Day Two was "the awesomest."
The secret: Hamsters. The 10-year-old's class has six so far.
There are also two pairs of gerbils, a frog, a couple of geckos, a snake - and a guinea pig is reportedly on the way. The classroom is three pets away from a 1:1 critter-student ratio - one of the many benefits of a having an animal-loving former biologist as your teacher.
She calls her students "the zookeepers." She prefers hands-on learning to textbooks. She doesn't think much of standardized tests.
Among all the startlingly bad ideas popping up in the public school system, (Hey, let's arm the teachers! Let's start standardized testing in kindergarten!) it is easy to overlook the fact that great teachers often rely on startlingly simple ideas.
You want kids to do well in school? Get them excited about being in school. Duh.
You want 18 fifth-graders to agree on hamster names? Good luck with that.
Photo: A fifth-grade zookeeper examines the newest classroom pet - Sparky, Jellybean, Pumpkin, Peanut, Twix, Chuckles, Ping, Pong, Marbles, Twinkles, Comet, Pigger, Marmalade, Spaz, Cupcake, BamBam, Smokey, Monkey, Bunny, Dr. Pepper, or possibly Crush.