Purpose Summit 2019

Here are a few words to describe how I feel today as I reflect on the last few days at World Leadership School’s Purpose Summit.

Excited, Overwhelmed, Enthusiastic, Rejuvenated, Connected, Enthralled, Passionate

I went to Colorado to realign myself as an educator and to reconnect with the kind of work I was doing in my classroom before the move to Cathedral. It’s not that I was lost but rather my priorities needed to shift a bit as I got to know another curriculum, co-create a new math program and learn a little bit about the community.

But alas I am ready! And with the help of my new friend Phu I created my purpose statement and what I hope becomes transparent in my work in the next few months.

My PURPOSE is to help others DISCOVER their

SUPERPOWERS so that they can


Colorado you may have been cold but you warmed my heart. Purpose Summit 2019

A Year to Innovate...

My boss reminded me in June that you won’t start to innovate until you get bored. Life and work is far from boring, but as I sit here on my last true Friday of summer (I teach summer school next week and then that leads right into school meetings the following) I am already thinking about what I can get up to this year.

For those of you that are new here, I haven’t been that active as a blogger the last two years. For those that haven’t dove into the “why” it’s because I switched schools two years ago. Due to uprooting the math program utilizing research the first year and then implementing what we hoped would prove to be impactful and successful the second, some of my global learning projects and big ideas had to take a back seat. I had to spend time connected to new materials and new grade levels alongside a new community.

BUT, I am here to say that I am back. While the changes in the math department will likely still take up a good amount of time, I am hopeful that I can begin to make changes in my daily curriculum that continue to put emphasis on the development of global competency (humility).

I don’t imagine something as BIG as the year long Kiva project yet, but good things are to come so keep checking in. To those of you heading back to work - GOOD LUCK! To those of you with a few weeks left of summer - soak it in. It’s going to be a great year ahead!

"Here, have a dollar... (or $25)

In fact, no brotherman here, have two. Two dollars means a snack for me. But it means a big deal to you” - Mr Wendell, Arrested Development

I promised I would write more so here goes…

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks here at CSB as we investigate the concept of Financial Dignity. While last year’s project was one that focussed on minimum wage and it’s relationship to a dignified wage this year we moved into an exploration of living wages in San Francisco for different demographics. We explored the relationship to a life of dignity utilizing financial models that include savings, essentials and personal use. The boys began to think about essential needs vs personal use and we had good discussions about things that we view as societal needs at this point too.

While learning about percents, the boys looked at a range of global statistics as they started to gain an understanding of marginalized communities and people and how wages effect them. All of this as a precursor to learning about credit, the banking system and eventually micro finance and Kiva.org.

The boys have many questions about Kiva at this stage of the game but I am excited to see how they move forward with their lending. Today, I am excited to field questions about Kiva and see where their beliefs behind lending stand. Stay tuned, infographics to support their beliefs will be rolling in next week as they make their first loans.

PS who doesn’t like Mr Wendell? My new fave connection to Kiva.org in that opening line.

Wool, Copper, Desk Sets? #7yearanniversary #kiva

Does anyone else use Shutterfly? While I must admit I am not as good as I used to be about uploading photos (larger phone storage will do that), I love when they send me a reminder email about what happened (Blank) years ago.


Sifting through my hotmail account today (gasp-going through the multiple emails and needing to use unroll.me quick) I was welcomed by an email from Shutterfly that said, “7 Years Ago Today”. When I opened that email I certainly thought, “where does the time go?”. Those boys are in college! I am at a new school! 7 years…. Wow!

IMG_7330 (1).jpg

The images are filled with smiles and products and I began to recall the hard work, empathy, perseverance, and life lessons from not only that inaugural class but from the 6 years I worked on what became known at Town School as “The Kiva Project”. And thus I took a little walk down memory lane and reflecting on the project in the two sites below.

But most importantly it left me with a bit of a buzz for doing MORE. Last year I was a little quiet for a few obvious reasons but let’s just say, I’m ready to do some meaningful work here so check back soon and Enjoy!



PS Perhaps instead of copper, wool and desk sets I will pick up a new pair of shutter shades, a pin for peace, custom sticker. Or make a kiva loan!

On the Eve of Year #21...

For months I have thought about writing and about collecting my thoughts on what the last 6 months have been like. Perhaps “for the best” I put it on my B list. I must say that the last 6 months of my life have been quite an adventure and perhaps as a reader you didn’t know that I had a baby in mid may and have been off since then. So why would this be important to my site?

