Tag Archives: school days

School Days Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

School Days, Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Yvette Prior, a blogger and multi-talented friend. Yvette writes about a wide range of topics and in a variety of genres on her priorhouse blog. I always appreciate her different ways of looking at things and her positive views of the world. Do pop over to take a look. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

It’s probably best I allow Yvette to tell you a little of herself before we get started on the interview:

Yvette Prior is a blogger, author, teacher, psychologist, and researcher. Yvette has been married to Chris for 22 years and they live on the East Coast of Virginia. They have two boys, now adults, and a step-daughter who is expecting her second child next year. Yvette has been teaching — on and off  — elementary students and college level, since the 1990s. In 2018, Yvette became a Certified Higher Education Professional and currently teaches college and works part-time as a work psychologist.

In middle school, Yvette won public speaking awards, which led to the wonderful opportunity of attending a Performing Arts High School.

In college, she changed her major a few times before finally discovering the Education department.

Right after graduating, she decided to put her career to the side in order to stay home and raise her children. While doing so, she still worked part-time, which included teaching science education and five years of teaching elementary art.

As her children grew, she had the chance to go back to school and earn advanced degrees in psychology. While finishing up her dissertation, she healed from an invasive fungal infection, which was a challenging nightmare, but then also had positive outcomes. She now has a stronger bioterrian and continues to feel empowered by knowing alternative medicine and by remembering how precious life is. She is not a religious person, but she is a woman of faith and gives God all the glory for any and every success.

Yvette Prior and books

Welcome, Yvette.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

Buffalo, New York.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Yvette Prior early school days

I started off at private for preschool and kindergarten. My mother became a Presbyterian and we withdrew from private Catholic and went to public. I went to a public “magnet” school for high school where I majored in performing arts.

What is the highest level of education you achieved? 

I earned my Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

Yvette Prior working life

As noted in the intro, after earning my undergrad in Education, I stayed home with children. I worked part-time (to stay fresh and bring in some money) and at first worked in a restaurant, where I was promoted to management and it was becoming a career. However, we then moved coast to coast, twice, and I taught at the Youth Science Institute of California and the Science Museum of Virginia. I then taught elementary art at two different private schools. I currently teach college and work part-time as a psychologist. In the next few years, I hope to do more research about work rewards and motivation and also hope to finish up some writing projects. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

An early memory from school was when my 4th grade, silver-haired teacher, said she was, “flabbergasted” with me. She had left the room and a few of us started dancing around. When she returned, she scolded everyone, but then got close to my face and said, “I am especially flabbergasted with you, Yvette.” I went home and asked my mother what it meant… and then she found out about it. That word always reminds me of that teacher.

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember reading stations and recall the teacher using a jumbo book and audio recording to teach us words.

What memories do you have of learning to write? 

My 6th grade English teacher, Mr. Calderelli, taught me to write. However, on the second day of school, he threw an eraser towards my desk because a few of us were still talking. I cannot recall all the details, but he apologized and I was moved to the front of the room. We then connected and he became my favorite teacher. I had perfect attendance and won little awards. He published my writing in Buffalo’s “Our Best” – a short piece arguing against the death penalty. In hindsight, I see how that eraser event could have had a different outcome, and I am grateful it was a catalyst for bonding.

I have a post on my blog dedicated to Mr. C here.

(Norah’s note: If you haven’t yet read that post, or even if you have, I recommend you visit it and have a read. It is a fine example of Yvette’s work.)

What do you remember about math classes? 

I recall Mr. Smyth, in 7th grade honors math, showing us newspaper ads and having us figure out sale prices using percentages. I sometimes think of him when I see holiday ads.

What do you remember about history classes?

Yvette Prior on quality teaching

My 8th grade teacher gave fun assignments for extra credit. Sometimes a little extra credit allows more students to “win” and attain that sense of success with a better grade. Recently, I heard a teacher brag about how “tough” she was, but I think she is missing out on what makes a great teacher. Quality teaching is not defined by toughness, or being the sage on the stage; instead, the goal is to engage diverse learners and help them effectively meet course objectives. And sometimes – a little extra credit option can breathe needed motivation into students 

What was your favourite subject?

