As a child and even still today, my Grandma Devlin pulls out the infamous words, “Penny for your thoughts,” when she sees me quietly pondering or staring off into space. She knows when I’m deep in thought, dreaming, and she has always taken interest in knowing what I think about during these blank stares. In my world, daydreams are somewhat typical, but nothing is more rewarding than when the dreams become reality. I’ve dreamt about being a teacher since third grade and playing school was by far one of my favorite things to do with my sister and our next door neighbors. We would all try to take turns being the teacher, but if you ask Megan, Jen, or Josh, they’ll probably tell you I hogged playtime and was most often the only teacher.
My dreams of becoming a teacher became a reality in 2007, after I graduated from Waynesburg College and received an English teaching job back in my little, rural hometown of Brockway, PA. I’m just as happy as I imagined I would be during my childhood days of transforming my basement into “Devlin Academy.” A lot of people struggle to find a job they love, but I luckily always knew teaching was my calling. I’ve had many great experiences and awakenings as I’ve left the dorm days of college and entered into the adult arena of adventure, and now another daydream of mine becomes a reality—writing a column.
At 24-years of age, I’ve found my perspective on life to be somewhat unique considering I’m a big kid who is also a responsible adult. Someone passed gas in my classroom a few weeks ago while everyone was reading quietly and during this awkward moment, part of me wanted to chuckle, but I thought “Ryan, that isn’t supposed to be funny anymore.” I’ve not given up wearing my checkered Vans or listening to hip-hop music, but why should I? For a brief time I get to live and see the world from two very different perspectives and it’s allowed me to learn oh so much.
Like Doogie Howser did at his keyboard, I hope to extrapolate life in a similar poignant fashion. His TV show was a family favorite at my house growing up. I particularly enjoyed how each episode always ended the same way, with Doogie typing, backspacing, and then typing again while he narrated his daily discoveries in his diary. He wrote things such as “Went on the annual fishing trip with Dad. He still talks to the fish. Still does his bird calls. Still tells the same stories… I can’t wait till next year.” Doogie was a child prodigy who became a teenage doctor, but he also had a knack at keeping his writings short and sweet.
There is so much to learn from each person we meet, each place we go, and each new day. You might be 16-years-old like Doogie, 50, or 84 like my grandma, but readers of all ages are invited to leave their newspapers folded right here each month. If I actually received a penny for every time my grandma said, “penny for your thoughts,” my grandma would owe me about $2.18. I never minded sharing daydreams and other random thoughts with my grandma, but I want my grandma and future readers to know, you can keep the penny. My life lessons I’ll be sharing with you in the upcoming months can all be read for free, well, minus the price you paid for this newspaper. Just like they say, I guess nothing is ever really free, but keep Abraham in your piggy bank and save up for one of those new Snuggies I keep seeing advertised on TV. I love the idea of picturing all my readers in a giant blanket with sleeves sprawled out on the couch looking ridiculously warm and comfortable.
What does a 24-year-old know about life anyway? Each month you’re about to find out. I have discovered the provoking answer to the question, “When are you too old to wear Abercrombie and Fitch?” I know every young adult wonders the answer to that question, and I have it. Do you know what a messy car says about your life? What can William Shakespeare learn from Paris Hilton? Of course while spending time with hundreds of teenagers a day, being that I’m a teacher, there is much to be said about today’s youth, parenting, and the world we both awake to each day. Lots to discover and write about, but here’s your official welcome to “Keep the Penny.”
Ryan Devlin is a 24-year-old English teacher and cross country coach at Brockway Area High School. If you like collecting pennies or want to contact Ryan become a fan of “Keep the Penny” on facebook. Total reader savings thus far for your piggy bank, one cent.