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People

Thoughts from a 20-year teacher

     I’ve been a teacher, part-time, for 20 years. My students have ranged in age from two to 79. My subjects range, too: music, French and English as a Second Language. I’ve taught at two elite private elementary schools and two public institutions of higher education. Except with my own kids, I’ve skipped middle and high school.     This non-traditional career path — along with observations gleaned from the education of my own two adult children — has made me a learner as well as a teacher.

By paying Flush Tax, we’re all helping

Help fill a backpack for kids in need

    The best part of summer’s winding down is the acquisition of new school supplies.     Opening the full bag is as thrilling as opening a treasure chest. Abundant new and fresh, here is everything you need to make this the best year ever. Then comes the rush as you sharpen new pencils, use an unmarred eraser and crack open a pristine notebook to write on the very first page.     School supplies give students a better start back to school.

Writing the story of our species

Wonderful things about our species have been discovered by scientists in the last 30 years. We are so much more important to each other than we knew, more a gift to each other, more a needed comfort. Scientists are reporting their work, but the meaning of their work to our everyday lives is just becoming known to the general public. Spreading the news is what I try to do with my writing.

Summer after summer, you’d hear of some unlucky swimmer, waterman or shellfish eater. Then it happened to me

     On and in, I’ve swum, fished, crabbed, eeled, sailed, canoed, kayaked and written about the Patuxent River — from both sides — since 1960. When you live with a place for over 60 years, you think you know it.     From the birds that harvest the river … the migratory swans, geese, red-winged blackbirds and songbirds that visit … myriad sea creatures, terrapins, wiggly critters in the muck, ghosts of Patuxent Indians and later lost sailors who all sleep beneath — I love my river.

1939-2014

     Whitey Schmidt said many of his books were about secrets. He traveled to hundreds of crab houses, some off the beaten path (read: far off the beaten path) to write about the well known and the unknown. He talked to locals around the Chesapeake on how they prepared blue crabs and to owners of roadside stands about their favorite ways to prepare an Eastern Shore tomato, cucumber or peach. He introduced us to these people and their recipes through his 11 books about what these waters and lands produce.

Training makes a happier fellow

Optimus Prime was a playful, high-energy puppy when Sergeant Gregory ‘GJ’ Tomas Jr. received orders deploying him to Afghanistan for a second tour with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Scott Sylte stands firm for his service dog

As the sun dips into the Bay at the Calvert County marina where he lives, 59-year-old Scott Sylte stares into the Chesapeake. He likes an angry sea. With salt-and-pepper beard and a skipper’s cap, he more closely resembles a sea captain than the human rights champion he is.     He doesn’t like the word activist — but it fits him.

Back then we had gardens; now we have Whole Foods

     Biggest problem in today’s society? I think electronics. Children watch too much TV. They have too many toys. They should be going outside, learning how to communicate, exercising.     I grew up in Boston. We would play outside. Football, baseball, hiking. When you’re little, you don’t need video games. I just don’t think you need that. We had cartoons; watched them every once in a while. Not every day; just every once in a while.

Marshall Coffman’s martial ministry

     “You learn through both winning and losing,” says 70-year-old Marshall Coffman, who leads a double life.     As the Reverend Dr. Coffman, he is associate pastor of the Christian Fellowship of Calvert County in Owings. As Sensei Coffman, he is head instructor of Budokan Judo Club at Northeast Community Center. Combining roles, he leads the Judo for Jesus ministry.     This summer, Sensei Coffman earned the lofty rank of fifth-degree black belt.