Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Teaching French to disadvantaged students is a job fit for a dreamer. I had just quit that library job when, literally, out of the blue, a former friend, now the foreign language supervisor, called and asked me if I would be willing to take a French-teaching job at a local high school. It's a disadvantaged school, meaning failing school with 80% of the population fitting the poverty levels most of these schools maintain.

A couple of years ago when I was teaching gifted students at a local middle school, our principal had the faculty read this book about poverty--sorry, I don't remember the title, but I well remember the content. The average adult who grew up in poverty has the same vocabulary as a privileged child of  age five from a white family. That is shocking!

The French II classes were required to have a certified teacher in situ before credit could be given to the students taking the class. What I found in these four classes were two kinds of students: those who cared about actually learning the language and those just getting that grade. Because a certified teacher had not been found for these classes, the principal scheduled students into an internet class called Duo Lingo, an elementary level French class. Their language skills were dubious.

. . . . .
I wrote the above several months ago. In between I ran the gamut of emotions: hating this job, loving this job, stressed out beyond words, tired constantly, sleepless, yet still willing to stay the course. I don't know if it is black teenagers who can be loud and obnoxious or my old age that cannot tolerate loud noises--which was the worst problem? Then again, I think of the students I have come to love and all the hugs I get from even the most belligerent ones.

What I have come to learn is how real black students are. And the awesomeness of the differences in skin color, and hair texture, and body shapes, and facial features. I stand in the doorway, between classes, watching the multitudes pass. And I marvel at their beauty and their plainness.

Then there is the humor. One day I was talking to a young man, who out of the blue, said, "Ms P, why do you have such thin lips?" Oh my goodness, that was an eye-opener! I have thin lips!!

Today another jeune homme (young man) told me he was going to start dating only white girls. Why, I asked him, He said black girls are so touchy--if you say anything to them, they will explode on you." In other words, black girls don't take stuff off of black males.

Another student asked me how I could prove I wasn't racist. I answered simply: "I teach here." (Here is a predominately black school deemed unacceptable.) This year, though, we got a new principal, a man I hold in high esteem. He has worked so hard to turn the school around. During a testing session when part of the senior class was in the auditorium, he called the seniors out into the foyer and asked them why they hadn't signed up for college testing. He is determined to make them into successful human beings.

I see that writing this down has cleared my head of the rough day I had. I can go home now, grab my fishing pole and fish awhile. Then it's back to grading papers and making out tests, and more and more. A teacher's work is never done--until the last day of school!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The ethics of accepting gifts

One of the training aspects of my recent library job was viewing a very dull video about ethics. It was created by some branch of the state of Louisiana and was required viewing by all state employees. It presented unclear examples of what could be accepted and not accepted. One thing I remember is that one could accept a gift of food only if one ate it in the presence of the giver.

As for the library an employee could accept nothing, not one thing, not even a single dime. I had been working at the library for two and one half months when a situation arose which nearly cost me my job. The branch where I worked is downtown with downtown parking woes. I had three choices for parking: six blocks in a free lot and walk to the library, in an expensive lot, or on the street next to the library with a feed-the-meter syndrome. One day I neglected to bring enough change for the meter and was asking to borrow from fellow employees (a fact that spoke little of my responsibility to be prepared). A patron overheard me and placed some quarters on the counter. I took one. Although it was not anyone's duty to touch me on the shoulder to say no or advise me not to take it, I would have done so in their place. Anyway, I told my supervisor what I had done. She had an apoplectic fit. I volunteered to quit, but she ignored me and continued to chew me out, and said I would be written up in no uncertain terms. I had already been written up for something else. She asked if I had ethics training as a teacher. I said yes, but we were allowed to accept gifts. She didn't believe me. I have since researched ethical training for teachers. Yes, teachers are allowed to accept gifts under $25.  

I returned to my desk and restrained myself. The supervisor said things that totally surprised me. She was displeased, blah, blah, blah. The desire to get up and go home was overpowering, but I stayed. I quit three days later and by some miracle found a teaching job in a high school where I know the rules.

Just a last note. I worked closing at the library one night a week. The doors closed at 7 pm. All library workers were out by 7:05 pm. The first time that happened I didn't understand what was going on. Does a teacher leave the building five minutes after the last bell? Ha! And I had to sign in exactly on time and sign out exactly on time.  

Working at the library,

I always wanted to  be a public librarian. A few years back I worked a second job in the evenings at my local branch library. That lasted three months. I had to quit because I could not follow the supervisor's rules. When I came on at 4 pm everyone in my department had their places at the counter with a computer. I had nowhere to go and had to stand behind them in case they all became busy simultaneously and I could step in and help a patron. Well, my mother taught us not to be idle. "If you don't have something to do, find something." So I did. One of our tasks was to "read the shelves," that is, check for alphabetical misplacements. I not only read my section, but other staffers' shelves as well. Eventually, the supervisor would send someone to get me, chew me out for deserting my post, and tell me to stay put. Yes, I know I was wrong. Following orders was part of the job.

On the other hand, I had problems with another staffer, a young man who was very bitter. He could not get a teaching position although he had a degree in education. I can probably say why: he looked like a serial killer. He exuded such bad vibes. The thing is, he was highly resentful of me because I made more money than he did. The fact that I had library certification and he didn't did not matter at all to him. One night he set me up to look incompetent. Because he was the supervisor's favorite, she believed him and would not even entertain the idea of hearing my version.

