What A Sweet Article

Gallup Journey Article

Beautiful Inside and Out

by H. Haveman
Brittany Toll is a beautiful person.  Yes, she is the reigning Miss New Mexico USA 2011 and won the similar honor in 2005 as Miss New Mexico Teen USA.  However, her beauty is not purely a result of her broad smile, white teeth, and pretty face.  Brittany works as a pre-kindergarten teacher in Gallup’s Rocky View Elementary School.  She volunteers, is a positive role model, and travels throughout the state to promote early childhood education.  Brittany’s beauty, though obvious at first glance, is exuded from deep within through her generosity, values and passions.
Brittany Toll Gallup JourneyBrittany was born in southern California and moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico in 5th grade.  She participated in choir during middle and high school and as a high school junior was encouraged to get involved in the Miss Teen USA program.  When she won the title for New Mexico she was surprised and humbled, but quickly realized that with her new role, she could help create opportunities to reach out and help those in need.  While in college at New Mexico State University, Brittany was part of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, which further propelled her interests in community service and philanthropy.
As a senior at NMSU in spring of 2009, about to graduate with honors and a marketing degree, Brittany knew that Teach For America (TFA) was something she wanted to be a part of.  In fact, it was the only job she applied for. TFA is an AmeriCorps program that trains highly qualified college graduates as teachers who are then placed in at-risk communities.  There are 39 urban and rural regions throughout the country where TFA corps members commit to work for two years in order to improve educational achievement for the students they teach. Brittany was accepted into the program and placed in Gallup, her first choice.  Despite the fact that her family moved to Colorado when she started college, Brittany wanted to stay in New Mexico and looked forward to living in a new part of the state.  Of The Land of Enchantment Brittany says, “New Mexico has given me so much in education; I just want to give back.”
Teaching came naturally to Brittany in many ways.  Education was something she considered studying at NMSU, but it turns out that her background in marketing and advertising have been very useful in the classroom.  With two sections of eighteen four-year-olds each day, Brittany had to find a way to get them all on the same page, with a desire to listen and learn.  During “Circle Time” at the beginning of each class, the students discuss the calendar and weather, but also review the rules and reasons for school.  In response to the question, “Why do you need to learn a lot and have big brains?” Brittany’s students shout in unison, “So we can do anything we want to do!”  Beyond the academic standards, her students are learning confidence, becoming invested in their own education, and gaining a hopeful outlook.
The rewards of teaching are countless.  Brittany has seen her students blossom over the last months, opening up to each other, building relationships and developing life skills.  It’s been a learning experience for the teacher, as well.  Brittany has gained a sense of the vast range of children as far as interests, learning styles, and growth.  Every student has his or her own strengths and abilities to which Brittany strives holding each individual accountable.
Now in her second year teaching at Rocky View Elementary, Brittany’s is a model classroom for the school district and she is a learning team leader for Teach For America.  However, her positive influence is also felt beyond the walls of her portable classroom.  Brittany has been volunteering as a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for almost a year.  She travels across the state to promote early childhood education and leadership as a strong female role model.  She is raising awareness for the Susan G. Komen Organization and DKMS America’s Swab Drive – a bone marrow drive in which participants receive a kit in the mail, swab their cheek, and send the sample back.  The results are kept in a national registry of potential donors who have committed to donating bone marrow if theirs is a match for a cancer patient in need.  Brittany is also in the early stages of writing and illustrating a children’s book.Brittany Toll Gallup Journey
Her role as Miss New Mexico USA has, undoubtedly, provided a microphone and an audience for Brittany’s passions.  Promotion for early childhood education will echo loudly in the months leading up to the Miss USA pageant in May when Brittany will compete in Las Vegas for the national title.  She is confident, having gone through this process before as Miss New Mexico Teen USA.  She’s looking forward to meeting new people and enjoying new experiences during the two-week competition.  When it’s over, she’ll return to Gallup to finish up the school year with her pre-kindergarten students or, if she wins Miss USA, she’ll immediately fly to New York and begin her duties as the national titleholder.
Either way, the future is bright for this beauty queen.  After teaching for three more years, Brittany plans to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood education or psychology.  It’s sure that her passion for education and service will lead her to a plethora of opportunities.  She’d like to travel and experience life in a different place for a while, but a return to New Mexico will always be on the horizon.


Setting the bar....

I love all the exposure TFA and early Childhood education is getting. Not to mention shout out to Zeta Tau Alpha.

Thank you Las Cruces Hispano Chamber of Commerce!


News news.

City boasts Miss New Mexico/U.S.A.

Kimberly Spinelli and Joseph J. Kolb
The Gallup HeraldGALLUP — Gallup boasts many distinctions. Indian jewelry capital of the world, high rate of per capita millionaires, and the home of the Inter Tribal Indian Ceremonial and Red Rock Balloon Rally. Now added to the mix is the distinction of having two New Mexico beauty queens vying for national crowns. Take that Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.

One is a teacher and the other a student who blend into their respective environments with humility.Miss New Mexico/U.S.A.

Brittany Toll, a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at Rocky View Elementary, was named Miss New Mexico in October and is excited about her upcoming competition on the road to becoming Miss U.S.A. in Las Vegas, Nev., this spring.

Toll, 24, born in Southern California was raised in Las Cruces, N.M. since fifth grade when her family there.  She subsequently earned her degree in marketing and research from New Mexico State University.  From there, Toll applied to be a teacher with Teach for America which places teachers in low income communities or communities that would not have access to “highly prepared individuals” who creatively inspire the education process.

Toll was accepted into the program, signed a two year agreement and was placed at Rocky View Elementary where she  has been teaching for a year and a half and is looking forward to her next career move which might take her out of the Gallup community.

“I’m still not sure, there are a lot of options that I have, I really would like to teach for three more years, I don’t know if I want to stay in New Mexico or explore a new location, I’d like to get my Master’s [degree], or work for Teach for America or some other non profit organization,” she said.

