August 4, 2016


     "People see what they want to see and what people
want to see never has anything to do with the truth." Roberto BolaƱo

     Merriam-Webster defines perception as "the way you think about or understand someone or something." I am finding this to be very relevant in my life this summer as I prepare to embark on my second year as a teacher with ECOT, the largest online school in the state of Ohio. This isn't my first teaching gig. I have done it all from public to private to small scale charter and now e-school, but I have never seen perception play such a large role in the future of my school until now.

     Someone thinks I am incompetent. Someone thinks my school is evil. Someone thinks what I do doesn't matter. Yes, I understand that is perception and what they think doesn't typically matter. But what if I say it actually does! There are other teachers out there angry because they believe my school takes away money from their schools. There are other teachers out there angry because they believe my school doesn't follow the letter of the law and do what the department of education requires of us. There are still even more teachers, professionals, that take time to bash my school and the work I do without ever having stepped foot through the doors or get to know the reality of online education.
     I take great offense to all of that. Perception does matter. Being crucified in the light of public opinion day in and day out is exhausting. Knowing what the truth is but not having others see or understand that truth is beyond frustrating.
     So, what exactly do I do as an online teacher?


I know that is staggering to some, but it is the truth. Yes, I teach the content required of me by the state of Ohio all wrapped up in a nice neat curriculum. Yes, I host live sessions for students to come and learn in a "face-to-face" platform. Yes, I also  maintain an asynchronous classroom where students go complete independent work. Yes, I make what seems like a MILLION calls a week trying to reach out to ALL my students and encourage them to log in and work. Yes, I even make goofy videos to capture their attention and keep them coming back for more.

Pure and simple though, I teach students to love language and reading and sometimes writing. 
I teach students the value of a good work ethic and how to celebrate successes and learn from the difficult challenges where they sometimes see failure. 
I teach students to believe in themselves and trust their instincts. 
I teach students to be the best individual human they can and know that there are going to be those who just cannot see through their own blinders.

     So, why is it important to have an online environment for students?

One question I get a lot is why can't these students just go to "regular school." Some of them could. Some cannot, and this is why.  

I met a girl at a doctor's office whose brother is a dirt bike racer and is planning to go professional by age 16. He cannot do that at a regular school. He already attends ECOT.

I have had students who were older than 18 but determined to graduate before the state of Ohio cuts off their high school attendance (this is age 21 in the state of Ohio). These kiddos don't feel comfortable attending high school with 13 year olds and up.

I met a gentleman who told me that his brother would have benefited from a school like ECOT "back in the day" because he spent 9 months of one school year in the hospital and couldn't attend regular school leaving him a full year behind.

I have had students who haven't left their houses in years because they have some sort of social anxiety disorder that makes attending a regular school impossible.

I have had students who have moved to the state and do not wish to enroll in a regular school for only a semester of credits needed to complete their high school.

I have had students who have been  mercifully bullied and no longer feel safe in their home school.

I have had students who love the feeling of homeschooling and the flexibility an e-school provides.

I have students who have children of their own and attending a regular school is not feasible for their schedules.

I have students that everyone else has given up on (including their home school that has kicked them out for one reason or another), and they do not think they will ever graduate.

     So, the local newspaper has something against my school. ODE has questions about attendance records. OEA depicts my school and those teachers who work there as evil and incompetent. This creates a false sense of perception and causes parents and students to hesitate before turning to us for their educational needs. I work for a fabulous school district -- one that I proudly defend. 

Perception matters!! These kids are seeking a quality education that they just cannot get from a "regular school," and while I cannot speak for every teacher and know darn well that there are schools with crap teachers left and right, I know what I do for them, and I know what my friends and colleagues do for them: We provide a safe and meaningful environment. 
MY KIDS are able to learn valuable life lessons and some English here and there! 
MY KIDS have meaning! 
MY KIDS know that I believe in them. 
MY KIDS know they are loved and that they have value in this world. 
MY KIDS know what ECOT gives them day in and day out. 