Yvette Prior favourite subject

My favorite subject was Trigonometry in high school. I started off by blowing off class. However, midway through the year, school became important to me and I buckled down and got caught up on my own. I studied hard using Barron’s review books — and even skipped a few parties to study. I finished the class well, but the best takeaways were discovering that self-learning mode and finding such a fun area of math. 

What did you like best about school? 

I liked the structure.  I also liked when teachers were nice to students – like Mrs. Short and Mrs. George.

What did you like least about school?  

My least favorite part about schools is that teachers (and the system) can sometimes be too harsh. There are mean teachers and sometimes the punishment for small infractions are overly punitive. This means students do not always connect the punishment with the behavior and so instead of behavior change – we have hurt students. Sometimes teachers are “too concerned about tasks” and not “concerned enough with the learner.”

What do you think schools (in general) do well? 

Today’s schools are culturally sensitive, still improving, but they have come a long way over the last 40 years. I like the work of Ruby Payne with regards to culture and economic differences.

Many schools also do a great job at educating a large number of students at one time.  I know an art teacher who provides art lessons to 2,000 students a week – and she says it is awesome.

I also think schools do well with “certain” students (the ones that conform, right-handed girls, etc.).

How do you think schools could be improved? 

I think schools could be improved if teachers were better trained with behavioral conditioning strategies and learned more about the powerful use of reinforcements. Teachers also need to make sure they are in tune with cognitive factors of learning (free will, moods, thoughts, and feelings) and the biological changes that growing children go through on their educational journey. Also, we need to sometimes give students a little power, along with rules and structure, but we need to empower more – especially for breeding leaders.

Classrooms need less sitting and more physical activity. Not just PE, but we need to let students move more.

Schools can also be improved if we taught emotion management at earlier ages and target the five Emotional Intelligence domains before middle school.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school, Yvette, then and now. It seems education is as much a part of your life as it is of mine. I appreciate your suggestions for improving schools and agree with what you say about the system. It is always good to hear from an educator and how their early experiences being schooled affect their attitudes to learning and teaching. Thank you for contributing your voice to this series.

Thank you, Norah, for inviting me to share in this series. And thanks to all the teachers out there who give so much of their lives to invest in students and help them on their educational journey.

 Find out more about Yvette Prior on her blog.
Find out more about Yvette’s books here.

To purchase your own copy of her books, click on the book title or image.

Lady by the River (stories of perseverance and self-help resources)

Avian Friends (Poems about nature, faith, appreciating life, and coping with grief)

Conversate (Tips for Parenting Teens)

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here and here.

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

School Days, Reminiscences of Kevin Cooper

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my author and blogger friends share reminiscences of their school days.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Kevin Cooper, author, songwriter and blogger. Kevin took a keen interest in the reminiscences previously shared by others and I am delighted that he agreed to share his own.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Kevin to tell you a little of himself:

Kevin Cooper is an Author & Songwriter. After years of studying, and even more, years working in education, and management in the US, he returned to his hometown in England where he finally settled down to focus on his writing and music. He has since authored several works and recorded/released his first full music album.

Kevin Cooper obtained an M.Ed in Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University.  He also did some post-graduate studies in Christian Counselling and Psychopathology at Asbury Theological Seminary. He completed his baccalaureate studies in Psychology with a minor in Classical Greek from Asbury College after devoting his first two years to studying Music Composition, and Religion at Western Kentucky University.

Welcome, Kevin.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I went to school in England and left high school at 16 years of age with only three CSE’s. (Now called GCSE’s) After I turned 21, I emigrated to the USA and started studying again.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In England, all the schools I attended were government schools which were very much under the influence of the ‘social class’ system back then. I also attended a state school in Kentucky after moving to the US and studied for GED to pave my way into university. I attended one state university: WKU for two years and then transferred to Asbury College. After graduating, I attended Asbury Theological Seminary for two years before moving again and enrolling in The Grand Canyon University where I received a fellowship.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

M.Ed in Secondary Education. My teaching subject is English.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I started out as a class tutor after being approached by a couple of professors. Later I did some private tutoring and substitute teaching. I obtained a part-time position as a music teacher for a short while then went into management for a Fortune 500 company and also obtained a part-time lecturer position for general studies. While I look back upon my years as an educator with fondness, I never set out, nor intended to become an educator. My passion was to become a clinical psychologist, but I allowed myself to be steered away from it.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Singing, All Things Bright and Beautiful in assembly at Marfleet Primary School. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and learned it quickly as it resonated with me as I played in my grandma’s gardens.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Reading Dick and Jane books with Spot the dog.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Graduating from printing words to joining the letters of the alphabet while writing. I found it intriguing.