Prior to competing in the Miss New Mexico pageant, Toll had the self proclaimed fulfilling experience of being crowned Miss Teen New Mexico U.S.A.  in 2005 and placed in the top ten in the Miss Teen U.S.A. pageant.  Toll says she enjoyed her experience as Miss Teen New Mexico as she got to do so many wonderful things such as service work, speaking assignments, meeting a lot of people and traveling.

Toll hopes to accomplish even more by holding the title of Miss New Mexico by working with non profit organizations, public speaking and performing community service.

Toll explains that her students, though a little young to understand the complexities of what is involved with the pageant business were excited after she brought her crown and her sash to the classroom and allowed them all to try it on.  She used the experience as a training tool in her classroom to enforce the class motto which is that if you are smart, you can do anything you want and you have to work hard to be smart.

She says that she is always teaching her students that they can accomplish anything if they work hard enough and feels that she followed through by working hard to achieve the things that she has done and continues to strive hard to be a role model for her students.

“They really enjoyed trying everything on,” Toll said.

Toll, mostly a self taught beauty pageant contestant, has trained other contestants and judged other contests and feels that those experiences helped her win her crown.

The pageant begins with the interview process and then is judged on the bathing suits and evening gowns.

According to Toll, there are three separate interview processes, one is an individual interview in private with the judges, and then the two stage questions.

To non supporters of beauty pageants, Toll said that the Miss Universe, which runs the competitions, stress the importance of the interview process and that she feels that it is the most significant part of the process.

She feels that she is involved in something significant and something that can make a big difference in people’s lives with her duties as Miss New Mexico as well as her involvement within the Teach for America program.


TFA and Pageants?

A matriculating Teach For America corps member (in a different region) wanted some insight about balancing both pageant and TFA before she made her final decision to accept the job offer from TFA. She plans on competing for her state in the very near future, and wanted to decide if she could do both.... lucky for her I have been able to experience this first hand.

 (Photo by: Kim Jew)

Here is the email I wrote her, in case there are any other pageant girls out there who would like to do both Teach For America and be their respective state/national title holder. Or, if you just want to give as much of yourself as you possibly can to serving others....

Hi D,

Yes, I too am glad that I could be here to help you prepare for the next year. I feel that this is a very rare situation, so how incredible that I am able to share my experiences with you and help you better understand the role that you may soon have.

It seems as though our state requirements would be the same, although the Miss New Mexico USA Organizations does not expect me to take the year off. In fact, they are quite proud of the fact that I am a teacher and encourage women to be able to balance both career/school and service. Now, if I were to win Miss USA this spring then yes, that would be a full-time job, just like Miss America.

With regards to my experiences thus far, I have found that you have to be creative with your time management, and yes, I have sacrificed many things like free time to read, travel, watch movies and do the artistic things that I love to do. The way I see it though, I'll have time for that all in the future. The books and movies will still be there; but the opportunities might be long gone. I also teach classes and direct the after school program, so I do have very little free time.

So here is a little insight as to how I managed to balance everything. I wake up before school to go to the gym, and I do pageant prep on the weekends. I got all of my sponsors this summer before the school year started. I prepared protein shakes for lunch and yes; I still managed to eat as healthily as ever. Yes, I still plan to teach full time and do the after school program. I feel that this helps make me a more rounded person and while I'm challenging my energy and abilities I'm learning more about myself and my work habits. Being a teacher and a part of TFA has helped mold me into the role model that I am now. It has also helped me learn to communicate with families and master my public speaking skills. When you stand in front of a classroom everyday you have to bring you’re a-game. I have felt the joy of being part of a movement that is so significant and relevant to the needs of the community I serve in. TFA has taught me so many key life skills, I mean just think about the core values, those alone can help you become a better person and leader if you internalize them the way TFA expects you to. I have learned how to suspend judgment and how to give myself more than I could have ever given before. I have felt the feeling of accomplishment and pride at the end of a school year when I helped my students reach their goals. All of that has helped me develop into the leader that I am. I certainly feel more confident and self-assured. I am very proud of my accomplishments and hard work.

I am technically already doing what Miss USA would be doing with her reign. I work daily and unremittingly to make a difference and I manage to take care of myself and promote various organizations as well as my state. I have used my title already to help promote what I am doing and to promote TFA. Newspapers and TV stations are constantly reaching out to me because of this unique situation, which gives me even more of an opportunity to promote something I believe so much in, and develop important communication skills with regards to media relations.

I too am so happy that A connected us. I am so glad that I can offer help and guidance; I would love to further help in any way. Hopefully I answered most of your questions, if you want me to go more in depth please let me know. If you have any other questions please ask as well.

All the best to you, you seem like such a beautiful and amazing woman who wants to do so many wonderful things with her life. I admire you for trying to do everything that you can to make a difference and change lives through education. I appreciate that you have put so much thought and dedication into figuring out how everything will work. What's meant to be will happen, and you will shine regardless of the path you choose. I know this is a tough decision, but look inside yourself and figure out what will make you happy and proud. 

  And guess what? She accepted! I would like to hope my advice played a small role in that. :) Regardless, I am super excited for her and I plan to help her prepare for the amazing set of years she has before her. I also encourage anyone else who may need advice to reach out to me as well.

Love & Learning,

B. Toll


My Students Are Famous!

(click on the image to enlarge)
Shout out to my awesome students! They were being so great, paying attention to the discussion we were having about elections while a foreigner to the classroom (the photographer) took pictures.


Monster Mash

Happy Halloween.... a day late.... but I figured that I would still share my adventures....

Morning session in their glorious costumes!

Afternoon session in their spooky attire as well as the vampire teeth I gave to all of them.... which I forgot how nasty those things get, er, especially when they eat their pudding cups with them still in their mouths. Slimy....

Next we made slime that did not consist of saliva (yuck). I love doing this with them. It requires very simple ingredients but I make it quite the presentation:
glue: ghost blood
Borax: skeleton bone dust
green food dye: monster tears
googly eyes: frog eyes
At first they REFUSE to touch it, but eventually they cannot resist it any longer.

Mmmm.... edible play-dough used to make edible snakes (I know, I too cannot believe that this is my job every day)! It was yummy and they really enjoyed filling up their snakes with M&Ms and candy (hey, do I get points for this being a fine motor development strategy??)

Ah, my favorite part of the day.... the costumes:
Elphaba.... ok so I don't think her intention was to be Elphaba, but I do love the green skin!
Edward Cullen... again, maybe not his intention but he's just as cute as Mr. Cullen.

My favorite is when boys wear the fake muscles. I just adore the fake muscles!

One thing I did learn, if you tell a 4-year-old that this is "mud pudding" they will not eat it, no matter what you do.


Show & Tell

Being a teacher has got to be one of the best and most rewarding jobs in the entire world.

My classroom is very goal driven. I have taught my students about the reward of working hard and always doing their best. It was such an incredible experience today to allow their little minds to enter into my world and show them how I am just as much of a dreamer as they are.

Today I brought in the Miss New Mexico USA crown and sash. I introduced the concept by explaining that I had recently been selected for a new job and that I even had a uniform for it. I explained how I had to answer questions that allowed me to display my intelligence and that because of how hard I worked in college I was able to do such. They caught on to the concept very well, I was very impressed ( though they never seize to amaze me).

I pulled the sparkly sash out of it's box and watched as their faces lit up, it was so sweet.....
a.m. class

p.m. class

 Then we passed the crown around, all of my students were able to touch it and feel it. It was a lot of fun....

Next, I let them all try it on, they LOVED this so much, even the boys got really into it!

And finally we took a few group pictures, everyone took turns holding the crown or the sash....




I am so lucky to be their teacher. They are magnificent little human beings and it is such an honor to be trusted with their education and their futures. I can only hope that they never lose sight of their big dreams and that one day, many years from now, they will think back and remember that their quirky pre-k teacher knew that there were big things planned for their futures.

It's going to be a great year.


"With a Little Help from My Friends"

(Photo Credit: Sandra Deming, Model: Brooke Boswell)
I can't explain how imperative it is to surround yourself with the most incredible and supportive people. Every angle of your life should involve amazing and inspiring people who fuel your energy and enhance your life. Most importantly, you should always consider yourself lucky and grateful to have their company as an ingredient to your world.

On Saturday October 23rd (the night of the Miss New Mexico USA pageant) I was shocked at how unbelievably calm and relaxed I was, of course I was a nervous wreck and was so surprised and delighted by every advancement I had made throughout the event (top 10 to top 5 to the crowning), but for some reason I was oddly calm. As I stood backstage I asked myself "Brittany, why are you so calm? Do you for some reason not want this?" I was very confused. Of course this was something that I wanted, for the past six years this has been at the top of my mind and the underpinning of my dreams.

I reflected on this unusual calmness even further, and then, all of the sudden it came to me. I was so calm because I was so completely content. I was content with the people in my life and the life that I was leading. I had over 50 people who had traveled from all over (L.A., Denver, Las Vegas, El Paso, Gallup, Las Cruces, Colorado Springs, Farmington) just to show their support. Not to mention the overwhelming support I received via Facebook, Twitter, email, phone calls, cards, flowers and so forth. I was so touched and humbled by all of this. I knew that even if I walked off that stage with nothing more then 10 sore toes from the high-heels and 3 layers of butt glue on my tush that I was so incredibly lucky to be  supported and loved by so many magnificent people. I knew that I would have been perfectly satisfied because I would gracefully have walked off stage only to find myself surrounded by all of the people who had come so far and invested so much just to support little ole' me.

I have no idea why my life has been rewarded. I have no idea why I am so lucky to know so many phenomenal people and I am able to call them my family, friends, co-workers, roommates, sisters, students and so forth. What I do I know is that this is the very element and foundation to all of the success I have found in my life.

Surround yourself with positive, inspiring, and supportive people and constantly cultivate gratitude of such. You will never live a disappointing life if you do this, I can promise you that.


Dream Big

Well, it's time for a major update.

As I was driving back from Ruidoso, NM (more on that later) I was reflecting on all of the ways I can potentially share joy with the world. I immediately thought of this blog and how many people have told me how much they love reading about my experiences in my classroom. I thought I would capitalize on that and add even more about my experiences even outside of my classroom and how everything correlates.

In my classroom we have a little saying, I say to my students every morning "Why do we come to school boys and girls?" and they reply with "To make our brains grow!!!" then I say "Yes! Because if your brain is big that means you are smart, and if you are smart what can you do?" and then they respond with "ANYTHING YOU WANT!!" and they just love this. Every morning we do it and every morning they act as if it is the very meaning and drive to their little lives. Well, now Ms. Toll finally has some concrete proof for them.

This past weekend I was in Ruidoso, competing for Miss New Mexico USA 2011. After six years of preparation it all finally paid off and I became Miss New Mexico USA 2011 on Saturday October 23rd. I attribute a lot of my successes to my education. I have worked extremely hard throughout my educational career and especially during the four years I was in college. I also attribute my success to the incredible people in my life who support me and help me be the best me I can be, many of whom I met in school or at college. Not that my students every doubted me, but hopefully it will be as real as ever to them. I am Miss New Mexico USA because I worked very hard, and now I have been able to be "anything I want."

I hope that my influence with my students doesn't just stop in the classroom. I hope that as Miss New Mexico USA I can motivate and inspire people to work hard and set their minds on "anything they want." I know the world is full of endless possibilities and I want to help empower others to want and earn success. Hopefully this blog will be the very beginning of that.

