Every year in the public schools, I would plan a big circus unit. We made torn paper clowns and at the end of the week would actually put on our own circus followed by a big circus parade. Older students would come out to cheer my little circus performers on as the elephants, tigers, lions, trapeze artists and ring master marched by. I would get a parent to videotape it each year. The children would delight in watching their performance and would want to watch it at least five times.

One year I had the sibling of one of my former students in my classroom. I asked the children if they would like to watch the video of the year C....'s sister had been in the circus. They all excitedly concurred that they did. The video had been running for about fifteen minutes when one little boy piped up in surprise "Gee, Mrs. B! You used to be a skinny clown!" I went home and drank Slimfast for dinner!

One year I remember sitting in my classroom working on some lesson plans after school when all of a sudden I heard a lot of commotion in the hall. The next thing I knew this extremely large, extremely angry woman came stomping into my room. She picked up a chair and threw it across the room. I said "Can I help you?" Smart move, right? Wrong! She came charging at me like a bull in a china shop. I thought about sitting there calmly for about two seconds; then I got up and ran in the opposite direction. She was yelling at me when I caught the name she called me. I said "WAIT A MINUTE! I am NOT Mrs. S.....I am MRS. B....!" She stopped, looked puzzled, and said "You don't teach my son A...?" I told her that I did not teach first grade but in fact taught kindergarten. She yelled at me again wanting to know where she could find Mrs. S. I pointed her in the wrong direction and then pushed the intercom button as soon as she left. We did not have phones in the rooms back then.  As soon as I got a response, I told them that a very angry parent who had thrown a chair at me was looking for Mrs. S. Then, I hightailed it out of there. Three other teachers who had been working in their rooms as well were right behind me.

The next day we learned that the Principal had intercepted her before she could throw any more furniture and that she had been banned from coming back on campus. Nobody was happier about that than Mrs. S!

I read a very interesting post in Gregory's blog about burglaries the other day. It is a really helpful article and I would encourage you to check it out. I mentioned to him that my purse had been stolen and he encouraged me to write about it so I did!

Every year in the Public Schools, I would co-ordinate a big Clifford parade as a culmination of a week long unit on Clifford the Big Red Dog. The children would get so excited and proudly march in their red and white outfits as their parents happily made videos or took pictures.

I remember one year that my assistant was out with pneumonia on the day of our big parade but it turned out to be a great day and the children were very well -behaved. I remember walking them out to the bus that day and showering them with hugs and praise for the fine job they had done. Thirty minutes later, I was met in my classroom by two parents who had arrived for their conference. I distinctly remember that they were divorced but had an amicable relationship and wanted to work together to make sure their child succeeded.

Our conference wound down after about forty-five minutes and I asked them if I could walk out with them since it was getting late. They cheerfully agreed and I went to grab my purse. I was puzzled that it wasn't where I thought I had left it. I started searching with the parents who offered to stay and help me look for it  I  could find no sign of it anywhere. I called for the custodian and he joined us in the search. I ended up having to call my husband to come and get me that Friday afternoon because I just couldn't figure out where I had misplaced it. Just to be on the safe side, I called and canceled my credit card and was advised by a manager at the bank to put a freeze on my checks since I knew the sequence of the numbers in my missing checkbook.

The next day I received a call around noon from a woman at a check cashing center. She told me "my babysitter" was there to cash a 170.00 check. I told her to call the police immediately and realized that my purse had been stolen. She tried to keep the woman there but she had fled by the time the police arrived.

Over the next month, I received countless calls from collection agencies threatening to prosecute me for insufficient funds. I became an expert at filling out affidavits of forgery. Over 4,000.00 worth of checks were written on my account. I kept telling myself that at least I was safe because I had put a stop payment on the stolen checks. I was so wrong. A person can set up a draft on a checking account if they have the number which is what my thief did. Since my account had never been closed, I ended up being responsible for those funds. I was angry because I thought the bank officer should have warned me of this. I closed the account that very day.

