Tag Archives: school

Colouring Contest for Easter!

Only a couple more days remain for Oliver the Rabbit colouring contest!

Open to kids 5 to 8.  Deadline March 30, 2018.

For more information, check out OLIVER AND HIS BFF Facebook Page:

Oliver and His BFF


OLIVER AND HIS BFF, an illustrated book for children of all ages, will be available soon! (Although this book will be published during the Easter Season, it is not specifically geared toward Easter. It is a book about friendship and includes many different animals. The star, Oliver, and his BFF, Reggie, happen to be rabbits.)


Oliver Easter coloring page


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The Spot Writers – “Grading on Effort” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: Think back on a memory when you were angry. REALLY angry. Now change the names of the people in the memory, the setting, everything familiar about it, and most importantly… the ending. Turn it into a memory that ends happily. Let all the writing wash your anger away.

Today’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of the young adult books The Scarred Letter, The Girl Who Flew Away, and The Man with the Crystal Ankh. Her novels with Barking Rain Press are discounted to $2.99 from now until May 14.

Grading on Effort

By Val Muller

Everyone on the faculty glared at Mr. Becket. They all knew, even though the principal didn’t lay the blame. They all knew it was him, his policies in Gourmet Foods, that was making them all suffer through this ridiculous policy.

“And so,” the principal finished, “we are implementing the policy as of this semester, that we will only grade students on their effort. Too many grades have been given out subjectively, and we just can’t have that anymore.”

The faculty groaned. They’d all read the editorial written by Stephen Smitchen. The one criticizing an unnamed Gourmet Foods teacher of showing favoritism in his gradebook. Stephen Smitchen had prepared Hasselback potatoes, a recipe that required arguably (as his editorial asserted) more culinary skill than Mr. Becket’s required “rustic smashed potatoes.” And yet Stephen was deducted points because the precise cuts of his Hasselback recipe “contradicted the rustic nature of the recipe.”

It was one of those stories that garnered national news attention, an easy topic for clickbait and teasers on the nightly news. And thus the principal’s hands became tied to defend the school’s policies in front of a national audience.

And the school’s policies lost.

The memo was printed on Pepto-Bismol pink paper, and the roomful of them looked sickly, like the memos were there to cure the faculty’s collective stomachache. Martin Flemming wrinkled the corner of his memo as he read: …effective immediately, students will, be allowed to appeal grades, by writing a short essay explaining the effort they put into the assignment. If they can assert, that they put in a valid and admirable effort, then their grade must be changed irregardless of the actual product produced. The rubric, for their essays is printed below…

Martin’s eye twitched at the principal’s use of “irregardless” as well as the excessive use of commas. Shouldn’t a principal understand how to use English correctly? Or at least hire a proofreader? In any case, this policy was bad news. How could he hold students accountable in his Medieval Literature course if he was only allowed to grade on effort? He thought back on all his years of teaching. So many essays written with gusto that were completely…wrong.

You just can’t argue that Beowulf was written to mirror the struggles of modern man. Effort or not, that essay was just inaccurate. And that essay last year, the one arguing that Chaucer was influenced by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? No amount of effort could justify that conclusion. Unless Chaucer had a time machine.

Martin raised his hand.

“Mr. Flemming?” the principal asked. “You have a question?”

“More of a statement,” he said, clearing his throat. All eyes turned to him, hungry mosquitoes ready to bite. “An anachronism is not something subjective. It’s fact. So if—”

But the principal was already shaking his head, his eyes glossed over at the use of the difficult vocabulary word. “If you have specifics about English or History, you’ll need to consult your department chairs.”

Several other hands raised. It was going to be a long meeting. Martin turned to the one tiny window not covered by the meeting room’s light-blocking blinds. It was a nice day. The birds were singing, and the sun looked warm and pleasant. He looked back at the faculty. By the time the principal got through all these questions, the sun would be setting before he’d had a chance to go home and run.

He tucked the pink memo into his bag and shuffled toward the door. The principal gave him an irritated glance, but it would be okay. In the morning, after his mind had been cleared with a long run on a sunny afternoon, Martin could explain to the principal just how hard he’d tried to stay at that awful faculty meeting. Maybe the principal would be amused. Maybe he’d get written up.

Martin shrugged as he stepped into the sun.

