RunIVMore Research!

Today is the day.

After teaching all day, I’m running to Indian island to cheer on our Varsity Girls Cross Country Team. This team is amazing, and they have crushed expectations this year. We have so many amazing sports teams in riverhead. It’s a shame that many get pushed to the side and don’t get the attention they deserve. Girls tennis, field hockey, boys golf… they all had exceptional seasons. Did you know we even have an ice jockey team? Sports often get looked down upon at budget time. “Let those parents fundraise and pay for it themselves”. We hear the same with art and theatre as well. And they do fundraise. But sometimes sports and extra curricular activities are the only thing that gets kids excited to come to school. It teaches them the value of practice, hard work, dedication, and teamwork. It also enhances school pride.

I’ll be there today handing out ribbons for stage four awareness. A portion of this go fund me is going to my oncologist. She was amazed at the taco fundraiser from this weekend. Today is the RunIVMore event, Thursday I’ll be in the chemo chair all day, and then head to the spaghetti dinner event. I will be fasting, but I hear that Nick Coutts and his mom are making meatballs, so I may have to break the fast for a miracle meatball.

I keep making plans for the future, and contacted stony brook to bring the teddy bear clinic to my kindergarten and all of the kindergartens in my school this spring. It’s fun to email every year and say, “Still alive!” to the coordinator. I usually live my life in three month increments. Every three months for the past nineteen months, I’ve gone for a petscan and then heard the cancer got worse. Therapies change, I navigate side effects all over again, change protocols and pills and supplements and herbal tea formulas…

it’s so damn hard.

Right now, I know there is a scan coming up in November. Will I need more of this heavy chemo? You can’t get too much because it damages your heart. Will I need another biopsy on the liver? Bone? Breast? What treatment will I try next? Will it be weekly infusions through the port? Will my hair grow back? What side effects will come next?

And you wonder why I cant sleep at night.

Madison’s track team is full of wonderful girls and coaches. I love them all and can’t wait to cheer them on. It’s her birthday this Saturday. She doesn’t ask for much, and we are doing a small party that night. I’ll be trying hard not to crash from the chemo. I remember crying when I was first diagnosed that I was told i wouldn’t be alive to see her sixteenth birthday. Thank you God for letting me see her seventeenth.

May I see many, many more.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Here is the link for the fundraiser.

Thank you everyone for donating!!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/riverhead-run-iv-more?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

Forgiveness

Yesterday I heard something I never ever heard before.

It was about “Forgiveness”.

As a Christian, I’ve been taught to forgive and forgive and forgive.

But man, it’s hard. When you’ve been hurt, you become a victim in your mind. Someone did something to you and your feelings were hurt or your life was changed. Pain, heartbreak, anger.

As children, when you hurt others, you’re told, “Say your sorry”. Your parent or teacher took you by the hand and told you to apologize.

We do it all the time in kindergarten.

But here’s where I change it up.

Many times when I have a child apologize, the one that was hurt automatically says, “It’s ok”.

When it’s not.

Whatever hurt was done, it’s not ok.

I teach the children to say, “Thank you for apologizing. Don’t ever do that again.”

Children have no problem apologizing. They do it all the time, then move on.

Adults?

Forget it.

When you’ve been hurt, good luck getting the adult who hurt you to apologize.

Thats because ego gets in the way.

People think they then stoop lower to ask for forgiveness. “I didn’t do anything wrong. She is crazy.”

But you did.

You hurt someone.

Feelings are real.

Pain is real.

And refusing to acknowledge that?

Or even care about the pain you’ve left someone in?

The victim becomes a victim twice.

The hurt person waits for an apology. “Just apologize so I can forgive you and move on.”

They wait for the apology so they can give the forgiveness. When the other person refuses to apologize, the victim waits and waits and gets angry and even more hurt… quite possibly more hurt than from the actual first offense.

Now the act of forgiveness becomes even harder.

“How the hell am I supposed to forgive someone who doesn’t care they hurt me?”

Then the Christian guilt comes in, and you’re not going to get into heaven because you struggle to forgive.

Yesterday, Madame Swoosh blew my mind. She said don’t forgive. If people don’t ask for it, don’t give it.

BUT… find a way to move on. You can be in the same space as people who have hurt you and don’t care and don’t ask for forgiveness.

Just continue to be kind.

They have to live with what they’ve done, and eventually… they will realize.

She said they always do.

She has helped many, and said that it always happens… many times right before death.

Think about that.

It’s true.

When people are dying, that’s when people come and ask for forgiveness because they don’t want the pain they’ve caused to be left open.

She said stop being a victim, and know that the forgiveness is your power. If people don’t want it, don’t give it. It’s like you’re standing there waiting to forgive and move on and you’re slapped in the face when people don’t want it.

Victim again.

“You hurt me AND you don’t care”

That’s pain times two.

So here is where love comes in.

Being Christian means you walk in love anyway.

Hell… being human means you walk in love.

So many people say hurtful things and do hurtful things, and it’s become easier to hide behind keyboards and be even meaner.

Asking for forgiveness becomes harder and harder.

Giving it is impossible when it’s not wanted.

Free yourself from the forgiveness guilt.

Be free…

and keep doing you.

Religion screws everything up.

Jesus never said…”Be a Lutheran” or “Be a catholic”, and then you’ll get to heaven.

He said “Love one another”.

That’s it.

