A New Beginning

When I retired from teaching elementary school, in 1998, I still had fifteen years until I could fully retire. I ran my own Home Repair business for two and a half years, and then taught a building construction class with the Community College for another two and a half years.

It was the winter of 2005, and my class of ten students dwindled down to six, after the first week. We were partnering with Habitat for Humanity, giving them hands on experience in actually building houses. The snow that came that first week caused a few to drop out. As a result, the class was canceled. It was discouraging to me to be left without an income until another class could be scheduled.

My friend Bunky ran a vinyl siding business. He heard that my class was canceled, and called asking if I would come and fill in for a couple of weeks as sales manager for the warehouse. He had just fired his whole warehouse staff “for selling siding out the back door!” I knew nothing about vinyl siding and just a little about the computer, but I agreed to do what I could. This was Saturday. I went in on Sunday afternoon to learn how to do invoices on the computer, and started work the next day! It was very unsettling to attempt to run the warehouse by myself, but I learned all about it. That was on Valentines Day, 2005, and I continued to work for him for the next six years, until I retired in 2011!

Snowfall takes its toll

Students not ready to work

Friends help each other

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Lillian asked to think of a time in our life when we had a New Beginning! She asked us to write a Haibun consisting of up to three short paragraphs followed by a traditional Haiku.

Join us and read more at: https://dversepoets.com and click on the Mr. Linkey box.

The Golden Spike


After I retired from teaching elementary school, I spent a couple of years doing home repair. Then, I began a hands-on building construction class with our local community college. We partnered with Habitat for Humanity doing class instruction in the morning and helping build the new Habitat houses in the afternoon.
John was our site supervisor for the build. He worked well with us and encouraged the guys and girls to do their best. At the end of the eight week class, he gave each student a golden spike to help them remember what they learned in the class. I still have the spike he gave me hanging on my garage wall.

Teaching touches lives in ways we may never know
Measuring, cutting lumber, hammering nails;
Building houses, shaping lives, making memories…
John, the master builder, shared his knowledge and wisdom
At the end a golden spike for each student
Learning the importance of working together

Photo: Dwight L. Roth
Today at d’Verse De Jackson asked us to write a Quadrille of 44 words and use the word spike in any form we choose. I chose the word spike as it is used in building.
Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Harbinger of Things to Come


school doors at the end of the day! 001

There she was // big as life standing before us;
Pasted smile stretch under bright red lipstick.
What she said next was a clear harbinger
Of pending storms coming in with a rush.

“I know something about each one of you!”
“I plan to be around for a long time;
I don’t know about all the rest of you!”
Three bombshell statements from her and we knew…

Life under this school principal brought chains.
Vindictive // demanding //she made life hard;
We complained and fussed with no success;
Nothing remained the same // everything changed.

Half of us left // the rest weathered the storm;
She stayed a few years and then she was gone.


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Sharing the Dream

our special nest 001

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his “I Have A Dream” speech to thousands who came to support the Civil Rights Movement in this country. He spoke of little black girls and boys sharing the same equality with little white girls and boys. We have come a long way over the past fifty years.

When I taught school twenty years later, in what was a former all black Southern school, things had changed. All the children in our town, both black and white, shared the same space in our school. My class had black, white, and Hispanic students in it. As you can see in the photo above, they all enjoyed working together on our projects. Dr. King’s dream was becoming a reality.

King’s dream of children

playing together as friends

Slowly coming true


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Frank Tassone asked us to think about how things had changed because of the Civil Rights Movement. He told us to write a Haikai poem that included the word equality.  I began my teaching career as integration came into full swing. Children learned to live and play together in a very different way from their parents’ generation. This Haibun shows this happening in real time.

Join us at: https://frankjtassone.com/2019/01/19/haikai-challenge-69-70-1-19-19-equality-haiku-senryu-haibun-tanka-haiga-renga/

Footprints of History

Graveyard at Historic Halifax 001

When I was teaching school years ago, we took many field trips. In this photo my students were taking a walking tour of Historic Halifax in North Carolina. A guide explained each thing as we walked. Here we are viewing the crypts of the some of the persons who lived here back during the Revolutionary War period. The Halifax Resolves predated the Declaration of Independence in rejecting British rule and claiming independence. That is why our license plates have  First In Freedom on them.

Footprints of our past

Encased in stone and concrete

Students look and learn


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Bjorn asked us to write a Haibun about walking for our Monday Haibun at d’Verse.

Come join us at: hppt://dversepoets.com


What Happened to Creativity


Teaching today is teaching by the numbers. Test scores seem to be  the top priority of all teachers.  When I started teaching school I had a slate chalkboard to use as my learning tool. Some years I taught all the subjects. Creativity was necessary for both teachers and students. With no art teacher, we did our own art. We enjoyed many hands on projects and worked at the pace of the children we were teaching. Today it is a different world. No time for creativity. Everything has to stay on schedule with everyone doing the same thing at the same time. I never understood educators who think that teaching for the test is more important than teaching the child where he is in his learning process.

Whatever Happened to Creativity

A few years back when I taught school

Chalkboard learning was always the rule

Kids had time to play games with their friends

Learning today’s just a means to an end

I taught it all and it was great fun

Art in the classroom and recess to run

Toothpick sculptures covered windows and shelves

Rock collections and fossils all made by themselves

Tempera paints mixed from powder I ordered

Paper Mache lighthouses are chicken wire supported

Marigolds seedlings in a greenhouse by the door

Flowers on the schoolyard at home and much more

Dried seeds collected and planted next year

Strange mutation combinations appear

Creative learning’s no longer the norm

Today it’s computers test scores and dorms

Labeling medicating and grouping to conform

No lagging behind or they’ll be a storm

Teaching the test is a required necessity

Meeting the timeline not matter the ability

If scores don’t add up schools don’t look good

It must be the teacher no matter the hood

So meet the deadlines whatever the cost

Creative learning for now has been lost

Cookie-cutter students all made out of ticky tacky

Taught by hounded teachers who will soon go wacky

No wonder home schooling is such a big hit

Learning in school will give you a fit


Black and White Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Coal to Diamonds

Englewood Assembly Choir 001

Some people have the ability to take what they are given and make something really special from it. The was true of the Choir Director at the church we attended for ten years. Betty Jo was a skilled musician who could take those of us who were average singers and create  beautiful music for the Sunday morning worship service. It reminds me of the Hank Williams, Jr. song, “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m gonna be a diamond some day!”  This poem was written for her retirement as Choir Director, and says what I feel about her wonderful accomplishments.

Coal to Diamonds

Sunday after Sunday week after week

The choir at Englewood Assembly sings

A gift as unto the Lord

Some churches seek professionals

An appointment a try-out

Perfect pitch required

At Englewood Betty Jo takes any willing voice

Welcomes them into the choir

Knowing miracles really do happen

Chunks of musical coal hoping to become diamonds someday

Her group of singers honing their voices

Blending many into one

Some stand out facets shinning in the Son Light

Lifting their voices to the Lord

Diamonds formed with pressure and time

No matter whether there be few or many

Betty Jo encourages each and everyone

Knowing Coal becomes Diamonds in His Light

Every Sunday Morning at Englewood Assembly

A choir of sparkling diamonds sings

A master embodying the Master

Gathering jewels for His Crown