What do you remember about math classes?

I hated math. The only time I enjoyed it was when we were given a project to take note of the different kinds of vehicles that passed us on the road and create a chart.

What was your favourite subject?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

 History. I became entranced with the stories of inventors. Especially those like George Stephenson who were from poor families and told they would never amount to anything as a child.

What did you like best about school?

As a child, getting away from home. As an adult, I couldn’t get enough of learning new things.

What did you like least about school?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

As a child, being bullied even though upon reflection this was short-lived for me because I began to fight back after a while. Even so, it still had a profound influence on my mental state which was already a mess from being part of a dysfunctional family. As an adult, studying for exams. I loved research projects and writing term papers, but hated standardised exams with multiple choice and true/false questions.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

I think here in England there is more equality and less of a social class stigma these days. Although looking upon it almost as an outsider having lived in the USA the good part of 20 years, I could be mistaken.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I think schools follow curricula activities very well, unfortunately, these are not always mandated by the schools.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

First, there needs to be a far larger budget for schools in England. Class sizes need to be reduced and all teachers should have at least one assistant.

There needs to be some kind of weekly after-school mandate for parents and teachers to educate and address current/ongoing issues that affect learning.  Schools should have specially assigned social workers in the schools that teachers can go to for advice and support as they are not equipped to deal with some issues. Schools also need to have a school psychologist on site.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Kevin. I agree with your thoughts about the budget for education, class sizes and assistants for teachers. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sure others have enjoyed learning about you as much as I have.

Find out more about Kevin Cooper

On his blog:

https://authorkevincooper.com/

On his author page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Connect with him on social media

https://www.facebook.com/authorkevcooper

https://twitter.com/KevinCo34737852

Purchase Kevin’s Books:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-books/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Purchase Kevin’s Music:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-music/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf2xhbZpatTr4NwhxZwWN7Q

https://soundcloud.com/user-17880724

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here: School Days Reminiscences – the first 25.

You can also read some data drawn from the posts here, and some suggestions for how schools could be improved, as suggested by the contributors, here.

Any new interviews will be posted here on a Sunday evening AEST as they are received.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

School Days Reminiscences -- Some Data

School Days Reminiscences — Some Data

School days and their impact on our lives has been a major topic of discussion here over the past six months when authors and bloggers have shared their reminiscences. (You can catch up on any reminiscences you missed here.)With no one else quite ready to share just yet, I thought it would be interesting to have a look over some aspects of the reviews.

The first questions I asked were related to where schools had been attended and whether the schools were government, private or independent.

Where did the interviewees attend school?

A total of twelve countries were listed:

  • USA (8)
  • England (7)
  • Canada (3)
  • South Africa (3)
  • India (1)
  • Wales (1)
  • Australia (1)
  • Malaysia (1)
  • Singapore (1)
  • New Zealand (1)
  • Malta (1)
  • Zimbabwe (1)
  • And the British Colony of Hong Kong (1)

Three interviewees attended schools in two or more countries (two attended in three).

This gives us quite an international flavour to the interviews.

Were the schools government, private or independent?

This one is a little more difficult to summarise as the systems seem to be classed differently from country to country. However, the majority of interviewees appear to have attended government schools, with a smattering attending private or independent schools, and some a mixture of both.

Was there an overall favourite subject?

graph - what was your favourite subject

Discussions on the posts indicated that there might have been a trend towards a liking for English and a dislike of physical education and maths. I think the trend away from PE and maths especially may have emerged through the discussions themselves, as when I went back through the posts, it wasn’t so obvious. However, I didn’t specifically ask which subject was most disliked.

English with its related subjects like reading and writing was definitely the overall favourite with eleven listing it as such.

The list of favourites includes:

  • English (11)
  • History (4)
  • Music (2)
  • Geography (2)
  • Social Studies (2)
  • French (1)
  • PE (1)
  • Art (1)
  • Humanities (1)
  • Maths (1)
  • Drama (1)

(Note: If people listed more than one, I may have included it.)

What aspect of school was most disliked?

As I didn’t ask the question about subjects that were disliked, but what was most disliked about school, I received a variety of responses.