We don’t walk up to the pearly gates and get checked for the Lutheran mark and get in.

You just have to believe in Jesus and love others.

If you do that, you’re all good in my book.

(And if you don’t believe in Jesus, I still love you.)

Madame swoosh also reminded me that even though I should be dead based on all of the cancer, or laying in bed, I’m not.

She said drop the fear of dying and live.

I came home drained… and kept smelling her perfume all over me.

She smells like heaven.

She is here until December 2, and wants me to let her know how the pet scan goes.

I love her and her daughter.

She swooshed and swooshed all over my body, and pulled out energy and moved other energy around. We laughed that it was easier around my head since I dont have any hair.

She hugged me and hugged me and said to not worry about Those who don’t.

She told me she loves me and sees who I am inside, and I am a very spiritual person.

Man, I love her.

Imagine going to church and hearing how much you are loved instead of how you aren’t doing a good job of trying to live and should repent?

Sign me up for that religion.

Hallelujah.

Jesus loves me.

He loves you too, and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

I’m up and getting ready for work.

This week, I’ll teach the kids about how breaking and entering into a strangers house is never a good idea, especially when it’s owned by three bears who like their porridge a particular temperature.

I’m praying that the anger in this town dies down and people stop spreading misinformation and hate, and actually become part of the solution. Go to meetings, and have your voice heard where it counts.

Not on Facebook, where everyone has an opinion, but in actual meetings where people can learn the facts and have civil discussions.

CIVIL discussions.

Stop complaining about illegal housing and go ahead and report it to the town. Make the damn phone call instead of spreading hysteria. Stop being the tough guy and posturing on Facebook and contact the people who can tell you that either you’re right and thank you, or your misinformed and go live your blessed life in your single family home and are lucky enough you don’t have to cram your whole family on one room and share one bed.

Stop complaining about kids being dropped off at bus stops that don’t live in town and report it to the district. The district will look into it and have a hearing. Can you believe people actually WANT their kids to come here and may not live in town?

I can.

Because my kids are thriving in this district with academics, sports, clubs, music, theatre, NJROTC.

If it’s true, then it will be fixed. If it’s not, then you’ll learn the truth and can stop saying how empty our schools will be when all the “illegals” are gone.

Then go look at Main Street and all the monstrous apartment buildings being built, and think how many kids those will add to our already overcrowded buildings which will magically become empty this year when all the politicians kick people out of allllll the houses that have hundreds of kids living in them.

Go ahead and vote no and put your fingers in your ears and spread misinformation and stomp your feet.

I’ll be over here trying to help find multiple ways to solve the problem and work with whoever is kind and willing to have hard discussions and actually take action to help instead of just pointing fingers and name calling, while going through chemo and trying to save my life.

Today may those who have wronged you ask for forgiveness, and if they don’t… may you be able to walk forward with peace, love and compassion.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Swoosh

Yes.

A two post day.

I just left Swoosh.

She said there is still so much cancer everywhere, and is confused as well. I should not look like I do and be as active as I am based on the insides.

She asked if I’m afraid of dying.

I cried and said yes.

She said it’s been three years and I’m not dead. What if I don’t die for twenty more years? Forty? I’ll spend those years in fear instead of living.

She felt anger. She said it’s at odds with my spirituality. She said something I’ve never heard before.

She said I dont have to give forgiveness. If people don’t ask for it, then don’t give it. They don’t want it. And getting upset that people don’t want forgiveness continues the victim feeling.

Stop being a victim and take back power. Just coexist. Be kind always.

So today’s angry post? Swoooooosh.

She said to keep going with the chemo, even though it was scary hearing her say she still saw it everywhere. It will take time.

She is here until December 2, and wants me to call her after the petscan in November.

She said I show such a strong front and am not being truthful with how hard this all is.

She is right.

I don’t show you the hardest days. The hardest feelings. When i lie on the couch and can’t even look at myself with no eyebrows and hair.

I don’t want pity.

Just love.

She knew I’m not sleeping. I told her about the flashes of light at night behind my eyes and I feel it’s my angels. She smiled and asked if I talk to them.

I do.

I explained the issues with the Christians who have judged me and sent me messages. She said no one knows where her gift comes from. It could be God.

I said I know it’s from God, because God led me to her.

She asked about my children, and I told her about how they have been asking if they will need petscans and if they will get cancer. Quinn talked to me about heaven Friday. He said he thinks that we will look like our best year ever, and he may look like a ten year old. I told him I dont think we will look like our human bodies. It’s like a lemon. I can say the word lemon, and you right away can see a yellow round fruit. You can imagine the ridges, smell the citrus scent, taste the juice. You don’t have to see it, but you know exactly what it is. That’s what heaven is. We sense each other and feel each other’s light, and we never leave the ones we love on earth. I said he felt better when we finished.

Swoosh smiled.

She said again she feels the cancer all over… and is so surprised… because I am ok.

And I am.

Swoooooooosh.

❤️🦋

Here’s to more healing and forty more years.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Swoooooosh

Peace, Love and Tacos

Yesterday was a day of tacos, hugs and love.

I actually felt good and decided to head to the fair early.

I made an appointment with my friend Jennifer Williamson. Once again, she blew me away. She also says things that are supposed to be validating. Ten minutes after I was done with her, I met my sister and told her what she said about her. People are skeptics. I get it. But let me tell you, Jennifer told me something that I hadn’t even heard of, I then told jill, and then she confirmed it was true. Both of our jaws dropped.

