De Nile

August 2 Makes Declaration

Dear Facebook Family,

I, Shawn Wise, being of sound and sane mind, do today, declare that I’m taking a break from the Facebook world.

Please, if you do need to reach me my email is

Have a safe and fabulous summer holiday!

August 3 Shares Photo

The big swing tree is still standing at Grammie Bea’s on Great Diamond Island!

Snowed In



January 14 Maryland

Dear Tiny Friends,

 I sit in my car waiting for the cracked windshield to defrost, hoping that an angel from above will actually remove the 6 inches of snow from around and on my icy, rattling Volkswagon. I find my thoughts turning to all 26 of you as a group and as the amaz individual little beings you are becoming. Are you enjoying your snow days off? Are you remembering to fill in your nightly reading logs? How many hours have you each logged in video game/screen time? Are you being mindful and polite and patient with your siblings and parents? Most importantly, are you warm and full? Are you safe. All of these questions certainly prove to me how slyly each and every stinkin’ one of you have secured a permanent place in my heart… matter how many times you sulkily glare at me each day and refuse to take control of your own education…you have such a fab team of support at your beck and call. We will work to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity we call free education once again on Monday. Now, go hug your Mamas and Papas and thank them for keeping you healthy and occupied this week (trust me, this will work to your advantage).

Your Defrosting Teacher,

Ms. Wise

And She Was..

Right to write. The classroom that filled her days with absolute joy and a whole lotta pain was empty. The windows shut and the computers unplugged. She contemplated taking the rolled-up rug from the corner beneath the spent vintage pencil sharpener that seemed to demand punishment from her middle school boy students. Decision made, she lightly and slowly backed out and with a skip in her step, practically slid down one flight of gray-Lego-like stairs out to the blinding sun towards Teacher Lot 2. She was spent. She was driving out to the stop sign in a paid off 2008 Passat Station Wagon with a sunroof.

Her chocolate Frosty from Wendy’s next to the school tasted so sweet. Sweeter and colder than she could remember in a long time. She wiped up the ketchup stain from her stack of personal journals that practically wept with joy at the sudden physical attention. She grinned on the way home as the back-left window unintentionally allowed a small piece of trash escape out onto 97 South. She knew that piece of decade-old slip of paper would be where she picked up when she was alone and safe with her writing- her way of developing who she was in this world and her way of carving out what she wanted her sons to know and remember. Her seat reclined ever so slightly, she eyed it in the rear-view mirror as the dust settled behind her and the blinking highway sign above alerted her of the 19 mile back up on Route 50 East towards the Bay Bridge.


Just Humpin’ Along: Twenty Terms NOT to Udder in the Middle School Classroom

Miss Tiddy & My Pussywillow- just two characters whose names will create pure havoc whenever presented to even the most sophisticated middle-schooler (courtesy of Red Moon at Sharpsburg-historical fiction).

There are many words that I find myself saying and instantly wishing I hadn’t while standing in front of  a roomful of striplings and damsels in my chosen field of education. There have been articles, chapters, even YOUTUBE videos that myself or others did not fully scan for any type of potential word bombs.

Word bombs can sneak up on an educator or parent of the middle school variety and one must learn how to quickly, glibly assume wide-eyed innocence at the very suggestion that anything is different from the intended use of the term. Doing so can prevent minutes of off-task behavior…perhaps even hours. The list below is a running one. It refers to words, phrases, and terms that, when illustrated or verbalized, blow the mind of the 14 year old boy.

20. MOIST: This word is the one that started the entire meltdown. I’ve found it scratched onto desks, scratched onto boards, smudged in that gross-pencil-smudge often found on desks…always a boy’s desk. I made the mistake of asking why this particular term was being spotted all over the upper middle school …for some reason, this is “ew” to me. (I stopped them from explaining as soon as they opened their mouths-some things are better left unsaid.)

