Hope’s Eyes

Every school year brings challenges to our youngest learners in the classroom.  These struggling children find hope in a teacher, administrator, custodian, instructional assistant, or any other type of mentor.  This is the hope of this poem.

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Fearing tomorrow’s tasks

Dreaming of something more

Probing life’s gloomy path

Failing again to score


Meeting darkness once more

Ignoring teacher’s clues

Bearing sounds of silence

Surrounding failure’s blues


Learning nothing today

Parking in empty space

Sharing with hidden friend

Reaching familiar place


Retreating to safe zone

Boarding life’s empty plane

Watching goals crushed again

Seeing more fire than rain


Entering new classroom

Looking into hope’s eyes

Hearing assuring voice

Launching learning’s sunrise


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School Bells Ringing (Haiku Series #192)

It’s Time

Morning alarm rings

Summer vacation over—

Teacher calls my name

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Stay Alert!

Flashing traffic lights

Driving with care in school zones—

Give these kids a BRAKE!

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Students’ Toolbox

Another school year

Effort, attitude, action—

Ready for success

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Monday Memories: Can a Typewriter Fly?

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A trio of boys is always up to mischief at school.

Mrs. Hall is the very strict, no nonsense, typing teacher up on the second floor.  She runs her classroom like a well-run military operation.  She adores reading about General George S. Patton.

The typing classroom consists of the latest manual typewriter models.  (Sorry lad, no electric ones yet.)

The delinquent boys intend to surprise and shock Mrs. Hall this morning.  After all, there is nothing wrong with conducting a small science experiment from her classroom.

Have you ever seen a typewriter fly? 

The boys sneak an old typewriter into Mrs. Hall’s classroom before the school day begins. 

With a lookout posted near the classroom door, the other two boys open a window and place the typewriter on the ledge.

Just as Mrs. Hall walks into the room, her ever-alert eyes see the boys at the open window with the typewriter. 

“Hey Mrs. Hall!  Have you ever seen a typewriter fly?”

The typewriter is launched from the window ledge, precisely on schedule.

Thinking the boys are dropping one of her prized Olivetti typewriters from the window, brings a shocking look of surprise to Mrs. Hall’s face . . . Priceless!

Missing the Bus

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Little Johnny hurried down the sidewalk.  Catching his breath upon reaching his school bus stop, he waited and waited.

Soon his fate began sinking in.  He had missed the bus . . . again!

The warm and sunny morning invited him to walk across the street to a park.  Curious and feeling playful, he explored and enjoyed some spontaneous fun.  Readin’ and writin’ and rithmetic could wait a spell.

Minutes turned into a couple of hours.  Feeling hungry, Johnny discovered a perfect hideout under a nearby pine tree.  He pulled out his brown bag lunch.

Following a quick lunch, he felt a bit sleepy.  Fresh air, plenty of exercise, and a filling lunch made him drowsy.  Curling up under the tree, Johnny was soon snoozing on a bed of soft needles.

Stirring awake, the noise of his rickety school bus shuttling down the street reminded him that school was over for another day.

Upon reaching his house, Johnny’s loving mother met him at the door.  Her stern-looking frown told him to watch out . . . caught again!


Flying Trash Can, Final Chapter

If you have arrived for the first time, you may want to check out the previous chapters of the story.

What lies ahead at Aaron Burr High School?  Will Pete crumble and fold up his teaching career on the very first day?  

Each of the four classrooms is separated by office-like partitions.  The walls, looking more temporary than permanent, rise about seven feet.  There is ample space between each wall and the ceiling.  Pete doesn’t appreciate the room layout much, but there is little that he can do about it.  He will have to make the best of it for now.

closeup photo of black and blue keyboard

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The school’s mascot is the Ravens.  For Pete’s sake, it is very unfortunate that this blackbird cannot serve as  a lookout for him.  His adventures have only just begun!

Pete again surveys the room, and he feels a bit more comfortable.  Clyde still seems to be enjoying a pre-winter nap.  Traci is applying another color of polish to her perfectly manicured nails, and she wants to be finished before lunch.  The rest of the class is working quietly—at least it seems—on an assignment.

