grad school, teaching

New School Year

Hello to the 2020-2021 school year! Life has been crazy so far, but I have successfully made it through the first 4 days with students.

Obviously, we don’t know what the future holds, and sadly in a district that is always short on subs, the likelihood of another COVID “shut down” (aka force to go all virtual) is very high.

I’ve been spending the first few days conquering technology and teaching my kids how to use Canvas. Which, I love Canvas. I use it at UVA; however, Canvas recently started allowing more Google integration. It’s way more steps to do integrate things like Google docs instead of a word doc. My district (like many) buy/lease chromebooks for the students meaning they do not even have access to word on their computers so Google is a must. Add in two of my students not have accounts because their registration had not been fully completed yet (aka put into the computer system).

I will say I am immensely proud of how sweet, kind, and forgiving my kiddos are this year. Even though they have limited social interactions and have been forced to deal with more technological issues than anyone could normally deal with, they have done it. They always make sure everyone is included and strive to make the best of every situation. We did a discussion in Canvas to learn how to do it, and they made sure everyone had a comment on their original post even though they only had to do two replies.

I have also started back at UVA, only taking 4 credits instead of 6. One of my classes is on diagnosis and remediation for Reading Intervention which is super fun and interesting. I have to do 3 practicum assignments in it though, so I’m still trying to figure that out. Luckily, there is a conversation about it on Tuesday night that I plan on attending (via Zoom) to figure out what exactly is the expectation. The other class is Dyslexia in the Classroom, which focuses on understanding more about Dyslexia and how to provide interventions. At no point is it my job to ever officially diagnosis someone with a learning disability; however, it would be my job to provide intervention for the diagnosis from a psychologist or other medical professional.

In my spare time (which granted hasn’t been much) I’ve been reading a ton and cannot wait to share the next book chat with y’all soon! Let me know what other posts or videos you want to see. I’m able to post more on Youtube right now since I have better internet.



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Book, grad school, teaching

Book Chat: Children’s Books

Hi y’all,

You all seem to love my monthly book chats so I wanted to share with you some children’s books, too. As a Reading teacher, I absolutely love sharing new books with my class and I’m so glad y’all love to read as much as I do.

These books were all assigned or I picked them for my Children’s Literature course I’m taking for grad school at UVA. I have finished all but 3 for the class, but I still wanted to go ahead and share them so if you wanted to request them for your classroom you had time to.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearnace of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming. |This book is one that I haven’t read yet, but the synopsis on the back of the book says “What happened to Amelia Earhart? On May 21, 1937, the most famous female pilot of all time, Amelia Earhart, set out to do the impossible: circumnavigate the globe at its widest point, flying 27,000 miles in all. Just six weeks later, her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. More than eighty years have passed since that fateful flight, and the plane has never been found. Discover the thrilling life and tragic end of America’s most famous trailblazing flier with this impeccably researched and masterfully crafted book from acclaimed author Candace Fleming.

Lemons by Melissa Savage. |5/5 stars |This is one book that I chose to read for a book trailer assignment. This is the story of Lemonade, or Lem as she’s better known. Lem is sent to live with her only living relative when her mom passes away. What did Lem want? To stay in the city and to definitely not live with her grandfather and his Big Foot obsession. She did not want to join the BigFoot Detectives Inc. and she definitely didn’t want to become friends with anyone.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo | This is another book I haven’t read yet. I picked this one because it’s written by the fabulous Kate DiCamillo and I’ve loved all the books I’ve read of hers. The synonpsis for the book reads, “once there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit couldn’t move or speak, but he could watch and list, and he was very pleased with himself and his owner and his house. And then, one day, he was lost”.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney | 2/5 stars | Honestly, my rating of this book is low because it’s written in poem form and I dislike books written in this style. It’s harder for me to follow along and I feel like I miss a lot of description. I do think the story is important to share (I would have just picked a different format). This is the story of Amira, a young lady living in Sudan. She wants to be like the girls that go to school and learn; however, it doesn’t appear to be in the cards for her. Instead, her family flees Sudan to head to a refugee camp. Danger lurks around every corner, and Amira can’t seem to find peace.

