Warning: If you are a teacher or librarian and you email me about one of my books, I just might lasso you into a Teacher Tuesday feature! That’s what happened to Gary Edwards, who wrote me from the beautiful hill country of Texas to share his students’ reactions to Hattie Big Sky. Gary teaches at Hunt School, a PK-8 school about 80 miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas. Hunt is a one school district with 180 students. Gary says, “In a small district you teach a lot of different things. This year I teach 6, 7, and 8 Social Studies, a reading elective which our school calls Book Club, Speech, English as a Learned Language, and I coach cross- country, basketball, track, and tennis. I also drive the bus.” That’s flexibility!
Here’s a peek into Gary’s past:
|Young Gary facing the future with a big smile!|
- Favorite school lunch: Going to my grandmother’s or great grandmother’s house. I grew up surrounded by relatives. The Snack Shack (junk food heaven-frito pie, burgers, candy) was also across the street from the school, so I really spent very little time in the school cafeteria.
- Best friends: They were two years ahead of me in school, but we played together all the time. Living across the street was Gary Don, and beside me was Gary Steven. When it was time for lunch, it was very important for our moms to be sure to use our middle names to avoid confusion. Three Garys leaving beside each other can be a really big problem.
Time you were a new kid: Never!I grew up Muleshoe, Texas (in the Texas Panhandle), surrounded by all my grandparents, great grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and other relatives 70 miles in any direction.
- Most inspiring teacher: My high school speech teacher, Kerry Moore.I did not go to college to become a teacher, but in the back of my mind, I thought of all the fun Kerry Moore seemed to have and he got paid for it too. The kids asked me quite often will I still teach. Easy answer-I like teaching. I have been teaching for 41 years and Mr. Moore is STILL teaching at Muleshoe High School in Muleshoe, Texas. The last time I emailed, we discussed the possibility that he might retire so I would not feel like a slacker if I retired. He still inspires me.
I coordinate with the English teacher.
- I have a very large cow’s tail hanging from the ceiling that a student made as a prop for telling about her favorite part of Hattie Big Sky. Another student brought her chickens to class, but she used a rubber chicken which she dunked in a bucket of water just like Hattie.
- My classroom is full of stuff, like model ships, German tanks, submarines, sharecroppers’ cabins, dioramas—I think the reason the janitor doesn’t complain is because her daughter (the chicken dunker) took the class twice.
- Posters and reports on things students found interesting in a book, for example, the Spanish Flu, Holocaust, etc.
- One of the favorites-write a new last chapter. When we read No Promises in the Wind, someone always writes a last chapter and Howie is always alive and miraculously survived being run over by a train
- We have eaten all of Hattie’s recipes and lots of food from the depression.
- And one of the best: When we finished reading A Night to Remember, we recreated the last night on the Titanic. recreated the meal, dressed in costume, danced to waltz music.
What has most surprised you about teaching this class?
Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m sold! I love the idea of reading being an integral part of a student’s school day. Way to go, Gary!