Monday, February 23, 2009


Now, they are going to cut the budget by stopping the copying and buying of all paper. I saw something that could have escalated into a fight this morning when a teacher put some of her own paper in the only working copier (another sore subject) and the art teacher just willy-nilly hit print (after she had made 500 copies of something that was incorrect).

It has come down to this. Copier paper and copying. Let's see if they find $15 million worth of savings in that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, BrownBear!!

I have survived an entire day as the mother of two teenagers. BrownBear entered the ranks of teenagerhood yesterday and instead of the entire day being about her, she had to share her day with her best friend who had her Bat Mitzvah. She went to the Bat Mitzvah girl's dance Friday night, temple last night and is going to her brunch is this morning. I went with her to temple last night and sat in front of the 7th graders who went. Bat Mitzvah girl is only one of three Jewish children in their school, so I was impressed at the turnout at temple. As BrownBear said, these were the best of the good kids. They realized that you don't go to the party without going to what was really important.

Now, there were a whole lot of us in temple who got lost once the cantor started singing in Hebrew. And I mean right away. The kids behind me didn't make a sound until Bat Mitzvah girl had to carry the Torah around the synagogue. All I heard was, "She's got to carry that all the way around here?" Uh, yes. Yes, she did.

After the ceremony, we took BrownBear to dinner - big girl dinner, after all. Because our lives won't be the same at all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Live Blogging the Storm from Hell

Sitting here listening to the thunder and watching the lightning. We are under a tornado watch until 11PM. and that's the entire state, people. Hail is falling as big as softballs. What a mess. And Prep is cheering a basketball game. She needs to come home and be safe with us.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The End of an Era

LawyerBoy's grandfather passed away this past week. His funeral was today in St. Louis and they buried him next to Grandmama - his wife of over sixty years. (She died when Prep was a little over one. BrownBear hadn't even been born yet, but she swears she knows her. I'm not sure how things work in heaven and before you are born, but if BrownBear thinks she knows Grandmama, then I'm sure she does.) Now think about this, people. His grandfather - my children's great grandfather- was 101 years old. We tried to be sad, but Granddad had a great run.

When he was born, Teddy Roosevelt was still President. Wrap yourselves around that. When World War I started, he was in the 4th grade. (I'm guessing here, people.) He was born in a sod house his parents built on land they acquired in the Oklahoma land rush. Land we still own, thankyouverymuch.

When he died, he had outlasted the phone company, seen air travel take off, and driven every kind of Ford imaginable. He had seen the war to end all wars, the second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the first Iraqi war, and the second Iraqi war. He saw 9/11 and wondered if his grandson was one of those people in the towers. And yet he never lost his faith in Christ and led countless to salvation.

He worked his way through school, married his college sweetheart, had a family, became a minister and wore a hat all his life. He was a role model for countless people, including my husband, my brother-in-law, my father-in-law and my children. He was a gentleman and a scholar. And yet that didn't preclude him from getting on the floor with Prep and playing "Pretty, Pretty Princess."

He was pretty sharp until the end. At his 100th birthday party, LawyerBoy was making small talk and BrownBear came up. "Here's BrownBear," LawyerBoy said. "She's in the fifth grade."

"LawyerBoy," Granddad said, "BrownBear is in the sixth grade, isn't she?" Priceless.

We'll miss him, but I think he's a lot happier where he is right now.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who Needs a Real Job?

Update: Word on the street today is that our county needs to find $17 million in this year's budget. Seventeen million dollars. For the rest of this year. Next year? A whopping $72 million dollars. And yet today, we spent our time twiddling our thumbs in a meaningless, mindnumbing series of professional development activities that cost who knows how much money. Wasted time, wasted effort, wasted dollars.

Our school system recently announced it was examining ways to save money for next year's budget. The rallying cry was that the state wasn't going to be able to give the county as much money as they had in the past and to "get ready." They are talking about no raises. You know, that 2% we are all counting on. The area news stations were reporting that the county was examining all programs and services that could be cut.

A small, neighboring school district already laid off nearly 50 part-time and full-time employees. One day they were there and the next day they were not.

LawyerBoy has a friend who is in charge of Special Education in our county. He has said that the county is actually considering not having summer school this year.

If I were a parent in this county, I would start a riot. There isn't a service or program I would consider cutting. (Well, maybe. Let me think about that for a minute.) There isn't a teacher's position I would consider cutting. This county is top heavy. We have one superintendent and six district superintendents. There are 78 Area Lead Teachers who do heaven knows what. The superintendent makes over $280,000 per year and on top of that, he is paid for his retirement from another county position. He has steadfastly refused to release just how much tht is. I don't think this takes into effect his former teacher pay.

I've got a suggestion. Start from the top and let's go down. I'd be more willing to take a hit if I saw the big boys and girls in the county office start the suffering. I don't think Barack's gazillion dollars are going to do one damned thing for me or my school district. My school district thinks that recycling paper is going to save us. I don't. I think that cutting out all the administrators at the top will help. They are the ones who sit and think up the crap that keep us from teaching the children. And you teachers know what crap I'm talking about. If you think for one minute that this budget mess can be balanced on the backs of the teachers, you are totally wrong. I make a piddling $57,ooo per year. I am on step 13 and I have a Master's degree. That is insanity. I work every year without a guarantee that I will be rehired. And yet, there is so much fat at the top, I can't even fathom it. If those guys want to join me in the trenches, I say BRING IT. Then maybe they can see just what goes on day by day.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Braces Day

BrownBear got braces today. We have graduated to the world of dances, frilly dresses and braces. I guess it won't be long before.. I can't even imagine. Yes, I can. I just won't. Not just today.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

As The Season Finally Winds Down

Just one hour to the Cheerleader Banquet of 2009. I helped decorate yesterday afternoon - one mom actually had a whiteboard with the decorating plan mapped out on it. I remember when I went to the Fall Banquet when I lettered in tennis, I was stuck in the cafeteria with the football team, the cheerleaders and some other people I don't remember and believe me, there wasn't a tablecloth, table topper or potted plant in sight.