To summarize what she said about me, she said she saw archangel Michael with his wings wrapped around me. I told her that at night, when my eyes are closed, it’s like there are flashes of light being shined into my eyes and white light dances behind my closed eyelids. I always say it’s love from heaven being sent into body and healing. I now believe it’s true. She also saw me advocating on the Ellen show one day, and also at a point in my life where the cancer and I coexist. It’s not aggressive, just there. And I grow old with rob, and continue to teach.

I’ll take it.

I brought my sister to meet her, then later my dad. Jennifer quickly told them what she told me and even a little more. She spoke about my dad’s mom who passed when he was eleven and my dad told her a story I hadnt ever heard before. It’s amazing how my dad turned out, as loving and giving as he is, even without his mom. But she is here, all the time.

I love that.

I then spent the day getting hugs and selling tickets. My very first kindergarten student from 24 years ago came with her new baby. My babies are having babies. I asked to pray a blessing over her, closed my eyes, and she and her mom said as I prayed, this two week old baby lifted her hand up to mine. They know. Babies are such blessings, and remind us of where we come from, with love and innocence.

Lucharitos was there and everyone had tacos. Mark came up to me at the end of the day and gave me $1175 for my oncologist. He said people overpaid and just donated. This town is amazing. People are also saying they will be going to the fundraiser at Jenny’s in southold for the spaghetti dinner. I saw a flyer in the deli across the street and didn’t even KNOW there were flyers. I get chemo that day, and coming home and being surrounded by love will be so good for me.

Madison was away at Brown University for a track meet. Her coach texted me she ran her best race ever, and the girls varsity team took first place of the whole large school division. I love these girls, and can’t wait to cheer them on this Tuesday at Indian island as they run for research. The go fund me is almost at its goal, and I cant wait to give my oncologist funds from that account as well.

So many people came out to support our school and I hope we raised enough funds to continue to enhance the experiences these kids get. After all of the negative writing I’ve been reading about our district, it was nice to actually see support. Getting donations was hard this year. The class baskets moms stepped up big time. God bless those who step up and help.

There was more bond drama.

Listen, our district did not present the bond in a good way. At all. The fairgrounds and field house should have never been on. That saying of “You never get a a second chance at a first impression” is true. So now, after having listened to the outcry and changing it.. and STILL changing it… they are working from even farther behind where they started. People are still writing to vote no based on the first proposal and other misinformation. Unless you go to a bond meeting, please… find out the facts and then make an educated and informed opinion.

There are people who simply hate the district, the board, the teachers, and use every chance they get to demean and badmouth us. I’ve got one person somehow getting screenshots of my personal Facebook page from someone and posting it on local public paper pages. Ever wonder why people don’t speak up? Because of personal attacks. As someone dealing with heavy chemo, having someone use every chance possible to call me out is exhausting and a little scary. I refuse to engage. Which apparently empowers people even more. I’m putting this on my public blog, and I’m sure this private post will be screen shotted as well.

So let me be clear.

I’m done.

I will not speak to this person. I will no longer write about this person. No more energy will be given to negative people. It’s my right. And this person will hopefully find another scapegoat to pick on. Yes, I am an employee. I’m also a parent and a taxpayer. And no, I’m not out simply for my paycheck. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on my students and classroom. But I’m a no good greedy teacher out for myself.

Sure.

I’ve got terminal cancer to fight, children to teach, a family to raise, a district to fight for, and a life to live. My time is too precious to waste anymore energy on someone determined to badmouth me and attack me publicly. So keep having fun screenshooting my posts and writing about me. Even Implying I’m using cancer and the contacts I’ve made for pity. That’s the lowest blow ever. I would gladly have never had cancer and go back to my semi private life.

You know who you are.

Just stay away from me and don’t ever contact me or come near me in person.

Don’t look at me or attempt to come near me. I will walk away.

Period.

Have fun writing about me today. If only you would try to use your knowledge for good instead of slinging mud, you could actually make a positive difference.

Today I’m going to see Madame swoosh who has flown in from France. I love her and her daughter. I’m gearing up for a week with the heavy chemo and getting love from as many people as I have helps me fill my energy bucket. The anxiety rises knowing how sick I’ll be next weekend. It was worse this second round. It’s also Madison’s birthday next weekend. I’m going to visualize myself pushing through and being able to celebrate her seventeenth birthday.

Quinn wore his Boy Scout uniform all day simply because he wanted to. We went to michaels to get some things and Christmas is up. I don’t care. It makes me happy. My friend Melissa put up her Christmas tree yesterday.

Joy to the world, people.

Today may everyone who hates me simply leave me alone. Ignore me. May those who love me pray for me and send me love. May my body heal, and all my problems be swooshed away.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Mob mentality, Bucket Brigades, and Hold my Lashes.

Today is one of the BEST days of the year for my school. But first…

Let’s talk about mob mentality.

People get so easily whipped into a frenzy.

It’s also easy to go after people with cheap shots. Michelle Obama once said, “a when they go low, we go high.”

But man, it’s hard to go high.

I took a big risk yesterday writing what I wrote. Writing about where you work as publicly as I did can backfire. But it came from love and truth. And the truth is, I LOOOOOVE where I work. I always have. Do I get frustrated? Definitely.

But man… I wouldn’t work anywhere else WITH anyone else or FOR anyone else.