Please stay tuned as I hope to share many experiences on here as well as other great things that I find to be contributors to a successful and joyous life. It is my hope that everyone has the opportunity to experience greatness and love.

Now go on.... enjoy a cupcake....


Hello Hello

Oh my, it's been far too long since I've written about my wonderful life as a teacher. So much has happened it's unreal, but the good news is... I'm madly in love with my students. I was afraid that I would forever love last years students more, but nope! I love them all equally!

Here are some pics, because I want to share the love....

The bunnies get plenty of attention, as you can plainly see, and my students LOVE them. :)))

Love and Learning,


Oh... PS.... Cameron said that he brushes his teeth with "Hot-Cheeto" flavored toothpaste! Oh my gosh! Where can I get some??? Yum!!


Obama said it....

2 hours away from the classroom and school that I teach at every day Obama said this:

"The No. 1 issue in terms of us succeeding as an economy is going to be how well we educate and how well we train our kids," Obama said. "Nothing else comes close."

I firmly and whole heartily agree with this statement. I believe that in order to overcome poverty all students need to be given the same opportunities and education.

This is why I serve in the location and job that I serve every single day. I feel that with my impact, hopefully this country is one step closer to overcoming poverty.



Trying to re-cap my crazy week. As much as teachers NEED Labor Day weekend, I really need even more time to recover and get my life back in order. My closet is just a heap of stuff. I spent 10 minutes yesterday just trying to find one sneaker. Thankfully I cleaned off my desk, which at least helped me sleep much better last night. My house is a disaster, but even more of a disaster was my classroom, and I just don't mean the "room" but even the little children that reside in it for 3 hours a day. In fact, even Cocoa and Carrots (the class rabbits) were running wild around the classroom (out of their cage) today when I arrived.... yup, this is going to be a MAJOR recovery weekend.

One thing that was super awesome about school this week was learning about and celebrating Eid al Fitr (an Islamic holiday) with my students, and enjoying the scrumptious cake that Amena and her family brought in. It totally put so much into perspective for me. No one ever taught me about any other holidays other than Christian holidays and one Jewish holiday. I'm now super revved up about introducing my students to as many different holidays and cultures as I can. I'm really excited about this.

Oh, and today, when each child went around in a circle to say what they wanted to be when they grow up, Alicia responded with "I wanna grow up to be a Brat" luckily, with my large knowledge base of children's likes and dislikes I was able to figure out that she was referring to a doll brand (similar to Barbie). It was still really funny though. Oh, and how do you tell a boy that he can't be Iron Man? Or a little girl that she can't be Tinkerbell? Tough. Especially since I have burned it in their teeny tiny brains that if they "work hard and get smart they can be anything they want to be".... oh, did I say "anything?" Shoot.


Mr. Toll

How can I get Antonio to stop calling me Mr. Toll? I can't decide if I dislike that more than "teacher." At least he has the "Toll" part right.

When I asked the afternoon class today what made them laugh 3 hands went up....
Viviana said "Church makes me laugh." Another little girl raised her hand and said the same thing. Then Elijah B. said "You make me laugh Ms. Toll."

I think that was more flattering then if he had said "you make me learn Ms. Toll." I think it's important for teachers to be so well rounded and to build unique and positive relationships with their little ones. Of all of the people he could have said made him laugh he said me. Day 4 and I have already earned their friendship. I'm beyond honored.



Out of 33 students, 22 are boys. The Universe is trying to tell me something I think.

The funniest things were happening all day. I am still trying to figure out the little nose pickers, but oh do they crack me up and make me very happy.

In the morning class when we were playing “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?” we were passing around a VERY SMALL green beanbag, and one student picked Ethan to toss to. Well, it wasn’t really a toss, it was actually a chuck right to the head. I figured it couldn’t of hurt, but then he instantly smacked his hand to his forehead and put his head down and held his breath. He covered his eyes with his other hand. For two minutes I tried to make sure he was okay and comfort him and he wouldn’t drop his hands or say a word. I looked at my assistants and none of us knew what to do, all of the other students were just watching… then, he lifted his head and said “It hit my toy!” and he held up his miniature Iron Man figure that was in his hand at the time of the incident. My assistants and I instantly started laughing so hard (possibly the hardest I have ever laughed in front of my students), which created the rest of the class to laugh so hard too. We then moved forward with our game of “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?”…that had to be one of the funniest things I have seen in a while.

I think I should propose that a production crew make a reality tv show out of my classroom. It would be unlike any other reality show… Like Kate+8 but times 5, we could call it Ms.Toll+33? Stupid name, scratch that… I’ll keep thinking about that one.

Oh, and oh my gosh I totally forgot? You want to know a secret? My students are really flippin’ adorable and here I am on day two, sigh, already in love with every single one of them…. Even Cameron…. Who threw his backpack at me today and kicked Miss Mandi because he didn’t want to come to school. He was fine though after I taught him how to dunk his chicken nuggets into the gravy on his mashed potatoes.


1st day, year 2

Today was a long day. A very long day.

My kids are amazing (duh) and I can't wait to watch them grow. It's crazy that my last class was at the same level as my new students and they grew so much. It was hard to not miss my former students, things just got so comfortable, but I have faith that this new batch will be just as awesome.

My afternoon class was OVER capacity which made things crazy. Not to mention we had like 5 cryers in the afternoon and 2 in the morning, which is 6 more than I had last year. However, I was please to have, this year, a student who cried actually when it was time to go because she didn't want to leave. :)

On a flattering note, I have a student who is in my class because I was highly recommended as a teacher and they only wanted the best for their 4-year-old. So that in itself reminds me of how hard I worked last year and how hard I know I can work this year. Funny thing about this little girl is every time I gave her a direction she responded with "Are you nuts?" Okay Michelle Tanner, that was cute the first time, but by the 12th time I had heard it I was not feelin' in. Oy. Kids.

