Friday, May 4, 2018


Though I mostly taught psychology during my teaching career, I was trained as a “broadfield” social studies teacher. What that means is that theoretically, I could and am qualified to teach anything and everything in social studies. Um . . . no way!

You wouldn’t want me teaching economics or any of the world histories. I could do a pretty good job in US History and any of the behavioral sciences like sociology, anthropology, geography and of course, psychology. I don’t think they even use the term “broadfield” any longer in teacher licensing or certification. In fact when I wrote that term, spell check caught it and wondered, ‘Did I lose my mind or something?’

In history, my strengths were the civil war, the old west, and westward expansion. Teaching it was fun, but learning about it even more fun. I think that’s why I chose Wyoming for my first teaching and coaching position. Moving there without knowing anyone or having lived there previously. It was kind of like the early explorers, but with a car and U-Haul.

Think for a moment about Lewis (no relation that I know of) and Clark exploring west of the known. Mountains, rivers big and small, braving the elements. Or think of Marquette and Joliet exploring the upper Midwest, which is where I came from originally. Using canoes as they paddled down rivers and when they ran out of river, they carried or ‘portaged’ from river to river. They, too, had to battle the elements: cold, ice, heat and humidity, bugs.

It was because of brave men and women like them we expanded from ocean to ocean, or “. . . from sea to shining sea” as the song goes. It was because of them that folks saddled up a horse, sailed on steamers and climbed aboard wagons and caravanned west to strike out (sometimes literally as well as figuratively) on their own to create a new life. Brave souls, they were. Intrepid spirits one and all.

But their path was made better because of those who went before them, those who showed them the way. Those who created the first path, the first trail. The explorers who cleared the way for all those who ventured after them.

And while there were many who moved west, there were those who declined any kind of move and instead, stayed in Boston or New York or wherever. They were happy, content and satisfied. They felt no need to move, no desire to uproot their comfortable (or not) lives and begin again.

Got me thinking . . .

Parents, adults, teachers and coaches and those in the helping and service professions do their own share, their own kind of Trailblazing, don’t they . . . don’t we?

We do our best to make the road a little safer for those who follow us: our own children, someone else’s children.

We caution. We teach. We counsel. We guide. Sometimes, like Marquette and Joliet when they didn’t have water, we pick up and carry- not canoes, but those, especially the kids, who can’t quite cut it on their own. Those who may be fearful, afraid, or nervous. Those who have doubts.

We do it because it is our job, what we ought to do. And many times, we do this without recognition, without extra pay, without the pat on the back or the thank you- sometimes not even from the one we helped.

More often than not, most of the time, we do it out of love. We do it because we care and are concerned. We do it out of compassion. We do it whether one notices it or not. We see a need and dig in. We put our arm around that kiddo, tell him or her it will be okay, that we’ll walk with them, be alongside of them, that we’ll catch them if and when- and we know they will- fall. Because that’s what Trailblazers do. Over and over again. Time and again. It’s what we do. Should do or have to do, or not. We do. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

I have been really blessed with some wonderful reviews on my new novel, Caught in a Web. Best Thrillers wrote: “The Bottom Line: This important, nail-biting crime thriller about MS-13 sets the bar very high. One of the year’s best thrillers.” You can read the entire review (rather short, but impactful) at  

Another review, from Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer at The Midwest Book Review wrote: “As the investigators review relationships, affairs, and threats, they find themselves unraveling an ever-increasing web of deception as readers are carried into a thrilling underworld of gang violence and teen involvements which gradually lead to a resolution where characters may fudge on honesty, but tie up loose ends.

Characters are many, but are well-drawn; the action offers just the right blend of tension and intrigue; and detective story enthusiasts will especially relish the level of emotional inquiry which makes the characters both human and believable.

The result is an involving detective piece that probes the worlds of teens and gang members with an equal attention to precise, staccato details that flow smoothly into a story that creates a satisfying conclusion to all conundrums.” You can read the entire review, again fairly short, at

For those of you in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, I am doing two Caught in a Web book sale and signing events. You can find me at:
May 5 England Run Library in Stafford/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 12 Salem Church Library in Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


  1. Always gets the wheels in my head going and nice to stop whatever and read this

  2. Thank you, Joe, for traveling alongside me. I appreciate your support and friendship.


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe