109. A READER’S COMMENTARY, ATHLETIC ADVENTURES OF RENEE, RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. X & YOUR FAQ’S

MEMO TO JORDAN RIAK/PTAVE: We at TWP are a bit confused: I (Renee) was skimming through your site Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education. There was a segment on your site dated 10-10 -2010 titled “School Bullying: The Problem and The Cure”. MAJOR Problem: To my disappointment, there was NO CURE for stopping bullying in the article. Rather, the only thing I could find was some crudely drawn pictures that were anti- corporal punishment, NOT anti-bullying. We at TWP understand that your organization is anti-c.p. That’s o.k. -We will agree to disagree. But it is misguided to link school c.p. WITH bullying because the latter occurs in ALL 50 STATES! You discredit your own cause with the linkage. In fact, by doing so -You missed an opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause: stopping  bullying in ALL of our schools.

Hey, this old quote is for y’all at PTAVE: “If you are not part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.”

As REAL teachers in REAL classrooms, we at TWP deal everyday with bullying in school -and are reducing its occurrence significantly! (On the other hand, just what are you doing? Besides bad art?)

Dear Readers: As the month of October whizzes by and Halloween approaches, we at TWP are having (or will have Homecoming reunions at our college alma maters. I had mine at University of Georgia and it was a blast! With Tyler staying at his nanna and pop’s place, John and I spent some quality time in Athens, Georgia -America’s #1 rated college town. Of course Georgia beat Vanderbilt in the football game and John and I reconnected with old friends. All in all, a very good “get-away” weekend.

A READER’S COMMENTARY

It is not every day that TWP receives favorable comments such as below. Whats more, this reader, Willie C., directed some shots at another blog of a certain “Rev.” We at TWP think Willie is on to something: Teacher authority and Actions/Consequences.

I hope that none of you teachers lose a minute’s sleep over the vitriol directed at you by these pro bad behavior zealots. I have read some of their blathering blog, and find them simply immature and petty. The references to “Fake Michelle” “Fake Jenny” and “Fake Rene” being classic examples of said pettiness. As Jesus said on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” Your jobs and your approach to doing your jobs is far too important to be deterred by these people.

Reading your blog has caused me to conjure up memories of playground bullying incidents that are decades old. I would like to share one such incident with you.When I was in kindergarten, I was having a problem with a stocky kid who apparently didn’t like me very much. I don’t know why he disliked me, as I had never done or said anything unkind to him. One day I climbed the slide on our playground, and was waiting for the person ahead of me to clear out of the way before I went down.Apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough for the kid I will call Brett. Without warning, Brett drew back and hit me in the back as hard as he could with a closed fist. I was in excruciating pain, and literally could not breathe.Fortunately, a teacher witnessed the entire event and was waiting for Brett when he reached the bottom of the slide. She yanked him up and wore his little bottom out with her bare hand right there on the spot. Brett was soon crying a lot louder than I was. I can remember exactly how I felt at that moment. I felt instant comfort and security knowing an adult was on that playground watching out for me, and that anyone who tried to hurt me was going to be dealt with surely and swiftly. I strongly suspect that poor Meg felt the same way when Dennis was paddled.

Yes, Michelle, what you did was probably extremely difficult and went against the nature or your personality. However, it was an act of compassion and I commend you for doing it. What the zealots do not understand is that you did Dennis a real favor also. I don’t think anyone is born mean with a desire to hurt other people. I’m no psychologist and have no idea why Dennis chose to torment that poor girl. What I do know, is that he needed a sharp reprimand and to understand the pain and humiliation that Meg felt when he bullied her. I think that on some level, he now has a greater respect for her humanity. As for Brett, I never had another problem with him after that. While Brett and I were never close friendsI saw him often until we graduated high school. Our interaction was always cordial from that day on.I hope and pray that Dennis and Meg will have only positive interaction from this day forward.

-Willie C.

ATHLETIC ADVENTURES OF RENEE

Dear Readers: As the Editor of teacherswhopaddle, I have tried to present a “human” side to the four of us: Jenny, Wendy, Michelle and myself. Because of earlier posts on my growing up years, I don’t feel that there is anything new to add to my girl athletic exploits. I am not being modest -There just isn’t anything I can add that sticks out in my mind. In other words, an autobiography of my childhood would be BORING.

But the others INSIST that I write something. Well, I have chosen to write about a misadventure during my college years that -looking back- I’m not too proud of. It centers around Panhellenic Football. Read that “sorority football”.

First thing -Lets ditch the notion of girls and “powder-puff sports”. Guys seem to have this silly idea that girls play “soft” against each other in athletic competition.

B*** S***!

And like in posts by TWP’s other contributors, I had the bumps and bruises to dispel the idea of “girlie sports”. And if you wonder how SERIOUS some of these sorority girls were about competition: More than once, when I lined up as “receiver” in a 7 on 7 sorority flag-football game, the girl defending/covering me would say something like “Look out you s*** or I’ll knock your t*** off!” Girlie? Only in gender.

