adding ginger to your sass

GingerSass - adding ginger to your sass

I did it.


In a matter of hours, I’ll be done being a student. (Unless I pursue my Ph.D, but that’s not going to happen for at least a few years! I need to recover from the past 17 years of my life.)


I graduate from grad school at 4:30 this afternoon. I’m graduating with a 4.0 GPA, and receiving an award at the graduation ceremony. I’ve worked my butt off during grad school, and it’s actually freaking me out to see the results of all of my hard work.  I’ve been nominated for a few awards this year, which I’ve kept to myself because I get embarrassed talking about my accomplishments. I was nominated to represent my grad school as a student teacher of the year, and I was also nominated to be the student speaker at graduation. I didn’t receive either of the honors, but it truly blew my mind that my advisor–and others– would think I was worthy of these moments of recognition for the hard work I’ve put forth in becoming an educator.


In the spirit of graduation, as well as the disbelief that I’m actually graduating this afternoon, I’d like to share the speech I wrote for graduation with you. One of my friends was selected to be the student speaker for graduation, which is awesome because she’s an amazing public speaker. Plus… I probably wouldn’t have been able to stop crying if I had to read this out loud.


Thank you all for supporting my journey to become the best educator that I can be. I may be unemployed at the time of graduation, but I also know that I will find a job where I can make a difference in the lives of students. It’s what I’m meant to do.


Without further ado…my speech:

Thank you so much faculty, staff, distinguished alumni, family, friends, loved ones, and, of course, the Rutgers Graduate School of Education Class of 2013! I’d also like to take a moment to thank the behind-the-scenes people, whether they be the guy who sends us countless emails– I’m looking at you Ken– or the College Ave Gym workers who made sure we had at least three fans in the place today. Everyone in this room has made this day possible, and I want to be sure that everyone knows how grateful we are for each and every one of you.

We’re about to receive a piece of paper– or, at least a temporary piece of paper until our “real diploma” gets mailed to us– that tells the world we are now eligible to be educators. For some of us, this paper is sending us ricocheting into the world outside of the college bubble for the first time. For others, this paper is adding a slew of letters to our last names. No matter what the case, we’re all about to take the education world by storm!

This afternoon, I want to let you all know that I will not use the t-word in my speech, which is a little odd considering this is the Graduate School of Education Convocation. Before I go any further, I need to take a moment to reveal something about myself, something that only a few members of my Cohort know. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I became part of the GSE, and I’m not too sure how many other people in here identify this way. Folks… I don’t identify as a teacher. I identify myself as an educator.

The dictionary defines a teacher as “a person who teaches, especially in school.” It defines an educator as “a person who provides instruction or education.” While the two words may seem like synonyms to most of you, to me they are worlds apart. According to the dictionary, a “teacher” is defined by his or her profession. An “educator” is defined by providing something that has the potential of changing and saving lives. This is what the GSE nurtures us to become.

Now, I know not everyone in the class of 2013 will receive the “teacher title.” Some of us are going into College Student Affairs or becoming Supervisors. Others are going into Counseling. Some of us have earned our Ph.D’s or are becoming Faculty Members somewhere. Others are here because they’ve become certified in something or are becoming Coaches. This gym is filled with graduates going in so many different directions with one thing in common: we are here because we wanted to continue our education. We wanted to dive further into the education field and make a difference some how, some way.

Every single one of you will make a difference in the lives of people, whether you realize it or not. You are the educators of the Rutgers GSE. You are intelligent, willing to be challenged, and undeniably amazing. You have the power to change lives for the better, and the power and knowledge to inspire others to do the same. You will get through the easy days with moments of grace and finesse, and even get through the tougher ones with determination and resilience. That, and a lot of caffeine. You are survivors. If you can make it through hurricanes, life, death, and the RU Screw while at the GSE, you can do anything. You can take on the impossible and put it in its place. You are the best of the best, and nothing is going to be too hard for you to handle as you face “the real world.”

In the last week of my student teaching internship, the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting occurred. In a semester that had already caused my students to lose their sense of security and stability because of Hurricane Sandy, I knew my students would want to discuss what had happened… and I let them. In my Creative Writing elective course, the students discussed the various individuals who had either lived or died in the shooting, and how the media had conveyed them. Victoria Soto, the teacher who hid her students in their cubbies and then took a bullet for them, was brought up. I could feel the inevitable happening, and, sure enough, one of my students said, “You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering… would you take a bullet for us? Be honest.”

