The Art of Being Human

Just because I left, doesn’t mean I was ready to go…

My Halloween costume this year reminded me why I first decided to leave the field of education. Because way back when, a parent told me I was a bad role model, and I believed her.

I had no barometer to gauge whether or not my actions were appropriate for her child, and as someone eagerly trying to break into the publishing industry by writing romance novels, I wasn’t setting the right example to the teens I taught by writing about *gasp* sex. Also, someone commented on the amount of empty alcohol bottles in my recycle bin. Okay. Point taken. Premarital sex and lots of liquor.

I removed myself from the classroom.

Even after two decades as a coach – gymnastics, cheerleading, and dance – and a decade in education – higher education, high school, and middle school.

IMG_1690But this year, after having left the public school system five years ago, when I posted a pic of my
Halloween costume on Facebook, I had no intentions of creating a bad role model example yet again. Still, someone messaged me that I was sending the wrong message with my outfit. Well, I’m older now, and more secure in my own decisions, and I found nothing wrong with my outfit. For those who missed it, I was dressed in my former Palmetto Ridge High School cheerleading warm-ups with a tag that read, “You’re the player? I’m the coach.” Just trying to add some humor to a comfy outfit.

One of the most difficult decisions I’ve made since moving to Florida was leaving the classroom, because that meant also leaving the football field, the basketball court, the band room, and the media center. It meant leaving behind amazing, funny, witty teenagers who reminded me every day what it meant to be human and who kept me in tune with the trends and technology of today’s society.

My job as a teacher was to teach children. To facilitate the best possible experience for them for that time in their lives. They will never pass through that time again, and to assist them to learn, to experience, and to grow during those years was my primary focus.

If they leave knowing they matter, they can make a difference, their thoughts and opinions are relevant, then they will continue to think, and teaching someone how to think is the greatest tool and talent I felt I could impart when I was a teacher.

IMG_1627So yes, I taught language arts, but I taught so much more than one subject.

I taught human beings the art of being human.

It’s been half a decade since I stopped teaching and coaching at Palmetto Ridge High School, and though so many changes have occurred in that time, my reasons for leaving are the same.

I’m still a bad role model.

In today’s hook-up society, I write about contemporary relationships where friends find their forever. I write about that moment when two people realize they are friends, and then they know it’s something more than anything else they’ve ever experienced with another partner. It’s more than attraction or lust. It’s that moment when they need someone most – that shoulder to lean on or cry on or bounce an idea off of – and that other person is there for them in the most complete way possible. Yeah. That moment.

And I still drink.

But I guess that’s just me practicing the art of being human.

How about you? What makes you a good or bad role model?

As always, thanks for stopping by, and if you’re curious as to what I was watching at the gym when someone asked me if it was really appropriate to be watching in public “those girls dancing,” well, please click here for my YouTube channel to view the videos of the PRHS Dance Team.

xox ~ Marisa




  1. I enjoyed reading this, Marisa. I think we’re always happiest when we know who we are and accept being who we are without apology. I don’t mean we can’t learn and change, but we must do it for ourselves because we want to be the best we can be. It appears to me that so far you’re doing a good job. 😉 Patty

  2. People tend to be quick to criticize others and often carry more dirt in their own drawers than those they are accusing (I believe that’s perhaps why they do it too). Knowing who you are and embracing it is a good place to be. . .and not letting others undermine it. (Awesome cheerleaders – BTW!)

  3. In my opinion, you are a fabulous role model. You pursued your dream, you are doing what you love, and you are in a wonderful, loving relationship. We can’t please everyone, and to someone, we will always be a bad role model, or a less than model citizen, because everyone’s outlook and expectations are different. The people who would say such a thing to you, for such a minuscule reason, clearly don’t know you and need to look inward at themselves.

  4. Love this, Risa! Here’s to our ‘humanity’: it’s what allows us to relate to others, understand it’s OK not to be perfect. And if we both love our students and teach them how to think–really think–hope we’ve made the world a better place. 🙂

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