You are on page 1of 28

"AM I TO BE BLAMED?

" They're chasing me, they're chasing, no they must not catch me, I have enough money now, yes enough for my starving mother and brothers. Please let me go, let me go home before you imprisoned me. Very well, officers? take me to your headquarters. Good morning captain! no captain, you are mistaken, I was once a good girl, just like the rest of you here. Just like any of your daughters. But time was, when I was reared in slums. But we lived honestly, we lived honestly in life. My, father, mother, brothers, sisters and I. But then, poverty enters the portals of our home. My father became jobless, my mother got ill. The small savings that my mother had kept for our expenses were spent. All for our daily needs and her needed medicine. One night, my father went out, telling us that he would come back in a few minutes with plenty of foods and money, but that was the last time I saw him. He went with another woman. If only I could lay my hands on his neck I would wring it without pain until he breaths no more. If you were in my place, you'll do it, won't you Captain? What? you won't still believe in me?. Come and I'll show you a dilapidated shanty by a railroad. Mother, mother I'm home, mother? mother?!. There Captain, see my dead mother. Captain? there are tears in your eyes? now pack this stolen money and return it to the owner. What good would this do to my mother now? she's already gone! Do you hear me? she's already gone. Am I to be blamed for the things I have done? "JUVENILE DELINQUENT" Am I a juvenile delinquent? I'm a teenager, I'm young, young at heart in mind. In this position, I'm carefree, I enjoy doing nothing but to drink the wine of pleasure. I seldom go to school, nobody cares!. But instead you can see me roaming around. Standing at the nearby canto (street). Or else standing beside a jukebox stand playing the nerve tickling bugaloo.Those are the reasons, why people, you branded me delinquent, a juvenile delinquent. My parents ignored me, my teachers sneered at me and my friends, they neglected me. One night I asked my mother to teach me how to appreciate the values in life. Would you care what she told me? "Stop bothering me! Can't you see? I had to dress up for my mahjong session, some other time my child". I turned to my father to console me, but, what a wonderful thing he told me. "Child, here's 500 bucks, get it and enjou yourself, go and ask your teachers that question". And in school, I heard nothing but the echoes of the voices of my teachers torturing me with these words. "Why waste your time in studying, you can't even divide 100 by 5! Go home and plant sweet potatoes".

I may have the looks of Audrey Hepburn, the calmly voice of Nathalie Cole. But that's not what you can see in me. Here's a young girl who needs counsel to enlighten her way and guidance to strenghten her life into contentment. Honorable judge, friends and teachers...is this the girl whom you commented a juvenile delinquent?.

I Demand Death!
My hands are wet with blood. They are crimsoned with the blood of a man I have just killed. I have come here today to confess. I have committed murder, deliberate, premeditated murder. I have killed a man in cold blood. That man is my master. I am here not to ask for pity but for justice. Simple, elementary justice. I am a tenant My father was a tenant before me and so was his father before him. This misery is my inheritance and perhaps this will be my legacy to my children. I have labored on a patch of land not mine. But I have learned to love that land, for it is the only thing that lies between me and complete destitution. It is the only world that I have learned to cherish. And somewhere on that land I have managed to build what is now the dilapidated nipa shack that has been home to me. I have but a few world possessions, mostly rags. My debts are heavy. They are sum total of my ignorance and the inspired arithmetic of my master, which I do not understand. I labor like a slave and out of the fruits of that labor I get but a mere pittance for a share. And I have to stretch that mere pittance to keep myself and my family alive. My poverty has reduced me to the bare necessities of life. And the constant fear of rejection from the land has made me totally subservient to my master. You tell me that under the constitution, I am a free man-free to do what I believe is just, free to do what I think is right, and free to worship God according to the dictate of my conscience. But I do not understand the meaning of all these for I have never known freedom. I have always obeyed the wishes of my master out of fear. I have always regarded myself as no better than a slave to the man who owns the land on which I live. I do not ask you to forgive me nor to mitigate my crime. I have taken the law into my own hands, and I must pay for it in atonement. But kill this system. Kill this system and you kill despotism. Kill this system and you kill slavery. Kill this despotism and you set the human soul to liberty and freedom. Kill this slavery and you release the human spirit into happiness and contentment. For the cause of human liberty, of human happiness and contentment, thousands and even millions have died and will continue to die. Mine is only one life. Take me if you must but let it be a sacrifice to the cause which countless others have been given before and will be given again and again, until the oppressive economic system has completely perished, until the sons of toil have been

liberated from enslavement, and until man has been fully restored to decency and self respect. You tell me of the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But I have known no rights, only obligations; I have known no happiness; only despair in the encumbered existence that has always been my lot. My dear friend, I am a peace-loving citizen. I have nothing but love for my fellowmen. And yet, why did I kill this man? It is because he was the symbol of an economic system which has made him and me what we are: He, a master, and I, a slave. Out of a deliberate design I killed him because I could no longer stand this life of constant fear and being a servant. I could no longer suffer the thought of being perpetually a slave. I committed the murder as an abject lesson. I want to blow that spelled the death of my master to be a death blow to the institution of the economic slavery which shamelessly exists in the bright sunlight of freedom that is guaranteed by the constitution to every man. My dear friend: I do anguish from the weak and helpless and has laid upon the back of the ignorant labor burdens that are too heavy to be borne, I demand death! To this callous system of exploitation that has tightened the fetters of perpetual bondage in the hands of thousands, and has killed the spirit of freedom in the hearts of men, I demand death. To this oppression that has denied liberty to the free and unbounded children of God, I DEMAND DEATH! I KILLED HER I killed her because I do love her. These hands, these hands that give life to many, killed her because of my love to her. Ladies and Gentlemen of this honorable court, please listen to me, listen to my story before you give my verdict. I am Dr. Reyes, a cancer specialist. I was born in a slum district of Batalon. My father oh! I don't know him for I am a child of faith. My mother brought me up in such determination and my ambition was to escape the filthy and horrible place of Batalon. I was nourished with hope that someday I might live a life different from her. My mother had a burning faith that she turned the nights into days. All her efforts were not in vain for I pushed through with flying colors. My mother who had given her whole life to me had tears in her eyes as she pinned the gold medal on my proud breast. Later on, I was sent as a scholar of the Philippines to the United States of America. I embraced my mother tightly as I've reached the plane.."Mother, mother,.." I whispered. You will always be my best mother in the world.

After four years, I came back with laurels. I became a cancer specialist. I gave my mother everything but I was too late. I who had used to ease the pain of many, came too late to the life of my dying mother. I gave the best treatment but the grasp of death was so tight around her. My God, what is the use of ten years of study if I couldn't even use it at my mother's pain. Then one night, I heard a strange cry. I run to her room. "Do you love me, child?" she asked, as I embrace her. " Yes, mother.. If only I could get all your pain and agonies" " Then.. if you love me, end my sufferings, kill me Let me die." "But, mother, I promise to give life and not to end it." God. She did not deserve the unhappiness. She deserves to be happy. I run to my room and came back with a syringe. "Mother, forgive me. God, please understand me." "Mother, mother, you must not die.. Don't leave, I love you. It was only a distilled water..Mother Mother. MOTHER" Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, give me your verdict. Yes, it was only distilled water which ended the sufferings of my mother. Judge me.. Punish me GO, punish me.. Thy will be done!!! The Face Upon the Floor... (author: Hugh Antoine D'Arcy) 'Twas a balmy summer evening and a goodly crowd was there, Which well-nigh filled Joe's barroom, on the corner of the square; And as songs and witty stories Came through the open door, A vagabond crept slowly in and posed upon the floor. "Where did it come from?" someone said. "The wind has blown it in." "What does it want?" another cried. "Some whiskey, or rum or gin?" "Here, Toby, sic 'em, if your stomach's equal to the work-I wouldn't touch him with a fork, he's filthy as a Turk." This badinage the poor wretch took with stoical good grace; In fact, he smiled as tho' he thought he'd struck the proper place.

"Come, boys, I know there's kindly hearts among so good a crowd-To be in such good company would make a deacon proud. "Give me a drink--that's what I want... I'm out of funds, you know, When I had cash to treat the gang this hand was never slow. What? You laugh as if you thought this pocket never held a sou; I once was fixed as well, my boys, as any one of you. "There, thanks, that's braced me nicely, God bless you one and all; Next time I pass this good saloon, I'll make another call. Give you a song? No, I can't do that, my singing days are past; My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out and my lungs are going fast. "I'll tell you a funny story, and a fact, I promise, too. Say! Give me another whiskey and I'll tell you what I'll do... That I was ever a decent man not one of you would think; But I was, some four or five years back. Say, give me another drink. "Fill her up, Joe, I want to put some life into my frame-Such little drinks to a bum like me are miserably tame; Five fingers... there, that's the scheme... and corking whiskey, too. Well, here's luck, boys and landlord... my best regards to you. "You've treated me pretty kindly and I'd like to tell you true How I came to be the dirty sot, you see before you now. As I told you, once I was a man, with muscle, frame, and health, And but for a blunder ought to have made, considerable wealth. "I was a painter, not one that daubed on bricks and wood, But an artist, and for my age, was rated pretty good. I worked hard at my canvas and was bidding fair to rise, For gradually I saw the star of fame before my eyes. "I made a picture perhaps you've seen, 'tis called the 'Chase of Fame'. It brought me fifteen hundred pounds and added to my name, And then I met a woman... now comes the funny part-With eyes that petrified my brain and sunk into my heart. "Why don't you laugh? 'tis funny that the vagabond you see Could ever love a woman and expect her love for me; But 'twas so, and for a month or two, her smiles were freely given, And when her loving lips touched mine, it carried me to Heaven. "Boys, did you ever see a girl for whom your soul you'd give, With a form like the Milo Venus, too beautiful to live; With eyes that would beat the Koh-i-noor and a wealth of chestnut hair?

