always a teacher, at least in my heart. I think that’s true of so many of us who spent a few years in the classroom but moved on to other careers or responsibilities, like raising our own kids. It’s been more than (ahem, garble, mutter) years since I stood at the doorway, greeting students on the first day of school. I was as nervous and excited as they were, maybe more so. But none of us looked nervous. No, that would have been so uncool—and a huge mistake for me. To teach a herd of teenagers, one has to be confident, a bit aloof even, and definitely able to deliver “the look” with deadly accuracy. I think it took me about 4 years to accomplish all that.

I loved teaching, loved the teenagers (really!), loved the subject matter (writing, literature, and American history), and loved the growth I saw from their freshmen through senior years. I didn’t like the drama, but that mostly came from other teachers and the administration. Honestly. Why did I leave teaching? Long story…that ended in Florida and began a new chapter working with children’s and YA literature. It’s all been very good.

So, what’s my craft du jour that dovetails with this post? How about something simple you can make for either your teen student or a teacher buddy? It’s fresh, functional, and fun!

  All you need is a small terracotta pot (with bottom), a bit of Styrofoam, a silk flower, and some school supplies. I used green paper clips, green pencil-top erasers, pencils, highlighter, scissors, ruler, Post-It notes, stickers, glue stick, red marking pencil, and pencil sharpener. Glue the pot to its bottom, sliding it toward the back so you can place stuff in front of the pot. Then shove the Styrofoam down into the pot. Glue a wooden clothespin to the back of the pot so it can hold notes and sticker sheets. Push down into the Styrofoam the pencils (sharpened is easier), highlighter, glue stick, scissors, ruler, and flower. Put a small Post-Note pad and sharpener in the bottom . Sprinkle the green paper clips and erasers around the objects, covering the Styrofoam. Voila! A desktop delight for teens and teachers alike.