Guest Post 2: High School Graduates.

About two years back Sasha and Court wrote this.  Now they are super old and super wise and they bring you advice from the other side.  I love them so much it hurts. :)

Sasha and I had talked a little bit about writing a second guest post, but it spent a lot of time just being an idea. A few weekends ago, I ran my second, and last, high school Ragnar, while Sasha qualified for her final high school crew nationals, and by Sunday night, we asked if we could, in fact, write the second guest post. It feels sentimental as I’m typing this, but it’s more like a check in for us. There are all of these ways to compartmentalize time in our lives- high school, summer, college, first jobs, races we’ve attended- but how we’ve grown up has little to do with the time, and so much more to do with the pieces of ourselves that cannot be contained in categories. Here is what we learned in high school that is less to do with high school and more to do with the rest of our lives.
1) The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

If you didn’t learn this in high school, did you learn anything? This could be construed as important, you know, if you’re into biology, or unimportant if you think about the fact that it’s this weird, massive inside joke on Tumblr. Aside from this, whenever you’re asked a question, this is the perfect answer. Yes, even the perfect answer to life. Every one of your cells has one of these. Every piece of you has a powerhouse. Your body is fighting for you, every second of every day. And you know, also, biology is cool and super intelligent.

2) There is always another gear.
Even if you think you’re studying hard, there is always someone studying harder or rowing harder. So I think you just have to choose what you care about and go for it. Someone who is most likely famous said, “Whatever you do, always give it 100%, unless you’re donating blood.” I totally agree with all of that, except maybe pick one or two things and save some time for Netflix?
3) Take risks.

I just went out for Chinese food with my family for mother’s day, and my fortune was “avoid unnecessary risks.” I am not sure whether the fortune cookie company meant social risks, financial risks, or jumping-off-a-cliff risks, but I feel like risks are good. If you want to text a person and don’t think you should because you are embarrassed, TEXT THE PERSON. You can always apologize later, and most of the time you typed that shit for a reason.

4) College Admissions teams don’t really give the “mistakes are okay” aura, but they don’t know what transcripts don’t tell them.

You submit yourself in fragments to a college admissions board. Your application has a transcript, a perfectly molded essay, a list of extracurriculars, recommendations from teachers that you appreciate dearly. But these are slices of your life. This is not a “there’s so much more to you than that” but more a “seriously, your high school self is not who you’re going to end up being, and thank god.” Other people don’t have to know about the time you skipped three days of class straight to lie upside down on your bed or scale a mountain. But you do, and that’s more important anyway.
5) There is plenty of time. Don’t rush.

You’re only allowed to wear footy pajamas in public for so long before it gets weird. If I were to do it over again I would:

a) Own footy pajamas

b) Wear them all day every day with frequent washing

c) Don’t do something because everyone else is doing it. Go at your own pace. *

6) It will end.

Sasha wrote this, and I loved it. It holds true in our friendship- when junior year fell apart and we did too- and in life- my legs are not always so sore that they feel like pancake batter. The bad things will dissipate over time, in scheduled cry time and therapy and baking batches and batches of cupcakes. The good things will too, in watching the seconds move at the end of a class and driving home or away from places that you’ve loved. It is, maybe, the only truth I can understand. The things we are doing with the time, the ways we are filing them away, the stories we are pulling out years later for new people in our lives to hear, cease to exist in the future. It will end. This is okay. Something else will start again.

Sasha will be going to college in Pennsylvania, rowing and studying we’re not sure what. Courtney will finally be on the coast in Boston, running and changing the world, and hopefully herself. These are just plans, categories, pieces of our lives. Emma was that, too. We love you all for reading, listening, teaching Courtney how to use Desmos, and being a place for Anne, and thus, a place for us. See you on the flip side.

*editor’s note: I don’t know where the footie pajamas come in but please do your best not to wear jammies to class in college.  Actually, what the fuck do I care, you do you. 

Because four years was one too many for me.

Because I had to leave Emma last year, I won’t be there tomorrow to see you graduate.

Instead I will be curled up in my bed at 6:45am waiting for the live stream to start.

Because I chose a new place, I won’t line up for wailing wall or wear my hood (which this time I earned).

Instead I will tear up at home thinking about the girls who started at Emma with me.

