Friday, December 21, 2007

Door update

After rushing around, and decorating my classroom door last minute, my homeroom won 2nd place in the contest. Woo-hoo! We each got a ginormous Hershey bar for a prize. Life is good...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tis the season

My homeroom students decided this morning to decorate my classroom door. There is a contest, with the judging taking place before school tomorrow morning. They brought in all kinds of tacky stuff, but no way to affix it to my door. Needless to say, regular scotch tape didn't cut it - halfway through my second period class, everything came crashing down. Now, I've got 3 students from my homeroom frantically trying to re-decorate the door during their lunch/Channel One time. This time, they are using velcro, with better results. We'll see....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cell phones are not trophies...

I do NOT like being the cell phone police! Students aren't allowed to have their cell phones out during the school day - not even out in the halls, or to 'check the time' (translation: check who's texted them in the last few minutes). Some teachers are cell phone Nazis - collecting cell phones throughout the day, and keeping a running score as to how many they've confiscated. Next thing you know - they'll be giving us utility belts (modeled fetchingly by Mrs. Wormwood in the picture below) so we can keep up with the confiscated phones.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This I know is true...

it's snowing, here in central VA. Not bad, but enough to make the roads a little dicey. I've technically been a southerner all my life (wanna fight about it?) since I was born and have always lived south of the Mason-Dixon line, but people 'round here cain't drive in the snow!!! Trying to get to work this morning was a nerve-wracking experience - not because the roads were soooo bad, but because the drivers were worse. I get within 3 miles of school, and up ahead, cars are stopped on the hill. STOPPED ON THE HILL. You never stop going up a hill when it's slippery, never. 'Cause guess what? You won't be able to get started again. Not without a lot of gears grinding, swearing, and sliding around. Which was what is happening on the hill ahead of me. So, I stop at the bottom of the hill, call my school, and tell the secretary I am waiting for the road ahead of me to get clear. She tells me that I'm not the only one - several teachers are stuck, especially those who live 'over the mountain'. Finally, people either pull over to the side, or suck it up and make it up the hill. The car in front of me is about the same size, make, and year as mine, so I do what any self-respecting coward would do - wait to see how it fares going up the hill. Luckily, this person knows the 'don't stop on the freakin' hill when it's snowing' rule, and makes it up the hill with little trouble. Up I go, without stopping ('cause I know the rule), and I get to school a few minutes later.

Several teachers have not made it in to school, and we're doubling up on homerooms for now. We're in a holding pattern in homeroom while the administration decides how we're going to proceed with the day. The forecast is for continuing light snow, with temps not getting out of the mid-30's. We've had about an 1/2 inch, and they're calling for maybe an inch more. People anyplace north or west of here thumb their noses at this weather, and there would be no question of activities continuing as scheduled. All because they've had practice driving in the snow, and know the rules.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Aren't we friends on MySpace?

I grew up knowing what a bully was, and who the bullies were - both in my neighborhood and in school. I tried to avoid them, whenever possible, and learned to stay off their radar in general. I wasn't always successful, but usually found new ways to walk home, or which halls in school to avoid. The type of bullying changed as I went through school. In elementary school and junior high, the bullies were those hulking boys who were too big (and often too old) for their own good. Sometimes, they were girls who were too big (in other places) and too old for their own good. In high school, the bullies were often the more popular kids, who found great humor in putting down those of us (and yes, I was not that popular in high school) who were somehow lacking in the social graces (or in the bustline, or in the ....whatever. You can fill in the blanks)

As my own children were going through middle school and high school, the bullies began appear. This time, however, they were more technological...they were cyber-bullies. MySpace started out as a nice little social application, where my sons could chat with friends and share interests. They could meet girls, and could keep in touch with students from other schools. Slowly, I started hearing about kids saying terrible things about each other, using MySpace and Instant Message. My youngest son experienced quite a few episodes of cyber-bullying in high school. He learned very quickly how to block messages from those who were trying to pick fights, or say nasty things about him. (I'm sure there were those who chose to block him, as well. I was born at night - but not last night)

Anyway - I wrote previously about a fight that broke out in the hallway right outside my classroom door. Turns out, it was precipitated by some MySpace interactions. The weekend before the incident, one boy started messaging the other - making threats, calling names, casting aspersions. Of course, the other boy responded in kind. Eventually, they agreed to fight when they got to school on Monday. One boy proclaimed he was going to 'f**kin' kill' the other. So, when they got to school, they started looking for each other. They found each other outside my classroom, and fought.

How do I know all this? Because I just left a meeting where we read the back and forth emails that started the fighting. Horrible language. Violent talk. Over nothing. As a result, several teachers are hurt (I think there have been at least 3 worker's comp filings from this fight), one boy is being charged with a felony for threatening the kill the other, and both boys may be facing expulsion from school. All because they had unsupervised access to computers, and had nothing better to do than post threatening messages to each other.

They never learned to find a new way home, or a way to avoid each other in the halls. And no one ever showed them how to block someone on MySpace.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Answer: What you gonna do about it?

Question: What's the first thing I heard a student say in the hall this morning?

Backstory: I live on the Freshman hall. There are a ton of Freshmen this year, and they all hang out by their lockers before first bell every morning. They come on the hall starting around 7:40, and the bell rings at 7:55. Socialization time is good, right? The teachers on this hall are greatly outnumbered - 6 of us to a bazillion of them. A couple weeks ago, I had to help break up a girl fight. This morning, it was the guy's turn.

I 'm standing outside my door, monitoring the hall. As usual, there are groups of kids hanging out by the lockers, talking about their Thanksgiving holiday. A HUGE kid (never seen him before - he doesn't belong at this end of the alphabet) comes up the hall, stops at the group of kids standing nearest to me, pushes another kid and says, "What you gonna do about it?" He got his answer pretty quickly - fists started flying.

I yelled for Mr. D (Biology teacher who was at the other end of the hall), and ran in my room to push the button. (2nd time this year I've done that - a new record!) We don't have phones in our rooms, so the only way we can contact the office in an emergency is to push this black button on the wall. When you push the button, people come running. After the button pushing, I went back into the hall, where the fight was continuing. The teachers not actively involved in breaking up the fight start herding the spectators to their homerooms. Finally, one other male teacher pulls one kid (the pushee) into his classroom, and locks the door. The other guy is still fighting, trying to break down the door. He finally gives up and heads down the hall, Mr. D in pursuit. All of a sudden, the hall is peaceful again. And here comes the office cavalry - onto an empty hall. Walkie-talkies in hand, in combat mode. Looking around for the fight that isn't there.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stanardsville Moment

This morning, I went to the Greene County Veteran's Day ceremony. I've been part of the Greene County Singers this year, and we were asked to sing the National Anthem to open the ceremony. That went fine - really nice acapella arrangement of the anthem. Although - Suzanne (our director) forgot her pitch pipe, so she improvised with a child's hand bell filched from a local Sunday School class. It was a very patriotic lime green.

As part of the ceremony, several people were there in uniform, representing the various branches of service. In Greene County, there is also a fairly large group of people who do Civil War reenactments. (They re-stage the Battle of Stanardsville every year.) It so happens that the representatives of this group who attended the ceremony were all in Union blue. One of the women who sings with us is also one of the reenactors. She was there, wearing her blues. As we arrived for practice, she asked if anyone was offended by her presence! We all assured her she was fine - and could she please stand in the back? :)

During the ceremony, there came a time when those in uniform presented arms, and gave a rifle salute. I'm not sure how many times they shot into the air, but it was enough to impress us. We would have remained impressed, if not for one little old man on the end of the row. When the shooting was done, the commander the American Legion (who had been giving orders like: "Ten-Hut!" and "At Ease!" all morning) gave the order "Safeties On!" Evidently, this one guy didn't know how to do that. He squeezed off several more shots, while the commander told him "no, the button down (BLAM!) there, yeah - below the (BLAM!) trigger. Fred, can you (BLAM!) help him?" Very funny stuff.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Who is this gray-haired old woman, and why did she eat the owner of this blog?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We're all gonna die...

