Creative Kid Thursday! A Short Story By Daniel Johnston

Happy First Day of SPRING!!! (he says as he scrapes the ice off the windshield of his mom’s car)

March Madness starts today – NO, not that basketball thingy – Susanna Leonard Hill’s Creative writing contest! Click HERE to check it out. The contest is to writ a fractured fairy tale. You still have time to enter! You can win FABULOUS PRIZES! I am posting my entry tomorrow. 🙂

I have an awesome creative kid to tell you about today. Sixteen year-old Daniel Johnston is a chess champ, book reviewer, blogger and writer! Check out his blog HERE. I interviewed Daniel a few years ago about being a chess champ (click HERE) and he just did a podcast with me about books and reading (click HERE). Daniel wrote a great short story that he wanted to share with everyone. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!


Photo Credit Wikimedia – Creative Commons License



The Teacher gets Taught a Lesson of Love

By Daniel Johnston


As the fifth-grade class heard the creaking from outside the door, they settled down and sat back in their chairs. It was the first day for the new substitute teacher, Mrs. Higgins. “I bet she won’t be as good as Revis,” a boy named Nick whispered.

“I hope Revis’s mother is okay,” Jared whispered back. Mr. Revis had been the old teacher of the class. He was a great teacher, and all the students loved him. On Friday he’d had to leave class early because his mother was in the hospital on the other side of the country. Over the weekend, the principal had told all the kids parents that Revis’s mother would be okay, but his mother couldn’t take care of herself and Revis had decided to live with her for now.

“I hope so too man. But now I’m worried about us. What’s Mrs. Higgins going to be like?” Nick said, with a worried look on his face. Jared shrugged his shoulders. Mrs. Higgins was the permanent substitute teacher for the rest of the year, which meant they’d have to suffer through her six hours a day for the next three months. So it’s no surprise the class held its breath as their new leader walked through the door.

Mrs. Higgins was a pretty woman in her mid-twenties with blonde hair and green eyes. Her face was in a smile of genuine happiness and excitement to be there. Although in the movies when the teacher walks in, the class says, “Hello Mr. or Mrs. ____” that’s not the way it happened with this group of fifth-graders; they were totally silent as Mrs. Higgins walked up to her desk, put her purse down, and greeted the class.

Mrs. Higgins face contorted into a pleasant surprise. “Well,” she said, putting her hands on her hips, “is everyone asleep today?” This got a few mixed laughs and relief from the class. This was obviously a teacher who was very comfortable with fifth-grade classrooms.

The rest of the day was like that. They didn’t do anything too strenuous, but they played some games to get to know each other better, heard about Mrs. Higgins treacherous travel traversing the Atlantic Ocean, and did a little of the three R’s: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. At 10:30 Nick whisper now was, “This teacher is cool.” Everything ran smoothly. That is, until it was time to go to Recess.

Mr. Revis had allowed the students to have an hour of recess every day. But as they were about to go out for recess, Mrs. Higgins announced, “Alright class. We’ve got a lot of stuff to cover, so because we’re going to be playing games in the middle of the day for fifteen minutes, you’re going to have forty-five minutes of recess everyday. Is everyone okay with that?”

The students nodded. Most of them knew that next year they would be entering middle school and wouldn’t get any recess anyways, so there was no point in complaining about getting “only” forty-five minutes.

Most of them; expect for Samantha. Samantha was the queen of jump roping. She could jump rope with her eyes closed for an hour straight during recess, as she often did. The majority of the other girls also enjoyed jump roping, and so 2:15 to 3:15 in the afternoon was her time. It was her court. She had a tough family situation and was not willing to give up her glory. “Noooooooo!” She cried, hitting the ground. “I need to jump rope. Mrs. Higgins, I just need to, you can’t do this to me. No!” She wailed and cried and coughed and kicked her legs. The class looked to the teacher to see what she would do. Sure, she could teach. But how would she handle a misbehaving student?

Nick alone was fraught with worry for Samantha, especially when another boy, Randy, whispered to him, “Dude, that’s your girl.” Samantha and he were sort of dating, sort of not. Either way, he cared about her a lot.

