Tag Archives: school report

A Rocky Start: Chapter Fourteen

Image1-17_edited-1          The Happy Helpers raced each other to the senior center after school on Monday. Just as they were parking their bikes, the Three Handy Guys came riding up.

“Are you here to check the work schedule?” Logan asked.

“That’s why we’re here,” Amber said. “How about you?”

“We do that every Monday,” Chris replied. “We like to know what we’ll be doing.”

The kids pushed around the bulletin board to see what they had been assigned.

“It looks like we’re doing the shredding this week,” Spike crowed. “I heard Mrs. Snow say that you girls are too slow at it.”

“We would have gotten more done if someone hadn’t made a mess in the copy room,” Amber accused.

“Is that what happened?” Spike asked innocently. “That’s too bad.”

“It looks like you’re doing KP this Saturday,” Chris groaned. “Too bad.”

“What’s KP?” Melissa asked.

“That’s kitchen police,” Logan told her. “It means you have to help clean the kitchen. It’s the job we don’t like.”

“Because it’s girl’s work?” Laura asked.

“Because it’s dirty work,” Chris groaned again. “You’ll see.”

“We’re washing the van,” Spike bragged. “That’s the most fun job ’cause you can get wet.”

Just as the junior volunteers were leaving, Walt came out of his office. “Can you girls come in here for a minute?” He motioned toward his office.

“Uh-oh.” Spike grinned. “It looks like someone’s in trouble.”

The girls walked slowly to Walt’s office and sat down in the chairs he pointed to.

“What happened on Saturday?” Walt asked. “Why didn’t you sweep the walkways?”

“We did,” Amber said, obviously concerned. “We swept all of them. They looked really nice when we left.”

“What did you use for brooms?” Walt wanted to know.

“We used the brooms we found in the shed,” Laura said.

“That’s strange,” Walt continued, “because we found the brooms stuck behind the vending machine.”

“We used three old brooms we found in the shed,” Melissa explained. “It took us a long time with those brooms, but every bit of the walkway was swept clean.”

“Let’s go look at the walkways,” Walt suggested. “And you tell me if they look swept.”

He led the girls outside where they were shocked to see the walkways littered with dirt, rocks, leaves, and other debris.

“Maybe there was a dust storm,” Melissa offered.

“There was hardly any wind Saturday or Sunday,” Walt said. “I don’t think there was a dust storm just here at the senior center.”

“We’re telling you the truth,” Amber pleaded. “We really did sweep it.”

“Well, I wanted to tell you girls we couldn’t use you as volunteers,” Walt said. “But Mrs. Snow defended you and asked me to let you have another chance. So if you can sweep the walkways this afternoon, we’ll forget about what happened. If you mess up again though, it’s three strikes and you’re out.”

“We can do that,” Laura said with assurance. “And if we have the push brooms, we can do it much faster.”

The Happy Helpers went to the shed where they quickly located the brooms. In no time, they had the sidewalks swept. Just to make sure there weren’t any more surprises, they brought Walt out to check over their work.

“Now that’s what I call a clean walkway!” Walt exclaimed. “Thanks for doing such a good job.”

Amber returned to the senior center after school on Tuesday. She wanted to talk to Mrs. Snow about what happened. When she walked by the copy room, she saw the Three Handy Guys busy with the shredding. They didn’t notice her, and she didn’t say anything.

“Hello there, Amber,” Mrs. Snow said as Amber walked into her office. “What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to let you know that we really did sweep the walkways on Saturday. I think that Logan, Chris, and Spike threw rocks and dirt up on the sidewalk after we left.”

“That’s a serious accusation,” Mrs. Snow said. “Those boys have been helping out here for a long time, and they have never caused any trouble. I’m disappointed that you would try to blame them for your mistake.”

“I’m not blaming them for my mistake,” Amber defended. “But I don’t want to take the blame for something we didn’t do.”

“We all have to learn to take responsibility for our own actions. If you girls forgot to show up last Saturday, you should own up to it,” Mrs. Snow said seriously. “Why don’t you think about that for a while, and we’ll talk about it again later?”