That's according to one of my students. Zack came in to class, proclaiming that we all only had a couple more hours to live. Of course, several other students totally bought in to his BS, asking, "Why? What's going on?" Zack replies, "Didn't ya'll hear about that huge meteor heading straight toward Earth?" Someone says, "Where did you hear about that?" Completely deadpan, Zack says, "The aliens told me." Groans and laughter. Then a student says, "Well, if they're going to talk to anyone, it will be you!"

We're all gonna die....maybe not from a meteor, and maybe not today, but these kids will be in charge in the near future. Scary.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Funniest student comment of the week

Backstory: We're talking about weather - hurricanes in particular - as part of our unit on atmosphere and weather. The question comes up, "How do they name hurricanes?" I know the answer to this one! I am a real teacher! After I go through the spiel, explaining how hurricanes are named, a student raises her hand and says, (here's the comment)

"I heard you can tell if a hurricane is a boy or girl by looking at the eye."
Ok - you tell me....male or female??

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Running late

We evidently had a power outage yesterday sometime. Mom mentioned it, but I didn't think anything about it when I went to bed last night. I slept very well - especially between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00. Unfortunately, I'm supposed to up during that time.

This morning, I wake up to a world filled with daylight. Not usually the case at 5:30 in the morning. I roll over and looked at my bedside clock - 8:10!!! No! I'm supposed to be at work by 7:40! I have a homeroom! My 2nd period class starts at 8:18 and it's a 20 minute trek to school. My mid-term test is scheduled, and I have the tests with me. Not good! I grab the phone, and call school - nothing but voicemail. NO - I need to talk to a person! I run to the kitchen where my cell phone is charging, and scroll to the number for my teaching assistant. As her phone rings (no answer) I glance at the battery operated clock on the wall. 7:10 What? I close my cell phone, and look at the the display. 7:10.

OK, so I'm not as late as I originally thought. Still late, but not disastrously so. I run back to the bedroom, throw on some clothes, brush my teeth, brush my hair (luckily, I slept really hard and didn't squirrel around too much in my sleep - my hair lays down fairly neatly), nab a chicken breast out of the fridge for lunch, grab my bag (with the mid-term tests in it) and fly out the door. I'm on the road by 7:20 - pretty good, huh?

I get to work on time! I look like hell, and probably don't smell much better, but I'm on on time.

Interesting thing - I feel as if I am sleep deprived today. That morning routine is much more important than I ever thought.

Note to self: reset alarm clock as soon as I get home today, and use my cell phone as a back-up alarm from now on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Walk-hoppin' the dog

Dusty doesn't just walk - he walk-hops. It's a new verb, describing the action a 3-legged dog does when on a leash, goin' down the road. He's discovered the joys of walk-hoppin', and now looks expectantly at me whenever I come in from work. The first time we went for a walk-hop (I waited until his incision was completely healed before taking this on), he was very suspicious of my intentions, in that every other time he's been on a leash he's ended up at the vets - getting something cut off. I think I'd be a little wary, my own self. After only one walk-hop experience, however, he knows that the leash/harness means we're cruisin' down the hill.

Now, Dusty goes really fast for the first half of the walk-hop - he stays way ahead of me, at the very end of the leash length. Every now and then, he'll stop and look back at me as if to say, "hurry up - many things to sniff up ahead!" He pees on just about everything (more about style points later). Sometimes, he stops to roll around in an invisible something - interesting smelling to him alone. On the way back (which, by the way, is mostly uphill), Dusty goes a little more slowly. He tries to cover it up, acting as if he's being kind to an old lady and waiting for me to catch up with him. Actually, he's sneaking in a few rest periods on the uphills. By the time we get to the final 'big' hill of the driveway, I'm actually leading the way. Walk-hopping is hard work, evidently.

Peeing is an interesting endeavor for a 3-legged dog. I never knew that male dogs dressed right or left, but I think they must. When we're on the right side of the road (opposite of left, as opposed to correct or Republican), Dusty simply stops and pees. No leg to lift, no fuss. If we're on the left side of the road, he doesn't turn around to have easy access - he kinda torques his body around so that he can pee around his left hind leg. Hard to describe, but it looks a little uncomfortable. Sometimes, he actually lifts his back left leg to pee, doing a sort of doggie handstand for a few seconds. Very acrobatic! He also tries to scratch afterward, y'know how some dogs act like they're chuffing up some dirt to cover what they've just done? Well, Dusty tries to do this, with pretty comical effect. He ends up looking very silly and awkward. I laugh at him, and I think it hurts his feelings. He gets over it quickly though, and keeps trying to kick dirt over his business.

Walk-hoppin'...good stuff.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New year, new students, new headaches, old headaches

Well, here we are, 2 weeks in to the school year. My schedule is a little weird this year - I don't have a duty period (read: study hall/computer lab/hall walker), instead I have a resource class. This is a group of 8 students who need me to help them become more organized, finish projects, complete homework, choose a new car, develop career skills, learn geometry, settle disputes...get the picture? Sorta impossible to plan for this class. My schedule depends upon what other teachers are (or aren't) assigning. If a student has no homework/classwork/test/project looming over them, they have nothing to do in my resource class. UNLESS...I play the big, bad witch and make them work on other skills while they are in here. Yeah, they don't look kindly on that. So today, I'm updating my Blog during my resource class! One student is working on geometry homework (already helped him with that), two students are in the library, one student is in the office, and the other 5 are looking at car magazines. My assistant during this period has been a resource assistant for years. I asked her if this was normal for the beginning of the year, and she assures me that things will settle out once teachers start assigning more work and homework. We'll see.

Otherwise, this year is much the same as last year. I collaborate in 3 classes - 1 Earth Science, and 2 Biology. Now, I know about my own biology. Not too sure about anyone else's. I have 2 small group Earth Science classes, with mostly freshmen. I do have one student who failed my class last year, and is just thrilled to be with me again this year. She failed for several reasons, most important being she missed over 40 days of school last year. We've been in school for 9 days, and she's missed 2. She has a bad habit of missing test days, and she missed my first test last Friday. Not a good start...

Friday, August 31, 2007

End of summer....whew!

And what a summer it's been! Here are the highlights (well, some of them not so high):
  • Outer Banks for a week in June
  • Williamsburg for a week in June
  • While at the beach and in Williamsburg, I am plagued with a toothache. The tooth is pulled the week after returning from Williamsburg.
  • Ken visits, and we find a dog to adopt
  • Make several visits to the ER
  • Dusty the dog comes to stay with us - with one good eye, three legs, and no cojones
  • Ken drives himself to the ER, where he's admitted for emergency gall bladder surgery
  • I drive to NC for Ken's surgery
  • Ken in the hospital for 5 days, then comes back with me to VA to start recuperation
  • Dave visits, then drives Ken back to NC
  • Mom back in ER several times
  • Ken comes back to VA
  • Mom in hospital for a total of one week
  • School starts
  • For the month of August, I'm juggling 4 Phoenix online classes
  • Drive to NC last weekend in August to take Dave to the airport - he's in Germany for 13 months
  • Ken drives back to NC for Dr. appt
Yeah, I think I'm ready for the end of summer!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Here's Dusty!