My perception is quite simple. I have been blessed with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students who might otherwise be lost in the system. I find hope in knowing there are students who need me and my guidance when the new school year begins. We will always be misunderstood. We will always have an upward battle on our hands. But we are ECOT; and we will thrive and survive through it all because WE know the value of a strong education and providing it to the best of our ability for those students we serve!


May 10, 2016

It just isn't your talent

How many of us as moms have to have that conversation with our kiddos that they just aren't up to par in that ONE area. That they happen to have their Daddy's abilities there. (yeah, I'm being specific here)

I saw the pic below on FB the other day and it brought all this in mind..
We laugh because, well it is funny, but we also have to think about it when it comes to our own kids. Teaching them to be realistic is so very important as they get older.

I showed the pic to my middle child, and he said it wasn't funny. He is my asthmatic. Oops. I wasn't actually pointing it out to him as it being him. I just really thought it was funny. Then I got to thinking about what I fail at and how I might show my children that I handle that. I'm horrible about wearing my emotions on my sleeve. If I'm mad at you, you generally know it. I don't tend to sugar coat it. If I'm sad, well, I cry a lot. If I need attention, I pout. I am a walking Inside Out commercial to be honest!

But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered how my hubby and I handle our children when they fail. Are we the "Great job!" even if they sucked? Are we the "you'll get it next time" knowing they really suck? Then I realized, that we are pretty straight forward, and I wonder if that is the best thing.

I think in some moments it is, but in others we have to restrain from saying exactly how we feel. We aren't necessarily trying to sugar coat it (I must need sugar), but we are trying to soften the blow of reality to maintain a sense of self-esteen. For example, the oldest.. GRRRR That kid drives me crazy. When he gets overwhelmed he gets very emotional.I have NO CLUE who he gets that from! Image result for roll eyes But the other day, he was fretting about choreography that he feels is a problem for him in show choir. He has a performance and was frustrated. He told a little fib about it trying to get out of the performance only for his most awesomest (yeah, still making up words) choir director to call him out on it. We were straight forward. There was an awkward teenager moment when he said (more like a yell) he didn't want to look like a "retarded potato" (still trying to figure out what the crap that means!), but we were firm with him that he is failing at problem solving with this situation. We were straight forward, and it turned out okay in the end as we helped him set up a couple of practice moments and such. Still working out some details on the science project that was actually the straw that broke the camel's back on this one, but it is a process.

Now, there are three of them, so I am sure I have scarred one of them at one time or another being so honest. Today, I got a chance to have an eye opening talk with O. We are at the point when we have to decide band, choir, or orchestra. I love that kid, but he HATES going to his brother's concerts and HATES music class and has his father's ability to carry a tune. It just skipped him. NOW, give him the rhythm and he can tap it out like none other, but please do not ask him to sing it. I'm not saying he wouldn't rock out percussion, but the idea of the concert seems to hold him back. There are just certain things that drives us. We have debated how to handle if he takes those three classes because it is rather prevalent and stressed for 6th and  up at our school district. The kid has a dance talent and is pretty stretched with time involved in that as it is, but as smart as he is, we struggle with the idea of him having a study hall (which is what the alternative is for the 6th graders). So, with the end of the school year approaching, I decided to ask him what he wants to do. He finally admitted that if he was realistic about it (seriously his words, so someone is listening to me) he isn't the best musician that exists nor would he want to stick with it for long because of the time commitment the older he gets. But we still have the dilemma of the morning study hall. He heard me mention that I wished the art teacher would be willing to do an independent study type of thing for him a couple days of week as if he were in band during that time, and asked me if I had talked to the art teacher yet. Guess I am going to send an email today. This is a result of us being realistic. Instead of being a frustrated, retarded potato (still trying to stop picturing that), he is being a problem solver.

The being realistic thing seems to work with that one at least. Let's hope it encourages all of them to just be problem solvers and to be willing to take a leap of faith sometime and ask for something that may never have been done.
It isn't always going to work, but I think following our heart over a situation makes us better parents.

