87. PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE: MARCH, RECOLLECTIONS BY JENNY pt. II & STUDENT TEACHING CHRONICLES OF RENEE pt. II

MEMO TO “THE TALKING CHAIR”: If you haven’t bothered to notice, the reason for our “Silence” is that we have REAL JOBS as REAL TEACHERS! Do you ever think about getting a real job YOURSELF? I know the economy is bad, but really?  I NEVER in my life thought I’d be “out-talked” by a piece of furniture. Well, our next MEMO is TWP’s take on the Prom Dress/Paddling story. Have at it -But it isn’t what you are expecting!

SPECIAL MEMO ON OXFORD, ALABAMA AND PROM DRESSES: This is what TWP understands in this case: There was a “Prom Dress Code” written by the school district. Both parents AND students were made aware of the policy. A dozen or so students willfully defied said policy and were given three choices:Leave the Prom right away, accept 3 day’s suspension or take paddle swats. In our opinion: Rules are rules and an important life lesson is that rules are to be obeyed. These students refused and had to pay the piper. In the “real world”, some companies have dress codes too -And violators are simply terminated. We at TWP DO differ on two points though. First, three days In School Suspension should be the only option at that  school level for that offense. Second, high school students ARE getting too old for paddling -Unless to avoid out of school suspension and then -Only with parental approval.

NOTE from Michelle:”I second what was said above. While not from Oxford, I know some people from there I attended University of Alabama with. As for me -My parents were stricter than the school I attended as to Prom Dresses so it never was an issue for me.”

Dear Readers: As Springtime FINALLY arrives, we get into the warm weather routine: Planting our gardens, trading basketball for baseball (Don’t even ask how our “March madness basketball brackets fared!), planning vacations and counting down the days to the end of the school year. On the last point, the first segment will show why we teachers so look forward to the summer break!


Special Editor’s Note: I (Renee) am becoming one of those “overprotective” mom! My little Tyler and Jenny’s Tommy (We call them TNT) are both going to play T-ball this summer. They both look forward to it while Jenny and I can only fret about it! (However, Tyler and Tommy will both be expected to behave in Kindergarten -No buts about it!)

PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE: MARCH

It was during the middle of “March madness” (I am referring to the week just before Spring Break  at our school district -Not the Basketball tournament) when I heard a feminine shriek while walking the hallways one morning. I thought to myself,  ” A ‘frisky romeo’ probably put his hands where they do not belong…I wish these girls would just slap some sense into those ‘clowns’ but I reckon the ol’ I.S.S.  referral will have to do. I then went around to the next corridor to see what was going on.

To my dismay, it was two cheerleaders duking it out. One had just thrown a punch connecting with the side of the other’s mouth. The second then counter-punched the first connecting with the left cheek just below the eye. As I started to yell, the two grabbed each other -Pulling at each other’s hair and cheerleader uniforms. It would have been funny had this been on Youtube titled “Brawling Cheerleaders” but I was NOT laughing.

Those two had already been in trouble and -It all was over some boy. Earlier in the school year around January, I have been told that Cindy “stole” Barbie’s boyfriend and the pair had been in a state of “silent war” ever since. Just a few weeks before the brawl, I had to separate the two during lunch when one accused the other of spilling something on the former’s outfit. I let them off with a warning and told Barbie, who is a 14 year old teen at my church, to just “let it go” on the boyfriend dispute because the boy wasn’t worth it -In my opinion.

Then, the following week, they got in a heated shoving spat just before a pep rally. I had the pair sit out the rally in my office and they got two days I.S.S. Their cheerleading coach was very displeased and warned them: “Any more out of you two -Both of you ladies are off the team!”

As I pulled the two brawling beauties apart (They looked real “pretty” with one sporting a swollen lower lip and the other a red blemish just below one eye), I thought to myself, ” Maybe March madness is affecting some people’s brains adversely.”

Looking to see that no phone-cams were being used, I took each girl by the arm and said, “Come with me you two…And I do not regard you as ‘ladies’ after what I just saw…Brawling in the halls?…Are you kidding?”

