Mishaps In Teaching #3

Dear Lord, Where Am I Going?

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When we first started the church school, which later became known as The Study, we didn’t have a “home” for the school. Eventually, we met in double-wide trailers off of 60th & L Streets (in Omaha), but until then we were like a nomad school. Or I should say the teachers were nomads. For the first year and half, except for chapel one morning a week, we met in homes. Since we were considered a homeschool co-op by the state and didn’t have a daycare license, we were limited to how many preschool/elementary students we could have in each home.

For the first few months of school, my Kindergarten/First Grade class (along with our childcare for teachers with small children) met in the White’s home, then the James’ home and then the Dibert’s home. For the remainder of the year, they met in my home.

Here’s how my schedule looked the first year:

  • I taught Kindergarten/First Grade in the mornings, assisted by Ambur.
  • At lunch time, I took two of the kindergarten students and one daycare child over to the James’ home. One of the moms, Jeanne, taught the 5th/6th grade class there in the mornings. Jeanne and her kids then left for the day.
  • In the afternoons, Ambur stayed at my house to teach the 1st Grade class.
  • I drove to the Pagel’s house where Cheri taught the 3rd graders in the morning. I taught for her in the afternoon so she could go to the James’ to teach the 5th/6th grade classes. It would have been easier if I had stayed at the James’ when I dropped off the younger kids, but I didn’t feel qualified enough to instruct the older students.
  • Meanwhile, the Junior/Senior High School students were at the Long’s house the entire day. David, Carla, Don and Nita were their teachers.
  • Thank goodness we didn’t have second or fourth grade students the first year. I don’t know what we would’ve done with them.
  • At the end of the school day, I took third-grader Julia home and went to my second job where I worked for several hours.

Did you get all of that? Some days I didn’t. There were times I’d be in my car trying to figure out my destination. I’d look around to see if someone was with me. If I had Holly, Jared, and Gunnar, I knew that meant to drive to the James’ house. If I had Julia, I knew I was on my way to work after I dropped her off at home. The panic came when I didn’t have anyone in the vehicle with me. Was I on my way to the Pagels or work or home? A couple times I had to pull over into a parking lot until I could sort it out.

To me, those double-wide trailers never looked so good when we were finally able to meet in one location. As a school, we celebrated like crazy that first day together. It felt so right. I, along with my gas mileage and sanity, was the giddiest of them all.

Mishaps In Teaching #2

What Do You Do When Preschoolers Declare, “We Want to Go to Hell”?

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With over fifty years of teaching under my belt, I have lots of stories to tell. Some funny, some shocking, some shockingly funny. Here’s another one of those shockingly funny stories. This event occurred at the same church school mentioned in the last article, “Mishaps in Teaching #1.”

Being a typical school day – I didn’t say normal because our days were never normal – my assistant, Ambur, and I were doing our thing in the Kindergarten/First Grade classroom. Midmorning, Paul White, a childcare worker (we offered babysitting for our teachers), came downstairs interrupting my class. He said he had a situation and wasn’t for sure how to handle it.

Two of the preschool boys got into a discussion about Satan and hell. Understanding that Satan is the bad guy, the boys decided they wanted to go to hell to beat him up. Paul tried to explain to Brandon and Jared they didn’t have to beat up Satan. Jesus already did it by dying on the cross and coming back to life on the third day. Heavy topic for the three-year-old boys to grasp. I did the best I could in breaking it down for them, but I didn’t do a particularly good job either.

I reassured Paul I’d let the parents know so they could help the boys understand why they didn’t have to go to hell and have a face-off with Satan. Well, I forgot.

You see, we only had Kindergarten in the mornings for the first couple years at the church school. Once class dismissed, I drove two kindergartners and one preschooler home. (We were a small church school and I doubled as “bus driver” too.) On that particular day, we ran into another incident which made me forget all about Satan and hell.

In the car, the two kindergarteners were talking. Holly told Gunnar she thought it was cool how his father could screw his thumb off and on. Gunnar’s father had lost his thumb in a work accident several years ago and he liked to trick the children into to thinking he could indeed screw off his thumb. He used his good thumb as part of the trick and to the children it looked real.

Gunnar and I tried to explain to Holly it was a trick but, to her literal way of thinking, she knew what she saw. By the time we got to the house, she was in tears. I explained to her mother what happened, and she said she’d have a talk with her. I returned to school for my afternoon classes.

I forgot about Satan and hell until Jeanne called me later in the day. As soon as I answered the phone, she asked me, “Do you want to tell me why my son wants to go to hell? He said you had something to do with it.”

After I took them home, Jeanne and the kids went grocery shopping. When they got to the store, Jared jumped out of the van. To his mother’s horror, he declared loudly to everybody within hearing, “I want to go to hell.”

What can I say? Oops, my bad. I forgot. It made me think of the song, “Momma said there’d be days like this.” Truth be told, folks, there’s never a dull moment when you hang with children.

Holly, Gunnar, Jared, and Brandon are adults now. Hey guys, thanks for the memories and laughs. Those were good times.