A Breakthrough, from the ‘Curbside Classroom’

Steve the crossing guard sent me this new story.  Sit back, read, and enjoy one of the best stories from his ‘Curbside Classroom’.  Steve is a remarkable teacher who makes a difference – no classroom needed.  He’s my role model.  Thank you, Steve!

photo courtesy of Dreamstime.com


I wanted to tell you about a high school student who I haven’t been able to get to for two years. He mumbles his name, doesn’t smile, seems aloof, doesn’t say a word.

However, this morning I announced that next week will be, ‘stump the crossing guard’ week. And the topic will be ‘inventions’. I asked them just to give me an invention and I’ll try to guess the inventor, and they will have to know the answer, as well. What they don’t know is that I don’t have a clue who invented what, other than some well known ones. So, I’ll just be taking SWAGS, ‘scientific wild ass guesses’, just to keep the conversation going.

What I announced it to the kids group this morning, suddenly this kid’s eyes popped open and he said, ‘I’ve got one for you, who invented the swivel chair?’ Of course, I pretended to think about it, but I had no clue so he told me, Thomas Jefferson. I was flabbergasted, to say the least, not about Jefferson but the fact the kids showed enthusiasm. So, apparently he does listen to me and I happened to hit a nerve that was positive with him. A terrific moment.

This week we talked about the definitions of Isthmus and straits with examples. Some knew but they all do now. Of course, Shakespeare died past Tuesday, 1616. That fit in with English classes that are studying Shakespeare. I cross a couple of English teachers and they planned to mention it in class.

Last week was the anniversary of the Pony Express and I think it was the first time the kids heard about it, for some anyway.  One of the English teachers mentioned that they were doing a unit on the US Postal Service, and one of her students mentioned about the Pony Express discussion at the ‘crossing’.

So, the ‘Curbside Classroom’ thrives.

I’ve been enjoying your posts, Jennie. I just haven’t written much. Have a wonderful weekend.

Go, Sox!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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62 Responses to A Breakthrough, from the ‘Curbside Classroom’

  1. beetleypete says:

    Always great to read of Steve’s continuing enthusiasm, and how his ‘lessons’ cross over into the regular classroom. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. ksbeth says:

    I love that Steve crosses over – so good for all

  3. srbottch says:

    Jennie, you write such nice things about others. I greatly appreciate your kindness and support. Thank you. Now, it’s off to my ‘post’ but I’m having a difficult time fitting into my hat. For some reason, my head seems to have swelled a bit. Oh, well… By the way, we all know the answer to ‘who invented the Best Teacher Ever…..😉

    • Jennie says:

      Just sayin’, Steve 🙂. It’s a pleasure to read your incredible teaching stories and pass them along to others. Children need more ‘Steves’. Many, many thanks! Love your question!

    • Steve, the world is so fortunate to have you. I wish that all adults had the same attitudes as you do with regard to stimulating thinking and learning in the children. Thank you so much for doing so much more than ever required. You are truly one of those amazing people we wish we could clone. Even if I never get to meet you in person or Jennie in this life, I think the two of you are by far my ideas of best teachers. It shows that you can be a fantastic teacher even if you are not certified! Thank you from the bottom of my soul!

      • srbottch says:

        Anne, such nice words. Thank you. I’m only with the kids briefly in the morning and again in the afternoon, but we take advantage of that time together and enjoy each other. It’s fun, even with 4 lanes of impatient traffic 🙀. I’ll put this week’s exercise in a blog story when I get a chance so be on the lookout.

  4. Darlene says:

    I have seen this happen before if you just hit on a subject the kid has a keen interest in. I was teaching at a writing camp in a library two summers ago. Most of the kids were very enthusiastic about being there. Except for one young Asian boy who was only there because his mom made him attend. He refused to participate in anything. I wanted to show a video but was unsure of the equipment the library provided me with. So I asked him if he could help me as I had a feeling he was a computer whiz. Well, he was and he was able to get it going for me. The rest of the kids cheered and he was suddenly a hero. He enjoyed the rest of the class. Loved this post and Steve who knows how to get the kids involved in learning.

