Bwahahaha! The Plan is Working Perfectly!

I recently received a generous goodies bag from Constituting America, in recognition of winning their 2016 We the Future Best Teacher Lesson Plan for my Our Nation’s Foundations curriculum.



I brought some of the items to school, displaying both the framed certificate and the clear acrylic paperweight inscribed with my award. One of my 6th Grade students noticed it on the Circulation Desk and wanted to know how I won it. (She loves to enter contests.) I told her about my entry to last year’s contest.

I developed the lesson plan that I have presented to Library classes two times in the last 5 years. Since I am on the emailing list for Constituting America- an organization I admire and promote- I decided to submit my lesson plans upon their invitation to enter the We the Future Contest. Then, I admit, I forgot all about it. Until February 1, 2017, when I received another email from Constituting America, informing me that I had won Best Teacher Lesson Plan for 2016!

Yes, it comes with generous prizes, which entices more entries, but the best prize is the way this organization promotes award winning entries all across the country. I certainly hope that many teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, churches and citizens use my lesson plan to help teach the founding principles of our Constitution!

This story inspired my young friend, so I printed the 2017 contest rules for her. She wants to write and perform a song, so she must comply with the contest rules requiring the song to promote the Bill of RightsWhich means she’ll have to learn and memorize the Bill of Rights. 




Shake It Off! Read It All!

On Friday, April 21st, I hosted 90 students (divided into three separate classes) for Fun & Games in the Library.

Tables were covered with bright butcher paper and printed paper and pencil games were scattered on top. They could play tic-tac-toe, or finish mazes, or enclose boxes or find hidden pictures as they consumed their lunches. I also had peripheral centers for coloring, cartooning and paper-airplane construction. Although the kids had a blast making and sailing paper airplanes, I wouldn’t recommend this activity in a Library with high window ledges. Just sayin’.

The parties were in appreciation of the students who participated in my Love Your Library Challenge. Each one either appeared in a class video or created a promotional poster describing why they love their school Library.

One 5th grade class rewrote a Taylor Swift song and performed it on video for me. Here are the revised lyrics to Shake It Off!

My Library is great… I got knowledge on my brain… The books are all okay… The books are all okay… but I keep looking, trying to find my books and I see this story in my way, saying “it’s gonna be really goooood!” My Library is great, great, great! Mrs. Branstiter is nice, nice, nice! The artifacts are cool, cool, cool, cool, cool! I read it all! I read it all! Hey, hey, hey, while you’re over there with your boring book, you could’ve come here for a really good book. My Library has really good books, they’re so amazing and I’m just gonna read! To the lady over there with the pretty short hair: she came on over to teach us about artifacts…Yeah…Ohhhh…All I wanna do is Read It All! Read It All!

Please excuse the sideways video:

I’m smiling now.


Spring Has Sprung

Mrs. Roberts 5th-grade Science class discovered the life-cycle of a butterfly in an up-close and personal way!

When butterfly larvae (i.e. caterpillars) was delivered, students placed them in a conducive environment for cocoon spinning and ultimate transformation.



A few short weeks later revealed success! Butterflies were borned!

And…set free to live out their short and productive lives in the wild (meaning suburbs).


Love Your Library Challenge

In honor of National School Library Month, I challenged my students to make a poster describing why they love the Library, or make a class video explaining the same. Winners were invited to a Fun & Games Picnic in the Library.

Here’s one entry by Mrs. Grothe’s morning ELAR class (note the mannequin challenge):

Sue Crouch MVPs!

The Sue Crouch Intermediate school faculty and staff voted for the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Person of the Year.

The 2016-2017 winners were Mrs. Iihara – our 5th grade STEM Science teacher, and Ms. Zipprich – our IMPACT Aide.

Congratulations to these two MVPs!

Like the poster outside of Mrs. Iihara’s classroom tells us: We are more than the sum of our parts!

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             Mrs. Iihara                                                   Ms. Zipprich


Claudette Colvin Who?


Claudette Colvin

We are all familiar with Rosa Parks, famous for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white rider.

Chances are, you’ve never heard about another woman who disobeyed Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, Alabama. This remarkable narrative is told in the book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Phillip Hoose. (By the way – this book is available in the Sue Crouch Library!)

On March 2, 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks took her “stand”, a 15-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin refused to be bullied by the southern bus driver. Although there were available seats, a white woman refused to be seated next to or behind Colvin, who was black. When Claudette stubbornly remained seated, the driver pulled the bus over and two police officers manhandled her off the bus and arrested her. She was charged with violating segregation laws, disturbing the peace and assaulting an officer. In reality, the assault was perpetrated upon Miss Colvin as the officers roughly dragged her off the bus and proceeded to humiliate her with rude comments on the way to the police station. She was fingerprinted, photographed, denied a phone call and locked in a small jail cell until her parents and pastor were notified by friends who had witnessed the incident. Her church funded the bail shortly thereafter, and Claudette was released to the custody of her parents until her hearing later that month.

Colvin’s lawyer was a recent law school graduate named Fred Gray, who challenged the bus segregation laws on constitutional grounds and encouraged his client to plead “not guilty”.

Based on the weighted testimony of white witnesses, Judge Hill declared the young woman guilty of all charges, sentencing her to a year of probation. Claudette worried about the stain on her record, limiting job and school opportunities. She was also well aware that any perceived violations of the conditions of her probation, even if based on false accusations motivated by pure racist hatred, would land her in a reform school for “Negroes”, notorious for poor conditions and the hard labor of picking cotton.

Her young lawyer had not given up, however. Gray immediately filed for an appeal. In May, Judge Eugene Carter, of the Montgomery Circuit Court, dismissed the first two charges. Colvin paid a small fine for the “assault” charge and remained in her parent’s custody.

In October of 1955, eighteen-year-old Mary Louise Smith was arrested in Montgomery for violating the bus segregation law. Her father immediately paid the fine, admitting her guilt, and the story never made the papers.

By December of that year, the idea of a bus boycott was making the rounds in the Black community. While most African-Americans in the South at that time did not own cars, making public transportation a daily necessity, the persistent humiliation was becoming too much to bear.

When an unnamed grandmother was offered a ride by one of the car owners that participated in the informal ride-sharing program during the bus boycott, she waved him off, saying, “I’m not walking for myself. I’m walking for my children and grandchildren.”

To highlight the rebellious campaign that began on December 2, Rosa Parks managed to get herself arrested for breaking bus laws on the afternoon of December 1, 1955. She was a well-known civil rights activist, associated with the local chapter of the NAACP. The successful boycott resulted in tremendous loss of revenue for the Montgomery bus service. This campaign was not without severe consequences, however. The Ku Klux Klan and other racist entities retaliated with vandalism and violence against the Black community. A white librarian, Juliette Morgan, who had publicly supported the boycott and anti-discrimination cause, suffered such severe vandalism and persecution for her stand that she took her own life.

In spite of serious threats to their welfare, Black Americans rallied to take another important step against this injustice. Miss Colvin testified as the key witness in the federal lawsuit of Browder vs. Gayle in early February, 1956. The African-American community had organized to present a direct legal challenge to the discriminatory busing laws. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom Colvin had met in preparation for the trial, played a major role in the questioning by the defense team. Witnesses for the prosecution were repeatedly accused of being manipulated by the nefarious intentions of Dr. King. This distraction was effectively squashed by the witnesses, who consistently testified that they had each reached their own conclusions about the unlawful busing discrimination.

This landmark, yet virtually forgotten, case argued on May 11, 1956, resulted in finally overturning the Jim Crow busing laws. Civil protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment were the basis of the arguments of the prosecution, creating a vital precedent for future suits against discrimination laws of the South.

During deliberations, Judge Clyde Sellers is quoted as lamenting, “If segregation barriers are lifted, violence will be the order of the day.” In response, perhaps the most compelling argument occurred when Judge Rives, siding with Judge Lynne for the plaintiffs, asked Sellers, “Can you command one to surrender his constitutional rights…to prevent another man from committing a crime?” 

Those who take a stand for justice over fear (even while sitting) will always remain on the right side of history, even when the motivation is protecting the freedoms for future generations.

Tap Club in the Science Lab

Science means study. On Tuesdays, after school, Tap Club members study how to transfer the energy from a cool song into quick and complicated sets of steps to perform with our noisy tap shoes.

Six girls and one boy are diligently learning the difference between and shuffle and a flap, a tap and a stamp, a ball change and a brush while committing to memory my arbitrary combination of all these moves in choreography to Leon Bridges’ Smooth Sailing.

Leon Bridges is a Crowley ISD graduate who has recently made a name for himself with his unique retro rhythm and blues singing.

The Sue Crouch Tap Club will be performing for friends and family at the end of May.

Now, please excuse us while we get back to practicing!


Math Tech

Mr. Birmingham’s STEM math classes are using a variety of websites and apps such as Educreations, Nearpod, Quizlett, Numbers, and Keynote to create and share student generated problems. Students are working collaboratively to review in preparation for STAAR testing.

Family Secrets

Die Psychologie des Kaiser Wilhelm II - Kaiser 2 - Deutschland - Peter Crawford

I hope my students are inspired to dig into their own ancestry once they’ve heard about some of mine.

For our 52nd birthday, my twin sister gave me a very boring-looking book called The Secret of the Sierra Madre – the Man Who Was B. Traven, by Will Wyatt. B. Traven wrote the book and screenplay The Treasure of the Sierra MadreAccording to the meticulous research of author Will Wyatt, he was also the illegitimate son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, King of Prussia! After his father lost his kingdom during WWI, Herman Albert Otto Maximilian Feige began campaigning against the new German government. This put his freedom and life in danger, so he fled the country, changed his name to B. Traven and resided in Mexico until his death in 1969.

What does this have to do with me? My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Mabel Amanda Feige. It appears that I may be related to the last King of Prussia.

I tell them not to be surprised when a book, written by a stranger, tells them more about themselves than they ever wanted to know.

In 2011, I downloaded an e-book to my Kindle by Thaisa Frank. The title was Heidegger’s GlassesThe author invents a character named Dr. Engelhart to portray Martin Heidegger’s optometrist, who becomes a victim of the Nazi gas chambers.

Engelhart is my maiden name. Knowing that authors rarely pick names out of thin air, I decided to search the name in the records of Yad Vashem, the famous Holocaust Museum in Israel. I found the beginning of the Es, and started scrolling. After the fifth page of Engelharts, I felt a tear running down my cheek.

While my father has no knowledge that we may have Jewish ancestors, it was not uncommon for Jews to convert or pretend to be Christians to avoid persecution. Since WWII, the Engelhart name has become quite uncommon.

I suspect it is because so many of them were incinerated.

Then I tell my students that the name Engelhart means Strong Angel.