Call for Student Rappers: Send Us Your Entries for Grandpa and the Truck

***But you might like to order the books first (check them out and order from Amazon.)

Note the book reviews from customers:  Highest marks from educators, librarians, truckers, parents…and kids.

Got kids in a class that like to rap? Video their efforts (with dramatic flourishes, as explained below) and maybe they’ll appear on the website (with parental permission, of course.) What else might the winning Rhode Island class rappers get? A visit from none other than the trucker and his teacher/writer wife…We’ll bring the big rigs to you, along with his exciting stories and sound effects.

Grandpa and the Truck Rap…..empty pockets big rigGrandpa in trucking gear aside white truck (2)

Three little kids (2 boys…one girl), with crazy hats?, colorful sunglasses (on one?), leaning against trees in their backyard, or on a playground, rap to following: They ham it up, putting on “surprise” face (“was surprised”) or make steering motions for line “That he manned the big rigs.” Imagine their other effects, too, as they rap to the following…..

 Asked Grampy what he did

For his money-earning gig

Was surprised when he told us

That he manned the big rigs.


In his truck, “Proud Mary”

Sitting high on his seat,

Went to every state but one…

Oh, that job was sweet….


****(Cut away to one boy saying)………”Except for when it wasn’t”


Saw a 6-car pileup

Off a California highway

Following a “smokie”

On a super-foggy day


Partner Ralph found out

Just how dangerous it can get

In the foothills of Virginia

When bloodhounds aren’t pets.


In Biloxi, Mississippi

Grandpa stopped for shrimp ‘n grits

But his motel lost its roof

When the hurr-i-cane hit.


Rhody’s “Girl Truckers” proves

Men and women are the same

They should do the jobs they want to

Never ones based on their names.


Soon… Grandpa will tell

Of the time he got stuck

On a New York State highway

Two whole days in his truck


(One child says: “They called it ‘Woodstock.’ “)


Then, there’s West Virginia

When he climbed that mountain road

In coal-mining region

With a full household load.


(Little girl says: “To bring a little girl her toys.”)


His stories teach geography

In a way that’s really cool

They tell us other things, too…

Not always taught in school…


Grammy says they’re ‘wholesome’ (Other little boy shrugs “What’s that?”)

Their lessons are a must…

They’re all “Made in America”…(Pause)

In a way… they’re just like us.


Contest Ends:  June 1st, 2015, with visit shortly after that. 

E-Mail:; Twitter–@Teachertracks



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Student Loan Sharks–Finally Relief!

loan shark picI felt like the stereotypical problem gambler in the vise-like grip of creditors (predators,) owing way more interest than I’d originally signed on for. How so? Quite simply, I was at the mercy (there is none) of debt collectors, because I hadn’t paid my student loans.

But I wasn’t some casual drifter who ignored responsibilities. I was a mother who paid a caretaker to look after my young child while I worked. I was a single parent, before the era of deadbeat Dads (so I got no court-mandated child support from my former spouse.) I was raising my child, on an income that often didn’t stretch far enough. My older car broke down, often, and I had all the usual bills.

In my world of extreme priorities, I’d let the college loan debt lapse.

But, as I said: I was no ‘casual drifter.’ I was a teacher.

The harassment began in an unnerving way. The school secretary called me on the intra-building phone:   “Mrs. Allen (my name then), there’s someone on the phone who says it’s ‘critical’ to speak with you.” I nervously asked: “Is it the police or a hospital?” (I feared someone in my family being in a terrible accident.) The office person simply answered: “They didn’t say, but we’ll send someone up right away to relieve you.”

When I picked up the call, a collection agent informed me I was in arrears on my student loan. He asked me how I was going to ‘right the situation.’

With clerks bustling about and students arriving, getting late slips for class, I was pretty much silenced, in any form of protest. I mumbled I’d try to get ‘it’ (payment) to them. He insisted: “When?” I responded “This week.” He persisted: “OK, I’m noting that we’ve had this conversation and you’re stating you’ll have the payment in, by the end of the week” (it was Monday). I mumbled some kind of assent. I wanted this whole embarrassing conversation over.

