Tag: death

How to Save a Life


Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” ― James Joyce, The Dead Five years ago I was farting my way through grad school. The plan was to graduate with a Master’s degree in educational administration and become a principal. I didn’t really want […]

Candy Land – Student Voices (Guest Post)


Once you’re alive, can you ever really be dead?  Candy Land is a personal narrative written by one of my students, Kayla Paterson. This story, Kayla intertwines the past and the present to explore the power of life, death memories, and board games.  Meet the Writer Kayla Patterson is a 12th grade student at Robbinsville High […]

Celebrating Victory with the Living (and the Dead)


On Superbowl morning I went to Forest Hills Cemertary wearing my Eagles jersey. It’s February in Philadelphia and it’s cold and raining and my son is standing by my side and we’re looking down at the plaque marking the birth and death of my grandparents. Mike and Doreen. I tell them about how the Eagles […]

May 22, 2017 (or the day the universe reminded me to get over myself)


Sometimes things happen that convince you there is some large, mysterious power at work, cartwheeling through the cosmos, orchestrating both big and little things, to get your attention, to make you appreciate the brevity of your life. Our youngest son Dylan, who is almost 4, has his own bed. It’s a perfectly good bed dressed with a […]

The Power of a Conversation: A Recap of the 2017 Spring Write-a-Thon


Never underestimate the power of a little conversation. The Write-a-Thon grew its roots in 2015, during a little conversation between my school district’s (Robbinsville, New Jersey) Superintendent, Dr. Steven Mayer and myself. The crux of the conversation was, “How can we teach teenagers to see writing as an exercise in self-discovery and authenticity not just a […]

When Former Students Die: A Teacher’s Reflection


If you teach long enough you’ll come to learn that the human story never graduates. I last saw him 11 years ago. Waiting for the graduation procession to begin, under that shadow of his squared cap, tassel dangling about his face, he smiled and said, “Mr. Armstrong, can you believe it, they’re actually letting me graduate!” I smiled, “Yeah, […]

Advice from the Dead


The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.–Cicero Recently, while cleaning out the garage, while rummaging through stacks of dusty boxes I came across a brown, unmarked envelope. Intrigued, I quit rummaging, opened the envelope door and found my grandfather smiling on the other side. Inside the envelope it’s 1954 […]

The four words that changed my life forever (or all the motivation you need right now)


For me, this whole writing business began when a doctor looked at an MRI of my brain, then at the floor, then hard into my eyes and said, “You should be dead.” He then told me there was nothing he, or anyone could do for me. “I’m sorry Mr. Armstrong, you should be dead.” I […]