Dave was here this weekend, and took some pictures of our new family member:

I like the grass!


So sad..

They shaved my butt!!

Show dog pose

Wanna play?

Harro, again

My best side...see my grin?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's a dogs life

Finally went to the shelter and picked up Dusty this afternoon. He had his back right leg amputated at the hip last Thursday. At the same time, he was neutered. Talk about a double (triple?) whammy.

Brought him home, and he settled right in. He bonded with mom right away, and spent part of the afternoon on the floor by her feet. He gets around really well on three legs, and seems to have no problem getting up or down the steps on the deck. I think he'll be a wonderful little dog when he gets used to us and our ways.

Right now? He's curled up on a pillow (yes, I bought him a pillow - $2.99 bed pillow from Tar-jay) behind my chair in the den. I think he likes it here...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bigger than a breadbox...

What has three legs, one good eye, fur, and a grin?

Give up?

If all goes the way we've planned - our new dog, Dusty.

Ken has been on the lookout for a dog for us for the last few weeks. Several possibilities presented, most notably one with the weirdest dog name ever - Athena. Anyway, for various reasons, none have worked out. (Athena was dognapped by the son of her owner. He didn't want her leaving the family, so he took her and stashed her with a friend - refused to tell his mom where she was!)

Today, while out and about, Ken and I stop at the Madison County Animal Shelter. Lots of hounds - beagles, pit bulls, and the like. Turn the corner, and there's a miniature long-haired dachshund. So cute! We go up front, and ask about her. Turns out, she's currently in heat and can't be spade for about a month. Also, she has a mammary gland tumor, and the director of the shelter doesn't feel good about her general health. Oh, well....

As we talk with the director, telling her about the type of dog we want, and the dogs we've had (Lady and Missy, in particular) she gets this look like "should I?" Turns out, she has a dog in the back - not out where anyone can adopt the dog. The dog has been on doggy death row for several weeks, and she can't bring herself to put the dog down. She says, "There's just something about this dog." She tells us the dog has several issues: First, he's obviously been hit by a car at some point - on the right side. As a result, he is (ready for this?) blind in his right eye. He also, because of the same incident, has no use of his right hind leg. He came in to the shelter as a stray, yet he had on a collar with a name tag - Dusty. Would we like to take a look at him? We ask what breed, and she tells us he's a Jack Russell. Now, typically these dogs are yappy and hyper, so we are a little skeptical, but we agree to meet Dusty.

He had us at 'Harro' (That's doggy for 'hello' - think Scooby-Doo language). She takes him out of the pen, the dog looks at us (out of his good eye - head cocked to the side) and grins! He weighs about 25 pounds (soon to weigh a little less - more about that in a minute), and he is a cute little Jack Russell. He comes up to us, tail wagging, and immediately bonds with both of us. Sweet, calm, loving little dog. Wants to be a lap dog. The director of the shelter just can't euthanize him - even though the vet in charge has been after her to do so for several weeks. She is so eager to find this dog a good home, she's willing to comp the neutering. As she puts it, it costs the same to neuter the dog as to put him down.

His back right leg is completely useless, he has no feeling in it at all. The shelter director told us he would be better off without the leg - in fact would get around better without it. So she recommends, if we adopt the dog, we have the leg amputated at the same time he's neutered. Yikes! We tell her we'll talk to mom, and let her know.

Ken and I want this dog.

On the way home, Ken says "I guess we'll wait and talk to your mom about the dog when her friends leave?" (Bridge day at the house) I think a minute, and say "No - they'll be on our side!"
When we walk into the living room, the question comes up "Whatcha been doing?" Ken and I stand on one leg, and cover up our right eyes and ask "Would you love us less if we lost a leg and an eye?" Then we tell mom and her friends about Dusty. Sure enough, the ladies are all for us adopting and rescuing the dog. Mom tells us she trusts our judgement (ohhh...there's a dangerous precedent!) So, I call the animal shelter and tell the director we'll take the dog. End result? Dusty has surgery next Thursday - losing his manhood and his right hind leg at the same time. He'll probably be home with us on Friday.

Might as well continue the tradition of ministering to the lame, the halt, and the blind.....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

God must be ROFL

Dad and Wes are telling tall tales once again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer Musings

School is out, and June is almost over! No fair. Weeks crawl by during the school year, and fly during the summer.

As I write this, I'm in Williamsburg with mom. We come every year to stay in my sister's time-share, visit and shop. We don't do the tourist thing anymore - been there, done that. We are very predictable on these yearly trips: We go to the outlets to buy underwear and shoes, we eat lunch out most days and eat in for dinner, a couple afternoons I go to the pool (haven't made it there yet this week, tho), we read, and we play dominoes. It's a party.

Last week, we were in Duck. The weather was great, and the time there was relaxing. One bump in the road - I have a bad tooth, and it started to get infected the week before we left Madison. Now, I despise the dentist. Dentists like me, because they see $$ when they look in my mouth. I have soft teeth, and most of my molars (with the exception of my wisdom teeth) have those old silver-amalgam fillings. Between braces and all those fillings, my teeth have started to break and the fillings are falling out. My molars are really, really weak. So much so that root canals aren't very effective. I've had two root canals - one tooth ended up needing to be extracted, and the other has broken off at the gum line. No place to put a crown. The tooth that is giving me problems lately is broken, and the old filling has come out. The tooth will need to be pulled as soon as I get home. Very exciting... In the meantime, I'm crossing my fingers that it won't start throbbing again while I'm out of town. I couldn't get in to a dentist before we left, so I went to the doctor and got an antibiotic to deal with the infection. The antibiotic was done last Saturday, so I'm trying to keep the tooth really clean and rinsed until I can get it taken care of.

Mom's dog, Missy, was put down a few weeks ago. She was 17, almost blind, and deaf. Mom couldn't let her go any longer like that, so she had the vet put her to sleep. She was a sweet dog. Ken has been keeping his eye out for another dog as he travels from vet to vet servicing machines. He called the other day, and told us he's found our next dog. Her name is Athena (!?!?), and is a 4-year-old beagle mix. She's (according to Ken) small, and sweet, and needs a good, loving home. I guess we qualify. He's bringing her up either this weekend or next week. We're thinking we will need to change her name - not real fond of 'Athena' - we'll see.

Looking forward to heading home, and getting back into a normal routine.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Done, done, done!

Today is the last day of school!

I've spent the last week trying to complete the end-of-year checkout list given to us by administration. We need to get all this stuff done, and have various people throughout the building sign off on each task. I think I've walked about 5 miles in the last 2 days, going from person to person getting initials. As of about an hour ago (it's now 10:45) I'm done! My room is cleaned up, my personal stuff is stashed in my classroom cabinet, my files are in my file cabinet, and my desk is cleaned off. The only thing left is a drive-by meeting with a parent, scheduled for 11:00, just to get a signature on some IEP paperwork. Then, we are, as a faculty, supposed to have a 'picnic-style' lunch (whatever that means) at noonish.

An announcement was made this morning that 'today is a regular staff work day, and the expectation is that everyone will be here normal hours of 8:00 to 3:00.' WHAT!?? But I'm DONE!!! I'm hoping that we'll be told at lunch that we are free to leave when we finish our final checkout (which I did, about an hour ago)

Meanwhile, I'm marking time...

Monday, June 04, 2007

A couple of lasts...

Today is the last Monday of the school year, and the last full day of the school year. Yippee-kai-yai-yay! (Yep, that's how you spell it. Look it up, if you don't believe me.)