Now to go send an email to an art teacher. Let's get real around here!

May 9, 2016

Something is wrong with your bone marrow....

"There's something wrong with your bone marrow."

Okay, wait, what?! The words stung worse than any bite I had ever had. What does this mean? You're sending me to a what? That sounds serious. It was just a shot put!!!

The craziest thoughts go through your head when you are faced with an uncertainty. You become frustrated, borderline irrational (or maybe completely). The rain just never seems to stop. Two weeks ago today, that was me, sitting in the orthopedic specialist's office after hearing him speak those words. Not only did I have a slight tear in my rotator cuff, but something is wrong with my bone marrow.

Something is wrong with my bone marrow.

So many thoughts. He said he was sending me to an orthopedic oncologist. "Shit, that sounds expensive." He said he couldn't give me further information other than what the radiologist had read. "Seriously, what did I pay you for?" He said that it could be nothing, but he wanted to be safe. "Thank you? What does that even mean!!"

Something is wrong with my bone marrow.

I went and sat in the car crying, not even sure what to think. I called my husband who spoke logic. I called my best friend who comforted me. I didn't want to tell anyone. What would I tell them anyhow! I could do nothing but wait.

Waiting is hard. I'm not a patient person when I want answers. I want to know what is going on. I want to be educated. I WILL NOT Google this! I WILL NOT listen to people's opinions! I will talk with friends and feel the support. I will find out who I try to talk to that doesn't have time for me. Quite surprising. I will find that a shoulder injury is just as invisible as having cancer. Oh, wait, but what if I do....

I avoid everything. I don't want to talk to anyone. I want them to pray for me, but I don't want sympathy. Oh seriously, that's how you respond. Don't feel sorry for me! Just pray for healing or something! I don't go to church that first week. I know I am going to have to go, but I'm not ready to feel God talking to me in public. Just not yet. I walk through life in a fog - a fog of pain and uncertainty.

The appointment is set. I anticipate it coming up, but at this point, I am just keeping myself so busy with track meets, and school work, and teaching work, and dance competitions. And, don't let me stop or I will think too hard. It's Mother's Day; I have to pretend to care. All I want to do is stay in bed and not feel anything. I've worked myself into a tizzy over this whole nonsense. What if it really is no big deal, a very expensive no big deal, but what if it is.

I went to church for Mother's Day. It happened to be the one day the most passionate worship and prayerer (Making up my own words, don't judge!) happens to come over to our side of the church and try to shake my hand. Push through the pain and let him shake it? I can't do it. I offer him my left hand to which he asks what is wrong. I just tell him I have a shoulder issue. A shoulder issue?! Kim, what the crap! How vague can you get. He asks if he can pray for me, and I pause. I PAUSED!! WHAT THE WHAT?! That is not me. Why would I pause?! Of course he can pray for me. When we prayed, he laid his hand on the shoulder that hurt. I could feel the heat of his hand. I could feel the power in his prayer. I felt at peace for the first time in two weeks. Thank you God for sending him to me. Thank you for giving me that reassurance that I needed- whatever the new, expensive doctor said. He asked me if it felt better. It didn't, but I did. How do I say that? I don't. I just say, no.

In a time of crisis, reassurance means everything. Prayer means everything. Family means everything. Friends mean everything. Everything MEANS EVERYTHING!

There's something wrong with your bone marrow.

But it's not cancer. Those were the words I got to hear today. At first I was overjoyed with the fact that it wasn't something that could alter the future of my family and my babies lives forever, but then I had to digest exactly what it really means. It isn't cancer, but it is edema of the bone marrow. What is that? Well, this doctor took some time to show me the MRI and show me what brought up that red flag. My bone is white. HAHAHA< I know that was my first funny in this drab and depressing post. In an MRI, your bone is black, but in mine, it showed up with white specks. It isn't very dense. Now for the educational part of this post. Basically bone marrow edema is defined as excess fluid in the bone marrow that builds up causing swelling. The injury caused my body to yell at me. The treatment is to reduce the swelling, to ease the rotator cuff tear through physical therapy, and hopefully to avoid surgery.

