Let’s Make Reading Irresistible

As a follow up to Karley’s post on raising a reader, I thought I would follow up with some of the things I have been trying this year to help my students stumble into the can’t put the book down frame of mind.


Choose Books That Matter

This one is a given but I think it’s still worth mentioning… When you pick a book for novel study, lit circles, or read aloud make sure that its a book that is irresistible! One of my favourite books from when I was in grade 7 is “The Giver” and even though its a bit old and a very common choice, I was so excited to share this one with my students this year. It was a great choice! Plus one of the best moments was after showing the movie in class and having the whole class say, “Whoa! The book was so much better than the movie!”

Some other favourite books: “The One and Only Ivan,” “Uglies” and a new favourite, “Rain Reign” (this one will make your heart melt). Our own enthusiasm for books definitely shines through to our students.

The Book Draw

I’ve already talked about this one and there are definitely some drawbacks to this (namely the cost of buying books) but it has inspired a lot of excitement around new books. So far I have used a gift certificate for some majorly on sale books and a free gift from Scholastic orders. A favourite comment I overheard from a book draw winner was, “Hey I think I’ll actually read this book! It looks cool!” And that’s a win in my books!

Book Bins

This is an idea from one of my courses in university that I thought I would try out this year. We haven’t started yet but they are all set to go and I’m so excited! Through Scholastic orders this year I managed to get a bunch of novels with my bonus dollars. I am very fortunate to be in a classroom with a huge classroom library this year so that gave me the opportunity to plan out this Book Bin idea. I put together two boxes of 25 books that are all labeled with a sign out sheet. One box will stay in my classroom and one will go to my partner teacher’s room for a month. These books will be used for silent reading time, take home books, kids who are finished early – Whichever! After about 5 weeks we will switch bins so the class gets a new set of books. I am really excited to add the new books into the class mix and I think that my students will be really excited. I think the mix of the timeline and knowing the books will be shared with another class in the same grade will help to make reading irresistible for my students! We have also talked about turning it into a friendly competition between classes and writing book recommendations before we switch. I think there are so many possibilities with these bins.

Since I already have lots of books saved up from over the years I’ve made it so that these two book bins are reusable as is, and each year I can bring them in at some point.


How To Raise a Reader?

If you thought this post was going to answer all your questions about how to get your child (or students) really into reading, well, I’m sorry for the misleading title, but I don’t think I really know the answer. This post is more my wandering thoughts about reading that I pondered today while driving all around this city accomplishing a myriad of tasks.

I’ve been checking the mail every day for a week in anticipation of the arrival of a glorious Amazon box containing my latest read.  Today it arrived and after ripping it open I promptly placed my child in her rocking chair to pose with the latest and greatest.

HNJHey Natalie Jean is a (very popular) blog I’ve been reading daily for over a year now.  Natalie Holbrook is the writer and she tells stories of her every day life, including musings about home decor, fashion, marriage, motherhood…I love her blog.  So, imagine my excitement when she announced last fall that she was writing a book and it would be available in March 2015.  I pre-ordered as fast as I could and sat and waited…waited…waited.  This whole waiting for eight months thing made the arrival of Hey Natalie Jean so much more…special? I don’t know, but in this world of insta-gratification, purchasing with the click of a finger and having the item arrive the next day (for a fee!), I really relished in the wait for this book.

As I was driving around here and there today I got to thinking about reading, and how excited I was to crack the spine of my new book.  I gently reminded myself to read it slowly, to savour every photograph and sentence.  And then I thought, “Why the heck am I so excited to read this book?  Karley – you are jetsetting to Europe next week for goodness sake, and you are more pumped to read a book than to pack your suitcase! What is wrong with you?!”

Wouldn’t it be grande if all parents had a child who loved to read? I think I have the authority to say that all teachers would do backflips to have a classroom full of avid readers.  How did I become such an avid reader? I thought while waiting at a red light.  It comes down to this: I know myself well enough to know what genres I enjoy most.  I have a thing for people and their unique stories (hence my daily blog reading).  I have a thing for Second World War history.  I also have a thing for rustic homemaking and gardening.  I have known these things about myself since I was approximately eight years old; therefore, titles such as Little Women, Little House on the Prairie and Jane Eyre have graced my bookshelves for as long as I can remember.  I think my parents, who aren’t actually super into reading, did a pretty good job of letting me read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  I had access to any books I wanted.  I used to sit in the bath for hours and read.  I used to go to bed early and read.  Now, when there is an extra bit of time in the evening I excitedly tell Joel, “Babe, there is time to read tonight!”  Confession: One of my biggest fears upon Charlee’s birth is that I wouldn’t have time to read anymore.

