Books My Students Have Written…..

Oh…such fun to brag. Below is a list of books written by my former Senior English students at Salem High School. Can’t say I helped them much, but at least I apparently did no harm.

** Sherri LuceSHS 1978:

Midnight in Legend,

Under the Mistletoe–

Where Her Heart Is

** Ann Branaman,  1986 [Dr. Ann Branaman]  Self and Society, Blackwell Readers

** Tanya Coats Konerman  SHS 1986
Writing Funny

** Jim Apple, SHS 1987, [Dr James Apple, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada]

Stairway to Nirvana: A Study of the Twenty Samghas Based on the Works of Tsong kha pa  –
Illustrated, March 13, 2008   SUNY Press

Stairway Taken By the Lucid: Tsong Kha Pa’s Study of Noble Beings– January 1, 2013      Raj Publications

Jewels of the Middle Way: The Madhyamaka Legacy of Atisa and His Early Tibetan Followers (22)
(Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism) 
– February 19, 2019    Wisdom Publications

Atisa Dipamkara: Illuminator of the Awakened Mind (Lives of the Masters) – July 23, 2019
Shambala Publications.

An Old Tibetan Dunhuang Manuscript of the AvaivartikacakrasūtraJames B. Apple
Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines. 329 pages. (2021)

** Ron Henderson, SHS 1983  Gardens-Suzhou-Studies-Landscape-Architecture  [Professor Ron Henderson, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University and former Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Tsinghua University, China

** Justin Harter   SHS 2005

Books My Students Have Written

Oh…such fun to brag. Below is a list of books written by my former Senior English students at Salem High School in Salem, Indiana. I can’t say I helped them much, but apparently I did no harm.

**  Jim Apple, SHS 1987

Dr. James Apple,  Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Stairway to Nirvana

** Ann Branaman,  SHS 1986

Dr. Ann Branaman, Florida Atlantic University

 Self and Society, Blackwell Readers

** Ron Henderson, SHS 1983

Professor of Landscape Architecture and Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University and former Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Tsinghua University,

The Gardens of Suzhou

** Sherri Luce, SHS 1978

Midnight in Legend

Under the Mistletoe

Where Her Heart Is



Missing School

“Do you miss school?” people ask. No, I reply, but I miss the kids. And, I do. The kids were fun, usually, and I loved working with teens. I also loved the atmosphere of high school—bubbly kids, sullen kids, confused kids, nice and pleasant kids, plus the drama and intrigue, the enthusiasms, the daily emotional fluctuations from high to low and back again, the excitement of encountering new ideas: of making projects [essays and research papers for English class] and reading new books, the pressure and intensity, the cliques and the loners, the kids like Justin who walked into my classroom and said, “Hi, I’m Justin and I’m gay!”, the kids who muttered their answers, the kids who talked and talked, the quiet kids who wrote profound essays, the loud kids who wanted to out-shout everyone, the kids who told me their secrets, the kids who wrote about their dreams, the kids who took on leadership roles, the kids whose faces lit up when I read poetry. Oh….I miss the kids and the fun of being in school. I miss my teacher friends and staff friends, too.

Of course, there are lots of things I do not miss: grading papers, data-processing grades, conferences with irked parents, among others. I figure I graded a lot of papers: thousands of research papers and essays, and tens of thousands of student journals, which I called “Logs,” one or two page typed journals on a variety of topics in a type of writing called “free writing.” Free Writing is a type of unstructured writing, a technique used to help students let their thoughts flow without stopping to correct construction errors; it is not quite stream-of-consciousness, but in the vicinity. Today, that kind of free writing, in corrected form, is called “blogging” and what I called “Logs” are now called “Blogs.” In the early years of my teaching career I read and corrected tens of thousands of vocabulary sentences—probably a lesson in futility, but I persisted. Then, too, twenty thousand and more daily homework papers crossed my desk each year; I was a paper-a-day teacher, meaning that students had to complete some task and turn in the paperwork, daily or every other day. Daily tasks included vocabulary sentences, vocabulary definitions, punctuation and grammar exercises, paragraph responses to literature, notes from literature, questions and answers from literature. I was firm about students writing in response to a lesson and I checked to see what they had learned. Miffed students sometimes sniffed: busy work. But, the research on the importance of taking notes and of responding in writing to concepts in the lesson was on my side. The learning comes in making the written response…i.e., thinking on paper.

One of the “lessons” I took from my teaching career, that I use daily, involves transferring notes from one source into my brain and then from my brain into my computer. I mean, in my genealogy research, I transcribe notes from various sources by typing them into my computer program. If I just cut-and-paste, I don’t “learn” the content; I have merely mastered cut-and-paste. Far too many of my students did not grasp this concept: that the hands, the eyes, the ears, the voice [i.e. the senses] must be involved in learning. To quote Dr. Walter Palk, “The more senses involved in learning, the stronger the neural trace.”

