics this past two weeks has taught us a number of things – including:

*Help each other up.  We are all humans (well – all of us except those of us impersonating humans) and just need a hand once in a while. You may have fallen, but you don’t need to stay there.

*We are different, and that is wonderful.  As the Olympic athletes pour out their blood, sweat, and tears, they are the same in that way, representing their countries and their dreams.

*Be humble and kind.  Winning isn’t everything, but when you do, share the glory.  No one is an island – at least not forever.  Eventually you need a ship for supplies or other life to keep living.

Work Hard – Play Hard!  Repeat!
*Work hard, play hard.  One of my favorites…  and so true.  Both lose their purpose without the other.  Live each day this way. It is a simple recipe for success.

Thinking about these Olympic stories – remember the takeaways as you head to school this fall.  Whether welcoming a student at the door or sending your own student out the door on his or her way to kindergarten, middle school, high school, or beyond – be responsive.

Culturally Responsive Teaching is not a new concept by any means.  It is common sense and incredibly valuable; it just needs revisiting from time to time.  We need to be reminded what we know and what we know is right and just.

What is culturally responsive teaching?  “A pedagogy that crosses disciplines and cultures to engage learners while respecting their cultural integrity.  It accommodates the dynamic mix of race, ethnicity, class, gender, region, religion, and family that contributes to every student’s cultural identity.  The foundation for this approach lies in theories of intrinsic motivation” (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 1995).

Resources to consider and share when preparing for a culturally responsive classroom or workplace – aka respectful zone where everyone is valued for who they are and what they bring to the space.  We can all learn more and grow more from each other starting today.
Strategies & tools:

Have you seen the Ron Clark story yet?  Watch the film – great motivation to be the best teacher possible starting today.


English Language Learners: Culture, Equity, and Language NEA Priority Schools Campaign 2012



SIOP Model overview



SIOP Model for Teaching English Learners



SIOP Model & WIDA Standards


Check out The SIOP Model resource library


Want more? This is the tip of the iceberg folks.  It starts here.  There is so much more out there.  So for today, be more.

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



Go for the Gold!

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So you didn’t take our advice last week?  How about this week?  Or maybe you are wondering what our advice was?  (Don’t worry – I had to think about it too.)  Our blog was about Pokemon Go and to get going to connect.  So did you try it or maybe even consider it?  Well either way – if you are anything like my family this week, we are holed up with bugged out eyes and quite sleep deprived.  We just can’t seem to look away from the TV.  It is like a bad train wreck – in a good way that is. What is it?  It is reality TV at its finest, and it’s actually real.  It is two weeks of “America’s Got Talent” all day long and into late primetime.  It is the Olympics!

It is more than the sports and competition.  It is seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things.  Athletes who train more than anything else or anyone else.  They are dedicated to their sport, and what they can do amazes the rest of us “average joes.”  They make it look effortless – all of it, even the pain.  What makes it so incredible to watch is that they have family and friends who support them endlessly behind the scenes.  They are “average joes” in some ways too.

For me, the best part of the Olympics is the family-time it has created for us.  We have avoided going out for dinner, golfing, movies with friends, and more just to stay home and watch the Olympics together.  Being home together is a feat in itself as the kids continue to become more involved in activities and their own lives. We are volunteering at the county fair food stand for our church tonight; we are praying that there is a TV somewhere near by – or that the customers will watch the races with us on our phones?  It’s not rude if we invite them instead of ignore them, right?🙂

We have had some great conversations around the Olympics about competition, compassion, dedication, perseverance, and life.  Jonah, the middle son, likes to stop us mid-talk and say, “Is this going to be one of your inspirational talks?”  (Yes – my glass is usually half-full. :-)  The time, the talks, and shared common goal – Go USA – have brought us closer together.  Sounds cliché but true.

It is a time to learn about different sports and about one another.  We were watching rowing, and I made a comment about my college crew team.  My son’s eyes got big, and he said, “You did this in college, mom?  This? Really?  Wait – did you go to the Olympics?  Did you win gold?”  My initial response was to just to stare at him because I am 100% sure that I had talked about this plenty in the past.  He needed something to connect it to – or no one is listening when I talk?!

