Off The Press
September 3, 2013
By Joe Grove
Old teachers lose all class
In his speech before a joint session of Congress in 1951, eight days after he was fired by President Harry Truman, General Douglas McArthur closed with the famous lines, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” To paraphrase it, old teachers never die, they just lose their class.
As a retired teacher, when I browse stores this time of year and see the school supplies out, along with the newest trends in student clothing, I feel a twinge of nostalgia and a bit of sadness, knowing I am now out of school for good.
What I miss most is my seventh-grade reading classes, reading aloud to the kids and talking to the kids about what they were reading.
After several years of teaching high school, I switched to middle school at the urging of my adult attention deficit disorder. In the switch, I discovered the delightful books in the young adult category, stories that are interesting, amusing, exciting, character building, stories a student could safely read to Grandmother.
Here are some of my favorites:
“Bud not Buddy,” about a young boy who runs away from a mean foster home in search of his father. His mother died, but among her things was a poster of a band, and he believes one of the musicians in the band is his father;
“Holes,” about a group of boys in an abusive detention center. They have to dig holes every day to a specified size because it develops character. What they don’t know is they are actually looking for a treasure the warden thinks has been buried on center property. There are several plots running through this story and the author does a great job of pulling them all together;
“Rules of the Road,” about a 16-year-old girl hired by an elderly female CEO of a chain of shoe stores to drive her around the country to visit each of the stores. The girl helps head off a corporate takeover by a group that wants to forego quality for marketing gimmicks;
“Stargirl,” about my favorite female character of all time. She marches to a different drummer and in the end, her boyfriend has to decide between her and hanging with his friends in the popular crowd;
“The Watsons Go to Birmingham,” about a black family living in Detroit where the father works in the auto industry. They take a trip to Birmingham to visit their grandma. While there, they get involved in one of the tragic events of the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s.
Now that I am out of the classroom, the best thing I can do is encourage mothers and fathers, but especially fathers, to set aside time each day, or at least a couple of times a week, and read to their kids and have the kids read to them. Reading is fundamental and essential to a student’s success.