Keeping Calm

Hello to you.

This blog post has been a long time in coming. The blog has been a bit of desert this past year. This past year has been an emotionally difficult year for me and I believe there is a connection here. As there has not been a lot of blogging going on, life has been going on full blast. Although I have been remiss in posting pictures and sharing with you, I have taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of pictures. I miss the sharing, the blogging, the creative energy you gift me and I thank you for being patient. I am sure I can look back over these past five years of blogging, and find other times I struggled creatively. When I am stressed, the creativity floats away. It seems that it should work otherwise, but does not for me. I am hoping to reboot in a positive way.

We are struggling, like many of you, in this difficult economy. I would love to know how you are going to make things work in 2012? I taught an extra course this past fall. It helped some. I am not panicked this winter to make the high utility bills. I don’t like writing a check for that much, but can if I need to. I had budgeted well for Christmas and spent every single penny. But, last week we were derailed financially. Sigh.

After sacrificing for two years while John worked on his postgraduate degree, we were behind coming into this past school year – farther behind than I was willing to admit. I kept up appearances, paid cheer fees, purchased school supplies and uniforms and pushed forward. John is still seeking a full-time teaching gig, but we made the per course situation mostly work. Then things began to add up. As a family, we have managed to hit the emergency room four times this past year. While caring for my father, I came down with a cold, turned bronchitis, turned pneumonia. I have had three colds since. This one will take a while to recover from. I just can’t shake not so good health for the first time in my life.

LibbyLu has had an injury or two this past year, but seems to be fairing well. She is thirteen and I am hoping her emotional life is tidier than her room. Some of you may know what I am talking about.

On a November afternoon, John met me outside my classroom door. His face was white and his eyes glassy. He said he needed to go to the emergency room. He had chest pains. By this time, I was sick of St. John’s. Yes, my family has had wonderful care there, but I know the hospital better than most of the employees I am sure. I am ready for everyone to be well. John spent two nights in the hospital and we walked out with few answers. He is feeling better, but I am watchful and nervous.

December brought the medical bills. I was discouraged but knew that we could manage. It would take some time, but it was doable. This is life.

Also, in December, John met his biggest teaching challenge yet. Two of his students, unhappy with his rigorous standards, decided to complain. This is not an unusual reaction by students. Missouri’s A-plus program has flooded our community colleges with young students pressured by parents to take advantage of two free years of college. This program has filled our classrooms with students who want an A, but have no idea what it takes to earn an A in college.

Three days before Christmas, after all the money was spent, the food purchased and packages neatly wrapped and tucked under the tree, John received an e-mail stating he would not be granted courses for spring semester. We are devastated. Understand, we are far more upset about the fact that this is college after all. College is not easy. College should not be easy. Grades are earned not purchased - an idea that may be outdated.

Teaching is becoming a very scary profession. Each spring, we sit and wait to see if contracts are signed for the next school year. There is little protection and no union. There is no tenure. Our jobs are fragile. Teaching was my dream. I worked hard to achieve my educational goals. I should be living the dream. What else is an English major to do? I have a degree in writing, I teach writing and I love teaching writing.

Thank you for reading along. I worry it is a big whine, but sometimes I need to whine. I appreciate you.


  1. My heart goes out to you. I will say prayers for you and yours and hope that something will turn around. I don't know how teaching works in Missouri, but my husband has been substitute teaching - he has a B.A. and an emergency teaching credential which allows for subbing. Not ideal, but it might help.

  2. I absolutely loved your class, and I loved when your husband subbed for you. I could tell that he expected a lot from his students, and I really appreciated that. It's a rarity to find teachers whose exPectations are high because they want you to succeed. At least, it's been rare in my educational experience.
    I am very very sorry to hear about your struggles. I, too, am finding this whole "living on my own" thing very difficult...I didn't exactly choose the right time to move out.
    I am praying for your family, that things start looking up soon and that the injuries and sickness cease. I wish you the best of luck in 2012! You are both truly great educators.

  3. Well, I have great respect for teachers that make kids earn their grades, but also present the class in an interesting and engaging manner.

    Here in Indiana, our not so beloved by me, governor ran on a platform that promised a better school system. We were gifted a voucher program. Now public schools are suffering, cutting classes and opportunities...and teachers.

    I really worry about the path SOME of are politicians are advocating. I hope the pendulum starts to swiftly swing back.

  4. Life seems tough right now, because you don't know the finished product.... keep your faith. Lean on it and know that better things are just ahead....Your family will stay in our prayers....

  5. You feel what you feel and are certainly entitled to speak about it. My wish for you and your family is that I hope that things fall into place for you soon.

  6. I'm sorry you are having a rough time, I do know how it feels believe me. Here in New Zealand we have a very different system of medical care than you, you choose to have medical insurance to speed things along but public healthcare is free (or subsidised) and is open to all. No medical bills here unless you choose to go private.

    I hope everything works out with your job and your husbands study.

    Just look forward to the new year and believe that 2012 will be a better year. I really am hanging onto that belief for myself.

  7. Those teachers who were the most exacting are the teachers I most remember and respect. They taught; I learned; and I never forgot their lessons.

    It's unfortunate that some children, and some adults, too, have a misplaced sense of entitlement. Whatever happened to integrity, responsibility for one's actions, and hard work? I hope that the slackers will be seen for what they are and that you and your husband will be appreciated and rewarded for the wonderful qualities you both obviously possess.

    Best wishes to you both. May 2012 be a better year for you and your family.

  8. I am VERY disappointed in that school. In the 2 years I attended, Mr. G. was one of my favorite teachers. I learned so much in his class this semester, and that was because he DID have standards that he stuck by.
    I hope this is a very temporary set back for him and your family, Kelly. The two of you have made quite an impact on my life, and I wish you the best.
    (We should get that coffee soon)

  9. They're not the only game in town. Chin up, better things are coming.
    Hugs to you both,

  10. Kelly, I hope a new door opens for your husband soon.

  11. As a retired teacher I understand what you are saying about the fact that teachers are not appreciated for all they do and the expectations they set for students. I know that I learned best when there were high expectations,and my students rose to meet high expectations. Those who did not were lazy and wanted everything handed to them and had parents who were the same. I think if we made people work for welfare, that we would raise the expectations of many in this country. I also like that in many countries students are expected to gift two years to community service upon graduation, or complete a community service project as part of their high school requirements. The high school I retired from was working toward that expectation and there were parents who supported it and others who were appalled by the thought. Teachers deserve much more respect and a much higher pay than they are given. People who have not taught do not know or understand all that teachers do or what their job fully entails. I pray that in 2012 a window of opportunity opens for your husband.

  12. Anonymous - How do I possible thank you for such kind support. You are right on so many points. We recently moved one of our children to a private school because the public schools were just not cutting it. She needed more and the new school she has moved to offered opportunity such as community service. In fact, this element of her education is required of the whole family. It is so wonderful and so the way it should be. If we teachers want respect and more money, we are going to have to start demanding it. A union would do us good here in Missouri and many of us are working in that direction. In the meantime, I still "own" my classroom and still teach my heart out. Thank you ever so much for stopping by. ~Kelly

    unDeniably Domestic


Thank you so much for dropping by. I do appreciate your thoughts and comments and hope you will visit again very soon!