When I marched them to the office, I sat them down outside my door, telling them, “Warnings did not work…I.S.S. did not work…Perhaps a call home will make a difference!”

I called Barbie’s mom first since I know her better (She is in my Married Ladies Sunday School Class).

I had a bit of sympathy for Barbie, an average height brunette who normally never gets into trouble,  but her mom sure didn’t. Barbie’s mom said, “I have warned Barbara about getting in trouble in school…Mrs. …., you have my complete permission to bust her hiney good…The VERY idea…’Cat-fighting’ in school!”

I then told Barbie’s mom that I would only use the paddle on Barbie if the other girl’s mom also agreed to the same -otherwise, out of school suspensions for both.

The other girl, Cindy, must have overheard me talking to her mom because she walked into my office saying, “I know what you’re talking about and I’m not taking ANY paddling!”

I turned and handed the phone to Cindy, not knowing where this was heading. But after a few seconds, Cindy’s eyes widened as she tried to get a word in but couldn’t.

A sullen and downcast Cindy finally said quietly, “I’m sorry…Yes, momma…Bye.”

Cindy then handed the phone back to me saying, “Momma wants me to take my punishment now because if I don’t, what she will do is a LOT worse!”

I nodded and told her to wait outside while calling in Barbie, who was already in tears.

As I called another lady teacher in as a witness, I told Barbie, ” I am going to give you three swats…And despite what you may have heard, I am not the meanest teacher on the planet…It will be unpleasant but not brutal by any means.”

As Barbie bent over in the brace position, I did feel empathetic but also understood that she had made poor decisions repeatedly and consequences were needed.

Technique must be adjusted when paddling a cheerleader. Taking the “Kaye” paddle (24″ x 4″ x 1/4″) and lining the bottom edge of the paddle with the lower edge of the uniform skirt, I held the paddle firmly in my right hand and held it back at a 90 degree angle while placing my left hand on Barbie’s lower back. Being careful not to swing too hard, I swung with mostly my right forearm connecting with a SMACK.

Barbie flinched but was quiet.

I swung again. SMACK

Barbie gasped an “Ouch”.

“Just one more to go…Are you o.k.?” I asked.

Barbie stammered, “I I I I think so…”

Just wanting to end this, I swung the paddle briskly.

SMACK

“Owww” Barbie cried out and my heart really broke for her at that point.

As Barbie turned around, wiping a tear from one eye while placing the other hand on her stinging rear end, I gave her a tissue and consoled her saying, “I know that was unpleasant and I do NOT enjoy this at all but you have to make wiser choices.”

I continued, “Honeydear, I KNOW you can do better because you and your mom are two of the best people I know at the church…So, Lets make a fresh start by you dumping that so-called boyfriend Mr. ‘two-timer’…You can do much better than him.”

Barbie then embraced me for a minute before I sent her outside where a nervous Cindy waited.

I repeated the process with the taller short haired blond and the results were very similar. Except she tried to be more stoic.

After her three swats, she turned around and looked at me with trembling lips.

“Can can can I  go go go now?” Cindy stuttered as I started to give her a tissue.

“Cindy dear, I don’t think you need to rush out of here so just calm down and relax…I’m not angry with you, only disappointed…And I do not want you to be upset with me because this was unpleasant for me too!” I spoke gently.

Cindy wailed, “I’ve never b b been spanked in school before…”

As Cindy started to cry, I patted her on the shoulder saying, “Its o.k., dear…You don’t have to leave until you are ready…”

Cindy then leaned into me and had a short crying spell on my shoulder. I was shocked to see the feisty girl like this and let her recompose herself before having a conference with both girls.

I have decided that these two need to build a new bridge between themselves. All 8th graders do a science project in the Spring before finishing the school year and moving on to the high school. Guess what? Barbie is having her class schedule reworked so her science class is the same as Cindy’s. And those two WILL be making amends -Because they will have to work together on a joint project assignment.