Which is why I take attacks so personally, because it’s easy to attack people, but I see the daily workings. People have NO clue how hard teachers and administrators are working. We get to work early, stay late, work through lunch. We do it for the kids.

Board of Education members don’t get paid. They volunteer. And they get mercilessly attacked by locals who have no issue being rude and condescending and spew venom and make personal attacks… and the BOE members can’t defend themselves, which makes the venom spewers feel even more empowered.

Then there are those local people who are obsessed with attacking us. And yes, obsessed. There is one woman who used to bash me all over teacher and student advocacy boards. I’ve disengaged. Yesterday she was mad because I wouldnt engage and liked someone’s comment, but ignored her questions to me. She wrote how I wont engage with people who disagree or question me because I take attacks personally.

No, I just don’t engage with people who refuse to listen and stick to fake stories in their head and have gone so far to contact my family members about me.

I can forgive people.

But I dont forget.

I also called out a man who showed his true colors. For some reason, men are intimidated by women in power. So what do they do? They stoop to making comments about appearances. He made a comment on a public page about a woman who can speak eloquently while batting false eyelashes.

I… saw… red.

(Through my own false eyelashes.)

Listen, enough is enough. We need to call people out on this crap publicly. If you didn’t know me and met me in the street, you would never know I’m going through heavy chemo. (Thank you, YouTube tutorials by drag queens, on how to draw fleek eyebrows, put on false lashes, and cut lace front wigs. )

Making fun of a woman for doing something to make herself look better is a low blow. You don’t read about people making fun of men for how they part their hair, or which suit they wear. But women are fair game.

So I went after this man. Publicly. He tried to backtrack and even said to not make it about the cancer when I wrote about how I wear fake lashes. So I said it wasn’t about that. It’s simply he is a sexist.

I will defend any woman’s right to wear whatever she wants. Check yourselves, gentlemen. I plan on wearing my biggest wigs and lashes to every damn BOE meeting and bond vote meeting. Even if I’m sick from chemo, I’m showing up. I’ll bat my fake eyelashes in solidarity. And don’t think I wont peel them off and whip off my wig to make a point. I’ve done it before when a man didn’t take me seriously.

Come at me, bro.

Hold my lashes, sister. I’ve got a lesson to teach.

Parents, let’s do better and teach our young men to be gentlemen. Making public comments about a woman’s appearance is gross. Making private comments is gross. Teach respect.

Ironically, I was defending our rights as women while NASA was holding the first ever all female space walk. I showed the video to my kinders and took a picture of them all watching it and sent it home. I wanted the parents to have that momentous occasion documented so one day their kids can tell their kids where they were on that momentous day and show a picture.

We’ve come a long way, baby… but still have miles to go.

The mob mentality has reached a tipping point. The “us vs them” has become a powder keg. People are holding matches and gasoline and don’t realize how they are being perceived. Thats what happens. Becoming whipped into a frenzy turns even the best people into firestarters. Have you ever seen how people’s faces look different by the light of a bonfire? They look a little scarier, with the glowing embers lighting their eyes. The fire brings out something primal. Voices get louder under the cover of darkness as the flame grows and burns hotter.

It’s time to throw water on the fire.

Pass the bucket of water, and let’s make a bucket brigade.

The intentions may have been good at the beginning when the fire got lit, but fire attracts the crazed. They show up and the fire gets bigger and bigger and more people get burned.

Mob mentality.

Somehow we need to turn the mob mentality around from firestarters and into a water bucket brigade of people who turn away from the easy way of throwing sticks onto the fire, and instead finding ways to save everyone from getting burned.

Pass the water please.

Some people run away from the fire to other places because it’s easier. The fire is too big already in their minds, so they want to just leave.

Not me.

I was taught that when you see people in trouble, you do what you can to help. My poppa was a police officer in NYC. My dad was a police officer in Nassau county. My brothers both worked in NYC and one transferred to Southampton and one works in riverhead. My sister works in riverhead and has risen to the rank of SGT. (and yes, when the local paper wrote an article celebrating her achievement, sexist comments were made… and I may have become an attack dog again. No one messes with my family. Period.)

My whole family will run in when there is trouble.

Put their lives on the line for others.

For strangers.

Every damn day.

So I guess it’s in my blood.

Make it part of YOUR life to find ways to make lives better.

You can start today.

My school is hosting the biggest fundraiser of the year today. It’s our annual craft fair, and man… you have to see it to believe it.

Each class is tasked with making a craft fair basket to raffle, based on a theme. One class mother puts it all together for each class. And let’s give a huge shout out to the class moms. They put more money than they admit into these baskets . We also have items donated by the community for Chinese auction. There will be activities for the whole family. This is the day the school becomes a community. Families show up and kids find their friends from class. Parents meet and friendships are formed. Our PTO pays for every single child’s one field trip per year, puts on dances, winter wonderland where kids can buy presents at Christmas that are already wrapped and learn how it feels good to give. This one day pays for it all.

Lucharitos will also have a food truck. I’ve become friends with the owner, and have seen him change from a man who was tormented by those who were firestarters and left comments on review sites, to a man who walks in his own truth. Man, he has leveled up, big time. He holds big buckets of water now, and has decided to have all his profits from today be funneled to my oncologist.

So today, let’s eat ALL THE TACOS!!

