Culmination Address for the Class of 2018

Now: a family car ride. 

Each year I write an original oratory in the style of a graduation speech for my students. Here is this year's version. 

What Will You Do Now? 

Yesterday, I was stuck in traffic. You know what that’s like. I was trying to get my kids home from swim lessons after a long day. We were tired and traffic was West LA-horrific. I was seeking out some magic path to get us home a little faster while Gabe screamed from the back seat, “Go, cars, go!” and Kiara complained about “Too many people.” I was anxious to get us home, but took a deep breath, knowing we would have to wait it out. I could’ve complained along with them, honked the horn, or continued to find another way. Or we could sing along to “Un Poco Loco” with the windows down. We could do our best to enjoy the drive.

Time is a strange thing. I remember when you all were in the sixth grade. You were smaller then, and your eyes hadn’t yet seen many of the things they’ve seen now. The world seemed different, then: a little bit simpler, a little less divided, a little less complicated.

Now, three years later, I have had the chance to teach and coach many of you, to read your stories, essays, novels and poetry, and you have three years of learning from teachers, time with friends on field trips and in classrooms. But what will you remember most?

Author Ruth Ozeki in her novel, A Tale for the Time Being writes, “I have a pretty good memory, but memories are time beings, too, like cherry blossoms or ginkgo leaves; for a while they are beautiful, and then they fade and die.”

That is what I’m thinking about today.  How we can cherish memories of middle school, or moments stuck in traffic with my young children, knowing their beauty will quickly fade away? How can we find peace in the moment and still hold our memories close?

Ozeki also writes, “In the time it takes to say now, now is already over. It’s already then.” Now. Now. Now. Three moments just passed from now to then, and with each breath, each now, our lives are transformed into memories.

In all of these nows, how can we make the most of our lives? Do we procrastinate by playing video games or scrolling through an endless Instagram feed? Do we go for a run, shoot a few extra shots, rehearse that speech a couple more times? Do we put finishing touches on a project before it is due or buckle down to study for a test?

The answer: I don’t know. That is up to you. Your nows, all of the moments of your life, are yours. Hopefully you used a few of those nows to think about who you are, what you believe and love, and what truly makes you happy. Not what pleases your parents or teachers or friends, but what will you give you joy in the end.

Steve Jobs says, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

I hope that is something you spend your nows doing, because that is something I have learned from all of you. I love the Class of 2018 because you come from so many different perspectives, so many different experiences and there is no way I could tell any of you how to live your lives. The only life I can live is my own.

Charles Bukowski says, “Your life is your life/know it while you have it./You are marvelous/the gods wait to delight in you.”


Blog Round-Up for 2017

It's been quite a year, and I think most of us saw it coming. With the election of 2016 in the rear-view,  what could we expect but chaos and trauma, injustice and ignorance? There was plenty of all of that, but there were also doses of hope and many galvanized souls against a common enemy. I blogged about some of that despair and some of that hope. Thanks to all who read along. Here is 2017 in review.
This is my sixteenth post of the year on this blog, plus I posted another four on Throwing Cookies, so 20 posts for the year is four short of my goal, but not too bad.

Many of my blog posts are still about life as a teacher, and my third most read blog post this year, "Still Learning..." was about a moment when I questioned the work I do. A special group
of students helped me remember why I love what I do. Many of these same students came to our ESA signing day and have come back to visit this winter after their first few months at college (four of them at Oregon!). Watching them come into their own as young adults is such another reward of this profession.

My second most-read post came this summer, in the wake of white-supremacist actions. In "Help me, please," I asked for help explaining our world to my kids, my students, and my nieces and nephews.

"On the 75th Anniversary of the Executive Order 9066" I told the story of my father's family as they and so many other West Coast Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. These words and pictures captured a little of the toll this injustice had on the Nakadas.

These three posts have become the fourth, fifth, and sixth most read blogs ever and I appreciate all the reads and shares. And with 2017 behind us, lets hope for more justice and hope in the days to come.


My Year in Books

Ugh! I've been putting off this post hoping to finish a couple more titles, but the hours in the year are dwindling, so here it is. My favorite read this year were: Another Brooklyn, Citizen, Posada, March, and Homegoing, but really each book on this list was a worthy read. It was a good year in books. Here are annotations of the 22 books I read in 2018:

Everything, Everything by Niccola Yoon

Loved the happy surprise of a narrator who is half-Japanese, half-black. Her bubble-girl scenario makes for an interesting scenario and poses the question: is it easier to keep our girls locked away, hidden in rooms and towers than to subject them to the germs, the unknowns, the evils of the world? The writing and plot isn’t as strong as The Sun Is also a Star which blew me away from cover to cover, but I enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing how this comes to the screen (although the mom is supposed to be the Asian one).

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

This novel, about a girl growing up in the grief of losing their mother, losing the south, nearly losing her brother, searching for her father, and finding her place beside other girls, is a beautiful tribute to girl hood. She navigates adolescence, womanhood, a world teeming with sexual violence and drug abuse, friendship, religion, race, class and creative spirit. I loved spending time with these girls, and these pages do illuminate another Brooklyn.

March, Book One, by John Lewis and Andrew Andin

This nonfiction graphic novel teaches us so very much about how to tell a story. Flashing between the inauguration of President Obama and the early days of John Lewis the child, the young man, and the college-student and activist. An excellent reminder of all the organizing and work that led to SNCC and the civil rights movement.

March, Book Two, by John Lewis and Andrew Andin

Book two moves forward from John Lewis’s work as a student volunteer to a SNCC organizer building on the momentum of the March on Washington into the Sit-Ins in the South, and the failed March at Selma where Lewis is badly beaten.

March, Book Three, by John Lewis and Andrew Andin

Book three takes on the work for voting rights, voter registration, and the Voting Rights Act. This seems so timely as voter suppression is on the rise after the Supreme Court weakened the act in 2013. This final book captures the heroic march from Selma: exhausting, heroic, and ultimately successful. The pages that spoke to me most clearly were the ones depicting the role teachers had in bringing public support for the sit-ins. This powerful trilogy demands we ask: what are we doing for the movement?

Posada by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

These poems show us our city and our country at the southern border where lives are lost and found, sucked dry and resurrected. Bermejo’s poems cut to the bone and demand you to bear witness, to see the lives that are hidden in the desert brush. She demands we look not only at the streets where we drive, but at the cactus alongside the road and to remember the land, and the people, where we have built our country and have erected borders to keep them out. A powerful and important work.

The Fire This Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward

A modern response to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, this collection of essays captures today’s Black writers on the experience of being Black in America. There is coming to terms with our racist past, adjusting to Blackness in America rather than in Jamaica, and the unrelenting violence Black America must live with and the rest of America must work to resolve

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This YA novel tells the story of Starr Carter, who witnesses the murder of her childhood friend by a white cop on the streets of New York. Watching this young protagonist exist in two worlds, her Black community where her father owns a corner store, and her private school life mimics the code switching so many of our students must do when they come to school each day. I love how this young girl finds her voice in the midst of political and personal chaos.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

A novel with shifting POV surrounding a murder similar to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, helps illuminate the misunderstandings of eye-witnesses. These many voices of his sister, the girl who stayed with him in his final moments, and the many other survivors he left behind, reveal all that informs how we choose to see the world.  
Turning Japanese by Mari Naomi

This graphic novel captures a time and experience I’m very familiar with. From wanting to get in touch with her Japanese-ness with a trip to Japan, to struggling with dating men with yellow fever, I could relate with many of the author’s experiences.

Homegoing By Yaa Gyasi

A story that arches across oceans and families, telling the story of two half-sisters, their different lives and the lives of generations to come. So many of these stories will haunt me: dreams of fire, seeking freedom and losing your young son, the long-stretching curse of those who dealt in human lives, the castle and those kept beneath it, the human impact of the Fugitive Slave Act, and the incarceration of so many innocents to float an economy of privilege. A beautiful resolution in water and salt and lineage separated by so many years and lives.

Blu’s Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

This book is so filled with grief and tragedy, but also triumph in the ways each member of the family struggles to survive. These kids all try to be there for Mama, for Poppy who can’t be there for them, and for one another in a world that can be so harsh, to brutal, so damaging. This book helped remind me of all that I’ve learned from this author about how to remains to your story, characters, and voice.