So what comes next? Well there is is something wrong with my bone marrow. There is no denying that. It is currently swollen. There is no cure for bone marrow edema. The treatment is to actually treat what caused it in the first place - the tear. PT will be hard, so if you see me out, please do not touch my right shoulder. It already hurts, and the last week with only ONE day of PT and at home exercises has been worse pain than I have felt ever (and I truly have a large pain tolerance). I ask for prayers for me in my pain and patience for forward movement. I ask for prayers to avoid surgery. I ask for prayers for my family who has to put up with my moodiness that comes with all of this.

But I mostly want to sing praises for MY GOD who has held my hand through all of this. Who brought me reassurance yesterday when I couldn't see the son shining through. Who is the healer of all things and who, more than anything, has got this! I don't seem to be able to do things halfway. This is the most expensive shot put I will ever purchase, but I learned a lesson over all of this. My biggest lesson has been to love and trust God because He has the power over everything. Someone remind me of this in a few weeks when I am pushing through the pain. This isn't the end.

This is only the beginning because something is wrong with my bone marrow.
Image result for God's got this

February 22, 2016

Dr. Prescription for Selfishness: Friends to remind you to breathe

Image result for stressed momEver have one of those crazy, insane days that doesn't seem to end? One day turns into two, then three, and a week, two weeks. Suddenly you don't remember when you just took a second to breathe?!
I have been having just one of those "days," and then a friend messaged me on Saturday apologizing because she forgot S. for her daughter's birthday party on Sunday. All that ran through my head were the millions of things that I had going on that were reasons we should not go. Then something hit me. Well almost hit me but then hit me. Let me go on a tangent for a minute...
In a moment that truly can only happen to me, I went for a run (and I am trying to condense this story that could be a post in itself). That is a little staggering, I know. I decided not to feel sorry for the RA pain and the procrastination that I had about my knee to just get out there. The park was full, so I took to the road for the way back because that happened to be "the road less traveled." 

Apparently, I wasn't the only one trying to find solace from the people. As I ran up the hill, I had to come to a dead stop because I was almost hit by a deer who decided to run out of the woods seconds before I would have been in her path. With heart racing more than normal and the fear of God in me. I returned to my car.                                                                                                                           Image result for deer in headlights look
I sat there for a pretty long time in a deep conversation with God. 
I ultimately had to thank him for stopping my selfishness in that blink of an eye. On that run, I was feeling angry for my crazy life. I was feeling angry for all the people that wouldn't get out of my way. I was feeling angry for the mean things I thought in my head about the Asians who were walking down the path shoulder to shoulder (5 of them mind you) and didn't budge when I said excuse me. The cars who looked annoyed at my presence on the road. The knee that wouldn't stop nagging me. Myself for allowing so much time between runs. A crazy busy schedule. Cleaning house. Doing laundry. Work. Taking kids places. The grouchy husband that seems to always be frustrated.  Have I hit all the bases?
Well, as I sat there in that moment of feeling sorry for myself God said, but you are so blessed. Don't call the men in white jackets, but I seriously could hear his voice whispering in my ear.  Image result for whisper    He reminded me of my dear husband who is actually working very hard on a difficult project at work and still taking time to be the cub master for O's Cub Scout pack and even more taking time to work a second job to cover expenses for his passion of triathlons. He reminded me that my husband needs my strength to find training time and guidance to nutrition and just patience. He reminded me that my teenager is just that: a teenager trying to find himself and looking for support. He reminded me of my quirky O. who unabashedly does his own thing and needs a Momma who will just say well done. He reminded me of my little mouthy princess who just seeks to figure out who she is in this great big world. But most importantly he reminded me of my friend. Remember the one I just mentioned? Yeah, I said I would get back to this. He reminded me of my dear friend who was sad that she forgot us for the party. He reminded me that when I last saw her she was having a few struggles of her own which only got more compounded in our time apart. He reminded me of her big heart and loving smile that always makes me feel like MY presence means something to her. And he reminded me that I am her friend and sometimes that means making a choice no matter how busy we are. Making a choice to take the time. Making a choice to show her love and give her that big bear hug that I knew she needed. Making a choice to stop being selfish and thinking of what I need to do and what was overwhelming me and give to someone else. 
Image result for friendship quotesSo I gave myself a pep talk and moved forward and said it was time to wake up and look around. My kids needed my attention, so the projects that weren't done went on the back burner. My husband needed nourishment and family time, so I took the kids to him with dinner. Albeit a short dinner, it was still one that was needed for us all. Then after a good nights sleep, I took some me time at church before the crazy schedule began again. But I took time out for my friend!! We went to the party, and we took the time to breathe and just enjoy. She doesn't know it, but making her a priority helped me to better realize how horrible on priorities I have gotten in the last few weeks. So with this post, I thank you, my friend! You are a true blessing. I hope you know how much your friendship means to me. As the events at the party clearly showed, God wanted me to be there for both of us. So I write this post to you. I write it to tell you how treasured our friendship is, and that no matter how crazy this life is for either of us, I adore you and how you make me feel so special every time you see me. You are my blessing, and my breathing lesson for the week was definitely making our time a priority! ❤️

