Pep Talk

Teacher, Teacher, Can't Tou SeeAt the beginning of last school year, I posted an article on my blog titled “Pep Talk.” This 2015-2016 school year, I want to repost that article, adding a few more points.


As our children journey back to school this year, let us not forget to give them a huge hug and/or kiss while assuring them we are their best advocates, and spokespersons just long as they follow school rules, respect themselves and others, and follow the laws of the land.


I believe in my heart-of-hearts if we instill in our children there are rules to be followed, perhaps our children can and will avoid adverse issues unawares that could surface along their crossings.


Our children must also learn empathy, and care for one another. Using their manners by simply saying words such as “excuse me” “thank you” and the like will soften spirits.


When our children are not with us, but in the trusting hands of school officials, we must allow our children to soar with independence while becoming responsible citizens in our society who will one day be charged with making decisions in our stead.


Remind our children to choose their company wisely, not become followers but leaders. Let us remind them if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t right. Tell our children it is okay to move themselves out, or away from situations that aren’t good for their well-being. They must trust their “gut feelings.” So, when peer pressure lurks their way, it is okay to stand tall and say “no.”


Tell children to “keep their heads to the grind” meaning – listen to your teachers, get organized and remain that way.  Remain studious, ask questions, and get their assignments completed in timely fashions.


Let us not forget to closely monitor our children’s coming and goings. Ask questions about their day, possible homework, or just ask, “Is there anything I need to know?” You’d be surprised at their relief that you asked, and what you may learn from them.


Let us give our children a “pep talk” today and throughout the school year, and let us pray for their safety, strength, and positive growth in right directions.



~ See more helpful back to school information at:

Wipe Out Bullying: Is it Possible?

My Child is Being Bullied: Oh, I Don’t Think So!



Microaggressions: What’s Inside You – Will Come Out

Cailee and Kelly eating icecream at James Coney IslandI distinctively recall a very casual conversation I had with a co-worker one day. As she stood before me expressing her disgust and frustration due to her daughter’s latest inauspicious actions, without thinking, I announced, “How trifling!” No sooner I said those words; I wished I could stuff them back down my throat. Later, I asked myself, How could I?


I apologized immensely assuring her I meant no harm, and I should not have judged her daughter. My co-worker stood calmly looking me straightly in the eyes and said, “That’s okay. What’s inside you will come out.” I began a strained attempt to quantify my statement by explaining what I meant. By now, I’m sure my words became deafening, and she could care less for furtherance of my babbling.


I can’t tell you how badly I felt. Just imagine. How could I judge another’s daughter, for I have a daughter of my own? Furthermore, I’ve always pledged not to utter ill words of another mother’s child.


I can tell you this; however, that scene has never left my mind. I learned something vital that day. I carry it with me often, and I reflect on those words more than you’ll ever imagine. That one experience has allowed me not only to mirror that moment countless times, but has taught me to become more cautious before opening my mouth.


Just recently, I read Dr. Dana Leeman’s July 30, 2015 article, titled: “Everyday Stings: The Power and Pain of Microaggressions” and suddenly that ill-timed scenario with my co-worker trickled back to mind.


Dr. Leeman’s definition of microagressions is as follows: subtle, often nuanced, verbal or behavioral slights, snubs, or insults that can be intentional, but are often unintentional. They communicate negative, pejorative, and sometimes hostile messages to others solely based on their membership in a marginalized group.


Dr. Leeman (2015) goes on to say, “We are products of our context and socialization, and we are not above saying or doing insensitive things…”


With this in mind, I’d like to reflect a minute on what my co-worker said to me that day. “What’s inside you will come out.” Just think on these words for just a moment, asking how is it we learn the “stings” which causes pain and hurt to others? How did we usurp and develop traces, tinges and shades of miffs which offend others that are embodied within our hearts, and thought processes? As you reflect on these questions for just a bit, I’ll declare I must concur with Dr. Leeman. We are indeed products of our context and socialization. We are what we’ve observed, learned and absorbed from our first role-models (our parents and/or caretakers) who influenced us from infancy. What a loaded statement, right?