It happened again last night.  As we were watching the floor exercise, our oldest son, Jackson, asked about the music, and if there are guidelines as to what they could have.  My response was probably long-winded and included that Huey Lewis & the News’ Power of Love was my favorite floor routine music. He interjected, “Wait, you were in gymnastics?”  “Yes, son, for ten years when I was younger.” (Um, I mean not now of course.  And really – does no one listen to me reminisce ever?)

My youngest son, JR, has dug out the swim cap and goggles and begs to go to the pool each day to practice flip turns.  This is great since I have tried to get them to be on the swim team again for a number of years.  Thanks, Olympics, I owe you one!

We are addicted to watching the athletes compete and win… and learning more about them.  Check out this NBC site to learn more.  The reporters do a nice job of making them seem “normal” by telling their stories.  It isn’t always an easy flowers and roses story either.  What we don’t see and really know is all the hours of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into their lives and workouts each and every day.

Some of their incredible stories:

Michael Phelps broke a 2,168 year old Olympic record.  I was waiting to post this blog as long as I could but my self-control has finally crumbled.  Phelps has a final swim yet tonight. Will Phelps win the gold in the 100 Butterfly? Only time will tell… pardon the pun🙂

Simone Manuel became the first African-American swimmer to win Olympic gold as she tied for first in the women’s 100 meter freestyle.  Sweet swim!

Kerri Walsh Jennings is going for gold in beach volleyball in her fourth Olympic games.  This mother of three played hurt this past year to qualify for the games in Rio.  She learned to hit left-handed and served underhanded to make it a go.  Interestingly, she met her husband when trying out to be a teammate to her former partner, Misty May-Treanor.  She obviously got the role and the husband.  Will she will gold again with her new volleyball partner, April Ross?

Did you know that professional volleyball players will have about a week off and then go play for their franchise teams across the globe until next May when they will get about another week off and then play on their national teams?  Amazing and grueling.

There are so many cool stories like…
-Swimmer Dirado’s perfect SAT score and how it’s a family tradition to attend Stanford,
-the swimmer from Hungary who is married to her cheered on by and coached by her husband,
-the Phelps family and baby Boomer.
The list continues on and on…

I don’t know about you, but we have become phenomenal swimmers, volleyball players, gymnasts, rowers, fencers, … ourselves.  You name it.  We have been watching it, and we are now good at it, too.  It’s got to be like some kind of visual training. If we see it enough, we can do it, too.

The incredible thing about the Olympics make us want to be better.  Better athletes, better people, more dedicated, more drive.  Check out a few of the inspirational promos to get geared up to win a gold of your own.

DICK’S Sporting Goods 2016 TEAM USA Commercial “Gold in US” shows athletes everywhere that “we all have gold inside of us…but only some have the strength to dig it out.” #GoldInUS

Under Armour #RuleYourself #IWill

“If your goals really mean something to you, then you’ll never give up on them. That’s how it has to be—and that’s exactly what Michael Phelps is doing.” #EARNYOURARMOUR

Now how can we keep the spirit of the Olympics alive each day in our lives at home, at school, at work?  Gold or not – set goals and be better.  Good luck!


Stay Calm & Go USA!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.



Ready, Set, … Pokémon Go!

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Where did July go?  I just blinked and POOF!…It’s gone!  My computer and I parted ways for much of July.  It was a great time to reboot while I started my sabbatical.  I had lots of conversations with like real spoken words and everything.  It was fabulous!  Well – not like I didn’t use oral language before, but it gave me a chance to GO talk to people – family, friends, and even strangers in the produce aisle.  It was a strange time for me as I actually do like my computer.  It has a hot pink cover with chevron-covered keys.  It is actually a great conversation piece when I am in public or working with others.  My line is “If it looks like fun, it can’t be work.”  Now, you and I both know that isn’t true, but I continue to be an optimist to a fault.

So I missed my computer actually…and I missed all of you.  Dr. Wendy did a fantastic job blogging her way through the month and is now on her on self-imposed sabbatical in August.  She is rebooting before the semester starts up, and that is so important as she connects super well with our teacher candidates so we need her jazzed up and ready to run.  Go Mustangs & Dr. Wendy!

