The Liebster Awards – An Honor to be Nominated

There’s a special award going around the blog world right now called the “Liebster Award”. It’s an award that bloggers give out to each other to recognize and promote blogs that inspire and enrich us, especially new blogs. I was very fortunate to be nominated by Michele Knott, one of many new friends I have made through building a Professional Learning Network on Twitter. Thanks Michele, for the nomination!
First off, the Liebster Award rules:

A. List 11 Facts about yourself.
B. Answer the 11 questions put forward by whoever nominated you.
C. Ask 11 new questions to 5+ bloggers. They must have less than 200 followers on Bloglovin’ (or their preferred blog site). You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
D. Go to their blogs and inform them that they have been nominated!

11 Facts about me (perhaps 10 more than you really wanted to know):
1. My greatest accomplishment is being a dad –
I’m a work in progress, and I probably mess up more than I get right, but I try to pour my heart into my kids. My own dad had many interests in life, but they did not include being a father. I want my kids to know they are dearly and fully loved.

2. I come from a family of teachers –
Mom was a teacher. All my aunts were teachers. It was coded in my DNA. My favorite time of the year (other than decorating the Christmas tree) used to be going in to set up my mother’s 5th grade classroom. Sadly, when I went to college, my mother convinced me to go into a different field. It was during a period where she felt teachers were undervalued, and education was driven by politics rather than the principles of what is best for kids.

3. After 9/11, I wanted a job that made a difference –
Mom may have been correct about the teaching profession, but despite the shackles put on teachers, I could still work to connect kids and their talents and passions, with the amazing world around them.

4. I doubt anyone would have pegged me to be a writer someday –
I didn’t really see myself as a writer, although I loved playing with ideas and words in a few notebooks that never saw the light of day. I wasn’t until graduate school, when a few of my teachers made a point of specifically praising my writing, that I began to believe that my words were worth sharing with others. Their encouraging words serve as a constant reminder that my students often see themselves through my eyes. My words have an unbelievable power to build up or tear down. It is a terrific honor and a daunting responsibility. I want to make sure the kids see just how amazing and wonderful they are.

5. Because some great teachers taught me to believe in myself, I wrote a book –
While I realize my novel will likely never be read by more than a relatively small number of people, that wasn’t the reason for me writing it. I wrote it because it was a story burning inside me. It was a tale I had walked through life with, and one that needed to be told. Writing “Dash – Life Between the Numbers” was such a blessing for me and the students who shared in the experience by giving me consistent feedback, sometimes validating my ideas, and sometimes saving me from critical mistakes.

6. I once ran an ultramarathon –
It may sound crazy, but I read about doing something that inspires yourself. Since I love running, and had already completed a few marathons, I decided to stretch beyond that, and see how far I could go. The ultra I ran was 50 miles, but it was replete with hills, rocks, downed trees, and other daunting terrain. It was the hardest physical challenge I have ever completed, and it took me nearly 12 agonizing, joyous, delirious hours to finish. I am training for another ultra this fall, this time doubling my previous distance.

7. I suffer by comparison –
I know the truth of Teddy Roosevelt’s words that “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”. Every time I find myself comparing my talents, abilities, accomplishments, etc. to those of others, I suffer by comparison. There is always somebody better at something. Many somebodies. Better at many somethings. I work hard NOT to compare myself. But that nagging voice is still there, trying to mock me. I just try to enjoy being the best ME I can and celebrate being fearfully and wonderfully made.

8. The older I get, the less I know –
Pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I thought I knew so much more when I was younger.

9. If I could only read 11 books to my students –

10. I am blessed to work along side of amazing colleagues –
The educators in my building inspire me not only to be a better teacher, but a better human being. They deeply love kids, love learning, and love making the world a better place. I only wish I could be a student in each of their classrooms.

11. I only sleep because I have to –
Sleep has always felt like a coerced time out. I’m missing something, somewhere when I close my eyes. I’d rather be reading, running, writing, or watching than relaxing.

Next, 11 Questions from Michele:

How many library books do you currently have checked out?
I just returned two last week.

How many books do you have on hold?
Five or so.

How do you decide which books to buy?
Recommendations from other educators or kids. I also visit the book store or library a couple times each week, so I am always scoping out the next read.

Book judging. How do you disagree with people who have major book love for something you don’t like?
Typically I acknowledge that we all have our tastes. If some other view really surprises me, I will enter into a respectful discussion to try to understand how the opposing view could be off-their-rocker. Grin.

Who are some of the new authors on your radar?
Amber McRee Turner. I am fascinated by her writing talent, and warmed by her authentic personal stories in her blogs. If she writes something, I want to read it. Book, blog or otherwise boring grocery lists – I’d read it.

What professional books have guided your practice?
NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW by Aimee Buckner, anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, The Heath Brothers; of course various writings by Fountas & Pinell, and many of the writing books by Ralph Fletcher.

Kids say the darndest things. Any stories you have?
Way too many stories to choose from, but a recent one brought me to tears. We were writing from A SNICKER OF MAGIC, discussing what anonymous good deeds we would do if we were “The Beedle” in the story, and one student asked if we could develop a fundraising project to send girls in Africa to school so they could get an education.

If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
Honestly, I’d still be in the school if they’d have me. I want to use whatever time I have on earth to make a difference with kids. I’d probably teach, write, run, and travel. Wherever I travel, I’d still teach, write and run.

Money isn’t an object… what do you do???
Add a four-season room to the house, secure the education for my kids, set aside funds to start up a business for each of my children, get every child possible that is currently denied an education into a great school. Round up every person in this world that wants to deny other people an education, and “educate” them.

It seems to be movie writers can’t come up with anything new so they turn all good books into movies. What book do you think should be made into a movie next?
CIRCA NOW by Amber McRee Turner.

We just finished out a school year. Looking back, what was the best thing you did?
Hold your horses girl, I have 4 more days. Best thing I did? Hopefully, get my students to see just how amazing they are, and can be.

If you had an extra 3 hours in the day, and reading could only be dedicated to one of them, what would you do with the other two?
Run. Write. Repeat. (Wash, too.)

My Liebster Nominations:
I am nominating some of the many people that inspire me by their courage to step out and be awesome. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, they “dare to do the thing they think they cannot do.” Their passion for kids, and equipping kids to step into their own awesomeness inspires me to be the best educator I can be. Check out their blogs. Whatever they got, I want more of it. I hope they are contagious. Let their words, their stories, their expertise, and their passion rub off on you.

Sandy Otto at

Cheryl Mizerny at

Coach John Hines at

Derek Bezeau at

Holly Mueller at

Finally, I have 11 questions for each of these amazing colleagues (because why stop at 10 questions?):

1. Tell us how you were drawn into teaching.


2. Tell us about one of the teachers who impacted you as a child.


3. If you could only read 5 books to your class, which would you choose?


4. Your greatest accomplishment is…


5. Most interesting teacher appreciation gift you have received was…


6. You have been asked to share to at a national teachers conference. You’re discussing…


7. New construction has begun in your town. You hope they are building a new…


8. One biography you’d love to recommend is…


9. When you were a student, teachers most likely thought you ….


10. Three songs on your iPod to share are…


11. The question I should have asked you is…