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The Teacher

One of three eighth-grade English Language Arts teachers at Hughes Academy, I have many years’ experience in the classroom, including experience teaching English as a Foreign Language and working with at-risk youth.

Much of my teaching experience is international. For seven years, I taught English in Lipnica Wielka, a small village in the south of Poland. It was a constant challenge, but immensely rewarding.

Lipnica Wielka, where I lived for seven years

My first job when I returned to the States was as a teaching assistant in an EC classroom, working primarily with children on the autism spectrum. This experience taught me in a very real, practical way to separate the behavior from the child: they are two different things, and teachers shouldn’t take most negative behaviors personally.

My daughter on Babia Góra in southern Poland

During the 2006/7 school year, I worked at a day-treatment facility for at risk youth, teaching social studies, science, and social skills. This was perhaps the most challenging job I’ve ever had.

I began working at Hughes in the 2007/8 school year, teaching eighth grade. While I’ve changed teams since that first year and taught one second of seventh-grade English for a year, my primary teaching assignment has remained eighth grade English.

My daughter and son with a family friend in the salt mines of Wieliczka, Poland

In addition to my teaching experience, I spent two years in Boston working as an editor for an online textbook start-up. After a few months’ work and a lot of self-education regarding the technical side of the site, I was offered a position as a web application developer.

I graduated from King College in Bristol, Tennessee with a degree in English, minoring in Secondary Education. I was very fortunate to attend such a small college (the enrollment when I attended was under 800): I was able to attend classes with small enrollments (30 was considered a “big class”) and have great relationships with professors. In 2012 I completed a Master’s in Secondary English Education at Converse College.

Married to a wonderful Polish woman, I have a daughter (born in 2006) and a son (born in 2012). A few of my favorite things (other than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens) are: reading, writing, playing chess, and cycling…

My family in Krakow, Poland
My family in Krakow, Poland
Riding Goal

For the 2015-2016 school year, I set myself the goal of ride my bicycle to work at least 100 of the 180 days. This was how it went.

Month Number Kilometers
August 10 221
September 12 312
October 13 333
November 8 215
December 7 179
January 1 27
February 7 186
March 2 53
April 4 127
May 8 204
Total 72 1857
1154 miles

Addendum: I reached the 50% mark on 12/10/2015, but January and March were rough due to illness. I won’t be making the goal, but perhaps next year.

The Site

This site has been a work-in-development since 2007. It represents my attempt to keep students and parents completely informed about what’s going on in our classroom — in our English class, to be specific, hence the name.

At first, the number of resources might be overwhelming. It only takes a little wandering around to determine that this site is the opposite of my classroom desk: organized, organized, organized.

The site accomplishes two purposes:

  1. Keep stake holders informed of what’s going on in the classroom. This is accomplished through the main page, “Home.” Here, you’ll find updates of what happens on a day-to-day basis, as well as homework assignments and links to necessary materials.
  2. Keep stake holders informed of the material presented in class and provide a digital clearinghouse for all notes, rubrics, etc. used in class. In other words, if I give notes in class, chances are, you’ll find them here.
The Menu

At the heart of this organization is the menu, which has several items.


Here you’ll find information about me and the site. You’ll probably not be spending much time here, but it’s a good place to start.

Lesson Plans

I post all lesson plans here. As I plan by unit and not by week, I also post weekly updates (at right on the main page) that explain to stakeholders where we are in the process.


Under this item you’ll find materials lists, schedules, rubrics, grading guidelines, etc. The most useful material here would probably be the rubrics: the rest of the material might be a one-time-only affair.

Class Notes

This is the core of the site. To begin with, it provides a template for students’ notebooks: the same primary topics will be the topics on the students’ binder dividers. More importantly, though, I store all notes for almost all classes here. If a student is absent, this is the first place to check for materials.


“What are we doing after Christmas break?” This is where students and parents can find out. Additionally, to the right you’ll find an agenda that provides a less detailed, shorter-term overview.


wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbObviously enough, this is a form to contact me without using email (though you’ll need to provide an email address so I can respond).

Technical Specifications

This site uses WordPress, but the styling changes every year. In addition, it incorporates Google Calendar and a few functions I created, but the basis is always on a third-party template:

  • For the latter half of the 2014/2015 school year and for the entire 2015/2016 year, I used Stargazer.
  • For the latter portion of the 2013/2014 school year and the first half of the 2014/2015 school year, I used Theme Elmax by Saeed Salam.
    1-Fullscreen capture 8102015 32344 PM
  • For the 2012/13 and 2013/2014 school years, I am employing “Twenty-Twelve” theme.
    1-Fullscreen capture 5212014 81609 AM
  • For the 2011/12 school year, the site used the default “Twenty-Eleven” theme by the WordPress development team. I’ve customized it to some degree, but largely I’ve left the child theme untouched.

    The header images are as follows:

  • During the 2010/11 school year, the site used the “Titan” template by Darren Hoyt.
  • During the 2009/2010 school year, the site used the  “df Blog” theme by danielfajardo web.
  • During the 2008/09 school year, it used the “Misty Look” theme by Sadish Bala. The header image was the same photo by whitland at Flickr used during the 2011/12 school year.



  1. LOVE your site – thanks! But don’t see where I can sign up for notifications….

  2. It’s supposed to appear automatically, in a form that actually covers the center of the screen. If you load the main page and wait a few seconds, it’s supposed to pop up.

  3. I am a retired English teacher having taught in Jacksonville, Fla., Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles. We are in El Paso and the school system(extremely poor) is geared towards dual language and as such, the literature they read is sadly lacking in depth and breadth. So I teach good writing skills like Shaeffer”s TS-CD-CM- CM etc. and use classic literature such as Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, NIght, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, etc to hopefully elevate my 7-8th graders.
    Your website is great and I would love to access your entire site to help keep me fresh. I know your students are greatly benefitted by the wide scope of your travels and the obvious love of your profession. Thanks! Melissa

  4. You site is very helpful…but I find it a bit of ironic that your a. English teacher but you don’t have a citation. If you do…and I can’t find it I am blind?

  5. I’m not quite sure what I should be citing and why. This “About” page is simply about me and the tools I use to teach. I have used no outside sources. Regarding the irony, I find it a little ironic that your comment, which speaks of an irony due to a supposed mistake on an English teacher’s web site, should at the same time have its own mistakes. Allow me, please (I’ll put the corrections in italics and bold): “Your site is very helpful…but I find it a bit of ironic that youryou’re an. English teacher, and yet but you don’t have a citation. If you do…and I can’t find it. I am blind?

Please let me know how I can help you.