Perhaps It Was An Omen

Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus (in front of the class) and me in our seminar class.

Spiral notebook. ✓

New pencils. ✓

Planner. ✓

Pink rubber eraser. ✓

A folder with pockets. ✓

Highlighters. ✓

New outfit. ✓

Some things don’t change. I still have this checklist today.

I was always excited at the prospect of starting a new school year. Ever since I read a book about a girl who walked to school on the sidewalk past the white picket fences in her neighborhood as the leaves were falling, I’ve always loved the thought of going back to school, seeing friends, and learning something new.

Perhaps it was an omen of what life had in store for me.

Strangely enough, I was one of those kids who relished going back to school. Don’t get me wrong—I loved summertime—but I was also excited to reconnect with people and discover something new.

In high school, when I took Creative Writing with Ms. Susek, things began to connect for me. I realized then just how much I loved writing and storytelling, even though I’d been writing since Junior High (yes, that’s what we used to call Middle School). Ms. Susek helped open my mind even further and fostered a love of writing that I still have today.

I loved the smell of books, going to the library, decorating the lockers for Homecoming, and hanging out with my friends.

High school is a time in your life where worries can be small—the biggest concern is getting the grades good enough to get into a college you might want to spend four years attending, playing a sport and having fun with it, cheering for your favorite teams, participating in clubs that float your boat, and maybe working a little part-time job. I remember a team of us creating the Homecoming float on our street. It was bonding time–a time for fun.

The essence of my love for high school didn’t translate too well into college, where, for my first year, my dad would tell people I was majoring in partying. It wasn’t until I changed my major from Business Administration to Mass Communication at the end of my Freshman year that I fell in love with learning again. In hindsight, I look at that Freshman year as a true learning experience. Once I figured out what major suited me best and then secured a part-time job at the Baltimore Orioles my sophomore year, I truly started on my path to success.

Some kids have the first-day-of-school jitters; I had the first-day-of-school excitement. And perhaps that’s why, after a stint working for two companies and owning my own business, I found my way to a job in education. As a professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University, I continue to learn every day.

And I’m always excited by the notion of the first day of school.

Omen or not, I still get pretty excited about beginning again and learning…

Always learning.


P.S. Thanks to my friend Mike for the idea for this post. 🙂

20841993_10155523297888954_3655226197486168242_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.



8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break

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Yesterday, students at Stevenson University celebrated their graduation at our ceremonies in Maryland. As a professor in the department of Business Communication, I was thrilled to see our graduates walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. They worked hard the last four years, and it paid off.

As for my colleagues and me, that means we are done teaching until August (unless some are teaching a summer course). While we certainly have preparations to make for the Fall 2017 semester (and I will be teaching a newly created course as well that requires a lot of work), we are free to do some things we want to do during our time off. I’ve compiled a list of the 8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break having spoken to countless teachers who enjoy the down time between the school year. Here are 8 things teachers may do during their summer break:

  1. Clean: The summer months provide ample time to get to those projects that have been sorely neglected. For example, next week I will be tackling the dissection of my garage. We’ve lived in our home for 4 years, and it’s time to do some major cleaning—the kids have grown, and we no longer have a need for toys, old sports equipment, and certain memorabilia. Cleaning out offices and closets are also high on the list of summer projects.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 10.56.33 AM
  2. Read: During the semesters or school year, we grade a lot of written work, and we bring a lot of that home with us, which leaves little time to read for fun…just ask my book club; I barely have time to finish some of the books we choose throughout the year. Summer reading means we can immerse ourselves into our own pleasures, which includes books we want to read and books we need to read. There is nothing better than catching up on a few good books.
  3. Travel: My colleague, Heather, is off to Italy; others are heading to the Outer Banks; our family is gearing up for another trip to Hilton Head with a stop in Charleston. My husband and I are planning our 20th anniversary trip. Summer is the best time for teachers with children to travel—no one misses school days as everyone is off. Traveling allows us to decompress, de-stress, and relax in a location we have selected. Whether it’s a long vacation or short day trips, travel allows us to become connected to people and places in the most fascinating ways.
  4. Write: Summer allows us time to write, especially for those of us who have to present at conferences, research our discipline, and publish works as part of our academic careers. It also allows us time to write creatively—especially for those of us who have a creative spirit and write on the side.
  5. Exercise: It’s true. I find I have much more limited time to work out during the school year as I have that responsibility along with the responsibility of taking care of my family. In the summer, there is no excuse for not squeezing in a workout, a long walk, a bike ride, or a swim at the pool. Making time to spend on our health and well-being is important, and summer is great time to start making strides towards better health.DSC_0139
  6. Garden: I was talking to my colleague Roger yesterday before graduation ceremonies, and he was telling me about how he couldn’t wait to begin tackling his garden. He, like many others, enjoy the serenity gardening brings us. It’s also a great way to get a little exercise and tend to nature and see the beautiful results of your labor as flowers bloom and veggie and fruit plants provide you with fresh offerings right from your yard.
  7. Reconnect: Being a teacher doesn’t leave a lot of time for social interactions simply because our work and family life commitments can be time consuming, both inside and outside of the classroom. Summer offers teachers time to reconnect with neighbors and friends at neighborhood functions, barbecues, pools, clubs, or at adult socials.
  8. Indulge: Summer provides teachers the time to indulge in our favorite hobbies—and that can involve anything! It could mean attending baseball games, making pottery, taking photographs, running, or painting. It’s important to have hobbies, and the summer months offer teachers time to reconnect with some of their interests and talents.

I know I haven’t hit them all, but I think I’ve covered some of the main things teachers get excited to do during the summer months. If I’ve missed something, please let me know, and truly, HAVE A GREAT SUMMER, FELLOW TEACHERS!

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.


Procrastination Doesn’t Pay


As a college educator, I can certainly tell you with certainty that procrastination doesn’t pay. I see it every day—sometimes getting started on the task is actually more difficult for some than executing the task itself.

The truth is, people think procrastination is about managing time. However, it’s much more complex than that. People underestimate how much time a certain task will take.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-8-26-08-amAnother fallacy is that people think procrastination is just about putting off a task. It’s not. It’s also about being late to meetings, events, interviews, or parties; not paying your bills on time; or even something that can be good for you, like taking your paycheck to the bank. These are all forms of procrastination.

The very real truth is that procrastination is a lifestyle choice.

I’ve had students tell me that they wrote a paper the night before it’s due, and they are proud of its outcome. While the paper may be okay (or not), the reality is this: think how much better it could have been if more time had been spent on it. The same is true for tasks we must do at work—sometimes we need to plan for more time to attack that particular project or report. One such tip might be to use a planner and work backwards to account for the time needed to do something well. Seeing the plan on paper may help jump start what needs to get done and keep the project on track.

In the end, preparation and not being afraid to get started on something count a lot. Deciding NOT to procrastinate has the potential to propel you toward success, and it has a greater chance of making you feel wonderful about what you’ve done or produced.




The 5:30 A.M. Wake-Up Call


I won’t lie: I’ve sort of been dreading the beginning of this fall’s school year for one primary reason:

The 5:30 a.m. wake-up call.

Well, it’s not actually a call, because I don’t live in a hotel and ask for the wake-up from the front desk. It comes in the form of my iPhone alarm, and it always awakens me from the deepest sleep.

And did I happen to mention that I’m not a morning person? At all?

Nevertheless, with two kids in high school who both catch the bus at 6:30 a.m., I decided it was finally time for us all to be on the same schedule. If they’re going to go out the door at 6:25 a.m. to meet the bus, I figured I should just leave around the same time and get to campus early. Both of my kids have after-school activities, and moms, if you’re like me, we know we have to hang our “taxicab” sign out as soon as work ends for us. We end up being the shuttle, the taxi, and the kids’ personal Uber driver. Actually, I’m the un-Uber, because all moms are uncool when you have to drive your kid and his/her friends around, especially if your kid has a driver’s permit but isn’t quite eligible to drive yet. Then you’re doubly un-Uber, and no amount of trying to be cool with the friends will help.

I have no doubt that if the Beatles wrote the song today, with a little persuasion, we Mothers-of-the-World might be able to persuade them to change the lyrics from “I’m the taxman” to “I’m the taximom.”

Mom's taxi

And the taximom gets really tired at the end of the day, especially after the 5:30 a.m. thing that should henceforth be known simply as “the un-godly hour,” especially to those of us who have #ihatemornings disease. This sickness can be cured, but only if you wake up and get your butt moving. Every day. For the rest of the year.


There’s another cure: drown yourself in good, highly-caffeinated coffee. Nothing like getting that heart pumping first thing in the morning.

Raise that coffee cup, Moms—it’s going to be a long school year.

More Caffeine

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

Feel free to connect on Instagram @stephverni or on Twitter @stephverni.


Why We Should Stop Using the Phrase “In the Real World”

John LennonWhile there are many trite (and incorrectly structured) phrases that people use constantly, i.e. phrases like “It is what it is” and “I could care less,” whereby the first just sounds silly and the latter actually means you care, there is another phrase that I’d like to see stripped from our sentence constructs.

The phrase is this: In the real world…

In the real world, your resume should be polished.

In the real world, you should secure a job you enjoy getting up for in the morning.

In the real world, you’ll be paying more taxes.

I hear people say this constantly. It is most commonly said to those in college or participating in some kind of schooling when pointing to what life will be like after school is over.

My quick quarrel asks you to consider whether or not school is part of the real world. I believe it is. It is quite real, and I can account for it being real because I participate in it every day as a teacher; it is my job in the real world (as opposed to the immitation world I’ve been living in lately). My children and my students would probably agree—they have to get up every morning and attend classes that so far, seem to be incredibly real.

What we should be saying instead is this: In the working world…

In the working world, your resume should be polished.

In the working world, you should secure a job you enjoy getting up for in the morning.

In the working world, you’ll be paying more taxes.

When you break it down, I’m not even sure what the real world is these days.

But I do have a pretty good handle on the working world, and I’m certain you do as well.