Come Up from Duct Taped Shoes

April 16, 2014 by · No Comments · Writing

Perhaps I should have called this video Dallas Yawns.

“Growing” at SWA

April 14, 2014 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

The final piece from April 14th’s Poetry Slam for Cans:

[more to come]

Little Moments. Big Life.

April 11, 2014 by · No Comments · Service Learning

little moments A few students  (representing all who have worked at the food bank this year) were lucky enough to attend the Smyrna-Lavergne Food Bank’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner this week.  It was a wonderful experience to be part of a room full of people dedicated to volunteering and serving the community — and such a treat to hear a testimony from some of the clients who benefit from the Food Bank’s services.  We appreciate having the opportunity to help  the organization and were grateful for the invitation.

It was a pleasure to attend with these outstanding students.  I’m proud to know them and am enjoying watching them create ‘big lives’ for themselves.




‘Where I’m From’ Video (by Dallas — again!)

April 11, 2014 by · 1 Comment · Fun

“Thanks!” to Dallas for creating a compilation video of several students’ “Where I’m From” poems.  Yes, it seems there are more bloopers than actual poetry.  However, just as you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, sometimes you have to record a lot of video….

Welcome Guest Blogger, Dallas!

April 8, 2014 by · 1 Comment · Reading, Service Learning

BIG BUDDY, LITTLE BUDDY ~by Dallas Cropper

Smyrna West Alternative School has a great tutoring program. But this program isn’t to help SWA students.  It is for the Smyrna West students to help someone much smaller in size. Every Thursday (“Third Grade Thursday”) Mrs. Messerly and Deputy Sanford shuttle a select few over to a local elementary school to pair up with a student who may not be reaching his/her full potential in the classroom. We help them get to where they need to be as far as academic and social communication…and we get to do it all over again on “First Grade Fridays.”

We use an organized program in which we read over a passage in a book and do written exercises pertaining to the lesson. We give the kids that little extra push they need to get on the right track to learning those tough multi-syllable words that they may not know. We simply give them a helping hand with their vocabulary and their reading skills. We may be helping them learn to read, but they are teaching us how to communicate and be leaders. This program gives SWA students a chance to get outside of our comfort zones and interact with younger people, which we may not do on the day-to-day basis.  In all reality, yes, we are helping these young kids; however, little do they know, they are helping us, too.IMG_2644


Keep Turning the Pages

March 30, 2014 by · No Comments · Make 'Em Think, Writing


I’ve loved books and stories since my dad read “The Monster at the End of this Book” to me over and over and over again when I was a young girl.  The “monster” was Grover from Sesame Street.  Grover begged us not to turn the pages of the book because he’d read the title—and he knew there was a monster ahead. And that is scary!  And, yet, despite his pleas and tricks to get us to stop reading, we’d continue turning the pages until I’d laugh out loud each time my dad feigned surprise when we discovered, once again, that it was just lovable, furry Grover.  Not scary.


Grover’s story still has a lot to teach me.  I often try to avoid yucky things, hoping they’ll just disappear.  Many in my creative writing class have heard me say that I like to live in the world of lollipops and butterflies.  When class discussions tend toward tragedy, anger, clashes with friends, or prejudices, I can feel the fear of conflict and unpleasantness rise up within and want to bend the discussion toward puppies, unicorns, and rainbows.  I know!  Not helpful.  Not realistic.  So, as unpleasant or scary as it may be, we face problems and conflicts head-on.  Together we discuss and write about the not-so-pleasant aspects of life, hoping to figure out what’s going on inside our heads and hearts, and maybe finding that happy ending.


Yes, there are monsters — real and imaginary.  But we don’t have to face them alone.  If we carry on with the help of a friend or a teacher (or a daddy), then we discover that we can face the monsters and keep turning the pages.  I urge you, students, to keep turning the pages.  That might mean writing poetry or journaling to discover what’s in your heart.  It might mean talking to someone about the ‘monsters’ in your life.  It might mean editing out the people in your life who aren’t positive influences.  Find someone to help you along the way if there seems to be a brick wall keeping you from doing so.  You’ll learn that the places you’ve been hiding and the means by which you’ve been trying to escape are darker and scarier than the wonderful life waiting for you at the end of the book.  It may be painful.  Or scary.  But you are not alone.  The only way to beat the monsters is to keep turning the pages.



There Goes My Hero!

March 12, 2014 by · No Comments · Reading


Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Celebration

March 11, 2014 by · No Comments · Reading, Service Learning

DSCF1817I plan to add video and many more pictures from today’s event (so keep checking back), but I wanted to quickly post a huge THANK YOU to all students who participated.  Great job!