The arrival of my new book today was such a celebration for me.  I texted the above photo of Charlee and the book to friends and my husband.  I brought the book with me to the chiropractor and actually hoped he was running late today so I could sit in silence and get through a few pages (he was right on time). I started planning this post in my head.  I just think there is something so sacred about books; this is the reason I will never, ever own an eReader or purchase iBooks.

As a teacher I have struggled to help get some of my lackluster readers really into reading.  I’m not quite sure how to navigate that issue yet because I truly think a person needs to know their preferred writing style and their favourite genres pretty well before reading will become their most favourite activity of choice.  And asking a student, “Well, what do you like to read?” does not help the situation because some people really don’t know what they like.  I admit, it is frustrating to open book after book and be let down because the content is not appealing.  I think my husband is the only person I know who will continue to read a book even if he hates it (he complains the whole read, and I tell him to just give it up, yet he persists!) I hope, as a parent, to be able to convey my love of reading to my daughter.  I had a book themed baby shower back in September where we were gifted so many beautiful books for Charlee’s library.  The child is four months old and she already has a decent enough library that I’ve not yet had to reread a story to her.

Teachers and parents, what is your personal experience with reading? How have you managed to convince your students and children that reading is equal parts exciting and fascinating?  Feel welcome to share with us in the comments.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious reading to do.


How I Teach Math (for now…)

Along with this post is a new math activity on our Teachers Pay Teachers site – Take a look here.

As you probably know, teaching is one of those things you do which is ever changing. Even if you are doing the exact same lesson in the exact same unit with the exact same grade at the same school… something WILL be different! That’s because our students are always different. And it is one of the things I like most about teaching because I find it new and exciting all the time. So with that in mind, this is how I’ve been teaching math as of right now, the moment I’m writing this… Ask me tomorrow and it might have changed – ha!


One of my goals this year was to really work on how I teach math effectively. My learning (or Pro D I guess) started with the opportunity to test out the Educating Now website and continued through the For the Love of Math conference. Along with both of those resources have been MANY long conversations with colleagues, friends, family… Really anyone who would listen and answer my questions! About a month ago I realized that I was starting to teach math in a way that really worked for me.

Note: Most of these ideas are from other people that I have adapted to suit my needs. I apologize if I have not been able to give proper credit to sources but I had so many conversations that I can’t necessarily remember who said what. Please know that I am beyond grateful to everyone and anyone who has helped me on my (math) teaching journey.

Interactive Math Notebooks

IMG_3460I started this in January and I absolutely love how well they are working in our class! Most of my information I have on them is from Runde’s Room (she has an AMAZING resource on her Teachers Pay Teachers site that is worth every penny!) and then I have adapted my own activities from there. Basically every time we start a new section for math we have some sort of interactive notes that will become an entry in the notebook. Some helpful tips:

  • Keep a table of contents current on your board somewhere so kids can check that they are up to date.
  • Make your own notebook as a demonstration that can also be given to students who were absent to catch up
  • Have each student glue an envelope in the front cover of their notebook to keep spare pieces
  • Make sure you have lots of scissors and glue!

Small Groups

I started doing some small group lessons in the fall but hadn’t found an effective way to incorporate them into my practice. This is the one area that will definitely change as I continue to teach math because it really depends on class dynamics. Right now I am using a practice one of my administrators told me about: after each whole class lesson I assign some practice questions and then I ask students who are not quite understanding to meet me at the back table. There are a few students who by myself or their parents, have been told to come each time, there are quite a few who make the choice to come each time and then there are a few who come to the back as necessary. Together we work through a couple questions and using the small whiteboards I can quickly check to see who is understanding or not. This has been a great support for some of my students and I have noticed a big difference in their understanding.

Math Stations

This is another time I use small group teaching too. On Fridays we have a double block of math in which we usually do math stations. Although with Pro D Days and early dismissal we haven’t done this quite as often as I would like! For the math stations I have 5 or 6 stations set up that we rotate through in the double block. Usually the stations look like this:

1. Basic Facts Practice (a routine we have set up in our classroom)

2. Problem Solving (whiteboard markers and window space make this a fun one!)

3. Small group teaching (I go over a new lesson or extra practice similar to the above small groups)

4. Unit Specific Game (This is where I love TPT resources – Especially the free ones)

5. Basic Facts Game (The dice game Pig is a favourite)

6. BuzzMath (Sometimes we do this one on the iPads)


This is one of my favourite new practices I have learned from a colleague! For our assessments we are now using a 4 question assessment for each Prescribed Learning Outcome (PLO) from the curriculum. Basically, my teaching team and I have sat down and created these assessments that have four leveled questions relating to the topic. The first question will show a basic understanding of the topic, usually something covered in a previous grade. The second question will be a very basic, practical application of the concept. The third question will show the application of the concept in context and the fourth shows higher level thinking either through problem solving or combining multiple concepts. This is such an easy way to get a snapshot of a students understanding and it takes away the pressure of the big math test.

Unit Plan and Assignments

When I go to plan a unit I usually look back at the curriculum from grade 6 to remind myself the basics that they should have. We always start our units with a good review of previous topics (I love using Math Aids for this, although not super interactive it is a lifesaver when it comes to prep time!) One of my biggest obstacles this year was trying to figure out what to mark myself, what to record, and how to help kids take responsibility for their own learning. What I have been doing for any assignments/homework that I give from the textbook is that the expectation is now that a completed assignment is finished, marked, AND corrected. The day the assignment is due I walk around with a clipboard and check students off for their assignments. Yes having students mark their own work is a bit of a risk, however you can usually tell who is doing the work properly and it really has put the learning back on them! It has also helped my student to make sure they let me know if they have had trouble or questions about their assignments.

Where Am I Going From Here?

I am going to continue with most of these practices for the rest of the year. My main efforts are going to be trying more project-based learning in math for our last few units. I am not quite sure how this will go but I will keep you posted! As far as plans for future teaching? The only thing I would like to change is to really increase my use of small group teaching. I’ve struggled a bit with the classroom management aspect of this with my current class but I think in the future I will have a better idea of how to lay out expectations and practice appropriate behaviour as we begin meaningful math practices.

I would love to hear your feedback!

What do you do in your math class?

When I Go Back to Work

Disclaimer: As always, this post is from the heart and based solely on my own experience and opportunity.

A few people have been asking me lately what I’ll do when I go back to work. I’m starting this post on my phone, with my baby snugged up in my arms as she tries to fall asleep for her first nap of the day and if I’m honest, it’s hard to think about work right now.

Before Charlee was born I interrogated talked with several teacher friends, whose opinion and knowledge I trust deeply.  We talked on the topic of babies for a long time. Part of me wasn’t sure if a baby was the “right thing” for the moment because my teaching career was (still is) so young and new. I was just getting my feet wet in our district and then BAM, I’d be off on maternity leave. Another part of me leaned into the fact that Joel and I had always wanted to be “young parents” (we are 27 and 29). I was scared that if I had a baby I wouldn’t love my job as much (who AM I?!?) and I knew for a fact that if I had a baby there would be no way I could work full time after maternity leave because I experienced full time teacher work last year and it literally used up every ounce of energy, heart and soul I had. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to be the mama I wanted to be and the teacher I wanted to be if I went back to work full time after having a baby.  This was a big dilemma for me, because I’ve always been the person who is going to go big or go home.

One dear friend said to me, “Please have children – you will do a wonderful job as a parent”. Flattering, right? Another dear friend told me that having her son made the true meaning of life clear to her. Both of these friends are teachers, mentors and leaders in our district…I figured if these phenomenal women could do it, I could do it.

Obviously we decided to follow our hearts and we had a baby.

15w3 (1024x731)Our girl is now in between three and four months old (don’t ask how many weeks…math is my weakest link and I’d have to look at a calendar to let you know). The other day Joel jokingly said to me,”Only nine more months of mat leave!” and you know what? I felt sad. Nine months to me sounds like nothing. I have no idea where the last four months have gone, so only nine more is like…what?! Note: Dear readers to the south, I know your maternity leave is basically non-existent and I feel for you.  I don’t know how people are expected to have and raise children on such a miniscule maternity leave plan.  And to our readers in Sweden, I want to move to your country.  Don’t get me wrong, I am entirely grateful for the maternity leave offered in Canada, especially because I am able to actually utilize all twelve months of it.

Confession: I am not in teacher-mode right now at all, as you can likely discern from my extreme lack of posts on this blog. If fact, when I even so much as think about teaching I can’t even draw up one fun, inspired lesson plan or idea. My brain is literally like, “Nope…you’ve got nothin'”. And I suppose that’s how it should be right now. This whole baby time IS my very own lesson; I am not the teacher, my daughter is. It’s like I’m in a year long inquiry project and it’s awesome.

