Isaac’s Ice Cream Tree Becomes a Reality!

My theme this year for my 7th & 8th grade ELA classes is “RISK verses REWARD”. I’ve been pushing them to “go for the gold”, a fitting saying for this Olympic year. Is the risk worth the potential reward? So often, the answer is yes.  A resounding YES! Setting challenging, yet attainable goals keeps us dreaming, striving, and reaching new potentials.

While pushing them, I have been practicing what I teach. My six-year-goal has been to publish a children’s book. My son Christian unintentionally inspired us with an idea one afternoon when he was six years old by simply drawing ice cream cones with yummy, colorful scoops on top. I jokingly said, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if instead of money growing on trees, ice cream could.” Our minds started dreaming…and didn’t stop. It  was a week before our church’s talent show, and we took that idea and dove in full force to produce a story to perform. After  hours of writing, drawing and painting, we were ready to present “Isaac’s Ice Cream Tree” for the first time.


The kids enjoyed it, so we branched out and shared it during story hour at our local library too. That got me hooked on writing and was actually the beginning inspiration for this blog.

In August, I sent one of my first manuscripts to a publisher and have been waiting for a rejection letter to hang in my classroom as an example of a risk worth taking because failure is a step in the journey.  BUT, Rather than receiving a rejection letter, I opened my e-mail to a congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And now I’m excited to share that soon we’ll have our very own book to share with YOU as a publisher has accepted “Isaac’s Ice Cream Tree” for publication. I had to read the response several times to make sure…and didn’t rejoice too much until after talking with my publisher. NOW, we are excited as it is a reality! The publisher’s goal is to have it in e-book and print form within a year’s time!

Sharing this moment with Christian, now a 6th grader, and my students whom I have pushed too, means a great deal to me…The REWARDS have been worth the RISK.

“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue…

… And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”



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Back to School: Books that are Cool!

As a middle school English Language Arts & Reading teacher, I’m reading books for this new school year to see what I want to add to our curriculum. Currently, my book-in-hand is “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’ Engle…trying to plan a field trip to see the movie when it comes out in March!

But, I’m always thinking of my kiddos too: Kindergartener, 4th & 6th Graders! They were and continue to be my inspiration for creating this blog in the first place. Reading and creating our own stories are among are sweetest times together.

So, mommies, daddies, teachers, librarians, and anyone young at heart, check out these “friends” and activities to introduce to the children in your lives this school year!

Cultivate Character this School Year with these Titles:

Who are your “favorite friends”? Add your recommended children’s book title and author to the comments section to share with our group!

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“Books”, Student Published Poem #7

What a wonderful poem capturing the magical moments of bonding with books… connecting with characters, traveling to places, and relating the story to the story of your own life–dreaming of what’s next! A perfect poem to encourage summer reading…


by Anjaly Varghese

Reading takes me away–
“Books are for nerds,” Everyone says.
But i enjoy reading; it


me to a different place–
Like a bird gliding through the stormy clouds
until a clear, blue sky appears
With a golden sun shining, bringing warmth.
i fly
a  w  a  y
From the troubles of this earth.

There is Comfort
In The Happily Ever After
written for me
in the



Anjaly Varghese is an 8th grade honors student at SMS. She is a respectful, humble, lovely young lady… and young “author”! Her poem, “Books”, is one I’ll share with my future ELA classes! –Ms. Angela Henderson

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“The Puzzle Peace”, Student Published Poem #7

There’s so much to love about this poem: The extended metaphor, symbolism, alliteration, play on words, and most of all, the meaning each of us can personally put together from this piece of poetry as we often get puzzled about the sadder parts of our lives…

The Puzzle Peace

By Loralai Milton

An empty hole.
An unfillable gap –
Like a puzzle with a missing piece.

Emotion takes control.
We feel a longing
To rid ourselves of sadness.

We want the opposite:
A life of no downs,
A life of ups–
Perceived Completion.

But, without the piece of sadness,
Can we be whole?

With the absence of a puzzle piece,
How can we perceive
The feeling of completion?