Both girls admitted they were at fault and promised to settle their differences. I think both will dump the two-timer boyfriend. And both girls said they had no hard feelings towards me as they left my office.

Anyone out there still think being an assistant principal of an 800+/- student middle school is easy?

I chatted later one on one with Barbie, who is in my church’s Youth Confirmation class and reassured her that what happened at my office stays in my office and no one at the church would ever hear about what happened. I told her that I am still proud of her and for her to look forward to her Confirmation Sunday. I promised Barbie I would be there if she asked me to. Barbie immediately asked me to be there and I told her I would.

 

RECOLLECTIONS BY JENNY pt. II

Change

When I started middle school, I had a growth spurt of sorts. Most girls do -ahead of boys- but for me, it was different. I just got taller -A LOT taller! In fact, I was the tallest girl in the 6th grade of my school and was taller than most boys.

Being considered “too tall” is NO asset to a young lady. And hearing “How’s the weather up there?” cruel jokes gets old fast. I did develop an “inferiority complex” for a while and became shy and withdrawn. But my parents heard from my teachers about my troubles and they made a big difference in my young life.

One thing my daddy did was to encourage me to turn a perceived “flaw” into a plus. What happened? My dad built a basketball court of sorts on the backside of one of the barns. And after field work and/or house chores, my big brother and I played many one-on-one games in both the coldest winter and hottest summer evenings. My self-esteem was rebuilt during this time.

Basketball Tryouts

The following year, 7th grade, I tried out for girls basketball. And unlike a red head named Renee, I DOMINATED! So much that the coach told me on day 1 of the 3 day tryouts, “Jenny dear, ease off a bit on those rebounds…You’ve made the team and I don’t want you to injure someone else!” O.k., so I was a little aggressive with my elbows on the rebounding drills. Just keep in mind that I was taking out a year’s worth of frustration on that basketball court and the other wanabees just had to watch for the elbows.

(Editor’s Note: Boy, am I glad I wasn’t trying out for basketball at your middle school! -Renee)

Glory Days

Things really began to turn around for me. From a shy and awkward teen girl to a school celeb of sorts. Well, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, even in basketball, but I had found an outlet which did open up other social venues for me. In other words, I shed the shy and withdrawn persona that had defined me in a hard time of my young life. And the rewards? Besides making a lot of new friends, I gained a sense of achievement that I could call my own -Including several trophies which I still have.

High School, College and Beyond

When I moved up to high school, I just figured that I would continue as I had been doing.

Nosirree!

My mom and Dad put me on notice that “getting by” just was NOT going to cut it. The “New Deal” in our family, as far as my folks were concerned, was that I would have to work as hard at my studies as I did at basketball. Or as my Registered Nurse (R.N.) mom said so many times: “If you think your homework is hard now -Wait until you get in college.” I took her admonishments to heart and worked as hard on my books as I did the basketball court and as a result, was inducted into my school’s Honor Society. (Note: Renee, Jenny, Wendy and Michelle were all in their high school Honor Societies) It was a lot of hard work but getting a 3.45 out of 4.0 grade point average my 9th grade year was really an achievement -My folks were so proud.

Another change in high school was not planned but just happened. That tall but slim girl nicknamed Jumpin’ Jenny blossomed over the summer before 10th grade. In other words, I grew out in places where I had been “flat”. And the boys took notice the FIRST day of school. Add to that the new hair style my mom suggested I try and some teachers thought I looked like a younger and taller version of Valerie Bertinelli!!!

Suffice to say, my older brother was quick to bring me down lest I get too “big-headed”. (Isn’t that the job of siblings?) But having gone through the times of self-doubt, I had my feet firmly planted in reality and never developed any sort of attitude. Besides, I was eligible for trips to the barn-shed until I left for college. That kept me humble enough. (Those “trips” were not for playing basketball either!)

While not a valedictorian of my high school class, I was in the Honor Society and because of my academics, was able to attend college. College at the “Prettiest Village on the Plains” aka Auburn University!