Citizen by Claudia Rankin

This book is a thought, a dream, a meditation on what it is to be Black in America. It looks in the eye of “narrative structure” and says, you don’t see me? Why should I honor you? The sections on Serena Williams illuminate so much of the constant burden it is to bear being the other, the unvalued, the invisible. Every slight holds that weight and these pages hold it so very well.

The Whetting Stone by Taylor Mali

This poetry chapbook blew me away. The way it handles loss and grief and mental illness is so tender and beautiful. He manages to work in light moments, although others are devastating. It is truly to voice of a survivor who will always wonder what they could have done to help prevent a lover one’s suicide.

Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamar Hill

This book is so thoroughly researched and thoroughly depressing. I don’t know that I’m the book’s audience, as someone who already acknowledges the bleak world Black Americans occupy, but this book provides so much historical perspective and statistical analysis that the arguments seem inarguable. But will it change any minds? Will anyone who sees the world from a conservative point of view read or buy any of this news that counters all of the FOX News?

This Side of Home by Renée Watson

This author went through Jeff and grew up in Portland, so I’d been wanting to read her YA books for a while. I love how she tackles the gentrification taking place in Portland and the interracial relationship her protagonist falls into. There is also a great anti-reform education rant as she tackles public school issues as well. The plot works well, keeps me turning the pages, although I wonder about how things will work out at Spelman or for her friend at Beauty School. I think that’s the sign of a good narrative. I care about her characters.

Overdue Apologies by Noriko Nakada

A close read and edit of this seemed in order before diving into the high school memoir. Yes, it’s revising, but it’s also reading, so I’m giving myself credit for my own book. I still cringe at certain scenes, but with each read I forgive myself a little more for the girl I once was. It captures what it is to be a middle school student: longing to fit-in, dreaming of the future, and living in the chaos of every moment.

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Using lyrics and a setting of privilege, unexpected news sends Blade on a journey to find himself and love. Music creates interesting rhythms in this novel in verse and a trip overseas provides interesting perspectives of first world problems.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamiko

This book recently topped the banned book week list so, of course, I had to check it out. It’s a beautifully drawn musing on a summer when her parents are fighting, her mother seems to be battling depression, and the teenagers in this coastal town struggle with adult decisions and problems.

Pushout: the Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris

Woah, do I see a lot of this as a public school teacher. I love how this book made me think of the skills Black girls and women have needed to survive in our culture, and how our schools devalue these skills over and over again. Girls who push back, we push out. I will never see the angry Black girl in the same way. She isn’t a problem, she is a survivor and a freedom fighter.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I think I know something about slavery, or escaping from slavery, or what it must have been like, and then I read a book like this and the humanity of the experience, the horror and the humanity, are illuminated all over again.

Begin with a Failed Body by Natalie J. Graham

These poems could only be consumed in small doses. I like to pick up poetry collections to help read more at the end of the year, but Graham’s words demand small bites. I had to savor each poem, let them settle before moving on to the next. I love how she plays with formal and informal language, and her sense of place (although I’ve never been to the South) breathes in each line.


Publishing Round Up for 2017

With three days left in 2017, I'm behind on my blog posts, so I'm going to try to make these last three days count.

In 2017, I continued to work hard at getting more of my work out in the world. Women Who Submit, an amazing group of writers here in Los Angeles has been a driving force for me.

I managed to get 70 submissions out this year to literary magazines, presses, conferences, agents, residencies, anthologies, and book contests. Here is a summary of my work published online and in print this past year.

"A Short History of Insanity" an essay that is the opening pages of Waiting for the other Shoe to Drop: One Family's Battle with Mental Illness was originally published in Meridian's winter issue. It was then republished in Lunch Ticket's alumni issue for the 20th anniversary of Antioch's MFA program.

Compose magazine chose "Picture Day," an essay from Dispatches from a High School Feminist: Rising Up from Rural America which ran this past spring.

I'd been trying to find a home for "Running from the Dark" for three years and it finally made it's way to readers in Catapult this past May.

"Geometry," a flash essay from Dispatches from a High School Feminist: Rising Up from Rural America went up at Lady Liberty Lit in May as well.