I do not intimidate easily and usually that was just “smack talk”. But once, it wasn’t. And this girl didn’t just “Talk the talk” but rather, tried to “Walk the walk” all over me! Nothing “girlie” about that but her gender -And when it happened, I did not care what her gender was or even what planet she was from.

It was a cool Fall afternoon and my Alphas were playing against the Betas in a flag football game. As stated above, there was some “talk” but nothing I hadn’t heard before. As a junior, I knew a few of the the Betas and  their style. Lining up as offensive receiver, I ran a short slant and caught the smaller than regulation sized football (Only for women’s intramural football) and started to run to the end zone. It was then that one of the Betas “forgot” that this game was of the “non-tackle” type. I DO have a better appreciation for tackle football now because the wicked shot I took that day. Folks, taking a forearm to the unprotected left ear WILL make you see stars! I was dazed but o.k. with no concussion. The other girl was ejected and the Betas penalized. When our 20 minute game ended, I should have let what happened go.

I didn’t.

As my Alphas and the Betas left the intramural sports field, I confronted the other girl. Both sororities had about the same number of members around when the other girl and I exchanged words. All I recall is hearing the words “Get over it!…Deal with it!” Those words were like gasoline on fire -I pounced and she swung. I was a bit shorter but was a ball of fury at that moment and Miss Beta found out the hard way that I can dish it out. Our two sorority teams  managed to pull us apart but not before I ripped her shirt and roughed her up. When we were separated, neither one of us was seriously hurt but the student-referees saw the whole thing and reported us.

Susan, my sorority house roommate, was not at the game but shook her head in disapproval when told about it. Sharon simply said, “Renee…I know you felt angry at ‘Miss Tackle’…But you CANNOT lose your temper like that!…You represent me and every other member of this chapter when you wear OUR letters…” Susan was right, of course, and I felt pretty low at that point. I was willing to take whatever sanction the university dished out.

As it turned out, the Director of Intramural Sports held a closed door “chat” with me and “Miss Beta Tackle”. Actually, it was more of a “dressing down” at both of us in which he said, “You two are supposed to be LADIES -Not HELLCATS- And if ANYTHING like this ever recurs, I WILL refer both of you to the Dean of Women…And she will likely move to expel both of you!” The old gent, who was about the age of my dad, dismissed us with one-game suspensions each from Panhellenic Sorority Football. Miss Beta Tackle and I shook hands and “buried the hatchet” as we walked out the office.

I could have swore I heard the director say under his breath: “Little hellions…need good ol’ fashioned…”

Giggle…We were too old for that!

RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. X

Sisterhood

The night of my initiation will always have a special place in my college memories. While I will never divulge what I saw or heard, I will say it started with  me blindfolded and wrist tied. The ritual ceremony was held in that same “sanctuary” as the night I was pledged but it took most of the night for the 40 of us pledges to become Alphas. We pledges were all scared, nervous, mystified and -at the conclusion- overjoyed when we heard the words: “I greet you as sisters in the bond of xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx. In unison, we all yelled, hugged and even cried in a happy huddle.

There was NO sleeping for a while after that as all of us new sisters had our jeweled badges (Purchased with Christmas money) pinned on our blouses by our big sisters. A few girls whose moms were members did this as well. After the badge pinning, I recall looking at someone’s watch and seeing 5:30 a.m.! I couldn’t believe it -I had spent the entire night in a sort of “labor”. As I pondered what to do next, Susan came up and after another “High 5”, whispered in my ear.

With the chit chat all around, it was hard to hear but finally I heard, “Come on upstairs and wait for sunrise with me (Susan) and my big sister Cindy and her big sister Nancy.” And that is what we did.

As the winter sun later arose and broke through some clouds onto the large front porch, four Alpha sisters toasted one another with apple cider (non-alcoholic) before heading to the nearest Hardee’s for some breakfast before getting some shuteye.

Being a Alpha Sister

Those who have an image of sorority members as pampered prima donnas are just wrong. It is true that sisters are members for life but everything we learned as pledges about the expectations of sisterhood was definitely relevant. Every sister in our chapter was assigned to a committee which we showed an interest in. For example, there was the social committee which planned parties, the scholastic committee which monitored member’s grade point averages, the ritual ceremonies committee which set up all chapter ceremonies and the pledge committee whose job it was to train pledges to become future chapter members.

I chose to join the pledge committee as a Pledge Trainer as Susan recommended. It was understood by both of us that Susan would move up to Pledge Master later that semester when we elected new officers. My position was a minor one but from personal experience, I understood how important even a minor role can be. As to most of my other pledge classmates who were now sisters -Nearly all decided on committee assignments as at-large members and did not even seek any significant roles until the last two years of college.

Oh well!

Being a Pledge Trainer

When people hear the term pledge Master/Educator/Trainer, the image is of them paddling pledges on their underwear-clad rear ends in some hazing ritual like the famous scene in the movie classic Animal House. Far from it. As Pledge Trainer, it was my job to organize the Pledges every weekday afternoon for House chores, Personal services and very importantly -Setting up the dining hall for dinner. Sometimes, it was like herding cats!

