Reinventing Yourself by Sheila Pope

Michelle Smith, Acquisition Manager for Great River Technologies
Michelle Smith and her new author

Almost two years ago, I attended a Teaching and Learning Excellence Center (TLEC)  workshop on how to develop a winning proposal to submit to book publishers.  Two powerful African-American females presented. One presenter was an editor for a major publishing house and the other presenter was an editor with a successful publication record. They explained the process of getting a book published.  

The Seed

I knew I wanted to write and publish a book. The seed was planted, and I never let an idea slip into oblivion. A couple of months later, I was given an opportunity of a lifetime. I talked via email and on the phone with Michelle Smith, Great River Technologies  Acquisition Manager and Instructional Consultant; we talked how we could incorporate my love of technology and English with their need to produce digital textbooks. It wasn’t long before we  decided to meet and discuss the process. I love teaching and using technology. I knew I had a niche in the book publishing market. I wanted to write for an urban audience. A year earlier, I had developed a hybrid WRIT class at Texas Southern University. Writing this book would solve several of my needs as an instructor. Before long, I was signing a contract and discussing royalty payments. 

Teaching with Technology

I am a proud NERD and a former computer programming major. I love teaching and playing with various tech tools. Snagit, Camtasia, Prezi, Xtranormal (no longer exist), YouTube, Adobe Creative Cloud, and my Bamboo tablet were just a few of the tools that I planned to use to create an interactive digital textbook.  I planned to use Adobe Illustrator to draw my own original art work for the publication. I submitted the blue print for my book and the GRT team liked it. Billie Jo Hefel, project manager and Michelle Smith discussed timelines and GRT’s expectations of me.  I thought I was going to crank the book out in a five months. Instead, I started focusing too much on the technology behind creating videos and other activities instead of focusing on the book’s content. Before I knew it, July had passed and December was fast approaching. Michelle was supportive, but I felt the pressure. 

First Edition

My digital textbook was my chance to reinvent myself as a published author and as an expert in my field. I was given a chance to design a book from start to finish. I had the freedom to do anything I wanted. Yet I did not know if I could deliver.  By December 2012, I had produced a short e-book for my hybrid WRIT 101 class. I could teach without having to bounce all over the internet to find materials. My students could have all of my content and videos in their hands on multiple devices. All of my WRIT 101 classes were held in a lab, a digital textbook was the right medium for what I wanted to do. I ran blindly into the future of textbook publishing. My dream had materialized. My book had a name, Writing Essentials: Strategies to Master Freshmen English and Writing Placement Exams; it had an ISBN number and customers.  Although I produced the book on time,  I knew the first edition of the publication did not represent my capabilities.

RepairmanMajor Changes Implemented

In 2013, I went to work on correcting my mistakes. I reinvented my book and myself as a writer.  I spent hours conducting research on writing placement testing requirements for college freshmen in Texas. I studied strategies to help students with dyslexia. I learned tools to offer students that are classified as English as a Second Language learners; I determined veterans needed unique tools and strategies to utilize in college classes.

I decided I would rewrite my textbook, and I completed it in one semester. I added twelve chapters with research based strategies to help students pass their writing placement exams, and to help freshmen college students improve their English. I worked hard to provide my students with a book that was filled with practical and useful videos, images, and exercises. Today, my goal is to add more activities that will help students learn how to conduct research, use electronic databases, and to integrate reading and writing exercises.

Writing Essentials
The new edition of Writing Essentials
Partnerships

April 29, 2014,  Michelle and I had a working lunch at Fogo de Chao. We discussed ideas to market the publication. I told her about my other partnership with Everyday Intellect to produce On-Demand Lectures online. She talked about all of the latest updates on Great River Technologies’ Website and my website. I was able to show her finished activities included in the textbook.  I was selected for an author’s spotlight on GRT’s blog. Today, I am more excited about my book. I feel supported by Great River Technologies. They are watching me grow as an author. I have reinvented myself and my brand.  Next, I am going to teach On-Demand Lectures using the book’s content in some of my Everyday Intellect Workshops starting May 10, 2014.

Michelle Smith and Myself working lunch

My Coming Out Story by Sheila Pope

I Can See the Lighty
I see the light!

It seems like celebrities are coming out  and telling the world their secrets every day. Finally, I feel comfortable enough to share my secret too. No, I am not gay; however, I am a homeowner! Yes, a year ago I decided to purchase a home. No, this is not my first new home. I purchased my first custom built home in 1996.

Why did I keep it a secret? I did not want to hear the negativity that some people bring to the table when you share your dreams. I learned early that some people cannot handle your dreams or your success. One “friend” asked me if I bought my home via housing?  It was shocking since she had never seen my home. To this day, I wonder why she thought I would qualify for housing. That stung and it told me a great deal about how she viewed me.

I selected my lot and paid my ernest money.
I selected my lot and paid my earnest money.

I watch HGTV almost everyday, and I beam with pride when I watch women of all ages and races purchase homes from $100,000-$500,000 by themselves. They are proud, fearless, educated, independent and ambitious women. They let camera film their every move while they go through the stressful process of buying a home.  I had to face my fears when I got ready to purchase my second home.

After my divorce, my credit rating was shot. I had to rebuild. It took years to pay my debts off. When I got ready to purchase my home, I had to make some tough decisions. I had to decide if I would postpone completing my PhD in 2012 or pay for my home. My great friend Dr. Hill, a Capella Sister, told me, “A doctorate degree will not provide you and your children with shelter.” She was so right! I made the right choice. I do not regret paying my credit cards and other debts off to increase my credit score. I do not regret taking a break from Capella, selling my Mustang to have cash on hands, and using every penny of the money I had in  savings to pay my closing cost on my custom built home. Now, I am ready to tell the world that I too am a fearless, proud, and independent female taxpayer that is living the American dream.

Starting the Building Process
Starting the Building Process

Talking with Loice Cottingham, my Realtor, from Realm Real Estate about purchasing a home provided me with tons of wisdom and advice. She was the voice that said, “Sheila you should build a home.” I had my eyes set on a few homes that had been previously built with  great landscaping.

The home that I envisioned myself living in had a huge backyard, three car garage, and was on a corner lot with beautiful mature trees.  Loice was the one that said, “Sale one of your cars. You can only drive one at a time.” Sometimes I did not like my realtor’s advice. I worked hard to pay off two cars. I wanted to keep my Mustang. However, my family had outgrown the car. Five people could not fit into my Mustang, but we could fit into a home.

I am so glad that I listened to Loice and built my custom designed home and sold my  2000 Ford Convertible Mustang. When I first got a divorce, I left my Mercedes Benz on the lot and drove off in that 2000 Mustang. The Mustang was with me through some tough times. I had owned that car for over 8 years. However, shopping for new items for my home decreased the pain of selling my car.

There is nothing like selecting your own stuff for your home! I love the idea that I am the first to live in my home. I had fun in the KB Home Center with Loice.

My 2000 Ford Mustang
This was the last day that I owned my 2000 Ford Convertible Mustang

When I went to the KB Home Center, I knew what I needed in my home. I wanted granite counter tops, an island, ceramic tile throughout my home, a beautiful door, and a garage door opener. I knew I needed dark carpet in my children’s rooms.

I loved this tub! I can spend hours in the tub.
I loved this tub! I spend hours in my tub.
I needed granite in the kitchen and on the island.
I needed granite in the kitchen!

I searched for what I needed to make my home look beautiful.  I made practical decisions because I understood resale value; I also made decisions that felt right in my soul. I knew that I needed grass to sink my toes in and to hide Easter eggs. I wanted enough room to park my two cars.

I love my patio
I love my patio!

I wanted fruit trees in the back yard. When I adopted three of my children, I knew I needed more space for all of us to continue to grow. Home ownership is the way I sought to provide my children a sense of stability and to show them how much I loved them.

Chris creates his garden
Chris creates his garden
My Children Motivate Me
My Children Motivate Me

I purchased a home to share my political views and be a real member of a community.  I can put political signs in my yard. Being the Democratic Precinct Chair  for Precinct 12 means a great deal to me. I want to share information with my neighbors.

Chris did a great job growing okra.
Chris did a great job growing okra.

I  entertain everyday at work. I am a professor; my students demand my knowledge, my time, my energy, and my humor. When I go home, there is very little juice left to give my family. I feel peace when I am at home. I get replenished.

There are days that I want to share my time with others. I look forward to entertaining in my home.  I love playing cards, watching movies, and eating great meals. So far, I have been able to have a few close friends and family members over. Now, I am ready to expand my home to other friends. It is important that I continue to grow socially. I have spent most of my life pursuing degrees and other material goods. I am ready to do other things to enhance my life outside of school and work. I love being a mother and working in my yard.

When I was selecting bricks and other items for my home, I  really did not know what I was doing. I am proud of the outcome. I love the archway to my home. I love my choices; I am a proud home owner. When I look at the photos that I posted, I see God’s sun rays shining in most of the photos. I know He blessed me and my family.

I hope sharing my secret helps other women decide to purchase a home. I love my life today. I feel more at peace with myself, and I know owning a home has influenced my attitude. I am finishing up my dissertation within the next couple of months; I am conducting interviews for Chapter 4 of my dissertation. I love the fact that I am 45, a single mother, a business woman, a published author, and a homeowner.

Home Owner
Home Owner

Transformation by Sheila Pope

Transformation
Getting Ready for Work at Texas Southern University

Today, I felt the need to blog. I felt the need to share my perspective on a topic that is scary and challenging. Transformation or change is hard. I attended a conference last week with the goal of learning how to transform my students into successful writers and successful students. During the conference, I made the statement, “I am a good teacher”. I could feel the participants’ eyes upon me when I made that declaration. I was asked by the facilitator did I really mean to say I was good? I boldly stated, “I came to the conference a good teacher; but, I expected to grow as a result of what I learned from the conference”. I wanted to learn more things to help me pilot a new pilot program in developmental education.

I have been piloting a hybrid WRIT 101 class for two years. This semester, I wrote an eBook, “Writing Essentials for Freshmen English and the THEA” (publisher Great River Technologies) to supplement the course. The eBook is now our published adopted course book. During the pilot, my students will have the opportunity to transform the contents of the book; they will have the opportunity to transform my writing skills. I constantly open myself up for students to judge me daily. However, it is scary to open up your work for students and your peers to judge.

The facilitator said I was a different type of person. I agreed with the facilitator! I am different. I love a challenge. I refuse to run from a challenge. However, I must admit, change is hard for me just like it is for others. I am challenging myself to continue to listen to the still voice in my heart and head; I am challenging myself to act on my heart’s desires and limit my excuses for not accomplishing my goals. More important, I am determined not to over extend myself this semester. I am going to spread the message of excellence and balance to my students and my friends. I want my students to desire to excel beyond being “good” at writing. I want them to desire to excel in every aspect of their life. More important, I want other females of all races, especially African-Americans, to face their fears and to declare to the world that they are good at something! Believe it or not, it takes courage to say you are good and not back down from verbal messages that tell you otherwise. I want my students to avoid drinking from the cup of mediocrity.

I have started my journey to transformation by starting my internship with the Student Health Service Center. I attended the first staff meeting and learned about several exciting programs and services that I could take part in this semester. I learned that I can collaborate and serve students on campus in different capacities. I have to accept change in my personal and professional skills to fully embrace my transformation. I am going to learn new skills while I work in the Student Service Health Center.

I am scared and excited. I am opening myself up to work with a new team of people. My goal is to work with a team of people who have skills that I desire to learn. Again, I am comfortable in my writing lab. I know my area. Now, I am going to see how to serve students with mental health needs outside of my comfort zone. I am going to have elevate my counseling skills. More important, I am going to have to let others see the less confident side of me. I feel empowered when I share information. I hope to empower my students this semester. I expect to see each of them transform into “different” types of learners while I transform into a better professor and counselor.