I walked back to class, feeling bullied and bruised. It took a while for the anger to percolate, but it finally did, as I considered: The collector got me out of class, on the pretext there was some ‘emergency;’ they put me in the awkward situation of answering (or ‘non-answering’ to be more exact) in front of an office full of people; he got me to say I’d pay by the end of the week (when I hadn’t enough money for food.) I knew, even in my compromised state, that this was wrong.

Later that day I spoke with a lawyer friend who advised: “They can’t call and harass you at your workplace. That’s illegal.” He offered even more: “I’ll tell them to cease and desist.”

In the months ahead, I discovered I needn’t repay the loan at all, for a special proviso operated for teachers like me: I taught in a school with a high concentration of low, socio-economic families (on Welfare, reduced-lunches, etc.)

In effect, 15% of my loan was forgiven each year, ad infinitum. All I had to do was put in the paperwork, attesting to such. Had the collector even mentioned this to me? Absolutely not. They’re trained to get in…harass the borrower (even better, if in public forum)…and get out, with a promise to pay by certain date.

Today, I sympathize with students who have burgeoning school debt. Young debtors today never foresaw what they’d face in life. They thought their salaries would sustain them—not leave them without enough to meet their bills, and many still don’t have jobs. They never knew the predatory practices of bill collectors who’ve been amazingly brazen and free ‘til now. Worse yet, some have operated with approval and backing (contract-wise) of the Dept. of Education.

News media finally signal progress with the US Dept of Education’s latest move—to repudiate the predators. My question: “Why’d it take so very long?”

**If you know of someone whom this predatory behavior affects, pls. send this post along to him or her or share your perspective in the Comments section, below…..

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The Plot Thickens: Teachers Act Out on Common Core and PAARC

Today’s Sheila Resseger commentary in the Providence Journal
is a call to arms for parents, educators, and all who care where we’re going regarding Common Core and the PAARC.

It’s not the first time former teacher Resseger’s weighed in, but her war cry’s gaining traction: Teachers’ union NEARI has determined to inform parents that they may, in fact, opt their kids out of these questionable tests, with no adverse consequences.
Yep…They’re all tired. And sick of what they see as flagrant violation of what we should all be about in the education of our youth.
“The problem,” the way they see it? Business and industry running the show, folks who know little about how students learn but who know a whole lot about how to make a profit. And profit they’re making, as stock watchers readily admit: Pearson (the group who determined Common Core standards and now who design the PAARC test) is zinging off the charts, as a company, as seen in the stock’s growth per this graph representation.

Here’s more, too, on how Pearson got their influential command of US education.

In a Nero-fiddling-while-Rome-burns scenario (OK, metaphor could be better,) schools and teachers quake as they see little ones hunched over tests, trying desperately to answer questions that are muddied and incomprehensible.

Parents and all those in the educational need to end this madness and return our schools to what they should be about–educating our youth.

Not providing the next best return on a Stock Market investment.


A tangential problem however:  What to do with the kids who’ve opted out of the significant amount of time ear-marked for the test situation? Do they stare blindly into space or should they be allowed to pursue other activities, quietly? No simple answers here.

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If You’ve Gotta ‘Do Common Core’…At Least Let This Real Teacher Help

tyler-triplets-grandfather-and-the-truckYou know what teachers’ biggest complaint is? Pseudo teachers telling us how to teach.  You know who I mean…the self-appointed, supposed experts…the ones who got out of the classroom…or never got into it…because they were either being eaten alive by the kids or they feared that fate.

Now, they’ve morphed into education’s resident experts who tell us REAL teachers how to do the job.

This real teacher offers an alternative:  If you must employ Common Core, why not invite a real teacher and her trucker partner to show how CC’s potential might be realized via every child’s interest in the big rigs. How? We teach life skills, geography, science, weather, and history, through our colorful character–the long-haul trucker who traveled America’s highways for 30 years. 

