Making Thinking Visible

Making Thinking Visible
Making Thinking Visible

Arts Integration

Arts Integration
Arts Integration

Phenomenal Women...Phenomenal Teachers

Every girl and every woman, has the potential to make this world a better place, and that potential lies in the act of thinking higher thoughts and feeling deeper things.  When women and girls everywhere begin to see themselves as more than inanimate objects; but as beautiful beings capable of deep feelings and high thoughts, this has the capacity to create change all around.  The kind of change that is for the better.    
                                                                                                       C. Joybell C.

It's funny. I don't recall an exact moment. I don't remember when I first understood what it means to "find your voice."  But somewhere along the way, I began.  The Women's March on Washington this weekend has left me thinking about what it means to be a teacher and a woman with a voice.  What I do know is that I've been lucky enough in my life to be surrounded by remarkable women.  These are women that taught me important lessons- lessons that I still draw on today. Think back over your own life, and I bet you'll find that some of the most formative and empowered relationships you've had in your life have been with remarkable women.  Today, I invite you to reflect on some of them, because whether licensed professionally or not, they are all teachers. Below, you'll find some of my teachers.

My Mom

My mom left us this year. She was a force to be reckoned with- a cheerleader, a teacher, an advocate. Her love wasn't kittens and soft, pink fluffy sweaters.  It was practical and down-to-earth and sometimes tough.  Even today, when I'm discouraged I can hear her voice, "You've got this. You've always made me proud. Remember who you are."    That last part, especially, has been circling in my mind lately.  REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.  My mom taught me how to pick myself up, dust myself off, and move forward.

My Crazy Friend Anne

If you pick Anne up at the airport, she might greet you wearing a blue chiffon dress.  Never one to get lost in a crowd, Anne storytells and sings her way around the world, often traveling for months at a time.  She laughs often. She eats well and savors every bite. She's known her share of adversity in life. But watching Anne, I've learned how to live.  She has taken Turkish baths with strangers in North Africa, wandered the cathedrals of Paris, and hiked the Grand Canyon.  She is a 60-something wild woman.  From Anne, I've learned how to savor.


Retta is a "new-old friend."  That means we've known each other for 18 years, but our friendship has developed and deepened over the last couple of years.  Retta LOVES Janis Joplin. Retta LOVES purple.  Retta is a Bubbie who creates art with her grandchildren.  I call Retta to talk "shop" and two hours later, we get to the point of my phone call.  We are both divergent thinkers.  Retta gets me. I get Retta.  From Retta, I've learned that life is a creative endeavor. Despite loss, retirement, births and deaths, it's important to never stop creating.


Suzanne has red hair. She has red hair and blue eyes. The blue eyes are important because she would not want to have red hair and brown eyes. Suzanne is that kind of friend. We can finish each other's sentences. She is a cross between Lucille Ball (oh, the stories I could tell you) and Tina Fey.  And when she's invited to a party, the party is pretty dull until Suzanne walks into the room.  One important thing about Suzanne is her tenacity.  She just doesn't give up, in the face of physical pain or heartbreak,of which she has known more than her share. She propels herself and sometimes hurdles through to the other side. I am in awe.  And I have learned about tenacity from her. And when I can't find my own tenacity, she lends me hers.

Aunt Bonnie

This woman.  At a recent family reunion, four men relatives dropped everything they were doing to help her out of the car with her belongings.  Several female relatives had arrived before her, but none received the same treatment. We used to say that she could make cleaning toilets sound like a party. So much so, that everyone would attend just to help. She is beautiful, inside and out. Blonde. Huge violet eyes. Eyes that can see the good in anyone.  I mean anyone.  She truly sees people and will often tell them the goodness she sees in them.  She has this remarkable ability to inspire love. Aunt Bonnie taught me to find the goodness in others, even when I might have to look harder.


Joanne was larger than life itself. Big personality. Huge smile and a laugh to match. The kind of smile that lights up a room and the hearts of everyone around her.  She was my friend's mother.  When I interviewed for my first teaching position, I was asked which job I preferred. I picked the position that would allow me to work side-by-side with Joanne at a little school out in the country.  I remember lounge lunches sitting next to her while she talked about her Life-Long Learners Club and the adventures coming that weekend.  She was a care-giver for her husband who had suffered from Parkinson's.  But NOTHING stopped Joanne. She hunted, tended their farm, taught third grade, kept the Avon lady in business and exuded a warmth to all around her. Her students worshipped her. Joanne taught me that life is about learning.  It's imperative...never stop.

My Sister, Ali

Alison.  I named her. I've never let her forget that I could've named her "Hortense." With her fierce green eyes and five-foot-tall stature, she may look little, but she is mighty.  My sister was my first secret keeper, and I was hers.  She still is my secret keeper.  Through laughter, fights, years of rivalry and love, my sister continues to teach me about integrity.  She speaks her mind. Even when it's scary to do so.


I lost my friend Liz about eight years ago.  She was petite and wore her spiky silver hair with pride. Always a ham, she could crack people up with her antics. However, Liz was the most generous and kind-hearted person I have ever known.  I watched her quietly give to others, over and over and over again...sometimes when she could hardly afford it herself.  She was the embodiment of energy with a touch of ADHD. Liz taught me about generosity. She taught me to ask, "What am I supposed to learn from this?" That simple question has turned my life around, as it did hers many times.  I miss her.

Our greatest resources are the relationships and women we surround ourselves with.  CONNECTION---it's a scientific fact that it's vital to our well-being, our humanity. This weekend, think about the women who have taught you about life.  Appreciate them. Tell them. I would love to hear about them from you...share in the comments, please!

If you like the graphics in this post, please help yourself to them. They're free postcards or mini-posters I've created for you. They can be found here.

Next week, be sure to visit again. Something special is coming this way. Check it out below:


  1. You have a lot of special women in your life. They all sound phenomenal. :o) Thanks for sharing.
    Our Elementary Lives

  2. You write the most heartfelt posts! I am fortunate enough to live a few hours away from Washington, D.C., so my daughters and I went to the march. And seeing everyone (and their hilarious and amazing signs) made me reflect on the powerful women in my life, too. Thank you for sharing your story.