“Bye,” Amber said with a sigh. She walked back down the hallway toward the copy room. The boys had finished their work and left the bags of shredding on the floor by the door. Amber noticed a pair of scissors on the table. Before she had time to talk herself out of it, Amber turned one of the bags over and cut a large hole in the bottom. She did the same thing with the other three bags. Then she left the bags upright, as she had found them.

Riding home on her bike, Amber thought about returning to the senior center and telling Mrs. Snow what she had done. But she didn’t think she could face having her say that she was disappointed again. Maybe she would even take her name off the list of volunteers. The knot in the pit of Amber’s stomach grew larger as she decided there was nothing she could do. It’s because of my ADHD, Amber reasoned to herself. Sometimes I act impulsively. I can’t help it. It’s not really my fault.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Mary said to Amber at dinner. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine,” Amber assured her. “I have a big math assignment that’s due on Friday. Can I be excused so I can get to work on it?”

“Doing your homework without being reminded.” Mary smiled, “That’s a pleasant surprise.”

At least Amber hadn’t lied to her mother about the homework. She did have an important math assignment. Ms. McGuire had told the class that the assignment would help them prepare for the fourth-grade math test they would be taking in a few weeks. Anyone who didn’t complete the assignment would face serious consequences, including several days of after-school detention to finish the work.

Amber did her best to concentrate on her homework, but it seemed like every noise distracted her—the television downstairs, her family talking, even the birds outside her window. After about twenty minutes, she realized she had only finished one problem. Amber remembered a trick her teacher taught her in third grade. Digging in her desk drawer, she found her timer. After setting the time for one hour, Amber went back to work. If she could make herself concentrate for one hour, she should be able to get at least two pages done.

Kyle walked by her room just as the timer went off. “How’s it going, sis?”

“Okay, I think,” Amber said, looking at the work she had finished. “I have three pages done! I can’t believe it!”

“Want me to check them for you?” Kyle asked. Without waiting for an answer, Kyle took the math pages from her and scanned them. “I don’t see any glaring errors. It looks like you are doing them right.”

“Thanks,” Amber said, pleased with herself. “I’m kind of tired. I think I’ll go to bed early.”

“Good night,” Kyle said.

“Good night.” Amber yawned. “Thanks for helping.”

As Amber got dressed for bed, she started thinking about what happened at the senior center. Before she turned out the light, she picked up the little spider plant she had brought home from Doris Duncan’s.

“You’re lucky you’re a plant,” she said. “All you do is sit here and grow. You can’t mess up like people do. I wish I could trade places with you right now.”

Amber was surprised to find Melissa at her front door as she was leaving for school on Friday morning. She had her hair piled up in curls on the top of her head. Amber couldn’t help but notice the boots that came to her knees and the six bracelets that sparkled on her arms. A wide silver belt went around her white flowing blouse, and a large necklace dangled around her neck over the top of a scarf.

“Did you stop by so we could ride to school together?” Amber asked.

“Yeah.” Melissa seemed distracted. “But first I need your help with something. Do you still have some of those fish we got out of the pond? I have a plastic container, and I need to put some fish in it.”

“I think so,” Amber said. “We can go out and look.”

The two girls went through the sliding door to Amber’s backyard. Swimming around in the pool were a few little fish. Melissa squatted down next to the pool and tried to scoop up some fish. At first all she got was water, but on her fourth try, she had a tiny fish in her container.

“That’ll have to do,” Melissa said.

“What do you need it for?” Amber asked.

“I have to give my report today,” Melissa reminded her. “I didn’t have much time to work on it. I had that big math assignment to do.”

“I’ve got mine right here.” Amber pointed to her book bag. “I didn’t leave it anywhere that Domino could get to it.”

The girls had to hurry to get to school. They arrived just as the first bell was ringing. As they took their seats in the classroom, Ms. McGuire started recapping some of the highlights of their career unit. She talked about the guests who had come to speak and some of the reports that had been given by students.

“Today is the last day for our career unit,” Ms. McGuire said. “We have two reports left. First we will hear from Chris Bishop and then from Melissa Peterson.”

