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Hello all! It's been too long since I posted anything on my website. For that, I am very sorry. I have no excuse other than being busy with a thousand other things. I'm going to attempt to get those things under control, so I can blog more often. Keep your eyes posted for more frequent news from me.

Speaking of pics, I have several to share today as I walked down memory lane. In the fall of 1988, I was given my first teaching job. To state I was 'green' and wore rose-colored glasses would be a gross understatement. I was twenty-one, eager, excited, and ready to change the world one kiddo at a time.

My assignment was sixth grade at Washington Elementary School-a beautiful old red brick building sitting atop a hill on a tree-lined street. Sounds lovely, right? I wish I had pictures from back then to share, but those were the days before cell phones. Sadly, I never thought to take photos of the school and my classroom. That fact breaks my heart. But today, I was given the opportunity to go back in time (sort of).

My husband is a Captain on the Urbana Fire Department, and they were allowed into the now-condemned building to do some training. The powers that be at UFD were kind enough to permit me to tag along. What awaited me brought tears to my eyes.

This is the front door that used to welcome students, teachers, and parents alike into this institution of learning. Now, its 'No Trespassing' sign and bolted door threaten people to stay out.

The overgrown trees and bushes would make my former principal cringe. As an ex-Marine, everything at his school needed to be in tip-top shape. This was just the beginning of the deterioration, neglect, and vandalism I witnessed as I took my tour of where it all started for me.

(I should probably mention I did a junior practicum assignment here as well during my third year in college. It was a great learning experience with some really fun fifth graders and an amazing cooperating teacher.)

The door to Room 12, once the portal to one of my favorite places, has now been destroyed by vandals with nothing better to do than break things that don't belong to them. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and thought of those kids many years ago who taught me so much about who I was as a person, and, even more importantly, as a teacher.

I taught sixth grade in this room for two years. I can remember my students' faces as if it were yesterday. The shy, quiet girl with dark eyes and long braids who wanted nothing more than to read, which was a struggle for her. The tall, lanky boy who wanted to be anywhere but at school, playing basketball. Keeping his attention on lessons was a challenge for me from Day One. And I could never forget the stocky, freckled face boy with the big laugh that filled our classroom with so much joy. Wherever these children ended up as adults, I pray they are happy, healthy, and enjoying their lives to the fullest.

Ah, the front of my classroom where all the action happened. Lessons taught, assignments posted, and each day's schedule meticulously written in my neatest handwriting every morning. Those windows spanned the entire wall and faced north, giving my room plenty of natural light. Despite the graffiti seen on the chalkboard, this room was a colorful, inviting, and safe place for my students to try new things, make mistakes and ask questions. We came together in August of 1988, as a class of students and their teacher. We grew into a family who truly cared for each other. No amount of decay and neglect can take that from me...or them.

I wanted to give a shout-out to my husband's entire shift for allowing me to be there today. I enjoyed watching Urbana's Finest (no offense to the Urbana Police) replicate a real fire and rescue during their training. They filled my former school building with smoke, pulled lines for water sources, dragged fully charged hoses up flights of stairs, and searched for victims trapped inside. A few rescue mannequins were pulled from the building, although it was unclear if they survived or not-EMS wasn't on today's training schedule.

You can see them here debriefing after the drill to discuss what went well and what still needs to be fine-tuned. They are always training to keep their skills sharp and develop better ways to keep the community they serve safe. Please thank a firefighter the next time you see them (you can thank a cop, too). Their job isn't easy, but they will always answer the call when they're needed in an emergency.

While today allowed me a walk down memory lane, I have new memories in the making, Things are moving along towards my goal of becoming a published author. My wonderful editor, Peggy, and I are hard at work on edits-round one finished and submitted yesterday. With her help and expertise, "Murdered by the Books" will become the best cozy mystery I can give the literary world. We have several more rounds of edits, a book cover to design, and many more details to work out. I'm hoping for an early spring 2024 release date! Thank you to everyone who's been asking when they get their hands on my book. I will keep you all posted on our progress. And all of you who've promised to buy my book, I'm going to hold you to that! And yes, I will happily sign anyone's copy who asks me to (several people have already asked).

Please feel free to share my posts with others. I would really appreciate comments, as this helps develop my social media presence. I'd love to connect with you and new followers. And if given the chance to take a walk down your own memory lane, I can highly recommend it.

Until next time,


~~~There is no better place to be than between the pages of a book~~~

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