Breaking the Silence:
My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher

M. Shannon Hernandez, M. Ed.

Author | Education Activist & Speaker | Professor

  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    A must-read for anyone who is a teacher, whether you work with children or adults. Shannon doesn't sugar-coat things; she tells it like it really, truly is. An inspiring look at the impact teachers make and the reality of what goes on behind the curtain when you're making a big change in your own life.

    --- Karyn Greenstreet Small Business Coach and Mastermind Group Expert
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    This is a powerhouse book filled with honest insight and courageous words which illustrate that we must stand up for what we believe in most, even when it’s the difficult path. We must all become leaders in education reform. Taking the first step is the most difficult part, but without that first step, we will never see change.

    --- Tim McDonald Director of Community at The Huffington Post
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    I met Shannon as she began thinking about leaving the public school system. As her business coach, I’ve been privileged with the front seat for the show that never should have happened, and through this book, she gives her readers a front seat, too. Shannon is a force for good in the world. It’s absolutely the loss of the public education system that she’s left. And it’s absolutely our gain that she’s revealed herself so transparently and vulnerably through her beautiful memoir.

    --- Anastacia Brice Business Foundations Coach
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    Shannon Hernandez has crafted a beautifully written, heartbreaking book about why she left a profession she loved and why so many other great teachers are doing the same thing. Her memoir is filled with love and compassion for students, making the reader forge an immediate identification with the author, who is gradually beaten down by a bureaucracy that micromanages her and refuses to recognize her gifts. This is a memoir that touches the heart, as well as the intellect. It’s an important window into the tragedy that has befallen America's best teachers.

    --- Dr. Mark Naison Professor of African American Studies and History, Fordham University, and Co-founder, Badass Teachers Association
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    This book is a wake-up call to administrators, advocates, and parents who truly care about why we lose great teachers and how we can save good schools.

    --- Tai Goodwin-Kastens Parent, Author, and Former 5th Grade Teacher
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    Having spent 5 years in the public education system, I found myself simultaneously reading in disbelief and "experienced acknowledgement" as Shannon shares her story of finding, and then losing, her own purpose as a professional educator. The journey she takes you on through these chapters will make you think very carefully about the current state of affairs; and, it will give you hope that there are indeed people who care that much about the well-being and welfare of your children.

    --- Jason W. Womack Author of "Your Best Just Got Better"
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    Breaking the Silence will outrage and inspire anyone who cares deeply about the American educational system. It is at once a riveting tale of the heartbreaking failures of our public schools and an uplifting memoir of one woman's journey of reinvention. Read it and give it to your friends.

    --- Molly Gordon Master Certified Coach
  • Praise for Breaking the Silence

    Shannon Hernandez gives a straightforward account of the problems teachers face in the American public education system today. As a European mother, whose sons attended school in the U.S., I now understand why many young, enthusiastic teachers are disillusioned and quit. With too many rigid structures in place, we forget that teaching and learning should be a joy.

    --- Sonia Marsh author of the award-winning memoir, Freeways to Flip-Flops, and founder of the My Gutsy Story® Anthology

Meet the Author

After 15 years as a professional educator, inspiring students and fellow educators, I decided enough was enough (not getting a lunch, being scolded for doing what’s right for children, and not being able to go to the bathroom when I needed to were just three of the deciding factors!). I knew at a soul level that I had to find a way to blend my love of the written word and my motivating, upbeat leadership style into something that would allow me to help others in a way the school system wouldn’t.

In just six months, I planned my exit, left my career as a tenured teacher, and launched my own company (The Writing Whisperer) because I knew I could no longer keep my passion and truth locked away. I now work with small business owners and writers in a variety of formats, some of which include content marketing, copywriting, branding word work, private memoir coaching, and journaling. My main mission is help writers of all varieties tap into the power of using their words to spread their messages, both in business and personal writing.

I am also passionate about advocating for doing what is right for our nation’s children and teachers. Because I left the public education system, I can now talk openly about the issues teachers are facing day in and day out, without fear of repercussion. I am a writer for The Huffington Post, as well as a professor at Brooklyn College. Above all, I am a teacher for life.

When I’m not speaking, teaching, or helping people write, I love to spend time with my husband Michael and my cat Shakti, as well as run long distances, bike the busy city streets, travel to far away lands, make tasty vegan meals, and live life to the fullest —my own way.

I would love to connect with you. You can find all of my contact information at the very bottom of my website. I hope to hear from you soon!

A Peek Inside Breaking the Silence

Selected Excerpts:


excerpt from the Introduction…

“Forty days out from my resignation date, I opened up my notebook and jotted down the daily stories that unfolded in my classroom, Room 719. Those notes became my memoir—a true account that chronicles my final forty days as a public school teacher—the good, the bad, and the utterly inexplicable.”

excerpt from the Introduction…

“Breaking the Silence is a story of love, loss, hope and self-empowerment. It’s a journey of my professional and personal reinvention. Above all, this book illustrates just what can be achieved when we choose to dream bigger than ever before.”

excerpt from Day 40…

“Teachers and students are living, breathing human beings, complete with feelings. We are not robots. The current educational system in the United States doesn’t allow the children, nor the teachers, to thrive or grow, as humans.”

excerpt from Day 36…

“Every year, in every state across the country, politicians and union reps make decisions that detrimentally affect teachers and the profession on a grand scale. They take away our benefits, freeze our pay, and decide they can no longer compensate us for the advanced degrees we have earned. They also continue to find ways to tie our evaluations to test scores. It simply isn’t fair.”

excerpt from Day 28…

“As I look over my classroom, I know the personal stories and histories of most of the students who are entrusting me with their futures. One young man in my class is scared to death of walking out the front door of his building: There are days he refuses to leave his house and come to school for fear of being taunted and beaten by the local gangs who have targeted him as a weak, shy boy. He is an emotional wreck. Most days, he sleeps during my class, because our classroom is a safe space where he can let his guard down and get the rest his body and mind crave.”

excerpt from Day 3…

“My mantra as a teacher has always been, “I teach students, not subjects.” My specialty and gift over these years has been elevating students emotionally—supercharging them with affirmations and confidence and the ability to believe in themselves—so they can overcome their personal obstacles. I have never emphasized the subject matter or the standardized test: That doesn’t work. What does work is caring, loving, and helping students to understand who they are as individuals, why they are unique and beautiful, and how to set goals and achieve them in life.”

Buy The Book

Grab your copy of Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher today.

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What is the backstory behind the title “Breaking the Silence”? 21 Jul

As a teacher, it was very difficult, and almost impossible, to talk about doing what was right in the world of public education, without fear of retaliation from those in the system who didn’t want to “rock the boat.” So, the title fit well, in this instance, because I am now able to speak freely […]

How long did it take you to write your memoir? 21 Jul

The writing of the memoir, at least the first draft, went pretty fast. After leaving the classroom, I took the month of July (2013) to bounce back from a terrible event that happened within the final 40 days (You will have to read the book to find out!), and then in August, I started writing. […]

How do you spend your time when you are not writing? 21 Jul

I love being outdoors–and believe it or not–there are lots of outdoor, natural areas in Brooklyn, New York. When I am not poking around in the leaves looking for a cute, spindly worm, or drawing scenes from nature, you will find me on my bike cycling the city streets with my husband, Michael. I also […]

Do you coach other memoir writers? 21 Jul

I am not only passionate about memoir writing, but I also have a deep desire to help writers succeed in sharing their personal life stories with others. I know the value and satisfaction of accomplishing a large writing task, such as a memoir, and I know how beneficial it is to have the support of […]

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