As educators, especially in today’s world, we’re going to be asked some tough questions, some of which we may not have the answers to. We’re going to have to think on our feet, and we won’t always be right. We may say or do or even be “the wrong thing,” but at the end of the day, as I responded to that student, as educators, it is our priority to create a safe learning environment for all of our students. We need to not only change the lives of our students, but save them as well.

I know that each and every one of us is about to continue on an amazing journey. Each and every one of us has worked extremely hard to get to this moment. Our legacy begins today, and I cannot wait to see what mark the Rutgers GSE Class of 2013 educators will leave on this world.

I am so proud to be one of you.

Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of this afternoon… We did it!!

2012: A Year in Review

Tonight is the last Friday night of 2012, exactly one week after the world was supposed to end. A lot has happened in 2012, and I decided to highlight everything significant that happened to me this year, month by month.


It’s been one heck of a year at GingerSass.


Not much happened in January. I turned 22, which was actually a better birthday than my 21st. My friend convinced the bartender at a local bar that I should be given a free bottle of champagne because my 21st coincided with a blizzard and I didn’t get to celebrate. I received a stuffed unicorn and zebra print seat covers from my parents. I, once again, pleaded to Ellen as to why we should celebrate our birthday together and she ignored me. Ya know, the usual.


I made it onto PostSecret for the first time. Whitney Houston died and I was devastated so I wrote a poem. Ryan Murphy pissed me off so I wrote him an angry tumblr post turned into a letter, which he never responded to.


March was a very important month for me– I STARTED GINGERSASS! (All of the posts posted before March 25th were transferred from my tumblr site.) Fun fact– GingerSass was started because I was pretending to be an investigative reporter at the Sex, Love, and Dating Conference. Also, Adrienne Rich died, which devastated me. A lot.


April freaking rocked. Highlights of the month include:

volunteering with NOH8 and later being featured on their website
meeting Frank Warren at my first PostSecret event
saw an opera and a concert in one week
my Poefy (poetry-wifey) was fantabulous in The Vagina Monologues and I wrote about it


May was a good month for me. Obama came out in support of gay marriage. I won an award. I graduated college. Life was pretty awesome to me in May.


June was an interesting month. I started it out writing about suicide after finding out that the partner of my friend who had committed suicide also committed suicide. I wrote a bunch of 10 Minute Musings for a grad class and reconnected with myself. I came out to my family as a blogger, with the support of Cady McClain, aka Dixie from All My Children. I even inspired her alter-ego, Suzy F*cking Homemaker, to create an internet meme. Suzy also encouraged me to write a post on why I want to be a celesbian…so I did. I also  booked and performed my first paid poetry gig, which was pretty darn awesome.


July started off with a roadtrip to Massachusetts with Poefy to the wedding of Taylor and Mike. I basked in the glory of cheeseball goodness. (This post is still one of my most-visited posts, btw.) I fell in love with my job over the summer. I also figured out What Obama Taught Me. I indulged in Restaurant Week. Then I got serious about my blog, invested in an actually site host, got free magnets, and was overwhelmed by the idea of going to BlogHer. I also posted about teacher dress codes, which is also one of my most-visited posts of all time.


August started off with me going to BlogHer’12 and MY LIFE CHANGING FOREVER. I made so many blogging friends through BlogHer, and I’m going to (eventually) categorize them on her so you can so who I’m reading. I also won a happy hour party in August and celebrated with wings and food at a local bar with my friends. Woohoo! To top August off, I started my new job, got an apartment to go along with it, and ruminated on why Res Life will always be a part of me.


September was an emotional, crazy month. I had an awesome first week of September. I was a national runner up to be the next Verizon Ultimate Insider, mentioned on AfterEllen, and yogurt was on sale. I made it through the one year deathaversary of my friend’s suicide, and I participated in yet another walk for dead people. September was emotional, tough, and trying, but I got through it.


October started off with me reflecting on how much I love my car. I also met Jack Hanna, which was a childhood dream come true. I had a kickass lesson on bullying on National Coming Out Day and fell even more in love with teaching. I went to the Dodge Poetry Festival for the first time as an educator, and I helped my students fall in love with poetry. I met Geena Davis and she told me, “You’re changing the world to be a place I want to be in. Keep up the good work.” I saw Melissa Etheridge in concert. I survived Hurricane Sandy, was really upset that Sandy canceled Halloween, and was upset by the whole Sandy experience.


November feels like such a long time ago. I participated in NaBloPoMo for the first time and wrote about how I’m a Jersey girl, how Sandy domesticated me, and what Obama’s win meant to me. I also talked about bacon, ghosts, and just how important it was that I found my voice again by going to poetry open mics. I cut my hair, took silly webcam pics, and thought about my future. I ended my first NaBloPoMo experience by being grateful for stickers, and really having peace in knowing that I’m on the right track for what I want to do with my life.


December flew by. I think the biggest thing that happened to me this month, right before my student teaching internship ended, was that I realized why I want to teach. I arranged for an assembly for my Creative Writing students, and  it really changed my relationship with them forever. It taught one student to not be afraid to be who she is, and this, in return, encouraged me to come out to her. She then wrote me a note and made me cry. Then the Newtown, Connecticut shooting happened and it hit really close to home, as it was the first school shooting that has happened since I began student teaching. My students asked me if I would take a bullet for them, and I was able to respond honestly and say yes. Student teaching ended, and I managed to make it to the parking lot after school before crying. I got creeped out by the whole Elf on a Shelf phenomenon, but secretly loved my creepy little elf.

2012 was a year of growth. I rediscovered my writing identity, and GingerSass became a very large part of who I am. I’m grateful for the opportunities blogging has given me this past year, and I cannot wait to see what 2013 holds.

Happy New Year, folks! What are you looking forward to in 2013?

PS I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend or not, but if you’ll be at home this NYE, consider joining in on #Tweetin13. There are prizes, fun people, and it’s hosted by two of my favorite ladies. Get on it!

“You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering…would you take a bullet for us? Be honest.”

I’ve blogged about my student teaching experiences before, and how I’ve handled my sexuality in the classroom, dealing with the aftermath of Sandy in my school, and other experiences. However, I never expected to have students ask me if I would take a bullet for them.

After some reflection, and getting the go-ahead from my cooperating teacher, I decided to discuss Friday’s shooting in my classes today by opening up with a Do Now that read “What have you heard about Newtown, Connecticut?” I figured that this would open up a conversation if students wanted to discuss it, and even if they didn’t, writing a response in their journals would allow them to at least process it a bit.

I allowed the first 10-15 minutes of two of my classes for students to discuss the shooting and the fears, and my double period spent the entire first period of class discuss the shooting and why violence happens. It was a really insightful conversation. We even discussed the history of school shootings, and whether or not there’s a difference between a school shooting in an elementary school versus a school shooting in a high school. My Creative Writing class talked about the shooting for about half of the period. In all of my classes, we discussed the different stories that had been emerging, as well as the differences between fact and fiction regarding internet rumors about the shooting. This led to the discussion of various individuals who had either lived or died, and how the media had conveyed them.

At one point, one of my Creative Writing students said, “You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering…would you take a bullet for us? Be honest.” I responded, “Am I ever anything BUT honest with you?” (The question initially caught me offguard, but it was something I was asked more than once today.) Then I asked for a moment to gather my thoughts before stating the following:

“As a teacher, I feel my number one priority is to create a safe learning environment for my students, and to make them feel protected and safe. Teachers are responsible for the well-being of their students, and I’d do anything in my power to protect you from harm’s way. While I hope I never have to dive in front of a bullet for any of my students, the fact of the matter is I care about all of you and would put your needs before my own, as I have done multiple times without you realizing it, because you are my responsibility, and because I care about all of you a lot.”

My students trust me to protect them and support them, and I don’t think I’d be okay with the idea of me not doing so. My answer might change slightly in a few years when I have a family of my own, but my students will still be my students and my responsibilities won’t change.

I think that reassured them more than anything else. I’ve also been reiterating in all of my classes that, even when I leave on Friday (my last day of student teaching), I’m here for my students if they need to talk, and that I do care about each and every one of them oh-so much.

Victoria Soto, the teacher who hid her students in their cubbies and then took a bullet for them, has been on my mind a lot this weekend. I found myself questioning whether or not I’d have the courage to take a bullet for my students, and, at the end of the day, there is no question about it. Protecting my students and helping them succeed to the best of my abilities is a large part of being a teacher. If this meant taking a bullet for them, then yes, I would, because my students mean the world to me.


I saw this floating around Facebook today and it seemed fitting for today’s post.