When Ms. McGuire finished speaking, she motioned for Chris to come forward. He talked about different groups of people who work in construction, such as carpenters, bricklayers, and roofers. Then he talked about the job of the contractor and how he has to take the plans that have been drawn by the architect and build the house the way it was designed. “It is the contractor’s job to see that everyone else does what he is supposed to do,” Chris said.

Chris told the class about the different ways a person could be trained for construction jobs, such as learning on the job or going to college. At the end of his talk, he showed the class some of the buildings he had constructed from Popsicle sticks. Amber thought one of them would make a nice house for her bird family.

After Chris sat down, Ms. McGuire called on Melissa, who came forward somewhat hesitantly. “My report is on marine biology. Marine biologists study fish and other animals that live in water. They have to know a lot about science. The best part of their job is when they get to swim with the dolphins. Dolphins are mammals, not fish. That means they breathe air like we do. Some day I’m going to go to SeaWorld and swim with the dolphins. This is a fish I got out of the pond. I don’t really know what kind of fish it is.” Melissa held up the plastic container with the tiny fish inside. “That’s my report,” she said as she returned to her seat.

Amber saw Ms. McGuire write down a grade for Melissa. She was pretty sure it wasn’t an A or a B, or even a C.

“I shouldn’t have put it off until the last minute,” Melissa admitted at lunch. “It seemed like I had lots of time, and then all of a sudden it was here. Besides, I had all that math to do. Do you think Ms. McGuire will flunk me?”

“I think maybe you flunked yourself,” Laura said sadly.

“Maybe you should have spent more time on your report and less time planning your outfit,” Amber added with a sigh.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

 

A Rocky Start: Chapter Thirteen

Amber

Amber was feeling stressed when she went down to breakfast Friday morning. Her mother must have known she would be, because she was busy making chocolate chip pancakes, Amber’s favorite.

“Today’s the big day,” Mary said as Amber came into the kitchen.

“I know,” Amber said. “I’ll be glad when it’s over. Aren’t you going to work today?”

“No,” Mary said. “I’m taking today off.”

“Why?” Amber asked.

“I just want a day off,” Mary said cheerfully. “I’m entitled to a day off now and then.”

When she had finished her pancakes, Amber went back upstairs to get her book bag. She took a quick peek out the window to check on her bird family. Only two of the babies were in the nest. Amber was worried until she spotted another baby on a lower branch. “I guess you can fly now,” she said to the baby birds. “You’ll be flying away soon, won’t you?”

Amber arrived at school a little early. She went to her classroom and deposited a canvas bag in the back of the room. Then she went to meet Laura and Melissa on the playground.

“Are you ready for your career report?” Laura asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Amber said with a sigh. “I thought you were lucky, Melissa, because you get to give yours on the last day, but I don’t think I would want this hanging over my head until then.”

“I haven’t really started on mine yet,” Melissa admitted. “But I still have plenty of time.”

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” Laura warned.

“I won’t,” Melissa said. “I’ll be ready.”

When Ms. McGuire called Amber’s name, she went nervously to the back of the classroom. There she retrieved her canvas bag. On it were the words “US Mail.” As she walked up the isle, she removed envelopes from the canvas bag and handed them, randomly, to some of the students. When she reached the front of the class, she noticed that her mother had come into the classroom and had taken an empty seat near the door. Amber tried to relax a little before beginning her report. She asked the first student, Samantha, to open the envelope. From the envelope, Samantha took a piece of paper. Amber asked her to please read what it said on the paper.

“The US Post Office handles about 177 billion pieces of mail each year,” the student read.

Then she asked the next student, Derrick, who read, “The US Post Office employs about six hundred thousand workers.”

The next student, named Bobby, opened his envelope and read, “The US Post Office does not receive any money from taxes. It operates on the money collected from selling postage stamps.”

When all the envelopes had been opened and read, Amber began her report. “Mail carriers deliver mail by walking a route or by driving a vehicle. The longest route is 176 miles and has 174 mailboxes. The shortest route is only two miles long and has 640 mailboxes. Mail is even delivered to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

“To be a mail carrier, you have to be eighteen years old. You can apply at the post office. Then you will have to take a test. The better you do on the test, the closer you will be to the top of the list. When there is a job opening, three names are chosen from the top of the list. Those people have to pass a physical. One person will be chosen for the job.

