FIGHTING COOTIES -Tips to keep you healthy in the classroom & home

No, you are not paranoid! The children are totally out to get you. What you are feeling is the side-effect from perpetual battle teachers and parents have been fighting against, kids and their . . . cooties. Well, maybe it’s not the kids themselves, or technically called cooties, but children are the hosts of a smorgasbord of viruses trying to take you down, and, right now is the height of flu, cold, and stomach bug season. Okay, I sound completely paranoid. In my defense, I have gone to battle with 3 walking Petri-dishes and I’m getting weary if not on the verge of catching something myself. I, like you have washed hands till they are cracked, bathed in hand sanitizer, disinfected surfaces (covered desks in shaving cream), and opened windows during arctic temperatures and the cooties are infiltrating the front line defenses. How do you stay well in a classroom filled with Sneezy, Queasy and Snotty, trapped in tight settings? Here are a few tips from teachers and parents who seem to remain healthy among the sick.
TIP #1 – GARLIC – One preschool teacher’s tip for staying cold and flu free not only keeps the vampires away, but her daily ritual has viruses retreating, even when students sneeze in her face. (FYI – a sneeze can travel 100 miles per hour) Each morning she takes a fresh clove of garlic and minces out a teaspoon and chases it with a glass of orange juice. Not a fan of garlic for breakfast? Increase your general intake throughout the day for lunch or snacks, with a clove or two in salad dressing or a hummus dip. Keep in mind, garlic’s cold fighting property is reduced when cooked.
TIP #2- HYDRATE – It’s chilly outside and you may not feel it is necessary to drink all of that water (8+glasses) but the dry forced heat many of us work in is sapping the water right out of our bodies, making us susceptible to the cooties. Is the idea of a cold drink giving you the chills? Warm up your water and add a squeeze of citrus for some additional health benefits. Keep your warm beverage in a thermos and close by for frequent use.
TIP #3- GARGLE – Clear the gunk out of the back on your throat with a glass of salt water. In a study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers recruited approximately 400 healthy volunteers and followed them for 60 days during cold and flu season. Some of the subjects were told to gargle three times a day. At the end of the study period, the group that regularly gargled had a nearly 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections compared with the control group, and when they did get sick, “gargling tended to attenuate bronchial symptoms,” the researchers wrote.
TIP #4 – GO TO THE LIGHT – It may be tough to find the sun during the winter months with short days and overcast skies but your name shall be Sun Chaser and the benefit will be a boost in vitamin D which helps support calcium metabolism, neuromuscular and immune system functions. There is a hot spot in the morning in my bedroom that I enjoy and it seems to also lift my mood.
TIP #5- CATCH A SENSE OF HUMOR– Get your laughter on. It may help keep the cooties away. It won’t hurt. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells. Read a funny book. Watch a comedy. My favorites always include Jim Carey. The man is just downright goofy!
Keep your head up and fight the good fight! Crush those cooties by making empowering choices that boost your immunity and keep you happy, healthy and well. Share your cootie fighting strategies in the comment box below.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit

Martin was a Man

dr-martin-luther-king-jr-and-children-on-swingWhat else could possibly be written about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King that has not already been put into print? How about the fact that he smoked cigarettes? Not exactly a ringing endorsement of sainthood or a picturesque frame for “the legend.” It’s not the information we share with our students, but, perhaps, we should. Truth is, Martin was a man that breathed in air like you and me, experienced doubt and fear, and, I’m sure, if we asked his wife, had his flaws. This is the time we honor and reflect upon his legacy and the civil rights movement, and I would never attempt to belittle his contributions to our society from which all Americans have benefited. However, I think some of us get wrapped up in “the legend” and forget about his humanity. When I think of his courage, strength, intelligence, and ultimate sacrifice, I am both inspired and intimidated. Simply reflecting on “the legend” can cripple our resolve and bathe us in self-doubt when comparing our service to his. In turn, this prevents us from continuing the work he began, because–well–we might not feel empowered to act because of fear of failure. We may never have high-profile platforms from which to speak, but our words do have weight, and our silence even more. We may even feel disconnected or overwhelmed by the social ills that swirl around us every day, justifying inaction in a variety of ways, but we do have power in our spheres of influence. The bottom line is, we need not start a revolution in order to empower others and ourselves, but, as individuals, we can and should continue Martin’s work by becoming aware of and diligently speaking out against injustice whenever we witness its occurrence in our own little worlds. Let not the mind obstacle of fear prevent us from moving forward. In Martin’s own words, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit

Express Your “Self”


It takes a great deal of creativity when teaching and parenting children. Simple, adult logic just isn’t going to get the job done, and, if you’ve been in this game for any amount of time, you know what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to the classroom or the dinner table. Out of sheer frustration, I created my alter ego, “Isabella,” a feisty, French, world traveler who flew in one day when Mommy had heard the word “Mommy” one too many times. Unlike Mommy, Isabella addressed the children in a French-ish accent and would even tell them if their actions were “stoopid”. I mean Mommy never wielded that word for fear of bruising their self-confidence. On the other hand, Isabella was free to call it as she saw fit and didn’t feel the need to jump to their rescue or fulfill their constant requests. She often told them, “Get it yourself” [insert French accent]. The crazy thing is the kids absolutely loved her and would ask when Isabella was coming for another visit. She would share her adventures in countries where Mommy has never been, the unique people she met, the food she enjoyed, and where she was going next (sneaky geography and cultural lessons.). She was fun! Unaffected by tantrums, she would actually leave if one occurred. This, in turn, would disappoint the children, and they would ask nicely if Isabella would come back. Now, before you freak out with an assumption of a multiple-personality disorder, relax. Who knew all of my earlier years of acting would pay off? I enjoyed Isabella and learned from her, too. Understanding my children proved to be more competent than I realized. They were willing to listen when having a conversation with Isabella—unlike constant directives from Mommy. Isabella hasn’t visited in a while, and the kids have gotten older, but I smile when I hear them say, “Remember when Isabella . . .. ” She allowed a greater freedom of choice for the kids than Mommy did. I guess, sometimes, we need to go outside of ourselves a bit to embrace our creativity, the spice of choice. When we embrace creativity with our students and children, who knows what intriguing persona might just fly in for a visit?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit

Grandma’s Wisdom

Be it a true tale or not, the following story, circulating on Facebook, is fraught with wisdom. Perhaps you have read or heard the story before. We can always be reminded of our abilities to make empowering choices. Perhaps, the story is a new one that will open your minds and hearts. I can almost hear my own grandmother speaking these words of warmth. Enjoy and pass on. Sammy@TURNINGSTONEchoice

“The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised, and proud lady, fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. ‘I love it,’ she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight year old having just been presented with a new puppy.
‘Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room . . . just wait.’
‘That doesn’t have anything to do with it,’ she replied. ‘Happiness is something you decide on, ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged; it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice: I can spend the day in bed, recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and, as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.’
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.”

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit

Does racism still exist in America?

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During the winter break, our family watched the movie 42, the story of Jackie Robinson and his rise to the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African-American to make it to professional baseball. I had mixed feelings about this movie prior to watching. I want my boys to understand meaningful moments in African-American history, but I want to protect them from the ills of racism, and I knew they would witness the raw racism of that time, and, sadly, I know they will encounter it at some point in their lives. Maybe not the boiling hatred that my father coped with or the obnoxious comments I endured, but the subtle slights or perceived judgments passed down to them because people are clueless to their own biases. One of the burdens in sending my children to school was wondering when someone was going to call them a nigger and how I was going to explain the meaning of a word steeped in hatred, oppression, and other adjectives that can never truly define it. Today, I witness racism fading with diverse groups of friends playing together and families of every race and culture coexisting in love. I see it losing its grip with each generation. With more than eight years in the school system, I have not had to console any of my boys because of scenarios similar to those of my own childhood. I can only hope that our conversations about the beauty of their skin, the blessing of their intelligence, and the incredible value of their worth, because they are unique, will give them the confidence to speak up for themselves, stand up for others, and respect all. As I was writing this last night, I hesitated to continue, because, well, there are some that feel this is a moot point; that either racism no longer exists or that people will not change. And then I was reminded of a young man that divided a nation again on this very issue, Trayvon Martin.
Michael McAuliff, a writer for the Huffington post shares and questions also if racism in America still exists, given past and current examples, with Trayvon Martin in the center of this question. See the link below to this article.
So, do you feel racism still exists? How do you address this issue with your students and children? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. Your time and insight on this issue can benefit others.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit