The opportunity to contribute a commentary to the Jackson County Sentinel was unexpected, but I must admit that I have really enjoyed sharing my opinions, experiences, and memories.

My trek through the years I spent as a classroom teacher has brought back so many memories. Obviously, during a 27-plus year period of time, these memories run the gamut from positive to negative, from happy to sad, from success to failure. I treasure each memory and the lessons taught and learned through each experience.

One recurring event throughout my years at Scottsboro Junior High School involved a lot of crying. I shed a few tears, but so did many of my students.

I am referring to one of my choices of young adult literature I used in my English classes, “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I’m not sure that it is used in classrooms much any more, but I was so drawn to the story by Wilson Rawls. The love of pets is a fairly universally relatable topic, and the relative poverty and struggle of the family was similar to life in Jackson County during my childhood, so I had recollections of my own to share with my students.

Every year my students and I became involved in the story of the Colman family. They lived in the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma. The story revolves around a boy, Billy Colman, his desire for Redbone Coonhounds, and his journey to obtaining his object. There are many poignant moments in the novel, but the most moving is the love between two dogs and their boy and the end of their journey together. I NEVER made it through that part of the story without crying. It moved me every time I read it, no matter how many times I read it.

I liked sharing not only a wonderful story, but true emotion with my students. Unfortunately, life isn’t always provided with a happy ending, and my kids learned that it is okay to mourn and to cry.

Another favorite was The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton began writing this book when she was 15 years old and completed it at the age of 16. The story was relatable to the teenagers I was teaching. The story of the Curtis brothers and their friends is a coming of age story. It was completed in 1967, but still has relevance to so many kids. It was another tearjerker, and never disappointed. The tears flowed.

If my students learned anything in my class, it is important to me that they learned that just reading and comprehending of the material read was not all that was involved in understanding and appreciating every book we read. And I hope that for some of my students a love of reading was instilled.

As a teacher I was given so many opportunities to share things that I loved myself, to pass along my interpretation of books and to attempt to spark interest of all my students. I hope I succeeded.

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