Over spring break, I has a series of nightmares. This was in the middle of National Poetry Month, so the nightmares ended up in these poems. In June, two poems I started writing that spring break went up at Rising Phoenix Review: "Sarin Nightmare" and "Mother of All Bombs."

In July, Linden Avenue published, "Final Days," a poem I wrote about losing my mom.

I finally broke into an Asian American press when Kartika picked up two poems: "Camp Stories," and "Howl."

This past fall, Sky Island Journal published "Winter Ball," an essay from my middle school memoir Overdue Apologies.

My last publication this year came in December when East Jasmine Review picked up an essay from Dispatches from a High School Feminist: Rising Up from Rural America: "Open Gym."

This year I also had the chance to read for Women Who Submit at the West Hollywood Lit Crawl and to attend a week-long residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. Through Eyes Like Mine was also short-listed for the 2040 Prize which seemed to breathe new life into this book.

2017 was a challenging year, but I appreciate all who read my work and work by those who attempt to cut through the noise, challenge long-held silences, and use art to resist. 2018: let's do this.


On the Occasion of My 100th Rejection

Yes, that is me and poet, Terrance Hayes.
I was so young, newly mfa'd and ready to be the writer. 
This past week, I finally received my 100th pass as a writer. It is a milestone I am celebrating, because if I'm not getting my work out there, I am not establishing myself as an emerging writer. As Los Angeles poet Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo of Women Who Submit helped me realize in her article,  "Building up to Emerging," getting my work published is part of building my career as a writer.

This journey started many years ago. After completing my mfa in writing, I set out to find an agent. I wrote a query for Through Eyes Like Mine, researched agents and agencies and sent out a dozen queries. I landed with Judy Heiblum at Brick House Literary Agents in 2006. She believed in my book, sent me wonderful edits, and then, just before sending my manuscript out, she moved to Sterling Lord Literistic, a big New York agency. My book was passed on by lots of editors at big houses. But the book didn't move, and Judy didn't see my next book, Overdue Apologies, as different enough that it would get picked up. My manuscripts quietly gathered digital dust on various computer hard drives.

I spent a couple of years teaching, started blogging, and spent the next few years of my post-mfa-life teaching and trying to start a family. In 2009, I finished up NaNoWriMo and was walking my students through the self-publishing process. That was when I realized, I could do this. It wasn't all that hard to put a book together and get it out into the world. I enjoyed designing covers, working with writer-friends who are great editors, and let my agent know I was going to self-publish Through Eyes Like Mine in 2010. She wished me luck, and I launched the book in Bend and Portland with readings and signings. It felt like a wonderful way to get my book in people's hands and onto shelves. It opened up readings at museums and in classrooms and at book clubs, but it was a lot of work.

Three years later, in 2012, just before Kiara was born, when I knew motherhood could put writing on pause for a while, I quickly and quietly self-published Overdue Apologies. I didn't schedule a book launch or readings or signings. I didn't have the time or energy as a new mother. But the book was out there and done.

It wasn't for another four years that I would connect with Women Who Submit, a group of LA writers who encourage submitting work to counter underrepresentation of women in literary spaces. That's when I started submitting. Since July of 2016, I've submitted to 106 journals, contests, presses, residencies, and agents. I've published or have forthcoming 16 pieces (poems, essays, excerpts) since then, was shortlisted for the 2040 Prize, and a request for a book proposal for Dispatches from a High School Feminist: Rising Up from Rural Oregon. For now, I'm trying to go traditional with this next book, but if things don't move, I'm not afraid to give it another go on my own.

Thanks to all of you for following this journey, for reading my books blogs. I know it doesn't seem like it's still the beginning, but as a writer, I'm working on building to emerging.


My First Day of School: As a Parent

This is my sixth "First Day of School" post. Click HERE to read others.

Summer vacation has flown by, and over the past week I've been getting ready for the start of the new school year. As usual, there have been the preparations in my classroom, and the making of copies, and the bracing for the coming break-neck pace of life during the school year.

But this year, we're also getting ready for Kiara's first day of kindergarten. While I prepare for my middle schoolers, I imagine her kindergarten teacher seeing her name on a roster the same way I have looked at my students' names over the past 21 years. He or she is preparing the classroom and writing Kiara's name on a card for her desk, and making copies of information for us, and bracing for the coming break-neck pace of life during the school year.

