Friday, February 16, 2018

Meltdown in the Fast Food Drive-Thru

We are generally not fast food people and my sister, Caren, wants nothing to do with fast food. She would rather find something at home to make or go without. She and I have a difficult time on the way to Montana deciding what we want to eat because there isn’t much fast food we have tried.

The other day Darrell texted Caren to tell us we had to stop and get food to bring home because the guy started working on the kitchen cabinets and we couldn’t get into the kitchen to even get plates or silverware. There are no fast food places near our home so we had to quickly pick a place before we got too close to home.

“Caren, there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken right here on the corner,” I suggested.

“I hate KFC,” she replied.

“Well . . . . there is a Jack-in-the-Box by the Fry’s,” I tried again.

“Jack-in-the-Box! Are you kidding me? Yuck!”

“You like chicken,” me trying one more time.

“Not fried chicken!”

“They have grilled.”

“Okay, I guess but they better have something I like.” We proceeded to pull into the KFC drive-thru. Caren started reading the menu.

“Look at that!” she shouted. “One breast of chicken is seven dollars!”

“There are sides that come with it,” me trying to alleviate her angst.

“But who pays seven dollars for ONE chicken breast? That’s crazy,” Caren lamented. “I’m just going to get a bucket of chicken.”

“But we only eat the breasts and usually there is only one breast in a bucket of chicken,” I was starting to whine.

“Darrell will eat the rest of the bucket,” she informed me.

“Darrell isn’t going to eat eight pieces of chicken. Caren, we gotta go there are people behind us,” I informed her.

“But I don’t know what I want,” she said with trepidation.

“There is another menu by the speaker. But we gotta move.”

When we get to the speaker where one shouts what they want Caren begins another rant about the seven-dollar chicken breast. “I am not paying seven dollars for one chicken breast. Do you know that I just bought a pack of chicken breasts at Fry’s for ten dollars. And they had a sale. It was buy one, get two free. SO I got three packs of chicken breast for ten dollars and these jokers want me to spend seven dollars for ONE, I REPEAT ONE CHICKEN BREAST!”

“It comes with fries,” trying to console her.

“May I take your order?” asks the speaker box.

“First, I don’t eat fries! Second there are not enough fries in the world that could be put in that ‘Chicken Breast Box’ that could make up for paying seven dollars for one breast of chicken. Oh my God! That car has pulled up behind me and now the driver is flinging his hands in the air. I gotta decide! I can’t decide! I can’t pay seven dollars for one chicken breast,” Caren whines starting to definitely meltdown.

“May I take your order?” asks the speaker box but slightly louder.

I quickly scan the menu board looking for something that is less than seven dollars. “Look, they have baskets for $5.99!”

“Where? I don’t see that?” she asks.
Right there, where it says baskets. Three chicken tender come in a basket with slaw and a biscuit.”

“Only three chicken tenders! Do you know how small chicken tenders are? NOBODY EATS CHICKEN TENDERS. Darrell is not going to want chicken tenders!” she replies in full meltdown.

“Um . . .may . . .I . . .take . . .your order?” asks the speaker box hesitantly.

“Oh . . .my . . .God! The person behind me is flinging their hands harder and higher. I can’t do this!” Shouting at the speaker box, “I am sorry but I can’t do .. oo . . .oo . . . th . .  I . . .i . . .i . . .is! No one in their right mind should pay seven dollars for one chicken breast!’

“it come with fries and a side,” comforts the speaker box.

“But then I have to choose a side?” Caren cries. “The man behind me is flinging, my heart is pounding, and my head is whirling . . .”

“We have chicken tender baskets . . . ,” replies the speaker box tentatively.

“Really? CHICKEN TENDERS? Darling, nobody wants chicken tenders! I just have to drive thru, and go home with no food. I should have just gone to McDonald’s.”

“Have a nice day,” says the speaker box cheerily.

After stopping at the Burrito Barn food truck, we made it home with something to eat. When we got in the house Caren glares at Darrell and says, “Tomorrow, if we can’t get into the cabinets, you are cooking chicken on the grill and I don’t care if we have to use flat rocks for plates and eat with our fingers. I am NOT going through a fast food drive-thru!”

I smiled, “Um . . .Darrell, we, as in she, kind of had a fast food meltdown in the drive-thru of the KFC,” I informed him.

Darrell replies, “Kentucky Fried Chicken? I LOVE Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s ‘finger-lickin’ good! My favorite is the chicken tenders. I just love chicken tenders!”

Paco's Perspective
Chicken tenders? Did someone say chicken tenders?

The Flip Side
I would have helped Uncle Darrell eat the other eight pieces of chicken. P.S. everybody loves chicken tenders. They are tender and juicy and just the right size. MMMMMMMM!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

It's a Cacaphony

I live outside of the city in an acreage community where one can own any kind of animal except pigs. Most homes are on two acres, so it’s like a little ranch community.  When we have visitors the first thing that is said is, “Wow! It’s so quiet out here!”

My reply, “Mmmmmmmmm, not really.  It’s a cacophony out here.  Did you know that the mockingbird sings until it finds its mate?  It doesn’t stop singing when it gets dark either.  It sings all night long!”

One might ask, “What’s wrong with birds singing? I love to hear birds singing.”

“ A mockingbird lives up to its name.  It imitates other birds’ songs and the most distinctive part of the song.  Just what I’ve always wanted the bird version of Jimmy Fallon outside my window at two o’clock in the morning.  Then there are the coyotes. When you think of coyotes I bet you picture a coyote howling at the moon.  Coyotes don’t howl.  They also don’t bark.  They yip and whine.  When they catch their prey they yip and whine even louder. Have you ever heard a bunny scream?”

“By the way did I tell you about the neighbor’s cow. She moos all the time.  She moos when she is lonely, she moos when she is hungry and she moos when she escapes and ends up right near my bedroom window. The last time the neighbor came to fetch his cow I heard him say to her, ‘Brandy, if you break out one more time, you’re going to end up on the dinner table.’  Brandy must have escaped again because I haven’t heard her mooing in a long time.” 

“When the coyotes have gone to their den, the cow has settled done, the dogs have stopped barking, the mockingbird has become hoarse, the roosters start to crow”

One might think, “Hey, roosters only crow when the sun comes up.”

“One has thought wrong.  Roosters crow when someone turns on a light.  Roosters crow at a full moon.  Roosters crow when the sun goes down, roosters crow when the sun comes up, and they start crowing two hours before the sun comes up.”

“When the rooster starts crowing about 3:30 a.m. that wakes up the peacock.  The peacock is the finale of the crescendo outside my window. Then the screams of the peacock wakes up the mockingbird and the cacophony starts again.”

Don’t take this wrong, readers, I love my cacophony! I am an old lady. I don’t need much sleep. Besides, I could never move back to the “city” it’s way too noisy! 

Paco's Perspective
You said caca! You said caca! You said caca!

The Flip Side
Hey, Knucklehead, she didn't say caca! She said caca funny, like, you stepped in my caca! Funny!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Singing for a Girl That’s Never Coming to the Dance

Recently someone in my neighborhood has acquired a peacock. Peacocks are beautiful birds when they strut their stuff but they also can be a pain in the arse (as a kilted Scot would say).
The peacock is the national bird of India. The peafowl is prominent in the mythology and folklore of the Indian people. The Hindus consider the bird to be sacred because the god, Kartikeya, rides on its back. Also legends hold that the peafowl can charm snakes and make their eggs become rotten.
Apparently, there are benefits to owning peafowl. I read in a blog (yes, people actually blog about peafowl), “a good peafowl can have all the loyalty of a dog, all the self-reliance of a cat, and all the ease of maintenance of a goldfish--though when a full-grown peafowl dies, it can be a lot harder to flush down the toilet.” Peafowl also eat lizards, roaches, spiders, snakes and scorpions. They are also very territorial and will let one know when someone or something nearing one’s yard.
The main disadvantage of peafowl, besides they are birds and they poop, is they are noisy. Peafowl supposedly have seven distinct calls including a distress call, a get out of my yard call, a look how cool I am call and a hey, chicky baby, come this way call. During mating season peacocks call to their mates in the early morning and when the sun goes down.
The peacock that has been hanging around my house starts calling for his lady around 3:15 a.m. I know it’s 3:15 because I have been waking up to his “hey, chicky baby, come this way” call for about a week. Unfortunately for Mr. Peacock, most people own peacocks and not peahens. One because they don’t want little peacocks, and also because peahens aren’t as beautiful as the peacock. So every day Mr. Peacock starts singing for a girl that’s never coming to the dance. Believe me it doesn’t sound like singing. The mating call of a peacock sounds like an off-key cat caught by a rocking chair. I can’t imagine what the “get out of my yard” call sounds like, if the mating call is suppose to be the most attractive call.
Peafowl have a tendency to wander, if one doesn’t acclimate them to their home before letting them out. No offense to Mr. Peacock and the people of India but I hope he wanders back to India. If he wants, I’ll by him a ticket to his homeland.

Paco’s Perspective
Singing for the girl that’s never coming to the dance. That’s a great title for a country western song. I can hear Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood singing the chorus”
As he steps on the stage, he prays
She’ll give one more chance
But he’s singing for a girl that’s never
Coming to the dance

The Flip Side
Peacocks eat lizards? No wonder, there aren’t as many lizards to chase. I’ll pitch in for Mr. Peacock's trip home.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Gift Exchange

I am not a lover of the gift exchange. I hate having to follow the money limits, but I also feel bad for those who do follow the money limit and their gift doesn’t compare to the money-limit cheaters.

I had a bad gift exchange experience in middle. The name I drew for the gift exchange was Brian Nelson, Desert Sands Junior High’s Fonzie. He was the boy that every middle school girl was in love with and the kind of guy every middle school boy wanted to be. The gift exchange limit was one dollar. (This was in the late 60s before the invention of the dollar store.) My mother was a gift exchange rule follower, if the limit was a dollar, that was all she was going to spend.

THE Christmas Exchange Gift was the Lifesaver book, twelve rolls of assorted Lifesaver flavor. This was the perfect generic gift. No one made fun, rolled their eyes at or pooh-poohed the Christmas Lifesaver Book. I asked my mom to get it for Middle-School Fonzie, but at $1.50 it was over the limit, and she wasn’t about to budge.

The day before the gift exchange my mom came home from the store with a pair of Christmas socks! I was going to have to hand Brian Nelson, the cool guy of the school a pair of .89 cent Christmas socks. Oh Boy!  Christmas socks, mom, really. I tried to play sick the next day but it didn’t work. I went to school dreading the gift exchange that was going to take place at the end of the day.

The time came and everyone was opening their gift of Christmas Lifesaver book, but not Middle-School Fonzie. Nope, he was opening a pair of Christmas socks much to my chagrin. He sauntered over to me, the girl with the face as red as a holly berry, and cordially thanked me and said it was a great gift. I shyly smiled and proceeded to go home with my Christmas Lifesaver book.
A couple years later, I ran into Brian Wilson, High-School Fonzie, after a sporting event he had participated in and won. As I rolled by, I smiled and said, “Congratulations on your win.”
He replied, “Thanks. It’s because I was wearing my lucky socks.” He raised his sweatpants and he was wearing my thread-bare-Middle-School-Christmas-Gift-Exchange socks. He looked at me, gave me that cool-guy chin lift, winked and walked away.  

Paco's Perspective
I wonder if there is a Lifesaver Book for dogs! I wonder what I am going to get in my stocking this year. Hey, do I have a stocking. I should get something for wearing that silly Santa suit.

The Flip Side
We cool guys are nicer and more sentimental than you think. And, Paco, quit your whining, the gingerbread cookie outfit was the worst. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ask For and Expect

 Many of you already know that back in ’98 I was in a severe car accident and I broke all my bones from the waist down. I broke both hips, both femurs, both tib-fibs and my left ankle. (I’m saving the right one to break sky diving someday.) During my recovery I was in severe pain, of course I went to work too early, and when anyone would accidentally bump or even nudge me the pain would start at the tip of my toes and radiate up to my head and down my spine.

I would leave work right after the students left and go home to bed to recover for the next teaching day. One evening when I was laying in bed everything hurt. I closed my eyes and prayed, “Please, God, just make this pain go away for a few seconds!” And at that moment, a sense of relief permeated throughout my body. I felt no pain, but it only lasted a few seconds. I thought, Darn, I should have asked for the miracle! I blew my chance!

Eighteen years have passed and just the other day I was going to be observed for my yearly evaluation and I was sick. I was coughing and choking and hacking. Every time I started to talk I would start coughing but of course I didn’t want to cancel my observation. I know the administrator observing me would have been very accommodating but I just wanted to get it done. The observation was at one. My students were reading silently while we waited for the administrator to show. I was in the back of the room trying to breathe without choking and I closed my eyes for a minute and prayed, “Please, God, just give me forty-five minutes without coughing or choking. That’s all I need just forty-five minutes.”

My administrator walked in at 12:57 and at 1:42 when I was wrapping things up my voice quick. I had to whisper my last sentence. And I started coughing and choking! I thought, Darn, I blew it again!

The moral of the story is ASK FOR AND EXPECT THE MIRACLE!  I know there are many of you reading this that don’t pray. But I am not just talking about prayer I am talking about life. At work at ask for and expect the miracle. When teaching your students, ask for and expect the miracle. Especially, when it comes to what you expect from your self, ask for and expect the miracle. What’s the worst that could happen? Getting something close to a miracle? 

Paco's Pespective

It's been a long time, sistah! Where you been? P.S. I want to be a German Shepard and chase bad guys.

The Flip Side

I want all the lizards, bunnies and gopher in the area to come on my side of the fence.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I Give Up! I Am Not a Miracle Worker

 The Cartwright School District is very short on teachers this school year. My teaching partners, Sue and Julie, and I were given the choice of have extra kids in our class or having a permanent sub. We were told we were at the “bottom of the barrel” for subs as frightening memories of bad subs flashed through my brain I convinced my partners that we couldn’t do that to our students. I gave them a pep talk and assured them that with all our capabilities that we could jump this hurdle together. RAH! RAH! SIS-BOOM-BAH! After three and a half weeks of forty-seven 7th graders crammed into a room larger enough for twenty-five, my RAH! RAH! SIS-BOOM-BAH! has turned into OMG! WHAT-WAS-I-THINKING!

This group of students is the best. I had half of them in fifth grade and they went on to have wonderful sixth grade teachers, and the other half had two amazing teachers that looped with them in the fifth and sixth grade. They are well trained and well behaved (well . . . most of them). I think that is why we didn’t want someone that was there just because. I wanted our fourth partner to be as dedicated as Sue, Julie and myself. I wanted our fourth member of our team to love these kids as much as we do. I felt we were doing these students a great service by making sure that they didn’t have to spend any part of 7th grade with a substitute teacher that was just “phoning it in”.

I thought we could do it, and I was sure I could do it. I thought wrong! I am not a miracle worker. Forty-seven students in one room is tough. First, there is not enough room for everyone and my wheelchair. I’m thinking of building a second story. Then students can’t work in groups because it just gets too loud. When I get observed my Kagan structures score is going to be zero. Also, all day long it’s crowd-control. It’s hard for 7th graders to self-monitor when they’re almost sitting in someone else’s lap. Finally, we are stacking them deep and teaching them very cheap because nothing ever works in our rooms. I try to show a video for social studies and the sound quits working, or the Smart Board dies ONE MORE TIME or the internet is too slow and we’re streaming and streaming and streaming. There goes my score on my observation for multi-media use. I give up! I can’t do it!

You know you’ve made a huge mistake when:
  • You can top anybody’s bad day at happy hour.
  • You spend eight hours on the weekend grading one set of writing papers.
  • You practically French kiss the tech guy for fixing your Smart Board one more time.
  • A student sadly tells you this is their last and you cheer quietly in your head while trying to keep a sad face.
  •  You don’t vigilantly pursue an absentee student because you are thankful you have a chair for the kid that has to wait and see where there is a seat available.
  • You giggle when teachers complain that they had to split a class due to no sub and now they have 34 students in their class FOR ONE DAY!
  • You are actually pondering about asking your administrator to hire “that” sub that makes you shudder whenever you see “that” sub lumbering down the hallway toward your grade level.
  •  Three grown women are quietly sobbing together while trying to write lesson plans, restructure a schedule (one more time), and dig up artifacts for a district meeting that they have to be at in twenty minutes because they feel like nobody cares.

I think the hardest part is that feeling that nobody cares. Last year I wrote a blog, No One Has Come, about the lack of district support with our 7th grade students and their lack of teachers. I know there are no teachers available. I hope the district is doing everything possible to solve the problem, but I feel like if Sue, Julie and I continue to trudge along and stay silent that the district will think that It’s okay to leave forty-seven students in a classroom, and that the district will continue to allow big numbers in classrooms in the future. It would be nice to know that the Human Resources department is doing everything they possible can. It would be nice to know that they are using ALL AVAILABLE personnel to fill all the open teaching positions across the district.  It would be nice to know that the ‘big wigs’ care. Actually, it would be nice to know that anybody cares.

Labor Day is coming! After Labor Day there is always an influx of new students. I guess I better go to Home Depot for lumber and get started on that loft for my classroom.

Paco’s Perspective

Suck it up, Cathy. You can do this. I have faith in Sue, Julie and you.


The Flip Side

Wow! You have more kids in your class than we have bunnies in the yard. Hey, there goes another one now! Gotta go!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Can't Believe It's Been 37 Years

Recently for a retirement party a friend asked me to make a top ten list of memories of my teaching career to use at a retirement party. Below is the letter I wrote to this dear friend:

Dear Mary,

At first when you asked me to give you my top ten memorable moments in my 37-year career, I thought, OMGoodness, I can barely remember my name let alone something that happened 37 years ago. But then when I was up at 2:22 a.m. thinking about it (because that’s when I do my best thinking) I started making a list (not in my mind but on my phone because I would forget it, if I didn’t write it down) and the list started to grow and then I thought, OmGoodness, how can Mary expect me to narrow this list down to ten.

First, I must confess, I never wanted to become a teacher until I was told I couldn’t be one. I was very artistic and I wanted to be an architect but the architecture classes were on the second floor of the gym and there was no elevator. Then I took a Children’s Lit class in junior college and I thought, where have these books been all my life? (I was not a reader as a child believe it or not.) I decided then that I was going to be a teacher because I fell in love with children’s literature. A counselor told me I shouldn’t waste my time because no one was going to hire a teacher in a wheelchair (remember this was in the early 70s). That comment motivated to become a teacher even more.

I believe God leads one where one needs to be and he lead me to teaching. The second I walked in that first classroom 37 years ago, I knew I was “home” and I have NEVER regretted my decision to be on educator.
Here comes my list! I definitely couldn’t get it down to ten and I am sure as I write this I will think of more.

My first year of teaching I taught a self-contained Learning Disabilities class. At that time self-contained classes were a dumping ground for poorly behaved misfits. Everyone in the school had beautiful welcome signs on their door but the sign on my door read, ”Please leave all weapons at the door with the guard.” My class had a nine to one ratio of boys. I had many horrible human-male-children in my room but I had some sweeties also. One day one of the “evil ones” said, “Nobody in a wheelchair is going to tell me what to do.” I went to put my hand out to calm him down and talk with him and my sleeve got caught on steering knob of my chair and I rammed that kid up against the chalkboard. In my head I was thinking, Oh, my God, oh, my God, I am going to be fired but while I had him pinned against the chalkboard I calmly said, “I would suggest you do everything I tell you to do when I tell you to do it.” And then I spun around and eyed my other trouble-makers, as they gawked at me, and said, “And that goes for you, too.”  And then I spent the next entire year praying that I wouldn’t get fired for the incident.

That same year a parent thanked me for finding her son’s sense of humor. She said they didn’t know Charlie was funny nor had they ever seen him smile. He was eleven.

A parent from my first year class ran into me several years later in the grocery store. She said she had to thank me for all I had done for her child. She continued to say, “You told my son that it was okay that he didn’t become a doctor or lawyer. That it was okay to be a mechanic as long as he became the best mechanic possible. My son is a mechanic and I want you to know that he is the BEST mechanic there is.”  Mary, teachers don’t get validated enough and some rarely at all. Those moments of true heart-felt validation are some of my most memorable. I have a note from a parent that I have stuck on my bulletin board every year for the past 20 years. I had a note from a student that I carried in my purse for a very long time. Two of my proudest moments were having a student nominate me for the Silver Apple Award and receiving runner up for the Arizona Teacher of the Year. Mary, don’t wait to validate others or yourself.

Now, time for some funny moments:

I once was having a conversation with a kindergartener. That was my first mistake. (Don’t try to talk to a kindergartener. I would suggest not even making eye contact with them, if you don’t have to. If you have to make contact, just smile and shake your head. Don’t wake the sleeping lion!) I don’t know how the conversation started but it ended with her sticking her tiny finger in my Pillsbury-Doughboy stomach and saying, ”Yea, Miss C, but you’re comfortable like a big, over-stuffed chair.”

Once I had this bad boy in my class, by the way, Mary, once one is known for their disciplinary procedures one gets all the “bad boys” put in one’s room. One day I was talking to Stanley’s mother and informing her of the difficulties I was having with him. She told me that she spanks him with a spatula and maybe I should get one. The next day Stanley’s brother came to my room and handed me a grocery bag and inside was a spatula. I hung it on my wall and every time Stanley started acting up I would look at the spatula and look at Stanley and look at the spatula and look at Stanley and Stanley would stop whatever he was doing instantaneously. That spatula saved my life that year. Hail to the spatula!

Once I went from teaching upper grade to second. Those darn little thangs cried, every time someone looked at them. It was my fault because I talked to the little thangs the same way I talked to upper grade students, not a good idea. I had just finished explaining to the little thangs that when I say jump they should respond how high? I was in the process of calling up reading groups, that was before I found my true reading philosophy, the name of each group was whatever the title of the basal book they were reading (I was so creative.). I was writing on the chalkboard (remember those?) so I had my back to the group and I said, “Okay, Stand Tall!” implying that I wanted that group to come to my reading table and when I turned around all 28 of those little thangs were standing straight as a lightening rod, next to their desks with their arms at their sides. My initial lecture worked.

That same year I taught next to Lynn Barela. She always had an interesting group. We had an opening between our rooms so I could hear everything that was going on in her room and one day it was during recess (Do you remember recess?) and I heard one of her African-American boys shouting, “Mib Umbrella, Mib Umbrella, I can’t suhee! I can’t suhee!” I zoomed over to her class to assist her with the blind little boy. I found her at her sink washing his face. He had had so much afro-sheen in his hair that it had melted in the heat and had run down his face into his eyes.

One year I had two boys named Robert. One was Robert Montijo and the other was Robert Mountino so it was hard to distinguish to whom I was speaking. One sat in the front of the room and one sat in the back of the room, so I called them This Robert and That Robert. Well, This Robert became sweet, kind This Robert and then there was THAT ROBERT. Every day the kids would come in from the playground with complaints about That Robert. Poor boy, Mary, be careful when using nicknames.

Here’s a “you know you’ve been teaching a long time when” story. One day I was at a cowboy bar and a young cowboy sitting at the bar kept turning around on his stool and staring at me. I couldn’t imagine why he kept staring at me. He started walking towards me and I knew he wasn’t going to say, “I think you’re purrty, do you wanna dance?” As he got closer, he asked, “Miss C, is that you?”

“Yes it is, Marvin (another bad boy),” I replied.

“Hell, Could I buy you a drink? I think it would be damn cool to buy my fifth grade teacher a drink.”
Not being one to turn down a free drink and not being one that has had many cowboys want to buy me drinks I said in my best fifth-grade-teacher voice, “Watch your language, Marvin, and yes, you may buy me a drink.”
“Yes, ma’am.”

Some of my greatest accomplishments were: getting students to love reading that said they hated reading and there was nothing I could do to make them read, doing inclusion with the special ed students long before the word inclusion was invented, gender splitting way before permission had to be sought, Read-to-Me Nights, Literacy Parade, Early Morning Reading and Silent Fridays (best days ever) just to name a few.

Ready for some advice? There was a time in my career when I was struggling with the way I was “expected” to teach reading. I hated basal readers and I thought all reading “programs” were a scam. I read a book by Debbie Miller called Reading with Meaning and in the book she wrote about helping a young teacher and what she told that teacher was an epiphany for me. She said, “First, pick a philosophy and then read every book possible on that philosophy and become an expert on that philosophy.” I did what she said and I have never looked back and it was the best decision I ever made. No matter what you do pick a philosophy that you believe in and run with it and don’t look back.

Teachers must build relationships with students. I don’t mean be their friend. They have friends. They don’t need friends. They need someone to look up to and respect. One day I was on the high school campus at lunch. I went to pick up my coaching check. I was the cheer coach for a couple of years now that is another set of stories. If I thought kindergarteners were scary, let me say, there is nothing scarier than being in a room with fifteen competitive, hormonal teenager girls! As I was cruising across campus, I heard the security guard screaming at someone on the other side of the campus. When I looked in the direction of her rants I noticed one of my ex-students, another “bad boy” (I told you I had a lot of “bad boys”.). He was leaning against the wall, glaring at the security guard that was squawking at him. I rolled up to him and said, “You know, Toby, I’m thinking she wants you to tuck that hangy-down-thing on your belt in your pocket. Would do me a favor and tuck that in your pocket?”

“Miss C, I would be happy to do that for you. Why don’t people ask me to do things, the way you always do with kindness and respect?”

“I don’t know, darling, but what I do know is that purposely disobeying to prove a point gets one nowhere.”

“I know, I know, you’re right.”

I smiled at him, gave him a hug and said, “I’m always right and don’t you forget it.”

As I left campus, I heard that big, tough, gangbanger shout, “I love you Miss C.”

I waved and shouted, “I love you too, Toby!”

It’s important to believe that children can succeed, no matter what. I don’t care who the child is, what his background is, or where he is from I believe he can achieve and I expect him to achieve. Believers are achievers.

Finally, hold the magic of teaching in your heart. Mary, if you ever lose that magical feeling move on because children deserve to have teachers that believe in magic. One day early in the morning I was in my classroom working on something for a bulletin board and I was using glitter. It must have been early in my career because only young teachers have glitter in their room. We old teacher become wise about glitter and ban it from our rooms. So there I was working in my room and a young boy enter and asked, “I need to know how you did it?”

“Did what?” I replied.

“Got my brother to change,” he said.

“Who’s your brother?” I inquired.

“Richard,” he replied.

“Oh, Richard, I like him a lot,” I smiled.

“That’s the problem. No one does,” he said suspiciously.

“Does what?” I asked feeling like I was doing a Who’s on First monologue.

“Like Richard. So what did you do to make him like school, start doing his homework, and be nice to people?”

I really didn’t know how to reply and I had a handful of glitter so I blew the glitter in his direction and as the glitter sprinkled down and turned his shirt sparkly gold I grinned and whispered, “It’s magic, kid, it’s all magic.”

As he confidently walked out my door I heard him mumble, “I knew it was magic.”

I want to thank all the people I have taught with and learned from over the years. I don’t want to start naming names because I will forget someone. I want to thank all my students I have had. They have taught me more than I ever taught them. And my students have always made every day unique and different. Every day I leave my room happy to have been there and every morning I enter happy to be back. Finally, I need to thank God for leading me to teaching because teaching is my passion, teaching is what I do well and teaching is my magic.

Cathy Cunningham
Soon to be retired teacher

Paco's Perspective
Enough said

The Flip Side
Does this mean we can chase lizards together during the day?