As a part of their end-of-summer teacher workshop, the St. James ISD 840 school district invited Jack Berckemeyer, an author, humorist and speaker to entertain and inspire teachers in preparation for the school year ahead. Berckemeyer shared anecdotes from his experience as a middle teacher in Colorado, teaching social studies and language arts. His presentation included an energetic and fun dialog and speech on the school stage, where he made his audience of educators laugh and think with witty insights on the behavior of students, like how ice is the solution to every student injury, and the lives of teachers quirks, like how teachers are territorial about their classrooms and parking spaces, and . He told stories about how he taught 6th-grade health, and during a lesson involving sheep lungs, was covered with the mucus inside the lungs. Pantomiming wiping himself off with the imaginary sheep lung fluids, Jack mimicked his reaction: “I uh… ugh… I just wanted to show you all what was inside lungs, “ and he turned to the audience and said, “You NEVER show fear in front of students.” While he had lots of quips, jokes, and funny stories, he had some really powerful moments for the teachers to take away with them. “If you have two bad K-12 teachers growing up you never recover from that,” said Berckemeyer in his presentation, “Teachers spend a lot of time on 5% of students; their best and their worst students. Understand the individual needs of every student. Be an advocate for your students.” After the teachers got to know Berkemeyer in the auditorium, the audience and presenter went to St. James High School’s new event center for an interactive activity for the teachers. First, he demonstrated mnemonic memorization lesson ideas, repeating spelling lessons broken up by making silly noises replacing one letter at a time, or spelling things out as a team with paper plates, written on with sharpies. He talked during the activities about how each individual lesson plan worked, and how it targeted learning objectives, and how it was different from less enthusiastic and creative learning methods. Berckemeyer’s presentation came in the middle of the three-day teacher’s workshop in preparation for the upcoming school year. The teachers enjoyed a good laugh and some camaraderie between settling into the newly renovated school, preparing for the year ahead.

Read more about this and other stories in this weeks copy of the St. James Plaindealer