(Isn’t that supposed to be”Ugliest Village… HA HA -Michelle)

( Readers: When I finish my RECOLLECTIONS, I’m going to use my elbows on a certain blond headed crimson tider. -Jenny)

I would never had thought it possible, when I was in my awkward and shy days, that I would set foot on a large college campus more than 4 hours from home. But I did. And I chose at first to major in Biology. Later, I combined Biology with Environmental Science as a field of study. After 1 year, I decide on Elementary Education.

Why?

Because of my increasing awareness of environmental issues facing our world. It was in my second year that I came to a decision: Go into teaching so I could make a difference with the next generation of school kids. I believe it has worked out and that I am do my part in making a positive impact on tomorrow’s generation.

Of course, some readers are aware that I joined a sorority which I will call the Deltas. I was encouraged by the sisters to go through the recruitment process and am glad I did. While this type of organization is not for everyone, I invite all young ladies to consider it with an open mind. In my junior year, I was the recruitment chairwoman and did meet a young lady named Wendy. Despite my efforts, she joined another sorority a few houses down the street. But I got her back later in intramural sorority basketball!

(Yeah…She nearly ran me over too! -Wendy)

And as everyone who reads this blog knows, Wendy would be reunited with me on the faculty of the elementary school where we both teach. Everything was going just fine ’til one year after Wendy’s hire when another blond from “that other school” joined Renee, Wendy and me.

(ROLL TIDE! -Michelle)

 

STUDENT TEACHING CHRONICLES OF RENEE pt. II

Not Like the Textbooks

On my second morning of student teaching, when I came inside the building after another cold morning of bus duty, my host-teacher Brenda acted a little surprised.

“Why…Good morning, Renee dear!…We wondered if you would come back after yesterday!” Brenda cheerfully greeted me as I signed in at the front office.

“Yep…I’m back…And ready to take charge of the classroom!” I replied with bravado.

My “bravado” would have been lessened had I foreseen what was in store for me that day. I had at least two weeks worth of lesson plans ready-made and was set to be “The Teacher In Charge” but I found out an important fact of life that veteran teachers know all too well. That is: The best made lesson plans go to #@*%@#! when taken out and used in the real world of the real classroom.

From the opening bell (or tardy bell, if you will), my teaching according to the textbook went out the window. To start with, three kids were tardy. And just as they were coming in the room and I started to call roll, the intercom announced the moment of silence which I had forgotten about. Actually, I like that routine because, if nothing else, the kids are completely quiet -At least for 1 minute. (Hey, A.C.L.U. -Keep your hands OFF the one minute of serenity we educators get all day!) And no, there are NO mute buttons for teachers to push. After I did manage to call row, which took longer due to my not knowing each kid yet, I was able to get the class started on the math lesson.I made a quick effort to draw up a seating chart so as to learn each student name faster.

It was during this time which students worked individually on math problems that I got 4 different requests to go to the rest rooms and 3 request to borrow pencils because “I lost mine” or “I think I left mine at home”. At this point, I rubbed my forehead and Brenda whispered in my ear, “You STILL want to be a teacher?” (Folks, this should clue you in on why educators are the biggest consumers of Extra Strength Tylenol!)

Well, I do not “run off” that easily and simply announced to the class that all students were expected to have used the rest room BEFORE the tardy bell or to see me for a hall pass if they might be “late”. Otherwise, all tardy students would have to show me their office admit slip before entering the classroom. Finally, as to lost or forgotten pencils or supplies, I would loan out replacements ONCE -And pencils had to be returned to me at the end of the school day. I would keep a “loan” list and if pencils were not returned or lost/forgotten again: Loss of one recess period. In addition, rest room breaks during instruction time meant reduced recess time.

I found it interesting how “responsible” 9 year-olds became when it was THEIR recess being docked.

Initial problems solved!

 

COMING NEXT: TWP VS. “TALKING CHAIR”,

RECOLLECTIONS BY WENDY

&

STUDENT TEACHING CHRONICLES OF RENEE pt. III

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