Monthly Archives: June 2014

Zebras Across Africa

Heaven Forbid School of Excellence                                                                                                                 In The Pines, Georgia

After Lunch, Fifth Period English-Creative Writing.

“Mrs.  Whippoorwill, this is Janice Noteworthy from Heaven Forbid School.  How are you, dear heart?  I have a favor to ask of you.  I need a fill-in teacher for a three month assignment to finish out the school year.  I know you are retired, but I could really use your help.”

“Well Janice, dear heart, I called it quits last year after thirty years of torment.  I was dedicated to my profession, but my school days are over.  I’m sorry, but I can’t help you out.  Besides, I’m about  to take a trip of a lifetime to Africa.  Never been there.  I watch the Travel Channel and you should see the zebras running in the wild across Africa. Across the grassy savanna plains.  It’s their home, where they belong and not in captivity like a zebra zoo.  You know, many think zebras are white horses painted with black stripes.  That is nothing but nonsense.  They are not horses.  They are zebras.  A completely different herd.  I’m taking a safari to see them up close.  I’ve saved a long time for this trip. You know teachers never get a vacation.  This may be the only one I ever get for the rest of my days.     I must go.”

“Now, exactly, when does your tour leave?  Next week or three months from now?  Helene, dear heart, I could really use your help. What can you do for me?” said Janice with hopeful expectation and a genuine smile. “Janice, dear heart,  I have rheumatism now.  You know an old lady can’t stand up much anymore.”  Janice thinking to herself…There must be a way to accommodate her.  She is a star teacher.  With all the high tech electronics available today, she really doesn’t have to stand at all.  She could teach the old fashioned way, seated behind her desk.  And the students could stay in their place. She could teach from her tablet and the students could learn from their tablets. I got an idea.  I will appeal to her ego.

“You know, Helene, dear heart, you were one of the best.  A lot of students moved on to higher education because of you. Now there are some in very lucrative careers. Surgeons, lawyers, and even landscapers. All in professions of compassion and service. See what you did for them?  I could arrange free consultations for you with any of them. Need surgery for your osteoarthritis?  I can hook you up.   Any personal injuries such as falls at the senior center or a slip on the supermarket floor?  There’s money waiting for you.  And I know you always need your hedge trimmed and your lawn mowed.”

“You know, I could use a little help.  What do you need Janice, dear heart?” said Mrs. Whippoorwill with a bit of a smile while bracing herself on her cane.  “Maybe I still do have a little punch to teach.”

“Helene, dear heart, you were the very best math teacher in the district.  All of your students excelled.”  “Yes, I did teach them their numbers.  At least they can count today. The new ones coming up don’t need to count.  Just let the electronics do it for them.  I think there are still some numbers to teach.  What math class do you need help with, dear heart?”  “I need you to teach something new.  English, well it’s creative writing.  If you can teach math, you can teach anything.  This will be a piece of cake. Just tell them to write, but inspire them.  They really need some motivation,”  said Janice hoping for a deal.

“Heaven forbid, Janice.  I can’t teach English, much less writing.  I’m a numbers person.” “Mrs. Whippoorwill sing me a song, please.  Do whatever you need to do.  It’s your classroom and they will abide by  your rules.  You’ll see.”

“Okay, Janice, I will agree to the three months, but if they become too difficult,  I will give you my notice in a heartbeat.  When do I start?”  “Your class will start on Monday. Its right after lunch, fifth period.  Good  kids.  Just need a little motivation.  See you then?” “You did say this is a behind the desk job?  Great to hear,  see you then.”

After lunch, Monday afternoon.  Fifth period English-Creative Writing.

“Okay class, let’s get it together.  It’s time to start creative writing.  By the way I’m your new teacher, Mrs. Whippoorwill.  Let me take roll.  Butch?  ‘Here.’   Baby Face? ‘Here, but don’t want to be here’  Pinky Dee?  ‘I’m here, ya know. ‘ Jolene? ‘Mama said to come. Ahm here.”  Johnny Lee?  ‘I’m here, ma’am.’  Well someone with manners.  I bet you know your numbers.  Patsy Ann?  ‘I don’t feel well.  The fried chicken was good tasting, may I go see the nurse?’  Well, are you here?  ‘Yes, teacher.  I am here.’  You may go see the nurse, but you don’t want to miss out on the creativity in class today.  Hurry back. And Tank?  Tank, are you here?  ‘Whip-whip-whip-poor-will, I’m here.’  Very good, now on to our numbers, I mean creative writing.”

“Welcome to creative writing, young ladies and gentlemen.  This is supposed to be a fun class, so let’s make it that way.  What is creative writing, anyone know? Yes, Patsy Ann.” “I think it is writing whatever you want with no rules.”  “Very good.  You are onto the idea.  Anyone else know what it is to creatively write?”  “Its, well, ya know, easy writing. You don’t even need to know how to spell,” said Pinky Dee.  “Well, you do need to know how to spell, but we do leave something out.  Anyone know?”  “I know, ma’am. Don’t need to use any puntruation.”  “I think you mean punctuation, Johnny Lee. “Tank, what do you know about writing?”  “Nothin’.  Don’t care to write.”  Mrs. Whippoorwill thinking to herself…What a pity.  He really doesn’t know how to write.  I wonder if there are others.  It’s probably because they never learned their numbers.  But I can’t teach math in here.  We will start with basics, vocabulary and writing a sentence.  It’s got to be simple. I do not want to embarrass this young boy or anyone else.

“Let’s see.  Writing with no rules.  Easy writing.  Yes, punctuation is used.  What else is there about creative writing that’s different from standard English?” “I think you kinda write without complete words.  Instead of going, it’s goin’ ,” said Butch. “Yes Butch, incomplete words can be used, but I prefer complete words.  How about you, Jolene?” “Mama never taught us much about writin’, but I wanna learn it. I don’t know English very well.” “You will learn how to write well in here.  I think creative writing allows us to start writing without the rules and we apply them later.  You’ll see.”  “I’m looking for that baby face.  Baby Face, show your face.  There you are.  What is the main thing that is really different about creative writing?”  “I know because my Gramma writes in her own style.  She said it’s a free style of writing.  Just let the thoughts flow into your mind, then write them down on paper.” “You have just identified the main approach to creative writing.  It is the free flow of thoughts and ideas inside your head. Then you write them down.  Awesome, Baby Face.”

“Let’s give it a try.  We will do a sentence together.  Here’s a word to start-zebra.  We will write about zebras.  Just relax and imagine a herd of zebras running across a field. Anyone know what a zebra is?” “It’s a white horse with striped pajamas,” said Patsy Ann laughingly. “A zebra is not a horse, it’s a zebra.  A completely different herd,” said Johnny Lee.  “Where can zebras be found?  I see your hand, Pinky Dee. Go ahead.”  “In the Zebrarama.  The zebra ranch.”  “I know Mrs. Whip-whip-whip-poor-will. In Africa.  I’ve seen them on TV.  There are lots of them there.  All running free,” said Tank.  “Yes indeed, running free across Africa.  Okay, Baby Face, wrap it up for us.”  “Zebras live free and run across Africa.”

“What have we learned today?  A sentence.  What is it?”  All say “Zebras Across Africa.”