The classroom is only half full on this inaugural day of school at Aaron Burr.  It seems that many students are still on summer vacation—probably until after Labor Day.

Hmm . . . where is Reggie?

Reggie, who is as nutty as a fruit cake, has disappeared from Pete’s sight.  Pete checks out each corner of the half-empty room, but Reggie is nowhere to be seen.

Pete now begins to feel a band of cold sweat dripping down his back, but he truly has no idea what is in store for him.  Past memories take him back to the day that he was stuck in a gigantic snow drift while driving along an abandoned highway last winter.  As he was sweating it out under his heavy, winter parka, he figured that he would never be found.  Fortunately, a helpful truck driver (Pete’s guardian angel) came along and pulled his car back onto the road.

A few minutes pass.

Pete wishes that the clock would move more swiftly so that the bell will ring to end class.  He has a planning period next, and he is seriously thinking of going home.

This teaching stuff just doesn’t sit well with him.  He wonders for a minute or two why he ever changed his major from Accounting to Business Education.  Another of life’s decisions is about ready to provide Pete with another notable experience to write about in his already overflowing journal.

The clock is slowly approaching the time to wrap up the first class of his teaching career.  Pete begins thinking that perhaps the remainder of his day will turn out better.  He is feeling a bit more relaxed and confident.  Didn’t the Titanic’s captain feel confident as the huge iceberg loomed ahead?

The room grows unusually quiet.

Then . . . Suddenly!


A large, heavy, cast-iron trash can hurdles the wall and lands at Pete’s feet.  The airborne projectile narrowly misses Pete’s head by a couple of inches.  The flying trash can strikes terror in Pete’s inner soul, and he feels his heartbeat racing while a torrent of sweat runs free over his entire body.  He pivots around and suddenly realizes that this day really is not going to be an outstanding experience.

Pete, standing all alone in the middle of the room, is visibly shaken and greatly disturbed.  His face has turned a ghastly white color, and his blonde hair is all amiss.  He turns to face the class, and the students are all snickering.  Many are falling out of their seats and roaring with more and more laughter.  Even Clyde wakes up and joins in with the impromptu celebration.  Traci excitedly claps her hands and smudges her still-wet nail polish.

Twisting around, Pete runs quickly out of the room, down a vacant hallway, and out the front door of the school.

Reggie slyly creeps back around the wall to rejoin the class.  His thumbs-up gesture arouses even more of a deafening thunder of applause and shouts for his exploits.  Somehow, the epic sounds have not reached the central office . . . yet!

Clyde joins Reggie at the front of the room, and they both announce their marching orders for the rest of the day—“TAKE OVER THE SCHOOL!”

Without a teacher in the room, the unruly mob leaves the computer lab and launches into a riotous journey down the hallway into the rest of Aaron Burr’s no longer quiet hallways.  Another opening day has turned into a disaster of nearly Biblical proportions.  What happens next will be anyone’s guess; just be on the lookout for Reggie, the new kingpin of the school!

An hour later, the police arrive to take charge of the disorderly student body, which resembles an unruly and disorganized mob.  Meanwhile, the administration has been hiding in their offices, and the teaching staff finds refuge down in the school’s boiler room in the basement.

The bell rings to dismiss school for the day, but Pete is missing permanently.  Thoroughly shaken, he never returns to Aaron Burr.

As the curtain closes on Aaron Burr High School (this will be its final, unforgettable school year), the wrecking ball will finally arrive to turn the property into a parking lot and city park.  Many citizens around the community curiously wonder whatever happened to Pete, the novice teacher who dashed away.

Rumor has it that he is now the Principal at Alexander Hamilton High School in a distant city.  According to an inside source, all classrooms have permanent walls and include lightweight, plastic trash cans.

gray concrete building

Aaron Burr High School bites the dust!

Flying Trash Can, Chapter 3

If you missed either of the first two chapters, here are links to Chapters 1 and 2.

