100 Objects Special: Back to School Week!

Summer’s almost over! Back to school time! This year I thought I’d celebrate the week with a tribute to all hardworking teachers and their achingly confused students…

Jacke Wilson’s Top 5 Stories Celebrating Teachers

Object #7 – The Keyboard*

I started on “Three Blind Mice.” I stopped halfway through. For some reason it sounded terrible.

“There must be something wrong with the piano,” I said.

Miss Steiner reached forward and for a second I thought she might choke me. Instead she seized her clipboard and flung it halfway across the room. It bounced off the top of a kettle drum.

“THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE PIANO,” she shouted. “IT’S YOU—YOU CAN’T PLAY!”  Read the whole story

Object #10 – The Spitwad

In other classes, the teachers released this energy with a few little quips now and then, letting the students laugh and tease and push back, so the air would clear and the business of learning could begin. It was like the quick open-and-shut of a pressure valve.

Not in Mr. Ward’s class. In Mr. Ward’s class it was all pressure, no valve. For months. Something had to give.

Which brings me to the glorious day when Mr. Ward told a joke. Well, sort of a joke… Read the whole story

Object #14 – The Bass Guitar

I was in a band with my son. A real band. A rock band. Who knew where this would lead? His younger brother liked to bang on things and claimed his favorite instrument was the drum. His mother had a beautiful voice. We wouldn’t be Van Halen or anything, of course. But maybe a few local gigs…? Not now, but maybe in a few years…? Read the whole story

Object #15 – The Coffepot

I had not realized how much courage this was going to require. Ms. Laporte, who was sitting in a student desk at the center of the room, reading words one at a time out of a notebook she kept locked in her desk, was an imposing figure in normal times. When running a bee, she took her intensity to a new level. Her straight black hair was pulled off her forehead and secured in a tight bun, exposing her forehead, which was lined with the permanent anger she kept just below the surface at all times. Read the whole story

Object #23 – The Passage

It was left to the wise professor to provide the comment that took me into a whole new world of literary possibility. Not, in other words, literature as what-have-you-read-I’ve read-that-too. Not lists and check boxes. Something else. Read the whole story

*The Keyboard comes with a special followup, in which I hear from an old friend whose artistic father memorialized the music teacher in a fantastic painting.

Onward and upward, everyone!

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