Just when Kip thought that she couldn’t like Mrs. Holiday more, Mrs. Holiday proved Kip wrong.
Mrs. Holiday ran her fingers across a small set of chimes that were placed on the corner of her desk. Its lovely sound made Kip think of rain falling gently on trees. Susan, Kip, and the rest of the class looked up as Mrs. Holiday said, “Okay seventh graders. We are going to transition to English class now and we are going to dive into one of my very favorite things to teach–writing!” Mrs. Holiday clapped her hands together and was practically bouncing up and down because she was so excited.
“Our goal for today is to get our journals set up and to start writing. I can’t wait to get to know you through journaling. This is going to be a great adventure!” Mrs. Holiday was giddy as she instructed the class.
“Okay, um, wow again,” Kip thought. Besides reading, she loved to write. To clarify that, she did not love to write things that people told her to write, like the essays she was assigned on boring topics. She loved to write stories and poems and whatever suited her fancy at the time. “I wonder if Mrs. Holiday will give us dumb prompts for our writing or really let us journal?” Kip’s eyes narrowed for a moment as she waited for the next set of directions with a little skepticism.
Mrs. Holiday continued, “First, please get out the picture I asked you to bring with you today. We are going to glue the picture to the front of our journals. There are a few reasons why we are doing this. First, I will be able to get to know you a little bit better by seeing a picture of something you love to do. Also, you will enjoy getting out your journal a little bit more because you get to look at your picture each time you do. Last, it will help you identify your journal when you get yours from the bin. Go ahead and glue your picture on the cover of your journal. You can let me know when you have finished by holding your journal up so I can come take a look at your picture.”
Kip and her classmates glued their pictures onto their notebooks while Mrs. Holiday walked around laughing with students and making comments on their pictures. “She just makes the world a brighter place,” thought Kip.
After Kip finished with her picture, she looked over at the picture Susan was glueing on her notebook. Susan’s curly hair was blowing in the wind and she had a smile as big as the state of Texas on her face as she sat atop a beautiful brown horse. Kip had never ridden a horse but always daydreamed about riding a horse like Susan’s.
Susan caught Kip looking at her picture and smiled at her, “This is Bess, my first horse. I got her about a year ago. She is the sweetest, most gentle horse you’d ever meet. Would you like to? Meet her, I mean?”
“Yes!” Kip responded, excitedly. “I would love that. I have always wanted to ride a horse one day.” She couldn’t imagine her clumsy self ever looking as comfortable and confident on top of a horse as Susan did, but sometimes you just have to take a chance.
The word chance always makes Kip think of a song called Chances by Five for Fighting that is from one of her family’s favorite movies, The Blind Side. She watched that movie like a billion times with her dad, so much so that she almost has it memorized. Her dad quotes the movie all the time. He loves this line, “I said you could thank me later. Burt, it’s later.” Kip tries not to laugh, but she does, every time he says it.
“So you’ve never ridden a horse? Okay then, we will have to make sure that happens. My dad will help you, he taught me everything I know.” Susan promised.
Before Kip could thank her, Mrs. Holiday got the class’ attention again. “Okay my friends, I see that you all have finished. Before we start writing, let’s talk a little bit about the goals for our journals.”
As Mrs. Holiday wrote a list of three things on the board, Kip watched her with curiosity. She wondered how Mrs. Holiday could be so excited about everything. Kip hadn’t noticed how short she was until she saw Mrs. Holiday reach up on her tippy-toes to write on the whiteboard. Her blonde hair was cut to her chin and it was pin-straight. Although she must be in her twenties, she dressed kind of like a teenager with black leggings, ankle boots, and a longer burgundy top.
Kip read what Mrs. Holiday had written on the board and the Pharrell Williams song Happy started playing through her head louder and louder as she read each bullet point. Journaling back and forth with Mrs. Holiday sounded like a dream come true.
“These are our three goals for our journals. We will begin every English class with journal writing, and I will write back to you at least once per week. I would love to write back to you everyday, but Mr. Holiday requires some of my attention throughout the week.” Mrs. Holiday giggled as she said that last sentence. “Don’t tell Mr. Holiday, but I enjoy writing to you much more than cooking dinner.”
“We are going to call our notebooks our Serendipity Journals. I absolutely love the idea of serendipity, of stumbling upon beautiful lessons in the most surprising places. I fell in love with the word when I first watched a movie called Serendipity. I do admit that John Cusack was a big part of the appeal of the movie.” Mrs. Holiday blushed a little before she was interrupted by a boy named Glenn impatiently waving his hand in the air. Glenn was a short boy with a freckled face and short brown hair. He sat two rows over from where Kip was sitting.
“Yes, Glenn? Do you have a question?” Mrs. Holiday asked.
Glenn had a puzzled look on his face, “Who is John Cusack? I never heard of him.”
Mrs. Holiday laughed, “Of course you haven’t! I forget how young you are and how old I am. He is a famous actor who was considered somewhat of a heart-throb in the 1980s and 1990s. You can google him later to see what I mean. Anyway, back to my love for serendipity–the word, not just the movie.”
“The word serendipity is defined as finding something valuable that you weren’t looking for. I take a little liberty with my own definition of serendipity. I define it as looking for the gifts in life in everything you experience, from the greatest joys to the deepest sorrows. All experiences have the opportunity to teach us beautiful lessons if we look for them.” Mrs. Holiday had a dreamy look in her brown eyes. Kip noticed how kind her eyes were, and how they crinkled up and shone bright when she smiled.
Kip’s hope was a real flame now, she started to have a feeling that this move to Jackson just might be…serendipitous. Maybe.
Questions for my editors:
- A very important part of the story is introduced in this chapter. What do you think it is? What connections did you make to it?
- Readers learn more about Mrs. Holiday in this chapter. What did you learn about her and what connections did you make? What questions do you have about Mrs. Holiday?
- What does serendipity mean to you after reading the chapter? What questions do you have about serendipity?
- Are there any parts of this chapter that you did not connect with or that seem out of place?
- Are there any parts where more detail should be added? If so, which parts and what suggestions do you have?
- Did you learn any new words in this chapter? If so, what were the words you learned?
- Always let me know if you find grammatical errors.
Please put your edits in the comments on this post. I will comment back to you and make changes to the chapter based upon your feedback. I can’t wait to learn from you!
Behind the scenes info:
This chapter sets up an element of the plot that will take us all the way through the end of the book…The Serendipity Journal. When I was teaching seventh and eighth grade students, I taught a class called Serendipity because I did fall in love with the idea of serendipity after watching that John Cusack movie. In the class we learned ways to take care of ourselves and our own needs without interfering with others taking care of their needs. We learned how to have strong and positive relationships with the people around us. And, we journaled. It was one of my favorite classes because I got to know the hopes, dreams, passions, and struggles of my students in a very special way when we journaled back and forth.
I also enjoy writing back to you way more than cooking dinner! (Don’t tell Mr. Apsey)