Tag: Education

Celebrating Our Superheroes in the Classroom – Our Teachers


As the Treasurer of both my elementary and middle school’s student governments, I played an active role in the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA).  Since I was the only student in the PTSA, it was my job to represent the student body.   One of the events that I looked forward to each year was Teacher Appreciation Week.   It is a week-long celebration in the United States that is observed during the first full week in May.  So, when I was asked to help design a door for my niece’s teacher I was thrilled at the opportunity to participate.  The school’s PTA sent home a newsletter  in the form of a comic book page to introduce the theme and share the schedule of activities planned for each day of the week.  The theme was “Superheroes.”

herodoor photo herodoor photo3


Just like any project, we needed a plan.  A plan, in this case, was the door design.  Once the design was selected, we would be able to get started on gathering supplies and creating the superhero characters.  Since my nieces’ teacher was a minion fan, we were able to narrow down the designs to the following four options.

Mock Up Designs

SmartDraw Tip:  Drawing to scale doesn’t necessarily have to be exclusively used on floor plan or landscape designs.  Since the final design was going to be installed on a classroom door, I drew it to scale.  I chose not display the dimensions on the diagram above as it would be distracting.


It was important to involve my niece and her classmates in the design of the door.  In previous years, we incorporated head shots of the students into the design.  This particular year, I wanted to do something a little different.  So, I created this handout.  With the assistance of the classroom parent volunteers, the students were able to add character to their individual Hero in Training Minions by following these instructions:

handout instructions

Time Saving Tips When Designing Classroom Handouts

  • Full color handouts saves students time in coloring
  • Limit the amount of detail to be cut by hand
  • Use easy to understand instructions
  • Provide examples to guide the students

my minion handout1

SmartDraw Tip:  Determining the size of the minion in the handout was based on a calculation of the (surface area of the door) minus (the area of the door design) divided by (the total number of students) = size of the minion. 

The Making of a Hero in Training Minion 

making a minion

SmartDraw Tip:  Using SmartDraw doesn’t necessarily require artistic or drawing skills.  It does, however, help to have a little imagination.  By simply dragging and dropping a combination of shapes from the Home Ribbon’s Shape control, I was able to create our Hero in Training Minion.   


Communicating visually is key to saving time.  Rather than crafting a long email, I simply added notes to the existing door design.  Using the Email Quick Access Control, I was able to send the diagram directly from SmartDraw.

Email Final Door Details

SmartDraw Tip:  Navigate to the top left hand corner of the screen to the Quick Access Control Bar.  This bar contains a series of controls: Undo, Redo, New, Save, Email, Print, PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.  Select the Email Control.  An Outlook email will be prompted.  SmartDraw will automatically (a) enter the name of the file into the Subject Line, (b) automatically attach the source file to the email, and (c) the diagram will appear in the body of the email.

The Making of Our Teacher’s Superhero Shield

Superman with a C1

SmartDraw Tip:  [Step 1] To draw your own superhero shield, navigate to the Home Ribbon.  In the Line drop-down menu select Polygon Line and draw the shield.  Then, I layered several black C’s of various sizes to create the illusion of a border around a red “C.”  I grouped the letters and the shield using Ctrl+G.  [Step 2] In order to see the message, I needed to make the shield transparent.  This was achieved by making a white colored shape transparent.  Select the white colored shape.  Navigate to the Home Ribbon’s Fill drop-down menu, select the appropriate percentage in the Transparency bar.  [Step 3] Type the message to which you’d like to add a shadow.  Select the text, use Ctrl+D to duplicate the text.  Change the color of the shadow text to black, then place the text on top of the other.  When they are aligned use Ctrl+G to group the text.

The Best Teacher in the World

https://pixabay.com/en/apple-education-school-knowledge-256262/I was lucky enough to have the best teacher in the world.

Sadly, it was as I was reading the news recently of the teacher in Leeds, UK who was stabbed to death in her classroom that this thought even came to my mind. Mrs. Ann Maguire was described by her students as “the best teacher we ever had.”

So I dedicate this post in honor of Mrs. Maguire, and all of the best teachers in the world, including a wonderfully brilliant and unique one that I was fortunate to know.

He had a number of unusual traits one might not expect of the best teacher in the world. He was merciless, cruel, unfeeling, and just plain scary. He was very much like Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase. There was no chance to sit back and daydream through a dull lecture. This heartless beast taught using the Socratic Method: endless, back-and-forth questions, answers, and follow-up questions.

It didn’t matter whether you volunteered to participate or not, if your name was called, you had a choice: answer the question intelligently or risk public humiliation.

My fellow classmates and I studied our required reading assignments in groups, so that we’d be better prepared for the inevitable—that terrifying moment of horror. The moment when you heard your name called. When you had to stand alone under the intense spotlight and face the challenge of being equal to its brilliance.

I completely hated this man—at the time. I had to know the material before every class, be able to analyze it, and then be prepared to debate it in an openly hostile setting. It isn’t fair! I thought, my young skull full of mush not yet even capable of understanding the concept of fairness.

The final exam was an excruciating trip through fire. Two nearly sleepless nights were devoured studying to make sure that I had soaked up every ounce of knowledge I could possibly absorb. And when it was over, I realized something. This cruel monster had taught me how to learn and how to think.

What an amazingly kind, selfless, and wonderful gift.

The SOB was Professor J. Eldon Fields of the University of Kansas. The best teacher in the world—at least, in my world. Thank you, Prof. Fields, may you rest in peace. And if I might ask a favor, would you please help Mrs. Maguire find a nice, peaceful place there too.

To both of them, and to all of the other best teachers in the world, thank you. Your students are eternally grateful.