For you Sally as promised:


Once upon a time there was a teacher who told her class that if they could read and spell all the “ist” words in a story she has written, she would give each winner one hundred dollars plus one. When she asked them who would be interested in entering the “ist” contest, everyone raised their hands. “Oh my goodness” said the teacher, “If everyone wins the contest, it will cost me three thousand and thirty one dollars.” She thought about changing her mind, but decided that it wouldn’t be proper. She thought about making it too hard to win, but decided that it wouldn’t be proper either. She thought about being absent from school for a whole week so maybe the kids would forget about it. Then she decided that would be avoiding the issue and would be weaseling out of a promise. She thought that maybe she could move way up into the mountains so no one would ever find her, but that was too silly. Maybe she could make up something different, and even easier and present it to the kids, but she knew they would not go for it. She thought maybe she could tell them that she is very stressed over the promise of the “ist” contest and they would let her out of the promise. But then, she would not be happy with herself. She was thinking that she could just say it was a mistake. No she said out loud, “A promise is a promise.”

The next day the teacher began to explain about “ist” words and how the contest will work.

She said, “ You will all get a story with many words that end in “ist.” You will have to read all of them and tell what they mean out loud to the class. If you read them all and tell what they mean, you will win the contest. You will all have to have your parents sign a participation letter that says they give their permission for you to enter the contest and accept the prize money. If you do not bring the letter signed by one parent back to school, you may still enter the contest and win, but I will not be able to give you the prize money without their consent.

Colby raised his hand and asked: “What are “ist” words?

The teacher asked, “Does anyone know what “ist” words are?”

Carly raised her hand and said, “Is violinist an “ist” word?

The teacher said, “Yes.”

Colby raised his hand and said, “Oh I get it, and words like hobbyist and guitarist are “ist” words.”

Yes, said the teacher. A violinist is a person who plays the violin, a hobbyist is a person who pursues an activity in their spare time for pleasure, and a guitarist is a musician who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of instruments such as acoustic guitars, electric guitars, classical guitars, and bass guitars. So you will see that “ist” at the end of words refers to a person doing something as his work, or as his profession.

Carly added that her dad is a guitarist.

Colby said that he is studying to become a guitarist.

The teacher said that everyone’s homework would be to come up with an “ist” word and bring it in to class the next morning.

The teacher was happy that she did not try to end the “ist” contest. The students were happy, too. When the bell rang, all of the students ran out of the room saying, ist, ist, ist, ist.

Carly and Colby could hardly wait for the next morning to see all of the new words with IST at the end.

The next morning, all of the kids huddled together in the playground sharing their words. The bell rang. Everyone lined up and they were all so excited they could hardly stand still. Soon it would be time for the teacher to come to get them and walk them into the classroom. Here comes the teacher. Oh do you know the teacher’s name?

It is Mrs. Cynthia Noncooperationist. Really? Really!

All of the students sat very quietly in their seats because they knew it was time for the teacher to collect the contest words.

Mrs. Noncooperationist said, “Boys and Girls, I have a basket on my desk and I would like all of the people in row 1 to put their word in the basket.” All of the students in row 1 had words to put in the basket. Everyone had done his or her homework. Row 2 put their words in the basket and row three put theirs in as well. In total, the teacher collected 31 words.

She had decided to break up the lesson into three parts. The first part had 10 words, the second part had ten words, and the third part had ten words. Hey, you are thinking to yourself, “that is only thirty words.” You are right, but one of the words was Mrs. Noncooperationist. This is a word put in by Joey and the teacher thinks you should be able to read and spell her name. She explained that she thought it was very unique for Joey to put her name in the basket. The definition of noncooperationist is a person who is not willing to work together with another person, group, or organization. Mrs. Noncooperationist said that when she got married to Mr. Noncooperationist, she decided to take his name as her married name. Before she was married, she was called Miss Cynthia Activist. Mrs. Noncooperationist said that she really does like to cooperate and work as a team member, and not as her name suggests.

Here are the first ten words:

  1. Nonspecialist: a person who is not a specialist in any given field.
  2. Accordionist: An accordion is a box shaped musical instrument of hand held bellows. Sometimes called a squeezebox. The person who plays an accordion is an Accordionist.
  3. Journalist: a person who gathers and writes about current events, trends, issues, and people’s viewpoints. A reporter is a type of journalist.
  4. Keyboardist: a person who plays keyboard musical instruments.
  5. Machinist: a person who uses machine tools to make or modify primarily metal parts.
  6. Lyricist: a writer who specializes in song lyrics, usually paid for by a band to write custom songs. A Lyricist is a songwriter.
  7. Agriculturalist: a person who studies the science, art, and business of cultivating soil, producing crops and raising livestock; farming.
  8. Bacteriologist: a person who studies and investigates a group of single-celled microorganisms that are classed as bacteria. There are over 10,000 species of bacteria and new ones are being discovered each day.
  9. Industrialist: a person who is a businessman and whose wealth has been gained from business and industry.

