100. RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. I, RENEE vs. “THE OL’BALL COACH” & YOUR FAQ’S

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***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT***

TWP’S VERY OWN MICHELLE,

OUR EX-ALABAMA CHEERLEADER,

IS GOING TO HAVE

A BABY!

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That’s right Dear Readers -It seems that Michelle and Dr. Richard, her hubby, decided to play “House Doctor” while on vacation. (Giggle Giggle) It did seem rather odd that Michelle got a little car-sick a couple of times during our road trips to evening graduate classes -Which has NEVER happened before. Should have known! Well, Michelle is still going to teach through December and the baby will be due in early spring. (As sweet Michelle puts it, “As hard as I worked to get that 4 year teaching degree, I’m not quitting because of a little occasional morning/evening/car sickness!) And Jenny, Wendy and I (Renee) are positive Michelle’s “House Doctor/Hubby will take extra good care of her.

HE BETTER!

MEMO TO WILLIE C.: We at TWP thought we had already “Updated” on Nashia, This is what I (Renee) am aware of since the middle school is in a separate building from Nashia (high school.) Nashia did graduate and signed a basketball scholarship with a smaller college. (She was not recruited by Georgia as far as I am aware.)

 

RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. I

Prologue

In starting this new series, I first wish to set some parameters on what this series will and will not be about. First, my college years chronicles will not be about my academic preparation to be a teacher or what type of instruction the University of Georgia gives the 35,000 +/- students which call it home. That would be BORING. Rather, this series is about the experiences of a small town freckled-faced red headed girl who was away from home and on her own for the first time. Perhaps some readers will see themselves in my “college story”. I hope y’all enjoy this series as much as I did putting it together.

First Day: Moving In.

I will never forget that muggy mid-August morning when I moved into a large on-campus apartment in 1997. This was it! All the studying throughout my schooling up to that point and a very good SAT score. Now I was starting college! It is a moment that stays with you for life.

But I had help moving to the 6th floor: Mom, Dad and my two oldest brothers. (Youngest was in the U.S. Army) Thank goodness for the freight elevator -Because we needed one -Along with the 400 or so other people moving in that weekend. The building manager disallowed the use of the two regular elevators for moving in stuff so everyone had to use one slow-moving freight elevator instead. (IMHO,I think this guy was a sadistic jerk!) Lucky for me, I didn’t move much heavy stuff in so the 1/2 hour job took only 2 1/2 hours. Their were some that took two days to get moved in.

Lest anyone think I’d never been away from home before -I had. My high school had its band camp at U.G.A. every summer for a week so I had experienced the college campus before. But that experience was highly supervised -This was BIG TIME!

My three bedroom apartment was randomly assigned so I met my roommates that Saturday for the first time. There were no “drum rolls” as I met the two ladies whom I would share the rent with my first semester. There was certainly diversity: One was an Asian physics student and the other was a black social work major. None of us had anything in common but I’m always willing to make new friends. The three of us got along but would develop separate social orbits and finally went in different directions.

Big Time Band

Only 2 days after moving in, I started practice as a member of the color guard of THE RED COAT MARCHING BAND. That’s right -The official marching band of the University of Georgia which performs in front of tens of thousands during halftime of football games at Sanford stadium. And doing so is no walk in the park.

Our practices were held at 6:00 a.m. SHARP every weekday morning rain or shine. And the band director was NO pussycat either! Hey, this dude was the Simeon Caldwell of U.G.A. and would have made a fine replacement for Simeon on American Idol instead of that Ellen lady.

(Editor’s Note: Due to a “format” problem that TWP could not fix, the above section is in a smaller type print than what is normal. We regret this and future posts should not have this trouble ever again.)

Well, our “Simeon Caldwell” band director had this sarcastic demeanor reputation which I learned the hard way on the morning of that first band practice. I recall the exchange like it was yesterday.

“You…the young lady at the far left of the color guard line…,” he bellowed.

Deciding to try and make a good first impression, I stopped my routine and introduced myself saying, “Hi…my name is Renee and…”

Mr. Band Director thundered, “I know your name Miss …. and if you EVER stop in the middle of your flag twirling routine again, I will send you straight back to whatever the name of that town is you’re from!…Get moving in sync…NOW!”

I immediately dashed back into the routine with  my heart racing.

Mr. Band Director continued fuming at me saying, “What is wrong with you?…The look on our face reminds me of a woman giving birth!…Now smile, d*** it! You are performing in front of 70,000 people and a live national t.v. audience this coming weekend!”

