Keep Up If You Can: Confessions of a High School Teacher

Keep Up If You Can: Confessions of a High School Teacher

by Bill Sherk


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A light-hearted and touching memoir of Bill Sherk’s 30-plus-year career as a Toronto high school history teacher with a creative flair and passion for his work.

Bill Sherk taught history to Toronto high school students for more than thirty years. With his dynamic, creative, and occasionally unorthodox teaching style, he instilled in his students a passion for history and learning. Sherk was loved by his students and remained in their memories long after graduation.

Keep Up If You Can is a light-hearted and touching memoir that will appeal to anyone who’s had a special teacher impact their life.

Fun facts:

He learned the names of all his students on the first day of school.

He assigned ancient names to his ancient history students. They called him Sherkules ( SHERK-yoo-leez ).

After reading Webster’s Dictionary cover to cover, he encouraged his students to coin new words, and many of these were published in his three dictionaries.

Firmly believing in physical activity, he would leap atop his desk and lead his students in an aerobic "Sherkout" to a rock-and-roll beat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459703575
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Publication date: 05/15/2012
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Bill Sherk is a feature writer for Old Autos and also writes a weekly syndicated column, Old Car Detective , for thirty Canadian newspapers. He is also the author of I’ll Never Forget My First Car and Old Car Detective. Sherk lives in Leamington, Ontario.

Table of Contents

Foreword Shannon Whibbs 11

With Special Thanks 15

How Did I Do It? 17

A Note to Teachers 19

Introduction 21

My Frantic First Year at Northern Secondary School 23

1 On the Run to Fourteen Classrooms 25

2 The Day the F-Word Popped Up in Class 27

3 My First In-Class Movie Was a Disaster! 29

4 The Day I Fell Asleep in Class 32

5 Cartoon Maps on the Blackboard 34

6 Three Cheers for Jim McQueen 39

7 Keeping Lessons Fast and Lively 41

8 She Was Only Fired Twice! 44

My Next Nine Years at Northern 45

9 The Man with His Face on Our Ten-Dollar Bill 47

10 Engine Transplants Before Heart Transplants 49

11 Her Dog Had Fleas 52

12 History Teacher Pumps Gas at Local Station 53

13 Effective Writing for Nineteen Years 56

14 A Turkey Almost Landed on the Moon 59

15 "Flushed With Pride" 60

16 "Cooks, Gluttons, and Gourmets" 62

17 Julius Caesar Was in My Class! Cleopatra, Too! 63

18 Pronouncing Ancient Greek Names 67

19 Where Has Ancient History Gone? 68

20 The Story of Henry Heme 69

21 Master of Originality 71

22 Marking … Marking … Marking … 74

23 The Great Bicycle Race 78

24 Robin Hood at Massey Hall 80

25 Reading the Dictionary One Page a Day 82

26 Catching a Streaker… 89

27 See This Piece of Chalk? 91

28 Spelling Mistakes 92

29 September a Special Month 97

30 Memory Power 99

My Twenty-One Years at North Toronto Collegiate Institute 103

31 Arriving at North Toronto 105

32 Are You "Sesquilingual?" 106

33 Letter from Pierre Berton 108

34 Two Visits to Stonehenge in One Day 110

35 "Stayin' Alive" in the Stone Age! 112

36 Hi-Jinx 1979 114

37 "See You Later, Exfiltrator!" 117

38 Five Hundred Years of New Words 118

39 Get Ready for a "Sherkout"! 121

40 Elvis: Live from the Grave! 127

41 Were You Born in Farch? 130

42 Memorizing "High Flight" and Other Poems 131

43 Where Do You Come From? 134

44 From Model T Ford to Mustang Convertible 136

45 The Grapes of Wrath 140

46 Did Columbus Really "Discover" America? 143

47 Guidance Report by Air Mail 145

48 From Robert E. Lee to Lee Iacocca 147

49 Interview Your Grandparents 149

50 Three Students "Moon" a School Assembly 151

51 Rock Around the Block! 152

52 A Most Unusual Question 155

53 Voting on Date and Format of Test 156

54 "You're Giving Me a Zero?" 159

55 "I Hear You're Writing a Screenplay!" 160

56 History Jokes I Told in Class 163

57 Alexander the Great Died of a Fever… 165

58 Wardrobe Changes in Thirty-One Years 166

59 An Italian Motorcycle in My History Class 169

60 High School Reunion in 1966 172

61 Reciting the Alphabet Backwards 176

62 How the Future Became the Past 179

63 When I Was in High School … 181

64 No Smoking! 182

65 Three Magic Words 184

66 My First Call on a Cellphone 186

67 My Farewell Address 187

Life After Teaching 191

68 "Are You Still Working on That Screenplay?" 193

69 "David Letterman Calling!" 195

70 My Former Students Pop Up Everywhere 199

71 Rocking Back and Forth 201

72 Cab Ride in Toronto 202

73 I Pay Less Than $20 for Gas 203

74 Who's Afraid to Go to Mars? 205

75 William Shakespeare or William Sherkspeare? 206

76 Farewell to Jack Layton 208

77 In Closing… 209

The Cars We Drove in High School 211

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“After reading this book, memories of one’s own high school days and antics should be streaming to mind.”

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