10.Balloonist: A balloon is a type of air-

craft that remains aloft due to its

buoyancy. A balloon travels by

moving with the wind. A Balloonist

knows all about flying balloons.

Rachel raised her hand and said, “ I

would like to be a balloonist part time

and an economist for my career choice.


Here are the second ten “ist” words:


  1. Zoologist: a person who studies animals in their natural habitats and in the laboratory in order to learn as much as possible about animal life.
  2. Vocalist: a person who is a singer and uses her or his voice to produce music.
  3. Alchemist: a person who practices alchemy. Alchemy is an early discipline or practice of combining the elements of chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, astrology, semiotics, mysticism, and art.
  4. Loyalist: a person who remains loyal to the established government, political party, or sovereign (no higher power or supreme lawmaking authority) especially during a war or revolutionary change.
  5. Manicurist: a person who gives manicures, which include fingers and toes. A manicurist is a licensed nail technician who cleans, trips and polishes nails for a living.
  6. Percussionist: a musician who plays percussion instruments such as xylophone, marimba, chimes, cymbals, dulcimer, drums, tubular bells and more.


  1. Floriculturist: a person concerned with horticulture (plants and flowers) and concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens. Also a Floriculturist is interested in the development of plant breeding and creating new varieties of plants.


  1. Landscapist: There are two definitions for Landscapist. One is someone who arranges features such as plants, furniture, and sculptures in the landscape or garden. Another Landscapist is someone who paints landscapes.
  2. Perfectionist: is a person who believes in perfectionism and demands perfection from everyone. In other words, everything has to be perfect or the perfectionist will be displeased.
  3. Receptionist: is a person who is     often the first business contact a person will meet at any organization. A receptionist is a person in the office who is in a support position. They usually work in a waiting area such as a lobby or front office desk and greet visitors, patients, or clients.


And finally here are the final 10:

  1. Saxophonist: is a musician who plays the saxophone.

2.Vacationist: is a person taking a vacation, especially someone who is a tourist, sightseer, or traveler.

3.Urbanologist: is a person who specializes in the problems of cities and urban life.

4.Mineralogist: is a person who specializes and studies the process of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals and their geographical distribution as well as their utilization.

5.Oceanologist: is a person who studies the sea in all its aspects, including oceanography, geophysical phenomena, undersea exploration, economic and military uses of the sea.

6.Romanticist: a person who has a romantic view of life, one that does not take into consideration science, but rather through music, literature and the visual arts. It is someone who has a romantic attitude or style.

7.Adventurist: a person who looks for   adventure by taking trips, hiking, outdoor adventures, and takes some risks and a person who likes to experiment to make their world less boring.

8.Aeronomist: a person who studies the upper atmosphere, especially regions of ionized gas and realms of other planets, satellites, and comets.

9.Gastroenterologist: a person who is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders in the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.

10.Hypnotherapist: a person who induces hypnotic state in clients to increase motivation or alter behavior patterns for positive results through hypnosis.

Mrs. Noncooperationalist began to think about having to spend $3,031.00 if all of the students won the contest. She would make sure everyone would win if they put the time into the project. She told the students that if you worked at a job and made the minimum wage, which is $8.00 an hour, you would have to work 12.4 hours to make the amount of money which is the prize for this contest. She told them that if they were willing to make this a job, they would win. Instead of running away from her “ist” words promise, she was going to add 10 more words as extra credit words to make her feel better about spending the $3,031.00. All of the students started to groan. She said, “Take it or leave it. But if you take it be prepared to study. It will take some time, and “time is money” where I come from,” she said.


  1. Educationalist: a specialist in the

theory of education

  1. Hematologist: a medical specialist who study diseases and disorders of the blood and blood-forming tissues, such as bone marrow and the spleen.
  2. Ethnomethodologist: a person who uses this method for understanding the social orders people use to make sense of the world through analyzing their accounts and descriptions of their day-to-day experiences.
  3. Musicologist: a person who knows the historical and scientific studies of music and a person who is a constant student of musicology.
  4. Geochronologist: a person who studies geology that describes the past in terms of geologic (history of earth’s time and earth’s history) rather than human time.
  5. Neuropharmacologist: a person who is concerned with drug-induced changes in the functioning cells in the nervous system.
  6. Watercolorist: a painter who paints with watercolors.
  7. Surrealist: an artist who is a member of the movement called surrealism, which began, in the early 1920’s.
  8. Acupuncturist: a person who is qualified or professionally engaged in the practice of acupuncture.
  9. Numerologist: a person who believes

in traditions and in a mystical

relationship between numbers,

physical objects and living things.

You know the ending to this story already.



33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sally Sacon
    Sep 17, 2014 @ 10:52:24

    You wrote all this last night??? My favorite is vacationist. and I don’t know the ending! What happened? And what grade was this?


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 17, 2014 @ 14:29:42

      The ending is what you think happened and perhaps this will help. I leaned bribery from my grandfather. I told him I did not want to finish college and he said, “What do you want to finish?” I told him, I wanted a car. I finished college and got the car. So, along the line I have used the art of bribery, with parental approval. Bribery has and has not worked. If I say I will give you something if the job gets done, the only way you will not get it is if I am dead!
      I did not write this a last night, but this was the first one out of the pipe! I should have cleaned up the ending, but I will tell you it was grade 3. I always elevated the curriculum and created students with tools for elevated thinking and a means to achieve life’s goals..
      Thank you for reading and replying.


  2. Dina
    Sep 18, 2014 @ 17:31:01

    Mrs.Clapkinist – A one of a kind teacher (My favorite!)


  3. Joyce Rettela
    Sep 18, 2014 @ 22:08:58

    I’m sleepy and it’s too late to read every word. Guess I’m a nonconformist. Have a good evening.


  4. Ilene Meyers
    Sep 18, 2014 @ 23:31:01

    Let me start by saying I Love your outfit. The word that pops into my mind is
    capitalist; a person whose money and property are used in carrying on business.
    I’m definitely for capitalism.However, I was much cheaper than you…I used M&Ms
    and, of course, there was also the treasure chest.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 19, 2014 @ 09:42:29

      M&M’s and treasure chests work too. I just got carried away a few times. I offered two students most likely Not to succeed $1,000 when they graduated high school. Got parental permission for everything and anything involving money, by the way. Believe it or not, I am still willing to pay off, but sadly have not heard from either of them.


  5. Brendelle
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 08:49:22

    Love your blog…….

    Activist……..practice that emphasizes direct vigorous ACTION… have encouraged me to get back on track, thanks.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 19, 2014 @ 09:35:33

      I am back on track, too. We sometimes need someone to motivate us from time to time. This blog made me work hard and that is what feels so good about it! Thank you Brendie.
      Sally at my Tarzana Book Forum motivated me to get back on track!


  6. Andy Clapkin
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 09:21:27

    You sure motivated your students with all the creative activities, wish I had a teacher like that when I was in school. Love the picture and all the things you write about, this was a fun one 🙂


  7. Sheila Clapkin
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 09:37:55

    Hey Andy,
    YOU did have a teacher like me and still do. Only your teacher often comes to you for advice nowadays . Oh how sometimes the tables turn in a good direction! Thank YOU!
    Momma, Teacher, Friend,


  8. ellie & dick
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 09:50:16

    your students were fortunate to have such a creative teacher…in fact, we’re
    all lucky to have you in our lives.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 19, 2014 @ 12:53:55

      Truth be known, I was lucky to have such wonderful students and they still remember so many great things we did together.
      We love you and are lucky we are still here to share our lives. Continued good health.


  9. josie E. Martin
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 10:32:31

    I love the picture of you, so 1960’s. Gorgeous young woman. Not sure how the story ended, but i bet the administration came down hard if they got the word. I didn’t use bribery until I got to 36th Street School near USC. Then it was all tricks and treats.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 19, 2014 @ 13:01:13

      Tricks and Treats they still go after…
      The administration was in on it. I always had parents sign participation permission documents.
      I learned that from our prize winning video days. It was always assured that every student would win.
      I am still waiting to give $1,000 to two students I promised I would award them upon seeing their high school diploma.
      Parent permission signed documents still in my files, I hope…
      Thank you for reading and commenting.


  10. Tom mCkISSACK
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 15:58:42

    Brava, teach. What a neat way to teach and keeping your word to the kids IS the best part.


  11. Marie Loscalzo
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 17:51:31

    Quite a story and a delight to read as are all your writings, so like hearing you talk. Like others, I’m not sure of the ending, but that’s ok because that isn’t as important as the body. You must have been an inspiring teacher, the one the kids remember with a smile on their face.. God bless.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 20, 2014 @ 08:05:08

      Marie, I was inspiring as were you, but I think I was inspiring because of the students and their bright shining faces.
      I loved going to the classroom each morning. Do I miss it. some of it yes, and some of it no.
      God Bless you precious friend.


  12. Sheryl
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 19:28:10

    What a wonderful story! It sounds like you had a knack for making learning a fun adventure. And, the picture is great. I wish that we had handbags like that now. 🙂


  13. Sheila Clapkin
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 09:32:35

    I enjoyed my teaching days for the most part. The kids were great fun and challenging. I did create new ways to get special students to learn. I am reaping the rewards especially on Facebook. The kids says such lovely things about our time together. They remember amazing things we did and books we read. We even did a rain dance once and it rained!
    Thank you for reading and commenting!


  14. Everett Essex
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 16:16:44

    Ahhhh I was eager to see how many students won the contest! I loved it, you have me wishing it was longer. Love how “Mrs. Noncooperationalist” was considering moving to the mountains to escape, but also appreciate how much of a mentor she realized she was to her students. Reminds me a lot of a particular mentor of mine I once had. 🙂


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 22, 2014 @ 17:00:55

      Oh, Everett, how wonderful to hear back from you. You are so special.
      Every student won. You know I always made everyone winners. Why not? Aren’t we?
      You can begin to trust the world when you win a few. Let us keep in touch and
      thank you for reading and commenting!


    • Monica Ruiz
      Sep 28, 2014 @ 02:21:33

      Hey Everette! I remember you from elementary @ Calvert St. ☺ Glad to see you remember Mrs. Clapkin too! Hope all has been well in your life since 5th grade graduation 😊 take care!


      Monica Ruiz


  15. Carly Marshall
    Sep 23, 2014 @ 18:39:15

    I love that story! I want all of them to win!


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 23, 2014 @ 20:35:11

      You will be happy. Everyone wins in that contest.
      I believe in making it possible for as many people as I can to feel what it is like to win! Winning is a special upward feeling.


  16. Monica Ruiz
    Sep 27, 2014 @ 18:51:47

    Everytime I look back to my childhood, in one of those random reminiscent thoughts we get from time to time, I’m always reminded of my favorite teacher. And so, I was intrigued to look her up! What else is the World Wide Web good for anyway 😜

    My 5th grade teacher at Calvert street elementary school in the little city of Woodland Hills, CA was the best, if not, one of the only teachers from grade school I can ever remember clearly. Not only did she teach the normal 5th grade agenda in a fun, insightful way, she also taught me how to use and express my creativity, how to be accepting of others with Tolerance, and how earthworms help turn pencil shavings & food scraps into useful dirt. With her encouragement and tenacity for creativity, she would assign my peers and I projects such as entering county art contests and making our own books. SERIOUSLY, she showed us how to bind them ourselves and everything…I even made mine into a pop up book 😊 I also won 2nd place and a $500 savings bond in that county art contest 😉But best of all, she taught me about life without me even realizing it.

    I was only 10 years old at the time I was in YOUR class. And now at 25 I can say whole heartily that I am so grateful for the experiences shared in your classroom, Mrs. Clapkin. Because of your enthusiasm for knowledge and discovery, you shaped my perception of this world and our country in an enlightening way. A fond memory I have is seeing my mother’s reaction to the Holocaust exhibit during a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance. Even my mother was taught something about history that day that I’m sure she would’ve never know otherwise, being that she immigrated from Mexico when she was just 9 years old. After the field trip, she said to me that she had never seen anything like that when she was in school and that she really liked you as a teacher.

    There are no words to express my appreciation for all you did for me and hopefully still do for others today. I think children in this generation would greatly benefit from more teachers like you, although I don’t believe there are any out there that can compare to you Mrs. Clapkin! I hope you have had a blessed life and continue to do so.

    Sincerely and with much admiration,

    Your former student, Monica Mia Ruiz(formerly Medrano)


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 27, 2014 @ 23:05:53

      Monica, oh, Monica you do not know how much this thrills and delights me, or perhaps you do.
      For you to write such glorious things brings me to happy tears and lots of them. You write so beautifully always did, even won a prize for it and money,too.
      When I was teaching, I was the happiest person on the planet. I am truly happy now, too, but it is a different high!
      I am well and have your email. I want to contact you, too. Thank you dear Monica for this tribute and thank you for making me so
      happy and fulfilled.
      Sincerely pleased feel so appreciated,
      Sheila Clapkin
      Hello to your family!


  17. Nuala
    Sep 27, 2014 @ 20:31:41

    Did I get the ‘gist’ of it? Definitely!

    ‘e’ and ‘ducere’ combined are the Latin root for ‘education’ — to draw out from within.
    Oh! I’m drawn into the wonder of your creativity!!!


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 27, 2014 @ 23:16:11

      You get me every time. Thank you fornaming my creativity. It just comes and out and is so totally a part of me I do not even recognize it.
      But I see by your definition, it is true, we draw out from within! It works well. It is a wonder. I am mesmerized by wonders.
      Thank you for your lovely, loving support!


  18. Mona Gustafson Affinito
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 18:34:49

    This is my first visit to your blog. The comments have made me a believer/follower. Amazing work.


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