Guest writer: Jennie Fitzkee – Viola Swamp

Kate brought her mother’s beloved old book in to school this week.  Miss Nelson is Missing is a classic.  I love that book!  My children loved it.  Over the years I must have read it hundreds of times.

The story is about Miss Nelson, a kind teacher, and her unruly class.  In exasperation she leaves school one day only to return the following day dressed in character as Viola Swamp.  Hmmm…

Naomi, my assistant teacher, started to read the book to the children.  I couldn’t wait to hear those words again.  Now, it is important in this part of the story to tell you that Naomi is a saint.  She has never-ending patience, kindness, and a deep understanding of children.  She is the best teacher.

Wait!  She sounds like Miss Nelson.

So, as Miss Nelson (aka Naomi) began to read, things went wrong.  Really wrong.  Perhaps remembering that the children have now outgrown “their nest” might have been a good idea.  After all, when fledglings leave home to branch out into the world, things happen.  Not always good things.  Fighting and survival come to mind.  And of course, when reading the story began, things happened.

Nobody could see.  Yet, they were all in the front row.

Everyone complained of pushing and shoving.  Gee, there was lots of space.

Children yelled at each other.  Best friends.  Hmmm…

Naomi – I mean Miss Nelson – was beside herself trying to read the story.  It seemed hopeless.  We needed Viola Swamp.  We needed some humor.

Remember Viola Swamp?  The teacher who took over for Miss Nelson?  I called.

1-800-Viola Swamp.

I grabbed my cell phone mumbling loud enough for the children to hear that I needed to call Viola Swamp.  The conversation went something like this:

“Hello.  I’m calling for Viola Swamp.  Is she there?”

You could have heard a pin drop.  The children looked worried.  I covered the phone with my hand and whispered, “She sounds grumpy.”  Then I went back to the phone.  I don’t know how complete silence can become even more silent, but it did.

“Is this Viola Swamp?”

Those fifteen gigantic saucer eyes were now ready for some humor.  After all, laughter is the best medicine and can cure anything.  We needed some curing, and Viola Swamp had been just the right fix.

I smiled.  Big.  Then Savannah asked, “Was that really her?”  Parker said, “Of course not!”  We all started to laugh.  Even Naomi, the real Miss Nelson, belly laughed.  Then, we sat down to read the book.

There are two more weeks of school to go, and children have grown.  They’re ready to move on to their next journey.  With humor and hugs, the next few weeks will be fun!

Viola Swamp told me so.

About Jennie:

Jennie Fitzkee has been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is her passion. She believes that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what she writes about.

She is highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of her reading to children. Her class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Follow Jennie on her blog, A Teacher’s Reflections.


Why not be my guest?

If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…

If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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12 Responses to Guest writer: Jennie Fitzkee – Viola Swamp

  1. Ritu says:

    Oh I love how you incorporate real life into the stories Jennie! EB (the Easter Bunny) was my go to this week with Easter coming up, when we were reading stories, and having egg hunts! The kids love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. barbtaub says:

    I loved every word of this post! I’m remembering reading this to my own children, and I’m also realising how very lucky the children in Jennie’s class are to have two such brilliant, funny, and altogether wonderful teachers. Congrats on their narrow escape from The Swamp!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jennie says:

    Thanks for sharing this story, Sue.


  4. Darlene says:

    This is a great story within a story. I love how you used the teachable moment!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lovely to see Jennie over here, Sue, with one of her amazing posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hilariously perfect!

    Liked by 2 people

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