PE did figure in the responses of six respondents, but the social aspect of fitting in and making friends, including when changing schools was listed by seven. Subjects such as maths, physics, geography, biology and geometry rated only one mention each. Other dislikes included disruption due to war, rules, long distances to and from school, and being picked out to answer questions. Others said that there was nothing they had disliked about school.

It is interesting that the social aspect of school and physical education ranked so highly. I wonder how much of the dislike for physical education was related to the social aspect of it.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

School Days, Reminiscences — the first 25

Every Sunday evening for the past twenty-five weeks, I have been sharing the school reminiscences of members of my blogging community. As well as being a way of thanking them for their support, it was a way to get to know them a little better and of letting you know about their services and publications.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that have developed around each individual’s reminiscences and I think, it is fair to say, we have learned much from each other. It is pleasing to see that new friendships have formed and the interest in each others’ work has grown.

I thought this was a good time to pause and reflect on the journeys of those we’ve met so far. If you haven’t yet and would like to join in by sharing your school days reminiscences, please let me know in the comments and I’ll send you the questions.

If you missed reading any of the first 25 reminiscences, click on the photos to check them out. The interviews contain links to the writers’ blogs, website and/or publications. Enjoy!

Charli Mills reminiscences about school days

School Days reminiscences of Sally Cronin

School Days Reminiscences of Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard's reminiscences of school days

school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

Pauline King reminiscences of school days

School days, reminiscences of JulesPaige

School Days Reminiscences of D. Avery

School Days Reminiscences of Christy Birmingham

School days reminiscences of Miriam Hurdle

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

School Days Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

School Days Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

 

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

School Days, Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Balroop Singh, poet, writer, blogger and teacher. On her blog and in her poetry, Balroop speaks deep truths about life, relationships and emotions. Wherever you are, whatever your stage in life, I’m sure you’ll be able to connect with Balroop’s wisdom.

When responding to other interviews in this series, Balroop commented, “I have some interesting memories of school, very different from the ones shared here”. How could I not invite her to join in too? I’m sure that, as you read her interview, you will see not only the differences but the similarities, between Balroop’s school days and those of others.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Balroop to tell you a little of herself:

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing.  She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will!

She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life and  Emerging From Shadows and Timeless Echoes. Her latest release is Moments We Love.

She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Allow Yourself to be a Better Person.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Welcome, Balroop.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended various schools in India, all of them in my hometown Ludhiana, (Punjab, a state in Northern India.) 

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In India, private schools are called public schools, which are managed by an organization or an independent authority. I attended both. I was sent to a Government School after 8th grade. It was traumatic for me because the atmosphere and standard was much lower than the Public School I had attended till then but I adjusted quite well and made some loving friends.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I got a Master’s degree in English from Punjab University. Later on I also got a Bachelor’s degree in Education and became the topper of Punjab University.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

The first job that I picked up was that of a lecturer in a college. I was proud of myself that I got the first job I had applied for! At that time earning some money for my family was the main inspiration but I was married off soon and I quit this job just after one year to join my husband in New Delhi. After 6 six years of hiatus, I joined a public school and became a high school teacher. 

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

What is your earliest memory of school?

I must be in Kindergarten or class – 1, the teacher told us to learn a story and narrate it. I was beaten for not learning or failing to recite. The memory is hazy but I remember the cane falling on my legs even today.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences 

This one is from the school I liked the best. Language teachers were so kind that I developed a love for reading all the three languages we were taught.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Good handwriting was nurtured and emphasized upon. Initial lessons were given on slate, which was like a small blackboard. We had to write on a wooden slate, which was washed and plastered everyday with a special material. We used a wooden pen and the ink, which could only be used for a wooden slate. This was done at home everyday.

What do you remember about math classes?

I didn’t like Math class and got punished, probably for talking and disturbing others. Learning multiplication tables was the initial dislike that grew into larger proportions.

What was your favourite subject? 

English. I admired my English teachers and always got the highest marks in this subject, which further boosted my interest. They praised my handwriting and my papers were shown to other students to exemplify neatness. 

What did you like best about school? 

In middle school, I learnt self-discipline, which was taught by the Headmistress in a novice manner. She didn’t believe in corporal punishment. She had her own ways of convincing the students that hard work is a matter of habit.