He enjoyed his run irregardless.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

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The Spot Writers – “Calvin’s First Day,” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to use the following phrases (in any order): “back to school,” “glorious roar,” “and then it fizzled,” and “while the wind gusted.” This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie.

Give Cathy’s new Facebook page, “Granny MacKenzie’s Children’s Books,” a “like” and a comment perhaps?   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Granny-MacKenzies-Childrens-Books/482398755246309


Calvin’s First Day

From the living room window, Carol watched the bus vanish down the street, taking with it her only child. How would Calvin, a young five-year-old, not as mature as others his age, survive the day? Back to school, a term never before applied to him, arrived too soon.

Throughout the summer, Carol had hoped her fears would dissipate and she’d watch the bus zoom off in a glorious roar, an event to rejoice. But the bus disappearing to pick up other children, ones more prepared than hers, filled her stomach with flip-flop motions.

She had taken a vacation day from work in order to see Calvin off in the morning and greet him home mid-afternoon. She tried to concentrate on reading, but too many thoughts flashed through her mind.

A sudden noise caused her to walk to the window. While the wind gusted and the sky darkened, she pictured Calvin crying and the teacher scolding and him slinking to the corner where he’d don a dunce cap.

And then it fizzled. The wind died as quickly as it had arrived. The sky changed to baby blue, the sun replacing black clouds.

Carol brushed away her tears. So what if he peed his pants. Teachers were trained to deal with children his age, and Miss Jones would handle any situation. Five-year-olds were allowed leeway, especially on their first day. Heck, this school year wasn’t grade one but primary, a glorified term for kindergarten.

She smiled. Calvin would be okay.


 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

 RC Bonitzhttp://www.rcbonitz.com

 Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 Catherine A. MacKenziehttps://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

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The Spot Writers – “Stolen Time,” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to use the following 4 phrases in a tale (in any order): “back to school,” “glorious roar,” “and then it fizzled,” “while the wind gusted.” Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, the YA reboot of Hawthorne’s original in which a girl tries to stand up for the truth in a deceptive world.

Stolen Time

By Val Muller

Rebecca had been dreading Tuesday night for weeks now. September the Fifteenth was the longest night of the year. A night of sweating and stuttering. Of uncomfortable shoes and business suits. Of mosquito-eyed parents staring her down, questioning her, ready to feast on her dignity.

Tuesday was Back to School Night.

Whoever thought of the idea was clearly a sadist. Anyone but first-year teachers hated the concept. Rebecca’s first year, she looked forward to the opportunity to meet and impress parents. She spent two weeks prior making a folder for each student—yes, all 125 of them. A welcome letter for parents. A copy of the syllabus and her office hours. Even a bookmark with a Shakespeare quotation underneath Ms. Reynolds – British Lit – Looking forward to a great year!

That had been in 2010 when her passion for teaching was new, and at its peak.

And then it fizzled.

Though parents seemed to enjoy their folders, they spent the night as Inquisitors. How many years of teaching experience do you have? How many movies do you plan to show? Why so many? Why so few? Who chooses these books on the curriculum, anyway? Why so dated? Why so new?

A haughty woman quizzed her on the spot about prepositional phrases to see how sharp her grammar was. She knew all about the concept, but her mind went blank, and she spent the rest of the night flustered and tongue-tied.

She’s hated Back to School Night ever since.

Which is why the prospect of Hurricane Hughie thrilled her. They had cancelled after-school activities and sports, just as a precaution, and they promised to make a decision on Back to School Night in the early evening. Rebecca flipped on the local news station. Still nothing.

But the wind and the rain certainly was picking up. Nothing like hurricane winds yet, but enough to be alarming. While the wind gusted, she checked the school’s website from her phone. Nothing yet. The power flickered, browned, returned. Then it went out.

The land line rang, and her heart lifted. She picked it up and answered eagerly. She knew this was no telemarketer. It was the robo-call she had been desiring. Back to School Night was cancelled. Not only that, but so many schools had already lost power—with three elementary school basements flooded—that school was cancelled for the next day as well.

Imagine that—a “snow day” in September!

Rebecca pulled on her slippers, lit a candle, and pulled out a good horror book. It certainly fit the mood, and October wasn’t too far away. Then she stretched out in her favorite chair and lost herself in a book against the glorious roar of the wind, snapping trees, upending furniture, and fulfilling dreams.

The Spot Writers–our members:

RC Bonitz: www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

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