Thursday, March 31, 2011

Education Buzz is Up!

Woo-hoo! The Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival is up and running, but it's over at Scheiss Weekly hosted by the fab-u-lous blogger Mamacita. There's lots of good stuff buzzing about in the EduSphere to head on over there to check it out. 

My post "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was included, but you don't have to go there to read it here.

Still, you need to hop on over there so you stay in the know while you're on the go. 

The next Education Buzz will be hosted over at science guy Steve Spangler's place on April 13. You can send your submissions using this handy, dandy form.

If you would like to host an edition of the carnival, please let me know by emailing me at

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Howie, Yearbook & Oprah

While I struggle to get Oprah to notice me and my book, Howard the Shelter Cat has developed his own fan club of sorts. Several people asked about Howard after he was absent from my last few posts. One reader even went so far as to say Howie was the best part of my posts.

Seriously? (You can just imagine what that did to my self of steam.) Mr. Howie the Fur Ball gets better reviews just because he's big and orange and purrs? 

If I thought it would get me on Oprah, I'd dye my hair orange and wear little blue soft paws. Hails bails, I might even throw in a purr or two.  

Don't get me wrong, I love Howard the Shelter Cat, but let's objectively examine Howie's contributions to society and the Richie household…

Howie the Gardener–Howard the Shelter Cat prunes the not-so-lucky bamboo plant (aptly named as it is Lucky Bamboo Plant Number 3) by chomping on its leaves. All of which means I probably will be in the market for Lucky Bamboo Plant Number 4 fairly soon.

Howie the Yogameister–Howard the Shelter Cat likes to assist my husband as he goes through his morning yoga stretches. Howie and all three dogs–the Golden Retriever, the Belgian Sheepdog and the German Shepherd–like to simultaneously do the down dog pose on the 24-inch-by-68-inch yoga mat with my husband. Talk about space issues.

Howie the Emergency Evacuation Planner–Howard the Shelter Cat likes to devise ways to keep my retired husband on his toes while I'm away at work. Things like popping out the second floor window screen to practice his "exit strategy" and to make my husband rescue him from the roof top.

Howie the Shredder–Howard the Shelter Cat likes to tear up paper. While any sort of paper is fair game, Howie seems especially fond of ripping up all things yearbook related.

Hmmm, perhaps, Howard the Shelter Cat does deserve his own fan club after all. 

We could call it the "Wowie Zowie Kowie Let's Hear It For Howie Fan Club."

With my luck, Howie will probably even get invited to meet Oprah.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I was sitting in a hamburger restaurant near Rockefeller Plaza in New York City when Shannon–one of the three high school newspaper staffers I was with–burst out with  “I want to be fun, but I just can’t.”

Everyone sort of stopped what they were doing—eating, chewing, drinking, thinking.

“At least you’re honest,” said Zina, a former student and current resident of NYC.

That little outburst sparked a similar discussion the next day while sitting at another restaurant just off Times Square. I along with the other two staffers went out for breakfast and a brief shopping excursion around Time Square while “I-want-to-be-fun-but-I-just-can’t” Shannon opted to remain sleeping.

I asked the other two if they had to fill in the "I-want-to-be" blank, what would they say?

“I want to be a party animal, but I just can’t,” said Maddee. “I’m too shy. I don’t dance. I can’t even two-step.”

After a moment or two, Abbie said, “I  want to be like Maddee and say whatever I want., but I just can't.”

But less than 30 seconds later, that was changed to “I want to like omelets, but I just can’t.  They always sound really good, but I never like them,” she said between bites of the western egg omelet she ordered.

Later, on the way to the airport, the topic came up again when I asked Shannon what she did for dinner for her last night in New York City.

“I ate a pop tart and slept,” she said.

To which the rest of replied in unison, “I want to be fun, but I just can’t.”

Shannon’s outburst sparked a wide array of potential uses particularly around deadline time. Now, we have an entire new arsenal of mottos. Things like…

 “I want to turn in my story, but I just can’t.”