I called the detective in charge of my case and he told me he had over 100 cases in his log but that he was doing his best to find the person that stole my purse and checkbook. Since the person kept writing checks, I decided to do some detective work of my own. I started going to wherever the checks had been cashed and asking to watch the store videos. This went on for a few weeks to no avail and I began to get really discouraged. 

I remember one night I went to a grocery store and said a silent prayer before I went in. I asked God to please help me put a stop to the misery of having to deal with all the harassment from the collection agencies. I went in and asked the manager if I could see the video for the day the check in my hand had been cashed. We watched it together but we could not find the numbered sequence to match the time stamped on my check. I remember silently praying "Lord, I don't know if I can take much more of this!"  Dejected, I thanked him and turned to leave.

All of a sudden, he called me back and asked to look at my check again. He looked down at it and said he realized that whoever wrote out the check wrote the wrong date on it. He pulled out another tape and we found the correct sequence. There on the tape was a parent at my school laughing with a friend while she wrote out one of my checks with my purse over her shoulder. She had a child in the first grade classroom across the hall. I was dumbfounded. Many people would say that it was just a coincidence that the store manager found the correct tape but I know it was an answer to prayer!

It took a few more weeks for the police to get all of the information that they needed before she was arrested and convicted. On the day social services came to take her children away from her, someone slit one of my tires at school. I was never able to prove who did it but I did stand my ground and ask that she be tried and prosecuted for stealing my purse. I never got my purse or funds returned but the biggest thing I lost was my tendency to trust. I locked my purse in my car after that.

In the private school I work in now I marvel at how the students leave backpacks lying outside on the grounds. As I walked to my car this evening, I saw a violin left in front of a building.  In three years, I have never heard of any incidents of theft at my school. I feel so blessed to be working in such a wonderful place.

When I retired from the public schools and went to work in a private Episcopal K-12 school, I had a lot of adjustments to make: 
  • The Principal and the Headmaster actually prayed with me before I was hired.
  • The Headmaster greeted me by my first name on the first day of orientation.
  • They fed us breakfast and lunch every day during orientation.
  • If I needed some assistance with moving furniture in my classroom, I only had to ask once.
  • Every faculty member was there because they genuinely cared about making a difference in the lives of the students.
  • I had my own parking space.
  • We had staff meetings when they were needed, not just because it was Monday.
  • My day is spent actually teaching the children. I have afternoon car duty but I don't have to implement a program that will be forgotten the next year when another new initiative comes along.
I kept thinking somebody was going to pinch me and wake me up from a dream during orientation.This sweet spirited place seemed too good to be true. Once I got the workdays under my belt, it was time to get ready for Meet The Teacher Day. For those of you that are teachers, you know what it is like to build up your reputation in a school over time. I had misgivings about being the "new kid on the block" even though I had taught for thirty-one years. Parents at my old school loved me, I enjoyed my colleagues there, and I had a terrific teacher assistant. I had never worked in a private school before. Would the parents here accept me?

I remember wanting to make a great impression that day so I put on one of my best outfits and, horror upon horrors, high heels. I am a sneaker or flats kinda teacher and only pull out heels on special occasions. Due to the lack of parking on that day, staff was asked to park off campus and take a shuttle bus to school so that parents would have plenty of room for parking. 

My new school is right across the street from my former public school.  I knew of a small local park nearby where I could walk to school and get there a lot quicker so I skipped the bus and walked to my new school. Meet the teacher day went great and wasn't any different in my private school than ones I had experienced in the public schools. I was excited about this new class and the parents appeared very supportive. I was tired by the end of the day and my legs practically bowed out as I trudged back to my car. Those high heels made my feet ache like crazy. 

I had walked into the entrance of the park when a white suburban came flying in and made a u turn facing me. A big guy got out and started running toward me. I hunched down and said "Don't hurt me" and didn't know if I should hit him with my pocketbook or one of those darn shoes that had made my feet throb. He didn't give me time to do either as he came over and gave me a big sweaty hug yelling "MRS. B!!!!" About that time, his mother emerged from the passenger side and I recognized her immediately. He turned out to be a former student who just finished football practice when he spotted me from the main road. We all laughed as I told them that he had scared the living daylights out of me. I couldn't get over how big he was! 