19. MOAN: Expect to get a similar reaction (compared to moist). There is an app that provides “sounds”. During a sensory exercise in which the students are asked to close their eyes and identify sound, never, repeat NEVER hit the moan key. It’s better to even strike the fart key.

18. PENAL/PENALIZED: Tomato/Tohmahtoe- I find myself speaking in a British accent when having to deal with these two.

17. NO: A teacher never truly knows the reaction of a middle schooler who is presented with the word.

16. ANNALS: To place the wrong emphasis on the incorrect syllable here could get a little dicey. Importance of correct pronunciation

15. YES: Again, a teacher never never never truly knows the reaction of a middle schooler who is presented with THIS word. Possibilities are, well, endless and frankly a bit terrifying at times.

14. ORGANISM: Not that many know the other term that this one can be mistaken for while reading…just one that the author for some reason always felt anxiety when reading out loud. CLIMAX falls a close 13.5 on this list.

13. HUMP: This term one may come across whilst studying military history….to walk during combat conditions is the definition for this urban slang word. I suggest NOT comparing your job of teaching to humping. This will end any remote chance of successful teaching that day…perhaps even that month.

12. GROIN: Some students have no idea what this area is…tell them to ask a friend during lunch time and let those lunch monitors earn their keep.

11. NUTS: Guaranteed to make your favorite animated student screech this word 5 times quickly in a row…this is where you choose your battles.


10. UDDERS: Civil War novels are good for one or two scenes involving characters using these to sustain life.

9. JACKASS: At this point, a non-sequitur

8. BITCH: Used in books about wildlife, domesticated animals, non-domesticated animals, farms, coming-of-age-stories….do you have ANY idea how many of those types of required middle school reading there are?

7. URANUS: Since the beginning of time; a classic.

6. CRAP: Super unoriginal, but uttered too much, can cause a breach in classroom security, as in “CRAP! Where is that pile of quizzes????”

5. URINE: “You’re in trouble.”

4. HELL: “You can go to dang Hell, Larry!”

3. STONED:  Self- explanatory

2. AROUSED: ” the squirrel’s attention was aroused …”

and finally-

1. BALLS: major no-no as in “If you are holding any blue balls, rotate to the right.” “Turn all your balls in before you leave.” “Those with the little hard balls please stop touching them while I’m speaking.” One teacher finally let us in on the secret: refer to the balls as SPHERES. Done.

Cell Phone Stores

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Why is it that every Verizon Store I go to there are 5 people sitting, 6 wandering, and 11 staring blankly at random cell phone crap for sale on the walls- for 54 minutes- and only TWO employees on site?

Also, my son and I were luckily able to witness a 25-year-old male with manpris on and mudsluggers CLIPPING HIS TOENAILS while we were  waiting. By the time Samantha, our “Service Tech”, got to us I’d completely forgotten where I was and ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad.

#goingonminute41 #isthereselfservice#whysocomplicated #noclipzone #isthisguyforeal

The Great and Invisible “Mr. Nobody”


Day 8, Grade 7

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

See that 10- foot chain of paperclips that “Nobody ” fashioned, stretched across those 4 desk legs? Executed during undercover ops as I apparently blindly navigated your free learning playground?

Yeeeeaaaaa…if you could pass on this message to “Nobody” for me- UNCLIP each friggin’ paperclip and return to teacher desk…. or “Nobody” goes to lunch until the second bell rings.


Day 29, Grade 8

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

Uh oh, looks like Nobody was in the room again- except this time eating Takis Fuegos and stuffing his trash in desks. Along with Notme’s Sour Patch Kids and Jolly Ranchers scattered throughout the floor, be sure look where you step. #notyamaid pig-sty-5335332


Day 34, Grade 8

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

Those guys Nobody and Notme are super rude,-messing up your areas, defiling desks, snapping brand new pencils from Teacher’s desk with one deft maneuver. Hey! I guess you can place the blame on those two guys for no more full size pencils with actual erasers being handed out. golf

Yup, I know you are enamored of the golf pencils I procured from the English Department head. No, seriously, keep it. Nope, doesn’t look like I have an eraser, so just feel free to cross any mistakes out. It’s a small (!) gift from me to you so that you are always prepared. Seriously! Keep it! All you, Buddy.


