Dear Readers: As you read this post, we at TWP are entering a new month -October. The weather is FINALLY cooling down as the “new” of the new school year wears off. So far, no MAJOR trouble at either elementary schools where Wendy or Jenny/Michelle teach -yet. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the middle school where I (Renee) am the assistant principal. The segment below gives more detail on that situation -And no, Amanda was not involved. Also, it was certainly merited and a fair reading will show that.


Did you ever hope that a new year would be an improvement over the previous year? I do. And every year, reality eventually overtakes my idealism. Last year, my new discipline policies actually REDUCED school c.p. at the 800+ student middle school from over 60 in the year before I came to about 12 in the 1st year of my assistant principalship. Someone didn’t tell the new school bully though.

Last week Friday, I was just walking down the hall from a teacher evaluation I had just finished when I heard noise which did not sound like the typical hub-bub of students changing from 2nd to 3rd period. I hurried down the hall and saw a burly 6th grade boy jamming the head of a smaller boy into an open locker! I had already dealt with Derrick, the bully in this case, before and sent him to I.S.S. for pushing/shoving. But this was worse -Much worse! Curt, the smaller boy had a scrape on his forehead and was bleeding where one earlobe had been cut by the locker in his struggle.

I WAS in a good humor that morning -Until that moment.

I blew a fuse!

“Derrick, YOU are going to GET IT!…The very idea!” I hollered. In this section of hallway, there is no sight-line for the nearest  teacher to see what happened while standing by the classroom door. But I saw enough! I sent Curt, the smaller boy to the school nurse to get checked on and doctored up. As to Derrick, big bullies who pick on smaller kids infuriates me. I spun him around, grabbed him by the left arm and marched him straight to my office. Derrick was flustered at first but got REAL quiet on the way to my office when he realized he was in BIG TROUBLE.

I was furious. As soon as we walked into my office, I snapped, “Derrick, sit down and don’t say a word!…I saw what you did to poor Curt for your own amusement…And wipe that smirk off your face!” I then paged one of the assistant football coaches (My days of paddling overgrown boys is over!) as Derrick started to look rather anxious.

“That’s right, Derrick…I don’t know what you’ve heard about me but, at your age, I believe it is more appropriate that a male teacher do the ‘honors’,” I intoned.

Derrick was even sorrier a few minutes later when he got 5 swats of the paddle while I witnessed. As Derrick grimaced while holding his composure afterwards, I firmly instructed him, “Derrick, I’m not through with you…You are going to write a SINCERE note of apology to Curt RIGHT NOW!…Sit down in this seat outside my office, take this clipboard and get to work!…I’ll check it when you are finished.”

I’m sure some readers will whine about how mean we were to poor ol’ Derrick but he had already been in trouble for bullying. As an educator, I am aware the U.S. schools nationwide have a growing bullying problem. As an assistant principal, I plan to do my part to reverse this trend. So go ahead and call me “mean” but I just refuse to tolerate bullying like what Derrick did.

If that makes me “mean”, so be it!



What is Pledgeship?

For most people who never went to college and/or never joined a fraternity or sorority, there are two misconceptions. The reason for this is that colleges and universities do a poor job of explaining the realities of fraternity/sorority membership and the organizations themselves too often gloss over the specifics of what “membership” actually means. The former is most likely due to anti-Greek feeling among college administrators who were anti-establishment radicals as students themselves. And the organizations compete so hard to get large pledge classes that they shy away for telling prospective members what pledgeship is really all about.

Of course, if hazing, which is the physical, mental or emotional abuse of pledges, is a part of an organization -That is WRONG and ALL nation fraternities and sororities prohibit it.

The two misconceptions are: Pledges are members of a fraternity/sorority AND Pledging is a test to see how much #@*%*# you are willing to take. First, pledges are NOT members in the sense that they have voting rights, right to wear letter shirts/sweaters and lifetime membership. Rather, pledges are set-up as a group or class within the organization with its own officers. (This “class” is supervised by the Pledge Master with the Pledge Educator and Pledge Trainer -All three are sisters.) As to letters, in most organizations, the only letters the pledge may wear are the letters on the pledge pin. And “lifetime” membership is the ultimate goal but is only realized AFTER the initiation ritual which occurs months after pledging starts.

The other misconception is that pledgeing is just an endurance test on one’s “b.s. tolerance threshold”. I have one thing to say to that: Any organization that hazes its pledges as a matter of “tradition” is a sinking ship and its pledges/members should start looking for the “lifeboats”. That was the fatherly wisdom imparted to me by my daddy when I told him I was joining the Alphas. I took it to heart and all young people should as well.

“…A Pledging We Will Go!”

