If I could, I’d build a time machine to go back to fifth grade. On one condition, though: I’d want to have Mr. Terupt for a teacher.
Remember back when you were in school and there was that one “cool” teacher that everyone liked? And when you saw that teacher in the hallways or out at recess, you’d say to yourself, “Please let me be in that class next year!” Remember that?
Mr. Terupt is that teacher at Snow Hill School in Connecticut. From the first day of school, his students know that Mr. Terupt is different from all the other teachers they have known.
He puts a stop to Peter’s constant trips to the bathroom with a simple line: “My grandpa used to tell me to tie a knot in it.” He grabs Luke the brainiac’s attention with the “Dollar Word” project. He eases shy Anna into becoming a part of the classroom community—something she has never done before. Jeffrey, the self-proclaimed slacker, says it best: “Our hard work mattered to Terupt—even mine. I owed him now. I had to try, even if only a little.”
If you visited Snow Hill School and stepped into Mr. Terupt’s classroom, you might find the students busy figuring out the best way to make a plant grow. There might be an explosion, but there might also be a quiet girl who figures out just the right combination of ingredients to make an effective fertilizer. Or you might want to venture out to the football field, where the students are counting blades of grass—in order to learn how to estimate. Or you might even want to peek into the Collaborative Classroom, where Mr. Terupt’s students are working with students with special needs and learning the importance of looking below the surface to find out what really matters.
Rob Buyea’s Because of Mr. Terupt is the story Mr. Terupt’s first year of teaching experience. If you are a teacher, then you will recognize the students in his class: the shy girl, the drama queen, the prankster, and the overachiever. And even though it is his first year teaching, Mr. Terupt seems to know just the right thing to say to every student, just the right way to handle every situation.
Except for one.
Amid all of the inquiry, collaboration, and community building, Mr. Terupt and the class plan a celebration to mark an important accomplishment. Among the plans: time to play outside in the snow. It all starts innocently, but then the situation quickly turns dramatic when a simple prank escalates. And suddenly, for the students in Mr. Terupt’s class, the world stops.
Because of Mr. Terupt is a book for everyone. Kids will love the story, the way Mr. Terupt adds a fun twist to everything in the classroom, and the moment when the principal’s underwear is exposed. Teachers will love the inspiring ideas to take back to their classrooms. (Oh, and by the way—this book is an absolute gem if you are looking for a text to teach foreshadowing.) But everyone will love the intensity of this emotional journey over one school year. Get the tissues ready. This one will bring on the tears. Thank you, Rob Buyea, for an amazing first novel.
Liz Bridges is a Literacy Specialist with Rock Hill Schools in Rock Hill, South Carolina. When she’s not teaching students, working with teachers, reading, cooking, or teaching Zumba classes, you might find her blogging. Follow Liz on Twitter @CouchPotatoLiz, or read her blogs, Outgrowing Myself and Confessions of a Former Couch Potato.