Spotlight Writer-Tobi Scaggs

Tobi Scaggs

Tobi and daughter
Tobi Scaggs and Daughter

Personal :
I'm the classic youngest child- having three older sisters. This provided me with a rich endless resource of dramatic stories growing up, both theirs and mine. I grew up in Lincoln attending Prescott, Irving and East Jr./Sr. High graduating in 1990. I married my best friend Steven and we have an amazing, talented, hilarious, creative and did I say talented yet, daughter named Gracie Mae.

Teaching History:

I think I started teaching, or at least I believed I was teaching, when I was a sixth grader myself. I toyed with other majors in college but came back to teaching when it mattered the most. My first year I got to teach Reading at a middle school here in town, my first day was so bad I tried to quit on the morning of my second day. But, here I am nine years later; I'm still filling in bubbles, coming up with lessons to inspire my students and acting like a goof to hold onto their attention each day. I found my home at Dawes Middle School in Lincoln Nebraska, where I have spent the last 8 years.

NeWP Involvement:

  • 2006 UNL Summer participant
  • Fall of 2006/Spring of 2007 NeWP Level II participant
  • I'm looking forward to facilitating the summer of 2007 group at UNL.


Writing all day long! "Touch of the School Improvement Gal in me."
A brief glimpse at my EQUIP

A big concern of mine is taking writing and using it across the curriculum. I have been teaching a reading curriculum for several years that often times doesn't leave as much time for writing as I'd like. As I teach sixth grade in a middle school building I have a little leeway. I have been able to take my writing and carry it across the curriculum so that I can use some of the same concepts that I need to teach in Language Arts and give them extra practice in Science, Math and Social Studies.

In the building where I teach now we are working (successfully it appears) at bringing up our reading and math scores. I know our next focus will be writing, so to get a jump start on where this can go and how I can best help my building get ready for it I started taking as many writing classes as I could. In every professional development class I was seeing a link to my other subject areas and it really seemed like this was going to be much easier than I thought.

I love the challenge of taking writing into the math class and probing my students thought processes with questions like how is sixth grader like a reciprocal? Trust me, I've had some interesting responses.

In science the students can create poetry that demonstrates their understanding of the concept or new vocabulary word we just learned. It really does make it fun and brings the creativity into subjects that can sometimes seem very textbook driven.

Its odd as I think of myself sitting in meetings groaning along with my cohorts as we pick up new assignments and tasks while secretively in my head I'm plotting some way to take this new challenge and make it better than its original design. I have always had a knack for being able to see opportunities when others see brick walls. Literally, I hear theme music in my head and sit anxiously trying to contain my excitement and not look like the eager teacher that I can still come off as when new things are brought to us. Either way I love the process of writing and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for it and seeing the writers that my students become over time.

Thanks in most part to my participation in the NeWP this year I hope to incorporate more poetry and to use more multi-genre approaches then I have in the past.

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Sample Writing:

Bliss Interrupted
(Work in progress)

It always seems to happen when I least expect it and am the most relaxed. For example I was enjoying a warm “wake me up and start the day” shower. I was experiencing one of those moments where the world seems to fall into place and things are just as you hope they'll be one day. The bills are paid, everyone is up and on their way to work, and the day ahead is full of something new and exciting. That's when it catches my eye. Some dark shadow is there moving against the stark white shower board wall. Why didn't I put my contacts in this morning?

This is usually when my mind goes into overdrive. Do I look closer before taking action? Shall I just splash it with water and move on with my life? Does everyone else have these sudden fears?

Within moments a relaxing shower has changed into a scene from a low budget horror film. In my mind's eye a misshapen bug crawls across the shower wall. Some type of alien bug that craves human flesh and the particular scent of body wash I just used… darn that Bath and Body works, it's like a conspiracy. My stomach begins to churn and turn. I start to think of the pain this tiny bug could inflict with sharpened teeth and razor like claws, I mean tentacles. I try bringing myself back to planet Earth. I actually say out loud to no one but my own frightened soul that its probably just a piece of dark lint. But there is just something about being in the shower, naked, vulnerable.

Immediately I want to prepare for battle. I search with a desperateness that few Midwest teachers experience for some type of hard surface to assail this intruder with, be it lint or foe. I feel the need to be armed. I scan for a large bottle but instead I see only smaller bottles of Johnson's and Johnson's, no that won't work my hand will be way to close to coming in contact with this creature. I keep searching and find fluffy scrubbies and washrags. I can't bring myself to use the washrag as rather than wash it I know in my heart I'd throw the solitary cloth out should it turn out to be a bug after all. My head races to failed attempts to kill the beasts that seek me out during vulnerable moments like this. The spider that knowing crawls onto my arm just as I'm about to drift away to magical places, the bee that wanders into my car at the stop light or during the open moments at the drive thru window. They say that bugs sense fear, I think they have an extraordinary sense of timing as well.

Am I allergic you may ask? No. Can't claim any such serious reason for my panic. Am I like this always? No, and this is the kicker. For me its all about time and place. When I'm up teaching the largest and spookiest looking spider can crawl across my desk or floor and I will do everything and anything that I can to aid its escape to the outer world before the prepubescents in my care take aim for its location. I've held snakes, been through surgeries and procedures that would make many folks wince, I've teach middle school for heaven's sake. I've spoken in public, been on television when I was in the hospital with the Norwalk virus, AND survived cancer. But these little creatures, at just the wrong moments, can disturb my entire existence on the planet. How am I reduced to the scared little girl who ends up screaming for her husband?

I wonder sometimes if this condition I have is something that I was born with or if its something that I have developed over time based upon varying frightening situations with the little buggers. It's a true nature vs. nurture debate. Why there and not here. These are the questions that keep me up at night sometimes. Especially when my husband isn't home and I think I see something crawling on the ceiling… oh, where on earth did I put my glasses?

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