I really felt the love and support today, which was awesome. Thanks to all of you who were supporting me and have continually supported me on this journey. 

Day by day. One day down, one day easier.


Keep Calm and Love On

Gosh how did it happen so fast?

7:30 a.m., 32 eager little 4-year-old will be inhabiting my classroom. I'm so excited to meet these new characters, but frankly I'm not ready to get use to a new batch of youngsters. I'm afraid they'll make me miss my former students.... who I loved so terribly much.

I can't wait to start teaching and learning. I can't wait to get to know them and to share the next 9.5 months of my life with them.... we'll, actually less because of vacation time. Oy. It's going to fly by.

Be ready for documentation of all the quirky and hilarious things that they say and do. :)

Oh.... and on Wednesday.... if you happen to think of a little ole' pre-k teacher in Gallup, NM say a prayer for her and send her some good vibes because believe me, she's gonna need it.

Love and Learning,

Ms. Toll


Now Presenting.....

Happy Brittany is proud to present: Year 2 of Pre-K (and other super exciting things that will happen this year)

Hey, has anyone seen summer? I swear it was just right here a minute ago, and now it's like totally gone. Well, if you find it please return it to me, thanks!

New classroom. New kids. New goals. New curriculum. New blog. It's gonna be aweeesome.

I was thinking- just because I am a teacher does not mean that I need to only blog teacher stuff. Contrary to popular belief teachers do have lives outside of school (bus shhh, don't tell the kids, it's the world of teaching's BIGGEST secret). In addition to great goals that I have set in my classroom I have also set some totally awesome goals for Ms. Toll, that will in turn effect the goals and morale and greatness of the classroom.... it's a beautiful cycle.  I really hope to have this blog rockin' here pretty soon and hopefully it will be a place where peeps can come to laugh, learn, and enjoy simple pleasures of love and life.

I have a big exciting secret that I can't wait to reveal to my readers and to my students. I think it could change the whole face of teaching and goal setting and really inspire the town of Gallup and possibly the state of New Mexico. Oooooo I'm getting giddy just thinking about it. It's been about 5.5 years in the making so stay tuned for the big reveal. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some "BIG GOALS" to conclude and a glass of chocolate milk to indulge myself with.



more to come

Teachers really do need their summer vacation time. Seriously.

I needed a blogging break too, but I intend to come back very soon. :) Thanks to all of you who read, I really appreciate your kind words and I am so happy that Happy Brittany makes you happy. Now see, that's what it's all about, being happy. So thank you for making me happy by reading about my experiences.

Ta ta for now


My Wish

Dr. Seuss knows his stuff....

The Waiting Place....
...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

I love that part of the book, it's so true. I often think of these words to help keep me in the "here and now" instead of in the Waiting Place.

Instead of waiting watch these videos:



My sweet and totally awesome students who I love so much.

"I hope you know somebody loves you...."


Dear World

I can't believe that I have only 3 more days left with 37 of the most incredible human beings that I know.....


How will I be able to give them up? I don't think I will. Why did they have to be so awesome? Why couldn't their snotty little noses have grossed me out enough that I would be able to let them go easier?

Hearing them sing "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts has got to be one of the top 5 best moments of my life. They are extraordinary little people who are going to live astounding lives and do many spectacular things.



As I wrap up my last month with my students I have been testing them on all the things that I wanted them to know by this point in the year. It's a little unnerving, realizing with only a month left I have very little control left over their successes. I'm just not ready to let them go. Too bad it's not possible to flunk pre-k.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous to test M. He doesn’t choose to participate much and we have struggled a lot to get him to learn letters, words, and how to write his name. Well…… today I pulled him to do his testing and he blew my mind. He has done so well. He confidently knows 9 sight words and more than 80% of his uppercase and lowercase letters combined. I gave him a sticker for his hard work and he proudly displayed it on his forehead. When he was done I asked him “who’s the smartest kid in the world?” and he proudly raised his hand and said “me!”

Any child is capable of anything. It’s so true. The best recipe for success? Confidence. If a student knows they are capable and can do it then eventually it will happen.


"somebody loves you"

Have you ever heard the song "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts? My 4 and 5 year-olds hadn't. I introduced it to them today because my hope is that they will be able to sing it at our school's Spring Program, and again at their graduation at the end of May. It took a lot of self-control to keep the water works on hold during both the am class and pm class' 1st rehearsal. They caught on so quickly to the words and it was one of the loveliest moments I have enjoyed in a long time. Some of them (boys) chose to play "air-guitar" along with the song and that was also so much fun to watch. In the pm class, after they has listened to it 2 times through Danielle came up and hugged me, then Bethia, and Juliana, and Donald, and Madison, and Adam.... the whole lot. They all came up, nuzzled their little noses into my leg and hugged me so compassionately. It was ah-mazing to say the least. I can't wait till they have learned all the words, but I certainly can wait for graduation.

In less than 5 weeks I will have to part with them and that may be one of the hardest things I will ever have to endure. I don't know how I'm going to hold it together. Do other teachers get this emotional? Some of my students I will get to see next year, since they will attend kindergarten here at Rocky View. But some will move to Albuquerque, or back to their families reservation lands, or just to different schools in the area that didn't have pre-k programs. I just can't believe the year is almost over....

"I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you

And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin' ?til you find the window
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get

Oh, you'd find God's grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything, yeah more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish, yeah yeah

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish"



"If I could fly anywhere in a plane I would fly to Buffalo Wild Wings 'cause that place is good and they have all kinds of sauces and they are good. Even white sauces and red sauces."


If only my dreams and desires were as sweet and simple. Sigh.


We can read!

We go in the car.
My mom is not fat.
I am a cat.
I can see you.

These are just some of the things that my students can read now! It's so great. I was very excited today because my afternoon class was reading every word I put on the board. Okay so not like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but words  like cat, dad, mom, and dog. It was so exciting to write a sentence and hear them read it out loud to me.

