Sixteen years ago I sat behind a student desk rather than standing in front of one. My sixth-grade teacher, Glenn Crossley, dreamed of one day working in the San Diego Zoo's Reptile House. Our classroom included reptiles tame and wild. From Ozzie the tempermental Nile Monitor to Prometheus, the 13-foot Burmese python, our growth as young adults came not only from the careful tutelage of our teacher, but from the raw realities of the natural world. Feeding a cowering white rat to a starving snake or cleaning up the droppings of a lazy lizard is not something you learn in a textbook.
Sure, I remember the classroom fondly, but I remember the man behind the magic more. Mr. Crossley is the reason I avidly read aloud to my students each day. He's the reason I believe strongly in a male influence for young adults in elementary school. He's a big reason I pursue my passions with such devotion. Because, do you know where he is now? In California. Living near San Diego. I'm not certain if his childhood dream became reality, but in my mind, it did.
This fictional account of a year in the life of Drew Harrington, his best friend Jackson Harris, and the legend of Bridgeton Elementary, Mr. Cross, is an homage to the teacher I had and strive to emulate. The greatest day for me will be placing a published copy of CROSS in his hands and saying, "Thank you."
"Live, Learn, Teach"