The Cost of Tenacity

I recently had dinner with my aunt, daughter and cousin who unfortunately lost her mother less than a year ago (also my aunt). Having lost my own mother, I empathize with her deeply…realizing that at age 27, her grief resembles what mine must have looked like at 11. Among the many things we discussed in the 2 1/2 hours we sat in the restaurant, we pointed out how patient her mother was. And we noted how patient our surviving aunt is. I asked them both, “Do you think I’m a patient person?”

“Joan you are very TENACIOUS,” my Aunt replied quickly.

My cousin added, “Yeah Joan, you try and try and try and keep going until there’s nothing else to do.”

I haven’t been able to help but think if that was an easy way to say I endure long-suffering, or that I don’t know when to call the animal coroner for a dead horse.

So I looked up the definition of tenacious:



  1. a. Extremely persistent in adhering to or doing something; stubborn or relentless: “tenacious defenders of their harsh and pitiless land”(Dee Brown).
    b. Characterized by extreme persistence; relentless or enduring: tenacious detective work; tenacious superstitions.
  2. Holding together firmly; cohesive: a tenacious material.
  3. Clinging to another object or surface; adhesive: tenacious lint.
  4. Tending to retain; retentive: a tenacious memory.


Well, there’s a cost associated with tenacity. It’s tiresome. It’s unforgiving. In some ways, it’s for naught. So many questions come into play.

What am I adhering to? Why am I enduring this and that? What am I trying to hold together and why? What am I clinging to? Why am I holding on to the past?

In a passing thought, I know the answers to all those questions: Somewhere and somehow, I believe that failure is not an option for me. If I fail, I become the statistic that all little girls without fathers and who’ve lost parents at an early age become. The question is, at what point do I free myself from those constraints? Would my mother really want me to still be trying to beat the odds 30 years after she departed? I think not. However the compulsion to survive is overwhelming.

I don’t want to be tenacious, but nature won’t allow me to be any other way. So until I find another way, I will press on. There is never any rest for the weary.

What Poise Looks Like

I want to be the President of the United States!

Well, not exactly, but I want to be like our current president, Barack Obama: Calm under pressure. Smooth in transition. Poised for whatever comes my way. ocalma

“How is it that you can always stay so calm?”

A colleague asked me this directly after learning that I would be reassigned to another position at work.

I replied, “When you’ve seen and been through as many things as I have, what’s there to get bent outta shape about?”

A person who has experienced all kinds of storms, heartaches, and trials in life, eventually discovers that each disaster makes them become poised for the next. Now, I’m not a sanctified, church-going (every time the doors are open) woman, but I do believe in God and Jesus Christ. Because of my relationship with the Father, I am able to say when things don’t go my way, “I know HE is in control.” That’s poise. For me, poise is knowing that things could always be worse. It’s knowing that no matter what, HE won’t let me go without the necessities. Most importantly, it’s knowing that HE often closes some doors only to open others.

I’ve experienced some recent changes professionally that will likely bring the tech part of my blog to a halt. Admittedly, most of my page views come from the Personal Growth section. Whereas some others who face similar changes may become stressed (and understandably so), I’ve got to keep moving, I’ve got to keep blogging, I’ve got to keep using my God-given talents to glorify HIM. I can never allow social status, my sorority, or profession to define me. I’ll always be Joan…who also happens to be a Delta and a basketball coach….who happens to be tech savvy and a photographer…and who happens to be a teacher. After all, I am a mother and a child of God first.

I have to practice what I preach, maintain a Growth Mindset, and refrain from pondering endlessly on Who Moved My Cheese. Meaning, I ask myself, “Self, how can you take this situation and turn it into a winner?” So often we tend to wallow in defeat, not realizing that it’s only change.

My advice to all, is be YOU, not your title or your affiliations. Dr. Seuss said it best: “No one is better at being you, than you.” So there are likely better coaches, teachers and technologists out there. But I’m absolutely the BEST Joan Sharpe McCullough around. If your cheese has been moved, find some new cheese. The other cheese was probably growing mold anyway.