Thirty minute lunches, rushing to the restroom during passing period, pushing-pushing-pushing to get through the day and get all the tasks done, hall duty, sitting though stupid convocations, sitting though stupid committee meetings and boring in-service meetings, arguing with students about assignments—-lots of things to not miss.

What do I miss:

* the fun of working with teens
* the challenge of developing lessons that helped students learn specific concepts
* the dialogue and interaction with students

I miss the intellectual aspects of teaching Senior English. I miss teaching the vocabulary lists, teaching sentence structure, teaching writing techniques, teaching research skills, teaching all the aspects of expository composition. But, most of all, I miss working daily with the greatest literature written in my language. I miss reading Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and all of the other English poets. I miss reading poetry aloud, day after day. I miss the images, the metaphors, the alliteration and assonance, the grandeur of British poetry. I miss reading about the grim world of Beowulf and its warriors. I miss the panoply of The Canterbury Tales, the humor and wit, the spectrum of English life reflected so humorously in the characters. I miss the glories of Shakespeare, “Can I Compare Thee to a Summer Day?” I miss Hamlet, so depressed, uncertain, lost, confused, fencing metaphorically against his murderous uncle. I miss Milton. I miss Blake, “Little Lamb Who Made Thee?” I miss reading Pride and Prejudice, Cry, the Beloved Country, Jane Eyre. I even miss reading student responses and analysis of this great literature.

While it is more politically correct, and true, to say that I miss the students, what I miss most vividly is the poetry and my daily immersion in the glories of the English language.

The Gift of Giving

President Daisaku Ikeda, the leader of Soka Gakaii International: SGI, is a man I greatly admire. From the ashes of WWII, he took an organization called Soka Gakaii (Value Creating Society) and became the third leader, rebuilding after the wartime imprisonment of the first two leaders had devestated the group. Through Ikeda’s leadership, this Buddhist society, which works for world peace, has spread around the globe.

My introduction to SGI and President Ikeda came through my beloved daughter-in-law, Shinobu, a native of Japan, who has given me many books by President Ikeda and who has also taken me to the Florida Nature and Culture Center, the SGI conference center in Weston, Florida. It was at FNCC that I first heard the story below from Shinobu, a “fortune baby,” or birth-right SGI member. 

Shinobu’s parents, Tadashi and Yoneko Arai, who lived in Nagoya, Japan, grew up during the suffering of WWII. Following their marriage in 1957, they raised a family of three daughters and together built a prosperous business. Mrs. Arai, a loving mother and a dedicated member of SGI, loved the sound of the koto harp.

After Mrs. Arai’s untimely death in 1991, Shinobu and her two sisters presented a koto to President and Mrs. Ikeda during a visit they made to Nagoya, as a tribute to them and to the memory of Mrs. Arai. The koto was given to honor Mrs. Ikada, who, though not a public performer, often plays the koto for her husband in their home. Some time later, President and Mrs. Ikeda presented the koto to a visiting scholar of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism from India named Prof. Lokesh Chandra, Director of the International Academy of Indian Culture

In 1992, Shinobu came to United States as a “study abroad” student. Jim and Shinobu met in a Sanskrit class, which was part of the Buddhist Studies program at the University of Wisconsin, and married a few years later. After Jim received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies in 2001, he took a teaching position with Antioch College’s Study Abroad program, escorting a group of students to Bodh Gaya, India for a semester of study. Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, is in Bihar, a remote part of India, a ten hour train ride from the capital of New Delhi. Jim and another young professor taught the classes and accompanied the students on tours to various holy sites and cities. [Jim is on the left in the mauve shirt].

On their return journey, the group stopped in New Delhi. Before they left the U.S., Shinobu had written to Professor Chandra, telling him the story about the koto that she had given to President Ikeda, which eventually went to Professor Chandra’s institute, and mentioning that she and her husband would be visiting in India. Remembering meeting with President Ikeda and receiving the koto from him ten years before in Japan, Professor Chandra invited Shinobu and Jim to his institute. They spent several hours discussing Indian Buddhist history and iconography. Jim was able to take many photographs of Buddhist and Hindu artwork, including statues and paintings, greatly adding to his knowledge of 10th and 11th Century iconography. 

