adding ginger to your sass

GingerSass - adding ginger to your sass


Last year, Jenny (The Bloggess) started this beautiful thing called Booksgiving. It started with her wanting to give away 30 copies of her book, Furiously Happy. All her loyal followers wanted to give away books too, so everyone started sharing Amazon wishlists.

I shared my class library wishlist, not expecting much.

Various strangers sent me 18 books for my library.


Booksgiving 2016 may have overwhelmed my USPS delivery guy. Sorry.

I was overwhelmed.

This year, I shared my wishlist again. This time, however, it took on a more political tone. I wanted to create a list that will help my students find their worth in our society.

As an English teacher in a district where we don’t always have the money for luxuries like books for a classroom library, I cannot tell you how excited my students were last year to receive new books that they had actual interest in. Booksgiving made a huge difference in my classroom, and it definitely helped my students in ways I didn’t know it could. They’d actually stay after school to look through my library and borrow books. I recently instated a rule where my students must either free-write stories to submit to the literary magazine I run for extra credit or read a book from my class library. The library has gotten a lot of action lately! I always tell my students to tell me what they’re into, or what sort of book they feel like reading. 9 times out of 10 I’m able to match my students with books that they actually enjoy, mostly due to the donations people have been kind enough to make.

Recently, students have been requesting me to find books that help them feel better about themselves, especially since the election. Politics aside, my students are lacking self-worth this year. It’s like they’ve been constantly told they’re not of value, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been working on an Amazon Wishlist to expand my library with books that can help them find themselves, and see themselves as I see them– as really important, valuable members of not only our classroom, but of society as well.

I shared this on Jenny’s post on the second annual Booksgiving, and didn’t think much of it, hoping to maybe get another book or two to add to my library. My list was ridiculously long, with 65 books, because I’ve been making a huge list to upload to a DonorsChoose project I haven’t gotten around to posting yet.

I just looked at my Wishlist, and it only has 32 books left on it.

That means strangers have purchased 33 books for my class library.


I was overwhelmed last year by 18. I can barely process 33. I’m glad we have a snow day today because I need to process this kindness of strangers.

So, if you’re one of those strangers, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I keep switching between crying and smiling. My dog thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I am, but jeez. It’s because I keep thinking of how much of a difference these books are going to make.

Thank you for making this teacher cry/smile, and thank you for giving my students a chance. I am eternally grateful.


All my gratitude,


PS To those of you who stumbled upon my site as a result of Booksgiving, if you want to keep in touch/ be internet friends, know that I’ve had writer’s block for about a year. I’m trying to write more on my blog, truly, I am. However, it’s more likely you’ll find me on instagram or Twitter. (I tweet sparingly these days, but that’s something I want to improve on too.)

Teacher drag: a reflective update


When I first was getting ready to move out of my childhood home and into a condo with V, my mom wasn’t (outwardly) upset about her oldest daughter moving out. Instead, she was very upset that she wouldn’t get to see my “teacher drag” every morning as we both got ready for work.

(The idea of “teacher drag” stems from a poem I wrote when I first started teaching. A year prior,  I was doing teaching observations and simultaneously being a Resident Assistant, one of my residents saw me early one morning. She remarked, “You look very… Republican. Like a young Barbara Bush.” I couldn’t help but laugh, but her comment stuck with me. This incident inspired the phrase “teacher drag.”)

When I saw how upset my mom was, in my immediate need to comfort her, I swore I would send her a selfie every morning. Then, she told me to instagram it, as she was trying to get more familiar with instagram. I started using the hashtag #TeacherDrag, which I had only used once or twice before, the week I moved out, and what started as a sweet inside joke between me and my mom grew into something much larger. My friends started texting me how they loved seeing my outfits, and when I changed the privacy settings on my instagram and made it public, I suddenly had a slew of fashionistas (and teachers) liking my posts and following me.

One of the first #TeacherDrag outfits

I have to admit, before #TeacherDrag was a thing, there were some mornings I just didn’t care. I never quite looked like I’d just rolled out of bed, but there were days where maybe I didn’t wear the most flattering outfits, or my hair was a mess, but it didn’t matter because I was spending the day with teenagers.

#teacherdrag #ootd #nyandcompany #favoritedress #howifellinlovewithevamendes

A post shared by Kailynn (@thegingersass) on

Somehow, #TeacherDrag turned me into more of a fashionista. I’ve always loved accessories, and I’ve been known to base entire outfits around a necklace, but this hashtag has definitely made me put my forgotten accessories to work! I’ve received texts when I haven’t posted my morning photo before 7 (lol), and I feel a sense of importance with what I’m doing. When I was in that elevator that morning a few years ago, I thought #TeacherDrag had to be pearls and power suits. Pearls still are a staple of my wardrobe, but I’ve ditched the power suits to be more fun. Now, I realize what I wear to teach can be young, fun, and exciting without breaking any dress codes.

So, my fellow teachers, I ask you this: What does your #TeacherDrag look like? Share it on instagram using the hashtag and let me know!

Oh, and don’t worry– it may be Summer Vacation, but I’m teaching Summer School the entire month of July. #TeacherDrag #SummerEdition is a thing. 😉

Burnt out

It’s been about a week since I’ve posted on here, successfully defeating my goal of blogging every day this year. The truth is 365 blog posts is A LOT, and it’s really easy to be overwhelmed by 365 of anything. For a brief moment yesterday, I even began to consider shutting down my blog.

Then, today, it hit me.

I’m not overwhelmed by my blog or my failed commitment to write something every day of 2014. I’m facing what so many educators– and students– are facing at this time of the school year: I’m burnt out.

It’s been a long first year of teaching, filled with so many changes in both my personal life and the educational world. I have my first “big girl job.” I’m engaged. I’m planning a wedding. V & I are vaguely looking into moving in together somewhere. I have standardized testing scores to anxiously await, district mandated writing prompts and reading comprehension tests every few weeks, rotating schedules to remember, and so much more. Like I said a few months ago, I don’t do enough. Add over 10 snow days to this school year and being the last school in the state to close and it’s an especially rough May– usually at this time of the school year, teachers and students can say they only have a few weeks left. We have 2 months left.

A few days ago, a list of 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout was floating around the internet. The list suggests things like having fun with students, redecorating, and taking care of your own health, just to name a few. I don’t think the creator of this list has been in a classroom recently, as most of the list seems unrealistic.

Instead, I remind myself to “keep calm and carry on,” a trite phrase I once despised. Even though I’m not the most religious person, I find myself silently reciting the Serenity Prayer when I find myself in a moment of frustration or disbelief.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

A year ago this face was a lot less burnt out.

A year ago this face was a lot less tired.

Tonight, I found myself reflecting on why I became a teacher, and pondering  what point I stopped referring to myself as an educator. A year ago, I had the honor of being considered as one of the speakers at the convocation ceremony for my Masters degree. I wrote a speech on why I don’t identify as a teacher, but an educator. My identity has slipped into teacher mode amongst SGOs, data, and talk of tenure, and I regret that. So, for the remainder of the school year, I’m going to do what I set out to do a year ago: be an educator, not a teacher. I want to change the world some how, some way, and I just needed a little reminder that this is a possibility.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day. To the educators out there, both in and out of the classroom, I appreciate you.