Happy First Day of SPRING!!! (he says as he scrapes the ice off the windshield of his mom’s car)
March Madness starts today – NO, not that basketball thingy – Susanna Leonard Hill’s Creative writing contest! Click HERE to check it out. The contest is to writ a fractured fairy tale. You still have time to enter! You can win FABULOUS PRIZES! I am posting my entry tomorrow. 🙂
I have an awesome creative kid to tell you about today. Sixteen year-old Daniel Johnston is a chess champ, book reviewer, blogger and writer! Check out his blog HERE. I interviewed Daniel a few years ago about being a chess champ (click HERE) and he just did a podcast with me about books and reading (click HERE). Daniel wrote a great short story that he wanted to share with everyone. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
Photo Credit Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
The Teacher gets Taught a Lesson of Love
By Daniel Johnston
As the ﬁfth-grade class heard the creaking from outside the door, they settled down and sat back in their chairs. It was the ﬁrst day for the new substitute teacher, Mrs. Higgins. “I bet she won’t be as good as Revis,” a boy named Nick whispered.
“I hope Revis’s mother is okay,” Jared whispered back. Mr. Revis had been the old teacher of the class. He was a great teacher, and all the students loved him. On Friday he’d had to leave class early because his mother was in the hospital on the other side of the country. Over the weekend, the principal had told all the kids parents that Revis’s mother would be okay, but his mother couldn’t take care of herself and Revis had decided to live with her for now.
“I hope so too man. But now I’m worried about us. What’s Mrs. Higgins going to be like?” Nick said, with a worried look on his face. Jared shrugged his shoulders. Mrs. Higgins was the permanent substitute teacher for the rest of the year, which meant they’d have to suffer through her six hours a day for the next three months. So it’s no surprise the class held its breath as their new leader walked through the door.
Mrs. Higgins was a pretty woman in her mid-twenties with blonde hair and green eyes. Her face was in a smile of genuine happiness and excitement to be there. Although in the movies when the teacher walks in, the class says, “Hello Mr. or Mrs. ____” that’s not the way it happened with this group of ﬁfth-graders; they were totally silent as Mrs. Higgins walked up to her desk, put her purse down, and greeted the class.
Mrs. Higgins face contorted into a pleasant surprise. “Well,” she said, putting her hands on her hips, “is everyone asleep today?” This got a few mixed laughs and relief from the class. This was obviously a teacher who was very comfortable with ﬁfth-grade classrooms.
The rest of the day was like that. They didn’t do anything too strenuous, but they played some games to get to know each other better, heard about Mrs. Higgins treacherous travel traversing the Atlantic Ocean, and did a little of the three R’s: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. At 10:30 Nick whisper now was, “This teacher is cool.” Everything ran smoothly. That is, until it was time to go to Recess.
Mr. Revis had allowed the students to have an hour of recess every day. But as they were about to go out for recess, Mrs. Higgins announced, “Alright class. We’ve got a lot of stuff to cover, so because we’re going to be playing games in the middle of the day for ﬁfteen minutes, you’re going to have forty-ﬁve minutes of recess everyday. Is everyone okay with that?”
The students nodded. Most of them knew that next year they would be entering middle school and wouldn’t get any recess anyways, so there was no point in complaining about getting “only” forty-ﬁve minutes.
Most of them; expect for Samantha. Samantha was the queen of jump roping. She could jump rope with her eyes closed for an hour straight during recess, as she often did. The majority of the other girls also enjoyed jump roping, and so 2:15 to 3:15 in the afternoon was her time. It was her court. She had a tough family situation and was not willing to give up her glory. “Noooooooo!” She cried, hitting the ground. “I need to jump rope. Mrs. Higgins, I just need to, you can’t do this to me. No!” She wailed and cried and coughed and kicked her legs. The class looked to the teacher to see what she would do. Sure, she could teach. But how would she handle a misbehaving student?
Nick alone was fraught with worry for Samantha, especially when another boy, Randy, whispered to him, “Dude, that’s your girl.” Samantha and he were sort of dating, sort of not. Either way, he cared about her a lot.
Mrs. Higgins thought for a moment, and then said, “Why don’t you show everyone your jump roping tomorrow during games?” Mrs. Higgins didn’t understand that those times were the magical kingdom for a child who had nowhere else to go.
“I can’t bear to see her like this,” Nick snifﬂed. He ran over to Samantha and got down on his knees next to her before Mrs. Higgins had time to react. He brought Samantha into his arms, perhaps the only time she would let him fulﬁll that dream of his. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, “we’ll all watch you jump rope.”
Samantha understand what Nick meant and managed to smile wanly, “All you guys?”
“Yes,” Nick said assuringly, turning over to the rest of the boys, who nodded, “all of us.” Samantha got up with her head on Nick’s shoulders, a peaceful expression on her face. That recess, and all recesses for weeks to come, the boys watched Samantha, and even tried to jump rope themselves. Samantha’s experience changed. Instead of being the queen of the court, she was involved in a collaborative effort with people who cared about. And that’s something she had never experienced.
Why did the boys help this little girl instead of playing football as they were apt to do. That’s why Mrs. Higgins wondered, and eventually she asked the quiet, polite kid who she had quickly won over. Nick’s response was, “Football is fun. But not as fun as seeing someone happy.” The boys had agreed to watch Samantha for one day. That wouldn’t hurt. But when they saw the sparkle in her eyes, the love of life shining in her face, they just couldn’t stay away.
The good teacher Mrs. Higgins learned more from the boys love and kindness in her ﬁrst week than she would teach them the whole rest of the year. Reading, writing, and arithmetic is one thing. Love is quite another.