The best part of it all? When I stood in front of them and told them "You can read! You can read! People who read can be whatever they want to be! You are so smart! Soon you will be able to do whatever you want to do." and then Donald can up and wrapped his little arms around my leg and nuzzled his nose into it, followed by Adam, then Madison, Danielle, Bethia, and before I knew it I was smothered by 4-year-olds as we shared a class hug to celebrate our new found success as a class.

They drive me slightly insane some days.
They don't use inside voices.
They sneeze boogers all over my arms.
They eat mysterious objects off the floor.
The bite each other.
They cry over snacks.
They smell a little odd sometimes.
They are beginning to read.
No matter what they could ever do I don't think I could love them any less. I am so proud of the many amazing things that they can do.
Today was a great day.



I just had to post this Facebook status from a student's mom who teaches 4th grade at my school:

I had to laugh at Nico's pre-K homework..."Draw a picture of your school," it said. Nico draws a door, a window, his teacher, himself and a pillow..."Why a pillow, Nico?" ..."So I can sleep over with Ms. Toll, of course," ... of course. silly me.


Love Nico. 

anything you want

The day Phil Anaya attended pre-k

There comes a time in every 4-year-old's life when they are presented with meaningful and important career options. Information is given in hopes that they set their minds on something magical and fulfilling to pursue for the next 20 years. Yes folks, 20(ish) years ago your pre-kindergarten teacher was planting the seed of success into your mind. And yes, even as you entered college at 18 years old it was still a terribly difficult decision. If I were to have become what I wanted to be at 4-years-old right now I would be lighting up the big screen. Thank the lord that isn't the case and that I am happily nestled in a classroom full of eager and energetic 4-year-old helping them grow into awesome little people. Presented to you now is a time-line of "When I grow up I wanna be a(n)...."

...pop star (ah, sigh...)
...lawyer (thank you "Legally Blonde")
...lawyer (thank you "Legally Blonde II")
...Victoria's Secret model (WTF??)
...history teacher
...interior designer
...product package designer

So I guess I have a certain pre-kindergarten teacher somewhere to blame this long obnoxious list on. But honestly I am so thankful for it.

I can't express how happy it makes me every time one of my my students tells me "I want to be a teacher, like you Ms. Toll..." or like Hunter today: "I want to be a teacher." Me: "Why?" Hunter: "Just so I can teach people." I love that he is straightforward.

But it also makes me so happy that so many of them want to be doctors, or firefighters, or police officers or bankers because at the beginning of the year I was a bit nervous when they told me things like Transformer, or race car, or even the most popular answer.... Spongebob. Yes, a mere 8 months ago many of them looked up to the yellow sponge in the square pants who flips burgers at the Krabby Patty. I love looking down at their little faces and imagining how amazing they will be in 25 years. I am so relieved and comfortable knowing now that they do not aspire to be Spongebob Square Pants.

Mr. Phil paid a visit to inform the youngsters about reporting for the news. They were so in awe and so inspired, it was awesome. I can't wait to be watching the news one day and see one of them on there....

Cheers to your childhood dreams. Feel free to make a time-line and reflect on all the funny (yet uber important) aspirations you once had. Is your list longer than mine?? Embrace your inner child and naiveté for a moment's time, you'll be surprised to see how happy it makes you. And if you still feel inspired by your childhood desires I urge you to read (or re-read) Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" because that man is my "childhood dream" idol.


It's ooooon.


The best gift ever.

Oh my gosh I am desperately in need of a break. I can't wait. The worst part about it? I feel as though it is already over.

Well, after SB I have only one more quarter with my kiddos. That means I'm 3/4 of the way done with them. I think this is supposed to freak me out, it does a little, but I am so impressed with how smart they are confident that they will do very well next year. A little of what they know so far:

20 letters and letter sounds
11 words
Time to the hour and half hour (a first grade standard!)
Counting to 30
Spatial reasoning (in, out, under, above...)
8 shapes
10 colors
and so much more....

they are just so stinking smart. They soak it all up like little sponges and make me so happy.

I'm looking for graduation ideas if anyone has any For sure I MUST play Rascal Flatts "My Wish" I mean, it's the perrrfect pre-k graduation song in my opinion.


Pen Pals

Our class pan-pals... At the writing center I had the kids pick out their pen-pals from the wall and then write a letter to them. Larry kept telling me "ask him if he can come to my house, ask him if he can come to my house Ms. Toll!" Then it was so cute when Larry left the writing center and I heard him tell a few other kids in the class: "guys, I went to writing and I made a new best friend!"

Oh, I love cupcakes so much that I bought one from Juliana at recess for $33.60 from her cake shop. That was the most I had ever spent on a (make-believe) cupcake (although I only paid with wood chips).


Rabbit Rabbit.

March is already here. That's just nuts. That means spring break and then soon April will be here and before I know it it will be May and my little smarties will be GRADUATING! Okay so It's time to crack the whip.

They know so many great things..... like 18 letters of the alphabet (including letter sounds). They know how to count syllables, tell time (on the hour and the half hour), shapes, colors, counting to 20, and 9 sight words. It's crazy how brilliant they are. I think back about how afraid I was to introduce the concept of time or letter sounds and then I wonder what I was so afraid of? They are so smart.

They are sooooo excited for kindergarten. Larry asked "do they give out stickers in Kindergarten too Ms. Toll?" And I told him "of course they do, and you will earn a lot of them because you are so smart." He smiled from ear to ear. We had a long discussion about how smart they will be when they get to kindergarten, and they have agreed to help the other students get smart. :)

I'm watching "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" and I think that for my next job I would like to own a magical toy store.



I am obsessed with children's books. So much that I already have a collection that takes up 1/4 of my book collection. 1/4 is a lot when I love to read and have tons of adult books. And yep 1/4 are children's books. The author I have most of? David Shannon. Actually, I also have books he only illustrated and did not write. I love him. In second would either be Karen Katz or Eric Carle.... oh, and can't forget Jean Marzollo (I SPY BOOKS), I have at least a dozen of those.

Who I have is not really that important. The reason I have so many (besides the fact that I love the smell of a new book, the glossy pages, and the entertaining illustrations) is because books are so important. I love reading a new book in class everyday and I purchase the books because I plan on doing the same thing with my own children one day.

Reading to children is vital. A bedtime story is just as (if not more) important as brushing teeth and eating dinner. I know first hand the difference between a child who has been read to and a child who is just now being exposed to books. Books stimulate the imagination, introduce new vocabulary, and give parents an opportunity to spend quality time with their children.

Every month about $30-$40 of my teaching income goes to Scholastic Book Club book orders (and that goes a loooooong way with Scholastic Book Clubs). I want my students and future children to have a library that will expand their knowledge and imagination. By the age of 5 children should already have had 1,000 books read to them.

So if anyone, anyone at all reads this blog please spread the word to families with little ones and families that are expecting. It is very important.

Feel free to ask for recommendations. I know which ones make them laugh, which ones teach them valuable lessons and which one bore the snot out of both them and me.

This weeks book selection:
Monday: "Slugs in Love"
Tuesday: "Henry in Love"
Wednesday: "Olive My Love" and "One Heart"
Thursday: "Love Splat" (I love this cat) and "Valentine Mice"
Friday: "Raining Hearts"(Felicia Bond, also the illustrator to: "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie") and "Bernstein Bears: Funny Valentine"

Next Week:
Tuesday: "Our Abraham Lincoln"
Wednesday: "Barack" (in looove with this children's book about our prez)
Thurs: "John, Paul, George and Ben"


love is in the air.

Love to pre-kinders is (and I quote) "grosssssss."

Underpants are also "grossssss," but I guess I can understand that. But there aren't a lont of tangible words that start with "U" so I am out of options.

Boogers for some reason are not gross. In fact, judging by how many of them eat their own green goobers they must be very delicious (but I'm not gonna try).

Lice is also in the air..... itch itchy itchy.

The love bug has hit the classroom (even though it's "gross") and many of the kids are now confessing their love for one another... "but shhhh, it's a secret." Don't worry though- on Friday many of them have plans to divulge their love to their crushes, so soon the secrets will be out and love ("gross") will be everywhere. But hopefully the lice wont.




things that happened today worth blogging about:

As we were getting ready for centers Seferino came over and said "hang on Ms. Toll" and then he wrapped his arms around my legs and gave me a long hug. From a boy who is never like this it made my day.

When we were naming words that begin with the letter "N" Shobi raised his hand and said "noss." I asked him what that was an he said "the stuff you put in cars to go fast!" He was talking about the stuff from the movie "Fast and the Furious".... it was awesome.

When I told the class to turn their brains on all of them did the gesture and made the noise and then Adam said "I didn't turn mine on." When I asked why he replied "because it was already on!" What a little smarty. :)



H1N1 shot.

Today was H1N1 vaccinate day at Rocky View Elementary. Just the thought of needles being poked into kids arm all day long at my school made me cringe.

Since today SHOULD have been a snow day most of my students were absent, so only two got the vaccination. Donald got the shot and Danielle got the nose puff deal. When the nurse came down to get them I sent Ms. Shelly and Ms. Brittney with them to also get their shots. I was not looking forward to getting mine. When the four of them came back Donald was such a champ. He showed off his sticker and he was proud of how brave he was. I was jealous.

It finally came time for me to get my shot... ug. I had Ms. Shelly read and take over the class and made Ms. Brittney come with me to get my shot so that I had someone to hold my hand (although I did not make her do that since I didn't want to make her feel awkward). Ms. Brittney told me that when she brought Donald over to get his shot he was so good about it and so brave so she had to toughen-up and do the same. I knew I also had to do the same. There was a 2nd grader in front of me (who was one of my after-school art students) in the line who was very frightened. I helped her calm down and I think that made me a feel a little better. Well my turn came, and Ms. Brittney was a wonderful supporter.... it didn't hurt so bad. [They offered the nose puff deal to me but I declined. That sounded quite uncomfortable.] And the sweet nurse gave me a pink band-aid with hearts.... although what I really wanted was a cool sticker like Donald's.....

But ask me if my arm is sore now? Yep. It is.


just one of those days

I don't know if I was just extremely irritable today of if my kids were just wild frenzied jungle creatures but it was a rough day. I don't think I have ever had to tell so many kids to "move your apple." I do have to feel for them though because they don't have specials (p.e., library, art) for the next 2 weeks and since the playground is covered in snow they can't go outside either. That has got to be enough to drive a 4-year-old mad I suppose. I guess that is why I let them all move their apples back up to the green part of the tree at the end of the day...

But the end of the day made things better when Dominique came up to me and said (in her oh so sweet and delicate little voice) "Ms. Toll, when I grow-up, I want to be a teacher." It was right at the end of the day and Isaiah's mom and grandma were in the classroom picking him up and they both let out a long "awwww!" It was indeed an "awww!" moment. Then she practiced teaching as she wrote letters all across the white board. When I told her she could use the "pointer" her face lit up like a Chrsitmas tree and I don't think I have ever seen a smile so big.



sleep in.

2 hour snow delay was much needed while I slept in. Too bad sleeping was nearly impossible with a stuffed-up nose and a scratchy throat and a 2am sweat-fest that forced me out of bed to turn off my space heater. Being sick sucksssss.

It's impossible to control a group of 4-year-olds with a raspy voice that squeals when you try to increase your volume. What really sucked was every time I blew my nose the kids nearly fell over in laughter. This happened about every 4-7 minutes. Although, it does manage to sound like a clown horn when I blow my nose so I guess I really can't blame them.

A "no-school snow day" would really come in handy tomorrow.

I do love the snow clouds also.


looong with 3 os.

Wow, it was a long week.

Yesterday was rather entertaining. The pm kids were lining up for the bathroom after lunch when Lily started ralphing all over. I had the rest of the class go on to the bathroom while I stayed behind to help Lily get cleaned up. Two minutes later Miss Shelly (one of my assistants) came in to tell me that Angelina had just thrown up all over the bathroom floor! It was unbelievable. Lily said she had a tummy ache so I called her mom so that she could be picked up. Then I asked Angelina if she had a tummy ache and she said "no" so I asked her why she threw up and this was what she said- "Because somebody didn't flush the toilet.... there was poop." So Angelina threw up because she saw poop in the toilet.... I felt terrible for her, but my assistants and I were nearly rolling on the ground laughing so hard.

On a more serious note, today I taught the class about Martin Luther King Jr. We read a story called "Happy Birthday Martin Luther King" and I was so impressed with the kids. When we discussed segregation they said things like "That's not fair!" and "Everybody should get to eat at the same restaurant!" Then we talked about the assassination, Kiera-Rae kept wanting to know who did it and Larry said "Was it because the man who shot him wanted people to still be mean to each other Ms. Toll?" I am just so impressed with them. While at times they can be a tad naughty they really have the most pure and wonderful spirits. They are all so loving and they understand the concept of being fair and kind to one another. I think the world will be in great hands when they grow up.


good stuff.

Here are some highlights of a long week.... wait- it's only Wednesday?

"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" the best and easiest way to entertain a heard of 4 and 5-year-olds. And when you read it a second time to them, they will have most of it memorized.... it's a beautiful thing.

Thank the Lord for "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and thank him twice for creating a book about "Alvin and the Chipmunks" which created a wonderful chain of effects: 1st- the class looked at the Scholastic book order catalog I sent home in their folders, 2nd- one students saw the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" book and made it known to the other children, 3rd- the children went home to their parents and begged for the book and 4th- the parents ordered the books.... which means..... so many kids now have books to read at home, and books they will WANT to read. Ah, I can see the joy now.

Angel invited me over to his house to watch a scary movie, that was cute.

Elijah (a 3rd grader in my after-school art class) had terribly dry skin, so I gave him lotion and put some in a Dixie cup for him to have for the rest of the day. The next day during school he came to my class (with permission from his teacher) to get some more lotion. Yes, I know- judging by the paint all over my sweater I may only look like a PreK teacher, but I betcha didn't know I was also a medicine woman. Yes, I am a master at healing dry hands (it's a gift).

Organizing my desk. Enough said.

Larry's inspirational quote: "I'm gonna be a firefighter so I can save people's lives."

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" for it's ability to also entertian a flock of crazy kids.

Painting clouds on a cloudy day with the 2nd graders in the after-school program while listening to classical music.

Sleeping-in until 7:09am (accidentally) and still making it to school by 7:30am (with a 6 minute drive).

The pure joy that the new 4-person art easel has brought to my classroom.

Snow tonight. Snow tomorrow. Snow tomorrow night. Any fortunetellers predict a snow day.... not that I want one or anything.

Meeting my new "little sister" through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Best thing ever was when I asked her what her favorite music was and she replied "rap" and then I asked who her favorite artist was (like I know ANY rap artists that well) and she replied "Taylor Swift" Bwahahah!!! This is wonderful, a new little sister after my own heart.... now if I could only get her to like folk music.

And last but most certainly not least: my little (but bigger than me) brother Hunter getting his license and a new car (wait, is this a good thing?). He's so grown up. But I am a very proud sister indeed.

Sending you all love from PreK.


1 month later

It has been 1 month and 2 days since I last blogged about life in a PreK classroom. December got pretty hectic. I moved into a new place and my students were finishing up their second quarter. Not to mention Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, and all  the Christmas shopping I had to do. Oh, and the preparation of the class Christmas party was draining also.

Moving was the largest burden, but I am oh-so-happy now! Not that I wasn't happy before, just MUCH happier now. I have a roommate which has changed everything. I initially thought living alone was something I wanted to do so badly. After living in a sorority house full of girls I thought living alone would be splendid. Well, I learned that I'm just not the sort of person who should EVER live alone. I think I might have experiences a slight sliver of depression from the loneliness, the cold, the darkness and the lack of $$.  But all that has changed, I'm saving money, paying off my debt, carpooling to school, carpooling to the gym at 5am and living with one of the friendliest most positive people I have aver known. I finally do not feel like the only person who is exhausted at the end of the day, I now have someone to share that feeling with!

2010 brings so much to the table. It's so interesting how wonderful the start of a new year can be isn't it?? An opportunity to change and hit the "reset" button. I have so many big goals and I am so eager to make them happen! I must say that I will miss 2009 nevertheless. The year I learned so much, and grew immensely. Also the year I graduated from college, and the year I was accepted into Teach For America. To sum it up, 2009 changed my life. But I think 2010 will be just as wonderful- heck, maybe even better (is that possible??).

Ah, being back in the classroom was a little manic, but I managed to survive the 1st week back. The Prekinders were a  little naughty (maybe fueled up on treats from their stockings?) but they eased right back into it like champs and by Wednesday we were back to normal. It amazes me how smart the little boogers are, and how much they grow. I swear, in 2 weeks they grew so much. After seeing them I was happy to be back (not sure why I was dreading it on Sunday night). I was delighted to have them again, they make me laugh so much- crazy how I get paid to do this.

I can't wait to start blogging again and make record of all the cute, funny, clever, and just plain crazy things the Prekinders will do and say. Like this week when we finished reading Pinkalicious (the story of a girl who ate too many pink cupcakes and turned pink) and Madison said "Last night I turned pink!" and Shobi replied "Last night I turned brown!" Ha ha ha.

Ta ta for now.