Archives for : September2015

Educational Quips & Quotes

Educational (?) Quips and Quotes


These three quips/quotes are attributed to E. C. McKenzie:

  • Some students drink at the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle.


  • Sign on a high school bulletin board in Dallas: “Free every Monday through Friday—knowledge.  Bring your own container.


  • School teachers are not fully appreciated by parents until it rains all day Saturday.



One teacher recently retired with half a million dollars after 30 years of working hard, caring, dedicating herself and totally immersing herself in the problems of students.  That gave her $50.  The rest came from the death of a rich uncle.    ~ Milton Berle



The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher.  ~ Elbert Hubbard


There are worse crimes than burning books.  One of them is not reading them.  ~ Joseph Brodsky

An Apple for the Teacher

Since September is Back-to-School Month, here’s a salute to my teaching colleagues:

For caring deeply for your students,

For sacrificially devoting yourselves to their well-being,

For taking criticism for things that aren’t always your fault (low test scores, poor student performance, etc.)

And for being willing to work for a pittance when you could be more financially secure, God bless you!

SS, Country Cousin and former teacher


Apples for the Teacher  . . .

By Sharon Sheppard

I feel proud and blessed to have taught college students for 18 ½ years.  I started as a rookie in the middle of the year when an experienced teacher quit.  I don’t think I have ever been more frightened in my life than I was that first day (okay, that first year) when I stood in front of a different class of students each hour of every school day and tried to pretend I knew how to teach English.

But I can say it was the most challenging and fun and demanding and rewarding job I’ve ever had.  Fortunately, I was married to a fellow English major and college faculty member who trained student teachers, so I’d go home each evening and discuss my day.  As my biggest fan, he patiently taught me how to teach.

He once told me that my greatest asset was that I loved my students and they knew it.  “They will forgive you anything if they know you love them.”

Part of my position included coaching students for speech contests.   After tryouts, I warned those who’d been chosen to compete that they would have to work long and hard.  Contest rules required that speeches be memorized word-for-word, and we rehearsed every gesture and nuance until I felt confident that each contestant was ready for state competition.

One of my contestants was a farm girl who had trouble pronouncing her th sounds, and who was heavier than she would have liked.  But she was smart and determined, and she worked hard to prepare.  I went to Minneapolis to attend the awards dinner, and when the six finalists for the speech contest were announced, Rose’s name was among them.

Awards were presented Olympic-style with platform levels elevated according to rank.  The finalists assembled on the stage, and when second place was called and it wasn’t Rose, the group from our college went wild.

Rose gracefully climbed to the topmost level, and our students began chanting her name.  Tears streamed down her face as she made her way back to our table, clutching her first-place trophy.  Too moved to say anything to me, she plucked a carnation from the centerpiece and laid it in my lap.  She went on to win first place at the nationals, as well.

Jim was a veteran and a paraplegic.  He was older than some of the other students, and his maturity and experience made him a respected asset, especially during class discussions.  On one occasion he and I were to sit together at the head table for a school event.  When it came time to be seated, he wheeled over and helped me with my chair.  I should have been helping him—this man who had sacrificed much for our country.  But what a sweet and gallant gesture from one of our country’s finest!

Not long ago I received a welcome email from Dave, a student I had in class many years ago.  It said, “I heard on the radio that today is Hug a Teacher Day.  Though I can’t be there to deliver this hug in person to my favorite teacher—consider yourself hugged.”

The days of bringing apples to the teacher are long passed, but I’ll take a carnation, a gallant gesture, or a virtual hug in place of an apple any day.

Copyrighted © 2015, Sharon Sheppard

School Days

School Days

From Mary Zigan’s memoir, An Upside-Down Heart


My grandchildren find it hard to get their heads around their grandma spending her first eight grades of school in one room. However, in the late ’40s early ’50s that was typical for kids who lived in the country. Usually there were 15 to 20 kids for all the grades, and of course there was only one teacher. We had a potbelly stove that heated our one room.  In the winter when my sister Sharon and I walked the mile to school, our teacher sometimes had a basin of warm water waiting where we could soak and thaw out our feet next to the stove.  We had no such thing as indoor plumbing, so we used the two-hole outhouse a short walk behind our school.                   

Lunch time was a highlight.  If you were willing, there would be a lot of sandwich trading.  Anyone who had something better than a pickle sandwich was willing to trade up. Typically, Mother packed an egg salad or Spam sandwich for me, and I would sometimes be willing to trade half my sandwich for an apple.  A lot of families in our neighborhood were extremely poor.  Occasionally, a milk delivery truck dropped off half-pint glass bottles of milk in the cloak room. Because there were fewer chocolate than white pints of milk delivered, there was always a race for the chocolate flavor.

By the time I was a fifth grader, I was pretty mature.  My classmate Arlys and I had put away the Sears Roebuck paper dolls that we had cut out of the catalog and played with at recess. Now we had our personal diaries with little gold keys to lock up all our secrets. At recess we would take out our diaries and share our hopes and dreams. One of my secret dreams was to be a pastor’s wife, cherished and loved.

One of the most significant surprises during my high school years was when I was chosen to play one of the lead characters in the junior class play.  I was Maudie’s mother in “Maudie and the Opposite Sex.”

This was not a glamorous role, but it was a part that was tailor-made for me.  Though the character “Ma” called for a dowdy housedress, apron, and old-fashioned high-heeled oxfords, I still felt like a star.  If I wasn’t there, the show couldn’t go on.

After the play, I suddenly became very popular with my school friends. They said I was quick-witted and had a wacky sense of humor. My heart was feeling a flutter of hope that maybe I had a place in the world after all.

On stage playing “Ma” gave me a real sense of belonging.   No wonder kids in school began calling me Ma after the play, which became my new name until I graduated. To this day, “Ma” fits me perfectly. Today I am being called Ma for different reasons.  I am a spiritual ma to many, a biological ma, a step-ma, a grand-ma and a great-grandma. I love to nurture, so Ma is who I love being.

Mrs. Allen, the director of the play, thought I was terrific. She was impressed enough to seek out my mother on the night of the final performance and say, “If that daughter of yours doesn’t go into acting, she’s missed her calling.”

I didn’t miss my calling…you may want to read about it in my Memoir, An Upside-Down Heart!


School Days



Love this photo of Mary Z. and her sister, Sharon,

bundled up in coats sewn for them by their Grandma

Olson–ready to walk the mile to their one-room schoolhouse! 

(circa 1950s)


 SEPTEMBER is a time to look ahead to new beginnings . . .

My mother once told me that every September when my brothers and I would head out the

door for our first day back at school, a part of her wished she were going, too.

Autumn is a time for nostalgia and reflection.  It’s also a time for settling in and getting back on schedule.  It’s a time for looking ahead to new projects, for getting organized and forming new habits.

Good habits could be most anything . . .

Trying a new recipe each week

Getting back to journaling

Joining a book club

Cleaning a drawer (or a closet) every week

Finishing some of the projects you’ve started

Visiting someone who is lonely on a regular basis

Calling your mother once a week

OR how about establishing a habit of reading a Psalm from the Bible each day?


Here’s a section of Psalm 8 (verses 3-9, quoted from The Good News Bible):

When I look at the sky, which you have made,

at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places—

what are human beings, that you think of them;

mere mortals, that you care for them?


Yet you made them inferior only to yourself;

you crowned them with glory and honor. 

You appointed them rulers over everything you made;

you placed them over all creation:

Sheep and cattle, and wild animals too;

the birds and the fish and the creatures in the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world!


What an inspiring way to start the day!