My oncologist is overwhelmed. We emailed last night and she used the word “tremendous”. She has a hard job, and deals with patients who she comes to love dying. So my family and friends aren’t just a bucket brigade to her by passing buckets of water to her to put out cancer fires… we are opening the dam.

God, I love good people.

There are more of them than you think. And even those stoking the fire need water sometimes. I’m hoping yesterday became the day the fire started to lessen and the true compassion and kindness that some wanted to show but got lost in delivery shines through.

So today, come to my schools craft fair. I’ll be there at ten visiting with my friend Jennifer Williamson. Yes, she is a psychic medium and I am a Christian. But she is so much more to me. God can give people gifts of the spirit. She is the real deal. I can’t wait to hug her. She does energy work as well. Science is catching up on energy work and it’s real benefits. This next decade will bring breakthroughs.

I also called yesterday and have an appointment with Odile tomorrow , my “Madame Swoosh”. I spoke to her daughter marynne, and we love each other so much.

Last night I went to Spa Belezza. I’ve gotten gift certificates from my brother Scott’s police squad when I was first diagnosed and some past students. I’ve never used them. The owner was kind enough to let me use them and they didn’t expire.

I was nervous going to someone new, as Daniele from the peaceful scorpion is the only one I’ve had work on me. I was also nervous about taking off my wig and laying on a table with a total bald head in front of a stranger.

So God sent me my sorority sister Trish. She had spent the weekend with Master Ou, a Qi Gong master who has done distance sessions with me. Turns out Trish stoped my house an hour before my massage appointment and knows the owner of the spa. She said I was in good hands.

And man, I sure was.

She did cranial sacral therapy and I felt the energy actually shift and flow in my body. I knew she was doing reiki on me at times and I asked her when we finished if she was. She said yes, and I had been able to tell the exact moments she did the energy work.

It’s not woo woo, people.

It’s science.

Trish was right, and I needed it.

So thank you, RPD Squad 2 and Anna and Jamie. I finally used the gift certificates and it was heavenly.

I’m hoping to be able to go back to sleep for a bit, then gear up for a day of hugs, tacos, volunteering, energy work and messages from my loved ones, and finding more people willing to hold buckets of water and put out fires.

And I’ll do it all with my fake eyelashes.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

A District in Crisis

Apparently I’m up at 2:00 am today because this post is that important.

Before I became a metastatic breast cancer advocate/thriver, I was a vocal advocate for students. I wrote letters and attended forums on the state testing debacle, I rode a bus for hours to lobby at Albany, and I was probably put on a watch list for Governor Cuomo.

Apparently it’s time for me to put back on my rally cap.

Let me explain.

I’ve sounded the alarm for my district. I walk a fine line as a taxpayer, parent and employee. I’ve said we are a district in crisis now, due to a huge chain of events that have been years in the making. Our high school is so crowded that Madison said she had trouble getting up a stairwell yesterday. We’ve also had a huge surge in population of one specific group of students.

This has caused some racism to come out.

Taxpayers are angry and saying it’s not fair they have to pay for illegal students, and those students are sucking up all of the funds and attention that the “legal” kids need. And yes, it’s true. We have to spend more money on ELL services. Instead of getting angry at the district and children, get active and ask the state for more help. I also have a feeling there are a lot less illegal students than you think, and simply more legal immigrants who have flooded our town because of affordable housing, even if it means five families share a house.

The surrounding districts are going through the opposite. Homes are being snapped up by second home buyers, so there are less full time residents and enrollment is decreasing.

Not in Riverhead.

We have affordable housing, so everyone is coming to our town. We also have landlords who have been renting out homes to multiple families and not caring. Have you driven by Main Street lately? I shudder to think of what will happen to enrollment when those huge buildings with apartments become available for rent. We are a town with farms, restaurants, vineyards, hotels, where the businesses rely on workers with low salaries. The workers need a place to live, right?

I am disgusted by the blatant racism as well as the implied. Just because a child is a different color and speaks a different language doesn’t mean they aren’t a citizen… or they aren’t as smart as your child and entitled to a fantastic, free and appropriate education. Some people have their heart in the right place but the message is muddled with racial overtones. We need to all come together. There isn’t a wall that’s been built, as some have chanted for years, so stop waiting on a politicians promise. Did you all really think three years ago that a wall would be built and the problem would be solved? How has that worked out for you?

Sticking heads in the sand and saying “It’s not fair and I don’t want to pay for illegals” isn’t going to make this better.

So, what to do?

I attended a round table discussion during the middle of the day yesterday. I wish you all could have been there. It was a group of teachers from the district, selected because we all live here as well as have kids who go here. Some are alumni. Hearts are breaking because parents wanted their kids to graduate from riverhead like they did, and if things don’t happen soon… and I mean really soon, people are thinking of moving away. It’s that serious.

Our superintendent as well as our finance guru were there. Listen, I wouldn’t want their jobs in a million years. The same vocal people attack them over and over. Let me tell you a little secret.

No one is in that position to make money. They deserve every penny of their salary for putting up with all of you and all of us.

Here is another secret.

The money man? I have grumbled when my supplies get cut and have to make choices between red or green construction paper. Paper clips or staples? Birthday crowns or mini pencils? June is a month of hard cuts and choices for teachers. Yes, he is that tight with money. But he takes his job as the watcher of the coin seriously, despite what everyone thinks. As a taxpayer, I appreciate how seriously he takes his job. He isn’t out to screw anyone, people. He truly is looking out for the town. Don’t listen to the same angry people who bash him over and over. Facts matter. He has them and amazed me with his ability to rattle off laws and tax codes and numbers.

