About Me

I am an adjunct English teacher at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, NH. Before that, I taught English for 11 years at Liberty High School in Colorado Springs, CO.

Since 2012 I have chronicled my unique perspective on life, lessons learned through my son’s battle with cancer, and my desire and plan to reform public education. I currently blog for Huffington Post and The Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers.

The past few years have been an incredible journey. Discovering my voice through my writing has given me wings. What started as a desperate move to hold onto my dream of being a writer has ended up being a journey of self-discovery, healing, and advocacy. It is because of this journey that I can step towards the future and let go of past disappointments.

I write with optimistic realism because of the uncertainty of life: My hope is found in truth. I will not run from pain, but embrace all the lessons it has to teach me; I will not lie to myself or others in order to deal with a watered-down reality; I will not fear the consequences of fighting for what I believe in.

I cannot change what life throws at me, but I can change how I respond to it. I can’t live my life any other way. I hope to encourage others to do the same.

Join me on my journey!

My first book, Uncommon Core, from WordCrafts Press, was released on April 27, 2015. You can order a paperback or eBook copy of Uncommon Core by clicking on the link below.

Order Uncommon Core from Amazon

Contact me at pdhawk1010@msn.com



18 Responses to About Me

  1. Carol says:

    A beautiful story about Nicole and I am fortunate that I had the great honor to have been part of it. You and Nicole are so blessed to have each other.

  2. James says:

    Wow! Courage! inspiring.

  3. Best wishes for your new path!

  4. I congratulate you !!! My daughter is a middle school English and she and her fellow teachers will be faced with decisions as see it…sooner rather than later. Good luck to you and your family; my prayers are with you.
    Stewart Lee

  5. Gloria Pritchett Truelove says:

    Resigned at the end of 2012 with the introduction of Common Core to my 16 EIP students. What a disaster to begin with students who were already failing CRCT in almost every area.

  6. Pauline, I so applaud your courage and for sharing your story. I am a former middle and high school Latin teacher who left the profession in 2008 when I decided to become a full-time Academic Life Coach.

    It was a huge leap for me, leaving the stability of a full-time teaching gig to jump into an emerging field, but 5 years later, I know I made the right choice.

    I can’t tell you how heartening and encouraging it is to have you voice so powerfully your ideas and commitment to education being more than just academics but to the whole child.

    Thank you for the work and writing that you do.

  7. Glad I found your blog. I am so sick of the standardized testing and preparation leading up to the testing these days. All my daughter seems to do in school is prep for testing. It really is sad! Glad you had the courage to stand up and call out all that is wrong with the system. As you can see, there are a lot of other people that feel the same and will stand behind you in this! Melissa Gibbs, Fort Worth TX

  8. Dalmarie Lawrence says:

    I have sat and read all your articles and I am filled, inspired and blessed. I am a teacher in Jamaica and we are faced with the same challenges of preparing students for standardized tests. This can be very overwhelming for some of our students as they are all different.
    I am so touched by the strength of your son and you. I am faced with one student who had cancer and had to remove his arm. The strength that you have has given me the courage to do more and try to let my voice be heard as Franklin said, there are three types of people. I know that I am a “mover” and you have certainly given the courage and drive to let my voice be heard.

  9. Bill says:

    How do we quantify learning without testing?

    • Bill,
      Thank you for your question. It seems like a simple question, but there are multiple layers to the answer.
      First, let me assure you that I am not opposed to testing. I gave tests to my students all the time. What I’m opposed to is high-stakes standardized tests that do not help education in the slightest. When I tested my students, I and they received immediate feedback. I knew what each child knew and didn’t know; I knew if I needed to reteach something to the class or if a child needed individual instruction. I knew if I created a bad question and/or bad answers because my students could discuss them with me. The high-stakes tests, however, told my students and me nothing. They are not allowed to talk about the tests; I am not allowed to look at the tests; we cannot see why answers were wrong or what they needed to do to fix it. The worst part about it was that the little feedback I did receive I didn’t get back until those students were no longer my students. At the earliest, I would get test results back in late summer, and the only feedback I would receive was “missed a reading comprehension question” or something similar. I hope you can see that I can do little with that information as a teacher. Even if these state tests were the most valid assessments out there (which they never are), that would be an invalid test because I can do nothing with the “data” collected. I won’t even get into the time, money, and resources wasted on these tests, since those sentiments won’t answer your question.
      Second, the best way to make sure students are getting a valuable education is by hiring and keeping quality teachers. Tests do not teach students; teachers do. Teachers need to be trusted to do the job they were hired to do. If a teacher is found to be doing a poor job (which, by the way, we don’t need state standardized tests to discover who those teachers are), then an administrator needs to fire the teacher or, more appropriately, get that teacher the support he or she needs to improve. Let’s face it, teaching is a difficult job–actually not even a job–it’s a calling. If someone has been called to be a teacher then he or she deserves the respect and time needed to turn him or her into a master teacher.
      Third, there is no way to actually quantify learning. The best lessons I learned throughout my education were not the facts I could write down on a piece of paper. It wasn’t until I was much older that facts and knowledge became important to me. Throughout high school, the best lessons I learned had to do with becoming a functioning human being. I had amazing teachers who became my role models for the type of person and teacher I wanted to be, and I had horrible teachers that showed me who I didn’t want to be. I learned about work ethic, social interactions, self-respect and respect for others. I was a mediocre student in high school, but that’s okay because I am an above average adult and a master teacher now. I love learning; I love writing; I love encouraging others. It is my enthusiasm for education that makes me a high quality teacher now, not just my quantifiable knowledge. I can teach everything I know to my students and some will take the majority of it in and others will remember none of the knowledge. What they do remember, however, is how much I love learning, how much I care about my students, and how I encouraged them to be the best they can be. What they learn in high school is about so much more than quantifiable knowledge; enthusiasm, self-respect, and hope cannot be quantified.

  10. Anthony Lee says:

    Thank you so much for your amazing articles.

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