She had a number of black conical caps, which were placed in one corner of her room. All those students who didn’t do their homework were brought to her room. She didn’t need to say a word! All of them knew they had to wear those caps, one by one and go single file, out of her room. Nobody accompanied these students, they knew that they had to go into each class, hang their head, stand for a minute and go out. Nobody dared to laugh at them! Nobody wished to repeat this act. Every student learnt a lesson after wearing that conical black cap! The magical cap!

You may call this a harsh punishment but it carved a deep impact on the students. At least at me! I could never think of neglecting my homework.

What did you like least about school?  

I didn’t like PE (Physical Education) classes, as no real training was given about sports. I never played any random games, as I was scared of falling and getting hurt!

How do you think schools have changed since your school days? 

There is a sea change! Schools nurture social and emotional development, respect the students and teach them with the latest techniques. Corporal punishment has been abolished. Creativity, cultural awareness, freedom of expression and sports training is encouraged at all stages of schooling. Public schools compete with each other to produce best academic results. Some schools encourage competitive spirit by placing the top scorers in an ability section.

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

How do you think schools could be improved?

First, recruitment of qualified teachers who feel inspired to take the responsibility of teaching the next generation is essential. Second, they have to be paid at par with others to attract intellect and talent to this profession. Number of students in a class needs to be reduced and value-based education with flexible curriculum could be helpful for those students who want to pursue higher studies.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Balroop. It’s been wonderful to have you here. Although there may be differences in your school days, there are familiar threads that seem to run through them too. 

Find out more about Balroop Singh on

her blog: Emotional Shadows

her Goodreads author page: Balroop Singh

her Amazon author page: Balroop Singh

Connect with her on social media

Twitter: @BalroopShado

Facebook: Emotional Shadows

Pinterest: Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Purchase your own copy of books by Balroop Singh

From Amazon

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days, Reminiscences of Pete Springer

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Pete Springer, teacher, author and blogger. Pete joined in these conversations about school days right from the beginning. Like me, he is a passionate educator and has spent many years in the classroom changing lives.

Although he is no longer in the classroom, his passion for education remains strong. He has established a Facebook page to support teachers and has written a book sharing his experience as a teacher with the intention of supporting other teachers, especially those just starting their journey.

He titled his book They Call Me Mom. What a fabulous title. As a teacher, I was called Mum (or even Dad, sometimes) many times. I always considered it a lovely testimony to our respectful relationship. As a parent, I was also sometimes called Mrs x and was just as honoured. I’m sure that, as you read through Pete’s bio and interview, you will be impressed by his ongoing contribution to education and our world.

But, before we get into Pete’s interview, I’ll allow him to tell you a little of himself:

I taught elementary school (grades 2-6) for thirty-one years in California.  I loved everything about being a teacher.  I loved my students as if they were my own, and I follow their progress today even though I’ve been retired for three years. I’ve been invited to many extracurricular events (I tried to attend one each for all of my students during the year), birthday, graduations, weddings, and even a housewarming party.  One of my funniest memories was being invited (I obviously didn’t go) to a sleepover party thrown by one of my second graders.

I don’t like to make a big deal about it, but I was chosen for the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. This award is presented annually to ten of the top teachers in the County each year.

My favorite thing to do in school on a daily basis was to read to kids, and I decided that if I ever got the opportunity that I would try writing books for children when I retired.  I got sidetracked by another project first.  I decided to write a combination memoir/advice book, They Call Me Mom for future teachers.  The title of the book was inspired by the fact that elementary children consistently refer to their teachers as mom (by accident).  I took this as the ultimate compliment because moms are pretty great! I have spoken to college students at my alma mater, Humboldt St. who are studying to become teachers.  I was most touched when one of my former Superintendents purchased my book for all of the new teachers in his district. 

I am now following my dream and attempting to write books for middle grades that deal with the issues that kids deal with at home and at school.  I’ve joined a critique group (one of the members is my former principal, Nancy Wheeler, who is one of my biggest role models in education serving as one of my master teachers and then as my principal.  (She is 81 and still volunteers in schools, and I couldn’t have a better role model.) My wife, Debbie, was also a career educator, serving as a preschool teacher and then Director.