We are on exam schedule today, which means I had a 2-hour exam class this morning (collaborative class - one student taking the exam, four students in the back playing cards, 2 students reading novels) where I graded final projects for my small groups. Right now, it's 4th period, which is my duty period. Since my duty is nonexistent for exam week, I have 2 hours to accomplish other things. (Like write in this blog.) Then, it's 5th period, which is my lunch and computer lab duty (you guessed it - no computer lab during exams). So, I sit here at 11:40, and I don't have to be anywhere until 2:10. Not a bad gig, if you can get it. I plan on getting my textbooks returned to the book room, and start mucking out my desk. I have 2 hours free tomorrow, as well - along with a 1:00 dismiss time. If all goes well, I will be ready to walk out of here on Friday afternoon - free at last, free at last!!

On a down note - Saturday is predicted to be the hottest day, so far, of the year. In the 90's. For graduation. On the football field. In black robes. {{{{{steam}}}}}

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

62% successful....

In any other profession, that would be abysmal. In teaching, however, it is to be praised (I guess). We finally got SOL scores in, and out of 13 students in my small group classes, 8 passed the test. Of the five who did not pass, three are eligible to retake the test this week. Now, we have to decide who needs to take my final exam. Of the 8 who passed the SOL, 3 of them are failing my class for the year. They were not happy campers when I told them I was not signing the exemption form for the final exam.

In this county, the seniors are subjected to a ritual called 'capping'. I'd never heard of this, outside of reading about it in my old "Cherry Ames, Student Nurse" books. Evidently, the seniors all choose someone (friend, family member) to place the mortarboard on their heads in a big ol' ceremony. This is happening tonight. Luckily, faculty members do not have to be present. I've been told it takes forever - the seniors are called up, one by one, and someone puts on the hat. Now, you know I've got a question about this. Last Friday, we had the senior awards ceremony. 2 1/2 hours in the gym, sitting on the bleachers, listening to all the awards and scholarships given to the senior class. The seniors were there, of course, in their gowns AND CAPS! I wouldn't think that was legal, since they had not yet been capped. Nobody asked me. I would have told them.

As a side note, I think this is one time during the entire school year when someone can say "I'm gonna cap your a**" and not get in trouble for voicing a threat. Not sure.

I think this is the final indignity the seniors must go through, before graduation. They are all finished on Friday, and will have a week to relax before the graduation ceremony on June 9. That's a ceremony I'm not looking forward to. My understanding is the faculty has to be at school by 8:00 AM that Saturday, all decked out in our gowns and regalia. Luckily, we don't have to wear mortarboards (who would I ask to 'cap' me? hmmmm...) I have been told we can wear other type hats - like big, floppy beach hats!?! I hope that's true... The hats may be necessary, since we will be on the football field, from 9:00 AM until God knows when, in the sun, IN JUNE, WEARING BLACK LONG-SLEEVED ROBES! I'm wondering what (if anything) to wear under the robe.

Better not to think about it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

S*** Out of L***

We finished with SOL testing yesterday - after 8 agonizing days. Eight days of crazy schedules, computer glitches, bored or missing students, and stressed teachers and administrators. Today, we actually have a normal schedule, but that won't last. Tomorrow is Senior awards ceremony, then the SOL field day/picnic for the rest of the day. I've been assigned to the 'Dance, Dance, Revolution' room for the afternoon. I guess I need to get my groove on and be prepared to boogie down.

We have 3 days of normal schedule left after today, then we start a final exam schedule for the rest of the year. Yeah - we haven't gotten any SOL scores back yet, so we have no idea who is eligible to be exempt from exams in SOL classes. The idea is, if they pass the SOL, they can exempt the exam. Students can also exempt with certain grades corresponding to certain #s of absences through the year. I guess I will review for the final exam next week, with no idea who (if anyone) will be taking it.

I did receive my summative evaluation the other day, and my contract for next year yesterday. So I am employed - and got a pretty good step increase in pay. There's talk that health insurance is going to increase quite a bit, so I can only hope that the increase will cover my health insurance. So it goes...

Five full days, and four half days to go!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Legal things

I am now, officially, a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Once again, I had to prove I am not a terrorist who lives in a post office box.

Wednesday, I took 1/2 off to go to the DMV and attempt to get my license. I had all the paperwork I used to get the loan at the credit union a month ago, so I thought I had all my bases covered. Wrong.

At the DMV, I whipped out my birth certificate, my social security card, my NC license, and the statement from the post office linking the PO box to the physical address of the house. Not good enough. I was told to go to the post office, and put in a forwarding order. Once I got mail that had been forwarded to the physical address, I could bring that in and get my license.

At the post office, I filled out the form, and handed it to the guy behind the counter. He said, 'No problem, a forwarding confirmation will be delivered in a few days." "To the PO Box, right?" I ask. "No, to your mailbox on the street." "WE DON'T HAVE A MAILBOX ON THE STREET!!" "Oh, well - you need to get one." Grrr.... "OK, not gonna happen. Can't you put the confirmation in the PO Box that is linked to that physical address?" "Yeah, I guess that will be alright." We'll see..

One other way I could prove my physical address to the DMV was to bring in a voter registration card. I picked up that application, and read over the requirements. You guessed it - I needed to provide proof of residency before I could get a voter registration card. Just because, I went by the Board of Elections. One lonely lady sat in there - very glad to see me. I told her what I was trying to accomplish. She looked at my documents, said "These will do", and printed up a voter registration card - - on the spot. What? A person with sense? Is that it? Am I really able to prove I live there?

The acid test: I drove back to the DMV, and once again presented all my documents - including the voter registration card. Things are looking good! During the process, the lady helping me got called to the telephone. When she came back, she said, "The only thing you're missing is your proof of legal residence." "NO! I gave you my voter registration card!" It's not in with my other stuff - as she went to answer the phone, she evidently laid it down somewhere. She retraced her steps, and managed to find it on another counter. Then, she called another woman over and asked, "Don't we need her marriage license as well - to prove her married name?" You have GOT to be kidding me!!! Finally, I get to the eye test. I'm sorry, no one can read those letters in that little binocular box. I passed, however, and walked out with a VA license. Finally.

Then, I drove to the car dealership to get my VA tags. I couldn't officially register my new car in VA until I had a VA driver's license. After they copied my new license, and a little wait while the salesman found someone who was authorized to give me my permanent tags, I had VA tags. I'm official. I can vote, I can drive, I can serve on a jury, I will (eventually, I suppose) get mail forwarded from my old address, I can write a check on my VA bank account at the grocery store, I can pay VA property tax, and I can infiltrate all of VA's most secret societies. (Oh, wait...did I say that last part out loud?)

Monday, May 14, 2007

SOL Review

Woo-Hoo! For the next week or so, we are taking SOLs (end of year tests). So, we only have 3 class periods daily while this goes on. That means each class period lasts 2 hours. 2 hours??? Aargh!! Right now, I'm sitting in a 3rd period Earth Science class. We are reviewing for the test, which will be on Thursday. It is 11:15, we've been in here for about 20 minutes, and will be in here until 12:45. Kids eyes are glazing over, heads are on desks, eyes are rolling. It's a lot of fun.

At this time, Mr. D (collaborating teacher) is going over the review presentation. I get to take over in about 15 minutes or so. We are taking turns, mainly because our voices are giving out with all the reviewing. After this class, I get to review the same material with my 8th period class for 2 hours. I already did so with my 2nd period class. Crazy schedule. Crazy days. I did get to eat lunch - at 10:30. I will be starving by 3:00.

On the plus side - we have 17 days of school after today. One month from tomorrow, I will be at the beach. There is light at the end of the tunnel....and it's glinting off the Currituck Sound.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I was not voted prom queen

'cause I chose not to run.

Last Saturday, I went to my first high school prom. A lot of people find that hard to believe (not because I was so gorgeous or datable in high school - but because everyone goes to prom, don't they?), but when I was in high school, you didn't go to the prom unless you were dating someone. I really didn't date much in high school - mostly went out with groups of friends. So, most of my friends didn't go to the prom. I don't remember it mattering much.

In any case, last Saturday I was a chaperone for the prom. The school is pretty small, so the prom was held in the school gym. Pretzels, chips, and punch for refreshments. DJ set up in the corner. Very dark room. Loud music. I think one of my jobs was to prevent conception on the dance floor, but I really couldn't see anything. I'm hoping no one else could, either. My other job was to check students in and out. Each student had to sign in when they arrived, and we had to check their names against the 'debt list'. Owe money? Can't get in to prom until you pay. Didn't turn in your freshman science book? Can't get in to prom until you bring the book back. (Yes, a girl actually walked in with her long-lost science book.) So, by 9:00 there was a pretty long line of students waiting to sign in. Then, the reverse at the end of the night. Not sure why students had to sign in and sign out - I guess in case someone didn't make it home, parents could call and find out what time little Jenny left the dance. (or, if she ever arrived!)

Lots of skin showing - so much so that undergarments were not possible in some cases. Lots of drama. Evidently, prom night is a prime time to break up with someone. One of my students arrived, and said she was waiting for her date. She sent a note by someone else to this guy the day before, telling him to meet her at the prom. He isn't even a student - graduated last year. Inevitably, he didn't show. Undaunted, she started down her contact list on her cell phone. No takers. I saw her later in the night, dancing with a group of other dateless prom-goers. Today, as she walked in to class, she informed me that she has a new boyfriend. Evidently, as she danced she caught the eye of a young man. She went up to him and asked, "Do you have a girlfriend?" When the guy replied, "No" she asked "Do you want one?" Ahhh....romance.....

Did I dance at the prom? You betcha. Just one dance - the Cha Cha Slide. Kelly and I almost went out on the dance floor again, to 'bring sexy back' but the principal was watching. Spoil sport.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Don't hate...

I attended a 'scoring event' today. Yep, that's right - a scoring event. I know you're jealous, but don't hate.

Today was the day to turn in the portfolio assessments on those students who (for various reasons) do not participate in standard SOL testing each year. I had one to complete, and (as described elsewhere in this blog) it was not a fun process. Anyway, the Commonwealth leaves it up to the local systems to score the portfolios. That means that all the teachers in the county who put together a portfolio of work on a student for assessment have to participate in the scoring of same.

So, our local testing guy (who happens to be pretty cool) decided we would all go to his house to score portfolios. There were 5 of us (not including Justin, the testing guy), scoring a dozen or so portfolios. Each portfolio has to be scored twice (and you can't score your own), and the scores have to agree. If they don't agree for any section, then you have to fight it out with the other scorer. Fun. Not.

I've done scoring of this type of assessment before, so I'm pretty familiar with what needs to be done. Basically, you have to look at the standard, then match up the evidence presented with that standard. Does it fit? Did the student show mastery of that standard as evidenced by the work/photo/video/whatever included? Each standard is rated from 1 - 4 (4 being the highest). Good deal - shouldn't be a problem. EXCEPT - we got derailed by language and semantics. One standard for math skills states that the student will sort and classify according to size, shape, color, and thickness. What's the difference between sort and classify? I'm a pretty smart person - I thought I knew this. Apparently not. Before it was over, we had out 2 dictionaries and a thesaurus!
You tell me - if you have pictures of a student sorting silverware, blocks by color, coasters by shape, and paintbrushes by thickness of bristles, is s/he also demonstrating the concept of classifying?

Yeah, I'm not so sure now, either. We actually spent quite a bit of time arguing this point. In the end, we compromised, and decided to agree to disagree.

I have a headache.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I went to Graves Mountain Lodge festival today, where I met Ben.

Graves Mountain Lodge is a short 20-minute drive from home, and has been a part of my life for about as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, our church youth group would go to Graves for retreats at least once yearly. I still remember 'old man Graves' standing in the dining hall, wearing his bib-alls. He was usually growling at us to eat all the food on our plates.

Anyway, this weekend Graves was having a festival. It was a beautiful day, so I spent some time there after lunch. For about an hour or so, I wandered among the booths set up, looking over jewelry and other wares. In the background, a bluegrass group picked and grinned. Nice time.

As I was leaving, a van pulls up beside my car. The sliding door opens, and I hear, "Hi, my name is Ben. I'm 3 1/2 years old" I turn to see Ben, strapped in his car seat. "Hi, Ben." I say. "My next birthday, I'm going to be four," says Ben, holding up the appropriate number of fingers. "And I'm going to be four for a long time." "That's wonderful!" I say, "How old will you be after that?" Ben replies quickly, "I think I'll be ten!" Ben's mom, getting out of the front seat, informs me that Ben (for some reason) really wants to be ten.

I think it's important to know exactly what you want. I want to be like Ben.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Blessings 4/15-4/21

  1. Great-nephew Charles
  2. new car (finally!)
  3. time off from work
  4. beautiful weather - Spring is here, at last
  5. continued weight loss - I can go shopping in my closet

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Let's not get ridiculous....

That's a quote from the lady at the credit union this morning. I obtained my statement from the post office, and went to the CU before my WeightWatcher's meeting this morning. I gave the woman the PO statement, my health insurance letter, and my teaching certificate letter - all of which have both the POB # and the physical address of the house. As she poured over this material, looking doubtful and saying "Well, I think this should be good enough.", I said, "I also have my POB key, with the number on it, if you'd like to see." Her response? "Let's not get ridiculous."

Oh, I'm sorry - I thought we already had.

Friday, April 20, 2007


I am a terrorist. I have infiltrated the Commonwealth of Virginia under false pretenses, and am attempting to establish residence for nefarious purposes. At least, that's what the local credit union seems to think.

I'm buying a new car. Note: I have not yet bought a new car, because the credit union won't close the loan. Why? Because I don't receive mail at my physical address, but to a post office box. The utilities are not in my name, nor is my name on any of those bills that would link the PO box to the physical street address. So, when we went to the credit union to sign the papers for the loan, they informed us they could not make the loan unless I had mail with the physical address on it. Which is not likely, since we have no mailbox on the street. We get mail at the post office. In the post office box.

I was also chastised for not yet obtaining a VA driver's license, which would have to show the physical address (according to the credit union, although mom's license has the PO box number). BUT.... they don't think I can get a VA license, because I don't have proof of my physical address!

Now, mom had a utility bill with her, with the POB #, stating the bill was for service at the physical address of the house. I had a paycheck, with the POB #. One would think you could connect the dots, but apparently not. Ok, so what do I do? I was told to go to the post office, and get a notarized statement from the postmaster, stating that the POB is linked to that physical address, and that I receive mail at the POB#. OK, I can do that.

No, I can't. When we get home, I call the Post Office, where the gentleman informs me they don't have a notary, and they never notarize anything. What he can give me is a copy of the POB application (which will have mom's name on it), along with a copy of my signature which added me to that POB, and a statement linking the POB# with the physical E-911 address. I agree to come by and get that in the morning.

I start looking through the mail I've received since I've been here, and find a letter from my health insurance company that has the physical address on it! THEN, I find the letter from the Commonwealth of Virginia that came with my VA teaching certificate that has BOTH addresses AND my full name AND my SSN! How's that for proof that I live where I say I live, and that I am who I say I am?

I'm excited now, so I call the credit union, and explain to them what I have. Nope, not good enough. I need the statement from the Post Office. I explain that the Post Office doesn't notarize, never has. The response is - that's ok, it doesn't have to be notarized. Unless I have the statement from the Post Office, they won't close the loan.

So, tomorrow morning I will drive my new car (yes, I have possession - already have a map and an ice-scraper in the glove compartment) to the PO, get the statement from there, and take my happy butt down to the credit union. I will have the other two letters, as well. Hopefully, with all this material, I will have jumped through enough hoops to keep the car.

Here's the funny part (if any of this can be called funny) - in order to get this loan, I had to open an account with the credit union. That's fine - that way they can draft my payment directly from the account. It also enables me to get a really good interest rate (IF they close the loan). So I set up the account, and deposit the minimum amount. So I asked the question: Will my statement be mailed to me? Answer: Yes, quarterly. Next question: What address will be on the statement? Answer: The POB #. Next question: Can you also put the physical address on the statement? Answer: No, only one line is available for the address. (!!!!!) So, the statement from the credit union that has to have proof of my physical address before they can close the loan that will generate quarterly statements, will only have the POB# as my address.

Does this make sense to you?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Car!

2007 Hyundai Accent. Great gas mileage and FRONT WHEEL DRIVE!!!


OK - so each SPED teacher in our school is allowed 2 days each school year to spend working on IEPS (Individual Education Plans). As a newbie, I was not aware of this until after Christmas, so had not taken advantage of the 'perk'. Unfortunately, I was done with all my IEPS fairly soon after Christmas break, without the benefit of taking days to complete the paperwork required.

I have one student who does not take the normal SOL tests, mainly because of her cognitive ability and emotional problems. She is on an alternative assessment, which is due by May 3. Now, I don't teach her - don't even see her in the normal course of the day. I have to rely upon her teachers to provide me with work that proves she has made progress this year. Right.

To begin with - she's pregnant, due in June. She rarely comes to school, and when she does only stays for 3 class periods. The rest of her work is done with a homebound teacher. They are working on parenting and childcare skills (for obvious reasons). As a result, there is very little work that I can use to show progress for her assessment.

Two weeks ago, I put in for this IEP day (we have to put in for them 2 weeks in advance), thinking that surely I would have some work from her teachers so I could put this portfolio together. Not. I even sent work home with her so that her homebound teacher could help her complete some work for the assessment. Haven't gotten any of it back. She's been in school 3 days out of the last 10. So here I am, with a day put aside to work on this assessment portfolio, and no work to put in it. I even worked out with her math teacher that I could pull her during his class to work on a math assessment for me. She didn't come to school today. Grrr...

On the plus side: my desk is cleared off, and all my plans are done for next week. Good thing, because I have a feeling all my 'spare time' will be taken up with trying to complete this assessment portfolio by May 3.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blessings 4/8 - 4/14

  1. TC's computer is under warranty, and can be fixed.
  2. Made my 10% goal at Weight Watchers. (Got a key chain - woo hoo!)
  3. The weather was not as bad today as forecasted.
  4. Test-driving a new car.
  5. Only teaching 3 days in the coming week.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Called a bluff

Tom, my co-worker and weight-watcher buddy, knows everyone and everything. At work, we tend to do a little eye-rolling when he name drops or expounds on a myriad of subjects. I've said I take much of what he says with a grain of salt. Now, he's a smart guy, and I don't doubt he knows a lot of people I don't know, but it's hard to believe everything he says.

A few weeks ago, I happened to mention to the hall-duty group I needed to look into getting a new car - one with front-wheel drive for starters, and one that got better gas mileage. Tom said,"Jim Price is a personal friend of mine, and he can get you into a Hyundai at $100 over cost." Yeah, OK. The next day, Tom brought in some brochures, and said he'd talked with Jim about letting me test drive a car. I said sure - I'd like to test drive a car sometime. That'd be great.

Today, after our weigh-in (down 22 pounds, btw), I followed Tom to the car dealership. Not only do I get to test drive a 2007 Accent, I get to keep it over the weekend! They bolted on a dealer tag, filled up the tank (yeah, that's right - filled up the tank), and said "See ya Monday evening." Ok, so maybe the guy does know the owner of the dealership. So, if Tom was telling the truth about the test drive, maybe I really can get a new car at almost cost. Hmmmm....

BTW - the car is pretty sweet.

Friday, April 13, 2007

So long...

Today was my teaching assistant's last day. Mrs. Ward has been in the school system for a long time, and finally had enough. She told me in January that she was going to start using up her sick and personal days, and when they were gone, so was she. Well, she meant it! We found out about 2 weeks ago that today would be it for her. I have her in class with me 2 periods, and my students wanted to do something for her. She's usually very cranky with them, but they know she cares. So, I had about 30 students and staff in my classroom 8th period today, having a going-away party for Mrs. Ward. The kids made her a card, and we all signed it. We took lots of pictures, and had a good time. I don't know who (if anyone) is going to replace her - I haven't heard a thing from administration about the job. I have heard from 4 other assistants that they put in for the position, so we'll see what happens.

On a sillier, slightly aggravating note - We have 2 new copiers in the building. Wait, amend that - we have 2 copiers in the building that work. Most of the copying has to go through the office staff - you put in your originals at least 24 hours in advance, and the office secretaries copy it for you. Not the best system in the world, especially if you need something copied at the last minute. The other copiers around the building are dinosaurs, and usually don't work. So, a couple months ago, we got 2 new copiers for 'emergencies'. We aren't supposed to use these copiers for big jobs - just the occasional job here and there.

OK, no problem. I have 16 students in my small group classes. I never make tons of copies - don't need to. I have used the new copiers. Everyone has. We have to put in the last 4 digits of our SSN to use the copiers. Today, I was told I was overusing the copiers, having made (ready for this?) 758 copies last month! I haven't made that many copies all year! Now, I'm on the copier police list. Evidently, if you don't log out of the copier when you're done (very possible I've neglected this on more than one occasion) then the next person, if they come in within a few minutes, can merrily copy away on your dime. Not cool.

I'm so glad this school year is almost over. This petty stuff gets old.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blessings 4/1-4/8

  1. Four days off for Spring Break - not as nice as 6, but whatcha gonna do?
  2. Visits from husband and family.
  3. Telephone call from TC (and he was in a good mood)
  4. Reached the weight-loss goal I set for myself back in January.
  5. Beautiful April snowfall.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cue muzak "I'm Dreaming of a ....

White Easter"????

Woke up this morning to almost 3 inches of snow. It's beautiful, but totally not April. Wow.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Ok I always knew my kids were trendsetters, but this is just silly!

Last weekend, Dave took this picture of TC leaping off a rock and clicking his heels together:

I downloaded the picture (along with others) to my thumb drive, and took them to work. Kelly (math teacher on my hall) decided she really like the whole 'heel-click' thing. Saturday, she and a friend were in DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival and took this picture:
So, today in school, Kelly decided that she wanted everyone to click their heels in joy because Spring Break starts tomorrow!

I even got in on the act. It wasn't pretty, but I was pretty impressed that I could even get off the ground...

I just love silly stuff like this...

Perfect day for a car accident

I just have to report on the car crash demonstration we just had. I fully expect to field questions this afternoon, as to what was going on at the high school this morning.

We all go out to the football field, and sit on the bleachers. In front of us are two cars, supposedly just involved in an accident. Students, in various states of distress (fake blood, etc) are strewn about - both in the cars and on the pavement. In the distance, sirens can be heard. In a few moments, 3 state troopers, 2 unmarked cars, a local sheriff's cruiser, 2 firetrucks, 2 ambulances (ambulanci?), and numerous first responders are on the 'scene.' Next, we hear "thwocka-thwocka-thwocka", and here comes Pegasus, the life-flight helicopter.

