Monday, January 23, 2017


Dear Literary Loves,

Yes folks.  I wrote the book Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life and it does provide a revealing insight into the plight of a first year teacher in North Carolina.  I found it interesting recently when I read an article in The Raleigh News & Observer that The North Carolina Board Of Education and its directors along with our newly-elected state education superintendent were puzzled as to why so many teachers are vacating their classroom positions in our state.  It is not that difficult to discover those reasons if you have ever been in the trenches of teaching, particularly in a volatile inner-city school as I was.  There were many occasions when I could have walked out and there were many times when I seriously considered taking classes to obtain a black belt in karate.  No lie.  Teaching in North Carolina or really in any publicly funded school is not for anyone who is shy, reluctant to speak up, or anyone who scares easily.  My book is available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I published the book as an e-book as well as a paperback.  It's not that expensive as this is my first serious opportunity to step in the publishing ring.  Don't let anyone ever tell you publishing is simple or easy either.  Herewith I am going to outline some of the more prevalent reasons I witnessed that explain why many North Carolina teachers are vacating our public schools. 

1)  When I was hired as a middle school teacher, it was after the first teacher that started the school year with my team of students had quit after the first week of classes.  I was informed by many at the school that she could not handle the students or maintain command and control of the classroom.  She lasted one week before she gave the principal her two week notice and the administration of the school had to quickly locate another seventh grade language arts and social studies teacher.  By the time I was hired for the position, the students had been through multiple substitute teachers and the math and science teacher on the team was trying to cover all four core subjects by herself.  I had to hit the ground running.  No orientation.  Just throw me in the frying pan and light the fire  It is absolutely crazy to ask anyone to do that but fortunately I had flown by the seat of my pants on more than one occasion over the course of my life so I didn't sink, I started to swim.

2)  In middle school at the start of my teaching career we operated in teams.  You might have one teacher for each core subject including math, science, language arts, and social studies or you might have one teacher covering math and science and another teacher covering language arts and social studies.  We teach the same group or team of students each day for an entire year.  How my team teacher ever covered all four core subjects for several weeks before I arrived I will never know.  She was just a gifted and dedicated lady.  She never should have been left in a situation like that for starters.  Even if an administrator had to pitch hit and cover the classes it would have been better than leaving one teacher covering all core subjects for a significant period of time.

3)  There was a definite lack of available and willing substitute teachers during my first year of teaching.  Many did not wish to cover classes at my school because the school had a reputation for loud often volatile and non-compliant students and a lack of timely disciplinary support by our school administrators who were overwhelmed with the abundance of student disciplinary reports by teachers.  A student might receive punishment for an offense some five days after it occurred.  By that time, the student had most likely forgotten what bad act he/she had committed.  That should not happen.  It doesn't make for a well-oiled machine or a smoothly structured school environment.  It frustrates teachers and it allows students to believe they can get away with almost any infraction.

4)  I waited until November of the school year to receive the proper number of social studies textbooks for each of my students.  I had students sharing social studies textbooks during class time and in order not to lose the books I did have, I had to restrict use of the textbooks to only being utilized during school hours.  This led to a whole lot of copy paper being used so students could have the material they needed to study.  No teacher should have to start a school year without enough textbooks for each of his/her students.  That is just a plain and simple fact.

5)  No one goes into the teaching profession to get rich.  Hell, my starting salary was somewhere around $23,600.  I actually laughed when I heard our former governor announcing during his re-election campaign that he helped get teacher salaries to $50,000 a year.  Say what?  No dice.  No one even today gets hired as a teacher and has a starting salary of $50,000 a year.  You might reach that after ten plus years of teaching, but it is a lie to say teachers have a beginning salary of $50,000 a year.  And I am not sure even if someone offered me $75,000 a year that I would return to teaching at a North Carolina public middle school.  Maybe at a college level I would consider returning to teaching at that salary, but that's about it. 

6)  As a teacher I never had any safe place in my classroom where I could secure my personal possessions unless I provided it.  And I did provide my own chain and lock to secure a cabinet in my classroom because the lock on the cabinet was broken and there was no lockable space in my teacher's desk.  Talk about feeling like a sitting duck.  Even middle and high school students are issued lockers with padlocks last time I checked.  So this lack of secure space came across as a diss to many a teacher including me.  How can I effectively teach if I am worried my purse, money, identification, and medication might be stolen? 

