Posted tagged ‘education’

3 Cheers for Education

May 17, 2018

Three Cheers for Education
by Dr. Steven J. Callis

It is that time of year when educators are challenged with the task of maintaining order and the learning process among students whose minds are already focused on summer vacation.  The double shot of spring fever and the rapidly-approaching final day of school are much akin to a sugar high in children; fidgety antsy, and excited.

Reflecting on my high school days brings to mind the annual junior-senior prism ball game.  Similar to dodgeball, but played with three balls, this event occurred within the final two weeks of the school year, consumed two class periods, and took place in the school gym.  Over the years it had grown to a fun, but highly competitive, athletic event pitting the junior class against the senior class.  Those choosing not to play sat in the stands and in the balcony rooting for their team.

Technically, this was not a sanctioned event.  Administrators did not promote it or encourage it, but they did allow it to take place without penalty.  Therefore, skipping classes for the game was harmless and without consequence – – unless you were a student in Mrs. Crow’s typing class.

It was my junior year, and I distinctly heard her announce to the students that anyone skipping her class for the prism ball game would receive the grade of “F” for the entire grading period.  Our argument that the punishment did not fit the crime fell on deaf ears.  Our reasoning that she could not penalize what the administration refused to reprimand fell empty at her feet.  Surely, we thought, she will not fail the entire class!

From a student’s perspective, the junior-senior prism ball game was to some degree a rite of passage.  At the time, our school included grades 7-12, so we waited five years for our turn to play in the big year-end event; and of course, the junior class was bound and determined to defeat the seniors.

One other huge consideration is that we understood this to be our final opportunity to play in this annual rivalry.  A new comprehensive high school was under construction, and our senior year would be lived out in a school four times the size of our current school.  Most seniors were unhappy that we could not graduate from what had been “our school” since 7th grade.  And we were correct: there were no prism ball games at the new school.

Prophetically, we made the predictable youthful decision and skipped typing class.  Mrs. Crow followed through with her threat, but somehow it did not impact our final grade for the year.    Whether she was protesting the event or she was so very committed to teaching, I must admit appreciation for what I learned in her course, it having proved significantly beneficial over the years of my studies and career.

Today I applaud our students – especially this year’s high school and college graduating classes – along with our teachers, staff, and administrators for their commitment to education and the development of our young men and women.  I still have my graduation cap; I think I will take it outside and toss it in the air for ol’ time’s sake!



A Year to Remember

August 11, 2014

A Year to Remember – Steven Callis

My wife and I tried to make it as painless as possible when our children were young, and it really should not be that difficult for any parent. We are talking about new clothes, new lunch box, new backpack, new classroom supplies – – it is time for a new school year! It seems these days that the important thing about all that new stuff is to camouflage the “newness.”

I was looking at some of the styles available today. There was a pair of women’s jeans called Destroyed Detail Ripped Faded Jeans. As I browsed, it seemed that more holes and rips cost more money. That would never have gone over with my mom when she took me shopping for new school clothes (or any time for that matter!).

I would come out of the dressing room and embarrassingly stand in this public arena with other embarrassed boys as my mom pulled and tugged at those denim pants to make sure there was enough room in the waist and legs and seat and the – – well, you get the picture.

Of course, in those days faded jeans with holes in them were not the fad. No, these were dark blue denim with the cuffs rolled up twice (at least mine were – I was short back then). The jeans were so thick and stiff that I could not bend my leg at the knee until they had been washed at least twice, and sitting down in them was even a challenge. Running on the playground was a feat in itself on that first day of school!

And holes in my jeans? Are you kidding? My mom had an ample supply of iron-on denim patches for such occasions.

So off to school I went: pants pulled up to my waist, belt in place, shirt tucked in, no hat, unscuffed sneakers…headed to my new classroom wearing my new clothes with my new school supplies neatly packed in my new red and black plaid book satchel and matching tin lunch box, complete with leaking thermos. I probably tried not to show it, but I know I felt as proud as Mary rollin’ on a river.

Then there were the new books, new friends, and new teachers. Mrs. McClendon was my first grade teacher. She appeared older than the lady in the classroom across the hall, but she really knew how to make learning fun. She gave out good hugs, told great stories, and sent Larry to the office when he jammed the point of a pencil into the palm of my hand.

It is with fond memories and deep appreciation that I pray this week for parents, teachers, administrators, school staff, bus drivers, and students. May this truly be a school year to remember!

Excitement in the Air

August 2, 2012

As an elementary school student, it was my second most favorite day of the school year: the first day of school.  I liked meeting my new teacher and seeing which of my friends would be in my class from the previous year, receiving new text books, and finding out where my desk would be located in the classroom.  There was so much excitement in the air.

               Part of that excitement was the result of the previous day, when I went to the store with my mom to buy new pencils, new paper, new notebooks, new crayons, a new lunch box, a new ruler – -and new clothes.  I liked getting a new shirt and new shoes, but I dreaded the part about trying on blue jeans.  I would come out of the dressing room and embarrassingly stand as my mom pulled and tugged at those denim pants to make sure there was enough room in the waist and legs and – – well, you get the picture.

               Of course, in those days faded jeans with holes in them were not the fad.  No, these were dark blue denim with the cuffs rolled up twice (at least mine were – I was short back then).  Pants pulled up, belt in place, shirt tucked in, no hat, unscuffed sneakers…So off I went to my new classroom in my new clothes with my new school supplies; there was so much excitement in the air.

               Like many other students, my most favorite day of school was the last day!  I liked turning in my textbooks, cleaning out my messy desk, putting all my broken pencils and broken crayons in my torn book satchel, along with my dented up lunch box and leaky thermos, wearing my light blue denim jeans with patches in the knee to cover the holes that had appeared.  It was summertime! There was so much excitement in the air.

               I am not so sure I realized it back then, but now I know that the most important days were those that fell between my second most favorite day and my favorite day.  Those days were filled with academic, social, and physical development, and those were the days when schools recognized and were allowed to address the significance of moral character and national pride.  I owe a great deal to my school teachers from across those years.

               I encourage you to take a moment right now and pray for our students, teachers, and administrators as this new school year begins; and further, that you will continue the habit of such prayer throughout the school year ahead.   Our children deserve the best.