Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Somewhat long...

From: dj (djash)
Date: Tue Apr 04 2000 - 19:41:36 PDT

  • Next message: dj: "Guess the Artist Quiz"

    I received this from a friend. Thought it was interesting so I'm passing
    it on.
    He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in
    Morris, Minn. All 34 of my
    students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very
    neat in appearance, but had that
    happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness
    Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that
    talking without permission was not
    What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I
    had to correct him for
    misbehaving - "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!"I didn't know what
    to make of it at first, but before
    long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

    One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too
    often, and then I made a novice
    >teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more
    word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"

    It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking
    again." I hadn't asked any of the
    students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in
    front of the class, I had to act on>it. I remember the scene as if it
    had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately
    opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a
    word, I proceeded to Mark's desk,
    tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I
    then returned to the front of the room.

    As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me.

    That did it!! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back
    to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and
    shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting
    Sister." At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math.
    The years flew by, and before I
    knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever
    and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction
    in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in

    One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new
    concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning,
    frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another.I had to stop this
    crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names
    of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a
    space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing
    they could say about each of their
    classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period
    to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one
    handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for
    teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend."

    That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet
    of paper, and I listed what
    everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each
    student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling.

    "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to
    anyone!" "I didn't know others
    liked me so much." No one ever mentioned those papers in class again.
    I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents,
    but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The
    students were happy with themselves and one another again.

    That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned
    from vacation, my parents met me at
    the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual
    questions about the trip - the weather, my experiences in general. There
    was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and
    simply says, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did
    before something important.

    "The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I
    haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is."

    Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The
    funeral is tomorrow, and his parents
    would like it if you could attend."

    To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told
    me about Mark.

    I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked
    so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, "Mark I
    would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to

    The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The
    Battle Hymn of the republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the
    funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the
    usual prayers, and the bugler played taps.

    One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and
    sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin.
    As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to
    me. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued
    to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

    After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's
    farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother
    and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you
    something," his father said, taking a
    wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed.
    We thought you might recognize it."

    Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook
    paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I
    knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed
    all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

    "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can
    see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather around us.

    Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's
    in the top drawer of my desk at home."
     Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I
    have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another
    classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed
    her worn
    and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times,"
    Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our

    That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all
    his friends who would never see him

    Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosla. The density of people in society
    is so thick that we forget that life
    will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. Tell
    the people you love and care
    for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Apr 04 2000 - 19:34:31 PDT