While they were setting up the drink table, the words, 'Where will we be tapping the keg?' nearly fell out of my mouth. Because falling down drunk is the only way to experience the excruciating boredom about to be forced upon me and LawyerBoy tonight.

But Prep is getting her Varsity letter tonight and nothing makes my heart sing than watching her shine.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Unhappily Ever After

Last week during our conferences, we met some true characters. Geniuses, as Cupcake has often called them. However, I am referring to some of the parents. Most of the time, I have found that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

I don't even know where to begin with this story. We got a new kid sometime in the middle of October - let's call him HickoryBoy because he hails from Hickory, NC. As far as we could tell, ours was the third school he had been in this school year. (Let that sink in for a minute.) He wasn't in my homeroom, just my English class. He was of slight build and always wore some kind of skeleton clothing. Cute curly hair - too much for me, but cute nonetheless.

He did nothing for me. He liked to talk, talk, talk. As far as I could tell, it was a mechanism he used to get out of doing anything. My special ed teacher had to show him how to hold a pencil. She assured me it was just his way of getting out of doing work. Well, of course. He was in fifth grade. You should know how to hold a pencil by now. Another mechanism to get out of working.

I saw him start assignments and he could never produce them the next day to finish them. He was always re-starting them. He restarted more things than the kids in my room ever finished. I think he restarted the same Vocabulary Contract about 85 times. I don't know what was up.

The quarter ended at Christmas vacation and we all averaged our grades. Well, HickoryBoy had a 21 in English. And I was being generous. He had done just as well in all his other subjects. I figured that once his mama saw those grades, all hell would break loose. We sent those grades home the first week of January along with conference notices.

We didn't hear anything and believe me, we heard a lot from lots of parents who wanted to know what happened to their kids during the second nine weeks. (Uh, they stopped doing and turning in their assignments. Just saying.) We had a come to Jesus meeting with invited participants the second week of January. We invited HickoryBoy and his parents. No shows.

The third week of January, I just had it with this kid. He got called to the office with another student during my class and while my student teacher was correcting a homework assignment, I threw his backpack up on his desk and started to go through it. (Don't get all hyper on me. Students don't have any Constitutional rights. I already checked. Besides, I was helping HickoryBoy by getting his homework out and correcting it for him while he was gone.) Anyway, there wasn't any work in his backpack, just his grades from the beginning of January, the conference note and the invitation to the come to Jesus meeting, along with his agenda which looked practically brand new.

As I was unfolding the grades and the conference note, he came back into my room and almost yelled at me. And I told him I was just looking for his homework for StudentTeacherChick. But, alas, what was this? And where was his work? There was nothing there - just blank paper. I was thinking about getting loud - you teacher guys and gals know that feeling?- when I said, " How old are you? You are in the fifth grade! You should know better than to keep your backpack like this..." when he said, "Twelve."

Twelve. BrownBear - my gifted, talented blue-eyed baby is twelve. My seventh grader. Is. Twelve.

I took him outside and listened. He has been bounced around - moved around and he doesn't know why. He has failed a grade and he doesn't know why. His father is gone and he doesn't know why.

The special ed teacher called his oldest school from the beginning of the year and they faxed their records - the ones we didn't get in his move from school two to school three. The ones that said he was ADHD, on a 504 plan and taking medication.

I love my job.

We pulled his brother's perm record and read the summary our clerk had written about the family trying to register. She had written that they had told her that their house had been broken into twice and the robbers had taken their registration papers. Twice.

All righty.

We called the mother six (6) (SIX) times to try to find out if she could come in for a meeting or the conference we had set up for her. If Prep's or BrownBear's school had called me six times in one day, I would have driven over there to see what in the hell was wrong. Was someone dead?

In the meantime, StudentTeacherChick, GuidanceCounselorGirl and I make up a plan to stay on top of HickoryBoy, get him to be accountable for his work, get him to do his work, seat him with me and just get him to make a bond with somebody. It started to work. Holy crap, Batman, he was starting to get it.

On conference day, this imbecile of a mother shows up and starts in with her crap of how she keeps up with HickoryBoy and she knows what he is supposed to do. She lays on the biggest load of bull I have ever witnessed. My teaching partner had to write "shut up" on my notepad to keep me from coming undone.

Well, mama made all the obligatory promises about keeping up and keeping him on track and won't life be rosy when we're all in glory together.

Fast forward to today. She took him out of school and moved again because we didn't know how to teach and he didn't fit in the big city. HickoryBoy told GuidanceCounselorGirl he didn't want to go. GuidanceCounselorGirl cried. He didn't tell me goodbye because his mother came and got him before he came to my class.

I love my job.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Glory Days For Sure

That was fun. Thanks, Andy, for the heads up in 9th grade English. BrownBear says thanks, too!!


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