Flustered, I smiled the best I could while trying to keep my composure. Our “Simeon” moved on to critique some other unlucky newcomers. After a while, he finally called it quits saying out loud, “Everyone,,,just leave…I can’t take any more…Be back here same time tomorrow 6:00 a.m. SHARP!…Maybe then we can get ready for our first performance this weekend!”

I was crestfallen and felt a good cry coming on. I was no stranger to what my role was in the marching band and, in fact, knew the entire routine blindfolded! But that “demonic” Director -How could I ever pass his muster? I then just sat down in the middle of the Red Coat Marching Band practice field just wearing my tank top, short shorts and worn-out tennis shoes and started to cry.

It was then that I felt a hand patting my shoulder. I looked up and saw Susan, a sophomore Accounting major and fellow color guard member. (And also a future sorority sister for life -Although at that moment, I was definitely not thinking about a sorority but rather going back to that small town I knew as HOME!

Susan spoke softly, “Don’t let the ‘Athens A**hole get you down…He gripes at everybody!…You should have been here last year when I made the boo boo of lining up in the wrong place…He would of had the entire marching band march on top of me!”

Well, to say Susan and I “hit it off” would have been the understatement of the century. Even had I not joined her sorority, we would have still been very good friends. As it turned out, Susan along with several other band members were in the same sorority that I would eventually join. (More on that in a future chronicle) Susan and I were like real sisters (Think “Angie” of the original chronicles) and have been Maid of Honor in each others weddings. To this day, we still keep up and our kids probably wonder, “Whats the connection here?…They aren’t related.” (HA HA)

But I learned a life lesson that day. Unlike that so-called Band Director, I learned how to be empathetic towards other -Especially newcomers who need to learn their way around a new school environment. Also. because of my own negative experiences, I have little or no patience for hot-tempered teachers or administrators. It is o.k. to run a “tight ship” type of classroom but “short fuses” have no place in the education profession. And as an assistant principal, my office door is always open to any child for any reason who needs someone to talk to.

As to that Band Director, he and I did “bury the hatchet” later but my level of respect for him was never as high as it could of been. I could care less if the 300 +/- member Red Coat Marching Band was one of the finest college marching bands in the U.S. -When our “demonic” Director berated another freshman the next year, I bawled him out in front of the whole group. And Susan and a bunch of others backed me to the hilt. After that, he remained a hard-to-please perfectionist but was a bit more civil in his critiques.

Big Time Schooling

In this sub-section, I am not going to give a detailed description of the University of Georgia campus or my class schedule but rather -A general feelings of a freshman girl from a small town surrounded by a 35,000 student body which out-numbered the entire population of my home county. As far as I was concerned, I could have been in the middle of New York City. That first week went smoother than I initially hoped, thanks to Fall Semester Pre-Registration held earlier that summer. All I had left to do was buy required textbooks at the university bookstore and then learn my way around a large campus that was 100s of acres in size. Me and my trusty red 10-speed bicycle would “conquer” that greatest campus in America called The University of Georgia!

Yeah…Right!

Many students DO use bikes for on campus transportation but newbies like me better keep a campus map in their backpacks AND learn where all the bike racks are located -Because my map said NOTHING about bike racks. It was a VERY good thing that classes didn’t actually start until the middle of that first week for little 18 year old me. With my class schedule and moving in done with, I proceeded to that great adventure that shrinks the bank accounts of all college students: Buying required textbooks from the university bookstore.

There ought to be congressional hearings about those textbook prices!

I mean, it is bad enough that you, the students, are FORCED to buy the newest and most EXPENSIVE edition of an over-priced textbook that changed very little from the prior (and cheaper) used edition. But to top that, the professor who is teaching the class for which you bought that over-priced textbook , is also one of the authors of said textbook -And is getting a royalty for each one sold!

Talk about a MAJOR conflict of interest!

This is why I am unsympathetic to college professors who whine about being “underpaid”. Hey, I gave at the bookstore already!

Well, my book-buying adventure was on Tuesday of that first week having rode my bicycle the previous day ALL OVER THE CAMPUS. With credit card ready (and co-signed by daddy, of course), I went textbook buying in what can only be described as a mob scene. The bookstore must have been as large as a warehouse. And it seemed like half the students of the university were trying to buy books too! Lil’ me was swamped in a sea of humanity of the likes I had never experienced before. It was then that the first doubts about my choice of a 35,000 student university started to enter my mind.

But I pressed on and after a couple of hours was using my card to purchase nearly $400 worth of books. Yikes! That was twice as much as I hoped for and I knew right then that there would be a lot less splurging on pizzas for a while. But the bright side was no chance of the “freshman 15” weight gain for me! Rather, I would have to eat more meals at the student center’s cafeteria. And I do eat VERY lite -Unlike my three large older brothers.

