Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Happy Birthday, Casey!

Casey, you mark the final birthday of the school year, man. And I'm sorry I didn't get this posted earlier, but I've had some wifi issues all day, so here I am laying on my office floor, hooked up directly to my modem, wishing you a happy birthday.

Casey was by far the most knowledgeable in the class when it came to rock music. In fact, he even made me a mix CD for the end of the school year, and it has been in my car's rotation of CDs ever since.

Besides this, and also besides his sweet R2-D2 lunch box that would make noise (so often when I was trying to get everyone quiet so that we could go down for lunch--I was very forgiving), Casey was one of those rare students whom I could put in pretty much any grouping of students for any kind of project, knowing full well that he would be able to get along with everyone else in the group without question, and that everybody else would also welcome him into their group without any fuss whatsoever. He was incredibly low-maintenance, and everybody liked him. In the future, I kind of see Casey being a very low-key, shaggy-haired, affable Bohemian who is incredibly successful at whatever he chooses to do.

Hope you had a great birthday, Casey! Your teachers (I dare say all of you guys' teachers) this next year will be incredibly lucky to have you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Happy Birthday, PJ!

PJ always gets tired of me telling about how I can remember the day he was born, so I'm going to post it on the blog where it will be preserved forever. I was riding in the truck with the Smarts' good family friend, Mr. Mike Thyen (now there's a blast from the distant 5-1 past!), when we received word on his cell phone. This was back in the early to mid 2000's, so in my imagination, his cell phone is roughly the size of an ottoman. Our reaction was, "Finally!"

I remember everyone joked around that the Smarts bought another six years at Woodbrook when they had PJ. To put things into perspective, his oldest brother Tyler was a fifth grader when I first came to WB as a student teacher. At the time, it seemed like it would be an eternity before PJ would even come to Woodbrook, let alone graduate.

I hope you're having a good day, PJ, old boy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Force Awakens And All That

Here's the third trailer for Star Wars. Of course I'm geeking out a little bit, but luckily my students are mostly second generation Star Wars fans, which makes it easier to share with them. At least this was my experience last year; I have no idea what this next year will bring.

As promised, here's the footage they put out from the San Diego Comic Con. Of course, knowing the class of 2014-2015, I'd say a good 75% of them have watched this over and over already...

May the force be with you all!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Happy Birthday, Charlie!

I happen to know that this basketball-playing kid is at my precious stomping ground, Camp Tecumseh, right now on his birthday. Before you go feeling sorry for him for being away from home on his birthday, I can assure you from all of my summer birthdays spent there that Camp Tecumseh is just about the best place you could ever spend it.

I hope you have a great day up there, and I know you're being treated like a king. You'll just have to read this when you get home. Have a good rest of your summer, big guy!


Happy Birthday to Jakob!

Jakob is one of the kids from my class this year who I held when he was just a little baby, and I watched him grow all the way until he was actually in my class. Watching him go on to middle school is a little bit unreal for me.

Jakob, I hope you're having a good day around your pool and that you got whatever new video game you wanted for your birthday. I'm sure it's educational!

Luckily, it will be easy to keep in touch with you while you're in middle school since your mom works at Woodbrook. I look forward to hearing how everything goes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rounding Third

I wanted to give a shout-out to Regan (and the Hadleys), who took me with them to the Reds game on Sunday. We did the same thing last year, when her brother was in my class. This time I got to go along with Regan to her first ever Reds game. We had some pretty awesome seats for a hot, muggy day at the ballpark.

While it would be best to see the Reds take a victory live, the fun is just in being there at the Great American Ballpark. We were treated to a nice little thunderstorm that delayed the game before the first half inning was even over, but then the weather cleared up. We got some entertaining and colorful commentary from an inebriated gentleman who sat behind us, as well. It was an awesome day, and it was great to see Regan one last time before she heads off to middle school.

The Great Outdoors Is Screaming Your Name

Sure, this was made by Nature Valley, but still, I have taught for a long time, and the kids' comments ring truer with an ever-widening population of students.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All This And They Can Throw a Mean Punch, Too

I have been pretty remiss in my posting lately. It's not that I don't think I have readers--I have heard from quite a few parent readers about posts I've made throughout the summer, and even a former student or two. It's not that I haven't really had anything to post, but last week I was at karate camp the whole time, for one thing.

While I won't bore you with the full stories of power outages, water main breaks, and a stormy night of lightning that forced the whole group to spend the night in one giant room, I do have to brag on a few 5-1 students.

First off, let me tell you that (Sensei) Colin Kane (5-1/'03-'04) was a head counselor in Carmel and Noblesville's cabin, and he is one of the best teachers of karate that I've ever had the pleasure to watch. I've told him countless times that he is a natural teacher, and that if he ever wanted to go into the profession, he has my complete and total blessing and support. I don't think that's where he's headed for now, though, and at least for the time being, Adamson's Karate is more than blessed to have him as one of their head instructors. Of course he helped me lead a song for the campfire, and I couldn't be more proud to call him one of my own in some small way.

Next, we have Jonah Simone (5-1/'08-'09). One thing that makes this black belt so awesome is that he doesn't even do karate classes anymore. He is involved in the CHS marching band and crew for the theatrical productions there. Yet, for the last several summers, Jonah has continued to return to Adamson's Karate summer camp as a counselor, and this year he took on the leadership role in his cabin even more than in the past. He is so good with his campers. I love watching his take care of them in a way that makes it hard to think of him as the fourth grader I first met all those years ago, and the fifth grader I taught in class.

Then I have Mr. Colin Freeman (5-1/'12-'13), who is now a purple belt at Adamson's. I didn't get the chance to work with Colin directly this summer, but I did see him having a lot of fun in the Carmel and Noblesville cabin. I can't wait to see him become a junior counselor in the next couple years. I'm proud of the commitment he has made to acquire his black belt.

Lastly, Miss Emma Mallon (5-1/'13-'14) spent her first year as a junior instructor this year. She was assigned (by someone's request, cough cough) to be my assistant during the first class, but seeing as how we only had one student sign up for that class, we were sent to help teach archery. I spent the first day working with the little kids, but then the second day, Emma requested taking them on. I was more than happy to relinquish the duty to her so that I could take the next group up. Let's just say there's a reason I don't teach kindergarten. Anyway, I managed to get this image of her teaching them in a way that was so much better than what I'm sure I did the day before...

Those kids really were as cute as they look, but man, they have the aggregate attention span of a ring-tailed lemur.

I should mention that at the big dance on Thursday night of karate camp, when they started playing Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," Emma and I pointed at each other and started singing along. Good ear, Emma!

Anyway, I was so proud of all four of those kids, and even more that I still see around the dojo. Last week I had the pleasure of getting to witness it.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Happy Birthday to Kayley! I hope your birthday is going great. At least you got a day where we don't actually have thunder, lightning, and rain pouring down for once.

Kayley is, unfortunately, the one student who won't be joining everyone else at Clay next year. Instead, she is going to Carmel Middle. Everyone will get to see her again soon enough at CHS, though. Until then, I hope your time in middle school is outstanding, and that your birthday is extra-special.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This Is Your Own Responsibility

I have never been to, nor do I really want to go to, the San Diego Comic Con. I don't really like big crowds like that, and I don't really care to stand in line at the grocery store, let alone the lines I've heard about at SDCC.

That said, for my post tonight, I want to pay some respect to that massive event by posting a few times where comic book characters have taught us some important life lessons.

First up, Superman gets downright harsh with his girlfriend, Lois, but the lesson is apt:

Let's not forget the immortal words of Peter Parker's Uncle Ben...

 Then we have Captain America teaching Red Skull a lesson on the American way...

You have to love the wise words espoused here by...well, I guess it's unclear which of the Fantastic Four is speaking just by looking at this excerpt, but no matter who said it, it's hard to argue with it!

And last but not least, I think we can all agree with the words on this note that Archie has just received from a passing stranger.

Happy Comic Con week, everyone! Tell you what, if a new Star Wars trailer pops up this week, I'll post it here so you can have your own little "brain break" like back when you were all mere fifth graders who still needed brain breaks. No more of such childish things for you guys!

And on that note, I'll leave it to our old friend Batman to bid us goodbye.

You and me both, man...

Monday, July 6, 2015

In Good Company

We had a fun afternoon of doing some karate today--this time it was Erik, whose folks had bought my karate lesson from the Woodbrook auction last November. As you can see, Erik brought Casey, Will, and PJ along with him. I always like teaching the kinds of strikes that would take a guy even my size down if anyone tried anything on them.

I was happy to find that the boys still remembered what the words "hajime" and "yame" mean, and that they also remembered my escape drill in case anyone tries to apprehend them during a fire, tornado, or intruder alarm.

Thanks, Mrs. Sveen, for taking us all out to lunch after it was over. It was a great afternoon spent in good company.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Sorry this is a day late now, but I hope everybody had a great Fourth of July! Don't forget about the Declaration of Independence and the brave rebels who signed it.

I hope everybody had a celebration with lots of fireworks of some kind, no matter where you were.

O, Canada

While I was at the Nationals last week, I missed a couple of important holidays.

First, I missed wishing Miss Olivia Belcher and all of our neighbors to the north a happy Canada Day.

You have to love a country whose only real stereotype is being really nice. I hope everybody had a great time last Wednesday, July 1, ate some round bacon, played some hockey, grew a lumberjack beard, or watched a Michael J. Fox movie, ehh. I recommend Back To the Future!

Friday, July 3, 2015

He Only Wished He Was a Black Belt

This week has been the AAU Karate Nationals down here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Diligent students will remember that Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina, and extra-diligent students will also remember that Sir Walter Raleigh (whose statue is pictured above, wearing a karate uniform) was the Queen of England's scapegoat in a part of the Roanoke conspiracy. He is lucky to have a city named after him, not because of anything on his part, but because the people of the past were pretty cruel to him.

Anyway, this week's competition has brought laughter, drama, dislocations, blood, record breakers, sweat, regulations, long meetings, tears, triumphs, comebacks, disputes, and a few idiots. In other words, it's everything you'd want in a karate tournament, and I'd bet you all could say the same of basketball, soccer, or whatever your sport. Tomorrow is the last day, and I'm ready.

I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Maturity and Intelligence

"Name-calling is what happens when you want to argue, but you in fact are inarticulate."

--Neil de Grasse Tyson