“I want to turn in my centerspread, but I just can’t.”

“I want to be a good photographer, but I just can’t.”

Or my personal favorite:

“I want to call everyone a Big Fat Stupid Head, but I just can’t.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dante, New York City & Rubber Chickens

If Dante Alighieri had been a high school publications adviser, I am fairly certain he would have reserved his inner circle of hell for something yearbook related. That little epiphany hit me about 6 p.m. on the Friday before Spring break.

The Friday when I was supposed to have submitted all 280 pages of the yearbook. 

The Friday when I was supposed to have submitted my progress report grades.

The Friday when I was supposed to have gotten all my travel stuff ready for my trip to New York City with three newspaper staffers to claim their Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown award.  

The Friday when I was supposed to have gathered together all the wonderful, insightful, intelligent things I wanted to say for my New York City session.

Yep, that Friday.

So there I was with those epiphany light bulbs flashing like a hoard of paparazzi in my grey mattered mush of a brain about 6 p.m. on the Friday before Spring break. I was alone in my classroom and, from the looks of the school parking lot, alone in my school as well.

I really don’t know how I can be so successful at advising the school newspaper but feel like an abject failure with the yearbook. Every year when we go to finalize the book, I open page after page and discover ugly lime green picture boxes that were supposed to contain a photograph. You know, important photographs like group pictures, action shots, candid shots… any shot of anything just give me something besides those lime green boxes. Hails bails, at this point, stick figures look pretty good.

My personal favorite this year was discovering at 8 a.m. on that Friday before Spring break that two pages had not even been started. (I suppose you can image what the bubble above my head was screaming. I’d tell you, but then that’s the sort of thing that will get you fired. And y’all know how I feel about those darn tootin’ things. I've got a draw full of those in a nifty folder aptly labeled "Things That Will Get You Fired."

I did manage to get all 280 pages in. I opted to abandon the page proofs until after break.

I did manage to submit my progress report grades.

I did manage (sort of) to get most of my travel stuff in order.

I did not, however, come up with anything terribly wonderful, insightful or intelligent to say for my session.

I could deal with all of that except for one thing.

As I boarded the airplane, I realized I forgot the chicken.

Now that’s a bad thing. A very, very bad thing indeed.  You see flinging a chicken around could have covered for my uncharacteristic lack of preparation.

Yep, it’s a very bad thing. I can’t even have my husband overnight Mr. Chicken because he’s locked in my classroom. The kids suggested we search for one in New York City, but I'm not sure where one goes to buy that sort of thing. I know I didn't see one in Chinatown. Unless they're hidden in those back rooms that I never get invited into because I don't have "the look."  There's probably an entire room filled with rubber chickens and Coach bags and Louis Vuitton. 

So with less than 24 hours to go, I’m flying solo here without a chicken wing or a prayer.

I tell you, it’s that yearbook thing. So feel sorry for me. I’m stuck in the inner circle of hell.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Spring Break Cranky Edition of the Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival

Welcome to the Spring Break Carnival! I was going to be clever, witty and springy, but instead after trying to finalize my yearbook, I'm cranky, snarky and… See I was going to come up with another adjective, but my brain feels a little mushy and I've got nothin', zero, zippo, nadda…

So-o-o-o let's just get to it in a streamlined, no-nonsense (or maybe some minimal nonsense) version of the Education Buzz and see what's happening in the EduSphere. 

Thankfully, there are some people with some creativity left. I can only surmise they have never been a yearbook adviser. Annette Berlin offers 16 ways to stir your child's creativity. And while you're stirring up stuff, you can check out Jeron Shelton's post about developing talent.

Digitalteach talks about a teacher tech program that actually works. What a world, what a world.

Darren from Right on the Left Coast ponders just where the line is drawn for teachers.