The peace from all the pieces in place.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 6.06.44 PM

Loralai Milton is a seventh grade honors student at Sunnyvale Middle School. She is gifted in acting, music, and writing. Loralai’s creativity and drive keep me inspired! –Ms. Angela Henderson

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“Little Troops”, Student Published Poem #6

Poetry captures events, evokes emotions, and draws us into the happiest of times and the saddest of times. Jerric Atienza, in his poem “Little Troops”, captures the event and emotions of  warfare, something that many of us are far removed from currently. When reading his poem, one feels the paralyzing fear of a surprise attack…

 Little Troops

by Jerric Atienza

A dying light,

becomes the night.

With a raid imminent,

on the little troops,

that know nothing.


The bomb drops,

sirens blare,

gunfire cracks,

on most little troops,

that know nothing.


Men shout,

orders thrown out,

units move in,

on some little troops,

that know nothing.


Silence occurs,

smoke invading the air.

One cries,

one little troop,

that still stands.


Jerric Atienza, a 7th Grade Honors student at SMS, is a creative, disciplined student who carefully selects words in his writings. I’m excited to share this poem next year when teaching WWII, The Diary of Anne Frank. Proud of him! -Ms. Angela Henderson



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“Sports”, Student Published Poems #5

When introducing our Poetry Unit, I encouraged my students to write about something they are passionate about. That makes poetry so much easier, more fun, and authentic. Several students wrote about sports, and these two writings featured below are action packed poems throwing us right into the center of the play. Since poetry is technically music, you could say these poems are a hit!


BY: Wyatt Cookston

Every Friday night from August to October
Teams go into battle for four quarters
From the “Set, hut” to the blow of the whistle
Moments flash by…
Starting from the crash of the pads from the line going into the defense
The quarterback drops back in the wet grass,
Flings his arm back and releases the ball
And as it whistles and cuts through the air…
Defense tries to swat and bat it down; no one can touch the pass.
The ball falls safely into the receiver’s hands
Who is in the air at the back corner of the end zone.

Once he is pulled down, he  d   r  a  g  s   his feet in the end zone.

The whistle says the play is over.
Referee raises his arms


Wyatt 2015 football

Wyatt Cookston is an eighth grader at Sunnyvale Middle School. He is a hardworking, respectful young man with drive in school and on the field… as seen in his poem. – Ms. Angela Henderson


By Cameron Kilpatrick

I step in the box, with much hesitation
The crowd is filled with much indignation
I watch the ball fly from his hand
Over the plate, the catcher’s glove it lands.
Is all I hear.
Then, moaning and groaning,
Strikes me with fear.
The pitch is thrown,
Right in the zone.
I swing.
Before I know,
I see the throw.
The game comes to an end.
Our team captures the win.


Cameron Kilpatrick is an eighth grader at Sunnyvale Middle School. His creativity, sense of humor, and skills are exhibited in baseball and other sports as well as in Drama and writing. Excellent, concise rhymed poem! -Ms. Angela Henderson



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“The Three Little Pigs: The TRUE Story”; Student Published Poem #4

Okay, we’ve all heard the story of “The Three Little Pigs” more times than we can count… BUT, this poem captures the tale from the wolf’s point of view in a way that might change how we look at the wolf. Read it (or rap it)!

The Three Little Pigs
By: Mr. Wolf

         I am the wolf from the popular story;

  The Three Little Pigs who got ALL the glory!

      But those little pigs, they’re frauds, they’re foes!

 This is how the story really goes:

One day I was in my house alone,

 When a sudden ring came from my phone.

    I picked it up and heard a voice filled with worry,

  And it said, “Mr. Wolf, I am in quite a hurry.

        My brothers and I are moving in May,

 And we need our houses to be blown away.

 I quickly replied, “Of course I will kind Pig.”

      Then I grabbed my vest and was there in a jig.

I began at the house made of long, thin straw,

   And I huffed and I puffed, till I made the house fall.

I moved on to the next house, that was made of twigs,

    When at the doorstep stood the three little pigs.

    One pig said, “Ha! We tricked you, hairy beast!”

And they picked up their phones and called the police.

Now I sit here alone in this dusty cell,

   But I will get revenge, and soon I will bail!

Written by Grace Knight

photo (5)

Grace Knight is a seventh grader at Sunnyvale Middle School. Her clever twist in her poem, “The Three Little Pigs: The TRUE Story” is just a flavor of her creative, spunky spirit! Cynthia, Grace’s mom, is pictured with her. 

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