“I wanted to bring something to show you, like everyone else did when they gave their reports. I decided to bring a real, live mail carrier. So here she is. This is my friend Betty Jenkins. She delivered the mail for thirty years in Kansas.”

With that, Betty came forward. “I’m glad Amber invited me to come here today, and I was so excited when she told me she was going to do her report on mail carriers. Some people call it snail mail because it is much slower than e-mail. But if you get a birthday card that has money or a gift card in it, you’ll be glad it came by US Mail. Amber asked me what I liked best about my job, and I told her it was meeting the people on my route. They were always glad to see me, even when I delivered bills or bad news.”

When Betty finished talking, she asked if anyone had questions. Students asked her about being chased by dogs and delivering mail in bad weather. As Betty was talking, Amber looked at Ms. McGuire, who gave her two thumbs-up to say she had done a good job.

As Amber took her seat and Betty left the classroom, Ms. McGuire introduced Amber’s mother.

“Mrs. Snyder is an insurance agent,” she said. “I asked her to speak to you today about her career.”

Amber’s mom smiled at her as she walked to the front of the classroom. “Selling insurance may not sound like a glamorous job,” she began, “but there is more to it than just a bunch of paperwork. Insurance agents help families prepare for emergencies and plan for the future. We work closely with our clients to show them ways to best meet their needs. In doing this, we build relationships that last for many years.”

Mary explained to the class about the requirements for becoming an insurance agent. She said that college was not necessary, but many agents have a business or finance degree. She told them that in order to be an agent, you had to pass a state test, just like a lawyer does.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to speak to my class today?” Amber asked her mom when she got home.

“Ms. McGuire asked me not to,” Mary said. “She thought it would make you nervous. I asked her to let me speak on the same day that you were giving your report so I could find out what your report was about. You did a very nice job.”

“Ms. McGuire told me later that I got an A on my report.”

“I’m not surprised,” Mary said. “It was a wonderful report, and having Betty Jenkins come to school was brilliant.”

“Betty helped me a lot,” Amber said. “But having her come was my idea.”

Even though the boys had told them not to come to the senior center until ten o’clock, the girls decided to show up at nine. It was a good thing they did because the Three Handy Guys were finished with the mowing and were planning to do the sweeping themselves. Spike was especially surprised to see the girls there so early and gave them a sheepish grin. Once again, Hank was there with his video camera. As the girls walked over, he began putting it away in its case.

“Hi, Hank,” Melissa called to him. “Did you get more video for your documentary?”

“Yes, I did,” Hank said. “I want to show what good work you kids do.”

The Happy Helpers went to the garden shed where Walt had told them they would find three push brooms. They looked around in the shed for about ten minutes without locating the brooms. Behind the door, they saw some lines of dirt that looked like they could have been left by brooms that had been leaning up against the wall. They also noticed a handprint on the wall behind the place where the brooms might have been.

“That handprint looks too small to be Walt’s,” Laura said.

“But it’s not too small to be Spike’s,” Amber added.

“He probably took the brooms so we couldn’t use them,” Melissa said. “There are three old brooms back there. We could use those.”

“It’ll take us longer,” Laura sighed. “But at least we’ll get the sweeping done.”

“That’ll be a shock for Spike,” Amber added. “He won’t get the best of us this time.”

The Happy Helpers carried their brooms out toward the walkways, just as the Three Handy Guys were pushing the mowers toward the garden shed.

“Nice brooms.” Spike laughed. “Did you fly in on those?”

“We wouldn’t have to use these if you hadn’t taken the push brooms,” Amber accused.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Spike said innocently. Chris and Logan looked at him, but he just shrugged.

The girls ignored them all and started sweeping the walkways. The edges of the brooms were uneven, and lots of the straw was missing. That meant that they had to sweep the same area over and over. It took them more than an hour to complete the job. But when they were finished, they stood back and admired their work.

“The walkways look great!” Laura said. “We swept away every rock and piece of grass.”

“Walt should be happy with what we did today,” Amber said proudly. “It was a lot of work with those old brooms, but we did it.”

“We can do anything those boys can do,” Melissa touted. “We just proved that.”

As they returned the brooms to the garden shed, the girls noticed Spike leaning against the wall.

“Do you think he heard us?” Laura asked as they got on their bikes.

“Who cares,” Melissa replied smugly.

The girls had to go to their own homes for lunch, but they agreed to meet at the pond at one o’clock. Laura was already there when Amber rode up on her bike.

“You gave a great report yesterday,” Laura said as they waited for Melissa.

“Thanks.” Amber smiled shyly. “I had a lot of help from Betty Jenkins.”

“She’s so nice,” Laura added. “I’m glad we met her.”

“She told me she misses her granddaughters,” Amber said. “We’re sort of taking their place, I think.”

“Anything interesting in the pond?” Melissa asked as she caught up with her friends.

“We just got here,” Laura told her. “We haven’t looked at the pond yet.”           In spite of the spring rain showers, the pond was smaller than it had been the last time they were there. The girls were able to stand on rocks that had been submerged before. Now they could look into deeper parts of the pond. Amber had brought some Ziploc bags to hold any life-forms they wanted to take home for “research.” They spotted some tadpoles that had grown legs and some that were already tiny frogs. There were some other small fish they couldn’t identify. The girls filled the bags with what they could catch.

“What’s that?” Melissa asked, pointing to a yellowish-brown insect that had two long, skinny legs.

“I don’t know,” Laura said. “It looks like it’s swimming on its back.”

“Maybe we can catch it.” Amber grabbed one of the bags and waded into the pond. She made several swipes at the bug, but it was too fast for her. Finally, she gave up and climbed out of the pond.

Back at Amber’s house, the girls deposited their specimens in Amber’s little swimming pool. Then they headed for home.

“I heard you did a great job on your report,” Kyle said at dinner. He had gotten home too late from his away baseball game to hear about it Friday night.

“She was spectacular!” Mary said. “I was so proud of you, Amber.”

“You were a good guest speaker,” Amber said. “I was proud of you too.”

“Then I didn’t embarrass you?” Mary asked.

“No, but I was a little worried when I saw you there.” Amber laughed. “I thought maybe I was in trouble or something.”

“Fred, you worry too much,” John told her. “We’re all proud of you.”

“Find anything interesting at the pond?” Kyle changed the subject.

“We did see this funny-looking bug,” Amber said. “It was sort of light brown with two long legs. I tried to catch it, but it was too fast.”

“Did it swim on its back?” Kyle asked.

“Yes, it did.”

“That’s a backswimmer,” Kyle told her. “It’s a good thing you didn’t catch it. It would sting you like a giant mosquito.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Twelve

Image1-17_edited-1This ought to be good, Amber thought as Spike walked to the front of the class to give his career report. As usual, he had used plenty of gel in his hair. But instead of a spike, it was twisted around in a style she had seen on members of some boy bands. She wondered if one of Spike’s sisters had done it for him. On his T-shirt was a quote from Neil Armstrong that read, “We come in peace for all mankind.”

Amber hated to admit it, but Spike actually did a good job on his career report. He talked about some of the earlier astronauts, like John Glenn who was the first man to orbit the earth and Neil Armstrong who walked on the moon. Then he told about the space shuttle and the International Space Station. Spike said that to be an astronaut, you have to be good at math and science. You have to go to college and also get training as a pilot. You have to work for NASA for five years to be considered for the astronaut program. Finally, he showed some of the things he got on a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including a pen that can write upside down and at zero gravity.

At the end of his report, he took a bow, which brought applause from his classmates. Spike continued to bow, and the class continued to applaud until Ms. McGuire said, “Thank you, Michael. You can sit down now.”

After school on Monday, the Happy Helpers headed for the senior center to see what jobs Mrs. Snow had assigned them for the coming week. This time, their names did appear on the list for Tuesday and Saturday. On Tuesday, they were assigned to shred papers, and on Saturday, their job would be sweeping the walkways. Mrs. Snow came out of her office when she heard them talking.           “Hi, girls,” she said. “Are those work assignments all right?”

“They’re fine with us,” Amber answered for everyone.

“I was a little concerned about asking you to do something during the school week,” Mrs. Snow continued. “Are you sure your parents won’t mind?”

“We’ll be home in time to get our homework done,” Laura assured her. “We’re going to help Doris Duncan with her plants after school on Wednesday, so tomorrow is a perfect day to come and help out here.”

“Shredding sounds like fun,” Melissa said. “Do you have lots of papers that need shredding?”

“Actually, we do,” Mrs. Snow said. “Some of the businesses in town pay us to do their shredding. So you’ll be helping to raise money for the center.”

When the girls left Mrs. Snow’s office, they saw the Three Handy Guys checking the assignment list. Spike had his fingers on the Happy Helper flyer, but pulled them away quickly when he saw the girls.

“It looks like you’ll be working here two days this week,” Logan said. “We’re just working on Saturday.”

“We usually do the shredding.” Spike sounded upset.

Melissa glared at Spike, who looked away. “I guess Mrs. Snow knows quality when she sees it,” Melissa said.

“We’re mowing the lawns on Saturday,” Logan continued. “We usually start about eight o’clock, and we’re finished at about ten. You might as well wait until then to come and sweep the walkways.”

“Yeah,” Chris added. “There’s no sense sweeping them before we’ve finished mowing. We usually sweep them ourselves when we’re done.”

“Thanks for letting us know,” Laura said. “That way we won’t try to get here so early.”

“Yeah,” Spike added. “You can get some beauty sleep.” He glared back at Melissa.

Laura’s dad came to speak to the class on Tuesday. Amber was surprised that Laura hadn’t said anything about it. But when she looked at Laura, she realized that Laura was just as surprised as she was.

Mr. Thomas talked about the many career opportunities in banking. He said that some of the entry-level jobs didn’t require college, but having a degree in business or banking would be needed if you wanted to advance to a better job. When he was finished, Ms. McGuire asked if there were any questions.

“Do you own the bank, or do you just work there?” Melissa asked.

“I work for the bank,” Mr. Thomas responded. “I’m a personal banker. That means I help our customers with their financial needs. The bank is owned by a large corporation, not by one individual.”

“What do you do with the old, worn-out money?” Spike asked. “Do you ever give it away?”

“Very funny, Michael.” Ms. McGuire glared at Spike.

“No, that’s actually a good question,” Mr. Thomas said. “I’d like to answer it. The old worn-out money is collected by the banks and exchanged for new bills at the Federal Reserve Bank. Then the old money is shredded. If you visit a Federal Reserve Bank, for example the one in San Francisco, you can get a bag of shredded money as a souvenir. So in a way, Michael, it is given away. Which bills do you think wear out first?”

Several students raised their hands, but Mr. Thomas called on a boy name Steven.

“The one-dollar bill,” Steven said.

“That’s a good guess,” Mr. Thomas told him. “But that’s not it. Any other guesses?”

“The hundred-dollar bill,” a boy named Kenneth suggested.

“Not too many people carry those around with them.” Mr. Thomas smiled. “Actually, it’s the fives and tens. They are used the most and have to be replaced more often.”

Ms. McGuire thanked Mr. Thomas again. He touched Laura on the shoulder as he was leaving.

“Did you know your dad was coming here today?” Amber asked Laura at lunch.

“He never said a word. I was totally shocked.”

“He probably didn’t want you to get nervous,” Amber added. “That’s why he didn’t tell you.”

“He was really interesting,” Melissa said. “You’re lucky to have a rich dad.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Five Continued

Image1-17_edited-1

Soggy Sunday was followed by muggy Monday. The rain had halted for a bit, but the clouds remained, and Amber was sure it would rain again. She took her umbrella with her on her way to school. The class had been progressing through the career unit as Ms. McGuire had said they would. The first careers they explored were jobs in health care. Amber knew that there were doctors and nurses, but she never thought about all the different types of jobs there were in health care. The EMTs who ride in ambulances, people who operate x-ray machines, and those who test blood are all health care workers. Some of them sounded pretty interesting, but some seemed too gory, like those working in emergency rooms.

Many of the students in Amber’s class had already signed up for their career reports. Laura had quickly taken chef before someone else chose it. Melissa had decided to report on marine biology, thinking it meant swimming with dolphins. Logan chose architecture as his career interest, and Chris decided on construction. Chris said that Logan could design the buildings, and he would build them. Spike had signed up for astronaut. That seemed appropriate to the girls as they weren’t sure he was from this planet anyway. Amber was the only one still thinking about what to choose, and she was really feeling the pressure of not being able to make up her mind.

Amber was almost halfway home when the downpour started. The rain was coming down so hard that her umbrella proved useless. At first, she tried to run, but the wind was blowing against her so that all she could do was push forward. As she passed Betty Jenkins’s house, she heard a familiar voice calling to her.

“Amber,” Betty yelled, “get in here out of the rain.”

Without hesitating, Amber did as Betty said, and a few seconds later, she was dripping water on the tile entryway inside Betty’s house. Betty took a towel out of the closet in the hallway and put it around Amber’s shoulders. “Here, dry off,” she said. “I’ve got some cookies in the oven. I’ll be right back.”

By the time Betty returned, Amber had dried her hair as best as she could. Her clothes were still wet, and she was shivering.

“Come in the kitchen,” Betty suggested. “It’s warmer in there with the oven on.”

Amber could already smell the delicious chocolate chip cookies and hoped that Betty would offer her one. Betty told her to sit down at the table, and without even asking, she set a glass of milk and a plate with two cookies in front of Amber.

“So what exciting things happened at school today?” Betty wanted to know.

“We’re studying careers right now,” Amber told her. “Today Dr. Stevens, a veterinarian, came to talk to the class. She told us that she became a vet because she loves animals, especially dogs. She said most of what she does is routine, like giving shots and operating on dogs and cats so they can’t have babies. Chris asked her what the worst part of her job was. She said putting pets to sleep when they were old and suffering. The family is always crying and it is so sad, but it still has to be done.”

“She sounds like a very caring person,” Betty said.

“She’s the vet who gave Domino his shots. Next week she’s going to fix Domino so he won’t be able to make puppies.”

“That is a good thing to do,” Betty said. “You’re being a responsible pet owner.”

“It’s a good thing Domino doesn’t know what’s going to happen,” Amber said. “When I had my tonsils out, I had a week to worry about it. That was the longest week of my life. Why don’t you have any pets?”

“Paul and I had a dog,” Betty explained. “He was just a mutt we got at the animal shelter, maybe a collie and German shepherd mix. We called him Pepper because he was sort of black, white, and gray. Pepper got hip dysplasia like German shepherds do sometimes. Eventually, we had to put him to sleep.”

“I hope that doesn’t happen to Domino,” Amber said.

“He’s a young dog, so you won’t have to worry about that for years,” Betty assured her.

“There’s one part of the career unit that I’m not looking forward to.” Amber sighed a big sigh. “We have to choose a career we are interested in and give a report.”

“What career did you choose?” Betty asked.

“That’s the problem,” Amber said. “I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up.”

“You have lots of time for that,” Betty said. “Your teacher is probably just trying to get you started thinking about what you might be interested in. What’s your favorite subject in school?”

“That’s easy,” Amber said with enthusiasm. “Art is my favorite subject.”

“There are lots of careers that involve art,” Betty said. “You could be an artist or sell art supplies. You could work in a museum or even be an art teacher.”

“You hear a lot about starving artists,” Amber said seriously. “What if I’m not good enough to make money being an artist?”

“I love art too,” Betty told her. “In fact, I have a little studio behind the house. That’s where I keep my paint supplies and my paintings.”

“Was that your career?” Amber asked.

“Not really,” Betty said. “Usually I just give my paintings away. Once in a while, someone pays me, mostly for the supplies. My real job was delivering mail when we lived in Kansas.”

“Did you like that job?” Amber asked.

“I liked it very much. I was out in the fresh air every day. Some days, it was cold and snowy. Once I was even chased by a tornado. But I got to visit with lots of people. I got to know their dogs too. It was a great job, and I miss it sometimes.”

“I’d love to see some of your paintings,” Amber said. “Would you show them to me sometime?”

“I sure will,” Betty said. “When it’s not so rainy outside.”

“Speaking of rain,” Amber said. “It looks like it stopped for a little while. I think I had better get home before my mom starts to worry.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon