Tag Archives: teaching

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock | Review

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
(audiobook)

Leonard Peacock is a distraught teenager whose birthday plans involve him shooting his former best friend, and then himself, and ending all the pain in his life.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock follows Leonard around on his birthday, as he says goodbye to his friends and himself, preparing for the end of it all. He exchanges Bogart quips with his elderly neighbor, feels bad about accosting his English teacher, gives away his college fund to a foreign musician and the closest thing to a friend he has at school, has his first kiss and a discussion on religion, and is almost discovered by his Holocaust teacher, who is hiding a secret of his own.

The novel throttles along with a “will he do it?” tension throughout, and the reader is easily gripped by his story, but finds themselves wanting to shake Leonard out of it at the same time. Surely his pain isn’t that bad?

imagesAs a high school teacher, school shootings, suicide, and depression is something on my mind a lot. We have drills in case of intruders and just went through an hour long session hosted by the local police department, of what to do in case of a shooter. Shootings are more popular than ever, and it’s terrifying.

I’ve also read Nineteen Minutes, Mockingbird, and Columbine as ways to better understand the mentality behind school shootings and how to prevent and protect the students. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock just re-emphasized the importance of teachers in the lives of students, and how just saying something as simple as “Happy Birthday” can change someone’s life.

The novel showcases what it’s like to be a teenager who feels different, who doesn’t connect well with people, who has been abused, who feels alone. I’ve never gone through that kind of pain to want to end my life, or those of others, so getting inside Leonard’s head was a bit eye-opening.

The side stories and anecdotes about Leonard’s friends and how they impacted his life were interesting, but could drag the pace of the story down a bit, particularly the story with the religious girl.

I found Leonard to be an interesting, bright character, and the kind of student teachers want to have: one that thinks outside the box, that notices irony and thinks analytically.

The reader for the audiobook did a wonderful job capturing the emotions in Leonard, and read the story in a pace that was fitting to the novel. I’ve heard the printed writing style is unique, which I missed out on, but listening to the story helped me better get in the head of the character.

I struggled not to cry and was profoundly affected by this story, and it’s not one that will leave me anytime soon.

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Growing up through the characters of Glee

3-26-GleeCast100thepisodeAfter watching all six seasons of glee, my connection to different characters has changed. When the show started, I was 22 and living in LA, trying to make my film dreams come true. At that point, I related a little bit to many of the main characters: I wasn’t as bossy as Rachel, as shy as Kurt, as confident as Mercedes, as insecure as Tina, or as smooth as Artie; but I had a dream, I was chasing that dream, and was a bit of an outsider. 

Living in LA, I wasn’t as successful as Rachel was in New York, but I wasn’t as dumb either. I worked my butt off, found minor success working in the television industry (enough to make me a the inside scoop for my mom when watching American Idol), but my dream job didn’t just land in my lap.

Then I grew up a little, and that dream changed. I moved back from LA and got my teaching degree, and I started to see a little more Will Schuester in my life. I wanted to impact the lives of students, to teach and mentor them, while clinging to my old dreams a bit. I was afraid of letting go.

glee-movin-out-billy-joel-sam-blaine-season-5-2013-600x450Now, just days past the end of the show, and with knowledge of where the characters are at the age of 25, I now most closely resemble Sam. I’m 27 and I teach the high school journalism program at the very high school I graduated from. I teach next to my former broadcasting teacher and every once in awhile facebook stalk my old LA friends. But like Sam, I did try to live my dream. Sam went to NY to become a model, and he gave a good go at it before realizing it wasn’t for him, and neither was NY. I moved to LA and worked in TV for two years before realizing I wasn’t happy and it wasn’t for me either. I’m no Rachel Berry. I gave up my big dream for smaller ones. For different ones. Not everyone is destined to make it big.

But I don’t want to be Sam. I don’t want to be stuck teaching at the same high school I went to for years and years. I love it now, but the world calls me. But I don’t want to be Rachel or Mercedes or Kurt or Blaine or Artie or Tina or Mr Schu either. Because I don’t want fame and fortune and all my dreams to come true so easily and so young. I don’t want to be the principal. I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve done, of the disappointment and the letdowns, but I’m not finished yet. And Sam is just another stopping point on my journey. 

I want to be me. 

Camp is for Nerds! (Good Thing I Am One!)

Rather than write a summary of this past summer’s camp season at iD Tech @ University of Miami, I figured I’d just show you the best parts…

I had lightsaber battles
I danced the Time Warp (and many, many other dances)
I auditioned for The Walking Dead (okay, not really, but how cool would that have been!?)
I became the Dark Knight
…and of course The Smartest Witch of Her Age
I took pretty pictures of campus
…and lots and lots of animals
I DIDN’T get eaten by a crocodile, because I heeded this sign
I was pied for my sixth time
I was turned into a Rainbow Unicorn Centaur
And was a member of a boyband, No Direction (find our video on my Videos Page!)

And of course there were typical camp activities going on… videos made, games played (and made), lots and lots of coffee, campers taught, LOTS of dance parties (including solo ones to “Taking the Hobbits to Isengard“), and always, a ton of fun. Here’s to next summer!