We Can’t Just Remember, We Have to Act

As I pulled in to the parking lot of the synagogue this past Sunday, I noticed not one, but two, city police cars parked at either end. I was caught off guard, but only for a split second. Of course. Places for religious worship used to be safe havens. So were our schools. Theaters, too. […]

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10 Things My Dad Taught Me about Teaching

Aaah, Mr. Fowler. My seventh and eighth grade shop teacher. (I was the only student to cut her finger on a jigsaw one of those years.) Also a high school math teacher before that. (He taught my mom when she was in high school. Sssshhhh.) And if memory serves, he was also a teacher of […]

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This Year’s Senior Project: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I am the senior class advisor this year. The last time I was in charge, our tragi-comedy Othello, with an all male cast (shout out!), rocked the house—and not one, but two! nights in a row! Will I be able to outdo myself this year? Will the class of 2019 beat the class of 2015 […]

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An Open Letter to Ricky Martin on the Occasion of My 50th Birthday

Dear Ricky, I am 50 years old today. Certified gold. And in honor of that, I was hoping to maybe get a personal birthday shout-out. Just like that gorgeous commercial made several years back where you sang “Happy birthday.” The one I posted from YouTube to my Facebook wall this morning. Maybe you could do […]

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5 Things Writing Helped Me Understand after Nearly Dying (Twice)

“You are the author of your own life story,” the skinny strip of green bubble letters outlined in neon pink promised. It used to hang above the chalkboard on the far wall of my classroom. Back then, I believed in that language arts message as hallowed inspiration. Now? Teacher-catalog bullshit. Only recently, I had become […]

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The Holocaust Lady

I remember her words like it happened yesterday. March 2004, San Francisco, California: the Northern California Forum on Holocaust Education. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had brought me in as a team member to run one of five classroom sessions, accommodating more than 200 attendees, including survivors. We had just finished a few days […]

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In Memoriam: Henry Greenbaum, a Photo Essay

With love for Chuna Grynbaum/ Henry Greenbaum/ My Henry, 1928-2018 I will write about my Henry and his story soon, I promise. *A majority of these photos were taken by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on a very special day for me. Henry spoke at First Person,  which was also moderated by my dear […]

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Seven Ways to Create the Perfect Classroom Environment

1. Plants, lighting, smells, and sounds: all important. Plants feel “homey” and provide oxygen, which is necessary for breathing, right? The more natural light the better—lift those blinds. Doesn’t matter what age student you have, no one likes a stinky room. Your olfactory senses are tied to memories, you know, so don’t make your classroom […]

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Time (Clock of the Heart)

Why does life seem to be happening so quickly these days? Little Layla is now four and a half months old, Natalie and Ryan have officially tied the knot (and are home from their Dominican Republic honeymoon with a nice mystery rash), it’s already October, and school has been in full force for six weeks […]

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Real Life Lessons from the Classroom

I like to bring the real world into my classroom—at least as much as I can—and when it was time for me to get down to writing a keynote address for the ASJA conference in NYC mid-May, I panicked. What would I tell this group of writers, who undoubtedly had more profound writing credentials than […]

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