An astute collection of educational essays coupled with introspective reflections.



Wirtz (Reading Champs, 2014) reflects on an accomplished career as a teacher and warmly remembers the ups and downs of family life.

The author enjoyed a diverse career serving as the seminar leader for the California School Boards Association, a principal and curriculum consultant, an English teacher in the Arizona and California penal systems, and an activist for literacy. She shares her happiest remembrances as a teacher, which almost always revolve around her students, for whom she expresses unabashed affection. She also discusses a broad spectrum of educational issues, including the value of homework, the benefits of speed-reading, the protection of transgender students, and the threat posed by school shootings, among many others. With equal enthusiasm, she discusses her life as a wife, mother, and grandmother and the lessons she’s drawn from each role. She’s suffered her share of personal tribulations—she survived a bout with cancer and had to reshape her life after the death of her husband, William. However, the book is less a linear memoir than an assemblage of essays and “brief staccato-like stories,” as she puts it, and it reads like a selection of journal entries that are candid, informal, and liberated from formal structure. The author freely roams wherever her mind takes her, jumping seamlessly from the personal to the professional. As a result, the whole work has an appealingly homespun character to it, and she proffers sensible, if sometimes-banal, counsel: “Striving for excellence is the only way to go, and being a champion does not come overnight.” The tone of the work is delightfully buoyant, though, and Wirtz’s prose can have a cheerleading quality: “We are Teachers. We are strong and mighty!” The education-related essays should be edifying to other teachers, as Wirtz’s experience and expertise are beyond reproach. However, the personal reminiscences are somewhat less engaging and will probably appeal most to her closest family members and friends. 

An astute collection of educational essays coupled with introspective reflections.

Pub Date: March 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4897-2163-1

Page Count: 306

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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