I couldn’t quite put it to words. Yet often times when I reflected on my first few months of motherhood I would think about the experience being connected to cultural and global competence . At the very least I have been reflecting on the skills and behaviors that I have been wanting to teaching and instill in the kids in my classroom and how important they have been to the development of me as a first time mom. Resilience, Open mindedness, Empathy, Comfort with Unfamiliar, Humility…

So on this eve of my first day of school - November 2018- I begin to think about what I want out of this school year. This first month will certainly be about creating culture and community in my classroom. While I know that the boys were in good hands it will still be important that I take the time to build trust, encourage them to grow and challenge themselves, and of course laugh. Then, 2019 the pedagogy that I love will emerge a little bit more into the daily routines (global, tech, stem, etc..).

Certainly will be an adventure doing all of this in the month of December (and having been out of the classroom for 6 months- the longest streak in nearly 38 years I bet!)… and while my heart will be a little broken in the morning I am ready to get back to business!

More Reflection to Come… Here’s to 21!!!

A little humor attached to discipline...

I haven't had a lot of time to write, which has essentially been on my mind as the topic of my next post which I hope to be a reflection about entering a new community. That said, when I received this email yesterday I wondered where I would save it.  This felt right.

As part of my adaptation to a larger class size this year I had to work some new structures into my classes.  What wasn't working was 3 redirects leading the boys into a disciplinary slip. I literally started feeling like I was getting played and that every other word out of my mouth was "redirect". 7th graders in particular are quite good about playing the line and moving right through the gray area and then halting at the right moment. 

Let's just say, this was getting annoying! So I switched the policy to having the boys write an email home to parents reflecting on their behavior if they got two redirects. If they opted out of this, they earn the disciplinary slip.  The premise was that if they are able to reflect and accept responsibility for their actions they can stay out of real "trouble".

Most boys who end up writing are short and to the point. They try to represent themselves in a way that won't get them in trouble at home.  Yesterday, a boy that NEVER gets redirects was having a goofy kind of day.  His reflection made me laugh.  Perhaps you will giggle too!

Dear Mother,

As you well know,  I was not a well behaved child in maths today. I not only sat with my chair legs in the air, I did a distracting swinging motion with my arms most commonly known as dancing. After this brief spurt of unlawful behavior, I received a redirect. Later on I was told off for talking with a classmate and causing a short argument about me stepping on a peer's shoes. For neither of these offenses did I receive a second redirect and therefore left class with one redirect. This does not matter because my unacceptable behavior briefly distracted the class and therefore it is important for me to tell you. 

One Kid at a Time...

As I reflect on my December project that enabled the boys to look at minimum wage, gender pay disparity and financial dignity, I wondered if alongside the mathematical knowledge, did the boys have any shifts in thinking? Did they have empathy for others? Will they develop into the leaders of our community/world who will try and make changes at the local if not national and global level? 

As I sifted through reflections, I came across many ideas, connections and proposed actions.  This student empathized and seemed to connect (although missed that question) with helping our city and beyond.


Firsts... A Global PBL at CSB

New School, New Students, New Grades Levels.

New Driving Question: How might we help the people in our world live a life of financial dignity?

Having worked through "It's a Livable Life" for years, I was determined to make that 5th/6th grade project work in the 7th grade curriculum in some form, adapt it and make it 7th grade "rich".  After much thought I refocussed the driving question to challenge the boys to learn financial literacy skills simultaneously to learning what it might mean to have a dignified life in that regard. 

I started the project like in years past by having the boys participate in the Amenities Challenge. The boys began to understand that adults sometimes need to make complicated decisions about finances and not everyone has disposable income.  We spent grandparents/special friends day interviewing our guests to learn more about what goes into a monthly budget and asking them what challenges they have experienced along their adult journeys. 


The entry events went well and when I floated the driving question to them I immediately got excited.  I gave the boys 5 minutes to brainstorm with a friend.  This was an opportunity to mind map, ask questions, wonder and think.  As a group we began by listing words that came to mind that we felt connected to the question and then we listed topics we might explore in order to gain background information to answer the question. As I explained to the boys, this question is BIG and can have a range of answers from 2nd grade thoughts to pHd level projects in economics and public policy.  From their ideas I began to think about what we could investigate mathematically at a 7th grade level so that we could help create some background that gets them thinking.   

Minimum Wage?  The boys had listed the topic and it would give us some background. Does living on minimum wage allow you to live a life of dignity? Utilizing the worksheets I have used before, I added to them by exploring taxes too.  We looked at tax brackets, deductions, gross income, expenses and net pay. The boys were discovering quick that this wasn't cutting it! They explored this concept utilizing national averages and then transferred that information and utilized cost of living to explore our own city of San Francisco and another location in the US.  

Through minimum wage conversations issues of education, healthcare, gender and other topics came up.  So I utilized it as an opportunity to teach ratios and proportions and talk about salary differences, ratios and proportions. This was difficult.  While are still in the midst of this conversation I was initially shocked at how my students were talking about gender. Being the only female in the room was difficult as I dove into male privilege and cultural messages of gender and it was hard not to get pretty heated as they got defensive. I had to remember they are only 12/13 and need to have these lessons so they can learn. Baby steps.

Now we are on to the next set of lessons... credit, debit, banking, simple interest vs compound interest.  All of this packaged together an ending with a Kiva Loans as one possible way to help enable those in our world who might need to catch that break that will change their lives.  I am hoping the boys learn that a people need a hand up not a handout and we can empower them. Time will tell.  And I will then see where they want to go from there.  See you soon.


Halloween - Another Cultural Experience


I woke up late on Tuesday morning, quickly showered and jumped into my yoga pants and sweatshirt (which would be worn under my homemade emoji when I got to school). I felt relaxed, comfortable and yet anxious about the crazy energy of Halloween.  I arrived at school on time and ready for the madness. But wait... the boys are in full uniform? I am on the only one in "not so" costume attire?  

As we shift into new situations, cultures and communities sometimes we assume more than we should. After 11 years at Town I assumed that Halloween at Cathedral would carry similar madness. However, the madness was quite different. Students came to school dressed to learn in the morning and after lunch changed into costumes to parade and party.  This is different than Town's morning parade/contest and afternoon classes.

Worse mistakes to be made? Yes, so I was in workout clothes all day?  No big deal.  Next year I will know.  Happy November - I have almost survived a trimester at Cathedral!

Emoji Team 2017.jpg

Competition... good or evil?

Where and when I grew up it appeared that competition was everywhere. Not everyone earned a prize and we learned to accept that. And yet over the years as and educator I have been in environments that have looked at both sides of this debate.

My early years at Town I was told that boys loved competition and I often put them in scenarios of which they competed in the classroom.  That was until I walked into a conference of which the message stated that the only students that liked competition were the ones that felt they had the ability to win. Immediately I switched a few things up in my classroom, as I didn't want to force the students who struggled in math at times to participate in mathematical competitions of which they likely had no chance of winning.  It felt unfair.  

After running my first marathon, I ran an article that spoke to me and that I felt related well to competition in relationship to growth mindset.  The article pointed out that every year in Hopkinton, Massachusetts over 30,000 runners show up to run/compete in the Boston Marathon understanding that only about 10 of them have a chance of winning the race.  Immediately I switched my thinking again. How can we drive students in ways in our classroom so that they practice and participate in the activities that guide them to assessment/performance day the same way recreational marathoners train and participate in race day? How do we make them competitors of their own game? 

So while sitting at my first middle school chapel the other day, I was a little worried when I heard that competition plays a big role at Cathedral School for Boys.  However, the director asked the boys why I was impressed with their answer. The boys said that competition plays a positive role in the community when it is used to make all the participants better. I hope this is true... let's watch and see!

New Beginnings and New Landscape -Cathedral

As I reflect on my first few days in my new school community I recall something that one of my new administrators said last week, “entering a new school community is similar to traveling to a foreign country.”  And what I have realized is he’s absolutely right.  

On Wednesday, I entered Cathedral School for Boys, equipped with 19 prior years of experience, 11 of which were in an a different all boys school in San Francisco.  I had woken up early after a night of restless sleep, likely due to that nervousness and anticipation that a lot of teachers have on that last night of summer.  My morning routine was no different than years past and my lesson plan for day 1 (have fun and get to know the students) was also quite similar.  But as I approached my new school I immediately felt that despite spending the last 7 days preparing to be at Cathedral (in some ways the last 6 months), I was simply in a foreign space and frankly the feeling was not much different than a foreign country.

All of sudden I started to wonder…

My New Space

Who are these people?  

How am I supposed to act?

What am I supposed to do next?

Where am I supposed to be?

Where do I get this or that?

What are they thinking?

Who am I supposed to know?


When I looked into the sea of students and parents I didn’t know a soul.  I entered my first all school chapel not knowing if I was supposed to sit, stand, clap or sing. I didn’t know what door to exit or enter, what was the fastest way to the bathroom or what time people not on duty ate lunch. I wasn’t sure where my mailbox was, who keeps chocolate in their classroom/office or where in the neighborhood I could grab a quick diet coke.

Immediately on day 1  I had to go into observation mode to pick up social cues to allow me to respond to my new setting. I quickly discovered that despite a few emails and information about some students that I would be teaching I couldn’t pick them out of a room yet, in fact I was barely even comfortable finding the next room I was meant to be in.

Learning about the culture and climate of a school is no different than learning about the culture and climate of a foreign country.  This only further proves that we need to teach our students to be globally and culturally competent so that they can adapt to new environments in the future.  They need the tools to know how to deal with adversity, cope, be able to effectively communicate, empathize, and observe without judgement to name a few. Because, at the end of the day, no matter how many guidebooks you read, or how many places you have travelled before, when you enter a foreign land you are going to realize things you could not predict or anticipate and things you can only learn by being there wholeheartedly.

I am learning a tremendous amount from this experience and each day I have “aha” moments that bring me a step closer to understanding this new land, Cathedral School for Boys.  Year 20 is going to be all that and more!

Threshold... What does it all mean?

Sunday, August 20th.

It's been awhile since I posted in "Stories for the Garage?"  I have thought about writing quite often. I had few posts being written in my mind including titles such as:

  • Top Ten of Town
  • What Did the Garage Really do for My Career?
  • Saying Goodbye
  • From One Hill to the Next: They are Still Boys

Perhaps some of you don't know that I am in the transition. None of those titles did it for me and I let it ride.  For all intensive purposes I have had the summer off, and I have let myself be just that... OFF. .  For once, I have such little cultural knowledge of where I am going that I can't possibly imagine it and therefore I cannot really work.  Oh wait, I am also a graduate with a master's degree as of May 2017, no Thesis to write!!! This is obviously not a bad thing.

But I am inspired to say I am standing on a threshold. I believe something amazing is ahead, despite what I am leaving behind.  So the eve before new teacher orientation, I hit send.  Something soon will inspire me to write more. I will have will be more stories to tell. But for now, it's on to Cathedral, I will start searching for my marigolds!

Celebrating and Reflecting -2017 Kiva Kids

What reflective boys we have! We might not have had enough hours in the day to fully prepare for our Kiva Celebration and the boys were fairly bummed that they had left a few things out of their presentations, spoke to the floor or wall more than to the community and some even said I could have rehearsed a bit more on my own.  But when I asked what they wanted to do about it, they suggested that they take our final two math periods to fix their slides and make them "A" quality work.  

We are often harder on ourselves than others are on us.  That said, I too made a mistake by leaving one students videos out of our final collection.  I guess June can get crazy around here and we all need to reflect on how we can do things just a bit better next time. 

Enjoy the presentations from this years Annual Celebration. Enjoy our updated video. Enjoy looking through the Tackk's that show reflections from the experience too!

Kiva Celebration 2017


Bouncy Ballers


Balloon a Palooza

Prestige Worldwide

SCZ Inc.

WEZ Putty

Raffle Castle




Anderson Kiva Kids Reflection https://tackk.com/6z3jlu

George The Long and Winding Rode https://tackk.com/d4gyvm

Jack Raffle Castle Makes History! https://tackk.com/huxk2f

Vivek lhttps://tackk.com/k0xmx9

Thomas' Experience in The Bouncy Ballers https://tackk.com/44v6jh

Peter Stovellhttps://tackk.com/u8xgnm

Pearce https://tackk.com/zd1xlv

Rob RRJL is in business!https://tackk.com/25g2yp

Theo Winning with prestige worldwide https://tackk.com/auev4z

Zachary M Zachary's kiva tales https://tackk.com/egpy20

Zachary L Kiva Kids at Town School https://tackk.com/ehftua

Callen Kiva Kids at Town School for Boyshttps://tackk.com/vpmnny

Ryan Prestige over comes some Worldwide problems https://tackk.com/xgfhl4

Sean Kiva and More https://tackk.com/ke8v82

Liam RRJL avoids micro finance crisis https://tackk.com/jv45yd

EliThe Kiva Tales https://tackk.com/hx0kkc

Wynant All About Kiva Kids https://tackk.com/vn7yuq

Alex The Kiva Experience https://tackk.com/9dec9a

Stephen Balloon-A-Palooza is "Blowing Up!"https://tackk.com/77ea0y

WilliamBalloon-A-Palooza is Unpopable! Well, Sort of. https://tackk.com/b2t0vy

RomanRRJL'S Next Task https://tackk.com/dkbdjs

Nicholas (Nico)Kiva Kids https://tackk.com/xgd87z

JacksonScheer https://tackk.com/ec54dc

Thomas The Chronicles of the Raffle Castlehttps://tackk.com/h1km40

NoahBalloon a Palooza coming out of thin air https://tackk.com/eb1xwg

HaydenThe Journey https://tackk.com/feeblb

How Could I Say No?