7)  There was a definite lack of proper new teacher mentoring.  I was assigned a veteran language arts teacher as a mentor.  The only time I ever saw her was when she came to evaluate my teaching efforts during one of my language arts or social studies classes.  Other than that, nothing.  I went and asked her permission on two occasions to observe her eighth grade language arts classes and permission was granted, but teaching mentors need to do more for new teachers than just show up for evaluations and then turn in a written evaluation of a new teacher.  Most new teachers I would think need weekly check-ins with a mentor teacher and certainly more guidance and support.  Now that I think back on it, I should have started a support group for beginning teachers just so we could share experiences and offer advice and consolation to one another. 

8)  Honestly, since I began my first year of teaching rather late in the school year, I had missed some of the important paperwork, announcements, bulletins, and meetings where a great deal of information was given.  So I had no idea about the seventh grade trip to the state fair until my team teacher informed me of it.  I didn't even know what a disciplinary form looked like and where to locate it when I encountered a problem with a student.  And I did not know the procedures for a school lockdown.  I had never encountered a school lockdown as a student nor had I been taught how to prepare for this type of incident in college. Many times I had to go looking for the information myself and thankfully I had a well-informed, veteran team teacher who was extremely generous and understanding.

9)  I had never witnessed a fight inside a classroom until I began my first year of teaching.  It  happened in the blink of an eye.  A seventh grade female picked up a chair and threw it across the room in the direction of a male who had been making fun of her.  The female student just snapped and I was left to defuse the situation.  Thank God for all my college psychology classes because no professor ever conducted a lesson on what to do if fights break out in your classroom or someone throws a chair across the classroom.  I once was covering another teacher's class when a student reported to class with a stab wound.  Fortunately, I had CPR training in high school so that's what I relied on during that circumstance along with hailing an administrator and calling 911.  To do this day I still do not know how I survived that first year of teaching except maybe relying on tenacity and determination not to fail.

10)  My first year teaching was spent conducting classes in a former locker room.  Yes, you read that correctly.  And my team teacher also taught in what was once a sports locker room.  We barely had enough room for ourselves, student desks and chairs, and students.  I had a small teacher desk, a cabinet, and one bookshelf where I kept the social studies textbooks.  And when track, basketball, football, and baseball seasons began we had to vacate our classrooms because the teams used those same classrooms as locker rooms.  I would come to school and find socks and underwear left in my classroom and drawings of various strategic plays on my chalkboard and overhead projector and dry erase board.  Insanity.  Once again it was another indirect way of making a teacher feel insignificant, unimportant, and for certain disrespected.  Who in any other career field would remain in a job facing these kinds of deficits and incredulous experiences?  Seriously. 

And if you want to know more about my first year of teaching and what is wrong with North Carolina public schools that gives rise to an abundant volume of teachers leaving the profession, please feel free to order and read carefully my book entitled Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life.  It spells out why teachers are leaving North Carolina public schools in droves quite clearly.  And it also demonstrates how I survived and thrived during my first year of teaching in North Carolina as well.

Till my next post,

Monday, January 16, 2017


Dear Beloved Readers,

Unfortunately, I am having to take a respite from blogging about my latest book review, the publishing industry, book club meetings, etc. to get the attention of one company:  AT&T.  I have been waiting for cable, internet, and landline phone service since December 28th, 2016.  Yes, folks!  I have been without any of the above mentioned services for 20 DAYS NOW!!  I realize I bought a new home in an as yet undeveloped area of Chatham County, North Carolina, but let's be honest:  This is freaking ridiculous!!  I've been routinely told by AT&T representatives that the proper wiring has not been installed underground, the specific fiber cable has not been entrenched, and received excuse after excuse after excuse.  I could go with Time Warner Cable, but their sorry service is not worth my spit, are we clear?  And I am seriously hoping my husband invents a device to give us all cable, internet, and phone access for a reasonable $30 a month with no freaking cable or phone company having to be involved!!  CAN I GET A "HELL TO THE YES, MRS. SUTHERLIN!"

It is terrible to have to become royally witchy and royally southernly witchy at that, in order to get people to do their job.  It's inexcusable, deplorable, and just reeks of what I like to call being a slack-ass.  I have zero tolerance for companies and individuals who spout off about their timely, terrific service and then cannot back up their claim.  That is called false advertisement people and I am livid!  Therefore, when AT&T gets their act together I will hopefully be back to my regularly scheduled blog posts about what I love:  books and publishing.  Unfortunately, until AT&T gets my service installed and active, I will be keeping an updated post on how long I have to go without service because the right hand doesn't have a clue what the left hand is doing, know what I mean?!  AT&T, you are cutting into my time, energy, work, and profit margins so GET WITH THE FREAKING PROGRAM!!  And for that matter, read and respond to your damn customer service surveys so you know when your own employees are NOT GETTING THE JOB DONE.  Your future depends on it and I am one thoroughly unsatisfied customer who wants solutions, not excuses, but solutions.  Timely service is everything and AT&T-YOU NEED TO GET THE JOB DONE AND MAKE ME HAPPY, UNDERSTAND?!!

To my lovely readers and followers, I am so sorry I had to post this most disturbing news, but alas sometimes you have to be LOUD, DIFFICULT, AND BITCHY to get the attention of a big company.  Your lovely and normally calm, courteous, and talented blogger/author will return as soon as AT&T GETS ME INTERNET, CABLE, AND PHONE SERVICE!!!  LET'S ALL HOPE I AM NOT DEAD BEFORE THAT HAPPENS!! 

Love to all my readers,

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hello Cary, N.C., Chatham County, And N.C. Teachers

Dearest Readers,

Hello! Greetings!  Happy 2017!!!  No, I did not fall off the face of the earth as someone recently asked me while I was grocery shopping.  My last post was in November 2016 because my husband and I closed on a newly built home in Cary, N.C. (Chatham County).  We closed on the home before Christmas 2016, packed up our apartment, and spent a weekend and a day moving our belongings from one residence to another.  Now we're unpacking boxes and are waist high in packing paper.  Christmas was a blur.  So sorry to friends and family; however, I only had time to send cards to my mother and brother.  Thankfully, my mother completed the Christmas meal or my husband and I might have been having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Now we are surrounded by boxes and waist high mounds of packing paper!  Insanity at its finest!!  I have been so stressed with this monumental life change that I broke out in a rash on my face which looks hideous, but what is one to do?  The rash happens when I am under major stress and is my body's way of telling me to slow down, set up part of my home office, and write a blog post so I feel like I am accomplishing something in my writing career! 

No surprise that I was sound asleep at midnight when the world rocked in 2017.  I am on my way to getting myself somewhat organized and functioning again in a home office which is great because I have spent the last two years writing from our kitchen table because we had no room in the apartment for me to have any kind of an office.  For starters, I am considering holding a second book giveaway on the website called Goodreads for my first self-published title, Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life.  It's about making an unwise choice to marry a really awful guy when I was twenty-one years of age, enduring a marriage chock full of domestic violence, leaving my first marriage, finding a job in the corporate world to make a living, and then utilizing my teaching degree to work as a seventh grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher in a volatile inner-city school.  North Carolina teachers especially those in their first year of teaching will find it enlightening and occasionally heart-breaking.  Honestly, I think all members of the N.C. State Board of Education should read it particularly if many of them are wondering why teachers are particularly challenged in North Carolina and anyone who wishes to have some semblance of understanding of why so many teachers leave the profession. 

Additionally, I will also be making an appearance and speaking at my hometown library in Kernersville, North Carolina on March 2nd, 2017.  I will be chatting with members of The Kernersville Friends of the Library Book Club about why I wrote the book, the book's themes, the decision to self-publish, and  the trials and tribulations of women who find themselves in a domestically violent/abusive relationship along with the realities of working in the corporate world and the utterly fascinating, calamitous experiences I encountered during my first year teaching at an inner-city school in North Carolina.  Also, I am hoping to get the word out about my book to women's shelters, book clubs, and many teachers in the area.  So while I am learning my way around Cary and Chapel Hill, N.C., unpacking, and shopping for shower rods, towels, and soap dishes, I will hopefully meet new people and dedicated readers who may be interested in checking out my book or having me come to speak with their group or club.  Sometimes I also Skype with book clubs from other states.  Here's to the new possibilities in 2017!!