Teachers publish book on education comedy and wisdom
By: JEAN L. KAESS
Teachers inspire, perspire, aspire and eventually retire. That’s when the fun really begins.
At least, that’s when it began for Diane T. Martin and Linda V. Thomas, two longtime Morgan City High School teachers, who joined forces to “offer a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of gaffes and goofs by those involved in public school education,” in their new book “Education: Roast & Toast, Anecdotes of 60+ Years of Teaching.”
The collection of anecdotes comes from their 60+ combined years of teaching and offers a unique glimpse at not only the types of humorous tales we all seem to remember as students, but also the hidden gems from behind the door of the storied Teachers’ Workroom.
Martin and Thomas taught across the hall from each other for 20 years upstairs at MCHS, meeting for mini faculty meetings in the hall between classes and forming a bond that would stand the test of time. Martin taught English and writing, while Thomas was the school’s French teacher.
“I’m glad I was a teacher,” Martin said. “Friendships like that are not made in any other workplace.”
They started their book “research” with a file that lived for years in the bottom drawer of Martin’s filing cabinet — a collection of news clippings and amusing notes or emails from just about every source.
“At lunch and after school, (they) ‘cussed’ and discussed the backward evolution of education,” according to the book’s preface.
During Martin’s teaching tenure, one of her assignments was for students to write aphorisms, which are concise statements embodying general truths or astute observations about the human condition. The best of the best adorned her walls, building a tribute to the intelligence of her students over the years.
When she retired, Martin wasn’t sure what to do with this wealth of knowledge. Thomas suggested they go in “the book,” and, indeed, a few now have made it into print.
The teaching duo often joked about writing a book when they retired, which happened in 2007. With the urging of colleagues, it wasn’t long before the joking became reality and manifested itself in this missive.
Teachers, by virtue of position, are privy to all sides of the education process, witnessing the gaffes and tribulations of students, parents, and administrators. Experience and quick-witted humor make Martin and Thomas’s offering unique and entertaining while expounding upon classroom calamity.
“We threw out more than we kept. We forgot more than we included. We emphasized student slip-ups to reveal the often-humorous interaction between student and teacher. We embellished teacher, administrator and parent goofs to set the tone for what is included in our writing,” the preface continues.
The authors credit Martin’s daughter, Ellen M. Martin, for keeping the book focused. Ellen kept the humor, cracked the whip, motivated and offered both knowledge and expertise, each in turn, Martin and Thomas agreed.
For about a year and a half after retirement, the book floundered, the authors said. They looked at that huge file and didn’t quite know where to go with it.
Three drafts, three years, some serious focus and a few changes in artwork have produced the finished product available to the public.
Of that process, both authors agreed “it has been a learning experience” because writing a book is nothing like writing in any other format.
Still, their friendship was what pulled them through.
“Everything we did was ‘we’ … There may have been times we gritted our teeth, but …” Martin left off laughing.
The most gratifying moment of the process?
“When we had our own ISBN number,” the authors said, referring to the unique serial number allowing publishers, libraries and others to identify books.
What’s next for the authors?
“Life is full,” Martin said, to which Thomas added, “Life is good.”
Along with writing, Martin fills her time with painting, book clubs and grandkids. Thomas enjoys her grandchildren as well, along with pickleball.
Both also are busy with book signings.
Among the many appearances the authors will be making are:
—Today at 4 p.m., A+PEL meeting, during which the authors will discuss the writing of their book.
—Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Morgan City Public Library.
—Thursday, 2-4 p.m., Assumption Parish Library in Napoleonville. This signing will include a question and answer period after a discussion of the process through which the book was authored.
“Education: Roast & Toast, Anecdotes of 60+ Years of Teaching” can be purchased through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Signed copies also can be found at Marilyn’s Hallmark Store and L&H Printing, both in Morgan City.
Their books can be purchased for $15 for softcover and $25 for hardback at any signing, local retailers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, through their Facebook site or email at:
—Diane T. Martin: email@example.com
—Linda V. Thomas: firstname.lastname@example.org
—Facebook: Education: Roast & Toast
“Would I do it again? Yes. In fact, we’re trying to come up with a topic right now. I’m ready to do it again,” Martin said.