Leaving the student center with what seemed like 40 pounds of over-sized and over-priced books, I then discovered a MAJOR boo boo. I completely forgot that my trusty red 10 speed bicycle was NOT equipped for hauling 40 pounds of books AND  one petite red head girl from the student center to my apartment nearly a mile away. And my Chevy hatchback was also parked near the apartment. Just trying to carry a load like that for that distance would have turned my back into a lady version of the hunchback. But I brainstormed the idea of setting the tall booksack on the bicycle seat and then “walking” the bike all the way to the apartment tower. Hey, I got a few strange looks but IT WORKED!

Thank goodness there were no steep hills.

And I was ready for my first classes!

The experiences of these first few days would influence how I treat others who, like me, seem hopelessly lost in the world of large universities. I was one of the sorority members that started a “freshman helper” sub-committee to our Rush Recruitment Committee. This group maintained an informal “help/info” table outside the university bookstore so newbies who needed general info or directions could get questions answered right away. I was one of the permanent members of this subcommittee and because we also got a “head start” on sorority membership recruiting, that was a nice extra. As a result of just reaching out to people, our sorority gained several eventual sisters that we might have never had.

 

RENEE vs. “THE OL’ BALL COACH”

This segment concerns my (Renee) added new role as a teacher evaluator. At the middle school inservice meeting, I brought up the fact that I would be starting teacher evaluations in mid to late September but that those evaluations were to be conducted just like previous years. To say the news of my new duty as assistant principal was received with a round of applause from some coaches would be mistaken. My “announcement” was not a total surprise and I did not make a big deal of it. After all, teacher evaluations ARE a part of an administrator’s job and I had already observed an evaluation done by our principal on several occasions last year.

But Coach B., whom I had run-ins with last year over my modifications of school discipline policy, was NOT a “happy camper”. In fact, he was dismissive of my evaluating his physical education classes. The following exchange transpired after the inservice ended last week.

“Mrs. …., I understand that you, as Assistant Principal, will now be ‘grading’ us teachers as to our classroom management, but…A gym class is not like my two Health Education classes…” Coach B. implored.

“Coach B., I understand the difference but state evaluation standards INCLUDE gym classes and I know what to look for…You do as well,” I answered.

Taking his old ballcap off and wiping his forehead, Coach B. replied in an almost fatherly tone, “Look Mrs. …., I don’t think you understand…P.E. is an unstructured environment unlike a classroom…And I try to make gym class FUN…”

I smiled sweetly but answered, “Coach B., one sign of a very good teacher is their ability to make ANY type of learning fun…But the P.E. classes STILL will be evaluated according to state standards.”

The ol’ ball coach slightly shook his head and rolled his eyes as he turned and walked over towards some other teacher-coaches. As I turned and headed to my office, I could have swore I heard the words “early retirement”. Hey, I’m not into pushing 30+ year teaching/coaching veterans out of the profession but standards are standards and Coach B. will be evaluated just like any other teacher.

Dear Readers, please understand: I respect Coach B. and he  respects me -We just do not see eye to eye on class management. Coach B. is a good natured good-ol’-boy type of teacher-coach while I am more detail-oriented and precise in my approach. Finally, ol’ Coach B. -all 300+ pounds of him- does make me think of my own teacher-coach-daddy except for one thing: My daddy was NOT the laid-back type when I was growing up. My three older brothers and I KNEW who was in charge around the house -And it wasn’t us!

Mom and Dad ruled -No but’s, or’s, and’s or if’s about it!

YOUR FAQ’S

Does TWP plan to do a link with a weblog that claims to “expose” your site?

No, we do not. At first, we thought it amusing that a former commentator would set up his own weblog to counter ours. When we set up TWP in August 2008, we never dreamed anyone would ever go through the trouble of creating a blog just to criticize ours. But the vicious hate and name-calling is such that we will not even mention that blog’s name on this site.

An anti-TWP weblog claims 2,000 views in just the first two months. Is TWP surprised at these numbers?

First, in the wordpress community of blogs, we are unaware of a public scoring system so we cannot vouch for that 2,000 figure. Second, the readership of a blog will go up over time once you set up links to related sites. TWP had just two minor links (one inactive) during our first 6 months but thanks to Colin Farrell of corpun.com, TWP surged to over 75,000 views as of this week. Not bad for a blog that was only intended to last just 2 months. And that other anti-TWP blog is linked to every other anti c.p. site there is. (Ours is the ONLY blog that “leans” pro on the school c.p. issue.)

 

COMING NEXT:

RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. II,

MICHELLE’S FIRST DAY ANNOUNCEMENT

&

GUEST EDITORIAL

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