Each year at this time, teachers are called in for multiple meetings, and to get their classrooms in shape and ready for the kids, and administrators, who have been on duty all summer unless they take vacation days, are panicking to get the school ready. And for the first time in 47 years, I do not fall into any category I just listed, because for the first time after 47 years, I am retired.
It’s kind of scary when I think about it. I mean, aside from the financial hit Kim and I will take, I don’t have much to do. I will substitute here and there, but nothing permanent and nothing that calls me to “be there” each day for the next 180 or 220 days (depending upon which contract you’re looking at). Nothing.
I will take care of the house and the dogs. I will write like crazy (on the backside of book #10 as I write this), post in my two blogs, and do some reading and cooking. But when you put that all together, it’s quite a bit of solitary and solo time for me. Kim will be at her school for the next three years until she retires. Hannah will be at her school, while Alex (her husband) works from home and a nanny takes care of their newborn, Mason. Emily will continue working at her nonprofit with adults in or who have suffered trauma, while her fiancé, Q, starts year two of his teaching and coaching career.
I still haven’t come to grips with all of it. This summer is the first summer I did absolutely nothing with or about school. The FIRST SUMMER in 47 years. Astonishing, when you think about that. I lasted longer than I honestly thought I would.
I will miss working with the kids the most. Yes, some gave me a hard time, but there were many, many more who made my life as an educator special. I will miss the many administrators I’ve rubbed elbows with over the years. I will miss the hundreds of teachers and support staff I’ve worked with all these years. And those of you reading this know who I’m talking about. You’ve put a smile on my face more than once or twice. You kept me going all these years.
When I look back on my career, I know there were better teachers and coaches than I was. I know there were many teachers and counselors better than me, and I know there were many administrators better than I was. But I can look back and say I didn’t do too badly either. I think my best role was that of counselor. It made me the happiest and if I had a do over, it would be to remain as a counselor. I got to work directly with kids and their parents. I missed that when I went to administration. The kids.
If I could impart a bit of wisdom for any teacher, counselor, administrator, or staff member as you enter this new school year, it would be to give kids the benefit of the doubt. They are scared and tender and loving- even behind the hard shell, even behind the sneer and the nonchalance and uncaring attitude they project. You can be strict and hold high standards all you want, but kids will respond to you only if they know you are fair and you care. They are doing the best they can and know how to do. Some are inept. Some will push you to the limits, and some will hurt your heart and soul. But if you think about it, they are kids and they will make mistakes.
No kid ever came with a “how to” manual. Kids are not born with a set of directions. Parents will only raise their kids as they themselves were raised. One can only do what they know how to do. You can help break the cycle in time, eventually. Many times you will make a difference in a kid’s life, but you won’t ever know about it. That is, unless you’re lucky, and the kid hooks up with you at some point down the road and lets you know you made a difference. But unless they do, you have to believe that your words, your lack of words, your actions and the lack of a provoked reaction make and made a difference in a kid’s life. Give them a chance. They, and their parents, are doing the best they can.
And give yourself a break too. You are doing the best you can. And please, please remember you aren’t teaching math or English, or any world language. You aren’t teaching science, and you’re not teaching PE. You are teaching kids. You are reaching their hearts and their souls much more than you will ever reach their head. You will never teach them math or science or any subject unless a kid knows you care about them and you are fair and honest and sincere. They are as vulnerable as you are. And you are really vulnerable. I know that. I’ve been there in each role I assumed.
Take it, or not, from this old guy who used to be …
I wasn’t ever, ever perfect, and I made many more mistakes than you will ever make simply because I had more time to make them. But I also had my share of successes, just as you will. You’ve chosen the best profession in the world. Doctors help heal, and lawyers attempt to create justice in an unjust world. But it is you, just as it was me, who taught them. Something to think about …
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
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In the coming weeks, I will have a true author website up and running. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted.
Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!
Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing
kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but
it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming,
and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the
Fan Mail: New Release! A Maxy Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Award Nominee, and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!
A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.
As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.
Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he? https://amzn.to/3eNgSdS
Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!
Blaze In, Blaze Out is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://www.audible.com/acx-promo\
Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann.
The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die. https://amzn.to/34lNllP
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com
Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
Would you recognize a serial killer if one spoke to you? Vincent and Shirley didn’t, and now they’re dead!
He blends in, is successful,
intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no
discernible pattern, no clues, and no leads. The only thing the FBI and local
police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome
and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message
coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own
world, do not know they are the next targets, and neither does their family or
local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have
to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI
thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is
on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and
nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that
threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives
Photos courtesy of Kimberly Farmer