The man is brilliant with facts and numbers.

The teachers on the round table threw out other options to him, and he had already thought about it and worked out the numbers. You see, we are screwed in Riverhead… big time.

We have a governor and a senator who ignore us. Other districts get high twenty percent state aid, we get in the teens. It’s because of the land on the tax tolls …and off the tax rolls. Because we have so much land and less taxable area, we look like a wealthy area on paper. Acres and acres of land and less people per square foot makes you look on paper like we are wealthy. The truth is we are land rich and people poor. Cuomo doesn’t give a crap about our town. He is busy renaming bridges and pushing tests designed to fail kids. The politicians don’t care. That’s been obvious with the vaccine kids. It’s about money for their own good. Getting total control and pocketing the benefits.

We are the county seat and get the social services dumped here, shelters, the jail. But help out our schools?

Forget it.

Freaking crickets from them all.

Our district has been banging the gong for YEARS about state aid. Don’t tell me we haven’t, because it’s come up every year at budget time. We are also screwed with the charter school. They are now getting seven million dollars of our budget a year. People all think it’s this great option for those who don’t like our schools. News flash. I know someone who used to work there. Look up some of the things their principal has said. His test scores are better because miraculously somehow a certain population didn’t take the tests. Kids go there and then come back to us in worse academic shape and we have to do more remediation. It’s the dirty little secret no one talks about. We need to fight against the bleeding flow of cash that is going to those kids and taking from our schools.

Fair state aid, FUNDED mandates, and the charter school should be on everyone’s radar.

But now we have a space crisis, and it’s especially bad in the high school. No one will say this publicly, but I will. If we don’t fix this and get additional space voted on in the bond NOW, we will be out of room by 2024. What will happen?

Split sessions.

Half days for high schoolers, with some going in the morning and some in the afternoon. When that happens, everyone will want to sell their houses. Get the hell out of dodge. But guess who will want to buy your house and come to riverhead then?

No one.

Do I want to pay more taxes? Hell no.

I’m a stage four cancer patient who has blown through her kids college savings and has already given up extras simply to save my life. I don’t have extra cash and buy my kids clothes at target, for God’s sakes.

But I know I cant afford to vote no on this bond.

Listen, I WAS going to vote no on the bond that was rolled out a month ago. An elaborate field house was pie in the sky, and although I would love our district to have fancy and pretty things… we just can’t.

Practicality wins.

But here is where I applaud the BOE and district. The outcry was loud, and they went back to the drawing board. They are working overtime to find the best possible proposal that will pass and have reworked and reworked the options. The field house is now out.

Period.

Hallelujah.

The additional building for PPS and the District office has two options. One is with repairs to the thirty year old trailers, and one is a new building. Obviously repairs are cheaper. But what will happen in ten years? We will have then forty year old trailers that will need more improvements. You can’t simply add those departments to a current school building because of safety. You can’t have the public walking in and out of schools. It has to be stand alone. I support trying to get this crisis solved now, but also being forward thinking. No one is going to approve a fancy building for adults in a school district, but a safe building for employees and locals to come to meetings to discuss our schools? I can get behind that.

We also have a big issue to decide. If we add to our 5/6 building, it will be very expensive. A cheaper alternative is to spread the students between two buildings and instead of a 5/6 then 7/8 building, make two middle schools 5-8. Sounds good, right?

Until you have to figure out which kids go where. How do you decide? Have two primary buildings go to one and two to the other? Alphabetical order? A lottery? That won’t work. You have to be sure each school is represented with the same number of kids who receive special services, ELL support, demographics evenly spread. Making class lists is a nightmare each year trying to make them even. Imagine what would happen when parents say they don’t want their kid in the old pulaski, but the newer middle school. We have some hard decisions to make.

Pre k is another problem. Let me tell you, all pre k programs are NOT the same. As a kindergarten teacher, I can tell you which child came from which program. Some are good, and some are not. Throw in kids who never even went to pre-school, and we are already starting school behind the others and at an disadvantage. Some think it’s just pre school, just kindergarten.

It’s not.

If we don’t get kids on level by the end of first grade, studies show they will NEVER catch up. It ain’t nap time anymore, people. You try to make the playing field even with a class full of four and five year olds, all from different backgrounds, languages and poverty levels, with family trauma and stories that keep you up at night. By making pre k our own, we get control. We make sure kids learn what they need and are prepared, start school on a more level field. Build a strong foundation, and the sky is the limit.

People are also playing politics. The town is suddenly interested in code enforcement. Why?

It’s an election year.

Let’s see what happens in November after votes are cast. I guarantee the grandstanding will end. Our townspeople that we elect better get more vocal about state aid. Kicking people out of houses that are crowded is a short term fix. I dont hold much hope in politicians.

Everyone had their own agenda.

My hope is in the children.

My hope is in the PEOPLE.

I brought up the timing of the vote. Seniors fly south for the winter and it looks shady to have a vote in January. There is a reason.

Timing is everything.

By voting in January instead of in May, we get four extra months to get this building started. If we wait, and vote in May, it wouldn’t be able to be open until September 2024. By then, it’s too late. Every second counts, that is how serious this overcrowding is.