What I believe, nonetheless, is this: If we truly desire to make positive changes for the better where microagressive actions (whether verbal or in deed), we must begin working with our children from the cradle, early and often. Just imagine the many years one has had learning and embedding what has been learned by our role-models/first teachers. We are like sponges cramming what our home lives imparted, shown and trained.


Parents and caregivers must teach children social skills, social etiquette, care and respect for others. What about this statement? — Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. When we teach our children to carefully nurture and give attention to their actions, we also teach lessons in remorseful conducts, manners and attitudes. Are we perfect? No way! But practices of compassion, sensitivity and consideration for others produce consistency, and breeds socially appropriate preferences while allowing for steady uniformity of goodness towards others (words and deeds).


Home is where the inception (the burning torch) begins. Parents must teach cultural sensitivity at home, and then pass the social skills torch to school officials. Educators must command and take ownership of the burning torch while entertaining passion for culturally-responsive pedagogy. Legislators and policy makers must allow educators to include and incorporate culturally-responsive curriculum within lesson planning. When this occurs, we will become kinder, more loving toward one another, and I’ll be willing to strongly anticipate microagressive behaviors will lessen.

Same-Sex Marriage

diversityWith the recent passage of same-sex marriage there’s been lots of hype, tension and barking back and forth between those who support same-sex marriage, and those who do not. Some have gone as far as deleting friends from Facebook. Why do this?


I want to go on record stating I do not believe in same-sex marriage. Due to my study of the bible and the interpretation I’ve gained from my study, I feel same-sex is not God’s will. My goal is to obey God’s will, and become Christ-like. But before you delete my message, please read further.


I want to also go on record informing all who read this post that I am NOT perfect. I have sinned, and there is no doubt I’ll sin again. While I’m not at all proud of this latter statement, I will not tell falsehoods.


My goal as a Saint, however, is to strive for perfection — although I am full of sin, I want to mirror my life after Christ. I want to one day be with God. Yes, I realize there are some among us who do not believe in God, but I do. That is my right, correct?


Even though I (a huge I) do not believe that same-sex marriage is God’s will, I CAN and WILL LOVE my sisters and brother who believe they are correct in their actions. WHY? I want my sisters and brothers who believe in same-sex marriage to in turn LOVE ME just as I love them.


It is my hope that WE can discuss topics (however marginal) using friendly dialogue/discourse. We must not demean, bully, accuse each other of bullying (because we are not in agreement on certain topics), nor should we name call. What good is all this tension and hatred amongst each other? Can’t we agree to disagree and still stand firm on our convictions?


If I believe I am correct in my stance, how can I show myself Christ-like and share with my brothers and sisters when demeaning them? Why should they listen to me after degradation and bullying? Likewise, if my brothers and sisters demean me, how can they accuse me of bullying? Aren’t we both wrong in our actions?


So, let me ask you? Can we talk and share various topics and still love one another in love and peace? I certainly hope so. Although we may have vast differences, along the way we may find similarities.


Let us STOP the HATE and meanness! Let us ALL study the bible and show ourselves approved. No one has to listen to my words, search for God’s will via the Bible.


Love is the key to Diversity!



Meet Author, Madi Preda, and “Little Martians Learn to Count”

Madi's Front_Cover png
“A parent’s work is to create the person she or he will become. Education starts from birth and never ending.”
 Madi Preda
Little Martians Learn to Count is a book created to appeal to the infinite curiosity of a child. Starting from the principle every single kid is an individual learner, the author wrote this book aiming to help parents make math more lovable, while children achieve their fullest intellectual potential.
By giving the child independence within limits, educators and parents can create worksheets based on the book, plan thematic lessons, and stimulate preschool and kindergarten children’s creativity. Author Preda’s goal is to attract and make this book easy for children to learn and achieve certain objectives.

