This month’s Creative Interview has been one of my favorites thus far.  The reason behind that is that Kori is a personal friend of mine, that I have NEVER physically met.  Back in 2003, when we were both pregnant with our now 10 year olds, we joined an Online Parenting Group for Expectant Moms due in November.  I think we were both looking for people who were experiencing the same things that we were at that time, like the indigestion, weight gain, and over all pregnancy woes.  The group went through major transitions over the years.  And, literally there are only a few of us still standing.  But, what developed out of that setting were some very meaningful and unexpected friendships.  She was the first military wife that I had ever known.  Long before my obsession with the Lifetime Show. I was always fascinated by the way she  played her position taking on whatever was thrown at her while still maintaining order, stability and security for her family.  The sacrifices that not only those serving our country, but also the families left behind is humbling.   Check out what Kori has to say about life as a military wife and mom and transitioning to civilian life.

Grace Under Fire From Military Wife to Civilian Life

When did you become a military wife?

We were married June 19 2001.  That’s when my journey as a military wife began.

How long was your dh in the military?
He was in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years.

Was he in the military before you got married and did that weigh into the decision to marry him?
While we did date in high school we were not together when he joined.  When we got back together he was already a Marine.    Him being in the military really didn’t have any bearing on my decision to marry him.  Partially because my father was in the military when I was a kid so I had an idea of what my life was going to be like.   And partially because it didn’t matter to me.

With him being deployed, was he able to be their for the births of all of your babies?
I was really lucky and he was home for all of my pregnancies and births.  There are many women who don’t have that.

What was the hardest time that you spent alone?
In March 2011 he was deployed on ship in the Asia Pacific Region.  (Japan, Thailand, Malaysia etc).  I awoke one morning to many texts , Facebook posts and Facebook messages asking if Mike was ok.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  I turned on the news and found out there was an earthquake and tsunami in that area.  I quickly turned on the computer and had a message from him that read, ” I’m fine.”   During the next communication I found out that they were on their way back to Japan to see if they would be needed in the clean up efforts.  For the next couple of months the stability of the of the Fukushima Dauichi nuclear power plant went from bad to worse, getting up to level 7 emergency. Nuclear chemicals were leaking out and evacuations took place. The ship remained “docked” in Japan.  So there was a very real fear of what chemicals he may have been exposed to.

How was the transition when going from being a Military Wife to being a civilian?
The transition from military wife to civilian wife was difficult for me.  I spent all of my adult life living one way and then it was just done.  We moved to a non military town and I felt out of my element, sometimes I still do and it’s been a year.   As a military wife I was always able to find people like me.  As a civilian I felt alone and like I didn’t fit anywhere.

When did he retire and after how long?  Do you think he regrets it or was he happy to move on?
He retired from the Marine Corps March 31, 2014. After 20 years he was ready to move on.

What were some of the major changes after he retired?

Major changes were the move back home.  Finding a home, a job, new schools for the kids.   Healthcare was huge because we never had to deal with health insurance before.  The stability we had was gone.

 How did it change the family dynamic?
The family dynamic hasn’t really changed too much.  Mike is home more now so I’d say that actual co parenting is new.  Before I really just decided what was what and now it’s discussed more.

What advice would you give a new military wife?
It’s all what you make of it.  If you decide things stink…they are going to stink.  You have to be able to find some silver lining.   Find friends, they will help you through.

What advice would give to a wife who is transitioning to civilian life?
Just go with the flow.  There will be ups and downs but you will get through them.  It might be hard for a while but you’ve been a military wife already, you’ve got this.

Is there anything that you would have done differently at any juncture in this whole process?
I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently.  The military gave me a great life, now it’s time to see what civilian life has in store.

“It’s all what you make of it.  If you decide things stink…they are going to stink.  You have to be able to find some silver lining.   Find friends, they will help you through.” –Kori Gaff

Stage Presents: Not Your Average Teacher – Nigel Walker Ed. S.

Making the Pieces Fit - Not Your Average Teacher In my opinion, teaching is one of the hardest and most noble professions.  It takes a certain kind of dedication and commitment to be able to reach, mold, and engage young minds.  As a parent, I have had the opportunity to experience  many different teachers and administrators.  I have always been fascinated by the way that certain teachers can capture both the affection and the imagination of  the children that they teach. In today’s society, I find that the focus has shifted away from those who teach because they love to teach and have a genuine passion for reaching those in their charge.  So, I wanted to do this Creative Interview to showcase a Teacher who is definitely “Not Your Average Teacher”.  They do EXIST.  In addition to being a teacher, Nigel Walker is also a published author, three times over.  You will find the links to his books in his bio at the end of this blog.  Be sure to Like and Follow him on his various Social Media Channels.  He definitely gets the Stage Presents Seal of Approval.

What made you want to become a teacher?

After changing my mind several times, I began to think about what I could do that I would enjoy other than writing, music or theater.  Even though I delighted in those things, I was looking for a more stable career.  I then thought about how much I liked to tutor other students in High School, and I recalled that my Spanish class taught basic Spanish to elementary school children, and so began my interest in teaching.

What makes your teaching style unique?

My upbringing  helps me to relate to more of the students that are considered “at risk”.  My diverse interests in music and pop culture help me to relate to the average student, and my use of music and creative teaching techniques keep the students engaged.  I also pair that with the very high expectations to draw a belief out of all my students that they can achieve   Many will tell you that it is a difficult and scarcely seen task to maintain high expectations amidst student and parent resistance, as well as changing standards and expectations.

What is your goal for your students each year?

I tell my students at the beginning of each year that it is my goal for 100% of them to have a passing grade and/or pass whatever standardized test we are giving, and I believe that is possible.

Ultimately, what do you see as your end game?  What do you think that your experience and education has prepared you for?

My ultimate goal is to open my own school, whether it is private or charter.  I have have had the good fortune of being acquainted with Ron Clark and Kim Bearden, co-founders of the Ron Clark Academy and some of their outstanding teachers.  I have also had the privilege of working under the 2013 Metlife/NASSP National Principal of the Year, Dr. Laurie Barron.  In those experiences, I have shared my goals and have been advised by people I think are the best equipped to give advice.  My experience as a professional speaker and community activist has prepared me to understand the sense of community it truly takes to help in the development of a child.  I am prepared to embark on my own personal journey to develop the next generation of leaders in the community.

What is your vision for your school?  Tell me a little about it.

The vision of the school is to use an energized curriculum based on music and the arts to engage students in rigorous instruction.  It is also to discover or utilize talent to serve the community, while building lasting qualities of good character.  I want my school to change the culture of how underprivileged and underrepresented students are viewed in society and build a legacy of leadership and scholarship that they will brag about being a a part of.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next three and a half years, I hope to finish my doctorate in Curriculum and Leadership and if  I decide to go with a Charter School, I hope to be ready to open my school in the 5th year.

What advice would you give to a newly graduated teacher, getting ready to enter the School House in the Fall?

Don’t go in alone.  Find a mentor and a support group.  Teaching is not a piece of cake.  Be in it for the right reasons, the students!!  Be consistent.  Be fair.  Understand your student’s personalities and try to find ways to incorporate them in your expectations, so that they can be themselves.  Stay within the standards that you set in your classroom.

What’s your favorite quote?

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Where can we find you around the web?

WillEdServices Website



Nigel Walker Ed. S - Not Your Average Teacher

Nigel L. Walker was born February 13, 1980 in Eufaula, AL. He is a teacher, author, speaker, and owner of W.I.L.L. Educational Services, LLC. He has a Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Leadership. His works include poetry books, The Secret Diaries of Jean Batiste and Rose Petals for Josephine: The Secret Diaries Vol. II, and a narrative nonfiction, The Underground Philosophy of Education: Teaching is Not for Dummies. He was a 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year Candidate, 2012 Professional of the Year for Covington’s Who’s Who Professional Registry, and is a member of the Great Black Speaker’s Bureau. He was featured in 7 Black Education Speakers Making a Difference by the Great Black Speaker’s Bureau. He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He is married with two children.