Parenting is… discusses government mandated napping in California. Jeez Louise, I wonder what Darren from Right on the Left Coast would have to say about that?

Education Closet talks about the recent budget crisis effecting so many states and what it's doing to education.

Pat over at Successful Teaching talks about the importance of first lines and thinking about  grabbing the  attention of your students when your making your lesson plans.

If you find yourself laid off in this current budget crunch, Money Crashers talks about six things to consider before opting to go back to school.

Mr. Teacher over at Learn Me Good talks about sprouting seeds and knuckleheads.

Whoa, sometimes I think Old Andrew from over at Scenes from the Battleground and I must live in the same house. Check out his "10 Reasons Why I Shouldn't Tidy My House."

Tim over at Assorted Stuff grabbed my attention when he began his post with "Any other public school educators getting tired of being told you're overpaid."

Mamacita talks about blogging in her post, "The Blog is Dead! Long Live the Blog!" Jeez Louise, I was worried there for a moment and thought may be my blog had died and nobody told me.

Steve Spangler talks about Science Fairs and what is the right age for participating.

And speaking of participating, if you want to participate in the next Education Buzz, Mamacita has graciously agreed to host our next one on March 30 over at Scheiss Weekly. You can use this handy, dandy form to submit. Deadline for submissions is Saturday, March 26.

Before I go though, I have a post below that you might find interesting. It's not at all lighthearted, but it's important. See what you think.

If you would like to host an edition of the carnival, please let me know by emailing me at Also, don't forget to let me know if you find any broken links or problems with this edition of the Ed Buzz.

As always…
“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…”
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Family Awaits Justice

[Article first published as Family Awaits Justice on Technorati.]

Writer's note: Usually the content on this blog is lighthearted, but I felt compelled to write about the following event as it was so troubling and mind-numbing. I am certain that you will, too.

Funny how memories--especially troublesome ones--tend to fade a bit and yellow around the edges like old newspapers until something forces us to re-examine the past.

That's what happened last week when I watched the news report in disbelief that the man who killed a 15 year old at my former high school in a drunken driving accident almost 13 years ago was involved in another fatal accident. 

This time a 36-year-old single mother died. According to news reports, police did not believe alcohol or drugs were involved in the collision which occurred over Labor Day. Speed apparently might have been. 

Although police are expected to refer the case to a Dallas County grand jury, six months later no charges have been filed and the family is crying out for justice. 

It was quite a different story those 13 years ago. I rummaged through my box of high school newspapers until I found the two issues I was looking for that covered Stefani Robertson's death and the aftermath it wrought. In a plea bargain agreement, the driver, Christopher Clary, received 10 years probation and was ordered to purchase public service ads marking Stefani's death in the school newspaper I advised at the time.

The cost for those five years worth of ads was $500, and I remember feeling profoundly sad that a life could be bartered for a mere $500. That feeling has not abated even after all these years.

I'm sure Clary has no idea how many lives shattered that December day in 1998 or how many remain fragmented to this day. 

I was so troubled by the latest news reports that instead of discussing our normal current events on Friday in my journalism class, I showed the television news coverage and read the poignant piece written 10 years ago about Stefani's death.

In the article,  Stefani's mother said, "It's those little things that get to me. Those things we never got to do together. Instead of buying her a car, I was buying her a coffin. Instead of picking out a college, I was picking out a cemetery plot. We missed out on so much."

And now another family awaits justice.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Education Buzz Carnival Is Up!

Well today is Wednesday and we all know what that means… It's time to shout Woo-hoo! And, it also just  happens to be a Wednesday that the Education Buzz is up and running. This time it's over at Elysabeth's Emerald City. 

So what are you waiting for? If you want to be in the know, then go on over there speedy quick and see what's a buzzing about in the EduSphere. You'll be glad you did.

The next carnival will be here on March 16. You can send your submissions using this handy, dandy form. (It will probably have a spring break theme.)

If you would like to host an edition of the carnival, please let me know by emailing me at