By choosing to stop competing, are we choosing failure?

At nine years old, I was a champion Irish dancer. I competed in the Midwest Irish Dance Championships (the Oireachtas) from the time I was nine until I was twelve. I attended 12-15 hours of dance practice a week, and often afterward my mother would have to ice my legs and feet from such grueling... Read more »

Thank God for the story tellers

Last week we finished reading Night and my students presented their genocide research projects. They researched other genocides—past and present—throughout the history of the world. Many students had family—either parents, uncles, or grandparents—who had lived through genocides (Armenia, Bosnia, Palestine, Cambodia), and all mentioned that their relatives never spoke about it. They couldn’t possibly. They... Read more »

If you’re having an existential crisis, that probably means you’re privileged

Today I put together my seniors’ final essay assignment. Here’s the prompt: Although burdened with the monotony and pain of life, Sisyphus remained joyful as he rolled the boulder up the hill every day. Night’s Elie Wiesel has had a joyful existence despite suffering through the Holocaust. Hamlet constantly questioned if life was worth living,... Read more »

Louder Than A Bomb: How words inspire compassion

As I stood at the back of the auditorium, watching 300 high school students dance and sing along to hip-hop music at the fifteenth annual Louder Than A Bomb opening, I thought, I do not belong here. The speakers pulsed with thunderous drumbeats and a rapper’s voice passionately wove words over them. When the event... Read more »

Women in Celtic legend were equal to men, so what happened?

When my students found out that Igraine, King Arthur’s mother, was deceived by Uther, King Arthur’s father, the night of Arthur’s conception, their first response was not, “Wow, that’s rape,” but instead, “What a thot!” (Look up “thot” in Uther wanted Igraine so desperately that he allowed Merlin to transform him to look, sound,... Read more »

Why did our ancestors choose Chicago?

A rather unconventional post for Nails On A Chalkboard, but an important thought nonetheless as a Chicago winter creeps up on us… *** I said I need the Oregon coast. Or Northern California. Lush, green ferns sprawled across a forest floor, giant redwoods stretching to the foggy clouds, sprinkled with ocean mist. That’s what I... Read more »

5 Inspirational quotes that will change your life

1) “Holding a grudge is like letting someone live in your head rent-free.”   When I said this to one of my students who is known for her angry outbursts, she said, “Dang! That just about changed my life.” You’re the one who burns when you keep the flame of anger lit. 2) “Most people... Read more »

Why Autumn is the best season

Autumn. The sun is high in the sky, and although it is glowing strong, the wind is too crisp and chilly to let the sun warm the earth. Ginger leaves fall softly along brittle breezes against the dying green grass. The air smells like candy corn; it intertwines with the balding tree branches, which shake... Read more »

If life is a classroom, what kind of student are you?

Life is a classroom and we are all students. What kind of student do you want to be? Do you want to be that student who complains about everything? Who groans every time a project is assigned? Do you want to be the student who cheats and then makes excuses for his behavior? Do you... Read more »

Remembering Maureen O'Looney--the "Chicago Irish Matriarch"

If you’re a Chicagoan and claim to be Irish, but you don’t know who Maureen O’Looney is, then you’re not really Irish. Every Irish and Irish-American person—from the North Side to the South Side, the suburbs and surrounding Chicagoland area—can easily recognize the signature red hair, red lipstick, glasses, and shamrock pinned vest of Maureen... Read more »