It was such a treat to visit with them for a few minutes. This high school football lineman told me that he had unearthed his Wonder Years book from Kindergarten a few weeks earlier. In the book, there is a special page designated for each month. I post lots of group or individual pictures on each page so that the child will have a memento of his or her kindergarten year. He told me that it had been so much fun looking back over his kindergarten year. It warmed my heart to hear that! At the rate it had been beating when my former student first came charging at me, it needed a little warmth.

I still do a Wonder Years book and would be happy to share pictures with anyone interested!

When my daughter was in her sophomore year in high school, I remember a time when we visited a really trendy boutique with really HIGH prices one Saturday. She and her best friend had appointed me designated driver for the trip as they scoped out "hot" boys and well as "hot" clothes. I asked her to define "hot boy" for me but all I got was an eyeroll and "Oh Motherrrrrrrr". A pair of designer jeans in the shop retailed for anywhere from $150.00 to $350.00 so I didn't plan on more than a few minutes in the shop  before we moved on.

We entered the shop and the first thing they noticed was a handsome young man behind the counter who turned out to be the manager. My daughter whispered for me to please move away from them so "it won't seem like we are with my mother". I gladly obliged and went to the other end of the store. Low and behold, the young man walked in my direction instead of my two young charges. "Are you a teacher"? he asked. I replied that I was. He said "Do you teach Kindergarten?" I told him that I did indeed teach Kindergarten. "Do you remember W..., a short little guy?" All of a sudden, I realized that the adorable little boy I had taught so many years ago who barely reached my kneecap was now a young adult in his late twenties!" Without thinking, I threw my arms around him and gave him a big hug. We laughed and were reminiscing when who should walk up but my daughter! "We've been looking everywhere for you Mom" she told me. I thought to myself "and donkeys fly!" but went on to introduce her and her friend to my former student. 
As we left the store, I told her "You never know when your Mom will come in handy, do you!"

Tomorrow my class is going on a field trip. Field trips in Kindergarten are always met by excitement as the children get to board a bus for an adventure outside of the regular school day.

I remember one particular field trip about ten years ago when my class went to a farm. The children were really excited because the farmer actually allowed the children to participate in some aspects of farming. He let them feed the chickens, pet the cows, have a hayride and play with his baby goats during our visit.

I still remember those adorable baby goats. We got to go in their pen right before our field trip ended. They would jump right up on your lap or nudge you with their nose to get you to pet them. One baby jumped up and plopped in my lap while I sat on a large rock in their pen.  My students excitedly surrounded me to take turns petting it. One student's mother commented on what an adorable picture the scene would make, and got out her camera ready to capture the moment. She captured it alright! Just before she snapped the picture, my lap began to feel extremely wet and warm. I held the baby goat up with a big frown  on my face as it continued to soak my pants. That priceless picture will always be a constant reminder of this very memorable  trip.

Usually the children fight over who will get to sit beside me on the bus, but on that particular day, nobody wanted to sit beside me on the ride home!

After thirty-one years in the public schools, I retired and went to work in a private Christian school. It is a wonderful place to work and I feel so fortunate to be working in such a sweet, loving environment.  The administration actually cares about the students and my Principal knows every student by name. Unfortunately, like all humans, I have those days when I feel like I got up on "the wrong side of the bed".

I remember one day this school year when I woke up late, realized I didn't have anything to eat for breakfast and found that just about all of my pants were too tight. I  got so desperate as I was trying on pair after pair that I even thought about resorting to grabbing a rubber band so I could "extend" the waistline on one. By the time I finally found a pair that fit, I had a neat little pile of clothes at my feet. I flew out the door and barely made it to school on time. Living in the country, a pig truck whose speedometer must not go beyond ten miles per hour chose this particular morning to pull out in front of me. Listening to the harmony of all those little porkers for fifteen minutes while the truck literally crawled down the highway did nothing to improve my disposition.

