Jim Manis's Fall 2007 English 004 Student Essays

The following are two student essays selected from the fall term of 2007 of Jim Manis's English 004 class. English four is a developmental course, intended to prepare students for the regular freshman composition course. Approximately 40 percent of incoming freshmen are required to take this course before taking English 015, the regular composition course.

Generally speaking, English 004 is taught either by having the student focus initially on sentence construction, paragraph development, mechanical skills building, and then moving to generating a complete "five paragraph theme" at the end of the semester; or the course is taught holistically, with essay assignments and then focusing on individual students' needs.

In either case, students are expected to be able to produce standard, competent essays by the end of the semester, approximating what the average student produces in an English 015 course within the first few weeks of taking that course. Following are two examples of the work produced by two such students during the fall semester of 2007. They appear here with the express written permission of their authors and cannot be reprented or reproduced in any fashion without the express written permission of their authors.

What My Grandfathers Taught Me about Work


Kim Schoffler

At a very early age, both of my grandfathers dropped out of school, one at the age of eleven and the other at  sixteen. Working in the coal mines was a part of almost everybody's life back then. My one grandfather worked outside of the mines near a conveyer shoot to pick out the slate from the coal. Then at age of twelve, he went inside the mines to work until he turned eighteen. He never returned to school. Working in the coal mines was his job for the rest of his life. My other grandfather was the same. He worked in the coal mines at the age of nine but still attended school. When he did decide to quite school, at sixteen, he went to work full time at the mines. They both wanted to have a good education and attend school, but they needed to work to be able to earn money for their families.

Both of my grandfathers' experiences with work seemed to help me develop my views on work. I have learned that work is involved in people's lives no matter what the age. Back when my grandfathers were young, work was something they had to do if they weren't going to attend school. Now the laws have changed, and people must attend school. Education is also involved in working. Even though my grandfathers didn't attend school for long, they still had a decent education and received it from working at the mines. Being at the mines helped them develop communication and safety skills, along with production of the coal. After working for the day at the mines, my grandfathers would sit down and read to try to improve their education. Having a sound education is part of receiving a good and successful job.

Personal satisfaction is involved with work. The personal satisfaction that both of my grandfathers had was to be able to raise money for their family when they were still children. My own personal satisfaction with work is to have more knowledge and understanding about work, especially work that is interesting to me. Having personal satisfaction about work can make me a better person and become more successful in life. Working in the coal mines for both of my grandfathers helped them grow as people and like what they were doing. My one grandfather would always say, "Working is never easy. Everything you do revolves around work in your daily life no matter what it is."

Some people look upon work as just a way to earn money and not to actually enjoy what they do. Like both of my grandfathers' views on work, people also just do it because they like to and not worry about how much money they can make. Not all work ends with money. My views on work are that it should be something that people enjoy doing and like to proceed further in if it is possible for them. Both of my grandfathers stuck with their jobs at the coal mines, through bad times and good, because they knew it was all they could do then, since they had quite school and had to work for their families.

Many people have different perspectives on the idea of work. My grandfathers didn't mind working because they knew it was a part of everyday life. We spend many hours a day working, no matter what kind of work it is. In school or even out of school, work is something that people everywhere are always doing. I think about what I will be doing after college, especially with work involved.

Copyright © 2007 Kim Schoffler

What My Grandfather Taught Me


Nick Chernansky

"You're wasting water!" my grandfather yelled, as my cousins and I played on the slip and slide. He then shut the water off. To his disappointment my grandmother would yell at him and explain to him there was no water shortage. As a young man my grandfather worked on the family farm until he was in his mid twenties. It was then he left the farm and joined the army in the midst of World War II. In the army he drove tanks, jeeps and other track vehicles, and he did not come out of the war unscathed. In an incident where his tank was hit by enemy fire, he injured his knee. He only received this injury, however, in the process of being pulled out of the wreckage, not from the impact itself.

After the war he was sent home, where he went back to work on the family dairy farm. He later met my grandmother and married. Their marriage, however, was not approved by both families. My grandfather was Catholic, and my grandmother was Protestant, and for this their marriage came under heavy fire. On one occasion my grandmother received a package from the family of my grandfather. The exact sender was unknown, but the message was clear. It was not a congratulations gift. It was packaged dog droppings. However, they still married despite all the controversy, and my grandfather continued to work on the farm every day from 4:00 a.m. until dark. This life was not always easy, and when my grandfather was hurt on the farm, he received no help from his brothers or sisters. My grandmother had to take up work in a factory until he was better.

He retired from work in his seventies only because he broke his hip on the farm. When I was a child he used to watch me, while my grandmother and mother worked. Mainly this consisted of us watching the Price Is Right and maybe going for a bike ride. He was always cheerful and enjoyed playing around. He usually never talked about the past, his time in the army or the hard times as a kid. His actions reflected it though. He never wasted a morsel of food or let anybody else either, even if that meant he ate everybody's meal for them. He also many times sat in the dark watching TV or sometimes even trying to eat in the dark.

These behaviors made everybody have a deep respect for him. In his later years, on occasion he broke his silence. He told of his experiences and the people he met in the army. When the occasion was really special, he might even conjure up a song or two that he had learned as a kid or from his time over seas. Through all of his talking, I could never discover any bad aspects of his life. He seemed to only tell the good side. He was always the type, even when angry, never to forget to smile and have a little fun. That in his mind was the most important thing.
Copyright © 2007 Nick Chernansky