Engage young children in Everyday Mathematics!
About the Author
Madi's author photo
Madi Preda was born and raised in Romania under Dracula myth and communist regime. For many years Preda worked as an accountant in Galati, and then moved to Greece, in 2007.  After seven years Preda returned back to Romania, and now lives and works in Brasov.
Preda’s first book, How To Promote and Market Your Book explores how marketing and public relations (PR) can differentiate an author from others in attracting and retaining more readers.
Madi's PosterPurchase “Little Martians Learn to Count” free for a limited  time  on January 31 – February 1, 2015.
See 5* review from author, Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.
Follow Madi Preda
Authors PR – Madi Preda
How to Promote and Market Your Book



teacherIf we make the effort, we have the power to “wipe out” bullying, but due to recent statistics, and if there is doubt, we can at least think on the lines of decreasing bullying.  You may not realize it, but many children either know a bully, know someone who has been bullied, has been bullied, or are a bully bystander (one who knows or observes bullying done to another, but chooses to remain silent and/or does not intervene).


Please know how you can help. Here are a few suggestions to consider

  • If your child is a bystander, talk to your child about “why” he/she chooses this route. Could it be your child fears if he/she speaks up, the bully may turn on them? Can you give your child suggestions of how to intervene without putting him/herself in danger?  What about yelling out “Help!” or “Stop!” Your child can also feel free to go for help, or report incidences anonymously.
  • Talk to your child daily about his/her school day. Ask if there is anything you should know. Help your child identify what is and isn’t bullying.

If you feel your child IS a bully — Ensure your child realizes how hurting others feel. Ask how they’d feel if “the shoe was on the other foot.” Talk to your child about feelings, consideration of others, how to speak kindly to others, how to have empathy for friends and school mates, how to play fair and take turns when at play, or playing a board game. These skills help build positive social skills. Go ahead and role-play with your child. Get as serious as you need to, so they will understand feelings, remorsefulness and care for others.

  •  Recognize the signs of bullying.  Your child may not tell you he/she is being bullied for fear of retaliation from the bully, or they may be ashamed. Please note a few signs to ponder.


Loss of sleep

Falling grades

Often complaining of stomach aches, or headaches


Complaints of going to school

Going to school very early/late with intent to avoid the bully

Personal belongings missing, but they have said they lost it (the Bully actually took it)


Knowing the signs of bullying can help you intervene sooner.


  • School yourself on the universal definition of bullying, and ensure your child knows what bullying is and isn’t. Some children may believe what they are experiencing is not bullying, but a part of childhood endurance. This is farther from the truth. There is a difference between bullying and “horse playing” with a friend.


Bullying is defined:  Use of physical force, verbal threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively

dominate others. The behavior is usually intentional, repeated and habitual.  


  • Have a meeting of the minds with your family. Create rules. Inform your child you are their voice and best advocate against bullying. Ensure your child realizes you will “drop whatever you’re doing” to intervene. Be sure your children realize you are “all ears.”  Your plan is to talk with and listen to them daily.
  •  Are you an example and positive influence? Please don’t go through all these steps in vain. Your children should realize you are sincere, and they should always observe you as a non-bully as well.


I hope these tips help. Please let me know should you have questions I can answer about bullying and the prevention of bullying.


Suicidal Thoughts? Questioning Phase Series III

Reaching out to children who are suicidal is a large task, but someone has to do it, so why not YOU.

Those who aren’t skilled in this area are at a loss for words and interactive strategies. When caught in this stage, we’re left having to think quickly, but cautiously.


We must first learn what suicidal stage the person may be in prior to determining the questioning stage (if there is time).


If there IS time, we must also learn how to question a child who has suicidal intentions.


I am not sure if asking directly about suicidal attempts is always good for ALL children and/or situations, but getting right to the point may “be a good call” for some children depending on where they are within this phase. If so, just “go for it” and ask the question – “Are you thinking about suicide?”


If you need a more subtle “walking on egg shell” attempt, you may try these questions/phrases:

  • I’ve noticed you don’t talk a lot here lately. What’s going on? What’s on your mind?
  • I’ve noticed you aren’t eating your food like you use to. How are you feeling?
  • I’ve noticed you aren’t hanging out with your friends here lately. What’s going on? How is …. doing? (Ask questions about each friend and your child’s relationship with each).
  • I’ve noticed you aren’t going outside to play. Has anything happened we need to talk about?
  • What happened to your beautiful smile, I haven’t seen it lately?
  • Tell me. Is there something on your mind?
  • How are things going with…….? (Select a recent topic you are aware of) Is there something I need to know? How can I help you with this issue?
  • I know about ………. (if you need to let your child realize you found out about something) Let’s talk about it, okay?
  • Do you feel sometimes there isn’t much hope?
  • Do you feel like giving up, or hurting yourself?
  • Have you ever done something so embarrassing you felt like you wanted to kill yourself? We can get through it because nothing is that bad, trust me.
  • Do you ever feel like you’ve made a mistake that got you so angry you want to give up? Let’s talk about it.
  • Do you ever think about what life would be like for your family, siblings, if you weren’t around? Let’s talk about how important you are to the family.
  • Have you ever gone to bed thinking you don’t ever want to wake up?


Note: Always let your child realize the important role they play in your life and the life of your family.

When children are suicidal, there are usually signs, however subtle. The child is very sad and more than likely wants your attention. Children want to know their self-worth. Let us hear their cry.


Illustration: Compliments of Kelly A. Vasquez

7th Grade Performing Arts Students, 12/2014

Art Piece Title: Tear Drops


Suicidal: Warning Signs – Series II

Suicide appears to be on the rise these days, so it would behoove us to be on alert for possible warning signs.


Remember to remain close to your child as you guide them through life’s journey. There will be times of insecurity as they attempt to “find” themselves and their “plight” in life.


Ask your child about his/her day at school, church, social gatherings


Who are their friends? What sort of relationship do they have with friends? Do they have similar interests with friends? Are their friends truly their friends?


Build your child’s self-worth, Use Self-fulfilling Prophecy techniques and Affirmation Skills early and often.


Peer Pressure is a “monster” during Teen and Adolescent years!


List of Subtle warning signs:

Failing grades, “class clown” missing class, skipping school

Sadness more often than not

Sense of hopelessness

Activity level appears sluggish

Change in sleeping habits

Disappearing from family gatherings back to bedroom, or sudden withdrawals

Moodiness – outbursts, temper tantrums, edginess

Possible use of drugs, alcohol

Note: Even at the subtle level, do not take lightly – Talk to your child


List of Serious warning signs:

Any previous suicidal attempts

Any drugs in room, restroom left behind by child

Is child asking for drugs to be used for pain such as headache?

Any weapons, rope, other tools seen around home or bedroom

Observance of child giving away sentimental items

Was child making goals at one time, but now does not?

Any joking around about taking his/her own life (this may be to test you)

Any use of suicidal words in journals, tweets, Facebook, other social networks?

Note: Take immediate action



Illustration Compliments of: Kelly A. Vasquez, 7th Grade Performing Arts Student

Art Piece Titled: Insecure Spirits is propped on an easel

Description: The child is peering up at the evil spirits yelling out at him/her with a tear droplet falling.

Date: December 24, 2014

Suicide: Procedures that May Help Parents Stop It!

Suicide: Procedures that May Help Parents Stop It!

Series I


 Maya's ArtOn November 30, 2014, my birthday to be exact, I received the devastating news of a young cousin who took his own life – Yes, Suicide. This young cousin was only 22 years old.


The news of this tragedy has made our family realize the importance of taking notice, reaching out and taking the extra time with youngsters in our family. My goal is to also help you avoid a tragedy such as this one.