Word by the back staircase is that Nobody made the decision to take ALL of the marker tops off (yea, all 79 of them!) and leave the markers out to dry, rendering them useless for creative classroom tasks. But, don’t worry,  Notme was thoughtful enough to crack most of those wonderfully waxy generic crayons in to teeny bits so everyone will have something to work with when the time does come.


Actual pile of crayons. 

Lucky you guys! 😉

Fondly, Ms. Wise

The Power of the Basketball

brown basketball on grey floor

Today I planned for the first time to take my students out to the basketball court to chill out for the last 20 minutes of class. They have been testing all week and were barely holding on to the wee bit of sanity they had left.  A colleague down the hall keeps this marvelous ball under his desk. I now know why.

I slid into the room with the ball.  The bell was due to buzz in 1 minutes. Three male students basically bum rush me as I enter:


Me: Uh. Jeez. I know it’s warm today, are your brains fried? Also, please move away from me, you are in my personal space.

Me: Girls, please grab your warm up and have a seat, and take that comb out of your hair.

The bell buzzes (sounds weird, but it’s a buzzer we refer to as the bell-old school, right?)


Me: I’ll let you know once you have completed the warm up.

Them: Tell us now and we’ll do our warm up .

Me: Wow. This isn’t a democracy here people.

I walk slowly around the room. Which, is for once, silent. All eyes are on the orange sphere tucked under my right elbow, snug against my moist (another word middle schoolers hate) armpit. I realized what this sphere of influence could do under my realm. At last. Complete and total control…or promise of.

Sphere of Influence: a country or area (31 physically -not necessarily mentally- occupied desks)  in which another country ( ME! ) has power to affect developments although it has no formal authority (ME! Again! The last 2 weeks have proven how the level of respect for most “formal” authoritative figures within these hallowed walls has slid quite low by now, trust me) I need all the help I can get.

I slowly reveal our daily agenda for the day on the SMARTBOARD.



The questions and insinuations are already flying across rows. Shut up, Eliot! YOU know you’ll ruin it.

You shut the shuck up!

Me: Gee, sure does sound like that basketball court out there will be empty after all, I sigh heavily, regrettably.







Our Community

Dear Trailer 4A,

Time to make that important connection between your real world and our classroom.  Yes, we are actually heading to our community Food & Clothing Bank to help sort donations.

Yes, CONNECTION, people. It means “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else”.  Let’s brainstorm a list of CONNECTIONS we could make between this trip and our recent classroom lessons on Giving Back: Our Community.

1. My Earrings – Um, well, yes, a connection of some sort, but not quite the connection we’re mining for today.

2. My Dealer- Next.

I see we could use some modeling here: An appropriate connection would be GIVING BACK=PERSONAL SATISFACTION or COMMUNITY SERVICE=RESPONSIBILITY

3. Community Service+ My Dealer= Probation!?

Ohhhh-kaaaayyyyy….  Gotcha. Not a convo that’s going to happen today…

Isn’t it spelled volun-TEAR?  No.









Out of Context

A certain middle school teacher (no names will be used to protect the mortified)  was free of any size, type, smell, sound or threat of children for approximately 48 minutes this past Saturday morning.

Due to the record breaking attendance and heat that blessed our community for Friday evening’s “Hula Hoops for Houses” , the dedicated educator literally tripped into bed at 1:09 a.m. (those tiny little brown flip flops that blend into her wood floors will be THE DEATH OF HER) dirty sweat streaks staining her shirt, left back portion of hair seems to be sticking directly out to the left as if sprayed thoroughly with hair spray.

She arose the following morning at roughly 7:22 and blindly pulled back on those comfy, knee-length, school-appropriate light blue shorts from the “Hula Hoops for Houses” event and added some type of t-shirt (of which she still can not identify it’s original owner-likely a college roommate).

She felt haphazardly through the top of her nightstand drawer (filled with Starbursts-can’t figure out why her name is basically embroidered  on her dentist’s chair-complete with a pink whale, natch) for her glasses (horrendously nearsighted) and set out to conquer the Kroger’s Food Store before attending the “not quite mandatory but highly suggested attendance” Middle School Car Wash to raise money for the 8th grade graduation field trip. She sure would love for someone to raise money for her while washing cars.

She attempted to back out of her driveway and was forced to stab the brake, as there seemed to be a gang of 13 year old girls cruising past her driveway, seemingly oblivious to the rather clunky black stay-wag waiting to exit the pebbles.

Ladies, if you didn’t text and bike, you’d probably get to where you are going much more quickly. No, she wouldn’t like to say hello to Jackson and Max on their I-phones, thanks. No, she doesn’t  have her grade book up on her home computer….She’d just like to exit the premises.

Teacher will try to remember to tell  husband about that terribly rude red check engine light that has returned on her dashboard. Her air conditioning blows out tepid, moist, gently harvested dead- mosquito-air partnered with  those obnoxious long pine needles whose origin also remain a mystery.

Mmmmm. Nothing quite like concerning amounts of bright purple bird excrement so thoughtfully adorned on her driver side window.  The entire back portion of back door also so magnanimously enhanced complete with a crust on the door handle.

She sits idling next to a really really really good looking blonde family (triple take out of peripheral  to make sure it’s not ex boyfriend Matt from college) who pulled up next to her at the stoplight (which she’s missed going through TWICE due to a slow garbage truck convoy) in their shining, white, brand-spankin-new mile high Range Rover.

That’s not actually a USED baby diaper, folks, she actually grabbed it to help soak up some of the Capri Sun Splashfest that occurred between last Thursday and this morning.  So, yea, there’s LOTS of uses for baby diapers, mm-hm.

Finally through the intersection only to stop for the EXACT SAME GROUP OF THE 8th GRADE PINK LADIES THAT JUST DELAYED HER from leaving her hood to once again, take. their. time- all on adorable beach cruisers, no helmets (huh?) crossing the crosswalk on their way to apparently, somewhere close to where she herself was heading.

Teacher wonders why this particular parking lot always smells like freshly dunked onion rings and steak sammies. Seagulls aggressively bombard what seems to be an entire loaf of  cinnamon balls two spaces over. Quickly, quickly!!!  She sees the gaggle of bikers heading straight for her, and quickly calculates out the side of her eyes that there are 2 additions to the Pink Ladies, ugh. Jackson and Max. Woooonnnddderfulll. Quick, go, go. Ignore hoots. Assume (hope) they aren’t coming from the bikers and directed at her.

Nine aisles later, paper plates, terribly expensive reader-eye-glasses (can’t ever have enough, she’s turned into her parents, reading glasses stuck in every crevice and side-table drawers) plastic cups, frozen pizza, toilet paper, and that large box of Immodium if you don’t mind-wow, that , WHOOPSIE DAISY, slip-a-rooney, basically just did the splits! OUCHI! What the heck, people, “CLEAN UP IN AISLE 8, HERB!” reference Mr. Mom. Someone may want to clean up this slushy-grape-like substance that has developed on the floor here.groceryfail

She heard them before she saw them. As if in slow-motion, the Pink Ladies and Kenickie,  Doody by his side, turn the corner toward the ice-cream aisle in which teacher almost bit it. A stand-off occurs. The Pink Ladies and the Boys halt as if they are confused-very, very confused. Hmmm…Just HOW do they know her? WHERE do they know her from? She SEEMS familiar.  For a moment, the teacher thought, I just may keep on rolling past them, as they clearly are having trouble connecting the dots.