In addition, as an advocate for literacy, I joined the Humboldt County Author’s Festival Committee which brings twenty-five children’s authors from across the country to our local schools biennially.  (I someday would love to be one of the presenters.)  I also volunteer for an organization called the Society for the Blind.  This organization helps people who are visually impaired. Once a week I read our local newspaper and send in the articles (using voice memos on my cellphone) where they can be accessed by those who are blind or have low vision. 

Having been a master teacher for four student teachers, I try to always be an advocate for education, children, and teachers.  I started a Facebook group about eighteen months ago called Supporters of Teachers to highlight positive things that are happening in education. 

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Welcome, Pete.

Let’s talk about school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended school for thirteen years (K-12) in the United States.  I then attended Humboldt St. (California) where I graduated and went on to earn my teaching credential.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All of the school I attended were government (public) schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

The highest level of education I achieved was a Bachelor’s Degree from Humboldt St.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I come from a family of teachers, but I think school also influenced my career path because I was inspired by some of the teachers I had. I never planned on becoming a teacher, but I fell into an education job as a one on one aid to a boy who had muscular dystrophy.  I fell in love with working with children from that moment on.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory of school was attending preschool.  One of the other kids in the class ate a purple crayon and threw it up a few minutes later.  The poor teacher had to deal with the mess.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

What do you remember of learning to read, Pete Springer

I remember loving to read from an early age.  I was read to a lot when I was a child, and I developed an appreciation for books then. I remember reading all of the books in the Hardy Boys series when I was in elementary school.  One of my favorite things to do as a dad was to read with my own son who has gone on to earn his Master’s Degree in education. I still read every night before I go to bed.  John Grisham is my favorite author.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I recall writing stories at a young age.  When I got to high school I became much more self-conscious about having my work read aloud.  When I became a teacher, I often wrote plays that my class and I performed.

What do you remember about math classes?

Math came easy to me.  I was always good with numbers and teachers were very impressed with my mental math abilities.  Math was such an intuitive concept to me—I loved it until geometry reared its ugly head.

What was your favourite subject?

What was your favourite subject, Pete Springer

I liked pretty much all subjects, but I would say math because It made me feel smart.

What did you like best about school?

I liked the elementary and middle school years because I had a lot of friends.  High school was my least favorite time. I would say that college was my happiest time because I could be myself, and I liked the opportunity for free thinking.

What did you like least about school?

My least favorite thing about school was my high school years because it was so cliquish.  We moved to a new place when I was starting high school, and I didn’t have the self-confidence that I possess today.  I tended to withdraw instead of putting myself out there. If I could have one do-over in my life, it would be those years because it was the one time in my life that I wasn’t happy.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Pete Springer on how schools have changed

I think I’m very qualified to answer questions about schools.  One way that schools have changed today is the greater emphasis on technology.  I certainly am a proponent of the basics, but you have to play to your audience as well.  Kids love technology, and we live in a technological society.  Another change is the great emphasis that schools put on state testing.  That is quite unfortunate because it takes the joy out of learning for students and teachers.  While there are always going to be great kids in a school, there is a higher percentage of students with anger and mental health issues.  It makes the job harder to be a teacher and a student in a hostile environment.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I think schools generally give kids a well-rounded education.  One of the things schools are getting better at recognizing is that not every student is bound for college.  They are providing a path for students who will learn a trade.  There are still plenty of educators who recognize how important it is to keep the arts alive in schools, but I worry about cuts in this area.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Pete Springer on how schools could be improved

Besides de-emphasizing state testing, schools have an increasingly challenging job of dealing with bullying.  Violence is prevalent in our culture, and schools have increasing numbers of violent students who are dealing with mental health issues. The school has to be a safe place for kids; a place that they can learn in a nonthreatening environment with role models who inspire them.  Teaching educators how to equip themselves with firearms is not the answer!

 

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Pete. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I always love meeting other educators, especially those who are as passionate about children and learning as I am. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been a teacher can ever understand the passion and dedication we have for our roles as life changers.