His stories are fascinating and riveting.

First school in Rhode Island test-driving our stories? Fort Barton, in Tiverton, one of America’s select Blue Ribbon Schools for Excellence. Grandpa and the Truck will guest-speak there in mid-May.

This school’s openness to trying this new venture (such as utilizing Grandpa and the Truck books to get across Common Core principles) might be one of the reasons Fort Barton is so special…

We hope others will follow their lead and sign on.

Other news? Grandpa and the Truck will appear as a vendor at the Rhode Island Library Association Conference in Newport, in late May….

Wish to contact us? Go to

P.S. Don’t let the pic fool you of the little guys reading the books:  These books aren’t ‘just for boys’…Book 2 features the exciting story of two Rhode Island women who became legends in the the long-haul trucking industry.

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Each Year Shapes a Teacher’s Future

cropped colleen-katie's pic of sharon and me“Just as trees add rings of growth each year, good teachers wax in their craft right ‘til the end. “

                       Colleen Kelly Mellor

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What’s Your Teaching Flavor?

This gallery contains 2 photos.

  Teaching Styles The picture?’s of the iconic apple that folks always associate with teachers. So, my question to you: As teacher, are you of the red “Delicious” variety or the slightly-tart, green, of the “Granny Smith” family? I … Continue reading

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Expect There’ll Be Reaction….But I Never Know From Where…

I’ve always pretty much gotten notice, for either being one of the tallest women in the room (at 5’9”)….having former “kids” recognize me in super markets or at the Mall, and now, from folks who read my Op-Ed’s in the newspaper.
All have brought forth interesting reactions. When some of my former students comment “You haven’t changed much at all,” I answer: “You mean, I looked 69 when I taught you?” We all laugh.
On the other hand, they’ve changed a great deal from the adolescent youngsters I knew. Now they’re adults, with their own kids.
But my interaction with readers, lately, is what I find so interesting.
Yesterday, husband and I had lunch where we often do, at a local spot where we go to get good soup. It’s a break I afford myself each day, after several hours of writing.
Another “frequent eater” was there, one I’d seen, often, before. We nodded and I shared the fact that this place reminds me of Cheers where ‘everyone knows your name’ (I didn’t know how wrong I’d be.)
As we talked, I asked what she’d done, for a career, and she told me she’d worked in NYC for many years, in the high fashion industry. It made sense: I’d always seen her as attractive and stylish. Apparently, she’d remained single for well into her late 30’s, when she left the business world to marry. I told her I thought that career switch from NYC excitement to Rhode Island wife had to be daunting.
Here’s the fun part: When I proceeded to introduce myself, she said: “Oh, I know who you are…I read your column all the time. You’re a very good writer.”
Then, the punchline. She added: “You’re Sally Mellor.”
Well, I gotta say: I laughed, as I gently corrected the woman: “No, Sally Mellor is a realtor in town. I’m Colleen Kelly Mellor.”…But I can see how you’d make that mistake, with us both having the same last name.
So, here’s the take-away. I never know how or where I impact, but it’s fun, getting this public reaction.
Of course, if readers don’t like my writing style, I allow them to continue being confused, as to my true identity…

My eating spot doesn’t have to be like Cheers….really.

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Grandpa and the Truck Books Meet Common Core Standards

fleet of trucks--grandpa and the truck

The really exciting news? Our Grandpa and the Truck books are recognized by schools and teachers who say “Grandpa and the Truck” books align with Common Core. As 30 year, successful teacher, I wasn’t really surprised. Many of us always used the principles of Common Core, in teaching; it’s just that now, those principles are codified.

Why’d I write this series (2 books published now, with more to come)? Because no one else had done it. Read that:  No one ever wrote a series for kids that tracks the thrilling adventures of a long-haul trucker, as he travels across America.

Why’d this fact gobsmack me? Because  trucks are the perfect vehicle to teach kids important information. Anyone who’s ever witnessed trash day in the neighborhood knows that little ones wait excitedly by the windows to catch a glimpse of the garbage truck in action. When the compressor jaws close, they squeal in delight…and those truckers repay the children for their loyalty by honking at them.

Why else did I write this series? Today, children only seem to know our great nation in terms of  tech devices–TV and what a GPS device tells them. We aim to change that. We’ll bring them up to different regions of our great land, letting them know the different personalities of the states through which our big rig passes. In addition, they’ll witness major historical events through the eyes of a trucker.

They’ll learn trucker lingo (the words and phrases we can share!)…and important life lessons (like why “it’s not always wise to follow the leader”); they’ll learn of the special bond between a big rig driver and his truck (they pretty them up and name them); they’ll learn of the unique, often-solitary life of the men and women who drive thousands of miles across America in snow, sleet, ice (and even a hurricane), to bring to us the products we use every day.

It’s a story that’s never been told. Our hero is a 30 year, career big rig driver, born in the back woods of Arkansas but transplanted to Rhode Island. He was a career soldier who built bridges, hospitals, and schools, in the United States and later, in other lands, where he led his National Guard unit. Throughout it all, he was the consummate trucker. And because he was named to Atlas Van Lines’s Elite Fleet of drivers (for a spotless driving record, over many years), he makes a perfect model trucker.

His big rig’s pretty cool, too. Together, he and”Proud Mary” (his truck) travel millions of miles, all across America….

So, hop onto the seat along with Grandpa as we tell you his tales of trucking. And if you want a special visit to your classroom, let us know that, too. We’re beginning to test-drive Grandpa and the Truck books to select elementary school audiences…

See what we offer and buy the books for holiday gift-giving, those countless birthday gifts you need presents for (we sign and personalize, so this gift is “special” indeed). We’re at… present--books

**** Want Colleen Kelly Mellor and the trucker to bring the trucker’s experience to your class? Contact her at

*****Want her as guest speaker to your group, about writing and seeking publication later in life, sharing those important lifetime experiences? Same email as above.

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Come This Saturday to Authors’ Expo…and Get Books for the Holidays

But, we’d really just love to meet you…We’ll have a trucker display, with the big rigs, and maybe even some sound effects (like an air horn). fleet of trucks--grandpa and the truck

Come Saturday to our first appearance at RI Authors’ Expo, West Warwick’s Civic Center (see flyer)…We are the first husband/wife team who produce the Grandpa and the Truck books (for kids 4-9), about husband’s 30-year big rig career, transporting household goods all over America. OOIDA has named us “Cool Gifts for Kids” and Women in Trucking endorses us, too. And now, schools are inviting us in, since we’re the perfect vehicle to teach geography, nature, science, math, and important life lessons and they love the fact we meet  Common Core standards. We and our books will be at West Warwick Arena, in RI this Sat. from 10-3, for RIAuthors’ Expo. Truckers get special discount if show us their CDL. Our books make perfect gifts (we sign and personalize for kids) and they let others know the important role truckers play in moving America.

Expo2014flyersmallchristmas present--books

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“Thanks” for Your Major Role in My Career….

colleen cropped in plaid shirt

But I Did Take a Breather This Summer….

Last year, I kept a punishing schedule, writing each day, from 7:00 AM til 1:00 PM, while I maintained two regular columns–one for the Providence Journal’s Op-Ed pages and another as transplant to our North Carolina mountain town, Asheville, for an alternative newspaper called the Mountain Xpress (it’s like the Providence Phenix.)

When I came back to Rhode Island, I thought:  “It’s been a long time since I ‘just played.’” So I did. As a result, I’ve had my best summer in years. We’ve gone out with a ton of people and enjoyed social events all across the spectrum. I even went to Seekonk Speedway to watch those insane mini cars hurtle down the track (friends talked me into it.) They told me later that I’d probably like Demolition Derby better than the limp version I witnessed, but SS isn’t really my thing (too much smoke and too little quiet.)

Older daughter and grandkids visited twice and we even took them to Waterfire!–pic below  (tho’ I waterfirehate crowds). They’ve just transplanted to that Green City, Seattle, where she’ll head the Creative Division for REI (she’s in pic with the twins; their younger brother was in camp.). We’ll visit them soon.kerry and grndsons in Seattle

Had a lobster boil at the house, with friends. Caught up with others visiting from Hilton Head…Duxbury…Florida. We’ll visit them in the winter time (we get the better deal there.)

I take a Yoga class, weekly, with an instructor/friend and practice twice more at home. A group of us women sweeten Yoga Fridays with lunch afterwards…

On the professional front,  I’m the new MC/host of “Lively Literati” (at the Elephant Room, 2170 Broad St., in the Edgewood section of Cranston,) the last Thursday of every month. Please consider coming…It’s great fun! I’ve included the flyer…. Brought me back to my teaching days, and I gotta say:  I love it.  People are fun! I introduce the folks who’ll do short readings of poetry or prose. So, check us out and then dip your literary toe in the pool, if you wish….

In June, I attended my first writers’ conference—Ocean State Writers’ Conference, for three days, at my old Alma Mater, URI, finding it thrilling and encouraging, and it’s allowed me to network with more local writers. I even met an old boyfriend there. Can you imagine? If anyone out there wonders about the value of writers’ conferences, I admit:  I’m now a diehard supporter and plan to attend more (No!…not cuz I want to meet more former boyfriends!)

Most exciting of all?  I’m now a MONTHLY contributor to the Providence Journal.  Yep, thanks to you readers, I’m one of the ‘Stars’ on the newspaper’s prestigious Op-Ed pages, determined by how popular my articles are with the public and the “shares” my columns get via social network sites (you can see the icons below each article on the site; some have had close to 200!) You readers helped me, with this, by sending my columns to friends and associates. So, “Thank you!”

At 68, I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a journalist. And I’m guest-speaking, so if you’d like me to speak to your group, on the glories of a teaching or beginning that later career as writer, give me a shout (e-mail below). I love engaging with others and motivating them and some have even offered I’m ‘like the Erma Bombeck of Education!” (How cool is that!?)

I’ve decided on a big change, too:  I’m sidelining my planned book, Patient Witness, for now, folding many of its details into the book I’ve had in the works for many years.

In the Shadow of Princes is about my life as a girl raised in a family of superstars…a family where males ruled and females were mere facilitators (not unlike those of the Mad Men era,) a dynamic that probably affected me in life choices (tho’ I didn’t know it at the time.) It’s a story line many women share, and its message is an encouraging one, much needed in today’s world.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue reading my columns in the Providence Journal.

If you’re a teacher (past or present), please tell me your thoughts. Teaching remains a noble profession that challenges more than ever these days, and I continue to invite the public into the classroom.  Here’s the link to Providence Journal for those articles that’ve already run.

And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any columns, please subscribe to my blog (sign-in in upper right hand side of blog)…I don’t update often (so you won’t get deluged), but I’d love to have you as reader…

Flyer for “Lively Literati” is below and I hope you’ll come, either to present or just enjoy as audience member.

Questions?….Below is your personal invite

Join us!
THE Lively Literati
A Monthly Evening of Open Mic Poetry, Prose
& Selected Readings

elephant room tea

When?  Thursday, August 28th, 6:30 p.m.
Where? The Elephant Room, 2170 Broad St., Cranston

Sit back and enjoy a hot cup of tea and just listen,
or bring your own short piece of poetry or prose
to read before of a supportive and receptive group!

****Want me as speaker for your class/group? See my Profile on this site…   

 P.S. Here’s today’s article in the Providence Journal, one especially relevant for grandparents separated from grandchildren by geographic distance. This is how I’ll bridge the gulf:

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