Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Introduction

Holly Elissa Bruno, MA, JD, is writing an interactive book about the culture of second chances in education, and she wants to hear what you have to say about it. Join Holly Elissa as she reflects on her encounters with second chances and invites you to share your own experiences. Your comments and stories could end up in her book!

Watch this special video message from Holly Elissa, read her first post, and then keep checking back here for more. This is an ongoing project, so we’ll alert you to new posts via Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up to receive notifications of new posts by entering your email address under the “Follow Along” heading in the right-hand column of this screen. (If you don’t see the “Follow Along” heading, try clicking on the Redleaf Press Blog banner at the top of your screen, and then it should appear. If you’re viewing this from the mobile site, try switching over to the full site—scroll all the way down to find that option.)

We invite you to share as often and openly as you want. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes the book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation even after the book is published.

Thank you, from everyone at Redleaf Press and Holly Elissa, for joining us for this journey!

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24 Responses to Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Introduction

  1. Pingback: Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 1 | Redleaf Press Blog

    • Linda Hurst says:

      I teach courses at the university level in Early Childhood Administration and Leadership. I have some very knowledgeable students in my courses who have many years of experience in the field of early care and education. I wholeheartedly believe I often learn as much from them as they learn from me.

      I typically teach at night because that is when my students are not at work. I tend to be a “morning” person and rise early, just as they do, and it frequently has been a long day by the time we are in class together. By that point in the day, our “emotional intelligence” is waning, or at least, I know mine is. I may not always be as aware of how student’s comments and questions are affecting me until the next morning when I am reflecting on how the class went the night before.

      One night I had a student who has taken several courses with me, and who I know to be very astute, ask me why an assignment was set up the way it was. She expressed that it was not written clearly and that she did not receive the score she had worked so hard to get on that assignment because it was vague and not worded effectively. My first reaction was not defensive but, instead, apologetic. I trusted that she had thoroughly read the rubric for the assignment and because I had not written it effectively, she was penalized. I trusted her judgement was not meant to hurt me but it made me question myself and my ability as an instructor.

      I believe it was my emotional state of being tired after a long day that lowered my confidence in myself. I took her comments and criticism personally. I asked some of the other students in the class if they had the same experience with the assignment in question. They agreed that the wording was not easy for them to understand.
      With that, I was sure I would have an apology to make and an assignment to rewrite and scores to recalculate.

      Fortunately I had the presence of mind to pull up the assignment document. Our classes meet via web-conferencing and I can share any document from my computer with the class at any time. We read the assignment carefully together. There was one word that was actually there in the description that this student and others had missed when they read the assignment. That one word made all the difference in how they interpreted what was expected for the assignment. It was the one thing that was missing in this student’s assignment which brought down her score.

      As it turned out, she was the one to apologize and asked if she could resubmit her assignment. I was happy that to offer that opportunity. I learned that when I am tired, I tend to take things more personally than I should. At those times I need to remember a response I learned from my son years ago; “Give me some time to think about that.”

  2. Hello,
    >Your book sounds exiting to me because I get second chances all the time
    >I am so grateful about it.
    >One of the ones that relate to our childcare industry the most is my most
    >beloved as well. I grew up in a large Mexican family in Mexico City. Knew
    >from the age of 8 that one day I would own and run a preschool program,
    >a result of caring for my brothers, and cousins always during summer
    >vacations.. I worked as a teacher in Mexico and Loved every day of my
    >One day I got married to my American husband and moved with him to the
    >US. I
    >had to regroup my skills and talents. Learn the language, learn the
    >marriage, and all of those new whoops. Got busy with life working and
    >learning my new life. And finally after my children where old enough for
    >to feel comfortable running my own business I was able to open and run a
    >bilingual preschool in Georgia. It was truly a wonderful second chance.
    >sacrifices as well, but being able to do what I dream of all my life was
    >more than a blessing.

