good with numbers

Kelly K.

My guest blogger today is Kelly K. Kelly has a zillion blogs. Just kidding. Sort of. But seriously, she writes a lot.

Dances with Chaos is where she shares the good, bad, and chaotic about her life. There’s Writing with Chaos where she responds to prompts from Write on Edge.

Kelly’s other blog, I Survived the Mean Girls, is a site for individuals who feel bullied and alone to see many have been there, survived it, and that it is possible to be stronger because of it. Guest submissions make that site work, so if you are interested in writing something for Kelly K. please contact her. You can also follow that blog at @OstracizedTeens.

In real life, Kelly K. has been beyond helpful to me. When I had my meltdown, Kelly K. was there. She is an amazing “fryber” (my made-up word for a cyber-friend) and a fearless writer devoted to expressing herself in as many ways as possible. Her twitter handle is @danceswithchaos. Feel free to subscribe to all her blogs and follow her. I know I do.

• • •
Buzz Champion

Knots twisted my stomach as I stood in front of the class. All eyes focused forward.

On me.

On our teacher.

“Start whenever you’re ready, Kelly,” Mr. Wicks told me, patiently waiting.

“One,” I said, confident. The beginning was easy.

“Two.” He answered quickly.



“Five.” I stared at him, blocking out the rest of my fourth grade class.


“Buzz.” I grinned. I knew better than to fail this early.

He smiled back. “Eight.”



“Buzz.” I smiled again.




Of course, he wouldn’t freeze on the first one. “Fifteen.”


“Buzz.” Would today be the day I finally triumphed?


My palms grew sweaty again, just like several minutes earlier when I’d faced the last classmate standing – finally taking him down to win the title for our class: Buzz Champion.

The numbers climbed and our pace slowed. On each turn, I frantically ran through the lists of Buzz numbers: multiples of seven, numbers with seven in it, matching double digits like fifty-five.

“Eighty-five?” My answers became hesitant, my knowledge of anything past seven times twelve no longer committed to memory.


“Buzz.” What was the next multiple of seven?


What number were we on now? “Eighty-nine?”



He smiled but didn’t speak and I knew.

I had failed. Again.

Mr. Wicks turned and shook my hand. “Congratulations, Kelly.”

He clapped his hands, directing his applause at me.

The class joined in.

I turned to face them, spying looks of awe for battling so high.

I smiled.

I’d get him next time.

• • •

I never beat Mr. Wicks in Buzz, but I did manage to last past one hundred a few times.

I was undefeated in my class for the year.

Mr. Wicks was unique. He was fun and engaging.

He played games like Buzz to make multiplication interesting.

He made you want to please him.

Mr. Wicks saw I thrived on a challenge, and he gave it to me. He never let me win. He wore his pride in my attempts as though I had won.

I was only ten years old, but mourned for the class behind me, because he left our school to become vice-principal at another.

I mourned for all students, because he wouldn’t teach anymore.

As I learned his fate and we turned in our textbooks, he pulled the piece of paper off the wall where it had hung all year long, accumulating names.

“You won more than anyone else. Would you like to keep this, Kelly?”

I reached for the paper, donning a proud smile at how often my name appeared. “Yes.”

I still have it today.

And every time I look at it I grin, remembering the little girl who believed she could defeat her teacher at Buzz.

And I want to thank him.

Buzz Champion -- 1987

In which subject did you kick butt while you were in school? Do you have any weird old elementary school mementos that you keep around?

• • •

If you have writing chops and are interested in submitting a teacher memory, write about one teacher you had and explain how that person helped you (or really screwed things up for you), as well as the life lesson you took away from the interaction.

Essays should be around 700-800 words.

Interested but have questions? Email me!

My information is under the Contact Me tab.

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