My friend Lisa Friesen Collins started out as a grade school Crossing Guard and then moved on to be an Educational Assistant for a kindergarten class. She continues to entertain us with posts on Facebook, which many of us think are blog-worthy. Here are a few:

Life as a Crossing Guard isn’t boring that’s for sure. Take away the rude drivers and I’m left with interestingly fun kiddos. I have the group of boys who run or bike as fast as they can to get to their destination; the boy who moves slower then molasses on a winters’ morning, but talks non-stop as he strolls across the street; and then the group of girls who slow down so they miss the light – so they can talk with me a bit longer. I’ve gotten attached to these kids. I love it.

Today, this little boy, probably first grade, came walking up to the corner in full cover. I said, “Wow Batman, you look awesome!” He answered, “My mom said I needed a light jacket, but this works better and I have a hat and mask!” Off he headed down the hill, bat ears flapping and cape flying. (With his mom not far behind, half embarrassed and half in hysterics!) I love this job!

Life as an Educational Assistant isn’t boring either.

Did I really just have to tell some first-grade boys, “Do not lick the monkey bar poles”? Funny – but wouldn’t have been funny had I not caught them in time.

What a fun day, making Christmas ornaments with kindergarteners. “Ms. Lisa, you can never have too much glitter!” That is so true sweetie! Nothing like glitter and glue and 12 kindergartener hands “helping” me.

File this under “Only In A Colorado School.” My daughter relayed this note-worthy exchange in her science class:

  • Student: “Ms. ______, have you ever looked at a marijuana leaf under a micro scope?”
  • Teacher: “No, can’t say that I have.”
  • Student: “I could bring some in from home so we could all look at it.”
  • Teacher: “Um, I’m not sure that’s legal so let’s not, but thanks for offering.”

My daughter to me: “Well, we all know what goes on at their house!”

And then there was the school dance:

  • Mrs. Collins!!!! Did you hear about the school dance party?
  • Yes, I did. Are you going?
  • Yes! Are you?
  • I don’t know, are you asking me to go to the dance with you?
  • (Silent big-eyed stare.)
Um, I though you were married already cause your kinda old.

Comments to kids today:

  1. No armpit tooting at school. I don’t care how funny it sounds, please stop.
  2. No, the field is not full of dog poo. Those are dirt clods from lawn aeration. (Explain what lawn aeration is. Repeated this at least 25 times.)
  3. STOP! No throwing dirt clods at each other! (Repeated this at least 25 times.)


And yet those cute, goofy, irritating, sometimes gross, kids fill my day with laughter and joy!

The above experiences are from 2015 and 2016, yet they are not that much different from Sharing Time in the kindergarten class in Valdez, Alaska, in 1954, as experienced by Anna Bortel:

“The children always surprised and delighted me with their revelations. One day, Penny shared. Her chair was next to mine, and she leaned against me, her blond curls tumbling upon her cherub face. ‘Go ahead,’ I whispered. Taking a deep breath, she asked her classmates, ‘Should three-year-olds still be wetting their pants?’ I stifled a laugh. Not a single child thought this was amusing and she and the other five-year-olds wrestled soberly with the issue; all the while she unconsciously reached over and played with the back of my hair. Then she turned to me, ‘Miss Bortel, what do you think?’ I felt the gentle spray of moisture on my face as she exhaled with each lisped word.

Another time, a boy explained that he awoke to find a longshoreman in bed with his mother. These small folks grappled with big issues, and unreservedly offered their opinions.

One fall day, a child carried a leaf to class and asked why the once green leaf was now yellow. Following a mini-lecture on frost, a boy piped up, ‘I hope Jack Frost doesn’t land on me and change my color.’ The earnest faces around me pondered that same thought.”

(Excerpt from ‘A’ is for Alaska: Teacher to the Territory, by Naomi Gaede Penner.)


  1. What were you like as a student? How are you still like that student?

2. What were your insecurities in school and/or weakness in specific subjects?

3. What games did you play at recess?

4. Who were your friends? Did you have many or few? What kind did you choose?

5. How can you connect to your child/grandchildren/special youngsters because of your    own experiences?

  • Note to educators and parents: the Reader’s Guides in the back of Naomi Gaede Penner’s Alaska books are perfect for book reports, grades 6 – 12.


(Published in The Country Register, Kansas, August/September 2016 issue)

All text is Copyright © Naomi Gaede-Penner. All Rights Reserved.