If so, 'twas she, for there never was, another half so fair. "I was working on a portrait, one afternoon in May, Of a fair-haired boy, a friend of mine, who lived across the way. And Madeline admired it and much to my surprise, Said she'd like to know the man, that had such dreamy eyes. "It didn't take long to know him and before the month had flown My friend had stole my darling, and I was left alone; And ere a year of misery had passed above my head, The jewel I had treasured so had tarnished and was dead. That's why I took to drink, boys. why, I never see you smile, I thought you'd be amused and laughing all the while. Why, what's the matter, friend?... there's a tear-drop in your eye, Come, laugh like me 'tis only babes and women that should cry. "Say, boys, if you give me just another whiskey I'll be glad, And I'll draw right here a picture of the face that drove me mad. Give me that piece of chalk with which you mark the baseball score You shall see the lovely Madeline upon the barroom floor." Another drink, and with chalk in hand, the vagabond began To sketch a face that well might buy, the soul of any man. Then, as he placed another lock upon the shapely head, With a fearful shriek, he leaped and fell across the picture... dead!

The Torch of Life


Theres a breathless hush in the close tonight: Ten to make and the match to win A bumping pitch and a blinding light, An hour to play and the last man in. And its not for the sake of a ribboned coat, Or the selfish hope of a seasons fame, But his captains hand on his shoulder smote: Play up! Play up! And play the game! The sand of the desert is sodden red, Red with the wreck of a square that broke; The gatlings jammed and the colonel dead, And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. The river of death has brimmed his banks, And Englands far, and Honor a name,

But the voice of a Schoolboy rallies the ranks: Play up! Play up! And play the game! This is the word that year by year, While in her place the school is set, Every one of her sons must hear, And none that hears it dare forget. This they all with a joyful mind. Bear through life like a torch in flame, And falling fling to the host behind: Play up! Play up! And play the game!

It Is Raining
It is raining. Where would you like to be in the rain? Where would you like to be? Id like to be on a city street Where the rain comes driving down Trying to make things neat As it washes the houses, roof and wall The taxis, buses, cars, and all. Thats where Id like to be in the rain Thats where Id like to be. It is raining. Where would you like to be in the rain? Where would you like to be? Id like to be in a tall tree top Where the rain comes dripping drop, drop, drop, drop, Around on every side where it wets the farmers, the barns, the pig. the cows, the chickens, both little and big. Where it batters and beats on a field of grain. And makes the little birds hide from the rain. Thats where Id like to be in the rain. Thats where Id like to be. It is raining. Where would you like to be in the rain? Where would you like to be? Id like to be on a ship at sea Where everythings wet as can be And the waves are rolling high Where sailors are pulling the ropes and singing

And winds in the rigging and salts sprays stinging And round us sea gulls cry On a dipping, skimming ship at sea. Thats where Id like to be in the rain. Thats where Id like to be.

Five Loaves of Bread


She stood at the bar of justice A frightened creature wan and wild In form too small for a woman, In feature too old for a child. For a look so worn and pathetic Was stamped on her lovely face It seemed that years of suffering Was something time couldnt erase. Your name? asked the judge as he eyed her. Is Anna Ruiz, Sir, said the girl. And your age? asked the judge again, Then girl replied, Ive turned fifteen. Well Anna, Im sorry to say, That you have been charged today By your town baker who said, That you stole five loaves of bread Do you know that stealing is bad? And that you have displeased our God? Do you know that you could be jailed? And cannot be set free or bailed? Your Honor, I know it was wrong, But day in and out I walked along Looking for work so I could earn Even hard jobs, Im willing to learn. But fates unkind, my father is dead, My mother is sick and lying in bed, My brothers and sisters missed six meals, They asked for food with eyes full of tears. What could I do to save them from death? I myself was losing my breath So I took the five loaves of bread, But Ill pay with services instead.

There was silence in the courtroom, That was suddenly filled with gloom. The women wiped their tears away, They heaved a sigh and tried to pray. All dug into their pockets, And then brought out their wallets Sounds were heard of golden coins that fall Into boxes passed around the hall. The baker stood up and told the judge Your Honor, Im withdrawing my charge. A rich lady gave Anna a job That helped her and all that she loved. http://www.takdangaralin.com/tag/short-declamation-piece/page/2/

The man with the face of heaven


I used to think neighbors come to my house only because they need something from me. Indeed, they do. For the past three years, neighbors have been coming and going out of our house. But they do not come here to borrow or beg for money; neither to borrow carpentry or garden tools; nor to have someone listen to and help them solve their domestic or international problems. They come here for only one reason. They come to see me. No, let me correct that. They come her to see my face. No, I do not have a face shattered by bazoka. I was not hit by posporous gas Israilites rain on the suspected Hamas militants in Gaza. I have no scar in the form of letter Z on my forehead. I am just another ordinary guy with an extraordinary look. Of course, you must be demanding for a discription. Sorry, you will never have it. Otherwise, even the Muslim militants who kidnapped the Red Cross volunteers will also kidnap me thinking I have millions simply because I have so much fan from around the world. To see a hunk (translation: handsome and sexy guy), my neighbors need to either stroll the commercial capital of Manila (Makati), the working district of Pasig (Ortigas), or they may stroll the malls (Sy's Mall, Ayala's Mall, Gokongwei's Mall, et al). To get there, they need to have money for transportation, except the wealthy who have their own sedans. Aside from that, they also need to have their pocket money. People do get hungry not just for beautiful things or human beings to look at; they get hungry for the basic reason that they need food--don't you know that?

