Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Impact: You Never Know the Impact You Have on the Lives of Children

You Never Know the Impact You Have on the 
Lives of Children

As a teacher, we see our students and teach them life lessons while they are in our class, and then if we're lucky, we get to see them around campus for a few years to come. Then, there are students whom you lose contact with over the years, but then, if you're lucky, you might run into them again years later. Tonight, I had one such experience. 

Several years ago, I was teaching at an inner city, Title I school, where poverty is rampant, but doesn't have to be a way of life. However, there are students many who try their best to succeed, despite the odds. But as a teacher you never get to know if you have truly had an impact on your students' lives ... unless you happen to run into them years later. 

That said, tonight after my youngest son's first music concert, we decided to go to Wendy's. As the nice young lady took my order, a grin began to spread across her face. After she had taken my order, she asked, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but you look so familiar to me. What do you do?"

After I told her that I was a teacher and a published author, her eyes lit up as she asked if I had taught at the Title I middle school that I had mentioned above. When I told her that I did, she asked, "Is your last name Oliver?"

I smiled and told her that I was and a broad grin spread across her face. "I'm Megan!" she replied, filled with excitement. "You were my seventh grade Language Arts teacher!"

Immediately, I recognized  her and gave her a hug. 

After asking her how she was and what she was up to, she told me that she had graduated from high school and was preparing to go to college. She also said that she loved high school and was gathering the money for her college tuition. So, I told her about grants and student loans. 

Then, she told me about another student from that same class and that he is now a model. In my class, he was a trip, was quite funny and smart, and was always teasing me about something. Although I am far from perfect, I always had a good rapport with my students, although they knew the line not to cross. And as long as they didn't cross that line, we got along fine. 

Then, there was another student from that same class, Michelle. In my class, she was a smart student and tried hard to succeed, again, despite the odds stacked up against her. One day, she came to me and said, "Miss, I'm having a hard time doing my homework." After I asked her what the problem was, she proceeded to tell me, "I live in a hotel with eight other people, and every time I spread out my homework on the bed, the kids run in and jump all over it and I can't do my homework."

My heart immediately went out to this girl who wanted so badly to succeed. "Is there a pool at your hotel?" I asked.

She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face and replied, "Yes."

"Does it have tables with an umbrella over it?" I asked. 

She nodded.

"I'll tell you what," I said. "Only on pretty days, go out to the pool and do your homework under the umbrella. You can get some fresh air and it'll be quiet, too, so you can do your work." I thought for a moment, and then added, "But if the weather is bad, don't go outside. Then, the next day just tell me that you couldn't do your homework and I'll understand; no questions asked." I knew that this girl who tried so hard would never take advantage of it. 

She turned away from me, her eyes filled with hope, smiling as she thanked me and walked away.

A few days later, she stopped me after class, smiling from ear to ear and said, "Miss! Guess what? I can do my homework now!"

"Great!" I replied. "I'm so proud of you!" Then, I reminded her that if it was raining outside not to go out and she said that she would.

I saw her a few years later while standing in line at Walt Disney World. When she approached me, smiling, she asked, "You don't remember me, do you?"

"Michelle!" I said and immediately pulled her in for a hug. She then told me that she was in her senior year of high school and was planning to go to college. Tonight, Megan told me that Michelle now works for Disney. She had worked hard and beat the odds.

As I said above, as a teacher you hope that you are making a difference in the lives of your students, but you never really know for sure. But after seeing Megan tonight, I realized that you really don't realize the impact you have not only on your students, but on the lives of people around you every day, until you happen to see them years later. 

Tonight, I felt so blessed and thankful to have had these students in my life. Every day, I learn just as much from my students as they ever learn from me. It's great to see students who never gave up and who have now succeeded at all odds. I'm just glad to have had a small part of it and to have had the privilege of having these wonderful young people in my class, for they have become wonderful adults. They succeeded because they worked hard and never gave up.

So, during this holiday season, offer a smile to someone who needs it, listen to someone when they approach you for help, be a friend to someone in need. Also, when children approach you for advice or a moment of your time, give it to them. For you never know the impact that you may be having in their lives. 
Theresa Oliver is a teacher and author who lives in Kissimmee, Florida. The names of the children in the article above have been changed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

BOOK BLITZ: A Horse Named Dog, by: Theresa Oliver

A Horse Named Dog
by: Theresa Oliver

It's finally here! The book blitz for A Horse Named Dog, by: Theresa Oliver, published by Write More Publications! Special thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for hosting this wonderful event! The blitz will run this week from Nov. 16-20! Below, please find an excerpt from A Horse Named Dog and more! Thanks for helping us to celebrate it's release! 

A Horse Named Dog
Theresa Oliver
Release Date: October 21st 2015
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Write More Publications


Sam is a typical twelve-year-old boy who works on his parent’s farm, but is not as interested in horses as his horse-training family. However, he does his best to help out until an incident when he is riding with his mother. After saving her from becoming nearly trampled, his viewpoint changes … until a strange horse comes to their farm with quirks, earning him the name Dog.

Dog likes Sam right away, but Sam wants nothing to do with him, as he is the son of Trumpeter, the horse that nearly maimed his mother for life. Sam has a hard time dealing with not only the memory of the accident, but the extra chores and responsibilities suddenly thrust upon him, one of which is training Dog.

Because his mother is out of work and people are canceling orders, money is scarce. With the Indiana Classic coming up—a local horse race with a huge purse—will Sam be able to befriend Dog and save their farm, or will Dog go back to his present owner, never to be seen again?

Find out in Theresa Oliver’s first pre-teen novel, A Horse Named Dog.  




They walked along at a leisurely pace for a bit when, suddenly, Trumpeter reared up, then came down hard into a bolt. Sasha quickly reined him in, standing in the stirrups as she pulled him back and brought him down to an easy walk. “Whoa, boy! No racing today. We’re just going for a walk. Take it easy,” Sasha said, patting Trumpeter on the side of his neck, but he abruptly pulled away.

“He’s in a mood,” Sam commented sarcastically, reaching down to pat Angel. She nodded her head.

“Yeah, pull back a bit, Sam, just in case,” Sam’s mother said. “Angel might be spooking him.” Another horse walking so close beside Trumpeter could be triggering his nature to race.

Sam laughed. “Anything spooks him, Mom. He wants to run. We’d better go back and get Dad.”

His mother shook her head. “No, he’ll be fine. The fresh air will do him some good.” A second later, Trumpeter tried to bolt again, but Sasha was quick to pull back on the reins, bringing him easily back under control. “On second thought, maybe a quick run will do him some good. Hold tight to Angel. I’ll see you in the practice field.”

“Okay,” Sam replied uneasily. His mother had taken Trumpeter for a run upon many occasions, but it seemed different this time somehow, and he didn’t like it. But he did as his mother asked and held tightly to Angel’s reins, bringing her to a stop.

Suddenly, his mother leaned forward slightly in the saddle, holding tightly to the reins and yelled, “Yah!”

Within a second, Trumpeter’s front hooves raised high into the air as he lunged forward, landing about six feet ahead, as he sprinted into a dead run with his tail flying wildly in the breeze straight out behind him. He stretched his long neck forward as the wind blew through his mane.

It was really a beautiful sight, watching Trumpeter run—as if watching poetry in motion. His muscles flexed, undulating at an incredible speed as he leaned forward. Trumpeter was a horse that was born to run. Within a second, they were already in the practice field ahead in the distance. Showing off a bit, Sasha turned Trumpeter quickly around and waved at Sam.

Sam laughed and made a clicking sound with his tongue, giving Angel the signal to trot, and she happily obeyed.

Then, in the distance, Trumpeter suddenly reared up, taking Sasha off guard. She fell backward off the horse, landing with a hard thud upon the ground as Sam watched in horror. Trumpeter came down hard onto his mother’s leg, crushing it. As he dug in to bolt again, he knocked her back hard onto the ground and her head banged into the hard ground, jolting her.

“Mom!” Sam yelled. “Yah!” he yelled and leaned forward, urging Angel into a full run toward his mother, lying lifeless on the ground as Trumpeter ran off into the woods. With Angel running at full speed, he was at his mother’s side in seconds. “Mom, are you okay?”

“Sam, honey, go get Dad,” his mother said calmly, but when Sam looked down at her leg, it was lying at an unnatural angle to the side. A bone was protruding from her leg and blood was quickly pooling onto her faded blue jeans and she was losing consciousness from the pain.

“Mom, I’m not leaving you!” Sam replied, sliding his arm under her shoulders. He looked up, and Trumpeter was bearing down, barreling right toward them as tufts of earth kicked up from the ground behind him with a wild look in his eyes. Angel stood still, looking around nervously, then back down to Sasha and Sam. “Mom, I have to move you.”

“Honey, I can’t.” Sasha bit her lower lip, trying to hold back the pain. The pool of blood on her jeans was now spreading down her leg.

“Mom, he’s coming back,” Sam said into her ear, trying to think quickly. He looked up, and Trumpeter was leaning forward, sprinting toward them at full speed with bloodlust in his eyes.
Special thanks to YA Bound Blog Tours for hosting this book blitz!