The first night the new pledges were setting up the dining hall, the sorority was having BBQ catered. After setting up the tables with white table cloth, forks, knives etc., I got the pledges to work setting up the kitchen area as the sisters got seated at their tables. But then, something funny happened.

Instead of serving as one of the waitress-pledges, a pledge I will call Sue helped herself to a BBQ plate and proceeded to seat herself!

A few of the sisters and I had a good laugh as I shooed the errant Sue with her BBQ plate back to the kitchen. Some sorority sister might be very “bitchy” about that but I calmly explained that pledges are to “serve the sisters at dinner” and that “pledge meals” come AFTER all the sisters have finished dinner and that was signaled when we sisters sang our “after dinner song.” Sue was apologetic but admitted the BBQ looked and smelled great. I chuckled and told Sue that I was the understanding-type and that there would be plenty left for the pledges after the sisters ate. And there was.

Problem Pledges

As I said, I am the understanding-type and explained to the new pledges that making a mistake is NOT grounds for depledging (black balling). All I wanted to see was effort because no one is perfect and I freely admitted that I made plenty of boo boos as a pledge myself.  (Susan agreed with me upon hearing that before I ran her off!) But I found out the hard way about some people’s willingness to do what you ask.

One of only two pledges I ever voted to depledge I’ll name Sheryl. Sheryl was a legacy of Alpha and carried an attitude of entitlement. As far as I’m concerned, being a legacy is fine but Sheryl was not her mom or older sister. But Sheryl was stubborn, surly and did not even get along with her pledge classmates -Feeling “cheated” because she was not elected to be a pledge class officer. Betcha her mom and older sister conducted themselves better!

Sheryl was just an overgrown brat and was at her worst about giving pedicures and manicures. She knew what pledge duties were before joining Alpha as a “legacy” but still whined about the odor of nail polish -Even with face-mask. Contrasting with Sheryl was Sue who was a first generation college student in her family and always tried her best in whatever.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was a mix-up Sheryl made in taking an order from another sister at dinner. Everyone messes up at one time or another but instead of correcting her mistake, Sheryl just blurted “Serve yourself!” and walked off. I tried to catch up to her to help sort a growing boo boo but Sheryl totally walked out on the entire sorority dinner.

Being so new as a sister myself, I was reluctant to vote out Sheryl until Susan told me, “Renee, you have bent over backwards for that little bitch long enough!…If you decide to depledge her, count me with you!” I first chose to give Sheryl one last chance and left her a message to call me back ASAP. I waited one day and she didn’t. The next day, Sheryl became an independent again as the sisters held a depledge vote. Sheryl’s pledge pin was taken back by the chapter the day after.

Some people, even legacies, make poor sorority members. That is why sororities have girls join as pledges FIRST -To separate the truly committed from those who are not. (And Sue did “make it” and was initiated after the Spring semester.)

YOUR FAQ’S

You seem to be anti-bullying. What is TWP’s position on anti-gay bullying?

We at TWP are 100% anti-bullying and refuse to categorize or make distinctions as to different types of bullying. To do otherwise, as some suggest by treating anti-gay bullying more harshly that other types, destroys any and all creditability of anti-bullying rules.

Not having been paddled in school yourselves, why should a parent trust you with paddling their children?

First, the premise of the first part of your question is BOGUS. Why? For the same reason we do not require police officers to have been arrested before they can carry out an arrest. As to “parental trust” -That is solely dependent on the individual parent’s trust of the teacher. This is one major reason we at TWP support the use of opt-outs by parents who are absolutely opposed to school c.p. However, it has been our experience that when the parents meet and get to know us, they are more likely to support our judicious, moderate and rare use of c.p.

Especially when we tell them that we are parents too!

The problem with school c.p. is those teachers who do abuse their students. How can there be ANY c.p. in school if this possibility exists?

First, as in a lot of issues, do not let the “perfect” be the enemy of the “good”. One of our problems with the antis is that they label ALL school c.p. as abusive -Which it isn’t. On the other hand, there were extreme cases which we commented on earlier this year and called on those educators to be fired and banned from working in schools ever again.

A “fair and balanced” perspective is all we advocate.

What is your opinion of parents who DO opt their children out of school c.p.?

We at TWP DO believe in parental involvement in ALL aspects of education -Including disciplinary policy. But to a certain point. If a parent wishes to opt their child out of school c.p. -That should be their right! However, that right does NOT extend to a general “veto” on student discipline. In our district, an opt-out of school c.p. means the alternative sanction of out-of-school-suspension is the next option. When given an opt-out request, we honor it but also inform the parent that in the case of O.S.S. due to an opt-out request, they have also forfeited their right to an automatic, same-day appeal to a disciplinary sub-committee of the school board.

 

COMING NEXT: A PRE-ELECTION PRIMER,

RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. XI

&

TBD

 

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