I'm so thankful to be a teacher, because I know how that teacher feels, and I can't wait for my girl to start her educational journey at our neighborhood public school. Thank you, teachers, for all you have done to prepare for tomorrow. I'll try not to cry and to let her go have her experience. And then, after kindergarten orientation, I will head to school and greet all of my new students.

"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


I Asked for Help and the Interwebs Responded

Yesterday, I was at a loss. I was overwhelmed by displays of hatred and violence and I wrote how I needed help explaining displays of ignorance and intolerance to my kids.  Today, answers came through and some of you asked me to share them, so here they are.

First, Ashley Cassandra Ford, a writer at Refinery29, posted this on Instagram. When I saw it I was happily waiting for my coffee with my kids. I love the idea of smiling and living my life full of joy and using all of my time and resources to counter hate and terror.

Then, another writer of color, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, shared her plans for the day, and her work as a writer and educator reminded me that the resistance is in our art, our writing, and our teaching.

The rest of my day was spent getting Kiara ready for her first day of kindergarten, back-to-school shopping, and a popsicle meet-up at the park for our neighborhood public school where she will continue her Spanish education.

As I sat down to do a little writing, I came across the twitter hashtags #CharlottesvilleCurriculum and #CharlottesvilleSyllabus. Check them out. So worth looking at as a mother, a teacher, a writer, and an activist. We have to illuminate the past to understand what is happening today.

I will continue to seek joy, to write the truths of my American experience, to teach my children and my students how to be kind and helpful and brave. And on Tuesday, I will continue the work of empowering my students to read critically, question thoughtfully, and find their own voice within this grand cacophony. There is work to do, and we are ready to get it.


Help me, please.

In the wake of white supremacist gatherings, rioting, and violence, will someone please help me explain these things to my kids.

Help me explain to their cousin, who is the best basketball player my kids have ever known, that she will likely be paid less because she is a Black woman, despite the fact that she will work harder and be more educated than her peers.

Help me explain to their cousin, who can play any tune by ear and analyze NBA efficiency statistics in his sleep, that he should develop a healthy fear of the police because he could, at any time, be targeted because the world sees him as a tall, Black man.

Help me explain to their cousin, who plays shortstop and point guard like his dad, that the Japanese Internment memorial he attended earlier this year illuminates the same America that marches with torches and claims an America that wants to drive people like us away.

Help me explain to their cousin, who already writes poems and stories, that people will not expect her to speak her mind, to exude confidence, to preach because they think she should know and keep her place, and that if she dare speak the pidgin her mother speaks, they won't listen at all.

Help me explain to my daughter, who is equal parts princess and soccer star, that there are people who will tell her, "Go back where you came from" even though she was born here, but she speaks Spanish and her racial ambiguity provides her with some privileges, but she will never know when her passing-privileges will be revoked.

Help me explain to my boy, with inexplicably long eye lashes, that there are people who do not see him as American, because he is brown, because the names Ichiro and Nakada identify him as "other," and that the immigrant status of grandmother on one side, and great-grandparents on the other, some how make his citizenship worth less.

Help me explain that people in this country hate them, hate us, because we live in cities, and we value diversity, and we want to help others who have come to our country for a better life, and some people are threatened by the expansion of the American Dream.

Tonight, with images of burning torches and hate-filled faces peering at me, I need help explaining it to my family, but next week, I will also need help explaining it to my students, to the black and brown and white faces who gaze up at me when I ask a question. They hope I will have the answers, but I don't have them, and I don't know who does.


My Graduation Speech for the Class of 2017

It has become a tradition of mine to write a speech for each of my graduating classes at Emerson. Our award-winning speech and debate program has elevated the standard of the form, and I use this as a model as students craft their own unique oratories for the occasion. My first was about the value of living in the moment, something I learned from the class of 2015 after my mom passed. Last year, I wrote a speech for the class of 2016 after a scare with an open-shooter on the UCLA campus about sharing our stories. This year, my speech is about the hope my students provided in the wake of challenging political times.

