Brief Bio

laura gym picture    Hello, readers.  I never added a bio here, so–better late than never!

I am a reading specialist; reading, English, and ELL teacher as well as a poet and fiction/ nonfiction writer.  My graduate coursework is  in Reading, Education, and ELL.    I’ve attended many colleges and universities, including:

* Elmhurst College (Bachelors degree, English, Sociology, Psychology, Education)
* College of DuPage (English, Spanish, music, writing, and more–over many years–as part of being a lifelong learner)
*National-Louis University (graduate degree in Reading and additional coursework in ELL and Education)
*University of Chicago (creative writing and art)
*De Paul University (started a Business degree program–what was I thinking?)
*St. Xavier University (graduate coursework in Reading)
*Benedictine University (graduate coursework in Reading)
*Concordia University (graduate coursework in Reading)

I think I am missing some; needless to say, I am a lifelong learner.

I began my professional life working in publishing (minimum wage!), banking, and insurance–those student loans had to be paid off! Eventually I was able to pursue my dream of being a teacher and writer; by then I was well into my “late” middle age years. I never regretted this decision to leave a well-paid business job to enter teaching and writing. Not one regret.

Not too many years ago, I “retired” from full time teaching.  I now teach at the college level part time and write part time.

I love nature and people and literacy.  Lifelong passions!

I’m also a volunteer adult literacy tutor with Literacy DuPage.  I also volunteer with Elmhurst College and work with English majors to help them navigate college.

One of the most meaningful things I’ve done is to be a Mentor Coordinator for a high school with a significant gang presence,  matching youths who had been arrested for or received discipline warnings for in-school gang activity and then completed a gang avoidance program with adult mentors.  This mentor program helped our students stay in school.  For me, I used to wonder out loud: What am I doing? I have no training in this field? What if I mess up?  But I learned that I had considerable skills in interviewing people and predicting who would get along/ work well together.

I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for decades.  I am very fortunate.

Thanks for reading.

Laura

PS For a list of my publications, look here: Publications.

 

 

Teach to Kill? On Arming Teachers…

insprie teacher change  Before I begin, I acknowledge there are caring teachers who need to protect themselves from harm while teaching; I myself was hurt more than once, threatened more than once, and was assaulted once.  I was lucky and wasn’t hurt badly at all, but I recognize there are many teachers who risk their own safety every day.  I also recognize there are teachers who could successfully handle being armed in the classroom.  Not me, however. 

And now…

This topic is so important to me, I’ve written two poems about the concept of making our American schools safer by arming teachers.  One has been published in  https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Mr-President-Journal-Modern/dp/0692100644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527104908&sr=8-1&keywords=dear+mr+president+poetry+book

A more recent poem is out for consideration right now.

I cannot stop thinking about this–so much could go wrong. I’ve stopped my list at two dozen things that can go wrong with arming teachers!  While I do believe in some very rare circumstances perhaps a teacher could save a life or two, I believe this would be so rare that arming teachers would only make teachers, schools, and students possibly less SAFE.

I have also made a list of the many things my colleagues and I have done to try and make students safer; the list is very long.

Please don’t ask, expect, or rely on teachers to shoot dead.  Teach to kill?  I’m not sure I want to teach with someone able to make split second life and death decisions; I know I would not be able to do so!  I ponder everything, even simple things.

It would change the very nature of teaching and the teacher/ student relationship, which is founded on trust and respect.

When I taught in an urban area, I only half jokingly told my students I would take a bullet for them. I know I always kept my door locked, checked up on students I was worried about, tried to get them the professional services they needed, reported anything that looked dangerous at school, and more.  I do not even want to write down some of the things I did when I was terribly worried about kids–I look back now and wonder what I was thinking.

I wasn’t thinking. I was hoping if I stayed at school long enough, nothing bad could happen to these great kids.  That was magical thinking, as if I, who left each day and headed to my mostly safe suburban patio grading papers could someone change the reality of where they lived.

And they get to you, kids.  They get into your heart in a way I was not prepared for. Losing one?  The thought was terrifying.

So perhaps I would have taken a bullet, but fire one? I don’t know.  I’m such a nervous person no one should want me with a gun.  Hubby has said my most formidable weapon was my relentless caring and fast talking.  Me with a car is dangerous.

Please don’t put this on teachers who tend to enter the field to help others or to pursue and promote their discipline.  We are not trained law enforcement agents nor should we be asked if we have a FOID CARD.  Would that then be an unspoken new plus, being armed?

This HSP http://hsperson.com/ (me) could not live with myself if I shot and missed and killed an innocent person. Or if I left a class to pursue an active shooter and my kids got hurt.  Or if I did manage to kill a violent shooter? I would spend the rest of my life pondering the morality of this.  I know I would not pass the psychological evaluation to be a police officer!  I am a pro at teaching and mentoring, and I imagine I am not alone.

Please don’t put this on us!  To quote my own poem, please let us inspire students with other than guns.

We have an arsenal of skills to protect and inspire–please not with guns.