Tuesday, April 29, 2014

99-cent Randy Turner e-book sale ends at 10 a.m. today

The 99-cent sale on five of my e-books ends this morning at 10 a.m.

The five include my novels No Child Left Alive, The Devil's on Facebook, and Small Town News and non-fiction books Let Teachers Teach and The Best of Sports Talk.

No Child Left Alive is the story of one year in a dysfunctional high school as teachers battle out-of-control students and clueless, self-absorbed administrators (Where do I come up with these ideas?). It is the book that C. J. Huff testified has nothing to say whatsoever about education and frequent Joplin Globe columnist Anson Burlingame says is pornography. After you read it, you will begin to wonder if C. J. Huff knows anything about education and if Anson Burlingame knows anything about pornography.

The Devil's on Facebook is an updated version of my 2006 novel Devil's Messenger and is a combination horror story/murder mystery. A teenage girl communicates with her murdered father on Facebook. Devil's Messenger, you may remember, is another book that Joplin R-8 Administration cited in its eventually successful effort to fire me. This vile book (according to them) was also pornographic and I allowed students to read it. That is true. Of course, it was never mentioned that the book had been on the shelves at East/South and Joplin High School for seven years.

Small Town News was my first novel, originally published in 2005, and is a fictionalized version of the events of October 31, 2001, when the bank of Diamond was robbed and Diamond R-4 Superintendent Greg Smith on the same day. The book is a satire on what happens when a small town is besieged by the media as newspaper and television reporters battle to get the story.

Let Teachers Teach is a collection of my best writing on education, including some original essays, plus ones that have been published elsewhere. Topics featured include standardized tests, the war against public education and public schoolteachers, my experiences teaching after the Joplin Tornado, remembrances of colleagues and former students, and the challenges that face classroom teachers.

The Best of Sports Talk is a collection of my best sports writing, mostly from the 1990s, including features on current Joplin City Councilwoman Miranda Lewis, about her aunt Nancy Cruzan of the Supreme Court right-to-die case, former Lamar Coach Armando DeLaRosa, who murdered his wife and then killed himself, current Carthage teacher Peggy Lucas as she watched her daughter Tysha, also a teacher now, play her final high school volleyball match, and the girl who received her first kiss at a basketball game, plus the way a swimmer who died of meningitis affected a class of first graders and much, much more.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Signing for Scars from the Tornado set for Saturday at Vintage Stock on the Mall

After a delay of more than a year, the first signing for Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School is scheduled for 12 noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Vintage Stock on the Mall.

The book details my experiences and East Middle School students' experiences during the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado, and during the first year attending a warehouse school.

Some of those students will be at the signing Saturday.

Following is a breakdown of what is included in Scars from the Tornado:

Foreword- This features a story that a former East student, Joplin High School sophomore Rylee Hartwell, wrote about the school shortly after the tornado.

A Teacher's Story- Over several chapters, I write about the last day at East before the tornado hit, the tornado and my first trip back to the school, the meeting at Missouri Southern where Principal Bud Sexson outlined what the warehouse school was going to be like, our return to school, the first day and much more.

Tornado Stories- This section features the students recounting their tornado stories. Some were right in the middle of it. Others feared for their friends. It affected all of them. Students with stories in this section include Jennifer Nguyen, Nick Shellenbarger, Abi Killinger, Alexandra Stelts, Donna Tomlinson, Maggie Baker, Cami Sanders, Kaley Moser, Amber Fleming, Desirae Orlaski, Taylor Robinson, Keisha Grunden, Courtney Hunt, Victoria Stehm, Garrett Severs,  and Ryan Ball.

The School Year- This section features stories from the students about our year in the warehouse, with some commenting about the school. Those contributing stories include Sarah Peterson, Megan Hickey, Amy Koch, Jennifer Nguyen, Annie Strickling, Stella Ndauwa, and Melinda Adams. Megan, Amy, and Jennifer contributed multiple stories in this section.

Parting Shots- This section includes a longer story that I wrote about the people from around the world who let us know that we were not alone in our battle. My story centers around our 86-year-old penpal from Santa Barbara who has come to mean a lot to my students both last year and this year. The section also has shorter comments from Cara Marshall, Jimmie Willerton, Audrey Kanan, Taelor Stone, Logan Whitehead, Amelia Street, and Madison Meinhardt.

Tornado Poems- Among those contributing to this section are students Mykah Campbell, Michaela West, Sean Harrison, Ashton McGehee, Karly Weber, Jacy Welch, Mackenzie Gunderson, Bridget Ingham, Jerry Bland, Joseph Fry, Beth Dulinsky, and teacher Kathy Weaver.

The book also includes a photo section.

Copies of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, and No Child Left Alive will also be available.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sexson to students on opening of East: I'm so glad you're here

The opening assembly at the new East Middle School was featured in an article in today's Kansas City Star:

On the other side of the campus, East’s boisterous middle schoolers were called to order in the school’s gymnasium.

“Duty! Honor!” Assistant Principal Jason Weaver shouted. And the students shouted back the rest of the school’s code — “Peace and pride!”

“Ladies and gentlemen of East Middle School,” Weaver sang out, “welcome to your new building!”

After a roaring chorus of cheers, and then a rundown of first-day logistics, the students herded behind their teachers to their classes — except for the eighth-graders.

Principal Bud Sexson gathered them first on the school’s “Learning Stair” — a wide staircase that doubles as a gathering spot, big enough to seat all of the 250 children per grade level, and ideal for a class photo.

There is a reason the builders rushed to turn out a 24-month job in 16 months.

“It was more important to get you in here,” Sexson told the eighth-graders. “This is an incredible opportunity for you. You get to spend at least one semester in this place. I’m so glad you’re here.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/01/09/4740361/joplins-new-schools-arise-as-palaces.html#storylink=cpy