PLACERVILLE, CA - Students have to be prepared for anything in Ann Clark's English classes at El Dorado High School in Placerville.
"You all are going to have an opportunity to drink a magical potion," Clark said as her American Literature class began Tuesday.
Students lined up to grab tiny cups containing slips of paper explaining what will happen if they drink the imaginary potion. "Mine says if I don't take a bath for a while, I'll get $20,000," called out one student. "I don't think I'll do that because I like being clean."
"After you drink this potion you'll have the ability to fly. However, after 10 years you will no longer be able to fly or walk. You'll be wheelchair-bound for the remainder of your life," another student read. "I think I'll drink because I want to fly and there are a lot of things you can still do even if you're in a wheel chair."
The exercise was a precursor to a story about a group of elderly people drinking an elixir from the fountain of youth. Students acted out the parts of the characters while Clark served as the narrator.
Clark explained as a child she played the role of a teacher to six siblings. "I gave them reports and they couldn't go out for recess sometimes, " Clark laughed.
She also exhibited a flair for drama. "I wrote of all my scripts for the plays. I would let my brothers and sisters be the monkeys and take the other parts," she said. "But I always took all the leads."
Now she laces her lessons with drama. Clark said, "Choral readings, improvisation and just acting out what's on the pages helps some students. We have a lot of kinesthetic learners."
Clark is also known for taking on at-risk students. "You do everything. Bring food, act goofy and silly, dance and sing. Whatever it takes to help them remember."
She has also stayed busy outside the classroom with coaching boys and girls tennis teams and putting on student plays.
Clark said she was a banker and ran a day care for children before joining the teaching ranks 24 years ago. She shows no sign of slowing down.
"I'll probably have to be in a wheelchair and they'll be sending me out of here when I'm 70 years old," she laughed.
Most likely she'll roll right into another classroom where she can hang out with students.
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org