Monday, November 7, 2016

Childhood Home Revisited

My mom was way out there when she painted my last childhood home yellow instead of the ubiquitous white. She climbed a ladder to the highest peak of the house and did it all herself. That end of the house was two full stories high. Over 50 years later and sort of in her honor, I have re-sided my nest with yellow siding and white trim. It looks so sweet as I drive down the street. This is our retirement home and it looks nice. I might have to rake even. make the yard look nice, too. My next closest sister hated the yellow house, evidently she was very sensitive to the fact that EVERYONE else had white. Now...her house is yellow, too. My windows are tight and should keep out the cold winter winds.We should be quite cozy,

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Helluva Dean-- I am retired so I am putting this on my blog now- doesn't matter any more

  We had a really screwy year with a principal and assistant principal shared between two schools. The principal has a penchant for long rambling meetings of apology with maybe one necessary fact in the miserable hour or more. I had finally lifted my head to hope for a better year. We hadn't lost any teachers, no one retired, our family was nearly complete except for our beloved secretary who is battling one of the most aggressive cancers I have ever heard of. We worked together as we always do to carry on and educate and not let the upheaval and grief interfere with our teaching.  We have a wonderful dean who is strict and supports a teacher when warranted.  She also has a way of getting to the bottom of a story and I totally trust her judgement.  She has never left me blowing in the wind. She does unknown numbers of wonderful things for our students and their families among others, unspoken, un-thanked, unknown. We got to the last day and were told we were losing no one, sigh of relief.  Then, yesterday, she was told she was no longer needed at our school. Teachers on summer break having just been lied to again. I have cried and yelled and slammed my hand on the seats of my car in anger and one more loss for the year.  She does a fundraiser for March of Dimes and our kids, the poorest in the city, have always raised more money than any other school and over the 12 or so years she has planned and pulled this off, she has raised $40,000.00. As the person who does discipline, kids don't always even like her-- little do many of them know she has fed them and kept their utilities on. She is a kind person who lives her beliefs, she doesn't tell us that she has these beliefs she just lives them quietly. I will probably keep this rant quiet.(addendum) The superintendent stepped in and kept her in place for one more year.

  2 years have passed since I wrote that first paragraph, that same principal ran out our dean and then he was removed and replaced by someone who doesn't believe in us or our students. We have completed 3 years of chaos in administration, and now my school, the one that has been so beloved that teachers do not leave and teachers all over the corporation stand in line to move here, the middle school where many great subs have had us as their only middle school has started to "churn".  We may have 30% or more different teachers next year-- an un-supportive dean stays on for some reason-- and subs have refused to come back in to our building. I may end up being the only remaining person on my team due to extreme unhappiness. If this turns out to be true, I foresee one last year of teaching for me when I expected at least 3 more years.

The irony of the new permissiveness in the building is that some of our very "worst kids" have said "If only Dr. K were here, it wouldn't be like this." She is off HAPPILY teaching and looks 10 years younger. She put in 12 hour days or more at the dean's job. Our current dean leaves before 4. Doesn't write shit down.

It has been another year-- The churn is complete, only 7 long time people left, a sea of new people, a horrible experiment call A-team, a discipline class per grade level with no discipline-- and now a terrific new principal who brought her amazing social worker with her and went right to work returning us to a family, just almost none of my family left. All of our worthless experienced people went to high school or other middle schools with better grades... (by the way, they were snapped up) And I am the only person left of my team! all others are in their first year and two in their second.We are in our second year with a long term sub in 8th grade science because a licensed science teacher/SpEd teacher wasn't allowed the lateral move. Our students have suffered from this. She went to the highest performing middle school in the corporation and is very happy there, teaching science.

This principal has to operate under strict state guidelines for our grants that have brought us many extra new hands and she has reestablished a discipline system that is working much better than the past 2 years of kids rule. The DOE has made a pressure cooker that is causing so much stress, I wonder how much more BP medicine is being taken in the building? just a thought. Maybe we can relax a little and enjoy our work and colleagues after Monday.

2016 addition to this post: I retired, only 5 original people left, the family spirit is gone, hope they finally pick someone who is committed to our kids, our school and our staff. My former school is a churning mess, what someone wanted, not sure exactly who.

Barnes and Noble Clerk/Cashier

The charming clerk at the Champaign B&N not only talked me into a new membership, she talked me into writing a blog post! hope she finds this. I was so discombobulated I couldn't even think of the name of my blog! She found my selection of reading materials interesting. We had a great little conversation, and here I will tell her to look back in the archives, I haven't been very interesting since I got on twitter! I think it was my magazines, one called Bitch, and one called Mindfulness. (and then there were the children's books)  Katie Schwartz, did you know there's a magazine called Bitch? I didn't.

