a young girl in white shirt

( Intermediate Level )

As Miss Jenny arrived all the students but one chimed, “Good Morning Miss Jenny.” Minh was deep in her activity to see her teacher arrive. The system titles her as a special needs student but Miss Jenny just tells her and her classmates she is special.

Most of Minh’s classmates had the compassion to help her feel part of the class. There was one student, Nam, who could care less about her.

Every time the class had an activity she was given a head start or some type of an advantage to allow her to do better than she would otherwise. This just made Nam mad.

“Today everyone will review our vocabulary words. First, let’s play the memory game. I will face all words backward on the board and you will have to find the word I say. If you find the word and use it in a sentence correctly then you will earn your team an extra point.”

Nam let out a sigh, “Miss Jenny I don’t want her on my team.” he pointed at Minh who was still deep into her own activity but looked up at Nam as he talked. “Move her over to the other side. She will make us lose. She is stupid!”

This was not the first insult towards Minh out of Nam. Jenny usually ignored his complaints but today she didn’t. She saw Minh’s face as she realized Nam meant her. Did she understand? Maybe not but Jenny did and it made her stomach sick.

She wondered how Nam came to be who he was at such a young age. At ten years old his innocence was gone. “Well, Nam just because you said that I will move her to the other side and make her the captain of Team Two.”

This made Nam giggle out loud. He won this battle with Miss Jenny. What he didn’t realize was that Minh was very good at remembering things. Especially when it involved visual cues.

Miss Jenny moved Minh to the opposite side of the room and her new teammates welcomed her. Jenny quickly showed her students all the vocabulary words then mixed them up and put them on the board facing backward. She numbered them one through twenty.

“Ok, now let’s have one from each team do rock paper scissors to see which team goes first.” Nam quickly stood up and Minh’s new teammates elected her. The two faced off and Nam won. He was gloating as he went back to his seat.

Seems Team One goes first.” Nam quickly stood as he elected himself to be the first. “Where is the pencil case?” Nam looked at the board and said , “Number eleven.”

Miss Jenny turned over the word for eleven. “Oh, I am sorry it is not a pencil case.” Nam sat down and Jenny looked toward Team Two. “Who will go first here?” Minh shook her head. She didn’t want to go first.

Another classmate raised her hand and stood. “Number seven.” It was not a pencil case. This went on for a few rounds. Each student is trying to find the vocabulary word pencil case.

Finally, a member of Team One found the word pencil case. “Yeah!” Nam was happy his team got the first two points. The extra point for using the word in a sentence.

Minh watched the board carefully as each vocabulary word was turned over in search of the pencil case. As Miss Jenny calculated, Minh knew exactly where each of the following vocabulary words was when asked to find them.

The score now was Team One fourteen points and Team Two twenty – six points with Minh finding or helping her team member find the vocabulary word that was next to find.

Nam’s mood had changed and he was annoyed that his own team hadn’t done better. Miss Jenny had noticed this change and inside she felt this would be a lesson Nam would remember.

She glanced over at Minh who sat there calmly. With only two more vocabulary words to find and turn over it is a given Team Two won this activity. She wasn’t rubbing it in Nam’s face that her team obviously won.

Team One found one of the remaining two vocabulary words and Team two the other. Team Two won!Miss Jenny said. All the team members clapped and showed their thanks to Minh who had helped them a great deal.

As the teacher glanced over at the other team they too were celebrating the other team’s win except for Nam who sat there in silence.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

This is an actual event that took place in my classroom. Instead of pointing out the fact I let the student realize it himself what a grave mistake he made by judging his fellow classmate.

(Names were changed)

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chimed – verb: resounded

special needs student – noun: various difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialized services

compassion – noun: sympathetic pity and concern

advantage – noun: a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position

insult – verb: speak to or treat with disrespect 

ignored – verb: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge

visual cues – noun: concrete objects, pictures, symbols, or written words that provide a child with information about how to do a routine, activity, behavior, or skill

gloating – adjective: dwelling on one’s own success or another’s misfortune

calculated – adjective: done with full awareness of the likely consequences

annoyed – adjective: irritated

rubbing it in (his/her) face – idiom: to boast to make someone someone feel bad

a great deal – phrase : large amount

Question ( s ):

How would you have handled this situation?

Bus Number 15

parked yellow school bus

( Intermediate Level )

Mr. Frankie, as the students call him, is close to retirement. He had driven for the Arcadian Elementary School District for nineteen years and ten months. When he wasn’t driving he would substitute as the crossing guard at the student’s crosswalk.

Frankie, named after his father, Frank Sr., grew up in the same neighborhood as he worked. Many of his friends, once they graduated, had moved away but he liked his city. Once in a while, they would come back to visit family and friends but this seemed to fade away as each of them started their careers and families.

His father had passed away a long time ago and he felt it was his obligation, as the only child, to help his mom as long as she needed him. She rarely asked for help.

She is a strong-willed Italian woman who did many things for herself. Frankie figures his dad had a lot to do with her being independent. “I will not be around forever. You need to know how to do these things for yourself.”

He smiles when he remembers those words. His mom would get so mad at her husband for what she felt was just being lazy. “Frank, You never want to do things for me! If one of your friends needed you, no problem but when I ask it is a different story!”

Frankie never thought about or planned what he would do once he retired. Honestly, he liked having something to do every day. Weekends bored him.

His mother was in her late eighties now and he didn’t know how much longer she would be around. “Maybe traveling could be an option”, he thought from time to time, “Five days a week and six months out of the year I traveled the same route. Time for new scenery I guess.”

Dinner at home never changed. You would always know what was for dinner by the day of the week. Sounds crazy to most who hear but it was pretty normal for their family You didn’t have to ask or guess what was for dinner.

On Mondays, it was meatloaf, on Wednesdays it was, homemade soup or stew and on Fridays, it was always fish. “Catholics eat fish on Fridays,” his mother would preach.

On alternate days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, a pasta dish was on the menu. Today was Wednesday and Frankie knew it would be be a soup or stew. It didn’t matter to his mom if it was thirty degrees Fahrenheit or ninety degrees, soup was on the menu.

He sat down with his mom for dinner and she gossiped about what her friend had done and what she saw the new man across the road do to a stray cat who had wandered onto his veranda.

She finally stopped talking when she noticed her son quiet and deep in thought. “So what is on your mind tonight? You probably haven’t heard a word I said.”

“I beg your pardon. I have heard everything you said.” He smiled at her and hoped she wouldn’t ask for details. He had no idea what she rambled on about. His last day of work was coming. At the end of this school year, he would retire. This was a week and a half away.

His mom smiled back and continued eating her soup. She looked up at her son and asked, “You look like you have something on your mind. What is it?”

” Ya Ma, I do. In less than two weeks I will not have a purpose. I won’t have to get up and be somewhere. I have no idea what I will do every day.”

“I’ve dedicated my entire life, it seems, to driving a school bus. I never really made plans on what I would do once this day came. Any suggestions?”

His mother stopped eating her soup and wiped her mouth with her napkin, “For one thing it will not hurt you to take a few weeks off or even a month before you decide what is in your future.”

“Twenty years of dedication deserves time off. Don’t you think? Retirement doesn’t mean you crawl up and die. It means you relax more. Don’t be in a hurry to do anything. Enjoy every single day!”

“Ma, you’re right. Besides all these years taking care of you has been another full-time job!” He waited for her response with a huge grin on his face.

“Pffft, If anyone had a full-time job it would have been me and I never received a dime for it. I had you and your father to take care of, the house, and to cook. Your dad never likes sandwiches, remember? He always wanted a hot meal.”

Now that your father is gone I practically do his job also. So not only am I a caretaker. I am a chef, a maid, a chauffeur for my friends who don’t drive and I am a handyman to boot!.

“Believe me, in retirement you will be busier than you ever thought you would be. If your hands are idle then that is your choice.”

Frankie shook his head in agreement. His mom always spoke what was on her mind. She never curbed her tongue. Everyone knew this about her and loved her for it.

The last day of school approached without incident. The staff had pooled their money together and had bought a card, a watch, and had a plaque made for his twenty years of service to their school district.

What his students did for him meant much more than a plaque or watch. Each of them wrote a short note to him and drew a picture. Each gave him a hug and their gift to him as they left the bus.

Some had drawn him as a substitute crossing guard while others drew him sitting in the driver’s seat of bus number fifteen. With the words written, “We love you” or “You are the best bus driver” and even ” You will be missed.”

Weeks had passed and his mother was right. Relaxing for a few weeks wasn’t all that bad. He and a friend actually had time to go to the local pond to fish. He hadn’t done this in years.

So Frankie, what is next for you? Are you going to travel or take up a hobby?” his friend asked.

“Nah. I need to stay close if mom needs me. I’ve been thinking of starting a non-profit organization for the students whose parents struggle from year to year to buy coats, backpacks, and other things needed each school year. I just need to know how to get started.”

“Every year I saw students carrying their books in plastic shopping bags or wearing shoes that were either too big or too small. It’s not their parent’s neglect. They do what they can.”

“I have a friend who works at the mayor’s office. I can give him a call on Monday and see if he has information on what to do.”

“That’ll be great. I want to have everything up and ready before the new school year begins. That means getting donations of supplies or money for us to buy such things. I imagine we would have to add to the list as time goes on but for now we can start small.”

“Sounds great. I will give you a call after I talk with my friend.” They both had gathered up their fishing gear and headed to the trucks. Neither of them had caught a fish but they enjoyed just relaxing and catching up.

Frankie received the information needed to start his non-profit and it was simple enough. He needed to fill out the necessary paperwork , name the organization, and file it with at the county building.

Frankie and his mother were enjoying their fish dinner when he mentioned to his mom. “Everything’s coming together nicely and I will go down to the county office on Monday. I still need a name. I cannot file the paperwork until it has a name.”

His mom looked across the dinner table at him. ” Bus Number 15. That had been your life for twenty years. Now you are starting your next chapter. Sort of an extension of the first. So I feel it is proper to call it that.” Frankie looked down at his plate and then back at his mom, “That has a nice ring to it.”

On the following Monday, the paperwork was filed and it was the beginning of a new journey for Frankie. The word got out and businesses donated to his cause. One business gave him office space, free of charge, in the downtown area, so he could be accessible to many.

Before he headed home for meatloaf Monday, he hung a simple sign on the outside of his new office building. He stood with his hands on his hips and beamed with pride.



To Helping All Students

and Their Families

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts from Angel:

There are many families struggling in today’s economy around the world. Prices have increased drastically on everything. If you have a chance and are able to help please do.

If you would like to support what I do “Buy me a coffee.”


fade away – phrasal verb: gradually grow faint and disappear

obligation – noun: a duty or commitment

strong-willed – adjective: determined to do as one wants even if other people advise against it

independent – adjective: free from outside control

scenery – noun: landscape or layout

preach – verb: proclaim or teach

alternate – adjective: every other

veranda – non: a roofed platform along the outside of a house, level with the ground floor

rambled on – phrasal verb: to talk or write in a confused way, often for a long time

entire – adjective: with no part left out; whole

chauffeur – noun: a person employed to drive a motor vehicle

to boot – phrase:  to emphasize that you have added something else to something or to a list of things that you have just said.

curbed her tongue – noun : to hold back comments

without incident -idiom: without any unexpected trouble

plaque – noun: small wall sign, commemoration of a person or event

non-profit – adjective: not making money or profit

neglect– noun: the state or fact of being uncared for

catching up – phrasal verb: talk to someone whom one has not seen for some time in order to find out what they have been doing

has a nice ring to it – idiom: to sound nice, good, pleasing to the ear

word got out – intransitive verb: to become known

accessible – adjective: able to be reached or entered

beamed – verb: smiled

Question ( s ):

Are there any organizations in your city to help with families in need? Whether it is food or clothing.