El Deafo by CeCe Bell |4.5/5 stars| Loved this book. This is an autobiographical graphic novel. The main character faces the huge struggle of being deaf in a hearing world. However, she learns to adapt and deal with all the trials and tribulations life throws at her. This book is absolutely wonderful for sharing to help students understand each others differences, no matter what they are. I love the fact this book is a graphic novel because it helps to make the text accessible to all students.

Chains by Lauren Halse Anderson | 5/5 stars | This book is absolutely wonderful. This is the historical fiction story of a slave girl named Isabel. Isabel believes she should be free; however, she is sold to a new family, a Loyalist family. She and her younger sister are shipped up to New England, months before the Declaration of Independence is to be signed. Will Isabel ever gain her freedom? There are more books in the series; however, I haven’t read them yet.

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai | 3/5 stars (so far | Disclaimer on this one, I haven’t finished it yet, but I am having a difficult time finishing it. This is the story of Mai as she deals with spending her summer in Vietnam. This surfer girl from SoCal would rather be back in there, instead of in a foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language. Worse? She doesn’t really know when she’s going home because she’s helping her Bai (grandmother) find her long lost grandfather who was a POW during the Vietnam War. Mai is definitely a relatable character in this middle age book; however, I have found the plot hard to get into.

What books do you share with your classes?



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grad school, lifestyle

How to Finish Grad School Debt Free

Hi y’all,

A millennial that is debt free? No way! Or wait, yes way!

As we’ve all noticed, the stock market, job market, and overall finances are not the most stable. However, I want you all to know that you can go to grad school debt free!

If you’ve heard the statement “don’t go to grad school unless it’s paid for” you are obviously in a traditional science field. Most grad students rarely receive 100% funding by the university or some other federal or state program. For instance, education students rarely get free money (aka grants and scholarships).

I am very fortunate. I am 100% debt free at this point in my life. For undergrad I was gifted a Virginia 529 plan, so my in-state public school tuition was paid for. My parents graciously paid for housing. I also had a stipend every semester for the President’s Leadership Program at my university. However, for grad school I am on my own as far as paying for it.

UVA offers an educator’s discount, which I am eligible for, and that is currently my only form of “financial aid”. Instead of taking out loans, I save a minimum of $800 a month out of every paycheck. It costs me about $2400 just in tuition and fees each semester (or $1200 per class-I take two classes each term). By splitting it up into $800 increments I’m able to take a reasonable amount of money out of each month’s paycheck.

Now, there is the option to potentially receive work study (be a TA or some other university provided job), receive a variety of grants, and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are money you do not have to pay back; however, you may have to pay taxes on them. Federal grants and work study eligibility are based on income through your FAFSA report. By the time you’re in grad school, your parents’ income does not affect you! You are filing your taxes as an individual instead of a dependent. Now, if you have any stocks, rental properties, etc. that are yours, you still have to claims those on your FAFSA and will end up affecting you.

If you are a member of a sorority, check within your individual sorority, your individual sorority’s local alumnae chapter, and a local panhellenic or pan-hellenic alumnae associations to find out if they offer scholarships. These might be hard to come by, so do not count on this as guaranteed money until you have received notification that you are the recipient.

You can also check to see if your department at your university offers scholarships that are application based and do not come based on information from the FAFSA. This is when it helps to have a great relationship with some of the professors in the department because they will be able to help as mentors for you during the application process.

If you’re in education, you might qualify for the TEACH grant. This is essentially a grant that pays off your student loans. You must be teaching in a low-economic or some other “disadvantaged” school. There are other qualifications like your class ranking from high school, and SAT/ACT score.

What are you in/planning on going to grad school for?  Let me know in the comments and we can chat!



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