    • Jennie says:

      Your story and Steve’s give so much credit and hope to teachers. Every child has something! We just have to trust that what we do reaches children, and makes a difference. Thank you for your wonderful story, Darlene. When the rest of the children cheered him, that must have been a grand moment! I’m glad you liked reading Steve’s latest story as much as I did.

  5. Dan Antion says:

    That was a fun read and an interesting spark! Kudos to Steve!

  6. srbottch says:

    Here’s one for all to guess, who invented the ‘flying shuttle’? It may not be what you think but one girl this morning knew and explained it quite well. (I was wrong with Thom Jefferson, my pat answer when in trouble 🤓)

  7. I love reading Steve’s posts. He targets those that are most resistant and wins them over. Haven’t been there for a bit so thanks for sharing this here. Always a bright spot in my day. Thank you. Have a wonderfilled day.

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Marlene! I love reading Steve’s posts, too. He comes up with remarkable ways to interest and challenge kids. Always a very, very bright spot for me. Thank you!

  8. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

  9. ren says:

    I was wondering who named their classroom “curbside” and why. Now I know. Thanks for sharing! Goes to show, it takes a village…..

  10. Super report from Steve. I can just see that kid lighting up with his knowledge.

  11. srbottch says:

    You’ll never guess this in a million years: who invented the ‘swim flippers’? Sammy stumped me on this one when my answer, Lloyd Bridges, failed.

  12. Ellen says:

    This is such wonderful post! I am a retired pediatric nurse for special needs children and I treasure the memories of the children that I was privileged to serve. I was gifted by a parent with a framed copy of a quote that still brings tears to my eyes. I think that it is fitting for both Steve and yourself. “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the car that I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a child.” – Forest E. Witcraft. On my copy the quote is attributed as unknown. After some research at the time, I discovered the author of the quote and have since attributed it to him. It should be noted that the original quote stated “boy”, not child. Mr. Witcraft was a scholar, a teacher, and a Boy Scout Executive. These words had appeared in an October 1950 piece by him in Scouting Magazine titled “Within My Power”. Bless you both for the gift of yourselves to children, you may never know the impact left on those you have touched. Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Ellen. Your words are beautiful and mean a great deal. The quotation reminds be of Maya Angelou’s quote, how people will never forget how you made them feel. Thank you for that, and for the story behind the quote. That was wonderful. Touching the life of a child is a blessing. Best to you, Ellen.

  13. srbottch says:

    Thank you. Ellen. That quote is o true. I was involved with Scouting for a few years as a leader. It’s a wonderful organization and I’ve met young men who I knew, or knew of, in the Scouting program. And I knew the men leading them who had such a positive impact on their lives. When we do the right thing, we can impact the lives of young people for the better in many ways. Jennie does it everyday. Have a great day!

  14. wow – what an inspiration. I still remember our crossing guard from 45 years ago (in the UK at the time they were ‘lollipop ladies’) – her name was Mrs Rose, but I think what she mainly taught us was kindness.

  15. What fun! I would like to add SWAGS to my professional lexicon (with proper attribution, of course!).

  16. The Hook says:

    I’ll say it again: Teachers really are heroes.
    Keep up the good work, all of you.

  17. Really awesome Jennie! Students are a pumpup anyhow. You keep them eager to learn. Your strategy is a double pumpup!!

  18. Jennie, I am so inspired by Steve’s stories, I remember reading them before he. I plan to include this in my Forgiving Fridays post this month. It’s a demonstration and shining example of caring. Ok by you? Bles him, and bless you!

  19. Inspirational! Thanks for sharing him with us.

  20. Pingback: Today’s Forgiving Fridays: Holding My Hand Through Hard News – ForgivingConnects

  21. Sarah says:

    Those are wonderful moments indeed when you finally get to know what kids are interested in. 😊

  22. A cool letter from Steve. What lucky kids to have such a dose of enthusiasm in their lives. 🙂

  23. dgkaye says:

    What an amazing human to go above the call of duty. 🙂

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