It has hit me that perhaps it would be a great idea to post series of helpful tactics and strategies that might just help families (especially parents) avoid what my family and I are currently experiencing (insurmountable sadness), so I’m offering a few blog series on this very topic – SUICIDE PREVENTION.


I’ll begin this series with a set of PROCEDURES


The first thing a parent would want to do is, of course, protect the student.  If parents are aware that a child is talking about suicide, they must contact a mental health professional, especially if the child is showing signs of suicidal tendencies or behaviors, or using threatening remarks.


  • Parents should closely monitor and supervise the child until he/she can actually go to, or meet with the mental health professional.


  • Parents will want to remain calm as they speak to their child about what’s troubling them.


  • Parents will want to contact the school (teachers, counselors, administrators) in an effort to seek/gather more information about their child. Ask questions such as:


                                 Description of their child’s behaviors                                 

                                 Were there any changes in the child’s behavior?

                                 Any talk of suicide comments, gestures, or acts?


  • Parents should also be aware of anything they’ve notice about their child and jot these notes down. This includes behaviors at home, around others (family members: cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents).


  • Does the child have close friends? If so, find out if the other child’s parents would mind if you talked to their child in an attempt to determine what they noticed, or have been told.


  • Parents will want to think about family changes such as stressors (new marriages, divorces, financial difficulties – just to name a few).


  • Parents will want to reexamine health and mental health history of their child, if any.


  • Parents will want to speak to mental health professional and outline  levels of response plan


Note: These procedures are outlined for parents, but can be tailored for school officials or anyone needing this information. There are so many variables to consider and a number of actions that can be considered.


Photo Complimentary of Maya Steamer:


Maya is a 9th grade student at Victory Early College. Her art piece is titled: “It Hurts”  Maya says this: “My art is of a girl who gets bullied and talked about. She has recently been beaten up and wants to spread awareness about bullying. It hurts!” 


Maya submitted her art work to represent Crime Stoppers in the Community. She is one of the 2014 Art Contest Winners: Maya’s work was completed beautifully with oil pastels, and will be displayed at Crime Stoppers.


Carving Off the Excess Baggage

Carving Off the Excess Baggage

As we journey through life, we meet several people who we feel match our personalities. We believe we have things in common, whether it’s our children, recreational events, socio-economic statuses, or you can fill in the blank, so the relationship starts out great. As time moves on however, we learn we are exact opposites, and/or perhaps do not enjoy each other’s company as previously thought (or hoped).


If we find ourselves in situations like the one explained, it’s okay to let go and move on. We do not have to load ourselves down with negative baggage that doesn’t help us improve our lives, or remain in relationships that tear up down mentally and physically.


Let me share three examples with you:


Example 1: I had a friend who constantly took over the conversation. She was a non-stop chatter box who knew everything (actually she is highly intelligent), and often wanted to give advice (who doesn’t like receiving advice?), but the problem is she lacked the skill of listening, and constantly said, “You should do this…, or have you thought about doing this…? I mean, I don’t mind an occasional word of advice, but each and every conversation no matter what the topic at-hand was she did this.


This acquaintance appeared to be highly skilled at not letting me in on our conversations. She actually said, “Ummm” to tie her words over when thoughts escaped her, so I sat most of the time not being able to comment on the topic, and this led to me constantly forgetting any thoughts I felt needing to be interjected. This girl totally monopolized the entire conversation.  No kidding.


Example 2: There were other times she’d begin a conversation like this, “You may not realize this …” or “You may not have heard of this before, but….”


One time I couldn’t take it any longer and finally asked her if she realized this habit. I told her in a kind way that doing this wasn’t kosher and it sounds as if she doesn’t believe anyone else realizes or could have experienced all the wonderful things she’s experienced in her life.


Well, her actions really “got on my nerves” so finally I spoke up and said, “You know, it takes two people sharing in a conversation. If I’m just listening to you, this really isn’t a conversation, but one-sided talk.” Of course she disagreed with me, but I can tell you that I actually clocked her one time.


