I Am From

I Am From

I am from orchards and soccer balls, windmills and beaches where it is too dangerous to swim;

I am from hillsides of waving white and pink blossoms and truckloads of dark-faced strangers to reap their fruit;

I am from secret hideaways earned by battle-scarred arms and legs and hair torn out by the roots yet filled with sweetness and laughter;

I am from the pine trees are a home run and the power pole marks home plate;

I am from woodsmoke-scented nights huddled on the hill beneath a blanket, cradling a thermos filled with stew, the imprint of a soccer ball still stinging on my frozen thigh;

I am from snow forts that last all winter and “better use the garage door, it’s the only one not blocked”;

I am from shoveling the farm pond and begging Santa for ice skates, toboggans and runner sleds, hot chocolate and cookies, and hand-knit hats, scarves, and mittens;

I am from hot afternoons playing kick the can and late nights playing flashlight tag, “don’t swim there because of the undertow” and “didn’t you hear a kid drowned there,” and bet you can’t swim out to the raft without drowning;

I am from popup trailers, mountain pies, campfires, and climbing a new mountain every year;

I am from chocolate molds and elaborate easter bunnies, cherry cokes, and french-fries paid for with berry picking money;

I am from the War of 1812 and the Underground Railroad, lake freighters, and Great Lakes captains.

I created a more interactive version of this poem using ThingLink. Learn more about how to write your own “Where I’m From” poem modeled on George Ella Lyon’s famous work as well as other ways to explore your origin story in writing and #JustWrite.


Praise to the Teacher Writer

Praise to the Teacher Writer

The writers come to us, unknowing and fearful

They know working with words is dangerous

As language is combustible and corrosive – incendiary

They worry they do not have the skill for such dangerous work

But then we fill them with their own fire

and teach them how to build firebreaks

As well as how to raze the fields to prepare for new growth

Even as we salve their burns, we show them their scars and raw wounds

are badges of honor and testament to their power

Praise to the teacher writer who brings writers through a crucible

not unscathed but tempered – stronger, brighter than before


Learn more about praise poetry and how to write your own praise poem and #JustWrite!

Won’t You Celebrate With Me

Won’t You Celebrate With Me

Won’t you celebrate with me

That I love learning and laughing with my students

That I possess patience and understanding

That I am sweet and kind and helpful

That I have pushed my students to learn and do more than they thought possible

That I have made my students proud of their accomplishments

Won’t you celebrate with me a life that has given so much to others


Won’t you celebrate with me

That I push my students out of their comfort zone

That I am an awesome teacher who gives out chocolate

That I possess the superpower of encouragement

That I am cool because I teach with Harry Potter

That I challenge my students to be more creative

Won’t you celebrate with me that against all the odds we survived


This praise poem was written collaboratively with my Spring 2016 first- and second-year writing students.



Forbidden the adult section of the library

no one cares I have already read Little House and Nancy Drew

Small notebooks with marbled covers, purchased from the Five and Dime

nestle into my back pocket as I stand up on my bike pedals to make it up the ridge

I only dare share the stories that amuse and titillate my friends

no one reads the stories written on my heart, maybe no one ever will

No one makes a living with words, they protest my declaration of English major

three decades and four English degrees later I am still writing and haven’t starved yet