With all the craze in fidget spinning I found it hard to say no. Sure, I put up the sign in my classroom that read "At Your Own Risk" and asked boys to put them away. I also read articles from many perspectives about these "toys".  Should we encourage the madness, discourage the craze, be more sensitive to those who need these to stay focussed, ban them from our classrooms? 

I didn't know the answer.  What I did know is that I had 20 or so 6th graders saying, "We need custom spinners for our Kiva Project".  We set up a circle graph of which the different companies, who were now fully paid back, could buy into this new concept/idea if they had enough money to do so.  They contacted a company to see if "backordered til late May" really meant that or could we get our hands on a few.  Then we looked into buying options, coupon codes and applied our new knowledge about algebraic equations to figure out what we could afford 100? 150? 200? More?

With a $50 coupon, if you spent $500 the boys would get a $50 off coupon.  So, we set up their algebraic equation for the $2.45 unit price spinners with a $50 set up fee.  $2.45x + 50 = 500.  Soon we were talking about purchasing 185 spinners for the same cost as 171.  The unit price went down from $2.54 all inclusive from $2.74 too.  

And it happened...  6 out of 8 groups pooled together $470 to buy 185 fidget spinners with the hopes of doubling their money.  We waited, and stressed, will they arrive? And guess what? They did!!! And, even the Assistant Head of School was purchasing them!! And we did double our money:) 

Assistant Head of School buys fidget spinner!!

Launching It's A Livable Life

Been spending the week setting the stage for a great math project and some hard core number crunching in the garage.  While I have been running the Minimum Wage Project for many years, I had reasons to delay the project this year and an internal struggle about how to make sure it includes some very intentional work with decimals and percents. I am excited about the direction it is going in just the few days we have engaged.  We began with an abbreviated version of the socioeconomic class simulation I created years back and currently diving into what it means to live a life of dignity.  While we will start by looking a life through min wage to create a "base" pay and assess cost of living, the boys will eventually look at housing costs as the driver of their monthly budget and utilize percents to come up with a proposed "livable wage" for our home in San Francisco and beyond!  


Day 1: Amenities Challenge and Hunger 101

Day 2:; Amenities Challenge Part 2

Day 3: Warm Up On Multiplying What does Min Wage Mean? and Min Wage Warm Up

Day 4: Finish Min Wage Warm Up and 4 Question Formative Assessment (Check in one Decimal Comps) 

Day 5: Driving Question, How do we ensure a livable wage?  (Define Living with Dignity)

Days 6: Begin baseline wage (min wage) computations.

Brainstorm "what's a livable life".

Brainstorm "what's a livable life".

Every Year We Have "Firsts"

One of the most exciting parts of the year is when a company has enough money in their account to make their first loan. On Friday, while some of the groups were ordering product and  others were writing thank you cards, two groups decided that they had enough money to invest. The new scratch map, with hidden colors underneath, was an exciting new addition to the program.  

Angel from Colombia

Las Rosas De Pachali Group from Guatemala

Stay tuned for more loans, reflection and fun.  We are only getting started!  

Sales, Reflection and Fun!

The garage is hopping! Sales have started and their is excitement in the building. Alongside the enthusiasm for making money in the hopes of changing lives, we have been reflecting on our experiences and considering how we are developing global competence through this project.  

As part of my professional growth project this year, I am having the boys use tackk.com to write about their journey. When asked what they thought of this aspect of the project they offered the following:

  • A way to reflect and intentionally think about what we are doing.  
  • A place to go back to and relive our journey. 
  • Something to share with our parents and other friends.
  • An opportunity to see how our friends view the project and experience similarly and differently. 
  • Fascinating to see the multiple perspectives.

We have only gotten started on these blogs and if you have feedback or suggestions for posts please do offer them.  Also feel free to comment on the boy's tackks themselves.  They would love to hear from you.