Keep “O-Calma” and watch “No Drama” Obama below!

Here’s a piece on Barack “O-Calma” from thepeoplestherapist. Good reading. Good therapy.

If you haven’t done so already, subscribe for future posts. Ciao!

Envy: The Emotion Kept Secret | Psychology Today

This was a great piece on Envy! The bottom line is, you cannot disguise it as something else. When you set up roadblocks for others, the truth is highly visible.

Envy has to do with feeling unhappy about the success of someone else, or about what they have and, at the same time, secretly feeling inferior yourself. Instead of finding success for yourself or improving yourself, you may be envious and want what another person has or find yourself wishing that the other person would lose that quality or possession in order to make things seem fair.  If you are envious of someone you may want to put them down, as though this will raise you up or lower everyone else’s opinion of them. But it just doesn’t work! Instead you may want to consider that you are feeling inferior or not good enough yourself. We really can’t know what another person’s life is like, but an envious person just assumes that the other person is happier or better. So in a strange way, when you envy someone else, you are giving them a compliment. But it’s a compliment that can harm you and how you feel about yourself.

Read the entire article hereEnvy: The Emotion Kept Secret | Psychology Today

Thinglink: Digital Tagging to Learn Organelles – Teacher Tech Tools: Integration Made Easy!

To save time in class having students draw, color and label cell diagrams, Thinglink is a digital tool that allows students to label and diagram photos! Here are a few examples from some Biology students at Bertie Early College High School. Thanks Mr. Boller for differentiating the lesson!

The global piece is where students are willing to share so others can learn from them! – See more at:

Source: Thinglink: Digital Tagging to Learn Organelles – Teacher Tech Tools: Integration Made Easy!

These Kids Spent 8 Hours Coding And Broke A Guinness World Record


Microsoft approached Guinness when it had the idea to host the marathon training session. Guinness World Records set a benchmark of 1,300 students who had to take part, Microsoft representative Katie Fazzolari told The Huffington Post.

via These Kids Spent 8 Hours Coding And Broke A Guinness World Record.

I read this article and it made me think of ways to increase the number of children coding in our schools. What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Note: “Leave a comment” is underneath the title of this post.

3 Chrome Extensions I Can’t Live Without

Check out a few extensions for Google Chrome to make your web life easier!


When web browsing, it’s a common thing to have too many tabs open at once. Well The folks at OneTab have the solution all figured out! Simply head over to your chrome store, add the extension and with one click, all of your tabs will be condensed into a list on a page under one tab. You can choose which tabs you want to reopen, which ones you want to delete, or even ones you want to revisit that you condensed last Thursday! The best thing about it (especially for PC users) is that it cuts down on the amount of RAM you’re using by up to 95%!


 Evernote Web Clipper

If you conduct lots of research on the web on a daily basis, sometimes you might reach a point of cognitive overload and have to store materials for later. Although there are scores of other bookmarking extensions and tools out there, you’ll love the way Web Clipper organizes annotated articles in Evernote. You can choose how to annotate: Only the article, just the written words with no media, the entire web page as-is, a bookmark, or a screenshot. Be sure to download both Evernote and the Evernote Web Clipper from the Chrome Store.

Evernote Web Clipper

Fabulous for Facebook

This isn’t really a do or die extension, it just makes me feel better inside whenever I use Facebook. I manage several school and auxiliary pages. Sometimes, I get lost in the sea of Facebook “Blue”. Fabulous is an extension that sits on the right side of the Omnibox (search/address bar) if Facebook is open in that tab. I can click on it and totally trick out my view !

Fundamentals of Bliss: 5 Amazing Ways to Love Yourself

I was talking with a friend recently who was a bit depressed. The gloom and doom had begun to overtake her and Lord knows, I’ve been there and done that! Oddly, I decided not to give any advice that day: No words of wisdom, no “What momma used to say”-isms, nor any kind of philosophical coping mechanisms gleaned from my illustrious Kindle Library. I simply asked one question.

“Food for thought: If you had to give a split-second answer to this question, what would it be? Do you love yourself?”

“No,” she said flatly. “No, I don’t.”

