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Lessons from defeat that have ignited a passion for learning

Adversity itself is not what defines us. It is how we react to that adversity and the choices we make that creates who we are and how we will persevere.

The Fire Within: Lessons from defeat that have ignited a passion for learning is a compilation of stories from amazing educators who have faced personal adversity head-on and have become stronger people for it. They use their newfound strength to support the students and teachers they work with. They are sharing their stories with a hope that others in the same situations might not feel alone, knowing that in our darkest hours, when our situations feel the most hopeless, is when we develop the extraordinary characteristics that make us who we are at our very cores.

In addition to the powerful and inspirational stories, there is a chapter included on trauma and how it rewires our brain, as well as the effects of Secondary Trauma, especially as it affects someone who is still dealing with their own fallout from traumatic experiences. This chapter also includes mindfulness activities that support coping and healing.

As teachers, we often don’t like to share our stories of adversity because we feel like we need to be strong for the little people we work with, but oftentimes our struggles give us strengths that are unique to us and support our work with others. When people fight through adversity, they either choose to live in their sorrow, or they use what they’ve learned to become a better servant of others.

Everyone has a story. We are hopeful that ours will inspire other educators to discover their superpowers, too!

Contact me for a discount on bulk orders over 10 books.


Mandy’s book is an important part of the lexicon of modern thinking on education. Everyone talks about what is planned, what is intended, etc. Mandy is one of the first to share and open a dialogue around the accidental and valuable curriculum of adversity. For those who’ve glided through life’s challenges unscathed, this book will be a revelation, for those who faced fierce challenges this book will be a roadmap and a treasured friend. I couldn’t be prouder of this strong woman and her willingness to lay things out in living color for others to learn from. As anyone who has fought through adversity can tell you, true inspiration lies on the other side of our challenges. It is through these stories that we can inspire others to rise far above their circumstances!

Kevin Honeycutt

So much of what we see today is everyone's best. While that is one way to learn and to grow, I find it to be less like real life and more like highlight reels. Mandy has crafted something special here, the likes of which we rarely encounter. What she has done is to collect stories of that, while painful and difficult to read, help us to realize that we are not alone. Reading carefully curated collection will let you know that you are not alone. And hopefully, once you realize this, you feel more inclined and empowered to share your story.

Jon Harper

Reading these stories helped me realize that those of us in education are not alone in our struggles, both in and out of the classroom. These stories take out the taboo or suffering in silence and recognizes the need we have for healing and genuine communication with supportive peers and others. There is hope and lessons to learn from in these stories that were dark in the beginning. I will read this again and share it with others!

Melody McAllister

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