I am so ridiculously proud of the people you are and excited to see what comes next.

Trudy will talk about you briefly (and hopefully say your name right) tomorrow but I wanted my piece.

Ying, I never did talk you in to taking an art class but maybe you didn’t need it? I missed you all the time this year. Every email and snapchat was amazing.

Sonya, you are brave and powerful and give amazing speeches.  Thank you for being a genius with me.

Sash, every email you send me makes my life better.  I hope that college brings more late night adventures and a lot of time on the water.  Maybe riding a moose?

Lily,  I am sometimes jealous of your amazing sense of self but, don’t be afraid to not know what’s next or to lose yourself a little. Also, always tell me stories from lute camp, please and thank you.

Caelin, you did it and kid, it was touch and go for a minute there.  From 1,000 broken laptops to late nights showing up at my house I feel real lucky that I get to have you in my life.

And Court, my office only ever felt a small part mine as you definitely owned real estate there.  You have given me some of my favorite gifts ever and truly have a knack for making other people feel important. I expect 1,000,000 emails.

To Sam, Kiki, Claire, Gabby, Muna, Kirstin. To Ruby, Luna, Susan, Emily, Elsie, Jhanara. To Lorraine, Joie, Emma, Lauren, Justine, Dana.

I wish I was there to tell you in person and most of you will never read this but you made a huge impact on my life and I know you will continue to make impacts where ever you are headed.


Ms. Schwartz.  (I guess you can call me Anne now.)


I spend about 80% of my time wondering if I’m asking the important questions. If I’m having the important conversations. If I’m saying the important things in the moments that they need to be said.

I spend the other 20% of my time thinking about chocolate.


Next time someone says girls should dress modestly or be modest I might punch them.

Modest.  Def:

1. Avoiding extremes of behaviour; well-conducted, temperate; not harsh or domineering. Obs.

 2. a. Of a woman: decorous in manner and conduct; not forward, impudent, or lewd; demure; (of a personal attribute, action, etc.) proper to or distinctive of such a woman. Hence: scrupulously avoiding impropriety or vulgarity in speech or behaviour. (Sometimes applied to men in later use.)

b. Of a woman’s dress: seemly, not ostentatious; sober in colour and style, esp. so as to avoid revealing the figure of the wearer. (Occas. also applied to men.)

c. Of a part of the body, spec. the genitals: that modesty requires to be covered. Obs.

d. Conforming to the requirements of decency. Obs.rare.


a. Having a moderate or humble estimate of one’s own abilities or achievements; disinclined to bring oneself into notice; becomingly diffident and unassuming; not bold or forward. Of an action, trait, etc.: proceeding from, indicative of, or accordant with such qualities.
b. In extended use, applied to things: not obtrusively conspicuous; not inviting attention by elaborate show.
4. Of a thing: unpretentious or moderate in size, appearance, style, etc.; (of a sum of money or financial means) limited, not lavish or extensive. Hence, of a person’s origins or social circumstances: undistinguished on the social or economic scale.
For the love of god.  Be immodest be loud, be proud, and take up space.
(but maybe keep your genitals covered, although, totally up to you.)

Teacher Appreciation Week.

Notes of Appreciation.

To my actual teachers

Bryan Anderson, my high school math teacher and my cooperating teacher in my second student teaching assignment.  Thank you for showing me that math wasn’t just lectures and students being talked at. Thank you.

To Stimson, who showed me that only a small portion of teaching is your content. (I never did build a bridge.  Sorry not sorry.) Thank you.

To Lawler, who taught me a bunch of stuff I thought I’d never use and allowed me to figure out how to use it myself. (I use all of it) Thank you.

My Colleagues

To Kat, who showed me how amazing elementary school teachers are and supported me when I couldn’t figure out how to teach 6th graders. (I was never good at it) Thank you.

To Christina, for traveling through our first years together and teaching me the value of teacher-friends. Thank you.

To #MTBoS, those of you who have been here for all my 6 years, who have supported me through pink slips, moves, anger, tears, successes, and summers.  Those who I met at TMC and those who I haven’t.  Thank you for being in this space with me, it continually makes me better.

To Bob, Wendy, Alan, Judy, Raimie, Angie, and Carol, my first ever real department.  You are the kindest group of people I know.  You taught me how to connect with kids and how to see student’s understanding. Thank you.

To Renee, Allie, and Brent, who have for this whole year been showing me that teaching is changing (even when you don’t want to). Who allow me in to their classrooms and brains whenever I need.  Thank you.

To Tiffany and Kris, who make me think deeper and better about everything we’re teaching and don’t let me off the hook even when I’m grouchy. Thank you.

To Katie and Lindsey, my favorite english teachers, who talk to me about the important things, who let me be crazy, and who allow me to be involved in their passions and subjects even though they are not mine.  You make me smarter.  Thank you.

And to my mom and my brother, the two most different and yet best teachers I know.  My mom for her infinite structure and time management skills and my brother for his unlimited patience and care for kids. Thank you for reminding often me that being a fantastic teacher doesn’t mean one thing. Thank you.

I’m gonna skip the update right now and just say, Happy Teacher Appreciation week.  If you’re a teacher, I appreciate you.

Tell me something you’re good at.

Last week I told the monsters I was doing a professional development to be a better teacher.  Many of them kindly responded with, “But you’re already good, Ms. Schwartz” and other similar sentiments. When I quickly replied, “I know.” A bunch of them groaned or made noises to imply that I was bragging.  I tried to explain that I am allowed to know what I am good at but they had little fits about being full of one’s self.

Well, I say screw that.  We don’t do enough recognizing of our strengths.  So if you read this here or on twitter or on facebook my request this week is that you reply with something (or multiple things) you are good at. Here I go:

I am really good at making connections with kids.

Personal Stuffs: I am really starting to make a life here and I love it.

Classroom Stuffs: Matrices with freshman and Polynomials with sophomores.

Personal Change: I didn’t walk last week and I would like to do something this week.

Classroom Change: I’d like to incorporate “things I am good at” into each of my classes somehow this week.

Reading: I’m listening to old Susan Grafton novels.  I’ve so far heard, “A” is for Alibi and “B” is for Burglar. Also, I’m reading Much Ado about Nothing for the students’ book group.

Watching: More Amy Schumer and a couple more episodes of Daredevil.

Your assigned reading: Just for fun.  Six word love stories.

Things that scare me.

At some point this month Grace Bonney of Design Sponge wrote an article about things that scare her.  It started a few years back and a bunch of design and lifestyle bloggers jumped on board and did it then.  I can’t remember if MTBoS jumped in or not but we were a smaller community then and maybe it wasn’t such a thing.  Anyway, I thought this week I’d follow Grace’s lead and write the five things I am afraid of.

1. I am afraid I am not doing enough.

This one is pretty straight forward.  I spend a ton of time worrying about that one kid and what they are having for dinner or that other kid and how they are suddenly failing all their classes.  How do I help?  Can I help? Should I help?

2. I am afraid I am gonna piss off my colleagues or my boss.

I am not an easy person to like.  I have strong options and almost no ability to shut up sometimes.  I would like to do more things and different things and I need the support of my colleagues and my boss to do this.  So, how do I balance the line between saying what is important and not being unbelievably difficult?

3. I’m scared I will get depressed again and it will ruin my life (again).

I don’t know how to explain this one.  It is just always there.  Hanging out.

4. I’m scared I am too introverted. People who meet me and don’t know me think this is ridiculous.  I am good in a crowd.  I can make friends at work and, as I said earlier, I have no fear sharing my thoughts or feelings.  But here’s the thing, I require MAJOR recharge time.  If I go out two or more evenings in a week I pretty much want to spend the weekend alone.  If I can think of an excuse not to leave my house I will probably take it.  I don’t really want to do things on the weekend.  This leads in my last and probably biggest fear.

5. I am afraid I will never find a partner.

I don’t think I am terribly easy to like and I don’t like people terribly easily.  How the hell does that lead to a relationship?

Anyways, thanks for listening to my over share.  If you’re interested in joining I’m hash tagging this #5fears

Personal Stuffs: This next week has a lot of things happening in the evenings.  I am preparing myself for this.

Classroom Stuffs: I did some really hope to continue that this week.

Personal Change: I walked 3 days this week.  I hope to do the same this week.  Also I used the Konmari method to clean my closet, next week I tackle my books.