Speaking of connecting with students, I started this blog entry in my head a few weeks ago when Pokémon Go first exploded onto the streets of the USA.  Talk about a cultural Pokémon, er, I mean phenomenon.  My family was riding in the car one Sunday after church on our way to GO to brunch when my middle son yelled, “Dad, turn around, we just missed ________.”  (You can fill in the blank with any Pokémon character of your choice.)  Well – supposedly this was a rare one that my son needed.  My patient husband actually turned the car around to retrieve the lost Pokémon.  I paused in disbelief, and thought to myself, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?  Self, you are so going to write about this.” You may be thinking, “who let the kid play video games after church anyway?”  That is a great question – not me clearly!  What my takeaway from this experience was that we actually listened to our kids and participated in this crazy activity together because they were so excited about it.

I attended a National Night Out event in my sister’s neighborhood and even the sergeant shared Pokémon jargon in his talk with us – while an adolescent hoverboarded by us in search of Pokémons.  It is simply everywhere, and you just can’t Go anywhere without hearing or seeing or playing.  As of the KARE 11 news report last night at 6PM, there have been over 100 million downloads – wow.  According to the Star Tribune today (8.3.16) and confirmed by my kids, there are certain locations that are better than others to play Pokémon Go.  So I guess we can go anywhere to know about it, but go to urban areas to really get your game on.

So what is so fascinating about Pokémon Go?  I remember raising a similar question when the first Harry Potter book was published, and I was a brand-spanking-new teacher.  I was not about to skip the read while my students were devouring it.  I had to find out what the fuss was about – at least so I could be cool with the lingo.  By the way – have you read the latest HP book just released this week?  I haven’t but I intend to at some point just so I can HP-speak with the kidz.  But back to P-Go…  How can we make this excitement happen in life?  With real life that is?  With school? We need to get excited too!  We need to stand up and get moving.  We need to Go connect.

Want more information on Pokémon Go? I opened up my email after a little vacation and found an email from Dave Burgess, Pirate-Master, who recently blogged about Pokémon, and it fit almost perfectly with what I am sharing.  Check it out – Go to :

Well, I can’t give you all of the answers – Love or hate it – just let GO.  Just Pokémon Go!

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

Take Time for Yourself Because YOU Matter


Schoolmeester, Risacher, Vierstraete Families at Key Largo on Lake Shetek (Prisma Photo Art App)

My blogging partner and I were inspired by a recent blog post written by @MicheleCushatt. Her blog was titled Rest, and she beautifully pens why she is taking a ‘self-imposed sabbatical.’ I shared this with Dr. V. and we agreed that we both wanted to do this. We needed to do this. And, so…Dr. V. did.🙂 I’m sure you’ve noticed her absence during the month of July. I’m sure you’ve missed her. I know I have. Her writing will return in August, and then it’s my turn. I will be taking a little time for myself.

Taking time for ourselves is so important to our overall health. When I did a little researching on how to combat stress, the number one strategy that was mentioned over and over and over again in the books and in the articles was to take time for yourself.

HOW you take time for yourself is totally up to you. One size does not fit all. Some of the ideas mentioned in all those articles and books were…

Plan a ‘fun-day,’ get a massage, take a trip to the forest or mountains or lake, get a manicure or a pedicure or both, nap in a hammock, read a book, write a blog (check, got that one covered), get a facial, go to a coffee shop, enjoy a cup of tea or java (check, got that one covered), buy an outfit, color, draw, paint, find a hobby, share a meal with family or friends (check, got that one covered too. See the picture above), cook, listen to music, reward yourself somehow like buying yourself some flowers, play with Legos® or play a board game, or create a board game. Just play. Just enjoy.

Do any of these ideas resonate with you? Are there activities that you LOVE to do? Make a list of those activities that you have a passion for. Notice it said “DO.” Verbs please. A few examples for me might be: I LOVE to play with my grandkids. I LOVE to walk with friends. I LOVE to sit by a campfire and roast marshmallows. I LOVE to read Newbery books. I LOVE to rest on the porch swing.