I still resisted the urge to advise.

I said simply, “That’s where it starts. That’s how you get out of the darkness.”


If you don’t already, loving yourself is the type of thing that has to come about gradually. It is a process. No one else can make you do it. You have to get tired of being tired! As I had hoped, a few moments later, my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my friend, who didn’t want to talk, but could muster this text:
Continue reading

You Won’t Believe His Racist Remarks!

Moms Article

Picture it: Murfreesboro (NC) 1982. A black woman and a diverse group of workers who were recently laid off from the Tylon Zipper plant (which had closed it’s doors for good), decided to open their own worker-owned plant. What that would have meant for them, was that employees could invest in their own business and all share in the decision-making processes.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written in The Journal of Southern Changes 1978-2003.

A few miles from the WOSCO plant in Windsor, North Carolina, a Talon zipper factory, located in Woodland, North Carolina, closed in February 1982, throwing over two hundred skilled workers into the depressed job market of Northampton County. Eight of these former employees are now trying to start a worker owned factory called United Zipper Company. At first, they approached Talon to discuss buying the closed plant or its equipment. Talon, fearing further competition, refused to talk. Rather than sell, company agents destroyed the zipper machinery and let it go for scrap.

According to one worker, Beulah Sharpe, the cost of building a plant and purchasing equipment will amount to $700,000. The city of Murfreesboro has applied for $325,000 from the North Carolina Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program to be used for this purpose. The balance will come from other lending sources (remember this sentence). When the business begins, by late fall of 1982, there will be ten worker owners. Their plans project eventual growth to a workforce of thirty-seven.

“At Talon,” says Ms. Sharp(e), “we were never involved in making decisions. Now we have to learn how to make decisions for ourselves. We’ve made mistakes along the way, but we have learned from them.”

So, a few obstacles stood in their way. As stated above, the decision by the executives at Tylon to refuse to sell the old machines to the workers created a need for additional funding. The second blow was one that I hate to even speak about, and it did not make the article above. Now it is time to tell this part of the story.

One day, after crafting a plan B, the group of hopeful plant owners entered the Tarheel Bank and attempted to apply for a loan to supplement the funds needed to add to the monies acquired by the town of Murfreesboro to buy equipment to open the new plant. Beulah Sharpe handed the application to loan officer while the rest of the team looked on. The caucasian gentleman (We’ll call him Roy) barely touched the paperwork as if to avoid a chemical burn before he tossed it right back to her.

Perplexed, Beulah said, “But, you didn’t even look at…”

Before she could complete her sentence, Roy leaned back in his chair and uttered, “We don’t give loans to women and (n-word)s.”

That was my mother, sitting in that chair, totally chastened by that man’s racist, anti-feminist remarks. I would imagine that for a few sullen moments, she forgot that she was leading the way for others, both black and white,  to overcome economic disaster for their families. She forgot all of the hard work she and the others put into the research and community partnerships to make this thing happen. In that moment, all she was aware of was that aside from all else, she was a negro woman and single parent in the south. Nothing more.

Beulah Sharpe went into the Tarheel Bank that day with three strikes already against her already: She was not white, she was not married, and she was not a man. That was reason enough for the group to be turned away, empty-handed and defeated. I’d imagine she cried two buckets of tears afterwards. Rest assured that my mother didn’t pity herself. I remember this very vividly: they were tears of pain, and anger. She was essentially powerless, and felt very separate and unequal.

A child cannot bear to see his or her mother in pain. If you’ve ever witnessed it, I bet you can say you were hurting too. I was. I am.

Beulah quickly regained her footing and she found another cause to fight for. A close friend and supporter, Frank

Cindy Arnold and Beulah Sharpe, 1984

Cindy Arnold and Beulah Sharpe, 1984

Adams encouraged her to open a non-profit organization. In September of 1984, she and Cindy Arnold launched the Center for Women’s Economic Alternatives to teach financial literacy in the community. The Women’s Center is best known for their fight for justice on behalf of workers at the Perdue Farms Inc. in Lewiston, NC who had developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to poor working conditions.