February 15, 2016

Lazy Monday

Image result for lazy monday It has been one of those lazy Monday kinda days. My husband hates when we get a day off school and he has to go into work. What do I say to that? Awwww, whine about it. No, I'm not a very sympathetic wife. I also get summers off; is that a reason to cry? NOPE, cause I also have a job that requires me to work harder in 10 months than most people do in 12. Every second I get off is hard earned.
Most days off I can't help but wish it weren't a day off because I over-schedule myself horribly, the kids are wiry, and I can't help but think of what work is awaiting me when I return to school. Today, I was determined to have a true lazy day, and for the most part, I believe I have been pretty successful.
I did shovel the snow off the driveway, put the dog door back into the door because I'm tired of taking them out myself, weatherproofed said door, and weatherproofed my bathroom window. I have also watched The Price is Right, planned what classes I have to take to renew my license, and made sure the children remained alive. That sounds like a pretty successful day, but it isn't over yet. I still have the opportunity to get frustrated and upset before it is all said and done.
Will I get upset at the 14 yo who thinks it is okay to not have the homework I told him HAD to get done today done? Yup, that's already happened. He is now giving me mean stares as he walks back to the computer that holds said homework.

Will I get upset at the 11 yo who hasn't felt well for the last 24 hours and has therefore decided whining is the only way to get his point across? Yup, that's already happened. He decided to cry to me because I wouldn't look at a paragraph that he had written before he had written it because today, I am Mom, not an English teacher. And Mom requires that you do your work before you ask any questions of her because it isn't my homework.
Will I get upset at the 7 yo who hasn't cleaned her room at all today? Possibly, but she got to go play with a new friend today which seems to have made everything alright. Wait, where is my cell phone? Didn't she just get in trouble yesterday for swiping my phone and not asking for it! DARN IT! ;-)
Yeah, it's still crazy in my house. Yeah, there is always going to be someone somewhere needing Mom's attention. But right now, right here, I have my neck massaging fox on, typing on here, drinking some water (yeah, read that as water), and chilling out. All is right with the world, and I find myself truly blessed in this moment of downtime that The Lord has given to me. I hear Him encouraging me to be the person I am meant to be. I hear Him speaking to me about the direction my life is at this time and encouraging me to be always show the positive in a world where my children will see so much negative.  

And the silence is shattered. My children are fighting, so I must go perform miracles of convincing them not to kill each other. Through it all, I hear God confirming my purpose of making these children better citizens in this crazy life and, well there is screaming now, so I cut this short.....

January 13, 2016

Cold Adventures

Image result for aint a fit night out for man or beast]
Or shall I say day! Today, my family expected school to be cancelled due to severe cold. We were all very frustrated to find that not to be the case when we awoke. The 14 year old complained he was cold for half a second and moved on to get ready for the day (yeah, he's my favorite today). The 11 year old couldn't stop talking about the injustices of the world and how it was against his rights to be exposed to one of his Winter kryptonite (cold weather vs. asthmatic lungs). And my dear 7 year old is GOING to be the death of me! She screamed. She threw a fit. She put everything the rest of us felt into outright emotions on her sleeve repeating over and over, "It's too cold. It's too cold." OVER AND OVER AND OVER as loud as she possibly could.
I could have promised her a new puppy, and it wasn't working. She was insistent that she wasn't going to school. I told her she had no choice because I had to take her brother to school for show choir, so she had to get into the car and once there, no reason not to go. I tried logic. Yeah, really like she could handle that. I tried emotion. Don't judge me! I cry sometimes too!! I even tried guilt, but the kid wasn't going for any of it. Eventually, I just told her that we were going to take her backpack "just in case". I didn't mention that just in case was I lost my mind in the car!
Now, mind you, the morning rush around here tends to be a little (liar!) a lot stressful. Despite the plan of action, it always ends up crazy for some reason, but this morning it was just a hot mess. I was thankful that it wasn't fit outside for anything because if anyone had been walking past my house, they would have thought there was a riot inside between S screaming and O lamenting and me being exasperated and maybe yelling some myself (I HAD TO BE HEARD). HOT MESS!! There I am yelling again. 
Then, it was time to heat up the car. I turned it on and noted that the windows had iced over thinking okay, no worries. I will have A take care of it before we head out (remember he is my favorite right now). Only there wasn't an ice scraper. SO in my incoherent morning moment when my husband spoke to me (I was in a dead sleep just seconds prior to, mind you) I had a conversation that went like this,
"Cols. cancelled today?" HIM
"They cancelled at 11 p.m. last night" ME
BUT that was not the conversation he heard! THIS is what he heard....
"Cols. cancelled today? I am surprised ours hasn't cancelled." HIM

"They cancelled at 11 p.m. last night" ME
In his new found "wisdom" my knight in shining armor left me unprepared and without an ice scrapper because he took mine thinking I had no place to be! I will not be disrespectful and repeat the words that I said in my head as my children bravely stood around me too scared to speak at this point, but needless to say A was NOT going to get to show choir on time let alone the early that was requested by his teacher. (Still hoping his teacher understands what our morning stress is about.)
So, bundled and hoping for the car to be clear, we head out about 5 minutes late (not bad, I thought- SHUT UP BRAIN) only for S to decide she wasn't wearing her big coat because "it doesn't fit in the locker." WHAT THE CRAP!! YOU ARE 7! 5 minutes later, I put my hands on my hips and heard her say, "I am only doing this because when you do that with your hands and give me that look it creeps me out!" She then put her coat on and headed to the car. I still want to know what look that was cause I need to use it more often!!
Then we sat in the car another 5 minutes because it was impossible to see out the windows.  Have I mentioned that I still have to "get to work" myself yet!

As we round the corner to the main road, we find ourselves stuck in high school traffic. The stress keeps mounting... I went around in the turn lane to go around about 30 cars and then sat at the red light amazed at the teenagers who don't apparently know that a red light does NOT mean to pull your car slightly out into the middle of the road and stop. 

So the story could go on and include the missed Math Counts that Owen and I both totally forgot and the onslaught of work that I have. I have no choice but to sit here contemplating my morning and how annoying it had to be for my children because all I have given here is my particular point of view.

I am thinking how frustrating it is for A to oftentimes be late to things because of his little sister. I am thinking how upsetting it is for O to have a change in scheduling. I am thinking about my poor little princess who oftentimes just does everything with her emotions before thinking them through completely. I'm thinking that my children weren't the focus this morning. I'm thinking all of our frustrations was the focus.
I can't help but think about ways to improve upon that focus and make it more positive, but I just don't have that right now. I can't move beyond the first problem of the morning. Maybe tomorrow...