Tag Archives: school

We All Remember At Least One

classroom

Remember raising your hand so long your arm started to cramp and you had to do that behind the head support move with your other arm?

I started the 4th grade in 1987 in Ms. Griffith’s class. I finished the 4th grade in 1988 in Mrs. Chun’s class.  Her husband proposed to her in front of our whole class with a singing telegram.  Our class sang at the wedding, I caught the garter.  We did a class play of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I was Edmund.  I remember how she would sing with us each morning and how she put her hand on my shoulder with empathy when we got back from Christmas break and I told her that I didn’t get the GI Joe Aircraft carrier.  Even though she was my teacher, I think I maybe had a little bit of a crush on her, she was kind and pretty and always seemed interested in what all of us had to tell her.  Her’s is the class I see in the forgotten corners of my mind when I think back to elementary school.

The middle school years can be tough on everyone and the feeling to fit in is almost palpable. I will never forget saving my money from mowing lawns and heading out to the mall, going into a cool clothes store called Chess King and buying Skidz. It was the coolest outfit I had ever owned and for once I was going to have the name brand clothes just like the cool kids. I remember wearing them on a Monday morning and feeling like the king of 7th grade. I think they went out of style the Wednesday of that same week but I didn’t get the memo and wore them again and endured some ridicule.  That was the last time I wore them, middle school was hard.  I will also never forget Ms. Hall, she was my English teacher and she taught me lots of things, the most important was that teachers don’t have to be the enemy. Ms. Hall was funny and cool and I remember that older kids from the high school would come by sometimes to visit her. She would joke with us and laugh with us and made me feel like her classroom was a safe place where the middle school pressure to be something you are still too young to be can be overwhelming.  When I made it to high school I went back and visited her, I felt like the coolest kid ever.

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try not to be so jealous of my style

In high school I seemed to find my way a bit but I still had plenty to learn.  Mr. McCloud taught me that being sociable was a good thing but it was also ok to apply myself and that I was smarter than the effort I put forth.  Mrs. Moody & Mrs. Evans taught me how to be a part of something that was bigger than me and put a class clown up on a stage and let me spread my wings in a more productive setting than the back of Mr. McCloud’s Algebra class.  Mrs. Rivers taught me that the movie “Gone With the Wind” left out quite a bit of the book and that sometimes taking shortcuts aren’t the best idea.  She also taught me it isn’t much fun getting an F on a test.

In college I had a philosophy professor (I don’t even remember his name) that not only taught me about existentialism but also that joining in on the conversation, attending classes, and taking an interest could make college a good experience for what happened inside of the classroom as well as what happened outside.

In 2003 I remember helping my wife hang paper on a bulletin board and getting her first classroom set up just right.  It was what she wanted to be ever since she was a little girl.  Most of us lose on making it to what we wanted to be when we grow up.  For most of us it turns out to be “this is what I do” not “this is what I am.”  Not for her though, a teacher is what she is.

I am sure that there were parents that summer that got their kid’s class list and weren’t thrilled that they got Mrs. Holland because it was her first year and you just never know about first year teachers.  Fast forward a few years and it is common knowledge that if you have a third grader getting ready to start the year, you hope that they get to be in Mrs. Holland’s class.  Kids from the high school come back to visit her and by the time they are freshman it has been over 5 years since 3rd grade.  She makes a difference in those kid’s lives. The kind of difference that they still remember when they grow into full size people.  She has this unbelievable gift that sets kids at ease and somehow they instantly know that they can trust her.  She pushes them to be better and to grow and in her classroom is often where the bloom of a person begins.  She doesn’t do teaching, she is a teacher.

Next year their won’t be any kids or parents excited because they got Mrs. Holland.  After 10 years in the classroom it is time for a little break.  She is going to stay home and cherish being a mom while our girls are still young.  I am sad for this batch of  rising second graders that they won’t get to experience a third grade year with her but I am more excited that we get to have her all to ourselves for a while.  You see, she isn’t just a teacher. She is also a mom and that is another thing that she doesn’t just do, it is something that she is.

mom-tattoo

I couldn’t be more proud of the impact that she has made in her first 10 years of teaching and I know that there will be times that she will really miss it. She has been “playing school” for as long as she can remember and today she exclaimed with a tear in her eye that it was her last day to play.  I know that she will be back in a classroom one day and I can’t wait for this next little chapter of our lives where we can grow as a family.  She is so excited to be taking this break because even though every school year brings a fresh batch of 3rd graders, your own kids are only young once.

No matter how old we get we can all remember at least one teacher. The one that explained it different or the one that held our hand when we needed it or made us laugh and feel like we belonged.  None of us would be were we are today if it weren’t for the impact of  teachers and I just happened to be lucky enough to marry one. Teachers of the year come and go with each new calendar  year but for dozens and dozens of kids, Mrs. Holland wasn’t a teacher of the year, she was the teacher of their life.

Here’s to the next chapter Mrs. Holland, cheers!


Book Learnin’

Sweet

School Supplies 

School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day.  In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in.  You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.

I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me.  It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain.  The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges.  Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.

The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities.  Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in.  Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.

I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise.  Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”  Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect.  There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course.  Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.

I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning.  Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.

 

Weak

When The Fat Lady Sings 

Yep, you read that last part right.  Today the high in Atlanta  is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school.  Where does the time go?  Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right.  While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation.  The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity.  You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.

You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag  on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo.  At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).

You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside.  Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside.  Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.

I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation.  For me, I was like  a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him.  That day was always a last day and never a day before a first.  I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.

 

 


Taking Off The Wedding Ring

Sweet

One More Please 

I just want one more.  I know it isn’t really possible now with all of the real life grown up stuff that I have gotten myself into but just one more time I would love to have that last day of school.

My daughter finishes kindergarten in a couple of weeks and my wife says goodbye to another group of third graders.  They are in full crescendo mode as mountains of paperwork are plowed through and teacher appreciation gifts are given and received.  They have their heads down in the trenches right now but they know it is looming.  That glorious day on the horizon when they finally get to exhale and and feel the weight be lifted away.

Do you remember the unadulterated joy of the last day of school?  Responsibility seems to evaporate into the hot summer sun and your mind is flooded with possibilities.  This will be my daughter’s fist last day and I will remember to encourage her to cherish them for the next few years.  One day she will be grown up and her concerns in June will go far beyond the watermelon juice dripping off her elbows and the swimsuit hanging on the shower rod still damp from the day before.

It is hard for me to imagine having every shred of responsibility suddenly stripped away and replaced with an entire summer of vacation.  The last day of school is the epitome of childhood.  I may not have any left but it is one area that I fully intend to live vicariously through my kids.  Just remembering getting off that bus for the last time and bounding down the driveway without a care in the world makes me smile.

The last day of school is totally sweet.

Weak

This was right after the carnage occurred.

So last week I read some blogs with clever hooks in the title, and being the unoriginal opportunist that I am, I decided to follow suit.  Last night I took off my wedding ring because my hand was so swollen it was starting to cut off the circulation.  You see, I got stung by a wasp yesterday and apparently I am a wee bit allergic.  In fact, I now have a right hand and a left paw.

I can wax poetic about all of the joys that summer brings but sometimes all of that awesome has a stinger.  You can rest assured that while the wasp won the battle, I won the war but still, this thing hurts like a mother.  Which (thanks to my smarter than your average kindergartner) is exactly what that wasp was.  Did you know that only female wasps have stingers?  Neither did I until I was enlightened by my 5 year old.  I will let you insert your own male female joke here as to not offend my core readership.   Did you know it is kinda hard to type with one paw?  I guess Summer would be too easy though if there weren’t at least a few obstacles to traverse so bee stings, bug bites, sunburns, and alcohol poisoning are just a few of the  “weaks” that we will try to avoid.  Did he just say alcohol poisoning?  Yes, margarita filled patios can come with a price.

As we usher in summer and stock up on the SPF 1million and the chemical free bug spray hoping our soft pasty indoorsy selves don’t get bit by mother nature, beware of stingers because getting stung is totally weak.

**Maybe once the swelling comes down I will actually have something funny to write about, it seems that wasp venom has had an adverse reaction to my sense of humor as well.**


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