Published Articles and Letters

School’s Out for Me – A Collection of My Op-Ed Articles
and Letters to the Editor in The Baltimore Sun and other

Baltimore County Teachers Are Used to “stopping on a dime”
The Baltimore Sun, February 28, 2018
Read it here

A Pep Talk for Teachers
The Baltimore Sun, September 1, 2016

play in K
Read it here

Kids Don’t Want Ebooks
The Baltimore Sun, March 13, 2016


See also:  “Students Reading Ebooks Are Losing Out, Study Suggest”


Technology is Engaging, But is it Really Teaching Kids?
Towson Flyer, March 9, 2016


Why Teachers Leave #teacherexpertise
The Baltimore Sun, December 1, 2015




Advice to Parents #teacherexpertise
The Baltimore Sun June 10, 2015

summer vacation

As I approach the final days of 30+ years of teaching, I realize, that now that I am in my early 60s, the parents of the children I am now teaching, could be my grandchildren. I began my career as a kindergarten teacher and am ending it as an elementary library media specialist with National Board Certification. Along the way I have taught grades four through eight, worked as a reading specialist, earned two masters degrees, worked in 15 schools, taught courses as an adjunct instructor at Towson University, written many published articles on children and education and been a finalist for Teacher of the Year,  and survived parenthood. I had my own children later, and they don’t have children yet, but the parents of my students are young enough that I feel more than just one generation gap.

Before I leave teaching to begin a new chapter in my life I have something to say to parents. I would like to give these parents some advice.

First of all, spend time with your children and I don’t mean playing video games or watching movies together – don’t kid yourself that those things count for much. I mean time in conversation and doing things like cooking, gardening, board games, visiting events and museums – anything that requires you to talk and listen to each other.   Eat meals together with no television or devices around. Read together. Draw together. Build things together. You have so much to give them and less time than you think to give it.   But mostly just talk – and listen to each other. They are only little once. Stages of development are short. The brain grows and changes but only up to a point. The window closes quickly. I know, my sons were once two wonderful little human beings that I loved to be with but too quickly they grew into men. They are still wonderful, but the wonder of childhood with them is gone forever. Distant memories. You can’t get that time back.

Second, learn to say no to your children. They will not suffer psychological harm or deprivation.   You have the power to teach them the lessons only disappointment can bring. The absolute power of delayed gratification is yours to give and a gift that will take them though life and build resilience. Only you can do this for them.   You can make them strong or weak. Help them bear their disappointments. Make them understand that not getting an A is not the end of the world, that some things are not worth the money and that if you want something you have to work for it.   Help them work and help them wait. It is not painless but there is a payoff. It may be the hardest thing you ever do.   Don’t deprive them of the experience of waiting. Their emotional development depends on it and it has to happen during childhood.

Third, be kind to their teachers. Remember that technology is only a tool. Embrace it but be wary of it. Your child’s teachers have a life at home, children of their own, responsibilities for aging parents, a spouse who is ill and things they need to take care of. Not to mention R & R which the brain needs to recharge and reboot to unleash the creativity you want them to have for their lessons. You should not expect a quick answer ever to a complicated question, for the questions about achievement and development usually require a thoughtful and reflective answer. Nothing just “takes a minute.” Do not send an email with a long-winded message and never write one when you are upset. Often a face to face conference is so much more effective. Nuances are lost in emails and without body language to grab clues from, people can quickly feel offended when no offense was intended…be patient with the teachers. Their jobs are so hard and your child is only one of so many they must attend to. Talk to people and learn wait time.

Also remember this: being upset is a part of child rearing. And when they are teenagers, if you have not embarrassed them a time or two, you didn’t do your job. It is hard work, the hardest you will ever do. You will never regret doing the hard things. Work at it because I promise you, your gratification will come someday and it is worth more than gold. Finally, love them and believe in them and tell that you do and say it often.   Best to all of you!


When teenage rebellion becomes a health hazard
The Baltimore Sun from September 7, 2001




061026-N-5271J-014 Sasebo, Japan (Oct. 26, 2006) - Jennifer Tonder (right), a teacher's aide for a 3rd-4th grade multi-age class, discusses the various books available from the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) grant given to Sasebo Elementary School with a student. The RIF donated 1,000 books to the school's library. Sasebo Elementary was the first overseas school to receive the RIF grant. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Johnstone (RELEASED)

Why People Remember Some of their Favorite Teachers

This was the last thing I had published before I  became a library media specialist and started another graduate program.  This article was inspired by my mother,  Marcella Spigelmire who was a teacher and administrator in the Baltimore County Public Schools from 1931 until 1974.  Please enjoy my article in The Baltimore Sun from February 22, 2001.


test taking

Flaws in MSPAP

Discussion about tests in the 1990s…

Read my article in The Baltimore Sun from December 13, 1998



For Some Children, Outcry from Public is Sadly Missing

One of the most heartbreaking articles I ever wrote.  The story of  Rita Fisher haunted me for years.

Read my article in The Baltimore Sun from May 13, 1998



Why Teachers Burn Out

Even after almost 20 years…still relevant.  Please enjoy my article in The Sun from May 20, 1997




Rolling to Fitness

When my children were teenagers we went roller skating and I rediscovered its joys

Enjoy my article in The Baltimore Sun from September 21, 1994


test taking

A New Way of Measuring

Oh, how I remember the uproar the advent of the Maryland State Performance Assessment Program brought!  Now it seems mild when we think about the testing mania we currently deal with.

Enjoy one of my earliest publications from The Baltimore Sun on the “new” tests from May 13, 1994.


ill child

Everyone’s Problem

Back in the 1990s we began the discussion about health care for everyone.

Read my article in The Baltimore Sun from April 17, 1994



Here We Go Again

My first published article here in the USA and still timely – some things just don’t change.  Please enjoy my article in The Baltimore Sun from August 26, 1993.


My very first article was published in Dutch in a parenting magazine in the Netherlands where I lived for a long time during my younger years.  You’ll have to ask me to tell you the story sometime.  It’s about a tumble out of a staircase I took while holding my two month old.

 Ouders Van Nu (Parents Today)


Letters to the Editor

The Baltimore Sun, February, 2016 – Millennials and the Workplace

The Baltimore Sun, December, 2015 – Are Computers a Learning-Difference Maker?

The Baltimore Sun, June, 1996 – Pepper Spray is a Weapon

The Baltimore Sun, April, 1995 – Understanding Whole Language

The Northeast Times Booster, February, 1995 – Easier To Criticize Than Be Educated on School Reform

The Baltimore Sun, June, 1994 – Adolescent Needs Met by Middle School Plan

The Northeast Times Booster, January, 1994 – Educational Changes Keep County in Tune with Times

The Northeast Times Booster, July, 1993 –Parental Involvement Lacking in Programs

The Evening Sun, June, 1993 – Preparing Pupils

The Baltimore Sun, May 15, 1993 – Are Teachers Scapegoats?

The Baltimore Sun, April 17, 1993 – No surprise

The Baltimore Sun, March  1, 1993 – Shame on Those Who Closed the County Libraries

The Baltimore Sun, September, 1992   –  Drop Channel One