People are also confused and say they want more teachers and smaller class sizes. That’s a budget issue. We can’t pierce the 2% budget cap Cuomo put in place.

Cuomo is an asshole.

Put that in your cap, Cuomo.

(I’m totally going to be on a watch list now.)

What will happen when we build these extra classrooms? Will we have money to pay for staff?

Yes.

I’ve been here for twenty two years. I was hired with a huge amount of staff. Many will be ready to retire. Retirement incentives will come, and the salaries will flow to the other end of the scale with new teachers…. if you can find any. We have a huge shortage of subs now because who the hell wants to go into teaching in NY with Cuomo making horrible decisions and teachers being called no good greedy pariahs out for themselves?

People want redistributing and redistricting students to other towns. Redraw town lines and send kids to other districts.

Can you imagine being a Flanders kid and hearing adults saying they want to kick you out of your district and send you elsewhere? Its a racial and class thing. No one is saying to send Riley kids to Shoreham. These lines were drawn years ago. It would be a nightmare and another vote for the town. Think racism is bubbling up now?

The ugly undercurrents about race, class, legal status, poverty… come on people.

Be better.

We sound like the sneetches from Dr Seuss with people pointing out who has stars on their bellies.

Here is another news flash.

I love my Latino/Hispanic families. Most are humble, hard working, kind. They just want us to love their kids like they do. I’ve heard stories of where they come from and cried over situations these kids have experienced. So take your white priveledge and thank your lucky stars you were born here. I cant imagine being a Hispanic in this town right now. The side eyes and prejudice is palpable.

Be human.

Be kind.

Be active and involved and INFORMED.

I suggested instead of loading up PowerPoints and slides, make a video presentation. The explanations and round table yesterday opened my eyes. The truth that was told was needed to be heard.

Get yourself to these bond proposal meetings and listen and learn. Then speak KINDLY and be heard.

They ARE listening. The proof is in the fact that they will be taking out the field house.

I also said riverhead went through a crisis last year with the disgusting acts of one man. Everyone was shocked, ashamed, embarrassed, and kept our heads low.

It’s time to take back our riverhead pride. Get our heads out of the sand and draw a line in the sand.

I’m standing and ready to fight.

My kids are thriving.

THRIVING.

Being surrounded by kids from other cultures and incomes has made them more aware, more empathetic. They are more equipped to enter the real world. Our kids in riverhead are truly a global community. They represent the world.

I am excited by these kids.

It’s the adults that need to learn from them.

I went vocal on the riverhead news review article yesterday and some guy pretty much told me to keep my mouth shut if I didnt know all the facts.

First, he obviously doesn’t know who I am.

Twenty two year employee of this district and have been actively involved in front and behind the scenes.

Second, telling people to shut up won’t help anything. People need to have civil discussions. We fall into snide jabs, name calling, and good people stop speaking up.

(Although it is ok to call Cuomo an ass, in my opinion.)

Civil discussion with respect needs to be had. Stop the finger pointing.

Stop the blame game.

Come to the table, listen, learn…

And please…

Vote yes on the bond.

It’s still being worked on, but I am now confident it will be one that is needed.

For all those angry people who love to call me out on crap, go easy on me. I’m exhausted from chemo and fighting for my life as well as this town I love.

I’m a big girl and can take it… but man, I’m tired. Speak up if you’ve been quiet and agree with me. It’s lonely where I am.

Tell others about how amazing riverhead was, is and can be.

I do all the time.

That’s it.

I’m done.

It’s 4:01 am now, and I’m going to take off my

child and town advocate hat and put back on my manifesting healing hat and try to get some sleep.

But first I’m praying for all of us.

May we come together and work for the town and all of the people in it.

May we remember we all the human race, and walk forward with kindness.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Amen

Three a.m. thoughts…

Last night I sat in amazement at the blessings coming my way.

I was in the couch, exhausted. My morning began with an 8 am faculty meeting. I’m usually at school by 8 am every morning, and need that 45 minutes to prep for the day, which meant I started the day behind schedule before it even began. The meeting ended, I ran to the cafeteria to grab my breakfasts for my kids who need to eat at school, then just barely beat the first child to my door. My Teaching assistant was pulled to cover a meeting, which means it was my job alone to feed fourteen children who need breakfast, get the others started on appropriate and meaningful morning work, help everyone unpack, take lunch orders, enter it into the computer, take attendance, check folders for notes, and check the emotional state of every child coming in and hug those who need a better start to their day.

All in twenty five minutes…

While nauseous from chemo and sweating like crazy from induced menopause and detoxing.

For fun, let’s throw in my new assistant superintendent popping in to meet me for the first time in my silver wig.

However, she jumped right in and stayed and helped. That’s the test of a good administrator. She passed with flying colors.

We all went out the garden to show her how amazing our community is with all of the flower and straw bale donations, and we did some breathing and yoga sun salutations. We also saved our scarecrows and brought them in before the big storm. Teaching empathy, even to scarecrows, sets the stage for a good life. She made a video on Twitter about her visit and it was nice to see my morning through someone else’s eyes. Apparently it only feels hectic and crazy on the inside.

Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves.

I grabbed my puppets and did a big puppet show reenacting the three billy goats gruff, we learned how to form the letter b, played a math game with dice and some of my erasers from the target dollar spot, then went to the smoke house.

