Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Best. Compliment. Ever.

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I wasn't planning to write a blog post tonight.  I was sitting at the computer, playing around a little before class starts and doing that thing where you search for your name on the Internet just to see what pops up.

Which is a little depressing with my married name because the first site that came up was NOT my blog but some drugged out felon's youtube page called "My Life After Lockup."

Then I decided to search Twitter for my maiden name and found it linked to this site that rates teachers...and I almost didn't look because it is much more common to go online and complain about things than go online and say positive things.  And let's be honest, it's been a rough semester this spring...

But I did look.  And this is the post:

Ms. Haugh had a great influence on me without even knowing it. I had her as my English III teacher both semesters of my Junior year. Straight away I discovered that there was not going to be a corner to cut with her, which is why I received a well deserved C-grade my first semester. The first day of my second semester, I told her I was going to be a different student. The crazy part was, she believed what I said, and believed in me. This is when I realized the difference between "getting an A" and "earning an A."                                

Best. Compliment. Ever.

I'm not sure who wrote this; I doubt the author will ever see my response since I've married and moved hundreds of miles away...but if he or she does see it, know this: you made me cry tonight-in a good way.

Thank you.

And for the rest of you who ARE reading this post--if you had a teacher who helped you, who changed you, who gave you the tiniest bit of a different, better perspective in this crazy world, please tell them.  Even if you were in high school twenty or thirty years ago, reach out.  Let them know.  It's a hard job and one thing that makes it all worthwhile is knowing you made a difference.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bad Decisions and Big Hair

It's Finish The Sentence Friday again everyone, the brain child of Janine Huldie,   Another Bottle of Whine, Dawn's Disaster, Mommy For Real  This week's sentence is "I thought I was so cool when I..."
So, here goes...I thought I was so cool when I decided to get a perm and really go after that "big hair" look.
And if you have never seen my hair, you are probably thinking that this is no big deal, because back in the 80’s and early 90’s everyone permed their hair.

But let me give you a visual , to give you a little perspective.  This is my hair now, without a perm, without trying to make it big, with just the curls that God gave me:
And to really drive it home, take a look at me back then, BEFORE THE PERM, after blowing my hair dry upside down, teasing it, spraying it etc.
The last thing I needed in that mop top was MORE body. 
It is interesting to note that I couldn't find any post-perm pictures...probably because my post-perm hair was too big to fit into a picture....in fact, my post perm hair was too big to fit into most doors.
Believe it or not, it got worse.
Because in addition to deciding that my hair wasn't curly enough, I also decided that it wasn't dark enough.  Take another look at that picture.  That's my hair pre-color--the shade I thought WASN'T DARK ENOUGH.
So I went to the salon, got a perm and then a few days later went backand had it dyed it a shade that was supposed to be "chocolate" but is best described as "midnight-in-the-middle-of-a-black-hole."
It was NOT attractive. 

And even though I was super cool, and all "I know I look good" I still could hear a tiny little voice in my head suggesting that perhaps it was a touch, shall we say, dramatic against my fair Irish skin.  A voice that got louder when I saw the horrified look on my mom's face.
"I think it's a little dark," I said.  "The beautician told me not to wash it for a couple of days, so the color will set.  I think I'll go ahead and wash it tomorrow."
"Honey," my mom said gently, "wash it NOW."
Pretty sure I thought I was cool...but my mom was actually the cool one.
To read about all the other cool kids this week, please click on the link below:
Finish the Sentence Friday

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Underwear Should Not Be Optional

It's Theme Thursday everybody--and the first Theme Thursday I've been able to participate in for awhile because of the whole "three jobs" issue. In any case, Theme Thursday is sponsored by Jenn at Something Clever 2.0   and features a group of my favorite bloggers who all write on the same theme. This week's theme is advice. And since I've already used my best dating advice here, I thought I'd do another blast from the past.

As most of you know, I used to teach high school in St. Louis. And when I was there, I somehow ended up in charge of the "at-risk" kids from the inner city. In all honesty, it was the toughest job of my life--and the most rewarding. But, I jumped into it without knowing all the details. Like the fact that being in charge of this group also somehow put me in charge of the annual talent show.

Yes, I agree, the connection between troubled students and talent shows seems tenuous and odd. Which is why my advice is: If you are asked to sponsor the annual high school talent show--whether you're working with at-risk kids or not at-risk kids, basically if there are kids involved--RUN in the opposite direction, shrieking NO!!!!! at the top of your lungs.
Because it’s Hell.


In fact, I’m somewhat convinced it’s worse than Hell. So, if ever you find yourself standing before the judgment throne of the Lord God Almighty and He gives you a choice between the fiery pits of Hell and sponsoring the Talent Show, CHOOSE HELL!!!!!!

Trust me, it will be a lot less painful.
Here’s a look at the show the year before I moved to Okahoma:

The day started with a little activity I like to call “censorship.” This is when I review all the music that we’re using in the show and make sure it’s school appropriate. You see, when you are in charge of an event that is largely run by at risk teens, the administration seems to worry that there will be song lyrics that are a touch vulgar and/or sexual in nature.

It is interesting to note that this same concern was obviously not expressed that same year at the Winter Sports Pep Rally when the basketball team boogied out to center court to “She Does It Like A Nympho.” Oddly, my inquiries to the principals about this discrepancy were never answered.

But I digress!
Anyway, first thing in the morning, I headed to the theater to review the lyrics...which means some of you are wondering why I would wait to the last minute to begin such an activity.

You, clearly, have never sponsored a talent show.
The thing is teenagers can be crafty.  Sometimes the songs that kids try out to and the songs they bring to dress rehearsal are not always the songs that make it to the theater on the day of the show. So, I reviewed them several times throughout the whole talent show process.

So, I listened to the music while a couple of girls from my group put up last minute decorations. Unfortunately, I was interrupted by the sight of 3 students from my first hour class who were meandering through the theater to see what was going on.
“You guys are supposed to be in class!” I told them.

“Don’t worry,” they assured me. “We have a sub.”
Which is when I screamed “You’re supposed to be in MY CLASS!”

“We have a SUB,” they said, like I didn’t hear them the first time.

Which, oddly, I already knew since I ordered the sub so I could ORGANIZE THE TALENT SHOW.
And I was just about done screaming horrible threats at them when another group of kids from the group wandered in. These little pumpkins weren’t actually supposed to be in MY class, but they were supposed to be IN CLASS so I cheerfully added them to the rant, waving my hands in the air, making ridiculous threats, and barring them from my sight for the rest of the day.

Then I grabbed one of my girls, this enormous and incredibly tough chick I’ll call Kiki and put her in charge of the door. “Do not let another kid in here,” I told her. “And if anyone shows up, tell them to GO BACK TO CLASS!”
Kiki took to this responsibility with the dedication of one of those guards at Buckingham Palace, marching back and forth in front of the door, and shooting angry glares at anyone in a six feet radius. As I was off to the side, listening to the song lyrics, I could hear Kiki in the background, yelling threats that were much more inappropriate than mine and telling various people to “Gitcher ass bacta class.”

I probably should have stopped her but you know what?
It made me happy.

Right until the horrible moment when this incredibly young looking student teacher tried to get into the theater to ask me a question.
Apparently her education classes had not prepared her for an encounter with Kiki.

Nor had they prepared her for my giggling reaction to the whole mess…I think she wanted me to expel Kiki on the spot or at the very least send her to In School Suspension but I couldn’t stop laughing.

I mean, I made Kiki apologize and I apologized and I even took responsibility for the entire misunderstanding.
But I was laughing so hard I could hardly get the words out.

Stress. It’s a weird thing.
In any case, in spite of the fact that I was pretty sure I’d be getting an angry call from this girl’s mentoring teacher and maybe even her mom, I couldn’t reflect on her angst for long because it was 30 minutes to show time and I had to confront 2 of my little darlings about their last minute song switches.

“Destiny,” I said, cornering one of the performers. “This isn’t the song you brought to dress rehearsal.”
“I changed it,” she agreed.

“Change it back,” I said. “Because there is no chance you’re getting on stage and dancing to a song called I GET IT IN.”

“Come on,” she said in that you’re such an idiot tone that only high school girls can do really well, “It’s not dirty, it’s about dancing in a club.”
“I listened to it,” I responded in that don’t screw with me tone that teachers need to do really well. “And it’s about what some nasty people think about doing after they leave the club.”

But I am not an unreasonable woman. I told her that if she could actually explain to me what the word “it” referred to in a way that didn’t make me want to shower, she could dance her little heart out.
She decided to change the song back.

And you know what?
That wasn’t the most disturbing song conversation of the whole day. The most disturbing conversation involved a song called “Stanky Leg.” I think the fact that the song is performed by a group called the G SPOT BOYS should have been enough to convince the kids that it wasn’t, perhaps, school appropriate but teenagers are not always deep thinkers. Instead we had to go into a long horrifying discussion about what a “stanky leg” actually is.

For those of you who don’t know (and I hope that’s MOST of you) let me just say it involves women who have a lot of sex.
And if you think that’s revolting, imagine discussing that fact with a 17 year old boy.

Yep, I loved that job.
Anyway, once we got the show underway, things were a little smoother…right until the formerly Stanky Leg dancers got on stage and I realized I made one of the classic blunders: I didn’t check their costume from all angles.

I also checked all costumes before the show… a lesson I learned during dress rehearsal when one group of guys ran onto the stage in short lycra running tights, no shirts, and open leather jackets. But I didn’t check the outfits from all angles...or with all moves being performed.
Which means that about three steps into the routine, the audience and I all got a nice long view of butt crack.

Note to self: If I ever sponsor a Talent Show again, underwear will NOT be optional.
However, before I end, I do want to share a really uplifting moment from the show.

We had this one little singer who tried out and was quite good…but he was nervous about performing. A situation heightened by the fact that he’s special and tends to have a little trouble reacting to things in an appropriate fashion.
So he got on stage, started to sing, and totally forgot the words to his song. It was awful…he got all teary-eyed and flustered, until about 5 of my girls started singing the song, to get him back on track…and they sang it with him the rest of his performance.

I’m not going to lie, it choked me up a little.
When he came off stage, he was still upset and was worried that people were laughing at him and Kiki hugged him and said “Who cares? You made the show, the rest of these people were too scared or lame to even try out!”

It was so spontaneously sweet and kind that I wasn’t even that upset when she followed that with “So tell those a**holes to shut the f*** up!”
Although I do wish she hadn’t been so close to the microphone.

For other advice, check out the other Theme Thursday posts by clicking the link below:
For other advice, check out the other Theme Thursday posts by clicking the link: