May 06, 2010

J. R. Ewan Wasn't Just a Lyin', Cheatin' Oil Man*

It's time for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop! This week, I chose prompt #2. Check out Mama Kat's for all the fun!

In honor of teacher appreciation week write a poem to a teacher you remember or currently know.

Since I was the "perfect" student, and never had any problems whatsoever with any teacher who shared with me the wealth of knowledge they possessed (as required by their union contract), I am writing a poem about Mr. Jerry Hey, a teacher The Boy was lucky enough to have, and Ms. Vickie Burke, the principal at J. R. Ewan Elementary School.

Oh, Mr Hey! Your name rhymes with pie,
and your Hawaiian-print shirts are a hoot!
We first met you in Fall, and The Boy, not so tall
When that other school gave him the boot.

You volunteered for the gig, and my heart danced a jig
Knowing you'd be there, gave me some hope
As he fretted and fumed, and yelled in your room
Kicked, punched, bit, screamed threats - and you coped.

He soon learned all the rules, how things SHOULD be in school,
and The Boy started to calm himself down
Oh, he'd fuss on the way, and kick the tires, every day
When he got out of the car in our town

But you'd be waiting, nearby
And The Boy, now HE'D sigh
Because his outburst would now need to end.

And after two years in that school, and The Boy, oh, so cool
We are proud to have Mr. Hey as our FRIEND.

There once was a principal named Miss Burke
Who wanted all the school's kids to do work
She was always on the scene, to work with kids and preteens
To help raise ladies and gents, and no jerks.

She'd encourage and suggest
Motivate and do her best
To put a smile on the face
Of both parent and child, nonetheless.

She was kind to The Boy,in his success she took joy
As they talked of the day over lunch.
We owe much to Burke and to Hey - A great gal and great guy!
Who knew they'd love The Boy that much?

When The Boy first met Mr. Hey, he had come from a "special" school where he learned many fine strategies for avoiding school work (and spending lots of time in the "calm down" room). I had him repeat 3rd grade, because he learned nothing, and certainly was not ready to do any of the "No Child Left Behind" mandatory testing for 4th grade.

Poor Mr. Hey! The Boy made me think of Helen Keller, in the Miracle Worker, when she was the wild, uncivilized child. Mr. Hey became The Boy's Annie Sullivan, and worked so hard for him to be successful in school. They started out small - The Boy would do five minutes of work, followed by a five minute break. Some days they did not succeed. But over time, great strides were made.

Mr. Hey, who resembles a tanned and toned Harrison Ford (if Harrison Ford sported Hawaiian-print shirts and khakis) was a model of discipline. There were clear and consistent consequences in class. When The Boy became overwhelmed, they'd take short walks through the school to calm down. And every day at lunch, The Boy ate with Miss Burke, the school principal. They'd talk about current events as they ate and watched The Weather Channel. And Miss Burke even let The Boy grow his Garfield Chia Pet on her window sill, where it got lots of sunlight (this time gave Mr. Hey his only Boy-free break of the school day).

Mr. Hey gave his all for The Boy. He'd make him stay after school if his work was not done, and would even drive him to the babysitter afterward. He and Mrs. Hey even visited The Boy in the hospital. They invited him to their home to enjoy the hot tub and to have ice cream.

When The Boy went to 4th grade, Mr. Hey attended all his classes with him (in the mainstreamed class) for the first semester. Then, The Boy was ready to fly solo (but he still checked in with Mr. Hey when he needed a booster shot of discipline). 

The Halloween after The Boy left Mr. Hey's class, we drove to his house. The Boy, dressed as Darth Vader, said, "Jerry, I am your student."

Mr. Hey is now retired...but read to see what he did after he was adjusting to retirement!