  3. Beverlyn Cain says:

    Today I received an email from a student in one of my classes. She titled the email “Warm Fuzzy for Today” In three to four paragraphs, she thanked me for what she is learning about early education and about herself as an early childhood teacher and a parent. Well to be honest, she sang praises to me for being a well spoken and educated educator who is able to broaden perspectives by sharing my past experiences as an educator and a parent.. I am sharing this because whenever I receive a positive comment from a student, I see this point in time as a second chance. the second chance is that I can feel absolutely good about what I do. And give myself a pat on the back.

  4. Pingback: Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 2 | Redleaf Press Blog

  5. Dear Marta,

    That’s what taking a 2nd chance gives us: the path to the life we are meant to lead.

    Wow. You knew at eight years old! And, you carried that passion through so many trials and bumps in your road. Your’s has to have been a powerful passion to guide you thought everything. And look, now you are helping other children and their families who are bilingual find their way. Thank you!

    What is in some of us (at least some, if not all, of the time) that gives us the courage to stick with it and to take that 2nd chance? Is this inborn, learned? There’s something powerful in the strong inner voice you listened to.

    When I listen to that voice, an unseen/unnoticed path opens up for me. Without that voice, I make pretty muddled decisions.

    Thank you again, Marta,

    Holly E

  6. Dear Dr. Beverlyn,

    I am certain you deserve honor and praise daily for all you do to uplift and guide your students.

    Look! You are changing people’s lives for the better! It doesn’t get much better than that.

    I read once that if we are in the presence of a truth-telling, loving and spiritual person, those same traits come out in us. I believe that.

    In early childhood, as we always joke: “It’s not about the money, honey!”

    Seems to me that in giving your students (like the one who wrote to you) a 2nd chance, as you said, you get a 2nd chance to see though new eyes, the difference you are making on earth.

    Most of us need that healing perspective. Well, I do. That’s for sure.

    When participants stood up, almost in unison, to applaud a presentation I made last week on “Hat’s Off to You: Everyday miracle workers in children’s lives”, I memorized that moment by heart. It was (and is) a 2nd chance to savor how worthwhile our work is.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us all,

    Holly Elissa

  7. Peter J. Pizzolongo says:

    Hi Holly! Great idea! My second chance was very early on. I was on undergrad psychology major, intent on becoming a developmental psychologist. The U DE Psych Department had 1 developmental psychologist–Dr. Al Duchnowski–and I signed up for several ‘special problems’ with him (field studies). His area of interest was adolescents with “social & emotional disabilities” (SED–phrase used in the 1970s). I administered locus of control tests to and spent time with the ‘subjects.’. Not surprisingly, these kids felt that all the bad things that happened to them were not a result of their actions, but the fault of others. I was curious as to how a kid could be that ‘damaged’ by the age of 13. Dr. D suggested I trot over the Home Ec Department and ask about taking child development courses. A very wise lab school director, Charlotte McCarty, suggested I go right to the practicum class and work with children in the lab school. A wonderful lab school (still is–I just visited U DE a few weeks ago!), with caring competent faculty. The faculty and my fellow students helped me to see how we can help children avoid becoming the kinds of tweens I was seeing in my ‘special problems’ group. So I took a chance and got a master’s degree in child development & family life, taught a toddler group while in grad school, & the rest is history! (I tell people I’m between degrees–will become a developmental psychologist eventually–40 years later!). Interestingly, my second chance–to become an ECEer–showed me the importance of children having a chance to grow and learn in a way that is most appropriate for them and to become tweens, teens, and adults with social and emotional behaviors that are not ‘challenging’ to themselves and those around them.

    • Thank you, Peter. You followed (what author Adam Bryant terms) your “passionate curiosity” to the source of wonder: early childhood education where every child has a chance.

      And, as you wisely note: “My second chance showed me the importance of children having a second chance”. That’s the underlying “law of 2nd chances”: get one, give one (or more).

      I too started out working with older kids whom the school system labeled “troubled”, or as the head of the English Department told me, “unteachable”. She advised me to read to the kids all day. I asked if I attempted other things that engaged the kids, would that be OK? Skeptically (and a look of “honey, you are beyond naive!”) she agreed.

      That year through deeper and deeper engagement, I learned powerful life lessons from my students; to this day, I hope they learned something from me as well. At least they knew I respected them.

      2nd chances create places of wonder. I’m glad you found and continue to find wonder and awe.

  8. Shanda Fitte says:

    Dear Holly,
    The second chance that I would like to share is about a past student of mine. I first met DJ when he was in my Head Start class. I was the center manager and lead teacher, he was four and I was obviously attached to him as I was with many children. Through the years I have watched DJ grow into a young man. I have loved him and encouraged him despite his poor choices, and trouble with the law. Because we live in a very small town, I am able to see him often. When I do, I hug him, tell him I believe in him, and encourage him. A few years ago his father died from a drug and alcohol overdose. He came to me and wanted to talk. However, since that time he continues to be in trouble, as well as his two other siblings. I gave him a promise that I would never give up on him. I have told him that despite his poor choices, I will love him, support him, and give him honest advice to help him succeed in life. Recently he went back to an alternative high school. I hope that DJ knows that there are very few people who he has pulling for him but that my support may be his second chance. I just hope that he will grasp the hand that is reaching out to him. I hope that I can share down the road what a successful young man he has become. But for now, I will love him right where he is.

    • You are a marvel, Ms. Shanda. Your love for DJ will always be in his heart. Trust me.

      My elementary teacher, Michael Gonta, saved my life. He was the 1st and only person who believed in me. He saw me. To this day, I love him back… the moon and back!

      Like DJ, I didn’t make great decisions. Took me a long time to believe I was worthy and not destined to repeat “the sins of the fathers”.

      Forty years later, I was able to find Mr. Gonta and thank him. In fact, I dedicated my book, What You Need to Lead, to him. When I need advice, I turn to him.

      DJ has one person in his corner, for always. Never doubt the gift you have given him.

      When we give a child a 2nd chance, we give that child hope for a lifetime.

      Thank you for making a difference, one DJ at a time

    • Dear Shanda,
      We are finishing up Holly Elissa’s new book and your comments made it into the final manuscript. We were wondering if you could grant permission to use your first name and last initial in the book? If not, we are happy to change your name in the book. You can reach me at
      Thank you!
      Ashley Robinson

  9. Pingback: Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 3 | Redleaf Press Blog

  10. This comment is from reader CJK:

    Hi Holly! The truth is that many experiences in life…for one reason or another ‘go and happen without saying’ to paraphrase your recent book’s genius phrase… When I perseverate on the insanity of that unhappy trend among mortals of all origins, persuasions, etc. etc. I grieve and I lose my spark. My spark is the best I have to give the is where my humor, my compassion, my creativity and my energy travel and I can’t let it become small. In a moment of clarity while struggling with the silence surrounding new and different assignments and responsibilities directed to me…I realized …I will best serve myself as well as others by embracing the messages that delivered my assignments and letting go of my craving to know why. I placed my faith in possibility and in the greater good. Letting go of my need to know WHY allowed me to imagine how much I have to give and propelled me onward and outward. This gave me wings. XO

  11. Your “spark” is a gift to yourself and to the world. Your spark is a light you carry in your heart that shines through your eyes and lightens the heart of anyone you see.

    Anything that crushes your spark threatens to snuff out the light.

    We all need one another’s light. Sailing ships that lost their way were guided home by the beacon of a light house.
    So, whatever threatens your spark threatens your soul.

    Please don’t let that happen. Call/text a supportive friend,take a sweet dog for a walk. At the end of your day, go through the alphabet, naming one thing for which you are grateful that begins with each letter: A (pples), B (buds on a lilac bush), C (chocolate!)….

    Simple steps like these can rekindle your spark. Each step is a 2nd chance to remember what you love.

    Each step is a take-off pad for you to use those wings!

    Hang in. Discouragement, although warranted, can creep in to steal our birth right: joy.

    Thanks for writing.

  12. Pingback: Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 4 | Redleaf Press Blog

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