One thing I failed to mention last week was the pledge pinning tradition. (And no…It was NOT on our skin!) After we pledges got re-dressed and came out of the “storage” room, each of us was pinned by a sorority sister who revealed herself as our “big sister”. When I stepped out, Susan stepped forward and pinned the pledge pin on my blouse while saying, ” Renee, I…Susan xxxxxx… do hereby declare you…my little sister with this token of my sisterly love and affection. May you find encouragement and strength in our letters until that day you receive our bond.” (Of course, this is NOT the exact words or tradition but you readers should get the general idea.) I looked into Susan’s eyes bewildered at first but felt the vibes of what sisterly love was as we both hugged. The same thing was repeated with all 60+ other girls. It was a special moment for everyone…and then the pillows came out!

Biggest pillow fight anywhere at University of Georgia!

But from then on, as big sister Susan put it, “Renee…You have NO more free time…It belongs to Alpha xxxx xxxxxxx sorority…So, after lunch, get some nappy nap time or Library study time because…Your pledge class will meet at 3:00 p.m. EVERY weekday for the rest of the semester.”

I thought I understood the term “busy as a beaver” but beavers had nothing on us pledges of Alpha sorority. First, we had our first pledge class meeting that Monday afternoon after our pledge ceremony the night before. Yours truly was elected secretary of the pledge class. Susan, as Pledge Educator, was the moderator and adviser to the class. She also taught the history and “open” traditions of our 100+ year old national sorority as well as Roberts Rules of Order for running a smooth and effective meeting. But our pledge class meeting were only the “tip of the iceberg”.

Instead of giving a hour by hour account of my time I spent at the Alpha sorority house, I will give a topical summary. Besides not wishing to bore readers, my reason for a topical approach is that my schedule as a pledge did vary from day to day. Besides that, this way allows for better details.

Pledge Class Meeting: Usually about 3:00 p.m. each day, this started as a “class” with Susan in the role of “teacher” as Pledge Educator. We would learn some of the history of our sorority’s founding over 100 years ago as well as that small group of young women who we refer to as our founding foremothers. Also, we memorized and sang a new sorority song about every week. (Don’t bother asking -There were NO drinking songs!) When we finished our class each day, we took daily quizzes on what we just learned for that day (No sleeping in this class!). It was just either-you-know-it-or-you-don’t type questions and all of us pledges aced them. After the class, we had our pledge class meeting with our own president, vice-president, secretary (me) and treasurer presiding. Susan merely acted as an adviser during those meetings. It was in those meetings that our pledge class planned its community charity project, chapter house project and the themes for several parties we hosted for the Alpha sisters.

Personal Services: Don’t get the wrong idea, dear readers -It is NOT what you think! By “Personal Services”, I mean manicures and pedicures ONLY. Yep, the private joke around Alpha was that, if a girl “dropped out” of college, she would have learned something and not have wasted ALL of her money. I must admit -Practice DOES make perfect (or close to it). No wonder the Alpha sisters had the best looking red “talons” on campus.

Dining Room Service: I never worked as a waitress before pledging but got a LOT of experience after -Like every evening. Dinners at Alpha sorority were catered every night except Saturday. As part of regular dues, every sister had this evening meal paid for. And of course, the pledges had to set up the tables (with white table cloth too!), take orders from various assigned tables and serve each table with the menu options requested. And when did pledges eat? After everyone else had finished eating AND after each table had been cleared. But the sisters were generous enough to allow us to eat as a group in another room before cleaning up the dining and kitchen area.

House Cleaning: Some readers may understand this: Our pledge class was divided into groups that rotated house chores such as “kitchen police”,”bathroom brigade” or “lawncare legion”. We did this work usually on MWF but for some prima-donnas, this was the breaking point and about a dozen quit rather than clean a toilet. Alas, spoiled princesses have no more business joining a sorority than a wall-flower type personality -IMHO.

Study Hall: After dinner clean-up, there was NO t.v. time for us pledges. Sunday through Thursday night included 2 hours study hall each night in the dining hall-No exceptions. I developed new study techniques during this time that would serve me well later.

Nightly Dismissal: After the chapter chaplain gave her benediction, we pledges would serenade the sisters with a song we had learned the prior week as we headed out to our apartments or dorms. We would sometimes have to re-do the song a few times but the sister were patient with us until we got it right.

After many a long weekday, I was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow!



What the heck is going on here? For starters, a number of readers have asked us at TWP about details on our growing up years recounted in the RECOLLECTIONS series we posted last Spring. All of us decided to give some more accounts of our athletic exploits while keeping our identities private. So for all those looking for traceable info -You will be disappointed. But the segment below is still a good read otherwise.

Soccer in a Football Crazed State

For those readers “on the other side of the pond”, soccer in the U.S. is what much of the world calls “futball”. But soccer in the U.S. is not a major sport like Football (U.S. version), Basketball or Baseball. Rather, soccer is a relatively minor but fast-growing sport among the U.S. population. When I first tried soccer in south Alabama where I grew up, it was less than a generation old with my little league coach having been the first generation to kick the ball in the history of the state.