Not a chance. Ms. Wise? AHHH YEEAA!!! She quickly acknowledges the gaggle with a “Hey, guys, how’s it going?” and keeps on rolling. Silence. Deadly Silent. She feels the fear rise up in her throat. Something is wrong. Something is VERY wrong. Silent middle schoolers represent some type of T.R.O.U.B.L.E  Keeeep rolling, she thinks.  “Ms. Wise, something is on the back of  your pants.”

Oh, Jesus, keep rolling. Duck into the corner by the pretend seafood, take a quick, again, mandatory screening of my teacher shorts from yesterday. There, in the condensation-covered refrigerator door  leading to a sea-world reflection, she makes out a rather large spot of, well, she’s not quite sure what the hay it is or where it came from. Yikes. Wait for it…

DISGUSTING. Somehow Teacher not only managed to plop her hiney right down onto

First Aid Kit

Actual Size of Band Aid

some type of brownish-gray substance the night before, she also seems to have been the chosen one, for one, extremely large, dirty USED BAND AID was hanging off the back of her shorts. Holy grossness. Bile. Chills. She tore that offensive tape off and flung it down, where it landed on her flip flop- kicky-kick, ugh. She has to touch it again, as the meat man seems to be eyeing her. He wonders if she wasn’t going to dispose of the large bandage in the proper receptacle. As if.Rizzo then turns the corner, giggling (more like bowling over in laughter), as the gang witnessed all of what teacher just went through.

Pretty Awesome. Pretty, pretty awesome.

“Ladies! Hey, if this is the worse thing that happens to me in the Krogers, that’s ok by me. Ya’ll just wait, for you too, one day, will not have a CLUE what’s been goin’ on BEHIND YOU, but you’ll feel okey dokey with it because you’ll be IN YOUR 40’s, and hopefully an inspiration to someone- and it’ll be ALL GOOD . I’ve found if I  just keep on looking FORWARD it’s much more rewarding. ”

That, ladies and gentleman, is ALL that occurred that day in the Krogers. Nobody and nothin is  gonna break her stride-

Now. Beat it. She’ll see ya at the car wash.

What’s in YOUR pencil case?


Hemingway’s secret to great writing ? Use a pencil.

A single pencil is said to hold enough graphite to draw a line 35 miles long, or write 45,000 words. If that’s true, Ernest Hemingway could have written The Old Man And The Sea(27,000 words) in a single stroke—and for all we know, he did. “If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to,” Hemingway wrote in a 1935 Esquire article, “First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it. That is .333 which is a damned good average for a hitter.”

Dear Future Hemingways,

I once took a writing class where the teacher told us to write about WHATEVER WE WANTED, it had to be one page long, and no other instruction was given. Wow. Whhhaaaaa? Where do I begin with this type of assignment? I then recalled another course I took that introduced the book, The Dot. In this amazing little nugget of inspiration, a student claims she has absolutely no, ability, no ideas, no nuthin’- when it comes to her talent (this happened to be her art class). The student gives up before she even begins. Her first and only mark on her paper for a good 8 minutes was a simple, dark, dot. She then used that dot as her starting point. And, boy, did she turn that dot into something wonderful. Where will YOUR dot lead you, today?


Again, your pencils should ALREADY have been sharpened, people. Ugh. I dislike the pencil sharpener. A lot. So much so that it wouldn’t be beyond me to snap that dang thing right off that sheet rock of a wall and violently fling it to the ground out back on the corroding, concrete-like playground entry way at 7: 13 a.m., daringly close to a janitor’s office (do not, I repeat, do not mess with a janitor- that’s for another entry). And then plant it back in the classroom as if I never even touched it. Sorry, folks, looks like no pencil sharpener today. Borrow a pencil. Or pen. Or highlighter. Or crayon, come on people,use your brain power. FIND SOMETHING TO WRITE WITH (at this point i just should  have left that offensive piece of metal alone). Ugh.

Pencil Sharpner.jpg