Example 3: Whenever I tried to interject, or get my thoughts into the conversation, this acquaintance begin to speak loudly and drown my voice out.


Example 4: Another annoying habit my friend had was calling my cell phone leaving a message, but talking until the phone timed out, or beeped. Yes, she used up all the playing time leaving long, drawn-out and detailed messages. I can see this happening on occasion, but she did this every single time I wasn’t able to take the call. Do you know the type?


What I surmised after speaking to this acquaintance each time was a nagging headache. She was always right and always had to offer me ways to do things differently or what she felt was a much better way of handling things.


This is how I chose to handle the situation:


I believe it is not only fair, but right to share your thoughts and feelings about problematic issues with your friend(s). Sharing will either make, or break the relationship, and TRUE friends share the good and bad, right?


The sad part is this, my friend wasn’t willing to listen and/or make changes for the betterment of our continued friendship, so I did what I needed to do for ME. I ended our friendship on this level. She may be better as an occasional acquaintance then a close friend.


I must admit, I have never had to end a friendship in this manner. It was very uncomfortable, but very much needed and a long time coming, since I dealt with this for over 4.5 years.


It’s okay to move on. If someone in your inner circle is constantly negative or annoying and you’re left feeling stressed out with a headache after talking to them, it can’t be a healthy relationship for either of you.


Have you experienced similar situations? If so, how did you handle it?


Are Biracial Children Damaged?

Are Biracial Children Damaged?

by Cherry Vasquez, Ph.D.

 Kelly Vasquez 2

Approximately seven years ago, I was engaged in, what I thought was a friendly conversation with a group of ladies at my work. As mothers, we often talked about daily activities our children were engaged in. Our conversations were personal, easy stress relievers, and generally ended with much laughter among the group.


When I ended my “story for the day” on the subject of my daughter’s latest activity, one of the ladies turned and said, “Well, she’s going to have psychological problems anyway.”


I looked at her, startled, and asked what she meant by that. “Well, she’s biracial,” she continued,” and all biracial children end up with psychological problems.”


This woman was the first person who’d ever made such an asinine statement to me, but unfortunately not the last. What she claimed never crossed my mind. Why would it?


My daughter is a charming, well-rounded, culturally balanced, beautiful biracial girl who excels academically, and–I might add she’s one very fine pianist. She has friends of all races and heritages, and she loves people. In fact, whenever someone refers to my daughter as one ethnic group over another, she’ll quickly inform she’s neither one over the other, but both (African-American and Hispanic), thus bi-racial. She loves all of who she is, and is very proud of both her heritages.


I must admit, I have heard of and read stories about biracial children and adults alleging they’ve encountered problems fitting into groups, but I truly hadn’t spent any time at all pondering over this subject where my own child is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I did my homework as a parent; I made sure to do my part to balance knowledge of both heritages and pointedly built her character, self-esteem and self-worth. This is mainly because self-esteem challenges, good or bad, have to do with any parenting and environmental situations, and not based on one’s racial make-up.


Because I happen to be an African-American mother of a biracial child whose father is Hispanic, I felt if there are those who declare just because a child is biracial they will automatically have psychological problems; I needed to set a platform about diversity and bullying in motion.


The truth of the matter is, children have it hard these days no matter what their ethnic background. Psychological problems stem from a child’s own lack of self-worth, not from the color of the child’s skin. If anything, the problem stems from adults’ bigotry and small-mindedness. In twenty-first century America, there is no room for biases and division.


Multicultural education is the key to diversity and an important factor for decreasing bullying behaviors. We need to stop making assumptions about children based on what they look like and allow them the chance they deserve to grow into healthy, well-adjusted individuals.


Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. is the owner of Books That Sow: Strength, Character & Diversity, DBA. Her collection of books builds character, self-worth, and empowers all children, whether monoculture, biracial of multiracial. Visit her website for more information: We are proud to have her on Project RACE’s Advisory Board.