Sibling Assignment #73: Growing a Writer

rvd1513's at flickr

I gave the sibling assignment this week. "As we near the start of the school year here is the assignment. Write about a school experience that was significant to your school life. Describe the experience and why it was significant." You will find Raymond Pert's here
soon and and Silver Valley Girl's enlightening post about essay writing here.

I started first grade at Silver King school in the Kellogg School District. It is in the process of being torn down. I caught this picture last winter. I then moved to Sunnyside School where I went to grades 2-6. I also substitute taught there while attending college. Dave Smith Motors now uses it for offices. This is Kellogg High School situated among the hills and evergreens in Jacob's Gulch in Kellogg.

I began my school experience in kindergarten in September of 1960. Every September since that year I have been in a classroom as a student or a teacher. Tomorrow I will celebrate the beginning of my 31st year of teaching. Those thirty-one years have included teaching all elementary grades, middle school language arts, drama, social studies, high school reading, college education courses, and three student teachers. My first three years of teaching were done here at Pinehurst Elementary in the Kellogg School District.

Along the way I have learned many lessons about myself, my surroundings, and life itself. I have had the privilege of working with amazing groups of students, parents, teachers, college professors, and administrators. I have been able to stay with a vocation that I love for my whole career. Not every day is a picnic. Sometimes I have wondered if there was anything else I could have done to reach a certain student. I questioned myself as I sat in a college math class wondering if it was ever going to make sense. I have had students that carried burdens heavier than I could imagine. I also had students that are making our world a better place today.

It is hard to focus on one school experience, but this is one that came to mind today. If you have read my blog much you know I have a passion for poetry. This passion began early in my life. My mom read poems aloud to us at home and my teachers made poetry reading an important ritual in my elementary classes. There was a tradition at Sunnyside School that the sixth graders wrote poems at Halloween for a contest. If a poem was chosen the writer got the privilege of reading it over the loudspeaker on the day of the Halloween party.

In my younger grades I remember students older than me reading their poems annually. It was like a rite of passage. I can remember working feverishly on the stanzas of that poem. At that time I knew all poems had to rhyme and I can remember adjusting words so they would work into lines of rhyme. My poem was chosen and I knew I would get to read it aloud. Our loudspeaker was only reserved for the deep voice of our principal as he would announce it was time to line up for shots or review a rule about snowballs in a stern voice. It seemed like a magical machine that was a bit like the microphone the wizard talked into from behind the curtain at Oz.

Not only was I excited I was chosen, but I marveled at the idea of using the loudspeaker. I practiced and practiced and used good expression when I read that day from the office. That was the moment I realized I was a poet. A copy of the poem may be somewhere in my mother's archives. It was called "The Haunted House". I would like to find it. This event was significant because I remember former teachers and other students praising me after I read my poem. It is that recognition that often begins to grow a writer. From there I continued my path to writing poetry all through my school years. In high school I finally realized poetry didn't have to rhyme. I look back on that experience at the start of a writing life and realize how it gave me confidence in myself. Perhaps I will do something like this this fall with my students.
My classroom door today leading out to the basketball courts.


  1. What a wonderful story and so many memories you have which I know help you as a teacher and benefit your students. It is so important for children to find something they are excited about which helps them build confidence. I think the fact that you can recall those moments from your childhood are great for your students even though they don't know where it's coming from.

  2. Wonderful memories - and you write them so well. It's always fun to visit your blog - I recognize most of the places you photograph!

  3. I *loved* this story!

  4. That's a great story. I hope your day goes well tomorrow. Your students sure are lucky to have you as their teacher...their life is richer and better for it...

  5. Thanks for the comment Carver. I believe one of my important tasks as a teacher is to work on building confidence!
    tumblewords: thanks for stopping by again.
    jbelle: thanks... it was fun reflecting on ALL those years of school before I started today.
    rondi: thanks... my day did go really well. The weather was a bit cooler and all the kids showed up!!

  6. What a wonderful way to be introduced to poetry - that would definitely be an experience that would help 'grow' a writer.
    Kudos to you for all your years of teaching and reaching out to students -- and still thinking of new ways to reach them. The poetry contest idea sounds like a real winner!

  7. Thanks Tinker. I am always looking for ways to reach them. That is part of the challange.


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