Dragons at The Schoolhouse Door: A Novel of Schooling

Satire, Mystery, Humor — And a Stunning Plan to Reshape Public Education

“Woolman’s characters are brilliant composites that anyone in education can recognize and relate to. The use of irony and satire make them enjoyable, memorable, and engaging.”
Gerald Fussell – School Principal.

“Enjoyable! A candid look at public education from a writer who has been there. Engaging characters move the story, which has humor and intrigue. . .”
Todd Phillips – Teacher Librarian.

Steve Hepting often wonders why he left the classroom. The travails of a strained working relationship with Superintendent, Jennifer Capelli seems to have abated, at least temporarily. Capelli is more interested in her secret scheme to transform what she believes to be a moribund education system. The public announcement is set for the 2011 school year, Hepting’s second in the principal chair.

Though more confident, Hepting still cannot convince an evasive bureaucrat of the need to clear the flotsam and jetsam of the school district. piled high in the unused classrooms on the second floor. The junk is home to feral cats and other wayward creatures, known only to the slow-witted, yet stock market savvy custodian, Frank “Tiny” Little, and two learning disabled and socially awkward boys.

The “Animal Hotel” is not the only peculiarity at the school. Maintenance requests are ignored. A smarmy little scoundrel is seen crawling about in the ventilation shafts. District leaders tour corporate executives through the school. A hostile parent becomes Capelli’s confidante. A newly transferred teacher seems to have an unusually close bond with the superintendent.

With the help of an assortment of quirky faculty members and a scandal-sniffing journalist, Hepting works to uncover a stupefying scheme for a “Brave New World” of public education, using his school as the launching pad.

“I really identified with the colorful characters and the humor poked at the system. This was an enjoyable walk along the road of school administration.”
Judy Berkeley – Vice-Principal-Counselor.

Dragons At The Schoolhouse Door is available online from the following distributors....

Barnes and Noble.com
FriesenPress (often the best price)
Google Play
and Apple Books as an e-book


"Clyde Woolman has painted a true picture of school life.The characters are so believable and the daily experiences super funny. Woolman has really nailed the education system in this novel.” Allan Douglas – Director of Instruction – Elementary. 

In over 30 years as a teacher, counselor, and principal of an elementary, a middle, and three high schools, (as well as six years as a Superintendent of Schools - a CEO position in the jurisdiction in which I worked) – you can see and hear more than a few oddities and considerable humor in student and staff remarks and action. Throughout this career, many people suggested that a manuscript commenting on the quirks and foibles of the teacher workplace would be an enjoyable read.

“Someone should write this stuff down,.” was an oft-repeated phrase of teachers and principals. “No one would believe it,” was the usual response.

So one day, when a teacher issued a seemingly offhand remark that, “No one will ever believe this stuff - someone should write it down,” the impetus for a two-pronged “literary” approach was launched. The result was the novel Hepting’s Road: A Novel of Teaching and a humor compilation, Edubabble: A Glossary of Teacher Talk. Though they are quite dissimilar, not the least difference being that the former is a novel and the latter a brief compilation of education-oriented humor, they share a common thread – that teachers, for all their perceived shared personality traits and the oddity of a workplace filled with children and adolescents, provide a valuable (if not valued), service to society. In many ways teaching is one of the most widely known and yet least understood professions.

Educators share a common organizational culture, created not only by the realities of their workplace, but by the thoughts and statements of non-teachers both powerful and proletarian, who are rarely shy about voicing opinion. This shared culture and language is found at all levels; elementary, middle, and high school; in buildings large and small; in settings rural, suburban, and urban core. The enrolment area may be affluent or economically challenged; the teachers well paid (good luck with that one), or struggling with meager paychecks.

In Hepting’s Road: A Novel of Teaching, thirtysomething Steve Hepting is attempting to adjust to life in the classroom after a roller coaster ride as a stockbroker during the dot-com stock market boom and bust at the turn of the millennium. From teaching disadvantaged, jaded teens to affluent elementary school children, and working with principals ranging from a supportive humanist to a data-nut despot, Hepting’s second year in teaching is far from boring. Set in 2004, the timeless numbness of the education bureaucracy, the comedic antics of students in the classroom, and the idiosyncratic tendencies of teacher and support staff colleagues ring as true today as they did then. The life of a schools comes alive with zest, warmth, and humor. Given that teaching has been a tortuous career road, can Steve ever return to the more sedate stockbroker occupation he once enjoyed?

Edubabble: A Glossary of Teacher Talk offers close to 400 entries of humor and satire regarding the work-life of a teacher, including the verbiage and antics of children and teens, the non-sensical decisions of those in the education bureaucracy (including those of the author), and the fatuous comments that emanate from education professors or politicians trumpeting the need for change in public education. From Latin to Robotics, Politicians to Principals, and Hot Dogs to Nourishment; from Football to Dances and Psychobabble to Counselors, the jargon that makes teaching such a special profession, and the antics that make school such a unique workplace, are highlighted with a dose of wit and a tinge of farce.

About the Author
Clyde Woolman has been a teacher and counselor, a principal of an elementary, a middle and three high schools, and completed a six-year stint as a Superintendent (CEO) of a school district before reengaged neurons led him to voluntarily announce a return to a school. At one time or another he has been involved in education from Kindergarten through to the university level. He has delivered keynote speeches at conferences, sat on panels, presented workshops and seminars and led teacher and principal teams in writing reports on schools. At one time he could fling edubabble around as well as most. He often tried, occasionally with success, to see the humor that lay behind and beyond the peculiarities and foibles that can abound when a place called school is your workplace.

Clyde is the author of several articles on education leadership and two young adult adventure novels (2010 and 2013) emphasizing themes of tolerance, trust and friendship.  Smugglers at the Lighthouse and Yurek: Edge of Extinction were published by Moosehide Books of Ontario.
copyright Clyde Woolman