Classroom Change: I’m just going to try to live through the crazy this week.

Reading: I’m working my way through The Life Changing Making of Tidying Up.  This is how I cleaned my closet.

Watching: Not much at all.  There was a lot happening this week.

Your assigned reading: Or really watching this week: Amy Schumer is AMAZING. 

Dear Children,

Dear Children (or as I like to call you monsters),

You took a survey back in January.  It had about 100 questions on it.  It was REALLY long.  Some of them were about drug use.  We spent a long time googling skittles to find out what those were (still unclear).  In that survey it asked you to rate the following statement,

I believe that an adult on campus cares about my well being

agree, mostly agree, somewhat agree, disagree

Only 40% of the 9th graders put agree. I don’t know what to do with that.  I am so very very sad. I am also super pissed.  In fact when we talked about it in class today I told you we were in a fight.  You didn’t really believe me.  I should of said this:

I really truly care about you.  Sometimes I stay up at night worrying about you.  I love this job.  I work incredibly hard to get you to do math not because I think math is the most important thing but because I think that if you can be successful in my class you can take that and transfer it to other classes. I say that so you understand I push you not because I care about your no marks but because I care about you. I care that you feel smart and important and respected.

I’m sorry if I haven’t been doing a good job of making you feel that way lately.


Ms. Schwartz

In other news:

Personal Stuffs: Joanna was here! Two best friends visiting in a month.  I have also been working on handwriting letters.  I’ve sent probably 16 in the last 2 months.  Want one?  Email me your real life address.

Classroom Stuffs: I’ve been a bit out of sorts since spring break I want to focus back in and get good again.

Personal Change: Started walking this week.  I’ve done about 4/6 days about 2.5 miles.

Classroom Change: I need to focus back in on student voice and how they talk to each other. 

Reading: I JUST READ THE MARTIAN!!!!!!! It was the best book I’ve read in year.  Buy it and read it so good.

Watching: Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix.  Netflix is really doing it right.

Your assigned reading: I’ve just bought this book and it’s on it’s way.  Also, this article hit home hard.

Two last things.

1.  I am really excited about Hilz.  I need her to put out some t-shirts now.

2. I am thinking about a post called supporting friends with loved ones with cancer.  I have a lot right now.  Any advice?

International Women’s Day

I am remarkably lucky.  I am also remarkably privileged but I truly believe that there is luck there, too.

Today I am celebrating the women who were doing the work before I was born.  My grandmother who was a nurse and bucked tradition by not marrying until her thirties.  My other grandmother who just turned 101 and was the first Jewish nurse in Toronto.  My mother and her friends who despite (or possibly because of) incredibly different belief systems have remained friends for over 20 years.  These women showed me what strong women look like. They were the mayor and school board members, they ran organizations for suicide prevention and raised children.  They demonstrate to me what womanhood looks like. They are what I want to be.

I am celebrating my peers and the work we do.  We study writing and make art.  We work with children, college students, and adults.  We spread tolerance and love.  We talk about important issues and support each other’s endeavors.  We push the definitions of feminism to make sure all women all included and we work on ourselves and our friendships.

I am celebrating the girls I teach and have taught.  The girls who are working on becoming women.  Who are finding their places in the world and learning to express themselves within that. They are fighting the good fight for equality and change.  They are learning younger how to love people for who they are.  They are amazing.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Personal Stuffs: Sarah was here!!!! She’s my bff from Hawaii and it was an amazing weekend.

Classroom Stuffs: I am caught up on all my work!!!!!!

Personal Change: Yoga this week?  Maybe?

Classroom Change: We are starting our game designing this week.  YAYAYAYAYAYYAY.

Reading: I am (still) listening to the Mistborn series still.  I (still) like it.  (STILL)

Watching: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!!!  It was sooooo good.

Your assigned reading: JOMO, the opposite of FOMO.

Things I am thinking about.

How am I balancing support and agency?

How am I making sure that my last class does not get a more annoyed version of me?

Do the students know how much I like them?

When am I not setting them up to meet expectations?

What is my fault?

When is fault okay and when should I give everyone a break?

Have I dived so deep in to this world of teaching and math that I am losing some of my other important works?

Am I doing a good enough job? Is there such a thing?