Mrs. Higgins thought for a moment, and then said, “Why don’t you show everyone your jump roping tomorrow during games?” Mrs. Higgins didn’t understand that those times were the magical kingdom for a child who had nowhere else to go.

“I can’t bear to see her like this,” Nick sniffled. He ran over to Samantha and got down on his knees next to her before Mrs. Higgins had time to react. He brought Samantha into his arms, perhaps the only time she would let him fulfill that dream of his. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, “we’ll all watch you jump rope.”

Samantha understand what Nick meant and managed to smile wanly, “All you guys?”

“Yes,” Nick said assuringly, turning over to the rest of the boys, who nodded, “all of us.” Samantha got up with her head on Nick’s shoulders, a peaceful expression on her face. That recess, and all recesses for weeks to come, the boys watched Samantha, and even tried to jump rope themselves. Samantha’s experience changed. Instead of being the queen of the court, she was involved in a collaborative effort with people who cared about. And that’s something she had never experienced.

Why did the boys help this little girl instead of playing football as they were apt to do. That’s why Mrs. Higgins wondered, and eventually she asked the quiet, polite kid who she had quickly won over. Nick’s response was, “Football is fun. But not as fun as seeing someone happy.” The boys had agreed to watch Samantha for one day. That wouldn’t hurt. But when they saw the sparkle in her eyes, the love of life shining in her face, they just couldn’t stay away.

The good teacher Mrs. Higgins learned more from the boys love and kindness in her first week than she would teach them the whole rest of the year. Reading, writing, and arithmetic is one thing. Love is quite another.

Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s blog click HERE to go THERE!

Categories: Creative Kids

Tags: , , ,

67 replies

  1. Thanks so much for posting my story, Erik! It makes me really happy to see other people enjoying my writing 🙂

  2. Hi Erik and Daniel,
    Erik, how wonderful that you posted Daniel’s story. And Daniel, I wish I had a cool substitute teacher like that. You wrote a wonderful story! Keep writing!
    I hope you boys have a terrific weekend! 🙂

  3. Erik, Thanks for featuring Daniel on your Creative Kids! And you got that right….he’s super creative!
    Daniel, great story! I taught school for twenty-six years and now I substitute! I learn a lot from the kids. And it’s really nice to see the boys in this story show that they care about someone! Again…nice job!

  4. Erik, this is such a great feature you have on your blog! I love being introduced to new talent in writing! Daniel, you did a wonderful job with your story. Mrs. Higgins sounds like the kind of substitute teacher kids hope to get. Nick has a kind heart. And Samantha is lucky to have friends who support her. I could really get a feel for the class. Keep up the great writing 🙂 Thanks for sharing you guys!

  5. Erik, I love the Creative Kid Thursday feature! Thank you for introducing us to Daniel. Daniel, I really enjoyed your story. It’s so well written and has a lot of heart in it. There was a Mrs. Higgins in my elementary school who taught first grade, but she was nothing like your nice teacher — this Mrs. Higgins once made my brother clean his desk by licking it! Ugh! Keep writing, Daniel. We hope to see more stories from you!

  6. I used to be a teacher (never a substitute, though). You captured an important part of teaching, Daniel. Learning from the kids! Teachers do it all the time, but it isn’t always noticed. Good job – recognizing it – and in a sweet story which highlights this gift to a teacher from her students. Well done. Thanks for sharing this, Erik. Cupcake says, “Woof!”

