A lovely, gentle non-fiction account of the career change of Jack Woodson, who was a thermal design engineer for four years until he was laid off. He decided to get his teaching credentials, and landed a job teaching 3rd graders in a downscale, under-served section of his Texas city.
He gives us the account of his first year teaching through the device of emails to a friend, a former coworker at his old company. The chapters are titled in the Subject: section of the email, and he always signs off with some clever reference to the events in the email.
As far as I can determine, this is a semi-fictionalized telling of his first year teaching, because as he says in the intro:
This book was inspired by real experiences. A few details have been altered or embellished, and some of the events have been reorganized for the purpose of pacing, but very little has been made-up, in regards to the kids. Nearly everything that I write about did actually happen at some point.
The ’emails’ are funny, witty even, pun-filled, and display a concern and caring for the kids in his charge that we are afraid only exists in fairy tales. A male teacher for grammar school grades is a rarity, and it would seem he is quite a good one.
Throughout his school year, we get to know his students — the good, the bad and the whacky, and find ourselves rooting on the sidelines for them to do well on the seemingly-endless series of standardized tests they must take. We are introduced to some of his fellow (and sister) teachers, about whom he is always unfailingly respectful.
A lovely, gentle, book, with chapters that are just like lay’s potato chips — really, you can’t eat … I mean READ …. just one. and you are sorry when you get to the end of the book. But fear not, there’s a sequel: Learn Me Gooder.