When I finally walked into my classroom two minutes before I was supposed to be there, I breathed a sigh of relief. One of my sweet little girls came skipping through the door at about that time and gave me a funny stare. She then  innocently asked me if I forgot to put my face on that morning. I tripped over a backpack laying in the middle of the floor as I turned back to stare at my face in the reflection of the glass partition on my door.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to Chapel. We always have Chapel on Wednesday mornings. I sat there waiting for the service to start and having a  regular pity party in my thoughts.  I was brooding about gaining too much weight, the fact that my husband was laid off from his job, my toe  aching from tripping over the backpack,etc. etc. etc. All of a sudden, the student sitting beside me looked up at me with his big brown eyes, smiled, and whispered "I love you!" My bad mood dissolved with that precious child's words.

I said a silent prayer and thanked God for the nudge. Life is so precious and I am so blessed to be teaching young children!

I always have mixed emotions on the last day of school. There is the excitement of the approach of time off to rejuvenate my spirit and energy. I also look forward to finally having time to investigate new ideas I can use the following school year. There is also the sadness of sending another group of precious little people up to the next grade level. I get so attached to my students since we spend approximately seven hours a day together. At the same time, I am excited at the progress they have made and feel good about sending them to the next grade level as they continue on their path of lifelong learning!

Parents love to treat the children on the last day of school. I used to let parents send in anything they wanted many years ago to help us celebrate. That was until I encountered the year of the cupcakes! That year will stay planted in my memory forever!

By the time all of the children had arrived that day, the room was abuzz with excitement.  I let the children bring in towels, bathing suits, and water toys for our special beach day. I got to school  an hour early so I could set up various outside centers that the children could enjoy. There was one center where we had a water balloon toss, another with a wading pool, a water slide and a sprinkler just to name a few.I also recruit parents to help me with the various centers.

One mother dropped her child off and told me that she had picked up two dozen cupcakes for us to enjoy at lunch. I thanked her and set them on the back counter. About fifteen minutes later, another mother showed up with another two dozen chocolate cupcakes. She too wanted to send in a special snack for this special day  and thought we would enjoy a special treat. By the end of the first hour, we had amassed approximately twelve dozen cupcakes.... I kid you not. I thought I was in a bakery instead of a classroom. 

I knew that I needed to focus on the center outside so I put all the cupcakes on the back counter and we all headed outside. I recall one particular child telling me he had to go back in the classroom to go to the bathroom numerous times. I asked if he was felt alright and  he assured me he did. 

When we headed back in for snack and a short break, I was surprised to see that we were down to ten dozen cupcakes. I asked my assistant if perhaps another teacher might have taken some since we had such an ample supply but she was unaware of anyone doing so. Well, I am certain that by now you have guessed where the missing cupcakes landed. Checking the trashcan, I found two empty containers and a wad of wrappers in the trash. I looked for the child who had visited the bathroom so often and sure enough, he had a smudge of chocolate frosting on the tip of his nose. I asked him if any other child had joined him in his sneaky venture but he owned up to the fact that he and he alone had consumed the entire two dozen. It made my stomach hurt just to think about it. He insisted he was fine and we headed back outside for more fun. I told him if he had to go to the bathroom again, either I or another adult would accompany him.

At lunch, his mother came and brought the class pizzas. We had no idea she was coming since we had not seen hide nor hair of her the entire school year. It turns out that she worked for a major pizza chain and wanted to surprise us. I told her about the cupcakes and she laughed and concurred that her son's favorite dessert was chocolate cupcakes.

We finished lunch and went back to the classroom for rest time. After a short while, my assistant frantically motioned for me to come over to her desk. There was the same child with a ring of vanilla frosting around his mouth. I was flabbergasted! How could one tiny child consume so many cupcakes? Thankfully, he only got halfway through the vanilla one when she caught him.

As the children were exiting the classroom at the end of the day, this child started down the hall toward his bus and then turned and ran straight back to me. Thinking he wanted another hug, I stretched out my arms only to be met by the contents of his stomach! The cupcakes and pizza had finally caught up with him. I never wore that sundress again!