From the school district newsletter:

What will you do when you retire? Take long hikes at Raven Run; travel the world; work in your garden daily? How about return to school to work with a group of kids who desperately need you? We were faced with a dilemma this year at Julia R. Ewan when a respected Special Education teacher retired in December. Her class was filled with students in need of lots of guidance and support. Finding a competent replacement would be very difficult in the middle of the year. We didn't need to look any further then Jerry Hey, an extraordinary teacher who retired last year. After a little coaxing by our principal, Jerry came back to us to finish out the school year. He stepped into this classroom and continued molding these students into life long learners. He has pushed our children to succeed, staying after school weekly to help them complete their work and get them the help they need. Losing a gifted teacher is always difficult, but finding a replacement in the middle of the year is even more challenging. We are blessed that Mr. Hey cares enough about students to leave behind his love for hiking and traveling to give back to our students. I am thankful for a principal who has worked hard to build such caring and professional relationships that an educator like Jerry would be willing to come back after tasting a little bit of rest and relaxation.
Submitted by Gerry Brooks, Professional Staff Assistant
Julia R. Ewan Elementary

And Ms. Burke? J. R. Ewan is closed now (it was a very old building). Now Ms. Burke is principal of brand spanking new Liberty Elementary school.

There're some lucky kids there.

The Boy has been blessed (and I have too) with some wonderful teachers...there were several others I could have written about here. And until his school career is over, I know there are teachers that will deserve accolades for helping The Boy to get an education.

*And for you sticklers? The lyin', cheatin' oil man of the 80s was J. R. Ewing, not Ewan. Ms. Ewan was a principal at the school way back in the day.


  1. Its so nice to hear a good teacher story! Sometimes it seems like all we here are the bad stories (which Im sure you have plenty of too!), so its nice when the good ones get to take center stage, so to speak.

  2. What a great poem!
    And it sounds like not only is the Boy lucky to have them in his life but they are lucky to have the boy in their life!!

  3. what a great story about teachers and what they do to help students.Great teachers really do help and mold our kids besides us.

  4. Great poem and great tributes to two wonderful sounding teacher/principal. You always hear all these horrible stories about teachers who can't teach or don't care because of their low wages. I think it is refreshing to hear about the ones who DO care and who do all they can to make sure that your child gets the best education. It's such a pity that teachers get paid so little in the States and get so little respect. Great post!

  5. A wonderful poem indeed! Teachers are the best...especially the good ones that we never forget. I'm glad you found a couple here that helped The Boy through school!

  6. Great post. I just took a red velvet cake and a krochet apple to a retiring teacher that was both mine and my daughter's teacher. Have a great day

  7. You get an A++ on this assignment! What a wonderful tribute to that teacher and principal! I enjoyed your poems very much. Glad the boy had such a dedicated and understanding teacher.

    Visiting from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. We used the remembering mom prompt.

  8. I was imagining Magnum PI as a teacher. What a cool teacher he must have been. Thanks for telling his story.

    Surfing in from Mama Kat's...

  9. I loved this so very much. What a blessing. What a wonderful teacher. He sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing this!

  10. I loved the poems! What a nice man that Mr. Hey was. I love people like him. :)

  11. I hope I can have this kind of impact when I become a teacher.

  12. That was amazing!!! These fabulous teachers are few and far between. I'm glad The Boy and Mr. Hey found each other. It is a true blessing!

  13. That's such a wonderful story. My husband had the same types of issues and I can think of these teachers as there for him too.

  14. This made me cry. Your tributes are beautiful. I'm glad your son is being blessed with good teachers.

  15. Wow, this post made me tear up. Hooray for great teachers!

  16. Your teacher poems are very compelling and without a doubt funny. Sounds like your son has had some truly amazing teachers.

    I teach first grade and I received some of the most heartfelt and touching letters I have ever received today.

  17. I finally got around to clicking the "follow" button. I follow you anyway but I thought I'd make it official and all. :)

  18. Your poems were wonderful ... and Mr. Hey is going straight to heaven for the wonderful work he did with the Boy. It takes a special person to do this kind of work. Amazing.

  19. This made me smile and gave me some warm fuzzies. It makes me happy to know that there are people like this out in the world. Thanks so much for sharing!


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!