I quit after three months. Ten years later when I couldn't get a job teaching (I'm old), I tried the library again. I wish I hadn't. Now I know that I am not librarian material. I don't like the job. Basically, a librarian is a servant. There is no working with books. It's entering data, constantly walking the aisles to make sure every book is in place and no trash is stuffed in cubby holes. It's picking up after patrons.

And the issue of favoritism just smacks one in the face. For the first couple of weeks, each of the staff showed me how to maintain each of their station posts.
Then that was it. Go away, they more or less told me. Wha-a-a-? I would say, like a minion. Could I take six months of this? And the answer was no, I could not, so I quit.

I already had a new job lined up--subbing in this new school near my house. I couldn't get a teaching position there, but maybe as a sub. Today was my first day. What horror show did I get into? The kids were out of control. I called security time after time and all they did was get them quiet, then leave. I simply could not do it. And so, the school never called me again.

I began a new search and out of the blue, a friend from the past, now the foreign language supervisor called and asked me to teach French. So I am. Finally, a full time job. Now my goal is to get debt free before time is up and I am out of work again. (A retired teacher is terminated at the end of each school year and a need must exist in certain fields before she can be hired again. Foreign language is always the case.) 

I am really looking forward to this new job!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Donald

Dear Donald:

Bless you. You came out of your chrysalis, a painful experience, I'm sure. Twisting and shouting and acting odd and strange. But now, what a glorious creature you've become--a first rate candidate for POTUS. Bless Kelly Ann. I surmise she is responsible for the Better a nd Improved Trump.

I am pleased, well pleased, with the current Trump. God speed with the debate.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dear Donald

Dear Donald:

What are we to do with you? You were a parody to begin with. Now, good grief, you have made yourself a parody of your own parody! Frankly, Donald, I am embarrassed by you.

You began as someone riding out of the plains, your banners raised high. Oh, we were counting on you, hoping you were the savior of our country, ruined and degraded by the One in Office, the One we fear because of his devious plans. Oh, Donald, we cried in the darkness, do come and save us! You were majestic early on in your wild cries and challenges and bizarre behavior.

Now that behavior has become a huge, no, a gigantic obsurdity. What is wrong with you? After one of your latest rants, Paul Ryan spoke against your comments. My gosh, he sounded so reasonable after you. 

Yikes, Donald, hire a new strategist who can guide you. And, Donald, listen to him!!

Wish I could be more positive, but you don't give much to work with. Good luck. People really do wish they could back you with more enthusiasm. Please, change your behavior!!

An embarrassed follower

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hidden human horror

Note: This blog was taken from a sister blog of mine. I want it to get more exposure.... It was originated in 2009.

Warning: This post bleeds...

What is a mother?

"You fat f....er!" Words of love to her tween daughter, oh so cold, so reprehensible, so scathing of human value, her own, her daughter's. She's just out of jail, this one, this mother. She slithers back into the domicile--can it be so wilfully called a home?--and spits her poison, first in one corner, then another, on one child, then another. How many of these f....ers, do I have? Just don't hang on me. I need air to breathe. I need a little fun after three months of cooped up hell.
I'll tell you one damn thing, you hag, I am someone in jail. They know my name. They know who I am. They like me in jail. You b....ing hag, you m.....-f...... You call yourself a mother? You can die right now. Who would care? All my little f....ers and me--we hate you. Ask any of 'em. They would slit your throat in a second. That's what I'm teaching my chilren--how to cope, how to survive. You selfish b----! Where the f... is my child support money? Give me my child support!!I need some things. Gotta get a pedicure and manicure, get my f...ing hair cut. Gotta take a long bath, get out of these f----ing clothes.
If that f----ing G--- calls, tell him to F--- off! He's been shackin with that f---ing b---- the whole time I was in jail! He better not be tellin' my f----ing kids they have a new mother. Hey, baby, bring your f----ing mama a glass of water. I need to get rid of this headache.

In horror they watch her slip to the floor, water glass crashing, the two-year old clinging to her legs, gasping, Mamamamamamamamama! The oldest child, the 11-year-old must stand there and drink in her own horror. He mother used her to commit suicide. Used her like nothing, as if she were some perverse stranger on some perverse island caught in some perverse drama.

Call 9-1-1, the girl gags on her own horror!

Leave her. We're not calling anyone.

At just the opportune moment, the fallen lump, the wasted wreck of breath, the useless container of self-parody, self-pity, self-regard, self-importance opens her eyes. "Tell G---that I tried to kill myself. Tell him I can't live without him. Tell him to dump that B----. She's nothing! I'm the one he wants.

The diahrrea begins dramatically. After all, it's the drama queen at the center. Her children were so excited to see her, despite her selfish cruelty, her sporadic indulgence toward them, her frequent explosive display of fat, vile words she spews all about them.

Then she walks out, taking herself to the hospital. G--- will know how important he is to her. He must let her come back. He must.

What are the options for this woman who has gone so far astray? Government hand-outs? To get them, she must take her children. How is this fair and just? Children must be punished to have this kind of "mother"? Whose justice is this? They have a home with the grandparents, although it is not very loving, but it's clean. There's food and clean clothes. There's room. Reduce these children to a one-room apartment just so this wanton can get hand-outs? Why? By whose authority?

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.