For the next 45 minutes, we watch as the various people act out the rescue of those involved in the accident, and the roadside sobriety test of the 'drunk driver' who caused the accident. Jaws of life are employed, and a white Volvo station wagon is soon a convertible. Glass is smashed, doors are ripped off, and the injured are extricated and strapped to body boards. Three are taken to the waiting ambulanci, and one is put in Pegasus and airlifted. The last person taken out of the Volvo is placed in a black body bag. (query: do they reuse body bags? I don't think it matters to most, but this young lady was still breathing.) The point of this? Our principal gets on the public address system and says, "As we get ready for Spring Break, I want to remind all students that this could happen to you or your friends if you drink and drive." Happy *&^!ing Easter!

Several students asked the question "What would happen if a real accident happened right now somewhere out in the county?"

I told my homeroom students to hold on to their raffle tickets, for the "Ride on Pegasus" drawing to take place at the end of the day.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Spring Broken

Tomorrow is supposed to be the first day of our Spring Break. Not.

Since we had so many days out for bad weather this winter, we have to go to school tomorrow, as well as Easter Monday. No fair. I asked my 2nd period class on Thursday how many students were planning on being in school on Monday. One girl sort of hesitantly put up her hand. Other classes? Much the same result.

Administration told us we are to 'set the tone' for the day tomorrow. It is to be just like any other school day. Then, they go and schedule a (get this!) "Car Crash Demonstration" (??!!) first thing in the morning. This is in conjunction with a "Fair Weather Evacuation Drill" (??!!). So, the way I see it, right after homeroom, we practice evacuating our students (those who are there, and not at the beach) to the football field where we will be treated to a Greene County version of the Demolition Derby. THEN, we herd everyone back inside, where we are required to teach our classes as if nothing unusual just happened. Should be an interesting day...

Madison Moment:
Last week, I heard this story. I thought it was pretty funny.
A woman who lives on Main Street always flies the American flag from her porch. Evidently, her flag got a little ratty, so she replaced it with a new flag. A passing veteran noticed the new flag, and notified the local police that they needed to check on her. Evidently, she inadvertently hung the flag upside down, which is a distress signal.


  1. Having my sons visit last weekend. I'm so glad they are friends, and seem to enjoy spending time together. It's also nice that they want to spend time with me and their grandmother.
  2. An unexpected day off last week. Mom had appointments scheduled for Friday that were cancelled. I already had approval and a substitute for the day. Sweet.
  3. Pulled out my Spring and Summer clothes. Everything fits, and some things are TOO BIG!
  4. Pig 'n Steak celebrated 20 years in business today. I think we should all be grateful...
  5. My brother survived his bike accident in Oregon - with his memory intact.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Grumpy pants

This will be my last tirade about the 9-weeks test - promise. A little back story...

We (as a department) take turns making up the tests for the end of each quarter. Tom and I took the 2nd nine weeks, and did the test for it. Not a problem. Leah (another Earth Science teacher) did the test for the first nine weeks. Our illustrious dept. head, Lenny, should have done the 3rd test. He did not want to. (lip poked out, and shaking his head). So, Tom volunteered to do it again. What did he do? He gave me the released items from last years test to 'look over.' I took them home a few weekends ago, and marked some I thought should be included in addition to those Tom had marked. On Monday (a week ago) Lenny comes to Tom and says, "The office needs that test today!" So, I spent last Monday cutting and pasting questions, answers, and graphics for the test, and putting it all together in a usable form. Gave it to Tom, who gave it to Lenny, who gave it to the office to be copied. Neither one of them checked behind me. I made some mistakes on the test. Stupid, fixable mistakes - but mistakes, nonetheless.

After the test was copied, THEN Tom looks at it. He freaks out over the mistakes. Lenny says - don't worry, we'll just fix the problems. I apologize to Lenny, who tells me he blames Tom for not following through and authoring the test. Tom blames Lenny for passing the buck, and not authoring the test.

Fast forward to today. The kids took the flawed test yesterday. Lenny is going over the test with his class (I'm in there as a collaborating teacher), and as he goes through it, he decides he doesn't like a couple of the questions. Says those never should have been included. Makes some comments about how bad the test was. I apologize again - he blames Tom again. Tells me that I never should have been put in the position to put the test together, since I'm not the Earth Science expert. (I'm Sped, after all - evidently not just as a vocation, but I'm now part of the population!)

I'm grumpy about this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I hate 9-week tests. It's crazy to get so excited over barely passing grades on these things. The first 9-weeks, my students did poorly overall. I think my highest score was a 50-something. My department chair told me not to worry - these were Sped kids, after all - and as long as they scored over 50%, they had a good chance of passing the SOL at the end of the year. (Tells you something about that SOL, don't it?) So, I felt a little better. Then, my principal did a hall drive-by on me - letting me know that I had to do something to get my test scores up. What did I have to do? Start remediation classes right away in order to help these darlings, and get them to pass the SOL. OK, so my remediation classes started right before Thanksgiving. Every Wednesday morning, for the last 4 months, I've remediated my students for 30 minutes. Now, I'm supposedly going to get paid for this - not sure when, but money has been promised.

Second 9-weeks, my students did a little better. Instead of just about everyone failing the test, only 2 failed. Much better. Were these all the students I remediated? Not a chance. Only 5 were in remediation weekly. The others were in other remediation classes (because they failed more than one 9-week test.) My principal did the dance of joy, and told me to 'keep up the good work.' In other words, keep remediating every Wednesday morning for phantom pay.

Today, my students are taking the 3rd 9-week test. I graded my 2nd period class, and all but one student passed. Then, 8th period. These guys are lazy, and I have 3 girls who are absent more often than present. In this class, I had - guess what? - 3 failures. Meanwhile, Tom is sticking his head in my door, crowing: "One failure out of all my classes!" Like it's some kind of teacher competition....


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Oh, to be young again...

TC and Dave came up for a visit this weekend, and they decided to go for a little hike on Saturday afternoon. A few miles outside of Madison, there is a mountain called "Old Rag." This mountain is unique, in that it is a granite outcrop - billions of years old. Very cool. (Yeh - there goes the Earth Science nerd again) Anyway, Dave and TC left around 11:00 to go to Old Rag, and hike to the summit and back. About a 9-mile hike. And 'rock scramble', as the website described it.

They didn't get back until just before dark - making me a little nervous. They had a great time, and Dave took many, many pictures of the trail and the rocks. I don't know if TC was sure what he was getting in to, but he gamely went along for the hike and scramble. He was a good sport - even paying for the entrance to the park - on his birthday weekend, no less!

It was a good weekend, and it was really good to spend some time with them.

After they left this afternoon, I went to the high school for the Spring musical - Oz. Several students in my classes were in the play, including the girl who played Dorothy. It was very good, and I was impressed with the talent level of the students.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pass the Clorox, please!

This morning, about 6:30, I got a call at home from on of the school secretaries. "Mrs. L., I hate to bother you at home, but we have a situation in Mr. M's room." What? A situation? Are we going to DefCom 3? What does that mean?

Mr. M is the teacher in the classroom across the hall from me. His class is for students with severe/profound disabilities. Evidently, all but one staff person (a classroom aide) were down with a stomach virus today - Mr. M included. I happen to be certified to teach students with that level of disability, so I was asked to be in that classroom today - with my small-group assistant (who's worked in this classroom in the past), and that one poor assistant who was not sick. Turns out, she's like the Typhoid Mary of the virus - she had it first, about 3 weeks ago. Great.

The up side? I can wear jeans when working in that class.

I still had to teach my small-group classes, and have my home-room group. Other than that, I was in this classroom today. Fortunately, (for me - not for the students) all but 2 students were ALSO out with this virus. So here we were, three adults and 2 students. Had to be that way, because you must have 2 staff in that class at all times, in case of medical emergency (or diaper changes, where you have to have 2 people in the bathroom to lift a heavier student on to the changing table.) Too much information? Welcome to my world.

It was a relatively stress-free day, however. One student is very self-sufficient, so we mainly had to deal with the other. We also were able to go out after lunch and walk around the track for their PE time - something I never get to do on a normal day. The weather was beautiful today, so that was great.

I also decreed (being the head honcho for the day, and all) that we spend some time cleaning all surfaces and materials in the room. Since it was a nice day, we also had the windows open all day - getting the bad air out, and letting the good air in. I washed my hands more today than I have in the last week.

After being in this "hot zone" all day, I think bathing in Clorox might be good idea. The assistant principal thanked me this afternoon for helping out, adding, "Now I hope you don't get sick."

Me, too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blessings 3/11-3/17

  1. Managing a full week at work without losing my mind

  2. Two days of Spring-like weather

  3. One day of snow

  4. Catfish -- mmmmm

  5. Held my last IEP meeting of the school year on Thursday. Unless you're a SPED teacher, you have no idea how good that feels.

Catfish Serenade

Semi-annual VFW Catfish Dinner tonight. MM-MM-good. Don't tell Ken - he'll hate that he missed it. (and no - fried catfish is NOT on my diet. Don't care. It's twice a year.)

While we ate, a quartet entertained us with a medley of tunes. Very eclectic. Following "One Day at a Time", came a vaguely tropical sounding instrumental. Then the group announces that, since it was St. Patrick's Day, they thought they should play "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." They put on their green baseball caps, and launched in to the instrumental chorus of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Mom and I almost choked on our hushpuppies. After some fumbling around with music, and whispered discussion, the group started over - this time singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." Good deal. Except, when they got to the instrumental bridge, once again we had "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

Then, we heard a rendition of "Blue Hawaii." All this done with guitars and banjo. We figured we were in for a musical trip around the world. Next song? "Louisiana Saturday Night", and as we were leaving, "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You." Great stuff.

I am so full.

Friday, March 16, 2007

You just never know...

what's gonna happen.

Couple of random things: 7th period today, I left class to head toward the restroom. I heard faint sounds of music out in the hall, but didn't think much about it. When I opened the bathroom door, I see a student in the bathroom - practicing her violin. I guess the acoustics are good in there. So, I had a 'pee serenade.' Pretty classy.

Girl walking down the hall, wearing a T-shirt that says "Stop imagining me naked" Also pretty classy. I stopped her, and let her know that the shirt was not appropriate for school. She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Maybe because this was at the end of the day, and no one else (evidently) called her on the shirt all day.

Yesterday, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Mid-70's, sunny. Spring, right? By the time I got home last night, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees. This morning, it was raining and in the upper 30's. Rained all day, and started snowing around 2:30. Right now, we have about an inch of snow out on the deck, and the driveway is covered. Strange weather.

I have a student in my homeroom who drives me nuts. He's a nice kid, but very annoying. Ray doesn't have an 'off' switch. Everything he does, he does for attention. He's also in one of my collaborative classes. I see Ray as much as I see any student I teach. Have I mentioned - he drives me nuts.

The other day, Ray started talking about the show 'Southpark'. Now, despite the political incorrectness of the show, I am a fan. I think it's funny. Comedy Central ran a marathon of the series a couple weekends ago, and the students in my homeroom were talking about the episodes seen.
In one, Al Gore makes a guest appearance, warning everyone about the dangers of 'Man-Bear-Pig'. Of course, no one believes him that Man-Bear-Pig is real, so he goes to great lengths to convince the boys of Southpark that the threat is real. As Al says "I'm so serial". At the end of the show, Al goes off in a huff, saying he's just going to go make a movie about Man-Bear-Pig.

Ok, I guess you had to see it to think this makes any sense.

ANYWAY...Ray decided he and I would bond over our belief in Man-Bear-Pig. For the past week, Ray has been driving me nuts (yes, I'm so serial) with Man-Bear-Pig references. Mostly, he's just been saying the name whenever he thinks I can hear him, and giggling hysterically. Yesterday, in the middle of class, I glance over at Ray (who's been watching and waiting for me to look his way), and he holds up his hand where he's spent much time crafting paper 'claws' on his fingers. Today, when I went in my class for 8th period, there was a message on my board: "Man-Bear-Pig was here. GRRRR"
I'm hoping he will get another obsession before Monday, or I may have to hurt him.

This morning, on the school TV news channel, the three administrators of our school had their hair dyed. One purple, one red, and one orange. They did this because the school met a fundraising goal. So they walked around all day with Easter egg hair, and no one took them seriously. Good job.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Madison Moment

On Sunday afternoon, just after lunch at Blue Ridge, came a knock at the side door. Now, no one ever comes up the hill just to visit, and almost no one knocks at that door. I went to the door, and opened it to see whom I could see. (How's that there grammar?) Anyway, a woman was standing there with a copy of The Watchtower. With her, was a student from the high school. She looked almost as surprised to see me as I was to see her. After a few minutes of questions and answers (the total Witness drill) I accepted the copy of The Watchtower, and told the girl "See you tomorrow!" She looked a little embarrassed.

To be continued...(the bell for 6th period just rang)

Monday, March 12, 2007


Back at school. So far today, I've had about 5 things dumped on me. This week is going to be so busy! I guess I'm paying for 3 days away, last week.

We have about 10 teaching days left before the 3rd 9-week test. In that time, I have to teach my students all about glaciers, and the geological history of the Earth. In 10 days. The history of the Earth. Yeah. Rotsa ruck with that.

I came back from the conference with all kinds of ideas, and new technology promos. My principal has been running from me all day. Seriously. Every time he sees me, he turns the other way. He knows I'm going to hit him up for some budget money. Normally, I wouldn't mind if he left me alone (he's kinda annoying), but now he's just being rude! That's OK - I got friendly with our tech specialist for the county at the conference, and she's already said she'll go to bat for the HS to get some new stuff next year.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blessings 3/4-3/11

  1. 3-day workshop - time off from school. I forgot how re-energized I get when I go to conferences.
  2. Adjunct to #1: beautiful drive both ways for the conference. The hour-long drive took me over the mountain and back each day.
  3. Continued weight loss
  4. The beginning (?) of Spring - maybe?
  5. Talking to Ken and Dave (oh, TC? Where are you?)

Friday, March 09, 2007

I {{heart}} educational technology

Spent the last 3 days at JMU, at NTTI (National Teacher Training Institute),learning about all kinds of neat educational technology. Too bad my school system doesn't have any $$ to spend!

I do get one piece of equipment for my classroom when I finish all the requirements for the institute. Probably won't see it until next school year, but that's better than nothing. Very interesting 3 days, overall. I learned how to make a podcast! Whoo-hoo! Pretty cool stuff.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Dave has a hippo on his head. College has been such an enriching experience for him!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Blessings 2/25 - 3/3

  1. Weight loss of almost 3 pounds - total of over 15 pounds in 7 weeks!
  2. Beautiful weather over the last 2 days.
  3. Getting approved for a workshop at JMU I applied for
  4. Hearing from my family.
  5. Taking an hour off work for myself on Friday (and surviving my walk!)