Decoration Day

In Milan, the whole community rallies for Memorial Day. The Edison High School Marching Band lines up in the town square. Baton twirlers, scout troops, and veterans. Fire trucks and police cars with whirling lights. Eager children on bikes decorated in red, white, and blue. The whistle blasts. They're off, parading to the cemetery for…

Handholders

When we moved to Milan, Ohio, two years ago, a terrific high school boy, Connor, began mowing and trimming our yard. He's not reluctant to tackle any chore. He even joined Cliff for fence painting on summer mornings when he didn't have football practice. My mother would have called Conner workified, significant praise from her.…

One Prayer

Prayer has never been my go-to position. To me, it seems like a desperate last-ditch effort to get something or to avoid something. Like making a wish, blowing out birthday candles, and expecting life to change easily. But I found myself in that last-ditch-effort position once. Like most couples, Cliff and I wanted to be…

Eagle Sundays

It started out simply enough. On a Huron County run for Meals on Wheels last March, Cliff's supervisor pointed to an eagle's nest in a towering oak beside a rushing creek. She'd watched families come and go for three years and said another one was on the nest. That nest was a deep stack of…

Fourth Grade: Truth with Candy

Fourth grade was everything at Sherman School in Middletown, Ohio. My friend Carla and I were equal parts excited and scared. Fourth grade heralded The Introduction to the Fountain Pen, a momentous step into adulthood in a 1950s curriculum. Fourth grade meant moving to the new building that housed the big kids and a recess…

Part 6: High School Twice

Not that the classroom failed to provide valuable lessons, but it was my extracurricular work that showed me the most about teenagers. And about myself. One teacher's bad apple was another's blue ribbon. Not only did I direct plays, I had to get sets built and lights hung in the Commons because we had no…

Part 5: High School Twice

Somehow I thought quitting would be the end of the story. Of course not. Eventually, I heard from a distraught student who confessed she'd spread lies about me for years. A teacher told her I'd been fired because of her. There it was--a missing clue to my seven-year ordeal. Inquisitions with agendas I never understood.…

Part 4: High School Twice

The school stuck labels to me like neon post-it notes. Apparently, I wasn't doing anything correctly. Yet, I refused to believe I was a train wreck. Fortunately, I found helpers, what Fred Rogers showed his TV audience in the acclaimed Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He once said: "When I was a boy and I would see…

Part 3: High School Twice

When I say I turned out to be an above-average teacher, you'll have to take my word for it, unless you picked up a hint of my reach by reading the 12 reflections from former students. Of course my daughter Maggie, who has a wicked sense of humor, read those posts and said, "Mom, I…

Part 2: High School Twice

Frustration, fear, and fury marked my seven years of teaching at Holland Hall. My experience was not atypical for working women back then. Questions asked of me during that early summer interview would be illegal now but were standard practice then for hiring women. Did I have a boyfriend? Did I plan to marry and…