Find out more about Pete Springer

on his blog:  Pete Springer Author

Connect with him on social media

Facebook: Pete Springer Author

Twitter: Pete Springer

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Purchase your own copy of They Call Me Mom

from Amazon

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Balroop Singh

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days, Reminiscences of Pamela Wight

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Pamela Wight, author, blogger and creative writing teacher. It seems that Pamela and I have known each other forever. I enjoy reading her blog Roughwighting where she muses on life and amuses with her short stories. Although I enjoyed her romance novel The Right Wrong Man – a fun story that I couldn’t put down – I was delighted when she published her first picture book Birds of Paradise, so delighted that I interviewed her about it on readilearn. I am very excited to hear that she has a new picture book Molly Finds her Purr coming out next month.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Pam to tell you a little of herself:

            Pamela Wight writes romantic suspense (The Right Wrong Man, Twin Desires) and is also the author of an illustrated children’s book, Birds of Paradise, a finalist in the International Book Awards, and the up-coming picture book Molly Finds Her Purr.  All of Wight’s page-turning novels are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as paperbacks or e-books. Birds of Paradise (and Molly Finds Her Purr in September 2019) can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as hardbacks.

            Pamela earned her MA in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco. She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her third novel, As Lovely as a Lie. Wight speaks to book clubs and teaches creative writing classes in both locations. Many readers enjoy her “weekly blog on daily living” called Roughwighting. (www.roughwighting.net)

Pamela Wight and her books

Welcome, Pamela.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended elementary, middle, and high school in a small New Jersey town called Pitman. We only had about 400 students in the (non-private) high school. I couldn’t wait to leave Pitman and move on to bigger and better things. Now as an adult, I appreciate the wonderful aspects of small town living. 

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I received my B.A. in English Lit from a small Pennsylvania college with excellent professor-to student-relationships. My professors gave me a paid internship when I was a senior to teach their small college Freshman English classes. With that experience, I got a full scholarship for graduate school near New York City, where I earned a Masters in English Literature.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I worked as an editor and writer for a small feminist newspaper. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

Kindergarten! I was so excited that the teacher had a corner full of costumes, where we could dress up and be anyone we wanted. I choose “Superwoman.”

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember a stream of sunlight in my living room when I was young – before Kindergarten – and taking out the picture books on the bottom bookshelf and making up stories from the pictures. That’s when I first started to “read.”

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Pamela Wight learning to write

What I remember as a child is writing birthday and holiday cards to my family, many of them poems; this is how I first discovered my love of writing.

What do you remember about math classes?

How much I hated them. Math didn’t make sense to me; stories did.

What was your favourite subject? 

English.

What did you like best about school?

what Pamela Wight liked best about school

I loved going to my English and Drama (and even Latin) classes, because we were assigned stories and novels, and then discussed the characters and the setting and the plot in school: Fahrenheit 451 (where I began my love for Ray Bradbury’s writing), 1984 (dystopian!), Of Mice and Men (first book that made me sob), Invisible Man (awakened my social consciousness); Pride and Prejudice (romance with wit!). I woke up and grew up as I read these books.

What did you like least about school?

Biology and geometry. The worst? Dissecting frogs. I protested animal cruelty, but the teacher still made me do it.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Pamela Wight and granddaughter

I think my kids (and now my grandkids) are given a wider variety of subjects to learn in each class, even elementary. One of my 6-year-old grandchildren has explained to me the metamorphosis of a butterfly; a 5-year-old grandson has showed me his yogic postures of down dog and plow that he learned in Kindergarten; and my granddaughter recited a speech by John Adams in 4th grade and played the role of John Lennon on “Biography Day” in 5th grade. When I was in school during those grades, we just “followed the lines” in every subject.  Also, special education has improved so much from my school time (when basically there was no “special” education) to my children’s time, to my grandchildren’s, where there’s now much more focus on helping those with different learning abilities.

What do you think schools (in general) do well? 

Open up a child’s intellect and curiosity about many subjects, and allow each child to thrive while learning.

Pamela Wight reading Birds of Paradise to children

How do you think schools could be improved?

I think schools should focus on the importance of empathy and compassion for all living beings, as well as the importance of learning a subject. Open up more lessons on diversity and how we each learn from each other. Additionally, we need more/better high school classes on ‘daily life’ activities like budgeting and nutrition.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Pamela. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I totally agree that we should focus more on the importance of empathy and compassion, and the ability to learn from each other.

Find out more about Pamela

Visit her blog: www.roughwighting.net

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12334429-pamela

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: http://facebook.com/roughwighting

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelawight

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pamelawight

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pam94920

Pamela Wight and her books

Purchase your own copy of

The Right Wrong Man

Twin Desires

Birds of Paradise

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Pete Springer

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.