Be a Trumpet

           When the bell rang and the 2016-2017 school year began, I started my twentieth year teaching. In many ways, it was like every other year, but it was also completely different.
            One new thing I did this year, was start each week with a quote and a question. Every Monday, my students would walk or stroll or bounce into my room, and some would immediately write answers to the question of the week on the board. Then, we would discuss the questions and quotes during class.
            American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” I kept this is mind while selecting quotes and we heard blasts from Nelson Mandela, John Wooden, Gloria Steinem, and Michelle Obama.
            My students sounded off to these words, and our conversations cracked my students wide open. They shared answers to questions like: what do you hope, what is your biggest fear? They shared their thoughts about technology, school, their parents, and friends. We discussed oppression and prejudice, politics and depression, love and betrayal.
            I participated in these conversations too, but mostly, I listened, to you, my students, these graduates, as you shared your brave and unique perspective of our world. You took time-worn themes like carpe diem and nature versus nurture and made them new again. You applied the golden rule and taking a stand to today’s triumphs and challenges.
            Some days, you reflected on election results, or executive orders, or you shared your personal experiences as immigrants, or children of immigrants, as Christians, Muslims, or Jews, as girls, boys, or some gender in-between, and through you I heard from America like the blast of a trumpet. Because this year, unlike any other, America is struggling to figure exactly what kind of country we want to be.
            As we read To Kill A Mockingbird this year, the scenes just after the Tom Robinson verdict spoke to me in new ways. Jem was brought to tears by the outcome. He thought he knew his neighbors. He thought they were good folks: that they were kind, and just and fair and now he wasn’t so sure anymore. This made me think about this year’s election results, about my friends, my neighbors, and my students. Because in much the same way Atticus tells Jem that one day, when he can sit on a jury, things might change, I look at you and see that same hope Atticus saw in his son. In your empathy, and your compassion, and your ability to think about how to see things from someone else’s point of view, I see a brighter future.
            In President Obama’s farewell speech, he also looked to Atticus from To Kill A Mockingbird. He said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” In our classroom discussions, you breathed these words. You saw our world and one another with a compassion the rest of our world could learn from. And, you are looking forward to 2020, the next presidential election, when many of you will be voting for the first time.
            So, that’s what I’m counting on. This group of graduates has spoken to me like the blast of a trumpet about Feminism and privilege, about hard-work and determination, about fairness and justice. As you make your way across this stage and into a world, a country, and a city grappling with its identity, you know who you are, or at least you're honest about trying to figure it out.
            I believe that whatever experiences life hands you, you will be thoughtful. You will determine what is real and what is fake, and you will work toward what is right.
            It has been such a privilege to get to hear your voices, to listen to and read your stories, and to learn from your many different points of view. Now, it’s on you. Carpe Diem, and be that trumpet. Make your lives, and our world, extraordinary. 


Is It Teacher Appreciation Week?

Kiara and Gabe's teacher bouquet. 
I think it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, or Teacher Appreciation Day, or maybe it was last week, or yesterday, or maybe not. No one seems to know. No one seems to be able to schedule this thing. Obviously, this is not something run by teachers.

Last week, I helped my kids thank their teachers. We gathered flowers, gave fruit, made cookies, and cards, but these little things are so small compared to all teachers do for my kids. I appreciate them today and every day. I hope they know this. Because without them, I couldn’t be a teacher. I couldn’t work alongside some of the most phenomenal people I’ve ever met.

Just this week, these are a few things my colleagues have done: helped students struggling with family substance abuse issues, advocated for safe gender-neutral bathrooms in their school, proctored tests that attempt to make students into a number, created and taught review lessons for AP exams, provided lunches and snacks, coached teams of athletes and poets, produced and directed performances, given high fives and smiles, graded papers, taken attendance, entered grades, answered emails, scheduled field trips, and planned these last weeks of school when all of us are just ready for it to be summer.

They all keep me going. There are amazing teachers at every school, and there are students who need amazing teachers at every school. So, to all of the teachers who inspired me back when I was a student, and to all of the teachers who do their jobs with professionalism and integrity day in and day out, and to all the teachers grinding it out every day: thank you. I see you and appreciate all the things you do for our schools, our students and their families today and everyday. Unless today isn’t Teacher Appreciation Day. If that’s the case, then forget it.