The part I love best about this story is the way the gift itself, the koto, travels and creates energy that brings people together over time and great distances. The memorial gift and President Ikeda’s giving of the gift set in motion a series of events in which eventually three scholars met in a far away land to share knowledge and fellowship, a meeting that Jim and Shinobu will always remember. Shinobu’s mother would have been overjoyed to know of her daughter’s journeys and of the happiness brought by the gift given in her name. This story is also a metaphor of how President Ikeda has sent in motion the energy and activities that have developed SGI into an international organization, empowering people to work for world peace.

After accompanying her husband to India, which interrupted her studies somewhat, Shinobu returned to the University of Wisconsin, completing her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies in 2003. Her dissertation, Value of Simple Practice: A Study of Tiantai Zhiyi’s “Liumiao Famen,” was highly praised by her major professor, Professor Charles Hallisey, of Harvard and UW. In my family, there is a refrain repeated when a child or grandchild accomplishes a major educational or other goal, “Mamma Jeanne would be so proud!”, referring to my dear mother and her deep love of education and of her family. With the completion of her daughter’s educational journey, I think the same refrain would fit Yoneko Arai—she would be so proud!

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King is a man I hold in highest respect. Once I wrote a letter of protest about an issue to the local newspaper and wavered for days before sending it. As I wavered, I thought about MLK, coming to understand in a small way how difficult it is to make a public protest about an issue. To lead demonstrations, marches, public protests, to encounter withering rebuke and scorn, to endanger oneself and one’s family, to sacrifice anonymity for “notoriety”—-it is so much easier to fly under the radar and let someone else be out in front. And my small protest was a tiny candle to the massive sun of King’s work for equality and justice.

As a child and teen in the 1950’s, I read about MLK and watched some of his marches on TV and at the movies. I saw marchers being hosed and attacked with dogs and billy clubs. Since I lived in suburban and then small town America, in lily white areas, the nightmare images seemed to come from some other world. Surely, this was not the America I heard about at school and church, where all humans are equal and jesus loves all the little children–red, yellow, black, white. I came to have the profoundest respect for MLK and his movement. Some of my relatives did not care for him at all, so I always heard the dark stories and comments. I cannot say I had the courage of my convictions. Since I do not like to attend large sports events or concerts where there are masses of people, public demonstrations are not my thing. Once though, back in the mid-60’s, we learned though a co-worker of my first husband, the wife of the head of the local NAACP, that MLK would be leading a protest march in Louisville. Kids just out of college, we decided to go watch the march, which took place on 4th Street in Louisville. It was rather a lark for us, though my profound respect for MLK was the impetus. We stood on the sidewalk, cheering as the protesters came down the street in the characteristic hands-linked-across-the-front manner. Not having enough nerve to step into the street to march with them, we began walking down the sidewalk alongside the march, in support. There were angry hecklers around us, some shouting venomous abuse. Suddenly I noticed that several large young black men had surrounded us, protecting us as we walked along. Realizing that we were supporters, they surrounded and stayed with us. I had not considered that we might be in danger, but I was very grateful for their protection. It was a thoughtful and love-filled gesture. To this day, I regret that I did not have the courage to march in the street.

I remember watching that glorious “I have a Dream” speech, given from the Lincoln Monument. MLK was a marvelous orator with a powerful, silky voice that soared with the poetic cadences of his dreams for America’s children. Many years later, a coach from USC called me a number of times, recruiting Jim. Coaches who are recruiting don’t call the players—they call the mothers, so I spent several years chatting with basketball coaches, one of the more bizarre episodes in my life, considering my total lack of enthusiasm for athletics. This coach, George Raveling, called a number times in 1984. He told me the story of standing with MLK at the Lincoln Monument during that famous demonstration, as a volunteer security guard. When MLK finished speaking, he turned and handed the speech to Raveling. I am sure he told that story to lots of mothers; it certainly impressed me.

A copy of MLK’s speech and long article about that famous demonstration hung in my classroom for a number of years. Some of my students read it, but mostly it just hung there, another “liberal” comment from the flakey old 1960’s era teacher. One day, one of my “graduated” students came back to visit, bringing along a friend from college, a young black man. He was noticeably cool to me, barely acknowledging the introduction. While his friend chatted with me, he wandered around the room. I watched, wondering what would happen when he saw the yellowed MLK article. He stopped, read the entire page, turned, came over to my desk, sat down, and began talking as if we were old friends. I am not so naive that I think America’s rampant racial hostility can be overcome by such incidents, but I did think how warming it was to know that once more MLK had bridged a gap, allowing two people to see each other, not as a black man and a white woman from seemingly hostile camps, but as two humans with mutual interests and admirations.

Of note, too, is the fact that my mother, my role model for all that is good, loving, and gracious, one of the most devout Christians I have ever met, was a devoted admirer of MLK.