Pencil these activities into your calendar, into your life.  They are mandatory. They will refresh you. They will help you think more clearly. Taking time for yourself will help you rest.

A selfless plug…my colleague, Dr. Mary, and I will be presenting at the 2016 MN Rural Education Association Conference in November at Cragun’s Resort. If you are one who will be there, we invite you to stop by our session on Monday, November 14th from 1:30 – 2:45 to discover more ideas on how to combat against stress.  We plan to have some fun, right Dr. Risacher?🙂

Blog Take Time for You.jpg

I will miss all of you while I’m taking my self-imposed mini-sabbatical. In the meantime, take time for yourself because YOU matter.🙂

Blog Mark

(Photo Credit Principal Mark French. Check out his blog here…Tale of two vacations by Elementary Principal Mark French)

Stay Calm & Take Time for YOU!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Eat Right Because YOU Matter: A Book Talk on Let Food Be Your Medicine

Blog Food Medicine

I’m sure you’ve noticed the #youmatter theme the past few blog posts. These posts have a purpose behind them…these posts have been reminders to myself. Reminders that I have been sharing with you. Advice to me that is important advice for all of us.

I want to continue to dream (July 7th post), to find balance in life (July 13th post), and to be healthy.  I am 100% positive that you do too. So, starting today, let’s get healthier together. Read on…

You are what you eat is not a new concept. And if it is true…that means I am one ginormous lump of sugar. The Standard American Diet should literally make us SAD. Simple carbs such as sugar, fried foods, refined flours found in donuts, all just a few items making us a sick population. Well, I don’t want to be sick, and I certainly don’t want to be a lump. For me…it’s time for a change.

In his book, Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent or Reverse Disease, Don Colbert, MD (2016) provides us with a blueprint for healthier living. I don’t know about you all, but I am in favor of that! Let me share a few of Dr. Colbert’s ideas with you to get you motivated to read his book.

Dr. Colbert suggests that we eat a modified Mediterranean Diet. Consume lots of fruit and vegetables, good fats such as olive oil and avocados, nuts, steel cut oats, and proteins such as fish, turkey, and chicken.

Dr. Don also believes we must rotate our food. For example, have chicken for dinner one night, turkey on the next night, then fish on the third night. Have a pear with lunch on Monday, an apple on Tuesday, and an orange on Wednesday. You get the idea.

If you suffer from a specific ailment, you will most likely find a chapter for that in his book. Are you battling cancer? There’s a chapter for that. Are you a Type II diabetic? There’s a chapter for that. Do you suffer from an autoimmune disease? There’s a chapter for that. Do you fear Alzheimer’s? There’s a chapter for that. And what is awesomesauce about these chapters is that within each of them, Dr. Colbert has designed an eating plan on how to fight back.

One interesting idea from the book that I am willing to give a try is flipping my eating plan. Dr. Colbert suggests to eat a big breakfast, a medium lunch, and a small dinner. Usually our eating plan is the other way around. This concept might look something like this:🙂


Cancer, dementia, autoimmune problems…all diseases found in my family. I read those chapters diligently and hope to follow them to the best of my ability. I also want to implement the 12-hour fast that is mentioned in this book. Going from dinner on one day to breakfast the next day without indulging. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…🙂

Speaking of breakfast…one of my husband’s favorite breakfasts is overnight steel cut oats. He mixes 1/3 cup of dry steel cut oats, 2/3 cup of coconut or almond milk, and 1/2 cup of fresh fruit in a mason jar. He tightens the lid then places the jar in the fridge overnight. At work the next morning, he warms it up just a smidgen in the microwave and enjoys. Full meal deal in one jar. Hmm…I think he is on to something good.

At 56, I am starting to notice changes in my body and in my health that I DO NOT approve of. I want to be in my “fabulous fifties” not my “frumpy fifties.”  Reading this book has given me some intrinsic motivation to begin making better choices.  I choose life. I choose to fight against pestilence. I choose to try my best. I choose to not give up when I’ve had a bad day. I choose to eat right. Want to join me? I hope so because YOU matter. 🙂

Until next time…wishing you good health and happiness!


Stay Calm & Eat Healthy!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.