Today my dentist asked me how I was enjoying maternity leave so far. She mentioned some people don’t enjoy it as much as they think they will. This has not been my experience. I adore maternity leave. Recently a friend explained to me how her life has become very simple since her son’s birth. I just think that is so beautiful. My life has also become much more simplistic since Charlee was born. For example, barely any of my days are planned right now, which is a new thing for me. We do what we want, when we want. Yesterday we went on two different hour long walks. Today we are having our nap an hour earlier than yesterday…on the couch instead of in the crib. My life has slowed wayyy down compared to last year’s full time teaching gig. I love it. My mind has space to wander and appreciate. My body has time to heal and rebuild. Somehow I can’t find time to cook dinner, but I’m not worried about it…I solved that problem and might touch on it in another post at a later time.


She loves this game! (Most of the time).

For now I am fully immersed in the peaceful calm that is raising our baby girl during her first year of life. I’ve learned it is my attitude that makes this experience “the peaceful calm”, because trust me, there are times when it is neither peaceful nor calm.   I’m learning there is nothing a deep breath can’t solve (I started to learn this last year when I taught grade 8!)  It is my greatest honour to be here for Charlee right now.  And next December when I go back to work, I’ll only be doing so part-time. I don’t know what that looks like right now because part-time contracts vary greatly in our district. What I do know is that I am now first and foremost a mama. Teaching has become a tiny bit more of a job for me, whereas last year it was a lifestyle (and an unsustainable one at that!) This doesn’t mean I won’t teach with all my heart and soul ever again…I will, just only part of the time.

Teacher-mamas out there, how lucky are we that our profession allows us to work and still be there for our children? I’d love to hear from you about how you managed to juggle teaching (part time or full time) and being a mama when going back to the classroom after maternity leave. I have a lot of learning coming my way in the near future!

PS- Charlee is still asleep in my arms. I just wrote a whole post from my phone with one thumb. How skilled am I!


The Truth About Teaching New Things

So here is the truth about trying new things while teaching. Every time you try something new one of five things can happen:

1. It goes perfectly (or nearly) and you’ve struck gold! (This is so unbelievably rare so rejoice!)

2. You try it a few times before it works

3. You try it a few times and then give up

4. You do it over and over again until you make it work (this rarely happens but sometimes, if you’re stubborn like me, it works… eventually!)

5. It fails. It fails miserably. Often in the middle of the activity and you wish you could pretend that you never even started. Sometimes you even try to awkwardly change what you are doing in the middle, usually only to fail even harder… Silent reading time?

So why do we never talk about this? We so often share our success (especially in the blogging world!) but what about those failures? They are equally important to our learning and growth as teachers. They are also important moments for our students to see us as human. I say we start sharing our failures as well as our strengths. Let’s laugh about them. Let’s learn from them together. Let’s be a little more human for each other.

This year I have tried a lot of new things and while some of them have been great, some have definitely failed miserably.

During my French centres, I had a lot of successes and I loved being able to spend time with small groups looking through books and practicing oral language. But then I had them hand in one of the assignments from a station. It was an “About Me” poster (but all in French), and I got a lot of nicely coloured posters. Unfortunately about half of them were lacking in the French part of the poster and a few more of them took weeks if not months to track down. Lesson learned! This was not an individual activity and required a LOT more scaffolding then they got.

I have a new math assessment that I will talk about in a later post, because in itself it is great! It involves four leveled questions and it is a great snapshot into what they are doing. So naturally after I had spent a good two hours creating these assessments with a coworker I was excited to see how the kids would do. I left it with my substitute teacher while at a workshop last week and collected them to mark at home. You know what helps with math word problems? If the pictures you need to solve the problem are on the sheet… Imagine that hey? I must say I got some very creative answers that I was impressed with! But overall it wasn’t anything I could mark, and the kids were less than happy when I made them redo it with the real questions the next day. Whoops!

And finally, my advisory activities… This has been one of my favourite things about middle school and I’ve tried new things with every class. I was most excited for my goal setting this January. I had the duotangs all ready to go, sticky notes for their weekly goals, the SMART Goals board made up, a lesson plan to introduce it… What could go wrong? Oh right! It’s middle school. I spent a whole block on the goals and what a SMART goal is and was feeling so proud of myself. And then I read the weekly goals… “My goal is to get my haircut,” “My goal is to make a better goal next week,” “My goal is to not set a goal”… Greeeaatttt… Well that’s what I get for thinking it was going to be an easy process! (In all honesty, our goal setting has got much better and this is worth doing!)