Contrast that with football (U.S. version) which my alma mater Auburn University and that “other school” have a rivalry that goes back to 1892! Our brand of football is nearly a religion in my home state! Want proof? When a local newspaper dedicates an entire page of the sports section to middle school football -That’s when you KNOW our brand of football is a “religion”!

Soccer for me started out of frustration at my lack of softball skills. As I recounted in RECOLLECTIONS OF WENDY, I heard about a game called soccer from my dad which emphasized kicking over ball-to-hand/bat. It was just a summertime recreation league setup in the next county but my folks let me sign up for it. I will always be grateful for that.

I took to soccer quickly and became a natural midfielder. But while this was not “tackle football”, it was a LOT rougher than I first thought. I learned fast that those shin guards were not for decoration and those other girls were not playing “powder-puff” style either. Think 7 and 8 year old girls are all sugar, spice and everything nice? If so, you have never seen little girls go at it in a soccer game.

I remember a few elbow jabs when the referee wasn’t looking and the “sweet as sugar” smile one little b**** gave me after an elbow to my stomach. The rest of that game I was looking for her # and with 5 minutes left in the game, I let her have it -Right in the midsection. Of course, I got a “Red Card” and was promptly ejected which also meant sitting out the next game. Note: When I say “sitting out” -I am just using a figure of speech because when my parents got me home and dealt with me, I did not “sit” for awhile since my rear end matched the color of that stupid card! But I did learn a very important lesson: Sports can be rough but you have to keep your composure. To this day, I have absolutely NO use for brawls in sports.

I was allowed back on the team and we did very well those years I played on it. My middle and high schools also had soccer programs only a few years old. I played every year through my senior year in high school and got a few “yellow cards” but no “red cards” or ejections. My experiences in soccer taught me teamwork and sportsmanship -The latter backed up by momma’s home-style paddle!

Running -Cross Country Style

As some readers may recall from RECOLLECTIONS FROM WENDY, I was given a choice at the start of 9th grade of cheerleading camp (1 week) or a week in Daytona, Florida -But not both. I remember that money was tight that year and my parent’s Clothing Store was just getting by. (No “silver spoon in the mouth childhood for me!) It took me all of 5 seconds to choose the family vacation over cheerleading camp.

But I did not wish to hang out around the family store because that would mean MORE work for me. Then I heard about the Cross Country team which ran as a group in mostly 5K races against teams from other schools. Just like any other competitive sport. I got some good running shoes and signed up. Who could screw up in this sport?

Well, guess who?

The idea of Cross Country running is to win as a TEAM as well as an individual. My first time on a trail-course was interesting to say the least. The other nearly dozen team members and I hit it off great -Most of us knew each other well and were the “smarter kids” of our high school. Too bad I wound up the “air head” in my first run. My boo boo was that I ran ahead of the others into a wooded area and forgot the pre-run instructions to take ALL left forks on the trail. Simply put, I took a right and ended up a half hour later lost and WAY off course. A park ranger found me and a blushing rookie runner rode on a golf cart all the way back to face the music.

It wasn’t too bad but I did hear for a week jokes about “women get lost easy” (Our team was coed) and one of the guys promised to give me a map before the start of each future run.

But that never was a problem again despite all the teasing I got the next few races.

However, there was a problem I encountered in my second race-run though. A dog. A mean dog. A REALLY MEAN DOG! Understand please, I am a dog-lover but someone forgot to tell that dog I ran into while running on a trail ahead of most of the others. It probably belonged to someone who lived close enough to the trail that the dog considered it as HIS turf. Cood thing the others were running towards where I was because, instead of chewing me up, the others startled it and…Well, there is safety in numbers!

This incident was reported but nothing was done so far as I know. But this scared me and from then on, I always carried pepper spray with me during those competitions. The next year at the same trail course, I again had a run-in with the dog. I was way ahead of everyone else so the pepper spray had to be used. When shooing and clapping did not faze “Fido”, he got a nose full of high strength pepper! Should have heard him howl as he ran off! With the dog-threat gone, I ran on but I felt bad about spraying the dog. Through the help of my parents, I was able to find out that the dog was o.k. when we called the owners.

The next two years, “Fido” was not a problem during my runs. He came towards me barking and I reached for the pepper spray. He stopped and seemed to look at me strangely. Not wishing to spray him if I didn’t have to, I then made a noise that sounded like spraying -And “Fido” took off!

Who says dogs do not have good memories? “Fido” sure did!

I never had to use that pepper spray but once but it beats being chewed up by a mean dog!

My Cross Country running experiences had a positive long term effect on my health and fitness to this day. Currently, I still run in several 5K races each year and train year-around. This is one healthy and wholesome activity I recommend  for ALL age groups. Try it!









%d bloggers like this: