Statistics and crime map…
Apr 12 Published in Remembrance, Reflections by Purple
This is a continuation of my journal from my 2001-2002 school year. Please read the previous posts to give this entry context.
Spring Break - 2002
Friday, April 5
My husband spent a session in his studio (the garage) and knocked out a finished piece in one afternoon. It’s a high when this happens, especially if we both like the painting. Usually I’m the one who tells him, “It’s not finished.”
But this piece felt complete. It’s a small canvas, twenty-two by twenty-six with violet background and a black squarish shape near the center called “Bunker Mentality.”
Sunday, the day before “The Return”
The last couple of nights, I've been having nightmares about the collapse of fifth period. Last night I dreamed that I returned to school and they'd dissolved my fifth period, but had given me a new fourth and a new sixth period, each with 34 students in it! The night before that, I dreamed that instead of collapsing the fifth period, they substituted it with a Creative Writing class except I also still had three students left on my fifth period roster. I guess while consciously I believe any bugs will be worked out in a day or two, subconsciously I have a little more trepidation.
Monday, April 11
Fifth period was collapsed without trauma. Three of the students entered Jonah’s second period, two very quiet, hard-working EL girls and a boy who transferred in a few days ago. He’s been with the California Youth Authority, not something of which the school bothers to inform us, but rather something I found out on my own accord. “I got in with the wrong crowd,” he told me. However, he’s apparently found Jesus and certainly was well behaved the few days he spent in fifth period. He entered with a B for English on his transcript, although he seemed astonished by the fact.
My very top student from fifth period entered my third period class. The only minor glitch is that I already have another girl in the class with the same first and last name!
Two other students, Pedro and Deborah, came to sixth period. “Why did you have to do that, Ms. Hansen,” Deborah complained. “I liked my class.” Deborah can be a whiner, but she has lovely manners and a sweet disposition. On the survey where I asked students what they’d like the world to know about them, Deborah wrote, “I like everybody feels confortable in class, that I don’t like when people are scared of saying what they think or like. I don’t like persons that are always trying to make people feel bad also when people make bad comment about the idea or way of thinking of that person.” Even in crazy fifth period, Deborah never got too distracted from her work. She has been a C+, B- student.
Amanda, of course, wanted to know why I didn’t dissolve sixth period.
Pedro is a good guy, an EL student with a big commitment to soccer. He was recently bumped from the JV up to play goalie for the varsity. During the season, the JV team scored 102 goals and had only ONE goal scored against them. They came in first in the league.
Pedro has been a C student, although he slipped a little this last quarter. It’ll be nice to have another guy in sixth period. He’s a heartthrob, too, with an athletic build, clear skin and beautiful eyes. Besides all that, when we were working on similes and metaphors, he wrote, “Ms. Hansen was as hot as Pamela Anderson.” What woman could resist such charm?
Talk about luck of the draw. If I could have hand picked the students I wanted to inherit, I wouldn’t have chosen much differently. I didn’t get a single one of my students with bad attendance, dismal grades, or poor behavior.
I asked the students to write about what they’d want the audience of my book to know about them. Elizabeth wrote:
I’d like you to mention that I am a loud, outgoing, courageous, aggressive, sociable thespian. I made my first year in high school struggling and stressing. Once I tried or was about to try to commit suicide but drama and acting got me out of my depression. Also that we all should learn four things.
One: Out of all the things we learn we all should learn these three words; LIFE GOES ON.
Two: At the end of the storm there is peace.
Three: Imagination is greater than knowlege.
Four: Solitude is necessary for everyone to experience at time in our lives.
I keep going until I need to stop.
At the end of class today, we watched a bit more of the “modern,” Leonardo di Caprio Romeo and Juliet to get the students back into the story.
“Can I sit in your chair?” Amanda wanted to know.
It’s a soft, cushy desk chair with hydraulics, bought with my own money, of course.
“If you’re nice to me for a whole week,” I told here.
“That’s too hard,” she said.
She doesn’t even rattle me. I’m so happy from having the extra time today. I had time to chew the rice in my lunch.
We’re losing another assistant principal. What else is new? We’ve always had trouble hanging on to administration. Now with the threat of a state take-over and no job security, the problem has been aggravated. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of jobs elsewhere. This is just another factor the state didn’t seem to realize when it initiated its accountability act. What is the incentive for staff to stay in under-performing schools?
I’m in a sour mood. I just got news that the collapse of my fifth period was rejected at the district level. I think they’re insane. They are going to pay $2500 extra to have kids taught who were all easily covered with their new schedules. If the district looked at the current enrollment, they could probably collapse a whole other section or two!
Instead, tomorrow I have to go back to teaching a full load. To have tasted the luxury and freedom of my new schedule and then to have it taken away is far worse than if the school or district had simply said no from the start. On top of my disappointment, my worst class will now be two days behind!
Wednesday, April 10th
One of my colleagues won the California lottery. He and his brother-in-law bought a ticket and together they won $31 million. After taxes and splitting the sum, it comes to five million and change for both of them.
He is a typing/driver’s ed teacher. He’s a big, former weight lifter with a pussycat disposition. His wife has cancer. How can a person feel jealous? If I had to pick between a healthy spouse or five million, I wouldn’t blink. There’d be no choice. I remember the part of The Great Gatsby where the narrator Nick observes, “—and it occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.” This from a character created by Fitzgerald, who supposedly felt the rich were part of an exclusive club.
My husband says that people who win the lottery and claim they are still going to keep their jobs soon find out that it is not possible. There are too many disruptions, too many people who want to interview, beg and borrow, too many jealous or resentful co-workers. Just today one of my students said, “Let’s all go downstairs and ask Mr. ___ for a loan.”
Winning the lottery changes one’s life completely. After my husband gets done talking about the subject, I don’t think I’d even want to win. Nonetheless, even though the teacher has been absent from work the last two days, he’s here today and the scuttlebutt is that he plans to work another year until he’s fifty-five and can legitimately retire. He wants to put in the year to keep his health benefits. Otherwise, his wife’s illness could eat up the millions pretty fast.
In my more mundane life, there has been another turn of events. The assistant principal told me after the faculty meeting that my fifth period may stay collapsed. The hang up had to do with a budget freeze, but there was going to be a “freeze meeting” that night. He expected the change to be approved. We’ll see.
In the meantime, my existing classes are almost done with Romeo and Juliet. Lupe has been bringing straws to class and fashioning impromptu sculptures. It started with sticking them together to make swords. Yesterday she made what I thought was a wand. I confiscated it.
“It’s a whip, Ms. Hansen.”
I do enjoy Lupe. When Deborah was complaining about her class change, Lupe said, “You don’t like us. Why don’t you go back to your old class?”
Lupe is brash. She knows Deborah and Deborah didn’t mind the teasing. I like the way Lupe is out there. She confronts the world head on. It’s also a way of extending herself to Deborah, of including her, odd as that might seem. A lot of the other students are aloof to the two new arrivals.
At the faculty meeting, we got information about the many special schedules coming up for the SAT 9 tests, evacuation drills and the Hall of Fame assembly. During the lockdown drills, we are told that we are not supposed to let “anyone” into the room. A student could be the shooter. (Well, duh. In most cases, a student has been the shooter.) If we let the shooter in, we’d be liable (if not dead). On the other hand, we are told that we need to “use our discretion.” Boy does this reek. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If we refuse a student entry and he/she is shoot outside the room, we could be held liable for that, too!
We just have to pray the situation never comes up. However, I fear it’s more likely than winning the lottery.