The price of food in the places mentioned is no joke. You must have at least a hundred pesos to eat a decent and full meal in a fastfood chain, two hundred in food courts, or at least fifty pesos to buy food in the side walk. But who buys food from the sidewalks when you are inside the mall? Instead, they come to my house. In here, they have all they want: we serve them merienda, one or two glasses of water--or if the visitor is a baby or a small child, we serve him or her a glass of luke warm milk. Which means, when they come to my house they do not have to spend anything for food. But there are drinks we avoid serving for obvious reasons: like wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks. We reserve those drinks for the most sane of my fans. So what do those peole do in your house, you may ask. The truth is, I do not do anything nor do I need to say a word. My neighbors say nothing also! Neighter do they move when I am with them. They just sit there prostrate looking at me. If you look at their eyes its safe to assume they are somewhere else in a beautiful garden--surely not the memorial garden--strolling while holding my hand. So that the merienda we serve will not be left untouched, we do a little trick to catch their attention and to remind them to stop fantasizing about me instead of spending time with me. To do that, I need to kiss them. And, just like a flash of light from an instrument used my Will Smith in the movie Men in Black, they shake their head and descend from heaven to earth, in our sala. The humility of these people is stunning. Where can you find neighbors who are willing to accept and be subjected to harsh criticism for believing almost to a point of insanity that their neighbor has the face of a god? Nowhere else. Only in my place. You might have noticed I have been trying to avoid revealing my location. I am sure you understand why. I am sure you have heard about me and been looking for my location for a very long time. I am sorry I cannot reveal my place to you. I am glad my neighbors respect a little of what is left of my privacy, and I was able to convinced them not to put up a fan website for me, the same way Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuo convinced the Prosecutors from Central Luzon from staging a mass leave next week. You heard of that? The prosecutors got insulted because Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) officials accused them of taking bribes for the release of Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson more popularly known as The Alabang Boys. Anyway, going back to what we were talking about: you may be curious how do I let these people go. Or how do their visits end. Well, I just tell them I have to go write some articles so that I can earn my living. Amusingly, they do not delay me for another second. They tell me they understand the economy is hard and every one of us needs to have some source of income.

Of course, they will be sad every time I say good bye. They just convince and remind themselves that they can go back every day to look at me and adore my face. Talk about vision. These same people have vision that is why they do not resort to acts of dispair. They believe in their hearts that there will always be tomorrow, another day to celebrate by seeing the face they believe is the face of heaven. If they were just some other ordinary men and women, before you could ever say good bye they would pull one of your arms close to them and beg you not to leave them. How selfish! But no, my neighbors are extraordinary people. Poverty, hunger and distress could not crush their spirit. Not once were they ever hopeless. All these they owe to one man. The man who has the face of heaven. Too bad for you who cannot see the face of heaven.

Not easy having a brilliant mind


A dumb's mind is stocked inside his skull. No matter how hard his mind moves it will not get anywhere because it is like a car stocked in the mud. No amount of will power can make that mind escape the prison of his skull (where his hair grow and sometimes don't, his nose, two eyes, two ears, and a mouth are located), like no amount of horse power can kick a car off the mud where it stocked. But let me tell you about my mind. My mind works this way: when I see a paper for example, may it be in a newspaper, magazine or a book, I do not get excited because I have something to tear, or burn. And if I live in a city, I have something to sell, or if I live in the mountains, I have something to clean my butt with. I am tired--yes TIRED!-because, when I see a piece of paper I remember the Chinese who not only invented the paper, but also the first printing machine, the gun powder and lastly, the the compass. Not only that! I would start to imagine how the Chinese was able to think about the process for making paper, what were the materials his first experimented with; how he discovered the right material and the perfect (as the technology of that time would permit) process to make the paper; what were his expressions when he found out--or did he find out?--that he invented paper; did he also shout "Eurica!" as the legend says about Archimedes when he discovered a way to measure the amount of gold in a king's crown; where was he when this happened; who was with him--was it his wife? If it was his wife, which wife-the first, second, third, forth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eight? Was his wife, whichever was it/them, with a son, a daughter, grandson, granddaughter? Was he able to sleep on the first night? Did he also wake up in the middle of the night to check on his invention? Was there a moon that night? If there was a moon, did he light his cigarette, smiled and blew smoke to the moon? or did he ever smoke? How was his life affected by his invention? Did he become richer? was he acknoledged by the Emperror and given another wife? Did the Chinese people placed a wreathe on his head?

When he died was he placed in a coffin made of paper? When he was alive, did he use tissue paper? Repeat all those questions to the other three inventions, and search for the answers in the encyclopedia or the internet. Can you handle that? There are other times my mind also works this way: I see a firefly and I imagine the the chemical called Luciferin, produced by its body, inter-act with the oxygen in the atmosphere to produce the glow; I see a bat and I imagine seringes filled with the chemical called Draculin extracted from the bat's saliva and injected to a heart attack patient to prevent his blood from clutting, and for the patient to survive; Dogs were domesticated before cats; cats do not have nine lives; The most nutritious food is the avocado; The nearest star is called Proxima Centauri, discovered in 1915; the largest is Sharon Coneta. Earth is not round, and neither is your head. There is an earthquake in the sea as well as in the land. And shiver is the name of the earthquake in the body when it is sick with fever. All these knowledge come to me effortlessly, without me doing anything. My mind sour in the sky of ideas and it is not stocked inside the mud in my skull. Admittedly, it is not easy sometimes I wish I were someone else--Einstein maybe.

A Teacher's Story
True or not - who cares, How many times do we "misjudge" by appearance? Her name was Mrs. Thompson. As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children. His clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in

marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise. Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...He is a joy to be around." His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home is a struggle." His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death had been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class." By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs.Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter-full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mother used to." After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with

him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets." A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life. Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD. The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs.Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Remember - that wherever you go, and whatever you do, you will have the opportunity to touch and/or change a person's outlook. Please try to do it in a positive way.

A Teachers Story
December 20, 2006 by Pete Reilly Its late in the afternoon of an off-site professional development day. The staff of the elementaty school has shared among themselves an event in their careers that has had an impact on them. One of the teachers has asked to share the story of a teacher in his group with the rest of the staff. Its a story she is too shy to tell; but that has moved their group. He stands and tells this story Mrs. Alverez was in her first few years of teaching in a bad part of the Bronx. She was a second grade teacher and she had a quiet boy, Carlos, who was struggling to learn to read in her class. Carlos was living with his single mother in a run down apartment building in the neighborhood. His father, who had left his mother a few years before, lived in the same building but would ignore his son, acting as if he didnt know him. He wouldnt talk to him or eve nod hello. Needless to say, this devastated Carlos and the impact of it seemed to drive him even deeper into his shell. He had no confidence and his struggles at school added to his misery. Mrs. Alverez worked as hard as she could to help Carlos to read; but things werent going very well. Towards the end of the year, Mrs. Alverez received her assignment for the coming year. She was given the opportunity to move to a position in another school. It was a good school and she was really excited. One day after school, Carlos mother came to see Mrs. Alverez. She spoke in broken English, You have helped my son Carlos this year. Thank you. Mrs. Alverez nodded modestly. Carlos mother began again, He still cannot read. I worry for him. If you would teach him again, Im sure he would learn. I think he will disappear if he has to start again with a new teacher. I beg you Mrs. Alverez, please stay with my son. Teach him to read. Mrs. Alverez went home that night and thought about the plea of Carlos desparate mother. It was the plea of an immigrant mother who knew her son, and knew that so much of his life hinged on his ability to read. It would be easy for Carlos to fall through the cracks. The next morning Mrs. Alverez asked her principal to let her move up a grade with Carlos entire class. He agreed. She called and politely turned down the transfer to her dream job.

The next year went by quickly. Mrs. Alverez taught as best she could, always giving Carlos a bit of extra attention. She hoped that things would click for this shy, frightened little boy. Carlos mother didnt come back to the school that year. Many, many years later, Mrs. Alverez was teaching at a school in another neighborhood in the Bronx. It was the end of the year and she stayed late to pack her things and clean out her classroom. When she was done she left the building to walk across the street to her car. As she got to the corner, she stumbled and dropped a sheaf of papers on the concrete sidewalk. A gust of wind scattered the papers in all directions. She sighed and without hesitation, she stooped to pick them up. At that moment, two tall boys rounded the corner and saw her predicament. They both began chasing down and retrieving the papers that by now were all over the intersection. She sighed gratefully as the taller of the two boys approached her with her papers and a smile. Thank you, young man. Thank you very much. Suddenly the young mans smile disappeared. He murmured, Mrs. Alverez? In an instant they both recognized each other. It was Carlos, grown now, straight and tall and handsome. Without hesitation or self conciousness, they embraced. Carlos, youre so big. Youre a man now. Carlos beamed with happiness. The second boy, who had been chasing papers, interrupted, Excuse me, youyou are Mrs. Alverez? asked the boy incredulously. She looked at him, Yes, I am, and do I know you? Carlos friend was very serious, No, you dont know me, Mrs. Alverez; but I know you. Last week, Carlos and I graduated from high school. Carlos was the valedictorian of the class. He gave the commencement speech in front of the whole school. He told us about a teacher named Mrs. Alverez that helped him learn to read and cared for him and inspired him. It was this teacher, Mrs. Alvarez, to whom he owed all his success. Are you THAT Mrs. Alverez? She stood there looking at the two young men. She began crying very sweet tears of joy. Carlos embraced her again. Carlos friend insisted on shaking her hand. The teacher telling Mrs. Alverezs story paused for a long moment. He was tearing up, Thats the story she told us in our group. I had to share it. I looked around the room, which was completely silent. Our hearts were swollen. Here and there teachers were wiping their eyes. I stepped from behind the lectern and reached out to Mrs. Alverez, who stood proudly amid the applause that burst spontaneously from the audience. It was just one teachers story; one boys journey.

Just beneath the surface, in most teachers, beats a heart of service. Its good to remember that when we get frustrated with the pace of change. Its good to honor it, to know it is there. It is the teachers heart that will ultimately change the lives of our children. It is good to remember this, especially in this season of light, hope, and renewal. peace pete

Honor the Teacher


September 7, 2007 by Pete Reilly Honor the spirit of teachers that walk the dark mountainside and the mysterious paths of learning at night, their dim lanterns lighting the way for those that follow. Teachers who beckon us from our darkest hiding places; teachers that demand; those that create space for our answers; those that destroy our touchstones and landmarks, forcing us to find our own way. The counselor teachers sitting at the courts of power, whispering to kings and potentates, who see nothing beyond the halls of their golden palaces. Honor the sorrows that teach us compassion and gratitude; triumphs that teach us of transience and time; and the great adversaries that teach us of the limits of power. Teachers that lift us with their joyous spirits; or invite suffering into their lives if it bring understanding. The lessons of our ancestors learned in stories and carried in our genes; our bodies, memories in muscle, spirit molded in flesh.

Teachers that see our gifts, even as we deny them as Peter denied Jesus three times in his fear and his shame. Teachers who plant seeds of learning that come to life long after they are gone. Those that live in caves and on mountaintops, in small villages, on the edge of lost rivers; who know the secrets of plants the mysteries of the forest and the beginnings of time. Teachers that heal; those surrounded by books; and those surrounded by the infinite incarnations of nature. Those that teach with the example of their own lives, whether glorious and acclaimed, or unknown and unresolved. Teachers that wield a harsh hand with their lessons hard won; The lessons of war learned again and again by each generation. The great teachers: Life, Death, and Love; our companions, always. As the blank page teaches possibility, the teacher within, whose voice comes to us in the moments before dreams; the teacher who loves us so well, sitting quietly in the noise of our lives, the teacher who waits patiently, not touched by our stories and illusions, reveals all things; as we surrender completely to our own voice, our own greatness.

Honor the teacher.

The Creation of Teachers


*Note: This is a sweet poem about the "creation" of teachers. I received this one year for teacher appreciation day and read it every time I feel under appreciated. We hope you will enjoy it as well. While the Good Lord was creating teachers, He was into His sixth day of 'overtime' when the angel appeared and said, "You're doing a lot of fiddling around with this one." And the Lord said, "Have you read the specs on this order? She has to: stand above all her students, yet be on their level, be able to do 180 other things not connected with the subject she teaches, run on coffee, cokes, and leftovers, communicate vital knowledge to thousands of students daily, and be right, have as much, and sometimes more, time for her job as she does for herself, have a smile that can endure everything from practical jokes to pay cuts, go on teaching when parents question her every move and the administration doesn't understand, and have six pairs of hands. The angel shook her head slowly and said, "Six pairs of hands...not possible." "It's not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord. "It's the three pairs of eyes that teachers have to have." "That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. The Lord nodded. "One pair that can see a student for what he is and not what society has labeled him. Another pair must be in the back of her head, to see what she shouldn't, but what she has to know. OF course, the ones here in front can look at a child when he goofs up and reflect, 'I understand and I still believe in you." without so much as uttering a word." "Lord," said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, "Come to bed. Tomorrow..." "I can't," said the Lord. "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who comes to work when she is too sick ...can still teach a class when they don't want to learn...loves thousands of children that are not her own...and all of this in both sexes. And wait until you see my Special Ed teacher! She is truly special; she will never take anything her students do for granted." The angel circled the model of the teacher very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed. "But tough," said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this teacher can do or

endure." "Can she think?" "Not only can she think, but she can reason and compromise." Finally the angel bent over and ran her fingers across the cheek of the teacher. "There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told you that you were putting too much into this model. You can't imagine the stress factor." The Lord moved in for a closer look and gently lifted the drop of moisture to His finger where it glistened and sparkled in the light. "It's not a leak," He said. "It's a tear." "A tear?" asked the angel. "What's it for?" "It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, compassion, pain, loneliness, and pride." "You are a genius," said the angel. The Lord looked somber. "I didn't put it there." - Author Unknown

A Message of Thanks for Teachers


By Donna Fargo A Message of Thanks To All the Great Teachers In This World Thank you for being such wonderful teachers, exemplary role models, and caring people. Thank you for knowing your subjects and sharing your knowledge. Thank you for not being afraid to treat students like real people. Thank you for showing acceptance, approval, and appreciation. These are all gifts that are so important to a student's development and that your students will always remember, just as they will also Remember you. Words of encouragement, a little respect, simple gestures

of kindness from a teacher promote the perfect climate for students to study, learn and grow. Your attitude translates into a spirit of friendliness and good will towards others in an atmosphere of creative freedom, joy and ease, and you foster this feeling in your classroom. I salute the good work you've done. I appreciate the people you are, and I think you for your positive influence. You have passed on invaluable instruction and wisdom and created pleasurable moments associated with learning that will Always be sweet memories. Thank you for answering the call to be teachers. Thank you for the enduring impression you've made In the lives you have touched. Every community needs people like you. Your contributions are immeasurable. Your lessons are permanent. You improve our world. You are so important.

The First Tree


November 7, 2007 by Pete Reilly A few weeks ago in the post, This I Believe I said transforming our schools will take effective and committed leadership at every level and from every individual. Transformation always begins with ME! Whether I am a student, teacher, principal, superintendent or director of technology; it is up to me to change. Teachers wait for the principal to make the changes, the principal waits for the superintendent, the superintendent waits for the state education department, and the state ed department waits for the feds. No one wants to commit to going first. Everyone sees the problem somewhere else. We think If only the (teachers, administration, parents, community, state ed, or feds) Got it! things would surely change. (See: Accountability 1; A Simple Practice to Change Education and the World) If we are committed to transformation, how do we start? The answer to that question seems simplewe start with ourselves. I find this concept pretty easy to understand; but its when I begin to put it into action that things seem to fall apart on me. I tend to want to do too much, change the world in big ways; aim high. At the same time I fight the little voice in my head that says, Who are you to dream such big dreams?

I remind myself of Wangari Maathai, born to a farm family in the highlands of Mount Kenya, and the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree. Her role as a leader took shape when she began planting some trees in her back garden.

She saw that planting trees could curtail the effects of deforestation and desertification. She wanted to have sustainable wood for fuel, as well as to combat soil erosion. So she began seeking funding to plant more trees. Tree by tree she moved forward. Her work began to build momentum and become organized. In 1976, the Greenbelt Movement was formed. It took me a lot of days and nights to convince people that women could improve their environment without much technology or without much financial resources.

Since its formation, the Greenbelt movement has planted more than 40 million trees and provided work for many women throughout Africa. The Greenbelt movement has gone on to campaign for education, nutrition, and other issues important to women. Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. I dont know what she dreamed of as she planted her first tree; but I do know that no matter what her dream, if she hadnt begun planting, the success that followed many years later would not have happened. I see it over and over again in my life; one person steps forward and starts something in their classroom, or their building and soon the entire place comes alive, and over time takes on a life of its own. What produces the magic energy that inspires others to leave their comfort zones and allow their hearts to join in something new?

I believe it is the simplicity of authentic action. I need to remind myselfthat there are trees to be planted in my own yard, my own neighborhood. My transformation and the transformation of our schools will come when I have the courage to step forth and take action. I know it is possible. I must remember to start with the first tree; and then the second, and so on; for this is the journey that will take me to places unknown.

Are you a Mean Teacher?


By Laura M Staunton, New Jersey and Barb Erickson, Michigan A MEAN teacher insists that each student do the best s/he is capable of doing. A MEAN teacher insists that students hand in their assignments on time and takes off points for late assignments. A MEAN teacher does not accept incomplete assignments. A MEAN teacher requires each student to think carefully and to make her/his own decisions. A MEAN teacher holds each student responsible for her/his own behavior. A MEAN teacher makes students keep the classroom, themselves, and their belongings neat and clean. A MEAN teacher does not allow free time in class until all class-work is done. A MEAN teacher gives homework regularly, sometimes even on weekends. A MEAN teacher calls on students who don't raise their hands to answer questions. A MEAN teacher requires all students to treat each other with respect. A MEAN teacher makes life miserable for students by insisting that they always tell the truth. A MEAN teacher produces students who are respectful, responsible, and successful. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE MEAN* TEACHERS!

*(MEAN = Making Excellence A Necessity)

The Professionals
March 28, 2007 by Pete Reilly They sat around me, sprawled on crudely-carved, graffiti filled desks with small metal and wood chairs. It was nearing the last day or so of the school year and this particular group of students didnt want to leave. It was the last period of the day, and I sat on a desk with my feet on a chair in front of me. Mr. Reilly, we just want you to know that its not your fault. said Billy, the leader of the group. It was sort of strange that these particular boys were hanging out in my classroom, for they had been the students that had gotten the least out of my class, and school in general. They were common visitors to the principals office and denizens of detention. Biily continued, Were screw ups. There was no way you were going to teach us. he smiled at me. The others smiled too. We know you tried, Mr. Reilly now they became a little more serious. Youre not so bad for a teacher. The others nodded agreement. Guys, you arent screw ups. Youre good kids. I responded reflexively. No, no; none of us like school. Its so boring. You tried to make it interesting; but we didnt need half the stuff you tried to teach us. Kevin chimed in, I liked the books we read. Michael added,I liked the goofy music you played and the poetry. I shook my head, You guys are pretty smart. Why did you make it so hard on yourselves? It struck me how kind they were. How appreciative. They accepted the consequences of their actions, they were peaceful with their plight. They werent angry or holding grudges, because they felt they had been treated fairly. It was like they were professionals at thisno hard feelingsbusiness is business. You were being you teacher and we were being us screw ups. But they werent screw ups. They were really nice kids with good senses of humor. They were just completely out of place in school. They had other, more important things going on in their lives. If you saw them outside of school, youd be amazed at their competence and confidence.

Let me look under the hood Mr. Reilly. I think I see what the problem is. Let me fix it. and sure enough Billy reached in to the bowels of the complex machine that was my car and began to work. Any of them could tell you where to hunt, point out the quiet fishing hole where trout gathered on the edge of the frothing current, or where to lay a trap in a hidden Adirondack bog. In the fall, when the bullhead were plentiful one of them would catch a dozen and bring them to me wrapped in plastic. I remember pushing aside the brown lunch bags in the teachers refrigerator in the faculty room to make space for them. These were the school rejects, the poor kids. They were like a Greek chorus in my teaching life because they were so real. They werent going to play school like the others. They werent going to pretend this was important to them. I could count on them reflecting back to me the best and worst of my teaching. If I was at my best I would see them engaged fully. Anything less, anything that was not relevant, not well planned, not taught well; and they would find something else to keep them busy. Generally, something that got them in trouble. They are all grown men now. I suspect that some must have children of their own. They are frozen in time for me, in my lifes memory. So many students entered and left my life; but these, the professionals, remain. They represent the best of those I taught. My Huck Finns, My Greek Chorus; too young to really be my friends; but always my soul mates. http://www.inspiringteachers.com/classroom_resources/inspirational_humorous/index.ht ml

The Wolves of Learning


April 2, 2007 by Pete Reilly At birth we are blessed with a natural curiosity. There is a great wildness in it. A shaft of sunlight illuminates a world of dust and delicate objects floating in air, as if by magic. A child who catches a glimpse of this will stop whatever its doing and begin to explore what it sees. We are called to learn. Our natural curiosity is like a wild animal; it hunts where it needs to in order to satisfy its deep hunger. As children, we awaken each day with an insatiable appetite to learn. It is in our early years that we are wolves of learning. There is a deep, DNA-based, natural connection between learning and survival; call it the burning relevance of the empty stomach. Over the centuries, as we have institutionalized learning, we have taken something precious from our children, our young wolves of learning; and from ourselves. The wildness of our natural curiosity has been tamed, domesticated, and subdued.

We have done this by giving our children virtually no control over their education, little responsibility for their learning and whatever natural curiosity they have has been replaced with a structured curriculum. We reward them for following directions and doing what they are told and reprimand them if they wander too far from our agenda. Since it is our agenda and not theirs, they put minimum effort, if any effort at all, into what we ask them to do. They are in compliance mode. Compliance produces the lowest level of effort. Fear of retribution becomes the prime motivator rather than the excitement of learning. We have trained them to expect to be fed without going on the hunt. Like domesticated pets, we offer them bland processed learning laid out in prescribed amounts at certain times of the day. We decide what they are fed, how much, and when. They rarely experience learning by their own wits, their natural curiosity, or even serendipity. They will not gorge on learning and fight over the scraps until their bellies are full. We have so successfully domesticated our students that they are likely to rebel when they are asked to use the natural gifts for learning with which they were born. Its as if we were trying to release a pet house dog into the wilderness, the odds of survival would be small. Within hours the dog would be back in front of the door, begging to have its master serve its dinner to it in a dish. Let us find ways to give our children back their birthright, their natural curiosity and facility to learn. There have to be ways that we can organize our learning institutions to accommodate individual curiosity and the standardized curriculum. I believe that thoughtful educators can create environments that are less restrictive and provide much more natural habitat for learning. Let us find ways to foster the wildness and thrill of learning again. Let us answer the Call of the Wild. http://preilly.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/the-wolves-of-learning/

Kids Say the Darndest Things


Below is a compilation of actual student bloopers collected by teachers from 8th through 12th grades. 1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere. 2. The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, asked, "Am I my brother's son?"

3. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada. 4. Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines. 5. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth. 6. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name. 7. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline. 8. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java. 9. Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long. 10. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: "Tee hee, Brutus." 11. Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them. 12. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was cannonized by Bernard Shaw. 13. Finally Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offense. 14. In mid-evil times most people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses and also wrote literature. 15. Another story was William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son's head. 16. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah." 17. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. And Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.

18. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet. 19. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained. 20. During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe. Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrim's Progress. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.