Tag Archives: school

Jill Trent – Science Sleuth #1


Jill Trent, Science Detective, was a Kickstarter project that included this new Jill Trent comic with five different stories by five different teams of writers and artists. Backers also received a PDF of the original Jill Trent comics from the 40’s which have recently fallen into, or perhaps been elevated into, public domain. I haven’t read those yet.


I supported this Kickstarter because I teach high school engineering and I like comics. The big push in STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) is to get girls excited about such things. Of my 25 level-one engineering students last year, one of them was a girl. School-wide, in grades 9-12, we have two. So I’m aware of the situation. And I thought maybe the Jill Trent comics, both old and new, could somehow be used as marketing for our engineering program. And, as I said, I like comics.


As with any collection of stories like this, you’re going to find some things you like, and some you don’t. I’ve said before that I’m hard to please when it comes to short comic stories. Four pages is not enough for me; I generally want more. But if these stories are sometimes too quick for me, they are all smart and clever and earnest in the way they give us two intelligent and powerful butt-kicking women who show girls especially, the power and fun of science. It’s great that each story is so different. This book includes a dark futuristic tale, a giant monster story, an Indiana Jones homage, a robot love story, and an old fashion mystery. The artwork is as varied as the stories, and each artist perfectly (not hyperbole–I really mean it) matches his artwork to the tone of the story being illustrated. And maybe coolest of all, Jill Trent and her sidekick Daisy Smyth are as varied as the rest of this book is. In each story Jill and Daisy are re-imagined in a variety of races, hair styles, and body types.


What makes this book tricky for me as a high school teacher is that in most of these stories Jill and Daisy are a couple. And in a small town Missouri school, it’s been my experience that reading to a class a short story in which the protagonist has two dads (and two moms) (I’m looking at you Mr. Crutcher), or even just discussing the national day of silence, can lead to parent phone calls and teacher visits with administrators. This is a shame.  So I have to ask myself as a teacher, is making this comic available in my classroom worth the possible trouble? Maybe a bit. I have no problem that Jill and Daisy are gay. So it’s too bad I will be less likely to share this book as a result. And I know that’s on me; it’s one of those tricky decisions a teacher has to make. That’s all worth a longer discussion somewhere, but not here today.


My point today is to say that Jill Trent, Science Sleuth is great fun. Maybe you’re not a person who is trying to get girls interested in science, and really, don’t you think you should be. Maybe you just like comics.  Either way, I’d recommend that you head over to Superdames and pick up a copy of Jill Trent.



4-H Cows, Cooking, and Patience


I was reminded of 4H last month when my daughter was trying to get her TSA (Technology Student Association) project done in time for state competition. Her project was a children’s book about science. She only had the entire school year to get her book and the accompanying paperwork complete. But for some reason we were at school Saturday evening trying to get everything copied and digitized and saved and ready to go before leaving for state conference the next morning. She kept waiting for me, I think, to get angry. And of course I was becoming more and more annoyed as she discovered more requirements that she had overlooked in getting her project ready. But I kept remembering working on my 4H record book, filling out the last of the boring paperwork required for each project before its entry in the fair. “This has to be done today!” my parents repeated.  “Projects go in tomorrow!” I swore loudly to my parents that each year would be my last. I also remembered my mother at my dad’s office, typing my essay on one of the typewriters as I decoded my handwriting for her; we were there until one o’clock in the morning sometimes. These 4H projects and school assignments could have easily been done before the last minute. It’s really only at this point in my life, 30 years after I closed my last 4H record book, that I actually try and generally succeed at getting things done before the last minute. So while I was as annoyed as all get out at my girl child, I kept remembering my own last-minute experiences and my patient mother typing away at dad’s office, and I managed to keep my cool.

Plainview #23

If you’re having trouble sleeping, this is the podcast for you! We were pretty low energy on this one.  So low energy that I couldn’t bother to edit the thing.  At the end there is a minute of us mumbling about whether or not we’d covered the week’s worth of events.  We talk about homecoming, Sunday school, school, and the media.  In the past 10 years–school technology is still an issue, The Office was able to maintain their quality for several years, My Name is Earl did not, and Mare still hasn’t watched an episode of South Park.  Listen if you dare.

Plainview #18

In episode 18 you’ll hear about the following: getting ready for the first day of school; The Downfall fallout, aka Mare’s breakdown; the joys of Netflix, the new cleaning lady–we still don’t have people over on Friday; Pat Robertson’s call for assassination; and the Fed making buying drugs a “pain in the ass.”

Living for Others

This one is so short and ends a bit abruptly, so I’m not sure if it’s complete.  But it seems close.
Last week we had our church involvement fair.   If you weren’t able to attend, let Hannah know how you’d like to help and we’ll get you connected. It’s important that you contribute, that you take part, that you touch some lives.  That’s what I’m going to talk about today.

I’ve been going through old files from 17 years of teaching at Adrian.  I have a few years left, god willing, but I’m needing to make some space.  I found a file folder full of art and mementos of the last 17 years.  I’ve been blessed folks. And some of you have been involved in that.  Here’s some of what I found.

20150103_140819_HDRhappyphoto 2(18)awkwardmiss ya mucheshearts1

What this collection doesn’t include is all the notes that would have read, you didn’t listen to me when I needed you to, you made a joke when I was trying to be serious, you tended to yourself instead of me.  People don’t make coloring pages for those thing.  But they do remember them.
I’m fortunate.  My job involves living for others. When I do it right that’s what happens.  But it’s really a what were all supposed to do.

I’ve probably told the story about the woman that spoke to me at the grocery store checkout one day.  I didn’t recognize her. She asked me if I’d been there before.  I said yes.  She said she thought so, and that I had said “hi” to her once when she was having a bad day, and that it had really helped her.  So much so that she remembered it enough to tell me thanks weeks later.

Every Sunday is really a celebration of resurrection Sunday.  But our weekly communion also reminds us of what came before the resurrection. Christ died.  Christ died as he lived, doing for other people. Paul wrote that if we want to really live, we need to die to ourselves, and we need to live for others.


Plainview #17

Plainview #17

Mare anticipates her first day of school.  Gosh she’s grown up so fast.  We celebrate our entry into the world of Netflix.  This would have been the dvd renting service, not streaming.  Our first movie, not yet watched at the recording of this episode?  Downfall.  If only we had known the pain that movie would cause.  Did god know?  Does he know the future?  And we remember the t.v. shows we were watching 10 years ago, Will’s love of hapkido, and Trent Green.

Me and My Big Mouth

me and my big mouth

As I kid I mostly didn’t talk enough to put my foot in my mouth. And if I did, I probably didn’t notice.  My friends might have a story or two about me opening my big mouth when I shouldn’t have. But I didn’t really come into my own until I became a teacher.

One of my keys to classroom management is to have students who don’t want to cause me any harm. This is also nice for when they become adults, which so far all my students have, and I see them out in the real world and they seem like they enjoy talking to me for a minute or two. One of the ways I do this involves some good-natured teasing. This is how I frequently put my foot in my mouth. A kid shows up after being gone for a day or two, and I give them a hard time about skipping . After which they tell me in all seriousness that they were at their grandfather’s funeral. Or a good kid gets called to the office and I tease them about being on trouble, and of course they come back with detention or in-school suspension.

The worst, and I wasn’t teasing, was when I was grumpily trying to motivate a kid to do his homework. I told him he’d better get himself on track or he wouldn’t be playing football. “I don’t care!” he shot back. “I only play because my dad forces me to.” I sheepishly said something like, “Oh, sorry. Never mind. Do your best, and let me know if I can help you.” I felt very small. The longer I teach, the more careful I try to be. But when you talk most of the day for a living, it’s easy to put your foot in it.

Be a Good Sport


I’ve never been involved with Special Olympics. Until moving to Adrian, I’d really had little interaction with special folks at all. As a kid I had a few brief interactions with a couple of relatives that left me kind of frightened. These were adults that hadn’t received any education or outside help. In elementary school, I don’t remember anyone. When I caught the bus to middle school, there was one boy that I’d see at the bus stop, a brother of a friend. But at middle school and high school, I don’t remember but a couple of guys. I don’t even recall sped kids. This could be because my memory is atrocious, but I don’t think they were around much.

I’m glad that’s changed, both for me in life, and at our schools in general. Getting to know these folks, both adults in our community and kids at school, has given my kids, and all our kids, a leg up–a leg up in developing empathy, and gratitude, and a larger sense of community that I didn’t have, as well as an opportunity to get to know some cool people.

Stamp out report cards


I remember loving the Mad Magazine sensibilities of this one back in the day. And I loved Mad Magazine. I loved the special issues with the sheets of stickers, too precious to use.  I would share the jokes and cartoons with friends; most didn’t get them or weren’t interested.  Anyway, In the 70s everyone had a cause, and stamping out report cards was mine. I remember wearing it to grade school at least once. I’m sure my teacher patted me on the head and rolled her eyes. And now decades later, as a teacher figuring grades at the end of the semester, I can hear the button calling my name again.