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My Life in Books 2019

24 Dec
I got this from Deb Nance at Readerbuzz.
Using only books that you have read this year, complete these sentences:
  1. In high school I was a—  One-Third Nerdand it was Operatic.
  2. People might be surprised by— How It Feels to Float.
  3. I will never be— Shouting at the Rain or The Lost Girl.
  4. My fantasy job is—   Queen of the Sea.
  5. At the end of a long day I need—  The Bridge Home.
  6. I hate—  The Sound of Things Falling.
  7. Wish I had—  Infinite Hope.
  8. My family reunions are—  A Place to Belong.
  9. At a party you’d find me with—  The Innocents and  away from the The Poison Eaters.
  10. I’ve never been to—  The Fountains of Silence nor Torpedoed.
  11. A happy day includes—  Stargazing and Best Friends.
  12. Mottos I live by:  Look Both Ways and Feed Your Mind.
  13. On my bucket list is —  The Ice at The End of the World
  14. In my next life, I want to have—This Golden Fleece.

Without any reservations

12 Nov

Just after 8 on Thursday morning, the phone in my room rang. At that hour, I assumed it was another teacher in my building, but as I picked up the receiver, I did not recognize the name displayed.

“This is Adrienne,” I said, curious about the mystery person on the other end.

“Hi, Adrienne, I’m K, the VP at XXXXX Middle School. So-and-So applied for a job in our library and listed you as a reference. What can you tell me about her?”

I don’t get this sort of call often, but I was more than happy to talk about So-and-So. We had worked together in the library and had just clicked.

The year before had been hard. The library assistant job had been eliminated and I had relied on a small group of volunteers, some more reliable and competent than others. The next year, the position had been restored and I spent part of the week before school started interviewing potential library assistants. When it was all over, So-and-so had been my first choice. It had been a good choice.

When my library position was eliminated, she had been expected to run the library on her own. She ended up resigning a few weeks into the school year. She was being asked to do a job she hadn’t signed up for, or been trained to do.

We kept in touch and now, almost seven years later, I had the opportunity to help her out. I gave her a glowing recommendation – all of it true. I had no reservations, not one single doubt, that she wold be perfect for the job.

I have yet to hear if she got the job or not, but I sure hope she will.


I’m back

11 Nov

It’s been a while since I posted here. I’ve lost a bit of my writing mojo, but it seems to be coming back.

Today, I am the guest blogger over at The Hub, where I have written about “What to Read on November 11th”. You can check it out by clicking on the link below.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 6.25.18 AM

Occupational hazards

29 Oct

I was sitting at a table, across from my teaching partner,  grading projects. We were both feeling happy – the quality of the work was great and we’d ooh and ah when we came across a particularly beautiful piece of work. As I turned from an assignment to the rubric that was stapled on the back. Something brown jumped.

I slammed the top sheet down.

Was that a flea?

I lifted the corner and it jumped again. Definitely a flea. I slapped the paper back down and wondered for a moment, Did Lucy have fleas? 

I stilled and thought carefully. The papers had been turned in on Friday and I had not brought them home. Lucy had received her monthly flea/heartworm medication last week and there had been no signs of fleas before or since. No, this flea was not from my house. I relaxed.

Then, I thumped the papers a few more times before looking over the work. I carefully lifted the top page to fill out the rubric – and to ensure the flea had been crushed. It had been and it left no mark on the rubric.






The best parent-teacher conference opener

22 Oct

“Hello, Ms. Gillespie,” my student’s father said, reaching out to shake my hand. “It is so nice to meet. And I noticed we have the same hair.”

It was true. The tall man from the Indian subcontinent and I had pretty much the same haircut. Because if its nature, my hair does best either very long or very short, so I have kept my hair short for many years and love it. Long hair is too much work.

I knew the dad meant his words kindly, so I smiled and said, “We do, but mine is a lot greyer than yours.”

He laughed and pointed at his head and said, “This is henna!”.

His wife slapped his arm and joined in the laughter. Their daughter, my student, looked mortified.

Few students came in to their conference smiling. I sometimes think that, for some students, parent-teacher conferences feel like some sort of cosmic collision of worlds. When I ask, many claim they have no idea what I am going to say, so I have a series of things I ask them during their conference:

Have you ever had a bad conference?

What’s been the best thing so far about 6th grade?

What’s been the best toughest thing so far about 6th grade?

Which math class are you in? Is it a good fit?

When do you do your homework? How much time do you spend on it?

Who do you eat lunch with?

I teach in a program for the gifted. Some students put a lot of pressure on themselves.  Some students have a lot of pressure put on them by their parents, especially when it comes to Math. These questions usually lead to most of the things I want to say to parents and mostly help put kids at ease.




Who are the people in your neighborhood?

15 Oct

“Can I help you find an address?” I shouted to the woman across the street.

That’s not a car of one of the residents, I thought when I saw her minivan pull into the parking lot of the small apartment complex across the street.I was walking Lucy. Or rather, I was standing outside with Lucy. I might have said I was walking Lucy, but, at 13, she now tends to walk for short distances then stand, looking around at the world.

We were in a standing phase when the car pulled up. I’d seen the woman get out of her car, walk to one of the apartments, get back in her car, back up, repark, get out again. When she came back to the parking area, Lucy and I had moved enough for me to see she had a parcel in her hands. She looked up at the sign on the building and back at the package. That’s when I figured she might need help.

It turns out, the package was destined for my side of the street.

Delivery people often make mistakes in my neighborhood. The streets go from 30th Ave, to 30th Place, to 31st Ave. Deliveries meant for people on my street, 31st, often get delivered to 30th Place because people assume the street after 30th is 31st. Once, I had a package containing jewelry delivered to my house, even though it was destined for my equivalent on 30th Place. The residents were stunned when I showed up at the door, but thankful. My neighbors all know this to be true and more than once I’ve encountered one while walking (or standing with) Lucy, on their way to or from a delivery snafu. Fixing these delivery issues is a little inconvenient, but neighborly.

Lucy watched as the woman crossed the road and went up the front steps of our condominium complex. Then she followed. The package was delivered by the time we reached our door. Missions accomplished.



17 Sep

I love the crunch of a good apple. It is one of the many reasons why Fall is my favorite season.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday, enjoying a crispy autumnal delight when I heard a CRUNCH. It was not a moment when I should have heard such a sound. Was something in the apple, I wondered illogically as I spat out the piece of apple. As I looked for foreign objects, my tongue wandered to the area from which the crunch had emanated. There were sharp edges and a space where tooth enamel used to be. A piece of my tooth had broken away.

Sunday night, despite this only being the third week of school, I had wished for one more day off. Slightly giddy with the realization that this was about to come true, I looked up my dentists phone number to make an appointment.

“I’m not experiencing any pain,” I told the receptionist. “I can do any day this week, but would prefer it not be on Wednesday, we have Back to School Night.”

Of course I got a Wednesday appointment. BTSN might be interesting this year!




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