    • Daniel really captured that fact, right Ms. Petrillo? Tell Cupcake I say “Woof” back (whatever “woof” means. It’s not like we can communicate with dogs or anything)! 😉

    • I’m glad to hear you liked it from a teachers perspective. That’s interesting because since I’ve never been a teacher I focused more on the other characters and their relationship to and view of Mrs. Higgins, so that makes me happy to hear you thought she was a realistic character. It makes me even more happy to hear your dog liked the story 🙂

  7. Thanks you, Erik, for sharing the spotlight with your friend, Daniel. To show I really care, I’m reblogging this on my blog for my readers. Great story, Daniel. I think nothing beats love either. 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Clarbojahn's Blog and commented:
    Because nothing beats love and I don’t have a story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s March Madness Story Contest, I wanted to reblog Eriks friends, Daniel’s story here for all of you readers. Thanks for reading everyone. You are Great! 🙂

  9. After reading some of the comments, I’m glad I didn’t have t hear about kid’s cleaning their desk with their tongues! My favorite elementary teacher just dumped the contents of the desks on the floor. Yeah, bet that doesn’t happen any more either, but he was a really good guy! He might have benefitted from teaching a great group of fifth graders, like Mrs. Higgins did in your story, Daniel. I think you really developed Samantha’s character well. I totally got it when you said, “It was her court”. And bravo for having the courage to post your work! Keep it up!

  10. Hi Erik! I love your blog. What a heartwarming story! Thanks for sharing it with us, Daniel. I really enjoyed it. Great job! keep writing!

  11. Erik, I love your blog and your “Creative Kid!” feature. Keep up the encouragement! Daniel, this is a wonderful story full of positive messages and inspiration. I love that it is not the teacher teaching the students, but that the students are teaching the teacher. School is so much more than the “three R’s” – school is full of life lessons and you have given us all a beautiful lesson on what it means to love. Thank you for that and keep up the writing!

  12. What a great blog, Erik! Thanks for sharing Daniel’s story. Daniel, I really enjoyed your story. I liked how the students were the teachers. I thought it was going to be a story about a really mean substitute teacher. You surprised me with a story that’s all heart. Nice job!

  13. Daniel thanks for sharing one of the many lessons from school. A story filled with so many emotions for the reader, very nice job. (Thanks for sharing other kids work Erik!)

  14. I love meeting all these Creative Kids that you bring to your house Erik! Daniel is a pretty perceptive young man. That’s nice to see. Thanks for sharing the talent, Erik!

  15. Great story, Daniel. Is this based on a true story? It would be wonderful if all kids were kind like this at school!

  16. Daniel, I enjoyed your story! Mrs. Higgins will always remember how her students schooled her 😀

    Erik, Creative Kid Thursday is an awesome feature on your blog!

  17. Erik I think it’s a wonderful idea to feature other creative kids’ writing on your blog.Daniel I enjoyed the story and was glad it wasn’t about a mean substitute teacher. I loved how the students showed their compassion in the end. Samantha was an interesting character–I am curious about her background.

  18. Erik, you’ve really hit on something with this new feature to your blog. Thank you for introducing us to Daniel. Daniel, you’ve piqued my interest about Samantha and her home-life. You’ve got me wanting to know more about what she goes through at home. I’m also curious about her relationship with Nick. You’ve created some, “I’d like to get to know them” characters. That’s what every writer hopes to achieve. And you’ve done that for me. Okay, tell me you’re thinking of a chapter book that gives us more about the lesson the teacher learns and of Samantha’s and Nick’s story. Well done.

  19. Hey Erik, and howdy Daniel! Daniel, you are a fantastic writer guy. I was happy to read your wonderful story. I felt like I was in the classroom. Samantha is a well thought out character and Nick is too. I have a story with a Nicky in it. I can tell you’re going to write many more stories. You could write another story using Samantha. You are great at emotion, Daniel. And isn’t that the reason we write? To make the readers feel for our characters? Erik, love this feature and I’m really glad to see Daniel’s work featured by you. You guys are awesome. 🙂 *waving and smiling*

  20. Thank you for posting this, Erik. I really enjoyed Daniel’s story–it reminded me how scary it was to have a substitute instead of a beloved teacher, and how important recess can be to a kid. You’re a wonderful writer, Daniel. I love the thought of you writing Samantha’s story. I bet her adventures could fill up an entire book!

  21. Aww, very heartwarming. Thank you for sharing Daniel’s story. 🙂


  1. Writing Process Blog Tour | This Kid Reviews Books
  2. Writing Process Blog Tour

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: