Back to school…

but not for me!  Summer is so fleeting in the Northeast.  When I was teaching, I didn’t allow myself to “work” on school stuff until August 1st.  Then I could put all of the ideas that were swirling in my head on paper, plan units, lessons and materials.  My favorite part, though, was mid-August when I went shopping for school supplies.  I can’t put into words how I feel about school supplies.  Since I enjoyed using them in my teaching, it also meant I spent a great deal of money on them.  I know the general public thinks everything is supplied for us and that couldn’t be more incorrect.  If I wanted certain things to use in my teaching, I bought them.  Yes, we are allowed to deduct $400 on our taxes but I often spent closer to $1,000 each year.

One tactic I employed to teach main idea and supporting details (and annotation) was for the students to use a yellow highlighter to denote a main idea and a different color to point out supporting details.  Because I used this technique with each of my classes, I needed enough highlighters for approximately 130 students.  I started buying them by the case and a case of each usually lasted all year.  As they would run out of ink, I replaced each with a fresh one from my supply.  Cheap plastic pencil boxes housed each type.  Clear plastic was used for yellow and a color was used for the non-yellow highlighters.  It was a system that worked well for me and the students became very used to passing the boxes around in order to select the highlighters.

I digress, as usual.  To feed my fascination with school supplies, I set aside $25 to use when the sales hit.  Today I got to spend it.  Actually I spent $27.  But I got a ton of two-pocket folders, spiral notebooks, packs of paper, pencils, pens, a binder, dividers for the binder and a few other things.  Monday I will take it over to our Town Hall for donation. At the checkout I encountered a former student who was happy to tell me he is getting ready for his second year of college, majoring in biology in order to attend medical school eventually.  He remarked that he thought I was retired.  I said I happily am retired.  Then came the comment, “I remember you liked school supplies but why are you buying them when you’re retired?”

I asked if he was familiar with the “paying it forward” concept and he nodded.  “That’s what I’m doing,” I told him.  “I’m donating them to the Town’s program for kids who aren’t able to afford their own.”  He smiled and said it was a nice thing for me to do.  With a wink I said, “but that pack of yellow highlighters is for me.”


About thequarryschild

A self-described forensic junkie, Beth Anderson spends her days shaping young minds to ask critical questions and wonder “whodunit.” Beth resides in the Capital District of New York and spends her free time reading and solving the great mysteries. Her love of swimming, tennis and sports provides the basis for one of the lead characters in her new book The Quarry’s Child. Beth is one of the founding members of the Upper Hudson Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime (aka Mavens of Mayhem), a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, a survivor of a visit to an active aircraft carrier while it was at sea, and a published poet in Soundings, a literary journal. Beth continues to instill a love for mystery fiction in her students as she has for over twenty years. Photo credit: Quinn Mulvey
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