What are your lesson failures?


When Pigs Fly…

Speaking of where our inspiration comes from, I’m so excited for a new monthly activity I’m starting in our class that came to me while listening to one of my favourite radio stations (JRFM). They have this thing on Friday’s called “Pigs Fly Day” and they will play a song that they normally wouldn’t (like oldies or a different genre). So how does this relate to my classroom?

IMG_3434On the last Friday of the month we are going to have “Pigs Fly Day” in our class. This week I will put a box out with some slips (PigsFly) for suggestions and the class will have a week to enter suggestions for things we could do that would normally never happen… i.e. “When pigs fly…”

Here are some of the suggestions I have given to start them off (but I’m hoping they will be much more creative than me!)

  • Pajama Day
  • Movie afternoon
  • Cookie decorating
  • Games day
  • Indoor campout

So this is not exactly part of the curriculum or anything but my hope is that it will help build more community in the class and strike some creativity up as well. Plus, I really think having fun in the classroom is one of the most important parts of teaching!

What things do you do to bring a little more fun into your classroom?

Any great ideas for our “Pigs Fly Day”?


What Has Blogging Done for Me? – part 2

Following Meaghan’s most recent post, I decided to do my own post on what blogging has done for me.  I, too, have been thinking about our blog quite a bit lately, but, like Meaghan mentioned, you probably wouldn’t guess that based on my lack of posting.  I guess having a little baby at home shifts the pendulum a wee bit, but that’s not to say teaching and blogging haven’t been in the back of my mind!

When Meaghan and I started this blog a year and a half ago we didn’t really have an end point in sight and we weren’t even really sure what we would blog about.  Obviously teaching would be the main subject of discussion here on Tale of Two Teachers, but we didn’t really realize where this blog would take us.  As I sit here and ponder this thought, this is what’s surfacing…

Reflection: Meaghan mentioned self-reflection in her post.  As new teachers we both excel at self-reflection; I might say we’re even a little too reflective sometimes.  This blog has served as an incredible source for me to put my thoughts on teaching into words.  This blog has helped me sort out some of my greatest teaching struggles so far because of the things I’ve written and the constructive feedback I’ve received.  In some ways I think the only reason I survived teaching my grade 8s last year is because of Tale of Two Teachers – trust me, you have no idea how many times a day I’d think to myself (or tell my students out loud), “This is going to make a great blog post!” Which leads too…

Documentation: This blog is an archive of my past year and a half of teaching.  It’s a public journal of my highs and lows, my successes and fails and my trials and tribulations that occurred during my first full time contract.  I love that I can scan through our 200 some odd posts and learn about my teaching from my own writing.  I also love that much of the highlights of my year are in one easy access spot so when I need a quick reminder of how much I love my job (even though I’m off this year) all I have to do is find a post and give it a quick read.

Stress relief: Believe it or not, blogging is a huge stress reliever for me.  I remember last year some days I’d come home with 70 science projects to mark, 26 communication calendars to respond to, report card comments looming and a bomb of a kitchen and I’d drop everything to blog.  Recently, a non-teacher friend of mine (yes, they exist!) said to me, “Writing stuff down really helps you process, hey?” We were talking about my somewhat traumatic pregnancy/birth experience.  Even in the part of my life that has nothing to do with teaching, I’m finding increased peace through writing.  So yes, I keep blogging even when I’m on maternity leave because it relieves stress.

And with that, I likely won’t write another teaching related post for at least a month – ha! I’ll try not to wait that long, but no guarantees.  Meaghan and I have some fun posts planned coming up after spring break. Stay tuned!


Here's the sweet little love that takes up most of my time these days :)

Here’s the sweet little love that takes up most of my time these days :)


What Has Blogging Done for Me?

I have been thinking about our blog a lot lately, although you probably wouldn’t have guessed that based on my lack of posting! There are a couple of reasons that it has been on my mind more than usual but a big one being that I have really missed posting regularily. Blogging has been an important part of my teaching practice and although I am crazy busy right now with full time teaching, coursework, coaching and trying to have something that resembles a social life, I really do miss the blogging piece!

1. Self Reflection
A friend reminded me the other day about how much self reflection I’ve done because of this blog. It has truly helped me to become a better teacher and better learner so much faster. The lessons and ideas that I write about here are so much more rooted in my mind that I find it easier to remember what I was doing or teaching about last year and comparing it to where I am at. Like this lesson last year, I was able to do it again this year but added a few more very effective tools to make it even better.
2. Connecting
It’s funny re-reading your own words- sometimes it feels like reading someone else’s words and sometimes it feels like I’m just talking to myself HA! This post on being a shy teacher has been popping up on our “most viewed” list more frequently lately and I was wondering why. I went back and read it and remembered the state of mind I was in at the time. A lot has changed since then but I am still so grateful to be in a profession where connecting with new people is the most powerful thing I can do, there are so many amazing people in this teaching world! And to be able to connect with other bloggers and teachers from other parts of the world is an amazing feeling.
3. Inspiration
Karley and I were talking about a teaching plan we had the other day and we both thought “this will make an excellent blog post!” It’s funny where inspiration can come from. Usually our posts are inspired from something we have done at school but sometimes it’s the other way around – we want to write an awesome post so we do something in class. This might seem a bit self-serving but you know what? I think in a job where you have to be “on” all day, everyday it’s a good thing to get inspiration anyway that you can! And obviously collaborating with Karley is a big source of inspiration as well!

So on that note… Blogging is good for me and I am making a commitment to start blogging again more regularily. But we would also love some help! If you have any ideas for topics we would love to hear them, if you want to guest blog for us please shoot us an email, and if you enjoy a certain post let us know in the comments!


Teach it Tuesday: Advisory Activities

Long time no chat! Things have been a bit crazy in our lives so blogging seemed to come to a grinding halt. We still have lots of ideas and intend to get back on the blogging train as soon as we can.

IMG_3385Our middle schools have a period called advisory every morning which allows us to handle any messages, attendance, etc. but is also a time to do things like Feel Good Fridays and other class/team building activities. In my class I’ve tried a few things out in the past month, most of them involving little or no prep so that things can get going while I’m dealing with attendance, newsletters, etc. So here are my new “go to” activities for Advisory…

Goal Setting

Every Monday, students write up a new goal on a sticky note and post it on the board. They also do a reflection one their last weeks goal that we keep in folders altogether.

Partner Talks

As mentioned in this post, I have been trying to incorporate more AB Partner talks into my lessons. For advisory, I write a few sentence starters on the board and they are to sit with their AB partner and chat until announcements come on. It is a nice easy way to incorporate some additional time for other subjects as well, e.g. “Tell your partner about your creative writing assignment.”

Math Investigations

I received a book of these at the math conference I went to and then I added a few of my own games as well. These short little math activities make for a great, interactive start to the day.

Thought Block

This one I’ve already talked about back here, it still remains one of my favourites. It really gives more opportunities to explore those pieces that I love about teaching but sometimes get lost in the curriculum. Most recently one of my friends gave me a lesson based on the Pixar short film “For the Birds” that addresses bullying behaviours.

Other Activities

And the self explanatory ones: math facts, silent reading, student choice… these all still have their place! My class really enjoys silent reading and it really does make for a nice start to the day.

What are your favourite lessons these days?


Feel Good Friday: Humans of New York

Hey everyone,

Just a quick post today about a Humans of New York (HONY) story that’s been making waves this week.  HONY, created by photographer, Brandon Stanton, aims to capture the portraits and stories of the unique individuals who live and work and gallivant in New York.  This simple, yet astoundingly beautiful, act of art has generated a huge following on social media since its inception in 2010.  Earlier this week Brandon photographed a young boy who shared a story about his personal champion, his principal, Ms. Lopez.  This is what the boy said:


“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.” source

Naturally, as an educator who aims to be just like Ms. Lopez, I cried when I saw this HONY post.  This post had the most incredible reaction from Facebook followers and many people asked how they could help the boy’s school.  Fast forward to today…

Brandon (HONY photographer) managed to track down the real Ms. Lopez and he ended up in a series of meetings with her.  In only five days Brandon, Ms. Lopez and a team of other individuals have managed to raise over $350,000 for the school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

Can we all just stop for a minute here and send some gratitude to the young man who was brave enough to share his story with Brandon.  Because of that boy’s shared story, his school now has the ability to achieve some serious goals and create some phenomenal projects in the months to come!  I absolutely adore this story.  Three cheers for Ms. Lopez, Brandon and the students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy – way to be the change!

I bought our own versions of Humans of New York for Christmas this year.

I bought our own versions of Humans of New York for Christmas 2014.