There is a lot about retiring that I am enjoying. so many lunches and breakfasts with friends. Volunteering at the aquatic center with the kindergartners, Being at my grandsons' beck and call. And, believe it or not I often sleep until 6:30 or 7. I stay up too late and iPad games interfere with my reading and sleeping. Sometimes I take a nap. That could also interfere with my sleep! BORING! Soon I will get the wind in my sails and figure out my journey. Right now I am still adjusting to a year without my own students and my own classroom. Kindergartners are good replacements.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Starting Retirement

Yesterday my first pension check went into my account, followed by my social security check. That makes retirement more real. I am spending this summer exercising, socializing and making room for myself in this house. I am also making this house water and weather tight. I have had reasons to feel really good about the new roof already this summer. We have had massive downpours and leaking would definitely have occurred. Next week is the next big thing.

My new knees have done a Yeoman's job of the making room part AND the exercising part! I am getting stronger every single day! I won't know until August how my psyche will really feel, but right now I am having a rather nice summer vacation. If I weren't retired I'd already be looking forward to going back to school.

I am organizing the art supplies I have been stockpiling for this retirement thing and making a space that doesn't embarrass me to have daughters and grands over. It's all good.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lovely Day for a Memorial

Witnessed 2 parents say goodbye, their final public goodbye to their daughter. The mother is a colleague of mine and a long time customer of Larry's, also very involved in art locally. I felt like saying something but fb seemed too public. Sara was so brave and composed as she presented her daughter's life to us in the Indiana Theater. The dad, David also spoke. I don't know how they did it, they got through without breaking down and I put myself in their shoes. I think I could not do it.

I can't think of anything more crushing than to lose your only child out of season- all of her organs, even her heart which stopped in her- have saved 6 people. What a miracle to have the wherewithal, the young groom, the parents, to follow this girl's wishes and donate. All in all it was a moving, heart-wrenching day.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Difficult but It's Time

After much thinking, wrestling, waffling back and forth I finally made the decision to retire. It helps that my building has turned into a turn-over building, which for decades it was not. Teachers came, loved it and stayed. After having one administrator who seemed to have the assignment of getting rid of teachers with experience and fond memories of the deep deep family bonds in our school, not just among colleagues, but teachers and students, and that first massive turnover that was not from natural death or retirement-- my school became a school that loses half its staff in a year. It appears that it will happen again. Many of our new people are permanent subs making little and I expect that will get worse before it gets better. People who chose to leave were called dead wood by someone I respected so much, only to be snapped up faster than they could anticipate by other schools in our same corporation. It appears that, even though our discipline has improved so much that students and teachers feel safe again, we are still going to lose big chunks of entire teams. This is the cost of being at the bottom of the barrel in scores in Indiana. Our DOE rep loves us and says we are years ahead of other F and D school in the state--but the pressure brought to bear on the core teachers is too much. I am not a core teacher and have not been for at least a dozen years. I am so happy in my art room, but unhappiness leaks over on to me. I was a late comer to teaching and just hoped I could meet the rule of 85, I am 3 years past that and will almost make it to my goal of teaching until I am 70! Teaching has been a calling for me and my heart has been broken so many times as I watch this calling/career path be destroyed by politics and turned into a job that a family will never be able to climb a ladder to success in. I have young teacher friends who have not had a raise since they began 7 or 8 years ago and, with the steps gone, the union gutted, may be better off moving on to Walmart-- or the corner quick mart. All this makes me finally able to commit to the end of my career in public education. I think I still have time and health to explore my own art, be a wonderful grandmother, take classe, teach a class or 2--  I entered teaching at a time when a person could live nicely and educate their children. That may be gone. Please come back.

I do meet young people, though not many, who want to be teachers, and I don't discourage them. I am convinced that big guv will see the error of their ways and teaching will be both a calling and a way for a family to live, a career path commensurate with the education teachers have once again. The million dollar committees called to figure out why we are losing teachers (any teacher can answer this at no cost) may bring back some of what is missing from the path I chose. Of course, I also clung to tech stocks, I really didn't believe they could fail!  The pendulum must swing, right?

When I signed the paper, I sobbed--24 hours later I was fine (I think).

I have made my decision

June 31 is my last contracted day of my 23 year career-- I have moved past tears, I hope, and on to looking towards a future filled with forms of art and grand boys' activities. I have started making small efforts at purging in my house. I have been getting rid of unnecessary clothes, I just have too many, books, I have too many, and kitchen items, I have too many. I have loved my teaching career and have not wanted to end it. I started late so it is much shorter than the careers of other boomers. I may have been able to save and secure a safe retirement for myself and my husband, I am proud of that.

I had a visit last week from one of my first art students who is now finishing her MFA and teaching university classes. Her art is wild and free! love it and found it so moving and so validating.

I hope a very good person much better than myself will take my place. After 2 years in the horrible discipline of a previous principal, our school is climbing back to safety for students
AND teachers. That makes it easier to leave.