The story continues from Aaron Burr High School.  When we last checked in, the first day of school was off and running (the staff isn’t quite sure where to).

Aaron Burr’s student body is dominated by the sub-culture from the streets outside of the school building.  Sadly, the administration can do very little to control the unruly students or maintain any type of discipline.  Pete and the newly arrived staff do not see what’s coming their way—a film, with a disaster theme, would be a more appropriate setting!

closeup photo of black and blue keyboard

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Pete’s first-period class is filled with freshmen and sophomores, with a couple of juniors thrown in because they need another failing grade.  Pete assumes (without much forethought) that his beginning class will prepare the rest of his day for even more success.  Pete looks down and suddenly realizes that his socks do not match—one black and one blue.  He feels a bead of sweat forming around the collar of his shirt.  Perhaps he should loosen up the colorful tie that hangs (too tightly) around his neck.

Reggie is one the juniors, and Pete immediately realizes that this “man-child” will be a handful to cope with.  Reggie stands nearly as tall as Shaquille O’Neill with the maturity of a middle schooler.  He aspires to play in the NBA, but no scouts will ever find his talent (or lack of it) as his GPA is a lowly 0.2.  His only passing grade was during his freshman year in Physical Education. Somehow he squeezed by with a “D-” on his final exam.

Traci and Clyde are sitting next to each other, and school is definitely not on their minds.  Clyde falls asleep at his computer—it seems that he is not quite ready for his summer vacation to end.  His preferred field of study is researching the short story written by American author, Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle.

Traci pulls a bottle of fingernail polish out from her purse.  She decides that her nails need a touch-up.  Afterall, she wants to look her best on the first day of school.  Traci seems more interested in making a good impression with some of the boys in the classroom.

The rest of Pete’s class appears to be settling down, and most seem fairly well-prepared for their return to the boisterous halls of Aaron Burr.  Pete tries to be as calm as possible, but this first day in the trenches begins to cause him to sweat even more!

Ah!  Before one forgets, Pete’s classroom . . . aka the computer lab (prison to Reggie and many others) . . . doesn’t look like a traditional classroom.  The computer lab is part of an enormous, open classroom area with four large computer labs filling the space.  There are no windows, permanent walls, or classroom doors.

The school designers wanted to set up an office-like atmosphere so that students could better assimilate into the world of work.  One wonders how many of Aaron Burr’s finest and not so fine will actually make it in the real world, much less graduate on time.

Each of the four classrooms is separated by office-like partitions.  The walls, looking more temporary than permanent, rise about seven feet.  There is ample space between each wall and the ceiling.  Pete doesn’t appreciate the room layout much, but there is little that he can do about it.  He will have to make the best of it for now.

Flying Trash Can, Chapter 2

The story continues at Aaron Burr High School with the first day of school.  In case you missed the first chapter, here is a link to it.

closeup photo of black and blue keyboard

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The school district, in its infinite wisdom, has provided a half-day of training on how to be “successful teachers” during the soon-to-start school year.  In reality, this much-anticipated professional development session ends up being pretty much a total waste of time.  Pete remembers a few of his boring and totally inept professors from his university days.

Perhaps Pete and the staff would be better served to use “Welcome Back, Kotter” as an orientation for what is in store for all of them.  They could watch past episodes of this iconic television series.  Learning from the shenanigans and antics of Vinnie Barbarino, Arnold Horshack, and the rest of the Gabe Kotter’s dysfunctional classroom headaches, they would be better served than recalling educational psychology in an aging textbook from their college days.

Last year’s senior class graduated less than half of its students.  Therefore, the entire school has been placed on third-degree probation by the State Education Department.  A “perfect storm” sets up the school year to be an impending disaster for Pete and his very “green” and unproven colleagues.

The opening day of school arrives without much fanfare.  Pete feels both nervous and excited—dearly wanting to jumpstart his teaching career on a positive note.  Hmm, does anyone hear a bulldozer’s engine running behind the school (ready to begin demolishing the ancient building)?  Well, maybe not quite yet!

Aaron Burr’s student body is dominated by the sub-culture from the streets outside of the school building.  Sadly, the administration can do very little to control the unruly students or maintain any type of discipline.  Pete and the newly arrived staff do not see what’s coming their way—a film, with a disaster theme, would be a more appropriate setting!

Flying Trash Can, Chapter 1

This short story was originally published in its entirety in November, 2018.  The story will be reposted in smaller segments over the next several days.  Enjoy a bit of humor and sarcasm in this fictional account, which does have a bit of truth lingering behind the words.

closeup photo of black and blue keyboard

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Pete arrives at Aaron Burr High School eager to kick off his teaching career.  He is a first-year teacher who is feeling more than a tad edgy as he begins teaching high school students.

His preparedness from the university is masked by his nervousness and anxiety.  Sometimes, he feels more like when he was standing in the batter’s box as a 12-year old, and he struck out with the bases loaded to end the game in defeat!  He asks himself over and over again, “Will I really make it as a teacher?”

Why the community named its high school after Aaron Burr is a bit of a mystery.  Afterall, about the only milestone ever noted about him in history is that he prevailed in a duel with Alexander Hamilton many, many years ago.

Nonetheless, Pete sets up his classroom with both apprehension and enthusiasm as he spends two days preparing it for the first day of school, which is arriving soon.  His classroom is a computer lab where he will teach students in the applications of Microsoft Office in their personal and working lives (now that is mouthful of expectations).

He sometimes wonders why he could not have been the entrepreneur behind Microsoft’s enormous success instead of Bill Gates.  Pete remains a big dreamer who hopes one day to make it to the top!

He is unaware of the challenges that are secretly waiting for him, just as a snake waits to spring upon its prey.  Being a “rookie” teacher and a bit naïve, Pete is walking into a miserable swamp instead of an honored school.  Nearly all of the teaching staff is new to Aaron Burr.  As the opening bell awaits, they may remember the maiden and ill-fated voyage of the ocean liner Titanic.

Thank you for reading.  Over the next several days, be looking for more details about the first day of school at Aaron Burr High School.

Monday Memories: Making a Difference

Every Monday, Big Sky Buckeye will edit and update a poem from December, 2018.  This “Monday Memory” carries a great deal of significance because it salutes the hardworking staff at Buckeye Middle School in Columbus, Ohio.  This was my final school assignment during the last nine years of a fulfilling teaching career.

building ceiling classroom daylight

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Anchoring the Southside on Parsons Avenue

Buckeye Middle School presents quite a view


Providing a safe, caring, and nurturing school

The dedicated staff is the definition of “cool”


Displaying patience despite the everyday grind

Everyone makes a big difference in all they find


Working as a team throughout the school year

They face many challenges with nothing to fear


Laboring patiently at their craft each and every day

All have chosen a worthy profession, they will say


Giving a great deal of themselves and even more

A humble and hardworking team has much in store


Saluting the Buckeye staff as heroes above the rest

Hats off to all of them for performing their very best!

Buckeye Middle School

Here is Buckeye Middle School!

Back to School

Another school year has arrived in America.  I can fondly remember the return of school both as a student and later as a teacher.  The classrooms will come alive with the energy of countless children under the instruction of caring teachers and staff.

boy in brown hoodie carrying red backpack while walking on dirt road near tall trees

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Store advertisements passionately proclaim

Ending another summer’s leisure and games


“Back to School” cries out across the land

Sounding like a hit song from a rock band


Lazy, easy days of summer are sadly ending

School days are approaching, no pretending


Summertime and kids at home will very soon end

Cheering parents welcome school, ready to begin


Teachers feel invigorated and all set to go

Preparing classrooms for learning to know


Families make ready for the kick off of school

Buying supplies and clothing—honestly cool!


Schools stand ready with a spotless shine

Cleaning, waxing, and repairs look all fine


Everything looks prepared for one more year

Learnin’ bout the three R’s, no reason to fear


Attention all children, wake-up and now hear

Ringing school bells announce far and near


“Back to School” has arrived for all

Moving forward from summer to fall

three men standing near window

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