I’ve been going to visit the riverhead smoke house for over twenty two years, and it’s so important what these volunteers do. They told a story about a little nine year old girl five years ago who saved her family five years ago because of what she learned in the smoke house. As it turns out, the baby from the story? Her baby brother? He is now five years old… and in my class. He got to show the children the article that is framed inside the trailer, and the children got to meet the the brother of a real life superhero… who saved lives at nine years old.

By the time the day ended, my energy bucket was empty again. I ran home, put together dinner in containers and packed it for rob, drove Morgan and Quinn to his office and then picked up Maddie. Rob went to town hall for a ceremony for the riverhead tomcats, of which we received a certificate thanking us for being a host family.

Then he was off to a Latin trip meeting and finally Boy Scouts . He started his day bringing the kids to school early, as Quinn is now in sixth grade orchestra as a fifth grader and has morning practice. If you think I’m busy, poor rob has had to pick up a lot of my slack. He is amazing.

Maddie did her homework while I slept, and then?

Magic happened again.

Riverhead local shared the gofundme link, the spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and Denise Civiletti wrote some amazing things. I had her daughter twenty four years ago in kindergarten. Once you are in my class, you are always in my heart. I’m so lucky to have so many families still in my life.

Then I got an email from Stony Brook, staying that riverhead building supply contacted them and will be making a donation in my name to dr stopeck. I worked at RBS twenty seven years ago or so, and made some amazing friends while I was there. It may have become a huge corporation in the years since, but they still have a small town heart.

Then?

My friend who owns Lucharitos has decided that at our school craft fair on Saturday, all proceeds from his taco truck will go to Dr Stopeck as well. So this Saturday… let’s all eat some tacos while supporting my school.

It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year. We have so many amazing class baskets and a chinese auction you just have to see to believe. We have vendors and activities for the whole family. It’s from 10-4, and I’ll be there from 12:00 until I get too tired to stay and volunteer anymore. Come and see me, get a taco, and support my school and my oncologist.

Today is another long day, as I’ve been asked to sit on a committee with some teachers to give input on the bond. I know it’s a hot topic, with lots of passions running high. We live in the age of the 2% tax cap. The bond is the only viable way we will be able to solve this population and space crisis. And believe me, it’s a crisis. People have become very vocal about going around and rounding up people in overcrowded houses and illegal housing. I don’t think people realize that should children be kicked out of housing, they become homeless. Think of the trauma those children will now have. Teaching academics is hard enough, then throw on the emotional and social support services we have to provide. There is also a law called the McKinney vento act, where if a child becomes homeless, the school district still has to educate them and bus them from whatever shelter they are placed in, no matter how far away. Think it’s expensive now, our bus bill? Let’s add transportation from shelters in other towns to the bill.

These are children.

Children who I love.

Teacher hearts are wide open. We don’t say, “I only love you if you’re legal.” Every teacher I know and work with loves each child no … matter… what. We don’t see generic faces or make blanket statements. We see children. Every day. And we love these children, we fight for these children.

We fight for ALL children.

Our jobs have become infinitely harder as we have multiple languages in our rooms now, with poverty at an all time high. We don’t choose who enters our rooms. But we chose this profession, and with it, comes love and compassion… for all.

There has to be a compassionate way to make sure everyone is living in safe environments without the angry mob mentality I am seeing.

It’s making people ugly.

I get it, and I’m a taxpayer.

I’m also a Christian.

Do agree with everything I see on this bond?

No.

Will I speak up?

Yes.

I’ll add my thoughts on what should be cut out to make it passable in my eyes.

Will I keep the children on my heart and in my words as I ty to help find a way to save our district?

Always.

Children are our future.

People have such preconceived notions about children who aren’t the same color or have the same background. Let me tell you, I see the future. Every time I go to the hospital, I’m cared for by people from all backgrounds, all colors, all languages. I look at my little five year olds, and locked away in their tiny hearts and minds just may be the cure for cancer.

Let’s be forward thinkers and move with common sense and compassion.

The beauty shown to me by this town the past month has been overwhelming. I used to hate October and all the pinkwashing. I took it back this year, and the town has stepped up behind me.

We can do great things when we move as one, with a common goal in sight. And at the center should always be kindness.

I’m excited for the second half of the month. Madame swoosh is flying in from France this weekend and I’ll be making an appointment to see her and her daughter. She always seems to show up when I need some energy the most. I’ll be seeing my friend jennifer Williamson at the craft fair as well, as she will have a booth.

Swoosh swoosh swoosh, cancer begone.

It’s three a.m. and I’m hoping to somehow get back to sleep. Until then, I’m praying for my Boy Scout family as they continue to wait for justice for andrew. I dont know how the lawyer and the man who drove drunk and killed a beautiful little boy can sleep at night. I’m covering the family and scouts in my love, every night at three am. Justice for andrew and troop 161 will be coming soon.

I’m praying for my town to find compassion and solutions. The grandstanding and pointing fingers and politics and mob mentality of “round them up and kick them out” needs to stop. Be human.

I am praying for my friend Kelly who had breast reconstruction surgery yesterday from her triple negative surgery. If you’re on Instagram, check out her “talk is cheap” page. My friends Nalie, Stephanie, and Brittney are also in my prayers, as they are attending a release and myofascia retreat and share their information with me.

I’m also praying for you, my friend.

Whoever reads these words, may the Lord bless you and keep you safe, warm, loved and healthy.

May today be full of compassion, kindness, and research breakthroughs.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri