Teachers and schools make me nervous.
Even today when I walk in a school I have a feeling in the pit my stomach that I haven't done my homework.
When teachers look at me, I still think they're grading me.
Teacher: "I read your column, Johnny Norberg. You're dangling your participles again! I'm calling your mother for a conference!"
So late last fall when I got an e-mail from Mrs. Stewart, a fourth grade teacher at Suncrest Elementary School in Frankfort, I thought I was in big trouble.
To my surprise, she invited me to speak to her class. Her students had been doing slice of life writing and using my columns as examples.
My work as examples? When I was in school a lot of my work was used as examples. But not in a positive sense.
When I reached the classroom I found my columns on display and lots of smart, eager students. I was ready for their questions about my literary writing style.
Student: "Why do you write about food all the time?"
I guess that is my literary writing style.
I read their columns. They were beautiful. They wrote about their lives, their joys and sorrows. I was deeply touched by them. Some weeks later they mailed me a bound copy of all their work.
Friday was the last day of school for Mrs. Stewart's fourth grade students at Suncrest. They now have an entire summer vacation before them ?fresh and unused.
I very well remember being a boy on summer vacation. I remember endless days of play, adventure, digging holes, finding wood and building something; anything. I remember children of all ages in my neighborhood playing together and finishing our days at Mr. Peter's house where he strummed his guitar and we sang: "On top of Old Smoky . . ." I cherish it all.
So to everyone in Mrs. Stewart's class and to all the school children now on break: I wish you a summer of day dreaming, cloud gazing and firefly chasing. I wish you laughter, picnics and family. I wish you swimming, baseball and ice cream; lots of ice cream.
I wish you a summer so wonderful that half a century from now you will still cherish it and write about it to recapture, once again, the freedom and excitement that beats in your hearts today.
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