My mother died less than a year later, and Cindy eventually left the area. Bernice “Liz” Sessoms led a team of hard-working women who essentially carried out Beulah’s dream. Due to a severe shortage in funding, the center shut down in 2002.

I have to give my mother credit. In spite of her experiences then, and years before, she always taught me NOT to see color. I was certainly aware that I had color, but that it should have no bearing on how I treat others as human beings.

Thanks to Cindy Arnold Humiston, Frank Adams, David Cecelski, and Katherine Charron for sharing this compelling story with me as it happened, and thank you more for NOT being color-blind!


Modeling The Power of Blogging

SAMR: From Substitution to Modification/Redefinition

2364304_origMeet Jon. He is a Social Studies teacher at Bertie (pronounced Bert-Tee) Early College High School in Windsor, North Carolina. He’s a consistent tech infuser, who was chosen to go with a group of us to the NCTIES conference just last month. He came away with some wonderful notes and information to share with his staff.

That’s the thing, though. What a wealth of knowledge there was in his email, and he shared with all of 12 people. I replied and thanked him for the recap and asked him to allow me to seize the teachable moment. Had Jon posted his information to a blog, and used his social media networks to share world-wide, he would have reached many more people, and maybe even gotten loads of feedback from other people in attendance. Take a look at what he shared:

BEC Staff,

Just wanted to share a few quick tips from the NCTIES Conference.  The theme was “Make it Personal”, so it was all about how do we attempt to connect with each student in our classes and how can we use technology to help students succeed?  Here is the online resource if you want to explore the many topics discussed at the conference.
–  If you have about 9 minutes I highly recommend taking a look at this video from Kevin Honeycutt.  He was the opening speaker and he really drives home the point of trying to reach kids and not being afraid to embrace technology in the classroom.  He is also pretty funny and a really engaging speaker.
–  3 Elements of a Personalized Learning Environment
   1.  Know the Learner (Learning Styles, Cultures, Learning Paces, Giving Students Guided Choice)
   2.  Guide with Standards (Knowing the Curriculum and Guiding Toward Mastery)
   3.  Flex the Environment (Student-Centered Atmosphere with the Physical and Digital Space In Mind)
–  Research has indicated that educational games can really benefit student learning.  Resources for educational games:  and
–  Remember that it is natural for the human body to stay in motion, so don’t expect students to sit perfectly still for 75 minutes.  How can you incorporate moving around in the classroom to student learning?
–  And maybe the most important tip from the conference was a quote by Maya Angelou to remind us that teaching is really all about relationships with students and trying to make a positive impact in their lives and help prepare them for their futures.  “People won’t remember what you said or did, as much as they will remember how you made them feel.”
 Join me in my quest to inspire more teachers to redefine their lessons and experiences by becoming bloggers. If we model blogging as teachers, students will soon see the value. Writing will improve, and students in 1:1 programs will have a one more way to create with their devices, aside from finding information on the web. The call to action? However you found this post, please share it with your network so that I can show Jon the power of blogging, and developing a PLN.

Tackk Makes Blogging Easy!

Afraid of Blogging? Tackk Makes it Easy!


Earlier this week, we talked about the 3 Keys to Global Instructional Design. Among the keys was blogging for teachers and students. I failed to include what is perhaps the best tool for beginners who are skeptical about using platforms with complicated user interfaces. If you want to create a simple, easy-as-pie web space, then Tackk is the answer to your prayers. Here are some examples:

Angie Bush uses Tackk as an online parent information blog/newsletter. Each week, she creates a post and shares it with the Madison City Schools First Class Pre-K Center parents.

Rafranz Davis uses Tackk to spread the word on the awesome trends she picks up as she journeys to major conferences.

Kristi Combs, Instructional Partner at James Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama recently posted a Tackk on news and celebrations going on in her school.

I am encouraging you to consider Tackk for blogging. I am saying very emphatically, that blogging is an important skill for students today. Beyond clicking the publish button, they need to know how to share their creations, get meaningful feedback from their peers and experts, and get better at it each time. The key concept is STUDENT CREATIVITY.

Come again!